Category Archives: Internet

Department Of First-World Problems

clivelab

Thursday, 10:37pm
San Francisco, CA
If you want it, here it is, come and get it…” (Badfinger)

Howdy…

Quick post today — I’m hosting my awesome Platinum Mastermind early tomorrow, and have a little prep work left to do.

However, I thought you might enjoy sampling the kind of posts I’m getting global recognition for… on Facebook. So I ripped a recent one from the site, and put it here for your delight and consumption.

Social media confuses most marketers — many refuse to even engage with Twitter or Facebook (or any of the myriad other options online to share silly secrets and post photos you’ll regret later). But I was an early adopter, and eagerly so — I had one of the very first marketing blogs (which you’re enjoying here), one of the first biz-oriented podcasts on iTunes (and if you haven’t listened to the latest free podcasts I’ve been hosting, go to the Psych Insights For Modern Marketers site now and indulge: www.pi4mm.com)…

… and I’ve been breaking every “rule” on Facebook ever since it hit the mainstream. I use FB to have fun, sometimes… but also to share insight, advice, lessons and some of the more obscure (and funny) war stories I’ve gathered in my 30 year career. (I currently have 5,000 “friends” — the limit — plus another couple of thousand “followers”… and I expect them all to show up at my wake and cause trouble. I’ve made them promise, in fact.)

To get the full flavor of what’s up — including the very long comment threads that you are invited to join — you’ll need to pop over to my Facebook page (www.facebook.com/john.carlton).

However, here’s a nice little taste:

Dept. Of First World Problems: Wow. Does ANY big biz in the country have even semi-decent customer service anymore? Is there a seminar somewhere national chains attend to learn how to frustrate customers online or on the phone?

Macy’s furniture store. Simple question with no possible answer to be found on their website, or in their byzantine robot phone maze… and no way to reach a living rep. PLUS, they want me to key in my social security number — not the last four digits, mind you, but the whole thing.

Eventually, I did reach a live person… who promptly disconnected me. Scared off by my question (which was “where do you recommend I go to get a chair purchased at your store repaired?” — admittedly, a VERY scary question).

Yeah, yeah, I know what you cynical dudes are gonna say — there’s no privacy left, we should all have such easy problems…

And let me shut you up right now: I post about biz and marketing here most of the time. (Well, when I’m not having fun, anyway.) Somewhere along the line, in the rush to automate and fire human beings, much has been lost. A decade ago, I left Gateway (where I’d bought multiple PCs) when their customer service collapsed, and went to Dell for several years… until they very publicly decided to cut back on their customer service.

Sent me into the loving arms of Apple… where, sure, you occasionally get some snark, but they do rock when it comes to support.

Business owners and entrepreneurs pay me a buttload of cash for consultations… and frequently, their most urgent problems involve some mysterious desertion by customers. Which often leads to the kind of super-simple solutions they do NOT wanna hear: Hire more people who know how to deal with people.

The DIY ethic is great — I did it myself for many years, loved it. However, just hiring a part-time assistant revolutionized my productivity… AND made customers fall in love with the biz. Diane (who’s been with me for 13 years now) handles complaints personally, adds a very friendly touch to every communication she has with people, and — very important — knows how to solve nearly every problem that comes across her desk. Including saying “I don’t know — let me find out and get right back to you”, which can transform a potentially angry situation into a good experience for the customer. (The other great line she’s used: “That sounds like a genuine problem, and let’s see how we can make it right for you.”)

No amount of advanced technology will ever replace the power of good human interaction in your biz. The natural impulse of failing businesses often is to get stingier, drift into more unethical behavior (like lying to prospects), and make the customer experience a nightmare of inaction and avoidance. The smiles are phony, the info is deceptive, and the pretense of being a “full service” store becomes a total sham.

We have a once-favorite pizza joint nearby sinking fast. A small dose of competition sent them into a death spiral… and every decision they make seems like it was scripted by that “How To Fail With Customers” seminar that Macy’s sends its staff to. Flat sodas, mushy undercooked food, lost orders, dirty silverware.

There is a time in certain business’s lives where the end is hovering. At that point, it might just be best to fold up the tent and move on. Limping along with an attitude and commitment level guaranteed to fail isn’t an answer — it’s denial masquerading as “trying”.

The best entrepreneurs often fail at certain projects. I always caution biz owners to be clear on their goals, and constantly question their assumptions about where they are, and where they’re going. Success can be fleeting, and fad-fueled success (like Candy Crush and Pet Rocks) can be flukes never to be repeated.

It’s a process, without guarantees, that cries out for reality checks. However, the lessons you take from your losses and your wins are what will give your NEXT project a better chance.

The fundamentals, like customer service, get ignored too often. Don’t be short-sighted about your biz.

