Idea to Execution - Ari Meisel, Nick Sonnenberg

Idea to Execution - Ari Meisel, Nick Sonnenberg

Why keep a good idea on paper? Learn how to turn an idea into a business with the creators of Leverage.

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Most people feel overwhelmed, doing too many tasks and failing to focus on what they are good at. This lack of time is a big villain if you aim to build or optimize your company The book "Idea to Execution", written by Ari Meisel and Nick Sonnenberg, will help you to be more productive.

It tells the story of Leverage, which in its first year was still called Less Doing. Through the first-year narrative of this business, the authors show how important it is to optimize, automate, and outsource tasks to overcome a major villain: inefficiency.

The company was born during a dinner between the two friends from an idea that was implemented in the next day. But how did they do it without needing a big upfront investment and wasting time?

To discover this and learn some advices for an effective business, stay with us in this summary!

About the book "Idea do Execution"

"Idea to Execution" was published in 2016. It shows the authors first year working in business together, giving some crucial tips for build a company. Going through the idea to the execution.

Telling the story of the company's first year, Ari and Nick reveal the problems they faced and the creative and inexpensive solutions they encountered.

About the authors Ari Meisel and Nick Sonnenberg

Nick Sonnenberg is the co-founder of Leverage and has a passion for undertaking and creating disruptive businesses. With experience in creating algorithms, he graduated from Berkley University and earned his master's degree in financial engineering.

While working on Wall Street in portfolios worth millions of dollars, he decided to pursue a more meaningful life and became an entrepreneur.

Ari Meisel is a father of four and a carrier of Crohn's disease. Ari knows the value of time very well and is a productivity expert. It was from his experience with virtual assistants and his friendship with Nick that "Less Less" was born.

To whom is this book indicated?

This book is full of innovative ideas for those who want to start their own business or optimize, automate and outsource their current work tasks. It is definitely an essential read for entrepreneurs.

Main ideas of the book "Idea to Execution"

  • Creating a company doesn't require a large investment;
  • It is very important to know the tools available to optimize and automate your business;
  • It is important to outsource time-consuming tasks that aren't tied to what you do best;
  • Although everything can be passed on to others, we shouldn't outsource what we are very good at;
  • Use metrics and feedbacks to track and improve your business.

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[Book Summary] Idea to Execution - Ari Meisel, Nick Sonnenberg

Overview: Introduction

Do you know when you have a huge to-do list and feel your productivity is low? Have you ever wondered if you could outsource these tasks so you can use your unique skills and develop further?

The authors of this book not only thought about it but created a company that offers and applies outsourcing solutions.

They created Less Doing, now known as Leverage, which enables people and businesses to be more efficient.

According to them, we should always think about how to optimize and automate our tasks and outsource those that don't need our unique skills.

Optimization is the improvement of current processes and the search for the most efficient way of execution. Still, if this optimization is tied to people performing a task, someone's time is being consumed and there is still room for human failure.

This is the time to use automation. It means giving up control and accepting that not everything needs you. Some solutions are expensive, but others are offered for free and can be tailored to your needs.

Finally, there is outsourcing. The virtual assistants offered at the authors' company meet this need. They are hired by people who understand how valuable their time is and who want to focus on their core activities.

The authors cite several examples of activities that their clients wanted to outsource. Tasks range from marketing planning to solve the problem of a broken baby monitor.

Overview: Less Doing First Year

At a dinner between Ari and Nick, they thought it would be a cool idea to start a virtual assistant business.

By combining Nick's practical skills with technology and Ari's experience with productivity and his network, they gave the business a chance.

At the same dinner, they shared responsibilities and agreed that they would not move the company forward if it interfered with their friendship. In addition, they decided to focus on their learning and not on the company's financial return.

"When you are learning, you are growing, and money comes as a result."

Maybe that's why they decided not to invest in paid resources for setting up the business, but to integrate free tools that were already available.

In thinking about the project, they decided don't waste time planning and validating the idea. They preferred to test their solutions on a small group of customers and evaluate what worked and what didn't.

Seeking a competitive differential, they decided to invest in training and qualification to have high-level employees.

Thus, they decided to compensate them with a value above the market and also charge their customers more expensive.

These employees were remunerated according to the time of service provided. This factor, coupled with the fact that the company is completely virtual and all contact made by email, phone and applications, greatly reduced costs.

This minimum cost policy was supplemented by the use of free software. All applications that were used are listed at the end of the book.

To make it easier to manage and integrate information, Nick Sonnenberg created and enhanced a Dashboard. The same was visible even to employees and was used as a form of communication about what happened in the company.

Recruitment of employees

One of the most interesting points of the book is its form of recruitment, which was totally virtual and devoid of direct and personal contacts.

The whole process was automated with sending emails containing instructions according to approval at each stage of the process.

Ari Meisel and Nick Sonnenberg understood that this was the best way to find employees who knew what they wanted and how to execute orders.

If someone couldn't follow written instructions, they didn't deserve to be hired.

They embraced the idea of hiring fast and firing even faster. Unproductive employees were quickly fired. But the most productive of the week received a $100 bonus.

In addition, the most interested was mentoring with Nick and Ari, admittedly competent and distinguished professionals.

