SFR 241: Where Models Crack – Stephen Larsen

SFR 241: Where Models Crack

May 10th, 2019 anchorwave

I believe heavily in models, patterns, formulas, and systems. However, there’s one thing that will always trump a model…

I’m NOT a very creative person.

When I first started in this game, one of my BIGGEST challenges was finding a prolific idea that would generate income.

Have you ever struggled to produce an idea that makes money? I totally did.

I carried around a little black book to jot things down in…

My lack of creativity seemed to be sabotaging me. I didn’t know how to create stuff.

People would ask, “Stephen, what idea do you have?” And I’d be like, “Crap, I don’t have any ideas. I just don’t.”

Business model ideas

… they’d look at me all confused, “…but, Stephen, you’re doing all this stuff?”


One of the reasons that I struggled with ideas was because I kept trying to come up with something that was completely fresh.

The Truth is…

Very few people on this planet know how to do that…

And here’s the Good News…

You don’t need to be a creative genius with a head jam-packed with originality to succeed in this game!

Business model genius

I’m probably gonna say somethings that’ll surprise you – especially if you’ve been following me for any length of time…

But I haven’t been able to put this into words until now.


I think the BIGGEST thing that can cripple you is when you start comparing yourself to entrepreneurs that have already been playing the game for a while.

Principles of business

When I first started working at ClickFunnels, I’d compare myself negatively to Russell and some of the Inner Circle Members, and that was a dangerous, stupid road to go down.

A lot of them had already…

  • Practiced Building Systems.
  • Built Marketing.
  • Created structures that let them move more freely.
  • They had leverage.

They could do things without following as many models… which meant they could do things that a new entrepreneur can’t.

Principles of business for entrepreneurs

… and that was one of the things I had to get over.

What was interesting was that I started looking at what they were doing in a different light…


Business model patterns

I’m an observant guy; it’s one of my unique abilities… and one of the reasons why I can do what I do.

So I was sitting observing all this stuff, and I started seeing a pattern.

Let me share it with you…

It doesn’t matter whether it’s…

  • Offers
  • Funnels
  • Sales messages
  • Whatever…

When you start out, you follow the yellow brick road. You follow the path that’s already been paved, but eventually, the road stops. So the question is, how do you behave when there are no more bricks?

Business model end of the road

I’m guessing that you’ve probably heard me talking about the importance of following models and frameworks, and that’s still 100% true.

However, I started asking myself questions like:

… because if we were only able to hack, nothing NEW would ever be created.

Do you know what I’m saying?

So when the yellow bricks are done, it’s your turn, as a marketer, to take the path one step further and build something different to what’s already been done.


Business model crazy zone

Let me tell you a story…

Back in the day, I’d sit next to Russell, and suddenly he would have an idea… which meant he’d go like this, “Uuuuuh!!!!”

Strategic business plan ideas

And we all knew that meant, ‘get up and run.’

So we’d sprint barefoot over to the whiteboard, and Russell would start having these premonitions, kinda these visions…

“Oh my gosh! What if we did this? We could do this, this, and… Oh, my gosh! What if we do this?”

He’d start drawing them out… and we’d start coming up with offers.

(We’d usually brainstorm an offer or a funnel first.)


This is exactly what happened with the The Funnel Hacker Cookbook.

Business model Funnel Hackers Cookbook

I helped write a good chunk of the book – especially the last bit which is specifically about what funnels to use in different industries.

That was my assignment; it took me FOREVER!

I went through all the…

  1. Major industries that use ClickFunnels
  2. Different funnel types
  3. Way to use each funnel type in each industry

When Russell came up with the idea for the book, he’d started by saying:

“Oh my gosh! What if we were to make a book that walks through the major funnel types…. it could be like a cookbook with recipes.”

And then Dave would say something… and we’d all be like, “Oh yeah!”

Then I was like, “What if you took adult Legos…” ‘cause that’s how I taught in the 2 Comma Club Coaching Program.

2 Comma Club business model

Next, someone would say something like, “Yeah! We’ll give em’ Russells pajamas too! Yeah, that sounds awesome.”

We’d start to go to these crazy zones…

Eventually, we’d go back and start taking out all the stuff that was too crazy.


  • They’re NOT gonna sleep in Russell’s pajamas…
  • His wife’s NOT gonna make ’em breakfast…
  • No one gets to use his toothbrush… there’s gonna be people who will probably say yes to that which is creepy. So definitely NOT!

Crazy business model

…and we’d back it way-way down.

That’s when I started to realize that we were no longer just following frameworks.

To a certain extent, we’d adhering to frameworks; paths and systems that had already been proven out…

But then, we’d use a combination of methods that would take things into a prolific zone.

Prolific business model

It had a lot to do with the way we’d brainstorm; we’d go to the nut zone to make something truly amazing.