Okay, I gotta call Macy’s back… or maybe search for furniture repair joints (cuz I maybe learned my lesson about Macy’s “commitment to excellence”…).

Next: Can’t wait to call AT&T later, and enjoy their robotic idiocy, too…

I was gonna post some of the action in the comments, but there over 38 of them (at last count)… so just hop over and see what mayhem went on there yourself.

As you can see, I’m not abusing the opportunity to reach folks so easily on social media. There is method to my madness, and my “reach” to new audiences (and ability to refresh my marketing lists) has exploded. (My Twitter account is up around 17,000 followers, too.)

This style of social media — avoiding what everyone else does, and just laying out good, funny, interesting rants that get passed around by your “friends” — isn’t being taught by any guru out there. I have no interest in creating a “product” about it, either — if you want to see how I do it, just follow me… and try some of the techniques yourself.

Hey, I’m inviting you to join in. I’m maxed out on “friends” (the maroons at Facebook limit non-fanpage accounts to 5,000), but you can “follow” just as easily, and get most of the same privileges. It’s www.facebook.com/john.carlton.

C’mon in, the water’s fine…

Stay frosty,

John

P.S. One last thing. I almost forgot — be sure to sign up on this blog, in the upper right hand corner… to get your bitchin’ new “Grizzled Pro Report”…

… which just happens to be a collection of my BEST Facebook posts over the past few years. All in one dazzling digital presentation.

You also will be notified when new blog posts appear. So, you know, you aren’t left out in the cold, while lesser colleagues are enjoying all the fun over here.

Sign up now, while you’re thinking about it. Use your best, every-day email address. Your report will be zoomed to you over the Internets immediately…

Publishers Freak-Out As Freaks Move In

Typewriter and gun

Thursday, 12:40pm
Reno, NV
I write because I cannot NOT write.” (Charlotte Bronte)

Howdy…

I want to cover three important things today.

Important Thing #1: Very exciting news this morning: My first Kindle ebook (“The Entrepreneur’s Guide To Getting Your Shit Together”) elbowed its way into best-seller territory on Amazon in less than half a day. It’s #4 on the “entrepreneur” books-for-sale chart, with a bullet, and surging on the “business” charts (in the top 35).

This is like watching your latest album climb the Billboard rankings. I labored over the book (with superb editing help from our pal David “Flashman” Raybould) for many months, whipping it into shape and waiting for the right moment to dive into the wonderful new world of self-publishing that has just hit the Big Turning Point.

Now, it’s up to the reading public to decide if it’s worthwhile or not. A little scary, a little thrilling, a lot of fun for a writer who has craved being in control of publishing my own stuff, in my own damn way, for most of my life.

And, as satisfying as it is to read the great buzz-comments on the Amazon page (and in social media) for this new tome… it’s even more energizing to have finally busted my cherry in digital publishing. This first book took a while to finish and get launched. The next one will follow blazingly quick, and there are even more in the hopper.

If you are so inclined, you can check out a free preview of the book (or even, gasp, buy it) here.

Leave a comment, too. And hit the “share” button on the page. The tome is getting rave reviews, which makes sense since it’s a lovingly-revised compilation of my best Rant newsletters (which I mailed to subscribers for 6 amazing years). This is time-tested stuff, the best “here’s what Carlton’s been teaching all these years” resource possible.

Hope you enjoy it, if you buy it. Hope you stay awake all night thinking about it if you don’t buy it, and feel compelled to buy it first thing in the morning. Cuz it’s damn cheap as a digital book, and you really SHOULD own it. (And yes, we’ll be offering a paperback version down the road, but this digital version is what you need right now.)

Important Thing #2: I now know much about self-publishing ebooks that was a mystery to me before.

For example… Continue Reading

Steve, We Hardly Knew Ya…

Wednesday, 11:56pm
Reno, NV
Indeed your dancing days are done…” (Irish folk song)

Howdy.

I hope you’re doing well, and seizing the day.  As we all should, every day we’re alive.

Sometimes, for me, the best way to appreciate life is to, occasionally, also appreciate death. For all the sound and fury and chaos surrounding us on the Big Earthly Stage… for all the urgency of accomplishment and all the troubles of cobbling together a modern lifestyle…

… sometimes you just gotta stop and take a deep breath.

And know that, at some point, there will be one last breath like that… and then no more.

All of us sharing space on the planet have been granted a ticket to ride, and none of us know how long the ride will last.  Or how it ends.

Or, for that matter, what’s going to happen one second from now, let alone tomorrow or next month or next year.

And yet, life goes on.  And goes on well for some of us, and progresses haltingly for others. But it goes on.

For Steve Jobs, the dancing days are done.  I did not suspect his leaving us would affect me this profoundly, but it has.  I never met him.  And yet, our lives are intertwined.  I’m writing this on an iMac, using the friendly interface he championed (and forced the “who cares about fonts” geek-dominated virtual world to adopt), while my iPhone sits nearby (buzzing with incoming texts).

