The Answer

Saturday, 10:34am
Reno, NV
“Seek, and ye shall find…”


Well. That was obviously a great little exercise in critical thinking.

I hope you had a chance to read all the responses to the question I taunted folks with in the Thursday post. Right now, there are 115 answers, most of them excellence little nuggets of wisdom and insight.

However… almost every single one was far off-base.

Good stuff. But not the right answer.

There was one response that came close… and one other that pretty much hit it dead-on.

So I’m awarding two prizes, instead of the one I promised. I’ll call ’em out in a moment.

First, though…

… I think it’s worth going over the right answer, and exploring where everyone went wrong.

Most comments centered on how you should deal with your market and your mindset. How to get prospects riled up, how to ignite your own passion, how to deliver more and thus deserve more.

This is good advice, but it’s not functional for the situation.

Consider how I framed this exercise: People come to me for consultation. They pay a pretty penny for the best advice I can offer.

These are, often, already-successful biz owners who have hit a rought spot — sales have tanked, ads aren’t working, competition is eating them alive…

… and they don’t know why, and they don’t know what to do next.

At some point, they have reached a state of relative helplessness. These are smart, strong, successful people… and admitting they’re stumped is a difficult realization to make.

However, it’s still an act of courage… and the right thing to do.

If they DON’T have that moment of awareness (that they’re toast without some help)… they risk freezing up in denial, and coasting into bankruptcy.

It’s a sad, common tale. Confused biz owners will pump every last drop of their net worth into a marketing plan in freefall, and not be able to face reality until — like an out-of-control drunk — they hit bottom.

Smart marketers know two things that save them from this fate:

1. The moment where you need a reality-check… and where you should be making decisions that will affect the rest of your life… comes LONG before you hit bottom.

2. And (big surprise to rookies)… it’s okay to fail.

You just need a better definition of the word “fail”.

To a good marketer, it doesn’t mean “bankruptcy”.

No. It means “This isn’t working. Time to change course.”

The most obvious (and heart-wrenching) example of this is with family owned restaurants. It’s the most common type of brick-n-mortar biz started by first-time entrepreneurs… and the most likely to fail.

If you’re blinded by your dreams — and I’ve recently seen this happen just in this town several times — you will be tempted to believe you’re on some kind of ride controlled by Fate. Which is a delusion that feeds on itself… so you get fatalistic, and resort to the only thing you do still control: Your ability to get up every day and grind it out as certain Doom approaches.

You don’t ask for help, because you don’t believe anyone can help. You gotta do it yourself. You staked out your spot, and now you’re gritting your teeth and taking the oncoming storm full-face.

This is what we call “The False Hero” kind of thinking.

To a smart marketer, the reality checks would have started before the doors opened.

Essentials like location, competition, traffic flow, and even future city plans to tear up streets would have been sweated over.

And even more important… where gaps in knowledge or expertise glared, help would have been sought out.

And even more important than that… if unexpected disasters happen anyway, then expert input becomes a Number One Priority. (I know one expert, for example, who made a mint helping small pizza joints demolish the bigger chain pizzerias… and another who specializes in helping boutiques thrive after Wal-Mart moves in next door.)

Wait — this isn’t the specific answer to the question yet. I’m not pushing random consultations.

Because, if you waltz blindly into the World of Experts, you’re gonna get mauled.

Using the same example from above: I’ve met oodles of rookies who latched onto an expert, and blindly followed their advice… without double-checking, and without doing reality-checks along the way.

I’ve said this before: Entering business can be compared to taking a bus downtown to the rastiest part of the slum… and walking into the first dark alley you come across.

If you’re not prepared, you’re going to be the evening’s entertainment for sharks you won’t even see coming.

However, the “right” way to do this isn’t hard to figure out. You prep by collecting every shred of info and insight you can muster. Google maps, crime reports, a clear understanding of the laws affecting your right to defend yourself when trouble rears.

That’s step one. Do a reality check on what you’re getting yourself into.

This is also as far as most rookies take it. Though this is a super-simple step, and can be done quickly… it exhausts the thinking of most folks.

Smarter marketers keep going.

Step two: Get hip to both self-defensive and offensive maneuvers. (Yes, we’re still talking about both physically walking into an alley, and also about entering a market.)

At this stage, most people will cling to the do-it-yourself program… and that’s fine. You can learn a ton by studing and practicing on your own.


If you take the reality of the situation seriously… you’re gonna want to go deeper into preparation.

This is step three.

And it’s where the Very Successful take a different path than the Also-Ran’s.

Have you guessed yet what this advanced step is?

Think about it before reading on.

Take a minute — seriously.

I’ll wait…

Okay. Did you think about an answer?

It’s something I’ve done, personally, in my own biz.

Gary Halbert did it, multiple times. Jay Abraham does it. Rich Schefren recently did it.

And every top marketer you know of, both online and offline, has done it… or is busy getting it done.

And it’s what I advise smart-but-struggling clients to do: Hook up with someone who knows their shit… who you’re compatible with.

No matter how smart you are… you’re gonna face problems, sticking points, and disasters that are beyond your knowledge, your ability, and even your burning desires to succeed.

In the “downtown alley” analogy… you know what I’d do before boarding that bus?

I’d spend some serious time with someone who knows how to fight, and learn every trick in the book. I’d spar, risking a little blood to get these skills down. I’d put in the time and energy to reach a level of “save my life” confidence.

But I wouldn’t stop there.

When I got off that bus… I wouldn’t be alone.

Depending on what I suspected or knew I was gonna face… I would surround myself with proven, vetted experts who were clearly motivated to watch my back.

I’d be an 800 pound gorilla, flanked by other 800 pound gorillas.

Do you understand how this applies to business?

This “hook up” advice is pliable. It might mean hiring a freelance writer you can develop a great long-term relationship with.

Or it might mean finding an expert you can do regular consultations with (not just one-off random consults)… who will commit to understanding your situation at the deepest possible level, and use every possible resource to fix what’s keeping you up at night.

Or it might mean finding a partner.

Or a killer personal assistant.

Or just someone who is proactive, honest, effective, and lives by a professional code.

You won’t find the people you need easily.

You’ll have to apply the same steps as you would for doing anything else that mattered — get info, get advice, test the waters… and (as always when dealing with humans) kiss however many frogs you gotta kiss to find the right one.

Quick example: Halbert busted onto the “guru” scene completely on his own. He had the chops, the energy, and the plan to go several years… before he realized he needed help.

He hired a BUNCH of freelancers. I was one of them. Sometimes quickly, sometimes over a period of months, the others ran screaming from the gig.

I stayed. I figured it out.

And, as soon as he was ready, he asked me to partner up on certain projects.

A lotta frogs got smooched in that process. We both learned massive lessons along the way that I’m still using every single time I deal with people.

Here’s the thing: Even the most brilliant entrepreneur can “do it all” for only a short part of the ride.

This is basic “E-Myth” stuff.

When you’re hyper-aware of your situation, you will know when the time has come to get help.

Most folks wait a little past the right time… which is okay, as long as you DO get hip to what you need.

The top marketers all intermingle with behind-the-scene brainstorms. We call each other mercilessly for in-depth advice and specific help (like on copy).

I stalked Stan for two years, knowing he was the right guy to partner-up with. The drawn-out process was well worth it — we get along, he’s ridiculously smart, and we’re both having fun while making money and reinventing Marketing Rebel from the ground up.

For clients who come to me with pain and leaks in their sales funnel and mysterious blind alleys in front of them…

… I have always suggested that they secure long-term (or even permanent) professional-level help.

Now, with the economy presenting unique challenges across the board…

… this is the FIRST piece of advice I explore with everyone.

