I’ve got an idea: Let’s give out a couple of hot prizes. What d’ya think about that?
Like… how about a bitchin’ hot-off-the-presses copy of my book “The Entrepreneur’s Guide To Getting Your Shit Together“…
… signed by me, to you.
Free. I’ll even pick up the shipping, that’s what a mensch I am.
And all you gotta do is be either the first to deliver (in the comment section below) the correct answer to the question I’m about to reveal here… or write up the best response. I’ll be the judge and jury here.
So there will be two winners. We’ll let this quiz percolate for a week, and then I’ll announce the two winners here.
I haven’t hosted a quiz in a long time. Shame on me. The last few quizzes pulled in hundreds and hundreds of replies, which kind of freaked me out… but they were also evil fun. I’ll be in the comments myself, sifting and searching for the two winners (and tossing out the trolls).
I’ll announce the lucky victors in the comments section on Friday, November 22.
Free signed copy of the one book all serious entrepreneurs should have on their shelf. Might be worth something, you know, when I kick the bucket (or get embroiled in a scandal or something).
First correct answer, and best response (as judged by me).
Here’s the set-up for the question: I’ve been counseling and advising entrepreneurs for over 30 years now…
… on just about every detail of creating a solid biz model, and cramming all marketing materials with the kind of persuasive voodoo that brings in the Big Bucks. I’ve helped transform a small army of formerly-clueless entrepreneurs into scary-good monsters of profit.
And, in almost every long-term relationship I’ve had advising a client…
… we’ve covered every aspect of running a business — dealing with details, solving problems, finding happiness and managing wealth (or lack thereof).
If you haven’t enjoyed a mentoring relationship like this (or even an extended round of consulting with an expert), you might be astonished at what, precisely, pops up as the biggest (and baddest) obstacle to getting filthy rich and deliriously happy as an entrepreneur.
You might even be shocked.
So, here’s the question: Based on what you suspect I’ve discovered in my 30 years of consulting…Read more…
Rancho Cucamonga, CA
“One way or another, I’ll gitcha, I’ll gitcha, I’ll gitcha gitcha gitcha…” (Blondie)
Okay, quick post today… aimed at ruining your life by prying open the profit floodgates with a few simple rules even grizzled old veterans seldom learn.
We’ll discuss later how to deal with all the extra moolah (so you can salvage an excellent life once the realities of being richer sink in).
First, let’s make sure you understand these 3 basic (and mostly ignored or botched) rules from our Operation MoneySuck manual.
Ready? Okay, release the life-changing stuff:
Op$uck Rule #1: Get an assistant.
Hey, I totally understand the “go it alone” mindset of the average entrepreneur. I was a one-man-band for the first 5 years of my career — if you got a letter or phone call from my office (in my collapsing beach house in Hermosa), it was from me.
However, once I decided to start teaching and offering courses and coaching, I took to heart the Prime Operation MoneySuck Directive: “If you’re the dude responsible for bringing in the big bucks, then that’s your #1 job. And your #2 job, and #3 job, etc. Hire out or delegate everything else.”
I brought on a part-time assistant for 10 hours a week, who worked out of her house (so we communicated mostly by email, phone and only occasional visits). She was smart, had biz experience, and was thrilled to have a part-time gig with totally flexible hours, with a generous and savvy boss (me) so she could work from home and raise her kid.
When I realized those 10 hours were INSTANTLY gobbled up by random stuff like scheduling consultations, dealing with refunds and printers and non-essential client requests…
… it became obvious that I’d been STEALING 10 hours of energy/time/thinking/effort from my biz. Which I could have been force-feeding back into the money-making part of that same biz.
Total WTF moment.
I immediately doubled Diane’s hours, and the ROI shot up again.
There are OODLES of folks out there who are qualified for full-time work (cuz they’re awesome) but prefer flexible part-time work (especially if it involves some problem solving challenges and opportunities to engage their brain and experience). Not hard to find, either. Craig’s List, referrals from friends, local job boards.
