Tag Archives: copywriting

The Grizzled Pro Speaks

IMG_1507 copy

Friday, 2:29pm
Reno, NV
Ch-ch-changes, oh look out, you rock and rollers…” (David Bowie, “Changes”)

Howdy.

All last week, on Facebook, I opened myself up to the mob…

… and promised to answer the best 5 questions posed in an experimental “Bug The Grizzled Pro” post. I just wanted to see what was bothering folks, holding them up, disrupting sleep and profits and happiness.

I was pretty damned impressed with the level of questions that poured in, too. Finding 5 good ones was easy. Answering them required my full focus… and the stuff is good.

So, just to make sure this advanced Q&A isn’t lost in the mire of Facebook (where stuff fades away forever), I’ve posted the entire exchange here. (If you want to see the comments, you’ll have to go to my Facebook page and root around in the posts for the week of November 9-14. And while you’re there, thrilling to the banter, trolling, and fevered debate, sign up to follow me, why don’tcha?)

Here’s the relevant posts. Enjoy:

Post #1:

Bug The Grizzled Pro: Anything you’d like to ask me about, or see me rant about here or on the blog?

I’ll never run out of my own ideas (you oughta see the cluster-mess of untapped stories, advice, epiphanies and general bullshit roiling around in my head)…

… (just be happy you aren’t experiencing this kind of internal chaos yourself)…

… but I’m always happy to see what folks are curious about.

I mean, really — how often do you get a chance to strafe the deck of a veteran, seen-it-all professional like this?

Give it a shot. The worst that can happen is public humiliation, or accidental enlightenment that forces you to change your life (or something in-between).

Don’t be a coward. Ask.

I’ll answer the first… um… five good questions during the week. But they gotta be good…

Post #2:

The Grizzled Pro Speaks, Part One: Hey, some really good questions came out of Sunday’s FB post “Bug The Grizzled Pro”. I promised to answer the best 5 during the week, and I shall. (You can continue to post more questions, to your heart’s content.)

Right off the bat, we got some killer subjects to dive into. David Ayad posts: “Share your opinion about the changes in the marketing world from the 90s compared to today? Marketing changes, copy changes, changes in the marketing community. Better now or then?…why?”

Actually, he cheated by mushing 7 questions into one… but the general idea is coherent.

Yes, there are massive changes to marketing that arrived with the viability of the Web as a way to find, sell and manage prospects. The main explosion came around 2002, when banks began offering online merchant accounts… and especially when my 90-year-old Pop mentioned he was getting certain medications from overseas, online, using his credit card. That was as major an announcement as I could ask for, that buying crap on the Web had gained legitimacy amongst the greater public.

Two major advantages were like an earthquake in the biz world: (1) If you had a pitch that worked to existing targeted lists (direct mail and magazine)… you now could reach nearly every single prospect who existed, globally. Instead of only being able to reach those who’d already bought or become a lead on a house list, or who subscribed to a particular magazine.

Your market, overnight, blew up from thousands to millions. It was so dramatic, it took a while for old-school marketers to even realize the implications.

(2) You could now test IN REAL TIME. Direct mail tests could take months, and magazine ad tests half a year to play out. Suddenly, especially with Adwords, you could direct enough traffic to a site to get statistically-significant results in an evening… and do A/B split tests seconds apart.

All over the planet, old-school marketers heads exploded. They were often like folks back at the beginning of air travel — the possibilities didn’t quite sink in immediately.

This meant there was a long period where younger, more tech-savvy entrepreneurs could thrive, often in hot markets with little or no competition. Low-hanging fruit, we called it. You could actually be the ONLY marketer in many highly-profitable markets…

… which meant that sloppy advertising worked like magic. You just needed to have a site that didn’t crash, with an easy way for folks to order. It was just like The Wild West, with few rules, no oversight, no regulations.

So a lot of people became experts simply by announcing they were. Tech savvy was often more critical than marketing savvy… until the competition got heavier. Slowly, the half-assed “I read one book on writing ads and made a gazillion bucks” online Wonder Kids had to either get better at the salesmanship part, or find freelancers who could jack up the quality of their pitches.

Understanding tech then began to segment out… so online marketing again resembled the advertising world of the nineties and earlier — there were media experts who couldn’t write copy, managers who didn’t understand salesmanship (but could wrangle a huge staff), and writers who could barely turn on a computer (but who could blast out killer ads that worked in every different medium used).

Joe Sugarman, back in the early nineties, could run an entire infomercial juggernaut (with his BluBlocker sunglasses) with a two-person shop — writing, filming, buying late-night cable spots, doing everything but actually producing the sunglasses — for several years. Today, countless entrepreneurs can create a deep biz model and write everything, build all the sites themselves, self-manage lists, and outsource what they don’t want (or need) to handle.

In general ways, it’s not that different. VSLs (video sales letters) are really just infomercials in a different format. Many old-school marketers (like Dan Kennedy), in fact, create all their VSLs using the identical models of writing and producing they used FOR informercials a decade ago.

I have many ads I wrote for direct mail and magazines back in the nineties now running as spoken-word, low-production-value VSLs… with minimal editing. Twenty-year-old copy, working just fine in a new vehicle.

So, the more things change, the more they evolve into very similar models. Not exactly, of course. But I witnessed online ads from the very beginning (and I was fooling around on the Web before it was even called the World Wide Web, as a hippie in Silicon Valley in the late seventies)…

… and while it may appear that many marketing tactics and techniques are “new”, it’s all really just a reboot of good salesmanship, taking full advantage of the larger markets and faster testing times.

In other words, it’s still just one human communicating with another human, negotiating a deal. The fundamentals of the conversation haven’t changed since the dawn of time. The details, however, have changed. Dramatically.

I like it, personally. I’d never sold anything to a Brazilian or a Chinese citizen or an African entrepreneur before the Web widened the audience for my crap to the entire globe.

I do think things have calmed down a bit — we won’t see model-morphing changes like Google, email, streaming video, or even social media, happening at such a rapid clip for a while. The Wild West has settled down, and it’s becoming a game of regulation, managing the competition, and learning how to operate a real business (something most entrepreneurs suck at, by the way).

There’s still a ton of disruption going on, and no one can predict what civilization will look like in ten years. (Wm Gibson, who predicted a lot of current online wonders in cyberpunk books like Neuromancer, for example, admits he never saw something like Facebook happening.)

But it’s more like the years after the revolution now — still different, still not settled, but the upheaval from pre-Enlightenment to post-Enlightenment thinking is over. It’s a brave new world… which just happens to echo much of the goofy old world world.

