I’ve loaded up my Medi8er media player with enough torrents to entertain and educate me for years. I haven’t bothered with my Indovision Satellite TV in two months, and when I do glance at it to see if there are any new shows I’d like to download, I’m surprised that I spent so many years putting up with the commercial interruptions. And how did I ever watch TV without a pause and rewind function?
When I was a boy we had a black and white TV and would gather to watch I Dream of Genie reruns, Laugh In, Sonny and Cher, and the Osmonds. We pulled in 4 or 5 channels on our rabbit ears. By the time I was 12 we had a cable box wired to the color tv with instant push button channel changing between an amazing 35 channels. The family would squeeze into the sofa and I was usually given command over the box due to my uncanny knack to switch over to a new channel during commercial breaks, and then back again seconds before the show resumed.
With TV we had to tune in at a certain time to catch a viewing of a weekly installment. Now I can spend days watching nothing but one show. Alfred Hitchcock Presents still stands up today. Cheers and Frasier are worth a 2nd look. Drunk History is a blast. My documentaries folder has sub-folders such as History, Dinosaurs, Space, Travel, Science, BBC, Mind Control and Persuasion. The singularity is here; new information and programming is being produced faster than it can be assimilated.
Last week I watched the show Shameless, from the moment I woke up until I couldn’t keep my eyes open any more, for days on end. A lead character is a shameless alchoholic narcissist. William Macy is brilliant in the role of Frank Gallagher and somehow manages to make his unredeemable asshole character likeable.
Frank is a self absorbed dissipative shit who would gleefully incarcerate his own grandson to win a power struggle with his daughter. He had a blackout drunk episode that had him sobering up in Mexico 6 months later with no idea how he got there or what year it was. He has no remorse or empathy. And yet he has a sparkling talent and when he uses it becomes immersed in brilliant flow moments. When he’s in his flow moments you can almost see him glow.
Frank is a master manipulator. He is quick to size up anyone and figure out just what they want and just what angle to play, in order to get what he wants from them. He is a master orator with no morals, shamelessly willing to be a chameleon to the moment. One moment he’s collecting checks for public speaking to a crowd of gays about why he advocates cohabitation benefits for his own purported gay partnership, the next he’s collecting checks from a group that purports to cure gayness and speaking on their behalf. All the while he’s hetero.
The Frank character is most interesting not because of the entertaining wake of wreckage that follows his ever blazing narcissism, but because of how his one skill allows him to be so adaptable. Through the power of persuasion he is able to stumble from one moment to the next without ever having a job. And when people around him need his help, if it’s in his best interest to do so he is supremely confident that all he has to do is show up and off the cuff he’ll be able persuade whoever needs persuading. Because it’s true. His speech at the principles office defending his grandsons essay supporting Hitler is hilarious.
I started this essay with the intention to laud the value of learning the art of persuasion. My initial idea was to copy quotes from wallstreetplayboys.com . I fear bringing in the Frank character may have sidetracked the issue, especially as he’s such a dick. So I’ll highlight the point now that I point to his character as an example of highly developed persuasion skills. Above a certain level of competency, skill starts to look like magic. And it acts like magic. Persuasion can be a super-power.
Scott (Dilbert author) Adams is a trained hypnotherapist who has been blogging about Donald Trump in his Master Persuader series. His view is that humans are meat machines and that a few people are extraordinarily skilled at persuasion. In his view a person can rise to the presidency through the power of persuasion alone.
A man emailed me recently, inquiring about interning out here. I saw in his email a talent for writing. A talent that I doubt he recognized in himself. I’ve encouraged him to develop his potential by studying copy-writing, and starting in on a project. I’ll help to edit his work, and we’ll also hire a professional to edit our collaboration. It’s exciting for the both of us, and even though the initial project is one of my smaller ones, it will earn us both steady income for years to come.
Good copy-writing can be sold through freelancing to clients. As a skill it’s similar to the saxophone, in that if you have developed it you are free to wander anywhere on the planet and people will always pay to hear your muse.
The most lucrative way to earn from copywriting is of course to use it to sell your own products on your own website. That seems the ideal use of the talent, but I will explain why in practice this is rarely done. It’s simply not practical.
The main roadblock to building your own business is motivation. Very few people will have the life experience to be able to understand that. Building your own business requires a wide jack of all trades talent set, fierce and unstoppable determination, psychotic levels of self belief, and the ability to hunker down and focus on getting a job done when there are a thousand more interesting things to do. In theory and in our minds we can all do that; just as in theory and in our minds we are all better than average drivers.
But in practice not one in 1000 people will be self motivated enough to build his own successful business. But that’s just the initial roadblock. After that are the potholes, tire puncturing road stars, meandering dirt roads and dead ends. Entrepreneurialism by definition comes with no map. Not only do you have to motivate yourself to make your own path, you can’t know until you get there where you are going to get to.
There is a principle called the wisdom of crowds. If you fill a giant jar with jelly beans, the odds of anyone guessing the correct amount are stupidly slim. But if you average all the guesses from a huge crowd the number will be shockingly accurate.
