Derek Halpern’s discontent and a wee bit of rock-solid advice that just might help you on your way

by Craig McBreen · 23 comments · General

The other day I was listening Srinivas Rao interview Derek Halpern on BlogcastFM.

It was a well-done interview and I received a ton of useful, actionable advice from Derek, but one thing in particular resonated with me.

Would you like to know what that one bit of rock-solid advice was?

He discussed finding a “thread of discontent.

I know. You’re wondering what the hell is a “thread of discontent?”

In Derek’s own words:
“It’s a problem that a majority of people have with one specific blog or company. It’s a chink in their armor, and it’s an opportunity for you to convert them into loyal subscribers and customers.”

My interpretation was you need to find this thread and then create magnetic and helpful content which fills that void. I’d say Mr. Halpern has this covered.

Basically solving a particular problem that is not being addressed. Find and deliver what your potential audience is begging for and not getting. And if you deliver well, won’t that audience come running to your doorstep?

If people are complaining about something, figure out a way to bring them what they want in your unique way and deliver your special something better than the competition.

You know what else I started thinking?

Is there a unique problem I am solving?

What unanswered questions can I answer?

And how in the world do I find THAT issue, so I can turn IT into an opportunity to help people and grow this blog?

Are you thinking the same thing?

But I soon focused less on discontent and more on a particular flavor, my flavor.

You wanna know what that is?

Branding and design + personal experience = sound advice in more ways than one.

In the world of social media and blogging I don’t see too many people combining branding and design with kick in the pants advice. Do you?

In fact I’ve found that creativity and motivation are a perfect mix.


Because anyone entering (or stalled) in this little blogosphere of ours needs a bit of both:

1. Branding. (design, copy, and strategy)

2. And a push. (bringing out your killer swag, getting motivated and just making it happen).

Unless they are brimming with confidence and have branding, design and copywriting experience.

I’m no zen-master of blogging, so I won’t go into detail about converting eyeballs to get more subscribers, but I will tell you what I know.

And what is that?

I figured out that I could apply the same rules I’ve used in my industry for over 20 years, here in our little blog utopia.

I know … “Thanks, genius.”

What do you think I ask my clients when I start a branding project?

I ask them to put together a few thoughts on their company. Simple, right?

I ask them to define their mission, promise, uniqueness and how they want the market to see them.

Do you want your online presence to be swank, purposeful and off the hook?

Well, let’s focus on one thing today called VALUE. How are you going to help people?

If you want to be more than just social, you need to help people in some way.

So, stop and think about the Value you can bring.

And this gets back to Derek introducing the “thread of discontent.”

Let me explain.

One of the best ways to figure out your value is to solve a problem, but it’s much better to find a burning concern. An issue that sticks in someone’s craw, which is more like, um, discontent.

Something your fellow peep wants answered, deciphered or explained more effectively. Heck, they might even be willing to reward you with some hard-earned banknotes for your efforts.

So, when thinking about your blog or your small business it’s most important to find that big, fat value.

And the way you find said value is through discovering a complex problem (read discontent).

If you can do this effectively, well, bammo, you have what they call a fairly solid Value Proposition.

You could make a scientific wild ass guess or you could put in the work and find yours.

It might not be perfect and could evolve into something else, but this simple exercise will have you on your way and could introduce you to a flavor you never saw coming.

Easy, right? Well the work has just begun. The next goal is to figure out how to communicate this value, and I need to write a post on that. Stay tuned.

So, how can you help? How are you helping?

What good gravy are you dishing up?

Have you discovered THAT problem?

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{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

Jens P. Berget April 9, 2012 at 7:16 am

Hi Craig,

I listened to the interview while I was on vacation in Denmark, and it got me thinking as well.

It’s a tough question to answer, and I am not quite sure for my business. I try to add as much of my own experience and personality to the value I’m adding in order to explain rather complex issue. But I don’t have a formula just yet.

I’ll be working hard to find it during the next 2 – 3 weeks. Yours is awesome, and I recognize myself in it, so it might not be that different :)
Jens P. Berget recently posted..Free Kindle Books – How To Find ThemMy Profile


Craig McBreen April 9, 2012 at 6:42 pm

Hi Jens,

It is a tough question, isn’t it? What I liked about his suggestion though, is it really forced me to drill-down. Honestly this is something I already do for clients, but in a different way. With blogging there is a slightly different fleshing out process and that’s why I mentioned flavor. Like you’ve stated, you should ” … add as much … experience and personality to the value …” Personality is so much a part of it.

