if you’re graduating

May 26th, 2016

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read this from Mark Manson:

Screw Your Passion


and read this from Gary Vaynerchuck:

What To Do After You Graduate College



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comfort’s the enemy of growth.

our thinking and life is driven by habits.  a big change in your life requires a big change in your thinking (first), and then your doing.   people and businesses love to sit around basically doing the same thing year after year, hoping for more…when in reality they’re afraid of going ‘all in’ to make the changes necessary to create the breakthroughs.

change is scary for most people.

change requires uncertainty, by it’s very nature.  again, very scary for most people.

you have to embrace the fear and learn how to be ok with uncertainty, not run from it, if you want to go big in life or work.

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i’m feeling jealous.  it happens in the technology world all the time, to everyone, since there’s always a new hot company, a new big fundraising round or exit, or a new big publicity stunt.

it doesn’t happen to me as often as it used to when i was younger, but it happens.   i doubt 99% of humans can avoid it?

we all get jealous.  whichever business icon you see out there (elon musk, richard branson, etc) probably gets jealous of someone else’s family life.  a super happy parent might get jealous of a rich person, or of other parents with kids who had a music prodigy, or a million other parenting reasons..  or one entrepreneur of another who’s younger, did it faster, bigger, whatever.

whoever you’re jealous of is probably jealous themselves of a slim person.  or someone who can grow a beard.  or run fast, jump high, dance, make music, clothes, doesn’t have to deal with paparazzi… there’s an endless list of what you COULD be jealous about.

when it happens to me, i let it fuel my ambition, learning from others, and i also practicing ‘changing the station’ and think about all the amazingly happy parts of my life.

because if you “compare and despair” and let it rule you, it’ll suck any joy you do have out of your life.  it’s a no-win game to play with yourself.

it’s all a paradox

March 31st, 2015

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need to make more money?   you need to work harder to get that idea done.

or maybe you need to stop working, so you can come up with a better idea.

kids frustrated or fighting?   you need to give them more structure and discipline.

or maybe they’re just rebelling against the current structure and need more freedom.

in a troubled relationship?  you need to take a break from it and refind your priorities.

or maybe you need to go all-in and fully commit.

there’s a reason why you will always get conflicting advice for any problem you have – life’s a paradox, and there are no fixed ‘rules’ you can rely on.  well, maybe being honest with yourself and others.

the point is you need to learn to feel the best thing to do for you in each situation, not depend on others’ advice.

this is why anxiety is such a problem, because it blocks you from listening to you, and why fear-based decisions point people in the wrong direction.


late nights

March 29th, 2015

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the work never ends as a dad, and especially a dad-entrepreneur.  it’s 10:30pm and i finished getting kids to bed, dog walked / etc around 10pm.  then spent half an hour fiddling with email and responding to a couple of webinar comments.

and i have to get up at 5:30am tomorrow to help everyone get ready for school…

starting & growing a business can be a lot of work – with great rewards.

a family is a lot of work – with great rewards.

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having a family has been the #1 motivator to me to grow my business and income.  there’s nothing like having bills to pay, and needing (wanting desperately) to get a bigger house, private schools, medical, food, etc bills paid to light a fire under my ass!

in other words, when i was alone, i didn’t have enough purpose or passion around making money to really go for it in a big way.  but getting married and having (a lot) more kids did that for me.

in fact, i realize – as i work on the sequel to Predictable Revenue around massive revenue growth, like Zenefits growing from $1m in revenue to $100m+ in just two years?! – i’ve been following a lot of the same principles personally that the companies i’m writing about have done too.

small bites

March 27th, 2015

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i haven’t written on here for what seems a LONG TIME – mostly because i’m so focused on both my “” and “dad-of-5-and-growing” and “husband of 1” jobs.

i work my ass off all week, though only about 20-30 hours is at   so by the time i have free time, i’m rarely feeling like writing!

so i thought i’d try just posting some bites up here more regularly.

as an experiment.

starting today.

luckily i have a great team of support all around, between work and family, which has allowed us to grow income 10x over the past 3-4 years, and family size 3x, while working the same amount and actually having a lot more fun.

i know a lot of people are scared of having kids for the first time, or more than 1-2 kids.  i get it, i’ve been there.  but when you go ‘all-in’ (as my friend dr. phil would say) it all works out.

i’ve found in growing a business the best way for me to create financial wealth, while in growing a family’s been the best way to create emotional wealth.

