The Bizz by AnyPromo.com

Business & marketing advice, news and features, design inspiration, and the art of gifting.

Too-Busy Chris Hardwick Shares His Time-Management Philosophy


Chris Hardwick is considered one of the busiest TV professionals today, hosting and contributing to a wide range of shows across several networks. The man somehow does too much with too little time, and here’s how he does it without burning out.


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by Fausto Mendez / photo by Fast Co.

    When Chris Hardwick isn’t hosting the new Comedy Central talk show @Midnight, he’s hosting AMC’s The Talking Dead, voicing Nickelodeon cartoons, getting nerdy on BBC’s The Nerdist, releasing podcasts, cracking up audiences as a stand-up comedian, pitching his next project, or…. well, the list goes on. I think you get the picture. He’s obviously Superman’s buddy the Flash in a suit & tie, or maybe he knows something we don’t.

    His achievements in the past few years would make anyone jealous. Thankfully, he’s willing to share his secret to success: utterly amazing time management. He shares 7 eye-opening tips in an interview with Fast Co, and the one about overcoming a creative block (similar to a “writer’s block”) is perhaps the most inspiring. 

"Even if what you’re coming up with is gibberish at first, you’re unsqueaking the wheel, and you might not notice the benefits right away, but after 15 minutes or so, you’ll find them. You just have to push through it. There’s no trick."

   Though he finds value in pushing through a creative or even physical slump, he warns not to over exhaust yourself.

"Your body tells you when you’ve taken on more than capacity. That’s when you start getting really anxious, or getting insomnia … It’s important to take some time off to recharge, even if it’s just a day or two. Sometimes my girlfriend and I will go to Disneyland, just to take a day off.”

   Keep in mind that you have limits. Sometimes, pushing through the block isn’t worth it, and your relentless drive starts to backfire. Learn how to read your body. Know what it needs in every moment, and give it that.

The Most Important Time-Management Skill: Know Yourself

    Knowing your body and decoding its messages are invaluable productivity tools, and that’s something I quickly learned after college. It’s amazing what a difference my level of performance is now compared to the first year out of school.

    For example, knowing the difference between a caffeine comedown and actual exhaustion is critical for a creative professional like myself, but I had no idea how to tell the difference during my student years. I’d caffeinate myself for way too long with way too much, and little did I know that less caffeine in the right moments goes much farther than tons of caffeine all the time.

    In a similar lesson, I had to figure out that exercise has a very positive effect on my my mental state. My focus and energy were annoyingly inconsistent as a student. As a professional, I discovered the difference between over-exhaustion and exhaustion from not being fit enough. Little did I know that my brain’s energy is directly affected by the state of fitness of my body. The more fit I am, the more my brain can handle, and I could have only learned this lesson by first learning myself.

    Knowing yourself is one the most important time-management skills that you’ll ever develop. Start there, and everything else will surprisingly fall into place. 


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How to do Better Business: Stellar Graphic Design Caused Massive Boost in Sales of Classic Novel Pride & Prejudice


In marketing, stellar design and great presentation are critical if your goal is to maximize brand awareness and sales, and this point is clearly illustrated with the sales spike in 2009 of the classic, heart-wrenching novel Pride & Prejudice


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by Fausto Mendez / photo by New York

    Design and presentation are often overlooked by too many small businesses because it can be costly (if you don’t know how to manage a graphic designer), and many hard-core, data-driven, business managers don’t believe that good design is worth their time and money. Personal opinions aside, it’s hard to argue with hard data, such as sales numbers. 

    In the above graphic, New York magazine put together an insightful bar graph of total sales of Pride & Prejudice at different points in time. For each point in time, Pride features a unique cover design. As you can see, less-exciting covers, such as the 1993’s text-book-looking Pride failed miserably. 

    However, the recent success of the Twilight novel series prompted Pride’s marketing team to design a cover that features a similar attitude as Twilight's cover. Clearly, Twilight's cover designer has a much better understanding of what moves the genre's target audience. The result was a massive spike in sales after the cover launched in 2009.


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How to Do Better Business: Van Halen Explains How to Filter Out Bad Business Partners


How can you do better business? Van Halen’s David Lee Roth explains how seemingly absurd demands in the band’s contracts filter out bad business partners.


