How To Grow Your Business Like A Weed

How To Grow Your Business Like A Weed written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Marketing Podcast with Stu Heinecke

In this episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, I interview Stu Heinecke. Stu is a bestselling business author, marketer, and Wall Street Journal cartoonist. His first book, How to Get a Meeting with Anyone, introduced the concept of Contact Marketing and was named one of the top 64 sales books of all time. His latest release, How to Grow Your Business Like a Weed, lays out a complete model for explosive business growth, based on the strategies, attributes, and tools weeds use to grow, expand, dominate and defend their turf. He is a twice-nominated hall of fame marketer, Nasdaq Entrepreneurial Center author-in-residence, and was named the “Father of Contact Marketing” by the American Marketing Association. He lives on a beautiful island in Puget Sound, Washington.

Key Takeaway:

Anyone can grow their business into something resilient and unstoppable — just like weeds do. In this episode, best-selling author, Stu Heinecke, shares his model for business growth by using the successful strategies that ordinary weeds use to spread and prosper in almost any situation. We dive into the weed-based attributes you can use to get the job done quickly and effectively and increase your market share, prominence, and customer base.

Questions I ask Stu Heinecke:

  • [1:46] Why did you want to use the analogy of a weed and what was your thought process behind it?
  • [3:14] Why is a weed different than a prize-winning flower?
  • [4:27] The big premise of using the weed metaphor is really to tap into what you’re calling a weed mindset — can you unpack that idea for us?
  • [5:32] What are the unfair advantages that you think adopting this weed mindset gives a business?
  • [7:39] Can you break down the weed model for us?
  • [14:17] How do you apply this model to taking that next step and getting to the next level with your business?
  • [17:41] How do you win a weed award?
  • [19:27] Where can people buy your book and learn more about your work?

More About Stu Heinecke:

  • His book — How to Grow Your Business Like a Weed: A Complete Strategy for Unstoppable Growth

Take The Marketing Assessment:


Like this show? Click on over and give us a review on iTunes, please!

John Jantsch (00:01): This episode of the duct tape marketing podcast is brought to you by the MarTech podcast, hosted by Ben Shapiro and brought to you by the HubSpot podcast network with episodes you can listen to in under 30 minutes, the MarTech podcast shares stories from world class marketers who use technology to generate growth and achieve business and career success all on your lunch break. And if you dig around, you might just find a show by yours. Truly. Ben’s a great host. Actually, I would tell you, check out a recent show on blending humans, AI, and automation. Download the MarTech podcast wherever you get your podcast.

John Jantsch (00:52): Hello, and welcome to another episode of the duct tape marketing podcast. This is John Jantsch and my guest today is Stu Heineke. He’s the best selling business author marketer and wall street journal cartoonist his first book, how to get a meeting with anyone, introduce concept of contact marketing was named one of the top 64 sales books of all time. We’re gonna talk about his latest book, how to grow your business like OED, which lays out a model for explosive business growth, based on the strategies, attributes, and tools weeds used to grow and expand, dominate, and defend their turfs. So Stu, welcome to the show.

Stu Heinecke (01:35): Thank you so much. What a, what a pleasure. And as I’m listening to it, I’m thinking, what the hell is he talking? Right? what must this guy be talking about?

John Jantsch (01:46): Well, I’m certain that the first question that many people have given our sort of negative view, typically negative view of weeds is like, wait a minute. You know, that’s like how to smell like a skunk, isn’t it? I mean, why, you know, why do I wanna used the analogy of weed? So help helps first go there.

Stu Heinecke (02:05): Sure. Well, you know, by the way I think the first thing they think of is you mean this kind of weed, the kind of weed you smoke? Nope. It’s not that good. That’s not what we’re talking about, but yeah. I mean, well, we all know what it means to grow like a weed. So the fact is that all of this whole logic is already built into our experience. We know what it looks like. We know what it means to grow like a weed. We also know what it looks like because we see it every spring and actually not just through, through the spring, but you see what they do all the way through the summer. And you see that they, you know, while blood of the plants have maybe a single season of growth dandelions, for example, just keep doing it. They keep running that process over and over again. So they, they are always running these unfair advantages, which is kind of a big part of the whole strategy of weed strategy.

