Monday, 10:09 pm
“Living well is the best revenge.” George Herbert (1593-1633)
Time to reveal the answer to last week’s burning question: “What do you think is the single most powerful motivation driving many entrepreneurs to outrageous success?”
… allow me to humbly praise everyone who took a shot at the answer.
At last count, there were over sixty responses.
Some were great… some were wild-ass stabs that missed by a mile… and some were just plain weird.
Again: There is no real “wrong” answer. If you had a driving motivation — or anything else goosing you in the right direction — vastly different than what I’m about to reveal…
… then great. It proves the adage that there are many ways to skin a cat.
… during my decades in the front-line trenches of the marketing world…
… I haven’t seen a great variety in the methods used to really make it big.
Mind you, I hear all kinds of interesting ideas about how it’s done… from good-hearted folks who haven’t done it yet.
They really, really, really want their worldview to be true, too.
They want success to happen because you’re a good person, with a mission to accomplish.
Sadly, this isn’t the way things often work.
The most dangerous time of any entrepreneur’s career…
… is in the very first months. When the pressure is on, the risks are great, and there isn’t much of a cheerleading section rooting you on.
During the early stages, it’s super-easy to stop and quit. No one will blame you. Nice try, dude — you did your best.
Now, welcome back to Slacker City. And let’s forget all about those nasty dreams of independence and wealth…
No. You need a particularly potent brew of juice in your system to power through the unrelenting obstacles sent by the universe to crush all rookie business owners.
There were some GREAT answers in the comments. Don’t get me wrong.
But most of them were about how you continue your success, AFTER you’ve attained it. And how you enjoy and enlarge on the opportunities offered by a proven entrepreneurial adventure.
Once you break free of the initial onslaught of trouble, horror and monstrous soul-killing problems…
… and you get some real traction…
… then you can shake yourself like a dog emerging from the swamp…
… breathe deep and fill your lungs with the rarified air of freedom and wealth and fame…
… and start focusing on your next subset of goals. Like saving the world, or helping others do what you did, or creating new opportunity for your brethern still slaving under the lash of The Man.
However, you gotta GET out of that swamp, first.
The independence attracted me, and was a factor in deciding to say “Screw it, I’m gonna give it a try.”
But I didn’t believe I could actually have true independence… until it became a reality. I had to pinch myself, constantly, when it looked like I was gonna pull it off. I knew it could be taken away again, without notice.
What fired me up every morning, especially when things backslid and looked bleak…
… was a very passionate juice coursing through my veins.
DaveC was close, with his post in the comments.
But GregJ nailed it early. He wrote “Someone told them they couldn’t do it or it won’t work and it pissed them off.”
I don’t know if Greg knew this from experience, or was guessing, or had been reading my stuff for awhile and remembered me broaching this very subject before.
All the positive answers were good. I mean that. I’m a positive guy, and all my goals are positive. I have no enemies that I know of, either in life or in business. I wish harm to no one.
… in the fevered early days of my race to independence…
… with risks and dangers everywhere (I had zero savings, no safety net, no Plan B)…
… I needed STRONG mojo.
I needed… (blare of trumpets)…
Let me tell you — there’s a LOT of strength and fortitude to be harnessed for your cojones in being royally pissed off.
For me, it was the first copywriter I ever met. Eileen. I remember every detail of her vividly… and I think of her often.
Especially when cashing big checks.
All long-time readers know this story. I was a lowly, starving paste-up artist in a Silicon Valley art department… and I’d never realized that someone was getting paid to write all those words I was aligning on my camera-ready art boards.
The lifestyle fascinated me. To be able to rake in fat bucks just… writing? Are you kidding me?
So I asked Eileen how you get to be a copywriter.
“It’s too hard,” she hissed. “You’ll never figure it out.”
This was not a nice woman.
A hot ember burst into full flame deep inside of me at that very moment. You’re telling me… no? You’re judging me? You’re withholding information because you feel freaking superior to me?
I was almost thirty at the time. And I’d never felt that kind of passion before. In fact, I thought internal heat that intense only happened in the sack, from the ancient biological urge to merge.
This was new.
It was a startling emotional response. It energized me in a strange, new way. Like Spidey being bitten by the radioactive spider.
