The Rest Of Your Freakin’ Life

Friday, 2:39pm
Reno, NV
“Hey, you bastards, I’m still here!” Steve McQueen as Papillon, floating away to freedom…


Two things today:

1. I want to thank, again, everyone who sent prayers, good vibes, and thoughtful notes to us. It’s been a stressful time, but if you’ve been following me on Twitter ( then you’re as up-to-date as anyone on Michele’s recovery.

We’re not out of the woods yet, but the first trials have been met, and conquered.

2. This being a new year, I’ve been mercilessly going through my usual self-reflection and goal setting rituals.

Cleaned the office.

Dragged out those pesky unfinished novels and started making fresh notes. (When the pages of a manuscript get dusty, it’s time to either finish the damn thing or toss it.)

And combed through old business files, looking for buried treasure.

This file-combing often — often — produces shockingly valuable stuff.

My pal Jeff Walker has just been Tweeting on this very subject… and reminded me to go foraging in the archiveal boxes one more time.

And guess what?

I stumbled across something I want to share with you.

It’s very relevant, if you’re considering ways to change or begin to really live your life with fresh gusto.

What I’m pasting in here, below, is the manuscript from a newsletter I wrote (and mailed to my list) back in February of 2005. Issue Number 33, to be precise.

The “Rant” newsletter was a monthly exercise for me, for six full years starting in ’02.

I stopped publishing it exactly one year ago… putting my energies into this blog instead.

Still, there’s just an amazing amount of timeless advice and insight in those older newsletters.

Treasure, for anyone paying attention.

So, with just a quick intro, I’ll let you sample this special re-issue of one of the most talked-about Rants I ever wrote.

Quick Intro: I had just had a skin cancer lesion removed from my chest when I wrote this issue. Skin cancer is rife in my family, and was no surprise.

Still, it was serious enough to get my full attention.

And a visit with a surgeon.

That’s the set-up.

What follows in this newsletter could be — if you’re like the many others who found it life-changing — the exact tool you’ve been hoping for to help you finally take control of your reality.

So you can usher in the Grand Adventure your life was meant to be.


Here’s the copy from the newsletter. Yeah, it’s long… but you’ll understand as you read why I’ve posted it:

Dear Friend and Subscriber,

Despite the gray overcast outside, life is bright and shiny for me today.

Because I’m alive… and not just kickin’, but given official orders to kick as long and hard as I can for many years to come.

See, I just got back from going under the surgeon’s knife again — second outpatient surgery in a month, all because I got sunburned too many times as a kid. (We started our tans every summer by getting burnt to a crisp. Then we’d slough off dead skin like a molting snake, and voila! Nice brown tan underneath. Apparently that was a bad idea, and now everyone my age is paying the price.)

I’m fine, and don’t expect further problems, though I will be watchful. It didn’t even seem like that big of a deal to me — nothing I couldn’t handle myself with a mirror, a rusty razor blade, and a shot of whiskey. (Or, as my friend Renae suggested, just taking the car cigarette lighter to the offending spot till I burned down to bone.)

But no, the doc insisted on all this sterile crap, shots of numb-o-caine, expert stitching, the works. Leave no scar, he said.

Hey, I wanted the scar. Make a good story about surviving a knife fight or something.

I’m joking about this because I know how much of a bullet I dodged. I can’t count the number of friends I have suffering more serious problems, but I do count my blessings.

If I’m still ridiculously healthy (in spite of this one minor setback) it isn’t because of anything I’ve ever done to create health. In fact, I’ve logged many, many years in a self-destructive daze, daring the worst.

That’s why I suspect I’m being spared horrible illness only if I agree to continue to help others — which is why starting this issue of the Rant seems like a front-burner project, even while the bandages are still on. I actually crave the privilege of telling you another story with a lesson. Of all the desires that crossed my mind on the ride home, doing this was astonishingly high on the list.

You may not be aware of it, but there’s a spiritual fulfillment on my end when I write this swill. I normally ignore it myself… but today, it’s loud and clear.

Mark Twain famously suggested that even the most responsible man, having died and then given another day to spend on earth, would immediately secure a bottle of rot-gut and a hooker.

