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My Brief Career as a Criminal

September 2nd, 2017 1 comment

“Talk to an attorney, he said, “before you bring a world of hurt on yourself.”

That’s one of the comments I got when I posted my business idea on a private forum I belong to.

Damn! I was this close!

I had figured out how to perform a badly needed service at virtually no cost. I knew how to streamline the process into a repeatable system. I was going to outsource most of the work.

I was going to create a training program out of the business, and sell it to thousands of investors across the country. In fact, I already had a small group of real estate investors lining up to pay me, thanks to some of the most effective copywriting I’ve ever done.

This was it! I could finally buy a villa in southern Italy and retire by the age of 50. Except for one glaring detail. I was breaking the law.

You need a real estate broker’s license to do most of the things I was proposing. One reader who vetted my copywriting for me said, “The ad is effective. The activities are illegal.”

There are some big lessons from this. The first one is hopefully obvious: When you have an idea, don’t keep it to yourself! Run it by other people. I’m saying this because it’s usually something I don’t do.

Lucky for me I’m trying to be less of a hermit and involve more people in every aspect of my life. Otherwise, I’d be telling you this story from a prison cell.

The second take-away is related to marketing and copywriting. If that’s something you want to learn about, here’s the rest of the story.

“Landlords! I’ll bet you $25 I can find you a dream tenant in 14 days”

My criminal business activity was to help landlords find and screen new tenants. My wife and I have done this twice for our own property, and this summer I helped fill a few vacancies for a friend.

I wrote a Craigslist ad explaining what I do and why it’s needed, and asked a bunch of people for feedback.

One of my mentors, Gary North, was impressed enough to publish an open critique of the copy. I got so excited, I tweeted the link to the world–right before I realized that only paying members of his website can see it.

The copy was based on one of Gary Halbert’s methods for writing an ad. (If you’re interested enough in marketing to have read this far, you’d better look up Gary Halbert and read his stuff.)

His suggested first step is to write a fact sheet about your product or service. I usually do this, but not Halbert style. I typically come up with a few dozen facts. Gary Halbert wants a list that’s 15 pages long. I had to rack my brain to think of more and more ideas.

This in itself is a great way to promote your business. It greatly increases your chance of finding a Capo D’astro Bar. But there’s more to the story.

After you have your fact sheet, Gary Halbert wants you to copy an advertisement by hand. It’s the one David Ogilvy wrote for the Rolls Royce. If you’re a copywriter, I recommend you copy the ad, too. If not, at least Google the ad and read it. You’ll get a deep new respect for the power of simple facts.

Anyway, I did my homework and loaded facts into every stage of my ad. Aside from the glaring legal issue, the responses to this ad were positive. Gary North had this to say, before he critiqued my ad almost line-by-line: “I want to go through it here to show you why I think it’s going to work.”

He did say the last third of the ad was weak. And I’ll tell you why this makes sense.

I filled my ad with concrete facts…until the close. The result was that I left readers wondering what they were going to get, and what they had to do.

One comment read: “My only question at this point is this: ‘What is this really going to cost me?'”

In other words, the deal killer was the uncertainty. The lack of facts at the end.

Since I can’t legally offer this service, I pulled the ad and I won’t post it here. But I’ll tell you what my closing says:

“If this sounds like something that could help you, please reply to this ad. I’ll send you a simple questionnaire, follow up by phone or email if necessary, and then I’ll get to work.”

Here, a few facts could have dispelled the uncertainty. I should have said, “I’ll send you 11 simple questions to answer, and if anything is unclear I’ll follow up with a 10-minute phone call. No matter what, you will only pay x dollars, as promised.”

Now the reader won’t be left wondering what this is really going to cost them, either in time or money. 14 questions, x dollars, and maybe a 10 minute phone call if I need it.

The number one reason people don’t buy from you is that they simply don’t want what your selling. But the number two reason is they don’t believe you. For whatever reason, they don’t believe you can provide what you say you can provide.

