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:


(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.


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.

Should You Date Nate Update – Part 2

Published August 27, 2017 in Uncategorized - 0 Comments

“You should be proud, man,” my friend said.

“… yeah… I know… I just… yeah, I just need the perspective.”

I was glad he texted me Thursday night, asking about the publicity I’d been getting. He reminded me that there’s more than one perspective on this whole thing. And I don’t mean a positive mindset – although that’s important – but an actual, nitty-gritty perspective on measured results.

It’s an extremely important lesson in business. Here’s an example:

Imagine you’re at a backyard BBQ about a year ago, talking about Trump before he became President Trump

You’re standing in a group of 10 people. A few begin foaming at the mouth and shouting about what a pig he is, how stupid he is, and how everyone hates him.

Others nod in agreement, and then pile on.

“He’s sad.”

“He’s unstable.”

“He should just stop.”

You’d probably walk away from this exchange, thinking Trump didn’t have a chance. I mean, it’s obvious, right? Nobody was going to vote for him.

… except they did. So what gives?

Here’s what happened at the 10-person gathering, that you didn’t notice:

A couple folks standing there, didn’t say a word. Maybe they remained stone-faced. Or they nodded just to be agreeable. So you didn’t include them in your mental tally of Trump supporters. But that’s exactly what they were.

That’s not all. A couple folks who shouted how much they hated Trump, were covering themselves.

Why would people do this?

Because oftentimes behavior trends have nothing to do with visible trends on social media. Especially if that behavior can be done in private. Like voting.

Look at it from a practical perspective

Why on earth would someone who is going to vote for Trump, put up with rage, insults, and potential violence? It’s smarter to stay quiet and do your thing anonymously.

A similar dynamic occurs in business online. When a business puts an ad online, you can sometimes publicly see denouncements and insults.

You don’t see the people busting out their credit cards and buying the product. Even if they’re doing it in droves.

In the same way, you could visibly see the hateful messages about me – and they were definitely backed up by ones sent to me.

But you didn’t see positive words of encouragement publicly – not many.

Because those were all sent privately, straight to me

It gives a skewed perspective unless you’re able to see everything.

Same with dating. There’s no way in hell any woman who’s interested, is going to bother telling a bunch of spiteful people online. Why put up with that?

(And for anyone reacting to a comparison between President Trump, online businesses, and me – it’s just a teaching metaphor – take it or leave it.)

This has massive implications for business and politics. Anyone catering to the internet and social media for public popularity is misguided at best. A better goal is private popularity among people who count.

That’s the difference between fostering activity and productivity. Which would you rather have?

I’ll go into more detail on this on my private list, which you can still get on at www.shouldyoudatenate.com

To be clear, sometimes the two do overlap, and you want to be publicly and privately popular. But if you’re in business selling a niche product and the vast majority of the population is not a fitting customer for you… you’d be surprised how useless popular opinion can be.

Should You Date Nate Update – Part 1

Published August 26, 2017 in Uncategorized - 0 Comments

“Hi, this is suchandsuch from The Dr. Phil Show…”

As soon as I read the email while sitting in a coffee shop, I realized two things:

  1. My website had just exploded into a shitshow.
  2. At least 80% of the people seeing and sharing it, absolutely hated my guts and thought I was a disgusting freak or some kind of loser.

I briefly considered calling the number the representative provided…

… and then thought better of it.

Why bother? I could imagine any number of scenarios where I was lured onto the show and then condemned for being superficial, mocked for being odd, or some combination. Years ago, a businessman I was learning from almost ran into the same trap, when an HBO show called him.

Instead, I continued wading through the 258 unread emails in the special inbox I set up. A new one appeared every two minutes or so. Separating out the hate mail was easy because gmail lets you see the first few words of every email. I simply selected all of them, marked them as “read” and dragged them into a Hate Mail folder I created.

My plan is to print out all the hate mail in a stack and make art out of it

Speaking of email, let’s break down the initial numbers – plenty of people have asked me.

Hate Mail: A little over 900 messages.

Cheerful Mail: A little over 250 messages.

Media Requests: A couple dozen.

Mail from women interested in me: Around 100 messages.

Let’s dive deeper because numbers can be very deceiving. I’m surprised the hate mail figure is so low. My website had a form you could enter a message into, without even providing an email address. It doesn’t get more anonymous than that, which most haters require.

Still, for a few days, 900+ messages aint bad

Around 100 messages from interested women aint bad either. But that’s not all it seems. The vast majority of these women are from all around the U.S. and even some in Europe, Australia, South America, Asia… which sounds amazing (it is) but it’s not like I can meet all of them in-person tomorrow. Although now that I’m writing this, I’m realizing that I should travel the world because meeting one great person is worth the effort.

But I’ve also met women locally. On my way to meet one, I wondered if I were being catfished. There was only one way to find out (and, no, I wasn’t).

The most popular questions I’ve gotten so far are:

  1. Aren’t you meeting a bunch of gold diggers?
  2. Any psychos?

No and no.

A genuine gold digger is going to be very precise in their targeting, and are often the aggressor. They look for certain signals. Someone offering a free vacation as an attention-grabber is not displaying one of those signals. I’m sure any savvy gold digger who heard about my offer, instantly knew I’d be financially aware enough not to be taken advantage of long-term.

And psychos? Easily spotted just from email.

Two more things before I end this first update:

First… if you want more in-depth how-to of the marketing behind this – both what I did well and what I horribly screwed up – you can get on the list at shouldyoudatenate.com.

Second… the 250+ messages of cheerful mail

I was not expecting them. They were vastly outnumbered by the hateful comments, and didn’t have the same predatory cleverness… but they impacted me much more. I replied to every single one, thanking the writer (although I think a few slipped through the cracks as I waded my way through all the emails – if I missed yours, I’m sorry).

And some people reached out because they needed a little kindness themselves. I was honored to hear from them. I hope I cheered them up even a tiny bit as much as they did me.

Gifts For My Co-Workers – Origin Story Part 37

Published August 24, 2017 in Origin Story - 0 Comments

How the heck do I say all this in Spanish? I thought to myself… before giving up and deciding to leave my fate to Google Translate.

Eh, I figured a language translation faux pas wouldn’t be an issue in a written letter. Especially if it also contained a $20 bill as a gift.

My horrible experiences in the Cancel section and order-pulling enlightened me to how fortunate I was before – with hardworking, friendly co-workers. I felt compelled to show them how much I appreciated them, in a way they wouldn’t forget.

Even though it seemed so corny, a surprise gift felt right

And even though I knew it was a little weird, I decided to make it a gift of cash. I figured a few folks might be turned off by it. But I bet the positive impact would more than make up for that. Plus, it meshed perfectly with practicing financial abundance, and being comfortable with money – giving and receiving.

So I wrote a letter, thanking each person for the good times we shared loading trucks. While writing it, I remembered half my co-workers spoke a different language. Which is why I eventually copied and pasted the letter (only a couple sentences) into Google Translate, and selected Spanish.

Then I printed roughly ten copies out, and taped a $20 bill to each one. A big expense for me, sure. But the excitement of giving this gift, was more than enough return on investment.

My plan was to leave the letters with Bob, and ask him to give them out. I wouldn’t be there, so I’d just have to imagine my former co-workers’ reactions.

But first, I had a new job to begin

On Saturday morning, I drove to a more isolated part of Aurora, Colorado. Mostly industrial buildings. Including the massive warehouse where trucks with 53’ trailers swarmed around.

It was about the size of a football field inside, and eerily quiet. Including me, there were only five workers, total.

A truck backed up to the main dock. The supervisor told me I’d be “throwing” that day. I quickly learned that meant I’d unload the truck from the inside. I also learned why it was called throwing.