There will be plenty written about Jobs and his effect on how we live today.  I’ve already read a dozen articles online… and even the iHaters have to admit the world has shifted significantly with Steve gone.

For me, he was the Uber-Entrepreneur.  Dropped out of college because his energy and ideas bristled at the shackles of staid academia.  Aimlessly sought out ways to engage with life on a more grand scale, correctly sensing that the world was about toContinue Reading

More Free Goodies Than You Probably Deserve…

CB107701

Sunday, 7:57pm
Reno, NV
It’s alive!” (Baron Von Frankenstein, kickstarting the Monster)

Howdy…

We’ve just fired up the Simple Writing System blog (www.simplewritingsystem.com/blog)…

… which means a stunning (and unprecedented) pile of free tools, tactics, advice and insight can be yours…

… just for the grabbing.

This is an all-out assault on reason and logic.  We’re just GIVING AWAY stuff that — not too long ago — would have cost you a pretty penny just to get a quick glimpse of.

We’ve created a beast here, and it’s name is FREE.

Here’s just a small taste of what’s piling up over there (that you’re missing out on if you haven’t signed in):

  • A free swipe file of “home run” ads I’ve written (which few folks outside the target markets have ever seen)… can be in your tool kit tonight.  This swipe file, alone, is causing hearts to skip a beat among marketers and freelance writers who love to rip juicy headlines and sales angles from proven ads.  (Removes any guesswork on who/what to rip.)
  • A short (but frightenly powerful) series of special reports channeling the best “how to make the sale” secrets I’ve ever used.  (I used to keep this stuff classified, only bringing it out during high-paid consultations… and here we are giving it away.)
  • The actual video (torn directly from the masters hidden in Frank’s inner sanctum) of my “How to persuade, influence and sell the shit out of anything… using the simplest stories you can create” presentation at Mass Control.

What?  You didn’t see that presentation?

It’s marketing theater at its finest… Continue Reading

Thieving Bastards

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Sunday, 7:36pm
Reno, NV
A thief believes everybody steals.” (E.W. Howe)

Howdy…

For those of you bugging me about the next Quiz…

… it’s coming, it’s coming.

Soon.

Tonight, though, I’ve gotta get something off my chest.

And so, a Rant.  By little Johnny Carlton:

Ahem.

There seems to be a parasite bug infecting the brains of many marketers out there.

Let’s call this bug… “Theft“.

It’s not going away anytime soon.

In fact, the very word has been mutating for a long time now… so that what would have easily been labeled “stealing” in the bad-old pre-Web days…Continue Reading

How To Lose Friends & Persuade People To Hate You

iphone09-2-035

Tuesday, 8:54pm
Reno, NV
“You can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave…” (Eagles, “Hotel California”)

Howdy…

Today, let’s explore a little-discussed part of running a biz…

… using a couple of enlightening (and very brief) anecdotes from my recent (and continuing) “Adventures With Hotels”.

Let’s call this lesson: The Faded Lady and the Trump.

With all due apologies to Disney’s classic dog-romance movie, of course.

See if you can spot how the following short story applies to YOUR business…

Ahem.

Each of the last two weekends found me in different cities, staying in hotels I booked online, sight-unseen.

In Sin City, it was the splendiferous Trump International Hotel Las Vegas.

In San Francisco, the once-famous, now-infamous Cathedral Hill Hotel.

Now, the Trump joint was built with luxury in mind.  Shiny, tall, imposing building with huge well-apportioned rooms and super-modern equipment like elevators and art.

As a “product”, the building was great. (Though it seems idiotic not to have any gambling on the premises, as a wanna-be “player” in the Las Vegas scene.  I heard that Trump got skunked on getting his gambling license, but that’s not the spin the staff offered.  “We just didn’t want gambling here,” is what they said, unconvincingly.)

Great price for the rooms, too.  (Most likely because of the lack of casino amenities and dearth of unit sales, which turned it from condo to hotel.)

I have complaints about the joint… but not because of the room, the rate, or the basic delivery of stuff like air conditioning, clean water, nice beds, etc.  (In fact, their pillow-top beds are amazing to sleep in.  Like being cuddled by angels.)

Now, back in SF, it was a completely different situation.

We hosted a gathering of writers, affiliates, and other mucky-mucks at the Cathedral Hill Hotel because we wanted to treat everyone to an evening with the world-renown “Beer Chef“, who puts on fabulous dinners there once a month.  (You can read more about Bruce Paton’s unique meals at www.beer-chef.com. )

You want the “Beer Chef”, you deal with Cathedral Hill. (And yes, we very much wanted his magic.  He creates these shockingly-tasty gourmet meals there, with each course matched by a local micro-brew beer instead of boring old wine.  It’ll knock your socks off, even if you aren’t well-versed in pilsners, ales and lagers.)

