“The gross ratio divergence of GDP versus market fluctuation causes economic farting…” (I made that up)
… are you loving life today?
I got on the plane this morning just as the markets opened on Wall Street, and kept telling myself “Don’t look, don’t look”…
… but I couldn’t resist.
Especially with my new gizmo-toy iPhone. One touch gives you an updated glance at the Dow.
Got on the plane, knowing it would be four hours until I could get another update… and saw that the market was tanking before the opening bell’s chime faded.
Now, I’ve weathered multiple economic downturns in my time. I had several direct mail pieces for finanical newsletters in the mail on Monday, October 19, 1987 (also knows as BLACK MONDAY).
Every piece I’d written was bullish, meaning my clients thought the market would just keep climbing and climbing and climbing… and, well you know how that turned out.
Biggest one-day percentage drop in the history of the market.
Decimated investors (especially the fabled “little guy”) (who didn’t come back to the market for a decade), and completely swallowed up the entire Savings & Loan industry.
Now, THAT was scary.
Not to say it’s not a rollicking horror show today.
I don’t even wanna think about how the world goes on, if the Dow starts sniffing it’s own butt below 10,000 tomorrow.
We truly may all be living in caves this time next year.
Hey — it could happen.
But there are a lot of heavy-hitting dudes with a deep stake in NOT letting that happen. (This would be the mythical “they” you hear folks talk about… as in, “did you see what ‘they’re’ doing downtown, building a new mall?”)
Interesting times, no?
I’ll tell you this: I was in a weirdly-decorated room (long story) all weekend long with over 100 of the best online entrepreneurs in cyberspace…
… and almost NONE of them cared a whit about the self-lashing damages going on in the broader economies “out there”.
You know why?
Well, for one thing… many of them are too young to remember any of the prior gut-check recessions the US has suffered. (And the Depression of the 1930s is, like, so last century.)
So they’ve never learned to squirt anxiety acids into their stomachs the way their older peers regularly do when things go south. That’s just an art they missed out on.
But they’re not oblivious, either.
They are all steeped in the most basic of basic fundamentals of continued success in busiess: Build and nurture a list, and know how to talk to the folks on that list.
It’s so simple, that 90% of all biz in the world completely and utterly doesn’t “get” it.
A big, good, gooey-for-you list… and the ability to reach them with email, ads, letters, videos and other tools… actually can create an insular world for you.
Let the fools and angels do their thing in the broader markets, selling low and buying high and leveraging like mo-fo’s.
I’ll take a list, and a letter, any day, to cure whatever ails us.
Don’t get me wrong. This current mess is very, very, very bad.
And… take a breath now… it could easily get much, much, much worse.
And we can draw, quarter and hang every perpetrator and greedy bastard who drove us down this dark alley…
… but at the end of the day, we still gotta face some music, and see what things look like when the sun comes up.
There’s a mess to clean up. And nobody gets to party much anymore until it GETS cleaned up.
Nobody, that is… except for well-listed and ad-savvy entrepreneurs.
As proven by the shenanigans all week-end long at Eben’s amazing “Green Room” brainstorm in Chicago these past few days.
Prospects still roam the countryside. And they need shit. Sometimes more desperately than before the economic implosion.
Things will either get better (after this current spate of horror plays out)…
… or things won’t get better.
You can’t control things outside your control.
You can, however, make excellent use of the tools you have at hand.
Remember: The Top Dogs aren’t all that scared.
But not scared.
It’s just “Game On” at a higher level.
What are YOU doing to water down the adrenaline as news cycles get more and more gruesome?
Love to hear your thoughts. (Not your freakin’ politics, though. This is a marketing blog, not a partisan forum for flogging politican opposites.)
Business, guys. What are you doing to keep the gears churning, and your spirits high in these trying times?
Comment section is open and waiting for your wisdom…
“He… could… go… all… the… way…” (Berman, MNF of days gone by…)
Do you ever get any of those weird epiphanies about life?
The ones that burst into consciousness like the first bloom of dawn… after a particularly dark and ominous night?
They aren’t necessarily the kind of insight that drops you to your knees and propels you off into a completely different direction.
But they are a critical plot point in your life’s story.
Here’s what just happened to me (and see if you can’t identify with it):
For the last week (has it only been that long?), the global news has been a horror-show.
Politics is tearing the country apart (again)… we’ve got a financial mess that may make the dot-com bust look like a picnic… and, personally, I’ve got biz pressures building up in my head like the Mother Of All Brain Farts.
So, I’ve diving into every distraction within my grasp for Miller Time. (Miller Time, for the uninitiated, is the built-in “reward” I insist all my freelance students create for themselves. It’s main task is to help you officially call an end to the day, which helps prevent burn-out.)
(I came up with the idea while working with Halbert, as a coping mechanism. Without a set point in time where I said “That’s it — done for the day”, the pressure of the tasks at hand would suck me into even longer work hours…
… and that’s not good.
