Black Rock Desert, Nevada
“And when the morning of the warning came, the gassed and flaccid kids were strung across the stars…” Along Comes Mary (The Association)
Tonight, I have a strange question to ask you.
I’ve just experienced a fairly fabulous week, from all angles. I’m juiced with positive energy, feeling good, and bubbling with hope.
… I am also oddly compelled to ask: “What are you afraid of?”
Your thoughts are welcome. And needed.
Here’s my side of the story: I attended two events this week that couldn’t be more different…
… and yet shared so much of the same voodoo that fuels livnig a good life.
First, I drove out to one of Napa’s oldest and most exclusive golf resorts (The Silverado, deep in the lushest part of California’s wine country) to meet with a star-studded group of speakers and authors for a big damn 3-day brainstorm session.
This event is the brainchild of my old pals Stephen Pierce and Chet Holmes and Larry Benet.
In attendance were marketing lumaries Ron LeGrand, Alex Mandosian, Russell Brunson, Brad Smart, Scott Hallman, Joel Comm, JT Snow, and too many others to count.
Plus a few dudes who’d hit the billion-dollar mark in earnings.
It was a super-exclusive group. By invitation only.
The meeting place was about as hoity-toity as you can imagine, with hordes of staff scurrying about and an air of old-world colonial spendor hovering over everything. Though tastefully so.
Parking lot crammed with Lexus’s and Caddies and Porshes.
Cocktails are twelve bucks in the bar.
It was a great place to hang out with the cream of Web marketing for a few days. Safe, nurturing, comfortable.
… I rushed home, unpacked the collared shirts and nice shoes, re-packed with dingy hiking gear…
… and headed out to Burning Man.
I’m not even going to attempt to explain Burning Man in detail. Words fail the effort. Go to www.burningman.com for some history.
… a bunch of artists, neo-hippies and funsters from the coasts hold an in credible outdoor party and art-fest every year on the Playa in the middle of The Black Rock desert in Nevada.
It’s an actual functioning city of 40,000 people from all over the world. Tents, RVs, hammocks, you name it, you’ll see it. (And the port-a-potties are actually clean… not counting the thin coating of Playa dirt) (which you will never get completely out of your clothes.)
For 51 weeks of the year, the Playa is a flat, nearly lifeless plain of dirt. (Looks kinda like the Salt Flats in Utah, where all the land speed records are broken.)
Then, for one amazing week every August, it’s a beehive of action, art and partying.
When the party breaks up, everyone decamps, leaving ZERO trace of human activity. Every scrap of paper, every drop of gray water, every day-glo pasty is hauled out…
… leaving the Playa once again lifeless and naturally gorgeous.
No trace. That’s the rule.
It’s a pretty stunning event. They’re on year 22, I believe.
It’s exclusive, in that you gotta buy into the ideology to survive (and afford the $300 tickets).
Once you become a citizen, no money can buy you anything within the well-laid out streets of Black Rock City — you must trade art, water or something else of immediate value to conduct any business.
The art is often massive, built with industrial savvy (so it moves), and sometimes hydraulic power. (A mechanical hand the size of a Volkswagon moved eerily like a real human hand… and yet could actually crush stuff like a Volkswagon. Which they actually crushed again and again during shows. Impressive. And arty.)
Much of the art burns, or entails fire.
At night, 40,000 people are grooving to ear-shattering techno-pop and dance music, while huge installations burst into flame.
Lots of Mad Max-style costumes, mixed with total nudity. Think “Thunderdome meets Satyricon”.
Okay, I tried to explain it a little bit. Sorry.
But I want you to have these two distinct images in mind: The clean wealth and influence of Napa’s Silverado resort… coupled with the filthy fun of Burning Man’s impromptu Black Rock City.
Got that image?
Here’s my point: Underneath the shallow first glance…
… they are almost identical events.
Here’s how: They both thrive on…
… Freedom From Fear.
See, all the energy of our civilization comes from the edges. I’m not dissing the center… but the great mass of sonambulent middle class folks aren’t really a driving force for action.
No, the heat comes from the extremes. The top business owners and especially the entrepreneurs who take risks and push envelopes keep the financial side humming.
And — just as important, if you truly care about the quality of life — the top artists and especially the semi-deranged free thinkers who take risks and push envelopes keep the fun side humming.
Both sets do their thang by crawling outside the “box” of repression society tries to foist on us all… and creating something new from, essentially, thin air.
And before anyone gets all huffy about responsibility and values and all that hokum…
… you should reflect on the fact that Burning Man attracts lots and lots of Republicans (elected officials, no less) from all over the country… and the Silverado will not deny entry to anyone based on ideology. (Heck, I got in.)
Both sets have dress codes, once you step back and look at things dispassionately.
