“No one here gets out alive…” J. Morrison
Hey, do you like roller coasters?
I grew up during a great time in American “fun zone” culture — the LA County Fair had a permanent Fun Zone built in the 1930s (long before safety codes were invented)…
… and you took your life in your hands on every ride.
Man, it was fun.
There was The Hammer — two flimsy capsules of thin mesh swinging in opposite directions at the end of steel posts sixty feet long. You climbed in, held on tight, and spent ten minutes barely missing the other capsule as you went round and round and round…
There was The Wheel of Death — a 90-foot-in-diameter round floor, with loosely welded-on cages along the edge, that spun around generating huge G-force, while the floor slowly tilted to a 90-degree angle. Forbidden to leave our cages, we felt obligated to crawl (cheeks flapping our ears and eyeballs bulging) from cage to cage… because, you know, none of the rides had anything remotely resembling a seat belt or restaining device of any kind.
… there were the roller coasters.
Two of ’em. Count ’em. Two of the nastiest, most rickety and dangerous rails of decapitation and maiming ever erected by a crew of ex-con Depression-era drunks.
Good God, those were great rides.
You kids today have no idea how much fun there was to be had paying 25 cents to risk your life like that.
We’d ride ’em til we puked.
And after an afternoon of cotton candy, purple crushed ice, popcorn, hot dogs and gallons of Coke… well, you get the picture.
You ever been on a roller coaster like that?
The one still standing in Santa Cruz will lop your arm off if you lose concentration. I hear there’s one in New Jersey (one of the first ever built) that still routinely tosses people into the parking lot on one wicked turn.
Love to hear your story. Post it here, in the comments section.
… on to the Tip O’ The Week.
The reason I’ve been thinking about roller coasters is — of course — because of the multiple “rides” we’ve all been sharing these past weeks.
The economy: Roller coaster.
The state of Internet marketing: Roller coaster.
Politics: Roller coaster.
General anxiety about the state of the world: Roller coaster.
Makes ya wish for the good old 1990s, when the biggest scandal around was about that Bubba getting frisky in the Oval Office.
Ah, those were the days.
I’ve had some EXTRA, bonus roller coaster rides lately, too. I’ve got two people close to me with serious health issues (the kind that make your stomach twist from worry).
You know that quote: If you wanna make God laugh, make plans.
And that recent launch we pulled off…
… almost wasn’t pulled off. Because we nearly expired from the effort. I haven’t been that exhausted and overwhelmed by unrelenting deadlines and demands since… well, since never before.
Nevertheless, it’s also been a hugely creative time for me.
This is one of Nature’s perverse little jokes: The worst the situation… the better the writer.
We all need crucibles to bounce against to trigger our best work.
Now, this week’s tip comes from a flurry of mentoring moments I’ve been handing out in the Simple Writing System membership site. (If you ignored your opportunity to participate in this breakthrough mentoring program… well, you should forever hang your head in shame and despair. It is just an amazing resource of shaing, learning and networking. Never been anything like it before. Probably will go into history as the Woodstock of Mentoring programs, never to be repeated…)
One of the more common trouble spots of many marketers… especially in the Information Age…
… centers on the uncomfortable fact that, often, you have to talk about yourself.
You’re part of the package. The author, the expert, the coach, the guru, the whatever. In order to make your case, you gotta stand up and (essentially) do some world-class self-aggrandizing.
Some might call it bragging.
Regardless, it’s often the toughest job you’ll ever have as a marketer. I’ve known some Hall Of Fame braggarts in my time (Halbert counted “finding new ways of self-aggrandizement” as one of his top hobbies)…
… but mostly, marketers run into a brick wall of doubt and shyness when they discover they’ve got to tout themselves.
Here is what I wrote to a student who was frozen by fear over the need to “go there”:
We ALL have trouble writing for our own stuff. I HATE writing for my own products. It’s a pain to examine myself the same brutal way I examine clients…
… because it’s tough to get out of your own box.
The answer, however, is frustratingly simple: You CAN do it.
You just try.
And you try again. Until you get it right.
And then you challenge what you believe you’ve discovered. Take a nap or a walk or a shower (I use all of these to let things “work themselves out in my unconscious”)…
… and come back and be hard-core on yourself and everything you’ve written. Not knocking yourself down — just digging past the easy answers, for the good stuff.
This is why we say — with honesty — that great salesmen lead better lives. They engage in the Zen arts of self-reflection and meditation (even if they have no idea they’re doing it)…
… and they seek self awareness and the clear, brutal honestly of reality.
You can do this.
Just know that it’s tough for all of us… but once you FIND that elusive, groove, you’re off to the races. You literally explode from your box, and the stuff just flows.
I’ve been doing this all my adult life. I’ve taught people who loathed any kind of self examination to do it anyway.
You can do this. Stay with it.
That’s the tip: Few can talk about themselves easily.
You just get over your fear… and find your groove.
And I’ll tell you something else: Once you do get past your fears and reluctance…
… it’s like a weight has been lifted from your shoulders.
Marketing — especially in today’s Web 2.0 confession-fest — thrives on honesty and self-discovery and openess. That’s not the image outsiders have of marketers… but it’s true.
This simple piece of advice has been the foundation of my success ever since I left my old slacker-self (who is still sitting on that slacker couch deep in my unconscious, somewhere, wondering when I’m gonna stop all this ambition nonsense and get back to terminal goofing off): I can do it.
I didn’t believe it. I did it anyway, despite my disbelief.
And as I gained confidence, I started “doing” everything that had seemed so elusive to me before.
Give it a try.
And tell me your roller coaster stories.
P.S. Hard times call for more resources, and buckling down with better info and advice.
The Radio Rant Coaching Club is still cooking on high heat, and you’re still invited. I think you can still get a free “try it and see” month, too. Go here to get the details: