The Zigzag Principle: The Goal Setting Strategy that will Revolutionize Your Business and Your Life


Zigzag Your Way to Success!

Have you ever set your sights on the top of a mountain and then started your ascent by heading straight through the trees and up the sheer cliffs? Or driven in your car to the other side of town—as the crow flies? Of course not! Because you instinctively know that, just as a river has to wend its way around obstacles, the best route is never actually a straight line!

In The Zigzag Principle, Rich Christiansen applies...

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The Zigzag Principle: The Goal Setting Strategy that will Revolutionize Your Business and Your Life

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Zigzag Your Way to Success!

Have you ever set your sights on the top of a mountain and then started your ascent by heading straight through the trees and up the sheer cliffs? Or driven in your car to the other side of town—as the crow flies? Of course not! Because you instinctively know that, just as a river has to wend its way around obstacles, the best route is never actually a straight line!

In The Zigzag Principle, Rich Christiansen applies a foundational law of nature to business management, entrepreneurship, goal-setting, and life in general as he explores why zigzagging toward our intended outcomes is more effective than trying to bulldoze our way through whatever stands between us and our objectives.

Christiansen helps you get started, make your way over the big hill to initial profitability, and minimize risks along the way. A s the head of well-established corporations and as the brains behind numerous start-ups, Christiansen has been through it all, and he’s charted all the zigs and zags you’ll encounter. In The Zigzag Principle, he documents everything he has learned, including how to:

  • Identify your destination
  • Create a defined set of values to help you as your business finds its way
  • Add resources and hire the right people, as you turn the cash you have into fuel for more
  • Replicate your successes to bring your product to the masses
  • Protect your resources, your family, and your sanity

The simplicity of a straight line can be seductive. But it’s not a realistic way to go about achieving your goals, because you will always come upon unexpected obstacles in the road. Zigzagging requires you to be nimble and flexible, to “bootstrap,” and to be able to take advantage of multiple opportunities. What it delivers is success—in business and in life—far beyond your initial plans and dreams.

Use The Zigzag Principle to assess your resources, use them to their fullest, and keep yourself and your team motivated—all while living a life of balance.

Praise for The Zigzag Principle

“Rock-solid principles so simple that you will read this book wondering how you could have missed seeing truths that are so obvious.”
—Stephen R. Covey, bestselling author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

“Our economy will be saved and grow again through the industry of focused entrepreneurs who will hire thousands of employees to meet the needs of customers. This thoughtful and inspired book will guide creative and energized business men and women to accomplish their loftiest dreams and restore America’s prosperity once again.”
—Alan E. Hall, entrepreneur, angel investor, venture capitalist, cofounder of Mercato Partners

The Zigzag Principle is the new way of doing business. It will increase your chances of success by 90 percent and eliminate so much of the stress that business owners face.”
—Garrett Gunderson, New York Times bestselling author of Killing Sacred Cows

The Zigzag Principle has revolutionized the way I run my business. It works, it measures, it performs. Every business should know and implement this principle!”
—Curtis Blair, cofounder and general manager, Froghair

“Rich Christiansen is one of the most insightful, practical, and cost-conscious entrepreneurs in the world today. Listen to Rich. He won’t steer you wrong.”
—Roy H. Williams, author of the New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling Wizard of Ads trilogy

”I don't believe entrepreneurship is something you can truly learn from a book. Everyone has to make their own mistakes. Nevertheless, if you've already made some mistakes then you'll find The Zig Zag Principle to be a no b.s. guide to starting, nurturing and succeeding at entrepreneurship.”
—Jeffrey Eisenberg, author of the New York Times and Wall Street Journal marketing bestsellers Call to Action and Waiting For Your Cat To Bark?

“Entrepreneurs, you need not fear failure anymore! With The Zigzag Principle in hand, you will have all the tools you need to increase your probability of success the instant you apply the concepts in this book.”
—Rick Sapio, founder and CEO of Mutual Capital Alliance, Inc, Dallas, Texas

The Zigzag Principle isn’t feel-good fluff—it is a logical and practical formula that you can put your hands on, and it will increase the rate of success of any business you apply it to.”
—Moe Abdou, Principal and founder, 33 Voices

The Zigzag Principle is more powerful than the ‘release and iterate’ mentality which is so prevalent today. I have adjusted my planning to incorporate this principle in our product launches. Properly executed, The Zigzag Principl will keep folks like me out of financial hot water.”
—David McInnis, founder of and founder and CEO of Cranberry LLC, Venture Partners

“Most entrepreneurs find it complicated and difficult to build their businesses. Rich has done a masterful job with The Zigzag Principle to make complex things simple and the difficult easy—and it works! It will help you get where you want to be with more confidence and certainty.”
—Murray Smith, New York Times bestselling coauthor of The Answer and CEO of