It’s significant that old-school dudes like Halbert, Kennedy, Makepeace and even my own scrawny ass have remained go-to advisors, marketing mentors, and top writers amidst all the technology changes.

The Web is freakin’ amazing. But it’s still just another vehicle for humans to do their thang. The vehicle — whether it’s television, drone delivery, direct mail, or brain implants — is still just the delivery system for your message.

And the fundamental message of selling hasn’t changed at all.

Jeez… can I even post something this long on FB? Will Zuck allow it?

Side note: If you like this kind of deep insight, advice and sharing, you may want to check out the ways to reach me (and even hang out) personally. Just go here — it’ll take you all of five minutes to see what’s up.

Okay. Continuing with the Facebook posts…

Post #3:

The Grizzled Pro Speaks, Part Two: Hope you liked “Part One”, just below this post.

Feel free to chime in, in the comments — we’re always open to new sub-threads around here. Don’t ask why — it’s complicated.

Anyway… the next question I’ve chosen is from our old pal Harlan Kilstein… who asks: “Since Facebook copy is similar to catalog copy, I’ve never seen you write about forced short copy. What are the critical elements in short copy that will drive people to long copy?”

Very interesting question. I hear it put different ways, but it all squeegies down to a basic writer’s problem: How do you distill larger ideas into tasty, bite-sized tidbits…

… that persuade the reader to continue reading elsewhere. Or to start reading a much more involved piece.

This is right in the wheelhouse of a grizzled, old-school veteran copywriter. In the Bad Old Days (before the Web) (yes, this time existed, and it wasn’t that freakin’ long ago, so shut up) there were almost always strict limits on the amount of copy you could write.

In newspapers, you could only shrink the typeface so far down, until it became unreadable… so if you wrote more copy than the space ad you bought could hold, you had to edit. And edit. And finagle and fuss and cram to make everything fit.

Key word there: “Fit.” Take a look at some older newspaper or magazine direct response ads — they’re dense with copy, to the point of making readers squint.

In direct mail, extra words could end up costing you massive wads of money. You had to keep first class mail (still do) under an ounce to avoid having to put extra stamps on your envelopes. (Go ask your Mom what a “stamp” is.)

Even third-class mail has weight limits. So writers who wanted controls were VERY concerned with the weight of the paper, the envelope, even the microscopic density of the ink used… because it took real engineering skill to make a standard 8-page letter, with reply coupon and BRE, lift note, and any other gew-gah the client demanded be tossed into the envelope come in under an ounce.

Failure meant huge stacks of printed, stamped envelopes being returned by the Post Office for “insufficient postage”. More stamps had to put on, making everyone very, very cranky… and instantly increasing the cost of your project by a whole bunch.

Good way to get fired, doing that.

On infomercials and radio spots, we could speed up the vocals to fit in more copy, but there was a sonic limit. Even chipmunks have to be clearly heard, to have your message get across.

So…

… old-school copywriters were inherently masters at writing within limits. I actually cut my teeth on catalog copy, which had character counts per “copy area” that could not be violated. The photos were often more important, and there was a lot of default copy already in each space (for order numbers, guarantees, etc.)

When Adwords appeared, with strict character counts for each line, newbie writers who had only known the vast, unlimited wasted space of Websites, freaked the hell out. Us grizzled pro’s just shrugged, and got into what I call “essential copy”.

Everything you write in an ad — the headline, subhead, photo caption, opening paragraphs, bullets, guarantee copy, close, P.S., testimonials, all of it — has a “hook” or fundamental element that is the beating heart of that section.

When you’ve got to start condensing things… especially when you’re writing “teaser” copy meant to incite further action (like clicking on a link where a longer piece is laid out for you)… you go into a different mode of thinking.

Yes, you’re imparting information, but it’s more like appetizers of the main meal. You’re whetting the appetite of your reader… by teasing out the highlights of what is more leisurely expanded upon on the main page.

Look for the defining hooks of each section of your main piece. Spot the word or phrase or imagery that nails the essence of that hook. You may not use them all… but this is Step One. Gather your ammo.

In Adwords, you usually abandon adjectives and good grammar first, when boiling down a good teaser. You find shorter, possibly more descriptive words to replace the bloviation you’re used to expanding on.

And a whole lot of important stuff will have to be left out entirely. Stuff your client may think is critical. Stuff you would include, if you could. But there simply isn’t room — somebody’s gotta stay behind, while the reconnaissance patrol heads out.

On Facebook, you actually aren’t limited anywhere as severely as in Adwords. These posts prove that — this is several pages of copy.

However, at a certain point, your message will automatically be clipped by FB robots, and a “Continue reading…” link arbitrarily slapped in.

So, you must make sure the copy that DOES get on the newsfeed works to incite further action. You may even use the first part of your copy to get readers to click on the “Continue reading…” link and continue reading… where they’ll be further persuaded to click on yet another link, leading to your main website.

This all sounds complicated, but it’s not. Most of the sponsored ads you see on FB right now are not well-written — be wary of using them as models.

Adwords (or FB ads) penned by experienced pro copywriters will read like focused blasts of brain dynamite — pricking your curiosity, challenging your reality, waking you up and demanding that you click to find out more.

Ask yourself, when writing condensed copy: What are the emotional, financial, possibly spiritual, certainly success-targeted fundamental hooks of your message? You can tease, or be direct… use curiosity or just state plain facts… depending on how unique, valuable, and critical your message is to your audience.

Free is always a good word, when applicable. Pattern interrupts are good — challenging standard thinking, using images that wake folks up.

Just don’t worry about grammar. Imagine having half a matchbook cover and a broken pencil stub, and you have to scribble a message that alerts your rescuers to where you are, and what they must be ready for. No room for last will and testaments, no room for teary requests for forgiveness, no room for unnecessary words.

Keep considering the essence of what you’re saying. Know what the hooks are in your message. Study the art of teasing readers into action.

WARNING: Rookies are often tempted to lie, or exaggerate, or try to trick readers into clicking on a link. This is a loser’s game — the second the game is up, and your reader sees he’s been duped, he’s gone.

If you have something your reader needs, or wants, or SHOULD want… inside of a damn good deal, with risk reversed and lots of testament to your awesomeness…

… then you’re front-loaded with excellent hooks targeted to his sweet spot of need.

All right?

All right.