Sometimes it’s just finding a good freelancer who’ll hang around. Sometimes it’s finding a good group to brainstorm with. Sometimes it’s hiring someone to handle the grief-parts of your biz.

Sometimes, it’s a full-on partner.

The main thing is to get another mind obsessing on your biz. Get some “out of the box” thinking. Have your assumptions challenged, and your bullshit called out. (This is critical, if you want to get anywhere good in life.)

With the right help, you’ll advance quicker…

… your results will multiply (not just double)…

… and, when you find the right people to watch your back, the synchronicity will provide fresh energy, verve, nerve, and sheer raw enjoyment.


I went solo as a freelancer determined to make it work… on my own.

Which was the right decision at the time… because back then there WEREN’T any resources to watch my back. I didn’t know any other freelancers. There were no books, or courses, or consultants, or anything else that would help.

I had a few clues, and a burning desire.

However, my “do it myself” program quickly succeeded to the point where I plateaued.

I could go no futher without help.

So I hooked up with an agent, who introduced me to other writers and marketers. My network expaned, and I started hooking up with compatible souls.

And when those hook-ups didn’t pan out, I moved on.

It IS a process.

But it’s not difficult, once you step back from fatalistic thinking, and start being proactive about it.

Going it alone is great…

… until it’s not anymore.

When your reality check reveals that you need help…

… dude, get the help.

The winners are Yoda, who almost blew it by being obtuse in his comment… but saved it with a smart-ass “Yoda” style quote: “Smart enough alone, you are not.”

And Matt Desmet, who pretty much nailed it several hours later (minus the obtuseness) with: “The answer, I believe, is to find people who have the wisdom and the knowledge to buckle down and make it through no matter what the circumstances or economy are doing.”

Guys, I’ll have either Diane or Anne get in touch with you, and ship your prize out.

Good work.

Everyone, good work.

This was a great exercise.

I’m sure we’ll be talking more about this process later on.

Stay frosty,

John Carlton

P.S. In case anyone was thinking this was some sneaky way to pitch the upcoming Hot Seat Seminar…

… it’s not.

I’m not that clever.

Plus, there are only a few seats available at this event. It’s not a large enough venue to accomodate everyone who needs the kind of help I’m talking about.

It is, though, a tremendous opportunity for the right person. The first step, for most of us, in finding good resources and experts who won’t screw you over…

… is to hang out with a bunch of them first.

The networking is always a major appeal for any event. The other biz owners you meet may become the best brain-storming partners you ever find.

And getting an up-close-and-personal taste of the experts can change your life.

That’s why the Hot Seat events always generate such over-the-top testimonials, each of the few times we’ve held one.

This is totally unlike the large seminars, where you can remain anonymous the entire time, and it’s almost impossible to get any quality “face time” with the movers-and-shakers.

In a Hot Seat event, there are just a handful of folks involved — a small number of lucky attendees, and a seething crop of experts I’ve hand-picked to go deep with every single attendee’s situation.

The relationships that occur are profound.

So, yeah, if you know in your heart that you should be attending this Hot Seat event in San Francisco (Feb 21-22), then you better hurry and check it out:

It WILL be the most shocking and worthwhile reality check you’ve ever experienced.

Again, though — it’s very limited, and not for everyone.

Your journey may take you in other directions.

What’s important is that you TAKE that journey.

We’re here to help, if we fit what you need right now.

Like I said, I’ll be posting more on this subject later.

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"11 Really Stupid Blunders You're Making With Your Biz & Career Right Now."

  • Jerald says:

    You say… “I’m not that clever.”

    Time for a reality check, John.

    (LOL, sorry, couldn’t resist.)

    For the record… I’m NOT suggesting John is lying to you! But John — you’re talented — admit it. Admit your subconscious mind could of been this clever.

    Sounds like a new info product!

    Marketing without marketing… how to achieve everything your little heart desires — overnight — by channeling the amazing power of your subconscious mind into your marketing (while you sleep).