I’m not ruling those options out if things ever get worse, but for now I’m enjoying the lure of my work. (It’s like I’ve been poisoned with a sudden dose of maturity, late in life.)

If you’ve ever been swabbed and butchered on an examining table, you know it’s true there are no atheists in foxholes or doctor’s offices.

You just get the feeling there’s something… more… going on. And big damn mysterious reasons behind it all.

It’s as close as I ever get to feeling religious.

But that’s not why I bring this up. (Is there anything more boring than a conversation that begins “I just had surgery, and…”?)

No. What’s more relevant here is the feeling of aliveness I’m experiencing. It’s better than drugs or sex. Everything I see is a visual delight, every sound a symphony, every surface a tactile wonderland. Those shadowy mountains are just stunningly gorgeous. The hum of traffic is as soothing as spring bees attending their flowers. My mutt terrier’s bristly fur feels like mink.

Mind you, this was not a near-death experience I had. Routine stuff, and the doctor and I joked and discussed art and movies throughout the procedure.

I was, however, still more or less lying on a slab. Being filleted like a fish. My jokes were a little forced, more bravura than wit.

It’s not a pretty view, having people with surgical splatter-guards bending over your chest, fussing with blades and needles and bloody gauze. (I had flashbacks to Ken Burns-style scenes of Civil War era field hospitals, long before the niceties of anesthesia and antibacterial agents. We got nothing to complain about today.)

And, simple procedure or not, I still experienced the amazing “second chance” thrill that is so familiar to anyone who’s brushed up against their own mortality.

One of my long-term goals is to live in this bright state most of the time, and not just on special occasions. It’s a Zen thing, and doable.

But I have to want it, and I have to do the things required in order to attain it.

And this — short drum roll — is the perfect segue into what I wanted to talk about this issue. I call it…

“Goal Setting 101 And
The January 15th Letter”

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

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

Or should be.

It’s all in the telling.

What I’m not going to discuss are “resolutions”. Those are bogus pseudo-goals that have the staying power of pudding in a microwave.

No. It’s merely a coincidence that I’m suggesting a review of your goals in January, just after the New Year’s supposed fresh start.

I mean… there’s not much else to do, so why not sit down and plan out the rest of your life.
This is, of course, a very damp, cold, and bleak time of year.

The depths of winter and discontent.

A good percentage of the population suffers fleeting depression because of lack of sunlight… thanks to the geniuses behind Daylight Savings Time, who arrange for dusk to arrive around 2:30 in the afternoon in these parts.

We also just got slammed with back-to-back-to-back “Storms of the Century”, each one dumping a record load of snow on us. I sent photos to friends, and many emailed back wondering when I’d gone to Antarctica to live.

We had a little cabin fever brewing. Didn’t help when the local PBS channel ran a special on the Donner Party, either. Three feet of snow drifting down, the lights flickering, enough ice on the road to make the SUV sidle like a Red Wing goon slamming someone into the boards.

The safest place was home… but man, the walls start to close in after a few days.

I’m telling you, I had excuses up the yin-yang for allowing my senses to get a little dulled. The natural response is to turn your mind off, and hibernate until March.

And I succumbed, until the surgery. Started moping around, watching CSI: Miami reruns instead of reading a book, surfing the Net for stuff I didn’t care about… you know the drill.
I’m sure you’ve done your own version of it now and again.

And I’m also sure you already know that no amount of “buck up” happy talk will mitigate the gloom.

In fact, there are a few enlightened health pro’s who say we should let our bodies wind down every year or so. Get a full system-flush type of cold, crawl under the covers for a few days and let the demons and other bad stuff bubble to the surface.

So you can purge the crud. Evacuate the used-up bacteria and tube-clogs out of your pipes, physically. And shoo the whispering monsters out of your head.

We’re not perfect creatures. We need to sleep, we need to recharge our batteries, and we need to stop and get our bearings. At least once a year.

So don’t beat yourself up for the occasional down period. We all have them, and the healthiest folks just roll with it. It’s not good to repress this stuff.

It only becomes a problem when you sink into clinical depression. That’s the cold, empty state where nothing looks good, and hope is an absurd memory.

I’ve been there. Several times. The year I turned 30 (for example) I lost my job, my girlfriend and my place to live all within a 45-day stretch.