The point is: Stop being stubbornly independent. One part-time assistant will change your life, immediately and for the better.
Op$uck Rule#2: Aim for a refund rate between 7%-15%.
This seems counter-intuitive. Most rookie biz owners want a zero percent refund rate, and will even brag about having one. (And it’s so embarrassing when they brag around their more experienced colleagues.)
For veteran (usually wealthy) entrepreneurs, though, getting less than a healthy 10% or so in refunds just means you’re not marketing hard enough.
Look — in any given population (including the folks in your niche) up to 20% will be batshit crazy, unclear on how capitalism works, or sociopaths. That’s just a given.
So if you’re carefully navigating around this chunk of whacko’s in your niche, then guess what?
You’re actually working BACKWARDS. You’re wasting time chasing the wrong goal.
What the Big Boys usually do is to market aggressively enough to get that sweet spot of 7-15% refunds. That means they’re hitting the ENTIRE market…
… and for every nutball refund junkie they net, they’re going to find MULTIPLE new good customers who may become lifelong fans.
In other words, the savvier marketers play for the long haul. More action means more good AND more bad initial customers coming through the front door…
… and you have your assistant deal with the dead weight, while you concentrate on doing biz with the legitimate new customers.
Which leads us to…
Op$uck Rule #3: Give your assistant a clear, written protocol of how to handle mad, bad and sad customers.
So she can confidently deal with the usual suspects without involving you.
Yes, you will occasionally still have to get involved when a customer goes off the rails. You may have to give a lawyer a call, and spend some precious time dealing with the shit sandwich just served to your biz.
But the other 99% of complaints, refunds, problems and crazy talk never gets past your assistant’s desk. Give her total freedom to come to you with anything she’s not totally confident about dealing with, of course…
… but I’ll tell you, after a very short time she’ll be an expert on the personalities of your market. And she’ll get better than you at giving every problem a happy ending. (Side note: After a few months, ask her to write out her SOP — standard operating procedure — for most tasks. This will become a valuable document, especially if you need to replace your assistant without notice.)
Diane has been with me for 12 years. Part time the entire time. She’s the most amazing, efficient and effective customer service “face” of the biz possible. Clients adore her, and she takes care of them.
She’s still the most precious resource I have in the biz, freeing me up to do the dirty work of making moolah.
Hiring her was the best decision I’ve ever made in my entire career. Seriously.
Bonus Rule: If you can, NEVER see any complaints or refund rants that come by mail, email, voice mail, or whatever. Have your assistant intercept these, and unless it’s absolutely necessary for you to see what’s going on, HIDE them from you.
It’s human nature to ignore the thousand raving fans giving you thumbs up on a project, and devote days to writing your reply to the troll who insults you, or tries to con the system to get a refund he doesn’t deserve, or is just an awful person.
The operative phrase to remember is: “Never wrestle with a pig. You’ll both get dirty, and the pig likes it.”
Operation MoneySuck is all about you spending the best hours of your day on bringing home the bacon…
… not wrestling with it.
Enjoy the last of your summer.
P.S. Just lettin’ you know…
The very elite mastermind group I’ve been hosting the past few years has a couple of open slots.
It’s clearly the most unique mastermind around, run Hot Seat-style and focused on solving specific problems for each member (not just ruminating about the philosophies of biz). Results oriented, hard-core, more fun than entrepreneurs should be allowed to have.
Small hint about the quality of the meetings: Past guest experts I had join us include Joe Sugarman, Jay Abraham, Rich Schefren, Dean Jackson, Joe Polish, the Halbert boys, and most of the best copywriters on the planet.
Anyway, there’s a very strict vetting process (though we’ve accepted semi-rookies as well as grizzled veterans as members because we look for smarts, worldly experience and overall mojo as the key to a good member) which you should look into regardless of where you’re at right now.
