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January 2020

The "Storm Area 51, They Can't Stop All of Us" event ...

Back on, September 20, 2019 was a scheduled event called is "Storm Area 51, They Can't Stop All of Us" event in Rachel, Nevada, USA. If you ever considered getting anywhere close, I'd strongly advise you NOT to go anywhere close to the "mythical" military base.

For all the jest that is the "Storm Area 51" event, there are valuable insights. And you need not have a super-secret government facility as your event venue to benefit.

If you look at the current "Storm Area 51" Facebook page, you'll see that the Group page has over 76,000 members. There is also a public event listed as "Storm Area 51, They Can't Stop All of Us" on Facebook with 5.4K Interested in attending and 2.8K Going.

Two news sources ( & cite over 2 million people as attending until the original Facebook event page was taken down by the organizer.

According to today's most recent news report, around 150 people showed up to the "Storm Area 51" event.

Two million people said they'd show up and only 150 attended, thus far. What's the "Storm Area 51" event takeaway? It's very straightforward and an alien concept for most:

"Just because people say they're interested in your event, does not mean they'll actually attend your event."

It's basically effortless to get someone to click an "attending/going" button to a free event online. Showing up to the said event is a far more significant challenge.

A much better way to have people attend your event, is to have attendees purchase a ticket. If you have a free event, require attendees to have a ticket. The psychology of having an event ticket is far more compelling than your potential attendee clicking on a "Going" button.

There are also numerous additional future marketing and advertising advantages. So make sure they have a ticket!

"Live long and prosper"

Want to get more event ticketing advice? Check out the articles below:

Those horribly misunderstood event ticket discounts

Last month, I received an email about the unique methodology used to promote client events. One part of the email referenced ticket discounts for an outdoor event and said:

"It would also allow us to keep 100 percent of the sales and possibly without the early bird discount."

The irony of the email excerpt from above is that it comes from an organization that's continuously holding events. To be fair, I don't think they're experienced with outdoor events.

Discounting is an often misunderstood ticket-selling strategy. Some of the misconceptions include the notion that you're "giving up margin" on every ticket that you discount. And that is a true statement. But as I often ask clients, "would you rather have 50% of something, or 100% of nothing?"

To be effective, any ticket discounting needs to be coupled with a well thought out strategic pricing model. The model protects margins and maximizes your advance ticket sales.

Recently, a client used discounted ticketing and a strategic pricing model to more than doubled their ticket revenue to an outdoor event. All starting with offering tickets at a 50% discount. Furthermore, that same client drove 83% of their ticket sales as advance ticket sales. And they aren't the only ones. Indoor events employ the same strategy to sell out, before a single person walks in the front door.

Every client that has used a ticket discount (smartly!) has gone on to generate record ticket revenue.

I bring the above to your attention, not to brag, but to emphasize that smart discounting can work tremendously well for almost any event.

Want to get more advance ticket strategies for events? Check out the links below:

Where should I focus to increase event revenue and attendance?

Today's question comes from a worldwide survey of event organizers conducted a few years ago ...

"In what area(s) should I focus on to increase growth (revenue / attendance) for my events?"

It's an often asked question and my go-to answer bears continuous repeating. You and your event team need to focus intently on growing your marketing skills. It's not a matter of just reading a book or two. You need to continually sharpen the marketing saw.

An essential subset of marketing is an event's ability to truly understand their clients/attendees. When I broach the "know thy attendee" subject with event organizers, many get very upset with me.

Event organizers say things like, "how dare you, Eugene! We've been doing this event for 40 years. And we know exactly what our customers want!"

To be clear, I don't pretend to know an event and its idiosyncrasies better than any event organizer. But there are two places where I excel, asking the right questions and staying objective.

Asking the right questions involves sending a survey to previous event attendees. The same survey is also sent to the event's leadership team. Then, the survey results are compiled.

Overall, what the leadership team / board thinks and what their customer's survey responses are diametrically opposed to one another. Like opposite sides of the universe. It doesn't matter if an event has been going on for 5, 10, 50 or 70 years. Objectivity on the event's part is a rare and welcome gem.

So, get really good at marketing and focus intently on getting inside your event attendee's mind. As a result, being able to identify their reasons for buying a ticket to and why some decided not to attend your event. You will generate significantly more ticket revenue and increase your attendance.

