“Hey, you bastards, I’m still here!” (Steve McQueen as Papillon, floating away to freedom…)
First off… do not be alarmed if the design of the blog seems to be morphing — the programmer is fussing with the new design in real-time. We’ll get it all sorted out very soon.
Second… I’m re-publishing — for what has become a tradition on this blog — a portion of one of the more influential posts I’ve ever written.
What you’re about to encounter is a slightly tweaked way of looking at the best way to start your new year…
… but that tweak makes all the difference in the world. I’ve heard from many folks that this particular technique finally helped them get a perspective on where they’re at, where they’re going…
… and why they care about getting there.
So, even if you’ve read this post before… it’s worth another look. Especially now, as you gaze down the yawning gullet of 2012, trying to wrap your brain around a plan to make the year your bitch.
This is a critical step for entering any new period of your life. To keep your life moving ahead, you need to set some goals, dude. And most goal-setting tactics, I’ve found, are useless. Worst among them is the traditional New Year’s resolutions (which seldom last through January).
This tactic I’m sharing with you (again) is something I’ve used, very successfully, for decades…
… to reach goals, to clarify the direction of my life, and to change habits. I first shared it in the old Rant newsletter a few years back, and I’ve hauled it out here in the blog on a regular basis. It’s timeless, classic stuff that will never let you down.
So let’s dive in. Here’s the relevant part of the post (slightly edited):
“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… Read more…
“Sittin’ on the dock of the bay, watchin’ the tide roll away…” (Otis Redding)
Mark, a lifelong pal of mine, lived with a girlfriend many years ago who taught us both a very devastating lesson.
At the time, Mark and I were hard-core slackers — lamely cruising through our late twenties, we took jobs without ambition to pay the rent and keep the fridge stocked with beer, and were pretty much maintaining the same lifestyles we’d had in college.
Care-free losers, if you need a label.
Susie, on the other hand, was roiling with ambition. Had a good job, with a plan to either rise quickly in that biz or seek better positions elsewhere. Her friends talked about the future a lot, and openly competed with each other over acquisitions like new cars, new clothes, expensive wine and all the grown-up Yuppie shit that sent shivers down my spine.
Cuz I was still going to clubs to see bands (and who can blame me, since it was that primo era when the Pretenders, the Police, Elvis Costello, the Jam, and Talking Heads were on their first west-coast tours)… still driving a 10-year-old decrepit Datsun truck… still dressing like I’d been shopping drunk at the Goodwill store… and still loathing the idea of “growing up”.
I knew something was wrong, of course. I was just floating on the surface of life, at the mercy of other people’s ambitions and without any goals or dreams or sense of purpose.
And I absorbed a lot of harsh criticism, both from others and from myself, for not doing anything constructive with my life.
However, looking back, I see things very differently now.Read more…
“Out of 9 lives, I’ve lived 7…” (The Band, “The Shape I’m In”)
I almost called this post “Web 2.oh no!”
And I know I’m just gonna scratch the surface here…
… but a few rules need to be laid down by somebody concerning this “Brave New World of No Freakin’ Privacy Left At All”.
Now, I’ve never noticed much “common sense” actually being very common among my fellow humans…
… but Jeez Louise, the arrival of social media and smart phone cameras has turned us all into ethically-challenged TMZ-level paparazzi. No sense of right or wrong, no sense of crossing a line or going too far.
And people are gonna get hurt.
Do we need a collective and not-very-subtle whack upside the head here? Metaphorically speaking, that is.
Slap Some Sense Into You Rule #1: Just because you have a camera and recording capabilities on your smart phone, doesn’t mean you have a license to USE it.
Yes, the rest of the world is hurtling toward a Zuckerberg-envisioned future where “privacy” will be a quaint notion that strangely only irritates geezers… sort of like how we now view petticoats, doo wop and basic manners.
However, I would caution privacy-anarchists that this “nothing you do is a secret to us” mindset is how Stalinist Russia maintained control over citizens (see also “1984”, by George Orwell).
Now, what you do in your own sordid life is up to you, of course. Including allowing basic privacy rights to be dismantled and shed.
