The Bitch Slap: Your Excuses Are Complete BS

your excuses are BS erika napoletanoYou heard me.

Your excuses are bullshit. Every mother-loving one of them.

I don’t care how you frame them. I couldn’t care less if you wrap them in bacon and dip ’em in cream cheese. (Wait…that might make me care for fleeting moment.)

Bullshit, bullshit, bullshit.

And lemme tell ya why: you’re privileged, lazy, and your idea of “perspective” is what you get looking out your middle class bay window.

And that’s why you’re getting slapped. Because I got slapped and I’m pissed about it so I’m passing that slap on to you. Today, it’s one big domino line of Bitch Slapping — and I my only hope is that you keep this twisted chain going and pass it on to someone you know who needs a wake-up call.

You’re Privileged

This past Saturday, I sat in a room with seventeen entrepreneurs from all over the world – Mexico, DRC, Kenya, China, Botswana, Liberia, Uganda, Cameroon, South Africa, and Haiti to name a few. They’d come to Boulder, Colorado to spend an intense few weeks under the mentorship of numerous professionals in our local business community through the Unreasonable Institute. Why? They wanted to become better business people and return home to their countries to help people build better lives. I heard about economies where average daily wages were $2 per day. Where taxi drivers in Uganda are pretty much indentured to the taxi companies who own their vehicles. Countries where farmers have entire crops obliterated because they don’t understand how to identify a blight (not that I know fuck all about it either).

You’re reading this on some sort of high-tech device. And that means whatever excuse you have for not getting done what you need to get done in your business is bullshit. You have more than any of these seventeen people who stood in front of me on Saturday might ever have, and here they are, multiple years into their respective business ventures and affecting change across the globe. It made me think about all of the excuses I make for not being able to get shit done. Money, resources, time…as I sit here in my pretty damn nice apartment where I pay rent that costs more than the average annual wage for some of these entrepreneurs’ countrymen and women — it seems pretty ridiculous. Seems that I might be pissing and moaning about not having when, in fact, I have a helluva lot that I don’t appreciate. Which brings me to the next point…

You’re Lazy

And so am I. Like a sloth that up-ended a bottle of some tourist’s valium, thinking they were little yellow snacks, you are one lazy blob, aren’t you? You’re sitting there locked away in the dark, scared, afraid to show people your ideas. You’re stuck in your head, enjoying another stroll through the Woods of Analysis Paralysis. Or even worse, you’re so focused on one idea that you can’t see that it’s not working or hear the people who are telling you it’s complete crap.

You’re lazy. And along with that comes being afraid.

If your life and business aren’t changing or improving at a rate that blows your mind, that’s because your mind isn’t working. I spent a mere SIX HOURS working with one entrepreneur from Mexico on Saturday (call is four hours, after keynotes, lunch, chit chat, and other distractions) and do you know what we got done?

A team of five entrepreneurs built him a brand – complete with a packaging concept, product iterations, a rough logo, brand message, and a metric shit ton of market research ideas for him to take into the market. He’s connected with a graphic designer, a copywriter (ahem), two experts in the organic foods industry, one of whom has extensive leads in his particular market sector.

unreasonable institute scrimmage

Sheikh (in green) and other entrepreneurs from Saturday’s “scrimmage” event

For contrast, let’s talk about Sheikh. From Liberia and looming over six feet tall, Sheikh’s team did the incredible. In fact, it was fucking amazing. In roughly the same four hours, here’s what Sheikh’s team did:

  • branded his product
  • bought his domain
  • built his website
  • filmed a brand messaging video, staring Sheikh
  • committed to prototype product (actual chocolate from Liberian cocoa) in less than two weeks

Can you tell me what your excuse is again for not getting shit done? It’s because you’re lazy. And lemme tell you a little more about Sheikh and a few other people I met on Saturday. Maybe it’ll add to your perspective.

You Call That “Perspective?”