The best way to strengthen your close is to be a fanatic about dispelling every last trace of doubt and uncertainty. You can go a long way towards accomplishing this by backing up your claims with facts. And that’s a fact.

What are the 3 most important facts a potential client should know about your business? Leave them in the comments below.

 

 

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Too much information

January 30th, 2017 No comments

I’ve have a few relatives who like to talk about their miserable health. The latest injury, the side effects of last year’s whatsectomy, their inflammations and parasites, all the foods they can’t eat anymore.

Somewhere in my thirties I realized they’re doing this to make me feel better. Compared to them, my age-related ailments are nothing.

This is the best kind of pain relief. You start with gory, graphic, visceral images. Exploding bodies. Dwarves riddled with parasites. Followed by the immediate relief that none of it will happen to you.

But the pain doesn’t have to be physical pain. Most people have a gut-level reaction to things like audits and foreclosures.

There’s the pain of mold and termites eating the studs in your house. Your mainframe crashing for three hours on an important day. The pain of divorce, rejection, growing old without utilizing your best talents to improve the world.

 

What Business Are You In? Pain Relief

The good news: You’re probably in the business of relieving one or more of these gut-wrenching pains. Better yet, you relieve the fear of these plagues before they ever become a reality.

For example, Chellie Campbell, a onetime financial planner, changed her destiny forever when she started to describe her service as “Financial Stress Reduction.”

Keep your message both visceral and simple. And that means curing yourself of a crippling illness: TMI.

Too much information. Believe me, I battle with this too. But today’s about you, not me.

You see, you might be suffering TMI if your website is full of things your prospects don’t want or need to know. But there’s a cure. All you have to do is focus on their fears and pain, and your cure for their pain.

Robert Cialdini touches upon this in a book called Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion. It’s one of the books I’m studying intensively this year.

Cialdini talks about the Law of Contrast. If someone is afraid they’ll have to pay $1,000 to fix their garage door, they’ll be thrilled when someone offers to do it for $600, even if they could have gotten it done for $300.

Likewise, if you go to the emergency room with severe pain in your chest, the doctor who informs you that it’s acid reflux is going to seem like a hero.

What is the worst thing that can happen to your prospect if they don’t do business with you? Paint them a vivid picture of the consequences. Let the fear worm its way into their guts. Drive their adrenaline and cortisol to levels usually reserved for bungee jumpers about to take the plunge.

Then show them exactly how you’ll protect their data or their home. Tell them about all the wonderful things you can do to keep their life or their business from falling apart. Take away their pain and their fear.

What business are you in? Don’t answer that with too much information. Tell me about the pain you relieve.

In fact, tell me in the comments below.

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Categories: copywriting, Tactics Tags:

What do you want to learn in 2017?

December 8th, 2016 No comments

“Formal education will make you a living. Self-education will make you a fortune.”

–Jim Rohn

You probably have some idea what you want to do in 2017.

As for me, I know this: If I keep investing in my most important skills, if I deliberately build strength where I want to be strong, I will find the right opportunities.

I have great writers on my bookshelf (and in my phone), and dreams of becoming just like them.

But in 2017 I’m bringing all those high and mighty ideals down to earth.

Can I motivate people to action with my writing? The operative term here is “I.” Others have already done it, and they’re going to be my teachers.

Zig Ziglar said that nothing ever happens until a sale is made. Good writing can make thousands of sales. books marketing writing

Revisiting the Old Masters

For my birthday, my wife gave me a copy of Mastery by Robert Greene. One of the first steps of becoming a master at anything is an apprenticeship, where you learn by watching and imitating the masters.

Sadly, there are few real apprenticeship opportunities today, but Robert Greene suggests you create your own apprenticeship. That’s what I’ve done here.

I have dozens of books on writing, selling, creativity and business. I’ve read most of them. Some are like old friends, dog-eared and full of highlighter marks and notes in the margins. Many deserve a long-overdue reread. A few are even autographed by the authors.

Starting in 2017 (this could easily take two years or more), I’m going to go through a self-designed copywriting apprenticeship. I’m going to digest each one of those books, read part of it every day and apply what I learn immediately.

Want to join me in my apprenticeship?

I made a sharable Google doc with a list of all the books and some explanatory notes. The comments are open to anyone who has the link. Maybe you can join me, help me refine the program, or even use it as a jumping off point for your own personal apprenticeship. Here’s the link:

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1KYanQErGW4Bp4vStiB28if-c9IjqVEay_aPCzTvfyGc/edit?usp=sharing

 

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Categories: copywriting, Experiments Tags:

4 Unusual Marketing Hacks to Attract More B2B Clients

August 23rd, 2016 No comments

B2B marketingB2B is different.

If you convince the right decision-maker that you can improve their company’s profits without compromising their integrity, you’ll almost always make the sale. If you can’t convince them, you haven’t got a prayer.

This is why B2B leaders publish white papers, join associations, and attend conferences. You should already be using most of the tactics listed below. But let’s look at how you can tweak each of these tools so they sell like crazy.

 

Your First Tweak: The private VIP webinar

You might publicize your webinars online. Maybe you send an email invitation to everyone on your list. But if you want to attract your ideal clients, you need to drill down a bit.

Who are the top 10 companies you wish were your clients?

Come up with a solution to a problem these clients are dealing with. Invite the CEO and the president. Send them a personal email, and give them a call if you can. If you have any contacts who might be influential in one of your “target” companies, reach out to them, too. Be sure that everyone you invite knows this is a VIP webinar, tailored specifically for them.

Maybe only 5 people will show up, but they will be key decision-makers.

 

Tweak Number Two: Publish a targeted case study

This is not your father’s white paper. You’re not going to describe how to deal with a common issue in your industry. Instead, select a specific problem that one or more of your clients are facing.

A typical white paper would provide good advice on how you could solve that very problem. Your case study will do something more.  You’ll give the specific details of how you already solved the problem for someone else.

This tactic has the added benefit of social proof. Like a testimonial, it shows that other people have used your solution with good results.

 

The Third B2B Tweak: Proactively send your best white papers and case studies to target clients

Don’t be like everybody else. Most companies have an opt-in form on their website where visitors can leave their email and download the free PDF. This is a proven tactic, but there’s a way to take it further.

Target the companies you want to do business with. Print out your case study on good quality paper and send it by FedEx to the President, CEO, or other specific leader. If you send out just 10 of these a month, and they prove relevant to the recipient, this tactic will pay for itself a hundredfold or more.

While you’re at it, there’s a proactive way to send a digital copy of your case studies. Post them on LinkedIn and send a LinkedIn message to your target recipients. Announce it to your groups, if relevant. In the end, you’ll touch your target clients three times: Once with the group announcement, once in the LinkedIn message, and once when they receive a hard copy through FedEx.

While your competitors continue to passively offer white papers on their website, your company will be doing acrobatic spins and dives on the radar screens of your dream clients.

 

Tweak Four: Build a deliberate referral system

You know the value of a good referral. Yet how often do you ask for one? Are you systematic about it?

Consider the benefits of consistently asking for referrals whenever you close a sale, complete a project, deliver a solution. Almost every transaction gives you at least one opportunity to ask for a referral. Develop a specific email and/or sales script for each of these situations.

While we’re on the topic, what about asking all those contacts who don’t necessarily do a transaction with you each month? Come up with a monthly email that actively asks for referrals.

You could be blatant about it, and offer a discount or other ethical bribe. You could be more subtle, tell a story, and tie the story into a request for referrals. Maybe even hold a contest.

As another part of your referral system (something I wish I did more often), give referrals to your clients. If they’re getting new business from your efforts, they’re even more likely to return the favor.

