Marvin Liao 500 Startups

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Hey everyone! Today, we are joined by Marvin Liao who is a partner at 500 Startups, a micro venture capital firm with a network of startup programs located in Silicon Valley.

Tune in to hear how Marvin worked at Yahoo and helped them scale, how his businesses stand out above their competitors plus listen in to hear him give you a list of his most successful investments to date – including being the first person to invest in ManyChat!


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Dave Chesson Kindlepreneur

Hey everyone! In today’s episode, I share the mic with book marketing genius and author Dave Chesson, Founder of Kindlepreneur and Publisher Rocket.

Tune in to hear some of the pitfalls Dave sees with new authors, strategies you can take you to the next level and the kind of credibility that writing a book can give you to skyrocket your professional career.


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Why Strategy Days Are Key to Taking Your Business to the Next Level

The Single Grain schedule works like this: Monday through Wednesday, we’re in the office. Thursday through Friday, we’re at home. Being in the office together offers space for good collaboration, and time at home allows us to get actual work done.

For Fridays, I like to block out the afternoon. In fact, I have a calendar block that says, “Do not disturb strategy.” This is the time where I try to disconnect and start thinking about things that we as a team could be doing better. I could go to the beach and completely separate myself from the constant work and thoughts I’m surrounded by on a typical day.

Learn More: The Power of Blocking Out Your Time for Business Growth

The Importance of Strategy Days

Strategy days are good for me because they give me an opportunity to have a clearer and more objective look at the company. I can ask myself key questions, think on action items, and talk with my team to implement them.

I ask myself questions like:

I make sure to help myself out in getting a real habit going. I put templates I can use for “Strategy Days” in Evernote.


In my calendar invite, I include key questions I should be asking myself ahead of time. I’m carving time out every week, I’m repeating these things over and over and the goal is to have at least one meaningful insight from each of these sessions.

If I can take away even one thing, that’s a win. One key idea or breakthrough can make a world of difference for your business.

Give Yourself Time to Ponder

When you’re doing so much, you don’t have time to step back and say, “Well maybe we need to make some changes.” You don’t have time to strategize and grow your business for the long term.

In order to give yourself more of that time, think of your business as a baby. You don’t just feed and clothe and comfort your baby—you also need to think about how you can continue to nurture it so that it grows into a happy, healthy adult one day.

I have a friend who marks Wednesdays as his strategy days. He doesn’t go into the office but he gives himself space to think. He studies up on marketing and looks at what other people are doing. Some people listen to an audiobook or a podcast or read a blog post or a book.

Don’t Get Stuck in a Rut

If you keep doing the same things over and over, you’re just going to be stuck with the same results. You have to keep thinking about how you can innovate. You have to approach an issue from every angle.

Learn More: What to Do When Your Business Growth Hits a Wall

If somebody else is trying to eat your lunch, what would you do to stop them? On the flip side, if you were in their shoes and trying to eat someone else’s lunch, how would you do it? You want to constantly think about how to go on both offense and defense at the same time because things are always changing. You never know what could happen. There could be a stock market crash in the next minute.

Block out some time. How much time depends on you. Maybe you don’t need half a day or maybe you actually need a full day. Just make sure you block out that alone time for you to think. If you’re reacting to emails constantly and picking up calls all the time, you’re not really able to take a step back.

Taking the time to get that 10,000-foot view could be the key to taking your business to the next level.

This post was adapted from Eric’s Facebook Live videos: Growth 90 – DAILY live broadcasts with Eric Siu on marketing and entrepreneurship. Watch the video version of this post:

Sometimes you may find yourself doing so many things in one day that you actually lose track of what’s important and what isn’t.

That’s why I use a task prioritization chart that I take a look at every quarter or so. I want to keep track of what I’m actually working on every single day to see what I need to cut out, what I need to delegate, and where only I can make an impact.

My Task Prioritization Chart

Personally, I divide all of my tasks by expected ROI.

Task prioritization chart

For example, I have a category for $10 per hour tasks, another for $100 per hour tasks, another for $1,000 per hour tasks, and finally one for $10,000 per hour tasks. These categorizations tell me how much I would have to pay someone else to get a specific task done right.