Want to get more event marketing advice? Check out the articles below:

If you're every offered a marketing list for your event ...

Every year clients are solicited offers to promote their event to a third-party marketing list. Typically, these list opportunities come in the form of email marketing databases or postal mailing list. "For this low price, we can get your message in front of X number of people." It's a tempting offer.

Let me make it easy for you. If you're offered some else's marketing list to promote your event, say "thanks, but no thanks." Most marketing lists aren't worth your time, money, and attention. Especially for event organizers.

In 20 years, I've seen only one third-party marketing list generate enough sales to justify the time and associated costs. Could there be a great third-party list out there? Maybe. But again, not worth your time.

So, what should you do?

Build your own house list. Even if your list size is zero today. Focus on the quality of your list, not the quantity on your list.

Ten years ago, an event started with a list of zero people. To date, the event has generated over a million dollars of ticket sales to something anyone can watch for free. Most of the event's ticket sales can be directly traced back to their house list.

Don't forget the quintessential part of having your own house list. When you have a house list you own the data, not Google or Facebook.

Treat your house list with the utmost respect and give them what they want, they'll pay you in spades. If you haven't already, get started on building your list today.

Here are links for building your own house list:

Do you have event promotion "baditude"?

This comes from client work and is fascinating to me. What follows is illustrative of how many events approach their advertising and marketing. Especially not for profit organizations.

What is it? It's the mindset of:

"We're not going to pay for advertising if we don't have to!"

That's bad advertising attitude or advertising "baditude." And that attitude severely limits any event's opportunity at growing future ticket revenue and attendance.

For years clients have consistently seen a 2x to 5x return on every dollar invested in recommended advertising and marketing. Yet, long term clients who have seen massive growth in their advance and total ticket sales can no longer grow ticket revenues without paid advertising.

At the beginning of the year, one client asked me, "Eugene how much money do you need for advertising this year?" To which I reply, "Well how much can you get?" They insist on a number, so I request $100,000 to $200,000.

Their response is one of total disbelief. "That's ridiculous, we can't do that!" Not because they don't have the money. But because they've never spent that level of money on advertising and marketing.

Again, 2x to 5x return on investment for every advertising campaign we manage for clients. With zero additional cost for campaign management or agency commissions. Some clients see over a 1,000% return on their advertising and marketing investments each year.

If given a choice between "free advertising" and paid advertising, I'd choose paid advertising every single time! For both clients and for my own business. I encourage you to do the same. Why?

Because I am confident that any event can grow 5x to 10x faster with a systematic approach to marketing and paid advertising. Google and Facebook have made it very clear, you need to pay to play.

My strong recommendation is to break free from the "we don't have to pay for any advertising mindset." Per yesterday's email, you can start with as little as $5 a day.

Investing $3K (USD) a day to promote your event

How do you invest $3K USD per day to promote your event? It's an interesting answer. But first, a little context.

The question above comes from a real-world scenario. A good friend of mine manages hundreds of thousands of dollars in online advertising "spend" every month.

Most people would say spend money on advertising or marketing. I choose to use the word invest because an investment implies an expected return. You need to view all your advertising and marketing as an investment and be ruthless about an expected return.

One of my friend's most significant accounts comes in around 3K USD of advertising spend per day. That's over a million dollars of online advertising per year! And when a million dollars/euro are on the line, you better be good at what you do! Fortunately, my friend is a top gun at what he does.

Much of what I've learned and implemented regarding online advertising for events comes from discussions with my friend. The years of our conversations are being distilled down into September's Event Profit Report (hint, hint).

In most online advertising cases, it doesn't matter if you're selling a product, service, or ticket to an event. The fundamentals are the same! Here's the simple place my friend starts with every massive campaign he manages.

When you invest $3K per day to advertise online, you don't start investing at $3K per day.

My friend starts many of his advertising campaigns at $5-$20 a day. Then, gradually over time, increase the daily budget.

Do you need to spend $3K a day promoting your event? Probably not. But you can adopt the same, start small, track smartly, and the think big approach to any advertising and marketing campaign for your event.

Here's another way to think about it. If you get really good and can turn $1 into $2 of ticket sales, consistently 90%+ of the time ... why would you limit yourself to $3K a day?

