Marketing in the Craft Beer Industry – It’s Not Just About The Beer Anymore

According to The Brewers Association, Colorado ranks third in the nation for number of breweries per capita. In 2015, Colorado’s booming craft-beer industry contributed a $1.7 billion economic impact in 2015. Craft beer fans in Colorado have an overflowing variety of beers and breweries. With so many great options, how can each brewery stay ahead of the curve?

Last week, we sat down with several marketing representatives from different breweries across the state to discuss how they manage their marketing efforts in the competitive craft beer industry.

While craft beer is here to stay, the industry has changed dramatically in recent years. Colorado went from having 175 breweries in 2013 to almost 350 in 2016. Julie Kovaleski, Marketing Coordinator of Boulder Beer described how the first craft brewery in Colorado is staying relevant throughout the years. Boulder Beer has the competitive advantage of name recognition, however,  they still have to remain competitive in this challenging market.  After 38 years of making incredible beer, Boulder Beer has learned that making a great product doesn’t guarantee success in this business anymore. Consumers want more.

Breweries generally begin with a  passion for making great beer, but in a saturated market like Colorado only succeed when they are able to offer that ‘something extra’ that consumers crave. Elvira Masinovik at 38 State Brewing has this down to a tee. At 38 State Brewing they have events almost every day: open mic, trivia, crafting parties, you name it! They have become not only an establishment where people can come for a cold one after work, but a place where the community gathers. The brewery industry is more than just the beer, is about the community and the experience.

Alicia Duncan at Kokopelli Beer Company agrees. They know their success comes from being the cornerstone of the Westminster community. Kokopelli Beer Company is the place where families gather and everyone is welcomed. Kokopelli is also proud to be the first sole owner and operated brewpub in Colorado. And, did we mentioned that this owner is a woman? Colorado is one of the lucky states that has one of the higher percentages of female consumers. Female beer enthusiasts in Colorado account for 32% of the market share in Colorado as indicated by The Brewers Association. Part of this change, in an otherwise male dominated industry, is due to the fact that breweries are now more than ever making an effort to promote craft beer events geared towards women.

For instance, Boulder Beer is partnering with Barley’s Angels, a group dedicated to women and beer, this Wednesday to offer a “Bacon Three Ways” pairing held in celebration of Colorado Craft Beer Week. On the other side of town, 38 State hosts different events geared towards the female demographic such as “Denver Girls Pint Out” and “National Nurses Day.”

In addition to hosting great in-house events and attending strategic beer fests, many breweries have all upped their social media marketing efforts. Breweries today need to have a presence on multiple platforms. Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat seem to be some of the favorites. The social media content includes events, new releases, behind the scenes photos, charitable work, and more.

Finally, the brewery-marketing gurus gave us some advice for those trying to enter the industry. Unanimously, they all agreed that the most important piece of marketing in the craft beer industry was to know your product. If you want to be in marketing in the craft beer industry, it is not enough to know your platforms and marketing strategies. You have to know about beer. Not just what your favorite beer is, but knowledge about the brewing process, ingredients, and different styles of beers. Many marketing representatives have gone through the rigorous process of becoming Cicerone certified. Talk about commitment!

If you are interested in learning more about Marketing in the Beer Industry, AMA Colorado  is hosting a panel of experts on March 22, 2017 to discuss the topic. You can learn more and register here.

Marketing Landscape Q&A with Jason Duong of Appliance Factory Outlet

Jason is a Colorado native and studied at Colorado State University for business. He has been at Appliance Factory and Mattress Kingdom for 10 years and has been the Marketing Manager for the past seven years. Appliance Factory does all of their marketing internally through North Media, an internal marketing firm.

 

Comparing marketing challenges from then to now – what’s the single biggest change or challenge?

I think the biggest change is how fragmented it is today compared to a few years ago. We used to be able to reach the majority of consumers advertising in a few traditional mediums such as print or TV.

