Day 75 of 75Hard is Complete

This morning, a lot of things were different.

Completely different than I thought it would be over 2 months ago when I began the 75Hard Challenge.

I thought that I’d wake up this morning ready to get my “everything” on like a sailor just returning to port after being at sea for a couple of months. You know, all those vices that you crave so very much, especially when you’ve sworn off of them for a long period of time.

I’ve informed lots of people that today, November 22nd, was going to be the most epic Sunday-Funday in the history of gluttony. The morning would probably start off with a Bloody Mary (or three) loaded with all of the fixings coupled with the sugariest donut that could be found. The day would progress into several additional phases of indulgence with layers of IPAs, chips, pizza, probably cake, and a glass of that bourbon that’s been staring me down since the middle of September.

When I woke up this morning, I did not have this overwhelming urge to go crazy. Nothing sounded like the best thing ever. I really could care less about the one thing I thought I was going to care the most about… what I was going to shove in my face.

Will I drink a beer today? Hell yeah! I still like beer.

Will I eat some shitty food packed with tons of extra calories that no one ever needs to eat? Hell yeah! I still like the taste of food.

In fact, I had pizza, a couple IPAs, and cookies today and they were pretty damn good.

Will I go back to consuming these things like I used to… like I did before I started this challenge? No, I will not.

A Quick Disclaimer Before We Continue…

Now, before I go any further, I’m going to put it out there that what I’m posting here is about my experience and that alone.

At no point in this post and I going to try to convince you that you too should do what I did. I’m not trying to get you to buy into adopting the things that I did as “the right way to go about it” or “a path that more people should take”.

I’ve talked to many people about the challenge since I began in early September. Usually, the conversation started at a social event where I was one of the few adults not drinking. Most of them totally supported me and (I truly believe) wanted to see me succeed. There were others who told me that I was crazy, that they would never be able to do what I was attempting, who smirked at me like I was buying into the latest version of a Richard Simmons “Deal-a-Meal” program… The competitive side of me wanted to prove the naysayers wrong for about the first two weeks. After that, I could care less about what they thought.

When It All Started Making Sense

It was that two-week mark into the challenge where the momentum really started to pickup. Around 15 or so days in, I started to see some small but noticeable changes both mentally and physically. My mind was clear for the first time in a long time. I was definitely more productive at work. The conversations I was having with people were more engaging and meaningful. This was about the same time I began to not only see some movement in the number on the scale but also in the daily progress pic I took each morning. It was subtle but something positive was beginning to take form.

About 30 days in, other people began to make comments about the change they were seeing in me. I had several people ask me if I was losing weight. Those subtle changes I was seeing were now becoming noticeable to people who haven’t seen me in a while.

One of the biggest a-ha moments around this time was one client telling me that I was bringing a lot of great marketing ideas to our weekly progress meetings. They saw a clear uptick in the value I was providing them as a client. This meant more to me than any pound I shed or any other mental breakthrough up to this point. Anyone that has ever worked with me in a professional capacity knows that I deeply care about the level of service that I (backed by my awesome team at Neon Goldfish) bring to the table. In the past 13 years, I know that I’ve always worked as hard as I can to bring as much value to my clients as humanly possible but hear a client tell me this was like dumping rocket fuel into my engine.

This was about the time that I started to understand what this reset was doing for me. I finally had the clarity I was searching for so long.

Seeing The Forest Through The Trees

When I began the 75Hard Challenge, I had this mentality that I would give it my all and see what happens. To be honest, I was scared shitless that I was going to fail. What if I could not resist all the temptations I knew that I would face? If I didn’t see this through, what would be the outcome? It was almost enough to make me not want to start in the first place. I know, I know… this seems like some pretty petty shit given the current state of the world and all of the things going on BUT, as I mentioned before, this was about me and the things I was going through. I thought that the worst-case scenario would be that I’ll lose some weight that I’ve struggled with for quite some time. All the research I put in this program before I started told me it was a mental challenge more than a diet or weight loss challenge. This did not make sense to me at the time but I put faith into something I did not understand and gave it the old college try.

