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Wizard of Ads Monday Morning Memo

English, Finance, 1 season, 999 episodes, 3 days, 18 hours, 7 minutes
Thousands of people are starting their workweeks with smiles of invigoration as they log on to their computers to find their Monday Morning Memo just waiting to be devoured. Straight from the middle-of-the-night keystrokes of Roy H. Williams, the MMMemo is an insightful and provocative series of well-crafted thoughts about the life of business and the business of life.
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Write Tight

As you increase your words, you decrease their impact.Communicate your thoughts in short sentences. Those thoughts will be remembered, and you will, too.Shorter hits harder.I read a book by a man who is a deep thinker, a great strategist, and a good writer. His strengths are that he can identify, organize, and communicate key ideas.But those ideas would hit harder if the man could write tighter.Tight writers1. reject unnecessary modifiers.2. reduce the word count.3. prove what they say.4. use active voice.Modifiers:Adjectives and adverbs are fatty foods. They give energy to your story when used sparingly but cause your sentences to feel bloated, sluggish and fat if you overindulge. Adjectives are less dangerous like good cholesterol, and adverbs are more dangerous like bad cholesterol, but a steady diet of these modifiers will clog the arteries of your story and slow it down until your audience falls asleep.Word count:Editing will reduce your word count, but it is hard to edit what is freshly written. Look at it the next day and your mistakes will become obvious to you. Rearrange, reduce, and eliminate elements until your story is woven tightly and shines brightly.You can communicate twice as much by using half as many words.Willie Shakespeare taught us, “Brevity is the soul of wit.”1Blaise Pascal and Benjamin Franklin are remembered for their wit. This is why both of them apologized in writing when they took too long to say too little.Blaise Pascal in his Lettres Provinciales of 1657, wrote, “The present letter is a very long one, simply because I had no leisure to make it shorter.”Likewise, Benjamin Franklin concluded his 1750 Letter to the Royal Society in London by saying, “I have already made this paper too long, for which I must crave pardon, not having now time to make it shorter.”Prove what you say:A rainbow of people across the internet report that Martin Luther, Mark Twain, and Cicero of Rome made statements similar to the statements made by Blaise Pascal and Benjamin Franklin, but none of those colorful people can offer meaningful documentation.Martin Luther died in 1546. A biography of Luther published 300 years later – in 1846 –quotes Luther as having said he “didn’t have time to make it shorter,” but the biographer could cite no text left behind by Martin Luther to support that quote.Mark Twain died in 1910. In 1975 an article that appeared in the Chicago Tribune attributed a version of the “didn’t have time to make it shorter” statement to Twain, but the journalist could offer no text, no chapter, no page number, no contemporaneous witness as proof.The person claiming that Cicero said he “didn’t have time to make it shorter” cites a book of quotes published in 1824 as “proof” of what Cicero supposedly said 1,800 years before that book of quotes was published. Cicero left behind no writings that contain that quote.“Do not believe what you read on the internet.” – Albert EinsteinUse active voice:Passive voice:“The sword is carried by me,” is passive because the subject – “The sword” – is acted upon by the verb.Active voice:“I carry the sword,” is active because the subject – “I” – takes the action.Sentences spoken in active voice command attention.Sentences spoken in passive voice are easily ignored.A child becomes an adult when they say, “I broke the cookie jar,” instead of, “The cookie jar got broken.”Don’t speak like a child. Let the subject take the action in every sentence you speak and write.Here’s an Example:Like the man I mentioned earlier, Matt Willis is a deep thinker, a great strategist, and a good writer. But...
4/15/20247 minutes, 29 seconds
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Pirates and Kings

Kings and pirates both wear swords, but for different reasons.A king wears his sword as a symbol of the army he commands. A pirate wears his sword so that it will be at hand when he needs it.Pirates have a high tolerance for risk because they have nothing to lose. Kings have a low tolerance for risk because they have everything to lose.A pirate says, “No pain, no gain.” A king says, “No pain, no pain.”A king is the establishment, the ultimate insider, the protector of the status quo. A pirate is an anti-establishment outsider looking for an opportunity.I was 10 years old and my father was 30 when he took me with him to visit an important old man. After we left, I said, “He was really nice. I like him a lot.”My Dad answered, “Yes, he is really nice, and I like him a lot, too. But old men like him always keep a sword in the closet.”Confused, I asked, “What do you mean?”Dad said, “If you crowd him, cross him, or attempt to ambush him, that nice old man is going to pull his sword from that closet and run it through your guts.”It’s been more than 50 years since I met that old man, but I’ve never forgotten the encounter.I know a lot of old pirates today who became kings just like that old man. With clenched teeth they built castles in their minds, then brought those castles into physical existence using their own hands to stack bricks they made by mixing their blood and sweat with the dirt they stood upon.Pirates are the founders of empires, not the inheritors of them, and I am honored to count pirates among my friends.Rich people raise their children to be kings. But poor boys like me raise their children to be pirates.When our sons were very young – perhaps 4 or 5 years old – I said to them, “Your mother and I will give you gifts on your birthday and at Christmas and at other times, but you can never ask for a gift. When you see a toy, you cannot ask us to buy it for you. You have to buy it yourself. And to make that possible, we will pay you as though you are adults so that you can afford to buy whatever you want. But you won’t get any money for cleaning your room or for any of the other things you do in our home. You will do those things because you are a member of this family. And I will never give you an allowance. But if you ever want to make some money, just tell me and I will drive you to the office and give you work to do.”If you pay a child the wages of a child, it is impossible for them to ever buy anything for themselves or for the people they care about.Our boys began their careers by gathering the trash from all the offices and then tossing it into the dumpster in the parking lot. This might take 20 minutes and earn them 20 dollars each, but now they had money of their own. If they wanted to make more money, they had to gather all the gum wrappers and cigarette butts and debris from the parking lot and put that in the dumpster as well. This might earn them another 15 or 20 dollars each.If a 5-year-old child will push themselves to the realistic limits of a 5-year-old (which is usually 20 or 30 minutes) they should be able to make enough money to buy themselves the kinds of toys that all the other kids have.When our sons wanted to buy something, they would ask Pennie and I to drive them to the store where we would watch them choose what they wanted, carry it to the cash register, pull their own money from their pocket, and then buy it.By the time they were 9 or 10 they were puzzled to see their friends pick up something in a store and ask their parents, “Can I have this?” The idea of asking for something was foreign to them.Pennie and I raised our boys to be pirates and my grandsons became pirates as well, making their first money as groundskeepers and later as construction workers under the watchful eye of Joe Davis, a pirate of the highest order. Those grandchildren are now 17
4/8/20245 minutes, 59 seconds
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The Voices of the 9 Declarative Sentences

Every time you make a declarative statement, you choose one of only 9 sentence structures.You have been doing this unconsciously for as long as you have been able to speak and write. Today I am going to teach you how to do it consciously.Ten minutes from now, you will be able to speak and write with greater impact.You must first choose a perspective. First person perspective is when you are speaking for yourself, or as the spokesperson for a group: (I, me, my, mine, we, us, our, ours)Second person perspective describes the experience of your reader, listener, or viewer individually or collectively:  (you, your, yours, yourself, yourselves)Third person perspective is then you are speaking not of yourself, or of your audience, but of some other individual or group: (he, she, him, her, they, them,)After you have chosen a perspective,you must choose a verb tense that frames the action of your sentence in the past (was), the present (am), or the future (will be.)That much has been known and taught for decades if not centuries.This next part is astoundingly useful and absolutely new, so if you quote it or teach it to someone else, be sure to spell my name right, okay? “Roy H. Williams”The Wizard of Ads® is now going to teach you: (A) the specific voice of each of the 9 declarative sentences, (B) how the addition of a status, a mood, or an emotion allows you to determine the intention and the impact of your sentence before it has even been created.First person, past tense, is the voice of personal MEMORY.“I was standing in the snow…”First person, present tense, is the voice of ANNOUNCEMENT.“I am standing in the snow…”First person, future tense, is the voice of PREDICTION.“I will be standing in the snow…”Second person, past tense, is the voice of WITNESS.“You were standing in the snow…”Second person, present tense, is the voice of reader/listener/viewer INVOLVEMENT or ENGAGEMENT.“You are standing in the snow…”Second person, future tense, is the voice of FORESEEING. (Fortune telling)“You will be standing in the snow.”Third person, past tense, is the voice of HISTORY.“They were standing in the snow…”Third person, present tense, is the voice of NEWS REPORTING.“They are standing in the snow…”Third person, future tense, is the voice of PROPHECY.“They will be standing in the snow.”REVIEWFirst person, past tense, is the voice of personal MEMORY.First person, present tense, is the voice of ANNOUNCEMENT.First person, future tense, is the voice of PREDICTION.The addition of a status, a mood, or an emotion allows you to determine the intention and the impact of your sentence before it has even been created.First person, past tense = MEMORY + humility = confession “I was hoping to be finished in one hour, but I wasn’t able.”First person, present tense = ANNOUNCEMENT + humility = vulnerability “I am self-aware enough to know that I am more lucky...
4/1/202417 minutes, 8 seconds
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How to Keep Your Balance During an Earthquake

The tectonic plates of America are shifting beneath our feet. Can you feel the tremors?I’m not talking about the foundations of our continent. I’m talking about the foundations our nation.Our continent is rock, soil, and water; mountains and prairies and oceans white with foam.Our nation is a people; a family that we love.And if I might continue quoting Kate Smith for a moment, we would be wise to ask God to, “stand beside her and guide her through the night with the light from above.”We feel the tremors of our unsteady family – our nation – not in our soles, but in our souls.I felt the tremors of the waning “Me” generation shift into the groupthink perspective of the “We” in 2003. To read my nascent ramblings about it, just go to and type “1963 All Over Again” into the website search block. This will take you to my MondayMorningMemo for December 15, 2003.These are the important paragraphs:“AOL and are the Kerouac and Salinger of the new generation that will soon pry the torch from the hands of Boomers reluctant to let it go. Chuck Berry and Elvis Presley have become Tupac Shakur and Eminem, and the Baby Boomers’ reaction to them is much like their own parents’ reaction to Chuck and Elvis. But instead of saying, ‘Take a bath, cut your hair and get a job,’ we’re saying, ‘Pull those pants up, spin that cap around and wash your mouth out with soap.’“At the peak of the Baby Boom there were 74 million teenagers in America and radio carried a generation on its shoulders. Today there are 72 million teenagers that are about to take over the world. Do you understand what fuels their passions? Can you see the technological bonds that bind them?”“Baby Boomer heroes were always bigger than life, perfect icons, brash and beautiful: Muhammad Ali… Elvis… James Bond. But the emerging generation holds a different view of what makes a hero.”The only hard choice in life is the choice between two good things.Freedom and Responsibility are both good things. But like all dualities, they oppose each other. The more you have of one, the less you have of the other.All responsibility with no freedom makes you a slave. All freedom with no responsibility makes you a self-absorbed hedonist and an asshole.But I promised to tell you how to keep your balance during this earthquake, didn’t I?Here’s how to do it: remind yourself that different people perceive the world differently. They notice different things. They value different things. They live in their own private reality, and you live in yours.You are acutely aware of what you see that they do not, and you want to open their eyes.They are acutely aware of what they see that you do not, and they want to open your eyes.Both of you feel you are being attacked.I have a question for you: do the two of you have the courage to shut up and listen? Really listen? Can you muster enough courtesy and grace and self-restraint to share why you value what you value without disparaging or attacking what they value and why they value it?If both of you can do this, you will find your balance and quit hating each other.The birds will start singing, the flowers will bloom, a rainbow will appear, and everyone will laugh in joyous relief that the ugliness is finally over.As I look back on the events that have marked the previous 37 zeniths of the “We” generation that have occurred during the past 2,960 years (937 BC,) I realize that no one is likely to do this.But I thought I would give it a shot.Roy H. Williams50,000 new restaurants open in the United States each year, and most of them are...
3/25/20245 minutes, 38 seconds
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How to Grow a Business 4x in 36 months

My reputation is built largely on the fact that I cheat.I openly admit my cheating, but no one cares, because the way that I cheat is not unethical, immoral, or illegal.I realized in 2017 that Warren Buffet and I do exactly the same thing. Here is how he describes it:“Ted Williams wrote a book called The Science of Hitting and in it he had a picture of himself at bat and the strike zone broken into, I think, 77 squares. And he said if he waited for the pitch that was really in his sweet spot he would bat .400 and if he had to swing at something on the lower corner he would probably bat .235. And in investing I’m in a ‘no called strike’ business which is the best business you can be in. I can look at a thousand different companies and I don’t have to be right on every one of them, or even fifty of them. So I can pick the ball I want to hit. And the trick in investing is just to sit there and watch pitch after pitch go by and wait for the one right in your sweet spot. And if people are yelling, ‘Swing, you bum,’ ignore ’em. There’s a temptation for people to act far too frequently in stocks simply because they’re so liquid. Over the years you develop a lot of filters. But I do know what I call my ‘circle of competence’ so I stay within that circle and I don’t worry about things that are outside that circle. Defining what your game is – where you’re going to have an edge – is enormously important.” These have been my filters for the past 35 years:Do I believe in the business owner? And do I like them enough to give them a place in my life?Has their company been flat, or declining, for the past 3 years?Do I see a clear path to grow them a minimum of 4x in 4 years or less?If we focus 80% of their ad budget on a single media, will that number of dollars allow us to reach enough people with enough repetition to see significant growth in the second half of the first year?These are the reasons behind those questions:If the business owner is incompetent, I cannot help them. If I do not like them, I do not want to help them. (Yes, I am tragically self-accommodating.)If the business owner has not been flat or down for at least 3 years, they won’t be willing to make the changes I need them to make.If they have no potential for massive growth, there is no potential for me to make massive money.When buying mass media, it takes more money to reach 20 percent of a large city than it does to reach 20 percent of a small one. Is the ad budget big enough to give us a fighting chance?A business owner and his son spent a day with us in Austin last week. I like both of them and they are obviously good at everything except lead generation. They live in a large city and have been receiving horrifically bad marketing advice for the past 20 years.They are doing $2 million/year in a town where $30 million would have been easily accomplished if they had started doing the right things just 9 or 10 years ago.I am now going to share with you a formula that I trust, even though I have never tried to disprove it. (A real scientist would have tried to disprove his hypothesis. I am not a real scientist.)I have observed this pattern for many years:Anything that works quickly will work less and less well the longer you keep doing it.Things that work better and better the longer you keep doing them always perform poorly in the early months.When you have discovered their untold story, and created a strategy that will work, and launched the right message to their city, the dollar growth you see in Year One will allow you to project with some accuracy the growth of that company for the next two years.At the end of 36 months, you will know if your business owner is tall enough to ride this...
3/18/20248 minutes, 1 second
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Magicians, Poets & Creators of Comics

In the Monday Morning Memo for Oct. 10, 2022, I wrote,“Do you want to be one of the world’s great ad writers? Don’t read ads. Read the poems, short stories and novels written by the winners of the Pulitzer and Nobel prizes in Literature.”My friend Tom Grimes – the waterboy of Amarillo – texted me this insightful correction:“I’ve heard you teach in class that magicians, stand-up comedians and the creators of comic strips always structure their storytelling in that same tight economy of words used by the world’s great poets. ‘And then what happened, and then what happened, and then what happened…'”I stand corrected. Thank you, Tom.Yes, comedians, magicians, and the creators of comics are three different types of writers who know how to capture and hold our attention, just as the world’s great poets have done for centuries. These writers show us possible futures, imaginary pasts, or an exaggerated present; realities that exist entirely in our imaginations.And they do it in a brief, tight, economy of words.Likewise, the best ad writers take us on journeys that begin and end quickly, but leave us altered, changed, modified, different.I don’t list AI in my pantheon of persuasive writers for the same reason that I don’t list the makers of movies.Great movies are created from great plays and great books. Even Disney’s animated cartoon adventuresbegin with great stories.Stories are written by writers.The actors, directors, and illustrators who portray those stories are called artists and they are assisted by technicians. Artists and technicians don’t write the stories; they adapt stories to fit a format and then show them to us.AI is not a writer. AI is an artist and a technician.Dune was written by Frank Herbert 59 years ago and has sold nearly 20 million copies worldwide. Artists and technicians adapted it into a 1984 film, a 2000 television miniseries, and then a major motion picture in 2021 with a sequel that was released in theaters just last week.The Lord of the Rings was written by Tolkien and adapted by artists and technicians.The Godfather was written by Puzo and adapted by artists and technicians.Harry Potter was written by Rowling and adapted by artists and technicians.Charles Schultz, Bill Watterson, Neil Gaiman, Stan Lee, Scott McCloud and Tom Fishburne are writers who tell stories in comic panels.Robin Williams, Chris Rock, Eddie Murphy, Richard Pryor, Ellen DeGeneres and Dave Chappelle are writers who tell stories in short bursts while standing behind a microphone.Penn and Teller, Siegried and Roy, David Blaine, Brian Brushwood, David Copperfield and Nate Staniforth are writers who stand on stage and tell stories while proving that you cannot believe your eyes or trust your logical mind.Ian Fleming, Cormac McCarthy, Stephen King, Truman Capote, and Elmore Leonard are writers who tell stories using only words.Artists and technicians adapt their stories for stage, film, and video.Shakespeare wrote 38 stories that artists and technicians have adapted for the past 450 years. The artists who gave faces and voices to Shakespeare’s characters include Judi Dench, Patrick Stewart, Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, Kenneth Branagh, David Tarrant, Derek Jacobi and Peter O’Toole.We have writers. We
3/11/20246 minutes, 30 seconds
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How to Become Invisible

There are two ways to become invisible, and both are easily accomplished.To become invisible to yourself: get lost inside your own head. When you ignore other people, it never occurs to you that they can see you. This is how you become invisible in your mind.To become invisible to others: say what people expected you to say; do what they expected you to do. This will blur you into the background and make you invisible. To make people see you again, all you have to do is say something new, surprising, or different.These techniques also work in advertising.If you get lost inside your own head, your ads will focus on your company, your product, and your service. You will ignore the things your customer cares about, and speak only about what they ought to care about, what they should care about, what you want them to care about. You will answer all the questions that no one was asking. You will be visible to yourself, but invisible to others. When your ads talk to you, about you, for you, no one other than you is interested.When you say what people expected you to say, they quit listening. Ads that sound like ads are filtered from conscious thought. The mind is constantly scanning for the new, the surprising, and the different, and for pain, pleasure, urgent necessities, and entertainment. If your ads look like ads and sound like ads, you can be certain they will be invisible.Bad advertising is about you, your company, your product, your service. Good advertising is about the customer, and how their life will be altered if they allow you to come into it.Talk to your customers about them, not you.If you want to talk about you, find an old pay phone and drop a quarter into it. Call your mother. She’s the only one who cares.I slapped you just now because you are delirious, and you need to wake up. My slap may have stung a little, but it was an act of love.Five paragraphs ago I said, “The mind is constantly scanning for the new, the surprising, and the different, and for pain, pleasure, urgent necessities, and entertainment,” because these are the things that interest us.The New is always interesting because it might be relevant to us. When we have judged it to be irrelevant, it disappears.The Surprising is interesting, but only until it is no longer surprising. A magician knows that every surprise must be followed by another surprise, or they will lose the attention of their audience.The Different is interesting because it might be an improvement. But if we conclude it is not an improvement, we dismiss it.Pain is interesting because we want to avoid it. When your ads speak to pain, you become associated with pain, and the minds of your customers will recoil away from you. If you want to test this theory, just kick your dog every time you see it.Pleasure is interesting, always. But if your statements about pleasure are not judged to be credible, your listener will feel they are being manipulated and you will be viewed as a seducer, a con-man, and a snake.Urgent necessities are interesting because we need them, and we need them now. This is why so many advertisers spend copious amounts on Google ads. The problem with this strategy is that all your competitors are doing the same. This results in a high cost per click and a low rate of conversion.Entertainment is interesting because it allows us to escape into the lives of interesting characters. When you are watching a football game, the mirror neurons in your brain allow you to be part of the game as you live vicariously through the actions of others. The same is true
3/4/20247 minutes, 48 seconds
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Are You Swinging for Information or Transformation?