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on july 1st, 12:03a in the morning (just after midnight), our new baby daughter, Darcy Elizabeth Antoinette Ross, was born (9lbs, 1oz)!

thankfully it was an easy birth!  (Pari – who was 10lbs 1oz, was a lot harder).  darcy’s been home with us for a week, and she and mom are doing great.   she’s luckily a very easy baby.  she joins our other kids at home, Aurora (11), Valentin (9), Maverick (5), Pari (2).   we also have two more kids still in an adoption process.

i’m making July a family month, taking a break from work, which includes a new book with Jason Lemkin, The Predictable Revenue Guide To Tripling Your Sales.

and some pix…

baby darcy birth shots



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New ebook (free)…

Ebook cover - triple your sales



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6 Harsh Truths That Will Make You a Better Person

well done sir!


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i mentioned before that i’ve begun taking my bigger kids on business trips (valentin to boston), and over on, i put up a new post that aurora put together (with my help laying it out) about ‘how to make a boring conference fun‘ for kids.   pretty neat!

check it out here, and here’s a video of her on stage with me:

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Why I Work 20-30 Hours A Week

October 2nd, 2013

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Over on

Why I Work 20-30 Hours A Week

predictable revenue inside sales ideas insights hours work too hard

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it’s hard to believe how fast the last year has flown; but we’re about to fly to China to adopt and pick up our new son, Maverick Henry Lilei Lu Ross!

maverick henry lilei lu ross

we leave May 23rd for China, and will be back June 7… more to come 🙂


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i’d never heard of Alan Watts until i saw this, but this video was getting passed around – it’s short, sweet and he’s very eloquent.  today when my buddy Randy Hamilton forwarded it over again, it reminded me i should share it here…

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By Maria Ross, PebbleStorm Guest Blogger

[Aaron]: I met Maria Ross (no relation to moi) in 2007, when she was doing marketing for a client in a small, but corporate-y software company.  Since she left that job four years ago to do consulting on her own, she’s written a couple of books, appeared on places like MSNBC, NPR, ABC News, and learned a lot about the value of mixing personal details & interests with her work… 

When I began doing branding consulting, I made a clear separation between my business and personal lives.  Working for many years in Corporate America taught me this was the only way things worked – don’t share details about your personal life with clients, it’s “unprofessional”.

Since I started my Unique Genius business over four years ago, times are different.  This article is about how openly sharing personal experiences can add value to a business.   I’ve been evolving my brand (and brain!) to blend more of my personal passions – acting, writing, wine and even inspiration – into my work.  Since branding is all about telling a good story, I can easily find ways to apply my personal experiences to clients (and so can you).

For example, when I started some people said “You should not mention that you’re an actress on your business page.  People may think you are not committed to your branding work.”  But it turns out this little tidbit draws people in and also interests the media.  It helps me stand out.  Engaging in acting from time to time proves my creativity and brings a unique perspective to my business work.  It’s even part of my brand: blending creativity with practical business savvy.

Recently, I wrote a personal book called Rebooting My Brain: How a Freak Aneurysm Reframed My Life.  In it, I share how I almost died from a ruptured brain aneurysm six months after starting my business and the chronicle of my recovery and “return” back into my life.  I wanted to share valuable lessons learned, but I’m also passionate about educating people on the surprising and often unseen effects of brain injury.  While I made a miraculous recovery, I still had to adapt to cognitive and psychological impairments that no one can see but me.