Both have strict behavior requirements. (Burning Man has an “alternative” list of acceptable behavior, but it’s very unforgiving if you violate it.)
Both, basically, are refuges for people who just need to get the fuck away from the straight-jacket of “normal” life.
And freak out in a way that appeals to you.
(Yes, on the Meta level… playing lots and lots of golf while guzzling top shelf booze is just as much an orgy… as dancing naked around a Playa bonfire buzzed on pharmeceuticals is…)
It’s all about finding a safety zone, where there is a palpable absence of fear.
Both Black Rock City and the Silverado are situated out in the middle of nowhere. Far from easy to get to.
Both have long approach driveways — several blocks for the Silverado, on a private road… and 8 freakin’ miles of arid desert for BR City.
Both are staffed with an army of folks dedicated to making your stay happy.
You can relax. Be yourself.
And let go of the bullshit that cranks up your blood pressure in the world outside.
You’re among, if not exactly friends, at least like-minded people who share your idea of a good time.
It’s pretty amazing that to get this kind of freedom, you have to go to such extremes.
Because what everyone is afraid of…
… is opportunistic crime…
… The Man.
Anyone who gets deeply involved with life has a libertarian streak, or should. Or quickly develops one.
You just want to be left alone. You don’t want sociopaths preying on you, and you don’t want cops sniffing around just because they can.
At the Silverado, you’re on private grounds… so you’re not gonna get a DUI or get rousted for public drunkeness.
I found it very interesting that Burning Man is held in the middle of the desert, in the hottest week of the hottest month of the year, far, far away from any semblance of a “normal” town…
… and yet every law enforcement branch that CAN hover and cruise the party…
There are BLM rangers, Pershing County sheriffs, FBI and Nevada Highway Patrol officers all over the joint.
It’s like they’re just TERRIFIED that somewhere, someone might be having a good time.
Authorities — meaning uptight politicians looking toward re-election — have tried to close down Burning Man throughout the two-decade history of the event.
Despite the money that floods into Nevada from the international crowd. Despite the way the desert is not harmed. Despite the very obvious fact that 40,000 people (again, including every strata of society — old to young, socialist to capitalist, pagan to papist, straight to not-so-straight) very much WANT to be left alone to their single week of controlled debuachery and artsy engorgement.
I saw more people at the Silverado too drunk to stand up, than I did at Burning Man the day I spent there.
And I’ll bet the actual amount of drugs were about equal, per capita. If, that is, you count prescription pharmaceuticals with Mother Nature’s alternatives.
(Just to cut any rumors off at the knees here… I was at Burning Man as an observer only, not as a participant. I was there as a guest of the City of Reno arts and culture manager, to check out some of the artsy installations the city might want to purchase.)
Not that there’s anything wrong with choosing your own poison for Miller Time.
But that’s where the two worlds collide nicely.
What the HELL is The Man afraid of?
So WHAT if people wanna get naked and burn shit up during a week of weirdness in the desert?
Fear drives us in so many ways.
Fascist-leaning societies want lots of fear cooking in people’s system. Makes control a lot easier.
And certain kinds of power corrupts, by making someone with a badge “more equal” than you… simply because he has the badge. The symbol of nasty, humorless power that WILL be obeyed.
The Man has come to an uneasy truce with the Burning Man participants. Nudity is overlooked. Displays of weirdness are ignored.
And yet, I heard cops were busting Burners for “driving” while under the influence… even though they were driving golf carts reconfigured (with some creative welding) into giant lizards or Mickey Mouse heads. And, of course, not hurting anyone.
The irony is inescapable.
And I ask again: What are you afraid of?
The entrepreneurs and artists I know — and I know vast mobs of each — all share a similar love of freedom…
… and an overriding lack of fear.
Heck — we even taunt Fate with our outrageous plans and way-out ideas.
Most of society asks “Why do you need to challenge the system?”
And we answer “Because it fucking NEEDS challenging.”
Maybe now, more than ever.
Long live Burning Man.
Love to hear what you think in the comments section below.
P.S. Sometimes — in fits of hopeful dreams — I try to imagine a world where The Man just lets go of being so uptight all the time.
Look — I’m all for a level of authority. I’m a home owner. I’m a business owner. I pay taxes, I vote, I get involved with the community.
And I think there is a place for regulation and laws restricting actions that harsh my mellow. (This is why no existing US political party will have me — not even the Libertarians.)
But the greatest assets of our country — whether people realize it or not (clueless zombies) — are freedom of speech and the right to be left alone.
Not bullshit freedom of speech. The real thing. We’re losing it.
And we’ve already lost so much privacy to prying government eyes, it may take a generation or two to re-establish it.
Yes, it’s a dangerous world.