That shit can wear you down.

Now, I have two things to say about this:

Thing Numero Uno: If you think you’re losing a grip on your mental state, seek professional help. Don’t head straight for pharmaceutical land, though — give “talk therapy” a try with a real, qualified psychotherapist.

Choose this therapist carefully. You’re going to dump every secret you have on him.
Keep in mind the fact that everyone goes through bumpy emotional states. And that the percentage of people who actually do lose it every year is rather small.

That’s why talking about your problems with someone who has perspective can be so beneficial — the first thing you learn is that you aren’t alone.

And what you’re going through is not abnormal.

Most of the time, you’re gonna be fine. Even when your problems seem overwhelming.

There are tools available to help cope. You don’t often come across these tools on your own.

This is one of the few times that the “science” of psychology earns its keep — finding out how others successfully dealt with the same nonsense you’re suffering through can change everything.

A good book to read (while you’re waiting for the spring thaw) is “Learned Optimism” by Martin Seligman. I’ve recommended it before, and it deserves another nod. (The blurb on the back cover, from the New York Times Book Review, starts with “Vaulted me out of my funk…”)

I haven’t read the book in ten years, but I remember the main lesson well. A study, explained up front, stands out: Someone tested the “happiness” quotient of a vast sample of people, including Holocaust survivors.

And it turns out that, at some point in your life, Abraham Lincoln was right — you are as happy as you decide to be.

This is startling news to anyone lost in despair. Because it seems like you’ve been forced to feel that way. With no choice.

But it’s not the case. The happiness study revealed that you can not tell from a person’s current attitude what sort of trauma they had gone through earlier in life. People who had suffered horribly could be happy as larks, while silver-spoon never-stubbed-a-toe folks were miserable.

The difference? Attitude. Optimistic people work through setbacks and trauma… while pessimists settle into a funk that can’t be budged.

And it’s a CHOICE. At some point in your life, you choose to either live in gloom or sunlight.
This realization rocks many folk’s boat. Especially the pessimists. They dominate society, politics, business, everything. And they are very protective of their gloom and doom outlook. Invested, heavily, in proving themselves right about the inherent nastiness of life.

Maybe you’re one of ‘em.

If you are, you’re killing yourself, dude.

Current studies show that heart disease rates are HALF for optimists over pessimists. So, even if you doubt the ability to measure “happiness” — it is a rather rocky science — you still can’t deny the stats on dropping dead from a gloomy ticker.

Now, I am most assuredly NOT a clear-eyed optimist. I get creepy feelings around people who are too happy all the time.

But I do prefer having a good time, and appreciating the finer things in life (like a deep breath of cold alpine air, or the salty whip of an ocean wave around my ankles, or a secret smile from the wonderful woman I live with).

I’m just good at balancing out the bad with the good.

Being in direct response helps. Lord knows, there’s a LOT of bad with every piece of good news in this wacky biz.

Gary Halbert and I have a term we’ve used for years now: We’re “pessimistic optimists”. (Or maybe we’re optimistic pessimists. I forget.)

How does that work? Easy.

We expect horrible atrocities at every turn… and rejoice when we defy Fate and unreasonable success rains down on our undeserving heads.

We groove on the good stuff in life… and just nod sagely at the bad stuff and move past it as quickly as possible.

If you focus on the bad things that can go wrong, you’ll never crawl out of bed in the morning.
When you finally realize that — not counting health problems — pretty much everything bad that business, or relationships, or politics can throw at you will not kill you… then you relax.
And eagerly court the Unknown by starting another project.

Have you ever had your heart broken? Hurts like hell, doesn’t it. Feels like your life is over.
Well, from my perspective, sitting here at “just past 50” and pretty darned happy, all those women who broke my heart long ago look just plain silly now. And my resulting deep depressions — where I was sure life was over — are just tiresome lessons I had to get through.

Not a one of those ladies was worth a burp of angst. They were fine people, I’ll agree to that. A few were exceptional (and very skilled at certain man-pleasing arts).

But worth a Shakespearean suicide?

No way.

It’s taken me a while, but I’m now a certified realist. My youthful idealism has drained away, and my brushes with hate-everything dogma never took.