We also started the day off with an afternoon-long brainstorm session in the hotel’s main meeting room.  (I’m sure you caught some of the updates on Twitter from the luminaries and stars in attendance.)

However…

… none of us had ever stayed at the hotel.

And while it has a storied past (well-chronicled in San Francisco lore), it has, alas,  fallen on hard times.

Culminating in being bought out a short time ago and scheduled for the wrecking ball.

Ouch.

We made the most of it.  The stories and jokes we all shared about our rooms and experiences in the hotel are howlingly funny…

… but still, as a “product”, there’s no getting around the fact that the building was in serious disrepair.

Sort of like a once-beautiful lady who has fallen on hard times, and ended up sacked-out in a filthy alley, soused with cheap booze and a reputation heading south at light speed.

The price was actually a red flag: You cannot stay in the city, in a decent room, for anywhere near the rate Cathedral Hill was asking.

Kind of like seeing an ad for a luxury Caribbean Cruise in the paper for five bucks.  It sort of sets off your early-warning alarm.  (Five bucks and your kidney, maybe.)

So… while no one got robbed, or found a dead hooker in their room… Continue Reading

C’mere… I Wanna Take You Somewhere Cool…

Wednesday, 7:35pm
Reno, NV

Howdy…

Can you do me a favor?

Actually, two favors:

1. Just forgive me for not paying close attention to this blog over the next week or so.

… and…

2. Please hop over to www.simplewritingsystem.com/blog/ and indulge yourself.

Am I forgiven?

Great.

I’ll be back here with a vengence soon enough.

Right now, however…

… we’re launching the Simple Writing System, and it’s taking all my time.

No, seriously, I mean ALL my time.

I haven’t slept much this week… and when I do, I’m dreaming about the damn launch.

I was going to give you a blow-by-blow, “behind the scenes” commentary on the process in this blog…

… but it turns out I was deluded.

Launches are consuming events. Especially when — like us — you defy the standard “rules” and just boldly march into the process with as little preparation as possible.

Gotta love the entrepreneur spirit. Damn the torpedoes and all that.

The best part of a launch, of course…

… is that it’s over when it’s done. Sort of like a short jail sentence, where you’re chained to your desk… but you get cut loose when the curtain goes up, and all sins are erased.

“Curtain Up” day is coming up fast, too.

And that means the cool, deeply insightful webinar/interviews on the SWS blog go away, too. Not gonna leave ‘em up for very long.

You definitely need to see them. We just posted Mike Filsaime, who revealed (for the FIRST time ever) his private mentoring notes from his intense learning days as a salesman…

… and Rich Schefren, who allowed me to expose all his secrets about making mere blog posts bring in massive fortunes (shocking revelation, by the way)…

… and Eben Pagan, who just unloaded on the specifics of his million-dollar marketing tactics (especially how he wrote to sell and influence so successfully)…

… and Frank Kern, who… well, who was so totally Frank in this interview, that I may bottle his webinar and turn it into rocket fuel.

These things are crammed with risky, maddeningly real-world revelations and insight these guys have rarely (if ever — Mike’s salesmanship notes, for example, are a total exclusive) shared in public.

I grilled ‘em.

Now you get to feast.

So…

… again, I’m gonna be a ghost here on this blog. But only for a few more days… while I concentrate on the Simple Writing System blog.

Lots of great stuff posted over there, and more coming.

Go check it out.

As always, your comments are welcome, helpful and encouraged.

Back to the grind…

Stay frosty,

John

Hey, I Need Your Help Here…

Thursday, 8:25pm
Reno, NV
“What’s keeping YOU up at night?”

Howdy,

Quick post here, I swear.

I have a small problem…

… and I could sure use your help.

It’ll take you, like, two minutes or so.

And yet… it will be of tremendous value to me. If I’ve ever given you something of value before — a piece of advice, a tip, a hint on direction, a good belly laugh, whatever — then I’m calling in the chit.

I want you to comment here.

Here’s what’s up: Among smart marketers — those who have their money-making act together — my core message is a well-known commodity.

“Nothing good will ever happen in your biz… until the copy gets written. And… the best person to write the most important stuff… is you.”

This message is unquestioned among the top marketers I hang out with.

They even eagerly tell anyone who will listen, to listen to me.

Many of the best (like Eben Pagan, Frank Kern, Rich Schefren and others) almost never talk about copy without mentioning my impact on their own learning curves… and they help spread the message.

The heavy hitters all know — without a shred of doubt — that copywriting is the foundation of all things profitable in business.

But here’s the rub: Outside that group of “in-the-know” marketers…

… I often run into a brick wall trying to get entrepreneurs and biz owners to truly understand the importance of writing.

