4017 – Why Is It So Hard To Sell Yourself?

You don't have to have Steve Jobs skills, but you gotta sell.

You don’t have to have Steve Jobs kinda skills, but you gotta sell.

Selling is hard. Selling yourself can be harder.

It helps when you’re a maniac on a mission like Steve Jobs was. Or like Mark Cuban is. And Jeff Bezos.

All the difficulties of selling can be boiled down to one thing, fear!

Most folks focus on the fear of rejection, but I’m not sure that’s it. Haven’t we all experienced enough rejection to know it won’t kill us? We’re not still teenage boys or girls. We’re adults and we’ve all been rejected many times.

No, it’s not fun being rejected. Yes, we can take it personally…even when it’s not personal. But does that really prevent us from selling? More specifically, from selling ourselves? Hum, wait a minute. If we’re trying to sell ourself and we’re rejected, it is personal. It’s very personal.

Okay. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe I’m way off base.

I got my first real sales job when I was about 16. Thinking back on it, I had no fear walking into a local stereo shop and asking them if they were hiring salespeople. They weren’t, but somehow – I’m too old to remember – I ended up in the back office with the owner of the company. He grilled me about various gear and I answered his questions because I was confident. He hired me and I had zero experience. It was my first attempt. Little did I know it would be the start of a long career in consumer electronics.

I’ve tried to dissect that first blind leap I took over 40 years ago to see what I can learn about my own selling hangups. There are key things that I think can help you (and I’m still working on improving myself, too).

  • I was so passionate about hi-fi gear that I studied it constantly. I knew more about hi-fi gear than any of my friends. It was an obsession.
  • That obsession fueled my confidence in my knowledge. I knew – or thought I knew – far more than I needed to in order to succeed selling. Turns out I was right.
  • Knowledge, confidence and a bit of naiveté helped me get my first job. Hum, maybe that’s a formula for success?
  • My desire was strong enough to compel me to want to get a hi-fi sales job so I could stop just reading about all this cool gear. I wanted to be around it and get hands on experience.
  • I didn’t think about what I had to lose because I was so young I didn’t have much to lose, other than my pride. Maybe it wasn’t that I had nothing to lose, but that I didn’t think about it. I was too focused on what I wanted to care about anything else.
  • I knew what I wanted and went after it.

I’m not an extrovert. At least not in the sense most of us mean it. I’m not a wallflower, but I don’t much care for crowds. Nobody ever called me, Mr. Party.

You may be so outgoing you make me look like a hermit. That’s okay. The point is, successful selling isn’t the exclusive domain of extroverts and it’s not off limits to introverts.

Selling is persuading. That conjures up some nasty things for some people. Manipulation. Talking somebody into something. Coercing. Pitching.

No wonder when you think of all the bad language used by salespeople, sales trainers and sales consultants.

  • Pitch
  • Upsell
  • An “Up”
  • Close

The verbs and nouns are impersonal. Reminiscent of the verbiage used by the con men of the 1940′s. No wonder so many people hate it. They think it’s something it’s not. Well, they think it’s something it shouldn’t be. Unfortunately, the world is filled with self-important, pompous salespeople who find success by manipulation and coercion. That doesn’t mean it’s how most successful selling happens because when you stop and think of all the selling that is happening around the world right now…you know that most of it is being between people who like each other, who are benefiting each other and who are finding value in doing business together. It’s not all as adversarial as some may think.

How does that impact your fear factor? Does it affect it at all? It should.

There’s another reason for the fear. Lack of preparation. Ask even a seasoned sales professional to deliver a 20 second elevator pitch and he’ll likely stumble. I guarantee he won’t end the “pitch” on time. It’s not because he’s an idiot. He just hasn’t prepared in advance. Successful selling requires pre-thinking and lots of preparation.

Two things cause this: laziness and ignorance. We can just be too lazy to put in the work. And we just don’t know what to do. We’re not stupid. We just don’t know what we need to know. Couple these two things together and too often we try to wing it. If winging it works, great. But if it doesn’t work, we’re stumped. Plus, winging it doesn’t increase our confidence. It erodes it. So our fear grows. We find it easier to do nothing. And easier isn’t profitable.

