Holiday Letter from the CEO 2019
Merry Christmas and Season’s Greetings to all Members of the Advantage Family, which includes our Advantage|ForbesBooks publishing/authority business, our Magnetic Marketing|No B.S. Inner Circle media business, and our BPR 360 software business. For some, this is the first holiday letter of mine that you have read. For others, it is the 10th as I started this tradition in 2010. Regardless of tenure, I hope this letter finds you healthy, wealthy, and wise and excited for the new year. I enjoy penning this letter. As a child, I remember sitting around the fireplace, wherein mom or dad would read the “Christmas letters” we’d received from friends and family. Although we may not see each other frequently, you are a very important part of our Advantage Family. Below is a condensed summary of the happenings of 2019.
2019 marked the first year of our new 5-year strategic plan, Road to 100K. Our BHAG is to help 100,000 Members/Subscribers annually grow their business. 2019 was a year of significant change. We spent the better part of the year organizing and positioning ourselves to capitalize on the opportunities ahead. To grow our business to serve 100,000 Members/Subscribers, we can’t do the same things and expect a different result. To quote Marshall Goldsmith’s famous book, What Got You Here Won’t Get You There, 2019 has been about calibrating our business around more scalable products.
At Advantage|ForbesBooks, we launched 130 new books into the marketplace. Our News & Experts PR + media team secured 117 radio interviews and 2,976 print or online placements. In June, ForbesBooks launched a partnership with Hudson Airport Stores. As of this writing we have 10 ForbesBooks titles in Hudson’s around the country, including the second edition of Rusty Shelton and my book, Authority Marketing, which is part of a big promotion for November, December and January. We expect to place 20-30 more titles in Hudson Airport Stores in 2020.
In October, we began offering international rights sales representation. Advantage and ForbesBooks titles were on display at the recent Frankfurt Book Fair. Our titles collectively received over 100 inquiries for translation into other languages by international publishers. Very exciting to see our Authors have a global reach! This fall we launched our Author Portal with 11 beta Authors. Beginning in January, all Advantage and ForbesBooks authors will have online access to manage their book project with us.
At Magnetic Marketing|No B.S. Inner Circle, we hosted two stellar national events. Our Marketing & Moneymaking SuperConference in March featured Steve Forbes, Ken Fisher, Alan Mulally, and Cordia Harrington. Diamond Members were recognized with a once-in-a-lifetime trip to the Southfork Ranch. We also hosted our Attraction, Conversion, and Retention Growth Summit in October with celebrity keynote speaker and Advantage Author Steve Sax.
The big news for 2019 for Magnetic Marketing|No B.S. has been the near passing of our founder Dan Kennedy. In early August, we were rocked with the terrible news that Dan’s health took a terrible turn, he was placed into in-hospital hospice, and his passing was imminent. For 8 weeks, Dan’s health remained in peril. Doctors expected that we would lose Dan at any moment. In early October, Dan’s health took a miraculous U-turn with blood work showing stabilization and recovery. Dan still has a long road to go and we are hopeful he will make a full recovery.
In December 2012, I read the book American Icon: Alan Mulally and the Fight to Save Ford Motor Company. Hands down, one of the best business books I’ve ever read. The book detailed Mulally’s miraculous turnaround of Ford Motor Company. I was fascinated with the story and Mulally’s use of a Business Plan Review. Each Thursday, Mulally gathered his leadership team and reviewed every key metric and color coded them Red, Yellow, or Green. On January 8, 2013 I held my first BPR at Advantage. I used MS Excel to start. Over the past 7 years, BPR has been a significant contributor to our success. In November 2018, I sent Advantage Team Member Brian Kreutz to Phoenix for a 6-month software accelerator. Brian and I believed that we could create a web-based software tool that would make it easier for Advantage (and perhaps others) to run this weekly meeting. I befriended Mulally, showed him what we were doing, and asked him to join us. This fall we launched BPR 360, a web-based software that tracks key metrics. The software automatically creates charts and graphs and allows for easy comparison to past performance and comparison to plan. We’ve begun on-boarding customers and have big marketing plans for 2020.
For me personally, 2019 was a busy year that was highlighted by engagement in March and marriage in November. As I pen this letter, I am just 5 days removed from our wedding celebration in Charleston. Many of you have met Advantage’s new “first lady,” and for those who haven’t, I can promise Erin would love to meet you. Erin loves Advantage as much as I do, and frequently joins me on business trips, speaking engagements, and conferences.
On the health front, I logged 164 strength and 183 cardio workouts. I logged a measly 46 hours in the cockpit this year, which was a personal low. Unlike previous years, travel was lighter with only 37 road nights for business (I now take more day trips so I can be home with my wife for dinner) and 43 road nights for bucket list pursuits or vacation (many which overlap weekends). I made 4 international trips, one for business, one for honeymoon, and two for purely personal pursuits. All 4 were new international locations I was able to check off my bucket list—St. Lucia, Iceland, Kenya, and Aruba. Within the USA, I visited 22 cities in 16 states. My most frequent domestic destinations were (1) Atlanta, (2) New York, (3) Orlando, and (4) Cleveland. I crossed two REALLY BIG experiences off my bucket list: (1) Grand Canyon Rim2Rim hike (26 miles and 8,000 feet of elevation change in 14 hours) with ForbesBooks Author Jack Daly and (2) an African safari. If you haven’t yet visited the Grand Canyon, by all means go. It is majestic and awe-inspiring. If you haven’t yet been on an African safari, I recommend you move that higher up on your list. Advantage Author Marilyn Murphy led a small group through the Maasai Mara. We saw everything: elephants, lions, leopards, cheetahs, giraffes, buffalo, etc. The highlight for Erin and I was spending one night at the Giraffe Manor in Nairobi. For some reason, I feel a kindred spirit with giraffe. 🙂 For the 3rd time in four years year, I attended the College Football National Championship in San Francisco, watching my Clemson Tigers dismantle Alabama (44-16) to win their second national championship in three years. Boy, that was fun! In my quest to watch a college football game at every Power 5 conference school, I checked 2 new schools off my list…Vanderbilt in Nashville and NC State in Raleigh.
I read books for 200 hours this year (an all-time high since I began keeping track in 2010) resulting in 31 books completed (15 more than last year), which fell slightly short of my goal of 36. My favorite was Dan Kennedy’s Almost Alchemy, a fascinating book for entrepreneurs who see themselves as marketers (which all should). My two favorite biographies were The Bonanza King and The Fish That Ate The Whale both recommended to me by ForbesBooks Author and Magnetic Marketing Cornerstone Partner Chris Hurn.
As we prepare for 2020, my cup overflows with enthusiasm. We are committed to Growing Entrepreneurs and Business to Benefit All Mankind. We are planning a few new things in 2020, while largely working to keep doing what we do better, to better serve you. Thank you for your friendship, confidence, and support. I am grateful for the positive impact you have had on me and our company as we experience this incredible journey together.
May your seas be stilled this holiday season and may you find a bright sunrise in the new year.
Adam & Erin Witty and the entire Advantage Family Team