  • Bless God for giving you so much wisdom and understanding. I appreciate you so very much. Thank YOU for pouring out your well. You quenched our thirst and refreshed us once again. So enjoy you!

  • Yoda says:

    Wow! What a pleasant suprise I got when I checked for the “Answer” this morning!

    I must admit my answer “Develope Relationships” was somewhat obtuse or ambigous.(sp.?) That’s why I added the Yoda quote “Strong enough alone, you are not” (this is a quote from the Star Wars Movie, not MY original quote!) But, it is very relevant and seemed to fit.

    Especially in this crappy economy, it is more important than ever to get trusted, professional help and advice.

    I truly believe that what John is saying IS what can make a signifigant difference in business in 2009. I too, am recommending “getting Help and Professional Advice in my new project the “Who’s Who of Gurus” due to be released in about 8 weeks. In fact, “Copywriting” is the #1 category of 18 I recommend as to where to start, as I’m sure John will attest, that copywriting is the one skill that must be learned as EVERYTHING done in Internet Marketing depends on this skill.

    [Some fun facts] Yoda spoke in a language called “Galactic Basic” (anastrophic-inverts object, subject) verbs are at the end of the clause. Lot’s of fun wisdom from this little 800 year old, Yoda Minch.

    The nickname Yoda was hung on me a couple years by a student “Newbie” and it stuck. (Not sure if it’s because I’m old, or because Yoda was a “wise Jedi-Trainer”.) Hmmmmm Well, it’s easier to remember than my real name.

    The real point of all this yammering is to say THANK YOU to Mr. Carlton! The “Kick-Ass…” prize is something I will study and put to use immediately…Sisncere, Heart-felt Thank You John!

    Dennis Lauritsen (Yoda)

    P.S. I’ve added a better e-mail address to this post, as the other one is somewhat unstable.

    P.P.S. Congratulations to Matt! Very well said!

    P.P.S. To all the other contestants, Congradulations to you to0! There were many very good responses, it shows you’re thinking. If they work for you, keep doing it!

  • Chris West says:


    You hit the nail on the head. As someone who just had a business crash and burn due to a lack of compatibility of my marketing “mentors”, what you say is critical for those contemplating a new business. And my business was a wholesaler with pretty killer leads that I myself and the manufacturer drummed up.

    I thought it interesting when my “mentors” kept telling me to continue to do the same tasks that were obviously not working versus coming up with any new approaches (except for one pretty glaring unethical one). At one point an email ad I ran (copy with a -gasp- call to purchase) was working and I was belittled to no end by the morons due to the lack of technical info in the ad.

    When I was fed up with the lack if business intellect (re: i was sold a bag of *$&#) I mentioned that I was going to go outside to find a business coach who had a clue with what was going on down in my area (sorry, markets differ by region and you don’t live down here), the relationship soured just like the housing market here in the southwest.

    Needless to say, I paid a college tuition for the mistakes made. Next time, trust the gut and real pro’s!

    Carpe Diem!

  • Kyle says:

    I’m not sure where this fits in, but I think it does:

    Frank Kern recently hired Dan Kennedy to consult with him for a day. As soon as I found that out, I pulled out my credit card and got ready to buy whatever it was Frank was going to offer.


    Because, in my opinion, he was the first “newer” guru smart enough to go see what Dinosaur Dan had to say in a one on one environment. (Not at a seminar, but mono y mono with one of the best three marketers in history, to see what he can change, add to, and which direction to head.)

  • Asking for help when you aren’t sure what is up. Hmmm.

    Interesting thought but I don’t know that your setup could bring that out.

    I think one of the main problems with second generation restaurants is more the loss of work ethic from first to second generation.

    But what do I know?


  • […] let’s get straight on the answer to this one-question […]

  • […] The answer I’m looking for, remember, is what I’ve discovered in my career as a consultant. So I’ve obviously written about it before, wouldn’t you think? Like, in posts here in the blog maybe? […]

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