First, an 18-wheeler backed its behemoth trailer into the bay. We’d unlatch the back to see the whole thing stuffed to the ceiling with a couple thousand cardboard boxes. Usually with shoes or clothing. My job – as the thrower – was to grab the boxes and drop them onto the conveyor belt. Always with their barcodes facing me, so someone standing at the other end of the belt could scan them.

Then, the belt paraded the boxes to the far end of the warehouse before veering to the right

Then the belt continued down the football field-long warehouse. The other four workers waited every 10 yards or so, looking for boxes with certain numbers. They grabbed and tossed them into piles…

… until the thrower unloaded the entire 53’ trailer.

Simple. Brutal…

… and my new job.

So I ambled up to the end of the trailer, and began grabbing box… after box… after box. Slamming them all onto the conveyor belt as fast as I could.

Just like with my last truck-loading gig, there weren’t any traditional breaks other than lunch. And I sure as heck wasn’t supposed to take a break before the trailer was empty.

Not even to catch my breath or grab some water

Instead, I moved constantly, throwing boxes onto the conveyor belt so they churned out with only a few feet between them at the most.

As I worked farther and farther into the trailer, I pressed a button on the conveyor belt to extend it. That way, all I had to do was reach up, grab a box, and toss it onto the belt.

The deeper I went, the darker it became, like slowly exploring a cave.

Soon, I reached the treasure – the trailer’s wall at the opposite end. Once I threw the final boxes, I held down a different button on the conveyor belt to retract it.

Then I stumbled back out, wiping away my sweat as I panted for air

Even then, my job wasn’t done. After a quick swig of water, I joined the other workers in organizing the boxes. Like spiders swarming freshly captured bugs, we skidded around and around 6-foot stacks of boxes with wrapping tape.

Early in the afternoon, we finished and scattered our separate ways.

“Huh, that wasn’t so bad,” I thought. “Sure, unloading the truck was exhausting, but I could do this. Heck, this is pretty darn easy!”

I had no idea for the hell I was in for, the next day…

Cut Off Your Family And Friends If They Fail This One Test

Published August 12, 2017 in Uncategorized - 0 Comments

A few nights ago, I had a vision after finishing a standing meditation.

Nothing scary. I didn’t take any bad shrooms or other psychedelics. I merely quieted the mind for long periods of time, so it could step out of the way.

When my vision ended, I received a very clear sign of its significance and felt inspired to write it here. I’ll reveal exactly what happened at the end of this piece.

Here goes…

I imagined myself at a marketing seminar, chatting with fellow attendees. No idea where – except we were grouped together in a hotel lobby.

A younger guy asked about friends and family.

“How do you know when to cut them out of your life?”

When do they become a bad influence?

Which ones are just looking out for you, when they say something you perceive as negative?

How do you tell the difference?

“That’s so easy,” I answered. “Sometimes, when I talk, people really should take notes. This is one of those times…”

Think about the things you need, to accomplish what you want. If it’s building a business, then you need a marketing plan. You might need product. A website. A storefront. Training. It goes on.

Or perhaps you want to get in better shape. Maybe you’ll need to change your diet, join a gym. That list can grow long as well.

Let’s call everything you could think of… stuff

There’s a big ol’ list of stuff you need to get, do, or have.

And then there’s you.

So, we have two different things here. The stuff and the you.

Now consider someone in your family, or a friend of yours. Someone who’s criticizing, and you wonder if they’re holding you back, being a bad influence, or just looking out for you.

Here’s an easy test to determine that:

Let’s say you’re trying to start a business. And the critic is a friend of yours. The next time you’re talking and the criticism comes up, shrug your shoulders and say something like this:

“Yeah, I know. What I’m attempting is a long shot. Maybe a bunch of the stuff I try won’t work. But I’m going to keep at it until I succeed.” Then, look that person right in the eye and ask: “You believe I’ll eventually succeed… right?”