Facing Our Fear – The Only Path To Success

So what can we do about our own resistance to selling…especially when it comes to selling ourselves, our ideas, our products and our services?

1. Have something valuable to sell.

Con men don’t worry about this step. They’re driven solely by getting somebody’s money as quickly and easily as possible. In their world, they must gain at the expense of their “marks.” They can’t provide because they have nothing to offer other than dreams and illusions.

You have to be different. You have to provide something people find valuable. Sure, it’s great when people instantly see the value and beg you to buy, but that’s not often the case. Even Steve Jobs had to do incredible amounts of education. He spent lots of time planning, strategizing, engineering and working to prepare.

Too many people rely on having a great idea when great execution of an average idea would be better. Get the value of your offer up. Don’t confuse value with pricing. You may have higher value if you can lower your price. Just work at lowering your cost so the numbers work to help you create a sustainable (profitable) business. However, it could mean you raise your prices because the market will bear higher prices and it will improve the appeal of your offering to a higher end crowd. Whatever strategy you employ, just make sure you’re busy adding value that can be easily perceived by your target market.

2. Have a specific target market.

Everybody isn’t a market. Who have you created this offer for? Who would be most excited to hear about your offer?

Be as detailed as possible. Spend the time to really figure this out. Be realistic. Don’t delude yourself about who will be most attracted to your offer. Argue with your own logic. Triage your target market notions and ideas vigorously. Be tough on your strategy. This is time well spent.

I’d also encourage you to think about who you want to serve. This may not be an important step for everybody. Some people are in a family business that goes back many generations. Others are in an enterprise because the return on investment is attractive. However, there’s a subset of business owners or entrepreneurs who are heavily guided by serving a specific crowd or a particular kind of person. Weigh that into your strategy.

3. Now, it’s time to ruthlessly pursue buyers.

You owe it to them. If you did a great job at step #1 then you’re robbing people of the opportunity to have something valuable. Do NOT assume that your value is so high people ought to find you or seek you out. It’s your job to get the word out. It’s your job to find people in your target market and to present them (with education, with information, with answers to their questions or whatever else it takes) so they’ll buy. Or not.

You’ve gotta push. That doesn’t mean you’re pushy. It means you’re relentless and undeterred. Don’t get distracted at this step. Fact is, you can’t afford to get distracted at any of these steps. You just have to do them!

Don’t sweat it if you mess up. Just let one thing embarrass you – DOING NOTHING. Be embarrassed if you let fear stop you. Be embarrassed if you let laziness hang you up. Otherwise, don’t let anything embarrass you.

Don’t overthink it. We can all be prone to overthinking it. We think people are thinking about us more than they really are. They’re not thinking about us. They’ve got their own work and their own problems. They’ll think of us if we give them something highly valuable. That’s good. If we fail, they’ll forget us faster than yesterday’s news. That’s also good. One way, you make a sale. The other, you get to move on and find somebody more suitable.

No harm, no foul…as long as you’re taking action. That means, as long as you’re selling then you’re heading toward success. If you stall or delay, you’re failing. If you stop, you’re dead.

Yes, selling is a business life or death proposition. You have to find a way to do it successfully. It’s the only way you’re going to get customers. Without customers, you’ve got no business.

Bottom Line – Which One Is Harder? Surviving Or Dying?

Well, when you put it that way…

I wish it were all that easy, but it’s not. You know it’s not. It’s like the person who has an unhealthy lifestyle. Their doctor tells them, “You’ve got to change or you’re going to die.” Some die because they just refuse to change.

Some businesses die or never get started because people refuse to sell. Don’t let it be your enterprise that dies.



4016 – Stop Salting Your Own Mine With Fool’s Gold


LTW4013Fool’s Gold, a brassy yellow mineral, especially pyrite, that can be mistaken for gold. It’s about as valuable as that empty gold pan in the picture. The difference is, you know that empty pan is worthless. An empty gold pan doesn’t fool anybody, but a pan with some fool’s gold…well, it’ll fool the fool every time.

Salting is a con job where people insert valuable evidence where there isn’t any. In gold mining, it can happen by putting a bit of gold into a drilling sample, making investors think there’s gold in it.