I’ve noticed you changing things over at your place and I’m sure loving the content. If you’re working hard over the next 2-3 weeks, I can’t wait to see what you come up with.

Thanks, Jens!


Ralph April 9, 2012 at 11:14 am

There’s the biscuit! Value. I have no friggin idea!
Well, I think I might (just did that for effect). I have to listen to that interview. I am still reeling from the one with Erika Nepoletano.

Totally find your hook interesting. Sounds like a great niche (if that’s what you’re going for). For me, I am still trying to find out where I am going but it’s really time to s**t or get off the post (pot) with respect to honing in on “ye old vision”.

Keep ‘em coming broheem.
Ralph recently posted..I used to think you were smartMy Profile


Craig McBreen April 9, 2012 at 11:36 pm

Hi Ralph,

You’re reeling too, huh? I enjoyed Erika’s interview as much as I think you did.

Talk about a hook, eh? We’ll see what sticks, but if I can help (which I aim to do) this is the best fit.

One of the things that helped me more than anything was stepping away from the computer. I’ve written about my little mind mapping exercises. It’s really just chicken scratch illustration, but it’s helped immensely, oh and writing every single day, no matter what.

As I wrote here:
It also helped to write out a business plan that included:
1. Value
2. Purpose
1. Uniqueness

All fun stuff, honestly.

You’ve just started so not so sure it’s time to get off the pot yet ;) Looks like you’re full steam ahead.


Ralph April 10, 2012 at 12:35 am

Righty-ho! Yes, just getting started. Just gotta dig in, you know what I mean? Thanks for the ideas on the BP. Funny, I just had a meeting today with our firm’s regional communications manager and she told be the same kind of thing. Like minds, huh?

So, off I go to fine tune the BP……..I’s steamin’.
Ralph recently posted..I used to think you were smartMy Profile


Craig McBreen April 10, 2012 at 2:09 am

Yes, onward with determination, my friend :)


Bill Dorman April 9, 2012 at 12:23 pm That’s my brand in case you wanted to see.

I have some thoughts on this but will have to come back; it’s funny you mention magnet however as I included it in my post title…………like minds………yikes……
Bill Dorman recently posted..Be careful, my blog is a magnetMy Profile


Craig McBreen April 9, 2012 at 11:38 pm

Nice brand ;)

… and I look forward to your thoughts. Just read the post and congrats on reaching THAT decision.


Al Smith April 9, 2012 at 1:34 pm

Hey Craig. Really like what you’re doing. What a great business model; Find discontent and create value to solve the problem. Ok. Great. The End ? Ha.
I wish. I feel like I have found the discontentment. Seems like just about everyone says ” we could really use that CARE stuff at my job” Duh. It is still a huge problem. Need to get to HR and CEO’s and help them understand the Value of CARE. I am working on the value. It is basic I know. Practice the principles of CARE, work on changing YOU first, help others win and be successful. Be a team player. You know the list. Just Communicate, Appreciate, Respect, Encourage others and your work and life will get better. I believe it’s a start.

I will continue to work on more solutions and continue to listen, learn and grow from all the wise people out there. Including you.

Thanks and Take CARE.

Al Smith recently posted..Just For Today, I Will ….My Profile


Craig McBreen April 9, 2012 at 11:46 pm

Hi Al,

Thanks and ha ha, yeah ;) It all sounds so simple, doesn’t it? Like everything else it requires dogged determination and a good set of plans to see it all through (oh and about 1,000 other things:))

You obviously have both and you’re going at it hard. It might just take that one connection, one speaking engagement to get things truly rolling.

Maybe a tightly constructed workshop is the best way to go. There was one woman years ago (wish I could remember her name) who did something fairly similar to what you’re planning and rehearsed this in front of our Toastmasters group years ago.

Anyway, I’ll be talking to you soon.

Thanks for stopping by.


Alicia Jay April 9, 2012 at 5:55 pm

Hey Craig!

That’s awesome that you discovered your niche! It’s something that we’re all told to do but it’s not so easy. I know I’ve been telling you that I’m making some changes, too. Think I figured out where I’m headed now. I just have to schedule in time for me among the client work. It’s so easy to put yourself last!
Alicia Jay recently posted..Never Give UpMy Profile


Craig McBreen April 9, 2012 at 11:49 pm

Hi Alicia,

You’re certainly right. It isn’t easy and if you have client work your stuff does often come last. The way I have cured that ill is to do all my writing and planning first thing in the morning, when I’m fresh and ready to roll. Just getting into the habit of doing that every day has helped.