“Whether you are a parent, an entrepreneur, a factory worker, or a middle manger, The Zigzag Principle will provide you with a framework and a formula that will empower you to make changes in your world you had never felt were possible.”
—Joseph Grenny, New York Times bestselling coauthor of Influencer: The Power to Change Anything

"The Zigzag Principle delivers the epiphany of the decade for business owners. These strategies are non-intuitive, but proven to be solid and dependable, which is why this is such an important work. Not only will you profit faster than you thought possible, you'll also enjoy greater balance and fulfillment in the process."
—Leslie Householder, Award-winning bestselling author of The Jackrabbit Factor: Portal to Genius

About the Book:

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780071774581
  • Publisher: McGraw-Hill Professional Publishing
  • Publication date: 9/13/2011
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Rich Christiansen spent the first half of his career as an executive, running the PC division of Mitsubishi Electronics, working at Novell, and becoming general manager of Today, he is in high demand as a mentor and small business consultant. Christiansen is coauthor of Bootstrap Business: A Step-by-Step Business Survival Guide.

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Read an Excerpt

The Zigzag Principle

The Goal-Setting Strategy That Will Revolutionize Your Business and Your Life

By Rich Christiansen

The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

Copyright © 2012Mountain Grabbers, LLC
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-07-177527-4


<h2>CHAPTER 1</h2> <p><b><i>Assessing Resources—What's in Your Pocket?</i></b></p> <br> <p>After I wrote my first book, <i>Bootstrap Business</i>, which told the story of how my partner, Ron Porter, and I took $5,000 and within one year grew it into a $1.2 million business, I had the opportunity to be interviewed by Garrett Gunderson for a national radio show. Garrett is the author of the <i>New York Times</i> bestseller, <i>Killing Sacred Cows</i>, and he started the interview by asking, "Rich, tell me about how you started this last business." I said, "Oh, I took $5,000 and ..." Garrett interrupted me midsentence and said, "No! No you didn't."</p> <p>I was kind of stunned and tried to explain, "Well, yes, I actually <i>did</i> start it with $5,000." He corrected me again, "No you didn't." And I retorted, "Yes, I did!"</p> <p>After what I initially thought was a rather awkward beginning, Garrett went on to explain that the $5,000 my partner and I put up was the smallest part of the equation. In fact, in his words, the money was really meaningless. And in making that point, Garrett was teaching an invaluable lesson.</p> <p>Most people assume we need to have money to succeed in business and to reach our goals in life. If we want to start a business, the reasoning goes, we first need capital. If we're given a major project at work, we immediately want to know what our budget is. If we want to take our family on a much-needed vacation, the first thing we do is check the balance of our bank account (or, if we really enjoy paying interest, our credit cards). That view develops a straight-line mentality as we undertake whatever we have set our sights on—whether it's a house, a business, a contribution to our team at work, a strong marriage and a stable family ... you name it. But if all you think in terms of is how much money you need to achieve your goals, you're missing the fact that success is actually the result of identifying and maximizing a couple of foundational resources that have nothing to do with our traditional view of "capital" and have everything to do with zigzagging toward our intended outcome.</p> <p>The point Garrett was making was that Ron and I succeeded because of what he calls "The Value Equation," which is that <i>mental capital</i> (meaning our knowledge, skills, talents, and passions) plus our <i>relationship capital</i> (meaning the quality of our relationships with a broad pool of friends and associates) will equal <i>financial capital</i>.</p> <p>Yes, at some point money is often needed if we are to reach our goals. But that form of capital will grow out of the knowledge and the relationships we have, and the pace at which it grows will be influenced in large measure by our passion. If you need proof of this point, consider this extremely condensed list of transformative businesses that got their start in a college dorm room or garage: Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard, and Google. And while the founders of each of these companies are now household names worth billions, they all began with little more than their smarts and their passion to achieve their goals, combined with their networks of friends.</p> <p>This view of capital is very different from how most of us think about resources, and most people get the equation backwards. We think, "If only I had some money, I could reach my goals or realize my dreams." Money cannot build intelligence, relationships, or passion. But intelligence, relationships, and passion can always yield money. Coming to this view, though, may require you to adjust your thinking.</p> <p>A few years after I graduated from college with a degree in electronic engineering, I enrolled in an executive MBA program while working for Novell, then the pioneer in computer networking (and yet another company founded by four guys with little capital, a bright idea, and a lot of passion—who are now multimillionaires). The vice president in charge of the division where I worked was Dave Owens. As I neared the completion of my MBA, I was preparing to move to another division in the company. Before I made the move, Dave called me into his office and asked me a simple question: "Rich, who do you work for?" The answer seemed obvious, and I told him I worked for him. His response was "Wrong!" and that was the end of that meeting.</p> <p>A week later he called me back in and again asked me, "Rich, who do you work for?" Well, I had been thinking about his question, and this time I confidently told him, "Novell!" Again, he told me I was wrong. A week or so later, his administrative assistant made yet another appointment. I rather timidly went into his office, only to be asked the same question for the third time. But this time when he asked, "Who do you work for?" I answered, "I work for myself."</p> <p>Finally, I had found tthe right answer, and as a result my view of resources shifted dramatically. Whether we work for someone or are off on our own,,,, seeing <i>ourselves</i> as the person we work for will light a fire under us to identify the resources we can access, rather than waiting for buckets of money to appear through venture capital coups or budget allocations.</p> <br> <p><b>What Are Your Resources?</b></p> <p>Now that you know who you work for, you need to take an honest look at two things: what your resources are right now and where they can take you.</p> <p>I currently drive an Audi A6. I love this car, and I love going on road trips in it. No matter the distance or destination, I know I'm going to get there, and I know I'll travel in comfort. I can sing along with my favorite music on the satellite radio, and my biggest worry is that my speed will creep up to the point where I'll get a ticket. Driving this car is an absolute pleasure!</p> <p>My Audi A6 is dramatically different from what I drove in college. When my wife and I were first married, we drove a 1972 Dodge Colt that had been wrecked three times. I know people joke about cars that are held together with bailing wire and duct tape, but ours actually was. We tried to improve its appearance by covering up some of the larger dents with a rough coat of Bondo and then painting the entire car with blue spray paint. That plan didn't work very well. In fact, I was so embarrassed by the car that when I was working on my MBA, I would park half a mile away so that no one would see what I drove. The car had a broken oil pan, and the head was cracked. It would get me to school and back, but I never dared take it out on the freeway, let alone on a road trip.</p> <p>Back then, that was my only resource for getting to my destination. I can go a lot farther now in my Audi A6 than I could in that old Dodge Colt. But the Colt was better than my eight-year-old son's current resources. He recently founded a business selling homemade crafts around the neighborhood. When he makes his deliveries, his mode of transportation is a kick scooter. So, while my Dodge Colt was constrained by the city limits, his radius is a few blocks from our home. But he is making do with the resources at his disposal. His vehicle is different from my Audi A6