 

You don’t have to make sweeping changes to get dramatic results

It takes time, money and other resources to create a new level of product or service that can set you apart from your competition. And sometimes it can be an uphill battle to get clients to adopt your innovation.

But there’s always room for innovation in your marketing. New marketing tactics can set you apart without requiring any significant change in your operations.

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Categories: marketing, Tactics Tags: ,

Do you need new ideas? Try these tools

August 2nd, 2016 No comments

marketing_innovationInnovate or stagnate. That’s the brutal reality we live in.

I follow James Altucher’s advice religiously, and every morning I write 10 new ideas. Most of them are crap. The rest are usually related to things I’m already doing, so there’s only marginal benefit to implementing a new idea.

To paraphrase Altucher, someday you may have to sprint 100 yards to escape the velociraptor. If you’ve been sprinting every day for the past year, you’ll be a lot faster when the time comes. The goal, as Altucher will tell you, is to give your idea muscle a daily workout. Then, when you really need ideas, you can deliver.

I agree with this, but in practice I keep getting stuck on the same kinds of ideas. I’m essentially a teacher, salesman, and writer who likes to travel. Virtually all my ideas end up coming back to teaching, selling, writing, and travel.

In contrast, James Altucher spends much of his life talking to interesting, successful people from every field imaginable, and he also reads for hours every day. If you want to get the most out of your 10 ideas, you have to expand your horizons.

A Whack to the Side of the Head

Fortunately I’ve found two great tools that make it easy to come up with new ideas and banish stagnation forever. The first is Roger Von Oech’s “Creative Whack Pack.” It’s basically a deck of cards.

Before we move on, let’s say really quickly that you can probably come up with a lot of ways to use a deck of cards. Matt Furey made an entire workout system based on cards. Brian Eno and Peter Schmidt created a movement with their Oblique Strategies.

Each of Von Oech’s cards has a quick tip or question, followed by a cartoon and a story. They’re designed to get you thinking. This morning I picked up a card that said, “See the obvious” and had a picture of a mouse hiding in a cat’s ear.

The story underneath almost doesn’t need telling. No cat would ever think to check its own ear for mice. If you’re a mouse, that’s the obvious place to hide, right? The card asks, “What resources and solutions are right in front of you?”

social_media_obviousMore than half of this morning’s ideas came from that card. No need to reinvent the wheel. I have a lot of valuable, under-used assets already.

I pick out a random card each week, keep it visible on a shelf in my office, and ponder it whenever I feel stuck or I need another whack to the side of the head.

The other tool I use is Twitter.

I spend a lot more time reading tweets than tweeting. This is where ideas come from. There are two ways to get them.

First, just look at what’s trending. If there’s something big that’s related to your life, you’ll definitely have something to say about it. Probably more than you can say in 140 characters. This could become your next blog post or video.

Better yet, if you have the solution to a problem that’s trending, you may have just figured out how to make your next million and save the world in the process. Good job!

But more often than not, the trending hashtags are all about the Kardashians, the Trumps, and Beethoven. That’s when you need to dig a little deeper.

Search your own hashtags. Hashtag keywords related to your industry, your passions, or news that’s relevant to you. If you spend just 10 minutes doing this you’ll almost always find something.

Dromaeosaurid parade by durbed

By Durbed [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia

Don’t ever forget about that velociraptor!

Six months ago I had to outrun a velociraptor. I left my biology teaching job and had to figure out how to make a living. But I had almost a year of Altucher’s “daily practice” under my belt.

I sat down and wrote 10 ideas for generating income. Almost immediately, I knew that everything would be OK. I could figure things out.

The first project took months of hard work to implement, but now it’s producing a steady income for my wife and I. The second idea is starting to bear fruit, and I’ll test the others over the next 6-12 months. Meanwhile, I’m still coming up with 10 more every day.

This brings me to one last tool that you already know about. Your very own brain. You may be surprised to find how creative you really are.