Additional Event Promotion and Event Advertising Resources:

Beware perceptions of predetermined success

A few days ago, a client was very excited to send out a new marketing piece. The piece was being sent to over 30,000 well-targeted people. Most were previous attendees of the client's event. In the client's own words, "it's one of the best we've ever put together!"

Before getting to the results, there are a few crucial points.

All my Platinum client projects are performance-based. If clients are financially successful, I receive a percentage of revenue. Hence, I'm always rooting for clients to do well. Even if I disagree with what they're doing in regard to marketing and advertising.

Because of the sophisticated tracking used for client work, most marketing efforts can be analyzed within a day. In some cases, a client can get success indicators in as little as 30 minutes. For all the sophisticated tracking, the results metrics are simple. We did "X," and "Y" tickets were sold. Or, "Z" leads generated. That's it!

Back to the client marketing piece from above. Everything was on point for all the time and effort invested. By the end of the day, the results were in.

In a nutshell, the campaign failed miserably to generate ticket sales. Ironically enough, there were several days where no client marketing campaigns were active, and more ticket sales generated. One could argue that "you were better off doing nothing!" And based on the data they'd be correct.

What the takeaway from above?

Beware your biased perceptions! We're all human and have personal biases, myself included. Especially on things where we invest a great deal of time, effort, and money.

Never assume that a marketing campaign is going to be a success. By that same token, never expect a campaign or marketing piece is going to be a dud. And always measure the success of your marketing campaigns by the revenue generated or tickets sold.

To some the above might seem a cold hard approach to events. It is! And it will also keep in you and your event in business.

Here are some additional event promotion advice tips:

What are you putting on your ticket?

Here's a quick question to consider. It's applicable to both your online and hard stock tickets.

The question is, "what information are you putting on your event ticket?"

Most events include info such as: the name of the event, date, time, location, etc. Once in a while, you'll get an event that includes sponsor logos or a coupon/offer.

What's far less common is including information on an event ticket to improve an attendee's experience.

Ask yourself and your team, "Is there additional information that we can include that makes for a better customer experience?"

As I wrote in a recent EPR issue, don't let your attendees get to your event frustrated and get home upset. Your event ticket offers an opportunity to make sure your attendees arrive at your event happy and get home elated!

In many instances, the amount of space for information on the ticket is minimal. That means whatever information you include needs to be impactful and to the point.

Again, in what ways can you use your event ticket to improve the overall customer experience?

Your event ticket offers you a great opportunity. Make sure you make the most of it.

Here are some additional resources regarding selling event tickets online:

"Yeah, so about those numbers we gave you ..."

Data can be a bit of a trickster, a little good or a little bad. And, sometimes a little bit of both. Data can also be used in a variety of ways. In some instances, the same exact data set can be painted positive or negative. Last, but certainly not least ... even the most basic of data can be confused.

Don't worry, I'm not going to suggest that you become a data scientist. Yet, there is one aspect of data science that you need to champion. That aspect is data accuracy.

In today's increasingly data-driven world, data accuracy impacts your ability to use any data to your advantage.

Years ago, a professional basketball team approached me about providing them with marketing services. The team did some research and found out that I had a knack for selling out events.

During an initial assessment we identified a potentially huge marketing asset. The asset came in the form of the basketball team's previous customer database. The team's marketing manager put their customer database at around 8,000 people. One of the team owners, speculated that their database was much more substantial.

When I pressed for additional customer database details, I was told "we'll get back to you."

A few weeks later, I received a telephone call from the team regarding my database questions. After doing some digging, the customer database wasn't quite 8,000 people. It was closer to about 600! What happened? Several people on the team didn't have a firm grasp on customer data, including ownership.

Ultimately, I turned down the offer to work with the basketball team. The team had great people, but there were numerous places where there were severe issues with data accuracy.

On a sobering note. Had the team become a client, the result would have been a complete failure on my part. All because of inaccurate data!

Remember, data can span everything from your customer database to the tracking of visitors to your website. Where data accuracy becomes quintessential is tracking the effectiveness of advertising and marketing campaigns (hint, hint).

Even if you need to hire someone, make sure you buckle your data accuracy down. It needs to be as accurate and pristine as possible. If not, you could be chasing opportunities that don't exist. Or worse, spending money on marketing or advertising that does absolutely nothing for you!