I feel like the first guy to see the aliens land in a sci-fi movie… and the townspeople all ignore my dire warnings of Armegeddon. They smile and nod, and agree that it certainly WOULD be nasty-bad if evil aliens were coming, but…

And their minds wander off in total distraction.

If you’re in business…

… and you’re ignoring the role of great copy in your quest for success and wealth (and your need to learn HOW to write that great copy)…

… then, like the oblivious townsfolk, you’re risking becoming TOAST.

Especially in the economic melt-down happening now.

It’s really pretty simple: Those who know how to write killer ads, emails, video scripts and everything else…

… are going to thrive.

And those who don’t…

… well, it ain’t pretty.

And that’s my dilemna: I’m very good at reaching the “insiders” in business. They immediately “get” how critical and how totally cool it is to know how to write sales copy.

As for the people who are “un-initiated” in direct response?

Not so much.

The message seems to take a while to sink in.

So here’s what I would love to hear from you: What is your NUMBER ONE problem with writing ads right now?

Are you frustrated with the process of trying to write? Do you see it as hard work or — worse — as a big voodoo mystery you’ll never figure out?

Do you avoid learning the essentials of writing for any conscious reason? Or is there something personally difficult about writing that makes you just want to skip the whole concept?

Or what?

I am seriously looking for input here.

If you’re an entrepreneur… or small biz owner… or even a rookie… and you don’t know how to write what you need written…

… could you please look inside your own brain…

… and honestly share with me what the problem is? What is your Number One constraint holding you back from digging into this skill?

I’d appreciate it.

Thanks, in advance.

Hey — let’s make it a little contest.

The person who most succinctly and clearly helps me see what I’m missing here…

… will win a free copy of the freshly updated “Kick-Ass Copywriting Secrets of a Marketing Rebel” — the course that launched so many of the online marketers now dominating the virtual landscape.

Does that make it worth your time to look inside… and give me some insight as to why it’s so hard to break through the resistance so many people have on this mega-important subject?

C’mon. It’ll take you a couple of minutes. You may even learn something about yourself.

And…

… if you’re already writing your own stuff, successfully… you can get in the competition, too.

Just remember back to what held you up from getting started learning the skill.

What was your biggest obstacle? The cost of getting help? Not knowing where to turn or who to trust? Not having the time? What?

Let’s give it until Monday to decide on the winner, what do you say?

The competition begins now…

Stay frosty,

John Carlton

Toys And Fresh Air

Monday, 7:30pm
Reno, NV
“He… could… go… all… the… way…” (Berman, MNF of days gone by…)

Howdy,

Do you ever get any of those weird epiphanies about life?

The ones that burst into consciousness like the first bloom of dawn… after a particularly dark and ominous night?

They aren’t necessarily the kind of insight that drops you to your knees and propels you off into a completely different direction.

But they are a critical plot point in your life’s story.

Here’s what just happened to me (and see if you can’t identify with it):

For the last week (has it only been that long?), the global news has been a horror-show.

Politics is tearing the country apart (again)… we’ve got a financial mess that may make the dot-com bust look like a picnic… and, personally, I’ve got biz pressures building up in my head like the Mother Of All Brain Farts.

So, I’ve diving into every distraction within my grasp for Miller Time. (Miller Time, for the uninitiated, is the built-in “reward” I insist all my freelance students create for themselves. It’s main task is to help you officially call an end to the day, which helps prevent burn-out.)

(I came up with the idea while working with Halbert, as a coping mechanism. Without a set point in time where I said “That’s it — done for the day”, the pressure of the tasks at hand would suck me into even longer work hours…

… and that’s not good.

In fact, that’s bad. Very bad. I burned out once, and that’s all it took for me to never, ever, ever want to do it again. Required three years of remedial goofing off to be able to catch my breath.

And I was young, too. I’ve had students ignore my advice on this — dudes in their twenties, cooking with peak internal fuel — and flame out like a dunked match.

Miller Time is serious play time. You quit working. You have a little fun. You give it a freakin’ rest.)

So, anyway…

Obviously, I have a much different philosophy about stress than most business owners.

I don’t avoid stress. In fact, if there’s something stressful on the plate for tomorrow… well, that’s the first thing I wanna dig into.

No avoidance on this monkey.

However…

… neither do I regard stress as something “good”.

It is (and current research backs me up) probably the source of all the bad shit in your health profile.

So how you DEAL with it… is probably one of the most important decisions you make early in your career.

Because you’ve got to make dealing with it a habit. Breaking the stress up and jettisoning it from your system must be on your “A” list of things to do each day.

Otherwise… you’re putting that career in serious danger of short-circuiting.

For me, toys play a big part of “steam removal”. I’ve loved games and toys my entire life — and that’s what guitars, cars, iPhones, Web-surfing, Twitter, cable TV, iTunes, barbeques, and every quest you engage in for anything outside Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is: Games and toys.

