3 Solutions To Free Up Your Time

Published November 17, 2017 in Mindset - 0 Comments

“It’d be nice to be locked in a prison cell,” I thought.

I sat in my condo in Boulder, Colorado, facing a television set. Tuned to some blaring nonsense. Papers were strewn about my floor. Outside chirped a world full of distractions.

I was pondering productivity. Going deep – mastering something.

“If I were locked in a prison cell, I’d have nothing to do but focus on just a couple simple tasks. Writing. Meditating. No distractions or obligations to interfere with my progress.”

This was a bullshit assumption for a couple reasons (both obvious and not-so-obvious ones) which I’ll cover in a moment. But there was also a grain of truth.

The most pervasive bullshit often has some wisdom mixed in. That’s how it survives and reproduces.

A couple years after thinking this, I called my cable company and switched off my service. Then I donated my television set to Goodwill. After two days of withdrawal, I noticed how much calmer I felt. I stopped compulsively checking to see if it were 7PM, or 8PM, or whatever time my favorite shows were on – a habit which took a while to subside.

I used my freed-up time to meditate. And write.

I never went out because I was too broke and shy. For several years, I didn’t see a single movie. No travelling except sometimes for Thanksgiving. All savings went towards business.

This was when I discovered a prison cell isn’t a panacea. Prison sucks because you can’t leave. It’s dangerous. And it’s not a meal ticket to productivity.

Because you can eliminate all your distractions and still steer clear of what you want to accomplish.

Think of it like a piece of paper for a writer or a canvas for an artist. If it’s already filled with writing or drawings, it’s useless for creating something new. But a blank page, or canvas, can be just as useless if you’re intimidated by it.

An inspired writer with fortitude can compose a novel during lunchbreaks. Or transform a line at the bank into a writing nook. A devoted artist can make a napkin worthy of framing.

But wannabes who’ve freed up all the time in the world, and eliminated distractions by going on a retreat? They can still fail to create. Just like someone can waste away in a prison cell, even with all the time in the world to practice mindfulness and meditation.

They’re both shackled.

If you can free yourself – and you’re on your own, there – then time restrictions or clutter are mere trifles.

With that in mind, here are three ways to deal with them:

  1. Ditch your television set

Before you do, list out all the positives and negatives of this action. On the positive side, you’re eliminating an expense and saving money as a result, you’re eliminating a source of disheartening and fear-inducing misinformation, you’re deleting a major distraction to more fulfilling activities, and you’re creating a more peaceful environment in your home. On the negative side, you’re… uh… well maybe you can think of some negatives.

  1. Stop visiting useless websites

I know it’s fun to read about sports or politics or gossip or whatever you humans enjoy. Arguing about them is even better. It triggers pleasurable brain chemicals in just the right way to keep you addicted. If you’re okay with being an addict, have at it. Otherwise, go clean and reap the benefits.

  1. Restrict your email-checking time

There’s rarely a need for some self-important “I’m only checking email once per day” message. Just check it only once per day. Observe how nobody cares.

Take a moment to consider how much of your daily time is eaten up by a cycle of checking your email… your social media pages… reading about politics and current events… arguing about politics and current events on said social media pages… and checking email and starting the cycle all over again. While your television is blaring in the background.

Actually, instead of just taking a moment to consider this, measure it in real-time. Write down how many hours (I bet it’s hours) you devote to this cycle. Then write down the benefits of engaging in this daily cycle.

Is this how you want to spend your life?

In the past, I meditated for 3-4 hours per day. Right now, I’ve cut back to just 1 hour. For now. I also write. Both marketing and a journal and various personal-development notes and this blog and correspondence and plans for my business. And research. And work with clients. And exercise every day. And read. And travel. And, more recently, go on dates. And I’ve got plenty of free time to relax.

Not having a spouse or children helps. So much so, that I’d feel funny preaching productivity tips to those raising a family, without acknowledging that damaging admission. So there you go. Still, if you have a family to take care of, then consider whether television, websites, or your emails are more important than cherishing time with them.

When you say, “I don’t have time” make sure you’ve already thrown your television in the garbage, stopped visiting useless websites, and check email only once per day. But that excuse will be dead to you anyway. Because you’ll be too busy experiencing the richness of life, for you to devote any energy to bullshit excuses like “I don’t have time.”

 

*Bonus tip: In the past, I’ve read articles like this and then stewed about how they didn’t apply to me because I had [insert seemingly special reason here].” I wonder how much time I wasted with those complaints?

Why TED Talks Suck

Published November 11, 2017 in Marketing - 0 Comments

“When I was three years old, my pet squirrel died. And it taught me… ”

“Hahaha!”