If you have a career or run a biz, and you’re ready to get some expert help watching your back while you climb to the next level… then check this out now:
“Wave that flag, wave it wide and high…” (Grateful Dead, “US Blues”)
As a kid, July Fourth meant fireworks, and lots of them.
We’d start salivating around mid-June, shaking like 10-year-old junkies until Pop finally drove us to the Red Devil stand in Fontana, where’d we stock up on the most gruesome display of flame, gunpowder and amateur rocketry possible.
Oh, the joys of ladyfingers going off under Aunt Ruth’s chair, of nearly burning down the garage when a bottle rocket zoomed sideways, of thrilling Roman candles singeing the shrubbery, of snakes, pinwheels, sparklers and fountains frothy with fire in the backyard battlefield…
It was freakin’ glorious, is what it was.
But I never made the connection to what, exactly, we were celebrating.
Later in life, I got into history, and I finally understood why (for example) my Mexican and European pals rolled their eyes at my stories of celebrating the Fourth by setting fields on fire with M80-loaded Silver Salutes, or blowing up toilets in the boy’s room with cherry bombs (as custom demanded).
Americans are a raucous bunch, that’s for sure. We take a lot for granted, we’re still fighting the Civil War, much of our politics is incoherent and illogical, and we can be pretty infuriatingly provincial.
Plus, we’re no longer world leaders in the stuff we used to be rockstars at, like education, social mobility, inventions, progress, medicine… and we’re in denial about much of it.
However, even acknowledging all of these glaring faults hasn’t made me as cynical as some of my hipster pals. As I’ve said many times, no political party would ever allow me to be a member, and you’ll never figure out how I vote or what my views are on the topics the news media obsesses about.
This causes some problems in social situations when colleagues just assume I agree with them on the major issues. And I usually don’t agree at all. I’m not a total cynic, but I find fault with almost every opinion I hear. I totally understand how a lot of folks do become snarling partisans, enraged at their polar opposites on all issues, bereft of hope for the future.
I just learned to loathe cynicism long ago. Worthless attitude, doesn’t help anything, doesn’t provide solutions, doesn’t make an iota of difference in what goes on. At best, the cynic may toss off an actual witticism…
… but mostly, they’re just too cool to be bothered beyond expressing droll boredom and a vague superiority at being “above the fray”.
Well, fuck ‘em. The social/political/world-affairs cynic is a close cousin of the dude who’s never met a payroll, yet feels completely qualified to deliver speeches on how everyone else’s business should be run.
And I learned to shut that guy out very early in my career. My first question, whenever someone was bashing an entrepreneur’s efforts, used to beRead more…
We’re in for a treat today.
One of the best storytellers in copywriting — my longtime cohort Jimbo Curley — has sent us a riveting tale sure to send shivers up the spine of every entrepreneur alive…
… while simultaneously delivering one of the most primo lessons in getting after your own success. I laughed out loud several times — Jimmy has a real talent for doing that to readers.
Enjoy… and reap the profits of learning the lesson. Here’s Jimbo:
Thanks for the intro John.
Something crossed my mind the other day — just after I ran over my neighbor’s dog.
Here’s what I was thinking: As an entrepreneur, a business manager, or just a plain working stiff, you may not be taking enough risks.
Or perhaps not the right kind of risks.
I’ll tell you about poor Rex in a second. For now, fasten your seatbelt. You’re in for a wild ride.
“Risk” is the base ingredient for success. It’s the secret sauce to landing a spouse who’s outta your league. The mechanism for pole vaulting over your competitors. It’s how you’ll win big, and make your nay-saying friends and family look like idiots for ever having doubted you.
I’m serious. Today I own and operate a couple companies that earn in the millions each year…
… but twenty-something years ago it wasn’t like that. Back in the early 90s I was managing a near half-million dollar marketing budget for a hardware and contracting operation – at $28K a year. I figured I had a secure job, a good title, and would safely “ride my way up” the escalator of success while others risked their necks climbing up the rickety ladder.