[The wizard has been writing twice a month for Radio Ink magazine for more than a quarter century. The column you are about to read will be distributed to every radio station in North America – more than 10,000 of them – when it is published in a few weeks. – Indy Beagle]Traditional wisdom would suggest that a writer offering advice to Radio professionals should focus on how to use Radio more effectively.But traditional wisdom is usually more tradition than wisdom.True wisdom is to know how every form of advertising works, not just the media you are trying to sell. When you can identify and communicate the markers of success in every type of advertising, you become a well-spring of insight, wisdom, and advice; a sustaining resource as refreshing as cold water on a hot day.The things I am about to share with you are not focused on radio because they are not limited to radio. You have observed these things all your life; you just never took the time to organize your observations.Your mind will whisper “Eureka” within the next few minutes. Listen for it.When you are speaking face-to-face, voice-to-voice, in writing, or through the medium of advertising, there can be no communication until you have won the attention of your audience. To win attention, you must deliver a magnetic First Mental Image (FMI.)There are three ways of delivering your FMI:When your FMI is delivered by voice, it is called an opening line.The bright light of vivid verbs project action onto the movie screen of the mind.When your FMI is delivered in printed words, it is called a headline, a title, or a subject line. You will need a second FMI for the opening line of your first paragraph. Vivid verbs are again the key. Verbs become vivid when they are accurate, but unexpected. Predictability is not your friend.Photographs, drawings, illustrations, and video clips win attention when the viewer enters into the world of that visual image to become a momentary participant in the scene.Face-to-face, voice-to-voice, in writing, or through advertising, there can be no communication until you have won the attention of your audience.Amateur ad writers will try to shock the audience. But it is much more effective to intrigue the audience by using one of the following five methods.The most straightforward methods are these two:A simple declarative statement: “70% of people over 50 have sore knees.”A customer testimonial: “My knee pain went away when I put these insoles in my shoes.The next three techniques employ what I call “The Hovering Question Mark,” since they are designed to trigger curiosity by delivering an incomplete message.A question aimed at the reader, listener, or viewer: “Do you have sore knees?”An incomplete sentence: “I first noticed my knees was sore when…”A metaphor that begs for context: “I had a headache behind my kneecap.”Any of these 5 techniques can be used to get attention, but you’re still a long way from making the sale. Your baseball bat has merely contacted the ball.Amateur ad writers – having made contact – will immediately switch into “AdSpeak,” that predictable, despicable language of bone-breakingly-boring ads. This is called clickbait when it’s done online. It’s called a rookie maneuver when it’s done in any other media. When it’s truly pathetic, it’s called a clown show.Amateur ad writers move from attention-getting into AdSpeak because they believe their job is merely to deliver information about the product....
2/26/20247 minutes, 38 seconds
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The Flickering, Fleeting Scenes of a Lifetime

There is a mysterious camera in your brain that will click and capture a poignant scene from time to time. You know what I’m talking about: random moments that you can vividly recall, but you’re not sure why.My awareness of that camera has been heightened and brightened in recent days as I feel a chapter of my life coming to an end and a new chapter about to begin.I’ve sure you have felt what I’m talking about.Phil Johnson explained these uneasy times of transition 40 years ago when I was in the middle of one. He said, “Roy, you’re in an elevator and the door is closed and that’s always an unsettling time. You’re not sure whether the elevator is taking you up to a higher floor, or down to a lower one. You know only that when that elevator door opens, everything is going to be different.”*Click* went the camera in my brain.Then he looked encouragement into my eyes as he said, “Never let the future disturb you. You will meet it, if you have to, with the same weapons of reason which today arm you against the present.” As we began walking toward our cars, he finished by saying, “Marcus Aurelius wrote that note to us 175 years after Jesus was born.”*Click*Phil Johnson passed away in 2019, just 5 days before his 97th birthday. You will find the last words he spoke to me emblazoned across the 12-foot-high bookcases that hold the thousands of books he left to me in his will. “You acquire an education by study, hard work and persistence. But you absorb culture by viewing great art, listening to great music and reading great books.”The moment that heightened and brightened my awareness of the elevator I’m in was a 521-word text sent to me by Pennie’s sister, Pam. That text contained the complete lyrics of Billy Joel’s song, “We Didn’t Start the Fire.” Nothing else.If you have been reading these Monday Morning Memos for any length of time during the 29 years and 9 months that I’ve been writing them, you won’t be at all surprised that Indy Beagle and I sprang into hot pursuit of the liquid-fast rabbit that leaped out from Pam’s mysterious text.To those of you who are new to rabbit chasing, the objective is not to catch the rabbit, but only to let it lead you to places you might never have otherwise discovered. Uptight people will say that Indy and I are wasting time. But those people will never meet Calvin and Hobbes.When Indy and I lost sight of the liquid-fast rabbit, an unsettled teenager said to Billy Joel, “It’s crazy to be my age. You didn’t have this kind of stuff going on when you were growing up. Nothing really happened back then.”Billy went home that day and listed more than 100 major worldwide events that occurred between the day of this birth in May, 1949, and the day of that teenager’s visit in 1989. “We Didn’t Start the Fire” was a birthday gift Billy Joel gave to himself on his 40th birthday in 1989.If you click the image of Indy Beagle at the top of this page, you will be transported to a secret page featuring two different YouTube videos of “We Didn’t Start the Fire.” Each of those videos will show you the more-than-100 different people and events that Billy Joel is singing about 35 years ago.And now you know why we call those hidden pages, “The Rabbit Hole.”Indy said to tell you “Aroo.”I’ll tell him you said “Aroo,” too.Roy H. WilliamsSeven-hundred-thousand Americans per year submit a trademark application, but Andre Mincov says that number is far less than it should be. Prior to beginning his global consultancy specializing in trademarks, Andre worked at a law firm helping companies like Apple, Microsoft, Sun, and Dell file and defend their trademarks. Today Andre rescues small and mid-size companies that failed to file formal trademarks, or that forgot to file them for all their brands. Listen and learn as Andre explains the most common trademark...
2/19/20245 minutes, 22 seconds
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How to Lift a Company to New Heights

Every company has Untold Story assets that are hiding in plain sight, and every company has Limiting Factors that are holding them back.This is how you lift a company to new heights:1. Uncover the Untold Stories.2. Devise a plan to overcome the Limiting Factors.Untold Stories and Limiting Factors are not always related.Limiting Factors usually stem from(A.) Company Culture (the vibe of the hive)(B.) Competitive Environment (strengths of opponents and adversaries)Untold Stories always begin at the intersection of Who and Why.(A.) Who pulled the trigger? (Origin Story)(B.) Why did that trigger exist? (Character Diamond)Great ad campaigns require Interesting Characters.Interesting Characters require:(A.) Character Diamonds (Four conflicted, defining characteristics that cause this character to think, act, speak, and see the world the way they do.)(B.) Origin Stories (What happened that put them on the path to where they are now?)Customers should hear each Untold Story in the appropriate Emotional Environment.The appropriate Emotional Environment is created by(A.) The opening sentence of the ad (FMI – First Mental Image)(B.) Media scheduling (what is the customer thinking and feeling right now?)College professors, con-men, and private equity groups believe the primary goal of an ad writer should be to communicate the features and benefits of the product to the customer. But Wizards of Ads know the primary goal of an ad writer is to bond the hearts of the public to the advertiser.Listeners hear these customer-bonding ads and think, “Wow! You, too? I thought I was the only one.” These customer-bonding ads cause the client’s name to be the one that customers think of first and feel the best about.Untold Stories hide in the hearts of advertisers. Customer-bonding ads are born when you uncover those stories and write them in an unpredictable way.Predictable ads are boring.Here is a warm and happy customer-bonding ad Michael Torbay found hiding in the heart of his client on a cold and grey winter day:MARK: “It was the Pop-Tart that did it. I’m Mark Tapper. Someone recently asked me about the day I knew I had to propose to my girlfriend. Spoiler alert: she’s my wife now. But somehow the sound of that toaster popping made me feel so ‘single.’ I loved being single, make no mistake! I got to travel, tried on a few different jobs, went back to school, reinvented myself a couple of times. I was a-work-in-progress when I met Leora. She believed in me more than I did. That was what was on my mind when it suddenly popped: It wasn’t about me anymore. It was about us, together. That’s what I think about when I come to work at Tapper’s Jewelry. I get to meet people at the most exciting time of their lives, and we get to show you a diamond that will express how you feel right now, forever. Come to Tapper’s, tell us your story.”These are the moments in that ad when a customer might think, “Wow! You, too?”1. I suddenly felt so ‘single.’2. I reinvented myself a couple of times.3. I was a-work-in-progress when I met [my wife]4. She believed in me more than I did.5. It wasn’t about me anymore. It was about us, together.Here is another customer-bonding ad for a client in the same category. Listen closely and you’ll hear Jacob Harrison ask his client a question off-mic. Notice how this ad is equally powerful, but comes at you from an entirely different direction:DEVIN: Brad Lawrence, owner of Gold Casters Fine Jewelry.BRAD: When I opened the store, I had no money. We didn’t have the money for inventory. I brought wax models from school to use to cast...
2/13/202413 minutes, 15 seconds
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The Wisdom of Barbara Kingsolver

How to Shear a Sheepby Barbara KingsolverWalk to the barnbefore dawn.Take off your clothes.Cast everythingon the ground:your nylon jacket,wool socks and all.Throw awaythe cutting tools,the shears that bitelike teeth at the skinwhen hooves flailand your elbowcomes up hardunder a panting throat:no more of that.Sing to them instead.Stand nakedin the morningwith your entreaty.Ask them to come,lay down their woolfor love.That should work.It doesn’t.I lectured them into the night, many hours past my bedtime, telling them how to continue the dazzling success of their father. He was there, listening, nodding his head, making sure they would never forget this night.He and I have worked together since 1989, when we were both very young and our sons were very small. Today he is a rich and famous jeweler in a well-known city. I am the man 500 miles away who writes his ads.His hard-working sons listened intently when I said, “People you trust and admire; people who care about you and your success, will come to you, pull you aside, and tell you with deep concern, ‘You need to change your advertising. You’re not doing it right.’ People who studied advertising in college; friends who feel certain they know what you should do, will say to you, ‘You need to change your advertising. You’re not doing it right.'”I told the sons of my friend about the heart-piercing lessons I learned as a young ad writer. I told them about the clever things I did that I knew would would, had to work, were certain to work, that didn’t work.I told them about all the clever things that I was taught, and trusted, and believed, that didn’t work.I told them about the millions of dollars of other people’s money I had wasted year after year on ideas that didn’t work.And then I told them what I finally noticed, and watched, and understood 35 years ago. I told them the counterintuitive truth that I finally had the eyes to see.I told them what always works. I told them why it never fails to work. And I told them why no one who sees it working ever believes that it will work.Their father nodded his head up and down. The four of us looked at each other and smiled.And then I went home to bed.Roy H. WilliamsPS – “How to Shear a Sheep” is just one of the many delightful poems in a little-known book by the legendary novelist, Barbara Kingsolver. If you haven’t read her novels, you should.Danny Heitman, during the Covid lockdown in 2020, published this book review in The Christian Science Monitor:“Barbara Kingsolver is best known for her novels, including ‘The Bean Trees’ and ‘The Poisonwood Bible,’ and her essay collections, such as ‘Small Wonder’ and ‘High Tide in Tucson.’ She’s not as well known for her poetry, though she should be. ‘How to Fly (In Ten Thousand Easy Lessons)’ collects her best poems from the past few years. It’s a tonic for these pandemic times, reminding us of Robert Frost’s definition of poetry as a ‘momentary stay against confusion.’ Kingsolver’s poems are like that, though their clarity is less a matter of sudden revelation than the slowly ripening insight of age. The title poem, with its ironic parenthetical promise that we can learn to soar after ‘ten thousand easy lessons,’ sounds a winking dissent from all those how-to
2/5/20245 minutes, 54 seconds
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A Pebble Tossed into a Pond

The dew lies softly on the green grass and the sunrise is golden in the early morning sky. I come upon an unspoiled mirror of water. A smooth pebble leaves my fingertips. Yes! I land my pebble perfectly in the bullseye! I watch a concentric circle of ripples reach the edge of the pool and bounce back to the middle where they collide.I wander on.Who knows why we do what we do?I was contemplating Quixote, that strangely enchanting character created by Miguel de Cervantes in 1605.But what was happening across the water in 1605?Having a keyboard at my fingertips, I took an early morning walk backwards-in-time to see what was happening in America while the tormenters of the Inquisition were torturing the innocent people of Spain and wooden blocks were stamping the first edition of Don Quixote onto paper in Madrid.1607: Jamestown, the first permanent settlement by Europeans was founded on the shores of what would later become Virginia.1610: John Rolfe realized he could introduce the tobacco of the Native Americans to the people of Europe. Praise God! This would be the crop that would provide the income that would sustain our little colony on the sparkling shores of this brand-new world.1615: Miquel de Cervantes writes Part Two of Don Quixote, and more characters are carved into wooden blocks to stamp ink onto paper in Madrid.1619: Four thousand Europeans agree to work as indentured servants for a few years in the tobacco fields of Virginia if someone will loan them the money for passage across the Atlantic and give them fifty acres of their own. Among these 4,000 men are Anthony Johnson and 19 other young men of Africa. Each of them work in the tobacco fields to pay off the loans for their passage, then each is awarded 50 acres of his own. Anthony Johnson later becomes successful enough to pay for the passage of 5 more Africans to help him work his land.1650: Thirty-thousand people are working in the tobacco fields of Virginia, including about 300 Africans. Everything seems to be running smoothly and everyone is prospering.1654: Edmund Gayton writes the first commentary in English about Don Quixote. The book is published by William Hunt in London, titled, “Pleasant Notes upon Don Quixot.” Later that same year, slavery is introduced to North America when Anthony Johnson convinces the court of Northampton County that he is entitled to the lifetime services of John Casor. This would be the first judicial approval of life servitude, except as punishment for a crime.As I return from my morning walk, I discover catastophic chaos raging in the pond, the unintended consequences of a pebble tossed. The ripples that bounce off the shores of the pond result in unintended collisions and consequences as all sense of symmetry disappears.Some people say only about 3,000 people were executed by the Spanish Inquisition. Other people say it was more like 30,000. No one has ever claimed it was 300,000. But the pebble of tobacco tossed by John Rolfe killed more than 100,000,000 people in the 20th century alone. We can only guess at the number killed by lung cancer and emphysema during the previous two centuries. Tobacco continues to kill about 8 million people a year.The pebble of slavery tossed by Anthony Johnson resulted in the subjugation of millions of innocent people in America for exactly 201 years. And the waves of that storm continue to crash upon the beach 161 years after the Emancipation Proclamation of Abraham Lincoln.Anthony, Anthony, Anthony… why did you throw that pebble 370 years ago?Anthony, if you are listening, please know that you are remembered as a hardworking and successful man who lived with his loving wife Mary for more than 40 years and...
1/29/20247 minutes, 39 seconds
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Why Your Beliefs Are Correct

You look at life from a unique point of view.I do, too.Each of us is trapped in our own perceptual reality.“I have no idea what you’re talking about.”You and I may look at the same thing but see it differently. And that little girl over there, yes, that one, sees things differently than either of us. The woman standing next to that little girl has experienced things you and I will never experience, and her reactions to those things have changed her and formed the person she is today. She is trapped inside her own perceptual reality, just like you and me.“Is there a way out of it?”Out of what?“Out of the perceptual reality in which each of us is trapped.”When you modify your perception, you modify your reality.“Explain.”When you listen carefully to an honest person who doesn’t agree with your beliefs, you understand that they experience things differently than you do. And that is when your perceptual reality is modified, and your mind is expanded.“What you are describing is relativism. I believe the facts are the facts, and the truth is the truth, regardless of what you choose to believe.”But would you agree that things are often different than they appear to be?“I’m not sure what you’re saying.”Sometimes we trust facts that are not facts. And even when our facts are correct, the complete truth is usually far more complex than it appears to be on the surface.“I reject that statement. Facts are facts, and the truth is never complex; it is always plain and simple. An honest person who doesn’t see the truth has simply been misinformed.”I respectfully disagree.“Then you have been misinformed.”It was six men of Indostan, to learning much inclined,who went to see the elephant (Though all of them were blind),that each by observation, might satisfy his mind.The first approached the elephant, and, happening to fall,against his broad and sturdy side, at once began to bawl:“God bless me! but the elephant, is nothing but a wall!”The second feeling of the tusk, cried: “Ho! what have we here,so round and smooth and sharp? To me tis mighty clear,this wonder of an elephant, is very like a spear!”The third approached the animal, and, happening to take,the squirming trunk within his hands, “I see,” quoth he,the elephant is very like a snake!”The fourth reached out his eager hand, and felt about the knee:“What most this wondrous beast is like, is mighty plain,” quoth he;“Tis clear enough the elephant is very like a tree.”The fifth, who chanced to touch the ear, Said; “E’en the blindest mancan tell what this resembles most; Deny the fact who can,This marvel of an elephant, is very like a fan!”The sixth no sooner had begun, about the beast to grope,than, seizing on the swinging tail, that fell within his scope,“I see,” quothe he, “the elephant is very like a rope!”And so these men of Indostan, disputed loud and long,each in his own opinion, exceeding stiff and strong,Though each was partly in the right, and all were in the wrong!So, oft in theologic wars, the disputants, I ween,tread on in utter ignorance, of what each other mean,and prate about the elephant, not one of them has seen!“Okay, so what’s your point?”Each of the six blind men saw a different elephant, but every one of those six elephants was far more complex than it appeared to be on the surface.“But if the blind men had taken time to gather all the facts, they would have seen the truth of the entire elephant.”That’s true.“Well, that’s what I do. I gather all the facts, and then I see the truth.”You are to be congratulated on that. You are a very special individual.“Thank you.”The rest of us suffer...
1/22/20247 minutes, 35 seconds
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Porcupi and Rhinoceri

A weak ad attempts to make too many points, and none of them very powerfully.A weak ad is a bloated little porcupine.A great ad drives a single point through one side of your house and out the other with all the momentum of a freight train. A powerful ad is a charging rhinoceros.The world is covered in porcupine ads. They waddle slowly across your television screen. They crawl out of your radio like termites. Their dead carcasses are displayed on billboards along the highways. You stumble over them wherever you go.If I paint an unpleasant picture, it is because porcupines are annoying little rodents.But a charging rhino is a wonder to behold. It makes us stop what we’re doing and pay attention. A rhino pays no attention to the hall monitor who wags his finger and scolds, “No running in the hall!”And that really pisses some people off.Chris Torbay wrote a charging rhinoceros radio ad that makes a single point, very powerfully. I told you about it a few weeks ago, one day after it began charging across the sky from the tops of radio towers in Florida.The ad features a woman who works at an insurance company:My name is Michelle, and I work for Chapman Insurance. I work in the call center answering the phone. What kind of job is that you’re thinking? Well, when it’s your call, maybe I make a difference for you. Maybe you were dreading another one of those stupid corporate phone things with their “press one” and “press two” and “press six if a palm tree just fell on your dog house.”[Now Michelle starts to become emotional, getting increasing wound-up as the ad progresses, until she finishes with thundering pride and deep conviction]But you get to talk to a person, and you get to tell a real person how worried you are. And I get it, because I’m a real person, and I do this for a living. And I can see your policy and answer your questions because I know how confusing this can be!! And when you hang up, you feel like someone with a heart and a soul, and a pretty awesome understanding of insurance has had the basic human decency to answer the phone and talk to you like a person instead of making you press six!!! My name is Michelle. I work with Chapman and your insurance call matters to me!!!!Does it surprise you that the insurance company has had multiple complaints about that ad?It makes a single point:“Business phones should be answered by knowledgeable people who can give you accurate and immediate answers.”Rhinoceros ads always get complaints.Chris Torbay has a younger brother named Mick Torbay who lives in Toronto and rides a rhinoceros everywhere he goes. Mick and I had lunch yesterday with Kyle Caldwell of Atlanta and Ryan Chute of Halifax. Mick said,“When I unleash an ad, there is a specific number of complaints I’m looking for, and it isn’t zero.”The rest of us nodded our affirmation.The majority of people love to see a rhino put on a show. They love rhinos because rhinos are never boring. Porcupines are boring.The rage of the tiny people who are shouting at Chapman Insurance are mostly business owners who are using those abominable “press one” and “press two” machines instead of having the basic human decency to answer the phone and talk to you like a person. You can see now how that ad could make them angry, right?Porcupine lovers are prickly, and easily aggrieved, and quick to call and shout,“Your ads are terrible! You’re not doing it right! You should hire a professional who knows how to talk about features and benefits and price and selection and value and convenience and how long you’ve been in business, and all the awards you’ve won, and say the name of your company at least 7 times in the first 30 seconds. You need to...
1/15/20245 minutes, 34 seconds
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How to Succeed Without Planning

Efficiency experts say you must plan your work and work your plan. And you must have written goals and a budget and a schedule.A detailed plan is the key to success when you are doing something small, but you cannot have a detailed plan when you are doing something big and new and untried.You know a project is small when all the variables can be known in advance.When you do something big and new and untried, you will come to a place that your plan did not foresee. This is when you must improvise. Later, you will discover that you are making decisions at the last moment, because that is when you have the most information.Possibilities are in your mind. Reality is at your fingertips. So get started. Move. Take action. Do something.Clarity, commitment, and continual improvement are what you need most when doing something big and new and untried.1: Clarity means you have a clear vision of the outcome you are hoping to bring into reality.2: When you have clarity, you always know what to do next.3: Commitment means that quitting will never occur to you.4: When you have commitment, you find a solution to every obstacle.5: Continual Improvement means that you touch your project every day without fail.6: Touching your project every day – and moving it forward a little – unleashes the power of Exponential Little Bits, the energy that spins your flywheel.7: A thousand tiny touches don’t add up, they multiply. Two becomes four. Four becomes eight. Eight becomes sixteen, and 28 cycles later you have exceeded one billion.8: The only things you cannot know in advance are(A.) How long is it going to take?(B.) How much is it going to cost?9: If you insist on knowing those answers in advance, these are the answers:(A.) It will take as long as it takes(B.) It will cost what it costs.10: If you demand answers with more details, you either lack commitment or you believe I can see the future.11: I cannot see the future.12: The only hard part is step number one.You will notice I have given you a 12-step program. This is because doing things that are big, new, and untried is highly addictive, and every addictive thing has its own 12-step program.Do not confuse it with a plan.Roy H. WilliamsPS – George Bernard Shaw said, “A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.” Roy might tell you more about George Bernard Shaw next week. Or then again, maybe not. – IndyCharlie Munger was the billionaire businessman who built Berkshire Hathaway side-by-side with Warren Buffett. Just weeks before Munger died at age 99, Gregory Zuckerman of The Wall Street Journal spent 4 hours with Charlie in the billionaire’s Los Angeles home and came away with some life-changing insights. This week, roving reporter Rotbart interviews the last journalist to interview Charlie Munger, which makes everyone who listens to this week’s episode of Monday Morning Radio just three degrees of separation from Charlie Munger and four degrees from Warren Buffett. How can you resist? This party will start the moment you arrive at
1/8/20244 minutes, 38 seconds
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It Began as a Tiny Thing

A germ is a tiny thing, but it can divide and become two germs, then four.Four becomes eight and after only 28 more cycles you find yourself handcuffed in the sad darkness of more than one billion germs.One billion, seventy-three million, seven hundred and forty-one thousand, eight hundred and twenty-four germs, to be exact.And they are all trying to kill you.Unlike the more beautiful forms of life, germs carry only one set of chromosomes instead of two. They reproduce by dividing into two cells, a process called binary fission.It began as a tiny cut. But every time you open that wound, you increase the pain of it.This is why it is dangerous to nurse a grudge. When we remember painful moments, we increase their strength.Did you know that most of what we remember never really happened? At least not the way we remember it.When we remember something that happened, we do not recall the event objectively. None of us do. We reconstruct the event according to how it made us feel the last time we thought about it. We remember only the memory of our memory.The memories you carry in your mind are distorted reconstructions, at best. But the assumptions you made – especially the motives and intentions you ascribed to other people – quickly crystallize into “indisputable facts” in your mind.That last statement bears repeating: the motives and intentions you ascribe to other people quickly crystallize into “indisputable facts” in your mind.Therein lies a great danger. When you nurse a grudge, you distort reality by crystallizing emotional impressions into “hard facts” that you believe with all your heart. And the more often you revisit that pain, the tighter your handcuffs and the deeper your darkness.We’ve heard it before, but it is good for us to hear it again:“Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.”Every person deserves to be remembered for their best moment.Take that thought with you into the new year. When you remember a person, search the secret corners of your mind for an event, a moment, something that person said, or did, that makes you smile a little. Replace your dark, sad memory with one that is happy and light.Don’t do it for them. Do it for you.Have a happy new year.Roy H. WilliamsSide Hustles, Online Retailing, Military Contracts, Bras, Walt Disney, Firefighters, Business Exit Strategies, and Worms. Those were 8 of the Top 10 Episodes for MondayMorningRadio in 2023. This week, roving reporter Rotbart – with brilliant co-host and son, Maxwell – revisit the highlights of 2023 and share an audio preview of their new book, a Monday Morning Radio anthology offering insights from 25 of the most interesting guests in the history of the show. The book won’t be released until March, but you can begin profiting from its compiled wisdom the moment you arrive at
1/1/20244 minutes, 34 seconds
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What, Then, is a Woman?

