Launch Summary

Categories EntrepreneurPosted on

Launch is an early internet entrepreneurs step-by-step blueprint to creating products people want, launching them from the comfort of your home and building the life you’ve always wanted, thanks to the power of psychology, email, and of course the internet.

Say what you will, some people have impeccable timing. Like Jeff Walker, when he discovered that you could sell stuff via email in 1996. Being one of the early internet marketing pioneers, he’s had quite some time to build and perfect the way he markets products online over the past 20 years.

When he realized that even at professional conferences, no one knew what he was talking about, he took on the responsibility of teaching others how to launch as well. He has a course called Product Launch Formula, and Launch shares much of that in book-form, plus gives a lot of context on his biography and how many of the most successful launches he did came to be.

If you don’t know what a launch is, who you’re supposed to launch to, and what to do to get started, I’ve got you covered.

Here are 3 lessons from the book:

The money is in the list.

Build up excitement right before you launch.

Use seed launches to sell ideas before building them.

Ready to start an online business? Let’s get to work!

Lesson 1: The money is in the list.

I’ve heard this line a million times. But when you’re not active in the internet marketing space, you won’t know what it means. And even though it sounds so cheesy, it’s true. Imagine me saying it in a hushed voice, while I’m wearing a trench coat and a fedora, almost whispering it:

The money is in the list.

Well, what the hell does that mean?!

The list Jeff and I are talking about is an email list. Even though the social media buzz killed a lot of email’s popularity, it is still considered the medium with the highest engagement by most marketers.

Emails have a long half-life, meaning they don’t disappear into oblivion after the first 10 seconds, like a Twitter post, the first 4 hours, like an Instagram picture, or the first day, like a Facebook post.

Many more people interact with emails than do with posts on social media, and can you remember the last time you changed your email? You’d probably change your phone number first.

What’s more, with an email address, you own people’s contact information. That is not the case on ANY other platform. Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, they can all shut down your account tomorrow and you’re left with nothing. But you can always reach out to people whose email you have.

It’s hard to grasp how powerful a list is, but can you think of an event hall in your town that seats 1,000 people? Think of it as filled to the brim. Now imagine you could send an email to all of these people at the same time, telling them about your latest product.

Boom! And that’s just 1,000 subscribers, which you can get in 3 months. Imagine a list of 100,000 people. Mind blowing, right?

To get started, all you need is a simple squeeze page, where people only have two options: Sign up for your list in exchange for a gift, or leave. Like this one for the Four Minute Books newsletter.

Lesson 2: Use a pre-launch to build up excitement before your actual launch.

Remember how you could NOT wait for the latest Star Wars movie to be released, because the world kept teasing you with posters, trailers, gimmicks, talk show appearances and behind the scenes clips? That’s the power of Hollywood marketing, and there’s no reason you can’t do the same.

Jeff suggests giving your list three great pieces of content the week before you launched, spaced 2-3 days apart each. He calls this a pre-launch, and it serves the purpose of building buzz and anticipation around your product.

Video is a great medium for this, as it’s always perceived to be high quality – you can see Jeff’s latest pre-launch video in action here. If done right, people will already eagerly wait for your actual launch to start by the time you make your product available and hopefully, just like a movie theatre on Star Wars release day, they’ll beat down the front door.

Lesson 3: Use seed launches to sell ideas before building them.

But what if you have no idea and no list? Here’s a good way to start. Jeff calls it the seed launch.

You come up with an idea.

You approach people about the idea 1-on-1 and build a very small email list (less than 100 people).

You launch the idea to that list, giving them the option to buy.

Notice how “build the product” isn’t part of the process. That’s because in a seed launch, you only build the idea once enough people have confirmed that they want it by paying for it.

That way you can make sure your idea doesn’t fall flat on its face, you already make a bit of money, and can then later launch an incredibly refined product to a much bigger audience. It’s a win on every level.

If you’ve ever pre-ordered a copy of an online course or even a book, then that was probably what went down behind the scenes.

My personal take-aways

 I read and liked the book because of its personal touch. I really wanted to learn more about Jeff and his story and was fascinated by the history of his internet career.

That said, if you only want the technical details, I’d go with just the summary. It is more than enough to get the nuts and bolts of Jeff’s launch formula, and while the book does provide some more details, it often also leaves you hanging, trying hard to sell you on his course for bonus materials.

