Your #1 obstacle to turning dreams into reality
– and how to kick its fanny …
I love people who have the audacity to dream big dreams – and who have the courage to actually follow those dreams through to fruition.
And in the last few days, I fell in love 200 times.
I’m writing this on Monday morning, October 10 (one week before you’ll read it) – after returning from attending and speaking at the American Writers & Artists Institute’s (AWAI) Boot Camp in Delray Beach, Florida.
This was a big first for me. For one thing, I don’t “do” conferences. I attended my first – and last – marketing conference in 1975 … that was 30 long years ago, and I hated every minute of it. It was a cattle call: Hundreds of hungry writers, artists, list brokers, printers, and other vendors desperately mobbing anything that resembled a potential client. And since acting like a teenage girl chasing rock stars through hotel lobbies isn’t my idea of fun, I never did it again.
But I’m impressed – no, that’s wrong – I’m utterly BLOWN AWAY by the whole AWAI Boot Camp experience. AWAI’s Michael Masterson, Paul Hollingshead, Katie Yeakle, Denise Ford and their staff are some of the greatest folks on Earth. They made The Redhead and me – and everyone else there – feel right at home.
The organization was flawless. The programming was inspired. The speakers were brilliant. And every one of the attendees proved to be the kind of people I admire most: Everyday folks taking action to turn their dreams of freedom and wealth – of a better life – into reality.
If you were there, I know you’re nodding your head right now. And frankly, if you weren’t – and if you really are serious about sharpening your copywriting or copy-chiefing skills – you blew it.
For every business owner, marketing exec or copywriter in America looking for ways to produce more effective ad copy, the annual AWAI Marketing Boot Camp is simply a “must attend” event. I strongly recommend that you begin making plans now to be there next year.
I’m going to be – NO MATTER WHAT!
Just saying “yes” to AWAI
scared the bejeezus out of me.
If going to an industry conference was a big deal for me, actually speaking at one was a life-changing experience.
This will probably sound strange to you – but ever since I was a kid, I have suffered from a raging case of stage fright. Just standing in front of 20 or 30 people got my knees quaking. Once, my hands shook so violently, I couldn’t even read my notes.
And so I turned down every speaking invitation offered to me in the last 33 years. Instead, I spent 99% of my time alone in darkened rooms, cranking out reams of direct mail, print, TV, radio and Internet promotions.
My aversion to public speaking has cost me a LOT over the years. Once, the prestigious Economic Club of New York – the august body to which J.F.K. delivered his famous “tax-cuts-INCREASE-tax-revenues” speech – invited me to address their members.
They told my secretary they’d spring for First-Class airfare and accommodations, steer my family and me around Manhattan in a stretch limo and even let us use their helicopter for sight-seeing – if I would only consent to speaking.
My stage fright was so severe, I didn’t even return the call – and missed out on what would have surely been one of the greatest experiences of my life.
But the folks at The American Writers & Artists Institute have been so unbelievably gracious to me over the past few months – repeatedly recommending THE TOTAL PACKAGE to their students – only a jerk would have declined their invitation to speak.
So there I was; saying “yes” to AWAI … agreeing to face my fear … and risking the possibility of sucking BIG time.
Evidently, I didn’t suck.
So, at 11:15 AM last Friday, I spoke about direct marketing in public for the first time ever.
I presented the copywriting outline I’ve used to create some of the most successful financial newsletter promotions of all time. These promotions have consistently brought my clients as many as ten or fifteen times more new subscribers than the competition gets in a year, and have repeatedly quadrupled their customer files (not to mention my personal income!) in record time.
I figured this stuff should be pretty handy for any copywriter to know. All I wanted was to: 1) Not suck on-stage, and 2) Enjoy the experience enough to not dread doing it again.
So when my buddy Bob Bly introduced me, I bravely checked my fly, clipped the mic onto my shirt, treated myself to a quick mental snapshot of the audience in their underwear (especially the cute blonde in the third row in the imaginary Victoria’s Secret get-up), and began talking.
I thought I did OK. I didn’t choke up, nobody fell asleep and the material I presented was real.
The Redhead, bless her heart, says I was hands down, the best speaker at the entire conference … in fact, the best speaker there ever was on any subject in the whole universe since the Big Bang, period (aren’t wives great?).
The folks who work for me – the TOTAL PACKAGE staff and my new copy cubs – were complimentary too. No surprise there, either: After all, I am the boss.
And of course, the AWAI folks said I did great. They’re just too nice not to.
But the rest of the attendees blew me away. They lined up – scores at a time – to tell me that my ramblings really helped them. Only one person – a nice lady from Belize – offered a criticism: “Stand up straighter” she said, “Slumping screws up your internal organs.” “Thanks, Mom,” I said.
Copywriter of the Year
Around 5:00, Sandy Franks presented AWAI’s first-ever award for the “Copywriter of the Year.” Want to guess who won? Me, that’s who!
They put my name on a plaque that’ll hang in their offices forever and awarded me a cool etched-glass trophy for my bookcase PLUS a silver money clip from Tiffany & Co.!
Now, I don’t want to brag, but the other guys who were nominated are among the greatest copywriters ever. Some are also my buddies. And so
to them, I say with the deepest sincerity…
… NANNY NANNY BOO-BOO!
When the comely and brilliant Sandy Franks handed me that trophy, I felt like spiking it, strutting around like a Banty Rooster and breaking into an end-zone dance!
… But while I was doing all of that on the inside, I didn’t let on. I just told the crowd that if a high school dropout like me can make millions writing copy and be honored like this, you can too. And I said that somewhere in the crowd, there were several future “Copywriters of the Year”, and urged them to stick with it.
It truly was a humbling experience. You see despite what you may read elsewhere, there is no such thing as “The World’s Greatest Copywriter.” Anyone who tells you different – who claims that he or she is the greatest – is just … well, writing copy.
I’ve seen lots of great copywriters flop. Heck. I’ve done it myself! And just a few weeks ago, I saw a no-name in-house writer beat the daylights out of copy written by one of the most famous guys (and one of the most shameless self-promoters) in the biz.
So thanks again, AWAI, for the honor. I’m thrilled to accept – whether I deserve it or not. And to all my peers who voted for me, bless your little pea-pickin’ hearts!
Is fear holding YOU back?
This whole AWAI Boot Camp experience taught me one of the most valuable lessons I will ever learn. Facing my fear freed me from it!
Whether you’re a business owner, a marketing exec, a copywriter or an artist, I’m willing to bet dollars to donuts that fear has steered you into some of the dumbest and costliest decisions of your life – and AWAY from decisions that could have proven to be huge breakthroughs for you.
Fear is what keeps us where we feel safe – and what dooms us to mediocrity. It keeps us from trying bold new things: Things that break the rules … things that have the potential to create breakthroughs and make us legends, not to mention, richer than Midas.
Last week, I introduced you to Carline Anglade-Cole – a former copy cub of mine who now earns well into six figures every year spinning out hot new controls for major clients. In addition to being a great writer, Carline is one of the most fearless people I’ve ever met. Her lack of fear has enabled her to put her talent on the line … fight for her copy … and become an “A” – list writer in record time.
But not all of us are like Carline. Most of us do struggle with self-doubt, intimidation and outright fear. But that moment when we finally set those fears aside can lead to tremendous breakthroughs …
Carolyn faced her fear – and now, she’s ON HER WAY!
Carolyn – an attractive, very intelligent lady in my Boot Camp Peer Review Group – is an excellent case in point. She works in a particular type of financial services company and is disgusted with the way her industry exploits and in some cases, even rips off everyday Joes like you and me.
Carolyn’s dream is to publish and then write hot sales copy for a book that will expose these abuses, help consumers get a fair shake, and save them a not-so-small fortune. But that would mean she’d have to quit her job and gamble that profits from book sales will be substantial enough make up for her lost salary.
Just yesterday, she wrote to tell me that – thanks to the encouragement she got at the AWAI Boot Camp – she went straight home, quit her job and is now pursuing her dream FULL-TIME!
You know what? I think she’s going to make it!
Andrew faced his fear – and I HIRED him!
After my speech, dozens of nice folks lined up to say “HI!”, thank me for THE TOTAL PACKAGE, and to say kind things about my presentation. I was humbled that some waited 20 minutes or more to chat.
As I met each person, I couldn’t help but notice that the fellow at the very end of the line was literally quaking in his shoes. He looked as terrified as a guy who was about to be led before a firing squad!
When he finally reached the head of the line, he introduced himself: “I’m Andrew,” he said in a shaky British accent, “and I want you to mentor me.” And he shoved a big envelope with writing samples into my hand.
Now, this happens to me a lot. I get scores of e-mails each week from writers asking me to mentor, copy-chief, critique or coach them – but my time is severely limited, so in most cases, I have no choice but to kindly decline and urge them to continue reading THE TOTAL PACKAGE to find the help they need.
But a couple of days later, I had time to look at Andrew’s writing samples – and within an hour, I’d fired off an e-mail offering him a “first-date” assignment for one of my clients.
Now, because he too faced his fear, Andrew is on his way: If he works hard in the next few weeks, he has a shot at a long-term contract worth five, or even six figures – and a fast start towards the copywriter’s life he dreams about!
… So what are YOU afraid of?
- Maybe your worst fear is that someone might tell you your copy stinks – destroying your dream before it has the chance to really take flight. And so you decide to put off those phone calls to prospective clients for yet another day.
- Maybe you have some great copy or marketing ideas – but you’re afraid to see where they’ll lead you, or fearful of presenting them to a client and having him or her think you’re some kind of a kook.
- Maybe you’re paralyzed by the fear that your new copy will “fail in the mail” and make you look and feel like a loser. So you second- and third-guess every decision you’ve made – and weaken your copy with each succeeding draft.
- Or, perhaps you’re too intimidated to fight for your copy when a client starts messing with it – so you just stand by impotently and let some fool gut it.
My advice: It’s OK to feel fearful. We all do from time to time. When fear raises its ugly head, acknowledge it. Say, “This scares me” – and then do it anyway!
Be SURE to read the next two issues
of THE TOTAL PACKAGE
for even MORE exciting news!
Since today’s issue was mostly motivational in nature, I’m going to make it up to you – in SPADES – with some super-heavy-duty nuts-and-bolts content next week.
So stay tuned, dear friend … and never, EVER lose faith in your dreams.
The Redhead and I – and the entire TOTAL PACKAGE team – are doing everything we can think of to help make your dreams reality!
Yours for Bigger Winners, More Often,
Publisher & Editor
THE TOTAL PACKAGE
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