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Please don't make this mistake in your business. It will RUIN you.

Every now and then, you stumble on something that makes you want to hit your head against the wall.

And it’s often when people make a large, glaring mistake. A mistake that should be self explanatory, but they make it anyway.

Here’s the full story…

Over on Facebook, I republished my video about why I think discounting is for idiots. And someone shared their opinion of my video:


Now this is remarkable.

First, let’s talk about the big elephant in the room. They tell me I’m an idiot, and that they suggest businesses LIE to their customers.

But that’s not even the main point.

Instead, they’re not paying any mind to what I’m sharing because they don’t agree with it.

I’m not surprised by this though. There’s something known as selective exposure theory in psychology, and the long and short of it is: people look for information that affirms their pre-existing beliefs instead of contradicts them.

Now here’s the thing:

The mistake I’m sharing with you today has nothing to do with discounting. And it has nothing to do with lying.


When you’re running your business, you should NEVER – and I mean NEVER – shoot down the advice of other people. Even if you think it doesn’t apply to you. Even if you think the other person is wrong.

Now this doesn’t mean you should believe everything you read.

Far from it.

I’m cynical. And skeptical. And everything I read, I take with a grain of salt. However, no matter how smart or dumb people sound, I always approach every scenario with the mindset of, “What can I learn from this?”

That’s why I read books about art history, copywriting, memoirs of fashion executives, and more.

Even if something doesn’t apply to me, I make it apply.

And that’s the secret.

If someone presents something to you that contracts what you know, you don’t have to change your mind and believe them. But you should ask yourself, “What do they know that I don’t?”

Even in this example, maybe they know something about discounting that I don’t. And even if they don’t, I still used their comments as a teachable moment for you.

So from this point forward, I implore you to never make the mistake this person made. I want you to use every experience as an opportunity to learn something new. Because in my experience, the best ideas comes from the dumbest things.

And I don’t want you to miss out on any of it.

Now here’s what I want you to do…

What’s one comment or critique you’ve received in your business (or life) that you didn’t agree with. How can you turn that into a teachable moment or a lesson? Leave a comment.

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46 comments Leave a comment
Spencer Goldade

I once had a vision for my company to build a community where budding artists and designers could come for education, collaboration and other help. A good friend of mine that I had a lot of respect for told me I had delusions of grandeur. Cut like a knife.

Michael Belk

Derek, I believe just like you that all people have something to offer. Too many people want credit for coming up with the best idea.

I get advice all the time and I use some of it and discard the rest.

I always bounce ideas off a close friend of mine. Even though they doubt if I am listening, I am taking notes to apply it to my life or like recently I was convinced to change the way I do business.

Mike Forgie

When I quit my job to work for myself one of my family member said, “You don’t want to work for yourself. Get a job at a good company and have them pay for your health insurance. You want stability.”

Wrong, I did want stability, but I didn’t want to sit in some office all day. That teachable moment was that everyone has a different idea of success and what life should be. I am just not a 9-5 type of person, and that is fine by me.


My boss once told me ” Speak Intelligently”, in front of 8 people. Im guessing she only wants a sugar coated version of the truth. Or she is simply telling her employee she is dumb.

Aurelie Chazal

I once had a reader tell me that I should stop plagiarizing and start coming up with my own content. It’s different from your experience but in my case I knew the article he referred too was my own content. I even used personal anecdotes inside it.

I have no idea where his reaction came from but what I learned from it is that I needed to make the content I wrote sound more personal. Give it my own voice.

I really like your vision here. I also believe you can learn something from almost anything you read or hear, but most of the time you’ll need to read between the lines.


Someone told me she hated my business name, and after I paid lots of money on graphic design work, printing costs, etc. I was very offended by her comment because it took me years to come up with this name. I named my company after Coco Chanel’s suitor who gave her the money to start a hat shop that became the House of Chanel. He also happened to be married at the time of dating Chanel, and that’s why this woman didn’t like my name. She found it offensive to name a business after him (note: she doesn’t mind buying Chanel handbags though).

Anyways, I thought long and hard about what the woman said. And I came to realize one of the reasons why I like the name so much is because of the tarty history….it shows not even the most elegant woman is perfect. So, I kept my name, and the people that don’t like aren’t my target market!


As a photographer, people always try and tell me the prices I should charge, whether they have experience running a business or not. Friends always want you to charge more, strangers you’ve just met think that you charge a lot (you always get the ‘oh wow, what does a photographer actually do to charge that much?’)

