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December 29, 2017



The other day I had the absolute pleasure of sitting down with a local entrepreneur in the ideation stage of her business. She’s working out details about her target market and to a certain extent her offerings.

At one point she said, “I’m going to take the next year to try to get this idea off the ground…” And then she paused and started apologizing for using the word “try”. We all know what Yoda says, right?

“Do or do not. There is no try.”

Well, I’m here to tell you that Yoda is full of shit.

Give Entrepreneurs a Break

We punish entrepreneurs for using words like “try” because we think that it’s a condemnation of how serious they are about their project. We tell people to read The Secret and understand that if a cheque for hundreds of thousands of dollars doesn’t appear in their bank account, it’s because you just didn’t want it bad enough.

It’s a bunch of bs.

Understanding that my business might not be successful does not, in itself, diminish the chances it will succeed. I’m not half-assing it by saying that I’m going to try to build my business to X level over the next year. We don’t always meet projections in business. Sometimes things are within your control and sometimes they’re not. Sometimes great business ideas don’t work out.

I’ll Be Over Here…Hustling

Honestly, I’m too busy “trying” to make my business successful to worry about whether my use of the word “try” or “work” or “experiment” upsets your sensibilities about how serious I am. I’m too busy building shit to worry about whether or not my vocabulary indicates to you that I’m serious.

During that meeting, we spent a good deal of our time talking about developing a business strategy. We talked about creating assets. We talked about developing buyer personas and marketing funnels. We spent about 1 minute talking about vocabulary.

I’ve written before about the idea that the words we use are a lot less important than what we actually do. There are exceptions. Our vocabulary should be inclusive. It should be accepting. As far as I’m concerned, that’s as far as you should concern yourself about verbiage. There are 3 things that I’d recommend you do instead of worrying about “trying”.

Develop Brand Fanatics

We can do all the digital marketing and strategic planning that we want, but there is not (and likely will never be) a method more successful for building your business than having fans. Fans recommend you whenever they can. Fans are in your corner. Fans send business your way.

Some people want to come to you, receive your product or service and walk away. But some people yearn to be connected. They yearn to be a part of your story. So make them a part of your story. Include them in your messages. Reach out to them. Make sure they know how important they are to you and your business.

Over the past 6 years, I would say that 2-3 brand fanatics have been responsible for 30-50% of my business. I don’t worry about “trying”. I work to make sure my clients are happy beyond a reasonable measure.

Just Be Awesome

There’s a quote that I really love and that I think about all the time. I’m probably wrong about who the quote is by because of THANKS, INTERNET.

“Be so good they can’t ignore you” – Steve Martin

The point is that people who are passionate (and have a good plan to go along with that passion) are magnets. When you spend your time being awesome and working on your product and your service and how you interact with your clients, you don’t have to spend any time explaining to people that you’re not “trying”, you’re “doing”.

Build Your Superhero Squad

I talk all the time about surrounding yourself with incredible people. I even wrote a book about it. There are a few reasons that I think it’s a great idea but here’s the part that I think is most important, as it relates to this conversation; great people don’t care about verbal logistics.

When you surround yourself with incredible people they’re going to; celebrate your wins, support and critique your losses and be honest about what you need to do.

As I told the person I was meeting with, I don’t care how you talk about building your business. I care THAT you build your business. I don’t equate the word “try” with “fail”. I understand that some people do. I don’t hang out with those people.

So what’s next? Well, you could use your Jedi mind tricks to overcome strategic shortfalls, and buy a thesaurus to find a word that means try…but isn’t try. You could watch Star Wars and do push-ups to get excited. You could psychological will VC funding to be deposited into your bank account.


You could stop explaining your commitment level to people and go work your ass off.

I’d recommend the latter.


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