Initially, I was hesitant to share with business contacts that I’d had a brain aneurysm.  I thought clients might think my skills were compromised.  But it turned out people cared; they wanted to know more about how I recovered and built my thriving business back up again.  They were amazed that I’ve written two books since then and have also not lost my public speaking savvy.  In many ways, they see these as signs of my ethic, determination and guts – and these are qualities they want from someone they are going to hire.  With the release of Rebooting My Brain, I actually have a richer connection with my clients and community.

Many more people now are starting their own “microbusiness,” and “personal brands” reign supreme.  Yes, your business has to offer value and show results, but people want to know, like and trust YOU as a person before they do business with you.  Over the years, I’ve learned to embrace that my business really is just me, and if people don’t like me, they are not going to enjoy working with me (and vice versa) no matter what I can deliver.

The name of the brand game today is approachability, humanity, and connection.  People don’t want to hire automatons.  Feel free to bring your natural voice, insights and experiences into the mix – just try to find ways to tie some of that into audience value.  I often cite cool movies, great restaurants or playful ads that I adore personally with my community to showcase certain points I’m making.

I hear you saying…”but I am targeting alpha-male executives in big corporations, they don’t want to hear anything personal.” You are right.  They want results.  Bring something about yourself to the table without going off-topic; you’ll add real value.

With the release of my personal book, my business relationships have actually become stronger.  My community gets to see a new side of me.  Anyone can be a brand strategist, but how many people have survived (and thrived) after a brain aneurysm?! Plus, it’s helped me branch out in my work: I’m now asked to speak not just on branding to business audiences but on health literacy and the patient experience to medical audiences.

There is more synergy:  I did a presentation to business owners about the branding lessons you can learn from brain injury! It was funny, memorable and most of all, full of practical advice for their businesses.

As you build your Unique Genius or passion business, think about the answers to these questions (jot down the answers on a piece of paper if you can right now):

  1. How do your personal experiences, talents and passions add value to others?
  2. How can your experiences shape YOUR business, YOUR life, YOUR mission?

Even if you don’t yet have your own business, try to incorporate more of you into your current job in a way that adds value.

PebbleStorm guest blogger, Maria Ross is chief brand strategist and creator of Red Slice, a digital elixir of stories and strategies to boost your business, your brand and your brain.  She advises start-ups, solopreneurs and small growth companies on how to craft brands that engage, inform and delight customers.  Maria is the author of Branding Basics for Small Business and the just released humorous and heartfelt memoir Rebooting My Brain.  A dynamic speaker, she is highly sought-after to present keynotes and workshops and has appeared on MSNBC, NPR, ABC News and in Entrepreneur, The LA Times, Seattle Business and Columbus CEO. 

More About Maria Ross:

About Unique Genius:

There’s a process to discovering your purpose and turning it into a passion business. Find out the latest at

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Welcome Pari Charlotte Ross!

March 12th, 2012

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She’s here!

After 12 hours at the hospital (some easy, some hard), Pari Charlotte Ross was born at exactly midnight (00:00) on February 26, about two weeks ago.  She was 10 lbs, 1 oz (wow!) She’s healthy, beautiful and we are all enjoying finally having her here at home.

Both Mom and Pari are doing great, and her big brother and sister have been excited to meet, hold and kiss her too.

One of my greatest pleasures as a new father – and of my life – has been our quiet daddy-daughter time in the middle of the night (often 12am-6am), when everyone else is sleeping.  I love when Pari and I lie back on the couch and she sleeps soundly on my chest for a few hours.

Sometimes I just listen to her breath, sometimes I read a book, watch a movie or go to sleep myself.  Any which way, I’m so grateful for every moment of it, since I know, with two older kids, how fast she will grow up and I won’t be able to do this anymore.

Keep an eye out soon for a first “Unique Child” post about the decisions we made and are making about bringing up Pari, including why we’re in no rush to have Pari stop sleeping physically on us and why we’re planning on having her sleep with us in bed for the first year (it can make an emotional difference that lasts a lifetime).