I don’t dismiss all of that advice. I always ask why and want to hear their reasoning behind it. That will teach me a lot more than me thinking that I know all about my customers and pricing.


One time (and one time only) I had a client actually scold me for my proposal price to do her professional website. She was in my networking group which made it even more shocking. PLUS, at that time I was TOTALLY undercharging for my services.

Sometimes when people negatively criticize me, I have to work myself through it. But with her, there was no question! She was out of line.


My specialty is, and has been for decades, black and white graphite artwork. I have a passion for the art of light and shadow and it’s what I’m known for. Someone once suggested I might do better if I added some color. Nuff said.


hey nice article Derek. I remember watching the video for the “Don’t Discount” take you did and I remember being blown away by it because I had just not that long ago been reviewing the 4 day cash machine that Frank Kern put out with Mass Control several years ago. The whole premise for the 4 day cash machine was to offer a 50% discount on product and operate heavily on scarcity, promote to your list for 4 days. It was a good tactic and it works.

Watching your video though, really made me think about future implications of the tactic. I personally ran a lifetime membership promo for my membership site over a period of 5 days. It worked very well but still..like I said your video made me second guess the tactic a little…

I mean, does that mean I lose some of my target market because they are going to wait for the next promotion???

I don’t think an intelligent person can ignore your take on it. The troubling thing about it…like with so many things…is that it seems to come down to balance. Every single tactic you use will have a repercussion and you have to weight each one.

Thought provoking stuff man. Appreciate you posting it.


Puan Jay

“What do they know that I don’t?” <<<Yup never underestimate others, although they look like underperformed loser.

I personally know a person, who keeps a very low profile. People bad talk about him.

What they didn't know, this guy has a lot of successful business. If only, if only they knew it.


Oh .. if only more people listened to this. Sure discounting works if it’s your core strategy .. you’re a stack ’em high, sell ’em low retailer for example. But if you’re not you’re just giving away good money. Maybe you could do a video (if you haven’t already) on the maths of discounting. How giving away 5% means you have to sell HOW MANY MORE to make up that shortfall in profit. So many people don’t get that.


Quite a few years ago I had a Business in a store in a small own with 5 other businesses of the same type within 2 blocks. I was told I had a poor location, was too small, and could not compete etc etc.
So I gave better service, extra service and created new ways to help our customers. Some years later I was still there, still giving extra service and the others were all gone. Sometimes you have to take up the challenge and do what you know is correct.


I was once told by a manager at work that instead of being clear and direct with my coworkers (all male) that I should practice my “soft skills” because I would “need them to be a mother.” I asked him if he had made that suggestion to my male counterpart since he’d need his soft skills to be a father. His expression was priceless. The lesson I took was not to be overly impressed by someone just because they seem “higher up” than you at work or in life. No matter what their position, education, experience, politics, etc. you will find smart people and not so smart people in every area of life. Also, he might have been a smart person having a profoundly stupid moment. It happens.

Mark L.

Great Post Derek,

Have had several comment- “why are you starting an eCommerce business ? “do you know anything about building a website?” and a few others along the same lines…..
When I attempted to explain – they did not get it. I am doing this as a new career and a fantastic learning experience. There are so many resources available- such as Social Triggers and many more to learn from, get great ideas and utilize all the vast amount of information and build from there.

A bit of overload at times but still a great new challenge. Giving Up is not an Option- Work harder , learn from others and Keep Moving Forward!

Thank you again Derek and to all the others as well- Best!


I was told that pop-ups to collect emails are annoying and should be removed. My reply: “It’s ok, keep it. it works for my business”

I leanrt that not every business is the same and should not be operated the same. In some cases, perhaps these pop ups will hurt the chances of achieving whatever business purposes such as placing an order or making an inquiry. But we also need to evaluate the advice of other with what our own business needs are.


Lauren Fritsch

Someone told me to tone down my appearance: wear pearl earrings, grey suits, pull my hair back, not wear heels because I might intimidate the men- in order to get corporate clients.

Here’s the thing: I love big jewelry, leopard print, heels and my wild hair.

And I haven’t changed my look in order to land clients. I think my clients appreciate my approach- and my unconventional (but still professional) appearance tells them a lot about how I do my work too!

It’s been good for my brand to stand out!