That was fun…

Side note: If you like this kind of deep insight, advice and sharing, you may want to check out the ways to reach me (and even hang out) personally. Just go here — it’ll take you all of five minutes to see what’s up.

Post #4:

The Grizzled Pro Speaks, Part Three: Are we having fun yet?

I am. I love having the chance to air out some good, specific questions here… especially knowing they matter to folks right now.

Tonight, an easy one (the 3rd of 5 I promised)… and a chance to highlight another resource for good, free, veteran-level advice.

Mitch Miller writes: “John, our stories are nearly identical personality and life situation wise. I am 31, and have just started to blast off into success land (thanks to you and Halbert and understanding that I am only one good sales letter away from a fortune). My question would be:

How can I limit the amount of damage I will surely do to myself by all of a sudden making a pile of money? My time has come, and I feel I am finally about to peak – I do not want to blow it all on lamborghinis and dinners, though I know that could happen to me.

It is inevitable that I am about to “get rich” so to speak – how does a kid who grew up poor, not kill himself with all that angst when I finally make it?

Love yah man.”

Well. First, thanks for the kind words, Mitch.

Second… it just so happens that the podcast I co-host with Kevin Rogers — “Psych Insights For Modern Marketers” — did an entire show on this very subject not too long ago.

So rather than re-hash what we shared, just follow the link below to the podcast, and get hip. (Be sure to sign up for alerts on future shows, too, if you like the podcast. Remember: All free.)

Let me add: What Mitch asks about is a very real, very pervasive, and very stubborn problem for anyone… in any gig… who gets good, gets rewarded, and suddenly has to face dramatic financial, emotional and intellectual change.

The old saying “Money can’t buy happiness” is true… though, most folks would prefer to learn it for themselves, rather than just be lectured about it. So, I know from experience that nothing I say can make anyone pause — even for a moment — when they climb on the roller coaster of rapid wealth.

Still, once the consequences of moving up a level (or more) in raw wealth and prestige start to settle in… and they will, and it will be painful (especially if you started out in modest circumstances) (like living out of your car, as I did)…

… it’s CRITICAL that you know these tactics for dealing with the burn-out and lifestyle changes descending on your ill-equipped ass.

So go here, and feast your ears: http://pi4mm.com/show07-burnout/

Side note: If you like this kind of deep insight, advice and sharing, you may want to check out the ways to reach me (and even hang out) personally. Just go here — it’ll take you all of five minutes to see what’s up.

Post #5:

The Grizzled Pro Speaks, Part 4:

Here’s an answer I gave last night, in the comments of the last post. It qualifies as one of the 5 I’m ranting on this week. Alex Ramirez is in a real fix, having blown his initial investment in becoming an entrepreneur, and now down to his final pennies…

… and, worse, paralyzed into inaction because of it. My colleague David Raybould chimed in first, with some good advice, and then I went off on my own answer. First, David:

“Alex I’m a buddy of John’s and a former mentee, so I know he won’t mind me jumping in. The ugly truth is that starting out in such a pressurized situation probably isn’t going to lead to the instant success it seems you’re hoping for. But that’s okay. That’s why it’s called starting out. You will fail until you don’t. But don’t have an “event” mentality about it. Success isn’t an event. It’s a process. Perfect the process, trust the process, and rewards will follow. It’s just traffic and conversions. Anything else is extraneous. Also be wary of feeling like you need to answer to family members in regard to your business. The two should be very separate. The only way for you to succeed from here Alex is to take some action. So get off Facebook and go do it.

Now, my added comments… relevant to ALL entrepreneurs, at all stages of the roller coaster:

“Excellent response, David. All entrepreneurs face failure, constantly. Put as many odds in your favor as possible, and when you have to grind, grind. Alex, everyone here feels for your situation. Many have been in some version of it themselves. There are no magic answers, however. It’s business — your plan, your marketing, your advertising, all the pieces are put into action, and you do all you can to get the results you seek.

But plans fail, circumstances outside your control interfere, and sometimes even great ads stop working. Nothing in biz is guaranteed. Every top marketer you know of has had projects fail. You need to learn when to stop throwing good money after bad, when to regroup and start over, when to call it a loss and try something new.

The gun-to–the-head attitude is just a reminder to make the best possible decision at all times. It’s not a guarantee you’ll always be right, or that things will work out. The gun isn’t real — it’s a metaphor. So you don’t do things on a whim, and you do the things with the greatest chance of winning.

The problems you likely encountered happened long ago. The time to regroup is not at the end of your resources. Learn from this. Get a job, if you must, to restock your bank acc’t. Work out a repayment plan. Keep learning how to make a project work.

Money is not a finite resource in the world. You can earn more, work your way into a better-position on your next project — so you’re not hemorrhaging money in a losing campaign.

Again — there’s no magic to successful projects. Large amounts of money upfront doesn’t mean you’ll succeed, big staffs don’t mean you’ll succeed, and great ideas don’t mean you’ll succeed. It isn’t the end of the world to fail, when you can muster new opportunities after recovering.

You sound young. That means you have time on your side. You are not forbidden to try again with a new project, if you fail. You can take a job, and focus on learning how to fix what you did wrong while repaying loans and starting a new war chest for the next project down the road.

Again — there are no magic answers. But there are other projects, other opportunities, and other ways to both learn from failure, and do better next time.

Good luck. And don’t call me “pops”. Plus, all I ever asked for from that first copywriter I met was a clue. A bit of info. Which is what I’ve been pouring into the world, through my free blog, this free Facebook page, my free podcasts. I’ve never asked anyone to save me. Just info.

You have massive lessons to learn here. It may take you years to learn them, and get back in the game. You may never be a successful entrepreneur — you must live in reality, and be honest about your situation at every stage.

You may also make it all work the next time around. It depends on you, and how you apply the lessons you learn. Every biz owner alive faces the same risk of failure. It’s a process, not an event, as David said above.”

Side note: If you like this kind of deep insight, advice and sharing, you may want to check out the ways to reach me (and even hang out) personally. Just go here — it’ll take you all of five minutes to see what’s up.

Post #6:

The Grizzled Pro Speaks, Part 5 (last one, folks):

Well, this has been quite the education. In how Facebook treats entrepreneurs just trying to connect with folks, in how people react to a pro offering free advice, and in how much crap is simmering on a low-flame in my mind, just waiting to be tapped.

Okay, last one. Christopher Chia posts: “John, I’d love to see you rant about what’s really important to you now, after a long and successful career, after you’ve gone in cahoots with the world’s best marketers… Lessons learnt, things you wish you knew starting out, the advice you’d give out to the young buggers of today, etc. Thanks!”

