Holiday Letter 2016



Merry Christmas and season’s greetings from the Holy City, beautiful Charleston, SC! I hope my annual holiday letter finds you well, all caught up in the “spirit of the season,” and grateful for the many blessings you have in your life. Each year, I look forward to penning this letter. Call me “old fashioned,” and many people do, but I always loved sitting around the fireplace as a kid wherein mom and dad would read the annual “Christmas letters” we received from friends and family. Although we may not see each other frequently, you are a part of our Advantage Family. I hope you will enjoy reading as much as I have enjoyed writing. Below is a “CliffsNotes” summary of a very busy 2016.

The year 2016 marked the third year of our big, hairy, audacious goal (BHAG) which we call “Road to 1000.” Succinctly put, our goal is to help 1,000 active Members per year grow their authority status, which for most, includes creating and publishing a book to grow their business. In 2016 we achieved 60 percent year-over-year growth, which was largely organic and partially “acquired.” I began the year with the publication of my newest book, Lead the Field, which provides a compelling reason every entrepreneur or professional should become the authority in his or her niche. It also teed up a big announcement. …

On February 22, we announced the purchase of Austin, TX-based Shelton Interactive, a marketing agency for authorities and authors, with focus in the business space. An eight-month courtship, which began in 2015, turned into a powerful new addition to the Advantage Family, allowing us to launch a new marketing service, the Authority Marketing System™. For many years, Advantage Members had asked for more help with marketing their book and their brand. By welcoming aboard Shelton, we were immediately able to offer just that. This purchase creates a more complete value proposition for our Members. We welcomed 16 terrific Team Members and hundreds of Members, including 29 New York Times best-selling authors and renowned celebrities, like Capt. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, who safely landed US Airways flight 1549 in the Hudson river. As we continue toward our Road to 1000, more strategic acquisitions will be in our future. We began offering Authority Marketing Blueprint Days™ in 2016 where prospective Members visit our Austin or Charleston offices and, together, we create an authority plan. This year we delivered over 180 days!

To accommodate our growth, we completed the renovation to the second floor of Advantage Center™. We now have space for 65 Team Members in our downtown Charleston HQ. Construction was a long, tedious, and loud episode! I suspect many reading have undergone renovations to home or office while an active occupant. I’ll be A-okay if I never do that again! On July 29, 2016, we celebrated our 11-year anniversary by bringing all Austin teammates to Charleston for a three-day AdvantageStock celebration. It has now been 11 magical years in which we have helped 1000+ professionals from 44 U.S. states and 13 countries become authorities in their field.

We welcomed 20 new Team Members and 175 new Members to the Advantage Family from 32 states and 5 countries (an all-time high) and released 140 new books into the marketplace (another all-time high!) Advantage Members received acclaimed praise for their books, with feature stories in The New York Times, CNBC, and Fox just to name a few.

September 19-21 was our first “Master Series” workshop with the New Media Master Series in Austin with 23 Members in attendance. These events, which we aim to provide one or two times per year, are for no more than 25 Members, and are focused, hands-on workshops.

November 28 was a big day in the history of Advantage as we announced a long-term strategic partnership with Forbes Media, publisher of Forbes magazine. Together we created ForbesBooks, which integrates a highly successful Advantage publishing model with the famous Forbes brand and distribution platform, which includes 36 print magazine editions in 69 countries and 25 languages, 6.8M print readers in the U.S., 53M unique monthly visitors to, and 26M social media followers. Dubbed “The Best in Business,” ForbesBooks will be a premium publishing imprint for top CEOs, entrepreneurs, and professionals. This is a partnership I had been working on for more than a year, and I believe this is a “game changer” for Advantage.

For me personally, 2016 was a great year. I began it with a new set of eyes! I traveled to New York City to undergo LASEK. Anyone reading this letter who has ever considered such a thing, put the letter down and go make it happen! This is a life changer in so many ways. The procedure took a total of 2 minutes. My vision went from 20/600 to 20/18. Oh yeah, no pain! On the health and fitness side, I logged 201 strength workouts and 99 cardio. I managed 192 cruising miles on my bicycle (pathetic) and 156 holes of golf (I stink, so probably just as well). Travel was robust with 78 road nights for business and 45 road nights for fun/vacation (most of which were on weekends). I checked one new international location off my bucket listSt. Kitts/Nevis. I made 44 domestic trips (exact same number as last year) to 26 different cities. I managed to cross a few items off my bucket list. I attended the College Football National Championship, watching my Clemson Tigers lose a squeaker to mighty Alabama. I attended the Kentucky Derby with Advantage Member Jack Daly (first leg of Triple Crown). In my quest to watch a college football game at every Power 5 conference school, I visited Missouri, Baylor, and Florida State. I did visit Clemson to watch my Tigers take down Louisville and the Evil Empire (oops, I mean the SC Gamecocks). I traveled to Orlando to see Clemson win a second consecutive ACC Championship. With the #2 seed in the College Football Playoff, I will travel to Tampa for the National Championship game if we first get past Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl. I was honored in August to be chosen as chairman of the board for Clemson’s Spiro Entrepreneurship Institute.

I read books for 172 hours this year, resulting in 26 books complete, which exceeded my goal of 24. Audible contributed six books to the total, including two biographies that were over 40 hours long. Allow me to make a quick plug for Audible. When driving in the car, working the stairmaster at the gym, ditch the techno or AC/DC and listen to a book on Audible. What a great way to expand your mind! I have found biographies are best on Audible. My favorite book this year, by a mile, was Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike. Phil Knight’s story made me laugh and cry. I came away more inspired for the journey I am on as an entrepreneur.

Late this year, I began studying for and working on my private pilot license. Thus far, it has been an incredible journey. As an entrepreneur, I unfortunately have few hobbies. This has been a great one. Furthermore, it has been intellectually stimulating and challenging. From a practical perspective, it has enormous implications given the amount I travel. As I get further into my training, I continue to fall back on the same question: “Why didn’t I do this sooner?!?” What is that something you’ve always wanted to do that you will finally make happen in 2017?

In closing, thank you for being a part of the Advantage Family and allowing us to be a part of your life. It is our privilege to help share your Stories, Passion, and Knowledge with the world to Learn & Grow.

May your seas be stilled this holiday season, and may you find a bright sunrise in the new year.

Adam Witty * Jenn Ash * Harper Tucker * Michael Tasner * Pat Hanlon * John Witty * Patti Boysen * Rusty Shelton * Courtney Little * Emily Fisher * Alison Morse * Keith Kopcsak * Mitchell Broderick * Wesley Fang * Jonathan Falkenburg * Miranda Head * Corie Luzon * Ben Coppell * Olivia Iacovone * Brian Kreutz * Patti Conrad * Erin Williams * Sharon Emma * Scott Neville * Kirby Andersen * Alex Rogers * Eland Mann * Kristin Hackler * Keith Farrell * Josh Houston * Nate Best  * Helen Harris * George Stevens * Katie Biondo * Megan Elger * Josh Coleman * Arthur McKey * Brandon Procell * Laura Ortego * Andrea Sanchez * Jonna Palmer * Allison Looney * Steven Janiak * Anthony Aguilar * Tiffany Ballard * Sara Pence * Shelby Janner * Melanie Cloth * Deborah Ridgill * Carson Russell * Marshall Weber * Sam Joseph *Jonathan Olivo

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