Getting additional event data insights:

Royally screwing up "sold out"

A few years ago, I was on-site to support a client event. It was a free outdoor weekend event (Saturday & Sunday).

In the days preceding the event, all the event infrastructure was being set up. Crowd fences, tents, tables, chairs, vendor booths, etc.

On Friday, the night before the weekend event, the client decided to have a free community outreach gathering. The Friday night event included live music, a performer meet and greet, and food vendors. A few thousand people showed up to the Friday night event.

Going into their event, the client had sold out all their Saturday VIP tickets. Most of the ticket revenue was deposited in the client's bank account (minus the standard ticketing revenue hold) and attendees full of excitement.

It was nearly the ideal scenario, minus one essential item.

When I arrived at the client's event on Friday, I had asked multiple times to walk through the VIP area. The person responsible for VIP and chalet setup wasn't able to accommodate my request.

When I politely insisted, the client's operations manager said, "Eugene we're really busy with our Friday night event, we can't get you over to that area right now." Then, I asked if I could go to the VIP area on my own, the answer was a curt, "no, not without an escort."

In the end, I wasn't able to walk through the VIP area. Fast forward to Saturday morning and the event gates were about to open.

Because my event access badges never made it to me, I diplomatically made my way to the VIP area. On the way to the VIP area, I ran into the event operations manager. They appeared to be really anxious. To which I inquired, "Is everything ok?"

Their response, "not really, none of the VIP areas are ready."

My response, "Ok, what do you mean by not ready?"

The operations managers said, "Only the tents are set up. No tables, chairs, linens, drink stations, or catering. Because we were so busy yesterday, nothing was set up."

I distinctly remember the operations manager's statement from above and looking down at the time on my cell phone. The time was 08:09 and the VIP area was to open at 09:00 sharp. T-minus 51 minutes until "go time!"

(And in case you're wondering ... emphasis on the VIP area setup had been broached multiple times during client prep calls. In one instance, the client became annoyed at my constantly bringing readiness up.)

Thankfully, there were a handful of volunteers who swooped in to the rescue. Hundreds of chairs and dozens of tables were set up in less than 50 minutes. In spite of the incredible volunteer effort, the VIP experience wasn't fully set up until Sunday. Things like catering stations were set up late on Saturday and the open bar, opened elsewhere (not in the VIP tent, as planned).

In the post-event feedback, patrons were rightfully upset. To paraphrase the consensus of many Saturday VIP ticket holders, "I paid for a VIP experience and didn't receive what I paid for. You weren't even ready!"

The unfortunate irony of the story above is that I've seen a failure to execute in multiple instances across numerous events. As a result event attendees are left with a bad experience and some decide to never return.

Please don't fall into the same trap. Make sure that your event is ready to go, well in advance of event attendees showing up! Else, you subject your event to the "three-year recovery."

Here are a few more VIP ticketing insights:

When to forgo overly proper grammar

When was the last time you read an advertisement or marketing piece and thought to yourself:

"How they organized all those words is simply extraordinary. I have to tell all my friends about the amazing grammar!"

Crafting your event advertising and promotions, specifically online marketing, is one place where painfully polished grammar and strict academic vernacular should take a back seat.
It is not to say that you should intentionally use lousy grammar, because that won't serve you very well.

Just don't focus so much on grammar that you lose your reader in the process. Ironically enough, losing the reader's attention often happens with overly polished and "corporate speak" writing.

Of the millions of emails clients have sent over the years, not a single ticket buyer (to the best of my knowledge) has complained about the less than ideal grammar. All of the emails sent are written in a conversational tone. The result was tens of millions of dollars in event ticket sales, directly attributable to "unprofessional" writing.

New York Times best-selling author Neil Strauss summed it up like this: "The highest goal of writing is NOT to have good grammar; it's to have meaning and impact!"

Make sure that when you tell people about your event through advertising and marketing, you do so with impact!

Get the reader so interested in your event that they have no other choice than to buy a ticket.

Crank up your event promotions. Check out the links below:

The Iowa Caucus catastrophe & your event

Monday's technology issues at the Iowa Caucuses reaffirms the following case study ...

(if you're a non-US reader, please do a quick US news search on "2020 Iowa Caucus" – you won't be able to miss it!)

Years ago, I was attempting to get a beer festival client to change over to an online ticketing system. At the time they utilized a half-online ticketing system.

