“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…
“Been there, done that…”
I am, today, resurrecting a post from a very long time ago…
… because the subject matter just won’t die. Like a zombie, it just keeps getting back up and stumbling forward to irritate and annoy me.
So let’s file this under “Necessary Reminders If You Wanna Get Rich“…
… cuz it’s one of those fundamental lessons for anyone who got into business to create wealth.
As opposed to, say, getting into business just to have something to do during the day.
Every successful entrepreneur will tell you the foundation of their wealth comes from paying attention to the fundamentals. The wild-and-crazy ideas are fun, the vows to take over the world make you feel awesome, and gorging on fresh technology is invigorating.
But you won’t earn a dime off any of it without knowing the nuts-and-bolts part of putting ideas, vows and tech into action.
Just like being really, really, really eager to demolish your opponent in a cage fight will get you killed if you don’t have the fundamentals down of hitting and getting hit.
Enthusiasm is great. Skills and knowledge are how shit gets done, however.
Here’s that zombie post. Enjoy:
I tell rookies to never, ever assume anything about anything. Ever.
Especially about your target audience. One of the biggest mistakes marketers make is to assume your prospect knows as much as you do about whatever it is you’re selling.
And it’s almost never true. You’re dealing with your product/biz/service day in and day out, and you’ve dealt with the details so often, it’s all second-nature to you.
But your prospect isn’t working in your office. Even if he’s in the same general market as you, he has other priorities. He may desperately need what you offer… Read more…
“What this requires is a really stupid and futile gesture on someone’s part.” (Otter, “Animal House” pre-climactic scene)
Do you ever have the vague feeling that everyone around you is enjoying life more than you…
… or has their act together real tight, while you struggle and wake up in the middle of the night fussing over problems?
This is actually part of our default machinery as humans. Personally, I grew up as a kid believing that everyone was hiding the secrets of a happy life from me… they knew these secrets, and were smug about knowing and enjoying them. While I was left to desperate measures, trying to figure out each fresh pitfall and obstacle on my own.
If I could only catch a clue about what everyone else was thinking as they so smoothly navigated life, the secrets of eternal happiness and contentment would surely bloom for me.
My first big revelation as a teenager arrived like a bolt of lightning: After putting together a few clues…
… I abruptly realized that most people weren’t hiding secret thoughts from me at all.
They actually didn’t have Read more…
“Indeed your dancing days are done…” (Irish folk song)
I hope you’re doing well, and seizing the day. As we all should, every day we’re alive.
Sometimes, for me, the best way to appreciate life is to, occasionally, also appreciate death. For all the sound and fury and chaos surrounding us on the Big Earthly Stage… for all the urgency of accomplishment and all the troubles of cobbling together a modern lifestyle…
… sometimes you just gotta stop and take a deep breath.
And know that, at some point, there will be one last breath like that… and then no more.
All of us sharing space on the planet have been granted a ticket to ride, and none of us know how long the ride will last. Or how it ends.
Or, for that matter, what’s going to happen one second from now, let alone tomorrow or next month or next year.
And yet, life goes on. And goes on well for some of us, and progresses haltingly for others. But it goes on.
For Steve Jobs, the dancing days are done. I did not suspect his leaving us would affect me this profoundly, but it has. I never met him. And yet, our lives are intertwined. I’m writing this on an iMac, using the friendly interface he championed (and forced the “who cares about fonts” geek-dominated virtual world to adopt), while my iPhone sits nearby (buzzing with incoming texts).
There will be plenty written about Jobs and his effect on how we live today. I’ve already read a dozen articles online… and even the iHaters have to admit the world has shifted significantly with Steve gone.
For me, he was the Uber-Entrepreneur. Dropped out of college because his energy and ideas bristled at the shackles of staid academia. Aimlessly sought out ways to engage with life on a more grand scale, correctly sensing that the world was about toRead more…
“Only your real friends will tell you when your face is dirty.” (Sicilian proverb)
I’m handing the blog over to our good buddy Jimbo Curley again this week. He’s done several guest posts, all hilarious, all excellent insight and info for marketers, writers and anyone in biz.
Jim and I go back a looooooooong time. And my favorite story of how we became brawling colleagues is included here — this tale sends grown men into gasping fits of laughter whenever Jimbo re-tells it in the bar (where, during seminars, all the REAL networking and professional bonding takes place). Last week, it was the Phoenix Hilton, for Joe Polish’s and Dean Jackson’s shockingly-good “I Love Marketing” event.
So this is fresh stuff.
Jim’s the real thing. A top, consistently smokin’ hot copywriter and a keen observer of human behavior (and buying psychology). He’s an original teacher in the Simple Writing System, and one of the very few writers I’ve personally asked to write FOR me.