A friend of mine and I were driving to a barbeque lunch in downtown Baltimore. We were mocking all the seminars we’d attended in the weeks prior, where every presenter made the exact same kind of speech. First, they gushed about some childhood or parenting experience, then droned on about how it helped them learn some lesson.

A child’s discipline problems led to learning how to look deeper at things. A death in the family at an early age led to appreciating life.

So we figured talking about the death of a pet squirrel would make for a great opener. Call it an Anti-TED Talk. (I also suggested a TODD Talk or a TIM Talk but Anti-TED Talk seems better.)

We never got around to what wisdom the squirrel would impart

“I want to know the guru gathering all these guys together and teaching them this model. He must say something like ‘alright start with some heartfelt story, and then choose one self-help point to drive home…’”

I wonder if it’s the same guy teaching marketers selling from the stage to put too many slides in their presentation and then speed through a select few, claiming “I don’t have time to go through all this with you.” You’d think after so many years, they’d get their timing down. Hmmm.

Anyway, whoever this guy is, he either taught all TED Talk speakers, or learned from them.

Because TED Talks are a prime example of what I call “learn porn.”

And much like ogling food porn or watching classic regular porn, you’re not actually doing it

The stories in TED Talks are designed to engage your emotions – which shuts down your reasoning and critical thinking.

The time is kept short to cater to cratering attention-spans.

Not only that, but reading the book TED Talks gave me an interesting window into the bias they present. Like a talk espousing how charities should not necessarily be condemned for lavish CEO pay and low margins, if they’re more effective as a result. No mention of how a charity’s effectiveness is measured, or its negative knock-off effects on the entrepreneurial economy.

Perhaps the book’s best part, was breathlessly describing how Al Gore’s irrefutable evidence of global warming was sometimes ignored… because of political preferences within the audience.

Never mind the ice shelf-sized presupposition of that statement

Perhaps it’s time for Anti-TED Talks to trend. Their concept is simple:

  1. Open with a story (just like a regular TED Talk – see I’m not trashing them completely)
  2. Teach something – however long it takes to do so effectively – with no regard for some 18-or-whatever-minute timeframe
  3. Instead of bloviating while basking in the spotlight, get the audience involved – if you truly want to challenge them and change their views, then see how what you’re presenting applies to them in real-time
  4. Instead of giving just one talk, set up a series and include projects and experiments and tests in-between
  5. Watch as the crowd who loves TED Talks stampede for the exits because they can’t face actually doing something, rather than sitting and watching and getting off on learn porn

This isn’t to say TED Talks are entirely worthless

I think they’re excellent vehicles to help sell a book. Or solicit donations. Or funding. Basically, they’re fantastic for selling. Which is why they follow an excellent format for selling.

  1. Attention-grabbing opening
  2. Emotional story
  3. One thread
  4. Answer objections
  5. Close ‘em

Learning and growth? A handy, occasional side-effect.

Vicodin – Tony Soprano – Capital One – Almost Homeless At Guru MasterMind

Published October 31, 2017 in Origin Story - 0 Comments

In 2008, I flew to Los Angeles and took a shuttle to some hotel, with drugs in my bag and anxiety about my finances stewing in my brain.

Writing this almost a decade later, I don’t remember the name of the hotel or which month it was. Heck, I’m fuzzy on the year. Just a bit ago, I spent way too much time trying to figure out that pointless trivia (well, not entirely pointless – specificity of time and place increases engagement when beginning a story).

Anyway… it was late as I stood in line to check in. I wanted to crawl into my room and hide, before the Guru MasterMind marketing event began the next morning.

Finally, I got to the head of the line and gave them all my info.

“Mr. Rifkin, your card isn’t working?”

Huh? I specifically paid that one off, so it wouldn’t decline. At that time, I was swamped by so much debt, it felt like I spent every moment trying to sweep it away with a push-broom, only to watch it slosh right back towards me.

I told them it must be a mistake. After a few more attempts, the lady at the desk called up my credit card company. I think it was Capital One. And waited. And waited.

The line grew behind me.

After some back-and-forth, she handed the receiver to me and helped the next person in line.

Amidst the background noise, I struggled to hear what the problem was. The person on the other end kept saying the hotel charge was over my limit. I affirmed I’d paid off enough of my balance. Then I figured out what was going on.

Capital One looked at my shitty payment history, and my nosediving credit, and decided to lower my card’s purchasing limit

Just like that. Overnight, without me knowing. So even though I’d paid off perhaps a thousand dollars, it didn’t matter because my lower limit evaporated that available credit.

Shit. Shit!

I asked how much I had available. It was something like less than $100.