It’s been a long, long time since anyone could claim to have a handle on how civilization works. The well-educated dudes of the early Renaissance MAYBE could claim a decent savvy in every skill and knowledge-base in exisitence.

But that’s simply not possible today.

Humans have never been in this situation before — where NO ONE has a handle on how the essentials of the civilization works.

It’s like nobody’s in charge anymore. It’s like glancing down the aisle and noticing that the pilot’s gone. The driver has disappeared. No one goes into the boiler room anymore, because no one knows what to do in there.

A large part of the mob deals with this sense of not being in control… by zoning out. I doubt there has ever been this large a percentage of the population zomibified before in history. Just willingly oblivious.

In my experience, you can’t really hide from stress, though. It builds up, it festers, it infects every joint and synapse in the system.

For those of us who are incapable of ignoring the blinking warning signs now flashing… (and our global engine has been overheating for a very long time)… it’s more important than ever to manage stress.

You do NOT make it go away by eating it like candy. It won’t leave unless forced out.

Thus… to be effective today (and oh my God do we need effective people in the mix right now)…

… you gotta choose your battles. You can work every day. You can gear up and charge monsters every time you go into “work mode”.

But you can’t do it 24/7. You’ll fry.

So… playtime becomes an essential tool.

What rocks your Miller Time boat may change, often, thoughout your life. That’s to be expected.

So you gotta keep a tab on your own responses.

You know what makes you happy… what sucks you in so thoroughly and pleasurably that you forget the smell of the trenches for a while.

Don’t focus on the “what”, however.

Instead, focus on how you feel. You will have to alter things — the games, toys, distractions, etc — that trigger the right response often.

And the new stuff is only going to work — only going to help you disengage so you can re-charge — if it nails the wheelhouse of your pleasure center.

At various times, playing music has been “it” for me. But then I go into another phase, and I need something else. Drawing comes and goes — hours spent completely absorbed in putting ink on paper, creating visual worlds from nothing.

Games, too. I played the first Doom like a junkie. No other game since has held my interest like that. Collecting rare stuff, too. Reading history… I’ve been lucky to have a long list of stuff that works.

But here’s the one tip I really can give everyone: One of the most enduring, and most pleasurable, Miller Times available…

… is simply going outside and feeling the universe swirl around you.

Fresh air, the cool breezes of early fall, the coming harvest moon (big as the sky), the leaves changing so fast you can almost see them turn.

Especially now… especially with so many entrepreneurs welding themselves to cyber-space at a desk…

… it’s essential to reconnect with Nature.

In as giddy a manner as possible.

Just my two cents.

What’s your Miller Time consist of?

Stay frosty,

John

P.S. One last funny aside: I dove into the world of Twitter with gusto this week. Not obsessed, but having great fun…

… sorta like the first time Mom let me loose in the Fun Zone at the LA County Fair. (Never been a place like that before, nor since. Total art deco sprawl of mazes, haunted houses, vast wheels that spun you in circles half the size of a football field, tight little capsules that swung like hammers at 3 G’s, pulling your cheeks back as they dove… all of it way too dangerous to ever be allowed today…)

I explored the apps of Twitter-land, strolled into little-travelled areas, spelunked in the nether regions of the software (as far as I could go without using code, I suppose).

And today, a new follower told me that, hey, he was happy to see me on Twitter…

… but, dude, I was tweeting too MUCH. “Cool it,” he implored.

I laughed.

Because I had found a new toy that let fresh air into my system. Fun, distracting, with some of the elements of a game. (Trading witicisms and barbs with fellow word-meisters. That’s invigorating, for me.)

And I laughed because I suspected it was time to put the Mac to sleep…

… and go outside for some real air, too. A long hike, paying attention to things. Soaking up being alive for another season.

I’m stressed, no getting around it.

Lots to be stressed about. Unless you’re a zombie, and that’s not a job I’ve ever gone after. (Can’t meet the basic requirements of accepting bullshit.)

So I need all my tools, and I need to able to use them elegantly… and that requires rest, distraction, and rejuvenation.

Miller Time.

You on my Twitter follower’s list yet?

It’s www.twitter.com/johncarlton007

What Are You Afraid Of, Part 1

Thursday, 3:30pm
Black Rock Desert, Nevada
And when the morning of the warning came, the gassed and flaccid kids were strung across the stars…” Along Comes Mary (The Association)

Howdy…

Tonight, I have a strange question to ask you.

I’ve just experienced a fairly fabulous week, from all angles. I’m juiced with positive energy, feeling good, and bubbling with hope.

And yet…

… I am also oddly compelled to ask: “What are you afraid of?”

Your thoughts are welcome. And needed.

Here’s my side of the story: I attended two events this week that couldn’t be more different…

… and yet shared so much of the same voodoo that fuels livnig a good life.