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if you are someone who’s homeless or can’t buy enough food or the simple basics of life, this post isn’t for you.  if you can buy enough food, have a roof and the other basics, read on…

don’t you ever get sick of your own self, your friends, your family?  here’s what you sound like:

i need to make more money, my friend are making more than me, i am running out of money, i don’t want to ask family for money, i don’t want to lose the money i have, i put a million dollars on my vision board five years ago when the secret came out so where’s my money?he’s a jackass why does he make more money than me, oh shit look at the size of that rock on her ring, that bitch she married him for his money, i need to make more than him/them, why did i make that STUPID investment and lost so much money, i hate my ex- for taking my money, they have so much money why don’t we have it, i wish i had more money, i just need more money,  i just want to buy a house and then i’ll be happy, i just want to get rid of this house that’s such a moneypit and then i’ll be happy, why don’t i have more money, if i had more money then i’d be happy, if i had more money then i’d travel more, once i make enough money then i’ll be respected, if i had enough money i’d quit this stupid job, if i had enough money i’d start my own business, once i have enough money i’d sell this business, my friend sold his business for more than i sold mine, once i have enough money then i can get married, once i have enough money then i can have kids, i’d be a better parent if i had more money and could buy them private tutoring, crap i need a lot more money for private school those bills are killer, i want enough money to travel first class because coach isn’t good enough, i wish i had enough money for a nanny so they could help me care for my kids, i need money to travel to see my kids since they don’t call me, why don’t my kids have enough money, i’m worried about my kids’ money, my kids are making stupid money decisions, why are my kids worried so much about money?  money, money, money, money, money, money, money…

now repeat that ten thousand times.

hasn’t that been going on for years?  well it’s not helping you make more money, and it’s for sure making your life more negative.

the irony in your life is that no matter how much you have made, you have RARELY been happy about money (yours or others’)…maybe for a few weeks or months or couple of years after a big raise, windfall or selling a company.  but then the anxiety grows back slowly, like a dandelion you can’t kill.  

so here are some steps and ideas for you, in three categories: 1) structural changes, 2) money education and 3) retraining your attitude (especially important if you’re already wealthy).

you can make structural changes, such as:

  1. lighten the load and downsize your life & expenses – do you really need to pay that much rent, go out that much, live in that expensive area, pay for private school, etc?  or are you just keeping up with the jonses?  move to a smaller apartment, buy a cheap used car, move to an area with great public schools (friends say colorado, for example) – wouldn’t kids rather and go to public school and have relaxed and loving parents, rather than stressed out parents in an expensive area?
  2. drop some expensive activities – your kids are not going to fail in life if they don’t know piano, calculus and french!  stop being stage parents rushing your kids to activity after activity, pushing them like that horrible tiger mom woman (yes, HORRIBLE, i said it); you are just trying to live your own dreams through them with an excuse of ‘i want them to succeed.’  in other words, you are driving them to make you feel happy and successful, not to make them happy or successful in life.  when you push them that hard, you’re setting them up for a life of low self-esteem, because they never feel good enough to you, no matter how much they accomplish/money they make/prestige they get.
  3. start a fulfilling business 
  4. just get a job  (if you’ve struggled finding a job in guangzhhou, here’s a great post by my friend Rich Walker on Why It Seems There Are No Jobs Out There)
  5. zen habits on how to save money
educate yourself about money:
  2. read helpful money blog, like Get Rich Slowly or ramit sethi’s I Will Teach You To Be Rich.
  3. 200+ years ago, benjamin franklin had fantastic advice, such as “Questioner: won’t these heavy taxes quite ruin the country? How shall we be ever able to pay them? What would you advise us to?”  “Benjamin Franklin: These taxes are very heavy, and if those laid on by the government were the only ones we had to pay, we might more easily discharge them; but we have many others, and much more grievous to some of us. We are taxed twice as much by our idleness, three times as much by our pride, and four times as much by our folly…” (so true!)