Bre-X was one of the more recently infamous cases of “salting.” This Canadian company was once a penny stock, until they announced they had discovered big amounts of gold in their Borneo drilling. The stock split and reached a peak of $286.50 CAD with a market cap over $6B CAD. About a year later, in 1997, they went bellyup when it was discovered the gold samples were fraudulent. Bre-X conned lots of people out of millions of dollars. As with most cons, people wanted to believe they’d get rich by investing in Bre-X. It’s the same reason people buy lottery tickets. We all enjoy dreaming of being rich, or richer!

We see what we want to see. Con men have long relied on our own human nature to betray us. We want to believe the deal is too good to be true. But we want to believe it will be true for us because we’re special. Our dreams can often lead us astray. Sometimes we salt our own gold mine.

From the Powerball lottery drawings to the Publisher’s Clearinghouse Sweepstakes to the case studies of your favorite IM (Internet marketing) guru, we could care less about what the FTC calls “typical results.” It’s the outliers that drive our brains crazy.

If I can do it, anybody can do it.”

It just might be the most used sentence in all of guru-ism selling. Whether we’re talking about building websites using WordPress (the platform this site uses), or using YouTube to drive business, or using guest blogging to build traffic, or opening our own dining room table affiliate marketing business…the person selling us the know-how will tell us, “If I can do it, anybody can it.”

It’s a lie. Not just anybody can do it. Fact is, most people aren’t doing it. Most who are trying are failing.

Who is to blame? Well, the people who are failing, of course. Had they followed the instructions meticulously, and had they done exactly what the teacher said, in the exact way the teacher prescribed – and worked harder – then they certainly would have had some success. It’s the out used by every unscrupulous marketer to explain why their customers didn’t achieve the success they expected.

Depending on who you ask, you’ll get a variety of answers to the question, “How many people out of 10 really do the work?” That is, for every online course that’s offered to teach us how to make money online, or how to perform better SEO (search engine optimization), or how to shoot better video, or anything else…how many students out of 10 actually use the instruction by doing anything (and sticking with it long enough to make a go of it)?

It’s always a very low number. I’ve heard 1 out of 10. I’ve heard 3 out of ten (about the highest I’ve heard). I’ve heard 0 out of 10. Naturally, it depends on the subject matter, the instruction, the instructor, the target market, the price point and a host of other variables. For example, I know of some technical training online that has a very high rate of students who actually incorporate the training into their lives and do the work. But I also know of many others where the course creator will admit, “Nobody ever follows through.”

Is the course creator at fault? Not necessarily.

Does it mean the course creator is a con artist? No, of course not.

Does it mean the course creator is doing everything they can to help the students take action? No, it doesn’t mean that either.

All of that proves the point. There are almost always so many moving parts that it’s impossible to make hard and fast statements. But we like hard and fast. We love absolutes. Even though absolutes are often wrong.

  • Are you a podcaster? NEVER record your podcast into a computer using audio recording software. ALWAYS record into a free-standing digital audio recorder.
  • ALWAYS use WordPress to create your website or blog. NEVER use anything else.
  • ALWAYS leave the comments on your blog open. NEVER close them.
  • ALWAYS collect email addresses on your website.
  • Content is ALWAYS King.
  • NEVER cold call.

I could list tons more, but you get the idea. You’re likely thinking of a few that I missed, too. Because we hear them every single day. And as we hear them repeated over and over, by a variety of sources, we tend to believe them to be true.

What if they’re not true?”

Fool’s gold lures us because we so desperately want to believe it’s real gold. And because we don’t know the difference. Sometimes we salt our own mine because of what Zig Ziglar called “stinking thinking” and because we want fast and easy.

Unscrupulous marketers bank on a few fundamental facts of human nature:

  1. Most people are greedy. Well, most of us are greedy enough that we’d love some easy money.
  2. Most people are lazy. Well, most of us are lazy enough that we’ll take the easy way over the more difficult if given a choice.
  3. Most people accept the face value of a thing. Well, most of us just don’t know enough to know what’s real and what isn’t so we may tend to think a thing is real, or true.
  4. Most people will swallow #3 if the person telling us seems credible and likable. Or, if he comes across like an expert. Or appears extraordinarily successful.
  5. Most people want to be something they’re not. Most of us have no trouble dreaming of being something bigger, more popular, famous and wealthier.
  6. Most people feel they deserve to have it better.