My answer: First, just go traipse through the (free) archives at the blog — www.john-carlton.com. I’ve been writing pretty much entirely on this subject for over a decade now.

What’s important to me has remained the same for many years — I love to teach, through writing, via my own experiences. So it’s like an ongoing biography, focused on biz. I love to shuck and jive, and my career has reached a point where I can do whatever I want… and what I want to do is live fully (chewing up large chunks of scenery along the way, as I always have) and write with verve and gusto.

I’m not the off-the-rails wild man I was as a young punkster, but I still crave enlightenment and raw knowledge. Which, you should knock on wood, I hone by sharing. Here, on the blog, in books.

My unusual style of teaching sometimes connects with folks in a big way. I got to where I am today by making almost every mistake possible in a copywriting career. Literally — I was like the bull in the china shop in my early years, with a rapacious appetite for learning, and a sense there was no time to lose in getting on the path to success.

This meant I bit off more than I could chew at times. And encountered situations where I stumbled, and even failed. But it didn’t matter…

… because I was after the long-term goal — securing a place for me in the hierarchy of the business world. That’s all I wanted.

So the mistakes weren’t stopping points, or even obstacles. They were LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES. I never vowed to “do better next time”…

… instead, I actually logged the time and effort (and expense) filling in the gaps in my knowledge/skill base, and worked at my chops until I would actually DO better next time. No promises. Vows and promises aren’t worth anything in the real world. Actually coming back with a fresh set of better skills IS worth something in the real world.

So my teaching method just naturally plays off my personal stories. I’m not teaching you a lesson I read in a book somewhere, or got schooled on in a seminar.

Nope. I’m relating how I got into the mess… how I got OUT of the mess… what I learned… and how I fixed things so I did better next time. This means you get to hear the rollicking war stories plucked directly from my life…

… and see how the lessons played out in reality. (Reality — what a concept. Rather than viewing the world as you wish it was, or think it ought to be… you view the world AS IT REALLY IS, and adjust accordingly.) (The first thing I jettisoned, when I became a professional, was my youthful idealism. Belief systems are fine, but piss-poor ways to run a biz on. Get away from what people SAY they’ll do, and focus instead on what they actually DO. It’s often as different as night and day.)

Some folks don’t do well with this teaching method. They’re used to just having the steps spelled out, one, two, three… and the idea of going the long way around the block… through stories… to get to the point of the lesson just drives them nuts.

Plus, as a real kinda guy, I can be mouthy and let my bad attitude off the leash a bit too often. I use slang a lot, I swear like a drunken sailor on shore leave, and I don’t pull punches in verbal brawls.

This is because, as a rookie, I discovered I learned best when taught by someone with the same outlook on life that I had. Conservative, uptight, formal mentors are fine for some folks — preferable, in fact, if that’s your personal style.

But I’ve always been engaged with life further out on the edges. I’m not interested in living and breathing business — I’ve got too many other interests, hobbies, skill sets and passions. Often, I’ll work these outside passions into lessons — because biz IS life, on a slightly more intense scale. Money’s at stake, and failure.

Still, I’ve been able to parlay my days playing in rock bands, in biker bars across the West, into excellent biz lessons. Cuz biz lessons and life lessons… and rock and roll lessons… all overlap and intertwine. My dearly-missed mentor Gary Halbert knew this well, and that’s why we got along so famously.

I’m a shy, introverted dude. But you’re not gonna be successful as a freelancer hiding and avoiding people. So I learned the ways of the extrovert, and was stunned to learn that most of the top speakers in the seminars are introverts, too. We just adopt the extrovert’s tactics for the length of the gig… and collapse in our rooms later, exhausted but successful.

The world is an amazing, dangerous, wonderful and scary place. There are few other gigs that drill deep into every part of life like copywriting — you have to be a detective, a shrink, a circus handler, a money man, a debate expert and maybe a dozen other things, all at once.

And that’s just to handle clients. Creating product, running a biz, kick-starting entrepreneurial projects… all require critical thinking way beyond what “civilians” (what I call everyone who isn’t a direct response-savvy marketer) can even imagine.

Freelancers go behind the curtains, backstage, into the dark secret places of biz, and clients’ lives, and even into the dungeons of capitalism itself. It requires the nerves of a mercenary, the balls of a Bezerker, the steel-trap mind of an Enlightenment philosopher, the courage of a Jack Russell terrier going after squirrels. Through traffic. Halfway up trees. With little thought to survival, and total unwavering focus on the goal at hand.

Cops have a gig somewhat like ours. With more real danger added. Firefighters share our requirement for focus. Sailboat fools and some skateboarders know what I’m talking about regarding eating risk for breakfast.

I was a total slacker when I hit my early thirties, and that had to change immediately if I was going to taste even mild success in the biz world. So I transformed myself — with books when raw knowledge was needed, with experience at every opportunity (unafraid to fail), with mentoring whenever possible, at whatever price was asked.

You can live an entire life half-asleep, snoozing away and never accomplishing anything. Many people choose this path. You’ll have a lot of company if you decide the bruises, occasional humiliations and nerve-wracking risk of the entrepreneurial world is too much to bear.

Those of us who live here love it all, though. It’s a decision, not a default setting in your system. Every move is up to you… and most of the time, it will be ENTIRELY up to you. Cuz no one else gives a shit, not really, about you in the long run. I mean, they “care”, but not enough to sacrifice themselves for your happiness.

If you need unqualified love, get a dog. (I did.) The biz world ain’t about coddling or nurturing… it’s about grappling with reality and capitalism, fully aware and hungry for knowledge, challenges and rewards.

For more like this — again — go haunt the freakin’ blog. It’s filled to the rafters with rants just like this… www.john-carlton.com

And that’s the lot of them. I’ve bought big, thick biz books that didn’t have a fraction of the solid advice in them you’ve just read here.

Seriously. Use this blog — the archives are gold.

And check out the other opportunities available to connect with me (and even hang out): www.carltoncoaching.com

Stay frosty,

John

The Entrepreneur’s Checklist

photo-5

Friday, 2:15pm
Reno, NV
“I read the news today, oh boy…” (Lennon, “A Day In The Life”)

Howdy…

One of my favorite quotes from Gary Halbert: “There is nothing that cannot be accomplished by a man who refuses to face reality.”

You laugh, but he was dead serious. One of the reasons we became fast friends was our mutual outlook on life – whenever reality was inconvenient to our goals, we just ignored the facts, lowered our head, and bulled forward.

