Dude, Your Fly’s Open

Wednesday, 8:47pm
Reno, NV
Et tu, Brutus?” (Caesar, goin’ down)

Howdy…

Let’s have a nice chat about betrayal.

Not the big kind, like Shakespeare grooved on (with people dropping like flies, slain by their best pals)…

… but rather the small kind that happens way too often in business.

As in, between you and your colleagues.

Here’s what happened to spur this line of thought: I was just in Austin (Republic of Texas) to speak at an event packed with marketers.

Now, a lot of things happened while I was down there… including a few stories full of intrigue and dramatic plot twists…

… but one little thing happened that could easily harbor the most serious consequences for anyone trying to learn something about being a savvy, successful biz owner.

Let me set the story up for you: Often, when I speak to new audiences, I like to cajole and browbeat the crowd as I put them through some exercises.

It’s all in good fun, and it’s a rare marketer who doesn’t appreciate this kind of old-school learning tactic — essentially School O’ Hard Knocks training, where you’re pushed out of your comfort zone, which wakes up your brain and makes the exercises memorable.

It’s really the only way to learn and have it stick that ever worked with a stubborn, anti-authority kinda rebel like me.

So I return the favor when I teach.  (To mitigate the verbal thrashing and jive-talk, I also like to give out bottles of beer during Continue Reading

How To Murder Stress, Part 1

Tuesday, 3:29pm
Reno, NV
I can’t seem to face up to the facts, I’m tense and nervous and I can’t relax…” (Talking Heads, “Psycho Killer”)

Howdy…

What’s the matter, Bunky?

The news got you down?  The economy keeping you up at night?  Are sales in the toilet, creditors stalking you, clients not returning calls, the sheer angst of living in a modern tech-drenched world chewing holes in your gut?

Would you like to hear how grizzled veterans handle the evils of stress?

It’s good stuff… because, as everyone should realize, you don’t get to BE a grizzled veteran if you can’t handle stress.  Cuz that shit will eat your ass alive and send you to an early grave.

In fact, this is easily one of the fundamental tools for surviving the Bidness Never-Ending Cage Fight.  I noticed, in the first years of my freelance career (when I was searching semi-desperately for clues on how to become successful), that there were biz owners who were having fun… and there were other owners not having any fun at all.

Age had nothing to do with it.  Nor health (though the fun-havers consistently were in better shape).  Nor gender, nor — and this is important — how successful they were.

The difference was simply how they handled stress.Continue Reading

You Did What? Where? How Many Times? Whoa…

Saturday, 1:29pm
Austin, Republic of Texas
We’re the Free Texican Airforce, and we’re flying tonight…” (Peter Rowan)

Howdy…

Okay, first off, I’m not in Austin yet.

I’m in Reno… but I’m preparing for flying into Austin Monday by keeping the oven on in the kitchen, while boiling four pans of water on the stove.  Cuz it’s hotttttttt down there.

I’m a dry-heat kinda desert rat.  We’re a mile up here in the biggest little city, and the idea of walking out onto the broiling tarmac of Bergstrom International — where it’s rumored to be topping 107 this time o’ year — is not fitting easily into my brain.

Now, I’ve spent months in the Florida Keys, on full-tilt boil, back when Gary Halbert insisted on moving down there (first to Marathon — or “Cleveland in the Keys” — and then to Key West — or “Key West”, which is another concept hard to fathom for anyone who’s never experienced it first-hand).  (Trust me on that.)

But, like childbirth, you forget the details once the ordeal is behind you.  (Or so I hear. Never been pregnant myself.)

So, the closest I’ve been to that kind of super-heat in the past few years… has been during a long, soothing shower.  While it’s snowing outside here in the bosom of the Sierra Nevadas.

Whatever.  I’m going, because I’m speaking at an event alongside the likes of Joe Sugarman, Joe Polish, Bill Phillips, Chris Guerrero and other notables at a very nice event hosted by our pal Josh Bezoni.

And it’s gonna be fun hanging out with those nutballs.

I’ll also collapse and die at some point in the heat, of course, but I’ll have a smile on my mug.

I recall a joke a guy once told me, while we were both sipping Lone Stars:Continue Reading

How To Communicate With Humans

Saturday, 3:26pm
Rancho Cucamonga, CA
Hot fun in the summertime…” (Sly Stone)

Howdy.