Maybe you’re reading this thinking:

Hey, those people paid to have access to all of those resources!

Sure – anything looks good to them. They’re from third-world countries!

Erika, you need to shut the hell up. I know how lucky I am and appreciate it every day. I give money and food to people at intersections holding cardboard signs!

Right. You’re awesome. So am I. We have all the perspective we could ever need.

So, a bit about Sheikh – Liberia was in the throes of a a bloody civil war from roughly 1989 to 1996. Heard of the diamonds of the Sierra Leone? Yeah – that’s Liberia. Sheikh was a child soldier, indentured to fight and kill. He and countless other countrymen were forced into exile to escape the brutal regime running the country. Many children like him weren’t so lucky — they died violent deaths at the hands of children the same age.

Sheikh returned to his native Liberia in 2004 with one goal: to start a business that would create meaningful employment for former child soldiers. Eight years later, he’s doing it.

unreasonable institute scrimmage 2

Lorna, delivering her end-of-day 90-second recap (pre-standing ovation)

And then there’s the vibrant Lorna from Kenya. She runs a successful business that recycles plastic waste into building materials like posts and bricks.  They’ve already converted 1 million kilograms of plastic waste into building bricks and posts to-date. She’s curvy and enthusiastic and gives a better presentation than any of us could ever dream of giving. At the end of the day, she stood up for her 90-second recap in front of an auditorium filled with 200+ people and celebrated her team. She thanked them for showing her how to build financial projections. She was ecstatic that she could now walk into a lending institution and answer questions about future production and profitability. Oh, and her team helped her cut her production costs by 50%. In four hours.

At the end of her presentation, she shouted, “And now – please give me a standing ovation!”

She got it. No argument. She’s going to go back to Kenya and thrive, I tell you, and all because four or five complete strangers helped her build some financial models without any agenda except hope for a country they’ve probably never (and will never) visit.

How’s that for perspective?

So today, pull your head out of your ass and do something. Grab a group of people and get to brainstorming. Get. Shit. Done. You have tenfold the resources that these amazing international entrepreneurs do at your fingertips. While they might have an abundance of resources for a few short weeks, you have them at your disposal every day.

And every time you have an excuse for something not being able to get done, think about Sheikh — a former child solider from Liberia who, with the help of five or six complete strangers, built an entire business in four hours.

You – and I – have been slapped. And I hope it hurt. Because what I did on Saturday night is this:

  • Came home, took two very full-of-pee dogs for a walk
  • Cried, because I’m an entitled little putz full of excuses
  • Stayed up until 1 AM with my laptop, a notebook, and a pen churning out WHAT I’m going to make happen today and the rest of this week. It ain’t fuckin’ rocket science. It’s business. It’s about people. And I’m putting together the people who are going to help me get it done.

And y’know what? It won’t be perfect. But I’m going to throw stuff out there and get feedback and see how you — the people who would be using what I create — feel it could be better. I’ve always gotten my best ideas from you and it starts here.

I’m making some changes in my business and need your input. If you would, take my survey and be a part of shaping the future of RedheadWriting. And no — I’m not becoming a smarmy affiliate marketer. But I’ve discovered that I love teaching — and that’s what I’m going to do.

**Can’t see the survey? Use this link.

Brian Watkins
Brian Watkins

Another great post, Erika! Just what I needed to hear on what has started as a slow week.

Lawrence Snow
Lawrence Snow

That was painfully good. Definitely needed that! Thank you Erika.

Tea Silvestre, aka Word Chef
Tea Silvestre, aka Word Chef

I just wrapped up a 3-day reading stint of survey responses (thanks again for helping to spread the word!). Can you believe 85+ pages of people telling me why they can't get their marketing done? I could barely finish it...oy! You're SO right, Erika. And I'm so glad I have Annie and her ass-kickin boots to help me respond to my respondents.  p.s. - Took your survey! Would love to see what you put together (and I've got just the vehicle to help you promote it -- ha! Wait, did you get my email...?)  Keep on slappin!