And guess what? Contrary to what an embarrassing huge number of self-righteous folks would have you believe… being a realist has not dented my passion for life one little bit.

In fact, it has opened up a whole new world of unexplainable spirituality (which cannot be contained within any formal religion).

I’m not against religion. Let’s have no “save my soul” emails here. One of my best friends is an ordained minister with a doctorate in theology. And I have other friends committed to various belief systems ranging from fundamentalist to Buddhist to humanist.

We get along because, on a deep level, we understand that true spirituality transcends whatever way you choose to express it or appreciate it.

I loathe black-and-white views of the world. It’s a shame that our great country has descended to this “you’re nuts if you don’t agree with me” mentality… but it’s part of the pendulum that’s been swinging back and forth ever since we left the jungle.

The far edges of our institutions — political, religious, cultural, all of it — are in spiritual and emotional “lock down”. They’re sure they’re right, they’re positive you’re wrong, and neither facts nor logic will sway their position.

Mushy liberals seem astonished that anyone would ever not love us, or want to destroy our culture. Repressed conservatives seem intent on crushing everyone who pisses them off (and that’s a lot of people).

It’s “whatever” versus “blind obedience”. And neither works so hot in the real world.

I have no use for dogma, or idealism, or punishingly-harsh rules that have been cooked up by hypocrites.

Hey — I’m in no position to tell anyone how to live their life. I’ve screwed up plenty, and if I have any wisdom at all, it’s only because I’ve survived some truly hairy situations.

But I don’t believe anyone else is in a position to tell you how to live, either. That’s gotta be your decision.

And it’s a damn hard one to make.

Fortunately, while I can’t tell you how to live, I can move some smooth (and proven) advice in your direction. Take it or leave it… but give it a listen anyway, cuz my track record on successful advice-giving is fairly impressive.

And I’m telling you that having a hateful, brooding attitude will stunt your growth. It will make you a smaller person, a less-wise person, an older and feebler person.

And you won’t grow. Not spiritually, not physically, not emotionally. Not in your business life, either.

Most people don’t want to grow, anyway. Growth only comes from movement and change… and the vast majority of the folks walking the earth with us today are terrified of change.
You can’t blame them, really. Change is a form of death. Whatever was before, dies. And whatever comes next must be nurtured with devotion and sacrifice.

That’s hard. That’s a hard way to live, always dying and being reborn.

And because it’s hard, it’s avoided.

Well, screw that.

I suspect, if you’re reading this, you are not afraid of change.

After all, you had to change your bank account by a few bucks in order to subscribe — you took a shot, and gave me the opportunity to prove to you that I could change your bottom line. And make the pittance you shelled out for your subscription a small detail, as you get paid back many times over with results.

But you may not yet understand the power that REALLY giving yourself to change offers.

And that brings us to…

Thing Numero Dos: Goals are all about change.

That’s a subtle point many people gloss over. Rookie goal-setters often get stuck on stuff like quitting smoking, or vague concepts like “become a better person”.

Or “get rich”.

That seldom works. Goals need to be specific… and they need to involve profound change in order to take hold.

Halbert often talks about “image suicide” — the necessity of killing and burying the “self” you are so heavily invested in, before you can move to a new level of success.

I see this all the time in my consultations. Biz owners refuse to do even slightly risky marketing, for fear of damaging their “reputations.”

And my question to them is: What reputation?

Unless you’re the top dog in your niche, no one gives a rat’s ass about what you think or do. No one is looking at your marketing for inspiration or condemnation, because you aren’t the guy to look at.

No. What these scaredy-cats are talking about when they say “reputation” is what their family and friends think of them.

And that’s a sure sign of a losing attitude. That ain’t Operation MoneySuck.

My friend Ron LeGrand, the real estate guru, is one of the best natural salesmen I’ve ever met. The guy understands the fundamental motivating psychology of a prospect at a master’s level.
And he knows that one of the major obstacles he faces in every sale… is what the prospect’s spouse (usually the wife) will say.

She can nix the sale with a sneer. Or she can nix it in the prospect’s head, as he imagines that sneer.

Ron counters both sides of the objection expertly. He encourages the prospect to get his spouse involved in the decision, so she becomes invested in it.

