“Mongo just pawn in game of life.” (Blazing Saddles.)
Recently, I published a series of posts on Facebook under the theme “How To Win An Argument”. Over the week it ran, there was a vast and animated flurry of comment and interaction — the posts hit a nerve.
Fortunately, because that series got so much traction in Facebook, I decided to gather them and post the series here in the blog, so they’ll go into the archives (and thus can be easily accessed by anyone interested). I say “fortunately”, because apparently Zuckerberg and his evil Facebook henchmen decided that all my January posts before the 20th (which included the argument series) needed to vanish from the face of the earth (and the virtual earth that is social media). Poof. They’re gone. No explanation, no way to get them back (though I’ve been searching for tips and asking for help from colleagues — there are a lot of videos out there pretending to have the secret of restoring “lost” posts, but they don’t work).
I’m kinda stunned… but glad I’d already copied and pasted those initial posts here. I’m doing the same with other FB posts from the past — just getting them copied into a Word doc, in case Zuck goes berzerk again. Jeez Louise, you probably need to take the same precautions if you have valuable posts you don’t want to lose.
So, Lesson #1: Do not trust Facebook to archive anything. The joint is crawling with post-devouring demons or something.
I’m not saying that everything I post there needs to be carved in stone. But I do write some cool shit on my wall, occasionally. It’d be nice if it remained there.
Anyway, below is a mildly-edited collection of that series on winning an argument. I didn’t save the dozens and dozens of comments, and that’s a shame — it was a great thread, full of other lessons. For example: The easiest way to get a whole bunch of folks frothing is to talk about (a) sex, or (b) their belief systems. They go nuts. As you’ll see below, I just laid out my views on how to handle people who want to argue and how to define “winning” for yourself… and that just pissed off some folks. Even discussing arguing inflamed their knee-jerk need to argue. Humorous, ironic, and illustrative of how whacko human beings can be. Also, as a marketer, informative — especially if you want or need to introduce some form of argument or alternative view into your advertising.
And, yes, this entire series is very much aimed at marketers. Great ads seldom argue, though they may be pushing buttons right and left. The psychology is subtle, but awesome.
So, without further ado, here’s that series. Love to hear your comments… which will all go safely into the blog archives, where Zuckerberg can’t touch them:
How To Win An Argument, Step 1: The primary rule is simple — never Continue reading
“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.Continue reading
“It’s alive!” (Baron Von Frankenstein, kickstarting the Monster)
We’ve just fired up the Simple Writing System blog (www.simplewritingsystem.com/blog)…
… which means a stunning (and unprecedented) pile of free tools, tactics, advice and insight can be yours…
… just for the grabbing.
This is an all-out assault on reason and logic. We’re just GIVING AWAY stuff that — not too long ago — would have cost you a pretty penny just to get a quick glimpse of.
We’ve created a beast here, and it’s name is FREE.
Here’s just a small taste of what’s piling up over there (that you’re missing out on if you haven’t signed in):
What? You didn’t see that presentation?
It’s marketing theater at its finest… Continue reading
“The hounds of Hell are now following you on Twitter…” (Email in a dream I had.)
I just wanted to share a few thoughts about social media.
The topic came up in my coaching program (the Radio Rant). People are understandably baffled about the cornucopia of ways available to gossip and reach out to touch other people.
And nobody has 4,000 friends. I don’t care what your Facebook total is.
Yet, many top online marketers (and politicians, and journalists, and probably the guy making subs at Quizno’s) are obsessively writing 140-character neo-haiku on Twitter, including me. I’ve had an account since mid-summer, and I’ve been playing around with it almost daily for weeks at a time.
Then I get bored and ignore it.
The good part: I have reconnected with a few old friends from across the globe. Of course, I could have just as easily reconnected with them via email, actual mail, or the phone. (Does anybody say “telephone” anymore?)
But, no, it’s been Twitter where we have the majority of our contact.
And I’m not sure what to make of this.
I see my colleagues almost frantically searching for ways to monetize their Twitter accounts. The Holy Grail would be to discover a tactic that justifies the time we spend telling strangers where we’re at and what we’re doing. (“The heat just came on. My nose itches. The little dog is laughing…”)
I find it odd that a good pal will tweet something, and I’ll reply (with my typical charm and wit) within seconds… and he won’t even see my reply. It gets buried in the avalanche of responses from his 4,000 followers.
Or — horrors — I’m starting to suspect that (like Britney Spears) my friends aren’t actually doing their own tweeting at all. They’re hired some ghost-writer drone to slam out YouTube alerts and push new marketing agendas.
Joe? Polish? You reading this?
So, for me, the “social” part of the medium is murdered in its sleep when so little actual social interaction takes place. (I guess you could argue that Direct Messages takes care of that need. But then, DM is really just a short email, isn’t it?)