So if you find yourself doing $10 tasks when you’re running a six- or seven-figure business, you probably need to rethink your priorities. On the flip side, you probably don’t want to be delegating the $10,000 per hour tasks out to anyone—that’s where you could be making the biggest impact yourself.

Related Content: The Power of Blocking Out Your Time for Business Growth

Things like cold calling, talking to unqualified prospects, doing expense reports, or scheduling social media probably shouldn’t be done by you. I know you see guys like Gary Vaynerchuk engaging on social media all the time, but that makes sense for Gary because he has branded himself as a social influencer.

Gary Vaynerchuk

When to Delegate and When to Do It Yourself

Think about the tasks that you do every single day. Whether you’re using a calendar or Evernote, look at what you’re doing every single day and then look at the last couple weeks. I have a daily to-do list and I’ll look back at last month or last quarter and realize, “Wow, I shouldn’t be working on this.”

As time goes on and your company grows, it’s your job to take more things off your plate and delegate it to other people. This is why companies hire other people. Your managers get stacked up with work, too. They need to hire people as well.

Hiring is one of the most important things you can do because you’re focusing on assigning each person in your company to their proper task category in order to maximize the ROI of human effort.

Learn More: Ultimate Guide to Building a World Class Team

Let’s look at $100 an hour tasks, like talking to qualified prospects, doing social media, managing pay-per-click campaigns, doing customer follow ups, and so on. Customer follow ups, for example, are super important, so you probably don’t want to categorize it as a $10 an hour task and delegate it out to someone who doesn’t do it right. You could, but your business might suffer as a result.

Now let’s look at $1,000 per hour tasks, like building your marketing or sales funnel. If you want to have a marketing automation sequence that is perfectly optimized, that’s a big undertaking and a big time commitment. But you know it’s worth it for you because it’s going to pay dividends down the road.

This is a task that you could do yourself if your company is smaller. Not only can you probably not afford to hire someone to do this, you definitely do not want to hire a $10 per hour or $100 per hour person to do a $1,000 per hour job.

Focus on the $10,000 per Hour Tasks

Finally, there are the $10,000 an hour tasks. If you’re making seven figures per year, these are the tasks that you and your partners, if you have any, should absolutely be focusing on.

Related Content: The Entrepreneur’s Dilemma: How to Juggle Multiple Projects and Have a Life, Too

A lot of these high-priority tasks are things that sometimes only you can do. For me, it could be throwing an event or a dinner, or interviewing people on my Growth Everywhere podcast.

Growth Everywhere YouTube channel

Same thing with Marketing School—it has to be me personally doing this each time with Neil. Public speaking or podcasting requires me to actually be there in person to make the biggest impact.

But what I can probably start to offload are the live webinars that I do. Maybe somebody else can take that on. Maybe that becomes a $100 per hour task.

Planning, Prioritizing and Delegating

Once you’ve identified the $1,000 or $10,000 per hour tasks that you should be doing yourself, you want to make a game plan for how you’re going to tackle those tasks both on a daily basis and over time. If you need to have somebody else do that for you, like a project manager, then you’re basically out of control. You may no longer see the bigger picture.

On the other hand, the tasks that you’ve identified as able to be delegated, whether it’s a web development project or a new marketing campaign, you should absolutely not take on yourself, even if it is tempting. You need to find the right talent, give very specific instructions, and then take a big step back.

So try this out if you haven’t before. Create a task prioritization chart or matrix with $10, $100, $1,000, and $10,000 per hour categories. Prioritize your tasks and then share the document with your team as well so they know where you’re at and they know what you should be working on.

Remember, if you ever start to slip back into $10 per hour tasks such as project management and things like that, you need to get them off your plate immediately.

This post was adapted from Eric’s Facebook Live videos: Growth 90 – DAILY live broadcasts with Eric Siu on marketing and entrepreneurship. Watch the video version of this post:

The Best Way to Be as Productive as Possible Every Day

Today I’m going talk about productivity. Specifically, how I stay productive.