“The thing about the systematic reduction of a woman down to her parts is that she doesn’t always know it’s happening while it’s going on. Just one day she wakes up and realizes that all she was,was a face,a line of cleavage,two legs,a couple of hands,the swivel of her pelvis,the swell of her breast.We were just the disembodied parts in the display cases. One day we wake up to find out that the diamonds were never chocolate at all; they were brown the whole time. And our bodies, which are finally ours again, can move on all we want, though they forever remain a library of our lives — of the hurt and the shame, and of what we either allowed or didn’t allow other people to get away with.”– Taffy Brodesser-Akner, The New York Times, April 23, 2019“The number of ‘likes’ a photo receives is correlated with sexualization on Instagram. This partially confirmed Simone de Beauvoir’s concept of self-objectification, where young women generally see themselves as objects for viewers to judge through ‘likes.'”– Amber L. Horan,“Picture This! Objectification Versus Empowerment in Women’s Photos on Social Media”“In a society where media is the most persuasive force shaping cultural norms, the collective message we receive is that a woman’s value and power lies in her youth, beauty, and sexuality, and not in her capacity, inner-self, or passions.”– Sonia SuarezLike most men, I’ve long been fascinated with women. But what, exactly, defines “woman”? Definitions are so conflicted that I believe anyone who attempts to define “woman” is certain to be criticized. But when has that ever been an impediment to a curious mind? Today’s examination of the mystery and magic of women begins with a handful of quotes that show us “the perfect woman” that can exist only in the mind of a man. Psychologist Carl Jung calls her the anima. I call her, “The Imaginary Woman.”“What do we know about the goddesses, those elusive female figures, stronger than human males, more dangerous than male deities, who represent not real women but the dreams of real men?”– Alice Bach, Women in the Hebrew Bible, p. 17“I think the idealization of women is indigenous to men. There are various ways of idealizing women, especially sexually, based in almost every case on their inaccessibility. When a woman functions as an unobtainable love object, she takes on a mythical quality.”– James Dickey, Self Interviews, p. 153Miguel de Cervantes gave us a perfect example of the imaginary woman 418 years ago. Don Quixote sees a village girl in the distance – Aldonza Lorenzo by name – and says,“Her name is Dulcinea, her kingdom, Toboso, which is in La Mancha, her condition must be that of princess, at the very least, for she is my queen and lady, and her beauty is supernatural, for in it one finds the reality of all the impossible.”In the book, Don Quixote never meets Dulcinea. He sees her only from a distance. Like Helen of Troy – the face that launched 1,000 ships – Dulcinea is the anima, that perfect woman who can exist only in the imagination of a man. Everything Quixote accomplishes and endures is in her name and for her honor.“The girls in body-form slacks wander the High Street with locked hands while small transistor radios sit on their shoulders and whine love songs in their ears. The younger boys, bleeding with sap, sit on the stools of Tanger’s Drugstore ingesting future pimples through straws. They watch the girls with level goat-eyes and make disparaging remarks to one another while their insides whimper with longing.”– John Steinbeck“Freda was a dazzle, a virtual watercolor of a woman...
12/25/20238 minutes, 48 seconds
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A Fly-Fishing Fanatic in America’s 13 Colonies

I don’t know if he was was an American Patriot or a British Loyalist. All I know is that he owned a 1726 edition of “The Gentleman Angler,” a leather bound book on fly fishing.That book was 50 years old when Thomas Jefferson penned the Declaration of Independence.Speaking of Jefferson, that same fly-fisherman bought a first edition of the complete, 4-volume leather bound set of “Memoir, Correspondence, and Miscellanies” written by Thomas Jefferson and published in 1829. This leads me to believe that our fly-fishing friend purchased his 103-year-old copy of the 1726 edition of “The Gentleman Angler” at about that same time, roughly 200 years ago.There were no modern books in his collection.I just realized something. Our fly-fishing friend was obviously an American Patriot, or he would not have purchased Thomas Jefferson’s “Memoir, Correspondence, and Miscellanies” in 1829.“Hang on a moment, Roy, you identified that man as a ‘Fly-Fishing Fanatic’ in the title of today’s MondayMorningMemo. What led you to call him that?”I call him a “Fly-Fishing Fanatic” because the majority of the 18 books in his collection were about fly fishing, including a 1750 edition, a 1760 edition, and an 1823 edition of “The Compleat Angler” by Izaak Walton.I bought his entire collection because books are cool, especially books that are centuries old.What would have been REALLY cool, though, is if this lover-of-books who lived during the years of Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, and George Washington also owned an original, 1605 first-edition of Don Quixote de La Mancha. Wouldn’t that have been cool?There are only 10 known copies of that book in all the world, and the last one to change hands sold 35 years ago for 1,500,000 dollars. There are no universities that own a copy, and there are no copies available to public view except the one that is owned by the citizens of the United States of America, and that one is closely guarded in our Library of Congress.Did you guess already?Our colonial fly-fishing friend did, in fact, own a 1605 edition of Cervantes’ masterpiece, and I bought it with the rest of his collection.The mystery is that my copy is roughly 8 inches by 11 inches, much larger than the 4-inch by 6-inch edition owned by the Library of Congress. My copy is, without question, extraordinarily old. The attributes that bring me to this conclusion are not easily faked.The cover is wrapped in the remains of old, brittle vellum – tightly stretched animal skin – and the pages are substantial and thick. It is not, however, the unauthorized pirated version published in Portugal in 1605, because mine has the correct 1605 frontispiece and title page, identical to that of the 4-inch by 6-inch 1605 edition held by the Library of Congress.My copy has the vellum cover and ties, like the 1605 Portuguese edition and the 1620 English edition, but it is neither of those.It appears to a centuries old Presentation Edition, if such a thing existed so long ago.The print seems to occupy about the same dimensions as the smaller, first book, but the pages themselves are bigger and more substantial, as if the original press was used on larger paper, leaving a lot of unprinted paper bordering the...
12/18/20238 minutes, 7 seconds
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Irwin, Bob, Frank, Placido, and Aretha

Irwin Michnick, the Brooklyn-born son of a Jewish furrier from Ukraine, was a jazz musician who wrote radio commercials and advertising jingles for companies like L & M cigarettes and Ken-L Ration dog food.Bob Levenson was a copywriter at Doyle Dane Bernbach who needed a tune to go with the words, “Everybody doesn’t like something, but nobody doesn’t like Sara Lee.” Irwin Michnick got the call.But it was a different call that led to Irwin Michnik winning a Tony Award and the Contemporary Classics Award from the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame.Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, Placido Domingo, and more than 70 other superstars of music have recorded the song that Michnik wrote.Josh Groban included it on his 2020 album, Harmony.Aretha Franklin sang it at the funeral of civil rights activist Rosa Parks.Senator Edward Kennedy asked that it be sung at his funeral, as well. And it was.The song teaches us that passion does not create commitment, but that commitment creates passion. It is a song that teaches us that we can achieve the miraculous only if we are willing to attempt the ridiculous.Do you remember the Ze Frank quote I shared with you last week? The one where Ze talks about how the hero throws himself into battle against impossible odds, fiercely pushing, shoulders back, despite the knowledge that he can’t win, that he will die in the end?Irwin Michnik wrote the music and Joe Darion wrote the words. It is the theme song of Wizard Academy, that school for entrepreneurs and ad writers and educators and ministers and researchers and every other agent-of-change who has become infected with an impossible dream.Do you remember the song now? Of course you do. It starts like this, “To dream the impossible dream; to fight the unbeatable foe; to bear with unbearable sorrow; to run where the brave dare not go.”You probably don’t remember Irwin Michnik because he was known professionally as Mitch. Mitch Leigh.I’ll bet you can guess what Indy Beagle has for you in the rabbit hole.In other news about impossible dreams, last week I bought an extremely old copy of the book Miguel de Cervantes wrote that inspired the song by Mitch Leigh and Joe Darion.Perhaps I’ll tell you about it after the beginning of the year.Ciao for Niao,Roy H. WilliamsGood business ideas often die on the vine because of the cost and logistics of bringing those ideas into reality. Uzair Ahmed saw all these missed opportunities, so he figured figured out how to use technology and automation to make these good business ideas come alive. Uzair tested a high-tech, low-overhead system to launch a business that provides on-site car repairs. Guess what? It succeeded wildly. Now, Uzair tells roving reporter Rotbart, he can help other businesses cut their costs up to 60% by following his model. And this also reduces the number of hours a business owner has to spend at work. We’ve struck the match and lit the fuse. If you want to see the fireworks, hurry over to
12/11/20234 minutes, 23 seconds
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The Two Times We Read Don Quixote

Back in 2012, Ze Frank recorded a video I’ve contemplated for 11 years.“What was it about?”The hero and the clown.“What made it so interesting that you’ve contemplated it for so long?”The hero and the clown are the same person.“You’re going to need to explain that to me.”Here’s the transcript. Read it:“Once I was lucky enough to take a class with the great clown teacher Giovanni Fusetti and one of the things that he talked about was the ancient idea of a hero. In the Greek myths, humans were subject to massive and unknown forces outside of their control. The whims of the gods – fickle gods – the gods of wind, waves and war, of luck, of love, of age and death. And from up on Mount Olympus, humans, humans look like little ants in the face of all these things. Giovanni said that despite these unknowns the hero pushes, pushes up against all these forces, fiercely pushes, shoulders back, despite the knowledge that he can’t win, that he will die in the end. The clown on the other hand, celebrates the falling, the failure, the absurdity of skipping along the bottom, the absurdity of trying at all…”– Ze Frank, Unfair, June 22, 2012“Okay, that was interesting. But I don’t see how you could still be thinking about that after 11 years.”It answered a question for me.“So, what was the question?”How can one person look at Don Quixote and see a hero, and another person look at him and see a clown?“Sometimes you think about some really weird crap. You know that, right?”Yeah, I know that.“You need to tie all this together for me.”Cervantes wrote Don Quixote in 1605, and for the past 418 years, a person’s interpretation of that book has depended almost entirely on when and where they lived.“For real?”Yeah. For real.“Why?”Why, what?“Why does it depend on when and where they lived?”There are two specific times when people read the story of Don Quixote:When a nation is pursuing a beautiful dream, the artists of that nation will paint, and sculpt, and write plays about heroes who fight against impossible odds. And they will cheer for Don Quixote, a visionary hero who saw beauty, justice, and honor in a common village girl who didn’t know he was alive.Generations later, weary, disheartened, and brittle, those same nations will laugh at the absurdity of believing in heroes, and their comedians will mock the foolishness of relentless determination. And they will sneer at Don Quixote, a man who saw visions of beauty, justice and honor in a common village girl who didn’t know he was alive.“So what does America believe about Don Quixote right now?”Answer me this, Indy: Do you feel our nation is pursuing a beautiful dream? Or do you feel we are weary, disheartened, and brittle?“Considering that everyone is suspicious of everyone right now, I’d say that we are the second one.”Indy, I want you to research the founding fathers and find out whether they were reading Don Quixote when they were dreaming the dream of America, and fighting against impossible odds to escape from under the bootheel of King George.“You want me to put it in the rabbit hole?”That’s up to you, my little Beagle friend, but I’m hoping you will.“I will under one condition.”Name it.“Tell me what brought this on. I need to know why you’re telling me all this.”Do you remember what I told all those people who came to Austin to hear my final presentation of ‘Pendulum’ 11 years ago?“I remember the tower was full, but you said a lot of things during those 2 days. Which of those things are you talking about?”It was near the end, when someone asked me how soon I would be teaching ‘Pendulum’ again.“I remember that you told them you wouldn’t be teaching it again for at least 10...
12/4/20235 minutes, 58 seconds
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ot Everything is Scalable

Ninety percent of motorcycle riders who attempt this corner at 100 mph crash and die, so 9% of riders who attempt it at 10 mph will also crash and die, right?The fact that you answered silently ‘No’ indicates that you instinctively understand the concept of an inflection point.Somewhere between zero and 100 mph is the inflection point where crashes begin to occur, and every mile-per-hour above that inflection point increases the likelihood of a crash.Although we instinctively understand the reality of the inflection point when reducing from the greater to the smaller, we somehow believe things are infinitely scalable when moving from the smaller to the greater.If we can navigate the corner at 77 mph, then we can do it at 78 mph. And if we can do it at 78 mph, we can certainly do it at 79 mph. And if 79 is doable, then so is 80, right?I’m talking to you about lead generation for your business.A few days ago, I was having a conversation that I find myself having far too often. I have an acquaintance in the air conditioning business who told me he was planning to increase his Google budget. He said,“If I increase my Google budget by 50%, I’ll get 50% more leads.”He’s been in business about 11 years and is a major player in his city, so I asked, “During peak season, how many calls do you get on the average day?”He told me the number, then I said, “Now think of all your competitors and estimate the number of calls they could possibly be getting. Give it some thought. Don’t leave anyone out.”I gave him time to think, then said, “Add that call volume to your call volume. Now tell me, what is the largest possible number of people that could possibly need air conditioning service during peak season?”He gave me a number. I asked, “Is there any way it could be higher than that?”“No.”“Peak season has been over for awhile. How many clicks are you currently buying each day?” His eyes got big and he said,“I’m already buying more than 3 times that many clicks every day! How is that possible?”“Are you asking me how it is possible that a finite number of people in your city are in the market for your product today, but the number of clicks available today is infinite? Is that what you’re asking?”He shook his head yes, so I told him the answer.I run into the same problem when talking to clients about radio ads. They say,“Every time I have increased my radio budget, my sales have increased. So I want to increase my budget again.”“It won’t do you any good.”“But it has always worked in the past.”“It won’t work this time because you are already reaching all the people who spend enough time listening to the radio each week to make it possible for you to reach them with sufficient repetition. The only people left are the ones who don’t spend enough time listening. We’re going to have to add a new media: TV, or billboards, or maybe direct mail.”“Will it work as well as the radio?”“Of course not. Because we’re at an inflection point.”“What do you mean?”“You’re already reaching 39% of your city with enough repetition for those people to know who you are and what you do and how you do it and why they should choose you. So whatever media we buy next, you’ve got to keep in mind that we’re already reaching 39% of those people with relentless repetition on the radio. The best-case scenario is that you’re going to see about 60% as much business growth per ad dollar as you’ve seen in the past.”No one wants to hear that.People want to believe that everything related to business is infinitely scalable. But there is always an inflection point when lead generation becomes more...
11/27/20237 minutes, 29 seconds
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The Purpose of Poetry

Poetry is not limited to poets.When you1. say more2. in fewer words,you are being poetic.Pithy, insightful statements are poetry.Frederik Pohl was not trying to explain why we increase our purchases of ice cream, alcohol, and entertainment when we are sad, but he summarizes it perfectly in just 20 words:“What I wanted very badly was something to take my mind off all the things that were on my mind.”1In another of his books, Frederik Pohl uses just 15 words to remind us of something we have often seen and always known:“No circumstances were ever so bad that a little human effort couldn’t make them worse.”2Frederik Pohl was not a poet or a philosopher, but a science fiction writer born in 1919.Does this next statement conjure an image in your mind?“How clearly I saw what he had become! A man who so loved religiosity that he traded his ethical responsibilities for the brightness of that love.”3 – Arkady MartineArkady Martine is not a poet or a philosopher, but another science fiction writer.“Vanity manifests itself in overseriousness. To the vain, the trivialities of this world are of momentous importance. Everything that happens to a vain person is terribly important.”4– Eric Hoffer, a dockworker“It’s steel country, anthracite country, a place full of holes. Smokestacks fume and locomotives trundle back and forth on elevated conduits and leafless trees stand atop slag heaps like skeleton hands shoved up from the underworld.”5– Anthony Doerr, a novelistPoetry is not limited to poets. When you say more, in fewer words, you are being poetic.Most people avoid poetry because they feel it to be sissy, elitist, and irrelevant. After all, who wants to say more in fewer words?Every advertiser on the planet, that’s who.Poetic statements jump over the wall of the intellect to land on the softest parts of the heart.And if you win the heart, the mind will follow. The mind will always create logic to justify what the heart has already decided.Transactional writing wins the mind.Relational writing wins the heart.Transactional writing is about features and benefits.Relational writing is about identity reinforcement.Learn to say more in fewer words.People will pay close attention when you speak.Your ads will produce miraculous results.Your meetings will be shorter and more productive.You will be widely admired, much remembered, and often quoted.In the 6th chapter of Matthew’s Good News, Jesus tells his followers not to include mindless repetition in their prayers. God doesn’t need filler words, and he doesn’t need us to repeat ourselves in order to be heard.That’s right, God doesn’t need filler words.And neither do the rest of us.Roy H. Williams1The Annals of the Heechee, p. 912 The Other End of Time, chap. 153A Desolation Called Peace, p. 2694Working and Thinking on the Waterfront, p.955All the Light We Cannot See, p. 24He started with $200,000 in 2018. Today it is $200,000,000. You can do it, too. Bronson Hill heard Warren Buffet say that people will work the rest of their lives if they don’t find a way to make money while they sleep. This week, Bronson reveals to roving reporter Rotbart his successful strategies for passive investment in real estate. You can always count on our roving Reporter to seek out interesting people with fascinating stories for you to hear at
11/20/20235 minutes, 1 second
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The Function of Fiction

Fiction is an ancient virtual reality technology that specializes in simulating human problems.“Like a flight simulator, fiction projects us into intense simulations of problems that run parallel to those we face in reality. And like a flight simulator, the main virtue of fiction is that we have a rich experience and don’t die at the end.”That was Jonathan Gottschall. This is the stunningly brilliant Chris Torbay.“My name is Michelle, and I work for Chapman Insurance. I work in the call center answering the phone. ‘What kind of job is that?’ you’re thinking. Well, when it’s your call, maybe I make a difference for you. Maybe you were dreading another one of those stupid corporate phone things with their ‘press one’ and ‘press two’ and ‘press six if a palm tree just fell on your doghouse,’… but you get to talk to a person, and you get to tell a real person how worried you are. And I get it because I’m a real person and I do this for a living! And I can see your policy and answer your questions because I know how confusing this can be, and when you hang up, you feel like someone with a heart and a soul, and a pretty awesome understanding of insurance has had the basic human decency to answer the phone and talk to you like a person instead of making you press six!!!!! My name is Michelle!!!! I work with Chapman, and your insurance call matters to me!!!!”[MALE VOICE] Visit© Chris Torbay 2023Jonathan Gottschall goes on to say,“Fiction seems to be more effective at changing beliefs than nonfiction, which is designed to persuade through argument and evidence. Studies show that when we read nonfiction, we read with our shields up. We are critical and skeptical. But when we are absorbed in a story, we drop our intellectual guard.”“There is no doubt fiction makes a better job of the truth.”– Doris Lessing, winner of the 2007 Nobel Prize in Literature“Escapist fantasies are laughably superficial. Attaining them isn’t what we really want. If we did, they’d no doubt bore or disappoint us. We don’t want the fantasy. We want to fantasize.”– Evan Puschak, Escape into Meaning, p.109“The one thing emphasized in any creative writing course is ‘write what you know,’ and that automatically drives a wooden stake through the heart of imagination. If they really understood the mysterious process of creating fiction, they would say, ‘You can write about anything you can imagine.'”– Tom Robbins“Fantasy, abandoned by reason, produces impossible monsters; united with it, she is the mother of the arts and the origin of marvels.”– Francisco GoyaBut how does a person become creative?“When you notice a commonality between two or more things, you say, ‘Oh there’s something there.’ And now we make what’s called a charm bracelet: You take these things and you find a way to associate them. So that’s the process: I’m thinking about this [one] thing and then remember this [other] thing, and then you go, ‘Oh there’s something there — let me connect those 2 things.”– Jerry SeinfeldBrandon Sanderson agrees with Jerry Seinfeld:“The way that human creativity works is by combination. That’s what we’re really good at. We don’t come up with a completely new creature. We put a horn on a horse and go, ‘Look at that, that’s cool.’ That’s how we create on a fundamental level.”And Steve Jobs agreed with both Seinfeld and Sanderson:“Creativity equals connecting previously...
11/13/20239 minutes, 48 seconds
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The Power and Danger of Relational Marketing

