There is no such thing as competition.
That’s the short version of this blog post.
The long version… Starts about 15 months ago…
For the past almost year and a half I’ve been secretly taking a “survey” of all 1200+ clients that have come through my copywriting services business. I was looking at things like:
- Do they understand Ed Meyer’s 40/40/20 rule?
- Can they build a USP for their product/service? (More importantly: do they even understand the difference?)
- How tightly do they hold to the false belief that you can make money without spending money?
- How hard do they grind? (Perhaps the most important “metric” in determining success)
I wanted to try and find the answer to this question:
“How competitive is entrepreneurship today?”
The results from this “survey” have been both exhilarating and depressing.
I’m happy to report that if you have the cojones to assume entrepreneurial risk and are willing to read a few books about “how to market your product or services” there has never been a better time in history to make your entrepreneurship dreams come true.
The number of people who know how to develop products that sell… Tiny.
The number of people who understand that selling is 99% of the game… Perhaps a handful.
The number of people who desperately desire to invest more money in their business instead of in useless consumer goods… Perhaps two or three.
But most importantly…
The number of people who are willing to “grind” for success… Nearly Zero.
Your “competition” doesn’t actually exists but in a handful of people who are too busy getting all the money to even take notice of you.
In the world of People-Willing-To-Work there is nearly zero competition.
Figure out how to “grind” and you’ll not only win the Internets… but you’ll win all the money too.
The bad news is that you are biologically unlikely to take advantage of this massive opportunity.
But it’s not your fault…
Your brain is wired that way to make entrepreneurship one of the hardest things you can possibly do.
Your Brain Is Kind Of A Jerk (And Making It Nearly Impossible For You To Get What You Actually Want)
It believes two profoundly false things:
- That your desires (wants, likes, interests) are more important than the desires of others.
- That your primary pursuit in life should be the pursuit of pleasure.
Don’t believe me?
Take a look at these phrases:
- “Follow your passion…”
- “Live the life of your dreams…”
- “Make more money, with less work, while achieving better balance in your life…”
If you believe any of them it’s because your brain is stuck on the two fundamentally flawed thought patterns described above. Your brain believes in something that isn’t real.
As a copywriter, I have manipulated that part of the human brain to sell “self-help” products to literally thousands and thousands of people for my clients. It’s the same as selling “magic weight loss supplements” to people who are overweight because they don’t eat right, they don’t exercise, and they don’t take care of themselves.
Anytime you hear any of those phrases, realize that you are being sold to. It’s a con of the highest degree because it doesn’t exist.
Just Look How Deep The Rabbit Hole Goes
A few weeks ago I published this post:
The short version of that post is: I wrote a hell of a lot. I used my marketing knowledge to sell, sell, sell. I rinsed… Then I repeated it over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over again.
No magic. Just hard, hard work.
And yet, even my own close friends still believe that:
Success = Magic
Or more accurately…
Success MUST = Magic (because I haven’t got any…)
Consider the following:
James Patterson, one of the best-selling authors of all time, writes 10 to 12 hours per day seven days per week in longhand juggling multiple co-authoring partnerships and building one of the most successful storytelling empires of all time.
But that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to writers. Read this.
Most people in the Western world look at writers as Magicians. Artists. Craft masters.
It’s easier to automatically assume talent, or unfair advantage is the reason…
Because realizing that the difference between you right now…
And the you that you want to be in 20 to 30 years…
Is 10 to 12 hours per day worth of writing sessions seven days per week away…
Basically breaks your brain.
The problem is, that biologically speaking, your brain has been programmed to help you “survive the winter“. Eons ago, this form of thinking (also known as: self-preservation) was necessary to survive the cold and brutal world in which our species lived.
If you wanted to eat breakfast back then, you had to either kill something or kill someone.
That constant life-and-death struggle required energy exertion beyond what you can even imagine today (even those of you who do P90X).
In order to survive, energy conservation and self-preservation was as important to putting food on the table as was the actual hunt.
Fast forward a few bagillion years and something called “free time” emerges for the first time in the history of our species.
Naturally, our brain reacts by latching hold of this idea of “free time” to rest, rest, rest in preparation for the sabertooth tiger battle that it fears is pending.
So it makes complete sense for our brain to look at individuals who work 10 to 12 hours per day seven days a week as “magicians“. Our brains simply cannot understand how it’s possible to grind that hard and still be ready to fight the sabertooth tiger that’s lurking around the corner.
But we don’t live in caves anymore.
It’s 2015. The information age continues to rage on. There haven’t been sabertooth tigers for some time now, and unless you live in certain parts of certain countries “energy conservation for the hunt” is actually a major hindrance to your success.
However, it’s important to have empathy for your brain. To understand why it’s such a jerk and why it seems to be constantly working against you in your pursuit of excellence and achievement.