    Cathy Goodwin

    Funny! Have you heard of Dr Andrew Weil – famous medical author? You can google him. Apparently a literary agent told him to shave his beard and wear a suit to look more “professional.” He got a new agent.


After a speaking engagement, I came across one of my handouts that had been left behind. Someone had written, “This woman is nuts!” It did not stop me. I took it as a compliment. She will be my best word-of-mouth promoter!


I’ve been critiqued in my personal life for over a decade now, by friends and family for being a quitter.

I’d try one thing that excited me, try it out realize it’s ok, but once I had a close up perspective, and realized it wasn’t what I thought it would be, I’d give it up for something else.

It happened with fashion design, photography, forex trading and copywriting.

While my friends and family choose to be unfulfilled in the name of acomplishment, and stability – I on the other hand live life like a college freshman taking a multitude of classes until I figure out what it is I want to focus the rest of my life on… Or at least th next 10 years or so.

I feel so strongly about this topic I recently just decided to write a book on it challenging the status quo that quitting is a negative trait.


Thank you for sharing that Derek, I have long believed in exactly what say!! It is good do be open minded, never stop questioning and always try to learn, even if it is learning what not to do it is still beneficial! My life’s motto: It’s not the mistakes you make that matter but, what you learn from those mistakes and how/what you apply those lessons to!

You can always learn!


Just last night I was listening an episode of Seth Godin podcast and he started sharing a story I had already heard of and my first response what’s “oh I’ve heard this before”, but then I tought to my self: “I’m curious, what is HE learning from this same story that I maybe didn’t pick up when I heard it?”. Instantly I got excited, so I listen to the story (you know the one with the kids that are given one marshmallow and were told of they didn’t eat it they would get two…) well when he finished the story and gave the lesson about being able to put off instant satisfaction in order to get better results on the future (the classic lesson) but after that he said: “my advice is, besides that one, that you should take the marshmallow, you don’t have to eat it but take it, it’s yours… don’t think it isn’t for you, don’t think you are not worth it, take the marshmallow the life is giving you”. And I got it.


    That’s awesome! I love listening to Seth Godin! Have you checked out Simon Sinek as well? Those are my two favorite speakers! Amazing! If you haven’t listened to Simon Sinek’s talk about the Golden circle, I would highly recommend it for anyone here!


      I will watch the TED talk tonight! Thanks Andrea


        Your welcome 🙂 I think you will enjoy it!


I was told by my coach that my video content is too creative. Not suitable for business content. I have been doing business video content for a few years but my background is with music video production. You can imagine the very different creative process? I still feel that with the right clients I can do creative business video content. As a designer I know I have to be interchangeable. But as an artist my voice is my voice, and if someone doesn’t like my style they don’t have to buy. As someone trying to be a better business women, I felt for a while I had to change to “please” the client. But I have realized I can change my stripes to spots or I can embrace my stripes and find my tribe. I know one thing, as an artist people will either love you or hate you, you can’t please everybody. And I have also learned, why do I have too? It is better to stick to my niche then be to interchangeable and broad.
It is important to take critiques with an objective analytical approach no matter who they are coming from. Thanks for this post Derek 🙂

Frank Daley

Got one today.
I’m promoting a kindle book, Four Questions to Change Your Life! based on a chapter from my core book, Who Are You and What Are You Doing Here? The way to know yourself and get what you want.

In the copy I say this:
If you don’t know yourself, three bad things will happen to you:
You won’t be in the right line of work
You won’t be with right person
You won’t be happy.

Then I suggest that knowing yourself is an important thing to do and they can get my book free if they review it.

A commentator said the “won’t” and “don’ts” put him off put him off although he said it might appeal to others.

You can’t do both a positive AND a negative approach to grab attention in the same promo piece, although of course, you can do that inside in a sales letter.

No one else has complained of this but while I agree I can do it the other way, I’ll stick with this approach for now.

Diana Guerrero

I recently was told that I was “over deliverying” and that it made the person uncomfortable. It actually surprised me since I have never thought that would be a problem. So, I no longer will over deliver to that person–the invoice will reflect each and every service not included in the existing contract and a service menu attached to the new contract revision.


Just recently someone gave me “feedback” on my new, edgier writing style. She didn’t like it because I used obvious substitutes for curse words (e.g. ‘frick’ instead of…you know).

My business is called the Renegade Planner and my tag is “Business Plans for Non-Conformists”. So I think it stands to reason that my approach is not going to be the typical stodgy business consultant garbage that everyone else in my niche regurgitates.

