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When it’s time to walk away

Ramit Sethi

How come nobody teaches us about failure?

How come there’s no class on knowing when to walk away?

How many sad little teens would benefit from knowing they’re in a bad relationship…and recognizing the signs that they should walk away?

Or what if you’re at a bad job…or you started the wrong business?

Knowing how to succeed is a great skill. But knowing when to quit is also a skill.

Seth Godin writes about this in The Dip, where he says:

“…What really sets superstars apart from everyone else is the ability to escape dead ends quickly, while staying focused and motivated when it really counts.

Winners quit fast, quit often, and quit without guilt—until they commit to beating the right Dip for the right reasons. In fact, winners seek out the Dip [temporary setback that will get better if you keep pushing]. They realize that the bigger the barrier, the bigger the reward for getting past it. If you can become number one in your niche, you’ll get more than your fair share of profits, glory, and long-term security.

Losers, on the other hand, fall into two basic traps. Either they fail to stick out the Dip—they get to the moment of truth and then give up—or they never even find the right Dip to conquer. “

Let me show you some examples.

Have you heard about Coors Rocky Mountain Sparkling Water?

Most people haven’t, because it’s almost been wiped away from history.

But back in the early 1990s, the Coors Brewing Company tried to break into the bottled-water market.

You see, Coors claims that they’ve used pure Rocky Mountain spring water to brew their American lager since 1873. Someone at Coors got the bright idea to try selling the spring water without first turning it into beer.

It did not end well.

coorsfailedNot what most people associate with the “luxury health foods market”

Sales sucked. Coors eventually pulled the water from the shelves, a decision that cost them millions of dollars.

But while most people see this as a failure, the idea wasn’t terrible. It was brilliant.

Think about it for a second.

The company already owned a giant bottling plant. They had distribution agreements in place with every major grocery store chain in the country. Adding sparkling water to their product mix cost them almost nothing. And, most importantly, bottled water is a $12 billion-a-year industry (source).

They invested a relatively tiny amount of money testing a product that could have made them hundreds of millions of dollars every year — without hurting the sales of their other products.

That’s not a mistake. That’s genius.

When it didn’t work out, Coors made the right call again. They acknowledged that bottled water was a waste of their time and they walked away. That’s how you grow a business. Research the market. Develop a product. Then test the crap out of it to figure out if it’s worth your time.

If it’s not, you move on.

Why I stopped selling my first course

A few years ago, I walked away from the first course I ever created: Scrooge Strategy.

scroogestrategyLittle pig, little pig please don’t come in

I launched the Scrooge Strategy in 2009. It was one of my first attempts at creating a premium product. Once you joined, you got one piece of money-saving advice delivered to your inbox every week.

I’m not talking about the random tips you normally find on the internet. No one was wasting time hand-washing ziplock baggies trying to save 37 cents a month. We went after the Big Wins like how to negotiate with your credit card company, or how to cut your cable bill in half.

And it worked. Hundreds of students signed up. They saved thousands of dollars and sent in amazing feedback like this:

“I called my insurance company (progressive), and asked what kind of stuff prompted discounts. Apparently, me being a student saves me about 40$/month! $480/year for a 3 minute phone call. Sweet!”

“I have been working on implementing the tips. Since these are all monthly charges, $72 X 12 is $864 dollars (in savings) for a year and that is more than I net in a 2 week pay period. That’s not a bad start!”

Those are both actual responses I received. You’d think with results like that, the Scrooge Strategy would be a winner right?


As time went on, it got harder and harder to sell.

You see, people fall into two camps when it comes to saving money. Some of them don’t care. Others are completely obsessed with counting every penny. The first group doesn’t want to learn. They’re never going to buy. The second group are just terrible customers. They’d rather pull out their teeth than their credit cards — even if doing so could save them many times more.

It didn’t matter how much time I’d spent building the Scrooge Strategy. It didn’t matter that it was a great product… Or even that the Scrooge Strategy actually made me money. All it did was distract me from products that had 10 times the potential.

It was never going to be a Big Win. That’s why I walked away from the Scrooge Strategy. Big Wins aren’t something I just preach about.  They are something I pursue in my personal life, with my finances, and in my business.

Kenny Rogers was right

You gotta know when to hold them and when to fold them. (Sing it, Kenny.)

Look at the different areas of your life. Are you growing, improving and doubling down? If not, are you limping along and hoping things get better?

Now, what would happen if you cut your losses and refocused your time and efforts on something else?

You might be surprised at the results.

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