Sometimes, when you have a laundry list of shitty to-dos, (I call them STDs), a lot of stuff just doesn’t end up getting done.

That’s why I usually aim to do just one to three things for the day— and usually before my workday actually starts.

Hopefully, you have the freedom to block out time for yourself where you can actually get the most important stuff done. I find for myself it’s best in the morning. For other people, it’s at night.

How to Block Out Your Workday

For example, Google “Michael Hyatt better week” and you should be able to find “How to Better Control Your Time by Designing Your Ideal Week.” Michael Hyatt (host of the weekly podcast This is Your Life) blocks out time from 5-5:30 a.m. That’s his quiet time, and it’s sacred. He reads, works out, goes through his email, and then he’s dressing up to go to work.

On Mondays, he has all his one-on-ones. On other days, he’s traveling, doing financial reviews, having ad hoc meetings, etc. The point is, it’s all blocked out after 5:30 a.m. because he already gave himself his quiet time. So, for the rest of the day, he’s very deliberate with his time.

Related Content: How ‘Getting Things Done’ Author David Allen Grew A Massive Productivity Movement Over 2 Million People Strong

If you aren’t that deliberate with your time, or if you aren’t in the habit of blocking out every hour of your workday, it may be useful to know just how much time you’re spending on any given activity. Try to track your time using a free tool like RescueTime.

Rescue Time


It runs in the background and tracks which sites you’re on the most, what apps you use a lot, etc. I find myself using email a lot because I delegate a ton of stuff so that I can focus on important high-value tasks.

Related Content: 15 Time Saving Zapier Workflows That Will Generate More Revenues

How to Block Out Your Leisure Time

That’s not to say that you should never block out time after work and just wing it. In fact, the more I work and the more I budget my time, the more I’m convinced that the key to happiness is about being very intentional with your down time.

Going back to Michael Hyatt, he always has date nights on Fridays with his wife, and he makes time for his kids and his friends in a very structured way. So not only is he very deliberate with his work time, he’s just as intentional with his leisure time.

date night


That’s not Michael, by the way. 🙂

Most people who say that they’re too busy to do something are usually anything but busy—they’re just constantly overwhelmed because they’re not good at managing their time.

And because they’re not good at managing time, they’re unproductive and stressed out.

Time Management Is Essential for Success

A huge part of entrepreneurship and business building is recognizing that if something is a priority, you’re going to have to make time for it and put it first. Even if you’re working a full-time job, you can still block out time in the evening to work on what you want.

Related Content: 10 Ways Successful Entrepreneurs Stay Productive All Day Long

I’m not saying you should just become a workaholic. Everyone needs their down time, alone time, time with friends, etc. If you want to watch TV and be entertained—by all means. But if you want to be productive, then be productive. Block out time for whatever’s important to you and be disciplined about how you spend your time. That’s the best way to avoid getting distracted.

I use Evernote. For example, I need to plan out the live event for this month that I’m doing, which is going to be like a happy hour in Los Angeles with about 20 to 30 people. Then I have a dinner planned for next week with a group of entrepreneurs. Then I have a bunch of meetings today.


When I look at my Fridays, for example, my afternoon is completely blocked out, but for Michael Hyatt, he blocks out the whole day. I think that’s actually better to block out the whole day for thinking, for planning about you want to do the following week and figure out if you need to be adjusting your strategy or not.

My big goal for 2017 is finishing my book. Then I also plan to travel to Japan for three weeks in July and also hire a GM to help run Single GrainI have a bunch of in-person events that I want to go to, there’s a bunch of conferences that I want to go to, and I want to throw some meetups, too.

Another thing I do is write in my five-minute journal at the very end of the day before I go to bed. One of the things I answer is: “What’s one thing that you can improve on?” Over and over, as I flipped through it for 2016, the recurring theme was patience. I tend to get things done quickly, so I want things done quickly. But I can’t expect everything to just happen quickly. If I actually reflect on the last year, looking at all the things that were accomplished, it’s actually pretty amazing, right?

Check out my Medium post called Crafting A Morning Ritual Combo That Works For YOU.