Resources for this post:

Oblique Strategies: http://www.rtqe.net/ObliqueStrategies/OSintro.html (Highlight some of the pages to see the hidden text!)

James Altucher’s most important post ever: http://www.jamesaltucher.com/2011/02/how-to-be-the-luckiest-guy-on-the-planet-in-4-easy-steps/

Creative Whack Pack (this is an affiliate link):

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Kickstart Your Social Media for $497. Money-Back Guaranteed.

June 9th, 2016 No comments

Nobody looks at the Yellow Pages anymore.

If you want your business to thrive, you’ve got to maintain a strong presence on FaceBook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media sites.

For $497 I’ll build you a personal content management system that gets your business into all the major social media, where everyone can see it. If you don’t like the work I do for you, for the next 30 days I’ll promptly refund every penny you paid, no questions asked.

So what exactly do you get?

  • A 30-minute brainstorming session to uncover the hidden potential in your business. We’ll find the qualities that will make you stand out and attract the best clients and customers
  • Fresh, original content posted on WordPress, FaceBook, YouTube, Instagram, and Twitter. This new content comes straight out of our brainstorming. It’s tailored to sell your services and products, but it is also material your market will actually want to watch, read, and see. We can easily fit it with the online marketing you’ve already done, or I can set everything up for you if you’re starting from scratch.
  • A flagship Youtube video. Google owns Youtube, and those search engines love Youtube videos. We’ll make a video that promotes your core message, embed it on your website, post it on your Facebook page and promote it through Twitter and Instagram. You could potentially reach thousands of viewers.
  • A Facebook Page that really works. There are two common mistakes that prevent your FaceBook page from turning heads and attracting real clients who want to do business with you. If you don’t already have a Facebook page for your business, we’ll set it up right the first time. If you’ve already got one, we’ll level up your Facebook mojo with new posts and videos that increase “likes,” and leave visitors eager to come back and learn more from you
  • A personalized, easy to follow marketing plan with templates and ideas so you can continue to produce new content in the future.

If you’re unhappy with this service for any reason, for 30 days after we finish I’ll refund your money, all 49,700 pennies of it, no questions asked.

How do we start?

If you’re interested, call or text me or fill out the contact form below. We’ll set up a 30-minute session by phone or Skype, where I’ll ask you 14 questions.

Usually that’s enough to know whether we can work together. There may be a few follow-up questions but usually after the first conversation I’ll have 2-5 key points that will be the basis for most of your social media.

Over the next few days I’ll write up your core content, which tells your story and puts your business in the best possible light. Once you’ve approved this basic content, I’ll have everything I need. My team and I will get to work on your video, and soon your story will light up all the major social media platforms.social_media-marketing-deal-expires-August

All you need to do to get started is text 213-453-1327 or fill out the contact form below:

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14 questions to unleash your secret potential

May 24th, 2016 No comments

There is a spark of greatness in you.

You already knew that, of course. The hard part is finding that spark and using it to light a fire. You may not know what your spark is, but it’s already sitting there in plain sight. Or else it’s just underneath the hood.

I’m about to show you how to find it.

Some 50 years ago, a guy named Bud Robbins discovered the power of looking under the hood. He got a job trying to promote the Aeolian Piano Company. Ever heard of them? Neither has anybody else.marketing capo d'astro bar aeolian piano company

Robbins had to persuade the average starving musician to buy an Aeolian piano when they could get a well-known Steinway for the same price.

He took a tour of the Aeolian factory and found out that their piano weighed more than a Steinway because of a metal part known as the capo d’astro bar.

The capo d’astro bar is useless until the piano has been in use for 50 years. After 50 years, the capo d’astro bar prevents the aging instrument from warping.

The manufacturer saw this as a simple engineering fact, but Bud Robbins saw the potential story. A little bit of further research led him to the discovery that the New York Metropolitan Opera was using an Aeolian piano, and the extra longevity was starting to pay off.