John Jantsch (02:50): You know, it’s funny. I, I really I’m. I love all plants. I love all animals. I love trees so, you know, a lot of times I kinda laugh and say, weeds are just flowers with bad PR firms. I mean, it’s like what? I know why we call some things weeds, but their nature of taking over. And for whatever reason, they don’t look like what we want our yard to look like or something, but you know, who gets to call something a weed? I mean, why is a weed different than a prize winning flower?

Stu Heinecke (03:19): Well, you know, I guess the fact is that, well, if you look at let’s, it’s full of contradictions because if you look at, let’s say the state flower of California, it is a weed, you know, it’s the California poppy. So there are beautiful. I don’t think it’s really necessarily a function of beauty, but just are they, are they doing things that we don’t want them to do? Are they showing up or they’re not invited? And so dandelions are probably the great ex example. Everyone experiences them. And you, if you have lawns, you see them show up in your lawn. And by the way, if you see one, then you see you look up and you see hundreds of them. So they’re really, they’re tough to deal with they’re formidable. And so I guess wheat is probably just, I don’t know, just a, a nasty name for a plant. It’s a plant that some gardeners say is just a plant outta place, but that’s true only to a certain point because there are some weeds that seem like they’ve come from another planet. They’re just incredibly aggressive and noxious and we don’t really want them around.

John Jantsch (04:19): Yeah. And they’ll take out native species and things like that, that, you know, because of their ability to grow and spread talk a little bit, of course, the, you know, the big premise of the book or a big premise of using the weed metaphor is really to tap into what you’re calling the weed mindset. So maybe unpack that idea for us.

Stu Heinecke (04:38): Sure. Well, you know, you would, if you think about weed having a mindset, but first of all, to have a mindset, I guess you probably should have a brain and weeds don’t have brains. So how could that even be possible? But if you watch weeds at all, if you see what they do, if you see how they operate, then you can certainly, you can certainly see that there is some presence there that looks like a mindset because they’re aggressive and resilient and adaptive. And when you, when they’re owed down, they go right back to work building right back up again, they don’t stop. And, and so they have really admirable qualities that I guess in our experience are expressed as mindset. So that’s where the mindset, the weed mindset comes from.

John Jantsch (05:19): So one of the things I’ve talked about a long time is that having a real point of differentiation, one that matters to the client can be a way to almost make your make competition irrelevant. You call it an unfair advantage. So, you know, what are the unfair advantages that, that you think this MI weed mindset or adopting this weed mindset gives a business?

Stu Heinecke (05:40): Well, I would say that for if we’re well, so really the weeds model goes beyond just mindset, but it’s leveraging a fierce mindset and unfair advantages against collective scale and running it against a process. But I would say really, if you’re using any element of wheat strategy, you’re already creating unfair advantages for yourself. And when we’re looking at, let’s say the, let’s say the situation of many small businesses, the ones that have no unfair advantages are not gonna survive. So you have to have right. And I guess we could call them a lot of other things though. Certainly one is a differentiator. So, and one of the wall street journal cartoonists that helps me. When my cartoons show up in the journal, they reach an audience of a little over 2 million readers. That’s really, you know, no one’s, how is anyone gonna compete with that as a way to cause people to become aware of you and maybe, you know, say, well, you know what I know about Stew’s use of weeds, cuz I use weeds to help sales teams break through.

Stu Heinecke (06:34): It’s sort of like my day job. So when I get to have my, my, my, you know, my, my cartoon show up like that, then it’s just an advantage that is really tough to, to me. But an advantage could be a location. It could be, it could be a partner that you have. We’re gonna start up a, a new, a new award based on the book called the total wheat award. And my new partner in this is the NASDAQ entrepreneurial center. That’s an unfair advantage. So it’s all sorts of all manners of, of unfair advantages from ways to get a lot more, a lot more ER, to help with getting exposure, kind of like this is a seed pod strategy that we’re executing right here, but you’re my seed pod, essentially. I’m reaching your audience and you’re multiplying the, the reach of my seeds of these impressions that I get to create from the book and from interviews and talking about the book. And it goes all the way down through, through thorn strategy and segmentation strategy and Roset and vying and soil and root strategies. All of these are levels of strategies that help us gain unfair advantages.

John Jantsch (07:40): So I think you kind of were just doing it there, but I’m gonna ask you to kind of back up and say, and hopefully you can do justice in a couple minutes, you know, the weed model itself. I think you were ticking off elements of it there, but maybe kind of put it together for us.