I asked the hotel to charge exactly that much, and then I scrounged together most of my cash to pay the rest.

For one night.

My flight back home wasn’t until three days later. If I didn’t fix this, I’d be homeless in L.A.

After tossing my bags into my room, I hustled across the street, to nearby hotels

Nobody took checks.

Then I got back on the phone with Capital One and explained that I was travelling with no cash, and needed my limit temporarily raised to where it was. I probably also mentioned that it wasn’t fair to lower my limit without warning, when I’d been paying off the balance.

They said they’d see what they could do, but the department that handled that sort of thing was closed. It opened at 7AM Eastern Standard Time.

I said I’d call back then. 4AM my time.

It was close to midnight. In just a few hours, I’d find out if I were homeless or not.

In the meantime, I took some Vicodin, popped on the TV, and began watching The Sopranos

By sheer luck, I watched a couple episodes with one of the more revered storylines.

The titular character, Tony Soprano, was in a coma. Most of the episode focused on his quasi dream/hallucination, where he was a completely different person.

Instead of a tough mob boss, he was a meek salesman on a convention trip. Through some mix-up, he lost his wallet but acquired someone else’s. Without any funds or ID, he used the stranger’s wallet to check into a hotel.

About the Vicodin I took…

A couple weeks earlier, a car hit me as I crossed the street. I felt fine when I got up… but had to drag myself to the emergency room that night because of my ankle pain. After some X-rays, they gave me 10 days of Vicodin and a prescription for a month’s worth.

The morning after the emergency room visit, I felt fine. So, I threw out the prescription. But kept taking the 10 days’ worth. For fun.

Almost a decade later, a co-worker would describe Vicodin as “God massaging your temples”

I can’t think of a better way to say it. So I enjoyed tossing back one or two pills… and regretting throwing out the prescription for more.

My evening in the hotel was surreal. I worried about being homeless… but felt blissed out from the opioids. I watched Tony Soprano sit in his own hotel room, stare at the phone, then gaze outside to see a strange beacon of light, as Moby’s When It’s Cold I’d Like To Die plays in the background. Before the credits roll.

I slept.

The alarm clock woke me up a little before 4AM. I dialed up Capital One. Within a few minutes, a cheerful woman in India informed me that I could rest easy and enjoy my travels, because they raised my credit limit back up. I thanked her profusely.

They gave me the fix I needed. An opioid-like wave of bliss washed through me.

I attended the marketing seminar, barely learned or met anyone, and then flew home.

My financial situation spiraled even further out of control, until I filed for bankruptcy three years later. But, despite some efforts to try otherwise, I never took Vicodin again.

Einstein Quote Shows Self-Help Books Are Bullshit

Published October 26, 2017 in Mindset - 0 Comments

Back in 2009, I remember driving from Boulder, CO to my relatives in Massachusetts for Thanksgiving. Past endless corn fields, elegant New York woods, and plenty gas stations in between.

I was broke and scared

Both the conscious and subconscious parts of my brain were wired for fear and panic. Creatively, I was completely shut down and pervasively ruled by my ego. This ego was so adept that I had no idea it was in control.

As I rolled across the country, I played the audiobook Think And Grow Rich in my Nissan Altima’s CD player.

Over and over again, I’d listen to self-development audios like this, and read the usual books. Sometimes they’d jazz me up. Sometimes not… but I always felt like it was a good habit. Something that, whether I felt was immediately useful or not, it’d nourish my future.

Bullshit

I fell into a trap millions of desperate people are caught in. Years later, I still couldn’t quite put my finger on it… and I’m still trying to suss it out.

As I began to truly crawl out of the financial hole I’d dug myself into, books like Think And Grow Rich loosened their grasp on me. I began to wake up and realize, “Hey wait a minute, this stuff isn’t the end-all, be-all, and merely listening to it does NOT help… and, come to think of it, taking action on it doesn’t help either. Wait, what action do these books even recommend taking?”

This was when the veil began to drop.

“Well, wait a minute,” I said to myself, “Maybe the reason you feel this way, is because you graduated from these books, and you internalized their lessons.”

Really?

I’ll play nice for a moment, and argue as if that’s true.

Fine. Then why does there exist a culture that obsesses over self-help and positive-thinking books touting how to make millions, treating these materials like endless companions? Aren’t they just one little stepping stone, something to quickly hop over before you really get to work? (And if you used them with success as a stepping stone – that’s wonderful – and I’d wager the success had everything to do with you, and little to do with the book.)

More to the point…

Don’t these people realize that by immersing themselves in such material, they’re preventing themselves from growing into and beyond it?

Here’s an example.

Let’s say you want to master the game of tennis.

So you pick up a couple books on the mindset of tennis. Aha! Because that’s where the real key is. You spend time every day reading about overcoming fear of tennis… how you’re secretly self-sabotaging your tennis efforts… and how it’s important to develop the success habit of playing tennis.

Whenever you’re feeling down, you grab your trusty tennis books, and the mere act of reading triggers pleasure hormones to gush through your brain. Ah, much better! You’re back on track.

You seek out other books on tennis and devour them. You build – with pride – a whole library of tennis books.

Perhaps you even attend seminars on the inner game of tennis. They claim they’re going into more depth than the cheaper books. Good – it’s always beneficial to attend seminars proclaiming to go in-depth into things.

You worship the presenters at these seminars and the authors of these books. Not in a crazy sort of way, of course. You just know – deep in your soul – that following their teachings is the way to success. The only way. So, to stray outside of them is stupid. Insane. And anyone who doesn’t follow their teachings is stupid and destined for some cataclysmic failure that you can’t quite identify but you’re sure will befall them.

Meanwhile… completely outside your awareness… your next-door neighbor has taken a different approach

He also developed an interest in tennis.

So he grabbed a racket, and joined a club. He devoted hours to playing. Working with coaches, teammates, and entering competitions. Always making little tweaks here and there. Sometimes suffering humiliating losses. Far more than you’d think. Then, eventually… growing and competing at higher levels.

You never meet your neighbor. For one reason or another (perhaps relating to your methods of learning and growth), you just never enter the same social circles. But – outside your awareness – he’s actually got a couple acquaintances in common with you.

He knows the authors of the books on tennis you worship. In fact, he’s been approached by them to do interviews and speak at events. But he turns them down. He thinks the whole industry is a little silly. He’d say something like, “I mean… it’s pretty simple. You practice. You find people who can help. You play with those at your skillset. And you help others who aren’t as far along the learning curve. Then it’s just a matter of how obsessed you can be while remaining open to improvement. You have to customize your own lessons based on your self-awareness.”

The authors and presenters plead with your friend to teach this wisdom. “That’s great stuff! Yes, please come share at our events how important it is to take action on what we sell!”

“But…” he replies, “I don’t think that’s the real problem…

“I don’t know if the issue’s the kind of customer you attract or the culture you create. Maybe it’s both. But, somehow, you keep people stuck. Your entire paradigm of learning is actually non-learning. You’re actively preventing mental growth while verbally affirming mental growth is necessary, and getting your audience to nod along with you. Maybe they never have a chance to succeed at what they want so desperately, but you sure as heck aren’t their key, even if they do have a chance.”

For a while, as I turned this idea of self-help books being bullshit over in my mind, this was all I could come up with. Something was missing. Probably more than one thing. I know there’s more wrong with this paradigm.

Another piece of the puzzle fell into place when I stood inside an old building in Baltimore, on the phone with a man who teaches businesses how to grow, and sometimes invests in the companies.

He explained to me how he wanted to advertise people who wanted to start businesses, and deliver them training online.

It’d been seven years since my cross-country trip where I bathed in the soothing self-help affirmation, and after actually accomplishing what those books preach… I’d developed a more skeptical mind.

“I’ve seen businesses in the ‘make money’ niche establish themselves online. And from what I’ve seen, they attract a customer who isn’t really capable of building a business. The marketing itself acts as a filter, only attracting the wrong type of customer. That’s my perspective, but I’d like to hear yours.”

He understood my concern

He replied with a few good points. One of them became another piece of the puzzle for me:

He doesn’t teach how to make money, or even emphasize that aspect. Instead, his focus is on teaching how to build and grow a business.

Aha.

If an advertisement (or a culture, or a paradigm, etc.) emphasizes making money or getting rich… who is attracted? Those who feel the most frustration surrounding money, and are most desperate for it. Most of these people are not ready to actually create and build a business. They’re still too bogged down in psychological pain surrounding money, commerce, and selling.

But what if an advertisement emphasizes building a business?

Who is attracted? Those who have already gotten over their frustration surrounding money. Or are at least in the process. They are ready to create a business, because they understand it’s the next logical action-step. They’re over their inner pain. Or perhaps they never felt it. And as far as riches are concerned… it’s automatically implied that building a business will generate income. To emphasize that point would be ridiculous… crass… laughably-obvious… and perhaps even a creepy signal that someone hasn’t reached the necessary level of psychological development required for building a business. I wonder if there’s a single word for what I’m trying to get across?

Whatever it is, that word would be kryptonite for anyone in the bullshit self-help space.

Another piece of this puzzle fell into place when I read the Albert Einstein quote:

“We cannot solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them.”