That photo, above, is me in high school (from the yearbook). I loved basketball, and was good enough to become the captain of the “B” squad my junior year…

… however, as should be evident in this photo, I ran into a brick wall trying out for the varsity a year later.

The guy guarding me as I took that jumper is taller than me by a foot. I was the smallest guy on the squad…

… and really, at some point a caring coach probably should have taken me aside and said “John, I know you love the game… but look at your family. No one is taller than 5’10”, and basketball is a sport for tall folks. You’re not going to magically grow into the size they want on the varsity team…”

I wouldn’t have listened, anyway. I’m like a Jack Russell terrier – a big dog trapped in a small dog’s body. Eventually, in sports, my poor eyesight and lack of height stopped me…

… but I had fun for a couple of years in the meantime.

Later on, as I was gathering my courage to try copywriting, an actual professional copywriter earnestly informed me that I should not even try.

“It’s too hard,” she said. “You’ll never be a pro writer.”

That was, of course, the BEST thing she could have ever told me. I doubt I could have survived the first years without that internal motivation of needing to prove her wrong.

I call it “negative motivation”… and it’s actually one of the most powerful forces available for getting stuff done. I never saw her again, and don’t even remember her name…

… so it wasn’t a need to flaunt my success in her face. It was all internal for me – I used her as the “face” of the obstacles in front of me, and I even laughed when I later realized I was in a position to tell her “Fuck you, I made it anyway.”

Yes, my internal ego is an immature twerp sometimes. Chip on the shoulder, snarling underdog attitude, and an almost stupidly-aggressive and irrational refusal to face reality.

I am so grateful for it, too.

(By the way… I nailed that shot in the photo, above… and ended up with 20 points while also hitting the winning basket. Easily my finest moment in a futile, doomed effort to be a “real” basketball player. A has-been at 16.)

You do not need to be a belligerent rebel to be a good entrepreneur…

… but it can help sometimes.

Certainly, given the choice of sitting down to dinner with the business types in suits, who are uber-polite and careful in their conversations…

… or the rowdy crowd of rule-breaking ne’er-do-well whack job entrepreneurs who may easily get kicked OUT of the restaurant….

… well, you know which one I’d pick.

I was Halbert’s sidekick for a very long time, and one of the most enjoyable parts of the gig wasContinue Reading

Why We Blow Stuff Up On The 4th Of July (redux)

Flag

Saturday, 1:35pm
Reno, NV
Wave that flag, wave it wide and high…” (Grateful Dead, “US Blues”)

Howdy,

As a kid, July Fourth meant fireworks, and lots of them.

We’d start salivating around mid-June, shaking like 10-year-old junkies until Pop finally drove us to the Red Devil stand in Fontana, where’d we stock up on the most gruesome display of flame, gunpowder and amateur rocketry possible.

Oh, the joys of ladyfingers going off under Aunt Ruth’s chair… of nearly burning down the garage when a bottle rocket zoomed sideways… of thrilling Roman candles singeing the shrubbery… of snakes, pinwheels, sparklers and fountains frothy with fire in the backyard battlefield…

It was freakin’ glorious, is what it was.

But I never made the connection to what, exactly, we were celebrating.

Later in life, I got into history, and I finally understood why (for example) my Mexican and European pals rolled their eyes at my stories of celebrating the Fourth by setting fields on fire with M80-loaded Silver Salutes, or blowing up toilets in the boy’s room with cherry bombs (as custom demanded).

Americans are a raucous bunch, that’s for sure. We take a lot for granted, we’re still fighting the Civil War, much of our politics is incoherent and illogical, and we can be pretty infuriatingly provincial.

Plus, we’re no longer world leaders in the stuff we used to be rockstars at, like education, social mobility, inventions, progress, medicine… and we’re in denial about much of it.

However, even acknowledging all of these glaring faults hasn’t made me as cynical as some of my hipster pals. As I’ve said many times, no political party would ever allow me to be a member, and you’ll never figure out how I vote or what my views are on the topics the news media obsesses about.

This causes some problems in social situations when colleagues just assume I agree with them on the major issues. And I usually don’t agree at all. I’m not a total cynic, but I find fault with almost every opinion I hear. I totally understand how a lot of folks do become snarling partisans, enraged at their polar opposites on all issues, bereft of hope for the future.

I just learned to loathe cynicism itself long ago. Worthless attitude, doesn’t help anything, doesn’t provide solutions, doesn’t make an iota of difference in what goes on. At best, the cynic may toss off an actual witticism…

… but mostly, they’re just too cool to be bothered beyond expressing droll boredom and a vague superiority at being “above the fray”.

Well, fuck ‘em. The social/political/world-affairs cynic is a close cousin of the dude who’s never met a payroll, yet feels completely qualified to deliver speeches on how everyone else’s business should be run.

And I learned to shut that guy out very early in my career. My first question, whenever someone was bashing an entrepreneur’s efforts, used to be “well, what would you do in his situation?”

Which, of course, produced exasperation that someone of such intelligence and knowledge as themselves should be required to come up with solutions.

The nerve, asking him to dirty himself with real-world considerations.

Nowadays, I prefer to just let the conversation die from non-involvement. No matter what the cynic is talking about, it’s the same game every time – either “they” (the mysterious folks apparently running everything) need to fix things, or the world just needs to stop bothering Mr. Cynic with its problems if no one’s gonna take his advice.

Yawn.

Yeah, you’re the guy I’m going to when problems need fixing. Those platitudes, snooty attitudes and arrogant dismissals of detail work oughta solve everything fast.

Oops, I let some sarcasm slip there. Sorry.

Anyway, I bring up my detestation of cynicism because it often rears its ugly head right about the Fourth of July, when guys like me start ruminating on what’s good about this country.

Yes, I know The Man is getting better at keeping us down. I know we’re being groomed for digital slavery by evil geniuses who want to control the universe. And I know it’s hopeless to fight city hall (let alone the gazillionaires currently corrupting every corner of the government with buckets of moolah).

But I’m an amateur historian. And I can scoff at the cynics because even a casual glance at the ride we’ve taken as a country so far lays bare a single fact: We’ve always been at each other’s throats… Continue Reading

Buzz And Awe, Redux

2-10 iPhone 005

Tuesday, 2:08 a.m.
Reno, NV
Is there gas in the car? Yeah, there’s gas in the car…” (Steely Dan, “Kid Charlemagne”)

Howdy…

Those of you in the loop know we’ve re-launched the coaching program of the Simple Writing System again.

