Tag Archives: storytelling

Cross-Cultural Exam #9: Boomer v. Xer. (With PRIZE!)

Monday, 8:28pm
Reno, NV
Just take those old records off the shelf, I’ll sit n’ listen to ‘em by myself…” (Bob Seger)

Howdy…

At the end of this post, I’ll explain how you can win a bitchin’ prize that will make you the envy of all your friends forever.

First, though — let’s learn something about marketing to humans, whadya say?

Here’s two quick “how to deal with the screaming chaos” tips for everyone in business today who’s just a tad freaked-out at the way things seem to changing so damned FAST:

Screaming Chaos-Dealing Tip #1: If you’re older, you need to cultivate solid relationships with younger folks who can help you understand the Zeitgeist of the dominant culture out there.  (Yes, even if you hate it.  Especially if you hate it, actually.)

And I’m not talking about having your nephew program your TV remote while you mow the lawn.

Nope.  I’m talking about entrepreneur-minded young adults, who just happen to be totally wired into the Grid…

… and can translate current trends while offering you some solid, smart perspective.

And…

Screaming Chaos-Dealing Tip #2: If you’re a young entrepreneur, you need to cultivate relationships with geezers who can give you some perspective on how we GOT to this current state of affairs.

Key thing to remember: 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

“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

Modern Rules For Naked Online Living, Part One

Saturday, 7:14pm
Reno, NV
Out of 9 lives, I’ve lived 7…” (The Band, “The Shape I’m In”)

Howdy…

I almost called this post “Web 2.oh no!

And I know I’m just gonna scratch the surface here…

… but a few rules need to be laid down by somebody concerning this “Brave New World of No Freakin’ Privacy Left At All”.

Now, I’ve never noticed much “common sense” actually being very common among my fellow humans…

… but Jeez Louise, the arrival of social media and smart phone cameras has turned us all into ethically-challenged TMZ-level paparazzi.  No sense of right or wrong, no sense of crossing a line or going too far.

And people are gonna get hurt.

Do we need a collective and not-very-subtle whack upside the head here?  Metaphorically speaking, that is.

You decide…

Slap Some Sense Into You Rule #1: Just because you have a camera and recording capabilities on your smart phone, doesn’t mean you have a license to USE it.

Yes, the rest of the world is hurtling toward a Zuckerberg-envisioned future where “privacy” will be a quaint notion that strangely only irritates geezers… sort of like how we now view petticoats, doo wop and basic manners.

However, I would caution privacy-anarchists that this “nothing you do is a secret to us” mindset is how Stalinist Russia maintained control over citizens (see also “1984”, by George Orwell).

Now, what you do in your own sordid life is up to you, of course.  Including allowing basic privacy rights to be dismantled and shed.

However, as a professional, you’ve got to recognize boundaries.  Because there’s a lot at stake here.Continue Reading

How To Be A Sap.

Wednesday, 10:36pm
Reno, NV
To the moon, Alice!” (Ralph Kramden)

Howdy…

I’m recycling a post from a little while back, because it’s on a subject that can never be discussed too many times…

… especially when it’s important that you establish a real, visceral connection with people to make your business work.

In fact, what I’m bring up here is much more critical to creating effective advertising than many of the obvious things people tend to focus on (like “long copy versus shot copy”, or how to test offers).

Listen: If you understand how to use the powerful tool explained below…

… you can screw up almost every other part of creating your ad (or video, or website, or email, or whatever you’re using to get your story across)… and still crush it with results.

So ignore the details in this dusty post (like references to “Six Feet Under”, that great HBO series now long-gone)…

and know that the insight revealed here will forever be one of the most influential you’ll ever use in marketing.

In fact, it’s just becoming more and MORE important as social media and info-overwhelm continues to nudge everyone toward ADHD-Land, where attention spans are pathetic and fundamental human emotions like empathy wither.

Here’s the post (with a few edits and some added stuff):

Jeez Louise. Did you catch Sunday’s episode of “Six Feet Under”, with the jarring funeral scenes?

It was… shattering.

I was jarred back to every funeral I’d ever attended, and had emotions wrung out of me I’d long forgotten about.

Screw reality TV. The truly well-written fictional shows (most of them on HBO) can still rattle your cage like classic literature.

That episode was quality emotional-wringing.

Got me thinking, too. About empathy. And writing.

I’ve known people who seem to have shut down their empathy gears… and it becomes evident when they lose the ability to get outside of themselves and see the world from other people’s viewpoint.  Movies require you to emotionally connect with the characters…

… and I recall uncles who fell asleep during the pea-soup-spewing scenes in “The Exorcist”…Continue Reading

Get A Room

Sunday, 3:25
Tampa Bay, Florida
So I said to the captain, please bring me my wine… he said we haven’t had that spirit here since 1969…” (Hotel California, of course)

Howdy.

Another guest blog post here (while I’m off to get ready for the totally awesome Action Seminar down in sunny San Diego this coming weekend)…

… by our good friend (and notorious freelance copywriter) Kevin Rogers.

I asked him to share the stories below, because they cracked me up when he first told them to me…

… and I realized the lessons for entrepreneurs here are just as solid as the stuff I picked up (early in my own career) from the street-wise salesmen I hung around.

Those real-world lessons from the dudes who knew how to close a deal face-to-face are critical to any decent sales process… even if you’re completely digital and never actually meet your prospects in the flesh.

This stuff is pure gold.  So listen up.  Here’s Kevin…

Thanks, John.