However, as a professional, you’ve got to recognize boundaries. Because there’s a lot at stake here.Read more…
Tampa Bay, Florida
“So I said to the captain, please bring me my wine… he said we haven’t had that spirit here since 1969…” (Hotel California, of course)
Another guest blog post here (while I’m off to get ready for the totally awesome Action Seminar down in sunny San Diego this coming weekend)…
… by our good friend (and notorious freelance copywriter) Kevin Rogers.
I asked him to share the stories below, because they cracked me up when he first told them to me…
… and I realized the lessons for entrepreneurs here are just as solid as the stuff I picked up (early in my own career) from the street-wise salesmen I hung around.
Those real-world lessons from the dudes who knew how to close a deal face-to-face are critical to any decent sales process… even if you’re completely digital and never actually meet your prospects in the flesh.
This stuff is pure gold. So listen up. Here’s Kevin…
Okay, let me tell you a story about why bellmen don’t mind wearing those goofy uniforms at busy hotels and resorts… and how the lessons I learned in the job fit so well in the entrepreneurial world.
It’s true. One of the most eye-opening jobs I held in my previous life — before freelance copywriting — was as a main entrance bellman here in Florida.
I learned more about “street-smart selling” in my short time in that role than from any other gig, including stand-up comic, bartender, or even Marketing VP of an online real estate company.
Here’s why…Read more…
“And you may ask yourself, where does that highway go?” (Talking Heads)
Quickie post today…
… on a very important topic.
You hear me nattering about “Operation MoneySuck” all the time. And some folks are confused about what it means.
So let’s do a refresher.
Here’s the story: Early in my career, I was hired by advertising legend Gary Halbert to help him write ads for clients. The first day I arrived at his offices on Sunset Blvd (in West Hollywood), we were scheduled to slam out copy and plot “next moves” with some current clients.
However, just as my butt hit the chair across from his desk, two (count ’em, two) secretaries AND his red-headed girlfriend (notorious for getting her way) burst in with bad news.
Lots of bad news, in fact. The printer had just broken down, and shit needed to get copied NOW. Some guy was ranting and raving on Line 2, threatening legal action over something. The landlord was on the way up in the elevator, because there was a problem with the lease. The bank was on Line 1, and so on.
These women were shaking with panic and consternation, freaked out by the urgent crisis-level emergencies that…
… to be dealt with…
I sighed, and started to gather my stuff, ready to split until Gary had attended to all of this mayhem.
Instead, he held up his hand… shushed everyone… and gently ushered the secretaries AND his red-headed girlfriend (notorious for getting her way) out the door…Read more…
“Won’t you get hip to this timely tip, and take that California trip…” (“Route 66”, Bobby Troup)
I asked our old pal Kevin Rogers to guest post here, while I’m off galavanting around the west coast on biz trips. (First stop: San Francisco, for the quarterly meeting of our super-awesome Platinum Mastermind group.)
I laughed reading this post. There are excellent lessons for everyone below (especially if you’re struggling to find your footing in this current economic turmoil)…
… and I just want to be clear, up front, about one crucial detail: There is a HUGE difference between making yourself useful (after doing the necessary preparations)…
… and just being a lazy-ass stalker looking for a handout. I met my own primary mentor, Gary Halbert, by slowly proving myself through actions. I never asked for anything, and never pretended to be anything I wasn’t.
Most of the time, the difference between a life frozen in place… and a life that roars along in the fast lane… turns on a single moment where you realize “Hey, I can DO this”.
And that moment usually comes from discovering information, or advice, that you couldn’t quite piece together on your own.
This is where teachers come in.
This is where taking that critical action-step of reaching out and grasping opportunity is the order of the day.
Okay, enough preamble. Here’s Kevin:
Hi. Kevin Rogers here.
Since the head honcho is away this week and asked me to fill in (always a humbling honor), I thought I’d share the story of how I was able to “weasel my way” into John’s world…
… all the way from being a guy he’d barely noticed writing about him on marketing forums… to eventually becoming a trusted insider (and even working alongside him as his go-to-writer).
There’s a huge lesson in here anyone can use to skip several rungs up the ladder of marketing hierarchy and claim your seat at the royal feast of the clued-in and well-connected.
