I couldn’t believe it was actually happening. I was boarding a flight from cold and rainy JFK Airport to warm and sunny West Palm Beach.
In just a few hours, I’d be having a no-holds-barred business lunch with the one and only Michael Masterson. (In case you don’t know, Michael consults for some of the biggest direct marketing companies in the world and has personally made millions online and off. He’s also the lead instructor of the AWAI Copywriting Course.)
Two months earlier, MaryEllen Tribby – Publisher and CEO of Early To Rise – announced a video contest to help advertise Michael’s latest book, Ready, Fire, Aim: Zero to $100 Million in No Time Flat. First Prize was lunch with Michael. I’d already devoured the book, and since I love making amateur videos, I thought, BINGO! This is perfect! An incredible, amazing opportunity!
But… then I had doubts.
I started thinking about the size of ETR’s list. I thought, do I actually have a shot to win with so many potential contestants? And what if I wind up embarrassing myself? Lots of people will see it!
Just as I was beginning to psych myself out, I snapped out of it – by thinking of the book.
The title of Chapter 13 is What Are You Waiting For? Start Firing Already! It was the smack upside the head I needed. Michael talks about how important it is to squash your need to get everything “right” before getting started. He quotes Robert Ringer from an excellent ETR article:
You cannot be action-oriented unless you are willing to make mistakes – even willing to look foolish or stupid. Remember the Michael Jordan ads where Jordan said that he’s missed something like 22 game-winning shots? He then finished by adding, “I succeed because I fail.” People who are obsessed with playing the “what if” game are destined never to get out of the starting gate.
That was the juice I needed. I was ready, so I skipped aiming and went straight to firing. I decided not to worry too much about making the perfect video, because there isn’t such a thing. I could plan and storyboard all I wanted, but the bottom line was to simply act, take my best shot, create a video, upload it to YouTube, and then hope for the best.
Like the old New York Lotto ads used to say, “You gotta be in it to win it.”
So with my girlfriend Jill behind the camera, a positive attitude, and a few “costume changes” thrown into a bag, we stormed off into the city, determined to take “guerilla filmmaking” to a whole new level! Just two hours (and many laughs and strange looks) later, we had the raw footage for our masterpiece: “A Tale of Two Books.”
(By the way, I really did make $1.47 in tips! I added the banana later.)
Full disclosure: After winning the contest, and then arriving at our lunch spot in Florida, I was nervous. Michael Masterson has been one of my copywriting idols since I first discovered Early To Rise over two years ago. This lunch was huge – a once in a lifetime opportunity. When Michael arrived (exactly on time of course), I popped up to introduce myself, but he beat me to it.
“Robert,” he said, “welcome to Delray Beach. I’m Michael.” He extended his hand. I quickly shook it.
“Michael, great to meet you,” I said. We exchanged pleasantries, and then MaryEllen Tribby arrived. “Let’s do this!” she said.
During lunch, my head was practically spinning. I couldn’t write notes fast enough when Michael started talking about how to turn my literary site, Six Sentences, into an actual business. (At Six Sentences, I publish original pieces of flash fiction on a daily basis. Each piece is exactly six sentences in length.)
“First of all, you’re in the infancy stage,” he said. “Your main challenge is creating your first product, then making sales.” He sipped his Arnold Palmer as I scribbled a note. “It’s all about sales at this stage,” he said. “Nothing matters more.” I nodded in agreement.
MaryEllen asked if I had an actual product yet. I mentioned my first book, Six Sentences, Volume 1, an anthology of original flash fiction.
“Who’s the publisher?” Michael asked.
“I am,” I said. “I’m self-publishing with CreateSpace. I’m also the editor.”
“That has to change,” said Michael. “Here’s how you take it to the next level. If your first book is a hit, use the profits to invest in a professional editor. Find an author, someone with a recognizable name. Alice Munro, someone like that. With a famous name adding weight to your brand, you’ll have a much easier time finding a traditional publisher.”
“How about you?” I asked. “Care to edit my next book?” I couldn’t help myself. Michael smiled. “We’ll see,” he said.
So while I’m waiting, I figured I’d share my “lunch notes” with all of Brian Clark’s fans here at Copyblogger. Here now are 3 Priceless Insider Secrets I learned on starting and building your own business, along with Michael’s exclusive advice for writers:
3 Priceless Insider Secrets on Starting & Building Your Own Business:
- Get your product ready enough to sell, but do not – under any circumstances – waste your time trying to make it perfect. There’s no such thing as “perfect.” Once your product feels good enough, sell it. Then sell, sell, sell! Then, if your product has legs, work hard to improve it. Make it better.
- Spend time researching hot products, then come up with your own versions of those products. Try to find features and benefits of the hot products that seem to be missing, then add them to your versions.
- Never be embarrassed to ask questions, and ask as many questions to as many people as possible. Before you launch a new product or start a new project, get outside opinions. Talk to friends, family, colleagues, even complete strangers. You never know who might have something incredibly valuable to offer – something that may dramatically improve your business… and your life.
Michael’s Exclusive Advice for Writers:
If you’re a writer, or want to call yourself a writer, you have to write every single day. There’s no excuse not to write a book a year. You just break it down into manageable chunks. 300 words a day. Just a half hour a day! If you can’t write a measly 300 words a day, then how can you call yourself a writer? “Ready, Fire, Aim” took me less than a year to write using this exact approach.
It’s wonderful when life exceeds your expectations. In hoping (and then preparing) to meet Michael, I never dreamed it was possible to feel so completely comfortable in his presence. He was accessible, charming, direct and unpretentious. (He even knew my name without being introduced!) I, for one, am taking his exclusive advice for writers very seriously.
300 a day, 300 a day…