Here’s what happened:

I became less worried about the things I could not control and only focused on the things that were within my domain.

My stress levels dropped drastically. Things that used to bother me so much before were easier to deal with.

I started putting the things that mattered most to me first rather than everyone else’s agenda. I stopped constantly monitoring my email inbox for potential fires to put out and prioritized what was most important to the overall goals I had.

These new daily activities that I had for the challenge (2 workouts, drinking a gallon of water, reading 10-pages of a book) became easier and easier each day that I did them.

My energy and clarity were better than I could ever remember.

I slept better than I have in years.

I lost 35 pounds and feel better than I did in my 20s.

… and the biggest one was that I no longer felt like I was a participant in this perpetual cycle of slight progress. For the first time, I felt totally in control of my path. I felt that I had the power and ability to dictate how that day and the days ahead of me would unfold. I no longer feel like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day.

The Challenges Faced Along The Way

Getting through these 75 days was not without challenges.

I was blessed with amazing support from my family. My wife agreed to do this challenge with me and she too realized many of the very same benefits as I did. My three kids were beyond supportive even when they desperately pleaded with me why we needed to order pizza for dinner and that they were tired of the food options available at the house. Family members accommodated in more ways than they need to when we visited their houses.

I cannot express enough thanks to everyone who supported us.

Here are some of the major challenges I faced along the way:

Carrie and I started the 75Hard Challenge the same day the kids went back to school. This was a totally new routine for everyone and we threw all of these additional variables on top of it. What a horrible idea… LOL.

I was so sore the first week from the two daily workouts that I could barely get out of bed in the mornings.

We had a family wedding where I normally would have gotten more than my fair share from the open bar. You’re welcome Kenton and Jolynn.

Weekend softball tournaments for my oldest daughter took a lot of additional planning for both food options and getting two daily workouts in.

I traveled to Florida to help with the beginning stages of renovations to an investment property we purchased with my business partner. Most days were 12+ hours of manual labor making that last workout of the day very tough to muster up… but I made it.

Running three kids to practices for five different sports while still trying to have a family dinner of some sorts each day.

Hosting a Halloween and birthday party for Elle where everyone in attendance except for Carrie and I were doing all of the things we could not right.

Doing my outdoor workouts while everyone else was sleeping. Sometimes when the wind was whipping or that one damn morning when the snow/sleet was pelting my face.

What’s Next?

Today was a day that has scared me even more than my fear of not seeing the challenge through to the end. What will I do next?

I know with absolute confidence that I will not return to the routine I held prior to this challenge. While I plan to enjoy some of the things that I could not during the challenge, I will do so with a much different approach. In the event that I find myself slipping back into my former self, I have this blog post to serve as a reminder of how much impact these little daily tasks had on my overall being.

I’m going to spend the next week in recovery and figure out what is next. There are additional steps that Andy Frisella added to the original 75Hard Challenge since I began that I will definitely complete. Beyond continuing my 75Hard journey, I’m going to working on finishing two books I’ve started, growing my companies the best I can, being the best damn husband and father possible, and helping as many people that can benefit from the things that I know both professionally and personally.

My Biggest Takeaways From The 75Hard Challenge:

Trust in the process and even the smallest amounts of forward-progress made each day can add up to sizeable results overtime.

Make the things that matter the most the things that matter the most. Stop giving so much energy to things that have no impact on what I truly care about.

Take a positive approach to everything as much as possible.

Drink more water. I could not believe how dehydrated I really was.

Stop worrying about what other people think. I cannot change the thoughts they have and every person should be entitled to their perspective.

The things that I want to achieve are so much closer than I ever thought they were. The biggest hurdle I face is me and knowing how to get past this so much easier. The challenges I face are never as difficult as I make them out to be.

Day 25 of 75 Hard is Complete

Completing today was a little milestone in this journey. Day 25 of 75 is complete. I’m a third of the way through this challenge and could not be more motivated to keep going.