A book about some law of attraction, or explaining how to set goals, keeps you stuck at the same level as your problem. Most of the time, the author is stuck at the same level. Or they’re a sociopath who understands they can make the most money – within the limits of their skillsets, ethics, and behaviors – by keeping you stuck at that same level. And never telling you to put down the book.

What I Learned From This Stranger On A Train

Published October 20, 2017 in Mindset - 0 Comments

Close to midnight. Thursday, October 12, 2017. Feeling melancholy.

I sat on the light rail at Denver International Airport, headed downtown. Finally coming home after almost a month of straight travel.

LA…

Portland…

Vegas…

Chicago…

Baltimore…

Cabo…

… and back.

On the flight from Cabo to the layover in LA, I talked with a nice woman on her way home to Vancouver. She was reading a book by Ray Kurzweil. We talked travel, introversion, career…

One of the first things I asked her was “Any suggestions where I should move?”

“Well… who are you?”

“Hmmm… I’m a marketing-obsessed, capitalist pig who’s into health and meditation.”

“Ha! … New York?”

After landing, we navigated the international check-in.

“How close is Vancouver to Seattle?” I asked her.

We almost made it to the gates. Then I saw the TSA-pre line. Time for us to part ways.

“I’m sure we’ll run into each other on the other side,” I said.

We never saw each other again. It would have been nice to say goodbye.

A couple hours later, I sat on the light rail as it rested on the track, reading an article on my phone, waiting to go home. A kind-looking man sat down next to me, and asked a couple questions. I nodded.

He kept asking about the light rail, and making comments. I could tell he wanted to talk.

Years ago, I would have kept to myself and hoped the person would get a hint. More recently, I’d still keep to myself, but always with a vibe of love and respect. Even more recently, I changed again:

Nate, I know you can be perfectly content sitting in silence, but this guy sat next to you for a reason. Listen to him. Whether you hear something amazing or you simply lend someone your ear, it’ll be worth it.

I asked him if he had visited Colorado before, and listened.

He told me a story of perseverance. Near the end I took notes.

“By the time I got to the Denver Mint, tickets were completely gone…”

The man was visiting from Texas, just 10 miles from the Mexico border. He wanted to tour the Denver Mint… and wasn’t going to take no for an answer.

When he found out tickets were gone, he moseyed into the gift shop. And asked about tickets.

“I knew they’d say no.”

They did. So he asked where people with tickets were supposed to wait. They told him… and affirmed he couldn’t get in.

So he set himself up where all the ticket-holders were, and began asking everyone in line if they had an extra ticket. Nope.

“I did the same thing at a Paul McCartney concert in Scotland. I managed to get tickets for me and three friends.”

Finally, he spoke to a manager. He explained why he couldn’t get there early enough to get a ticket that morning, and asked if he could get in if someone didn’t show up.

The manager said everyone was there.

He said he noticed someone didn’t show up. He had no idea if this were actually true. They let him in.

“I told them a story. I was very nice. They turned away a dozen people before me. But they let me in.”

He got to see the Denver Mint.

For the rest of the light rail ride, we talked about travel, commuting, crime, empty buildings in China. Then we arrived at Union Station. Before parting ways, I properly introduced myself to him.

Then I walked home.

By this time, it was Friday, close to 1AM, October 13th, 2017. I meandered across the quiet city of Denver, thinking about the man on the light rail. Thinking about the woman on the flight from Cabo. And wondering where I’d call home in a few months.

Gut Instinct, Fear, And Why You Need To Know The Difference – Plus Vomiting

Published October 14, 2017 in Mindset - 0 Comments

On Sunday evening, I sat at a 334-year-old restaurant in Cabo, hoping I wouldn’t throw up my meal.

Not because I worried about the food. Instead, it was because I’d puked earlier in the day. Right when I was supposed to be doing a consultation for my business.

It happened about five minutes after I was escorted to a private conference room, to meet a new mentor. We didn’t know each other. The woman showing us the way asked me, “Are you okay?”

“No.”

We cancelled the meeting… and I stumbled into the bathroom

That night, I sat next to the same person I’d cancelled on earlier. Things were going much better.

We talked about advertising on the internet. He said, “I don’t use Facebook at all. I got sick of trying to make health offers work and getting banned. You get tired of pulling your hair out and crying. I’m serious.”

Later in the evening, the man sitting on my other side introduced himself to everyone. He mentioned he advertises online using only Facebook.

So I sat there between two guys, who both found success using opposite approaches.

This was going to be fun.

The man on my right said to the man on my left, “I admire you. You stuck with it and make Facebook work. I just gave up!”

The man on my left said to the man on my right, “No I was just stupid enough to stick it out. You made the right choice to find something better.”