This post is must-reading for anyone wondering how their latest and greatest ad is gonna do in the real world.
Warning: Do NOT drink coffee while reading this. Or you’ll snort it through your nose during the funny parts. Which is funny in itself, the image of hundreds of readers all over the globe spitting up coffee at their desks at the same time, courtesy of a master storyteller.
Okay, you’ve been warned.
Thanks for the intro John.
I’ll dive right in.
Today I want to talk about a Street-Marketing lesson I call “How to take it in the shorts… and love it”.
It’s about how to get qualified critiques for your writing.
First, I’ll hit you with the big setup statement.
Here it is: Read more…
“Just take those old records off the shelf, I’ll sit n’ listen to ’em by myself…” (Bob Seger)
At the end of this post, I’ll explain how you can win a bitchin’ prize that will make you the envy of all your friends forever.
First, though — let’s learn something about marketing to humans, whadya say?
Here’s two quick “how to deal with the screaming chaos” tips for everyone in business today who’s just a tad freaked-out at the way things seem to changing so damned FAST:
Screaming Chaos-Dealing Tip #1: If you’re older, you need to cultivate solid relationships with younger folks who can help you understand the Zeitgeist of the dominant culture out there. (Yes, even if you hate it. Especially if you hate it, actually.)
And I’m not talking about having your nephew program your TV remote while you mow the lawn.
Nope. I’m talking about entrepreneur-minded young adults, who just happen to be totally wired into the Grid…
… and can translate current trends while offering you some solid, smart perspective.
Screaming Chaos-Dealing Tip #2: If you’re a young entrepreneur, you need to cultivate relationships with geezers who can give you some perspective on how we GOT to this current state of affairs.
Key thing to remember: Read more…
Let’s have a nice chat about betrayal.
Not the big kind, like Shakespeare grooved on (with people dropping like flies, slain by their best pals)…
… but rather the small kind that happens way too often in business.
As in, between you and your colleagues.
Here’s what happened to spur this line of thought: I was just in Austin (Republic of Texas) to speak at an event packed with marketers.
Now, a lot of things happened while I was down there… including a few stories full of intrigue and dramatic plot twists…
… but one little thing happened that could easily harbor the most serious consequences for anyone trying to learn something about being a savvy, successful biz owner.
Let me set the story up for you: Often, when I speak to new audiences, I like to cajole and browbeat the crowd as I put them through some exercises.
It’s all in good fun, and it’s a rare marketer who doesn’t appreciate this kind of old-school learning tactic — essentially School O’ Hard Knocks training, where you’re pushed out of your comfort zone, which wakes up your brain and makes the exercises memorable.
It’s really the only way to learn and have it stick that ever worked with a stubborn, anti-authority kinda rebel like me.
So I return the favor when I teach. (To mitigate the verbal thrashing and jive-talk, I also like to give out bottles of beer during 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”)
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 your ass alive and send you to an early grave.
In fact, this is easily one of the fundamental tools for surviving the Bidness Never-Ending Cage Fight. 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 — how successful they were.
The difference was simply how they handled stress.Read more…
Austin, Republic of Texas
“We’re the Free Texican Airforce, and we’re flying tonight…” (Peter Rowan)
Okay, first off, I’m not in Austin yet.
I’m in Reno… but I’m preparing for flying into Austin Monday by keeping the oven on in the kitchen, while boiling four pans of water on the stove. Cuz it’s hotttttttt down there.
I’m a dry-heat kinda desert rat. We’re a mile up here in the biggest little city, and the idea of walking out onto the broiling tarmac of Bergstrom International — where it’s rumored to be topping 107 this time o’ year — is not fitting easily into my brain.
Now, I’ve spent months in the Florida Keys, on full-tilt boil, back when Gary Halbert insisted on moving down there (first to Marathon — or “Cleveland in the Keys” — and then to Key West — or “Key West”, which is another concept hard to fathom for anyone who’s never experienced it first-hand). (Trust me on that.)
But, like childbirth, you forget the details once the ordeal is behind you. (Or so I hear. Never been pregnant myself.)
So, the closest I’ve been to that kind of super-heat in the past few years… has been during a long, soothing shower. While it’s snowing outside here in the bosom of the Sierra Nevadas.
Whatever. I’m going, because I’m speaking at an event alongside the likes of Joe Sugarman, Joe Polish, Bill Phillips, Chris Guerrero and other notables at a very nice event hosted by our pal Josh Bezoni.
And it’s gonna be fun hanging out with those nutballs.
I’ll also collapse and die at some point in the heat, of course, but I’ll have a smile on my mug.
I recall a joke a guy once told me, while we were both sipping Lone Stars:Read more…