What's a half-online ticketing system?

It's where you take payment online and then get one of your employees to manually snail mail hard stock tickets. The person manually fulfilling thousands of ticket orders was my client's General Manager.

When asked, the General Manager had indicated that manually fulfilling ticket orders added 30 hours of work to their already busy schedule.

So, with the General Manager's time in mind and a few other factors, I strongly recommended that the client change to a full online ticket solution. That's where tickets are purchased online and printed at home or work by the consumer.

The client was apprehensive about making a change. They wanted me to guarantee them there wouldn't be any issues with online ticketing. My guarantee to the client was this …

"I guarantee you that something is going to go wrong. That said, I also guarantee you when it goes wrong, I will be onsite to handle any issues promptly."

Sure enough, a significant issue arose onsite while scanning event attendees into the beer festival.

What happened?

A few hundred printed tickets had the same barcode. That meant that the first person scanned into the event without issue. After that, hundreds of "ticket already scanned" warning messages appeared on the ticket scanners.

Initially, the ticketing company insisted such a situation was impossible.

One poor guy who had one of the first duplicate barcodes was almost denied entry and he did nothing wrong! Add on top of that thousands of excited event patrons waiting to be scanned into the event. With the duplicate bar code issue, entry into the event slowed significantly. It was a real kick in the head!

Ultimately, I made good on my promise to my client. We created a quick on-site solution (in less than 5 minutes) and made all the affected patrons happy!

Back to the case of the Iowa caucus. It started with a simple coding issue. Usually, not a problem. That is until you add in the backup plan failing. After the backup plan failed, apparently there wasn't a well thought out plan. Then the chaos started, followed by a media firestorm!

When it comes to technology, especially with critical cogs like your event ticketing, prepare for the worst! Have a backup plan for your backup plan. Especially with onsite ticketing issues.

Do you have contingencies in place for when your on-site ticketing system goes down?

Play through a variety of scenarios. Such scenarios can be an online-only ticketing issue, ticket scanning issues, or a combination of both.

Also, have you practiced all your contingency plans?

Practice execution of all your backup plans with your team members. It's not enough to have a great backup plan or series of backup plans. I've seen some of the most magnificent backup plans fail, not because they weren't great, but because of an inability to execute the plan.

Be prepared and practice!

Check out the links below:

How to scare the pants off ad agencies & profit

Advertisers, ad agencies, ad sales reps and graphix designers don't want you to know the following ...

99% of them are terrified of direct response marketing (directly linking an advertisement or marketing piece to dollars in your bank account).


"Without data, you're just another person with an opinion." -W. Edwards Deming

If agencies or graphix designers are the ones doing the work and the results aren't where they need to be, quantifiable results hold them accountable. When you bother to measure: emotions, feelings, and opinions are judiciously set aside.

In many cases ad agencies and graphix designers don't want to measure the effectiveness of their advertising and marketing. This makes them very uncomfortable and it's to your advantage.

You need to have a system in place that ties in action to results. When you have data and results on your side, you can drive hard bargains with advertisers and marketers. It's the ultimate form of advertising negotiation.

Don't be afraid to ask agencies the questions and make them prove their worth. Using direct response marketing tools gives you that power!

When you know your numbers, you are in complete control of your advertising and marketing outcomes.

That means you can walk into a room and confidently state, "I know what advertising works and what doesn't, and exactly what I can afford to pay. Here's what I'm willing to invest in this and here is the expected result."

If you don't have your numbers down pat, get on it, and start negotiating the ad deals you deserve! And don't be shy in saying, "We only pay for results!"

Use direct response marketing for your event and only pay for results. Check out the links below:

(An on the fly) diversified event advertising portfolio

During a recent telephone conversation, a friend shared some unfortunate news about his business. My friend had been banned from advertising on Facebook.

When I asked, "what happened?" His response was, "we have no idea. Facebook just banned us from using its ad platform. There was absolutely no warning or notice!"

Even Facebook ad experts were perplexed. In one expert's opinion (someone who manages up to $30K USD of daily Facebook ad spend), "I can't see anything in their ads that get close to violating Facebook's policies."

As context. My friend has been advertising on Facebook for years. Last year alone, he spent over 150,000 USD on Facebook ads. Additionally, his business' Facebook page has 100,000+ page likes. The company's customer service and product reviews are nothing short of exemplary.