In fact, that’s bad. Very bad. I burned out once, and that’s all it took for me to never, ever, ever want to do it again. Required three years of remedial goofing off to be able to catch my breath.
And I was young, too. I’ve had students ignore my advice on this — dudes in their twenties, cooking with peak internal fuel — and flame out like a dunked match.
Miller Time is serious play time. You quit working. You have a little fun. You give it a freakin’ rest.)
Obviously, I have a much different philosophy about stress than most business owners.
I don’t avoid stress. In fact, if there’s something stressful on the plate for tomorrow… well, that’s the first thing I wanna dig into.
No avoidance on this monkey.
… neither do I regard stress as something “good”.
It is (and current research backs me up) probably the source of all the bad shit in your health profile.
So how you DEAL with it… is probably one of the most important decisions you make early in your career.
Because you’ve got to make dealing with it a habit. Breaking the stress up and jettisoning it from your system must be on your “A” list of things to do each day.
Otherwise… you’re putting that career in serious danger of short-circuiting.
For me, toys play a big part of “steam removal”. I’ve loved games and toys my entire life — and that’s what guitars, cars, iPhones, Web-surfing, Twitter, cable TV, iTunes, barbeques, and every quest you engage in for anything outside Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is: Games and toys.
It’s been a long, long time since anyone could claim to have a handle on how civilization works. The well-educated dudes of the early Renaissance MAYBE could claim a decent savvy in every skill and knowledge-base in exisitence.
But that’s simply not possible today.
Humans have never been in this situation before — where NO ONE has a handle on how the essentials of the civilization works.
It’s like nobody’s in charge anymore. It’s like glancing down the aisle and noticing that the pilot’s gone. The driver has disappeared. No one goes into the boiler room anymore, because no one knows what to do in there.
A large part of the mob deals with this sense of not being in control… by zoning out. I doubt there has ever been this large a percentage of the population zomibified before in history. Just willingly oblivious.
In my experience, you can’t really hide from stress, though. It builds up, it festers, it infects every joint and synapse in the system.
For those of us who are incapable of ignoring the blinking warning signs now flashing… (and our global engine has been overheating for a very long time)… it’s more important than ever to manage stress.
You do NOT make it go away by eating it like candy. It won’t leave unless forced out.
Thus… to be effective today (and oh my God do we need effective people in the mix right now)…
… you gotta choose your battles. You can work every day. You can gear up and charge monsters every time you go into “work mode”.
But you can’t do it 24/7. You’ll fry.
So… playtime becomes an essential tool.
What rocks your Miller Time boat may change, often, thoughout your life. That’s to be expected.
So you gotta keep a tab on your own responses.
You know what makes you happy… what sucks you in so thoroughly and pleasurably that you forget the smell of the trenches for a while.
Don’t focus on the “what”, however.
Instead, focus on how you feel. You will have to alter things — the games, toys, distractions, etc — that trigger the right response often.
And the new stuff is only going to work — only going to help you disengage so you can re-charge — if it nails the wheelhouse of your pleasure center.
At various times, playing music has been “it” for me. But then I go into another phase, and I need something else. Drawing comes and goes — hours spent completely absorbed in putting ink on paper, creating visual worlds from nothing.
Games, too. I played the first Doom like a junkie. No other game since has held my interest like that. Collecting rare stuff, too. Reading history… I’ve been lucky to have a long list of stuff that works.
But here’s the one tip I really can give everyone: One of the most enduring, and most pleasurable, Miller Times available…
… is simply going outside and feeling the universe swirl around you.
Fresh air, the cool breezes of early fall, the coming harvest moon (big as the sky), the leaves changing so fast you can almost see them turn.
Especially now… especially with so many entrepreneurs welding themselves to cyber-space at a desk…
… it’s essential to reconnect with Nature.
In as giddy a manner as possible.
Just my two cents.
What’s your Miller Time consist of?
P.S. One last funny aside: I dove into the world of Twitter with gusto this week. Not obsessed, but having great fun…
… sorta like the first time Mom let me loose in the Fun Zone at the LA County Fair. (Never been a place like that before, nor since. Total art deco sprawl of mazes, haunted houses, vast wheels that spun you in circles half the size of a football field, tight little capsules that swung like hammers at 3 G’s, pulling your cheeks back as they dove… all of it way too dangerous to ever be allowed today…)
I explored the apps of Twitter-land, strolled into little-travelled areas, spelunked in the nether regions of the software (as far as I could go without using code, I suppose).
And today, a new follower told me that, hey, he was happy to see me on Twitter…
… but, dude, I was tweeting too MUCH. “Cool it,” he implored.
Because I had found a new toy that let fresh air into my system. Fun, distracting, with some of the elements of a game. (Trading witicisms and barbs with fellow word-meisters. That’s invigorating, for me.)
And I laughed because I suspected it was time to put the Mac to sleep…
… and go outside for some real air, too. A long hike, paying attention to things. Soaking up being alive for another season.
I’m stressed, no getting around it.
Lots to be stressed about. Unless you’re a zombie, and that’s not a job I’ve ever gone after. (Can’t meet the basic requirements of accepting bullshit.)
So I need all my tools, and I need to able to use them elegantly… and that requires rest, distraction, and rejuvenation.
You on my Twitter follower’s list yet?
“I tot I taw a puddy tat…” Tweety (ask your uncle)
I am now officially tweeting on Twitter.
I originally resisted… but was convinced by Joel Comm to give it a try.
… dude, it’s cool.
It truly is the still-under-used social networking tool of Web 2.0. When you join as someone’s Twitter Pal (I made that up — don’t yet know what you call it when you follow people), you get “updates” by email or phone text.
“Normal” people (meaning, folks not in business) use it to annoy everyone else, by alerting their friends they’re havng breakfast, or feel constipated, or just slammed their fifth Red Bull.
However… hip marketers are finding out this is a fabulous way to keep in touch with customers, fans, colleagues, and the like. (Lots of “pure”, non-selling posts are the rule, BTW. 90% or more are really just interesting chat — key on “interesting” — because overt selling is gauche and looked down on.)
It’s a way to offer a glimpse into your daily life…
… and to keep folks current with anything important you’re doing.
The personal insights are cool, because they help with the bonding process. I mean, I’m kinda curious about how people get through their day. Aren’t you?
It’s like Behaviorial Psych 101, in little snippets.
And since I’m going to Chicago next week — for a Hot Seat event, and to lollygag with about fifty of the richest and hippest online marketers on the planet — I think what I’ll be tweeting about might be…
… you know…
… kinda interesting to you.
There’s a built-in limit to tweeting. You can’t go over 140 characters… so you’re forced to be brief. And thus, not waste anyone’s time. (Though, hot threads can get deep fast.)
I’m tweeting as “johncarlton007”.
To log on as a “friend”… and get all my updates… go to www.twitter.com/johncarlton007
and sign on.
First big update has already gone out: I’m interviewing my crazed young pal Jason Moffat on how to use Twitter for advanced marketing. He’s got it figured out.
The phone call will be recorded, and posted on the Radio Rant coaching site.
You’re not a member?
That’s dumb. Just go to www.carltoncoaching.com, scroll down to where we discuss the Radio Rant coaching club…
… and sign up for a free month.
Free! No obligation to stay on longer.
It’s the best deal in getting marketing info out there. Stan and I do multiple shows each month, and you can get ANY question you have answered, and any problem solved.
Anyway, gotta go. Got Jason on the line…
Man, he’s really got Twitter nailed, too…
P.S. Update — the call with Jason ROCKED.
For the first time in a loooooong time, I’m kinda excited about a new technological toy.
I’ll be tweeting from Chicago and elsewhere… and I promise to not play nice.
Not sure how often I’ll tweet yet. Jason does it a couple of times a day, but it’s an untested measure. I’ll just do it when the mood strikes, for now, and see how people react.
Now… go buy my stuff (as my pal Kern would say)…
“Dude, you’re harshing my mellow…”
Let me know what you think about this, will ya?
It seems, at first, to be a light-weight subject…
… yet, really, it’s one of the foundations of living a good life.
I’m talking about the people you surround yourself with.
But not the way you’re thinking.
This may even jar you a little bit. Here goes:
Early in my career, I realized that grown-up life isn’t all that much different…
… than what goes on during recess in the third grade.
There are outsiders, insiders, cliques, teams, gangs, winners and losers galore.
No matter WHAT grisly experience you had in grade school…
… you’ve got company.
It’s brutal out there.
And then you become an adult…
… and it’s the SAME SHIT all over again. Hierarchies, power-grabbing, humiliation plays, one-up-manship, and clubs you can’t belong to.
The ranks of entrepreneurs I know are filled with “recess survivors” who finally gave the finger to “The System”, and went off on their own.
As amazing as it seems, you really can get on with life without the “gotcha” games and pettiness of “Life With Bullies, Prom Queens, and BMOC’s”.
… that’s not the realization I want to share with you today.
Instead, the second part of that epiphany (that life is just a replay of third grade recess) is this:
Regardless of whether you “won” or “lost” in the social-climbing bullshit you’ve suffered through in your time…
… it can all still be a blast…
… if you have the right people around you.
In other words… it’s not whether you win, or lose.
It’s how much fun and insight to life you get during the adventure.
Let’s use me as an example.
Cuz I don’t mind telling embarrassing stories about myself:
I had a very mixed record of social “success” coming up the ranks… both in school, and in early adult life.
I was okay at sports. Just good enough to make the team and suffer the anxieties and physical/emotional debt of vicious organized games. And just under-powered enough to get cut from every attempt to make varsity. So I got to play… and I got to experience the arrid loneliness of the bench and the exit door.
But I sucked, utterly and without redemption, at most social interaction. Girls scared the bejesus out of me as a kid… flummoxed me as a teen… and toyed with me after that.
I was so unprepared, so confused, and so clueless about dealing with standard issues of dating and being a cool guy and feeling like I belonged… that, if I were a character in a novel, you’d roll your eyes and say “No way could anybody be that much of a loser!”
That was me.
But get this:
I still had a BLAST.
Even when Life dialed up the most humiliating, emotionally-scarring horror possible to a shy, skittish introvert like me…
… I was able to shake it off, and show up the very next day smiling and ready for more.
“That all you got, Fate? That’s your best shot, you miserable s.o.b.? Ha!”
You know how I did it? How I survived, and even thrived while being buried in sticks and stones and the arrows of misfortune?
I’ll tell you:
I had buddies to share it all with.
Not just fellow losers, either.
And this is the essential point here: I had a close-knit group of guys (and a few gals) around me…
… who delighted in being alive.
There’s probably some social-math equation I could come up: Your ability to survive and thrive… is directly proportional to the time that elapses between a horrible event…
… and your ability to laugh about it.
With my friends and me, that time was often instantaneous.
We had a lot of practice.
(And I’m not talking about just dating disasters, or heartbreak, or social blunders. I’m including death, financial misery, and the near-total upheaval of normality. The kind of blows that can rock you to your knees.)
I’m still not yet revealing the essence here.
The take-away of this tale is not “friends are good.”
Because I will attest that there was a very definable, and very rare aspect of these friends that is absolutely essential…
… and even beside the point of being able to laugh about tragedy.
You wanna guess what that aspect is?
This realization came rushing back to me yesterday while I chatted with my best friend from high school. Haven’t seen the dude in two years, but we stay in close touch.
And, mid-way through the call…
… I realized I ached from laughing.
Even though some of the subjects we discussed were illnesses in our families, job woes, relocation horror stories, and other tragedies.
And I was able to put a “quality” on that laughter.
It was bristling with raw energy. The “good” kind of energy.
There really are two kinds of people in the world: Those who bring energy with them to everything they do…
… and the great masses, who suck energy from you like psychic vampires. (That’s a Halbert term, by the way. Privately, we had other names for these types of buzz-killing grim reapers.)
I’ve known a lot of folks in my time. And I’ve unconsciously been putting each and every one through a little test upon meeting them.
The test is simple: Do they provide energy? Or are they leeching it from the air around us?
A party crammed with energy-gobbling vampires is a drag, through and through. Even Vegas can’t salvage a good time.
And yet, just hanging out with a single “mini-solar system” type of person in a drab coffee shop… can be pure bliss.
In business… in life… in games and in every social and quasi-social gathering…
… there is no fun, and little chance for adventure or good stories when the energy level is flat-lined.
And yet… when you are in the company of someone bursting with life-force…
… well, it’s pretty freaking magical.
The most mundane tasks become a joy. (My pal Art and I used to just drive around Cucamonga, with no goal or destination… not cruising, but rather just hanging out, laughing, basking in raw energy and verve and marvelling at the cruel and wonderful adventures Life handed out.)
Life isn’t gonna treat you better when you surround yourself with heat-source types. You’re still gonna take it on the chin, still gonna encounter monsters around every corner.
My mother — after ten months of gruesome chemo — still managed to tell a joke and make me smile… just hours before she passed away.
Believe me — there was nothing funny going on that afternoon.
But I cherish that last “don’t let the bastards get you down” shared moment with her.
If you understand what I’m talking about, you don’t need to know anything else about her to know exactly what kind of special woman she was.
That was over 15 years ago. And the lesson I learned is never far from my thoughts… especially when I’m feeling like Life has it out for me again.
The ride’s too short.
If you’ve got that flame in your soul, don’t let anyone or anything douse it.
We need you in the mix.
We already got enough of the damned vampires hovering…
Anyway, something to consider.
What do you think?
Rancho Cucamonga, CA
Just a block off Route 66 in the skitchy heart of the southland…
Quick note here today.
I’m still in my hometown (yeah, I grew up in Cucamonga, what’s it to ya?), visiting my family. Pop still lives in the same house he bought just after WWII, and it’s hard for me not to feel like I’m 15 again when I’m there.
Not that I feel all young and vibrant.
Naw. More like I get back in touch with how freakin’ clueless I was for the first half of my life.
It was a great childhood, a gruesome adolescence, and even now ghosts from my past haunt every corner of the neighborhood. It’s Memory Alley.
Always interesting/spooky/insightful to go back to old stomping grounds. I love my family. And I’m still chewing over how that town shaped who I am today…
Anyway, enough about me.
Here’s something about YOU: Since the last couple of posts here, I’ve been pondering long and hard about what “makes” an entrepreneur.
A lot of people — including me — talk about the value of goals in launching any entrepreneurial venture.
Figuring out what you truly want… setting a plan in motion to attain it… and following through.
There is, however, a difference in “understanding” goal-setting behavior…
… and actually DOING it.
And here is what I propose you do this weekend: Give yourself a nice, brutal Reality Check.
Are you spending enough time figuring out what you really want to do when you grow up?
This is not a trick question — most rookie goal-setters need to refine their skills at this over a frustrating period of time.
The first goals you set are likely to be things you actually don’t want, after all. There is an art to looking deep into your own heart and soul, and coming to grips with what REALLY rocks your boat…
… and what will continue to make nice waves in your future.
It’s never enough to want to be “rich”. You must spend time thinking about what “rich” means to you. Not to your buddies, or your colleagues, or anyone else.
And, if you decide you want to be filthy rich… well, you’ve got to do more than just set a goal. You gotta work out your plan to get there.
With lots of little goals along the path.
If you’ve yet to make Dime One online, for example, then a goal of becoming a billionaire online isn’t a goal… it’s a dream. You’ve got to earn your first buck. Then your second. Then start automatic pipelines, and go on from there.
Your first goal may be to weed through all the info available out there… find the resources you feel you can trust… and dig in.
Those subsequent “dig in” steps — the actual goal-by-goal step-ladder that will take you toward your desired destination — cannot be glossed over.
And, there are consequences to consider. You may not yet know what awaits you as a cash-generating genius. But you sure can start to examine how your life changes as you go.
I’ve written multiple blogs about how every detail of your life can morph in strange ways when the money starts coming in. Ken Calhoun, in the last comments section, tells a great story of how friends and family wrestle (often unsuccessfully) with your rise in status, liquidity, and self-confidence.
It’s not always pretty.
The more you “arm” yourself with insight like this, the less surprised you’ll be when you hit each milestone in your quest for a better life.
You’ll be… uh, what’s the word… prepared.
Goals are great. They saved my life.
But I’ve known too many people who ONLY set goals. They never go after them.
Movement is key.
And you’ll feel better about moving toward your goals, if you spend some serious time thinking about them.
Play with them. Mold them. Constantly put them through your “What if?” grinder. (What if you can’t do it with your first idea? Will you try again? Try something else? What?)
The “secret ingredient” of great goal setting… is to cogitate obsessively on the consequences of actually meeting your goals, once you set them. This not only helps you blow through failure… but also creates a “vision” of yourself that keeps your motivation hot.
This requires “forward thinking”… which doesn’t come with the default equipment you’re born with.
You gotta exercise it.
Without goals, you’re just being taken for a ride by Fate.
Goals do not guarantee anything… except, once you take steps to attain them, you will move SOMEWHERE new in life.
And you’ll be doing as much of the driving as possible.
Fate will still screw with you. But you’re no longer helpless.
At first, even five minutes of focused “forward thinking” will make you sweat and want to go do something else.
Get over it. Stick with it.
Soon, you’ll be an ace at peering into the fog down the line, and you’ll be able to exert more control over events than you ever dreamed possible in your pre-goal-setting days.
This weekend, get your five minutes in. Move through the sweat and avoidance.
Jump-start something new.
Let me know how you do.
P.S. I just checked with my office… and as I get ready to go to the airport to come home, one of the 5 seats is still open for the Chicago Hot Seat one-day event this September 25.
To get the details, go to www.carlton-workshop.com.
C’mon, people — this is one of those rare opportunities to get face-time with me and Stan. It just may be the virtual ass-kicking you need to get moving…
Monday, 10:09 pm
“Living well is the best revenge.” George Herbert (1593-1633)
Time to reveal the answer to last week’s burning question: “What do you think is the single most powerful motivation driving many entrepreneurs to outrageous success?”
… allow me to humbly praise everyone who took a shot at the answer.
At last count, there were over sixty responses.
Some were great… some were wild-ass stabs that missed by a mile… and some were just plain weird.
Again: There is no real “wrong” answer. If you had a driving motivation — or anything else goosing you in the right direction — vastly different than what I’m about to reveal…
… then great. It proves the adage that there are many ways to skin a cat.
… during my decades in the front-line trenches of the marketing world…
… I haven’t seen a great variety in the methods used to really make it big.
Mind you, I hear all kinds of interesting ideas about how it’s done… from good-hearted folks who haven’t done it yet.
They really, really, really want their worldview to be true, too.
They want success to happen because you’re a good person, with a mission to accomplish.
Sadly, this isn’t the way things often work.
The most dangerous time of any entrepreneur’s career…
… is in the very first months. When the pressure is on, the risks are great, and there isn’t much of a cheerleading section rooting you on.
During the early stages, it’s super-easy to stop and quit. No one will blame you. Nice try, dude — you did your best.
Now, welcome back to Slacker City. And let’s forget all about those nasty dreams of independence and wealth…
No. You need a particularly potent brew of juice in your system to power through the unrelenting obstacles sent by the universe to crush all rookie business owners.
There were some GREAT answers in the comments. Don’t get me wrong.
But most of them were about how you continue your success, AFTER you’ve attained it. And how you enjoy and enlarge on the opportunities offered by a proven entrepreneurial adventure.
Once you break free of the initial onslaught of trouble, horror and monstrous soul-killing problems…
… and you get some real traction…
… then you can shake yourself like a dog emerging from the swamp…
… breathe deep and fill your lungs with the rarified air of freedom and wealth and fame…
… and start focusing on your next subset of goals. Like saving the world, or helping others do what you did, or creating new opportunity for your brethern still slaving under the lash of The Man.
However, you gotta GET out of that swamp, first.
The independence attracted me, and was a factor in deciding to say “Screw it, I’m gonna give it a try.”
But I didn’t believe I could actually have true independence… until it became a reality. I had to pinch myself, constantly, when it looked like I was gonna pull it off. I knew it could be taken away again, without notice.
What fired me up every morning, especially when things backslid and looked bleak…
… was a very passionate juice coursing through my veins.
DaveC was close, with his post in the comments.
But GregJ nailed it early. He wrote “Someone told them they couldn’t do it or it won’t work and it pissed them off.”
I don’t know if Greg knew this from experience, or was guessing, or had been reading my stuff for awhile and remembered me broaching this very subject before.
All the positive answers were good. I mean that. I’m a positive guy, and all my goals are positive. I have no enemies that I know of, either in life or in business. I wish harm to no one.
… in the fevered early days of my race to independence…
… with risks and dangers everywhere (I had zero savings, no safety net, no Plan B)…
… I needed STRONG mojo.
I needed… (blare of trumpets)…
Let me tell you — there’s a LOT of strength and fortitude to be harnessed for your cojones in being royally pissed off.
For me, it was the first copywriter I ever met. Eileen. I remember every detail of her vividly… and I think of her often.
Especially when cashing big checks.
All long-time readers know this story. I was a lowly, starving paste-up artist in a Silicon Valley art department… and I’d never realized that someone was getting paid to write all those words I was aligning on my camera-ready art boards.
The lifestyle fascinated me. To be able to rake in fat bucks just… writing? Are you kidding me?
So I asked Eileen how you get to be a copywriter.
“It’s too hard,” she hissed. “You’ll never figure it out.”
This was not a nice woman.
A hot ember burst into full flame deep inside of me at that very moment. You’re telling me… no? You’re judging me? You’re withholding information because you feel freaking superior to me?
I was almost thirty at the time. And I’d never felt that kind of passion before. In fact, I thought internal heat that intense only happened in the sack, from the ancient biological urge to merge.
This was new.
It was a startling emotional response. It energized me in a strange, new way. Like Spidey being bitten by the radioactive spider.
And I stole her copy of “Tested Advertising Methods” (by John Caples)… and read enough before she stole it back to realize I COULD become a copywriter.
Whether I WOULD or not was yet to be determined.
I had nothing but a glimpse of what “might be”.
Now, I was strangely contenet with being a slacker at that time. No ambition. No dreams. No plans.
Just bouncing on the surface of life like so much jetsom and flotsam.
And I’ll testify right here and now: I might have continued to slack off…
… if Eileen (that gorgeous bitch) hadn’t off-handedly challenged my self-worth.
The casualness of her put-down was extra fuel for the fire.
The heat roiling inside me was tinged with humiliation, and the realization that — wow — she might be right.
And I’d never know… unless I got my act together and went after it.
It took another two years for me to cobble together a thin “bag of tricks”, and hone my skills to a point where I felt — okay — I’m diving in.
I never said “I’ll show you.” I never spoke to Eileen or saw her again.
Didn’t need to.
It’s easy to argue with people about your “worth” and your plans.
But it’s empty yapping.
The big revelation I had that day… was I needed to get my ass in gear.
Not with words.
Again: Money didn’t motivate me. Never has. (I’ve turned down more money in my career — by refusing to take jobs that didn’t interest me, or by protecting my outrageous need for massive quantities of free time — than I’ve actually earned.)
The concept of participating in business, and yet being independent intrigued me… but I had no personal experience to help me visualize what, exactly, independence would feel like.
It wasn’t enough of a driving force to help me get up after being knocked down… and get immediately back in the game.
For me… and for many others I know… it’s a sort of “snapping point”.
One second before, you were your old, slacker self.
And one second after the spark… you’re someone else.
Juiced with a fever that won’t be doused until you prove your detractors wrong.
Remember — I never saw Eileen again. My passionate drive was internalized.
I don’t care if she knows what happened to me or not. I don’t care.
Heck — I’d hug her, if I ever met her again.
Look — I can’t tattle on my colleagues. You’ll have to take my word that I know about many of their deep, dark motivations.
I can tell you my old pal Gary Halbert had his “snapping” moment. His family took great pleasure in every failure he encountered in his attempts to break the code on creating wealth.
He failed a LOT, too.
It got him down. But it never finished him off.
Because he enjoyed the broiling motivation that can only come from being told “you can’t do it.”
Not everyone reacts this way.
Most slump, when faced with failure or challenges to their dreams, and shuffle off in defeat.
There’s no shame in that. The life of an entrepreneur is often mean and brutish and short… and it’s not for everyone.
However, for some… there very much IS shame in letting others define you.
And it burns hot.
It’s great to want to help others, and make the world a better place. But you gotta get to a point where you have the power and money to DO that, before you realize those dreams.
Bill Gates, I’m willing to bet, wasn’t giving billions to needy causes before he had multiple more billions in his pocket. Starting out, he probably gave a bit to charity, and mostly as a tax deduction. (Not doubting Bill’s generosity, nor his committment to help out. Just saying he couldn’t DO it until he became successful.)
And the US swim team may or may not have beaten France in the relay during the Olympics without the extra juice of France’s insult beforehand.
But the US team had that quote from the French team captain (“We came here to smash the Americans”) on their lockers. They weren’t expected to win.
Tell me I can’t do something.
I dare you.
Love to hear your further comments and ruminating on this subject…
P.S. In case you haven’t heard…
… my biz partner Stan and I are going to Chicago later this month…
… and we’ve decided to go a day early, so we can offer a one-time, one-day Hot Seat super-intensive workshop.
A Hot Seat is where we corner you, and dive deeply into every problem you have in business. And fix them.
It’s a transformative process, and for a horde of entrepreneurs, small business owners, and online marketers… a customized Hot Seat with me was the trigger for putting their success on overdrive.
Details: September 25, all day long, in downtown Chicago. We’ll give you the hotel info when you sign up… IF you score a seat.
There’s only room for 5 attendees. Hot Seats are incredibly intense and thorough, and we cannot do more than 5 in a day. So that’s the limit.
We’ve already emailed our list about this. When we held a one-day Hot Seat event in New York city in July, it sold out like that.
So if this is something you even think might appeal to you… go to this link for more details:
“Alex, I’ll take Entrepreneur Secrets for $500.” (Apologies to Jeopardy)
Are you a successful entrepreneur?
Are you struggling, but in the game?
Or… are you thinking about getting into the game?
Then the question I’m about to ask you may be of particular interest.
Here’s the quiz:
“What do you think is the single most powerful motivation driving entrepreneurs to outrageous success?”
In other words… what fuels the mind of the typical rich, famous, and happy, happy, happy entrepreneur during his rise to wealth and satisfaction?
I want to hear your guess in the comments section below.
Most folks guess wrong.
However, if you’ve been reading my slop for awhile, you may already have your finger on the right answer. Cuz I’ve talked about this very subject often.
It’s one of the most shocking discoveries I made, early in my career… and it catapulted me over every other freelancer in Los Angeles, and drove me deep into the heart of the roiling entrepreneurial world (where I met and bonded with dudes like Gary Halbert and Jay Abraham).
This is not a trick question.
But I’ll bet you get it wrong.
Here are few hints: It’s not the desire for more money.
Nor is it a lust for “freedom”, or even independence.
Look — I am on close, intimate terms with probably a hundred of the top marketers (both offline and online).
When we get together, we gossip like schoolgirls, take great delight in the art of creative insults… and (most important) share the often overlooked truths of success with each other.
I say “overlooked” not because we hold back from telling people the stark realities of how we earned our mojo.
These truths are overlooked because people refuse to believe they’re real.
It’s like a groupie once said of Mick Jagger: “Yeah, he was okay in the sack and all that… but he wasn’t Mick Jagger, if you know what I mean.”
Until you actually experience real success, the reality of it is not easily fathomed.
… here’s some honest insight, from me, on what power-drove the wealth and happiness of many of the most notoriously-successful entrepreneurs I know.
Leave either your answer…
… or your own experience, looking back on your rise to the Big Bucks…
… in the comments section.
C’mon, don’t be shy.
It’ll take you five freaking minutes.
And it’ll be fun, seeing what people believe to be the single biggest motivations driving people toward their goals.
There really aren’t any “wrong” answers…
… however, I will give you the real answer on Monday. (Meaning, the truth behind some of the most spectacular success stories of recent times.)
It may confirm what you’ve already suspected, or learned through personal experience.
Or, it may shock the hell out of you.
But if it does shock you… at least you’ll know the truth.
Leave your comment. Check back on Monday.
And enjoy your weekend…
P.S. Capitalist note: Though the guided at-home Simple Writing System mentoring course is closed and sold-out (sorry, not even folks on the waiting list could get in)…
… we ARE still offering the basic DVDs and workbook. Just without the hand-holding.
Sample comment from an entrepreneur who just opened her Simple Writing System: “I am flabbergasted with all of the information in the package.”
I know. We did it on purpose.
So this course would be the main “go to” resource for writing in your toolkit.
Why haven’t you gotten yours yet?
“You know everybody is ignorant… just on different subjects.” Will Rogers
Looking for tips you can use, like, immediately to help your business boost its mojo?
Well I got all that for you in this post, plus a HUGE announcement, so be sure to read to the end. (You can skip to the end if you like. But then. you’ll miss out on some super easy tips to make your copy sizzle.)
I’m talking about specific tactics that will absolutely pump your copy full of good energy the first time you even dabble in them.