When pioneers first explored the jungles of Africa, or migrated overland to the western US, they did so in expeditionary teams. It wasn’t just a matter of not being lonely. It wasn’t just a matter of a community allowing for specialists such as a cook, barber-doctor, or a wheelwright. It was also about motivation. A group effort has the momentum of a pillow, whereas a single persons effort has the momentum of a feather. When one person stumbles or loses his way, the crowd not only has specialists on hand to tend to the sprains and cuts, but has the resources and momentum to keep the guy safely moving along with the party. Individuals stumble, but a team does not.
It’s not easy to convey decades worth of entrepreneurial experience. I’ve started up more profitable businesses than I can easily remember, and forgotten many times more. The singular most potent distillation of all that experience is that everything takes 10 times more time than you originally think. Even outsourcing does not solve this problem, because managing people takes 10 times more time than you think.
Another thing that I’ve learned is that my attention is a limited resource. I can go through stints of months of long days of focused work, but that’s not sustainable. Those stints are invariably followed by periods of lower productivity. And even at my best there is only so much this one man can attend to in a day.
All this is explains of why our world is dominated by corporations. All governments I know of are run by the dominating power structure; corporations. Real power comes in the form of corporations.
Men can’t achieve greatness alone.
A copy-writer might think that owning 100% of his own profit from his own copy is his best possible outcome, but in the real world that is not how 99% of copywriters earn their income. And that’s not because 99% of them are stupid. It’s because men profit more in teams, and a small share of a larger profit is larger and more secure than big share of a smaller profit.
Most businesses require a sales and marketing division. I worked in one company where the engineers were all resentful of the commissions offered to the salesmen. They applied their rare IQ and education to inventing the damn product, yet the salesmen were earning many times their salary! Fairness didn’t enter into it; the salesman brought in the sale. From an accountants point of view, the salesmen created the money.
Marketing of course involves more than copy-writing. Not even the best time management skills will allow a single man to maximize marketing. A marketing team will include specialists in:
- managing banner ad and pay per click campaigns
- contacting blog and website owners to get the to write up product reviews
- researching and gathering sales leads
- cold calling prospects on the phone
- video production and editing
- managing print media ads
I have several current and new businesses for which I need more staff, and that will be the case until I die. I will always have new startup businesses, and new ideas waiting to be turned into businesses. Creative marketing will always be a core requirement for my businesses and lifestyle.
I’ve long had a general interest in persuasion. At 12 I studied and practised hypnosis. In high school my favorite activity was writing stories for creative writing assignments. In my early twenties I took a few poetry writing classes. I’ve been discussing and debating on forums since usenet. I was a travelling salesman for a decade. This blog has entries going back almost 13 years, and most posts focus on persuasion within relationships. During all that time of developing my persuasion skills, I rarely stopped to consider the art of persuasion directly. Kind of like a kid on the baseball field never stops to analyse the details of his throw; he just gets better through practice.
But now I’m discovering that the arts of persuasion have been scientifically studied. Robert Cialdini’s demonstrates his findings in highly entertaining videos. I plan to follow my advice to the new intern and study the art of advertising directly.
And the reason that I’m now finally ready to put in that effort to study instead of just learn by doing is because I will be collaborating. I’ll be borrowing from and contributing to the momentum of the group. I’m not just relying on my own motivation. That point can’t be overstressed. We work so much better in teams, that without teams most work would not even begin.
Here are some quotes from wallstreetplayboys:
Here is a list of 10 items that offer a tremendous payback:
1) Sales: We’ve beaten this one to death in a separate post but it needs to be mentioned again. Sales will be used every single day in your life so you better learn how to do it today.
3) Writing: While our entertainment writing is mediocre at best (just look at the blog!) you’re going to need solid writing skills for putting together contracts. At *minimum* everyone needs to understand the basics. In addition, you’re going to be forced to communicate with people (a lot!) assigning tasks via email etc.
Copywriting: In the case your main skill is writing and you have a solid understanding of sales… Learn to copywrite. If you become good enough… you can then charge a fee based on performance rather than an hourly rate. Even if your “dream” was playing in the NFL, you can go ancillary and sell NFL related items for a large margin. (notice you’re combining many of the 10 skills here)
I could mine their excellent blog for more pro-persuasion comments, but I think you get the idea. Persuasion is a skill that can be developed and has value in life and business that can’t be overestimated. Copy-writing is one form of persuasion that can offer large and lasting rewards.
I am building a tribe of men who will work together on business projects. There will be a marketing team, and within that a copy-writing team. We will study books privately and watch videos as a group. After watching instructional videos we’ll compare notes on how to apply the lessons to our copy writing assignments. We’ll write privately and in a group, and critique each others copy as private notes and orally as a group, similar to the structure of my old poetry writing classes. Learning writing as a team is much more effective than trying to learn it alone. And much more fun. The quality goes up faster and farther than possible working alone.
Most TV shows you see were scripted by teams, as portrayed in the Dick Van Dyke show and 30 Rock. Most books you read are a collaboration of a writer and an editor.
Since teams outperform individuals, teams out-compete individuals. The business world is dominated by men collaborating, because together we have more and better quality output. Not to mention that it’s more fun.
- Learn persuasion. For business you can specialize in copy-writing.
- To most effectively apply yourself, work in a team.