Who was right?

Anyone?

Was anyone wrong?

It reminded me of a question on a Facebook Live interview the night before. Someone asked me: “I criticize myself harshly and I’m dealing with a lot of fear as I try to start my own business. What should I do?”

My answer, paraphrased below:

“Well, keep in mind that it might not be fear. Sometimes we have powerful gut feelings, which are pointing the right way for us to go, or pointing out the wrong path to take. But we mistake them as fear because we’re dead-set on doing one certain thing, even if it’s a mistake. Start paying attention to the difference between a gut feeling and a genuine fear. You’ll know the difference because you can plow through fear very quickly. You can evaporate fear in five seconds, with movement. But gut feelings will stick with you longer. And I can tell you can make this distinction because you mention criticizing yourself. Actually, being able to step back and analyze your actions is a wonderful gift, and it shows some self-awareness. It’s only a problem when it becomes too harsh and irrational.”

What’s the right choice?

Give up? Or keep doing something that scares you and brings you pain?

Don’t pay attention to fear. Plow through it.

Listen to your gut. Do what it says.

And learn to tell the difference.

Both guys sitting at that dinner table made the right choice. I’m sure each of them had a gut-check moment. One realized he needed a different platform for building his business. The other realized he needed to stick it out. I was honored to hear both talk about how they did it.

I kept the meal down. Even the scoops of vanilla ice cream I had right at the end.

And today I hope to get another chance at that consultation. Just to be safe, I’ll skip breakfast.

2 Books Every Copywriter Should Read

Published October 5, 2017 in Copywriting - 0 Comments

Over 90% of copywriting books suck.

I’ve barely read any, but I’m going by Sturgeon’s Law. Here, I’ll save you a Google search:

In 1951, a science fiction author by the name of Theodore Sturgeon gave a talk at New York University. After he finished, some twerp student jumped up and declared…

“90% of science fiction is crud.”

To which Sturgeon paused… and replied…

“90% of everything is crud.”

Although it’s not crystal-clear if that’s the true origin story, it captures the spirit. Either way, Sturgeon’s Law was born. Cite it wisely.

Anyway, I’ve glanced through enough copywriting material to see it’s either a waste of time or flat-out dangerous. It might fill your head with flaccid ideas that limpify everything you put to pen.

I’ve been asked what copywriting books I recommend, and my answer has always been something along the lines of “None.” I learned from TheGaryHalbertLetter, which I consider a treasure – but not a book.

Recently, I read two books that changed my stance.

They are not directly related to copywriting. But you should read them anyway. Push them straight to the top of your reading list. In fact, after I’m finished, you should drive to the nearest bookstore, find them…

Plop your butt down and read them right in the store…

… and then purchase them.

Here’s why:

If you’re a copywriter and you take advantage of the information in these two books, you won’t have to worry about money. You will rocket-launch past the competition from your fellow copywriters. After you produce a few pieces and the results come in, word will spread. Clients will approach you.

You’ll be able to work with the best people. You can travel for fun, and work on copy while you do it. You can provide for your family, in just the way you’ve been dreaming. You can prove to your friends – and enemies – that you truly are successful.

Debt? Vanished.

Bills? A mere trifle

Oh, and when you implement what you’ll discover, you can get these results while working a part-time schedule.

That should suffice as a preamble. Here’s the first book:

The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan.

It’s as if Gary and Jay woke up one day and decided to write a guidebook for how a copywriter should think about his or her craft. This book will show you how to harness your peak performance to produce copywriting magic. It will guide you on how to position your writing time within your workday. It will show you how to balance time dedicated to your craft compared to the rest of your work life. That part will surprise you.

Next book is Deep Work by Cal Newport.

This book holds the key to getting a wealthy payday while still working part-time hours. It also scientifically validates Gary Halbert’s infamous “slacking off” technique for producing breakthrough ideas. Finally, it exposes villains destroying your copywriting ability on a moment-by-moment basis.

One warning

Do not think you got the essence of these books just by my description. Or by reading reviews or summaries online. Yes, you can get the gist of both books by poking around. Get the books instead.

Let me ask you something…

Let’s say you write a salesletter consisting only of a benefit-driven headline for an expensive product. Will that cause the maximum conversation rate, when you advertise? Or does it require, perhaps, another 15 pages of copy before the prospect busts out the ole credit card and buys?

It’s the same with synthesizing new information and imbedding it deep into your brain. You need more than a brief online description. You need more than what I’m writing here. If you truly want to change your results, you’ll get the books and study them. The cases they make will boost your motivation, so you can take action.

And if you’re spurred by negative motivation, here’s a taste

A couple decades ago, businesses hired local writers for marketing and advertising.