Excerpted from The Zigzag Principle by Rich Christiansen. Copyright © 2012 by Mountain Grabbers, LLC. Excerpted by permission of The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents



Introduction: Deliberate Detours....................          

ONE Assessing Resources—What's in Your Pocket?........          

TWO Beacons in the Fog and Catalyzing Statements............          

THREE Values—A Firm Foundation....................          

FOUR Zig Number 1—Drive to Profitability..............          

FIVE Zag Number 2—Adding Processes and Resources......          

SIX Zig Number 3—Adding Scale....................          

SEVEN Boundaries and Guardrails....................          

EIGHT Rewards—Finding Hidden Treasures................          

NINE Avoiding the All-or-Nothing Trap....................          


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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted November 25, 2011

    A Roadmap for Success in Business and in Life

    A great book on Entrepreneurship.

    After reading the first few pages of the book I started to get concerned about the possibility this was another book about a single idea where the author works it to death. After all, the concept behind the title is fairly simple: the road to success is almost always not a direct path. Fortunately I was wrong.

    This is not only a business book. The Zig Zag principle is a philosophy of adaptation, of finding intermediate goals and milestones, of making the best of each opportunity, of an opportunistic approach to exploit immediate advantages rather than plowing full-steam-ahead towards a long-term goal.

    It is an easy read (I went through it on a 4 hour flight) and an enjoyable one, full of personal anecdotes from the author. Success is not luck. It is a journey that rewards those who take the right approach. I especially like the fact that the book captures what Rich learned though life, through practical experiences ¿ not academic theory.

    The author talks about a hierarchy of assets to make it through an endeavor. They start with intelligence, relationships and passion (determination and energy, a joy for learning). With them you can acquire knowledge, discipline and experience and use the combination to produce money. Surely you need a solid core set of values, which are the operating system for your life ¿ and a vision that serves as a beacon in the daily fog.

    At the end, I got more out of this book than I expected. It made me think about my long-term and lifelong goals. It made me write them down and take action. I hope you find it useful too.

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  • Posted September 27, 2011

    Practical and actionable advice--great read

    I've been the timid dreamer who loved the idea of starting a business, but has always been afraid to act. This book made starting a business very realistic and doable to me. It is full of great stories--perfect because they show the application of each concept and how Rich is "eating his own cooking."

    * The book gives digestible steps for starting a business
    * Each section has worksheets to vet out the reader's own business ideas
    * An anecdote is connected with each major concept to show application

    It's a good read, entertaining because Rich is a great storyteller, but more importantly it's motivating. Great stuff in this book--I recommend it to anyone, even people like me who wouldn't consider themselves business experts or experienced entrepreneurs. It's given me a unique outlook on how to go about achieving any and all goals in my future dream business and in my personal life.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 6, 2011

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