It’s not an exhaustive list, but it’s comprehensive enough to give us an idea of the psychology of the sale, or the con – as the case may be. We’re all suspectible to a con. Maybe not the same con, but we can all be duped. Few people can deceive us as well as we can deceive ourselves.

The Deadly Anecdotal Evidence Lures Us To Think There’s Gold Where There Is No Gold

Salting a gold mine works because people are looking for gold. They want to see gold. They want to believe they can get gold. Just watch a few episodes of The Discovery Channel’s TV series, Gold Rush, and you’ll quickly see that the key to gold mining is to get good pay dirt. It takes just as much work to mine dirt with no gold as it does to mine dirt that’s rich with gold. The quality of the pay dirt determines the success. The more money per yard yielded by the dirt, the more money the miner is going to make. It’s basic math.

There are two things we have to think about, when we think about success in gold mining — and they’re worth thinking about as we chase Internet gold.

1.  You must have gold rich pay dirt. You must know where the gold is.

Work around the clock, be the hardest working miner in the area and based on solid experience think, “This dirt looks really good.” If there’s no gold in the dirt, your work is in vain. You’ll fail in spite of working hard. Tony Beets, one of the more interesting characters in the Gold Rush TV series, never mines an area without first doing test drillings to make sure there’s gold in the ground. Here’s what his bio says from the Discovery website:

…he believes the key to his massive success is that he has drilled every inch of his property so he knows where the gold is.”

2. You have to get the gold out of the ground.

I’ve heard somebody on Gold Rush say, “We’re all millionaires. Now we just have to get our money out of the ground.” Well, it sounds good. Unfortunately, most of these guys struggle with adversity and finances. To get the gold out of the ground, assuming it’s there to begin with, requires tons of equipment, lots of fuel, thousands of man hours, countless equipment repairs and a bit of good fortune when it comes to things like weather! And that’s assuming the dirt has good gold in it.

Just consider some of the most lucrative (and competitive) spaces around.

Diet. Weight loss.

Book after book. Program after program. Infomercials galore. Why? Because the market is enormous. According to a 2013 report by Marketdata Enterprises, Inc., a market research outfit, 2012 revenues in the space were $61.6 BILLION. They estimated there were 108 million dieters in America, 82% of whom were going to try to lose weight on their own. It’s a gold rush space filled with all sorts of characters. It’s lucrative if you can find some success. That’s why so many people are in the space. If you could somehow manage to snag 1% of the market, you’d have $616,000. That’s the magic of a huge market. The downside is that it’s overcrowded so earning just a smidgen of market share is very difficult.

Making money online. IM (Internet marketing).

The low barrier of entry, coupled with stories of wild success, draw tons of people into the space. The message is intriguing. Make money at home doing what you love. Follow your passion and the money will follow.

Depending on which source you want to cite, and depending on how you’d like to define “Internet marketing” the numbers are equal to or greater than the weight loss industry. $62 BILLION is a number you may see. You might find lower numbers…or higher ones. It’s really hard to quantify. When I say IM, I mean the business opportunity (biz opp) or “make money” space. Others include digital marketing when you say, “Internet marketing,” which is a very different animal. But anyway you want to look at it, it’s a very big market.

Both markets have lots of interest because they fuel two of our top desires: a) to lose weight and b) to make money.

Both industries have come under scrutiny of the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) because they advertise using case studies and testimonials. Today, it’s more highly regulated or enforced that it was 5 to 10 years ago. Even so, marketers are always among the most clever people on the planet. And it’s not marketing’s fault that some people use unethical practices, but the fact is – unethical practices work extremely well. We want to be believers because millions of us desperately want to lose weight and make money. Make it sound easy and we’ll whip out our credit card faster than you can say, “Push button easy.” A convincing lie can be difficult to resist, even if it’s our own lie to ourself.

Enter anecdotal evidence.

Today, marketers will disclose (some more openly than others) that the results aren’t typical, but in the same breath they’ll tell us a compelling story of one person who achieved wild success. If they have thousands of customers, they’ll give us quite a few stories because they only need a few to convert us into believers.