Stu Heinecke (07:55): Yeah, well, so there are eight levels of strategy in that weed split in the weeds model, which is an acronym for weed inspired enterprise expansion and domination strategies. So that’s, that’s what it is. It’s an acronym, but what it really is standing for are eight levels of strategy. So the, and it really corresponds with the pieces of the, or elements of the weed plants themselves. So there’s seed strategy, which is analogous to anything that causes people to become aware of you and, and form the intent to transact with you. Hearing me on your podcast might hap that might cause people to say, I want to go buy the book or maybe I don’t, what else? I dunno, I’d like to have stew consult with me or something else. I don’t know, but, and seed pod strategy, seed pods. We see those. And for example, dandy lines, those geo geodesic domes of seeds are held up in the air and those seeds are so magnificently mobile. I mean, they just, they fly all over the place. They probe every possible opportunity to take roots. So holding them up in the air like that actually gives them a greater chance to travel and spread. So, and then,

John Jantsch (08:56): And get a couple, like get a couple five year olds and pull a few of those out and blow ’em too. That really makes a big

Stu Heinecke (09:02): Blow that’s true. They love, they look their kind of seat buds with stove, but then thorn strategy is interesting because that’s using all legal protections, for example, to protect your IP and really you’re turf, you’re really protecting your turf and the weeds do that. And we certainly need to do that in business as well, but not all of us do that or are oriented in that way. And then there’s segmentation strategy, which might, we could probably talk the rest of the, our time together on segmentation strategy because that’s, that is the, when you go out and you find a weed in your yard, you might have found some of these that you’ll pull on it. And all you get is you get a handful of stuff, but you didn’t get the plant. You certainly didn’t pull it up by the roots. And so that’s actually a defensive strategy it’s there to prevent, or let’s say mitigate loss.

Stu Heinecke (09:46): Well in business, we have the same things happening. We have disruptions that occur all the time. One of those that that occurs, every was just a regular cycle of years is recessions. And a lot of us are still caught UN unguarded for recessions. We just sort of dread when they show up and we don’t really have much of a much of a much of a strategy for dealing it. But what if you’re dealing with those things, there are ways to mitigate them. And that’s, we’re gonna be doing that probably soon if the press is correct, because they’re sort of beating the drum about recession again. And anyway, there are strategies to deal with that. And then roses strategies. Really. I put that into the model because I wanted Rose’s are those that well, in the example of dandelions, that radial fan of leaves that spreads out across the lawn, if you come over it with a, it seems like they evolved just to duck the mowers.

Stu Heinecke (10:38): It’s not really where it came from, but what they’re really doing is they’re covering the ground and they are denying the critical resources that plants around them need of the grass around them, needs to grow and really just to live so sunlight and water. And so how can we create those kinds of, it’s really about cultivating unfair advantages, looking for those and finding new ones that we can add. A lot of times we can add those by the partnerships and associations that we create and let’s mine strategies. So borrowing the infrastructure of others to, to gain dominant access to the sort of warm sunshine of sales and, and all the things that we’re looking for, just sales and exposure and so forth. And then finally, there’s root strategy in the plant. It’s the seed of all life force, but in business, it’s all of the, it’s where all of the value of the business is sort of stored and curated and maximized.

Stu Heinecke (11:28): So there are strategies for doing that. And then finally soil strategy. So seeds are rather, yeah, well at the weeds, they don’t get to, they don’t get to change the soil quality that they’re in. They just sort of, they just, wherever they land, they make a go of it. But we have the ability to change the substrate in which we grow our businesses. So the cultures within our businesses and with outside of our businesses, our communities and movements are really interesting. If we can grab hold of or start movements, those are amazing things to help change the sort of soil strategy or the conditions for us to grow in. So that’s the model of that’s the weeds model for creating unfair advantages.

John Jantsch (12:07): And now a word from our sponsor technology is awesome. Isn’t it? I mean, I talk about all kinds of technology on this show all the time. Did you ever wish there was a way to get some of the technology, some of the apps that you work with every day to talk to each other? There’s just that one little thing you wanted to do well for over 10 years, I’ve been using a tool called Zapier. In fact, longtime listeners might remember the founder, Wade, uh, foster on this show doing an episode when they were just getting started. Now they’ve blown up and it is an amazing tool. We use it to get our spreadsheets, to talk to other spreadsheets, our forms, to talk to spreadsheets, our forms, to talk to other forms, all kinds of magic. When it comes to our CRM tool, it’s really easy to get started.