The evolution of how people today consume information gives us marketers a huge challenge. At this point, to reach consumers in a meaningful way we’ve had to spread our message across multiple channels in hopes to reach them in one form or another.

How have the consumers changed over those 30 years?

Consumers have absolutely changed; today they have an expectation that appliances are going to make their life easier. Features are geared towards ease of use and integration into a customer’s life. Ten years ago, people just wanted a stove that was dependable or a washing machine that cleaned well. Now they want a range that can be turned on from a smartphone or a washer that can do a load in 22 minutes.

What role does branding vs. advertising play into your strategy?

It’s a balancing act we struggle with constantly. Advertising can be pretty simple,– you spend money to advertise a specific sale like the 4th of July and generally we’ll see a lift in business.

Branding is an investment towards the future in hopes of when a customer is ready to buy we will be a company they consider. It takes a lot of self- control and patience to brand a company well, especially since a lift in business isn’t seen immediately. Consumers buy appliances every 7 to 10 years so being in the forefront of their mind when the time comes to replace an appliance is the key for our long term success.

What was the competitive landscape like, and how has AFO managed to outlast those competitors?

The landscape has changed quite a bit, Sears used to be a huge influence but at this point with most of the Sears closing, their share has diminished. Home Depot and Lowes have become bigger players and new companies like JC Penney are trying to throw their hat in the ring. That’s just the local brick and mortar stores; a whole host of online companies have impacted the industry as well.

I believe we’ve been able to thrive because of our unique ability to offer really great values to consumers across Colorado. We’ve leveraged our buying power and relationships with manufacturers while controlling our cost structure to ensure competitive prices.

We have been aggressively marketing our services against our competition. We may not have the same brand recognition as the big box store but we strive to be in the conversation when a consumer is ready to make a purchase. We really feel if a consumer gives us a chance, our experienced sales staff will give them a compelling reason to make a purchase.

OpenSnow

Q&A with Colorado Marketing Leaders: Eric Strassburger of OpenSnow

Eric StrassbergerEric Strassburger is the Director of Partnerships with Boulder-based OpenSnow, a team of weather forecasters who write “Daily Snow” updates that will point you toward the best snow conditions around the country. 

How did the company get started? And why?
This was a classic “scratch your own itch” beginning for a business. Joel Gratz was forecasting powder for himself and his friends because they all wanted to ski powder and Joel was a trained meteorologist. That turned into a weekly email newsletter, which turned into a blog, which eventually turned into a fully-featured service for skiers and snowboarders across the world.

Who was filling this niche before OpenSnow?
The best place for skiers to get snow forecasts before OpenSnow was from local National Weather Service offices and a few local blogs. The NWS forecasts are created by knowledgeable people, but are more generic and not written especially for skiers. And the small, local blogs are good, but often hard to find.

Who are your biggest competitors? And how do you differentiate yourself?
Lots of websites and apps provide some reports and many provide snow forecasts as well. Our differentiation is that we have local forecasters who know skiing, who know weather, and who put the forecasts into terms that skiers want. For example, instead of saying “chance of snow next Thursday”, we might say “the best powder day in the next 10 days will be next Thursday and the most snow will likely fall for these specific mountains.”

How have you marketed the business, and grown your customer base to 1.5 million skiers and riders?
We have not done any paid marketing. All growth has been word-of-mouth, as skiers tell other skiers about us on the chairlift and when planning powder days. We will likely begin to pay for some limited advertising soon.

What are the biggest challenges you face in marketing the business?
Seasonality. We are most relevant for only 4-6 months of the year, so we have to make those months count!

How is the weather – this year – impacting both ski season? And your own business?
It’s too soon to know. Most of the bookings for Thanksgiving and Christmas are made during the prior season or over the summer, so these times are somewhat insulated from slow starts (warm weather with little snow). However, if the lack of snow and warm air continues into mid-December, I would expect bookings to decrease and interest in snow to wane, which could affect the entire industry and our business. That said, late November and December should be colder and snowier based on many long-range forecasts, so fingers crossed that the flakes begin to fly soon!