We love outliers and we especially enjoy thinking that they might apply to US. We don’t consider them outliers. We don’t think of them as being atypical. No matter how often the marketer tells us (or puts text on a screen, or a website), “Results are not typical” we want to believe WE can achieve those results.

Two Honest Examples

I’ve been podcasting for a long time and I enjoy many fellow podcasters. I’m geeky enough that I enjoy the guys who podcast about podcasting. This year the podcasting space has experienced a big leap in the number of participants. I think it’s great because with more people doing it, it’s more likely that some great content is going to be released. Truth is, most podcasts suck. You may think this podcast sucks. And that’s okay. It’s just how things are…and how they should be. We’re all free to decide for ourselves what we enjoy, what we think is good and what we want to listen to.

In the world of podcasting – more appropriately, in the world of podcasters who want to make money podcasting (in some form or fashion) – there are two big outliers, Pat Flynn (SmartPassiveIncome.com) and John Lee Dumas (EOFire.com).

Pat Flynn is an affiliate marketer who began his online career after being laid off from working in architecture. I first heard about him on the Internet Business Mastery podcast in 2009. He was a student of Jason and Jeremy. Occasionally, they’d interview some of the members of their academy (an online school that teaches Internet marketing). I’ve been a listener of their podcast since day 1. I’m not a member of their academy, but they were among the first duo to do a podcast about Internet marketing. They may have launched the first IM podcast for all I know. I still listen to them.

Pat was studying to take the LEED exam (green technology in construction kinda stuff). He decided to put his notes up on the web so he could access them anywhere he was, making study even easier. His notes resided on a free website that his ISP (Internet service provider) gave him. The url was long, ugly and not easy to find, but it didn’t matter ’cause Pat was just doing it for his own benefit. Thanks to some search engine magic, others began to find his notes and communicate with him. Seeing an opportunity after losing his day job, Pat decided to sell his LEED exam training online and quickly found himself earning $8K monthly. He’d likely be the first to tell you that serendipity played a big role in his success, but to be fair – he had to see the opportunity and work the pay dirt very hard. He earned success.

But the world is full of people who see an opportunity (and some who think they see one), and who work very hard. There’s just no gold in the dirt they’re working. Or they just don’t get the timely break that might propel them forward.

Along the way, Pat decided to pull back the curtains and be more transparent than most marketers were willing to be. He began to release a monthly income report where he itemized his income and expenses. The Internet world gobbled it up. His business really took off because he attracted hordes of people who wanted to learn what he was willing to teach.

Pat is NOT salting the mine. He is, however, through no fault of his own, serving as an outlier where people can salt their own mine. Maybe better said, they can salt their own mind when they see Pat’s success. Pat is sharing his insights, strategies and income. People are making their own assumptions because in his own modest way, Pat sincerely believes that if he can do it, “so can you.” That’s where he’s wrong. Everybody who says that is wrong, even though I think most of them believe it. Some don’t, but I like to think most do. Deep down Pat knows his success is far from typical. He’s being polite because that’s who he is.

Some years ago I began to focus a few people I was coaching on supplemental income. An extra $200 to $500 a month would make a meaningful difference for them. It would make a difference for most of us. Even though I’m a quantum leap guy (who wants to have a rally cry, “Come on, let’s work like crazy for a few extra bucks?” | No, we want BIG BUCKS), there’s no denying that enough money to cover an average car payment would altar the lives of millions of people. Increasingly I’m seeing people – even Pat – give more time to encouraging people to make a few extra bucks, not a monthly 6 figure income.

John Lee Dumas has a bit of a different story, but he decided to follow Pat’s strategy of publishing a monthly income report. John, an avid podcast listener, decided to start a daily podcast focused on interviewing entrepreneurs. The shows are about 30 minutes long and every show follows an identical interview process (every guest is asked the exact same questions). He records the shows every Monday, then schedules them to release throughout the week. He solved a problem he had. He wanted to listen to a podcast every day. People told him he was nuts. They gave him plenty of reasons why it would never work. He didn’t listen.

John built a significant audience, which afforded him advertiser/sponsor opportunities that grew to over $30,000 monthly. Strategically, once he had built a substantial following he launched some of his own products/services. Most notable of those is Podcaster’s Paradise, a high end one-time purchase that includes podcast training and an exclusive community (no, I am not a member or an affiliate and I’ve not seen the inside except through watching one of John’s webinars about it). Currently, the majority of John’s 6-figure monthly income is derived from that offering. And he’s got other offers in the works because he knows he has to remain relevant if he’s going to make his business sustainable.