I’ve been doing some Critical Think (trademarked term, by me) about one of the main keys to “real” communication with your fellow humans: Empathy.

Not sympathy.  Empathy is a very different animal — it’s where you essentially walk a mile in the other guy’s shoes.  You start, conduct, and end all conversations with active knowledge of how the other guy is perceiving your side of the tale…

… and you actually give a damn how he’s reacting.

Empathy is not just a secret weapon in your tool kit…

… it’s the freakin’ nuclear bomb of high-end communication.

And it’s so powerful, because most folks simply do not possess it.  The vast majority of your neighbors and brethren think, speak and act from inside a confining little echo chamber where their own prejudices, beliefs, notions and cockamamie thoughts completely dominate.

And there is almost zero chance of anything contrary penetrating that white noise in their brains.

Thus, marketers get mad at customers, entrepreneurs ignore opportunity and pitfalls with equal obliviousness, and biz owners with superior products are passed over by prospects.

You know who wins?  Savvy politicians, con men, and psychopaths.  The dudes who cynically know how to turn on the charm and say all the right things to get what they want.

By far the hardest thing I’ve been trying to teach people over my career… is that good salesmanship is a tool.  Like a hammer.  A hammer works to pound nails into the foundation of your dream house… just as effectively as it can pound holes in the head of your mother-in-law when you finally lose it.

The hammer doesn’t care who’s using it, or for what purpose.

That’s why, when I teach high-end salesmanship, I express the fervent hope that anyone using what I teach to push unethical shit will die and rot in hell.

And that using good salesmanship tactics will vastly improve the bottom line for ethical, honest businesses.  Because the tactics that work to persuade people to vote for corrupt politicians, or sleep with smooth-talking psychos, or buy into scams…Continue Reading

And a fine happy birthday to ya…

Saturday, 8:44pm
Reno, NV
They’ve all gone to look for America…” (Simon & Garfunkel)

Howdy.

I want to wish the country a happy birthday on this fine July 4th.

She’s looking not too shabby for 235 years old.  I’ve been here for a lot of those b-days, too… and here are a couple of random thoughts (before I get drowned out by fireworks):

Random Thought #1: I’m not gonna discuss politics, and I hope you have the presence of mind not to start in on it yourself in the comments.  However… as far apart as we seem today on the multitude of problems faced… I can tell you it has ever been thus.

At our very best, the country has always been like a dysfunctional family forced to co-exist at a perpetual holiday dinner.  My own family shows signs of it occasionally — somebody gets hot about some subject, voices rise, someone gets called an idiot, feelings are hurt…

… and then, minutes later, all is well and we’re laughing about some story from the family archives.  (I had uncles who couldn’t get through a game of gin rummy without throwing cards across the room and giving us kids an excellent lesson in swearing like a sailor before the aunts corralled them back into some semblance of civilized behavior again.  I miss those old farts, and a whiff of beer and cigars can take me back instantly…)Continue Reading

Step One Of Your Shiny New Life

Wednesday, 9:04am
Baltimore, MD
Don’t follow leaders, watch the pawking meters…” (Bob Dylan)

Howdy.

Do you like change?

You know that most folks hate and fear change, right?  It’s all so unpredictably messy, and rudely forces you out of your comfort zone.

Bleah.  Yuck.  Keep it away.

Well, guess what?  Successful entrepreneurs love change.

More specifically, they love the opportunity to alter the way things are… both within their market, and in their lifestyles.

If you’re limping along on anemic sales, and suddenly a new tactic or project jacks response through the roof… that’s a good change.

If you roll out a hot, fresh campaign (aimed at demolishing competition and hoarding all the market share to yourself), and it bombs… that’s a bad change.

However, you can’t enjoy the first without risking the second.  Which kinda defines entrepreneurship in a nutshell:  You do something, there’s a reaction, and you deal with the gains or losses.

Maintaining the status quo is never a valid option in biz.  You keep moving and adjusting, like a parade negotiating twisting streets and weather changes.

You set up camp and settle in, though, and you’re like the Donner Party.  I’ve seen many businesses eat themselves alive, trying to avoid change.

There is stress inherent in both situations.  When you resist change, the anxiety and internal turmoil builds and festers.  When you engage with change, you are constantly flushing out the bad ju-ju, keeping your system in good working order.