It’s also a beautiful world… and beauty shrivels under the boot of a self-righteous majority.
Something to consider, if you’re ever tired of walking around zombified.
P.P.S. And, on a purely capitalist finishing note…
… I want to congratulate all the folks who grabbed a spot for the upcoming Simple Writing System at-home mentoring course.
If you missed out — cuz the door slammed shut on Wednesday, when all the slots were gobbled up — you should know there’s a waiting list.
Just hop over to www.simplewritingsystem.com, and scroll down to the P.S. on the first page.
You’ll see how to get on the waiting list.
This is gonna be a blast…
“Goooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooal!” That Spanish-language sportscaster who screams “goal” like that during futbol matches.
Hey — you watching the Olympics?
What’s been your favorite moment?
I got sucked in pretty early. Despite the opening ceremonies which, I thought, completely blew chunks. I especially thought so after discovering they used CGI fakery for some of the whiz-bang effects.
I mean, really, man.
And NBC gets a D- from me for its prime time coverage.
The third day — while dozens of actual events were being ignored by the network — we were treated to a stupifying “feel good” non-sport segment featuring only American athletes mumbling about how they got there… followed by ten minutes of commercials… then a truly banal drawn-out segment of some Americans on the gold medal podium listening to the Star Spangled Banner… another ten minutes of commercials… and then ANOTHER long segment of different Americans on the podium.
With another helping of the Star Spangled Banner.
Just a tad jingoistic there, guys.
Look. I love the national anthem.
I think it’s kick ass (even though it’s to the tune of an English drinking song… which is ironic since the poem’s about the shelling of an American fort by British warships during the War of 1812… but never mind that).
It’s just that the Chinese haven’t got a clue how to play it right. They’ve got French horns blaring (French horns!) and zero soul.
That Nike commercial of Marvin Gaye doing it with true style is stunning.
Play that one once in a while, dudes, for the awards ceremony.
And the Chinese deserve F’s across the board for their shameful jail sentences to the folks who tried to get a permit to protest.
Talk about “bait and switch”. The Chinese gov’t made an announcement that a special area had been sectioned off in Beijing for anyone to protest — all you had to do was go to the police station and ask for permission.
There have been zero protests.
Because everyone who asked, was sent off to work camps for “re-education”. Two 70-year-old ladies were sentenced to hard labor for daring to complain.
Nice work. Show the world what a great country you run over there.
If you ever want a clear reason why the Constitution matters — even after centuries of asshole politicians trying to gut it — just consider the fate of folks in China who disagree with the leaders.
They throw bloggers in jail. Average 15-month sentence. For daring to criticize even the most dunder-headed moves by the Glorious Leaders.
Geez…. maybe I should keep quiet, huh? I may be going to China soon…
Aside from all the communist mayhem and capitalist bullshit…
… I’m hooked on the Games.
I can’t help it.
Best part: I love the way all these international teams challenge our confined view of how sports should be played.
And I get excited just realizing how much other countries go bezerk over bizarre events… like handball.
You ever see a handball game? It’s freaky.
And ping pong.
I mean, what’s ping pong with no beer on the table?
That’s just… wrong.
Mostly, though, I’m grooving to the international flavor.
We don’t get enough of the world outside the US. Too many people here think the sun rises and sets on the continent alone.
I’ve traveled a bit, and I love the exotic feeling of foreign soil. I crave more of it.
I’ve been a slacker about it, lately. I let bidniz dictate my travel plans.
But I’m suddenly jonesing to traipse new lands again.
Americans are way too isolated for our own good. This year’s basketball Redeem Team is going to slaughter everything in its path, and that’s fine with me.
But I also loved the stunning loss by our prior team, 4 years back. Not because I was rooting against them.
Because that shocker was necessary to remind everyone that a game…
… is still a game.
And underdogs can have their day.
Gotta love the underdogs, man. They’re my people.
And looky here… there’s even a marketing lesson in all this.
I’ve been giving advice to clients for years on how get “unstuck” with their marketing.
First order of biz: Get out of Dodge.
Go somewhere where your usual bullshit doesn’t cut it. Where you’re the one who doesn’t know the language. Where you’ve got to be on your toes, and put all your resources to the test.
Make those rusty old neurons fire on all cylinders again, get that sluggish gray matter pumping again.
It’s so easy to get bogged down in routine.
Living life well includes lots of “shake it up” adventure.
Doing new things.
Engaging the world outside your own safety zone, and maybe even taking a few lumps in the process.
It’s a big world. The US is a powerhouse… but in the grand scheme of things, we’re kinda provincial. Stuck in our ways. Naive, really, about a lot of things we’d be better off getting hip to.
When you ignore the commericals, hold your nose at the abusive gov’t shakedowns, and mute the sappy interviews…
… I think the actual games of the Olympics are kinda cool. You’re reminded, hourly, of how other people use goal-setting, discipline and a hard-core combination of cojones and guts to accomplish extraordinary things.
And it makes me wanna go play beach volleyball in Brazil, maybe…
Are you watching?
Heck, I’ve lost sleep staying up to catch certain events. It’s just riveting, sometimes…
Except for handball.
What the hell is THAT all about?
P.S. Hey — just a reminder that blog readers are considered “part of the family”… and we’re offering you the same courtesy as our “hot list” members.
We’re rolling out an exclusive-to-our-list opportunity for at-home mentoring through this cool new program we’ve developed. A year in the making!
Serious limitations, and we’ll have to tell some people “no” for sure. The deadline for getting involved is coming up super-fast…
… so check out www.simplewritingsystem.com
We’ve just put up some fascinating free videos that should make your day.
Just hurry, all right?
“Whom the gods would destroy, they first give computers…” (Apologies to Euripides)
How’s your Monday going?
I woke up today to a phone call from the accountant.
Accountants, lawyers, detectives, ex’s (as in “all my ex’s live in Texas”)…
… your day is not gonna go well starting out with a jangle from any of those folks.
Actually, that’s too easy.
Some days, even people you want to hear from are calling with bad news.
One of my most favorite quotes of all time is Dorothy Parker’s line whenever she picked up a phone.
“And what fresh hell is this?” she’d say in a pleasant tone. Cheerfully expecting the worst.
(Parker, for the unenlightened, was a seminal member of The Algonquin Table, back in the 1920s. I’ve lusted after a similar arrangement myself my entire career — an ongoing drunken intellectual brawl in a NY back room, with the finest wits and sharpest minds of a generation in attendance.)
(If you’re not hip to that period of Americana, you’re in for a treat. Google “Algonquin table”. See the 1994 movie “Dorothy Parker and the Vicious Circle”. Read some of her excellent, and howlingly funny stuff. You’ll be stunned by the similarities between her crowd and the ironic angst our current generations are going through…)
I knew this was gonna be one of “those” Mondays… cuz I’d taken some time off last week to go debauch with some old friends. And play golf. And ignore all things marketing.
So, you know… I was “due”.
And I was semi-prepared.
See, early in my career, I forced myself to internalize a very difficult rule: Every day, make the hardest calls first.
Don’t put ’em off.
Just slam your coffee, gird your loins, and dial.
Our default setting is, of course, to ignore bad shit until it festers. Hope it goes away.
Part of the professional’s unwritten code, though… is to be that guy who faces the music.
Every time the band kicks into another woeful tune.
I’ll spare you the gory details of today’s misadventure.
Just know that my biz partner Stan and I are “on” to the universe, and how it works to destroy you.
The little buggers are out to get all of us.
It’s like, with the invention of the Web, all these new little demons were created…
… who huddle every day, and discuss perfect ways to screw with you.
They’re patient… they know all your hot buttons (and love to punch ’em)…
… and in cyber-space, they have an endless supply of ways to harsh your mellow. And trash your plans.
(Old Arab saying: If you want to make God laugh, make plans.)
For example: Gmail was down last week for several hours, mid-day.
That’s not supposed to happen. Gmail is supposed to be all Webby 2.0 happy-happy/joy-joy, an online goodie that acts like a desktop application.
But that can’t happen when you can’t access your account, can it.
Google is mum about the cause fo the outage…
… but it suspiciously happened around the same time Russia was hacking Georgia’s servers (coordinated with their real-world armored invasion).
It’s kinda too big a potential problem to even get your head around.
And yet… I am actually more infuriated today because I’m also being pummelled by spam.
And tightening the screws on my filters does almost nothing to stem the tide.
May have to say bye-bye to yet another email address that just got away from me.
Oh, and check this out: Stan has encountered corrupted code at a critical moment in the creation of a new website we’ve had in the planning stages for months…
… leaving us high and dry, and him muttering like a madman. (Not sleeping for two days, while wrangling with voodoo-mysterious software and video problems will do that to you…)
And here’s a good one from the offline world: Somehow, I got on a secret “Call Every Freakin’ Day” list that apparently trumps the national “Do Not Call” list.
And I’m getting looooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooong messages daily about how awful it is that my car’s warranty has expired (and how I’m sure to die or something soon if I don’t fix it RIGHT NOW!!!!!).
Curious detail: Every single call starts out with “This is your final warning.”
They use a phony number for caller ID, so I’m stumped on out-witting ’em.
Waiting through the recording and demanding to speak to a rep and creatively threatening them if they don’t take you off their call list only prolongs the insult.
They will call again tomorrow, and the next day, and the next.
Final warning, my ass.
This has been going on for two months.
And I don’t even have a freakin’ expired warranty on any car!
Demons, I’m tellin’ ya.
Worse: I’ve been on the road a lot, and their long-winded spiels often push other callers into my “secondary” voice mail, which means I can miss important calls I want to receive.
This is just stunning to me.
There is no way I’ve found to make the calls stop.
I may have to get a new phone number. (Okay… up to now, I’ve been ridiculously lucky to keep this current one private and unsullied by “phone spam” for a long time now. I should be grateful…)
Anyway, I just felt like bitching today.
You gotta admit — most of my posts are upbeat and informative.
Today, there was just too much fresh hell to deal with.
How’d your Monday go?
P.S. Hey — be sure to check out the last post… where I offer an inside peek at our shocking new program. It’s exclusive to folks on my hot list… but we’ve included blog readers, too.
You gotta hurry, though.
To get on it right away, go here: http://www.simplewritingsystem.com
Does it bum you out, as much as it does me…
… that there don’t seem to be any “lazy, crazy days of summer” anymore?
Throughout most of my life, summer was freakin’ sacred. Maybe that notion had more to do with me living at, or living near, Southern California beaches so often.
And there was “down time” a-plenty.
Days drifted by in long, languid sighs. Especially in August.
Your most urgent mission was to find a little shade once in a while. Or stir up enough energy to swim out and catch a sudden set of decent waves curling in from the south.
One year, when I was renting a sodden, dangerously-rickety 1920s-era beach house in Hermosa, I caught over 300 sunsets. Just watched that big orb slide into the ocean and go “pop!”, while the sky swirled into fits of unspeakably beautiful color swatches.
Big mournful sigh.
And then this stupid Web-thing came along and changed the whole dynamic.
I’m not complaining, mind you.
Those of us lucky enough to be on the cutting edge of this Brave New World are making history, and living an adventure that would blow the mind of every previous generation on the planet.
There’s an old Chinese saying — “May you live in interesting times” — that is a nice example of Zen yin-yang confusion. On one hand, wishing you a life of interesting adventures seems like a nice thought.
However, the deeper definition of “interesting” isn’t just about “nice” adventures.
Being chased by dragons, for example, is also interesting. If you live to tell the story.
Right now, we’re all living in extremely interesting times.
You may be so overwhelmed by incoming data and stimuli that you “shut down”, and avoid considering the larger implications of what’s going on.
And that’s fine. It’s good to take a few time-outs here and there. Recharge your batteries.
For anyone with entrepreneurial yearnings, there has NEVER been a time like this in the history of civilization.
The Web — with all its distractions and soul-deadening pleasures and mind-expanding eye candy — is still, primarily…
… the most efficient and shockingly profitable way to reach people who want to buy things from you…
… that has ever existed.
It won’t last forever.
The Man is threatened by too much freedom. And so many entrepreneurs are discovering financial independence — through the Web — right now, that the Bastards Who Run Everything are already gearing up to spoil the party.
They won’t succeed immediately.
Heck, I hope they get their thumbs caught in the gears, and never succeed at all.
But you can’t count on this current state of affairs continuing indefinitely.
If you feel, in your heart, that you have what it takes to break free of the “Job Zombie” routine most people slog through their entire lives…
… then you probably ought to be considering making your move.
What you need… is a burning desire to be independent, and call your own shots in life…
… plus the cojones to surf the mild-to-heavy risk inherent in any entrepreneurial venture (depending on which market you decide to crack)…
… and, most important…
… you need a good resource for info and help.
A little focused, hands-on mentoring by a veteran who can show you the ropes.
And a “tool kit” of proven tactics, strategies and specific skills to get you started, and move you quickly into the ranks of money-making business wranglers.
This process of gathering what you need is always — ALWAYS — accomplished in a state of “Breakthrough Excitement”.
Your brain will be giddy with anticipation…
… your nerves will jangle a bit…
… and all your senses will keep you up late, tingling with a fresh appreciation of what it’s like to finally take that first bold step on a new path.
Once you make your decision to “go for it”…
… your life becomes very, very interesting.
I’m not just talking about rookies, either. Most entrepreneurs out there are actually “hobbyists”, just dabbling in business. They struggle.
And most small business owners realize — soon after going into biz whole-hog — that their own “tool kit” for making money is seriously thin on the essentials.
… the Web is crawling with opportunities to learn from the BEST marketing minds alive.
Tools, strategies, advice, secrets, everything necessary to thrive…
… it’s all there.
You just have to shovel through the bullshit to find the good stuff.
Cuz the online world is also clogged to bursting with nonsense, and false paths, and blind alleys, and every other metaphor for wasting your time you can think of.
My advice has been consistent from the moment I became a guru: Find a resource for good info you can trust.
A real “go-to guy” who’s not blowing smoke up your ass.
And who really has the good stuff to share.
I am fairly aggressive in insisting that I’m that guy… sometimes.
I’m not everyone’s cup of tea. My teaching methods are brutal.
And yet, you won’t find a more rabid and enthusiastic mob of successful people outside of the “Wall O’ Testimonials” I typically run on my main websites.
If my teaching style “clicks” with you… you’re on the verge of the ride of your life.
An adventure in making business pump that never ends.
… I just want you to consider something here.
Right now, we’re offering a shocking opportunity to get more hands-on mentoring and attention from me and my entire staff… than we’ve ever offered before.
It’s a program designed to force-feed the “goodies” of rapid business know-how into your reluctant, stubborn brain as quickly as humanly possible.
… we’re ONLY offering it to selected people on my “house list” right now.
My colleagues in business are plenty pissed off about this, too. They want to let their lists in on the fun… but we’re keeping it in the family for now.
If you’ve been a smart dude, and got on my list (by signing up for the blog notifications, for example, in the top right-hand corner of this site)… then you already know what’s going on.
However, after talking with my business partner, we realized that blog readers who haven’t signed up… are still part of the family.
And deserve to know the details of what’s going on.
Time is short.
If you want to explore a REAL opportunity to get your act, finally, together…
… then bop over to this link:
Please do not share this link with friends who don’t regularly read this blog, though.
This is NOT something for folks who aren’t “hip” to how I do things.
Their little brains might explode from the shock of seeing how I operate, in fact.
No. Right now, this is something ONLY for people with enough “insider” savvy to understand the outrageous breakthrough this opportunity offers.
So, mum’s the word, all right?
Go check out the site.
“Thanks, but I think I’ll keep my soul…” Anyone, anytime, anywhere
Do you wanna get filthy rich?
I may have another clue for you here.
But I guarantee it’s not what you’re expecting.
You may even bristle at the insight.
First, however… I want to thank everyone who logged on to comment on the last post. The whole concept of reading struck a nerve, didn’t it.
I’m very pleased that so many folks still respect and seek out good fiction.
As I said — nearly ALL the top, super-wealthy marketers I know read their weight in books each year. A lot of biz stuff, sure… but just as much cool fiction, too.
Reading a damn good novel does things to your mind no other pursuit can match.
Personally… I’m gonna have my assistant order up every suggested novel from the comments section I haven’t already devoured. I think my reading list is set for the rest of the year.
… on to “true wealth”.
I just spent a week with family — mostly my sister’s boys and their wives and kids.
Plus my wayward cousin Don. I first met Don when they brought him home from the hospital with his twin David. I was one and a half. They were just born. Our parents were related, and also best friends.
What a lucky break.
We’ve shared our entire lives together. And when I rant about my childhood of adventure, vandalism and really stupid risks… it was Don sharing most of them with me.
I’m not close to all of my extended family. There are other cousins I rarely hear from or see, and many I’ve completely lost track of.
But Don — we make a special effort every year to get together and see what kind of trouble we can get into one more time.
That’s a rare thing in life. Someone you’ve shared the entire ride with.
My nephews are two of the finest young men you’ll ever meet. They inherited just enough of the Carlton bloodline to be defiantly independent (and enjoy crazy-good adventure)… but also enough of my brother-in-law’s juice to be intense family men.
I’m not gonna tell a long story here.
The message is a short one, anyway.
I was sitting in my sister’s living room, watching the great-neices and great-nephew play (ages 2, 4 and 6) with rambunctious glee… and I realized that all the adults were reading books.
No TV blaring. No radio jangling.
In fact, we’d just finished playing some guitars together, and having an intense discussion of world affairs.
You know… like really intelligent people enjoy doing.
And then, while the kids burned off the last of their pre-nap energy… everyone picked up a book.
It wasn’t all great literature, of course. There were volumes of happy trash being devoured, along with some really good stuff.
But I was kinda stunned, just the same.
This was a room full of very educated people. Three were teachers, one was a school shrink, another ran a program for troubled youth.
All involved with written stories. All deeply involved, too.
No one wanted to talk about marketing bullshit. Or ways to get rich. Or how to game any systems to get ahead.
These were family-oriented people, content with doing their jobs well and living their lives as fully as possible within their means.
I felt a little… humbled.
I don’t apologize, of course, for my entrepreneurial DNA. Unlike most of the rest of my family, I was miserable trying to be like everyone else. I chafed at authority, and needed desperately to find my own path.
However, as I hang out with more and more of the elite “winners” in the online marketing world… I become acutely aware how little I am driven by the desire for money.
Not that there’s anything wrong with making money.
But throughout my career, I’ve felt out-of-place among the guys for whom business success was the ONLY thing that mattered.
I honestly do not “get” people who need piles of cash to justify their existence.
I am often offended by gratuitous displays of wealth.
The path I took veered away from the glistening skyline of power and fame most of my colleagues were attracted to.
I like having lots of dough, don’t get me wrong. But long ago, I figured out what “enough” was, and I’ve not sacrificed my other life-long interests to build my pile bigger than my humble little self can handle.
We used to call it “Fuck You Money”, to be honest.
True independence comes when you are no longer desperate for whatever your current client is offering you. You can walk away, and not worry about the consequences, if he turns out to be an asshole. Or the deal seems squirrelly.
You don’t need his money… because you’ve got enough stashed to be confident.
Both Jay Abraham and Gary Halbert spoke of the power that FYM provided, which cinched it for me.
It’s a stash you put aside, and never touch unless you absolutely need to. If you die without every dipping into it, you’ve won.
The psychological juice behind knowing you don’t “need” anyone’s money is staggering.
The size of your FYM stash, of course, is dependent on what you feel you “need” — in cold, hard, liquid cash — to be confident you’ve got enough to tide you over until circumstances change again.
For me, it’s not a huge amount. Enough tax-paid moolah to survive for a year or so with no other income. Being frugal — like Travis McGee — and I could stretch it out for much longer. And still have fun, and still indulge in things I love.
But the key thing is… it’s your support system. It’s not an investment.
… once you get a taste of business success, it’s easy to be lured into living each day FOR that business. You put off other pursuits, you start to obsess on projects, you become…
You’ve suddenly got twenty times your basic FYM, and yet still get up each day focused on bringing in more.
I’ve been lucky. My other urges are too strong to ignore.
I’m seeing a group of old college buddies this weekend, for example. None are “successful”, according to any measure a businessman would use.
And yet, all are happy. And all are good friends, and I cherish the time we get to spend together.
They don’t envy my success. And they don’t treat me differently. (I’m still the nutcase, to them, I was 30 years ago at the university. And I embrace that character with gusto.)
We don’t need lots of money to have a great time. So much of life’s best adventures are actually dirt-cheap.
All this gets me thinking, every year around this time, about what “true” wealth is.
Being broke sucks. No getting around that.
But somewhere between being broke… and being stupid-rich, with twelve cars and three homes and more boats than you can count… is a sweet spot where many people live in near-bliss.
Minus the expensive toys.
I think, by now, you know what I’m getting at.
It’s sappy, yes.
It’s all about love, and living well with what you have.
Ambition can be a curse. I’m very lucky to be ambitious… but also to be lazily moderate about pursuing it. I’ve done most of what I set out to do at this point in life. The goals remaining on my master-list are good ones, and I hope I’m around for another half-century to knock them off, too.
But more urgently, I am reminded of how amazingly “rich” my family and friends are who sink their teeth into life without driving ambitions.
Sometimes, playing with your grand-neice on the old swingset at the park is enough wealth to last an eternity.
There is a lot going on in the entrepreneurial world right now. And it’s going to get more intense as we move into Fall and Winter.
Lots of opportunities, lots of cool things happening.
If you have ambitions, this could be your year to break out.
When you do, though… keep a little Zen awareness in your brain about what truly counts in life.
You can’t take your FYM with you when you die.
But you can’t tell me that the love you generate and receive doesn’t travel well to the Other Side.
What do YOU think?
P.S. I’m sending out a number of emails this week about a special opportunity ONLY for people on my list.
I know your inbox is crammed… but please pay attention to these emails from me this week.
Especially if your ambition is raging, and you’re freakin’ ready to finally bust loose…
“One in four adults read no books last year.” USA Today
Quick post here, cuz I’m heading off to the great Northwest for a short vacation.
I’m taking a book, too. Godammit.
A brand spanking new one. Because I finished the other one I was reading.
Fiction, if you must know. A very modern “noire” type mystery, loaded (I hope) with sex, violence, and page-turning “brain junk”.
It’s a new author who, I’m also hoping, will engage me with his writing.
There’s nothing better than discovering a writer who knows how to get deep inside your head, so your day is planned around time to get back to the book for another dose in the world he’s created.
Wait, I take that back. It’s even better if he’s been a prolific little dude, and there are more books lined up behind that one waiting for you.
But I’m not holding my breath.
I have been left at the alter, so to speak, far too many times by books with good cover blurbs (“The most riveting, ball-busting adventure I’ve read in decades!”) and no juice inside.
Fortunately, long ago I gave myself total permission to slam any book shut the moment it bores me, or offends me with stupid plot devices, or just plain shows evidence of sucking…
… and I toss it across the room, trying to hit the trash can on two bounces off the corner walls. Bam, bam, plunk.
And yet, I’d much rather discover something good to read again.
Copywriters are famous for loving writers like John D. MacDonald, who wrote something like 35 Travis McGee detective novels. Or Ian Fleming, with his dozen or so James Bond adventures.
But really good writers are hard to find.
The bookstore is crammed to the rafters with BAD writers (in case you hadn’t noticed).
Sometimes, for example, I get a hankering for some science fiction — a niche that sustained me during a gruesome adolescence — and I’ll cruise the SF aisles randomly opening books and reading half a page.
Sci-fi novles are almost universally horrible these days.
I long for the next Assimov or Bradbury. But I’m not holding my breath for that, either.
There’s a marketing lesson here.
Do this little experiment: Grab four books from the bookstore. (And yes, I’m asking you to drive to an actual bookstore, get out and walk around. It won’t kill you… and it will force you to realize the vast tree-killing industry out there trying to steal eye-time away from your marketing efforts.)
Get two fiction books, and two business books. Doesn’t matter what the subject matter is — so choose something that rings your chimes. Sexy murder mysteries, Idiot’s Guide to the Web, classic literature, one of those tomes by Joe Sugarman you’ve been promising yourself you’d read someday.
Drink your cappucino, drive home, and secure a spot somewhere you won’t be disturbed for half an hour or so.
Now, plow into the books. Read all the cover blurbs, the forwards, the table of contents, and the first chapter.
That’s it. Just the first chapter.
Toss it aside, pick up the next book and do the same. And so on, through your little pile.
What you will have, after this short experiment, is a very stark example of four different kinds of writing. By four different authors.
Now ask yourself — do you want to continue reading any of these books?
What you’re looking for is being grabbed by the writer.
My guess is that, after randomly grabbing four books that were professionally published, one-in-four will not suck.
That fourth book may, in fact, rock out.
At least for you.
Repeat this experiment as needed until the lesson becomes obvious. (You can use the library instead of the bookstore, if you don’t want to blow the dough… or you hate cappucinos…)
Some writers know how to grab your attention, quickly and definitively.
Sometimes, they know what they’re doing. They craft their writing to lure you in, and hold you there. These are the experts.
Other times, the writer is unskilled, and merely “transfering” their own passion to you through the written page. Maybe an editor was in evidence, cleaning up the tangents and bullshit.
More likely… the writer just got in touch with communicating what he needed to say… and did it. Just slammed it out, and hit paydirt.
He may never be able to summon that kind of lucky groove again.
Online, with most websites and all blogs currently relying on the written word to convey most of the message, getting read is your Number One Priority.
Even is you’re swinging into using video more and more (and I love video)… you still must rely on the same writing skills to grab and hold attention through the script.
Trust me on this experiment: You need to do it yourself.
No matter how little you read normally.
Hell, especially if you’re a reading slouch.
It’s tough to become a top marketer while languishing among the 25% who never read… or the 50% who seldom read (half the country reads a single book in a year… and it’s usually a shitty book).
It’s all about mind expansion.
Reading will do things to your brain that TV, radio, sports, video games and every other media availabe can’t begin to touch.
Reading is like steroids for your brain. Seriously. (Heavy readers don’t often suffer dementia later in life.)
And, as a marketer trying to woo the masses…
… it really pays to be that guy who is well-read, informed, hip and comfy in the larger culture.
You have more to say. You say it better.
And you get read.
You do not have to be a “great” writer to be a successful marketer.
In fact, like me, your grammar can blow chunks. And you may use too much slang, and violate lots of other “rules” of formal writing.
It’s all about communication.
About grabbing your reader, and dragging them into your world, where they will become so engaged and enthralled… that they stay, and absorb, and bond, and buy.
Something to consider, as the competition heats up in every online market out there.
P.S. What are you reading now?
Anything good? I’m always horny for new leads on good readin’…
P.P.S. Oh, yeah…
The flagship site, www.marketingrebel.com, has changed. The brand spankin’ new, updated for today’s hip online marketer version of “Kick-Ass Copywriting Secrets of a Marketing Rebel” is now available.
P.P.P.S. And one more thing…
We’ve put together a KILLER webinar on how to get emails delivered and read, which is going to be available soon in audio/visual format.
Even fabulously successful marketers botch their email campaigns, you know. Their carefully-crafted messages too often end up in junk folders, labeled as spam.
And even when their emails do get through, the feeble writing gets them tossed quickly by busy, impatient readers.
We can change all that. It’s the subject of the webinar.
However… right now, to get advance notice of how to get your hands on this webinar, you need to sign onto the blog here (if you haven’t previously).
We’re only letting folks on our house lists in on this opportunity.
And it’s coming up fast. To get more info, just sign in here with your name and email address.
We’re sending out advance notice in a day or two…