John Jantsch (12:54): I mean, there’s no coding. I mean, there’s 4,000, I think apps that, that they now support and that can, you can get to talk to each other, look, see for yourself, why teams at air table Dropbox, HubSpot, Zen desks, thousands of other companies use Zapier every day to automate their business. And you can try it for free today. It’s at that’s Zapier, which is Z a P I E Check it out.

John Jantsch (13:24): Yeah, it’s funny. You’ll be driving down the road and there’ll be, you know, a, a weed growing up, you know, between cracks and in pavement and, and things like that. I think it really kind of points to the tenacious nature of ’em. But when I hear you talk about the soil, I’m think I’m thinking very much in terms of like creating community and creating value for clients that they want to go out and, and refer you as the idea of soil, isn’t it?

Stu Heinecke (13:47): Yeah, absolutely. Yes. It’s all those cuz all of those create conditions that are much more favorable for our growth.

John Jantsch (13:56): So how then do we take that model? And if somebody goes through their business today and says, oh, I’m, you know, I can add this or I could add this or I could be better at this one. And so we get maybe our weed strategy put together, you know, what’s whatever, what many people wanna do then is really scale, grow that business beyond them or grow that business certainly from beyond where it is to today. So how do you apply this then to, to taking that next step, going to the next level with the business?

Stu Heinecke (14:22): Well, I think in fact, one of the first things that we can do to grow our businesses, I, we gotta be looking at them and making sure they’re VI, if there’s something that’s not viable about it, fix it, but assuming everything is viable and you’ve got a great concept. Then one of the first things we can do to grow our business is to root out one to one leverage and then jump to either multichannel or collective scale. That’s for the ultimate is collective scale. I should explain what that is though. Yeah. We’re sure. From just from early childhood, we’re all taught to become self-reliant and sort of self-sufficient I guess that sort of happens when we, I, the first time we played musical chairs and you got left without a chair, you say, well, wait a minute, where’s my chair. You know, I’m not gonna let that happen again.

Stu Heinecke (15:03): And I think that maybe it’s maybe that’s the first time we get, it’s get it instilled in our heads that we’re in a competitive world and you need to be proactive and you need to get things done. You need to be able to rely on yourself to get things done. So that continues when we’re told then to go to school and get good grades, study hard, then you’ll get into a great college. And from there, you’ll get a great job, maybe a really well paying job, but here’s the problem. The, all of that is wonderful. We need to be self-reliant. And I would say that the entrepreneurs around us are probably some of the most self-reliant people there are, but, but we can’t do it alone. And that’s the big realization we, and, and I think probably the more self-reliant and the mortality, the more easily you learn things, the harder it is for you to learn, to let go and say, well, some of the stuff I’ve just gotta let go of this and let somebody who’s either better ranted toward it or better at it than I am.

Stu Heinecke (15:56): I just let them do it for me so that I can move on to other things. And I would say one of the big telltale signs is if you labor is directly involved in your deliverables, you are at one to one leverage. And, or, and let’s say, if you discover that it’s really hard to take a vacation because the bus, the business stops because you’re not there, that’s one to one leverage and you need to root that out really quickly. So you do that, I think by jumping to multichannel leverage. And that really means just forming partnerships with, with people who could bring you to, to other to new clients, let’s say, or open up new sales channels. I was inviting you to, to, to join a group that I started a group of authors. And I guess in a way that’s multichannel leverage because we get together, we formulate ideas, we bring things together and, and you know, that that’s the way we’ve gotta, we’ve gotta find ways to collaborate with people as much as possible. I guess that’s really the, one of the big messages of we is that the more we collaborate, the stronger we become.

John Jantsch (16:55): So with an example of that, say a consultant or coach who is doing a lot of that, one to one work would be building a course or bringing, building a community or doing group work, or having, as you said, strategic partners who are going to, you know, send business his or her way. I mean, is that at a very simple example? What we’re talking about?

Stu Heinecke (17:14): Yeah. Yeah. I think so. I think productizing what you do as a consultant mm-hmm and turning that into a course is a great way to do that because once you’ve built it, and of course you’re promoting it, but other people could promote it, you can go on vacation, you can make money while you sleep. All those wonderful things that happen when you’re not right. That when you’re not the factory and you shouldn’t be the factory. Yeah. Yeah.