It’s kinda like early dating.  I viscerally remember staring at the phone with Susie Q’s number in my hand, completely freaked-out over the looming possibilities.  Still, it was better to dial her up, mumble and fumble the conversation and face the consequences…Continue Reading

Have a seat… I’ll be back in a bit…

Wednesday, 9:05pm
Baltimore, MD
She’d drag me through the streets of Baltimore…” (Gram Parsons)

Howdy.

Quick note to let you know I’m still kickin’.

I’m just taking a little time off here to split the home-dive… meet up with some biz pals in Maryland (including Rich Schefren, Bill Glazer, and Perry Marshall)… and ponder the wonders of life.  (Okay, and maybe catch an Orioles game).

I’ve got several blog posts almost ready for publication, so I’ll continue with my prodigious outpouring of voodoo and shinola (in equal parts) when I get back to Nevada.

Meantime, why don’t you slip into the archives over in the right-hand column (right there, see ‘em, inches from your right hand), and dig into some of the stored posts.  I’ve been laboring over this damn blog for years… and the joint is awash in treasure for writers, marketers, and bohemians of all stripes.

All free.

Also, I see all new comments when I’m doing admin stuff here, so if you care to leave a note on an older post, I’ll likely see it.  The most popular articles here still generate some nice outrage and fresh insight from new readers.

The comment section is half the fun of this blog.

Anyway, I’ll be back next week.  There’s beer in the fridge if you want some…

Stay frosty,

John

 

 

Congratulations… Now, Stop Being A Wuss

iPhone09-2 225

Monday, 7:55pm
Reno, NV
But it’s all right… in fact it’s a gas…” (The Stones, “Jumpin’ Jack Flash“)

Howdy…

It’s time for another orgy of graduation rites across the land…

… and, in honor of it all, I am re-posting last year’s rant on the subject.  It was one of the more popular posts I’ve written, so it deserves an annual rediscovery.

So, without further ado… here’s the post:

Nobody’s ever asked me to give the commencement speech for a graduating class.

That’s probably a good thing.  I’m pretty pissed off at the education system these days, and I might cause a small riot with the rant I’d surely deliver.

See, I have a university “education”.  A BA in psychology.  (The BA stands for, I believe, “bullshit amassed”.)  I earned it several decades ago…

… and while I had a good time in college (height of the sex revolution, you know, with a soundtrack that is now called “classic rock”), made some lifelong friends, and got a good look at higher learning from the inside…

… that degree provided zilch preparation for the real world.  Didn’t beef me up for any job, didn’t give me insight to how things worked, didn’t do squat for me as an adult.

I waltzed off-campus and straight into the teeth of the Continue Reading

How To Critical Think, Part 1

Saturday, 2:33pm
Reno, NV
When I look back on all the crap I learned in high school, it’s a wonder I can think at all…” (Paul Simon, “Kodachrome”)

Howdy.

Someone recently asked me to offer a clue on how to nurture critical thinking.

It’s a fair question.  And while I’m no neuro-scientist, I talk about critical thinking a lot, because it’s the foundation of great writing, killer salesmanship, and engaging the world with your throttle wide open.

However, it’s not an easy subject to grasp if you’ve seldom taken your brain out for a spin around the Deep Thought Track (as most folks have not).

So let’s explore it a little bit here…

Critical Think Point #1: Yes, I know the headline on this article is a grammatical car wreck.  It should be “how to think critically”, or at least “how to critically think”.

But this botched phrasing is actually part of the lesson I’m sharing here.

Consider:  The vast majority of people sleep-walk through their lives and careers, never going beneath the surface of anything.  They process, at most, a small fraction of the information they see, hear or read about.

It’s pretty much GIGO.  Garbage in, garbage out.

So the first job of any good marketer is toContinue Reading

“Word Slut” Resources

Monday, 1:17am
Reno, NV
Tell me that you’ve got everything you want, and your bird can sing…” (Beatles)

Howdy…

Got another classic blog post here for you.

The topic is not only evergreen for writers and marketers… but, amazingly, the more arcane referenced website is still operational.

This second site, especially, is a SHOCKINGLY GOOD resource for finding both current buzz words and great slang…

… for when your message cries out for hipness, relevance, “slang nostalgia”, or just a sizzling word or phrase that knocks your reader back on his heels.

Just be careful, and remember Rule #1 for using slang: It’s got to be Continue Reading


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