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by Fausto Mendez / photo by Dawn Huczek

    Van Halen’s David Lee Roth was notorious for including absolutely absurd demands in the band’s touring contracts with venues. One famous demand, often called the “No-Brown-M&Ms Clause”, says that a big bowl of M&M’s must be provided backstage for the band, but that part is not so unreasonable. Here’s the kicker. The contracts demanded - under penalty of the show’s cancellation and full compensation to the band - that there be no brown M&Ms in that bowl. Bratty, right?

There’s a Method to David Lee Roth’s Madness

    Upon closer examination, it’s not madness at all. The No-Brown-M&Ms Clause is a strategic business move that protects the band’s personal safety and guarantees each show’s stellar quality. Roth explains how it works in his memoir Crazy from the Heat.

“Van Halen was the first band to take huge productions into tertiary, third-level markets.

We’d pull up with nine 18-wheeler trucks, full of gear, where the standard was three trucks, max. And there were many, many technical errors — whether it was the girders couldn’t support the weight, or the flooring would sink in, or the doors weren’t big enough to move the gear through. The contract rider read like a version of the Chinese Yellow Pages because there was so much equipment, and so many human beings to make it function.”

    With massive pieces of equipment and unprecedentedly technical shows, it became utterly critical for the venue staff to carefully follow all instructions. A simple weight miscalculation could easily result in killing the whole band, literally. Overlooking technical requirements could easily result in a poorly produced show that didn’t live up to the band’s standards.

    As a result, Roth had to figure out a way to filter out the irresponsible venues that didn’t pay attention to every detail in the contracts, not just for the band’s safety but also for the band’s success (and ultimately the success of the band’s record label). Roth’s best bet at making sure their venues were responsible enough and professional enough to pay attention to all the details was to make an absurdly stupid but easily verified demand in the contract with each venue. That’s when the No-Brown-M&Ms Clause found its way into the band’s contracts. 

“When I would walk backstage, if I saw a brown M&M in that bowl,” he wrote, “well, we’d line-check the entire production. Guaranteed you’re going to arrive at a technical error… Guaranteed you’d run into a problem.”

    The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande expands on the importance of the clause and how it saved the band’s life in at least one recorded incident.

"These weren’t trifles … The mistakes could be life threatening. In Colorado, the band found the local promoters had failed to read the weight requirements, and the staging would have fallen through the arena."

    When the No-Brown-M&Ms Clause first became public knowledge, it’s easy to see why the average person would disregard Roth as being a coked out maniac. On the contrary, his precise demands ensured the band’s success and health to the present day. 

Other Famous Tricks that Filter Out Bad Business Partners

   Henry Ford (or Thomas Edison?) supposedly had a similar trick for filtering out bad hires at his company. He would treat prospective employees to lunch, and legend says that if they added salt to their food without first tasting it, he would ultimately turn them down. The idea is to filter new hires that assume too much. The businessman behind the story changes every time I hear the story, so it could easily by a myth, not true.

    The famous Zappos.com is known for offering prospective employees a big bonus for quitting before they begin their jobs. The point is to filter out hires that don’t know how to identify the better deal. In this case, a quitting bonus is not the better deal.

    Jamie from the Discovery show Mythbusters asks news hires to drill a hole through an x in a wall. He would only hire people that asked further questions, such as, “how big?” 

    If you’ve ever searched for jobs on Craigslist, you may have noticed that some employers ask candidates to include a specific phrase in their cover letters. The goal is filter out new hires that don’t read the job listing from top to bottom.

What’s my Filter? I Test Writing Skills.

    In my own life, I carefully examine people’s writing ability and general communication skills, so I often ask folks to initially contact me by email. The goal is to filter out people that don’t remember basic skills or never cared to learn the fundamentals.

    If you can’t write a simple sentence with perfect grammar, what else didn’t you care to learn? If you can’t write, do you even care about your education? I don’t care if you can code a whole e-commerce site from scratch if you can’t clearly and easily communicate with me.

    Similar to Roth’s No-Brown-M&Ms clause, the test also filters out folks that don’t pay attention to simple details. It also makes it easy to identify people that aren’t self aware. Too many spelling and grammar errors make you look really bad, and if you can’t see that, you’ll never see my vision.

    It takes critical thinking and organizational skills to put together a well-written piece of text. The writing-skills test has never failed me, and whenever I overlook a candidate’s writing ability, it always comes back to bite me. How do you test potential business partners and prospective hires?

Illegally Perfecting All-Natural Ice Cream with Nitrogen in Silicon Valley


Stanford Grad Robyn Fisher started her business by illegally selling all-natural ice cream on the street next to unemployed chefs. Today, she’s the proud owner of the super popular Smitten Ice Cream shop.