The last time I checked in here, I was sore. Like “what the hell am I doing here” sore where every part of my body ached. I had to dial back the workouts a little bit. I’ve been very consistent of doing a morning walk at 6:15 on weekdays and a little later (not much) on weekends. This is a brisk walk at about a 17.30 minute mile pace or just shy of 3.5 MPH. It is great getting my first and outdoor workout done first thing in the morning. I’ll have to see how much this works out over the next 50 days as the temperatures have been dropping in the past couple of weeks making the mornings a tad chilly. Nothing a hat and gloves can solve.

My second workout of the day varies between Peloton rides, the stair climber at the gym, or lifting weights in the basement. I did try an Insanity workout one day but this was on the tail-end of my “barely-can-walk” soreness phase. It was nearly impossible to finish just the one workout.

Each day gets easier. There are small little things I’ve figured out along the way to become more efficient. The biggest is trying to get through most of my checklist as early in the day as possible.

I’ve found the 30 minute block of time between the time I get to my desk and my first 9:00 AM meeting is the perfect time to get my daily reading in.

Optimizing my day has become even more essential with the current family schedule. Both girls are in travel softball and my son just started flag football. Fridays are our only day free from practices or games and that only holds true if we don’t have to squeeze in a lesson.

Drinking the gallon of water is still the hardest of all the daily activities. Again, getting most of my water in before 2:00 is huge and helps prevent slamming a ton of water late at night leading to several pissing trips in the middle of the night. The other challenge is making sure I’m going to be near a bathroom throughout the day. On more than one occasion, I’ve hightailed it to a coffee shop to use their restroom only to find a damn “Bathroom Closed Due to COVID-19”. I’ve never had so many near-accidents in my adult life total as I’ve had over the past 25 days.

Eating clean with no booze has been the easiest. I don’t miss drinking one bit. Waking up every morning with a clear head is amazing. Not feeling bloated from eating crap food is even better.

The menu is starting to get a little boring. I need healthy, quick, and easy. Post any and all of your go-to favs for me to check out. I’d appreciate it.

I’m down almost 20 pounds since I started. That is a number I’m really happy with. I doubt that I’ll get to 60 total pounds at this current rate but I’ll be very happy to get to 40. My clothes fit a lot better and two different clients this week asked me if I was losing weight. That alone was the motivation I needed a couple of nights where it was 9 PM and I still had my second workout to complete.

My goal is to check back in a little more often that I have been. I’ll make it a point to circle back in a week or so if I have substance to share. At the moment, it feels like Groundhog Day with each day getting a little easier.

Until next time.


Begining My 75 Hard Journey

I woke up this morning aching.

My lower back ached. My legs ached. My head even felt a little foggy.

This normally would be a good queue to roll over and hit the snooze button until 7:00 when I HAD to get up and start my day.

That was not an option. If I did not get up right then and there, my entire day was going to be royally screwed up and I would not want to face Friday afternoon Ken if that was the case.

So, I rolled out of bed and slowed shuffled my feet towards the bathroom stretching a couple of the kinks out along the way.

After brushing the night fuzz from my teeth, I take a shirtless selfie in the mirror and get dressed. There are only 60 minutes left before the kids need to get up for school and I have to squeeze in my first 45-minute workout for the day. Continue reading “Begining My 75 Hard Journey”

Fast Food Wars: Creative Social Campaigns From Drive-Thru Brands

Fast Food WarsOur consumer attention spans have grown numb, calloused, and unresponsive to the continuous stream of noise served up each day.

So, when something cuts through all the BS, it must be recognized.

The Fast Food chains have started getting some notice on social media with creativity, a couple shots at one another, and some snarkiness. These “Fast Food Wars” remind me of the Cola Wars between Coca-Cola and Pepsi back in the 70s. While the fast food chains duking it out for our breakfast, lunch, and dinner dollars is nothing new, the creative ways they are levering the social media channels is noteworthy.

Let’s take a peek at some of the ways these brands are cutting through the noise and getting some buzz.

Colonel Sanders Likes The Spice Girls and 6 Dudes Named Herb

Colonel SandersLast week, a Twitter user just unveiled the cleverness of KFC’s social media brainiacs.