How do you stay in touch with your skiers and boarders in- and off-season?
We launched a weather app for hikers called OpenSummit. Right now it provides forecasts for the Colorado 14ers, and we are hoping to expand this to hundreds or thousands of other trails.

What’s your best/favorite accomplishment over the last 3-5 years?
To have created a sustainable, profitable business that educates people about science and helps all of us enjoy a few more powder days than we used to!

What’s your vision for the next 3-5 years?
To create a year-round business made up of snow forecasts in the winter and hiking and biking forecasts in the summer.

What advice would you give to yourself or someone else as they are starting a business?
Love what you’re working on because it’s going to take more time and more effort than you imagine.

Q&A with Colorado Marketing Leaders: Justin Bresler, VISIT DENVER (Part 2)

VISIT DENVER Team Makes Multi-Channel Marketing
a Winning Strategy for Tourism

Justin Bresler, Visit DenverThis is Part 2 of a 2-part interview with Justin Bresler, VP, Marketing & Business Development for VISIT DENVER, the Convention & Visitors Bureau for the city. Click here to read Part 1

Imagine marketing a company that doesn’t sell anything, but has a global audience. Or selling a brand that doesn’t produce anything, but demands discretionary income to consume. And imagine doing it so successfully that you’ve demonstrated a decade of consistent growth without cutting resources, and through a recession when all your industry peers were cutting back.

These challenges may seem insurmountable to some, but for VISIT DENVER, the city’s Convention & Visitor’s Bureau, it’s a labor of love for the residents and tourists that make Denver what it is today. Justin Bresler, VP of Marketing and Business Development, answers some questions about what it takes to market the Mile High City locally and beyond.

What do you consider your primary role on the team at VISIT DENVER, and how has it changed in the last 8 years you’ve been there?
As a brand steward for the city and all it has to offer. But also to manage the functionality of the various levers we can pull. There are more channels available to us than ever before. We’ve had to figure out how to incorporate how to use these channels as they come online. There are unique challenges and opportunities with each. It allows us marketers new opportunities to show success and to reach new people.

Speaking of reaching new people, who are the audiences you are trying to reach? And, how do you find them?
Our international efforts and domestic efforts are two different sales efforts. Internationally, there are a lot of intermediaries like travel agents and tour operators, who are still vital because of their clients’ unfamiliarity with a foreign country. We work to add Denver and Colorado vacations to their product catalog.

Domestically, we market nationally, but focus on key target markets for media spend. We have a media philosophy to go deep in fewer markets than broader in more markets. New York City sends a lot of people everywhere. But you can blow $5 million in a month there. We are in markets that have a history of sending visitors to Denver with great flight access, or a great drive. Chicago, Dallas, Houston and San Diego are markets where we attract a lot of visitors. We have secondary markets as well.

And as for who we are trying to reach – as long as you are of a certain age with discretionary income, we are going to try to find you. Our tactics include are offline, TV, digital and video. Study after study shows the impact of video, which can be expensive to produce. Luckily, technology has given us lots of other places to place that. And, we still have a place for certain print placements.

Nowadays, you have to be everywhere. And digital advertising is great because it’s trackable, but it’s more of a cold medium. It’s hard to inspire someone using a banner ad.

We layer on top of our paid media a lot of other things – outbound PR. Social media effort reaches not just existing but new audiences. That’s been huge for us. We are getting more and more into sponsored content, taking advantage of online publications and their reach. There are a couple of mainstays in our marketing strategy – search is always on, social is always on. But from a marketing standpoint, we are campaign-driven throughout the year. Every time we have a new campaign, we have a fresh media strategy and campaign strategy and vendors that we use.