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By Fausto Mendez / Photo by Robyn Fisher

    Wired interviewed Stanford Grad Robyn Fisher on her recent successes as the owner of a made-to-order, all-natural ice cream shop that started out as an illegal operation on the street.

Wired: When you launched, it was sort of a pirate ice cream enterprise wasn’t it? Not strictly legal?

Fisher: At that time I started getting my ice cream out there in 2009, all these chefs had been laid off from restaurants. So they went to the streets to sell their food, and I joined them. We used Twitter and Facebook and about 12 of us would set up in a park or on the street and say “come and get it before the cops come.” It was totally not legal. We would get hundreds of people coming, and it was amazing. I learned so much from all of those street food chefs about pricing, marketing all sorts of things.”

    Fisher partnered up with laid off chefs to improve her recipes and business model. Around the same time, she also perfected the art of using nitrogen, all-natural ingredients, and a custom mixer to instantly freeze the ice cream sans freezer, and it’s not just flashy tech for flashy tech’s sake.

    The nitrogen technique creates the perfect texture in ice cream because the instant freeze enables her to skip some of the chemicals that ice cream makers inject into their product in order to achieve similar textures. Fisher does a really great job of explaining the science behind the cream during the interview.

"Wired: I know ice cream is cold, but what does the nature of ice crystals have to do with how good the ice cream is?

Fisher: The general gist of it is freezing speed makes all the difference in crystal size, and the smaller, the better for mouth taste and creaminess. Freezing speed is correlated with freezing temperature. So if you can freeze it really, really cold, you can get smaller ice crystals.

And if you can freeze really cold, you can freeze really fast. The benefit of that is if you make small enough batches you can freeze to order. Therefore you don’t need any of those extra ingredients that make ice cream far from natural.”

    Smitten Ice Cream is now one of San Francisco’s favorite ice cream spots, and it continues to reach new heights of fame as travelers from around the nation and the world visit the shop during their stay at the Bay Area.


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Four Tips to Help You Pitch to Venture Capitalists and Angel Investors


Pitching is perhaps one of the hardest things to do in business. You’re asking for a lot of money and - even more terrifying - faith in you and your ideas. Here’s some tips to seal the deal for your next pitch.


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By Fausto Mendez

    Back in March, Kate Rogers published an insightful piece on tips about pitching your ideas to VC investors, but the same tips can apply to many other types of pitches. These tips will stay relevant for decades to come. Here’s the second one.

Tip #2: 

"…one of the biggest mistakes companies are making today is thinking too small. That won’t get this VC veteran’s attention."

Finish reading this article at Fox Business.


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Recipes to Boost Focus in Meetings: Strawberries & Cream Dessert Cups #RBFM

By Fausto Mendez

    Pitching to a hungry audience is shooting yourself in the foot, so bring along some tasty treats - preferably sugary stuff - to boost client focus and mood. It WILL make a significant difference in the success or productivity of your meeting. This week’s #RBFM sugar spell: Strawberries & Cream Dessert Cups!

    This is certainly an interesting recipe. As always with our RBFM series, we search for outstanding and unique recipes that shock & awe with flavors, textures and visual appeal. The goal is to wow clients, partners and/or co-workers at your next meeting with a dessert that is so amazing (and sugary) that it actually improves their moods and nudges their opinions in your favor. Hunger is your enemy in the meeting room, so come prepared!

Step 1: The Grocery List

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+ Heavy whipping cream, (non-GMO) Chunks ‘O Fruit bars (available at Sam’s Club), strawberries, mini phyllo cups, vanilla, sugar, love. 

Step 2: Beat that Cream

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+ Beat the whipping cream, sugar, vanilla until you get some soft peaks. Mix in a melted Strawberry fruit bar for extra flavor.

Step 3: Fill ‘Em Up

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+ Fill the mini phyllo cups with the cream mix.

+ Cut some strawberries into little squares.

+ Cut some fruit bars into little squares. If you’re serving these at work (or away from where you’re preparing the dessert), you should dice the fruit bar at your destination. Obviously, ice cream melts, so you should refreeze the fruit bar at the destination, and then, cut the bar and add it to the cups. 

+ Next, add the squares of fruit bars, and finally top it all off with the strawberries. Serve ‘em quick; I imagine these would lose their visual appeal as they warm up to room temperature. 

+ Finally, thank The Gunny Sack for the original recipe and the gorgeous photos. 

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