Good luck on your changes and let me know how they are going. :)


Jason "J-Ryze" Fonceca April 10, 2012 at 12:14 am

Hehe… I love Derek Halpern, and his advice is rock-solid.

Stylish, branded kick in the pants advice? Sounds familiar

I re-branded and started from scratch on New Years’s, but in the short time since then I’ve gotten a lot of compliments on Ryze’s brand, and it’s really fulfilling.

And I know I’ve only scratched the surface.

Lately I’ve been called a “positive badass”, which might be the punchiest yet :)
Jason “J-Ryze” Fonceca recently posted..You’re Swimming In Cash (See It?)My Profile


Craig McBreen April 10, 2012 at 2:15 am

I read about something on Social Triggers and then start to see his suggestions implemented all over the place.

I knew you could relate :) To the kick in the pants, that is.

You’re doing a good job with Ryze and the branded elements are looking great from my perspective.

That’s right. You’re just starting, so I’m sure we’ll be seeing a lot more of your stuff the coming months / years. Here’s to much success!

I wanna be called a “positive badass” ;) That’s good, but J-Ryze is “sticky”


Jason "J-Ryze" Fonceca April 10, 2012 at 8:19 pm

Thanks so much for the encouragement, Craig! I really appreciate it :D

I think they kinda work together: J-Ryze, positive badass.

Or uplifting badass. :)
Jason “J-Ryze” Fonceca recently posted..You’re Swimming In Cash (See It?)My Profile


Craig McBreen April 10, 2012 at 9:06 pm

J-Ryze (logo)
Positive badass (tagline)

There, you have a new brand! :)

Have a good one and thanks again for popping in!


Bill Dorman April 10, 2012 at 1:49 am

Keep dialing it in bro, I think that is where you will find your greatest rewards. There might be some hard knocks along the way but it will be a learning experience and I think you will come out just right.

It’s good to have the laser focus.

Good luck, sir.
Bill Dorman recently posted..Be careful, my blog is a magnetMy Profile


Jason "J-Ryze" Fonceca April 10, 2012 at 1:52 am

Ah, you guys are the greatest :)
Jason “J-Ryze” Fonceca recently posted..You’re Swimming In Cash (See It?)My Profile


Craig McBreen April 10, 2012 at 2:16 am

Hard knocks in this online realm … nah ;)


Adrienne April 10, 2012 at 6:49 pm

Don’t you love it when you are reading some content or in this case listening to a podcast and the light bulbs start going off. Oh how I love those moments Craig.

I totally get what you’re saying and I love how you are taking this type of approach in your business. Combing the two, branding and your little push will really impress your clients. I have no doubt about that at all.

This has been in my mind a lot lately too. I have a certain area I would LOVE to get my hands on and am coming up with some solutions to do just that. So although I didn’t hear this particular interview, that’s the direction I’ve been heading anyway as this year progresses.

Thanks for the kick, we all need that from time to time.

Hope you enjoyed Easter with your family and your week got off to a great start.

Adrienne recently posted..How To Add YouTube Annotations to Your VideosMy Profile


Craig McBreen April 10, 2012 at 9:04 pm

Hi Adrienne,

Yes I love those moments, but I’m usually on the treadmill. I don’t want to stop so I go through this process of trying to make a note while still running and hope the iPhone doesn’t go flying (or me)! Not a pretty picture.

I’m sure if you have an area you would love to get your hands on you will do a bang-up job when you get there, I have no doubt about that!

Easter was great and we actually had nice spring weather in the PNW. Hope it was fun for you!

Always good to see you Adrienne. Thanks!


Jon Buscall April 10, 2012 at 10:35 pm

Good point! I listened to the same podcast and found myself pulled in by Derek’s position (and energy!).

I kind of figure you have to have a unique position, but it’s not always easy to find one, especially when there’s such a strong echo chamber in, say, the marketing space.

Do you think it’s just about answering problems, though ? Don’t we also sign-up for mails because we enjoy the voice? the angle ? I’m thinking entertainment too.


Craig McBreen April 10, 2012 at 11:56 pm

Hi Jon,

And thanks! I really like his style and I’ve learned quite a bit from the guy.

Yes. Yes. Yes!! You have to make it your own for sure. I also want to help people accomplish this.

I think it’s an amalgamation of all, but you’re so right, you have to have a unique flavor with all you’ve mentioned – entertain and teach with a unique voice, angle, etc. Tough to pull of for sure, but I rather enjoy the fleshing out process. Fun stuff.

Oh … I have your interview with Marcus queued up and will listen on the way home.

Great to see you here, Jon. Hope the weather has improved in Stockholm!


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