How do you track the interactions and ‘success’ you have reaching your audiences?
We are moving to measure engagement. A lot of our engagement comes from the website or the social media channels. But it can be equalized across channels. We look at the level of engagement visitors have, determine where they came from, and decide if it’s worth it to keep that channel going. It happens internally with our agency partners. They report to us, we put it thru our data machine internally and we feed back to them and say these are vendors that we feel are performing well.

You mention strategizing with your vendors. How do you decide when to partner with a vendor and when to build an in-house team to handle your marketing?
We really wait until a channel is fairly well developed before we bring on staff. We had social media contracted for a couple of years before we brought on a staff member. Not because we thought social was going away, but because didn’t really know the criteria required or the skill set to staff it. We are a little bit conservative in that way. Because we are a tax-funded organization, we have to be conscious about the investment we make in new platforms and spending in new areas.

What advice would you give to someone who is trying to market either themselves or their company?
I would say more than anything today, stay on brand. Your brand is your friend. But be flexible with your tactics because they change so frequently now. Today you need to be well rounded and you need to tell stories. People are going to engage with your stories more than your advertising and it’s always going to be that way. Unless you’re selling toilet paper and just waiting for the next coupon. If those stories are true to your brand, you will be able to differentiate yourself.

Request for Quote – CHAMP Grant: Industry Market Research

The Colorado Helps Advanced Manufacturing Program grant awarded to Red Rocks Community College will increase the attainment of manufacturing degrees and certificates that align with the industry’s recognized competencies, skills and certifications to create a pipeline of highly-qualified advanced manufacturing industry workers. The colleges will add industry-driven content to the manufacturing program and redesign several courses for online/hybrid delivery.

Deadline:

Submit electronic quote and summary of qualifications to: CHAMP Grant Project Manager Pamela.packer@rrcc.edu Due: December 2, 2016 no later than 5:00 p.m. Subject line: CHAMP Grant: Industry Market Research We expect deliverables from the market research firm that emphasize action steps for improvement. All work MUST be completed on or before March 31, 2017 due to grant requirements.

Click here for additional information.

Colorado Marketing Leaders: VISIT COLORADO

Q&A with Colorado Marketing Leaders: Justin Bresler, VISIT DENVER (Part 1)

VISIT DENVER Team Makes Multi-Channel Marketing
a Winning Strategy for Tourism

Justin Bresler, Visit DenverThis is part 1 of a 2-part interview with Justin Bresler, VP, Marketing & Business Development for VISIT DENVER, the Convention & Visitors Bureau for the city.  Click here to read part 2.

Imagine marketing a company that doesn’t sell anything, but has a global audience. Or selling a brand that doesn’t produce anything, but demands discretionary income to consume. And imagine doing it so successfully that you’ve demonstrated a decade of consistent growth without cutting resources, and through a recession when all your industry peers were cutting back.

These challenges may seem insurmountable to some, but for VISIT DENVER, the city’s Convention & Visitor’s Bureau, it’s a labor of love for the residents and tourists that make Denver what it is today. Justin Bresler, VP of Marketing and Business Development, answers some questions about what it takes to market the Mile High City locally and beyond.

How is marketing a city different than marketing a business? We don’t own anything. You can’t buy anything from the Bureau. You can’t ‘buy’ Denver. We don’t own hotels, we don’t operate restaurants, or operate tours. But there is a sales funnel in travel, just as there is in lots of businesses.

You (as a traveler) may be dreaming of a destination but don’t go for five years. There could be 10 other places ahead of it. But it’s not like you have five cars in mind and you are going to buy one every year for the next five years. I think that’s what is different about travel. And once we do our job, we must track the results by proxy. We measure through website traffic, engagement, hotel visits and some of those other tangibles we don’t ‘own.’

What’s unique about Denver as a brand? Compared to other businesses, and/or compared to its tourism competitors?
Travel is an interesting sector because you must have discretionary income to do it. And that may ebb and flow over the course of years. Travel – and international travel – has become a lot easier and some respects a lot more affordable. So, our marketplace is global. And, because travel is a discretionary purchase, we are competing with other destinations, but we also are competing with things like ‘am I going to redo my basement this year?’