Beautiful people know they are beautiful.Smart people know they are smart.Rich people know they are rich.You don’t need to tell them.If you speak about surface qualities, your words are superficial.If you speak about inner qualities, your words are deep.Flattery is an attempt at superficial bonding. It is the pickup line of a creep in a bar, hitting on a pretty girl. Creeps talk to women about the ‘features and benefits’ they see on the surface of the woman, and then they describe their own ‘features and benefits.’I am talking to you about advertising.Transactional ads describe something that is outside your current possession. Transactional ads are written to entice you to buy a product. Their offer of features and benefits is basically this: “Give me what I want, and I’ll give you what you want.”We settle for sex when we cannot find love.Most ads focus on ‘features and benefits’ because most marketing is created by morons.The woman in the bar is your customer. She is standing alone on a tiny island surrounded by an ocean of ‘features and benefits’, but it is an ocean only a few inches deep.What do you think would happen if you offered her what she really wants? What do you think would happen if your only goal was to rescue her forever from that tiny island?Relational ads speak to values and beliefs deep in your customer’s heart. Relational marketing is about meeting your customer’s needs today, tomorrow, and forever.Transactional marketing is about satisfying the need of the hour.Relational marketing is about satisfying the needs of a lifetime.“But,” you say, “product marketing isn’t about a relationship. It is about the features and benefits of the product.”Apple was the first company in the world to achieve a trillion-dollar valuation. Did Steve Jobs build that brand on transactional ads that described the features and benefits of Apple products? Apple-solutely not!In 1985, when Steve Jobs was fired from the company he had founded, a moron took over the marketing at Apple and immediately began talking about ‘features and benefits’. Those superficial ads plunged Apple into obscurity and brought the company to the brink of bankruptcy.When Steve Jobs came back to rescue Apple, he made a 7-minute speech to his team. (Indy Beagle has a video of that speech for you in today’s rabbit hole.)Steve begins that speech with these words:“To me, marketing is about values. This is a very complicated world. It’s a very noisy world, and we’re not going to get a chance to get people to remember much about us, no company is. And so we have to be really clear on what we want ’em to know about us.”Four minutes later, he finishes with this:“The things that Apple believed in at its core are the same things that Apple really stands for today. And so we wanted to find a way to communicate this. And what we have is something that I am very moved by. It honors those people who have changed the world. Some of them are living, some of them are not. But the ones that aren’t, as you’ll see, you know, that if they ever used a computer, it would’ve been a Mac. The theme of the campaign is Think Different. It’s the people honoring the people who think different and who move this world forward. And it is what we are about. It touches the soul of this company. So I’m going to go ahead and roll it, and I hope that you feel the same way about it I do.”“Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes, the ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules and they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only...
11/6/202312 minutes, 14 seconds
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Portals and How to Use Them

Portals are openings that lead from one place to another.The best screenwriters, novelists, poets, and ad writers use portals when they want their readers, listeners, and viewers to follow them to a new and different place.Portals can be visual, auditory, or literary.Visual Portalslike windows, doors, and tunnels, are used by painters, photographers, and graphic artists.A portal makes a 2-dimensional image psychologically 3-dimensional.There is(1.) the foreground,(2.) the portal (window) and(3.) a different reality on the other side.We see a kitchen, with people sitting at a table in the foreground. The kitchen counter is covered with the implements of cooking. But our eyes are attracted to the portal: a window under which the table sits… Looking through that window, we see that we are high up on a mountain overlooking a valley through which a whitewater stream makes its way to the sea.There is one world on this side of that window, and another world on the other.Portals make it easier for readers, listeners, and viewers to follow you on your journey of imagination.Auditory portalsbeckon you toward a world beyond. These portals of sound are another type of window that pulls you toward the valley, the river, and the sea.Pitch, key, tempo, rhythm, interval, and contour are the 6 sub-languages in the language of music. Each of these involves movement up-and-down, and/or left and right. This is what makes them two-dimensional. To create a portal, we must add depth, the 3rd dimension.Harmony provides depth, thus opening an auditory portal.Major 7th chords provide depth, and thus open auditory portals.When you strike the 1, 3, 5 and 7 keys in the major scale on a piano, you are playing a major 7th.Strike the 1 and the 7 without the 3 and the 5, and you will create a truly horrible sound; a sound from which you will want to escape. Add the 3 and the 5 to that ugly 1 and 7, and you will hear a rich, lush sound with all the transcendent DEPTH of rich harmony. Auditory portals make is easier for people to follow you to the place you are trying to take them.Literary Portalsare references from books, plays, movies, and TV shows that allow you to transfer a vivid mental image using only a few words.Example: “I was so deep in thought I felt like Hamlet talking to the skull of Yorick.”Example: “A drug dealer is a reverse Robin Hood, robbing the poor and giving the money to the rich.”Example: “When you step off a train in Switzerland, you step through the wardrobe into Narnia.”Literary Portals are another type of window, door, or tunnel.The tunnel of a rabbit hole takes Alice into Wonderland.The tunnel of a telephone landline allows Morpheus, Neo, and Trinity to get in and out of the Matrix. (They cannot do it over a cell phone.)Doors called waygates allow Moiraine and the Aes Sedai to go from place to place in the Wheel of Time.The spiraling tunnel of a tornado takes Dorothy into Oz.The portal of Platform 9 3/4 in the train station allows Harry Potter to leave the world of muggles.The shape of a spiralis a portal that pulls you in. It is always associated with a feeling of spin.Elevator Portalstake you to a different level. The concept of going up or down is easily communicated by the image of a ladder, stairs, an escalator, or an elevator.Elevator portals can be visual, auditory, or literary.A Dreamis a portal into a symbolic world; a waygate that allows you a glimpse of the unconscious as your pattern-recognizing right-brain processes your unresolved thoughts and impressions.When you want to speak of hope or fear, confidence or anxiety, fantasy or...
10/30/20238 minutes, 7 seconds
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The Third Vanderbilt

I bought an old oil painting. It’s not a large painting or an important one, but it came from the private collection of the founder of the Whitney Museum.I bought it because I’ve always admired Cornelius Vanderbilt and his great-grandson, Willie K. Vanderbilt II, and I consider the delightful Gertude Vanderbilt-Whitney, the great-grandaughter of Cornelius, to be the third, truly interesting Vanderbilt.The First Vanderbilt:The fourth of nine children, Cornelius was in the first grade when George Washington died. At sixteen, he borrowed $100* from his mother to buy a little sailboat to haul passengers and freight between Staten Island and New York City.By the time he was forty, the Vanderbilt fleet was hauling passengers and freight to ports all along the Atlantic coast, earning Cornelius the nickname “Commodore.” He then began buying up struggling railroads and turning them around.The difference between Vanderbilt and his competitors was that his boats and trains ran on schedule and the service was always excellent. If Cornelius Vanderbilt was running an airline today, you would no longer dread going to the airport.The Second Vanderbilt:Willie K. Vanderbilt II (1878–1944), was often seen covered in grease with an automobile engine spread out in pieces around him. Young Willie K outran Henry Ford in 1904 to set a new world land speed record of ninety-two miles per hour. Later that year, Willie held the first Vanderbilt Cup Auto Race and singlehandedly changed the course of American auto making.By offering a first prize of about a million dollars (by today’s standards), Willie K inspired more than 3,000 entrepreneurs to leap to the task of manufacturing stronger, better, faster cars. The Vanderbilt Cup was discontinued after its seventh year because the crowds of more than 400,000 spectators could no longer be safely controlled.He then built a modest home for himself with an excellent wharf and boathouse. His energy was forever after focused on marine life in all its strange and wonderful forms. Every day was a new adventure in the waters of the deep. Prior to his death in 1942, Willie K. Vanderbilt II discovered and documented sixty-eight species of ocean life previously unknown to science.The Third Vanderbilt:Gertrude Vanderbilt (1875–1942,) married a thoroughbred horse breeder named Harry Whitney when she was 21 years old. Harry was a descendent of Eli Whitney, the inventor of the cotton gin in 1839.Shortly after she got married, Gertrude began studying sculpture in Paris with Auguste Rodin. Her love of the arts, her skill as a sculptor, and her Vanderbilt fortune allowed Gertude to become one of the world’s foremost collectors of art. Her artistic fever inflamed New York’s Greenwich Village and caused it to burn brightly as a new bohemia in the early 1900s.In 1931, Gertrude donated 600 of her most precious paintings to create the Whitney Museum of American Art.She kept only a few paintings for her private collection at home.Pennie and I plan to hang the one we bought in Alchemy, the Renaissance coffee and cocktail bar being built by our son, Rex. The painting is of two young women in a kitchen, painted in that style for which Frans van Mieris is famous. If those women aren’t twins, they are obviously sisters.When you visit Wizard Academy next year, perhaps Alchemy will be completed, and you’ll see it there.Aroo,Roy H. WilliamsPS – Of the 111 descendents of Cornelius Vanderbilt, I consider Timothy Olyphant, the actor, to be The Fourth Vanderbilt and Anderson Cooper, the broadcast journalist, to be Vanderbilt #5. You can see the entire list on WIKIPEDIA.
10/23/20236 minutes, 36 seconds
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How to Attract and Hold Attention: Death and Life for the Cognoscenti

It is easy to attract attention:Predictability is death. Spontaneity is life.Day and night, left and right,timid and bold, young and old,up and down, smile and frown.Start and end. Do it again.Negative and positive, effected and causative,passive and active, repulsive and attractive:Paired opposites are the essence of magnetism.You can attention now attract!But opposites quickly get old.To keep that attention,you must learn how to hold.Straight lines are okay, but so are twists, and twirls.Learn to do all three and create Magical Worlds.Two opposites can only disagree.Scientific Chaos begins with three.Opposites collide and we hear the laughter,but the space in the middle is what we’re after.Relieve opposing tensions and you’ll get no respect.Make them work for you, and you’ll be an architect.Marley Porter had the idea, so I gave it words:“Let other people have seconds; we want thirds.”Big endings and beginnings come with a riddleand the answer is hiding in that space in the middle.When a character is tri-flicted, we get addicted.When your story is hollow, fill it with what you can borrow.When your joke has a hole, fill it with what you stole.When your ad has a cavity, fill it with gravity.You can tap your foot. You can play the fiddle.But the dance will happen in that space in the middle.To hold attention slickly,transfer big ideas quickly.If you want to hit hard,make them drop their guard.When they quit thinking and start feeling,you’ll have them reeling.So now you know – but you always did –attention is auctioned but you have to bid.And you, my friend, are a story-telling squid.Wrap the audience in your multiple arms.Pull them in closer. Ignore the alarms.Hold their attention, and they will hold their breath.And what they will feel is life, the opposite of death.Roy H. WilliamsOn October 16, 1923 — precisely 100 years ago today — Walt Disney and his brother Roy launched an entertainment business. It filed for bankruptcy shortly thereafter. But the Disney Brothers Cartoon Studio rebounded and evolved into one of the world’s best-known and most beloved companies. This week, roving reporter Rotbart explores the history of The Walt Disney Company and reveals an incredible Disneyland document that he and his son Maxwell discovered deep in the archives of a Kansas museum. You know that our roving reporter began his career as an investigative reporter and award-winning columnist for The Wall Street Journal, right? Finding things that no one ever found before is what Rotbart does best! Prepare to be amazed at
10/16/20234 minutes, 9 seconds
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The Underdog Phenomenon

Most of us cheer for the little dog that doesn’t have a chance. The underdog.We like them because they need us.Underdogs are those little dogs that rise above their circumstances and overcome their disadvantages. It is the underdog we see in our mind when we say, “It’s not the size of the dog in the fight that matters; it’s the size of the fight in the dog.”Underdogs do the best they can. They push and struggle and hope for a brighter future. They remind us of ourselves.“The scientific literature suggests that fans of losing teams turn out to be better decision-makers and deal better with divergent thought, as opposed to the unreflective fans of winning teams.”– Dr. Jordan Grafman, a researcher at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders (2011)That’s interesting, don’t you think? People who cheer for little David in his fight against big Goliath are reflective, good decision-makers, and unafraid to think new thoughts.We cheer for the underdog, always and forever. We go out of minds with ecstasy when the underdog finally wins. That’s our dog! We look at each other and we know, “That little dog is you and me.”The underdog is a cultural hero.“How do human beings put into words their ideas about the meaning of human life? How do they convey through art and religion their beliefs about the significance of human life? They do it partly by investing in certain transcultural stories, like the one about the adventures of a culture hero, which, after a period of trial and hardship, always ends in triumph.”– Barry Lopez, Horizons, page 323Do you know what has me concerned?The United States began as a nation of underdogs, but it took us barely 10 generations to become a nation of overdogs, victors, champions, and our values have changed because of it.Today we believe, “Winning isn’t everything; it’s the only thing.“We want more subscribers, more influence, more likes, more admirers, more fame, and more money. How much is enough? “Just a little bit more.”I suspect Louis Menand was contemplating all of this in June, 2011 when he wrote:“In a society that encourages its members to pursue the career paths that promise the greatest personal or financial rewards, people will, given a choice, learn only what they need to know for success. They will have no incentive to acquire the knowledge and skills important for life as an informed citizen, or as a reflective and culturally literate human being.”Wouldn’t it be great to have a nation – and a government – of people who were informed citizens and reflective, culturally literate human beings?Wouldn’t that be great?Roy H. WilliamsCurt Tueffert has spent four decades helping people enjoy world-class sales success. When it comes to selling, Curt has seen it all, done it all. Qualify customer prospects, help them past their hesitations, and never feel rejection when rejected: Curt can tell you how. According to roving reporter Rotbart, this week’s episode will instantly boost your batting average in the great game of selling.
10/9/20234 minutes, 5 seconds
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Useful and Ornamental Wordplay

My novelist friend, Brad Whittington and I share a deep and abiding love for the colorful canvases of Robertson Davies, a Canadian writer who paints pictures in the mind."Oho, now I know what you are. You are an advocate of Useful Knowledge.... Well, allow me to introduce myself to you as an advocate of Ornamental Knowledge. You like the mind to be a neat machine, equipped to work efficiently, if narrowly, and with no extra bits or useless parts. I like the mind to be a dustbin of scraps of brilliant fabric, odd gems, worthless but fascinating curiosities, tinsel, quaint bits of carving, and a reasonable amount of healthy dirt. Shake the machine and it goes out of order; shake the dustbin and it adjusts itself beautifully to its new position." – Robertson DaviesUseful knowledge is intellectual. Ornamental knowledge is artistic, fascinating, emotional. But please don't feel that you need to choose between the two. Just as air and water are both essential to your physical wellbeing, Useful knowledge and Ornamental knowledge are both essential to your happiness.Useful knowledge is hard to share. Short sentences are required. There is no room for wordplay when 20/20 clarity is your goal. Writers who can write clearly are needed and needed badly. How is it that every instruction manual is written by a Loquacious Luke who insists on using 27 words when 1 will do? Give me 10 people who can write the truth simply, sharply, and clearly, and I will remove half the frustration from the world.Writers of Useful knowledge communicate clearly and quickly.Writers who share Ornamental knowledge splash splendid colors in the mind to produce vivid visions.But there is a third writer for whom there is no place, no purpose, no need. This is the writer of Adspeak, that empty language of fluff and feathers favored by people who have nothing to say.Adspeak in the boardroom is known as 'Business-dude lorem ipsum'.Charlie Warzel writes for The Atlantic. Here's what Charlie said on August 31, 2022:"'Business-dude lorem ipsum' is filler language that is used to roleplay 'thought leadership' among those who have nothing to say: the MBA version of a grade-school book report that starts with a Webster’s Dictionary definition. Advanced business-dude lorem ipsum will convey action ('We need to design value in stages') but only in the least tangible way possible. It will employ industry terms of art ('We’re first-to-market or a fast follower') that indicate the business dude has been in many meetings where similar ideas were hatched. Business-dude lorem ipsum will often hold one or two platitudes that sound like they might also be Zen koans ('value is in the eye of the beholder') but actually are so broad that they say nothing at all."Weird Al Yankovic has a video on Youtube called "Mission Statement" featuring a delightful song made of 100% 'Business-dude lorem ipsum'. These are some of the lyrics:"We must all efficiently operationalize our strategies, invest in world-class technology and leverage our core competencies in order to holistically administrate exceptional synergy. We'll set a brand trajectory using management philosophy, advance our market share vis-à-vis our proven methodology, with strong commitment to quality, effectively enhancing corporate synergy. Transitioning our company by awareness of functionality, promoting viability, providing our supply chain with diversity, we will distill our identity through client-centric solutions... and synergy."Write colorfully, or write clearly, but please never become so vapid and shallow that you resort to Adspeak and 'Business-dude lorem ipsum'. You are smarter and better and more resourceful than that. You have the courage and wit to drive the snakes out of Ireland, shoot arrows from a rooftop, and land a fighter jet in a field.Maybe you didn't know those things about yourself, but they are...
10/2/20237 minutes, 35 seconds
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Your Low Conversion Rate on Pay-Per-Click

When I was growing up, I could never change the opinion of my mother by saying, “But everyone else is doing it.”My mom had the courage and confidence to believe that Everyone Else’s mother was wrong.That’s a high level of courage and confidence. I’m hoping that you have it, too.When I speak to advertising professionals on the subject of advertising, I often find myself having to explain how certain widely-held beliefs are wrong. I will patiently produce the evidence, the case studies, and scientific documentation. In most instances, the audience will concede that I am right. Then someone will say, “But everyone else is doing it,” as though it is impossible for “everyone else” to be wrong.Here’s an example: most people believe in tightly targeting the right customer. They are convinced that the secret of successful advertising is to “reach the right people.”I believe targeting is essential if you are in a business that sells to other businesses.If you sell computer chips, you need to reach computer manufacturers, so send a letter, an email, a salesman to knock on their door. If you sell cardboard boxes by the traincar load, you need to reach companies that sell things packaged in cardboard boxes. Send a letter, an email, a salesman to knock on their door. The world of B2B lives and dies with their ability to “reach the right people.”But when you are selling a product or service to the public, “targeting the right customer” works only about 10% better than reaching the untargeted masses.If the cost of targeting is less than 10% higher than the cost of not targeting, go ahead and target. But I am confident you will find that targeting usually costs considerably more than that.“But everyone else is doing it.”Please excuse me while I bang my head against the wall.Nielsen is the highly scientific organization that measures television and radio audiences.D2D is cloud based, and leverages open source technology designed to collect, manage, and analyze complex data.Les Binet is a highly respected data scientist.In the summer of 2020, Les Binet published a huge, longterm study on the effectiveness of marketing. Here is one of the many things he learned:“In many ways, online marketing and online media has done itself a disservice by focusing on targeting more than reach. A couple of very interesting studies are out there. One was a study by Nielsen, about the relative contributions of reach versus targeting in effectiveness, and they concluded, with a survey of about 500 econometric models, that targeting only adds about 10% to the effectiveness of the campaign on average. A very similar result came from some work by D2D, where they looked at over 200 econometric models, from a wide range of categories, and they concluded that targeting of a campaign adds only about 10% to effectiveness. So the same numbers, two very different methods.”Have you been following the news about Phenylephrine, the decongestant that was proven to be ineffective in 2007 and in multiple studies since then, but is still on the shelf 16 years later?According to a recent news story by Sarah Zhang,“Americans collectively shell out $1.763 billion a year for cold and allergy meds with phenylephrine, according to the FDA, which also calls the number a likely underestimate. That’s a lot of money for a decongestant that does not work.”Generally speaking, I’m in favor of government staying out of the way of business, but this seems to be a case where the Federal Trade Commission might ought to step in
9/25/20239 minutes, 5 seconds
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The Video Game of Life

Too much to do, too little time. First you are interrupted; then the interruption is interrupted. Does that ever happen to you?Me, too.Surrounded by frantic, breathless, rapid distraction, we have become characters in the video game of Life. The problem is that we are becoming habituated to it. Sensory overload is becoming the new normal.Jeff Sexton, one of my business partners, sent me an article from last week. I’ll share a single paragraph with you:“The researchers then decided to take the experiment a step further. For 15 minutes, the team left participants alone in a lab room in which they could push a button and shock themselves if they wanted to. The results were startling: Even though all participants had previously stated that they would pay money to avoid being shocked with electricity, 67% of men and 25% of women chose to inflict it on themselves rather than just sit there quietly and think… People would rather be electrically shocked than be left alone with their thoughts.”– Nadia Whitehead, Science.orgLike I said, “habituated.” We skitter and twitch through each day as though the finger of God is mashing the fast forward button on the spacetime continuum.In her book, My Invented Country, Isabel Allende writes:“The North Americans’ sense of time is very special. They are short on patience. Everything must be quick, including food and sex, which the rest of the world treats ceremoniously. Gringos invented two terms that are untranslatable into most languages: ‘snack’ and ‘quickie,’ to refer to eating standing up and loving on the run … that, too, sometimes standing up. The most popular books are manuals: how to become a millionaire in ten easy lessons, how to lose fifteen pounds a week, how to recover from your divorce, and so on. People always go around looking for shortcuts and ways to escape anything they consider unpleasant: ugliness, old age, weight, illness, poverty, and failure in any of its aspects.”But last night I discovered the Nancy Reagan solution: “Just say no.”You have been telling yourself that you are overcommitted, but you’re not. You are careful about making commitments. You are not overcommitted. You are over-obligated.Obligations are thrust upon you by people who ambush you with an urgent emergency, or worse, a “quick question.” These people know quick questions often have complicated answers, but they just don’t care. They hide behind the word “Quick” so they can pretend they are asking for nothing more than a flickering moment of your time and attention.You never committed to do what they are asking of you, but you feel obligated nonetheless.Just say no.“Quick question.”“No.”See how easy that was?God bless you, Nancy Reagan.Roy H. WilliamsTo obtain power and influence, you don’t need wealth or privilege. Anyone can become widely known and respected if they can generate a compelling idea and communicate it effectively. That is the conclusion of Bob Dilenschneider, an author, historian, and strategic communication advisor who has been studying and dissecting the elements of power and influence for more than four decades. This week, Dilenschneider shares a surprisingly simple way to get others to listen to you, and follow you. Grab some popcorn and take a seat. The show is about to begin, starring Dean and Maxwell Rotbart, at
9/18/20234 minutes, 20 seconds
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Living in the Nick of Time