Again, John’s success, through no fault of his own, serves to spark others to think, “I can do that, too.” He’s an outlier. Most podcasters earn no money. Some earn a bit of affiliate income. Among the podcasters who do make money, they earn money because the podcast attracts clients to products or services they sell. You could say Pat and John both do that, but it’s true that both men are earning serious money as a result of their podcasts. And you know what that means?

It means other podcasters are attracted to their stories. Logically, we may realize they have achieved extraordinary success that is anything but typical. Even so, because of their success it’s easy to spot other people attempting to replicate their work. No, it’s not likely to work, but it’s what we do. We see success and like little kids…we copy cat. Just go to Apple iTunes and you’ll spot countless daily podcasts interviewing entrepreneurs. They’re doing it because John Lee Dumas did it and gained wild success. John was the first to do it and gain a very large audience. I predict he’ll remain in the top spot for that podcast format unless somebody else comes along who can do it uniquely better. Could it happen? Sure. But I don’t think it’s likely. No matter, people will continue to try because they see John’s success. Fool’s gold.

It’s anecdotal evidence and we gobble it up. We don’t care how many people failed. We just care about the 1 (maybe a few more) who achieved wild success! Don’t show us the people who made a little bit of money and are working hard to build something relevant and sustainable. Show us the person who made $1M in the first year. Show us the person who went from zero to 100,000 Twitter followers in 6 months.

It’s the lottery playing mentality. Or the sweepstakes dreamer. Who can’t imagine becoming filthy, stinking rich overnight? What if your door bell rang…right now. And you answered the door to a major sweepstakes where your prize was $1M a year for life? Can you imagine? Sure you can. We all can. It’s the power of the human brain to be able to project ourselves into a situation that isn’t real. Maybe it’s not real yet. Maybe it’ll never be real. Still, we can play as many “what if” games as we want because our brains give us that ability.

Which is why anecdotal evidence, fool’s gold and stories of outliers is so effective. Even if it’s unintentional, or used with subtlety. It’s even more effective when unscrupulous marketers knowingly incorporate it into their strategy (and quite a few do).

So, what’s a person to do?

  • Guard your heart. Don’t let your emotions overrun your sensibilities.
  • Stop the hero worship. People with money or financial success aren’t inherently better than you (or anybody else). In some cases they may even be insufferable scoundrels.
  • Look for stories of failure. This is why I’m such a fan of Andrew Warner’s work at Mixergy. During his interviews he wants to hear about the failures. Those often provide more insights than hearing about the success.
  • Realize what you know to be true – just because they did it does not mean you (or anybody else) can. We’re all different. Our talents, skills, connections, backgrounds and circumstances are uniquely our own. So are our opportunities and work habits. Every realistic successful person I’ve ever known willingly admitted that serendipity propelled them toward success, often arriving just in the nick of time.
  • Average is average because that’s where most of us live. The success we aspire to isn’t average. We want wild success. Stop comparing yourself to others. Your best is your standard. That doesn’t mean you can’t learn from the stories of others, but it does mean the specifics may not apply. Learn the bigger lessons like being opportunistic instead of pessimistic.
  • The road to Success always goes through the city of Failure. For some the city of Failure is small. For others, it’s as large as Dallas/Ft. Worth (which covers 12 counties and 9,286 square miles). Failure can be a short-lived illness like a 24-hour bug or it can be a long-term illness where we feel like we’ll never get out of the hospital. It is what it is. Our job is to endure it and overcome it if we can. Success goes to the tenacious, persistent fighter who refuses to give up on figuring it out.
  • Restrict your info diet. Who do you follow? Why? Carefully examine the content you allow into your brain and into your daily habits. Does it fuel your daydreaming or does it compel you to take action? Ditch the stuff that just panders to wishful thinking. That’s where the hoards are. You have to breakaway from them because as long as you’re with the majority, you’re average. Focus on remarkable. Focus on people and content that will encourage you to do something!
  • Money isn’t the only measurement for success. In some cases, it’s not money at all. For the person who wants to successfully get fit and healthy, money isn’t part of the equation. For the father who wants to become world-class at being a good dad, no amount of money will make that happen. Find more meaningful ways to measure success. Carefully think about success and create your own definitions. Be true to who you really are, or who you really want to become. There’s nothing wrong with getting input from the people closest to you.
  • Refuse to lose. Everybody gets knocked down. No harm, no foul – unless you refuse to get back up! Always get back up. Be ruthless and determined in figuring out your own success. It’s your dream so it’s up to you to make it come true. Don’t relinquish responsibility to anything else or anybody else.
  • Live a life without excuse. Fix things. Figure things out. Change things. Take action, then keep taking action until you start gaining momentum. Do more of what works. Do less of what doesn’t.