And I stole her copy of “Tested Advertising Methods” (by John Caples)… and read enough before she stole it back to realize I COULD become a copywriter.
Whether I WOULD or not was yet to be determined.
I had nothing but a glimpse of what “might be”.
Now, I was strangely contenet with being a slacker at that time. No ambition. No dreams. No plans.
Just bouncing on the surface of life like so much jetsom and flotsam.
And I’ll testify right here and now: I might have continued to slack off…
… if Eileen (that gorgeous bitch) hadn’t off-handedly challenged my self-worth.
The casualness of her put-down was extra fuel for the fire.
The heat roiling inside me was tinged with humiliation, and the realization that — wow — she might be right.
And I’d never know… unless I got my act together and went after it.
It took another two years for me to cobble together a thin “bag of tricks”, and hone my skills to a point where I felt — okay — I’m diving in.
I never said “I’ll show you.” I never spoke to Eileen or saw her again.
Didn’t need to.
It’s easy to argue with people about your “worth” and your plans.
But it’s empty yapping.
The big revelation I had that day… was I needed to get my ass in gear.
Not with words.
Again: Money didn’t motivate me. Never has. (I’ve turned down more money in my career — by refusing to take jobs that didn’t interest me, or by protecting my outrageous need for massive quantities of free time — than I’ve actually earned.)
The concept of participating in business, and yet being independent intrigued me… but I had no personal experience to help me visualize what, exactly, independence would feel like.
It wasn’t enough of a driving force to help me get up after being knocked down… and get immediately back in the game.
For me… and for many others I know… it’s a sort of “snapping point”.
One second before, you were your old, slacker self.
And one second after the spark… you’re someone else.
Juiced with a fever that won’t be doused until you prove your detractors wrong.
Remember — I never saw Eileen again. My passionate drive was internalized.
I don’t care if she knows what happened to me or not. I don’t care.
Heck — I’d hug her, if I ever met her again.
Look — I can’t tattle on my colleagues. You’ll have to take my word that I know about many of their deep, dark motivations.
I can tell you my old pal Gary Halbert had his “snapping” moment. His family took great pleasure in every failure he encountered in his attempts to break the code on creating wealth.
He failed a LOT, too.
It got him down. But it never finished him off.
Because he enjoyed the broiling motivation that can only come from being told “you can’t do it.”
Not everyone reacts this way.
Most slump, when faced with failure or challenges to their dreams, and shuffle off in defeat.
There’s no shame in that. The life of an entrepreneur is often mean and brutish and short… and it’s not for everyone.
However, for some… there very much IS shame in letting others define you.
And it burns hot.
It’s great to want to help others, and make the world a better place. But you gotta get to a point where you have the power and money to DO that, before you realize those dreams.
Bill Gates, I’m willing to bet, wasn’t giving billions to needy causes before he had multiple more billions in his pocket. Starting out, he probably gave a bit to charity, and mostly as a tax deduction. (Not doubting Bill’s generosity, nor his committment to help out. Just saying he couldn’t DO it until he became successful.)
And the US swim team may or may not have beaten France in the relay during the Olympics without the extra juice of France’s insult beforehand.
But the US team had that quote from the French team captain (“We came here to smash the Americans”) on their lockers. They weren’t expected to win.
Tell me I can’t do something.
I dare you.
Love to hear your further comments and ruminating on this subject…
P.S. In case you haven’t heard…
… my biz partner Stan and I are going to Chicago later this month…
… and we’ve decided to go a day early, so we can offer a one-time, one-day Hot Seat super-intensive workshop.
A Hot Seat is where we corner you, and dive deeply into every problem you have in business. And fix them.
It’s a transformative process, and for a horde of entrepreneurs, small business owners, and online marketers… a customized Hot Seat with me was the trigger for putting their success on overdrive.
Details: September 25, all day long, in downtown Chicago. We’ll give you the hotel info when you sign up… IF you score a seat.
There’s only room for 5 attendees. Hot Seats are incredibly intense and thorough, and we cannot do more than 5 in a day. So that’s the limit.
We’ve already emailed our list about this. When we held a one-day Hot Seat event in New York city in July, it sold out like that.
So if this is something you even think might appeal to you… go to this link for more details: