“Please allow me to introduce myself…” (Stones, Sympathy For The Devil)
This is one of those lessons that arrived accidentally…
… and I had to stop and ruminate about it for a while before it made sense.
I’m lucky I learned it early, too.
It’s provided me with a home base of sanity when the chaos has reached shuddering crescendos and it was hard to think straight (let alone make snap decisions when crisis loomed).
You may find it obvious.
That’s fine. Just don’t go thinking it’s obvious to the rest of the mean ol’ world out there… cuz it ain’t.
Here’s the story: One of my first jobs working for Gary Halbert was to fly to Detroit… and interview a guy who’d just lost 750 pounds.
Yeah, you read that right.
Gary had an idea for a diet product based on the dramatic tale of this now-slender young man. It had to be a true story, too, cuz we found it in The National Enquirer.
I mean, it was dripping with credibility.
The photo of the kid at his heaviest made people just stare and blink. We’re talking about filling up a king-sized bed all by your lonesome, with a little tiny face lost in folds of flesh.
The last time he’d been on a scale, they hauled him over to a machine that weighs horses.
Now, there’s more to this story, of course… including my first encounter with a Michigan ice storm (I flew out there in freakin’ December, wearing my stylish, thin, warm-for-Los-Angeles leather coat… and learned a lesson about chill factor walking out of the airport, tell you what).
Also including the side-story of how the kid, now down below 200 (yep, he really had lost all that weight) went through multiple operations to remove the excess skin, which was donated to burn clinics.
And more. I can regale a room with the stories from that adventure for an hour.
But this isn’t a post about losing weight.
No, it’s much more important to your life than that.
Let’s continue: Gary and I began a rocky relationship with this kid for a few months, trying to film him for his product (a self-help course for people wanting to lose massive amounts of weight steadily)…
… while navigating the kid’s mounting arrogance, ego and control-freakism.
Gary and I loved to delve as deep as possible into the working personalities of people — that’s where the genius of all great advertising lies.
So we spent many an evening wondering what made this kid tick.
Finally, I hit on something. “You know what? Something inside him caused him to get so big in the first place.”
Stay with me. It’s not as obvious as you might think.
Halbert’s eyes lit up. We were on to something.
See, at first the kid seemed nice, loving and family oriented. Poor guy had just sort of lost track of his size, and oops, got big. Perfect spokesman for a diet product or course.
Soon, though, you could almost feel the invisible manipulation tenacles slithering around your throat as he challenged anyone who dared to question his authority and superiority on… well, everything.
Now, I’m no shrink. But we soon realized how that kid had used his obesity to control his family to the point their entire lives were devoted to his care. Like slaves.
And he liked it that way. And he shed the weight when he figured out another way to keep them under his thumb (by becoming a celebrity via fat loss).
Okay. So this kid, who at first seemed kinda sweet and loving, turned out to be harboring a nest of demons.
Well, it was one of those “a-HA!” moments where half a lifetime of puzzles suddenly were solved.
Here’s that lesson: Everybody has demons.
You, me, the mailman, your little love-bug honey, the butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker.
Not all the demons are malicious. Some are fairly innocent… like a constant craving for chocolate, which can impact your desert choices at a restaurant if you’re the type of couple who likes to share.
Or like a fear of heights, which can impact your vacation plans together.
And there are common demons, which seem to inhabit most of the population: Fear of change, greed, road rage (a cousin of feeling powerless against The Man), whack-job political suspicions, predudices… and I’m sure you can add to this list easily enough yourself.
And there are demons whose main job is keep things confusing: The passive-aggressive little trolls who excel at twisting reality into forms only they recognize.
This realization — that everybody’s got demons — at first was a huge relief.
Personally, I had always assumed (for no good reason) that if it was unclear who was at fault in any given situation involving me… I should take the blame.
It just seemed wrong to assign bad motives to other people. And I knew I had demons in my head — desires and fears and the lingering inchoate rage of barely surviving puberty and struggling in the adult world.
And I kind of enjoyed believing I lived in a world with mostly demon-free people around me.
I could handle my beasts (most of the time).
But the thought that someone else might be harboring the same impulses I had rattled me to the core. Better to pretend there were pure souls out there in the majority.
This is COMMON, folks.
This is standard operating procedure for most human minds… to not go down that rabbit hole inside your brother’s core.
It’s why the neighbors of the serial killer next door always express surprise. “He was a nice, quite man. A little odd, but we never suspected anything.” (Despite the occasional screams from the basement…)
As a marketer, you have to abandon many of the pleasant illusions that comfort everyone else. Like believing your customers are different. Or that you can sell lots of stuff by appealing to the “noble” virtues of your audience.
I’ve often cautioned friends who were nibbling at the edges of the entrepreneurial experience: You will be startled, at first, by what you discover about your fellow earthlings.
The sheer volume of fear, desire, greed and sick need is unsettling. It’s a jungle/madhouse/war zone out there.
However, once the initial shock wears off, you’ll be fine.
People are infested with demons of varying levels of nastiness.
They’re still lovable. The world is still gorgeous. And knowing how the universe operates — rather than pretending to know, and being wrong (like most folks) — offers you a supremely better life.
For one thing, you won’t often be fooled. You’ll be a wicked-good salesman, too… because 99% of all selling is based on understanding the psychology of the process.