Teachable moment? For me, just that if there’s people who don’t like my stuff, it means I’m standing out; it means I’m doing things memorably, which is what I want. Basically she was giving me permission to proceed with the ass-kickery I want to be known for.

Jaime Buckley

Great article Derek…and I really like Kirk’s point above.

Trust is huge…and it’s not easy to earn the confidence of others in this day and age. I’m just turning a situation around today on a misunderstanding myself. It could have turned out badly had there not been a trust and confidence level already established.

I broke the trust and deeply wounded the confidence of an online friend and business associate–someone who has been a mentor to me.

Brilliant person.

When I was called to task, openly on a third party’s website, I was confused. The rebuke was intense. My heart sunk and I spent hours, pouring over emails and studying my website to see where these accusations could possibly come from.


That’s what was killing me.

Fact was, I unknowingly screwed up. Big time.

This person was absolutely correct in what I did, but not *why*…and I wasn’t aware I’d done anything wrong.

So I approached my reply carefully. Not defensively, but, “I’m sorry, how can I make this better?”

A private message was sent to the party and I took full responsibility for my actions, because whether I knew it or not, understood it or not, I’d done wrong. An apology was made, actions reversed and other factors were uncovered that supported my claim of ignorance in the process of communications.

The end result was peace, restored confidence, a healed friendship and a commitment to communicate more openly with follow-ups to ensure nothing like this can happen again.

I know my example isn’t about the selling aspect being discussed–but trust, confidence and the value we have for others is more important.

At least to me.

Stephen Fiser

My dad always encourages me to stick with things even when I don’t like them because of the valuable experience. Sometimes the context is a bit off, because I know that he worked in a world where people held the same job for 30 years and retired. That said, the principle of sticking with things and being reliable still applies.

Don’t. Be. Flaky.

John Shea

Best example I can give.. and oh it pertains to you Derek! Last year you posted on Facebook that everyone and their mom was starting a podcast and they were everywhere.

I had started my Voices Of Marketing podcast a few months after listening to a webinar you held in December of 2012. Something you said made a lightbulb go off in my head and I wanted to start interviewing people.

I interviewed tons of people I admired like Pat Flynn, Andrew Warner, Mike Thomas, Andrew Warner, Ramsay Taplin and tons more. Then I started interviewing people who were up and comers, maybe even “nobodies” at the time.

People like Navid Moazzez who just posted on Facebook that he won Ramit Sethi’s affiliate contest, bringing in over $30k for himself. These are people I can “casually” chat with like friends on Facebook now thanks to interviews.

People like Shane Melaugh, creator of Thrive Themes who is making waves with WordPress product development. I sent him an email asking for advice a few months back.. all because he knew me from our interview we did earlier that year.

Not to mention all the guys who launched products on the Warrior Forum and gave me free copies of their products!

Successful entrepreneurs started approaching ME to be on my show, people like Laura Roeder.

Now here is where my dilemma came in, I’m what people would call a “perfect melancholy” personality type. Basically I take advice or negative feedback way too seriously and I let it really effect my own decisions in business and life.

After you made that post it made some slight waves in the podcasting community, even Andrew Warner posted about it. I actually got depressed for a while because your advice was SO targeted towards me I actually got really unmotivated to continue podcasting. It wasn’t going anywhere for me the way I hoped..

Shortly after I landed a huge opportunity, I teamed up with someone I interviewed the prior year. I had some emails back and forth with Jon Haver of AuthorityWebsiteIncome with plans and big ideas to build an SEO service from the ground up. This service brought us over $20k in just mere months selling our services!

Point of this post? The relationships I built with these people are what made me enjoy podcasting so much, and what made me realize your advice really was not “good advice” or “correct” at all.

Today I’m selling SEO services on my own and starting to bring in clients all over my local area which is something I’ve become more interested in than podcasting. Despite the podcast falling on the backburner for me, those relationships I built will always be very valuable in the online marketing space.


‘You can live with the mistakes you make for yourself, but not with the mistakes other people make for you.’
Took me time to work it out, but in my case it was true.


Well, an older family member made this comment/complaint (on multiple occasions) and although it isn’t directed specifically at me, I feel it needs to be addressed.