Or, he suggests waiting until the first big check comes in… and letting the money explain to her about what you’re up to.

This is the reality of most people’s lives. As much as they want what you offer… they are terrified of making a mistake. Cuz they’ll pay dearly for it at home.

It’s a huge deal-nixer.

That’s why you include lots of “reason why” copy in your pitch — to give your buyer ammunition for explaining his decision to the doubters in his life.

However, as Ron knows, the best (and simplest) “reason why” is results.

Money, as they say, talks.

The top marketers seldom give a moment’s thought to what a risky tactic might do to their “reputation”. They don’t really care what people think about them.

You can’t bank criticism.

I know many marketers who are involved in projects they are passionate about… but which bore their spouses to tears. Some (like Howard Stern’s former wife) are even deeply embarrassed.

But they don’t complain much. Because the money’s so good.

Aw, heck. I could go on and on about this. The story of Rodale’s shock and dismay at the brutally-honest ad I wrote for their timid “sex book” is a great example. They refused to mail it, because of their “reputation”.

Yet, after it accidentally did mail, and became a wildly-successful control for 5 years, they suddenly decided their reputation could handle it after all.

The people who get the most done in life are all extreme risk-takers. They embrace change, because growth is impossible without it.

But you don’t go out and start changing things willy-nilly.

You need a plan.

You need goals.

Now, there are lots of books out there that tell you how to set goals. I recently found, in a moldy banker’s box, the ad for Joe Karbo’s book “The Lazy Man’s Way To Riches” that I’d responded to back in 1982. The exact ad! With the order form torn out… it was the first direct mail pitch I’d ever encountered, and it changed my life forever. Joe’s book was essentially a treatise on setting goals. And it’s good.

It was a wake-up call for me.

I’m having that crinkly old ad framed. Can’t imagine why I kept it, but I did. Pack-rat riches.
If you can’t find that particular book, there are dozens of newer goal-setting guides on the shelves. But they’re all based on the same formula: Decide what you want. Write it down, and be specific. Read the list often, imaging as you read that you have already achieved each goal.

What this does is alter the underpinnings of your unconscious. When one of your goals is to earn a million bucks this year, and that goal burns bright in the back of your mind, each decision you make will be influenced.

So, for example, you won’t accept a permanent job somewhere that pays $50,000 a year. Cuz that isn’t going to help you attain your goal.

The problem is, to earn a mil in a year, you need to average around $50,000 every two weeks. This is why it can take a while to get your goal-setting chops honed. As I’ve said many times, most folks don’t know what they want.

And they aren’t prepared for the changes necessary to get what they want, once they do decide on a goal.

What kind of guy earns $50,000 every two weeks, like clockwork? It takes a certain level of business savvy to create that kind of steady wealth. It doesn’t fall into your lap.

What kind of guy makes a windfall of a million bucks in one chunk? That’s another kind of savvy altogether.

In that same moldy banker’s box, I also found a bunch of my early goal lists. And I’m shocked at how modest my aims were.

At the time — I was in the first months of going out on my own, a totally pathetic and clueless rookie — I couldn’t even imagine earning fifty K a year.

My first goal was $24,000 as a freelancer. And to score a better rental to live in. Find a date for New Year’s. Maybe buy a new used car.

Listen carefully: I met those goals. As modest as they were, it would have been hard not to. I needed them to be modest, because I was just getting my goal-setting chops together.
And I wasn’t sure if I was wasting my time even bothering to set goals.

Let me assure you, it was NOT a waste of time.

The lists I found covered several later years, too. And what’s fascinating is that many of the more specific goals I set down were crossed out — I wanted those goals, but didn’t feel confident about obtaining them.

So I crossed them out, and forgot about them.

A couple of decades later, I realize that I’ve attained every single one of those “forgotten” goals. The big damn house, the love of my life, the professional success, even the hobbies and the guitars and the sports car.

I’m stunned. This is powerful voodoo here.

The universe works in mysterious ways, and you don’t have to belong to a religion to realize this. The whole concept of “ask and you shall receive, seek and you shall find, knock and the door will be opened” was well-known by successful people long before Luke and Matthew wrote it down.

The keys are action. Movement.

Ask, seek, knock.

These simple actions will change your life forever.

Back to making a million in a year: Some guys know what they need to do to make this goal real. They’ve done it before, or they’ve come close.

Setting the goal is serious business for them… because they are well aware of the tasks they’ve assigned themselves. Take on partners, put on seminars, create ad campaigns, build new products. Get moving on that familiar path.

I’ve known many people who started the year with such a goal… who quickly modified it downward as the reality of the task became a burden. Turns out they didn’t really want the whole million after all.

Half of that would suffice just fine.

To hell with the work required for the full bag of swag.

Other guys don’t know what they need to do to earn a mil. So their goal really is: Find out what I need to do to earn a million bucks.

Their initial tasks are to ask, seek, and knock like crazy.

And change the way they move and act in the world. Because they must transform themselves into the kind of guy who earns a million bucks in one year.

Right now, they aren’t that guy.

So, for example, reading “The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People” suddenly becomes an “A” task, while remodeling the kitchen gets moved to the back of the burner. Sharpening your ability to craft a killer sales pitch becomes more important than test-driving the new Porsche.
More important, even, than dating Little Miss Perfect. And test-driving her new accessories.
Tough choice? Nope. When you get hip to the glory of focused change, you never lament leaving the “old” you behind.

It will be hard, sometimes, no doubt about it. Especially when you discover your old gang no longer understands you, or mocks your ambition. They liked the old, non-threatening you. They want him to come back.

But you’ve changed. And hot new adventures are going to take up a lot more of your time now.
My trick to setting goals is very simple. Every January 15th, I sit down and write myself a letter, dated exactly one year ahead.

And I describe, in that letter, what my life is like a year hence. (So, in 2004, I dated the letter to myself as January 15, 2005.)

It’s a subtle difference to the way other people set goals. Took me a long time to figure it out, too.

For many years, I wrote out goals like “I live in a house on the ocean”, and “I earn $24,000 a year”. And that worked. But it was like pushing my goals.

Writing this letter to myself is more like pulling my goals. For me, this works even better. Every decision I make throughout the year is unconsciously influenced, as I move toward becoming the person I’ve described.

But here’s where I do it very differently: My goals are deliberately in the “whew” to “no friggin’ way” range. Mega-ambitious, to downright greedy.

There’s a sweet spot in there — doable, if I commit myself, but not so outrageous that I lose interest because the required change is too radical.

I’m pretty happy with myself these days. Took me a long, hard slog to get here, and I earned every step.

And I want to continue changing, because I enjoy change. But I don’t need to reinvent myself entirely anymore.

So here’s what makes this ambitious goal-setting so effective: I don’t expect to REACH most of them.

In fact, I’m happy to get half of what I wanted.

There’s a ton of psychology at work there. The person I describe a year away often resembles James Bond more than the real me. Suave, debonair, flush, famous, well-traveled… and in peak health. I hit all the big ones.

However, long ago I realized that trying to be perfect was a sure way to sabotage any goal I set. Perfectionists rarely attain anything, because they get hung up on the first detail that doesn’t go right.

Being a good goal-setter is more like successful boxing — you learn to roll with the punches, cuz you’re gonna get hit.

You just stay focused on the Big Goal. And you get there however you can.
I’m looking at last year’s letter. I was a greedy bastard when I wrote it, and I didn’t come close to earning the income figure I set down.

Yet, I still had my best year ever.

And — here’s the kicker — I would NOT have had such a great year, if I wasn’t being pulled ahead by that letter. There were numerous small and grand decisions I made that would have gone another way without the influence of what I had set down.

I didn’t travel to the places I had listed. But I did travel to other, equally-fun places. I didn’t finish that third novel. But I did position it in my head, and found the voice I want for narration. That’s a biggie. That was a sticking point that would have kept the novel from ever getting finished.

Now, it’s on power-glide.

There’s another “hidden” benefit to doing this year-ahead letter: It forces you to look into the future.

A lot of people make their living peering ahead and telling everyone else what to expect. Most do a piss-poor job of it — weathermen are notorious for getting it wrong, as are stock market analysts, wannabe trend-setters, and political prognosticators.

Yet, they stay in business. Why? Because the rest of the population is terrified of looking into the future. That would require some sincere honesty about their current actions… since what the future holds is often the consequence of what you’re doing right now.

If you’re chain-smoking, chasing street hookers, and living on doughnuts, your future isn’t pretty. For example.

Or if you’ve maxed out all your credit cards, and haven’t done your due diligence to start bringing in moolah, your future isn’t nice, either.

No one can “see” into the future for real. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try.
In fact, it’s easy, when you have a little experience in life.

Things you do today will have consequences tomorrow. If you put up a website today for a product, and you do everything you can to bring traffic to it and capture orders… your consequence can be pretty and nice.

Sure, you may get hit by a bus while fetching the morning paper… but letting that possibility scare you off of trying for something better is for pessimists (who are scheduled for early checkout).

You have enormous control over your future.

And once you realize that, you can set out to start shaping it.

Stay frosty,

John Carlton

P.S. I may reformat and reframe the best of the Rant newsletters into a couple of books.

Would you be interested in seeing something like that? That newsletter, during the 6 years years it went out monthly, was read on every continent on the planet by many of the top marketers and players in direct response marketing.

Many movers-and-shakers admitted to me it was the only newsletter they read immediately upon receiving it.

Biggest compliment I’ve ever gotten.

Anyway, love to hear your comments.

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

  • Kyle T says:

    John, I will pay happily & with open wallet for your Rants in book form. See if you can get Bond n’ Kevin to do the same for Gary’s. 🙂

    This particular one is easily one of the best newsletters I’ve ever read.

    Best wishes to you & Michelle for a successful ‘oh niner.
    Cheers mate,

    John Carlton replies:

    Thanks, Kyle.

    I’m already on Bond and Kevin about Gary’s legacy stuff…


  • You should definitely put the Rant in a book. I loved that newsletter. Nice to carry some Carlton around in print, ya know? Happy New Year!


  • Tina says:

    I would LOVE to purchase your newsletter’s in a book format. In addition, the suggestion Kyle had for Gary’s is great as well.

    Thanks and Happy 2009!

  • Shama Hyder says:


    Would LOVE to purchase your book. You have some real insight and you say it like it is. = )

  • John,

    Carlton in print could make a nice, thoughtful gift, too. What do you think? Also a good way to get away from that damn monitors. Happy 2009. Love to take books to the beach.

    John Carlton replies:

    I’d have to add a murder plot to make it “beach worthy”, John. Plus some better sex scenes.

    I’ve got the cursing down pretty good, though…


  • KerryJ says:

    That is the most engaging, concise article on goal setting I’ve ever had the pleasure to read. I love the idea of writing the pre-dated letter and like it better that you don’t do it on New Year’s Eve or day. Cheers and best wishes for your new year! I’m going to go share this with my husband.

  • SriHari S says:


    This is probably the only long blog post I have ever read. You have opened my eyes and shaken dead out of me.

    I am so glad you brought this out. I had to hear this and now beliefs are stronger than ever about my goals.

    Thank you so much

  • Chris says:


    Phenomenal post! I am going to try your letter writing method this year. It makes alot of sense. And I’d love to read your book or series of books… that is if I can stop chasing street hookers long enough to read them;-)


  • Dave says:

    Hi John,

    I just wanted to say that I’ve been a reader of your blog for a long time, not so much because I have a massive interest in copywriting or online marketing (I would leave such things to better men/women) but solely for posts like this one. I have shared your blog posts with many of my friends and I know you have made a massive difference in my life.

    I would absolutely buy your book if you make it and I would encourage you to pursue it. Amazing advice = NY times bestseller? At the very least it would be a new adventure!

    Best of luck,


  • Chris says:

    Hey John,

    Put that you’ve published the book in next year’s letter to yourself.

    Now I’ve got a letter to write to myself 🙂

    Hope you and yours have a great 2009


  • From the comments above – Looks like you’re going to print – great post John and glad to hear you’ve past the first water station in your marathon.

  • Jack says:

    Hey John,

    Remember me? The collection agency guy. I’ve been incommunicado for a while, but I haven’t stopped paying attention.

    I needed to take some time to dig deep, follow some good advice, and find my passion and purpose.

    I’ve sold the agency, and am in the process of setting up a new business as an information vendor to the collection industry.