While travel is a ‘considered’ purchase it’s certainly something people can see as necessary in their lives. When they do that, they have to connect with a destination. Lots of destinations market themselves with some kind of “lots to see and do” messaging. But every destination has lots to see and do. We try to do things differently in Denver.

Denver has a unique market because we aren’t just an urban destination. We have the rest of the state to help pull people in. We know that people who want to come here want that combination of city and mountains. Years ago, we were just a gateway to push people to the mountains. That’s changed over the years. Now, you have to ask someone the question, “How do we get someone from Chicago to want to spend time in Denver and not just in the mountains?” We ask ourselves that all the time.
It starts with the outdoors, layered with some great urban experiences. The Denver brand position is an outdoor city full of urban adventure.

With that outdoor city/urban adventure messaging, you can line up the “brand pillars” neatly underneath that. The things that we use in the city are outdoor activities – call it light adventure. We might be the gateway for extreme mountain biking, but the experiences you’ll have in the city are open to everyone. It might be the B-cycle program, Yoga on the Rocks or drinking craft beer on an outdoor patio. That’s become a big draw in the city – the outdoor dining scene. Some people mountain bike or ski, but everybody eats. Five to ten years ago, it was Downtown and Larimer Square that held the urban dining options. Now, Highlands is a hot spot, so is River North and South Broadway. You can go to any part of the city and get a great meal.

Denver is one of the fastest-growing markets in the country – what challenges does that come with?
The things that make Denver a great place to live also make it a great place to visit. We want to make sure that locals don’t feel visitors are a burden on the city. Tourism is clean money. It’s one of the few places that a city can invest and bring back a big return. We can say to residents, ‘if it wasn’t for tourism, each family would spend $600-$700 more each year in taxes to enjoy the same services they enjoy today.’ Visitors have a much lower impact on the city because they come in and go home. The tourists are the 20 percenters that make a good year great for the restaurants and the performing arts complexes and other attractions in our city.

What do you consider the greatest accomplishments of the VISIT DENVER team? And why?
We’ve grown tourism for 10 straight years. Some of those years were tough economic years. If you look at 2008-2009, the statics we were seeing showed not that fewer people were traveling, but they were taking fewer trips and traveling shorter distances. So, we decided we would work on marketing to the 600-mile radius around Denver. That’s a function of being flexible and good planning. As soon as the worsening economic situation was pretty clear, we did a whole retreat as a leadership staff and asked ourselves, ‘how are we going to respond?’ We were able to maintain our budgets while our peers were cutting. It was just smart financial management and smart media buying. We actually grew during that time. So, the thing that I’m most proud of is the $6 billion economic impact that tourism brings to the city. It’s a function of good leadership, having the budget to do the things we need to do and having the patience to not chase something that is so short-term.

Read part 2 of the interview with Justin.

All Things Social

5 things You’ll Learn at All Things Social on November 17

The rapid growth and widespread adoption of social media have caused marketers, entrepreneurs, and anyone looking to build a personal brand to reshape their communications strategies to adapt. Whether you know it or not, social media has a material impact on your business and has the potential to fundamentally change public opinion with the click of a button.

While some may see this as a threat, smart marketers view it as an opportunity to leverage an emerging trend to build an audience and grow their business. To help local marketers and entrepreneurs become masters of their social media universes, the Colorado AMA has assembled a panel of social media experts to discuss a wide range of social topics. You can RSVP here to join us on Thursday, November 17th. Here are just a few examples of questions we may cover:

  1. How do I measure return on investment for time and resources spent on social initiatives?
  2. What type of content should I be posting to my channel(s)?
  3. Do I need to pay to promote my content?
  4. How can I create video content without spending a fortune?
  5. What platforms should I be on and why?