When the Met relocated to the Lincoln Center, an opera singer told Robbins, “About the only thing they’re taking with them is the piano.”

Saying the piano was “built to last” wouldn’t be such an extraordinary tagline for an instrument which lasts generations. But the quote about the Metro taking the long-lasting piano with them–well, that became the headline for a full-page ad in the New York Times.

The outcome: Thanks to the story behind a hidden metal bar, the Aeolian Piano Company had a 6-year waiting list for their product.

Bud Robins later wrote about this experience and what it means for every business, every product: “No matter what the account, I promise you, the capo d’astro bar is there.”

Finding your bar

If I opened this post by telling you about the lifespan of a piano, you would have moved on within a few seconds. But you’ll listen to a story. A story about the underdog piano company, and the hero Bud Robbins who has to save the day.

Everyone loves a story. The most popular video games involve a story. We’ve been telling stories around the campfire for thousands of years.

Find your story, and you’ll find your greatness.

When I meet with a new client, one of the first things I do is try to figure out their story. Here are a few of the questions that will help you uncover yours.

  1. What were your dreams as a kid? What did you enjoy doing most in your spare time? What did you worry about?
  2.  What was your first job? What was your first entrepreneurial effort?
  3. What is the scariest thing that ever happened to you?
  4. Who was your business’ first client? What was memorable about the experience?
  5. Who was your worst client? Why? If you could teach them one thing, what would it be?
  6. Describe your first year in business.
  7. When did you know you were going to make it? What was the decisive event?
  8. What is the first thing you do when a new client is interested in doing business with you?
  9. What is the last thing you do for your customer or client?
  10. What, if anything, do you do to follow up/keep in touch with past and existing clients?
  11. Why should I do business with you, instead of all the other alternatives, including doing nothing?
  12. Who is your most valuable partner or employee? What makes them so valuable?
  13. If you could put up a billboard anywhere, where would you put it and what would it say?
  14. What habits or outlook do you attribute to your success?

You should try to write out the answers to all of these questions. Better still is to actually talk to someone about these answers. More spontaneous ideas will come up, and you can test their power by the other person’s reactions.

I don’t want to give away my clients’ secrets, but here are some interesting quotes I’ve dragged out by using these questions.

“Many real estate agents are lazy parasites who only do the minimum amount of work for easy money.” (A member of the California Association of Realtors)

“I’m always talking to people who might be five or ten years younger than me, and I’m telling them about some new useful app or software that they’ve never heard of and they don’t want to use. You have to keep learning or you’re toast. I’m always testing out new tech for my clients.” (A 47-year-old video editor)

“I’ve been trying to find out why I’m still alive, what I’m meant to do on this earth. Helping you might be the answer.” (A business owner who nearly died a dramatic death when he was 24)

Any of these quotes could easily lead in to a compelling story that would make eligible clients want to do business with this person.

Now it’s your turn. What is your story?



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Categories: marketing, selling Tags: ,

What happens when I’m selfish and antisocial?

May 10th, 2016 No comments

There is a powerful way to start your morning. I learned about this technique, called priming, from Tony Robbins. But he didn’t mention one of the biggest benefits of priming.

In psychology, priming refers to the effect that a current thought or image will have on future thoughts and images.

For example, if I start talking about the color yellow, and a long narrow fruit, and potassium, I’ve just increased the odds that if I ask you to name a healthy snack you’ll say “banana.”

Tony Robbins takes this phenomenon and shows a way to use it to your advantage. You give your mind images that are related to the outcomes you want to have for the day, and images that will slowly change your mind and body in desirable ways over time.

When I tried priming, I was surprised by a result I hadn’t expected. Here’s the process, so you can understand.

Priming your mind for an awesome day

In a nutshell, you spend the first three minutes feeling gratitude. It’s good to be outside, where you can feel the wind on your face and maybe the grass, sand, or mud between your toes. If you’ve never done this before, these first three minutes alone will change your day and eventually change your life.

But that’s not the biggest part.