That person’s answer… is the moment of truth

If the answer is “Yes!” or some equally enthusiastic variation, then you’ve got a keeper.

If the answer is some mutant concoction of other things, like a sideways glance, laughter, some eye-rolling (reading body language is important here), or a dithering “uhhhh” or shoulders shrugging… then you just got your answer.

Don’t wimp out when it comes to your judgement. If you observe anything other than a crystal-clear affirmative answer that you’re going to succeed, then your “friend” might as well be screaming a big, fat “NO” to your face.

If it is indeed a friend… end the friendship.

If it’s a family member… put distance in between yourselves.

If it’s a spouse… consider a divorce.


Because you just found out the root of that person’s skepticism

They’re not skeptical of your plans. That’s fine – healthy, even. YOU should be skeptical of your plans. And training. And ideas. Your stuff. If you have friends or family who can help you weed through stuff that’s not worthy of you, cherish them.

But if you find out the root of someone’s skepticism is you… then you have a deal-breaker. Because it means you’re taking part in a relationship with someone who expects you to fail. Period.

Remove that person from your life.

To quote from Charles Bukowski’s Roll The Dice (a fitting poem for this topic):

“Do it… Do it… Do it… Do it. All the way.”

As far as how to end things, I’m not the authority on that. I’ve always operated on an oddball wavelength, so unsupportive people drifting out of my life has been the norm. I will say that cutting off an abusive friend (if they don’t support you and they do make their lack of support well-known, they’re abusing your friendship) seems more a matter of letting things die down than dramatically cutting things off.

Or you could let the cognitive dissonance machine in your head roar full-blast on this issue. You could make excuses, recoil at such “extreme” measures… and keep your compadre crab positioned perfectly to drag you back into the bucket.

Maybe everything will work out. You’ll keep growing and changing as a person (essential for succeeding in business or transforming your health) and somehow your relationships with the same people will evolve perfectly.

You can keep rotting on barstools with friends, spending Visa or MasterCard’s money on drink tabs while gossiping about people who don’t give a shit about you

Or wasting away weekends on sofas with friends, sharing your latest pre-programmed reactions to the pictures and sounds emanating from your televisions…

… and still somehow land ass-first into riches, a great body, enlightenment, whatever. It could happen.

But based on my experience and observations, it’s rare. Most of the time, people who transform their lives surround themselves with other life-transformers. Or they change their associates, as they grow.

In fact, these kinds of people never really fit into traditional social circles in the first place. They don’t need this advice. So much so, that I hesitate to write any of this, because I wonder if it’s at all useful to a true entrepreneur.

Perhaps if you need this sort of advice… if this sort of thing is hard for you… it might be too late.

I don’t know – but I’m optimistic enough to publish this anyway

The night I had this vision, I imagined finishing my impromptu speech to the young man at the seminar… and even visualized myself having a “mic drop moment” where I nonchalantly drop my microphone to the floor as I walk away.

Right as the microphone hit the floor in my imaginary world… my apartment’s air conditioner, which had been running for about fifteen minutes, shut off. The exact moment.

“Ah, a good sign,” I thought. And I knew I’d write this one down.

Quitting – Origin Story Part 36

Published August 6, 2017 in Origin Story - 0 Comments

“We might have a position opening soon. But it’s only part-time, and it’s the graveyard shift.”

A little after 4PM, I stood at the end of an aisle in King Soopers. I’d just driven most of the way home after a workshift, and stopped by the grocery store just a block from my condo.

It turned out, a career switch to bagging groceries wasn’t the panacea I was hoping for. The best opportunity I could find was restocking the aisles at night. It paid $10 per hour, but was only a 30-hour-per-week gig, max. Not enough to cover my food and rent.

I even checked out a sign-holding job for a cell phone store. Again, only part-time, for $7 per hour.

Every spare minute I had after work, was spent either looking for jobs within my neighborhood, or on Craigslist. Then I stuffed my face with food for dinner, and crawled into bed while sunlight still glowed through my window blinds. All too soon, my alarm blared at 4AM. And I trudged through the daily routine again.