The 11 people that Kentucky Fried Chicken has decided to follow on Twitter are the five spice girls and six guys named Herb.

For those not yet picking up on the genius of this, KFC has long talked about the secret 11 herbs and spices that go into the breading on their chicken that so many love.

Extra credit must be given to @edgette22 for noticing that KFC was only following 11 people and then digging in more to see who they were.

Here’s How It Went Down

Edge continued to post Tweets about his encounter mentioning the memorable Nuggets for Carter campaign…

And even showcases other restaurants taking advantage of this 15 minutes.

KFC finally responded to Edge

We really hope that @edgette22 gets something for his discovery… perhaps a bucket of tasty KFC chicken signed by Colonial Sanders, the Spice Girls, and the six guys named Herb stuck in the middle of this.

KFC is not the only fast food company doing fun shit on social.  Here are a couple more nuggets (that was blatant) for you.

Wendy Being Sassy

The red hair stereotype must be shining through on social media.

This apparently began in response to an internet troll who decided to challenge Wendy’s claim that their beef is never frozen.

Most brands would ignore such a response. The unexpected and witty comeback by Wendy’s social peeps earned them street cred.

From here, people begin to engage Wendy’s on Twitter to see how she responds.

Burger King Takes Aim At Wendy’s

Burger King has taken direct aim at Wendy’s customers with a variety of recent moves.

In response to Wendy’s 4 for $4 meal deal, they “one-upped” them and came out with a 5 for $4 meal deal.


Earlier this year, Wendy’s decided to discontinue their spicy nuggets. This did not sit well with many Wendy’s customers that took their displeasure online.

Burger King took advantage and lived up to their slogan “Have It Your Way”.

Earlier this month, Burger King added spicy nuggets to their menu and took direct aim at Wendy’s in a variety of ways.

They placed billboards near Wendy’s locations.

To continue the attack, Burger King announced that anyone named “Wendy” that visited a Burger King restaurant on October 13th would get a FREE 10 piece spicy nuggets.


So, what’s the takeaway here?

Each of these brands took unique approaches that outside the “safe zone” that so many marketers are fearful of venturing away from.

Social media marketing doesn’t have to be boring and vanilla.

There are over 6,000 Tweets per second, 300 Million photos uploaded to Facebook each day, and over 300 hours of video uploaded to YouTube every minute. That is a ton of competition.

Create a strategy focused on content that your buyer personas will find valuable and engage with.

Don’t be generic in your responses.

Take calculated risks.

Your customers are talking online. Join them.



What a PGA Pro Can Teach You About Marketing

I’m one of those guys that can watch six hours of a PGA tournament on a Sunday and be disappointed when it’s over.  There is nothing more fascinating than watching the best golfers in the world duke it out against each other and against the course.  They’ve spent years and years mastering their craft to put their skills to work in hopes that all that hard work leads to a win on Sunday.  So how does golf have anything to do with marketing?  Bear with me for a moment.


Let me start off by stating that I am not even close to a PGA Professional Golfer.  I’m average at best.  Golf has been a big part of my life ever since I started caddying at the age of 14.  I immediately fell in love with the game.  The peacefulness of teeing off at dawn with the morning dew still on the ground… the etiquette of the game which is like no other… the strategy of playing a hole around well-placed obstacle… the camaraderie and respect created with those you played with.  In the summer before my freshman year of high school, my friend Todd asked me to play with him at a local golf course that allowed anyone trying out for the golf team free greens fees.  I was terrible and had no interest in trying out as I had plans to play football.  He persuaded me to tell the course I was trying out for the team so I would play with him.  Our Moms would take turns dropping us off in the morning and picking us up at dusk.  Rounds and rounds later, I started to score better.  I was hooked and never looked back.

