San Francisco, CA
“I left my heart…” (Tony Bennett)
By the time you read this, I’ll be back home in Reno… a better man for having spent a week in San Francisco.
Even though it was all business, I still get invigorated just from hanging out in that city by the bay. It’s one of the few things California did right (though they’re working hard at ruining it). (Bastards.)
And while I was gone, the last blog post went freaking bonkers. Nearly 200 comment posts (most of them well-thought-out and elegantly delivered, too). (With the occasional funny disruptor, of course. It wouldn’t be a good Quiz without a big healthy dose of irreverence.)
So, a big “thanks” once again to Robert Gibson (SWS veteran teacher and all-around good dude) for being ring-leader while I was off.
And congratulations to the winner. Who we’ll announce here in a second.
First, though, let’s clarify what the answer is.
The question was: What’s the 4th big observation about money that changed my life so dramatically… that an avalanche of good stuff followed (including the phat opportunities to work with Gary Halbert)?
Now, let me remind you that this is MY observation. This is not a hard-and-fast law of nature, like gravity or death and taxes. It’s what I discovered, and followed through on, early in my career…
… that changed the way I moved through the world at a cellular level.
There were a ton of good answers in the last post, a smattering of nonsense, and a lot of pure guesswork…
… but, as I said, everyone essentially won just by firing up the cognitive process in your brain. We don’t spend enough time in critical thinking mode. Giving those muscles a work-out is ALWAYS a good thing.
The answer was, indeed, scoring what I called “Screw You Money” (in one of the several get-your-act-together chapters in “Kick-Ass Copywriting Secrets of a Marketing Rebel”)…
… which is also known as “Fuck You Money” in harsher circles.
Someone even quoted the exact passage from KACS, which I found startling. I get ripped off a lot, but being actually quoted like that doesn’t happen very often. Makes me feel all fluttery and embarrassed.
And, of course, the correct answer was nailed in the first flurry of incoming posts. And multiple folks got it right throughout the threads.
This gives me hope.
Now, a few things must be explained here for the people unfamiliar with the concept.
First, don’t get sidetracked by the harsh language. The concept comes from savvy veterans in the front-line trenches of business… especially salesmen working on commission and entrepreneur-freelancers working without a net. These dudes know how to turn a memorable phrase. (And any opportunity to insert filthy shock-words is a big bonus.)
However, the “screw you” part is NOT about being an asshole, or running around with a tough-guy attitude.
It’s quite the opposite, in fact.
By putting aside enough money to take the pressure off having to score an immediate paycheck…
… you simply become more confident…
… and more CHOOSY about who you work with.
When you’re starving, or absolutely depending on that next payday to make the rent, your options are limited. You will take a job you might turn down in better circumstances…
… or get involved with someone you might otherwise stay away from.
However, when you have a stash set aside to cover your butt, then your options explode.
And, when appropriate, you can say “Best of luck to ya” to any potential gig that rubs you the wrong way… and happily traipse off to go see what else the universe has in the way of adventure.
Tip: While you may imagine it would be joyful to actually say “Go fuck off” to someone who has insulted you, or who is too slimy to work with…
… the truth is that — once you feel real confidence in your life — you never have to utter those words.
It is MUCH more satisfying to rise above petty insults, and to simply say “No”… and move on with your life.
In fact, this subtle, non-aggressive attitude often carries MORE oomph than you can imagine. Many of the too-rude-to-live psychopaths you’ll encounter in your career got into the business world because they crave power.
And, for most of the folks they deal with, money equals power.
By having the real confidence of being able to turn down a bad biz gig (because you really don’t need the bastard’s money)…
… you take away ALL of his power.
He won’t believe you’re walking away from a payday, and if you’re lucky you’ll get to see him sputter and clutch his evil heart as he struggles to avoid fainting. Nobody walks away from money. It’s an outrage. It’s… it’s…
… it’s turning the world upside down.
And, as you calmly stroll away (never letting the door hit you in the butt), you have the double-treat of enjoying his impotent rage…
… as well as savoring REAL freedom.