    I believe I have found that hungry crowd looking for a good hamburger, and I have been pulling all of my Carlton-inspired training into place to put together a kickass business on a recurring model selling a crucial, yet underexploited service that attacks an exploding problem in the industry.

    This post has given me several good ideas to help bring into focus some of the methodology I need to improve on my weaknesses. It is timely not only because of where we are on the calendar, but because of where I am in my life.

    Thank you for that.

    And, yeah. I think you should publish the book. If I could be so bold as to make a request… I miss the great advice you used to regularly give on writing technique in the Rant. It has morphed into mostly “life” advice, which is great, but I would be excited to see you go back to your roots and talk about marketing techniques as well. Maybe even morphing the two subjects by finding a common link. That is my New Years wish…

    Good riddance 2008, and may all of us have a happy, prosperous and fulfilling 2009.

  • Kevin Rogers says:

    Primo post, John. Yes, please publish the “best of”… it’ll save me a fortune in paper and ink.

    Here’s to your new best year yet,

  • John,

    You know, this newsletter is an exercise in accessing people’s dominant emotions like clayton is always talking about… as are almost all of your blog posts.

    Actual marketing stuff discussed? I don’t know… not that much… but the feeling I got from reading it? MUCH MORE. Felt like the best 10 minutes I spent all morning.

    Definitely an investment into my emotional bank account.

    I love getting advice from guys like you who have the chops to back it up… have taken the hard hits… and survived life’s difficulties.

    Wishing you a happy and wonderful New Year’s John!

    — Caleb

    P.S. I like the writing yourself a letter from the future idea, regular goal setting bores me… gonna try that out 🙂

    John Carlton replies:

    Thanks for the perspective, Caleb. Always enjoy having you check in — your low boredom threshold is reflective of most of the audience online today, and I keep it in mind when I write. It doesn’t make me write shorter posts, obviously… but I do make a great effort to keep the copy flowing as fast as possible.

    When I force guys like you to read the whole thing, I know I’m on to something.

    A happy and prosperous New Year to you, pal.


  • Ian says:

    John, didn’t you say you have written a few novels?

    How can I get my hands on them?

  • John,

    I have been sitting here in a funk trying to figure out how to reach my goals when your blog hit my email.

    I want to thank you for the simple yet effective rant from the past.

    I will put it into action.

    David Harrison

  • Ken Ca|houn says:

    Great article as always, John – you never cease to amaze me with your writing prowess, you’ve got a masterful “palette” that you paint with, in your words. Super role model for all of us.

    And *yes* that would be great to see, a book with your newsletter Rant reprints (and heck even these blog posts are great as well), to learn from.

    To a prosperous and peaceful New Year,


  • dmh says:


    it’s been a while since I hit this blog… and I’m absolutely kicking myself.

    It’s a shot of pure wisdom.

    I truly appreciate and take your advice to heart (just printing this off now to get my partner to read it as well).

    Have a great New Year, and all the best to you and yours in health and prospperity!

  • Craig says:

    G’Day John,

    Excellent to hear Michele is on the mend.

    Nice post – thoroughly engaging.

    I have read all the archives on your site. The book is an awsome idea. Perhaps each post appended with an update on where the topic of the day is up to now or how the passage of time has modified/further developed your view.

    Best Regards,


  • Happy New Year John.

    Excellent post and I’m glad it was a slower day today giving me the time to go over it.

    Would happily part with cash for a book of your rants.


  • Jason Gibler says:


    To say this letter was truly inspiring would not even do it justice!
    Normally I observe quietly, but I’m embracing change.

    Thanks for the honesty and invaluable wisdom…I would buy your book in a heartbeat!

    I also wanted to extend my prayers and best wishes to you and Michele. If you need anything you have my email!

    All the Best,


  • Kenneth Rearden says:

    Amazing post.

    Please put together a book. I’d absolutely love to buy it. Make it as expensive as possible. I WANT to pay every damn penny. This content is just so good. Unsurpassable!

    Kenneth Rearden

  • i too have dodged the bullet that is skin cancer. so i fell your pain in getting this taken care of. i too was careless in my youth and did not care till i got blisters on my skin. so i guess we need to share the wealth of knowledge we have

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