So, in order to be productive today, this month and this year, you have to block out the time for everything that’s a priority. 

Related Content: Establishing a Morning Routine that Works For You

Recognizing Opportunity Is also Essential for Success

Now I’m going to do a 360 and say that while a blocked-out calendar is the best way to be as productive as possible, you should still carve out some time for unexpected opportunities.

For example, Jacobo Lumbreras (listen to his podcast here) has a fantastic story about how he got started with his current business. After his U.S. startup failed, he was literally about to go to the airport to fly back to Spain and never return when Keith Ferrazzi, the author of Never Eat Alone, called him and said, “Hey, why don’t you come stay with me?”

Picking up that phone call changed his life.

How do you achieve your results? What’s some insane stuff that you can do to be more productive?

This post was adapted from Eric’s Facebook Live videos: Growth 90 – DAILY live broadcasts with Eric Siu on marketing and entrepreneurship. Watch the video version of this post:

how to build a self sustaining content marketing engineMore content than ever is being produced today as more businesses are understanding the need to operate as a media company.

And that’s fair. The results from content marketing cannot be denied:

How To Build A Self-Sustaining Content Marketing Engine(1)

So the question is this: how do you create a self-sustaining content marketing engine? An engine that can operate efficiently with all the moving parts flowing as one?

I’ve gone through this exercise a few times (and failed in the process).

In this post, I’m going to give you a template to build your own content marketing engine. Every business is different, so take what makes the most sense and integrate it into your company.

Free Bonus Download: Get a list of 10 insanely actionable first steps for maximizing your content – actionable advice to help you get started not found in this post! Click here to download it free.

1. The Team

If you’re going to create a content marketing engine, you’re going to need help. One person can’t do it all alone.

Here’s an example of how a team might be set up for a small company:

Let’s talk about these roles for a little bit:


The editor is responsible for making sure your content is up to par, gets scheduled, and follows your content process. In a sense, they can be seen as the executor of your content machine. For larger companies, you might have a Content Marketing Manager, Director of Content Strategy, VP of Content or Chief Content Officer.

Where to find good editors:


The designer helps make the imagery of your content look nice. Keep in mind that how your images and graphics look reflects upon your brand and that content with great imagery gets more engagement

Where to find good designers:

Social Media Specialist/Individual Outreach

The social media specialist will listen to and engage with your audience. They’re also responsible for curating content that your audience might be interested in. If you’re wondering what your self promotion to outside content ratio should be, I suggest going with 1:4. This means that for every self promotional share, you should have four curated shares.

Individual outreach involves reaching out to:

It’s tedious work finding the right contact information and then e-mailing people, following up, and repeating this over and over. In an ideal world, this would be a role in itself. Probably somebody more junior.

If you are part of a smaller team, I suggest training this person in individual outreach and paid content promotion. Smaller team members need to wear lots of hats and these responsibilities fit this individual best.

Where to find great social media specialists:

Paid Advertising Specialist

The paid advertising specialist will help promote content on paid channels such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Gmail, LinkedIn and more. Promoting content through paid advertising is a growing trend and I think it’s the way of the future.

For example, right now we are paying for cold traffic to come to our blog posts and we’re collecting e-mails for $2.88 per e-mail. That’s a GREAT deal for us.

Where to find great paid advertising specialists:

For a more in-depth look at how a content marketing team should be organized, take a look at this post by Content Marketing Institute.

Here’s what their ideal workflow looks like:

How To Build A Self-Sustaining Content Marketing Engine(

2. Ideation


Draw up a mind map of your workflow in MindMeister.

The next step is coming up with fresh ideas for your audience. 

Here are a few good ways to get started:

Swipe Files contains many marketing swipe files that you can use for inspiration. You can pull landing page/image inspiration for your own purposes.

I also regularly use Evernote to clip evergreen blog posts so that I can refer back to them.

