How to Succeed at Anything (Including Amazon)


We all want it and we may view it as hard to achieve.

Especially as Amazon sellers.

With options for customers growing more vast and brand owners continually falling prey to using the same strategies, tools, and tactics as their direct competitors, sellers are adding far too much uncertainty and chance to their success.

Only so many keywords, right? Amazon ‘real estate’ isn’t infinite.

But there are ways to remove yourself from the pack.

Thankfully, these same steps can help you achieve success in just about any realm – Amazon included.

Let’s dive into exactly what this looks like.

Ask Good Questions

Being able to ask good questions is an immensely powerful skill.

Nothing gets to what actually matters more than asking yourself (or others) a poignant question.

What are some fun, if not obvious examples?

“What if we had something truly different than our competitors – what would it look like and how would we market it?”

“How can I achieve this outcome while still having fun?”

“What would it look like if completing this took half the time we originally planned?”

Answers (both obvious and surprising) serve as a springboard to action or next steps.

But not from just any question.

A ‘good’ question (in this case) stimulates action and a solution orientation. In fact, that’s really all it may need to serve its purpose.

Top-Down Mentality

Where are you approaching the problems (let’s call them ‘challenges’) in your business and life?

Systems thinking would encourage you to be ‘up and slightly removed’ from a situation to be able to effectively identify opportunities and the right next steps. This is always a solid way to disassociate, remove the emotion in a situation, and view things quite practically.

However, as valuable as that may be, it’s important to create a structure for the situation you’re facing from the macro to the micro – from strategy to tactic. This classification will help define at which level you’re solving a problem and which factors are impacted by decisions made (or not).

Additionally, this will catch you anytime you’re applying lateral thinking. While it may be ideal for creativity and ideation, lateral thinking can be terrible for creating resourceful solutions – especially those that are beyond the scope of any one situation.

So first, be cognizant of ‘where you’re at’ with a problem or situation and then view it from the top-down; understanding the layers involved, and what may also provide leverage by moving up a level and making changes from there.

If you find you’re spinning your wheels, you’re likely far too close to the problem and need to take full advantage of a top-down perspective.

Add Constraints

We are prone to gravitate towards an easier course of action.

Chalk it up to evolution and survival if you’d like.

But, you’re often compensated for the scale of the challenge you overcome or the problem that you solve.

If you aim to be compensated greatly, complexity can (and often does) become reality. This is where doing deep, focused work in a society that is dopamine-addicted and short on attention can be quite lucrative.

But how does that factor in constraints?

Real or self-imposed constraints help to expedite real, tangible progress by forcing action. The classic example is the student with a term paper due who, even with weeks to complete the assignment, procrastinates right to the bitter end. Somehow, with one day left, they are able to complete the entire assignment in exceptional fashion.

This example highlights Parkinson’s Law which states “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion”.

In layman’s terms, we can understand this to mean that we can be absolutely blown away by our output when we constrain the time needed.

A mechanism to achieve this is, of course, deadlines.

Self-imposed, aggressive deadlines are a tactic to achieve the seemingly impossible in the grandest of occasions but, more simply, can be a means of multiplying your output from a day-to-day and week-to-week perspective.

This type of constraint is in and of itself a force multiplier. When you expect more of yourself and your output in a shorter period of time, you can often find that you can meet even your most optimistic expectations.

Permission To Suck

This tenant or takeaway for achieving success is pretty obvious and on the nose, but it bears stressing quite heavily.

What I’ve observed from the most successful people in my network is they have quantifiably failed more than others. They are truly bigger ‘failures’ just by virtue of the things they’ve done that haven’t gone right.

Oftentimes, they would concede this point openly. What can we glean from this reality?

Successful people give themselves permission to not be great (at least initially).

One of my favorite quotes comes from LinkedIn Co-Founder and Billionaire Reid Hoffman. Hoffman states “If you’re not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late”.

Wow. A pretty bold statement.

Keep in mind Hoffman’s expertise lies in the iterative software space, where delivering an MVP (or minimum viable product) and refining a product through customer feedback is the preferred product launch formula.

But, what we can extrapolate from this quote, is a willingness to move quickly, learn, and pivot. The cliche ‘money loves speed’ may be a bit too easy to reference at this point, but as with all cliches, there tends to be a sliver of truth hiding not too far behind it.

The assumption here is that we have something for the market to enjoy. Experience. Consume.

Ultimately providing an opportunity to, at some point, do better. To state it plainly.

This never assumes version 1.0 is awe-inspiring and earth-shattering. It assumes simply that it arrives, comes online, and creates opportunities born out of its realization.

So go ahead. Stink. Billionaires do it – so why can’t you?

From A-ha to Amazon

So now that we’ve unpacked these core tenants to achieve success, how can we overlay this to success on Amazon (presumably leveraging FBA)?

We ask good questions as the foundation of our business. What product to source or customer need will our business meet? This helps us get real insights into customer demand at the keyword level.

We ensure that we’re viewing our businesses from the top-down. This, too, holds true with an Amazon FBA-centric model, as the path to success is generally sequential (Validate, Source, Optimize, Rank, etc.).

We add constraints so we move quicker, overcome procrastination, and in some cases, further exploit a market/competitive advantage. The reality is the Amazon FBA space is chock-full of gurus, opportunists, and – even at the most basic level – people. Remember the point about looking for the path of least resistance? Most do it. You just have to add a few more constraints to expect more of yourself and outcomes.

And, finally, we make sure we don’t create too high of ‘internal stakes’ that perfection gets in the way of starting, maintaining and/or finishing.

What’s most important is that you understand the recipe. The elements required.

From there it’s a matter of attention and intention. Then it’s simply a matter of time.

Troy Johnston Co-founder, Seller.Tools
Troy Johnston is the Co-founder of Seller.Tools, a robust suite of optimization tools leveraging actual Amazon data. He sold one of his flagship brands for multiple 7 figures and quickly moved to consulting for 8 & 9 figure clients on Amazon. Troy is obsessed with creating data-driven solutions for Seller.Tools clients by empowering sellers with the best data alongside exclusive features. You can find Troy and an amazing community of FBA sellers through the Facebook community FBA Kings.

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