The Power of Transparency and Value Creation – A Case Study

The start of Pat Flynn’s story is similar to many others. Armed with a newly minted B.A. in Architecture from the University of California, Berkley, Flynn took a job at a local Southern California architectural firm. The reality of being a nine to five worker sunk in very quickly however, as he realized that his ability to create wealth, in his career, would be limited by the amount of time that he would be willing to give to the firm. Time is finite, and also zero-sum. Therefore, time spent working would mean time away from the other things in his life that he found enjoyable. This is a common predicament that many workers face. So people will often just embrace their vacation and the short term respite that they are given from their employers, and then try to make the best that they can with their lot in life. Like myself, Flynn had a hard time just accepting this premise as his default reality.

He had read books, like Tim Ferriss’s wildly popular “The Four Hour Workweek” and started to dream what life would be like if he could duplicate his “active” employment income, with passive, automatically generated income. It was not that he disliked his job, he just knew that the “factory model” of getting an education, getting a job, working the job, and saving the best he could, would likely never provide him with the freedom to live a life that he considered truly fulfilling.

As perhaps an act in “autosuggestion” he started a blog,, and penned his very first post on October 17, 2008, a short, empowering piece entitled, “Why I Will Quit My Job For Passive Income”. In the post he discussed the power of the Internet to create passive income streams, and how passive income streams are the best avenue to liberate one from the chains of employment. He then started writing blog posts describing how people could make passive income, while they were at work, detailing the steps that he was specifically taking to slowly create income freedom from his nine-to-five. The blog was not designed with the end result of “making money”, but rather it would serve as medium where he could journal his passive income progress, and create a community of followers by providing a unique value proposition (that being the steps necessary to create passive income online).

At the time the blog was launched, Flynn had experienced modest success in creating automated income streams on the Internet. To advance his architectural career Flynn has resolved to take the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Exam. To help him study for, and pass the exam, Flynn had created a simple blog where he could organize his notes. As a result, he could study from any computer or mobile device (like on his lunch break at work), without having to haul around his books. All he needed was an Internet connection and he would be connected to his exam prep notes.

He was surprised one day when he received an email from an individual, who he didn’t know, who had been following his blog. The individual thanked him for the wonderful notes that he had provided on the Internet because they had helped him to prepare for the exam himself. Intrigued at the thought that others were following him he decided that he would do a little investigation into who else was monitoring his “notes”. He implemented some data tracking applications into his blog and found out that there were over 300 unique visitors a day to his site, most of which were being referred by search engines like Google. He also noticed that the visitors spanned 14 different countries and 23 states. It was then that a seed of entrepreneurial opportunity was planted.

He thought that since his website was being trafficked, perhaps he could monetize it. He had heard about programs such as Google Adsense or affiliate marketing programs where you received a commission if someone bought a product by clicking on a link directed from your website. He started to implement a few strategies and soon started making modest, but real passive income. His direction was now in place. He would continue, in his spare time, to implement Internet based passive income strategies until he was making enough money so that he could leave his nine-to-five and really “live” his life the way that he wanted.

It was then however that reality kicked in, and not in a way that he was expecting. Despite his Ivy League education, and having passed the LEED Exam, he was unexpectedly laid off from his job. The “traditional” model hadn’t granted him the absolute security that people often think that it provides. So instead of dusting off the old resume and trying to find another “job”, he decided that there was no better time than the present to go after what he really wanted – absolute freedom through passive income. He made the bold decision to pour his entire self into creating passive income on the Internet. His LEED Exam site had now spun off additional money-making products (such as a study guide in the form of an ebook) and he had a modest income flow to at least pay the bills. It was a risky path however, and there was no certainty that he would be able to pull it off. For many people the fear and uncertainty would have been too much, they would have just struggled to find another nine-to-five, despite that not being their ultimate goal.

Flynn was different however; he dove into this new life adventure with zeal. Perhaps as an act of positive self-analysis, or the desire to create a community for support, he also made a commitment to his smart passive income blog. Not only would he share his progress in how he was doing making money online, he decided that he would give away, for free, all of his money making strategies. To create further trust and transparency he also decided that he would create “Monthly Income Reports” where people could see exactly how, and where, he was making his money online.

This transparency policy was brilliant. With the implementation of a number of search engine optimization steps, Flynn’s smart passive income blog found it’s way towards the top of the many search engine inquiries of people, like Flynn, who were working their unfulfilling nine-to-fives and trying to create a path to freedom for themselves through passive income. When visitors came to his site, and saw not only his transparency but also the candidness and value of his strategies, they came back. They also shared it with their friends. I can speak from personal experience, having used Flynn’s internet strategies to significantly increase online revenue in my business, I have referred many people to his website. I frequently refer people to his website because he has created a unique value proposition (specific steps on how to market your business online, for free). The content that he gives away for free is the exact content that search engine and Internet marketing consultants often charge hundreds of dollars an hour for.

Flynn is now widely considered an “internet marketing guru”. This has opened up tremendous career opportunities for him. His smart passive income blog is one of the most frequented blogs on the subject. His smart passive income podcast has had more than 2,000,000 downloads. He has been featured on Fox News and led a panel at the Blog World Expo in New York City in 2012. Recently he was also profiled in the prestigious Forbes magazine as one of ten “Leaders Who Aren’t Afraid To Be Transparent” . All of this was done by one person who created a unique value proposition, that was embraced by a digital community and shared.

What is your unique value proposition.  What do you uniquely value?  What do you have passion about?  How can you create a community by adding value?  These are the questions that we should be asking.  Flynn is talented but his path can be duplicated.


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