Stop looking at fool’s gold. The possessive noun is the fool. That’s you and that’s me when we deceive ourselves into thinking we can avoid figuring out our own success. Spend your time staring at the fool’s gold or spend your time taking action to work out your own success. It’s your time. You can spend it any way you choose.


4015 – He Survived Over 7 Years Of Torture In A Prison Camp, But One Rejection Can Derail Us


Using morse code, he blinked, “TORTURE.”

Jeremiah Denton died this morning. He was 89. You never heard of him? I’m sorry to admit it, but neither had I. Today I’ve been reading about him in the news.

During the Viet Nam war, Denton, a US Navy flyer, was shot down in July 1965 can captured by the North Vietnamese. For 7.5 years he suffered as a POW under horrible conditions, including the famed “Hanoi Hilton.” In his book, When Hell Was In Session, he wrote…

In the early morning hours, I prayed that I could keep my sanity until they released me. I couldn’t even give in to their demands, because there were none. It was pure revenge.”

Denton suffered torture. During an interview in 1966 that his captors shot, he blinked the word T-O-R-T-U-R-E using morse code. The North Vietnamese were unaware, but the United States got the message loud and clear.

For 4 years he endured solitary confinement. As if being in a windowless, nasty, filthy cell wasn’t enough.

When the war ended he was released in February 1973. I’m now interested in reading his book because I have no idea how he endured this experience. I realize there were many other POW’s who made it out of Viet Nam alive. I also know there were countless who never made it home. In fact, for many years after the war ended there was speculation that many POW’s were still being held illegally by the North Vietnamese. We may never know for certain.

I was just getting my driver’s license when Denton was released. I have vivid memories of the network news devoting almost all the newscast to the war. Walter Cronkite was far and away the most trusted news anchor in America during this time. Dan Rather and other notable journalists were in the field, providing us with daily reports.

And there were body counts. Those dreaded body counts. We were told how many Americans had died versus how many North Vietnamese had been killed. It was a gruesome, depressing time.

I was always fascinated by the Viet Nam war. I watched documentaries on it. Read books about it. It was the first unconventional war in that, the enemy didn’t always wear an identifiable uniform. So much to take in, but that’s not the point today. No, today the point is resilience. The point is determination. And hope. Survival.

How does a person under such duress press on day after day without losing hope? How did Jeremiah Denton and other POW’s survive the beatings and torture for such a long time? Did they use psychological tricks the rest of us don’t know? Were they endowed with some super-duper mental toughness that only a few of us possess?

For decades I’ve been fascinated about these things. It’s a bit like the pain level difference in people. Some can withstand tremendous pain and not think it’s that bad. Others can get a hang nail and whine as though they’re on the brink of death. What gives?

Mr. Denton’s story of survival brings to the forefront – just one more time – the power of enduring and grinding it out. Since I’m a business guy, one of my first thoughts when I read of his death, was how sometimes in our business pursuits we let the smallest obstacle foil our success. The minute we run into our first, “No!” we pack up our bags and quit, thinking that nobody is ever going to buy this.

Okay, we don’t all do that because if we did nobody would succeed. Clearly, the successful among us aren’t so easily defeated. But you know the successful are far fewer than those who fail. Does the 80/20 rule apply? Probably.

I could easily believe that only 20% of the people who set out to make a go of some business enterprise succeed…while 80% fail.”