I opened my eyes. The media reps who landed me as a client were wearing silk ties and gold watches. The guy running the crumby print shop I frequented was driving a new Beemer. The owners who employed me were living in obscene homes and enjoying three or four lavish vacations a year.
And yet there I sat for 8 to 12 hours a day at a particle-board desk. I ate a bag lunch and drove a 10-year old beater.
I wanted new stuff. I wanted lavish. I wanted obscene.
It began to sink in.
Achieving such noble and lofty goals in total safety was a delusion.
Simple math and ruthless honesty made it clear — I could NEVER get there “working my way up” from $28K a year.
In the “death zone” of Mount Everest climbers must use ropes and ladders to traverse a sheer 40-foot rock-face before they can reach the peak. It’s called the Hillary Step. (It has nothing to do with Clinton, but Sir Edmund Hillary, the first nut-job ever to summit Everest and come back alive.)
One screw-up on the Hillary Step… one minor bobble… and you’re dead meat.
Yes, you CAN refuse that terrifying climb up the Hillary Step, but it meansRead more…
“But it’s all right… in fact it’s a gas…” (The Stones, “Jumpin’ Jack Flash“)
It’s time for another orgy of graduation rites across the land…
… and, in honor of it all, I am re-posting my now globally-notorious big damn rant on the subject. This was one of the more popular posts I’ve ever written, so it deserves an annual rediscovery.
So, without further ado… here’s the annual redux of that post:
Nobody’s ever asked me to give the commencement speech for a graduating class.
That’s probably a good thing. I’m pretty pissed off at the education system these days, and I might cause a small riot with the rant I’d surely deliver.
See, I have a university “education”. A BA in psychology. (The BA stands for, I believe, “bullshit amassed”.) I earned it several decades ago…
… and while I had a good time in college (height of the sex revolution, you know, with a soundtrack that is now called “classic rock”), made some lifelong friends, and got a good look at higher learning from the inside…
… that degree provided zilch preparation for the real world. Didn’t beef me up for any job, didn’t give me insight to how things worked, didn’t do squat for me as an adult.
I waltzed off-campus and straight into the teeth of the worst recession since the Great Depression (offering us Nixon’s wage-freeze, record unemployment, an oil embargo, and near-total economic turmoil)…
… so, hey, I should have a little empathy for today’s grads, right?
While today’s graduates are facing similar grim economic times, there’s been a significant change in the concept behind a college education. Somehow, over the years, a bizarre mantra has taken hold in kids minds:
“Get a degree, and it’s a ticket to the Good Life.”
A job is expected to be offered to you before the ink is dry on your diploma.
And it really, really matters WHICH school you get that diploma from.
You know what I say?
Bullshit. Okay, maybe if you go to Yale or Harvard, you can make the connections on Wall Street and in Washington to get your game on. Maybe. (More likely, those connections are already available, if you’re gonna get ’em, through family bloodlines… and the Ivy’s are just playing up their famous track records in a classic sleight-of-hand.)
Put aside the advancement opportunities offered to spawn of the oligarchy, though… Read more…
“I’ll have what she’s having…” (When Harry Met Sally)
I figured I’d kick off the new marketing season here in a ball of fire, and just lay some Reality Checks out for you. Here goes:
Your First Big Reality Check: If you tried, really really hard, and weren’t successful last year…
… it was probably mostly your own damn fault.
Yeah, sure, the economy sucked, politicians were mean, your prospects are all screamin’ idiots, and God had it out for you. All totally excellent excuses for having a crummy bottom line again.
It’s not your fault. It can’t be your fault. That’s… that’s just…
… that’s just completely unacceptable that it even might be your fault.
And, hey, maybe you did piss off the universe, and spooky forces beyond your control mucked things up so you had a bad year.
I believe you. I really do.
After you’ve been around the block a few times in life, you start to notice some very interesting things about success.
And the big realization, I’d have to say, is that the idea that success is somehow magically bestowed on people in a spontaneous burst of luck and being in the right place/right time…
… is just bullshit.