First, I drove out to one of Napa’s oldest and most exclusive golf resorts (The Silverado, deep in the lushest part of California’s wine country) to meet with a star-studded group of speakers and authors for a big damn 3-day brainstorm session.

This event is the brainchild of my old pals Stephen Pierce and Chet Holmes and Larry Benet.

In attendance were marketing lumaries Ron LeGrand, Alex Mandosian, Russell Brunson, Brad Smart, Scott Hallman, Joel Comm, JT Snow, and too many others to count.

Plus a few dudes who’d hit the billion-dollar mark in earnings.

It was a super-exclusive group. By invitation only.

The meeting place was about as hoity-toity as you can imagine, with hordes of staff scurrying about and an air of old-world colonial spendor hovering over everything. Though tastefully so.

Parking lot crammed with Lexus’s and Caddies and Porshes.

Cocktails are twelve bucks in the bar.

It was a great place to hang out with the cream of Web marketing for a few days. Safe, nurturing, comfortable.

Then…

… I rushed home, unpacked the collared shirts and nice shoes, re-packed with dingy hiking gear…

… and headed out to Burning Man.

I’m not even going to attempt to explain Burning Man in detail. Words fail the effort. Go to www.burningman.com for some history.

Basically…

… a bunch of artists, neo-hippies and funsters from the coasts hold an in credible outdoor party and art-fest every year on the Playa in the middle of The Black Rock desert in Nevada.

It’s an actual functioning city of 40,000 people from all over the world. Tents, RVs, hammocks, you name it, you’ll see it. (And the port-a-potties are actually clean… not counting the thin coating of Playa dirt) (which you will never get completely out of your clothes.)

For 51 weeks of the year, the Playa is a flat, nearly lifeless plain of dirt. (Looks kinda like the Salt Flats in Utah, where all the land speed records are broken.)

Then, for one amazing week every August, it’s a beehive of action, art and partying.

When the party breaks up, everyone decamps, leaving ZERO trace of human activity. Every scrap of paper, every drop of gray water, every day-glo pasty is hauled out…

… leaving the Playa once again lifeless and naturally gorgeous.

No trace. That’s the rule.

It’s a pretty stunning event. They’re on year 22, I believe.

It’s exclusive, in that you gotta buy into the ideology to survive (and afford the $300 tickets).

Once you become a citizen, no money can buy you anything within the well-laid out streets of Black Rock City — you must trade art, water or something else of immediate value to conduct any business.

The art is often massive, built with industrial savvy (so it moves), and sometimes hydraulic power. (A mechanical hand the size of a Volkswagon moved eerily like a real human hand… and yet could actually crush stuff like a Volkswagon. Which they actually crushed again and again during shows. Impressive. And arty.)

Much of the art burns, or entails fire.

At night, 40,000 people are grooving to ear-shattering techno-pop and dance music, while huge installations burst into flame.

Lots of Mad Max-style costumes, mixed with total nudity. Think “Thunderdome meets Satyricon”.

Okay, I tried to explain it a little bit. Sorry.

But I want you to have these two distinct images in mind: The clean wealth and influence of Napa’s Silverado resort… coupled with the filthy fun of Burning Man’s impromptu Black Rock City.

Got that image?

Good.

Here’s my point: Underneath the shallow first glance…

… they are almost identical events.

How?

Here’s how: They both thrive on…

Freedom From Fear.

See, all the energy of our civilization comes from the edges. I’m not dissing the center… but the great mass of sonambulent middle class folks aren’t really a driving force for action.

No, the heat comes from the extremes. The top business owners and especially the entrepreneurs who take risks and push envelopes keep the financial side humming.

And — just as important, if you truly care about the quality of life — the top artists and especially the semi-deranged free thinkers who take risks and push envelopes keep the fun side humming.

Both sets do their thang by crawling outside the “box” of repression society tries to foist on us all… and creating something new from, essentially, thin air.

And before anyone gets all huffy about responsibility and values and all that hokum…

… you should reflect on the fact that Burning Man attracts lots and lots of Republicans (elected officials, no less) from all over the country… and the Silverado will not deny entry to anyone based on ideology. (Heck, I got in.)

Both sets have dress codes, once you step back and look at things dispassionately.

Both have strict behavior requirements. (Burning Man has an “alternative” list of acceptable behavior, but it’s very unforgiving if you violate it.)

Both, basically, are refuges for people who just need to get the fuck away from the straight-jacket of “normal” life.

And freak out in a way that appeals to you.

(Yes, on the Meta level… playing lots and lots of golf while guzzling top shelf booze is just as much an orgy… as dancing naked around a Playa bonfire buzzed on pharmeceuticals is…)

It’s all about finding a safety zone, where there is a palpable absence of fear.

Both Black Rock City and the Silverado are situated out in the middle of nowhere. Far from easy to get to.