Okay, let me tell you a story about why bellmen don’t mind wearing those goofy uniforms at busy hotels and resorts… and how the lessons I learned in the job fit so well in the entrepreneurial world.

It’s true.  One of the most eye-opening jobs I held in my previous life — before freelance copywriting — was as a main entrance bellman here in Florida.

I learned more about “street-smart selling” in my short time in that role than from any other gig, including stand-up comic, bartender, or even Marketing VP of an online real estate company.

Here’s why…Continue Reading

Dewey, Cheatum & Howe, Inc.

Saturday, 2:35pm
Reno, NV
Rommel, you magnificent bastard! I read your book!” (Gen. Patton, ambushing Nazi’s before they could ambush him)

Howdy…

Early Halloween memory: I’m getting ready to go extort candy from the neighbors with my older sister (cuz while I’m starting to suspect that Santa Claus ain’t real, I’m still pretty convinced that ghosts and witches are out there, thus requiring a bodyguard)…

… and, putting my worldly experience to work, I choose the biggest bag available to carry my haul in.

Dreams of endless sugar-rushes have my 5-year-old brain twitching like a junkie as we join the throngs of vandals and kids outside, and I’m raking it in.

However, just before calling it a night and heading home, I realize that my bag was a little TOO big… and I’d been dragging it along the ground, and all that glorious booty had fallen out in the street somewhere behind me.

The horror.

It was unfair.  It violated every code of how kids should be treated by the universe that I knew about.  It was a memory-scarring traumatic event.

I felt…

cheated.

And I’m pretty sure that was my first lesson in empathy.  Because it sucked to feel like I’d been cheated out of something.

Sucked, sucked, sucked.  I’d headed out that evening snickering to myself about being so clever with the big bag… and… and…

Well, I can’t even talk about it anymore.  It’s just too painful a memory.

And from that moment on, I have nodded in solidarity and sympathy whenever someone else was cheated.  “Yeah,” I’d say to myself.  “Been there.”

In fact, there are three lessons here:Continue Reading

Confessions Of A Story Junkie, Part One

SF 7-10

Sunday, 10:19pm
Reno, NV
There are eight million stories in the naked city…” (Jules Dassin film noir classic)

Howdy.

Here’s a nice little piece of insight for writers.

And by “writers”, I’m referring to those ink-stained wretches (of whom I share a proud bond) who really care about the craft of writing.  For whom the act of stringing words together is — when done right — a sacred thing.

You can make a living as a hack writer (meaning: Someone who can communicate through writing, but who neither loves language nor attempts to create phrases with rhythm or dynamics or craft).

Most of the best-selling novelists these days are complete hacks, in fact.  (Talkin’ to you, Dan Brown.)

Metaphor Alert: If you need a comparison to understand what I’m talking about, let’s take the mastering of a musical instrument.  What’s the difference between the dude who noodles away at a guitar for decades but never plays for anyone… and the guy who steps on a bar stage to cover a Cream tune… and Eric Clapton?

Answer: The first dude can’t Continue Reading

There Are 2 Kinds Of People In The World…

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Monday, 3:29pm
Reno, NV
You’re either on the bus, or off the bus…” (Ken Kesey)

Howdy…

Quick lesson here I thought you’d enjoy.

The phrase “there are two kinds of people” is used by comics, politicians, and just-plain-folks trying to set up a point with an easily-understood little story.

It’s an over-simplification, most of the time, of course.  Life is too nuanced and complex to fit into just two tidy categories.

However, sometimes you can make a damn good argument behind the two-groups thing.

In selling, this is what we’ve called “the dichotomy of futures”…

… meaning, you can make two distinctly clear divisions:

1.) The “in” group, which is your target market…Continue Reading

Kickin' Ass and Forgettin' Names

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Monday, 8:24pm
Reno, NV
“… and in the early mornin’ fog, I looked into those Mystic Eyes…” (Van Morrison, with Them, “Mystic Eyes”)

Howdy…

Had a little extended email exchange with our old pal Shawn Casey today.

See, he’s about to turn the Big Five-Oh… and I offered him the same gift that Gary Halbert offered me when I turned 50: An open invitation to hear about all the horrific shit he has to look forward to as his body slams full-force into official middle age.

Halbert used to absolutely delight in detailing for me some of the more evil indignities of waving bye-bye to youth.

Let’s just say your days of indulging in a bar brawl, and sleeping it off so you can do it again the next night, too…

… are over.

(Bonus insight: However, you can still have fun minus the dangerous stunts and life-threatening bravado that used to cap a good night out.  Who’d a thought?)

I’m still laughing from that exchange with Shawn.

In truth, if you’re healthy, it ain’t all that big a deal sliding into your fifties.  If you’ve spent the last four decades thrashing yourself, then yeah, you may be looking at getting your ticket punched early.

But if you listen to your body, keep the stress under control, get some freakin’ exercise once in a while, and avoid chunking out like Jaba The Hut…

… well, it’s actually kinda nice being a grizzled, older ape.

The real pleasures of life are just as intense… and you’ve pretty much identified which ones you want to focus on.  (I spent my youth sampling almost every forbidden fruit in the feast… which I felt was my duty as a buddng writer.  Many of those experiences were just downright awful, and yet they’d looked so good from a distance…)

And — even if you dinked around a lot for the bulk of your youth (as I did) (and, boy, was I good at dinking around) — you can’t help but have gathered a ton of experience.

And stories.

And whatever mangled philosophy of life that got you this far must have something going for it… or you wouldn’t have made it.

Now, the reason I’m writing this post…Continue Reading


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