Then we’d go back and remove all of the nutso-crazy stuff, and add another brick at the end of the path.

What’s cool about this is it helped me see that Russell wasn’t necessarily always following the same models…

So I started applying the same principles to the way I build funnels.


Q: What trumps models?

There’s something specific that trumps models and frameworks…

What's better than a business model

Can you guess what is it?

Compared to a lot of people, I don’t have a huge company or a huge team, but we do pretty well… why is that?

I know why…

And it’s not something I’ve really been self-aware of long enough to be able to teach about before, but it’s something that I started doing…

Everything else I’ve been teaching is very much true, but there’s this element on top of it that has allowed me to trump frameworks and models.

The Answer is…

Steven Larsen business model


Principles trump models.

That’s the biggest thing that I’ve realized.

The reason no one can really hack me out of my own markets is that I don’t hack that much anymore. I just combined things that already existed in a way that has never been done before.

… and PRINCIPLES allow me to do that!

For example

  • I came up with a publishing funnel that works really really well.
  • How I do my Dream 100 campaigns. No one did it how I was doing it.

We’ve had 37 out of 87 people reached back out to us in two weeks with our Dream 100 campaignthat’s insane.

Dream 100 business model

No one taught me how to do that.

Do you see what I’m saying?

  • Principles Trump Models.
  • Principles Trump Frameworks.


The more I’ve been on this path, the more I’ve realized that it has to do with self-discovery… as you go further and further down this path as an entrepreneur, you discover MORE of yourself and your talents.

Business model talents

… you have ‘em.

If you’re like, “Oh, I don’t have talents,” just hang on. Suck it up, and understand that you’ll find ’em as you move forward.

I’m still finding mine.

The thing that I’ve realized, (and that I’ve been discovering) is that:

I’m really freakishly good at modeling something that works and that’s been proven, but my unique ability is being able to take principles from frameworks and combine them in a way that’s never been done before.

This is one of the reasons why my stuff has worked so well in the past… that and my ability to simplify and teach.

Teaching principles of business

I suck at a lot of other stuff, but that stuff… I’m really good at.


I always hate it when someone approaches me and says, “Promote my product.”

Someone said that to me this morning. I’m like, “I’m not gonna promote your product just cause you ask. I’ve got my own promotion calendar I’m following.”

I don’t want to do that to anyone, so for or my Dream 100 stuff, I was like:

Let’s write a webinar, and instead of selling the product, let’s sell me to the influencer.

I came up with a way to drip out literally a sideways webinar across my Dream 100 campaigns.

I even used the same principle to pitch Russell to keynote at OfferMind.

Principles of business pitching

Guess what…

It worked really freakin’ well!

My Publishing Funnel, I kinda made that up too…

  • I took the Soap Opera series…
  • I made the cool free bait…
  • Then I made it an intro to the value ladder.

… that’s the way I designed it. It worked really freakin’ well too.

It feels like I’m tootin’ my own horn… this makes me feel really awkward, but I’m trying to illustrate the principle.


My Affiliate Marketing stuff has almost done $200 grand in the last year – just from ClickFunnels.

I don’t consider myself an affiliate marketer…

Q: So why is it working so well?

A: Because I’ve taken principles from other models… and principles trump models.

Principles of business are better than models

My aim is NOT to be like, ‘Look how cool I am,’ that’s not what I’m saying at all. I just want you to realize that…

Principles Trump Models.


Here’s how it works…

When you’re starting out, you follow models because you should…

My little girl is gonna start learning how to ride a bike without training wheels soon.

Business model training wheels

She’s started by following the model we all know works well for learning how to ride a bike.

Pretty soon we’ll be taking off the wheels, and she’ll be off on her own. Then she’ll discover things on her own that she wasn’t taught.

There are certain elements that can be designed… and there are other elements that must be discovered.

They’re both right; it’s just about timing.

  1. Learn the model… because the model’s your shortcuts. The model is a decade and a days worth of learning.
  2. Eventually, you get to a point where the model stops being so constricting. You’ve learned the principles, and instead, it becomes like Legos or Play-Doh…

Learning business model

The model what keeps you on track in the beginning, like the frameworks that I talk about.

(Which by the way, someone was like you talk about this framework, but you never teach ’em. Yeah, I do. That’s what OfferMind is. It’s two days of me teaching straight up frameworks.)

You follow the framework until it stops being constricting and turns into Lego and Playdough… and then, you can go figure out what it is that causes this success in that scenario.

Figuring out the business model

Does that make sense?


I think some people get stuck in a hack-loop. You should hack. Definitely… *meaning model.

You model all the stuff that’s happening out there… but eventually, the apprentice starts to turn into more of a master.

Hacking business models

Suddenly you have more assets… because things become malleable and they’re not so constricting.

In the One Funnel Away Challenge, what I’m teaching is ‘models.’

I’m teaching frameworks. I’m teaching concrete things that cause cash.