Until… one day… I finally got a reply

It was another position unloading trucks.

Taking the job meant an additional pay-cut. But at least I knew I could do the work.

Even better, the man on the phone sounded kind. The vibe felt right. But I still had to apply in-person… and make sure it was right for me. There was no way in hell I was going to make the same mistake again, of diving into something out of desperation.

So that Saturday, I drove to the massive warehouse in Aurora. As I filled out some paperwork in the lobby, I overheard someone say, “Hey, can I get another stack of applications printed?”

A cold wave of doubt washed through me

A stack? How many people were applying? Would I make it?

While my potential boss interviewed me in her office, I jumped up and mimed how we used to hurl mats into trucks three at a time. She cracked a smile, and showed me the warehouse floor so I could get a taste of the work.

As complicated as my previous truck-loading job was, this one was brain-dead simple.

Giant 53’ trailers lumbered to the edge of the warehouse. The workers unloaded all the boxes inside, and arranged them into stacks. Then, local transporters showed up, collected the stacks, and delivered them to local retail chains.

No memorizing endless racks of clothes…

No ducking and dodging through cavernous aisles of fabric…

No intricate sorting…

… just brutally hard work

And that’s exactly what my cortisol-soaked, half-mad brain craved. Something it could grasp. Pain was perfectly acceptable, if it was knowable pain.

I accepted the job. Then I was down to $10.50 an hour. Almost the same amount I made almost three years before, when I first began sign-spinning.

As soon as I gave notice at the laundry company, they got me off order-pulling. Supervising me was actually slower for the trainer than simply doing the whole job herself, without any help.

They stuck me with a more menial task: “Cleaning.” That was the company’s term for going through all the clothing racks in the entire warehouse, and making sure everything was properly ordered based on tags.

The good part was… I could do it

Even better, I could work alone and wear headphones again. I was back to days full of audiobooks, podcasts, and teleseminar recordings.

Best of all, my former trainer’s treatment of me completely transformed (to be clear, I’m referring to my order-pulling trainer… not the vindictive beast from the Cancels section).

Before, she became more and more frustrated when I fumbled and bumbled through trying to learn order-pulling. And, even though I could tell she was a respectful person, I observed her behavior change. She began avoiding eye contact, and rarely used my name. She switched from friendly in my presence to seething, even when I did something right.

But when I was relegated to “cleaning” clothes – and displayed a modicum of competence – her behavior reverted itself

Almost overnight. She became friendly again, looked me in the eye, and used my name. I took the lesson to heart, of the powerful connection between competence and social status. And even attraction.

One day, while I sorted, I noticed the order-pulling trainer taking a new hire through the ropes. But the next day, the newbie was gone. I asked where she was.

“She didn’t come back.”

Noticing my surprise, the trainer added, “Happens all the time.”

Huh. In all the misery I’d experienced over the past few years, the idea of simply walking out on a job, without a word, never occurred to me.

All too soon, the week was over

Friday was my last day, and I started the new job Saturday. No rest for the weary.

When Friday’s shift ended, I said goodbye only to the manager – the one I had alerted three times in one day about the mistreatment I had been receiving. Everyone else on that side of the warehouse, I was happy to never interact with again.

Before leaving, an idea came to me. I decided to do something special for my former co-workers on the load team, who I already missed. I smiled when I thought how much it would shock them, in a great way…

Venti Quadruple Mocha Frappawhatever – Origin Story Part 35

Published July 23, 2017 in Origin Story - 0 Comments

“Give me the most expensive, sugar-saturated, caffeine-stuffed jug of delicious garbage you have.”

Okay, I didn’t actually say that when I got to the head of the line at Starbucks, but that was my intention when I ordered the venti quadruple mocha frappawhatever.

I regularly take stock of my life, to see where I can optimize it

And during the time in my life when it felt like I was slogging waist-deep through a dark river of shit … when I felt trapped in the invisible current… I pushed forward with every* idea I had, to escape.

Saving money?


Giving away money?


Working on my business?


Taking on client jobs and investing the income back into my business?


Constantly educating myself?


Imagining the life I wanted to create?


Meditating multiple times per day?


Working as hard as I could during my day-jobs and learning as best I could from every experience?


Expressing gratitude for my situation?


Around the time I switched from loading trucks to sorting clothes for my job, I realized I was leaving something out:

Giving myself a taste of luxury so I could soak up the feeling and vibration in the present moment.

So I began doing that… literally

Before my weekend walk in the hills, I stopped by Starbucks to get the largest, most expensive coffee/sugar/chocolate combination available. Then I sipped on it, while driving west.

It was almost spiritual. Like dipping my toe in the water of an exciting, decadent, abundant life… and putting all my focus on that little toe.

I found the perfect groove. First the drink… then walking in the hills. Followed by a couple days of working on my business… and then back to four days of absolute misery.

Could I keep running this financial race?

I didn’t know.

To make the idiotic transfer in the first place, I took a pay cut to $11 per hour. Something had to give, and I was hell-bent on seeing what would break first.

My training for the order-pulling position began. And, it shocked me to realize… I really did have to memorize the locations of clothes hanging on rack after rack, on two different floors of the warehouse. Soon, I was sprinting from row to row, ducking and dodging metal fixtures, dragging along dozens of hangers full of clothes.

My new trainer was a very nice, patient woman. And for the first couple weeks, I vowed to master the new job. Sure, it felt impossible.

But, damnit, I could do it, get my numbers back up… and have a prayer of transferring back

The order-pulling shift usually ended a bit after the load team showed up for work. While staggering around the second floor of the warehouse, sorting through endless racks of clothes, I glanced over to see trucks backing into the bays. As the team began unloading them, I hung my head. How could I have been so stupid as to leave?

I missed that job.

Sometimes during my workshifts, I found a tiny, cracked-open window and squinted my eyes to see the mountain peaks in the distance, and felt the hot breeze from outside. Whenever I came nearby to hang up clothes, I grabbed a few moments to hover my face in the wind, and do my best to pause time.

One of the worst moments was when I spent an entire morning getting yelled at for my screw-ups, and then finally nabbed a chance to check my voicemail during break-time. Earlier, I’d seen someone call me. I wondered if it was a reply to a job application I’d filled out the day before.

As I listened to the angry growling, I realized it was a pissed-off customer of mine, fuming about something

Damn. So I began my lunch break by calling my customer-service team, so they could respond. It turned out fine… but I was still stuck. Why the heck wasn’t I getting any responses to my job applications?

One afternoon, after driving home and shuffling back to my condo, I grabbed my head into my hands and shook with fear and outrage.

“I can quit any time I want! I can quit and get a job bagging groceries tomorrow!” I screamed to an empty room.

A few days later, I’d test that hypothesis, and find out it was wrong


*In hindsight, I was leaving plenty more out. Perhaps my biggest mistake was a lack of networking. If I had made the simple effort to schmooze with fellow business owners, entrepreneurs, and self-employed folks in the Denver area via free meetup groups… well… it almost makes me shudder to think of how different my life would have been. I’m grateful for the amazing journey I went on. But it’s very reasonable to assume that, if I had done the networking thing at least once a week after beginning my sign-spinning job… I would have landed enough gigs to never work a day job again. This reminds me of something I’ve observed about the changes in our economy. There’s little doubt in my mind that the gap is growing between men and women who earn a hefty income, versus the clear majority enduring shrinking wages. I bet this gap will yawn wider over the years, and the old model of submitting resumes to companies will continue to die. This is getting replaced more and more by connections and referrals between people. If you want to profit from this shift, then build your network. How? You’re on the internet right now. Figure it out.