Today, any company can hire anyone in the world with an internet connection.

How are you going to stand out? Your competition is no longer the guy down the street. Now it’s the planet.

As Cal Newport says on page 25 of Deep Work, “Once the talent market is made universally accessible, those at the peak of the market thrive while the rest suffer.”

Bad news:

Greater numbers of would-be copywriters are going to suffer.

Good news:

If you can train yourself into superstardom, you can thrive more than ever.

Even better news:

The skills and systems taught in these two books can be used by anyone, and are actually more rare today than ever before. Seriously. The timing is perfect for you. If you take advantage.

Turn Challenges Into Advantages With This Technique

Published October 1, 2017 in Should You Date Nate - 0 Comments

“What the heck do I write, to attract a woman?” I asked myself.

I had no idea.

When I first began writing the toughest salesletter of my life, my advertising had already sold over one million dollars of products online.

I knew how to shock people into paying attention to a message about their health. And get them excited to bust out their credit card for a nutritional supplement.

But attract a woman? What was the best way to do that, in print?

As I began, I considered the challenges I was facing:

  1. Generating sexual chemistry is NOT the same as selling (despite what many “pick-up-women” and sales gurus like to say).
  2. My audience was younger and more averse to advertising than what I was used to.
  3. The fact that I was advertising myself for a date, could be inherently unattractive, self-sabotaging my efforts from the beginning.

After listing out the challenges, I considered what I was really trying to do. And not do.

  1. I didn’t want to attract the most women, or even a large number. I just wanted one.
  2. I’m a weird guy. Any woman who’s a match for me, is going to be weird. It goes both ways.
  3. Any woman who’s a match for me, will have at least some admiration for marketing, psychology, and value individuality over conformity.

Doing this exercise allowed me to look at my challenges from a different angle.

Instead of trying to face them head-on and getting a mental block, I considered them within the context of what I did and did not want to do. I meshed everything together. Then I could turn my challenges into advantages.

For instance, it no longer mattered if most women my age ignore and despise advertising. Because the woman for me would think my ad for a date is cool.

It also didn’t matter if advertising myself for a date seemed weird or unattractive, because a woman with a similar off-beat and non-conformist personality would appreciate the ingenuity.

What about generating sexual chemistry?

I pretty much suck with women

But I’ve learned enough to realize I had two advantages:

  1. Boldness
  2. Reach

Putting a profile on Tinder or Match is the opposite of bold. You’re just another guy. No wonder so many women complain about the modern dating culture. The dick pics don’t help. Dating profiles barely have reach, either. You’re lost in a swamp of mediocrity. No sexual chemistry.

But an entire website for a dating profile? That stands out. Nobody else does it. It’s bold. That can be attractive. To everyone? Heck no. But, I only needed one woman.

Then there’s reach. Because of my ability to advertise, I could get my message in front of women I would otherwise never meet. This exponentially improved the odds of matching with a woman who’d be physically attracted to me.

That’s part of the big picture… but there’s one more thing I want to cover next time.

It has to do with why I deliberately wrote things to piss people off

And drive women away.

Next time, I’ll dive into that.

In the meantime, consider how you can use this mental process for yourself.

What challenges you most about winning over your potential customers? List everything. Write it down.

Next, write down the business relationship you want to create, with your customers. How are you helping them? Short-term? Long-term? Who is a good customer for you? Who is not at all a fit? (Hint: List as many “not a fit” categories as you can and make them as large as possible).

Now, look at both your lists, and consider how you can turn your challenges into advantages, based on what you really want to do and who truly is a good match for you.

Oftentimes you’ll find, as I did, that the solution to your challenges is not giving a shit what most people think about you.

Killer Orgasms – Gary Halbert – How Should You Date Nate Began

Published September 17, 2017 in Uncategorized - 0 Comments

“Killer Orgasms.”

I didn’t know it at the time, but that book would change my life… and lead me to create Should You Date Nate.

Over a decade ago, I was sitting in my college dorm room, reading through emails. I certainly wasn’t out partying, even though it was probably a Friday night. After all, I was a depressed freshman without friends, dates, or a speck of social savvy…

… and if what you’re reading now were an advertisement for a sex or dating info-product, I’d go on to say I bought the Killer Orgasms book and rode some mystical pleasure train to success, fulfillment, and hey let’s throw financial abundance in there too.

But this is a true story of my life, which would go on to suck for the next several years. So I’ll skip to the pertinent details:

In my dorm room, I happened to be reading an email newsletter by a guy in the “attract women” niche.

An ad appeared in the middle of the content, for a book called Killer Orgasms

I wondered who the heck would write a book with a title like that. So I checked out the name:

Gary Halbert.