“Businesses these days are out to get as much money from us as possible. Even those that provide better services and products aren’t doing so out of doing good for the customer – they want to make more money out of us. What happened to the good old days when businesses put the customer first and didn’t care if they made much money or not.”

This person probably feels that most businesses owe him the world once they take his money, whether it’s only $1 or $100+ which probably is a bit out of touch with reality. But I feel the main lesson for businesses (from this unreasonable customer) is that giving your customers what they want is never a bad strategy (provided it’s not an unreasonable burden.) Keep them happy and they will gladly pay more, rather than nickeling and diming them with dishonest tactics or giving extra services that they don’t really need to justify charging extra.


Unfortunately I think there’s some truth in that – remember when JCPenney rebranded and switched from sales and discounts to everyday low pricing? They lost tons of money. Same store sales fell 20% or more.

People are irrational and love the idea of “saving” while they are spending.

But the customers you get with that may not always be the ones you want.



Great post. I hope it’s OK if I also point out another, more obvious lesson here — and how powerful of an effect it can have on your business.

The part about dishonesty and lack of integrity stopped me in my tracks. I’m the kind of guy that will always walk away from a sale if I have to be dishonest to get it. I just don’t care about money that much and I really care about being an honest, trustworthy man at the end of the day.

I appreciate the fact that you moved on to another great lesson and that you shared it with us. Good stuff, as always. But, I’d hate to see the point lost that you can also kill your business (or severely shorten it’s lifespan) by breaking people’s trust.

It’s just not worth it, in my humble opinion.

Karen Berzanski

I was told by a close friend that my newsletter was “harsh”…. exactly the opposite of what I intend! I didn’t take it too personally, since she’d never started a business, built a website, written a newsletter, put herself out into the world like I’m doing, or shared parts of her own story publicly.

And this was in the first few weeks of starting my business (not the best time to criticize someone’s writing– at least not without 10 things I’m doing RIGHT to help soften the critique!) So far, she’s been the only person who unsubscribed… 🙂

For me, this is a lesson in trusting myself, trusting my path, and knowing that I’ll keep iterating along the way. It’s a reminder to keep doing the work and trusting that I’ll get better as I go– both now, in the beginning stages, and down the line, when I’m more seasoned.

Michael D Walker

Interesting post Derek~

A critique I’ve received at different times in my business is that I should stop doing audio interviews and only do video interviews. I tried pointing out that I’d rather get on the phone and interview someone like Perry Marshall when he says “Yeah, call me Thursday at 1pm and I’ll talk to you,” and have an interview right then rather than wait until/if a guest can clear enough time in their schedule to do a Google Hangout or Skype session.

But I’m always wrong for taking the interview when it’s offered 🙂

As a learning point though, it has made me think it would be cool to do some video interviews if I can plan them far enough ahead of time with a guest who is willing.



    Hey Michael,

    Personally, dude I love audio interviews. I load them on my mp3 player when I got walk my dogs or go to the grocery store or go to the gym. There is a market for written, audio as well as video out there. You rock brother.


I was dismissed by a potential client by not charging ENOUGH, and then she blogged about it. And so did I. http://reikiawakening.blogspot.com/2014/03/putting-price-on-healing.html

    Meredith Laskow

    Alice, I just left a fairly long reply on your blog post (where it’s more relevant than posting here.)

    Some clients cost us more in negative energy than any amount of money can compensate.

Tim Leffel

A comment just this week said, in essence, “The information you put on your blog is obvious. Everyone knows all this already.”

If they did, I wouldn’t be getting 72,000 unique monthly visitors. Or be selling any books. Or be asked to speak…


    I think there are also the factors of presence, charisma and delivery that you cannot ignore. Just because something has been said before that doesn’t make it less relevant when you say it. I mean come on dude…you might say it in such a way that reaches people that were not reached when it was said before. You did it with your delivery, your presence and your charisma. It’s a fact man. Works. -Kam

    Derek Halpern

    Touche ha ha.

Jeremy Montoya

It’s so easy to dismiss contrary advice when you feel like you’re doing everything correct (even if you are).

Every morning at 6 AM, me and my East Coast buddy Gregg hop on the phone to hold each other accountable.

We both have different experiences and knowledge, and sometimes go back and forth, obviously disagreeing with each other.

It never fails that one of us hops on to chat the next morning and has reconsidered the convo and are taking bits of the advice and putting it into action – even just to try it out.

– Jeremy

    Derek Halpern

    VERY interesting. You do this EVERY morning?

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