While we could certainly spend the full hour drilling down into any one of those topics, the conversation will take a broad view of social marketing, while sharing specific examples from the panelists’ areas of expertise. Please RSVP today to lend your voice and experience to the discussion! Learn from Colorado’s top social marketing minds, and most importantly, enjoy some snacks.

See you there!

By Mac Jaehnert, Founder of MJ Media, a company that helps businesses drive measurable results by leveraging the exploding power of social and mobile marketing. Follow Mac at @macjaeh

Rejuvenate Series – The Imposter Syndrome

Welcome to the sixth and final installment of the Rejuvenate Series. We hope that the series has delivered on its promise to bring you thought provoking subject matter designed to make your everyday work life more rewarding. I’d appreciate hearing from you if you have any comments or feedback on the series. My contact information is in the byline at the end of this post. Enjoy!

The prevalence of The Imposter Syndrome is far more common among your colleagues than you may realize. In fact, if you take an honest look inward, you may recall times in your career when you were secretly dogged by feelings of self-doubt and anxiety regarding your ability to perform at levels that would sufficiently impress colleagues and bosses.

It’s no wonder. We live in a competitive culture. For example, job seekers are coached by career counsellors to genericize their resumes so that HR gatekeepers have fewer reasons to reject their application. Consciously or unconsciously, we wonder if there is a similar set of criteria at play in the company culture. “If I’m not favored, I’ll get the axe.”

The Imposter Syndrome in action sounds like this in your head: “If I ask my question in this meeting, others may judge me as being unqualified or naïve.”

In her inspiring book, The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women, author Valerie Young, ED. D., enumerates seven reasons why you might feel like a fraud. Those reasons are familial expectations and early messages, being a student, working in an organizational culture that feeds self-doubt, working alone, working in a creative field, feeling like a stranger in a strange land and having to represent your entire social group. I would add another. Accepting a position that may to some degree be beyond your level of previous experience.

If you’re haunted by The Imposter Syndrome, there is a way out. It begins by understanding that regardless of gender, many people share the same self-doubts as you do. Once you recognize that you’re not alone, you can frame your own Imposter feelings in less personal and more situational terms.

Young identifies five competence personality types that are most likely to suffer from the Imposter Syndrome. To mitigate self-doubt, Young makes the following suggestions for each competence type:

  • Perfectionist – hold on to your pursuit of high standards, but shed the shame you feel when you fall short.
  • Natural Genius – keep your desire for mastery, as long as you recognize the time and effort that’s required to get there.
  • Expert – value the importance of knowledge, but ditch the unrealistic expectation that you should know it all.
  • Rugged Individualist – take pride in the knowledge that you can go it alone if you have to, just stop thinking you must.
  • Superwoman/Man/Student – honor your desire to be the very best you can on multiple fronts, but abandon the idea that you have to do it all.

Here are some suggestions for applying this wisdom to the ordinary work day:

  • If you’re reluctant to ask a question, explain first that you have learned it is better to ask what may seem to some as being obvious, because doing so has uncovered misunderstandings in the past.
  • Work on noticing your impulse to harshly judge your own performance – You are only gathering false evidence against yourself that may appear real.
  • Verbally designate greenfield or brainstorming sessions as judgement-free zones. Tailor brainstorming to foster the creative process. Save the analyst and the critic for a different meeting entirely.
  • Cultivate a more collaborative work style. If you think you already do, be even more collaborative.
  • Someone else in the room may come up with the idea that wins consensus. That’s how group energy flows.
  • Reach out to colleagues and ask for any tips they may have to share on a given project or obstacle. If humility is not recognized in your organization, it’s time to move on.
  • Set an example by partnering up with someone who is not as experienced in a certain discipline as you are, and vice versa, team up with someone who may be stronger in one particular area than you are.
  • We all have strong aptitudes in different areas. Know what yours are so you can proactively identify and fill gaps in teams and projects.
  • Be the person who states the key takeaways of a meeting.
  • Remember that all of us at one time or another have suffered from pangs of insecurity.
  • Adopt a holistic approach to the success of a project, team or enterprise by filling in with your strengths and supporting those who may be struggling.
  • We’re all in this together. Continually develop relatedness with clients, colleagues and collaborators. Make this a practice.
  • If you experience a setback, analyze it objectively. Replay for yourself what actually happened. Allow yourself to touch on how it made you feel. Then begin to plan what needs to be done about it. Don’t disasterize.