Jeff is a fascinating man and a good, humble guy, so if you’re into biographies like me, get the book.

Built To Last :Notes

Categories Entrepreneur, Top 10Posted on

Built To Last examines what lies behind the extraordinary success of 18 visionary companies and which principles and ideas they’ve used to thrive for a century.

Favorite quote from the author:

When building are revolutionary company, understand who you are rather than where you are going—for where you are going will almost certainly change.

This book is the result of six years of research. Published in 1994 by James C. Collins (more commonly known as Jim Collins) and Jerry Porras, it’s long been a modern classic, and has been translated in over 25 languages.

Collins and Porras conducted a survey among hundreds of CEOs of the world’s top corporations at the time and then compiled a list of 18 visionary companies, which they then thoroughly analyzed, investigated and compared with their non-visionary peers.

They wanted to find out what has helped them stay successful over decades, and, in some cases, even a century. Here are the 3 tidbits that most struck me:

You don’t need a great idea to start a great company.

Without a core ideology, a company will never be visionary.

Visionary companies are like a cult.

Let’s dig in!

Lesson 1: You don’t need a great idea to start a great company. Or any idea, for that matter.

James Altucher would love this. It’s right in line with his theme of becoming an idea machine.

You don’t need a great idea to start a great company. In fact, you don’t need any idea at all.


Because truly great and visionary companies constantly turn out great ideas, just because they generate so many in the first place.

For example, guess what Akio Morita and Masaru Ibuka did, right after founding Sony He held a meeting to brainstorm business ideas. They discussed sweetened bean-paste and mini-golf equipment, among other things.

American Express started as a mail business, Motorola with something very interesting (and soon obsolete) called battery eliminators and even though Apple’s computers were a great success, eventually they would create the most profitable product in history – a phone.

The reason these companies succeeded is that instead of focusing on one idea or one great leader, they focused on the process of coming up with ideas, and producing leaders, either good, or bad.

Being restless and persistent matters much more than having that one in a million idea.

Lesson 2: Without a core ideology, your company can’t be visionary.

A core ideology consists of two things: a higher purpose and a set of core values.

For example, Walmart’s core ideology is to bring people retail products at the lowest prices, with the greatest customer service.

Apple’s purpose: Think different. They are here to disrupt, to change, to improve. The industry doesn’t matter. They did it with computers, then music, then phones.

One of their values is user-friendly and beautiful design. Notice how these don’t stand in the way of progress. Apple never stopped experimenting. Otherwise they would never have moved from computers to music players.

However, doing something different and making all their products look beautiful are universal principles, which can always be applied.

Your core ideology has to live through all products, employees and times. It doesn’t matter what it contains, but rather that it exists.

If you have no purpose and no principles to hold up high, you’ll never create a vision great enough to attract fellow great minds to help you build it.

So much more than an idea you need a purpose and a set of values.

Lesson 3: Visionary companies are like a cult – you’re in or you’re out!

This was interesting to me, I had never considered it.

Since their core ideology doesn’t leave much room for compromises, visionary companies will settle only for the best employees, with the same mindset.

The core ideology is something that you either share, or you don’t. There’s nothing in between, which is why new employees either thrive or leave very quickly.

For example you couldn’t say the f-word, damn, or shit around Walt Disney. If he heard you use a four-letter word other than love, you were fired. No exceptions.

Same with Apple. You either got why the serifs on a font were so important, or you didn’t. The reason that this is important is that the company feels like a big family, almost like a cult.

Only once you’re sure employees follow your core ideology can you trust them enough to give them room to experiment and generate those ideas your company relies on.

Final thoughts

I had no idea that this book was so popular and such a classic. Incredible effort went into this book and you can see it in the countless examples, many of which made it into the summary on Blinkist, which I think is great.

Lesson 1 was a game-changer for me, I didn’t think you’d need to have a great idea, but I sure thought you had to have one. Imagining just sitting together with 2 good friends, starting a company, and then coming up with something surely puts entrepreneurship into a new light for me. I always knew it was a jump into a cold pool, but this actually makes it sound fun.

I’ve also never seen the idea of a core ideology formulated so clearly. The summary made it really easy to understand, I feel as if I could come up with my own right now.

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