What it takes to be a good golfer

Golf is hard.  Even the most athletic people can find it frustration to get their game to the point where they feel they are decent.  I’ve had several friends try to play golf and get so upset when they see someone that is not as fast, muscular or in shape as they are mop them up on the course.  Getting good requires continual practice to develop consistent results.  The more shots you take from different lies and situations leads to better results as time goes on.  When they are not playing in tournaments, PGA Professional Golfers spend hours and hours practicing, measuring and analyzing every aspect of their game to find where they can improve and need to make adjustments.

“The more I practice, the luckier I get.”
~ Gary Player

Marketing is no different.  So many business owners approach marketing the same way as first-time golfers.  They buy the best equipment, rush off to the course and try smacking the ball as far as the pros only to get frustrated when they don’t see instant results.  To get the best results from your marketing, you need to take the same approach a PGA Professional Golfer takes in preparation for each tournament.

Set time aside to practice

Just as more trips to the driving range will lead to better ball striking, the more effort you put into your marketing will yield better results.  It will take time but hard work, discipline and the understanding that improvement is made in small strides will lead to continual growth in your marketing efforts.  Develop a game plan for how you are going to approach your marketing.  You must set time aside in your schedule to make this happen.  Block off several time slots in your calendar each week where you concentrate on nothing but marketing.  A handful of hours a week quickly turns into hundreds of hours spent implementing your marketing strategy.

Learn from your bad shots

The second hole of a course I played in a high school match was a par 4 that wrapped around a huge pond.  From tee to green it was only 250 yards.  I knew that I could drive the ball that far.  I sank six shots in the water before I wised up and played around the water.  The rest of the round I played at even par but the 22 that I took on that hole ruined my score.  That taught me that long shots do not always pay off and smart play, even though you can hit the ball that far, is the often the best route to go.  You are going to fail at the shots you take while marketing.  It could be a carefully crafted email that no one in your list opened or an AdWords campaign that lead to a horrible conversion rate.  Learning why you failed and making adjustments will increase those conversions and lead to results.  Analyze and measure everything possible like your call-to-action, traffic, conversions,  audience… and figure out what works and what doesn’t.  Fine tune for the best results.

Never get rusty

Living in Michigan means I get to golf from about April until October.  During the winter months, my clubs sit in the basement until the warm weather hits.  Every spring I have to knock the rust off my game and get back the feel / finesse before I begin scoring they way I did at the end of the previous season.  Those five months of winter kill my game for a month or two as I get back up to speed.

All too often, we can get complacent in with our marketing.  Especially when we get busy due to the new opportunities created from the growing efficiencies in our marketing strategy.  Don’ t let off the gas.  When you are winning, work harder.  This will help you avoid the cycles that so many businesses face when they pull back their marketing when they get really busy.

Keep playing!

Even a bad day on the course can be worthwhile if you make it a learning experience.  It’s a sure thing that if you don’t come back to play, you’ll never improve.  Small gains are still gains and the surest way to not succeed is by not stepping onto that tee box.

Tell a Story to Make Your Point

One of my favorite things to do is tell stories.  Now that I have kids, this is really exciting as not only get to reread some of my old favorites like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory but also get to feed off their imaginations and create / tell stories with them.


Another one of my favorite things to do is use stories when educating clients about ideas, strategies or concepts they might struggle understanding if I kept it straightforward and technical.  I’ve found myself opposite a salesperson unengaged with what they are saying because it was all boring blah, blah, blah about features and the company and themselves… nothing they were saying struck a chord to draw me in and relate to their service.

How to Create Your Story

This doesn’t have to be difficult.  Just think about the features and benefits of your product / service and how those affect your customers.