Most importantly, remember that you are never alone. It is not up to you to see that every detail is correct and in place. Don’t take it all on. Clearly share responsibilities amongst team members based on skill level, interests and aptitude.

By Mark Leach, Marketing Strategist at www.innatemarketing.com, a Colorado based marketing firm serving startups and bootstrapped businesses.

 

9.19.2016 // Job Opening – National Sales & Marketing Director

The Lenz Firm is recruiting for a National Sales & Marketing Director who will be responsible for a team of 2 Sales Managers covering the US Market and is uniquely positioned for an ambitious leader who enjoys expanding the sales revenue nationally – this is not a traditional sales role. We are searching for a candidate who shows a high level of ownership for their business and is adept at selling products nationally and has a proven ability to win new business and cultivate long last relationships.

Our client who is located in the Seattle area is seeking a leader who could be based remotely in the US for one of their health beverage subsidiaries who has the following experience:

  • 8-10 years of sales and marketing leadership experience in the food and beverage industry (CPG)
  • Successful sales revenue track record
  • Developing and implementing a sales strategy for the team
  • Build strategic relationships with decision makers and build affiliate partnership opportunities
  • Aligning market demands to distribution
  • Passion for natural products, people and the willingness to explore, expand and learn. Also the willingness to share knowledge and inspire passion in others
  • Ability to travel 30 – 35%
  • Start-up experience preferred
  • Bachelors Degree preferred

This is an exciting opportunity to get in on the ground floor with this innovative health product organization!

For more information please visit http://jobs.lenzfirm.com/jobseeker/National_Sales__Marketing_Director_J02399870.aspx

Rejuvenate Series – It’s Never Too Late

Perhaps you’ve heard about the experiment that some scientists performed on a frog. I can’t substantiate it for a footnote, but for our purposes, it doesn’t matter. The scientists placed the frog in an aquarium and observed pretty typical frog behavior. Sometimes the frog jumped so high that it hopped right out of the aquarium and had to be collected and put back in.

One day, the scientists put a cover on the aquarium and the frog began to hit its head on the lid. After a few days, the scientists removed the lid and the frog was free again to jump as high as it wished. The sad fact was that the frog never again jumped any higher than the top of the aquarium. Even though the lid was gone, the frog learned it didn’t want to hit its head any more.

I can relate that tale to my own life experiences. Sometimes I operate like the frog did. Intimidated by negative experiences or false assumptions, I have held back from setting goals or accepting new challenges. Playing it safe instead of full on.

Although true for old and young alike, I learned this lesson well after I turned 50. Subconsciously, I had a story in my head that now “it was all downhill.” If I hadn’t explored any new interests by 50, then it was too late to start. Old dog – no new tricks.

Looking back now at 56, I’m amazed at what I’ve done in just the last 3 years! I’ve become a guitarist and CrossFit athlete to name only two new passions.

What limiting beliefs may you be operating under? Take a look under the hood and see. Or ask someone you trust for their opinion about you.

The moments when a colleague or coach corrects you can be uncomfortable at first. Humility is key to learning something completely new. One day, you’ll realize that you’re experienced enough to be the one encouraging a newbie.

Having a coach or accountability partner who pushes you further than you think you can go is key to a more fulfilling life experience. Partnering with a good friend allows you both to provide encouragement, offer opinions and suggest ways to improve.

So, get out there and be willing to hit your head once and awhile!

Ribbbitt.

By Mark Leach, Marketing Strategist at www.innatemarketing.com, a Colorado based marketing firm serving startups and bootstrapped businesses.