One Rule That May Change How You Think About Marketing and Life

This year is the Year of 10%.

In baseball, what separates the average player from the “Hall of Famer” is 10% more hits. Average baseball players get a hit about two out of every ten times they get up to that plate.  If they could get a hit just one more time out of every ten at bats, they would  be destined for the Hall of Fame.

Just 10% better.

This year, I’m not going to help you make a radical transformation. I’m not going to get you to change everything about your marketing approach. Nope, who has time for that?

Instead, I’m going to help you get 10% better than you are right now. 10% is going to take you from the minors to the majors or from average to Hall of Fame. I’m going to show you how small changes in how you think and minor tweaks in what you do can massively increase your effectiveness. Sound good?

Let’s Start With One Very Simple Rule

Yes, one simple rule. One rule that can dramatically change the way you think about the world. One rule that can remove the limits of what is possible for you. One rule that can change what you can or cannot do with marketing.

And it’s one rule that my son is learning the hard way. You see, I just asked him to put his socks on.

Sure, putting on socks is easy…for you. You’ve long since figured it out and put on socks thousands of times.

But he hasn’t quite figured it out. To him, it’s seeming pretty impossible.

And I’m not quite sure how to teach another person how to put on socks. I guess I’ve never thought about it. I’m sure there are a thousand YouTube videos that have step-by-step instructions for a 3-year-old. But I’m confident with a little guidance (here’s the hole, put your piggies in there), he’ll get it with some trial and error.

What The Heck Does This Have To Do With Marketing?

We all have things that seem impossible to us. Maybe it is organizing a proposal submission. Maybe it’s writing a technical approach. Maybe it’s beating HOK, URS, or Jacobs. Maybe it’s bringing in a $10M contract. Maybe it’s getting your website to the top of Google.

Whatever your impossible is, there is one rule you need to remember:

Everything is Figureoutible!

These things seem impossible only because you’ve never done them before. But once you’ve done them once, twice, or a thousand times it’s surprising just how ridiculous the concept of those things being impossible is.

Isn’t it ridiculous that someone might think putting on a pair of socks is impossible? But if you’ve never put on socks before, it’s not as easy as you might think.

Running and Reading

Say what you will about Will Smith, he’s a wackjob scientologist or he’s an American hero who saved us from alien overlords. But he gave one of the best pieces of advice ever a few years back to children watching an awards show.


I’ve embedded the video above (which you can click on). Basically, he said there is no problem that you can have that someone hasn’t already figured out and written the answer down. And he’s right. The answer to any problem or challenge you have is out there. You just have to find it. And each day, finding those solutions gets easier and easier. Let me prove it.

Let’s say you never played the piano before and you decide you want to learn Paul McCartney’s “Maybe I’m Amazed.” Who wouldn’t want to be able to sit down in front of a piano and play that? But what’s the likelihood that you, someone who has never touched one before, could sit down in front of a piano and a couple hours later be playing that song? It’s impossible. Everybody knows it takes years and years to learn to play piano. And we are talking about “Maybe I’m Amazed,” not “Chopsticks.”

But remember…

Everything is Figureoutible!

And like that Fresh Prince says, someone has already figured it out. Here’s the proof.


Reality Check

You now have step-by-step instructions on how to play “Maybe I’m Amazed” in front of you. For God’s sake, the man has the letters on top of each key. But now you have to answer a question. Do I really want to play “Maybe I’m Amazed?”

You see, sometimes when we say, “that’s impossible,” what we are really saying is, “I would like to do that, if there is no effort required.” And you have to be honest with yourself. You’re not going to be able to watch that video, turn it off, walk over to the piano and play an amazing rendition of that song. No. Even with the answer in front of you, it’s going to take a few hours of work (and practice) to learn the song. There is just no getting around that. But if you truly want to do it, it has been figured out for you.

Opportunity looks a lot like hard work. You can do the work and capitalize on it, or you can make up some bullish*t excuse like, “it’s impossible.”

What Is Impossible?

Every day, we learn we have no clue what is impossible. Years ago, people thought it was impossible for someone to run a mile under four minutes. Experts said the human body couldn’t handle it.

That is, until Roger Bannister did the impossible on May 6th, 1954.


That opened the floodgates. 56 days after Bannister broke the four-minute mile, so did John Landy. Previously, Landy thought it impossible. Within the next year, 37 other runners had cracked the four-minute mile. And then 300 did the year after that.

You don’t know what’s impossible. I don’t know what’s impossible. And the “experts” don’t know what is impossible. Everything is impossible until someone does it, until someone figures it out.

Next time you are faced with a difficult or “impossible” task, just remember you now live by one rule:

Everything Is Figureoutable!

So, what are you going to figure out this year? Do me a favor and post it in the comments.



  1. Matt,

    Great post! You’re in step with a growing business zeitgeist that’s fighting against the old mentality regarding what is possible and impossible, as confirmed by others posting similar sentiments of late:

    What am I figuring out this year? How I will add my own voice to the growing chorus of trend-breakers, so that I can contribute to the betterment of stagnating corporate cultures who meekly accept “business as usual.”

  2. chris gardner says

    You should trademark the word “Figureoutable” Like it mucho

  3. This post makes me excited to think of all the “figureoutable” moments I hope to have in 2014 and make them happen.

  4. Bernie Siben says

    This is great stuff, Matt. I tell people all the time that what distinguishes a marketing mind-set from others is that, when confronted with a wall, others give up. Marketers look for a way over, under, around or through. We know there is always more than one way to get someplace. Think of MapQuest, and how it lets you choose which of two or three routes you’d like to take, and then gives you the appropriate directions. By the way, I think Chris Gardner is correct: you should trademark “Figureoutable”–really!

  5. Matt, I couldn’t agree with you more! Up until two months ago, I was not responsible for producing proposal. And now, writing proposals is now I’m doing it almost on a weekly basis. It was challenging to figure out, and I’m not perfect but I am getting better. It was ” figureoutable”


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