This post is a guest post from my mentor, Dan Kennedy. It is part of a series of articles titled "Why People Fail."

The fast food industry got the idea for drive-in windows from banks. I guess there was a McDonalds executive sitting at the bank drive-through one day who thought, "I don’t think we can fit the milkshakes in these tubes, but…" Netjets, the leader in fractional jet ownership, now owned by Warren Buffett, owes its birth to the vacation time-share industry. The microwave in your kitchen was not originally intended to go there; its original manufacture, Litton, believed no consumer would but it and built them only for restaurants. When was the last time you heard of Litton?

What does this tell you? That successful businesses live or die by cross-industry ‘borrowing’ of ideas, that inspiration more often comes from outside the box than from within. Ordinary businesses stay ordinary, their owners eking out only ordinary incomes – and working too hard for them – as long as those owners foolishly and stubbornly, mentally stay in their own tiny backyard. Breakthroughs come from bringing fresh ideas found outside one’s own business and applying them in new ways. You choose to limit or expand your income by the way you reject or embrace ideas found far afield from your present modus operandi and industry norms.

The vast majority of ordinary business people with ordinary incomes and never-ending complaints about how hard they work but how little they gain, about being able to compete with the bigger and cheaper…have this in common: they get their hands on powerful information like that in this very publication and waste their time and energy in the non-creative activity of finding all the ways it can’t and doesn’t apply to them. Some people have such teeny, tiny, calcified, crippled imaginations they can only appreciate an example precisely matched to them – oh, that won’t work for me because her place sells pizza and I sell Chinese food, and hers is a medium sized city and I’m in a small town, and it rains a lot where she is but it’s sunny here; you have to show me an example from a Chinese restaurant in a small town where it’s hot and dry. Fools stay suck in the very limiting "But MY Business Is Different" box, thereby negating the value of 99% of every successful strategy, example model they see or are presented with.

Bilbo My client list is, fortunately, chock full of people who think in very opposite ways. They get rich by finding non-obvious opportunities. Living creatively. Adapting tried-and-true winning strategies from somewhere else to where they are. They attack each issue of my newsletter, each book I suggest to them, with yellow hi-liter and bias for action, not closed mind. They are willing, even eager to "re-imagine" their businesses while others have Bilbo Baggins’ (the Hobbit) attitude: not interested in adventures – they make you late for dinner. Space here does not permit telling you such client stories, but I’d invite you to get a peek, viewing the half-hour TV show at, free of charge.

One of the most successful marketing strategies of all time is called ‘gift with appointment.’ Today, it brings new patients to dentists’ offices, affluent investors to financial advisors’ seminars, new home buyers to developments and resort communities, and is in play in hundreds of fields, helping create millions of sales appointments every week. To the best of my knowledge, it came from a woman named Estee Lauder. I wonder how many people from how many different fields ignored it for how long, because ‘Nothing having to do with selling lipsticks and perfumes could possibly apply to MY business. MY business is different."

The WHY PEOPLE FAIL articles are provided by Dan Kennedy, serial entrepreneur, from-scratch multi-millionaire, speaker, consultant, coach, author of 13 books including the NO B.S. series (, and editor of The NO B.S. Marketing Letter. WE HAVE ARRANGED A SPECIAL FREE GIFT FROM DAN FOR YOU including a 2-Month Free Membership in Glazer-Kennedy Insider’s Circle, newsletters, audio CD’s and more: for more information and to register, visit

P.S. The Bilbo Baggins photo was by by dogwelder

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