These collaborators were also fired if they committed 3 strikes (3 errors considered important). A strike could be withdrawn if the employee became the highlight of the week.

To solve problems, they used the "5 Whys" technique. For each problem, they asked "Why?" And then one more "Why?" for the answer given until they asked 5 times.

This technique allows for a high level of detail of the problem and surprising discoveries about it.

They also applied Kaizen to the company to ensure continuous improvement. A very interesting idea for customer retention was to make it difficult to unsubscribe from the offered plan.

The only form of cancellation required direct contact with Leverage. This created a contact opportunity to convince the customer to stay and reduced the cancellation fee.

Overview: Opportunities

The first big opportunity came through the invitation to the Genius conference, where the authors had to improvise a presentation.

They delighted the listeners so much with their technological applications that they won over many customers.

Using the enhanced video of the Genius presentation, they began advertising an offer through Facebook adds.

They offered a core product with a value that would cover all advertising costs. This value made it possible to upsell or down-sell, that is, to sell a more expensive or cheaper product.

The most expensive and the main product had an interesting value difference for the customer to choose the most expensive.

Another great opportunity came from inviting a well-known development coach to work for you. This contract didn't come to an end, but it taught Ari and Nick that changes must be made from top to bottom in the hierarchy.

In addition, they learned that they should start by applying the simplest and most effective solutions to engage people.

It is also helpful to have someone from the client company who is dedicated to implementing the project internally.


Along the way they made several mistakes. One of them was to assign managerial functions to virtual assistants who excelled in their areas but didn't have management experience.

Just as quickly as the idea was implemented, it was discarded.

Another mistake was creating a physical office to integrate everyone in one place. Time lost in transfers was a burden on people used to working at their place of choice and at their own time.

Having a fixed work schedule and the obligation to work in an office made productivity drop a lot.

The workplace influences employee productivity and the freedom to choose where and when to work as well.

Luckily (and knowingly) the office rent was made for just one month, and they were able to quickly reverse the situation.

Overview: Software Used

Because the use of technology is Leverage's strength, Ari Meisel and Nick Sonnenberg present at the end of the book a list of all the apps and software they use.

Here are some of them that are interesting and can f acilitate and automate your tasks.

Remember: saving 20 minutes a day on a task with automation and outsourcing saves you 1 hour and 40 minutes of your week.


To organize all the company's activities and the needs of its customers, the partners adopted Trello.

Trello is a project and task management software that uses the kanban format. It contains charts, lists, and cards that help prioritize and visualize what should be done.

Because it is a well-known tool, it was easy for business owners to invite their customers to use it without much explanation.

In addition, it was necessary to manage the execution time of these tasks as time is a key factor for business success.


For the execution, they used Toggl, which is free and able to track the time it takes a task to perform and even provides a report.

Through this report, you can identify which activities generate returns and which ones are a waste of time.


Every business needs communication, especially a virtual business. That's why Leverage chose to use Slack, a free app where collaborators were able to chat.


To integrate the tools and automate some actions they used Zapier and IFTTT, both free.

Simple actions, such as updating all photos on social networks or sending an email after a purchase, were automatically done using these apps.

For recruitment, they used HireSelect's critical thinking tests and Checkr's ancestor checks. The documentation is all sent via Hellosign to be executed digitally.

This process was fully automated using Intuit Workforce. For video calling, weekly meetings and virtual conferences they used Zoom because it is the most stable. Then the weekly meetings were hosted by Amazon's free co-working.

Other tools

For payment processing, Leverage used of Stripe combined with Chargify. Chargify doesn't require data to be entered manually, which was great for customers. The program even notified customers when their credit card expired.

The email list was maintained in Mailchimp, which was also used to trigger the weekly newsletter.

The videos they created were hosted on the Whistia platform that gives more control than YouTube over who sees.

For aggregating email, Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks, they used Front. This tool allowed anyone on the team to answer a question and reduced customer response time.

Since having a chat on the site is interesting to connect with the customer, Smooch was used for this purpose.

ChartMogul was used to evaluate some Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) such as growth and User Lifetime (LTV).

These are some tools used. To know all, it is worth taking a look at the book.

What do other authors say about it?

In the book "Make Time", Jake Knapp and John Zeratsky say that when prioritizing a task, you must choose the "highlight" of the day, in other words, the activity that takes an hour to an hour and a half to be done.

In "The Triad of Time", the author Christian Barbosa draws attention when it comes to balance time: avoid occupations by a succession of mechanically established activities.

In his work, "Focus", Daniel Goleman says that the more our focus is interrupted, the worse our performance against the task we are performing. On the other hand, our ability to learn improves with focused attention.

Okay, but how can I apply this to my life?

Leverage's first year story is already an inspiration for you to start your own business. Each solution presented here can also be applied directly to the needs of your business.

So, how about downloading one of these apps or start using one of these programs and start optimizing and automating your tasks?

Value your time more, increase your productivity and focus on your core activities using Ari Meisel and Nick Sonnenberg tips.

Did you like this summary of the book "Idea to Execution"?

Are you ready to use all these advices to build your company and optimize your processes? Did you find this content useful? Leave you feedback in the comments!

In addition, if you got interested to learn all their history with Leverage, the book's full edition is available for purchase by clicking on the image below:

Book 'Idea to Execution'