You don’t need his money. You don’t need the grief of that job. You are (as much as a human can be) in charge of writing the script of your life’s adventure.
No one else — including the government — will give you a safety net anywhere near as powerful as knowing you’ve earned a stash, which is set aside to watch your back.
There are few “rules” to getting this Screw You Money together:
Rule #1: You gotta earn it first. Which means, if you’re now living paycheck-to-paycheck, you need to start setting aside 20% of everything you make. I don’t care how much you’re pulling down… if you spend it all, you’re an idiot. You’re guaranteeing yourself financial slavery.
Learn to save.
Rule #2: The amount you put in this stash is up to you. I recommend at least 6 months of your nut as a starter amount — so, if you never earned another penny, this dough would cover all the expenses to continue living as you live now.
(Side note: If forced to tap into your stash, you also know you could back off living high on the hog, and stretch it out longer.)
The amount you need is individual, however. Lots of folks get nervous about a 6-month cushion, and require a deeper safety net. That’s fine — figure out what you need to feel confident enough to walk away from a bad but well-paid situation and not freak out.
That’s your Screw You Money.
Rule #3: This is where people get confused.
This stash is NOT a savings account. It’s not a rainy day fund. It’s not “mad money”.
It is a REAL TOOL for a serious professional. When you consider the “ammo” you want in your bag of tricks for a great career, confidence is a nuclear bomb.
You “win” when you never touch your Screw You Money. You want to die, peacefully in a comfy bed (with whatever other details you want involved in your Happy Ending), and be able to whisper the location of your stash to your heir, who will be the first person to access it since you put it together.
Got that? You can’t think of this stash as “money”. That will confuse you, and you’ll obsess on it…
… and spend it on some “emergency”.
This isn’t money. It’s a tool. It’s the support system for your professional confidence.
Don’t put it into investments. Don’t put it somewhere you can easily access after a few beers (and the inevitable “great idea” that always seems to occur in a bar, late at night).
Figure out where it needs to go hide, so you half forget about it (but still know where it is).
Then go live your life with gusto, and earn so much and have so much fun that you never have to even consider dipping into your Screw You stash.
Live bold, and confident.
Here’s how this tactic affected me: I worked hard, in the first years of my career, to claw my way into the tight little list of writers working with the largest mailers on the planet (like Rodale, Phillips, Agora, etc).
I was climbing the hierarchy with a bullet, and enjoying the ride…
… but I knew there were other adventures out there, too, in biz.
When Gary Halbert started his newsletter back in the mid-80s, I knew I had to pursue a relationship with the dude. I weaseled my way into the edges of his biz, and liked what I experienced.
With the large mailers, the money was huge…
… but the markets were limited to health and finance. I was getting bored.
With Halbert, the money was a roller coaster ride (from zero to vast fortunes)…
… and the client base was totally entrepreneurial. A never-ending adventure filled with whacky people, novel-worthy story-lines, and always The Unexpected.
It could get scary, but never boring.
So I walked away from a gig with the big mailers that was on track to bring in millions…
… and hitched a ride on a new life in the entrepreneur’s lane, with no guarantee at all where we were headed or what was about to happen.
It was one of the easiest decisions I’ve ever made.
And knowing I had my stash set aside made it a no-brainer. There was zero fear that I was putting my life-style at risk (even though I was taking a HUGE career risk).
It was excellent use of the kind of confidence that comes from Screw You Money. And I didn’t have to say “Screw you” to anyone.
I just pursued something that sent surges of excitement, exhilaration, and adventure through my veins.
I have no idea how you, or anyone else, will use this tool.
It may never make a big difference for you.
Still, the bed-rock confidence of having it will influence your decisions, big and small.
Especially since most people will never understand this level of confidence, or have a clue how to attain it.
The winner is the 4th one to comment (Robert made sure I recognized this). Eric Transue.
Other posters came real close, but Eric nailed it.
Again, great job to everyone who chimed in.
My over-worked assistant, Diane, will be getting in touch with you, Eric, about delivering your prize.
That was fun, wasn’t it. We’ll have to do it again soon. I love giving away prizes, when they’re well-earned.
Hope your summer’s going well.
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