And your philosophy of how to live well can evolve (and thrive) based on reality… not wishes and dreams.
Now… what is the FIRST practical application of this advanced knowledge?
It is this: Look around…
… and figure out who’s watching your back.
Most people’s heads are crawling with demons they don’t realize or acknowledge…
… and yet they LISTEN to the gibbering.
I’ve seen this too often, both in business and in private life.
When people operate alone, or in isolated situations, they “take their own counsel”.
What they THINK they’re doing is going over the facts, weighing options, and judging the pros-and-cons objectively.
However, what they’re actually doing…
… is taking whispered advice from their demons.
And that seldom turns out well.
Much later (as the dust settles and the survivors of the decision begin to climb back on the Maslow hierarchy-of-needs staircase)…
… they’ll ask themselves “What the HELL was I thinking?”
And the answer is: You weren’t thinking at all.
You let the demons into the control room.
Now, how does this affect you as a business owner or entrepreneur?
I’ll tell you: Most of the biz owners I consult with are essentially isolated.
They don’t have confidants to tell their secrets to… they don’t have people who share their burdens… they can’t brainstorm ideas because no one around them understands what’s going on…
… and they sink or swim, every day, locked inside their own head.
With all those demons tugging and whispering and planting astonishingly dumb ideas in their brain.
This is, essentially, what separates the winners in the marketing world from the never-ending queue of losers.
The winners always — always — network relentlessly…
… and rely on the power of mastermind groups and coaching to stay on the cutting-edge, motivated and happy and on the best possible path at all times.
I know what it’s like to be alone out there. I started my career completely solo, clueless and barely managing my fear (and the near constant deluge of bad ideas popping into my skull).
I used books as a crutch, and it worked to a point. I learned a few tricks, and I used the “What would Claude Hopkins do?” philosophy when stuck.
However, as soon as I discovered like-minded souls in my Los Angeles area sandbox, I formed mastermind groups, or joined existing ones.
There is no second-best way to maximize your potential, at anything.
One professional, all alone, may be occasionally brilliant, and may develop a killer reputation. And actually enjoy the job.
However, you team two pro’s together… especially when they’re simpatico on biz philosophy… and you get way more than just “times two” the brilliance.
No, you get a big-time multiple of brilliance. It wasn’t just Halbert and I teaming up — it was also bringing our mutual support teams together… the people both of us already trusted for advice and criticism and brainstorming.
Our network was instantly many times larger, and amazingly more powerful.
And — best of all — we finally had someone we trusted and respected… to tell us when we were being fools, or idiots, or about to jump off a cliff.
It works like magic to put your butt on the right track, chugging steadily toward the rewards you seek.
Being alone sucks.
Teaming up rocks. It’s the only way to fly.
This is why, when you scratch the surface of a top marketer, you discover a long history of using brainstorms and mastermind groups underneath.
I’ve always had partners or people I trust (and solicit opinions and advice from), ever since I discovered the sheer awesomeness of sharing brain-wattage with fellow travelers.
However, I’ve never officially hosted a mastermind group.
People have been hounding me to do this for a very long time. Certainly, whenever I’ve held Hot Seat seminars or Writing Sweatshops, the effect is very similar to a mastermind.
Except it’s just a one time thing.
A real mastermind is ongoing. So you get to know your colleagues, and they get to know you.
And so their perspective on your plans is coming from a place of trust and familiarity, and a desire to root for your success…
… and to watch your back as you progress.
This is the great victory of a mastermind: You are no longer alone out there.
You’ve got a group of smart people invested in your success.
And you can finally tell your demons to go bugger off…
… cuz you’re getting solid input and criticism now. The right stuff for powering your rapid ascent up the levels of success and happiness.
Okay, blatant pitch:
I’m now hosting two mastermind groups… for the first time ever in my career.
We started with one. My biz partner Stan Dahl and I decided it was high time to bring together a great group of people committed to the mastermind concept…
… and get busy.
We let word of this mastermind slip at the recent Action Seminar… and we immediately had more people wanting in than one group could possibly handle.
(The right size for a mastermind is no more than 12… very small and tidy. Any bigger, and it’s a seminar, not a mastermind.)
So… we split the original single group… into two groups.
Which allowed us to customize each group… so we have one that is primarily for entrepreneurs and small biz owners…
… and another one primarily for copywriters and consultants.
Stan and I have over 50 years between us as professional marketers, business builders, consultants, freelancers, and entrepreneurs.
I can say — without blushing — that we are among the “first choice” consultants hit on by marketers who understand the value of experience and current savvy.
We’re “Success Junkies”, and proud of it. And we bring a wealth of knowledge, insider advantages, vast resources, and breathtaking skill to the table.
And we’re personally hosting each and every mastermind session of these two new groups.
I’m just letting you know about it.
We start both of them in early April… so you can still grab bragging rights for being among the very first members.
I just checked, and as of right now (while I write this) there are still a couple of spots open.
If being part of a regular mastermind group with me sounds interesting, go here to find out the details of joining:
I can tell you that, for the first folks who signed up, it was a no-brainer decision.
And if you’re still relying on your inner demons to watch your back as you navigate this increasingly rocky economy and biz climate…
… then maybe you should see what’s up here.
Okay, end of pitch.
I’ll see you again soon.