It is. It’s total bullshit. Hollywood likes to pretend it’s a real plot point. And folks clueless about how the world works — who spend their lives outside looking in — use this myth as a comforting excuse for their own lack of goal attainment.
Once you’ve spent even a little time with successful dudes and dudettes, you notice something startling: They all have well-defined goals, and they focus on nailing them like terriers going after a squirrel.
They are not stopped by lack of skill, or lack of time, or lack of connections in the right places.
They are not stopped by ADHD (which a LOT of the entrepreneurs I know are saddled with, btw)… or feelings of inferiority (many of the best are entirely motivated by “I’ll show you” revenge fuel)… or lack of education (drop-outs galore).
And they are not stopped by the main reason most wannabe entrepreneurs never get past that “deer in the headlights” pose: Not knowing what to do next.
Every single excuse ever floated by anyone in the history of mankind…Read more…
“Under my thumb is a squirming dog who just had her day…” (Stones)
Howdy. I’m republishing this article from 2010, cuz it was one of the most-discussed and helpful posts I’ve written. And it’s on a subject most biz books not only ignore, but aggressively seek to dismiss. Yet, in my decades of consulting, I see it bubble up in nearly every entrepreneur I meet at some point.
So, enjoy another nugget from the archives. (And I hope you didn’t eat much — again — at Thanksgiving…):
Do you suffer from the heartbreak of envy?
Are you jealous of friends and colleagues who attain success, while you continue to struggle?
Would you like to learn a simple cure for feeling inferior to others?
Well, then step right up…
Here’s the story: I grew up with the definite impression that ambition was a moral failing. The operative phrase was “Don’t get too big for your britches”…
… which was a cold warning to anyone who dared attempt to rise above their (vaguely defined) place in life.
And one of the greatest joys was to gleefully watch the collapse and humbling of the High & Mighty. I believe there’s some evolutionary fragment left in our systems that wants a solid check on keeping folks from leaving the pack.
Now, if you risk failing and succeed, that’s great. We were there for ya the entire time, Bucko. Rooted for ya. Got yer back.
I think our innate need for leadership allows for a select few to “make it” without hostility. And, as long as they provide whatever it is we need from them — protection, entertainment, intellectual stimulation, decisive action, look good in a tight sweater, whatever — they get a pass.
But we seem to have a ceiling of tolerance for others moving up the hierarchy too fast. Whoa, there, buddy. Where do you think you’re going?
And when the unworthy grab the brass ring, it can trigger a hormone dump that’ll keep you up all night. Because, why did HE make it, when he’s clearly not the right dude towin. This is totally fucking unfair, and makes ME look bad now.
The lucky creep.
I hope he screws up and gets what’s coming to him…Read more…
“I can’t seem to face up to the facts, I’m tense and nervous and I can’t relax…” (Talking Heads, “Psycho Killer”)
I’ve gone back to the archives again, just cuz they’re so freakin’ stuffed with excellent posts that should NEVER fade into history.
When I find timeless posts that deliver essential tools for your Entrepreneur’s Survival Kit, I like to re-post them here (cuz I know you’re too lazy to go searching for them yourself, you dangerous slacker, you).
So, in this emotionally-charged election year, with the economy and the fate of the globe on people’s minds, I’m thinking another little primer on stress is needed. (The best advice I ever heard from a medical professional was… after I’d said “I’m not feeling so hot, but it’s just stress”… “It’s never JUST stress, Carlton. Stress is bad, bad, bad, and it’ll kill you just as readily as having a piano drop on you from the 6th floor.” That woke me up to the reality of the chemical stew I was brewing in my system, bubbling with bad hormones and corrosive juices.)
We’re not built to survive on a steady diet of stress. We self-destruct when it gets too severe.
Okay, here’s the post. See if you can relax enough to at least read it…
What’s the matter, Bunky?
The news got you down? The economy keeping you up at night? Are sales in the toilet, creditors stalking you, clients not returning calls, the sheer angst of living in a modern tech-drenched world chewing holes in your gut?