Both have long approach driveways — several blocks for the Silverado, on a private road… and 8 freakin’ miles of arid desert for BR City.

Both are staffed with an army of folks dedicated to making your stay happy.

You can relax. Be yourself.

And let go of the bullshit that cranks up your blood pressure in the world outside.

You’re among, if not exactly friends, at least like-minded people who share your idea of a good time.

It’s pretty amazing that to get this kind of freedom, you have to go to such extremes.

Because what everyone is afraid of…

… is opportunistic crime…

… and…

… The Man.

Anyone who gets deeply involved with life has a libertarian streak, or should. Or quickly develops one.

You just want to be left alone. You don’t want sociopaths preying on you, and you don’t want cops sniffing around just because they can.

At the Silverado, you’re on private grounds… so you’re not gonna get a DUI or get rousted for public drunkeness.

I found it very interesting that Burning Man is held in the middle of the desert, in the hottest week of the hottest month of the year, far, far away from any semblance of a “normal” town…

… and yet every law enforcement branch that CAN hover and cruise the party…

… does.

There are BLM rangers, Pershing County sheriffs, FBI and Nevada Highway Patrol officers all over the joint.

It’s like they’re just TERRIFIED that somewhere, someone might be having a good time.

Authorities — meaning uptight politicians looking toward re-election — have tried to close down Burning Man throughout the two-decade history of the event.

Despite the money that floods into Nevada from the international crowd. Despite the way the desert is not harmed. Despite the very obvious fact that 40,000 people (again, including every strata of society — old to young, socialist to capitalist, pagan to papist, straight to not-so-straight) very much WANT to be left alone to their single week of controlled debuachery and artsy engorgement.

I saw more people at the Silverado too drunk to stand up, than I did at Burning Man the day I spent there.

And I’ll bet the actual amount of drugs were about equal, per capita. If, that is, you count prescription pharmaceuticals with Mother Nature’s alternatives.

(Just to cut any rumors off at the knees here… I was at Burning Man as an observer only, not as a participant. I was there as a guest of the City of Reno arts and culture manager, to check out some of the artsy installations the city might want to purchase.)

(So there.)

Not that there’s anything wrong with choosing your own poison for Miller Time.

But that’s where the two worlds collide nicely.

What the HELL is The Man afraid of?

So WHAT if people wanna get naked and burn shit up during a week of weirdness in the desert?

Fear drives us in so many ways.

Fascist-leaning societies want lots of fear cooking in people’s system. Makes control a lot easier.

And certain kinds of power corrupts, by making someone with a badge “more equal” than you… simply because he has the badge. The symbol of nasty, humorless power that WILL be obeyed.

The Man has come to an uneasy truce with the Burning Man participants. Nudity is overlooked. Displays of weirdness are ignored.

And yet, I heard cops were busting Burners for “driving” while under the influence… even though they were driving golf carts reconfigured (with some creative welding) into giant lizards or Mickey Mouse heads. And, of course, not hurting anyone.

Golf carts.

The irony is inescapable.

And I ask again: What are you afraid of?

The entrepreneurs and artists I know — and I know vast mobs of each — all share a similar love of freedom…

… and an overriding lack of fear.

Heck — we even taunt Fate with our outrageous plans and way-out ideas.

Most of society asks “Why do you need to challenge the system?”

And we answer “Because it fucking NEEDS challenging.”

Maybe now, more than ever.

Long live Burning Man.

Love to hear what you think in the comments section below.

Stay frosty,

John Carlton

P.S. Sometimes — in fits of hopeful dreams — I try to imagine a world where The Man just lets go of being so uptight all the time.

Look — I’m all for a level of authority. I’m a home owner. I’m a business owner. I pay taxes, I vote, I get involved with the community.

And I think there is a place for regulation and laws restricting actions that harsh my mellow. (This is why no existing US political party will have me — not even the Libertarians.)

But the greatest assets of our country — whether people realize it or not (clueless zombies) — are freedom of speech and the right to be left alone.

Not bullshit freedom of speech. The real thing. We’re losing it.

And we’ve already lost so much privacy to prying government eyes, it may take a generation or two to re-establish it.

Fear sucks.

Yes, it’s a dangerous world.

It’s also a beautiful world… and beauty shrivels under the boot of a self-righteous majority.

Something to consider, if you’re ever tired of walking around zombified.

P.P.S. And, on a purely capitalist finishing note…

… I want to congratulate all the folks who grabbed a spot for the upcoming Simple Writing System at-home mentoring course.

If you missed out — cuz the door slammed shut on Wednesday, when all the slots were gobbled up — you should know there’s a waiting list.

Just hop over to www.simplewritingsystem.com, and scroll down to the P.S. on the first page.

You’ll see how to get on the waiting list.

This is gonna be a blast…


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