ever heard the phrase, “wherever you go, that’s where you are”?  unless you retrain your brain and attitude, it won’t matter how much money you make, you will still have a lot of anxiety.  ways to change/retrain your attitude:

  1. shift your mind to the good stuff!  make lists of all the best things in your life when fears come up.
  2. clear out money fears by writing out lists of as many fears around money as you can, like “i’m afraid…”.  this brings hidden fears and anxieties out from ‘under the bed’ – like monsters into the light where you can see they aren’t so bad.  do this consistently when your money fears come up and i promise they’ll relax.  i discovered most or all of my hidden money fears were based around a lack of self-confidence, aka versions of ‘i’m not sure if i can do “it”‘.  when i discovered that, i saw ‘oh, that’s not true – i know i can do “it”‘ and helped dissapate ’em.
  3. make a list of all your assets and resources (you have more than you realize), and family does count
  4. make a list of all the ways you can make money, with your experiences, consulting, products, anything.
  5. listen to this brian johnson  interview (back to basics – meditation, health, family, + keep a 10 year vision)
  6. listen to marc allen interview (affirmations, patience, success through laziness)
  7. remember life isn’t supposed to be easy, and the value of your life is not determined by your job, looks, or financial worth, but by the memories, lessons in love and growth as a person.
list-making advice: some people say make a gratitude list every night.  i think that’s great to get in the habit, but if you make sure you do it every day, it becomes a chore rather than helpful. i’d suggest that whenever you feel anxiety or fears or jealousy come up, that’s when you make the lists or practice shifting your attiude and letting go of fears.

questions, comments?  what are you sick of?  what else works for you?

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with all the media, blogging and positive psychology study around happiness, i’ve noticed now that people have a hidden belief or assumption that you’re supposed to be happy all. the. time.  hell no!  that’s inhuman, unnatural, and not the purpose of your life.  you are supposed to feel the whole range of emotions, including ones like anger and sadness – just in moderation 🙂

and, with the 4-hour workweek movement, the idea is spreading that life can and should be easy all. the. time.  and if it’s not, or you’re – god forbid – angry, sad or frustrated…then something is wrong, and you’re falling behind.   it’s as much a guilt-creation as freedom-creation movement.

the value of life is not determined by your job, looks, or financial worth, but by the memories, lessons in love and growth as a person.  somewhere/how in our society, we lost sight of this.. perhaps because its easier to turn away from the hard challenges of life (in work, love, parenting, health, etc) rather than face them and grow through them.   life isn’t supposed to be easy – that’s not where most of your growth comes from.  haven’t you grown as a person the most from the hardest parts of your life?

So – happy Thanksgiving!  a perfect time to reflect on what is truly valuable and meaningful in your life.

a longer version of the video (take 1)…which my wife Jessica preferred!

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i’m curious – 

If you watched them both, which video do you prefer?  Longer, or shorter?

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did you leave a stable job or income to start a business?

myth: you need to work full-time on a new business.

myth: you need to raise money or spend a lot of money to start a company.  (for example, both PebbleStorm and Predictable Revenue are profitable businesses built with less than $100 out-of-pocket)

myth: jobs are bad (well, jobs aren’t bad, but your boss can be)

if it’s taking longer than you thought to get your business off the ground, and you’re stressed about money because your savings are almost out, why not get a job (or do more consulting) to fund your dreams and business?   especially if you have a family!

HELLO…you don’t need to work on a new business full-time.  and if you have a struggling business, there might be ways to cut it back and shrink it so that you can put it on part-time “simmer” while you work full or part-time.

here’s a quick video about it and the value of a job…

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I’d love to hear from you in the comments…


PS: picked up the Predictable Revenue book yet?