The next three minutes are spent sending love and blessings to all the people in your life, and especially the people you’re going to interact with today. You think about them and what they want or need. You think about how you’re going to help them, how much love you’re going to send their way, how blessed they are and how blessed you are to know them.

Finally, for the last three minutes you think about three big goals for the day. Picture them done, and imagine how you’ll feel once you’ve accomplished these goals. If you can really feel this success, you’ll get excited to go out and hit your goals.

Connecting with Other People

When I first read about this practice, I was willing to try it out. I didn’t expect the power of the second step. You see, we are social animals and when you send out blessings to other people you’re really blessing yourself. Here’s what happens.

You’ll start thinking about someone you know, and immediately you’ll think about everyone you know through that one person. Pretty soon you’re sending love and blessings to an extended family, not to mention everyone in your network of clients, colleagues, teachers, vendors, mentors, employees and the list goes on.

This has a profound effect. You’ll start to feel like you’re a river or a fountain, gushing magic blessings on everyone. It’s a huge boost that makes step three, your goals, seem both way more important and far easier to achieve.

Tapping into a New Power

Even if you spend just a second sending blessings to one person, you’ll start to feel like they’re on your team. They have your back. Or at least, they’re cheering for you. When you do that for three minutes, you’ll have a large audience of backers, cheering you on. You start the day stepping up with the whole stadium chanting your name and wishing you well.

Not only that, but you change your focus from what you want to accomplish for yourself to how you can help others.

I’ve always taken time to set goals and visualize success. I don’t usually reach them all, maybe because I’m selfish and antisocial.

I never dedicated a lot of time to gratitude, except when things really were going unexpectedly well. And I never put other people first. What a big mistake!

When you deliberately put other people’s needs above your own, your mindset brings you more happiness than you can ever get from your own empty victories. In fact, you actually become more likely to succeed and accomplish your personal goals and achievements.

How I’ll put you first

I want to put your business, your goals, ahead of my own. This is why I’ve lowered my rates, and why I now offer a money-back guarantee. I’ll visualize you in the morning, your success, and helping you will be one of the big goals I’ll imagine achieving.

When I help you, it will ripple out and boost our economy. Ultimately we’ll multiply the number of people you can help and touch with your blessings.

I am a fountainhead of prosperity, and I’m here to serve you and enrich your life.



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Our Future: What I learned from four years as a public school teacher

February 18th, 2016 No comments

If you want to know the future, just look at what fifteen-year-olds are doing today.

–Robert Kiyosaki, Rich Dad, Poor Dad

 

I was going to harness and encourage the natural curiosity and energy of our youth. I was going to show them by example how they could make a life and a living for themselves and others by pursuing their passions.

It didn’t work out that way.

This year I formally resigned from one of the largest school districts in the country. I could share my story in this post, but I’d rather offer you something more valuable: A glimpse at the future. It’s not nearly as bleak as some people say, but you’ll have to be ready for it.

“Dangerous Thinking”

During my first year teaching biology, I tried to help a tenth grader get his GED. This would allow him to leave school a few years early and pursue his idea for a business startup. A few people expressed their shock that I, a teacher, would try to help a student get out of school.

But shouldn’t that be the goal?

A person in a high position told me my thinking was “dangerous.” He reminded me that school was really designed to train people to be punctual and obedient.

Some students would find their way and become successful business owners. Many more would go to college and possibly become professionals. “But,” he told me, “Walmart will always need people to drive the trucks. And we’ll always need people to build the roads.”

The Digital Future

I appreciated this person’s outlook, but we’re in a different world now. Anything I taught my students in an hour-long biology lesson, they could look up on their own in minutes. Even most of the poorest inner-city kids have a smart phone.

This means virtually anyone with ambition and drive has the chance to teach themselves anything they need to know to pursue their dreams.