Just realize… That if you want to actually make money (or get your books read, or grow your cause, etc.) you have to learn how to “reprogram” your brain.
How To Reprogram Your Brain The “Lazy Way”
There are three important things to remember when “reprogramming” your brain:
You are nothing without other people.
If you want to make money, it requires other people giving you their money.
A sale only occurs when someone else determines that what you are selling is worth what you are asking for it.
There are certainly ways to “inflate” the value of a product or service. The perfect soup of copywriting, product design, and marketing campaign creation can convince just about anybody to buy anything. (See “pet rocks” as example)
However, price inflation is expensive. It’s expensive for the person trying to inflate their price, it’s expensive for the consumer, and ultimately it leads to more problems in the marketplace than any marketing “guru” wants to admit.
The “simple” way to make a sale (read: more sales than you’ll ever need) is to simply reprogram your mind to understand that your job as an entrepreneur is to provide value to other people. To put yourself last.
Hollywood would have you believe that rich people are selfish, egotistical, and greedy. “Rich man” as the villain is such an easy trope because it’s a self-justifying trope. If poor people feel bad about being poor… A rich bad guy makes sense.
But here’s the reality…
Of the 1200+ entrepreneurs that I worked with in the past 15 months, the wealthiest (highest earning) were:
- The most forgiving whenever I made errors
- More likely to share me as a “resource” with their network of friends and colleagues
- Substantially better communicators and more likely to ask for my feedback and input on projects
- More likely to be respectful, kind, and courteous in their dealings with me as a service provider and with the attitude towards their customers
It’s no accident that people with a lot of money tend to be more generous, more kind, and more in tune with the needs of others.
That’s. How. You. Make. Money.
When you put the desires of others first… You put money in your pocket.
Self-preservation is, by definition, self-centeredness.
You must reprogram your brain to realize that you no longer have to save all of your energy to defend yourself against other animals, other people, and other imagined evils.
In fact, success in 2015 is fundamentally about you pouring more and more of your energy into the service of other people.
If you’re a writer who is writing fiction and you can’t seem to make any sales on your books, my first advice would be:
Stop writing for yourself and start writing for your readers.
If you’re an Internet marketer trying to make and build a business that will allow you to experience financial freedom but you can’t seem to have a consistent flow of predictable income:
Stop trying to make money and start trying to make a difference.
Is this a hard and fast rule?
If you don’t believe me, then just ask this guy.
Complacency = backsliding = death.
Success is a disloyal bedfellow.
If you aren’t constantly courting, paying attention to, and “wooing” your goals, dreams, and vision of success… It all will slip away from you.
And where will it go?
To the guy who is putting in the effort to court, pay attention, and woo the same goals and dreams and vision of success that you have.
You may have heard:
“Success is fleeting”
This is what they mean. Success is basically a man-whore.
That means, the second you let your foot off the gas you’re backsliding.
If your “dream life” is to run a business where you can “disappear” for months at a time while you vacation in the Caribbean…
Success is going to leave your bed and jump into mine.
Why? Because from the second I wake up at 6 AM until the moment I go to bed at 11 PM I am doing everything I can to court, pay attention to, and woo success.
You can call this “focus”. You can call it “drive”. You can call it “persistence”.
Ultimately, it boils down to your ability to hone in on what you truly want and to fight tooth and nail every single hour, every single day, for months, years, and even decades. And you can’t let up for even a second.
“Energy conservation” as it applies to your daily effort… Is a complete waste of time.
You must learn how to “waste and wear out your life” in the pursuit of your dreams.
“Would you rather be well rested or successful?”
Either you have given everything you can give to the pursuit of your dream and you are successful, or you have left over energy to burn.
Let me give you another example:
The fastest way to build muscle is to work to failure.
In other words, push your body to the point that you have nothing left to give.
This success principle works for building muscle just as well as it works for building a fiction empire, for generating hundreds of thousands of dollars in as little as 15 months, and for achieving whatever dream you might have.
The problem then becomes:
“How do you sustain an energy burn of this magnitude for any length of time?”
To be honest, I don’t have any magic answers.
You need to learn to take care of your body physically so that you can sustain the hard hours.
If you’re overweight, get fit.
If you feel sluggish, or lack energy, eat better.
If you have back pain, or hand pain, and you’re trying to be a writer then go see a doctor. Get it fixed.
There’s no use in stacking the cards against you. Physical pain will drain you of the energy you need to put in the long hours.
Besides being physically healthy, you need to get your mind right.
If you find yourself constantly doubting your ability to accomplish your dream…
Start each day by listing five things you’re grateful for. Every week, list five things that you accomplished that you’re proud of.
Most importantly, if you find yourself constantly doubting your ability, go get stuff done. There’s no faster way to increase your self-confidence and believe in your dream then to start pursuing the dream.
“To be recognized by a fan in Powell’s bookstore as the author of their favorite book.”