We rarely offer this hand-holding, personalized, one-on-one mentoring (by coaches who are also successful copywriters). The last session was a couple of years ago.

No idea when another session will come around… if it even does.

We take this one program at a time. It’s notorious among marketing insiders, because of how effectively we’re able to transform almost anyone into a sales-message-producing machine… quickly and efficiently. It’s life-changing, and business-changing mojo…

… and that’s why the top marketers in the game have demanded that the folks in their organization responsible for marketing TAKE this course.

The personalized coaching in the SWS is extremely interactive Perfect for anyone who knows that hands-on mentoring is the best way to learn the simplest possible system (crammed with short-cuts) for creating all the sales messages needed for a profitable business…

… including all your ads, websites, video scripts, emails, AdWords, blogs and other social media broadsides…

everything that pumps eager prospects into your Sales Funnel.

So you can close the heck out them.  And get filthy rich and happy, and become the most successful entrepreneur or biz owner possible… because without killer, persuasive copy, you’re not going to find, nor close very many prospects.

Most marketers wander through the wasteland of Bad Business Practices their entire career…

… and never figure out how to SELL anything.

So, no matter how totally hot and good and righteous your product or service might be…Continue Reading

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:Continue Reading

How To Hire A Copywriter.

photo-1Tuesday, 2:14pm
Reno, NV
Are you going on this crazy voyage?” (Sailor in “King Kong”, 1933 version)

Howdy…

It’s high time for a little “public service” message here, for any marketer wanting to hire a freelance copywriter.

Cuz it’s a jungle out there.

There’s a veritable mob of available writers, of all levels of expertise (from world-class down to “should be hung”), charging all kinds of fees and making all kinds of promises.

It can get confusing, abruptly, and you can end up mismatched (or getting roughed up financially) if you don’t know what you’re doing.

So, here’s a Quick Start overview of what you – the dude or dudette doing the hiring – should get straight on before heading into the Big Scary Jungle Of Freelance Copywriters to find your perfect scribe. (This works for hiring ANY consultant, actually, so pay attention.)

Step One: Deconstruct and list what you want done.

Do you need a single ad written, or do you need your entire website created or overhauled? Do you need someone to write the necessary emails, Video Sales Letters and sales pages for a launch? Do you need a sales funnel created, starting with Adwords and traveling through landing pages, auto-responders, landing pages, and sales support?

Or what?

Step Two: Admit it if you aren’t sure what you want (or need). Double admit it to yourself if you’re absolutely clueless.

This is a critical step.

You’re about to shell out a lot of money, and put a lot of your hopes and dreams on the back of the writer you hire…Continue Reading

The Rest Of Your Freakin’ Life (one more time)

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Wednesday, 6:50pm
Reno, NV
Hey, you bastards, I’m still here!” (Steve McQueen as Papillon, floating away to freedom…)

Howdy…

I’m re-publishing — for what has become a very popular tradition on this blog — one of the more influential posts I’ve ever written.

It’s a good one, worth rereading even if you read it before.

What you’re about to encounter is a slightly tweaked way of looking at the best way to start your new year…

… but this tweak makes all the difference in the world. I’ve heard from many folks that this particular technique finally helped them get a perspective on where they’re at, where they’re going…

… and why they care about getting there.

So, even if you’ve read this post before… it’s worth another look. Especially now, as you gaze down the yawning gullet of 2013, trying to wrap your brain around a plan to make the year your bitch.

This is a critical step for entering any new period of your life. To keep your life moving ahead, you need to set some goals, dude. And most goal-setting tactics, I’ve found, are useless. Worst among them is the traditional New Year’s resolutions (which seldom last through January).

This tactic I’m sharing with you (again) is something I’ve used, very successfully, for decades…

… to reach goals, to clarify the direction of my life, and to change habits. I first shared it in the old Rant newsletter a few years back, and I’ve hauled it out here in the blog on a regular basis.  It’s timeless, classic stuff that will never let you down.

So let’s dive in. Here’s the relevant part of the post (slightly edited):

“Goal Setting 101 And
The January 15th Letter”

Yeah, yeah, I know a chat about goals can quickly turn into a boring, pedantic lecture. But then, so can a chat about space flight.

And, in reality, both space flight and your goals are VERY exciting things.Continue Reading

Staying Out Of “The Lonely Hearts” Club

photo-4

Monday, 5:55pm
Reno, NV
“Train whistle blows, lost on its own track…” (Dwight Yoakum, “Long White Cadillac”)

Howdy…

I thought you’d want to see this.

I first posted it on Facebook, and it generated an avalanche of “likes” and comments… which always means I’ve hit a nerve. And since many of the nice folks on my main list are curmudgeons who refuse to participate in social media (“Facebook, bah, humbug!”)…

… I’m reprinting it here. So you don’t have to sully yourself by dropping by Facebook. (Bonus: The post below actually trashes large swaths of the Web.)

The cold, dark days of December are, traditionally, a breeding ground for both regret over mistakes in the past year…

… and (more happily) for bold new plans in the coming year.

So, in the spirit of helping you end the year on a positive note… while also teeing up 2014 as possibly your best new year ever…

… let’s see if this advice (which has transformed so many entrepreneurial adventures into something amazing) will have any effect on you. Maybe get a head-start on wading through the mounting piles of nonsense out there, and snuggling up closer to the reality-checks and truths that can help you attain your wildest goals and dreams.

Here’s the post:

Warning (and your brain may curdle if you ignore this): I’ve been paying close attention to human behavior for longer than many of my readers have been alive. And because I felt so clueless, even as a kid, I devoured every available source of “spying” on how everyone else managed to exist in such a strange world…

… which included reading advice columns (street-level psychology at work with Ann Landers and sis Abbey), monitoring adult conversations, and stalking older kids (who were navigating life just a few hormones ahead of me).

So I’ve been a one-man research center for decades. I still haunt multiple advice columns online, see what the trolls are up to in the comment sections of NYT opinion pages, and (here’s the important part) discuss human behavior with a wide selection of colleagues both online and in person.

The discussions are critical… because there is a FLOOD of bullshit cascading down on us from every direction in the culture. It’s impossible for one individual to keep track of the spin, urban myths, misinformation campaigns…

… and (especially) the really, really, really awful investigative reporting that passes for news organizations today.