This lesson is based on an old philosophy that says: In order to achieve your goals, choose someone who has already achieved those goals and model their thinking.
This story backs up that theory, with two small addendums:
1. Modeling your subject’s thinking isn’t as simple as reading a biography or daydreaming about how they might react in a certain situation… but rather, getting into a room with them to find out what truly makes them tick. And…
2. When it comes to scoring a meeting with your subject… it’s probably going to require you to swallow your fears to make it happen.
Here’s the story: Read more…
“Shake the hand, that shook the hand, of PT Barnum and Charlie Chan” (The Grateful Dead, “US Blues”)
Got something here to help you make your upcoming year the best one ever, business-wise.
That’d be nice, wouldn’t it?
Well, it’s a real offer.
And the difference it can make in your life — almost immediately — can easily be a genuine breakthrough to The Good Life (regardless of where you’re at right now with your plans, dreams and income).
So listen up: You know what the first thing many entrepreneurs and small biz owners do on January 1st (right after gagging down Excedrin with a warm dollop of “hair o’ the dog”)?
You know why?
It’s because… for all the “promise” a new year holds…Read more…
“Qu’est-ce que c’est?” (Talking Heads,”Psycho Killer”, ca. 1979)
Quick lesson today, which should help you understand one of the fundamental truths of kick-ass marketing.
That truth: There is almost always a way to fix or solve a marketing problem.
Actually, that truth is also functional in every-day life…
… but that’s a much longer lesson.
Here’s the quickie version, for marketers: I was just delivering this story in one of the Simple Writing System classrooms, and thought I’d share with you here, too.
As any decent marketer knows, the Prime Directive of a sales process is to discover your best possible prospect… and “reach” him with your sales message.
Seems simple enough. Sometimes, it is. If you’re selling hamburgers near a starving crowd, you’re set. Just open your doors and tell folks to line up.
For a while (back in the Good Old Days of Internet marketing), all you had to do was:
Step One: Be the first into a hot niche…Read more…
“Please allow me to introduce myself…” (Stones, Sympathy For The Devil)
This is one of those lessons that arrived accidentally…
… and I had to stop and ruminate about it for a while before it made sense.
I’m lucky I learned it early, too.
It’s provided me with a home base of sanity when the chaos has reached shuddering crescendos and it was hard to think straight (let alone make snap decisions when crisis loomed).
You may find it obvious.
That’s fine. Just don’t go thinking it’s obvious to the rest of the mean ol’ world out there… cuz it ain’t.
Here’s the story: One of my first jobs working for Gary Halbert was to fly to Detroit… and interview a guy who’d just lost 750 pounds.
Yeah, you read that right.Read more…
“It’s too hard. You’ll never figure it out.” (What the first copywriter I ever met told me about writing ads.)
I’m going to tell you about two promises here.
The stories behind them may help you chart out the rest of your life… as they did mine.
The above quote (“It’s too hard. You’ll never figure it out.”) are the exact words that a professional copywriter said to me when I innocently asked for advice.
They are burned into my cerebral cortex, because it was one of the first times I had ever nurtured a small ember of actual hope about my future in business…
… and she crushed it like a bug.
All I’d wanted from her was a smidgen of advice. Maybe point me in the right direction. Or offer a small word of encouragement.
I was lost at the time. Trapped in the drudgery of a dead-end J.O.B. that sucked big-time.
And I was genuinely clueless about the process of writing anything for business. I’d never met a real copywriter before, and was very interested in finding out more.
I didn’t even know what the word “mentor” meant at the time… but I suppose I would have squirmed with joy if she had said, instead, something like “Let me help you learn how to do this.”
Still, she did me a HUGE favor by being such a miserable, hateful bitch.
As I stood at her desk, burning with shame for having asked for something and been so brutally refused…
… I promised myself that I would prove her wrong.
And I used that promise as motivation whenever I needed some extra oomph in the next year or so, as I figured out — on my own, without help from anyone — how to write killer sales messages.
So I owe her one. She did me a proper by igniting my until-then-dormant ability to Do It Myself. Literally with a vengeance.
I launched my solo career as a freelance writer entirely on my own. I took the Do It Yourself ethic and ran with it…Read more…