We’ll always need people to pave the roads, and we’ll always have people to fill that need. But the web has increased everyone’s potential for upward mobility. We have a wealth of young people bubbling over with creativity, and I don’t want to work for an institution that merely slows them down and gets in their way.

Some people say that today’s teens are all video game addicts, that they spend their waking hours mind-melded to an electronic device with a screen. That’s not too far from the truth, but there’s another truth as well.

Many of these kids are amazingly smart and innovative.

The Gamer’s Education

There is a reason digital games are so addictive, and it’s actually good news. When you fail to reach a goal, you almost always get another chance in a game. You can try a different tactic, or finesse your approach until you figure out a way to succeed. Then you get to “level up.”

This is how the human brain naturally learns. It’s how most new things get invented and built. Video games reinforce that pattern, teaching kids to be resilient and persistent.

As a teacher, I got to see kids apply this persistence to the real world. I watched students approach everything like a video game. They would learn which answers would please a particular teacher. They would figure out just how to get the requisite amount of points on a project with the minimum amount of effort.

They would apply this technique to find the best ways to text in class without getting caught, to minimize their homework, to sell snacks to their classmates for extra money, and even to find a date.

None of these skills seem obviously useful in the traditional school classroom. But there are alternative ways of obtaining an education. I got involved in one of them early on, and I’m working on another one myself.

Education is going to become highly personalized and self-directed in the near future. Here are some of the results I think you can look forward to.

Our Future

As a marketer, I’m a little bit scared. Even the best copywriting will only work if it’s added to videos, games, and apps. Even then, you’ better have a great product because the buyers of the future are going to be ruthless in their pursuit of whatever they want.

That said, if you can appeal to the emotions of this next generation, you’ll succeed as a marketer and an employer.

This is an exciting time to be in any kind of business. For myself, it’s an exciting time to be back in business. I’ve already collaborated with some young geniuses, and I look forward to hiring more of them to help you become more successful.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A new type of content that breaks all the rules

February 13th, 2016 No comments

If you don’t know Bill Bonner, he’s an extremely successful business owner and investor. Probably a quarter of a million subscribers read his financial advice, including me.

Funny thing, he likes to brag about his worst investment ever, something that is costing him every year and possibly adding grey hairs to his already wizened head.

There's a story behind this, if you can find it

There’s a story behind this, if you can find it

Several years ago, he “invested” in a large tract of land in rural Argentina. He mentions it in practically every blog post, email, and newsletter. It takes hours to reach the land from anywhere, on roads that are barely passable in fair weather and reduced to mud when it rains. He talks about ungrateful tenants who not only don’t pay their rent but expect him, as a rich gringo, to pay for their healthcare, their children’s education, and sometimes their groceries.

The thing is, he loves his losing proposition and it’s fun to read about it. It probably intrigues curious readers and ultimately wins him more paying subscribers.

This brings me to a big bold marketing tool. I call it the “Tangential Post.”

Sometimes it’s useful to go off on a tangent. You don’t always have to talk about your business.

Most of the time, your clients only care about the value you can deliver for them. The trouble is, you have competitors who are probably capable of delivering value, too. That’s why it’s so helpful if your clients feel like they know you.

So if you have a blog, Twitter, a YouTube channel, a newsletter, or any other media for staying in touch with your market, go off on a tangent every now and then. Post something that’s not directly related to your business or what you can do for your clients.

If nothing else, you’ll have a little bit of fun. Share something interesting about yourself and your life. A picture of your dog. The story of how your son scored the winning goal.

Almost everyone loves dogs, kids, and a good story.

If you do something really unusual, like chariot racing or buying farmland in a foreign country, you could put this in, too.

This will be a breath of fresh air, and you might create something popular that gets shared around a lot.

Pretty soon I’m going to go off on a tangent, and tell you why I haven’t posted anything new on this blog for more than a year. It’s a long story that will probably piss a few people off. It made me angry as it happened.

But this isn’t about me. Go Tweet or blog or post something personal and interesting. Go off on a tangent, before I do.

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