Feedly is also a great place to keep an inventory of your favorite blogs. With Feedly, I can scroll through my feed really quickly and look for inspiration. Here’s an example:

How To Build A Self-Sustaining Content Marketing Engine

One of my personal favorites is using Twitter lists to keep tabs on certain industries. For example, I made a list of venture capitalists that I like to follow and I always get value from checking up on it every day:

How To Build A Self-Sustaining Content Marketing Engine

Free Bonus Download: Get a list of 10 insanely actionable first steps for maximizing your content – actionable advice to help you get started not found in this post! Click here to download it free.

Team Brainstorming

Making good use of your team is one of the most powerful ways to come up with great ideas.

Moz has a great set of tips for running a great brainstorming session right here:

How To Build A Self-Sustaining Content Marketing Engine

Look For What’s Working

Utilize tools like Google Trends and Google Display Planner to see what’s trending. Keyword Tool is another great way to see keyword volume not only on Google, but on YouTube as well.

How To Build A Self-Sustaining Content Marketing Engine

I personally love using SEMrush to take a look at what competitors are doing in terms of PPC and SEO. BuzzSumo is great for looking at how content is performing socially.

Here’s an example use case for BuzzSumo:

Let’s say I’m interested in looking at top performing content for ‘link building’. I’ll go to the ‘Content Research’ tab in BuzzSumo and enter “link building”:

How To Build A Self-Sustaining Content Marketing Engine

Because we’re in the ideation phase right now, I’d like to

a) Export all these results, and

b) Create an alert for this phrase so I can continually monitor it.

Just thinking off the top of my head, maybe I can create an alternate version of the first result. How about ‘How to Use Pinterest for SEO: Link Building’? Might be worth a shot.

Look For What’s Working in Terms of SEO

Although you can use BuzzSumo to see what type of content is being linked to, its specialty is not in SEO. Instead, I turn to Ahrefs when I do my SEO analysis. Ahrefs is a paid SEO tool (minimum $99/mo) but I think it’s well worth it for the insights that it provides.

Let’s continue to build off of our search for top ‘link building‘ content:

How To Build A Self-Sustaining Content Marketing Engine

Similar to BuzzSumo, I’d create an alert and export these results. The only difference here is that Ahrefs is focusing more on SEO metrics such as ‘Domain Rank’ rather than social shares.

What’s Working Well in Other Industries?

Check out this ad by Squatty Potty:

The ad is pure genius because it’s a product that isn’t necessarily easy to advertise. Who wants to talk about optimizing pooping?

But that’s exactly what they did. They even have me talking about their poop product right now.

The ad is funny and educational. And remember: ads are content marketing too.

Watch this ad and think about how you can create something funny and educational. And keep in mind that it doesn’t have to be a unicorn pooping out rainbow ice cream! 😉

Free Bonus Download: Get a list of 10 insanely actionable first steps for maximizing your content – actionable advice to help you get started not found in this post! Click here to download it free.

3. Promotion

The third step is promotion. I’ve covered this extensively in my content promotion piece. If you’re pressed for time, here’s the high level:

4. Continue to Refine

Every quarter, take a look at your processes and make adjustments accordingly. Things change quickly in the online world.

The best technologies of today might be inferior in 90 days. A search algorithm change may put a wrench in what you’re doing.

Constantly tweak and refine your processes or your content engine will start falling apart. It’s the same thing as maintaining your car.

Here are some tools you can use to keep your processes in one spot:

How To Build A Self-Sustaining Content Marketing Engine

Put in the effort to track all the work that your team is putting in. Moz has a fantastic case study about simple KPI dashboards right here. Here’s a little more insight from their founder, Rand Fishkin:

When you have created your dashboards, get your team together and walk through each metric and its importance. After that, assign each dashboard to stakeholders and revisit the numbers each month. Everyone should take a look at the numbers and have input on what they’d do next.

