Devouring A Red Goldfish

Devouring a Red Goldfish

This article is going to promote my friend Roger Burnett and Stan Phelps’ new book, “Red Goldfish Promo Edition: How Promotional Products Leverage Purpose to Increase Impact.” If I do a good job, you’ll click that link and buy it.

Wait! Don’t go.

I know, I know. A book review. Oh geez.

But if you hold on for a few minutes, I’ll make the case as to why this could be the most impactful book for your business that you will ever read.

That’s a bold statement.

But here’s the thing. I’ve read the book. You have not. That gives me a slight edge in the discussion don’t you think?

Let’s Get A Few Things Out of the Way

For starters, I don’t personally know Stan, but I’ve known Roger for a number of years. At one point, I was his t-shirt printer. Later, we were both PromoKitchen Chefs together working to improve the promotional marketing industry in that awesome thought leadership group.

He has been a presenter for my Shirt Lab educational efforts over the years, speaking at the first Shirt Lab Live event in Columbus in 2018, again with our online Shirt Lab Summit this year in June, and most recently helped us in our Shirt Lab Tribe with a private presentation on “Podcasting as a Business Development Tool.”

This past week on my new podcast “Success Stories”, Roger was the guest and discussed many of the points outlined in the “Red Goldfish” book.

The Impact of Ideas: Red Goldfish

For me, reading books is like making new friends. Each has their own style, personality, and can help shape ideas and future actions.

Roger has been an advocate of building purpose-driven businesses for a number of years. We’ve had numerous discussions on this topic, both in a professional setting and just simply chatting.

Personally, I use books to sharpen the knife-edge of my thinking. And with “Red Goldfish”, there probably is no better whetstone available if you sell or market promotional products. It’s that good.

Let’s dig into why.

No Book Spoilers Here

Arguably, Roger is a better writer than me. So, I won’t dilute his message by paraphrasing, and as I truly want you to read the book I’m not going to give many quotes away. Ok, maybe a few.

However, the book title needs some explanation and I think it sets up the content of the book beautifully.

What is a “Red Goldfish” anyway?

For starters, there is a series of business books that are themed around different colors of goldfish. Author Stan Phelps started the series back in 2012 with his first crowdsourced book, “Purple Goldfish.” From there, they have been many other books with colored goldfish in their titles, and these are worth a read too.

Goldfish = Business

“A goldfish represents something small, but despite its size, something with the ability to make a big difference.”

Goldfish are animals that grow and thrive according to a few factors that either enhance or inhibit their growth. These actual parallel to businesses.

There are five factors:

  1. Size of the Environment = The Market
  2. Number of Goldfish = Competition
  3. Quality of the Water = The Economy
  4. Their first 120 days of life = Startup Phase or Product Launch
  5. Genetic Makeup = Differentiation

Here’s the key quote from the book: “It is our belief that purpose is becoming the ultimate differentiator. How are you becoming for-purpose in your business? In goldfish terms, how are you standing out in a sea of sameness?”

Red = Purpose

For many, aspiration equals dissatisfaction. When we no longer can tolerate something, are unsatisfied with the current status quo, or seek to make a significant change or betterment…that inner-drive propels us to do more.

When there is a purpose to something, that helps focus intent like a laser beam into better results from actions. In the book “Red Goldfish”, the authors cite research from Ernst & Young, “EY Pursuit of Purpose Study” and they list ten benefits.

10 Benefits of Purpose

  1. Purpose instills strategic clarity
  2. Purpose guides both short-term decisions and long-term strategy at every level of an organization, encouraging leaders to think about systems holistically.
  3. Purpose guides choice about what not to do as well as what to do.
  4. Purpose channels innovation.
  5. Purpose is a force for and a response to transformation.
  6. Purpose motivates people through meaning, not fear. It clarifies the long-term outcome so people understand the need for change rather than feeling it is imposed upon them.
  7. Purpose is also a response to societal pressures on business to transform, to address global challenges, and to take a longer-term, more comprehensive approach to growth and value.
  8. Purpose taps a universal need to contribute, to feel a part of society.
  9. Purpose recognizes differences and diversity. Purpose builds bridges.
  10. Purpose helps individuals/teams work across silos to pursue a single, compelling aim.

So why is red the color of purpose?

The inspiration for red for the book title and link to purpose comes from the (RED) campaign created by Bono and Bobby Shriver in response to the AIDS epidemic in Africa. It is about purpose-driven change and the effort and tremendous outcome and impact that (RED) has made on the world.

“The appeal of (RED) was clear. It connected organizations with a purpose beyond their own profit. Some partners went as far as manufacturing products or packaging in African countries, generating jobs and opportunities for local people.

We are using the color red similarly. How are you going above and beyond the transaction to connect purpose to your promotional products?”

Why “Red Goldfish” Is The Book You Need

So hopefully you are intrigued by now to have already clicked the link and placed that book in your Amazon cart. Click here and to do that now.

Still need convincing?

Roger and Stan have researched and have provided 250 examples of purpose-driven, impactful business ideas. These are not simply tales of a company stroking a check to some charity.


These are actual examples of choices that businesses have made for the greater good of the communities they serve, and the follow-up impact that those decisions have had.

Aspiration is dissatisfaction.

What change does your community need? “Red Goldfish” is a guidebook that illustrates the roadmap for you to make a difference.

Isn’t your business more than putting logos on stuff?

You have tremendous power in your hands to make a difference if you choose to flip the switch, roll up your sleeves, and get to work.

“Red Goldfish” can be the map for that journey. That’s why I want you to read it.

The world needs your contributions.

“The secret to getting ahead is getting started.” – Mark Twain

“Better three hours too soon than a minute too late.” – William Shakespeare

“People seldom do what they believe in. They do what is convenient. Then repent.” – Bob Dylan

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