It’s advanced copywriting voodoo from deep in my bag of tricks… yet very simple to pull off.
My favorite kind of tool.
Before I just dump this tactic into your lap, though…
… I think I’ll explain where it came from.
Might give you some context. And make you feel more confident using it.
Here’s the story: I am not a naturally-gifted writer…
… though I loved the act of writing as soon as I learned the alphabet. It was just so cool to be able to scratch out symbols with my big pencil (tongue firmly stuck out the side of my mouth) and make people laugh when they read it.
Or respond in any old way at all.
I wish I could say my Inner Salesman was tickled awake by this discovery, but he was still fast asleep… even as I got sucked into the world of great fiction, and created a hobby of trying to mimic what I was reading.
I wrote a terrifically horrible little novella in the sixth grade based on the “Mars Attacks!” bubble gum card series. (You may remember the mid-nineties movie they made about that series, starring Jack Nicholson. Great fun.)
At age 13, I wrote several short stories based on my own fevered post-adolescent twist on James Bond. Just brutally awful stuff.
I mean, what the hell does a 13-year-old know about drinking vodka and slaying women with a wink?
Not a damn thing.
Still, the entire English class once skipped lunch to hear me read one of those absurd tales.
I think I almost flunked, because my knowledge of basic grammar sucked… but I had an inkling on how to tell a story.
And yet, the more I “tried” to write, the worse I got.
Right into and past college, the stories became more and more bloated with tangents and flowery language that would have choked a Victorian.
You know what the turning point was, for me, in my quest to become a decent writer?
Saved my ass.
All my heroes — Claude Hopkins, John Caples, David Ogilvy — wrote in a similar manner. Very sparse, very on-target, very no-bullshit-allowed.
And I had my epiphany about five minutes into writing my very first ad.
Many rookies try to goose the power of their writing with adjectives.
And no matter how deep your adjective vocabulary becomes, your writing will forever be variations of a vapid Valley Girl trying to explain an experience:
“It was so, you know, like, amazing. Really, really amazing and fabulous beyond belief. It just… it just rocked, you know?…”
Adjectives, I quickly learned, are a tool for the communication-challenged.
They actually hurt your writing, more than help it.
No matter how cool you believe your precious adjective is.
Oh, go look it up, if you can’t remember what an adjective is. Good grief, man, it’s a fundamental element of the language you use everyday.
I’ll wait while you do a wiki search…
Here’s tip #1:
Strip ALL adjectives from your next attempt at sales copy.
Every last buggery one.
And write only in simple, unadorned sentences. Make zero effort to “fluff up” your meaning with adjectives.
And… guess what?
You have just automatically made your writing more readable, and probably more powerfully communicative.
Now, yes, all the top writers do occasionally use adjectives.
Often in headlines. (Where would I be today without the word “amazing”?)
However… a pro makes sure his sentence can thrive even without any adjectives… before inserting one.
That nasty thing must EARN its way into your pitch.
Your sentence must scream for it. The foundation of your story must teeter and begin to crumble… before you give in and insert a single, tasty, mojo-laced adjective.
Treat them like nitroglycerin. Use sparingly and only when absolutely called for.
Want even more simple, actionable tips you can use right away? You’ll get 11 more of them here, for free.
That brings us to Tip # 2:
Look for action verbs instead.
That’s what separates the killer writer from the hack and the wannabe: Verbs.
My rule: No verb is repeated on any manuscript page of copy.
You know what that means? When I’m writing at fever pitch, I’m letting verbs drive the narrative.
And I can only use words like “get” once a page.
That’ll make you reach for the ginko and the Thesaurus. (Just never, ever use a word you know is not commonly understood by your reader. Don’t get too fancy, or you’ll lose him, and lose the sale.)
Quick example: The word “walk”. As in, “he walked down the street”.
- How about “he staggered down the street”? Different image.
- And what about “he lurched down the street”? Sober, healthy people don’t lurch. Drunk, hurt or zombified people do.
- He bolted down the street. He raced down the street in a blind panic…
First time though, you just write.
Use boring verbs, and don’t fuss with them.
When you’re done, let the copy get cold (at least 12 hours, if you can).
Then, go back… and edit viciously.
Challenge every verb you’ve used.
You’ll be embarrassed by the number of times you’ve used “get” and “got” and other sleep-inducing deadwood verbs. Over and over and over, as if you’d never heard of another verb choice in your life.
Don’t get cute. Don’t get clever.
Just beef up your writing with good word selection. Mostly your verbs.
You’ll know you’ve reached Buddha-hood when you stop using adjectives altogether.
Now go delete some adjectives.
P.S. About that huge announcement…
How does a week of coaching and feedback from an A-List copywriter sound? In a few days, Lorrie Morgan will be teaching “The Pint Of Beer Ad Writing Challenge.”
The idea? Write a kick-ass ad in the same time it takes you to down an ice-cold beer. Or a piping hot coffee. Your choice.
Best of all, it’s completely free. All the details are right here.