You cut a nick into a stick to mark a moment. Then, at the end of the time being measured, you make another nick.To do a thing at the last possible moment is to do it within that second nick, “in the nick of time.”Millions of us have been using this phrase since the year 1580, but very few know the story behind it. You are now one of the chosen few who possess the arcane knowledge of the nick on a stick.But why do we say, “nick of time” instead of “notch of time”? If nick and notch mean the same thing, why haven’t we been saying for 443 years, “This money arrived in the notch of time.”We say nick because “nick” ends with a sharper, cleaner sound than “notch.” Say it out loud. “nick-nick-nick.” “notch-notch-notch.” “nick-nick-nick.” “notch-notch-notch.”“Nick” sounds like a sharp, narrow cut, shaped like a V, narrow and specific. But “notch” sounds softer and wider, with an indistinct bottom shaped like the letter U, a bite taken out of an apple.But nick doesn’t have a V in it, and notch doesn’t have a U. So what’s going on?The letters V and U are graphemes, visual letters in the alphabet. But the meaning of a word is not determined by the look of its letters, but by the sounds they make within the word. Those sounds are called phonemes.When describing a phoneme, don’t say the name of the letter. Make only the sound represented by the letter. The letter is a grapheme. The sound it makes is a phoneme.The sound of a word has a lot to do with how it makes us feel, even when we are reading silently.This is incredibly important when choosing names for products and services and companies. It is also important when writing messages that you hope will persuade.Ad writers, song writers, speech writers, and poets, are you listening?Phonemes with abrupt, clean sounds are “p” “b” “t” “d” “ck” and “g”. The visual graphemes that visually represent those phonemes are P, B, T, D, K, and G. “p” “b” “t” “d” “ck” and “g” are known as the stops, or plosives. This is because all the air is stopped, then released with a plosion: “Kate kicked a kite. nick-nick-nick.” The grapheme is called a K, but the final phoneme in “nick” is “ck”.The “tch” sound in “notch” is an affricate, a sound that begins as a stop and releases as a fricative, a sound that will hiss, hush, or buzz, like “f” “v” “s” “th” “z” “sh” “j” and “h”. The indistinct ending of the sound is what causes us to hear something less sharply defined than we hear in “nick.”We could go on for at least 30 more minutes describing the 44 sounds that make up the English language and discussing the conceptual ideas we unconsciously associate with each of those 44 sounds, but right now my interest is elsewhere.I want you to return with me to the title of today’s Monday Morning Memo, “Living in the Nick of Time.”Do you remember the Monday Morning Memo from 8 weeks ago, July 17, 2023? Today’s Monday Morning Memo is a callback to that memo. A callback is a powerful tool in storytelling because it deepens the understanding of the audience by giving them a new context to consider.When you end with a callback to the beginning, this is called “going full circle.”In the words of T.S. Eliot,“We shall not cease from explorationAnd the end of all our exploringWill be to arrive where we startedAnd know the place for the first time.”Here is what I told you on July 17th:“You cannot suffer the past or future because they do not exist. What you are suffering is your memory and your imagination.”You cut a nick on a stick to mark a moment. At the end of the time being measured, you make another nick. To do a thing at the last possible moment is to do it inside that second nick, “in the...
9/11/20237 minutes, 44 seconds
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Are You Sure You Want to be Famous?

A friend rotated my brain toward the subject of fame.He aimed my eyes in a new direction when he said, “Do you remember that thing you sent me 10 or 15 years ago?”I gave him the same blank look that you would have given him.He continued, “It was that thing Leonard Pitts wrote about being ‘the Man.'”I recovered it from the Random Quotes database at, handed my phone to him and told him to read it out loud. When he was finished, we laughed together like two little boys who heard someone fart in church.Here it is:“I’ve got nothing against fame. I’m famous myself. Sort of.OK, not Will Smith famous. Or Ellen DeGeneres famous. All right, not even Marilu Henner famous.I’m the kind of famous where you fly into some town to give a speech before that shrinking subset of Americans who still read newspapers and, for that hour, they treat you like a rock star, applauding, crowding around, asking for autographs.Then it’s over. You walk through the airport the next day and no one gives a second glance. You are nobody again.Dave Barry told me this story once about Mark Russell, the political satirist. It seems Russell gave this performance where he packed the hall, got a standing O. He was The Man. Later, at the hotel, The Man gets hungry, but the only place to eat is a McDonald’s across the road. The front door is locked, but the drive-through is still open. So he stands in it. A car pulls in behind him. The driver honks and yells, “Great show, Mark!”The moral of the story is that a certain level of fame — call it the level of minor celebrity — comes with a built-in reality check. One minute, you’re the toast of Milwaukee. The next, you’re standing behind a Buick waiting to order a Big Mac.”– Leonard Pitts, January 14, 2008There is something about laughing with a friend that soaks into your heart and redirects your thoughts.I woke up the next morning thinking about fame, and how easily it comes and goes.I thought about Bill Cosby and Jim Bakker and Jimmy Swaggart. And then my computer told me “Joe the Plumber” had died. Remember Joe the Plumber? He became a celebrity in 2008 when he asked Barack Obama a question. We learned later that his name wasn’t Joe and he was never a plumber, but his perspective resonated with a lot of Americans.And then it hit me: Andy Warhol was a painter, but what we remember about him was his colorful comment about each person receiving “15 minutes of fame.”I could feel the freight train of curiosity gaining momentum in my mind, so I had to quickly decide whether to grab a handrail, swing aboard and see where it would take me, or spend the rest of the day regretting having missed the chance.I didn’t want to live in regret, so I grabbed a handrail and was yanked off my feet into a noisy, rattling railcar.When my eyes had grown accustomed to the dust and the half-light, I found the following 19 statements carved into the wooden walls of that railcar. These statements were signed by Marilyn Monroe, Johnny Depp, Erma Bombeck, Tony Bennett, Emily Dickinson, John Wooden, Gene Tierney, Jack Kerouac, George Michael, Eddie Van Halen, Sinead O’Connor, Fran Lebowitz, Michael Huffington, Lord Byron, Arthur Schopenhauer, Michelle Pfeiffer, Clive James, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Davy Crockett.But not in that order. I’m not going to tell you who said what, because I don’t want your reactions to be influenced by your memories of those people.“Wealth is like sea-water; the more we drink, the thirstier we become; and the same is true of fame.”“Fame is the thirst of youth.”“Don’t confuse fame with success. Madonna is one; Helen Keller is the other.”“Fame comes and goes. Longevity...
9/4/20238 minutes, 46 seconds
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The Price of Intimacy

The comedian Mark Russell said you can judge a generation by its magazines.Life magazine was first published in 1883. It was followed byPeople in 1974, which was followed byUs, which was followed bySelf.Ralph Waldo Emerson was born in 1803, just a few weeks before the Louisiana Purchase was announced to the American people by President Thomas Jefferson. Emerson was 23 when Jefferson died.America was still heavily influenced by Europe, but Ralph Waldo Emerson saw a future that no one else could see.At the age of 34, he gave a speech to a group of college students in Boston that provided a visionary, philosophical framework for escaping the influence of Europe and building a distinctly American cultural identity. That speech was entitled “The American Scholar” and Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr. considered it to be America’s “intellectual Declaration of Independence.”Ralph Waldo Emerson was a poet, a writer, a lecturer and an encourager who inspired generations of positive thinkers that stir among us to this day. Friedrich Nietzsche considered him “the most gifted of the Americans” and Walt Whitman referred to him as his “master.”Emerson was also a passionate opponent of slavery. Throughout his life he urged Congress to bring slavery to an immediate and permanent end.When Emerson was lecturing in Springfield, Illinois on January 10, 1853, a then-unknown Abraham Lincoln was in the audience. Years later, Lincoln invited Emerson to the White House and told him of the impact that lecture had on him.Ralph Waldo Emerson spoke with whimsy, sentimentality, and vulnerability when he said,“It is one of the blessings of old friends that you can afford to be stupid with them.”Modern businesspeople believe whimsy, sentimentality, and vulnerability to be weaknesses.But I know those people to be wrong.When you choose to like a person who does not like you, this is whimsy.It is hard not to like a person who likes you.When you choose to believe in someone, this is sentimentality.It is hard not to love a person who believes in you.When you say something that requires humility and love, this is vulnerability.It is hard not to trust a person who says something that only a humble, loving person would say.As a writer, Ralph Waldo Emerson was lofty. But as a person, he was famously open and vulnerable.Vulnerability is the price of intimacy.Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote Self Reliance in 1841.Elbert Hubbard wrote A Message to Garcia in 1899.Dale Carnegie updated Emerson’s ideas in his book, How to Win Friends and Influence People in 1936.Napoleon Hill wrote Think and Grow Rich in 1937.Norman Vincent Peale added a veneer of Christianity in his book, The Power of Positive Thinking, in 1952.Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson wrote The One Minute Manager in 1982.Stephen Covey wrote The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People in 1989.Joel Osteen wrote Become a Better You: 7 Keys to Improving Your Life Every Day in 2007.And every one of those writers owes a debt to Ralph Waldo Emerson.Life, People, Us, Self.Lifeis about more than just business. It’s about balance. It’s about the freedom to be stupid with old friends.Peoplecover the earth. They speak lots of languages and have confusing cultures, but every person is made in the image of God.Usis problematic because it necessitates the idea of “Them,” those who are not Us. Uh-oh.Selfis who you think...
8/28/20236 minutes, 23 seconds
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How Does Advertising Work?

I have a friend who is a famous online marketer. Last week he sent me an observation I found interesting. It occurred to me that you might find it interesting as well.“Now that targeting is pretty much dead on Facebook and Instagram, I have a theory that the rules of reach and frequency that have always applied to radio will also apply to social platforms as they shift away from micro-targeting and toward looking more like mass media.”[Frequency means repetition. – editor]And then he asked a question.“Can you remind me again what your magic formula is for reach and frequency when buying radio ads? I know this is a bit like someone asking me how to spell SEO, but this came up in a conversation I was having with a buddy the other day and I felt stupid that I couldn’t remember it.”Happy to help. Here’s what you’re looking for:APE = Advertising Performance EquationShare of Voice x Impact Quotient = Share of MindShare of Mind x Personal Experience Factor = Share of MarketShare of Market x Market Potential = Sales Volume1.Share of Voice: How much of the noise in your category in your marketplace is your noise? (All media combined, including word of mouth)2.Impact Quotient: The average impact of a message in your category is 1.0. If your ads are 30% better than average, you score a 1.3. If your ads are 10 percent weaker than average, you score a 0.9 … the Impact of your message can accelerate or reduce your Share of Voice3.Share of Mind is the percentage of real estate you own in your category in the mind of the average customer.4.Personal Experience Factor is likewise measured with a 1.0 being, “exactly the experience your customer expected.” Anything above a 1.0 is a delight factor. Anything below a 1.0 is depth of disappointment. Online reviews are just measurements of a customer’s Personal Experience Factor5.Share of Market is your sales volume as a percentage of the total sales available in your category, in your marketplace.For a message to enter Declarative Memory  (mid-term memory – longer than Working Memory – but not yet Procedural Memory, which is involuntary, automatic recall,) a message should be repeated to the same individual at least 3 times within 7 night’s sleep. Further research has lowered this number to as little as 2.5 repetitions per week.The more memorable the message, the less repetition is required. Therefore, the only way to beat the system (Google) and save money is to create messages that are highly memorable. NOTE: Any limited time offer with a call-to-action is erased from declarative memory when the “limited time” window is closed. This is why you cannot build a brand with Direct Response calls-to-action.To become a household word and enter long-term Procedural Memory, you need to hammer your message into the mind of your target at least 2.5 per week for at least 3 years. But even then, it will fade within 24 months after your ads disappear, assuming that your ads have only the average 1.0 Impact Quotient. But a message – or an experience – with a significantly higher Impact Quotient can enter Procedural Memory and become automatic, involuntary recall, with only a single repetition. PTSD is an example of this.The key to absolute category dominance is to elevate your Impact Quotient and Personal Experience Factor to numbers above 2.0.In other words, you’ve got to have awesome ads and deliver an amazing customer experience.But you already knew that.“This is perfect. Thank you. Have any of your partners tested APE in social ads (FB, IG, TikTok, etc.) to see if the numbers hold up? I would have to assume that Share of...
8/21/20237 minutes, 52 seconds
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Is Your Ladder Too Short?

I meet with dozens of people each year who tell me how they grew their companies to an impressive size, but then the growth slowed down. And then it stopped. They can see a lot more business out there; they just can’t figure out how to get it.I used to call this, “hitting the glass ceiling,” but I don’t call it that anymore. Now I say, “You need to add more steps to your ladder.”Here are a few things I’ve learned over the years:It is easy to pick the low-hanging fruit.According to the US Census, there are 17 million owner-operated businesses in America that have no employees other than the owner. I imagine them as 17 million guys named Chuck and each of them has a truck. All of these Chucks-in-Trucks live off the lowest of the low-hanging fruit. They provide pest control, plumbing, electrical work, window cleaning, gutter installation, A/C repair, junk hauling, roofing, remodeling, swimming pool resurfacing, cement pouring, and tax preparation. They make a living, but their businesses are not scalable. In fact, it’s not really a business at all. When Chuck isn’t behind the wheel of that truck, Chuck is unemployed. But Chuck survives because it is easy to pick the low-hanging fruit.Most of the fruit on the tree requires a step-ladder for you to reach it.The steps on the ladder are preparation and planning, procedures and processes, recruitment and retention of customers, recruitment and retention of employees, vendor relations, profit margin monitoring, cash management, lines of credit, and then of course there is advertising and marketing.Everyone successful person has a superpower, a core competency, an area of excellence.And when the growth of the business begins to slow, the instinct of these people is always to double-down on the things that got them to where they are. This is a very seductive mistake.The steps that got you to where you are… will not take you to the next level.The business owner knows the steps what got them to where they are. They can name the reasons for their success. This is why they believe that doing what they have always done, but with greater intensity and deeper commit, will lift the company to a whole new level. But it never does.To get to the next level, you need to add more steps to your ladder.You’ve got to start doing things you’ve never done before. You have to identify your limiting beliefs. You have to go outside your comfort zone.It usually takes business owners about 3 years of pushing and straining plus motivational talks, accountability partners and invigorated compensation plans that result in zero growth before they realize that they have already found all the customers who like to buy in the way the business owner prefers to sell.Do you want to hear something really weird? I have learned that it is almost pointless to suggest meaningful change to a business owner until their business has been flat for about 3 years. It has been my observation that they will always resist adding more steps to their ladder until they have utterly exhausted their confidence in their superpower.Has your business been flat for awhile? Are you tired of standing on your tiptoes at the top of your ladder reaching at high as you can with your strong right arm and finding nothing there?Add more steps to your ladder.Roy H. WilliamsRoving reporter Rotbart is taking a Sabbatical until Labor Day so that he can finish his new book about Volunteer Firefighters before the deadline. I’ve suggested to the rover that his son, Maxwell, ought to interview him so that you and I can hear all about this new book after it is finished. Volunteer Firefighters! What will Rotbart think of next! You can count on me to let
8/14/20235 minutes, 6 seconds
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Advice From an Old Man

I often share memories of wise old men who gave me good advice.I have a grandchild turning 17 today, so I will play the part of the old man.The person I am advising is you.Always deliver the negative truth while the sale hangs in the balance. If you smile and make the sale and keep quiet until that predictable moment of crisis arrives, the truth will no longer ring true. It will just sound like you are making excuses.Tell your customer what they deserve to know while they still have the chance to walk away. Look them in the eye and warn them. Make it a moment they will never forget.Fools are attracted to slick and shiny liars who will tell them what they want to hear. But when you tell the negative truth while the sale hangs in the balance, you filter out the fools.When a fool hears your warning and walks away, dance and sing. Rejoice! You don’t want to live your life surrounded by anxious, nervous, finger-pointing fools.Tell the truth when it is not in your best interest. Smart people will trust you. Your relationships will last for decades.When everything is upside and there is no downside, you can be certain that someone is lying.The downside of the advice I gave you today is that you will definitely lose sales you could have made.The upside is that you really didn’t want to make them. Not only would you have lost that client within a few months, you would have eroded your integrity and lost your self-respect in the process.And if you keep eroding your integrity, you will soon become slick and shiny.Roy H. WilliamsI have a weirdly excellent rabbit hole for you to explore today. Do you know the way in? – Indy BeagleKen Paskins witnessed his grandfather and his father struggle to run a successful business. He was determined to find a better way. So Ken went to work for giant companies like Oracle and BEA Systems. Today Ken is the co-founder of a CEO coaching and peer advisory community that shows owners and CEOs of companies with 100 or fewer employees how to achieve their goals. Rather than rely on a single guru for sage advice, Paskins tells roving reporter Rotbart, his clients learn from experts and peers
8/7/20232 minutes, 58 seconds
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What it Means to be Average

The first half of what I’m about to tell you, I have told you before. But you will understand why I chose to repeat it when you read the second half. – RHWThe average person has 5 senses. We can see, hear, taste, touch, and smell.We also have the ability to interpret magical little constructs called “words,” sequences of letters that allow us to see things that are not there and have experiences that are not happening.Let us talk about that for a moment.The average human is equipped with approximately 100 million sensory receptors to gather the data that will become seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, and touching.This sensory data is nothing more than:wavelengths in the electromagnetic spectrumvibrations traveling though air and waterchemicals dissolved in air and watersurfaces containing a total of fifteen properties, such as friction, compliance, adhesion, texture, and thermal conductance.Those wavelengths, vibrations, chemicals, and surfaces are real. But color, sound, smell, taste, and touch exist only in your mind.“They do not exist, as such, outside our brain. Actually, the universe is colorless, odorless, insipid and silent.”– Dr. Jorge Martins de OliveiraYour 100 million sensory receptors put you in touch with the world around you. But your brain contains 10,000 billion synapses. This means you are 100,000 times better equipped to experience a world that does not exist, than a world that does.And then you have – just forward of your left ear – Broca’s area, which is always searching for the new, surprising, and different, anxious to distract you with something more interesting than that which currently occupies your mind.All these things are standard equipment because you are fearfully and wonderfully made.We, average people, have all these things plus intuition, that astounding logic of the mute right brain, allowing us to predict things that are likely to happen, based upon patterns we have observed.Artificial Intelligence is machine intuition, a predictive output based upon patterns the machine has been taught to recognize.Allow me to tell you how it all began: average people created a machine that was deaf, mute, and blind. Then, they created a silent language made of only two numbers, zero and one. Then, using only that language, they taught their deaf, mute, and blind machine to hear, speak, and see. And now they are teaching it to recognize all the patterns that energize human intuition, that nearly-instantaneous ability to make accurate predictions.Here is a question: will the computers of the distant future believe the story I just told you, or will they conclude it to be merely myth and legend?Jesus answered, “Didn’t I say you are gods?” (Read it for yourself in the 10th chapter of John, the 4th book in the New Testament.)When Jesus said that 2,000 years ago, was quoting the 82nd Psalm, written by Asaph during the Babylonian exile 6 centuries earlier.Or so I have been told by an Ai bot named “Beta.” If you look at the top of this page, you can see Aloha pointing to the note Beta sent me.My oh my, what will we gods think of next?ONE LAST THING: You may have noticed that I choose to use a lower-case “i” following a capital “A” when I abbreviate the words “Artificial Intelligence.” I do this because a lifetime of pattern recognition causes me to see the name Al, as in Al Pacino, Al Capone, and Al Gore, when a capital “A” is followed by a capital “I.” I point this out to you because I don’t want you to think I am unaware that everyone else uses two capital letters when they abbreciate Artificial Intelligence.I have the...
7/31/20238 minutes, 20 seconds
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Chatterton and Rowley

Everything I’m about to share with you happened in England and France during the lifetime of Thomas Jefferson, while America still had its “new baby” smell.The English poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge gave us “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” in 1798, while Napoleon sailed to Egypt to fight the Battle of the Pyramids and famously discover the Rosetta Stone.Coleridge died of heart failure due to his opium addiction.Wordsworth gave us “The Rainbow” in 1802, while the people of France enthusiastically approved a new constitution that elevated Napoleon to dictator for life.Wordsworth died of a lung infection.Shelley gave us “Ozymandias,” the tale of a fallen and forgotten emperor, in 1818, while Napoleon languished in exile on the island of Saint Helena in the Atlantic.Shelley died in a boating accident at the age of 29.Keats gave us “La Belle Dame sans Mercy” in 1819, while Napoleon continued to languish on Saint Helena.Keats died of tuberculosis at the age of 25.“Le Belle Dame sans Mercy” in English means “The Beautiful Girl without Mercy,” but you and I know her as Fame and Fortune.You’ve often heard the names of Coleridge, Wordsworth, Shelley, and Keats, but did you know that each of these English Romantic poets was inspired by an imaginary 15th-century monk named Thomas Rowley?But imaginary through he was, Thomas Rowley re-ignited the flames of romantic literature in England during the colorful years that he lived in the mind of an adolescent boy in poverty.That boy, Thomas Chatterton, was born 15 weeks after his father died in 1752, when Thomas Jefferson was just 9 years old. Napoleon would not be born for another 3 years.Little Thomas spent his days with his uncle, the sexton of the church of St Mary, Redcliffe, where he would crawl through the attic of that vast, ancient building, examining the contents of oak chests stored there since 1185, where documents as old as the War of the Roses lay forgotten.By the time he was 6, young Thomas Chatterton had learned his alphabet from the illuminated capitals of those documents. By the time he was 11, Thomas had become so well-versed in the language and legends of earlier centuries that he began sending poems to “Felix Farley’s Bristol Journal,” claiming they were transcribed from the writings of a monk named Thomas Rowley who had lived 300 years earlier.Aside from the hundreds of poems written by this imaginary monk, Chatterton wrote political letters, song lyrics, operas and satires in verse and in prose. He became known to the readers of the Middlesex Journal as Decimus, a rival of Junius, that author of the forever infamous Letters of Junius. Chatterton was also a contributor to Hamilton’s Town and Country Magazine, and the Freeholder’s Magazine, political publications supportive of liberty and rebellion.While the brilliant submissions of Thomas Chatterton were happily accepted by editors across England, he was paid little or no money for them.On the 17th of April, 1770, 17-year-old Thomas Chatterton penned a satire he called his “Last Will and Testament.” In it, he hinted that he was planning to end his life the following day.That famous poem by John Keats, “La Bella Dame sans Mercy,” may well have been written with Thomas Chatterton in mind. For the beautiful, merciless girl in that poem is a fairy – let us call her Fame & Fortune – who makes love to a medieval knight in his dreams, then leaves him sick and dying on a cold hillside when she...
7/24/20239 minutes, 28 seconds
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Don’t Worry. Be Happy.

