Hi! Nice to meet you.

My name is Ahmad Munawar. I'm a marketing consultant, recovering accountant, and coffee snob.

This is where I share the best stuff I can find on marketing, growth, and entrepreneurship -- along with the occasional rant. You've been warned.

Morning Pages – Day 1

The bedrock tool of a creative recovery is a daily practice called Morning Pages.

Finally got around to trying this, thanks to Tim Ferriss for the tip.

The idea is to write 3 pages, by hand, every morning — for a total of 750 words. My hand was hurting after one page. For now, 3 pages is an aspirational target.

Here’s the only coherent thought from the whole page (edited for grammar):

Typing is a mechanical exercise devoid of art and spirit. It lends itself to getting the job done, not exploration or expression.


Want to try it for yourself? Read more here:

How to Waste $154,980


A full page ad in the New York Times will run you something to the tune of $154,980 … not for the faint of heart.

With a price tag like that, you’d expect advertisers to give it everything they’ve got. It’s a one shot deal after all. Once the day is over — or more likely, once the morning is over — no one will see their ad ever again.

On June 21, Hampton Creek — a food company that makes mayonnaise and cookies — decided to take out a full page ad in the main news section of the Times.

Here’s what it said:

Dear Food Leaders,

I’ve had lots of successful folks give me advice about you. Advice on whether to work with you (be wary), on how to grow with you (go slow)—and the good we can do with you (very little).

We built a movement, and the fastest-growing food company on earth, around intentionally ignoring all of it.

We started Hampton Creek because we believe in the goodness of people—in the goodness of you. And you, the same folks who created a food system that often violates your own values, have validated what all of us knew: It turns out that when you create a path that makes it easy for good people to do good things—they will do it.

I know we’re all buried in the to-do list of the day. But you should know, that as of 5:33 AM EST on Sunday June 21st, our movement includes:

The largest food service company in the world

The largest convenience store in the world

The two largest retailers in the world

The second largest retailer in the US

The largest natural grocery retailer in the world

The largest grocery retailer in the US

The largest retailer in the UK

The largest grocery retailer in Hong Kong

The largest coffeehouse in the world

Two of the top ten largest food manufacturers in the world

Two of the World’s 100 Most Powerful Women (Forbes)

The sovereign wealth fund of Singapore

A former Republican Senate Majority Leader

The world’s leading virologist

The Co-founder of Facebook

A Medal of Honor recipient

The leading experts in machine learning

The Godfather of hip-hop

4,121 public schools

12 billionaires

And many of your kids

Just three years ago when we started, I thought you were the problem. And I was wrong. You have always been the kinds of folks who know what the right thing to do is. You have names. And families. And you, just like all of us, want your kids and friends and loved ones to admire who you are. And you, just like all of us, are just trying to figure it all out.

Did you know that our manifesto was written by you?

And that our 2015 impact is driven by you?

1.5 billion gallons of water saved

11.8 billion milligrams of sodium avoided

2.8 billion milligrams of cholesterol removed

You should feel insanely proud.

Talk soon,

Josh Tetrick, CEO & Founder

PS: You can reach me anytime at (415) 404-2372 or jtetrick@hamptoncreek.com

Not sure what just happened? Me neither.

This ad would fail as a blog post, let alone a six figure campaign in a prestigious national paper.

It’s not worth hashing out all the problems with the ad because it’s obvious to anyone who read it. But it is worth thinking about what went wrong here for a moment.

Disaster could’ve been averted if Hampton Creek stopped to ask a few simple questions before running the ad (via Seth Godin):

WHO are you trying to reach? (If the answer is ‘everyone’, start over.)

HOW will they become aware of what you have to offer?

WHAT story are you telling/living/spreading?

DOES that story resonate with the worldview these people already have? (What do they believe? What do they want?)

WHERE is the fear that prevents action?

WHEN do you expect people to take action? If the answer is ‘now’, what keeps people from saying, ‘later’? It’s safer that way.

WHY? What will these people tell their friends?

Marketing isn’t complicated, it’s common sense. If your ad, email, campaign, or launch strategy doesn’t address the simple questions — you’re wasting time and money.


Flickr creative commons image via Michael.

The Problem With Lifestyle Design


I’m all for getting what you want out of life. Too many people blindly go through the motions without ever questioning what’s really important.

But there’s a growing cadre of ‘lifestyle entrepreneurs’ advocating that you should design your ideal lifestyle before you get started in business. Your business should suit your desired lifestyle, they say, and not the other way around.

Tim Ferriss, in the 4-Hour Work Week, talks about how his supplement company was extremely profitable — but he was extremely miserable. He was making money but he wasn’t actually enjoying the work. Ultimately, he discovered creative ways to automate the business to take himself out of the equation.

But here’s where most people miss the point: Tim Ferriss had a profitable business to automate.

There’s no point worrying about automating your business if you don’t have a business.

The problem with lifestyle design, or building a business with the goal of achieving a certain lifestyle, is that the road to getting there is almost always paved with hard work, risk, and uncertainty.

It’s no easier than building any other kind of business.

And if the only reason you’re in the game is to ultimately sit on the beach and do nothing… I’m not sure you’ll have what it takes to push through when things get messy.

The truth is, the people that have actually built successful lifestyle businesses are extremely driven, worked extremely hard, and probably still do. The difference is now they do it because they want to.

This post is my submission for day 6 of #YourTurnChallenge, a 7-day blogging challenge orchestrated by Winnie Kao, Special Projects Lead for Seth Godin.

Flickr creative commons image via Luke Ma.

Why I Do Not Want to Write This Post


Apparently, shipping is hard.

Today is day 5 of the #YourTurnChallenge, where myself and hundreds (perhaps thousands) of others have foolishly agreed to ‘shipping’ a blog post everyday for 7 days straight.

It’s supposed to train us to get into the habit of releasing our ideas… or something like that. I’m not sure anymore, but it made sense at the same.

Bottom line: I really don’t want to write this post.

To be honest, days 1 to 4 were pretty easy. I had a decent workflow that worked well and didn’t interfere much with the rest of my day.

Here’s what it looked like:

  1. Free write first thing in the morning. I didn’t set a target word count or have a set amount of time. I just wrote until I felt like I had a post. I began each free writing session with an idea that usually either evolved or changed entirely by the time I was done. This took, on average, 15-20 minutes.
  2. Don’t do anything. This is probably the most important part. After getting the free writing done in the morning… I went on with my day and forgot all about it. There were days that I was tempted to release it right away, because I thought it was good. But it always turned out better if I waited and let the ideas sink in.
  3. Polish it up and hit publish. At the end of the day, I’d grab my free writing notes from my writing app and paste them into WordPress. Then I’d read it over and edit, as many times as needed, until it was done. Finally, I’d head to Flickr to find a relevant image.

But that all went out the window today.

I got a late start to the day and didn’t have the time, or wasn’t in the mood, to do any free writing.

I spent the morning spinning my wheels on a task that shouldn’t have taken as long as it did and frustrated the heck out of me in the process.

My frustration carried forward into the afternoon and was followed up by a series of meetings that ate up the rest of the day.

Now it’s almost 7pm, I’m tired, I’ve got a long list of stuff left to do… and I do not want to be writing this post.

But it doesn’t matter. I must ship.

This post is my submission for day 5 of #YourTurnChallenge, a 7-day blogging challenge orchestrated by Winnie Kao, Special Projects Lead for Seth Godin.

Flickr creative commons image via Andy Blackledge.