John Jantsch (17:35): All right. So here’s the burning question. And I’m certain people are listening right now and on the edge of their seats, how do you win a weed award?

Stu Heinecke (17:44): you have to be, I was actually a total weed award, but you have to be

John Jantsch (17:50): Total word

Stu Heinecke (17:50): Would. Yeah. You have to be absolutely audacious in, in the way that you, that you approach your market and create unfair advantages and create scale. And you obviously, you need to be an example to the rest of us, but an example of weed, like growth.

John Jantsch (18:06): Yeah. So I’ve been, uh, doing interviews, you know, for years. And over the last few years, one of the things I’ve seen is title explosion in the Csuite, you know, you’ve got your chief people officer, you’ve got your chief revenue officer, and now I think you are probably going to introduce the chief weed officer.

Stu Heinecke (18:24): I am. I’m proposing one more. That’s right. the chief weed officer. I don’t know if you do know Dan Walch.

John Jantsch (18:30): I do. Yeah. I do know Dan. Yeah. He’s been on the show before he

Stu Heinecke (18:33): Has. Yeah. Dan he’s been amazing guy. He’s he has the bloggy conversations. I think he has a book out by the same name, but, and he is a turnaround specialist. Anyway, I interviewed him for the book and he, he gave a quote, by the way, the book has all these I’m so proud of these quotes at the beginning of the book, because they were, when I looked to research for the book, there were no positive quotes about weeds. So everybody I was interviewing, I was asking them, could you share some sort of like, now that we’ve talked about weeds as a positive, what thoughts come to mind? Yeah. And so Dan said, if you don’t have a chief weed officer, you lose . That was his quote

John Jantsch (19:07): .

Stu Heinecke (19:09): Um, and yeah, I think that there will be chief weed officers. I don’t know if they’ll be called that maybe they’ll be called chief strategy officers or weed strategy officers, but there will be people who will be responsible for growth of the company, through the execution of weed strategy that we can watch all around us.

John Jantsch (19:27): Yeah. Awesome. Let’s do I appreciate you taking time to stop by the duct tape marketing podcast. You wanna tell people where they can find out more about your work and obviously pick up a copy of the book.

Stu Heinecke (19:36): Sure. Well, you can buy the book anywhere, anywhere books are sold. Now it, it launches of course, June 1st, but that actually, well, yeah. Can I start that over? Yeah, of course do it. Okay. Yeah. You can buy the book anywhere that books are sold. Amazon, of course, and Barnes and noble bam and all that. Perhaps the airport soon you can come and visit me at my author site. That’s Stu And when you come there, then you, one of the things you might wanna do is join my weed, my, my weed boot camp, sorry, my boot, my weed mindset boot camp. And you can join that from, from my site as well. So, yeah. And LinkedIn mention that, that you heard John and my, and myself talking on the, on the duct tape podcast, duct tape marketing podcast, and I will be happy to connect with you there.

John Jantsch (20:24): Awesome. Well, we’ll have all those links in the show notes as well, and Stu congrats on the new book. And again, appreciate you taking the time out to, to share with our listeners. And hopefully we’ll run into you again. Soon. One of these days out there on the road,

Stu Heinecke (20:37): I would love that, John. Thanks for having me on the show.

John Jantsch (20:39): Hey, and one final thing before you go, you know how I talk about marketing strategy strategy before tactics? Well, sometimes it be hard to understand where you stand in that what needs to be done with regard to creating a marketing strategy. So we created a free tool for you. It’s called the marketing strategy assessment. You can find it @ not .com .co check out our free marketing assessment and learn where you are with your strategy today. That’s just I’d. Love to chat with you about the results that you get.

This episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is brought to you by the HubSpot Podcast Network and Zapier.

HubSpot Podcast Network is the audio destination for business professionals who seek the best education and inspiration on how to grow a business.


Do you ever wish there was some way to get all those apps you use at work to talk to each other? Or dreamed about automating routine tasks like following up with marketing leads or cross-posting on social channels—without having to hire a developer to build something for you? Then you’ll love Zapier. Zapier helps marketers make the most of the technology you already use. Connect all your apps, automate routine tasks, and streamline your workflow—so you can convert more, with less chaos. See for yourself why teams at Airtable, Dropbox, HubSpot, Zendesk, and thousands of other companies use Zapier every day to automate their businesses. Try Zapier for free today at

Did you miss our previous article…