5. Content Marketing Team Tools

We’ve selected a few tools that make our lives easier when it comes to content marketing:

  1. CoSchedule – CoSchedule allows us to manage our content like a true editorial team. It includes editorial calendars, allows us to schedule social posts directly, and assign tasks to our team.
  2. Buffer – Buffer is a social media scheduling tool that allows us to queue posts ahead of time. The analytics are also very helpful.
  3. MeetEdgar – Edgar allows us to create a ‘library’ of posts where we can continue to resurface older evergreen content on a set schedule. If you’ve spent a lot of time on creating great content, it just makes sense to continue to put your good work on display since social media is so fleeting.
  4. BuzzSumo – As discussed above, BuzzSumo helps us find content that is performing well and influencers who are sharing specific content.
  5. Slack – Our communication tool. Outside integrations allow us to push new blog posts into channels so our team is instantly notified. This gets us all on the same page to start promoting at the same time.
  6. Zapier – Integrates with most of the web applications we use. For example, we can have our blog RSS feed connect with Buffer automatically to push new content out automatically.
  7. Dropbox – File storage.
  8. Evernote – Popular note-taking tool.
  9. Google Drive – File storage.
  10. LeadPages – When we write content, we’ll often add a content upgrade to help increase e-mail subscribers. LeadPages has a feature called ‘LeadBoxes’ that makes this easy to do.
  11. Ahrefs/SEMrush – Mentioned above. These tools give us a deeper look into a site’s SEO: inbound links, overall score, keywords a domain is ranking for, etc. They also provide insight into SEM campaigns.
  12. Feedly – Mentioned above. This allows us to consolidate our favorite RSS feeds and Buffer posts for curation.
  13. LibSyn – LibSyn is a podcast hosting service that allows you to store all your podcast episodes. They also have features that will push your podcast automatically to SoundCloud for more distribution.
  14. Google Analytics – Google’s free Analytics tool.
  15. Screenflow – Screenflow allows us record tutorials both for internal and external purposes.
  16. GoToWebinar – This allows us to host live webinars each week. We use GoToWebinar specifically because it integrates with LeadPages. An alternative to GoToWebinar is Zoom (cheaper and more features).


Creating a content machine is an investment that will start to pay dividends down the road. As your content team continues to grow, it’s important to create a self-sustaining process so that everything flows smoothly.

What are some other important content marketing processes you’d add?

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GB 111 - How checklists can help grow your business

Today I want to talk about the importance of having checklists. I’ve alluded to it in the past, but they’re so important to grow your business, I think they deserve their own little segment.

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6 marketing extensions for google chrome
Welcome to another episode of Growth Bites. Today we’ll talk about six marketing extensions for Google Chrome that I like to use – but if you don’t use Chrome, there’s a good chance that there’s a version available for your browser of choice.

  1. SEOquake for Chrome: If I’m looking at a website, this tells me how many links it has based on Open Site Explorer from Moz and Majestic SEO. It also looks at the number of indexed pages, Alexa for the specific URL’s page rank, and SEMrush stats. It pulls data from so many sources, including QuantCast and Compete because it understands that no one tool is 100% accurate, so it gives you a happy medium to look at. [01:25]
  2. Buffer: For social sharing, I prefer to just read an article and share it directly rather than going back into whatever dashboard I’m using. It also had robust analytics, account sharing, scheduling. It’s a clean interface that helps me look at social media with a more analytical mindset and see which posts are performing the best. [02:36]
  3. Majestic SEO: This extension looks at a website and tells me how many links were acquired over time and includes info on the link quality, anchor text and other useful data. It gives you a history of the last 12 months, and how many links are going to root domains, sub domains, etc. [03:35]
  4. Moz: When I do a Google search for a specific website, I can see the page authority, the domain authority (their version of page rank), social shares, and the ability to dive deeper into the data and what it means by exporting the data for analysis, but you do need a paid account. [04:26]
  5. Evernote: I use Evernote for everything – if I read something good and evergreen online, I use the Evernote Web Clipper, which saves me a lot of time. I use Evernote for to-dos, planning, marketing, and everything in general. [05:30]
  6. Scraper: If I have a list of 100 sites on one page, ideally I wouldn’t have to enter them in one-by-one if I want to build a content marketing outreach list. I can right-click and it will export 1 to 100 to a Google Doc, which makes my life way easier. You can get creative with Scraper with [06:15]

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Startup Stock PhotosWelcome to another episode of Growth Bites. Today we’re talking more about my favorite mac apps. Catch up on yesterday’s episode if you haven’t already to get caught up on my first round of favorite apps.

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