You cannot suffer the past or future because they do not exist. What you are suffering is your memory and your imagination.Friend, you are not a good worrier, so you might as well quit.Most of the things you worry about never come to pass. And the majority of those things that do come to pass are inconsequential, unworthy of your worry, or they cannot be changed, no matter how well you worry.Of all the things you worry about, only a tiny percentage are worth your worry, and can be changed. These things things are called, “Things you know you need to do.” And you already know the actions you should take:When a friend pops into your head, call them, and say, “I’ve had you on my mind. Is there anything going on in your life that I should know about?”Talk to God.Get a colonoscopy.See? The things you know you need to do are simple, they just make you uncomfortable.Do them anyway.I believe we worry because it keeps us from being bored.We don’t want to be bored. We want to be excited.Fear is a form of excitement. Anger is a form of excitement.Have you ever noticed how easy it is to become famous? All you have to do is spread anger and fear. Spread it deep and wide. People will treat you like a god. Conversely, a person who spreads good and happy news is patted on the head and treated like a child.If spreading anger and fear is not your thing, and if spreading good and happy news is not your thing, perhaps you should consider lifting the spirits of the strangers you encounter.When you lift the spirit of a stranger, you lift your own as well.Someone in my life made a suggestion last week and I really, really, really didn’t want to do it. My friend said that every time he was in a restaurant, he made sure to remember the name of his server. And when the server brought the food, he would say their name, and then, “As soon as you leave, I’m going to pray over this food. While I’m doing that, is there anything I can pray about for you?”My friend said he had done this 20 or 25 times and every time, without exception, the servers were deeply touched and immediately shared something they were worried about. He then assured them that he would include that in his prayer.Like I said, I knew it was something I needed to do. But I didn’t want to do it because I knew it would make me uncomfortable. Extremely uncomfortable.I was worried the person might be frightened and think I was a religious nut. I was worried the person might be offended and create a big scene. I was worried it would be awkward for me to ever go back to that restaurant.But I remembered what my friend told me. “I’ve done this 20 or 25 times and it always turns out the same way. They always have something they want me to include in my prayer and they always seem to be deeply touched.”I’ve now done this exactly once, and it turned out exactly as my friend said it would. And the friend I was having lunch with didn’t seem to mind at all. In fact, he said he might start doing it, too.I have interesting friends. I’ll bet you do, too.Your interesting friends have interesting friends.And one of them is you.Roy H. WilliamsLieutenant Colonel Ricky Howard has handled more than $1 BILLION in purchase contracts, many of them with small businesses. His client is a reliable buyer, and once your company is selected as a vendor, you will likely remain a vendor for decades to come. Howard is an expert on how to win government contracts, from office supplies to HVAC equipment to hi-tech computer programming. During his service in the U.S. Air Force, Lt. Howard flew 555 combat hours. Listen and learn as he explains to roving reporter Rotbart how your business could qualify as a government contractor, even if you never suspected
7/17/20235 minutes, 8 seconds
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What, then, is Love?

When a thought knocks politely on the door of my mind, I open the door and entertain the thought. But when an unseen thought shines into my mind through a skylight, I am always startled by the mystery of how words-not-my-own came to echo in my empty skull.“What, then, is Love?”Those four words, like the feet of a proud, white goat, prance in the snowy landscape of my mind.“What, then, is Love?”Unable to escape the music of those words, I will do my best to answer their question:“What, then, is Love?”Low-voltage love is a noun. It is something you feel. It surrounds you and you are “in” it.High-voltage love is a verb. It is something you do.E. W. Howe was 5 years old when Teddy Roosevelt was born, and he was 10 when the American Civil War began. E. W. Howe died 85 years ago. But while he lived, he said,“When a friend is in trouble, don’t annoy him by asking if there is anything you can do. Think up something appropriate and do it.”In those 25 words, we see love as a verb; love with its sleeves rolled up.Love as a noun comes and goes but love as a verb comes to stay. “For better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health…”Alexander the Great died 323 years before Jesus was born. Alexander loved adventure and battle. He felt it, was surrounded by it, and was “in” it. Jesus loved people. He fed them, healed them, encouraged them, and died for them. Verb, verb, verb, verb.Alexander and Jesus both died at the age of 32.During the 12 years that Alexander was conquering and ruling the world, his soldiers taught every nation a simplified form of Greek so that everyone could understand what Alexander was saying. This “Koine” Greek became the world’s first international language.The entire New Testament – including all the stories of Jesus – were written in the “Koine” Greek of Alexander, a language with four different words for love, although only two of them were used in the New Testament. The two that do not appear are:Eros: sexual love.Storge: the love between members of a family.The two words for love that appear repeatedly in the New Testament are Philia and Agape.Philia: the love between close friends.Agape: sacrificial love; “I care about you more than I care about me.”The Harvard Grant Study is the world’s longest running and most comprehensive psychological study, and it talks about love. The study says the happiest people are those who have chosen to do 5 things.(5.) suppress unproductive and distressing thoughts,(4.) maintain a realistic view of the future and its difficulties,(3.) turn frustration and anger into productive energy,(2.) make light of stressful events,(1.) focus on the wellbeing of others.The world’s longest running and most comprehensive psychological study says the secret of happiness is to see love as a verb, something you do: focus on the wellbeing of others.Albert Schweitzer was a polymath. He was a physician, philosopher, musicologist, theologian, humanitarian, and a writer. He received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1952.On September 4, 1965 – the day Albert Schweitzer died – the song “Help!” by the Beatles, went to #1 on the charts. Do you remember the lyrics?When I was younger, so much younger than today,I never needed anybody’s help in any way.But now these days are gone, I’m not so self assured,Now I find I’ve changed my mind and opened up the doors.Help me if you can, I’m feeling down.And I do appreciate you being ’round.Help me get my feet back on the ground.Won’t you please, please help me?Albert Schweitzer spoke of love and happiness in much the same way the Harvard Grant Study spoke of love and...
7/10/20236 minutes, 52 seconds
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Our Hunger for Relationship

We have a need to belong. We want to be seen and heard. We want to be missed when we are not around. We want to have genuine connection. This is the basis of relational ad writing.Never heard of it? That is because most ads are transactional, not relational.In a transactional ad, an air conditioning company might claim to be, “The Honest Air Conditioning Company.” But in a relational ad, the owner does not claim to be honest. They just say something that only an honest person would say.The people in relational ads are marked by their vulnerability.KARLA: When something at home isn’t working right and you need a guy,  your friend says,JOHNNY MOLSON: “I’ve got a guy.”KARLA: Hi, I’m Mrs. Michael and I want to be your guy. You need a plumber. You need an electrician. You need an H-Vac technician; I want to be your guy. I’m a happily married woman with two grown children, but back when I was raising two babies, my husband and I started a plumbing company, an electrical company, and an air conditioning company. Make no mistake: Mr. Michael is a genius with tools, but he did NOT enjoy running 3 big companies, so he asked me to do it. Guess what? I LOVE IT! I know that if I make your problems vanish into thin air, then when your friends say,SARAH: “I’ve got a thing at home that isn’t working right, and I need a guy,”  KARLA:  you’ll say,JOHNNY MOLSON: “I’ve got a guy. Her name is Mrs. Michael.”KARLA: Plumber, Electrician, H-Vac technician. I’m Mrs. Michael, and I want to be your guy.DEVIN: Go to MrsMichael.comKARLA: OR… go to Iwanttobeyourguy.comDEVIN: MrsMichael.comRelational ads are not portable. They are true only of the company that airs them. Transactional ads are portable. They can be used by anyone who wants to make the same offer, use the same gimmick, tell the same lie.Mrs. Michael does not use transactional ads. She uses relational ads that let you know who she is, what she believes, and how she thinks. You are free to like her or not. Most people like her. A lot. No surprise, right? We tend to buy from people we like, people with whom we agree, people who remind us of ourselves.Did it ever occur to you that a transactional ad with an urgent, “limited-time offer” is erased from the mind as soon as the deadline is passed? We do not retain information that is no longer relevant or meaningful. The only thing we remember is to never pay that company their asking price because they will soon be having a sale.Goldcasters Fine Jewelry sells a startling amount of jewelry per capita in a town that is located less than an hour from the inspiring city of Indianapolis. Goldcasters’ sales volume would be impressive for a jewelry store in Los Angeles, San Francisco, or Chicago.Like Mrs. Michael, Goldcasters uses relational advertising.DEVIN: Brad Lawrence, owner of Goldcasters Fine Jewelry.BRAD: When I opened the store, I had no money. We didn’t have the money for inventory. I brought wax models from school to use to cast into projects for customers. And hence the name Goldcasters. Things were so tight at times I remember the backside of my wedding ring was gone because I didn’t have the money to buy gold to size rings. So I’d cut the pieces out of the back of my wedding band to use as gold stock to size rings for customers. And then when we could afford to, then I’d replace it back onto my...
7/3/20237 minutes, 27 seconds
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Reap the Whirlwind

It would appear that journalists can no longer see clearly or talk plainly. They hand you something twisted and bent and assure you that it is straight.Propaganda hangs thick in the air around us and we are weary of it.It has gotten so bad that each of the people I could count on to keep me informed have chosen to cut the umbilical and set themselves free from the pollution of newscasts.I was contemplating these things in the predawn darkness when I remembered a comment made by Hosea 2700 years ago. His words were translated into English in 1611: “For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind: it hath no stalk; the bud shall yield no meal.”The Contemporary English translation of the Book of Hosea was published in the year 2000: “If you scatter wind instead of wheat, you will harvest a whirlwind and have no wheat.”This morning’s Roy H. Williams translation says, “If you scatter falsehoods instead of truth, you will harvest confusion and have no truth.”You can use nuclear energy to illuminate great cities, or you can use it to vaporize them. Nuclear energy has no conscience, no ethics, no obligation to do what is right. It is we humans who must have conscience, ethics, and a sense of obligation.Artificial Intelligence is like nuclear energy. You can use it to solve complicated problems, or you can use it to create them.In recent weeks millions of people have seen photos showing Donald Trump being tackled and carried away by a group of police officers. We have seen Pope Francis wearing a white puffer jacket. We have seen an explosion at the Pentagon.The Pentagon bombing was believed by enough people that it affected the S&P 500 on Wall Street.But those things were the work of mischievous amateurs.I wonder what is going to happen when the big boys decide it is time to play for higher stakes?America has been losing its grasp on the truth ever since the Fairness Doctrine was repealed in 1987 and the 12AM/12FM/12TV limitations on broadcast ownership were lifted 20 years ago. This made it legal for anyone with a lot of money to buy all the TV and Radio stations and replace the news with falsehoods, half-truths, and outright lies. And we called it Freedom of Speech.Now we are holding onto the truth by our fingertips, trying not to let it slip from our grasp.As I sit in the predawn darkness, I see the rapidly approaching freight train of a Presidential election and I hear the sound of an approaching whirlwind.Roy H. WilliamsDr. Michael Lenox is an expert on artificial intelligence, blockchain, and cryptocurrency. He knows the opportunities and the dangers of digital technology. Dr. Lenox advises business people on how to prepare for 2024, a year in which more data will be generated than in all previous years combined. Dr. Lenox is interviewed today by roving reporter Rotbart, a flesh-and-blood journalist. But Dr. Lenox says Rotbart could easily be replaced by a sophisticated algorithm. (Don’t tell Mrs. Rotbart.) The joy, the fear, and the wonder await you at
6/26/20234 minutes, 17 seconds
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Mosquitoes Trapped in Amber

Do you remember that scene in Jurassic Park when the park’s founder revealed that he had extracted the blood of a dinosaur from a mosquito trapped in fossilized tree sap?Forget the blood. Forget the dinosaur. Our interest is in that mosquito trapped in amber.I sometimes think time is the amber in which we mosquitoes are held captive.As Edwin Abbot demonstrated in his breakthrough book, “Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions,” we live in 4 dimensions: Height, Width, Depth, and Time. We have access to the 3 lower dimensions, but no access to the 7 dimensions in M-Theory that lie above and beyond our 4-dimensional “spacetime continuum.”According to theoretical physicists, those 7 dimensions are as real as the 4 in which we live. And here is the interesting part: beings in those dimensions are outside of time. They are above it. We, however, are like those mosquitoes trapped in amber. Time does not expand us; it inhibits us, shackles us, makes us wear blinders. This would seem to confirm the idea that we are not physical beings who occasionally have a spiritual experience, but spiritual beings who are having a temporary physical experience.You might be wondering what catapulted my mind into this strange, metaphysical sky this morning, so I will tell you. My partner Craig Arthur lives in Townsville, Australia, where his winter is our summer and his night is our day. This gives Craig and me a brief window to chat when he is ending his day and I am beginning my own.This morning I opened my laptop just as Craig forwarded a meme from Cat Damon. It said,“My son just walked into my room and said, ‘Daddy, I’m scared to die. Not of going to hell, I don’t think there is such a place, but I guess I’m scared there’s nothing. There was nothing before, so what if there’s nothing after?'”Cat Damon wraps up his story with these words,“My son is 37 years old and on acid.”I’m not on acid. My drug of choice is called “Speculation.” You make it by combining Knowledge and Intuition in equal parts. Stirring this mixture is not required. Speculation explodes into existence when the two ingredients make contact.Speculation is susceptible to confirmation bias, of course. We quickly see confirmation of what we already believe.There is another formula, more popular than my own, that is just as susceptible to confirmation bias, though its practitioners like to believe their formula is objective, reliable, and scientific. This more popular formula is “Knowledge plus Data.”Am I against data? Of course not. But I can tell you that the most skillful users of data – people like Sean Jones, Dewey Jenkins, Cedric Yau, Vi Wickam, Gene Naftulyev, Pyotr Belov, Jeffrey and Bryan Eisenberg, John Quarto von Tivadar, and Luis Castañeda – these people always ask themselves whether the data might be indicating something other than what they saw at first glance.But most people do not question their initial interpretation of data. In the words of Andrew Lang, they use data, “like a drunk man uses a lamp post – for support rather than illumination.”Knowledge + Intuition = SpeculationKnowledge + Data = SpeculationMy observation has been that these 2 formulas are really just 2 different paths that lead to precisely the same destination. The key that unlocks the golden door of miracles is to have an independent partner who is using the formula you are NOT using. When both of you arrive at the same conclusion – even though you came at it from different directions – you can be far more confident that you have found the answer you were seeking.Data is a snapshot of reality expressed in numbers in a database or on a spreadsheet. Data is the logic of the rational, sequential, deductive reasoning left hemisphere of your brain.Intuition is a snapshot of...
6/19/20237 minutes, 32 seconds
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Patrick and the Supreme Court

There are places in geography.There are places in the heart.There are places in time.Where shall we start?– Indy BeaglePlaces in Geography:“We have thought how places are able to evoke moods, as color and line in a picture may capture and warp us to a pattern the painter intended.”– John Steinbeck, Sea of Cortez, p. 256Places in the Heart:“God only knows what I’d be without you. If you should ever leave me, though life would still go on, believe me, the world could show nothing to me. So what good would living do me?”– Brian WilsonPlaces in Time:“There are places I’ll remember all my life, though some have changed; some forever, not for better. Some have gone, and some remain. All these places had their moments with lovers and friends I still can recall. Some are dead and some are living. In my life, I’ve loved them all.”– John LennonMy favorite singer-songwriter, James Taylor, was interviewed recently. When James was asked about his life-controlling addiction to drugs as a young man, he answered with these words:“The key for an addict is how much of a relief the addict felt when they first discovered their drug of choice. When that really works for them, watch out for the backend, because you’ll hold on until the very end. You’ll be the last person to admit that it’s gotta go.”I was considering these places and spaces in the darkness of early morning when the tone of an arriving text turned my eyes toward the telephone. My friend had been reading the Monday Morning Memos in the archives from 15 years ago and had a couple of questions for me. One of those questions triggered the memory of someone whose life briefly intersected with Pennie’s and mine 38 years ago.And Now We Shall Start:Patrick is two years older than me. He is insightful and articulate, but his life has been shattered into sharp little shards. When a person has been irretrievably shattered, they have a hard time holding themselves together.When he was a boy, Patrick saw his mother kill his father in the street outside their home. He and his mother did not get along after that.And all the King’s horses and all the King’s men couldn’t put Patrick together again.Watching your father fall is not at all like watching the rainfall, or the snowfall, or the light fall softly on the window pane. Watching your father fall is different. In Patrick’s case it led to him being held tightly in the sharp talons of the law like an eagle holds tightly to a mouse.Policemen are attracted to Patrick like iron to a magnet. And Patrick is pulled toward prison like a moth is pulled toward the flame.Patrick was headed back to prison when Pennie and I let him sleep in our spare bedroom 38 years ago. He was there for only a few weeks, but it was long enough to get to know him and all the monsters he was fighting in his mind.Patrick’s life has a rhythm. He serves his time, gets out of prison, and promptly goes back to prison again.Patrick isn’t crazy. He has a sharp, clear mind, an impressive vocabulary, and a deep understanding of the reality that surrounds him. His crime is that he uses illegal chemicals to escape that reality, and he is smart enough to manufacture those chemicals himself.“Uh-oh. That’s a no-no. We’re going to have to put you back in your cage, Patrick.”In the 67 years of Patrick’s lonely life, his only romantic interest has been his love for chemical escape. Chemicals are the music of his life. To him, they are like the Big Band music of Glenn Miller and Cole Porter. In my mind, I see Patrick dancing with a mirror-image of himself as he looks back at the day he first learned how to escape his pain.“That’s the way it began, we were hand-in-hand, Glenn Miller’s Band was better...
6/12/20238 minutes, 35 seconds
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Criticism and Encouragement

She is dead now and so is he.He was a friend of mine; lean, rangy, and muscular.She was his mother. “You’re getting fat,” is what she told him, right up until the day he died.Criticism will often cause you to see yourself worse than you are.Did it ever occur to you that criticism – sometimes disguised as unsolicited advice – always springs from an assumption of superior intelligence?When a person begins by saying, “With all due respect,” they are making it clear they do not respect you.“Constructive criticism” is how they make you feel small while they tell themselves they are helping you. Ignore those people. Even the ones you love. They are having a bad day. Or maybe a bad life. Either way, don’t swallow what they are feeding you.Criticism is destructive. Encouragement is instructive.I am reasonably self-aware, I think. I believe I know the panoply of Roys that live inside me. The most widely known are Outraged Roy. Generous Roy. Foghorn Leghorn Roy. Introvert Roy.Pennie and I have a friend who stays with us when he is in Austin. A few years ago he started a church in a weird part of the weird town he lives in. Last week, he sent me a text:“Of all the Roys I know, my favorite version of you is Robe Roy. Robe Roy don’t give a shit. And if you lucky, you catch Robe Roy in a hat. Or them bluelight sunglasses. Eating a vitamin cookie. Drinking Shrooms. Feeding Squirrels. On a porch swing.”I replied, “I like that Roy, too.”My friend is an encourager. He will always find something inside you, no matter how ordinary you consider yourself to be, and then he will tell you a delightful new truth about who you are.Does it surprise you that my friend’s very large congregation is teeming with beaten-down homeless people, cast-off prostitutes, struggling drug users, and a handful of regular folks like me and you who care about the broken and the broken-hearted?They flock to that church because he makes them feel the love of God as they belly-laugh with glee when he tells wonderful stories from the Bible and gives them back their dignity.And then they walk out the door with a smile of renewed hope.A simple Welsh monk named Geoffrey – hoping to instill in his countrymen a sense of pride – assembled a history of England that gave his people a glorious pedigree. Published in 1136, Geoffrey’s “History of the Kings of Britain” was a detailed, written account of the deeds of the English people for each of the 17 centuries prior to 689 AD.And not a single word of it was true.Yet in creating Merlyn, Guinevere, Arthur, and the Knights of the Round Table, Geoffrey of Monmouth convinced a dreary little island full of ordinary villagers to see themselves as a wise and powerful, magnificent nation.And not long after they began to see themselves that way in their minds, they began seeing the reality of it in the mirror.When I said Geoffrey told his countrymen a story, “and not one word of it was true,” I should have said, “not one word of it was true YET.” Geoffrey of Monmouth spoke a future truth about his countrymen because he saw something they did not see. He saw the greatness that was within them. So he called it out.Geoffrey was not a flatterer. He was an encourager.Encouragement causes you to see yourself differently. Embrace it, and you can become in reality that different person you saw in your mind.“Encourage one another daily, while it is called ‘today’…”That line from “The Letter to the Hebrew Christians” has always intrigued me. The writer emphasized our need of encouragement by adding these further instructions to the word “daily”… “while it is called ‘today.'”One last little tidbit about that church: when they built an activities center with basketball courts and other fun things to do, they encouraged all the ragamuffin, latchkey, unparented kids to...
6/5/20237 minutes, 24 seconds
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The Source of Our Culture War

