Running the Gauntlet: Startup Tips to Live or Die By

Simpler said than done, or maybe it is just that simple?

Find out how a scrappy, focused approach to (startup) marketing will unleash your potential and strengthen you for the fight ahead.

Interviewer: Michelle Fitzgerald
Interviewee: Jeffrey Hayzlett

Question 1.

Get Scrappy:

(an interesting title choice) is your most recent book, following The Mirror Test. As a startup marketer myself, three change-agent themes stand out: Vision, People and Customers.`What inspired these themes? Do they change in emphasis or prioritization at any point in the lifecycle of a business?


For any marketer you should have these three main themes at the forefront of what you want to get done:

  1. Your vision for the company, product or service. Without that, how can you be different or of value?
  2. The right people to help you execute on that vision and aligning them around the message and methods for delivering.
  3. Probably most importantly, is the customer at the forefront of everything you do? A lot of companies put systems and processes ahead of customers. Marketers have to make sure the customer always comes first.

Question 2. 

Get Scrappy:

The phase, “” carries a gory, whiplashed past with it. Yet, ironically, it does closely resemble what the business industry can well, feel like.

For startups, what key mental and emotional (maybe even physical) characteristics need to be upheld and nurtured for long-term success?


Keep in mind business is messy and often gory. I have yet to see someone come up with a plan and it works exactly the way they assumed it would.  Something always goes wrong, gets messed up or fails, so it’s critical to understand that is just the way it is.

Focus, and stay focused on your conditions of satisfaction.

I mean, you are doing this for a reason, so, why? Keep that as the filter or thought for why you are doing things and never let it get out of your mind. This will keep you focused on delivering on those promises no matter what they are. It’s really that simple.

Question 3.

Get Scrappy:

You spend time in the book talking about the value of Basics. Get Scrappy was built on this same premise, but you take it one step further by saying we should not only respect and re-kindle the Basics, but we should aim for utmost excellence across the Basics before taking on more advanced strategies and tactics.

How does this apply to a startup environment on a day-to-day basis? It seems so many businesses, large and small, get lost in the “next big thing” and lose sight of what really matters, the operational must-haves.


I learned early on that everyone has to crawl before they walk, walk before they run— and you can never skip the steps. It’s always better to get really good at one thing at a time and it’s rare to be good at all things. That does not mean you should not expand, but get the basics down first. I tell businesses that are offline, before you go to digital be good at what you do. Or let me put it this way, if you suck offline, you will suck online.

Question 4

Get Scrappy:

Love your tips on Becoming a Beginner. This couldn’t resonate more with startups where leadership teams often come from larger organizations and are accustomed to having more evolved resources, infrastructure and the like. Success seems impossible to not achieve when things are already well established. And fear often strikes startup teams the day they realize success doesn’t happen overnight.

How does Becoming a Beginner manifest itself in startups? Any recommendations for how to maintain that approach, even as growth occurs?


I try to keep the mantra or thought in my head -  “I don’t know what I don’t know.” Then I try to also try to question the things I do know. This way I can approach everything like a beginner to give me a fresh perspective on things. I can take even the oldest practices or truths and question them to see if we can make them better.

Always be improving even when you are a maestro — even the best athlete or musician at the top of his/her game practices like a beginner, doing the basics. We should do the same in business.

Question 5.

Get Scrappy:

You have a very thematic approach to your work that focuses on inspiring leaders to change the way he/she does business. An inspiration that often results in shifting gears – a career, a business’ product focus, etc. – and something you’ve personally experienced.

How does one do a litmus test to ensure the change one seeks, startup or not, is valid? That the desired change is one that’s truly necessary and worth “running the gauntlet” for? Fears of the unknown, fears of failure, fear of just being dead wrong are all very valid challenges that (startup) marketers face.  


Look in the mirror and ask yourself the hard questions. Why did you get into the business or the job in the first place? Are you satisfying those original promises or not? It’s a yes or a no, but the key is to know what is the measure you need to have. For me personally – I have to be building wealth, growing professionally and having fun, or I don’t want to do it.  Simple as that – what measurements or conditions of satisfaction have you applied to yourself? And then are you following your own advice?

To purchase your copy of Running the Gauntlet, please .

About Jeffrey Hayzlett

Jeffrey Hayzlett is a global business celebrity and former Fortune 100 c-suite executive. From small business to international corporations, he has put his creativity and extraordinary entrepreneurial skills into play, launching ventures blending his leadership perspectives, insights into professional development, mass marketing prowess and affinity for social media. He is a well-traveled public speaker, the author of the bestselling books, The Mirror Test and Running the Gauntlet, celebrity editor to one of the largest-circulation business publications and one of the most compelling figures in global business.

Jeffrey is an esteemed business and marketing expert, appearing frequently on programs like Fox Business News, MSNBC’s Your Business and NBC’s Celebrity Apprentice with Donald Trump. Drawing upon an eclectic background in business, buoyed by a stellar track record of keynote speaking, and deeply rooted in cowboy lore, Jeffrey energizes his role driving and delivering change. He is a turnaround architect of the highest order, a maverick marketer who delivers scalable campaigns, embraces traditional modes of customer engagement, and possesses a remarkable cachet of mentorship, corporate governance and brand building.

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About Michelle Fitzgerald

A product evangelist with over twelve years of traditional and emerging marketing experience. Provides FT and PT consultative services to the startup community to help brands develop a better understanding of what drives results (analytics), what drives connections (branding/PR/social media) and what drives revenue (performance marketing/media). Past and current work experience includes Tout, StyleStalk, iCharts, MyBuys, Zinio, Yahoo!, the LA Times and CareerBuilder. Michelle also publishes ebooks, regularly contributes to Upmarket Magazine, speaks at industry events and guest blogs.

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