That single sentence tells me everything I need to do each and every day. It guides me through the long days. It’s specific, emotional, and achievable.
If I asked you what your vision was right now, could you honestly tell me in a single, specific sentence what you want?
Once you’ve got your body taken care of, and your mind right, the only thing left to do is to show up day in and day out for weeks, months, years… However long it takes. Do it UNTIL you are successful, not IF you are successful.
Pleasure is a lie.
I really don’t want to sound like a grumpy old man (I’m not even 30 yet), but I think that the biggest problem with my generation is their undying belief that “pleasure is King”.
Or that pleasure is even a good thing.
There is a difference between the pursuit of pleasure, and the pursuit of good things.
Someone engaged in the pursuit of pleasure is looking for more opportunities to play video games.
Someone engaged in the pursuit of good things is looking for more opportunities to design video games.
Someone engaged in the pursuit of pleasure is looking for more ways to get other people to do the work so they can take time off.
Someone engaged in the pursuit of good things is looking for more ways to get other people to do the work so they can work harder on the things that matter more.
Someone engaged in the pursuit of pleasure is looking for the “easy” money. (Think: “which genre sells more?” Or “what’s the fastest way to make $1000?”)
Someone engaged in the pursuit of good things is looking for the “good” money. (Think: “what is a huge need I can fill?” Or “what thing do I care enough about to work really hard at?”)
“Good things” make you money. They give you what you want. Your deepest, most emotionally evocative dreams are “good things” dreams.
Let me give you an example:
One of my best friends has been struggling to get a fiction career off the ground through self-publishing for a crazy long time. He recently felt that he “burned out” in pursuing his dream of writing.
We had a discussion via Skype and email in which he talked constantly about big name authors and the many millions of dollars they make per year.
Not minutes later he then said:
“I’m finding that socializing more is what I’ve been missing.”
It should come as to no surprise to you that he is still struggling with his fiction efforts.
He is pursuing pleasure. The millions of dollars. The late evening socializing. The glory.
What he needs to learn is:
Pain is a metric of success. Pleasure is a metric of failure.
You will never see an Olympic runner cross the finish line free of sweat, with a smile on their face, calmly breathing.
You will see them grimacing in pain, sweat drizzling down their nose, and probably grunting (or screaming) as they cross the finish line.
That’s what winning looks like.
And don’t kid yourself…
That same pain that they feel as they cross the finish line to win the race… Is the same pain they feel in practice each and every day.
If I find myself experiencing inordinate amounts of pleasure I have learned to recognize that is a problem that needs to be fixed. I’m not doing what I should be doing to achieve success.
Don’t get me wrong…
I’m not saying that self-flagellation is the key to achieving your dreams.
I’m also not saying that you shouldn’t have joy and pleasure in your life.
What I’m saying is:
The constant pursuit of pleasure is the constant pursuit of mediocrity. Of laziness. Of self-centeredness. Of backsliding.
Learning to “embrace the suck” is the difference between getting what you want and dreaming about what you want.
If success was about pleasure, then everyone would be successful.
But it’s not. It’s about pain and that’s why there are so few successful people.
Instead of constantly looking for ways to nullify the pain (like my friend)… embrace it.
Realize that it is on the back of pain that you will achieve your dreams. If you feel like your “burning out”... good, you’re almost there.
If you feel like you don’t want to write another 2000 words tonight, and that you’d rather watch TV or eat a piece of chocolate cake… Recognize that feeling as the highway marker for your road to success.
Smile when you feel the pain, do it anyways, and you have mastered the art of the grind.
This advice might not be for you.
For many years I held the naïve belief that anybody could be successful entrepreneur. I’ve worked with enough people (literally thousands since 2009) to know that most people SHOULDN’T be entrepreneurs.
If you have read this post and had this thought:
“Well, I’m not going to run my business that way…”
My recommendation would be to consider the following thought experiment:
Where did the idea of a four-hour work week first get popularized in our modern generation?
The Tim Ferris book right?
Overnight bestseller (thanks to some fancy bestseller list manipulation), worldwide sensation, catapulted the author into the spotlight.
Is Tim Ferris living the popularized version of the four-hour workweek?
The answer is a resounding no.
YOU CANNOT DO THAT IN FOUR HOURS A WEEK!
If Tim Ferris works less than 65 hours per week I would be shocked.
And this is the guy who popularized the idea of the “escape the 9-to-5, join the new rich, and live the ultimate lifestyle…” for our generation.
Beware of people who sell you on the idea that success is easy. Or that it can be accomplished with less than everything you have to give.
It’s a lie.
If that doesn’t convince you that grinding your way to success is the ONLY way to achieve what you want… And that the process of grinding is a painful one… And once you embrace the pain you will start to be successful…
Then I have some oceanfront property in Arizona that I would be happy to sell you for very, very cheap.