William Shakespeare, wearing the mask of an imaginary Prince of Denmark – Hamlet by name – suggested that human knowledge is limited.“There are more things in heaven and Earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”Each of us lives alone in a private, perceptual reality. We can communicate with one another only to the degree that our perceptual realities overlap.There is an objective reality, but humans are ill-equipped to experience it.The degree to which you understand the limitations of your private reality is the degree to which you are self-aware.Dr. Jorge Martins de Oliveira is Director of Neurosciences at the University of Brazil, on the Editorial Board of Brain & Mind magazine, and is the author of “Principles of Neuroscience.”This is what he has to say about Perceptual Reality:“Our perception does not identify the outside world as it really is, but the way that we are allowed to recognize it, as a consequence of transformations performed by our senses. We experience electromagnetic waves, not as waves, but as images and colors. We experience vibrating objects, not as vibrations, but as sounds. We experience chemical compounds dissolved in air or water, not as chemicals, but as specific smells and tastes. Colors, sounds, smells and tastes are products of our minds, built from sensory experiences. They do not exist, as such, outside our brain. Actually, the universe is colorless, odorless, insipid and silent.”“Although you and I share the same biological architecture and function, perhaps what I perceive as a distinct color and smell is not exactly equal to the color and smell you perceive. We may give the same name to similar perceptions, but we cannot know how they relate to the reality of the outside world. Perhaps we never will.”Dr. Roger Sperry won the Nobel Prize in 1981 for discovering that we don’t have one brain divided into two hemispheres, as much as we have two separate, competing brains. Sperry was able to demonstrate that we have a logical, rational, sequential, deductive-reasoning (SCIENTIFIC) Left Brain, and a romantic, artistic, connection-seeking, pattern-finding, (ARTS & HUMANITIES) Right Brain. He said,“Each hemisphere of the brain is indeed a conscious system in its own right, perceiving, thinking, remembering, reasoning, willing, and emoting, all at a characteristically human level, and… both the left and the right hemisphere may be conscious simultaneously in different, even in mutually conflicting, mental experiences that run along in parallel.”Did you notice it? The Left and the Right hemispheres can have “simultaneous, mutually conflicting, mental experiences.” You can have a single experience and walk away with two opinions of what just happened!“In fact, romanticism and science are good for each other… The scientist keeps the romantic honest and the romantic keeps the scientist human.”– Tom RobbinsBut what happens if the Left Hemisphere completely ignores the voice of the Right Hemisphere? What happens if the Right ignores the the Left?C. P. Snow published “The Two Cultures and the Scientific Revolution” in 1959. He believed that Science and the Humanities were the driving forces of western society, but they were splitting us into a society of “two cultures.”Looking back over the culture war that has increasingly devoured us these past 20 years, it would appear that C.P. Snow was right.In May of 2023 the world renowned neuroscientist Dr. Iain McGilchrist was discussing the (SCIENTIFIC) Left Brain, and the (ARTS & HUMANITIES) Right Brain when he said,“Something I discovered in medical school, was that this corpus callosum, this connecting band, spent at least half its time, if not more, sending messages to the other hemisphere, ‘You keep out of this, I’m dealing with it.’ So it wasn’t so much facilitating as inhibiting. Primates have...
5/29/202310 minutes, 14 seconds
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“No One Listens to the Radio Anymore”

“No one listens to the radio anymore. Radio is dead.”When someone says that to me, I beat them unconscious with a Portable People Meter.“Wait a minute. When you say, ‘beat them unconscious with a Portable People Meter,’ what do you mean by that?”Okay let’s role play this. Say to me, “No one listens to the radio anymore.”“No one listens to the radio anymore.”How well do you understand the science of statistical measurement?“I understand the basics, I think.”You’ve heard of the Gallup Poll, right?“Sure.”The Gallup Poll measures the opinions of the 260 million adults in America with 95% confidence and only a 3 percent margin of error. Do you know the sample size required to do that?“Tell me.”One thousand and sixty-seven people.“That doesn’t sound right.”Statistical scientists know their measurements are reliable because of the Law of Large Numbers. Are you familiar with the Law of Large Numbers?“No.”The Law of Large Numbers guarantees stable long-term results for the averages of random events. While a casino might lose money on a single spin of the roulette wheel, its earnings will return to a predictable percentage over a large number of spins. Any winning streak by a player will eventually be overcome by the parameters of the game. The margin of error depends inversely on the square root of the sample size. In other words, the smaller the universe, the larger the percentage that has to be queried to get an accurate result. But the larger the universe, the smaller the percentage.“What are you saying, exactly?”In a universe of just 100 people, you have to ask nearly all of them to get an accurate measurement. But in a universe of 1 million people, you need only 600 people in your survey. To measure the entire United States of America, you need just 1,067 randomly chosen adults.“So how many people participate in a radio survey in the average city?”Name a city.“San Francisco. It’s a tech city. Silicon Valley. There’s no way radio is reaching San Francisco.”The Nielsen sample size in San Francisco is three times the number of people required to measure the whole United States. And Nielsen doesn’t measure just once per quarter. Nielsen measures San Francisco 365 days a year.“How?”What do you mean?“How are they measuring it? What’s the mechanism?”It’s a digital device worn by thousands of randomly selected people. Nielsen’s Portable People Meter knows precisely which station you’re listening to, when you started listening, when you changed channels, and when you quit listening. It doesn’t rely on human recall, and you can’t lie to it. Nielsen’s Portable People Meter is as reliable as anything offered by Facebook or Google. Nielsen isn’t guessing when they tell you how many people are listening to the radio. They’re measuring it 24/7/365.“You still haven’t told me how many people listen to the radio in San Francisco.”41.6% of the people in San Francisco – 2,565,817 persons – spend enough time listening to the radio that we can efficiently reach each of them an average of 3 times a week, 52 weeks in a row. This means 41.6% of San Francisco will hear your new, surprising, and different radio ad 156 times this year.“Yeah. But is it working? Radio, I mean.”Radio is delivering better results for less money than it has ever delivered. I can say that because my 70 partners and I have been using radio to grow owner-operated businesses for more than 40 years.“Okay, but isn’t attribution a problem? Sure, maybe your clients are growing, but how do you know that radio is what’s driving that growth?”We don’t use a media mix when our client can’t afford to swing that hammer.“What do you mean?”We believe in doing one thing wholeheartedly instead of two things halfheartedly. A focused budget...
5/22/202310 minutes, 59 seconds
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What Do You See?

You have tiny openings in your mind.When you look through one of those keyholes, you see a world that could easily become real, but only if you keep looking through that keyhole.Look through that keyhole long enough and it will expand into a window, then grow to become a door of opportunity through which you can pass into an entirely different future.Don’t look where you don’t want to go.If you gaze at dark possibilities, you are headed toward darkness.We do only those things we have rehearsed in our minds.Opportunity never knocks.It smells like jasmine in the air around you.It tickles like a feather in your open mouth.It twinkles like starlight in a midnight sky.It whispers like a girl behind a paper wall.Look only where you want to go.If you stare at goodness, you are headed toward good things.It smells like the sweat of people digging a tunnel through a mountain.It tickles like happy music played by musicians on the other side.It twinkles like the eyes of children having a bright adventure.It whispers like a companion who is urging you forward.As your friend, I have only one question.Where are we going?© Roy H. Williams, 2023Indy’s Favorite Meme of the Week: “Drink water. Eat vegetables. Be nice to animals. Exercise regularly. Explore nature. Find a small door under a tree. Open it. Take a look inside. Get pepper sprayed by a tiny elf. Learn a valuable lesson about knocking first.” – Roxi HorrorIndy’s Second Favorite Meme: “Novels are so great. Novels are like, ‘I made up a little weirdo. Oh no, now he’s in trouble!'” – Gabrielle MossDr. Henry Mintzberg has written more books than the Beatles had #1 records. He is an organization and management rock star. Dr. Mintzberg says many organizations – for-profit and nonprofit – are making a big mistake when they embrace a one-size-fits-all approach to structuring their operations. Listen as Dr. Mintzberg – who has received a whopping 21 honorary degrees – tells roving reporter Rotbart that there are seven different “species” of companies, each requiring an executive playbook as distinct from each other as football is from basketball, and baseball is from hockey. Where can you hear amazing people talk about fascinating stuff like this? of course!
5/15/20233 minutes, 19 seconds
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Archetypes are Bigger Than You Think

Richard Feynman, winner of the Nobel Prize, said, “Nature uses only the longest threads to weave her patterns, so that each small piece of her fabric reveals the organization of the entire tapestry.” He was speaking, of course, of DNA, the organizing pattern of every type of life on our planet.Your DNA contains the archetypal pattern of your physical body, but the world around you is bigger than your body.The world around you contains an infinite number of archetypes.An archetype is any recurrent pattern recognized by the pattern-seeking right hemisphere of the brain.Archetypes exist in our minds and in the physical reality that surrounds us. Archetypes are the interface that allows us to interpret, understand, and catalogue what we are experiencing.Archetypes are the basis for all similes and metaphors. Carl Jung understood this.If you Google “Jungian archetypes” you’ll find that most writers list the archetypes as twelve basic characters: Lover, Magician, Explorer, Creator, Sage, Outlaw, Hero, Jester, Everyman, Caretaker, Ruler, and the Innocent. These 12 characters populate the movies, television shows, novels, myths, and award-winning ad campaigns we experience on a daily basis.But what Jung actually taught is that archetypes are the psychological structures that allow us to recognize recurrent patterns in the world around us. They are the unconscious organizers of perceptions and ideas, since they spring from the systemic order that transcends both the external world and the human mind. Jung claimed there can be no master list of archetypes because there are an indefinite number of them, one for every recurrent pattern we observe.And not just patterns of personalities, but patterns of events, as well. Examples of events that follow an archetypal pattern include: Reproduction, Substitution, Reconfiguration, Following a Path, Collapse, Renewal, De-alignment, Re-alignment, and the Investment Bubble that always precedes delayed gratification.Every introduction of change requires a Pattern Shift, a transition from one pattern to another.Although most events could be categorized as “transitions,” an Archetypal Transition is a specific type of event, such as the ritual of Initiation (baptism,) or the ritual of Union (marriage,) or the ritual of Casting Out (divorce.) An Archetypal Transition is a portal to a new identity. Some examples of Archetypal Transition include being parented, courtship, loss of virginity, a sudden change in status, and preparation for death.Archetypes of Transition open the door for a new and different person to experience a new and different world.As a writer, you create new realities in the imaginations of your readers, so it is perfectly reasonable that you should observe and name new archetypes. You are not limited only to those named by Jung and popularized by tradition.In fact, I have invented names for several recurrent patterns that I have observed, and have mentioned several of them to you already.And now I officially give you permission to do the same:1. Go. Observe the world around you.2. Recognize and name the recurrent patterns that you find.3. Keep a list of them.Indy Beagle and I look forward to reading about your discoveries.Ciao for Niao,Roy H. WilliamsPS – Today’s soirée was inspired by my partner, Vi Wickam, who sent me the Richard Feynman quote that opened today’s Monday Morning Memo.When Victoria Pelletier sets her mind to achieving a goal, she won’t let anything or anyone stop her. Nor will she blame anyone but herself when things don’t go the way she planned. Those two personality traits — being unstoppable and making no excuses — have been a recipe for success since she became the chief operating...
5/8/20236 minutes, 36 seconds
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Content Without Context is Boring

You see a photo of a man in a blue jacket standing in front of McDonalds. That photo contains at least 3 pieces of information.Information is content.1. Man2. Blue Jacket3. McDonaldsContent without context is boring.That photograph was taken to encourage you and elevate your hope.Does that surprise you? It should, because you haven’t been given any context.The man in that photo, Brian Scudamore, was a 19-year-old kid sitting in his car in exactly that spot in that McDonald’s drive-thru line when he noticed a ratty old pickup truck that had rounded the corner a few vehicles ahead of him. Spray-painted on the side of that truck were the words “Junk Hauling” along with a telephone number. Brian thought, “I could do that,” and as those four words echoed in his brain – “I could do that” “I could do that” “I could do that” – the world’s largest private junk removal service was born.Brian’s company is about to break through the clouds into the sunlight of one billion dollars in annual revenue. Just below the bottom frameline of that photo, the logo for 1-800-GOT-JUNK? is monogrammed on that blue jacket.Ray Bard retired a few years ago, but people still speak in hushed tones about his genius.Brian Scudamore has that same kind of genius.Ray Bard put it into words for me several years ago while we were having lunch. He said, “Every dazzling success is made from four components, and everyone, everywhere has the first two.”I raised my eyebrows to indicate that I was listening.Ray said, “Number one is a Big Idea. Everyone has a Big Idea. Number two is Nuts & Bolts; the step-by-step, the how-to, along with a few examples that demonstrate the Big Idea. Everyone has a Big Idea and some Nuts & Bolts.”“Okay, what are numbers three and four?”“Number three is Entertainment.”I raised my eyebrows again.“Entertainment is the currency that will buy you the time and attention of a too-busy public. Information is the medicine they need, but entertainment – wit – charm – enchantment – are the spoonfuls of sugar that help the medicine go down.”“And number four?”“Number four is Hope. People don’t just need advice, they need genuine encouragement. When you give them a glimpse of a future that is better than the past, when you help them see a tomorrow that is better than today, and they see it is within their grasp, you have done the only thing that any business ever needs to do.”Ray stopped talking and just looked at me.I looked back at him, waiting for him to continue. It was one of those moments when time stands still. I honestly can’t tell you whether it was 15 seconds or 3 minutes, but it felt like forever.He finally said, “Roy, the objective of every business is to make someone happy.”Brian Scudamore knows that, and I think he may have been born knowing it.And now you know it, too.So here’s the question: What are you going to do to make someone happy?Roy H. WilliamsPS – If information is content, then context is the framing of that information; the presentation of it, the backstory, the angle of approach that makes the information interesting. Your goal as a storyteller is revelation and delight, to pull back the curtain and reveal a mystery.
5/1/20235 minutes, 34 seconds
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An Honest Attempt to Understand

In 1947 a Norwegian became curious if it was possible for the natives of South America to have drifted on a raft 4,300 miles across the Pacific ocean to populate the islands of Polynesia.The question of who populated Polynesia wasn’t really important to anyone but Thor Heyerdahl.He opened his bestselling book in 1950 with these words,“Once in a while you find yourself in an odd situation. You get into it by degrees and in the most natural way but, when you are right in the midst of it, you are suddenly astonished and ask yourself how in the world it all came about. If, for example, you put to sea on a wooden raft with a parrot and five companions, it is inevitable that sooner or later you will wake up one morning out at sea, perhaps a little better rested than ordinarily, and begin to think about it. On one such morning I sat writing in a dew-drenched logbook…”DNA evidence later proved Heyerdahl’s theory to be incorrect. Today we know for certain that Polynesia was not populated by South Americans, but by Asians.But I still like Thor Heyerdahl. He wanted to know if South Americans could have made that journey, so he built a raft using only the tools and materials available in prehistoric times, pushed away from the soft safety of the shore, and had himself a wonderful adventure.We don’t do that sort of thing anymore, but I wish we did.We no longer set out to experience – with an open mind – the lives of persons who are different than us. We are no longer willing “to walk a mile in their shoes” so that we might better understand them. What we do instead is look for evidence that our own perspective is correct and that all the others are wrong. We are assisted in this unholy endeavor by algorithms on the internet and one-sided news organizations that tell us exactly what we want to hear.I like Thor Heyerdahl and I like John Howard Griffin.Like me, John Howard Griffin was born in Dallas, Texas, but he got there 38 years before I arrived.Two years before America entered World War II, 19-year-old John Howard Griffin joined the French Resistance as a medic and helped smuggle Austrian Jews to safety and freedom in England. When America officially entered that war, Griffin served the United States Army in the South Pacific where he was decorated for bravery.Keep that characteristic in mind: bravery.While serving in the Solomon islands, Griffin contracted spinal malaria that left him temporarily paraplegic. And then the concussion of a Japanese bomb caused him to become blind. Eleven years later, in 1957, his eyesight inexplicably returned and that’s when the real adventure began.America was now at war with itself. The battle over civil rights was a whistling teapot on a fiery stove, so John Howard Griffin shaved his head in order to hide his straight hair, took large doses of Oxsoralen in 1959 to darken his skin, then spent six weeks traveling as a black man in the Deep South. He started in new New Orleans, then visited Mississippi, South Carolina, and Georgia, getting around mainly by hitchhiking.When I was young, I read John Howard Griffin’s book about his experiences as a black man, and it felt to me like an honest and straightforward diary. A lot of other people felt differently, of course, so the Ku Klux Klan beat him nearly to death in 1975.And so it goes.*Evidently, it is safer to drift 4,300 miles across the Pacific in a prehistoric raft than it is to talk about race in America.Roy H. Williams*I wrote those 4 words – Kurt Vonnegut’s signature line – because I heard him say it in my mind after I wrote the preceding sentence.Clay Stafford produces an annual conference that brings together authors, agents, exhibitors, and fans of crime and thriller literature. And he’s been doing it for 17 years. To pull off a large meeting, workshop, or other live event in the post-COVID-19 era requires...
4/24/20236 minutes, 19 seconds
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Your Personality Drives Your Business

My friend David Freeman gave me a tool about 20 years ago that I have used to great effect. David teaches screenwriters and novelists how to create fictional characters that draw you toward them like magnets.It is not my objective to teach you David’s technique today, nor will I teach you my simplified version of it. What I hope to do is help you understand that your business has a personality. If it does not, then you do not have a brand; you have a logo and a visual style guide.A powerful brand is an imaginary character that lives in the mind of the customer, no different than those imaginary characters that populate great novels and TV shows and movies. If you feel connected to a brand, it is because that brand represents something you believe in.Each of us is a jigsaw puzzle, and when we see a strangely-shaped piece that will fit a correspondingly-shaped hole in the self-image we are trying to complete, we feel we must have that piece.When we rise above a subsistence-level income, much of what we purchase is identity reinforcement. We buy what we buy to remind ourselves – and tell the world around us – who we are.If you own a business, the personality of that business will be a reflection of your own personality. And the areas of your business that need improvement will usually reflect the areas in your life that need improvement.Your personality drives your business. This is why your business will always reflect your personality. You really need to capitalize on that.The most brilliant marketing consultants will:Identify the characteristics of your brand. It’s entirely possible that you never intended your brand to have these characteristics, but they will always be there. The best brand consultants want to answer the question, “What makes this brand think, speak, act, and see the world the way it does?”Amplify those characteristics so that the brand has a distinct personality. We do not bond with products or services that do not have a personality.Craft all messages so that they reflect the personality that has been there all along. When you do this, marketing efficiency is accelerated and customer acquisition rises to a new level.A week ago I met with the owner of a furniture manufacturing company that designs all its own products. After scrolling through their website, I said, “Anyone who loves Apple and Tesla will love your furniture.”His eyes got big and he said, “Those are the brands my team and I idolize! How did you know?”I replied, “Your designs reflect the same values and beliefs as those brands.”1. “You reject established styles and tradition.”2. “You are going for that clean, simple, look and feel of elegant design.”3. “You have created a walled garden; your stuff doesn’t mix well with other stuff. And your stuff is expensive.”4. “At your core, you are a leader and not a follower.”“These are the defining characteristics of the brand you have created. All you need to do now is begin communicating to the public in the voice of that brand.”I was hesitant to share the defining characteristics of the brands created by Steve Jobs and Elon Musk with you because it could easily lead you to say, “Those are things I believe in, too! I’m just like Steve Jobs and Elon Musk.”Although it may be true that your worldview overlaps with Steve’s and Elon’s, it is highly unlikely that you share the same character diamond. Having used this tool for nearly 20 years, I had never before seen a company that mirrors Tesla and Apple in each of the 4 cardinal points.The defining characteristics of your company – your brand – are probably different from the brands created by Steve Jobs and Elon Musk. It is difficult...
4/17/20236 minutes, 21 seconds
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Celebrate Your Partner

Do people under 50 know what a yoke is? I honestly don’t know. When I consider that millions of Americans don’t know how to use a rotary telephone, I can easily believe they might be unfamiliar with that wooden implement used to unite a pair of horses or mules or oxen so that they might be able to “pull together” and accomplish things that neither of them could have done alone.You have people in your life to whom you are yoked. You are connected to them.We have names for these connections: Husband. Wife. Sister. Brother. Life partner. Business partner. Co-worker.Regardless of how you are connected, you can strengthen that connection and create a wonderful partnership by doing two simple things:Make a list of all the things you admire about your partner.You know their superpowers. You know their shining moments. Focus your attention on their talents and skills.Celebrate your partner.Tell people about the marvelous things you have seen your partner do. Your audience will be impressed and wish they had a partner like yours.Your partner will be happier. You will be happier. There is literally no downside to this.But the person who really needs to hear these stories is you.Feelings follow actions. When you focus on your partner’s superpowers – those things they do remarkably well – and tell happy stories about the things you have seen your partner do, you will remember how lucky you are to have that person in your life.If you are frustrated with your partner, it’s probably because you have been noticing their weaknesses and complaining to others about them.You’ve been telling the wrong stories.Feeling follow actions.Did I just hear you say, “I can’t help how I feel?”Of course you can!Instead of telling the negative truth about your partner, look for those things your partner does well and begin telling a different truth; a positive, affirming truth.Your feelings will change. And your partner, will, too.Roy H. WilliamsNOTE FROM INDY – The wizard answers a HUGE question for Nick on page 3 of the rabbit hole today. I was interested in his answer. I’m betting you will be, too. – Indy BeagleKhierstyn Ross has an odd goal: she said, “We actually want our clients to fire us.” Khierstyn isn’t crazy. Her mission is to help launch and scale online brands until they achieve $3 million in annual sales and she’s already done that for many clients. By the time her clients’ grow to $10 million in yearly revenues, Khierstyn says her nestlings need to leave the nest. Roving reporter Rotbart says, “Whether you’re a startup or long-established, Khierstyn’s growth methodology is sure to impress you.” The place you want to be is
4/10/20233 minutes, 42 seconds
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Mork calling Orson. Come in, Orson.