One Funnel Away business model

The process in OFA is:

  1. Learn
  2. Practice
  3. Gain confidence, # I can actually do this.

Then the biggest question I get asked, “Well how does it work for me?”

My answer is…

Stop worrying about it. You’ll figure that out as you move forward.

Once you gain confidence, you’ll start doing things that you weren’t taught because of principles that have worked in other scenarios.

…you’ll start doing things that are not explicitly taught.

That’s the reason why I haven’t been hacked out of my own markets.


I’m the category king in two areas; one was completely accidental, and then the other was by design.

Business model category king

There are two reasons why it’s still working so well:

  1. It’s kind of a land grab. I’ve moved really really fast, and I’m gonna do a podcast episode about that. (OfferMind will never be free again… but why did I make it free the first time? It was by design… it was on purpose.)
  2. I believe the real reason why I’ve not been dethroned, (besides just being first and grabbing a market share in people’s minds), is principles.

I’m NOT necessarily hacking that much anymore. I still hack, but I’m NOT hacking frameworks or models. I’m hacking principles.

If I give people a piece of content ahead of time that’s truly valuable, they’re more likely to buy something even more expensive afterward.


I’m trying to get you to understand is how malleable this game actually is.


So yes, hack, but don’t get freaked if you want to do something that you haven’t been taught…

Business model path

You might be further down the path than you think.

Yes, it’s about frameworks, but after a while, you’ll start doing things that you haven’t been taught… but that you’ve discovered.

When you get good enough in your industry, you’re gonna start taking different elements from your red ocean and piecing them together in unique ways.

You’ll add little glazes from other industries and gurus who don’t teach explicitly what you teach, but who have a principle that you can apply.

You take EVERYTHING, and combined it in a way that did NOT exist before to create a freakishly insane, amazing, “Oh my gosh I can’t believe he did that,” kind of thing!

Strategic business plan


I’m NOT actually that creative. I’m not. One of the false beliefs I had to get over in my life was that I needed to be creative to succeed.

I used to call it The Product Big Bang Theory. Where you have this product idea – “ Boosh! Bam!” … outta nowhere!

business model bang

In fact, I wrote an e-book, (which I never released it) which talked about Product Big Bang Theory versus Product Evolution.

Product Big Bang Theory is NOT something that really exists, but we often compare ourselves to those kinds of ideas…

“I don’t have those kinds of ideas, Stephen.” Yeah, I didn’t either… that’s why I’m trying to tell you this.

Steve Larsen principles of business

I learned principles and how to pull things together that already exist in NEW ways to create something that didn’t previously exist.

The things themselves already existed, I just put them in a way that hadn’t been done before.

It’s the principle of the orchestrator…

  • I don’t know how to play the trombone.
  • I have no idea how to play the violin.
  • I don’t know how to build music stands
  • I have no idea how to make that stick to conduct with

Creating a business model

…but I know people who do. They already exist.

I’m just using things that already exist in ways that have never been done before.

Follow the models; they’ll shortcut you tons of time. You’ll gain fluidity, confidence and the ability to move freely inside those frameworks. Then eventually, you can break out of ’em and pull in things in a unique way.

I don’t think I’ve EVER taught this before, and not on purpose… I just didn’t realize.


I’m not good at coming up with stuff that’s never existed… but I am good at combining stuff in a way that’s never existed before.

Strategic business plan increases speed

What’s allowed me to do that more with a faster pace is the realization that principles trump models.

Models still matter. However, once you focus on principles, you’ll start to get these cool insights that make you look like a creative individual.

I didn’t start that way.

When you start learning different principles they expand the model to make it more than what you learned initially.

One of my BIGGEST breakthroughs was realizing that I didn’t need to be a creative genius. Just follow the models, and the principles come along.

A lot of times you don’t see the principle at first, and you’re like, “Why am I doing this?”

It’s like the Mr. Miyagi thing: “Daniel-san, just keep painting the fence, or sand the floor, or whatever…”

Steve Larsen business model

A lot of times we don’t learn the principle until we’ve been doing the model for a while.

It’s hard to really grasp the principle if I just come out and say, “Principle.”

… which is why the execution of the model is necessary to help you discover the principles within.


If you’re just starting out you’re probably studying a lot. That’s good. You’re probably geeking out on all the strategies, right? That’s also good.

But the hardest part is figuring out what the market wants to buy and how you should sell it to them, right?

That’s what I struggled with for a while until I learned the formula.

So I created a special Mastermind called an OfferMind to get you on track with the right offer, and more importantly the right sales script to get it off the ground and sell it.

Wanna come?

There are small groups on purpose, so I can answer your direct questions in person for two straight days. You can hold your spot by going to

Steve Larsen OfferMind

Again, that’s

The post SFR 241: Where Models Crack appeared first on Sales Funnel Radio Blog.