Maybe you’ve heard of him. Maybe not.

I had not. So I looked him up.

And I found the same thing you can find today, over ten years later. It’s the self-proclaimed “Most Valuable Website On The Internet” authored by Gary Halbert. I dove inside, and discovered a treasure trove of marketing newsletters, all available online, for free.

For me, it really did turn out to be the most valuable website in the internet. Very soon, instead of attending college classes, I sat inside and studied Gary’s lessons.

Later I’d drop out of college and go on a bizarre entrepreneurial journey

That’s a story for another time.

But you’re wondering about PR secrets. And how I did what I did. And why.

Here’s why:

http://www.thegaryhalbertletter.com/13Ad%20PDF.pdf

(If the link doesn’t work, just Google: Gary Halbert Personal Ad)

That link will take you to an online replica of an ad Gary Halbert wrote, decades ago. It’s a personal ad for himself. Except, instead of running some tiny ad in the Personals section of the newspaper, Gary ran it as a full-page ad in the LA Times.

Genius

And when I found out what he did, it planted the seed in my mind to try the same thing in modern times.

Of course, I knew I’d have to do things a little differently than Gary Halbert did. A newspaper ad today wouldn’t work, unless I felt like dating someone in the 70+ crowd. Age may be just a number, but that’s pushing it. And in the writing, I knew I could only reach for the same level of Gary’s genius, even if I fell short. His ad is worth a long, careful study.

For many years, the idea remained a seed buried in the back of my mind. But then, roughly two-and-a-half years ago, it began to grow… and then explode.

Tune in next time for when I pull back the curtain on how I wrote my website. How on earth would I write to single women, to attract them? Did I have any idea what I was doing?

Why did I end up writing something so bizarre?

I’ll answer all of the above, and more. Then we’ll go on to traffic-generation strategies… website-building stuff… and how to apply everything you will learn to your situation.

 

P.S. Because Gary Halbert always included some P.S. and I want to honor him:

Today I’m going to the Underground marketing event here in Denver. Then I’m flying to LA for a Digital Marketer event. Then to Portland for some chi gung training. Then Vegas for SupplySide West. Then Baltimore to visit Agora. Then Cabo for the Mimosa MasterMind. I’ll be living out of a small backpack the whole time and I’ll let you know how it goes.

The Cringe Factor – Should You Date Nate Update Part 3

Published September 8, 2017 in Uncategorized - 0 Comments

One of the major catalysts I had in creating exponential publicity was the “cringe factor.” Or the “ick factor.”

Other than my stunt being obviously bizarre, many people had a visceral reaction that something was just off, when they saw it. And there’s actually a scientific hypothesis why.

It’s called the uncanny valley. Here’s how it works:

Think of a teddy bear.

They’re nice, they’re cute, they’re cuddly

And they’re purposefully designed to look very different from a real bear. Instead they often share some human traits – which is endearing.

Many dolls look like people too. Much more so. And a problem was discovered with this. Because if you create an object that looks very close to a person… but isn’t quite 100%… it’s freaky-looking. The fascinating part is, this effect only kicks into gear when the percentage is very high. Which is why a realistic doll can be off-putting, but not an obviously-simple doll or even a smiley face. The same effect occurs with a robot’s appearance.

Some advertisers have felt the wrath of this effect, when testing out a new mascot idea.

I believe something similar happened with Should You Date Nate.

The website was just weird enough that people couldn’t tell if it were real

On top of that, my professionally-made video added to the realness (that’s why it was included). But there was still some doubt. The icing on the cake was that I was reading from a script, and did so smoothly. But there was still a script.

As a result, there was a lingering “is this real? Something’s off about this” effect which – if it’s small enough (yes, small enough) can be unsettling.

And before any haters pile on, yeah I know that people are also put-off by narcissism but that’s not true in this case. Arrogant prick? Sure! But not narcissism.

Another factor that made this cringe-worthy was the twist that, just by putting on a big show to get a date, I’m automatically signaling that I have trouble getting dates, which can be unattractive.

I thought about that while creating this project, and that’s why I included a bunch of disqualification selling. But I knew it wouldn’t be enough, and I’d have to deal with the cringe-factor. Any normal, rational person would probably have scrapped the project.

Of course, I chose to move forward and test it anyway 🙂

The cringe factor aided in the free publicity, and severely skewed the ratio of the public reaction. It became almost 100% negative. However, it also increased the website’s exposure, and increased the private reaction, which was much more balanced towards the positive.

I’ll have much more to say on this soon, but I’ve been busy prepping for travelling, which I’ll begin in a few days.

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