I’ll go you one better. I’d venture to guess it’s more like 90/10. Who knows? Who cares? Here’s the deal – one man endures 7.5 years of torture in a North Vietnamese prison camp while another guy makes a cold call resulting in, “No, I’m not interested” and quits. He can’t take it. Not one more time. Not another call.


Yep, really.

Or maybe a guy knows what his next step might be toward success, but he’s stuck. Literally. He can’t move. He’s paralyzed. Unable to take that action, whatever it might be.

What’s he afraid of? What if the worst-case scenario happened? Would it be .0001% as bad as being in a POW camp? NO. NO COMPARISON.

Are we too soft?

Yes. We absolutely are.

I’m not talking about enjoying rejection, or pain. I’m not talking about being a masochist (a person who enjoys suffering and pain). Some of those freaks are out there, but I don’t think that describes most of us. I hope not any way.

No, I’m talking about our sheer tolerance for a little bit of pain and suffering. Let me put it in context for you. I’m talking about the pain and suffering required to IMPROVE our condition. I’m not talking about enduring it simply because we want to live long enough hopeful we’ll regain our freedom. I’m talking about business people, salespeople, leaders or anybody else who is enduring the pain of failure as they try to find success! These people are aiming for success, not merely survival. They’re striving to earn more, serve more, do better – and a host of other worthwhile goals.

Failure isn’t fun. But if we let the smallest hurdle stumble us, then doesn’t it appear we’re more committed to failure than success. Ah, now we’re onto something I think.

Sometimes we’re too committed to failure, even though that failure generates more pain and suffering. Okay, we need Freud or some other brainiac to enlighten us I guess. Or, we can look at the obvious, think about our fears, and our suffering – and decide we want something else. That’s right, we can DECIDE to do something else.



4014 – Surviving Being Jerked Through A Knot Hole Backwards (This Is Why Sickness Can Consume Our Lives)

I'm Trying To Survive Being Jerked Through A Knot Hole Backwards

I’m Trying To Survive Being Jerked Through A Knot Hole Backwards

It was Tuesday evening, February 25th, around 9pm. The phone rang here inside The Yellow Studio. A friend from Missouri was calling. As I answered the phone with my right hand, holding the phone to my right ear, I thought, “I should put my headset on.” But I didn’t.

The phone call ended 30 minutes later. And the aching in my right shoulder began.

By midnight, I was writhing in pain. I couldn’t imagine what I had done. No fall. No big activity. Just answering the phone and holding it up to my right ear. How in the world does THAT result in such pain?

Convinced my shoulder was out of joint I managed to search the web for how to pop your own shoulder back into place. I found these instructions.

I crouch down on the floor, put my knees to my chest and in agonizing pain I clasp my hands together in an effort to put my shoulder back in place. Nothing. Just the ongoing intense pain that persisted through the night.

By 5am Wednesday, February 26th, Rhonda convinced me to let her take me to the emergency room. By now, I had been in the knot hole – backwards – for about 7 hours or so. Thus began my 3-week ordeal (well, it’ll be 3 weeks tomorrow night).

Today’s episode chronicles the entire ordeal. It also explains my “radio” silence in the past few weeks. I’ll also alert you to the ways I was able to make the 7 steps outlined in episode 4013 work. Or not.

Here’s the time line:

Tuesday – February 25 – 9pm: took a 30 minute phone call
Tuesday – February 25 – midnight: right shoulder pain is so severe I can hardly stand it
Wednesday – February 26 – 5am: Rhonda takes me to the ER (a 5 hour ordeal)
Friday – February 28 – 11am: 1st appointment with orthopedic specialist (gave me oral steroids)
Tuesday – March 4 – 11am: 2nd appointment with orthopedic specialist (shoulder injection)
Tuesday – March 11 – 9:45am: 3rd appointment with orthopedic specialist (wanted me to visit my regular doctor for whatever infection I was battling)
Tuesday – March 11 – noon: appointment with family doctor who put me on a 10 day anti-biotic regime (along with medicine for congestion)

I managed to record today’s episode on the one afternoon that I felt decent, but things took a turn for the worse that evening. Today, Monday, March 17th, and I’m finally beginning to feel somewhat better. This, after throwing up yesterday morning and spending all day in bed trying to not move lest I bring on more nausea!

It’s about contribution versus consumption. 

Thanks for listening.


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