Hey, I'm a disruptive presence too (I've been told that by people most of my life, I take it as a huge compliment)! I had no idea you were one also.  Right on. Spot on. As we all sit here in our air conditioned homes on our pretty silver laptops complaining about our first world problems..... I love how the world brings the info you need right to your lap when you really need to hear it. I'm trying to make some shit go and need constant reminders that just getting off my ass and doing it will get it done. THANK YOU.  This is why we are thrilled you are coming to see us in Sacramento. 

Jim Brochowski
Jim Brochowski

 Honestly I think it's all about perspective.  At some points we all think we have it bad, or it can't get any worse. Somebody always has it worse, or is in a situation we couldn't fathom. Just knowing that and not making more of our individual dilemmas is enough in my opinion. You know today my truck battery died, but I have a truck and someone else is walking or riding the bus or doesn't even have a job to come to so I'm not going to make more of it than it is. Or, I'm putting a lot of emphasis on my health right now which means I get in my workouts and don't necessarily get to all the work I used to. That's not an excuse, it's a reason. A thoughtful piece, but maybe just a little amplified by your first hand experience. As always though, you made me think, and for that I am  always grateful. 

Michael Clark
Michael Clark

This is what I'm talkin' 'bout! A Costco-sized can o' whoopass, scooping out a generous helping of smack-in-da-mouth. It's what the Riff Raft is all about, and why we're SO EFFIN JAZZED you're coming to Sacramento. Can haz more, please?


I am lucky to be married to a man who has made it all on his own from barely anything and with all the bits and pieces of life stacked against him. For real. He is the one I admire the most everyday and he keeps me marching on by his example. Still...I can use the bitch slap every so often. So lucky.


So tell us how you really feel Erika :) Your best "Bitch Slap" yet IMO.

Rich Mackey
Rich Mackey

Point taken.   I kick myself every day about not being productive enough in my side business.  I have a photo client who bought a shoot + 5 pictures. Which I delivered within 3 days. Then wanted prints (easy). Got those to her in 1 more day.  Then came back and wanted all of the images - ALL.  Even the bad ones. I do have a charge for this (no one ever buys it though) because I shoot RAW and have to process the images for them to be useful - and my time is my livelihood. I've spent 2 weeks PUTTING OFF processing 175 images. It's time consuming. It's boring. But I did it this weekend and delivered her DVD's. She was ecstatic. And will recommend me. In the end, iIt took about 90 minutes. And I made enough to make it worth my time. And I could have had an ecstatic customer recommending me to friends 2 weeks ago. (Ok, I think I just slapped myself there).

Bryce Alan Katz
Bryce Alan Katz

**rubs stinging cheek** THANK YOU MA'AM! MAY I HAVE ANOTHER! (Seriously. How you manage to consistently hit on what I'm going through is more than a little unnerving. But I'm glad you do!)


My parents arrived into this country with nothing but the clothes on their backs. They started a landscaping business by knocking on doors & hoping for the best. They have been and continue to be successful, so really, I have no excuse to be lazy or even make excuses. I was raised to get off my ass and just DO IT. Sometimes, right when I want to sit down and mope, I am reminded of what my parents did and the bitch slap you just issued also helped me a lot today. Thank you. I am off to do the "impossible"!

Annie Sisk
Annie Sisk

Bacon just makes everything better, no? And yes, you're right, I AM full of shit, as are we all. I'm working on a little project right now headed ultimately for Kindle-land which touches on that very subject, just as gently as does the above - a mere tickle of a thing ... oh, who am I kidding, I will be putting on ass-kicking boots, just for the occasion, and I expect it to hurt like hell. (But it'll feel oh, so right. Which is sort of the point with ass-kicking boots, no?) Survey taken, madam. I'd buy your ice even if I were an Inuit. 


Couldn't care less?


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