What happened above isn't limited to Facebook. It's happened on Google and numerous other advertising platforms. Often with little to no warning.

Just last year, an event client had their Google Ads turned off after missing a single obscure email. It took months and over 10 hours on the phone to restore their ads.

Yes, I am trying to scare you with the above stories. My hope is that you never get your ads banned. With that stated, allow me to ask you the following question. Much like investing, "do you have a diversified advertising and marketing portfolio?"

If you and your team haven't given the above question a few minutes of discussion, please reconsider. Be ready to diversify on the fly!

Fortunately, my friend, who was banned from advertising on Facebook, had advertising contingencies in place. As a result, he's still looking at the possibility of a new gross online revenue record.

Here are some additional event promotion tips on Facebook and using social media:


A one-shot super spend Sunday

If you watched the Super Bowl on Sunday, there is no doubt that you caught some of the commercials. Some companies paid up to $5.6 MM USD for a 30-second spot.

With the above said, if you had USD 6 million to spend on a 30-second Super Bowl ad that reached over 100 million people in one shot, would you do it?

To the best of my knowledge, there are no single Super Bowl commercials that have lead to a company to fame and long term fortune. Specifically, direct revenue dollars generated from a single advertisement.

If you're aware of a one-shot super successful Super Bowl ad, feel free to let me know.

Here's the direct opposite of a single 30-second advertisement to the masses ...

Last year, an outdoor event spread their advertising and marketing efforts over 576 touchpoints. Most of those promotion efforts were in the form of online campaigns. Ultimately, those 576 touchpoints lead to $6MM of ticket revenue.

If you're going to spend your hard-earned ad dollars, break up how and where you spend those dollars and cents.


Doing the opposite of everyone else

Years ago, I sent a struggling event organizer an overview of my marquee service. At the time, the organization ran a million-dollar-plus annual event and was almost bankrupt. To say that the future looked bleak was an understatement.

Here's an excerpt of marketing copy that evidently irritated my future client ...


Now I'm going to be candid with you. The "scammers" out there who promise people insane results annoy me to no end! The proven system you're about to learn IS NOT a magic pill. You WON'T become a millionaire overnight or sell out your event in 10 seconds. If you're looking for a last-minute miracle for your event - please look elsewhere.

Sorry to disappoint you ... but it's the truth. In short, you can get some extraordinary results, but you're going to have to work at it. But please remember, I'm here to help you each step of the way!

The system is specifically designed event organizers who want to be proactive and maximize their advance ticket sales, plus supercharge the effectiveness of their advertising campaign. What do I mean by pro-active?

In short, people who take the information they LEARN and put it into ACTION.

Again - Let me be VERY DIRECT here - if you or your team are NOT good at implementation and really good at second-guessing, this training IS NOT for you!

If you have a vendor, Board member, or team member who's going to second guess the recommendations and results of over $11,000,000 of event tickets sales, this program is NOT for your show. Some people would classify that as egotistical and I'm ok with that.

To be brutally honest, I have ZERO TOLERANCE for people with lots of opinions and ZERO experience or quantifiable results. That said, I'm happy to learn from people who have produced similar results.

Also, this isn't a magic bullet or some B.S. "get rich quick" scheme. What you will learn takes time and dedication. You'll need to stick with the course outline and take action steps. The good news is that I'm here to guide you on each step of the journey.


After reading through my materials and a few telephone calls, some people within the organization classified me as an "egotistical lecturous a-hole who talks too much." (At least one part of the previous description is spot on!)

I'm not sure if it was an act of desperation or reluctance, but the organization signed on as a client.

It is with great elation to report that the client has turned their fortunes around! They now have a robust six-figure reserve in their bank account. Yes, there is still work to be done and it's not all peaches and cream.

If there is one powerful (seemingly over simplistic) quote to sum up the client's journey, it is this:

"Watch what everyone else does – do the opposite. The majority is always wrong." -Earl Nightingale

To the client's credit, they embarked on a journey that involved radically changing the pricing, marketing, and advertising of their event. All things they were extremely reluctant to do when they were broke.

When faced with financial desperation, dare to be different! When it comes to marketing and advertising your event, look at what other event organizers are doing and "do the opposite!"