My colleagues are biz owners and pro writers well-trained in applying high-level skepticism to incoming data, and following through on research when necessary. We represent every age group of functioning adults in the culture, from all over the world (including the US hinterlands, Canucks, Limeys and other uncivilized joints), specializing in all kinds of different markets, hobbies, lifestyles and professional goals.

So when — for example — the media gets looped into a meme on how millennials (the generation of kids just now emerging from college) are bringing their parents to job interviews, and are incapable of critical thought (because of helicopter parenting) and just generally not becoming adults at all…

… we can look behind the glib stories and anecdotes and see a deeper truth.

Such as how all of us, from every living generation, have oodles of friends and family who meet every single detail of the problems now being assigned to millennials. The lack of independence, the living at home until late 30s, the whining and narcissism and sense of entitlement…

… all of it. And when you get a broader view, from older and younger colleagues, you quickly see how DEEP the bullshit can get in a media firestorm.

I hunt down photos and resumes of the reporters, and sigh. They’re like, twelve (or 32 going on 12) — insulated, given vast unearned attention through posts and stories, and dishing out accusations based on minuscule life experience.

And yet the stories stick, and become “common wisdom”.

As a marketer, you need to immerse your bad self into the culture, and understand what your prospects know and — very critical — THINK they know. And what they suspect they don’t know, or feel paranoid about not knowing.

That means you’ve got to go deep, all the time, and have resources you trust to bounce incoming data and ideas off of.

Masterminds have always been my #1 tool for this. I’m in multiple free ones, have paid for membership in others…Continue Reading

The Envy Cure (Redux)

Caddy

Friday, 3:23pm
Reno, NV
Under my thumb is a squirming dog who just had her day…” (Stones)

Howdy.

I’m republishing this off-beat rant, cuz it’s been one of the most-discussed and helpful posts I’ve written over the years.

And it’s a totally counter-intuitive take on a subject most biz books not only ignore, but aggressively seek to dismiss. Yet, in my decades of consulting, I see it bubble up in nearly every entrepreneur I meet at some point.

So, enjoy another nugget from the archives:

Friend…

Do you suffer from the heartbreak of envy?

Are you jealous of friends and colleagues who attain success, while you continue to struggle?

Would you like to learn a simple cure for feeling inferior to others?

Well, then step right up…

Here’s the story: I grew up with the definite impression that ambition was a moral failing.  The operative phrase was “Don’t get too big for your britches”…

… which was a cold warning to anyone who dared attempt to rise above their (vaguely defined) place in life.

And one of the greatest joys was to gleefully watch the collapse and humbling of the High & Mighty.  I believe there’s some evolutionary fragment left in our systems that wants a solid check on keeping folks from leaving the pack.

Now, if you risk failing and succeed, that’s great.  We were there for ya the entire time, Bucko.  Rooted for ya.  Got yer back.

I think our innate need for leadership allows for a select few to “make it” without hostility.  And, as long as they provide whatever it is we need from them — protection, entertainment, intellectual stimulation, decisive action, look good in a tight sweater, whatever — they get a pass.

But we seem to have a ceiling of tolerance for others moving up the hierarchy too fast.  Whoa, there, buddy.  Where do you think you’re going?

And when the unworthy grab the brass ring, it can trigger a hormone dump that’ll keep you up all night.  Because, why did HE make it, when he’s clearly not the right dude towin.  This is totally fucking unfair, and makes ME look bad now.

The lucky creep.

I hope he screws up and gets what’s coming to him…

And so on.

I’ve felt it, you’ve felt it, the nicest person you’ve ever met has felt it.  Humans are constantly comparing themselves to others, and we do not like it when Mr. Envy comes a’knockin’.

Dan Sullivan (of Strategic Coach) has a good take on this: He suggests you stop comparing yourself to others… and instead, compare yourself to yourself.  Get happy with the progress you’ve made from wherever you were before.  Don’t allow your brain to start measuring how short you came up against your lofty dreams, or other’s success. (Which is what most folks do.)

I like that tactic.

However, I have another one I’ve been employing ever since I began my solo career, so many decades ago.

It works, and I think you’ll like having it in your tool kit.

Back then, as a raw rookie, I was dangerously inept.  And woefully inexperienced and unprepared for the tasks ahead of me.  Had I allowed my Inner Scaredy-Cat to win the argument, I never would have left the house to go snag my first gig.

Worse, as I moved into inner circles (at joints like Jay Abraham’s offices), I began to encounter other writers my age and younger… who were light-years ahead of me in every category.  Fame, skill, wealth… and especially that precious sense of feeling like you earned your place in the world and belonged there.

Mr. Envy showed up frequently, and occasionally I would find myself secretly wishing for these guys to fail.  I mean, why them and not me yet?  The bastards were too big for their britches…

But that wasn’t gonna work. If I wanted to earn my OWN place in the world, I realized I needed to knee-cap Mr. Envy, and lock that demon away somewhere forever.

Because the better way to look at things… was to congratulate these guys on their success, learn from their adventures getting there, and encourage even more success for them.

There was, I knew (once Mr. Envy was muzzled), plenty of room for everybody in the writing game… and the other guy’s success didn’t impact my own even a little bit.

In fact, once I selflessly began networking with them, they helped me out.  It was win-win, all the way.

Still, though… that nagging sense of “Gee, I wish I was him” kept lurching back into my head. I wanted to be an MTV rock star, a drooled-over novelist, an infamous international lover, a frequent guest on Larry King (this was a long time ago, folks), David Letterman’s best friend, a gazillionaire with no worries about rent or…

And that’s when I stumbled on this extremely cool CURE for envy.

I’m sure I nicked it from some other source, somewhere… but I haven’t been able to find it explained anywhere else.  Maybe I really did invent it.

At any rate… it works.

Wanna know what it is?

Okay.  Here is my…

Super-Potent Envy Cure: When you find yourself wishing you were someone else… or at least in their shoes, enjoying all the great stuff they seem to be enjoying…

… just imagine being inside their skin — really inside them, being them — for 5 minutes.  Dealing with everything that makes them who they are.

And then see if their life still looks so good.

Most envy comes from a lack of something, perceived or real.  When you’re broke, the dude with two hundred bucks in his checking account looks like a winner.  When you’re desperately horny, the guy getting laid all the time looks like the hero of a 007 novel.  When you’re being ignored in your market, the mogul with the big business machine looks like a cushy gig.

This is where your street-level salesmanship comes in.  (Which is what I’ve been trying to share with y’all over the past 6 years here in the blog.)