  1. Use real-life testimonials – Unless you are just getting started with your business, you are likely to have several success stories from previous customers.  Identify a handful of the main issues your customers are faced with causing them to contact you and have an example of how you helped a previous customer (be cautious with using actual names here) with their very same problem in the past.  This will show them these issues they are facing can happen to anyone and that you’ve had success in remedying the situation.
  2. Create a story – Maybe you don’t have a real life example that you can use.  Not a biggie.  Create an ideal story that is fitting to their situation.  Don’t hide the fact that this is not a real live story either.  Start off by saying “Let’s pretend for a moment…” and then walk them through the issue followed by the remedy per the features and benefits you provide.
  3. Be very general – If you don’t want to get specific with a particular story, create a very general overview about issues your customers face in your industry and how your company can help.  Right now, mobile responsive websites is super- hot topic because of the Google algorithm update that happened a couple weeks ago.  For the past couple years, I’ve been talking to my customers about consumers in general and how they are more connected with mobile devices than ever before.  This is leading to increased searches driving more and more traffic to their website using these mobile devices.  A website that is not mobile responsive is going to lead to a bad user experience and now (because of the Google algorithm update) may hurt their page rank.

For most of us, hearing a story is fun, engaging and likely to get a point to stick with us for a little longer than the typical boring banter that most others are slinging.  Make the most of the time you have communicating with your customers so they don’t forget you.


Hello World! My Name is Ken.

I’ve been wanting to start this blog for awhile… longer than I’d like to admit.  My name is Ken and I own a digital agency called Neon Goldfish in Toledo, Ohio.   While Neon Goldfish has a fantastic blog that covers topics of all sorts ranging from search engine marketing to web design, this blog in particular is going to be a composition of my thoughts on marketing along with some discussion about latest trends that will hopefully answer some of the questions that many of my clients have. I hope you enjoy it.

A little background on me

Eastern Michigan University was the start of my marketing interest.  During my first year at the business school, I quickly found an attraction to all things related to marketing and took as many marketing related classes as the curriculum would allow and still keep me on track for graduating.  Back when I graduated, we were fortunate to have tons of jobs opportunities to choose from… I feel horrible for college graduates today.

My first job was an account rep for a company IKON Office Solutions which sold copy machines to businesses.  While sales was probably my least favorite area of marketing, the potential to make money was the highest.  Naturally that made me choose sales.  After a couple different sales positions at different companies, I landed a great job as a yellow page sales rep with AT&T (then SBC).  Now this was something that I really liked… helping business owners generate new customers to their business.  I wanted to learn more so I bought books on marketing and became a sponge soaking in as much as I could.  As I read more and learned more, I began to see the future in marketing was online and traditional means of advertising would soon be scrambling to adapt.

On a random Tuesday, I quit my job and started a marketing company.  Ill prepared, I struggled through the first six months hustling to find clients and get my feet under me.  Then I began to feel the pains of a one-man-show.  I’d spend normal business hours meeting with clients and the evening hours implementing what I sold.  Exciting at first but I knew there had to be a better way.

In the spring of 2007, I was at a going away party for a co-worker of my wife’s and ran into Justin Johnson whose wife also worked with my wife.  We’ve hung out a couple times before on incentive trips the girls won to Vegas or Miami.  They would be entertaining and we would be finding trouble.  Justin also had a web design company (much more established) that he ran solo.   We talked and decided to collaborate on a couple jobs.  He was good at the design and code, I was good at the marketing and client relationships… we had a good thing so we started Neon Goldfish.  Fast forward eight years (to now) and we’ve built a pretty solid digital agency that helps companies all over the country with their online marketing needs.

What gets me up everyday

Besides one of my kids screaming to announce they’re awake an hour before anyone else should consider getting out of bed, the challenge of engaging with consumers gets me going everyday.  What can we do to grab attention and make conversions?  How can we help / teach our clients to stand out from the crowd?  These are things that I find fascinating and fuel my drive.  Of course, I have to mention all the cliche things like my wife and family and provide them with a great life with puppies and white picket fences and all that crap too.  That too gets be going but it is so much more rewarding doing something that I enjoy.

Why write this blog?

I haven’t quite figured that out exactly.  Everyday I get to hear stories from clients and prospects about what they are doing, what is working, what they want, what other people are telling them to do… and then I get to tell them my stories.  I’ve started to see there is value in both sides of these stories and think this platform could be a great place to share some of those thoughts that could help others along the way.  Additionally, I aim to take a stab at some tutorials and how to’s (related to marketing) that might have a glimmer of value to someone somewhere.  We will have to wait and see.

See you around!