PPS: need help getting a job?  my friend Rich Walker (a coach/author/speaker & CEO of Efficient Technology Inc.) loves helping people redo their resumes and get great jobs.  it’s a side things for him he’s passionate about, and he’s amazing at it.  check out his post Why It Seems There Are No Jobs Out There, and find out more about him at


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my wife and friend Onna said this is their favorite thing I’ve ever written!

it’s a fun complimentary ebook for parents and kids (esp sons and dads).  i put it together as a hardcover book surprise for my son’s 7th birthday coming up, but you can enjoy it too 🙂

download Sons Love Drawing Mutant Robot Battles With Dads

feel free to pass it on to any parents who want a new fun & bonding activity with their kids…

i’m sure the principles would work for moms, daughters or whoever, just switch the robots for ponies and explosions for…well, you tell me!!

have fun,


Updated: you can now get the physical book on Amazon, check it out here.


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[Update: It’s back in stock – click here – and reached the top 0.5% of all books sold on Amazon]

If you missed it, my new book came out recently, Predictable Revenue: Turn Your Business Into A Sales Machine With The $100 Million Best Practices Of (blog post and video about it).  I’m been really happy that it was #1 in its category on, and that people have really enjoyed it and gotten big breakthroughs from it.

So, I’m sitting at my desk last week and I get an email from someone, a forwarded email with a subject of “Your order (#103-7284640-XXXXXXX)”.

I knew I had not ordered anything from Amazon recently, so I clicked the email to open and to my surprise, it said something like this:

“hey man, I ordered your book from Amazon, but I just got a note that they canceled my order.  They say they’re out of stock and don’t know when they’ll get more books.”

So I think, “WHAAAT?”

I always thought was a machine, that they had endless supply of all books, including mine.  And I thought, “how on earth is my book on back order?  It’s great that people want it, but not great that they can’t get it.”

Now, the note Amazon sent to people who ordered it didn’t say “we’ll ship it when we get more books.”  It said “we don’t know when we’ll get more books, so we are canceling your order.”  Ouch.

Then another email comes through “Your order (#104-1814074-XXXXXXX)” – another request from another CEO, basically “hey aaron, any idea how I can get some of your books for my team?  It seems Amazon is sold out.”

My reaction, “What? Another one?”

And then I look and my assistant Kristine is emailing me, saying she just got one.

And my Partner/CEO of Predictable Revenue, Inc., Marylou emails me and says she just got one… another two emails letting us know the book is on back-order.

So, we had a bit of a crisis on our hands…

Or did we?

Now it turns out that, later that day/week, we connected with other people who thought it was a good thing…as in “hey I noticed your book is on backorder, it must be a great book…I need to get it.”

So, why does everyone else think it’s “great” when my Predictable Revenue team and I are in crisis mode?

From Dr. Cialdini’s awesome book, “Influence: The Psychology Of Persuasion“, the Scarcity Principle states, “perceived scarcity will generate demand.”

Apple and Steve Jobs (RIP) were masters of this, with limited supplies of iphones and ipads creating lines around the block.

So I Unique Genius’d it and turned it from “we have a big problem” to “ok, this could be a good thing.”   (In the Unique Genius world, your challenges are actually gifts and opportunities in disguise.)

I would have liked to have left this post as a cliffhanger…”how will this turn out?”…but I procrastinated on publishing this post long enough that we’ve already fixed the issue 🙂    So…after a couple of weeks, we did get the Predictable Revenue books back up and running on Amazon so they’re back in stock and you can buy one here.

What’s Your Problem?

Did something piss you off or frustrate you today, or this weekend, or years ago?  Something small (a missing camera) or large (divorce, failed business, children challenges)…how can you flip it and re-examine what good did or could come of it?


PS: For those of you who are interested, click here for a download of Dr. Cialdini’s article in the Harvard Review titled Harnessing the Power of Persuasion, where he explains the Scarcity Principle.

PPS: What was the problem with the book supply?  Well, let me just say that it was operator error (that means I messed something up with my publishing service!)