This thing is NOT defining itself.
Anyway… here is what I wrote in my coaching forum about Twitter. Take it for what it’s worth.
And after you read this… I would like to hear what YOU think about all the social media sites, and they’re affecting the culture and the way we do business. (Personally, I don’t know of a single dollar having been earned from a tweet, from anyone. Enlighten me, if you know something I don’t.) (And no fair claiming anything vague like “brand recognition” or any of that shit.)
Here’s my post:
My 2 cents on social media. By little Johnny Carlton.
As you know, I’ve been logging onto Twitter for months now. About 20% of the time I use it to announce biz stuff — blog posts, a new launch, a new product.
The rest of the time, I’m performing pure social interaction. That’s what pleases me.
I call my tweets “Twitter Bombs”, because I toss them out into the grid just to wake people up and cause chaos.
I am seeking the give-and-take of witty repartee, like the brassy (and extremely funny)
sessions I have with other writers in the bar after a hard day of seminars.
The advantage of Twitter is that it’s instant interaction. You tweet, and the folks still awake, or alert to action on Twitter, respond.
I’ve actually re-established some long-dormant friendships through Twitter.
The DISadvantage of Twitter is the same instant interaction element.
A blog post stays up until you post again.
People come to a blog, and read the first post — so if you put something up of real value, you can engage large numbers of people with it.
Plus, you can archive it, and make it easy for people to access even years afterward. (I’m always getting comments on old blog posts from 3 and 5 years ago.) (Not sure why year 4 gets no respect.)
No such archiving exists with Twitter.
Just as in a real party, your witticisms and observations and brilliance pass into the ether as soon as make them. Within minutes, others tweet and move you off the main page.
I don’t think there is any habit in Twitterville of going back through old tweets to see what you missed, either.
If you’re following more than a few people, you’ll have hundreds of tweets, sometimes, in an hour or so. Anything you missed is long gone… unless you have more time on your hands than God, and can’t think of anything better to do than drift lazily through a thousand old tweets looking for something interesting.
It’s like texting, for me. I’ve heard it called texting for adults, and maybe that’s accurate.
My nephew, in college, uses it ironically — his tweets are little bits of language art, absurd or weird or confusing (kind of like Seinfeld asides). He’s establishing himself as smart and irreverent — Twitter, for him, is a way to define his personality to others.
I would be more addicted to Twitter if more people would respond to my Twitter Bombs.
(Though, often, I get dozens of great replies in real time. See the “Anybody want a beer?” tweet-fest I had going a couple of weeks ago on my page at ww.twitter.com/johncarlton007.)
I usually tweet late at night, when I’m on Miller Time, so I’m feisty and looking to play a little.
I have people in Australia and New Zealand who respond, but only a handful in the States.
Out of the 4,000+ folks supposedly following me.
Just my perspective.
I don’t think the form will last long as it is. They have to monetize it, or sell it to some media giant.
It will change dramatically, soon.
Or vanish. That much is almost for certain.
Odd to think that Twitter is just over, what, a year old now? What’s the next new social media thingie lurking in the coming months to enslave our brains?
I dunno. I tweeted today, several times. Tried to communicate with someone (no reply), left a smart-ass comment with someone else (they loved it), offered up some news stories for general consumption (no consenus yet on what my followers think about any of it).
I’ll probably announce the posting of this blog on Twitter later tonight.
Oh, the irony.
What do YOU think?
Are you using ANY of the big social media very much? (Blogs don’t count. Blogs rock.)
Can you swear to me that you’ve seen actual monetary results from using this stuff? (So, you know, you can claim it’s now integral to Operation MoneySuck for you.)
I’d like to know.
No rush. This post will be on the blog for years…
“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)…
“You know everybody is ignorant… just on different subjects.” Will Rogers
I’ve been meaning to give you some tips you can use, like, immediately to help your business boost its mojo.
So here’s a specific tactic that will absolutely pump your copy full of good energy the first time you even dabble in it.
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 may have 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.
You see, most 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 your tip for the week: 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.
However, your time will be BETTER SPENT looking 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.
No matter how amazing they may seem at first blush…
Love to hear your experience with writing — especially harrowing tales of struggle and breakthrough and redemption.
Plus any input you have from using this tip.
Interact away, guys.
P.S. BTW, I have been successfully brainwashed into finally joining the Twitter cult (by my pal Eric, who remains the ONLY marketer I know who can demonstrate he’s actually earned cash moolah using it).
I’ll be sending out invitations to join me in Twitterland.
It’s actually pretty fucking cool, once you engage.
Assuming, of course, that the people you tweet with are interesting, deranged, or drunk.
More as events unfurl…