Would you like to hear how grizzled veterans handle the evils of stress?
It’s good stuff… because, as everyone should realize, you don’t get to BE a grizzled veteran if you can’t handle stress. Cuz that shit will eat you alive and send you to an early grave.
In fact, this is easily one of the fundamental tools for surviving the Never-Ending Cage Fight O’ Bidness. I noticed, in the first years of my freelance career (when I was searching semi-desperately for clues on how to become successful), that there were biz owners who were having fun… and there were other owners not having any fun at all.
Age had nothing to do with it. Nor health (though the fun-havers consistently were in better shape). Nor gender, nor — and this is important — Read more…
“She’s so fine, there’s no telling where the money went…” (Robert Palmer, “Simply Irresistible”)
I’ve been counseling entrepreneurs (both rookie and veteran) for, oh, about 30 years now. They come to me when their progress, or dreams, or plans have been hijacked by events or forces seemingly beyond their control…
… and they need a hard-core reality check, fast. Plus a detailed list of steps to fix things, and get back on track.
Even if you get an MBA somewhere (and while studying the history of biz and learning the methods behind success are important, I have yet to meet an entrepreneur who was helped by getting a fancy degree like that)… you can’t really understand the cycles, problems, surprises, horrors and pleasures of running your own biz until you dive in.
You can read every book ever printed (or watch every video) on what’s it like to run a biz… but you won’t truly understand how it all works until you’re actually running ads, setting up deals, shipping product, hiring and firing and moving and shaking.
When you catch yourself looking over your shoulder at the competition the first time (or waking up in the middle of the night with angst over a new campaign), THEN you know you’re a real entrepreneur.
I really enjoy consulting with entrepreneurs whose noses have already been bloodied. Life has already done the hardest part of my job for me… by kicking the idealism and dumb-ass belief systems to the curb. Your biz won’t succeed because you’re a sweet guy, or because dammit, your product is just the greatest thing ever.
No. Your biz will succeed becauseRead more…
“When I look back on all the crap I learned in high school, it’s a wonder I can think at all…” (Paul Simon, “Kodachrome”)
As I was writing a new article to post here, I used a term I invented: “Critical Think”. It’s not all that original, as ground-breaking terms go… but the idea behind it is very important for anyone seeking to move up a level or two in their career (or in their quest for ultimate happiness).
So, I’ve dug up the post where I first explained Critical Think, and I’m dragging it back onto the dance floor.
Really, this is timeless stuff. Enjoy:
Someone recently asked me to offer a clue on how to nurture critical thinking.
It’s a fair question. And while I’m no neuro-scientist, I talk about critical thinking a lot, because it’s the foundation of great writing, killer salesmanship, and engaging the world with your throttle wide open.
However, it’s not an easy subject to grasp if you’ve seldom taken your brain out for a spin around the Deep Thought Track (as most folks have not).
So let’s explore it a little bit here…
Critical Think Point #1: Yes, I know the headline on this article is a grammatical car wreck. It should be “how to think critically”, or at least “how to critically think”.
But this botched phrasing is actually part of the lesson I’m sharing here.
Consider: The vast majority of people sleep-walk through their lives and careers, never going beneath the surface of anything. They process, at most, a small fraction of the information they see, hear or read about.
It’s pretty much GIGO. Garbage in, garbage out.
So the first job of any good marketer is todeliver some level of brain-rattling wake-up call for the prospect. To literally jolt them out of their semi-permanent reverie, and initiate a more conscious state of awareness.
Cuz you can’t expect a somnambulant zombie to be proactive about following through with your request for buying something. Or opting in. Or even just continuing to read.
Thus: Good ad writers make full use of the incongruous juxtaposition of compelling sales elements — or, for short, the “hook”.
Ideally, you want the induced “WTF?” reaction strong enough to unleash a splash of adrenaline, or even physically make ’em bolt up and take notice. (As in, “That can’t be right! This violates my entire sense of what’s real!”)