Great salesmen lead better lives.  Not because they sell lots of stuff… but because they live in the real world.  You can’t be efficient selling when you’re hobbled with a belief that the world (and everyone in it) “should” behave a certain way… or you wish they would.

Naw.  You gotta be hip to how people actually operate.  So you take off the blinders, and peek behind the masks, and get to know your fellow high-end primates REALLY well, from deep inside their hearts and minds.

This raising of the curtain — shocking at first — will actually make you love people more… while also helping you understand why they do what they do.  You’ll understand why good people do bad things, why bad people do good things, and why the inner life of everyone around you is unique.

And while you love your fellow beasts…

… once you feel comfy with yourself (because you’re finally going after your goals and engaging in your own rollicking adventure in life)…

… you won’t want to spend even a full minute inside the skin of anyone else.

Because it is CREEPY AS HELL in there.

I love to read autobiographies and biographies.  (Or skim them, when they’re horribly written.)

It has changed my outlook — and my petty jealousies — to learn the real story of the people I once idolized, and often wished I was living their life.

Wow, does it ever change your outlook.  Especially when you discover the wicked little secrets that fueled their motivation to attain whatever it is — fame, acclaim, wealth, accomplishments — that triggered your envy button.

The novelists loathed themselves.  The movie stars craved adulation like junk.  The great lovers were joyless asshole sociopaths.  The wealthy barons were infested with sick needs.

Big men still pitied themselves over Mommie’s inattention.  Forceful leaders were quivering lakes of insecurity.  Debonair social stalwarts harbored unquenchable dark desires.

Yes, there are folks out there who succeed without secret vices and immature cravings.

They’re also boring as hell.  And you’d be screaming for release after ten seconds inside their skin.  (Many have just been unusually successful at quashing their sweaty-palmed desires.  In fact, the boring ones are often sitting on the nastiest payloads of demons.  See: Every Bible-thumping politician recently caught with hookers and drugs.)

You want wit, a lust of adventure, forceful opinions and a knack for winning in your heroes?

I do, too.  But I’ve learned to like them despite the roiling mess of complexity coursing through their veins.

In fact, I embrace it.  I like my heroes flawed — it brings out the luster of their accomplishments.

It also highlights the elusive (and quickly disappearing) moments of satisfaction they seek.

You’re alive.  You are here on this earth with a ticket to ride that expires (sometimes sooner rather than later).  You may wish you had a better set-up… finer bone structure, a thicker mop of hair, more muscles, more impressive genitals, bluer eyes, a rich uncle with you in the will, whatever hang-up is spoiling your enjoyment of life…

… but the simplest way to attain lasting happiness is to let your dumb-ass desires drift away, and get jiggy with who you are now, and what you’ve got to work with.

It’s kind of Zen, and it takes effort to get there.  But it’s worth it.

You can’t be happy all the time, but you can actually enjoy the down times, too, once you change your basic orientation from “I wish” to “Here I am”.  Some of the most satisfied people I know are butt-ugly trolls who have learned that natural beauty is fraught with negative side effects (and not worth pursuing)…

… and that, at the end of the day, what really counts is what you bring to the table in terms of being a quality human being.

I’ve known a MOB of successful people in my career (including many of the most famous and infamous “bigger than life” legends in business).  I’ve been friends with them, been let in behind the scenes, and hung out long enough to see behind the mask.

And I wouldn’t want to spend 5 minutes inside any of their skins, ever.  I like who I am, with all my faults and all my regrets and all my inherent stupidity.  I fit well inside my own skin.

And — though it took a VERY long time — I earned my place in the world.  Really earned it.  Nothing happened from wishing, or cheating, or relying on luck.

Naw.  I blundered my way into the Feast of Life.  Utterly fucked things up along the ride… but kept learning from mistakes, kept cleaning up my messes and fixing what I broke when I could, kept trying and growing and staying true to the goals that resonated with me.  That’s all I had going for my sorry ass.

We’re all pathetically flawed.  All of us, from James Bond on down through your neighbor who just bought the new Jag (and won’t stop gloating about the deal he got).

Nobody gets out of here unscathed.  You can’t live without making mistakes and stepping on toes.

And yes, sometimes you will get too big for your britches, when you’re going for the gusto.  When it happens, buy new ones.

Stay frosty (and true to yourself),

John

P.S. My recent reads include the autobiographies of Keith Richards and Christopher Hitchens.  Keith’s may be the best-written of all-time — he’s a brilliant storyteller, used a writer who knew him for decades to help collect his thoughts coherently… and he is tough on himself.  Hitch bares all, but can be a bit long-winded.

The key to biographies is NOT to settle old scores, or try to spin your existence so your legacy looks better.  Screw that nonsense.

The key is to spill the beans, relentlessly.  Lift up your mask, raise the curtain on your demons, cop to your trespasses.  And share the juicy details. The story is not the broad overview, but the detail.  You lived it, dude.  I wasn’t there.

What happened?

P.P.S. What biographies or autobiographies have you liked?

And let us know, in the comment section here, how you’ve handled envy (good or bad) in your life.  Along with the realization that your fellow passengers on this whirling planet are one scary-ass species…

VERY Special P.P.P.S. While not exactly an autobiography, my latest book “The Entrepreneur’s Guide To Getting Your Shit Together” reveals a ton of behind-the-scenes adventures and insider advice aimed straight at the tender beating heart of the struggling entrepreneur.

Get your copy now, either as an ebook or in paperback. For a few measly bucks, you’ll be ushered into a front-row seat to see how I stumbled upon the amazing result-getting lessons of great marketing…

… and I guarantee you’ll laugh your ass off along the way.

Get it here: “The Entrepreneur’s Guide To Getting Your Shit Together“.

 

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


All testimonials and case studies within this website are, to the best of our ability to determine, true and accurate. They were provided willingly, without any compensation offered in return.

These testimonials and case studies do not represent typical or average results. Most customers do not contact me or offer share to their results, nor are they required or expected to. Therefore, I have no way to determine what typical or average results might have been.

Many people do not implement anything I teach them. I can't make anyone follow my advice, and I obviously can't promise that our advice, as interpreted and implemented by everyone, is going to achieve for everyone the kinds of results it's helped some of the folks you read about and hear from here achieve.

The income statements and examples on this website are not intended to represent or guarantee that everyone will achieve the same results. Each individual's success will be determined by his or her desire, dedication, marketing background, product, effort, and motivation to work and follow recommendations. There is no guarantee you will duplicate results stated here. You recognize any business endeavor has inherent risk for loss of capital.

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