I have been in a reflective mood of late. Unplugged from my beloved routine of writing an ocean of ads in the middle of the night, I have been examining the lives of people who sharpened their skills to such fine points that they pierced the skies and found themselves embodied in golden beams of light.A larger-than-life personality saturated in dazzling talent is combustible. Give that person the tiniest spark of opportunity and they will instantly be on fire.Ernest Hemingway embodied the sad machismo of the Lost Generation and became a cultural icon. Hunter S. Thompson embodied the psychedelic counterculture of the following generation and became a cultural icon. Arriving at the end of Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, both of them shot themselves.But years before he pulled that trigger, Thompson wrote,“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming ‘Wow! What a Ride!’”Robin Williams was 27 years old when he encountered the tiny spark of opportunity that embodied him in the golden beams of a career, and a life, on fire. He walked into the living rooms of America as Mork, a visitor to Earth from the planet Ork, in a show called Mork & Mindy that aired on ABC from from 1978 to 1982. Each episode ended with Mork closing his eyes and – through his thoughts – contacting an invisible being named Orson, with whom he would share his observations of the day.Right now you are expecting me to tell you that Robin Williams hung himself, but you already know that, so I don’t need to mention it.My interest is in the invisible god-like character named Orson. It is an interesting name for a god, don’t you think?My theory is that the writer of the show was thinking, consciously or unconsciously, about Orson Welles, the blazing talent that gave us The War of the Worlds, a 1938 radio event that has never been equalled, and Citizen Kane, the 1941 film that Orson wrote, directed, produced, and in which he played the leading role.Citizen Kane is frequently cited as the greatest film ever made.If Robin Williams, a hyper-creative being from another world, is talking to an epic giant from that other world, it doesn’t surprise me that the giant of that world would be named Orson.David Thomson, writing for The Guardian on October 22, 2009, said,“The Orson Welles of 1936-42 worked 20 hours a day, ate double meals to keep going, pursued pretty young women like a demon and lived as if he had no tomorrow. He worked, all at once, in radio, on the stage and in preparation for his great film. He was a looming figure in American life: an offence to Hollywood in the way he achieved a carte blanche contract, and a boy wonder of such arrogance that it was said of him, ‘There but for the grace of God, goes God.'”“If Orson Welles had never made Citizen Kane, he would be a phenomenon. But he did and that leaves us all his children. His real children might tell you that it was a difficult and sad life to be caught with. Alas.”“But remember this: Orson died alone in 1985 and you can read the reports as signs of sadness. On the contrary, I suspect he was exhilarated at the end. Real sadness is being worth $5bn and not knowing what to do with it.”Orson Welles and I never met, but I credit him with giving me some of the greatest advice about ad writing that I ever received.Orson wrote,“I want to give the audience a hint of a scene. No more than that. Give them too much and they won’t contribute anything themselves. Give them just a suggestion and you get them working with you. That’s what gives the theater...
4/3/20237 minutes, 9 seconds
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Start Your Own Business

It is naive to believe the world is a meritocracy, but it is defeatist to believe that you can’t win.Six years ago, notacoward wrote,“Entrepreneurship is like one of those carnival games where you throw darts or something.Middle class kids can afford one throw. Most miss. A few hit the target and get a small prize. A very few hit the center bullseye and get a bigger prize. Rags to riches! The American Dream lives on.Rich kids can afford many throws. If they want to, they can try over and over and over again until they hit something and feel good about themselves. Some keep going until they hit the center bullseye, then they give speeches or write blog posts about ‘meritocracy’ and the salutary effects of hard work.Poor kids aren’t visiting the carnival. They’re the ones working it.”We’ve all seen what notacoward was describing, haven’t we? Each of us knows people who were born on third base and think they hit a triple. They populate the royal families, the financial aristocracies, the college fraternities, and the luxury resorts of our planet. The business world is full of empty suits and corporate assholes who like to pretend they earned what they were given.When you grow up in the poor part of town, you see hardworking people shake their heads and say,“It’s not what you know; it’s who you know.”“It’s not what you know; it’s who you know.”“It’s not what you know; it’s who you know.”This is nothing new. It has always been true. But it doesn’t have to apply to YOU.I knew it didn’t apply to me because I once heard a 3,000-year-old story of a shepherd boy who became King because he was stunningly good at being a shepherd boy. When a lion attacked his sheep, he killed the lion. When a bear attacked his sheep, he killed the bear. And when a giant taunted his nation, he killed the giant.The son of that King later wrote,“Do you see a person skilled in his work?He will stand before kings;He will not stand before obscure people.” **Is it wise to protect the ones we love from the problems that taught us all we know?I know a lot of successful people who wish they knew how to give their children the hardships that made them rich.One successful young friend – just 42 years old – has created four separate fortunes during the past 20 years and is working on a fifth one. He started with nothing: no family money, no angel investor, no connections. His only assets were his courage and his relentless efforts. I asked him recently what advice he would offer the emerging generation. He said,“I think the question this younger generation needs to be asking themselves is, ‘Ok, now what?’ Yes, it sucks, but it also sucks that previous generations were drafted and shipped off to die in wars.So shit happens. And sometimes people slip through the cracks.I’m happy to not call them ‘lazy’ if they’re willing to acknowledge that they still bear the responsibility of doing something… anything… to improve their lot.Because lingering in whiney little bitch mode sure ain’t gonna get it done.”If you have fallen into the trap of believing that you don’t have the money or the connections to rise above your circumstances, lift your head and open...
3/27/20237 minutes, 46 seconds
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Remove the Friction and Grow

Jeffrey Eisenberg and Dewey Jenkins don’t know each other but each of them taught me the importance of removing the friction.Dewey sings it to every person in his company, “Make it easy for customers to do business with us.” And they do. Inventing new ways to “make it easier” is the job of every person in every department.Jeffrey Eisenberg calls this “removing the friction in the buying process”.Tesla is a good example.I am convinced that a number of other companies are building electric vehicles that are as good ­– or better – than Tesla, but Tesla remains the big name with the big stock price. At the time of this writing, Tesla is selling for $181 a share while Volkswagen is at $18, Subaru is at $8, Ford is at $13, Audi is at $19, Mercedes is at $20, BMW is at $35, and Rivian is at $15.Tesla has removed the friction from the buying process.Buying a car from Tesla is as easy as buying a book from Amazon. And I don’t mean that figuratively. I mean that literally. People who order a car from Tesla look up from their computer screen with a puzzled look on their face and ask, “Did I just buy a new car?” And then they look back at their computer screen and nod their head up-and-down slowly as they say, “Yes, I just bought a new car.”Go ahead and try it. It will only cost you $500.Princess Pennie ordered a Tesla a couple of months ago and was startled by how easy it was. Two weeks later, she decided she wanted to add the optional third row of seating. I watched her add that third row in less than 30 seconds with just two clicks. Tesla immediately displayed her new delivery date, and she closed her laptop. Done.Meanwhile, our younger son spent an entire day at the Volkswagen dealer trying to order an electric SUV. He persevered for 8 grueling hours, but he got it done and the car soon arrived. He loves that vehicle, and rightfully so, but he says he would rather endure a tax audit, a root canal, and a prostate exam than go through the process of buying a Volkswagen again.Volkswagen has not yet figured out how to remove the friction.1-800-GOT-JUNK is a company entirely committed to removing the friction. Led by its founder, Brian Scudamore, “Making it easier for the customer” is an ongoing source of enthusiastic discussion at every level in that company.Meanwhile, Google is introducing all kinds of new friction. Google “Best Electric Vehicles” and you will see pages of ads from manufacturers who want to sell you a car. Enter a different, more specific phrase and you’ll get that same list. In fact, any query that includes the word “electric” followed by any synonym for “car” will get you that list of ads.Google got big by putting the customer ahead of the advertiser. They’re clearly not doing that anymore, so I’ve decided to give Bing a chance. I suspect there might be millions of other people slowly coming to that same conclusion right now.But even though I am profoundly frustrated with Google, I remain encouraged that Dewey and Jeffrey and Brian Scudamore and the customer service team at Tesla remain committed to removing the friction at every point of contact, making it ever-increasingly easy for customers to do business with them.To remove the friction is to remove the customer’s frustration.I’m just an ad writer, so I’m not particularly good at refining the internal processes of running a business, but I highly admire those people who know how to do it.How about you? Can you think of 10 tiny-little-things that would each make it a-little-bit-easier for customers to do business with you? Think of those 10 things as Exponential Little Bits; they don’t just add up, they multiply and go exponential.And when you have implemented those 10 things, think of 10 more, and then implement those.Rinse and repeat.Keep it up and you’ll become the Tesla of your category.Roy H....
3/20/20237 minutes, 9 seconds
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Calculating the Cost of Customer Acquisition

When your advertising leans on the weak wooden crutch of discounting, it is only a matter of time before that crutch splinters and slowly pierces your heart.Discounting is a seductive drug like heroin, meth, and fentanyl. It rarely kills you quickly.It prefers to kill you slowly.Yes, I know that is an uncomfortable image, but I need you to understand how dangerous it is to discount.Discounting erodes customers’ confidence in your pricing and trains them to delay purchasing from you until you offer them a juicy discount. Discounting also raises some questions about the quality of your product.But hooray, that’s not what we’re talking about today.Today I’m going to give you a method for acquiring customers that is far more powerful than discounting. This method allows you to pay for the results of your advertising according to how well your ads work.No, we’re not talking about pay-per-click. (Remember, you’ve got to pay for that click even if the customer gives you a glance, flips you the bird, and walks away.) I have a Love/Hate relationship with pay-per-click and I’ll bet you do, too.What I’m about to share with you is Love/Love/Love/Love.I love it.It loves me.You’re going to love it.You’re going to love me for telling you about it.I believe in only two prices: full price, and free.What can you give away for free?Thirty years ago, I was given an ad budget of $10,000 and asked to bring 500 new customers to a struggling frozen custard business that had two locations, but neither one of them had inside dining. These frozen custard stands were walk-up and drive-thru only. And this was during the middle of the winter in a state where ice and snow are a regular occurrence.I asked, “Do you care how I spend the money?”“No. We just need to see 500 new customers.”“Great. I’m going to spend $500 in a single day on radio ads on the smallest radio station in town and then I’m going to spend $1,700 on custard mix. You can keep the other 78-hundred. Get a good night’s sleep on Friday night because you’re going to be working 14 hours on Saturday.”My radio ad ran twice an hour from 6am until midnight on the day of the event.It said, “This frozen custard is so good it’s illegal in 7 states and under investigation in 12 more. And today, just to prove it, we’re giving away full-size cones for free.”I called them just after midnight.I asked, “Did anyone show up?”“We just finished counting the empty cone boxes. We served 11,000 free cones today and at least 10,000 of those were people we had never seen before.”Their business immediately jumped by 80% and their sales volume never quit climbing. Today they have 53 locations in 15 states.Another example is the air conditioning company that had a history of giving customers a 15-hundred-dollar cash rebate if they purchased a new air conditioning system in October.In 2014, I convinced them that customers would much rather have an iPad. Relatively few people had them back then.They said, “But an iPad is only $700. What do we do with the rest of the money?”I said, “Buy a few extra iPads for the people who call you and say, ‘Hey! I bought a new air conditioner from you two months ago. Where’s my iPad?’”They sold a huge number of new air conditioning systems in October, two months after air conditioning season was over.The first example was a full-size, free sample. Don’t be stingy. The second example was a highly desirable gift-with-purchase.The more irresistible your offer, the better it will work. If you try this and it doesn’t work, you made a weak offer that was easy to ignore. Your offer has to be remarkable.During the worst part of the Covid lockdown when doctors and nurses were working round-the-clock and everyone was losing hope, a jeweler...
3/13/20239 minutes, 43 seconds
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“You’re just the one she hasn’t left yet.”

Our song began in 1971 when Hunter S. Thompson wrote about the end of the 60s.He may as well have been writing about the end of a love affair.“We had all the momentum; we were riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave. So now, less than five years later, you can go up on a steep hill in Las Vegas and look West, and with the right kind of eyes you can almost see the high-water mark – that place where the wave finally broke and rolled back.”You are free to use – or not use – words and phrases from that sad soliloquy at the end of a dream. But the song lyrics you are going to write won’t be about the end of the 60s. You are going to write a song about the end of a love affair.Another group of possible words and phrases you might use popped into my head during a business trip to Las Vegas in 2010. I was passing through the casino as I headed back to my room after speaking to an auditorium full of strangers when I saw a pattern, thought a thought, and wrote it down before I fell asleep.“Girls in black spandex pants, high-heeled boots and baggy leather coats punctuate Las Vegas. Vodka fumes trail like invisible puppies as they pass the dead-eyed, spent ones going through the motions of having fun without having any of it.”But the most important part of this song that you – yes, you – are going to assemble from bits and pieces of these shattered memories will be the phrase that Brad Whittington scribbled down in 2012 as he was driving past the Mean-Eyed Cat, a famous dive bar.“You’re just the one she hasn’t left yet.”That’s the hook, the recurrent chorus. “You’re just the one she hasn’t left yet,” will show up repeatedly as you write this song that some lucky singer is going to make famous. That singer will tour and sell T-shirts and sign autographs and be famous. But you and me and Brad are going to reach into our mailboxes and pull-out handfuls of songwriting royalties.Did you know that singers and their bands get zero money when their songs play on the radio? The only people who make money from airplay are the songwriters.That’s going to be you and me and Brad.Bernie Taupin doesn’t sing or play an instrument, but he has collected more than 70 million dollars in royalties from the lyrics of songs that play on the radio each day.Brad and I feel the musicians and singers should get some money, too, but that’s not how the system works. Oh, well. Maybe they’ll get rich selling concert tickets and T-shirts.Or maybe they should learn to write song lyrics.To submit your song, all you have to do is follow these simple steps:Don’t worry about whether your song lyrics make sense. You’re not writing an essay full of facts. You’re writing a song full of feelings.Your song lyrics will need to have poetic meter, those wonderful rhythms created by the stressed and unstressed syllables of spoken words.You must repeatedly use the phrase, “You’re just the one she hasn’t left yet,” and you have to use a few of the words and phrases contributed by Hunter S. Thompson and me. You can decide which phrases you will use, and you are free to add words and phrases of your own, of course.Your song can be Rock, Yacht Rock, Folk, Country, Western Swing, Opera, R & B, Rap, Hip-Hop, Bluegrass, or some musical genre I’ve never heard of. Brad and I don’t care and Hunter S most certainly doesn’t.You have to send your lyrics and an MP3 recording of your song, with or without musical accompaniment, to [email protected] before midnight Sunday, April 30, 2023.There is a distinct chance that no one will ever hear your song except for Indy Beagle and Brad and me. But we are all going to have a wonderful time and that’s something in itself, don’t you think?Yes, I was serious about sending us a recording. We need to hear the...
3/6/20237 minutes, 46 seconds
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Let’s Talk About Faith

You believe in a lot of things. But what do you believe in the most?Go into the quiet security of your mind, and you will know that you value one of these more highly than the other four.GovernmentBusinessScienceFamilyDeity“American rates of religious affiliation have plummeted to their lowest point in the past 73 years. And nowhere are they lower than in knowledge-industry hubs like Silicon Valley, where high-skilled jobs are growing the fastest. If religion is in decline, I wondered, then what are Americans worshiping now? What has become our new religion? For many professionals, the answer is work. Work provides the identity, belonging, meaning and purpose that faith traditions once did.”– Carolyn Chen, NY Times, June 4, 2022“For thousands of years, our ancestors gazed at the world around us—the people and animals, the mountains and seas, the sun, moon and stars—and saw the divine. As the 19th Psalm puts it, ‘The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament shows his handiwork.’ Even Isaac Newton saw a universe filled with purpose. In his masterwork, the Principia, he wrote: ‘This most beautiful system of the sun, planets, and comets, could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful being.’ Science advanced by leaps and bounds in the centuries following Newton, and scientists dialed back much of the God-talk. Many thinkers suggested that the universe runs like a mighty clockwork. Perhaps a creator was needed at the beginning, to set it going, but surely it now runs on its own. Einstein, who often spoke of God metaphorically, took a different tack. He rejected a personal deity, but saw a kind of pantheism—roughly, the identification of God with nature—as plausible.”– Dan Falk, Scientific American, July 27, 20211. Where do you place your highest confidence? Is it government?At one end of this spectrum, Communism believes that citizens should collectively own the means of production, distribution, and exchange which allocates products to everyone in the society. Karl Marx proposed a classless society in which everything would be shared by everyone.At the other end of the spectrum, Libertarianism says, “We, the members of the Libertarian Party, challenge the cult of the omnipotent state and defend the rights of the individual.” [ Ayn Rand famously proposed, “If government would just get out of the way, individual self-interest would create a better society!”To have confidence in government – or in the absence of government – is to believe in people. To have faith in people is Humanism. Is that where you have put your faith?2. Where do you place your highest confidence? Is it business, capitalism, free enterprise?“People create value and do good things when they have a profit motive.”“Capitalism creates jobs and provides a better lifestyle for everyone who participates. It is a virtuous cycle.”“Business people are problem solvers.”3. Where do you place your highest confidence? Is it science, medicine, technology?J.G. Ballard was enthusiastic about living in a technological society. He said, “Science and technology multiply around us. To an increasing extent they dictate the languages in which we speak and think. Either we use those languages, or we remain mute.”Napoleon Hill echoed J.G. Ballard. “Whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve.”But Thomas Schelling, winner of the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences, disagreed with Napoleon Hill, saying, “The one thing a person cannot do, however brilliant they are, is write up a list of things that would never occur to them.”I like Thomas Schelling.Perhaps I am oversimplifying this, but my general feeling is that when we do a thing intuitively, we call it
2/27/202312 minutes, 23 seconds
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Ten years ago, scientists discovered “a geometric, jewel-like object at the heart of quantum physics.”This jewel-like object is called the amplituhedron (cool name, right?) and it, “dramatically simplifies calculations of particle interactions and challenges the notion that space and time are fundamental components of reality.” *A theoretical physicist at Harvard, Jacob Bourjaily said that when using the amplituhedron, “The degree of efficiency is mind-boggling. You can easily do, on paper, computations that were infeasible even with a computer before.”But that’s enough of that. The real question behind all this is, “What is real?”Questions about the nature of reality, and the reality of nature, that echoed in the hearts and minds of humans for a long, long time.What is Reality? Mathematicians have structured long equations to explain it. Theoretical physicists have developed theories to predict it. Philosophers have made names for themselves by speculating about it.But I’m not asking them.I’m asking you.What are the most real things in your life?Indy Beagle is going to collect your answers and task the Tiny Tribe into using the most beautiful pieces and phrases in song lyrics that he will publish in the rabbit hole a few weeks from now.You can reach Indy at [email protected] answers don’t need to be scientific, philosophical, or universal.They need only be true… to you.We're looking for that jewel-like object that sparkles in your heart and twinkles in your eyes and glitters on the surface of the sea.The sea is your unconscious mind.We're looking for the song that has not yet been sung.Aroo,Roy H. WilliamsPS – Tom T. Hall said the most real things in his life were, “Little baby ducks, old pickup trucks, slow-moving trains… and rain.”*Natalie WolchoverFour obstacles prevent most people from becoming persuasive communicators, whether in print, in front of an audience, or on video. And those obstacles are SNEAKY obstacles. That’s the conclusion of Michelle Gladieux (Glad-ee-oh), a communication consultant with 18 years of experience teaching at the highest levels. “The ability to dazzle an audience is far more accessible than most people believe,” Michelle tells roving reporter Rotbart, “but you’ll need to take some uncomfortable risks to succeed.” Are you willing to risk a few minutes to elevate your speaking abilities by several notches? All aboard! It’s time for
2/20/20233 minutes, 39 seconds
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The Goal is Differentiation

CHAPTER ONE:We assume that every plumber can plumb, right?We assume that any A/C company can make the house warm in winter, cool in summer.We assume that every jeweler can sell us a diamond, and a lawyer must know the law, or he wouldn’t have a license to practice.So how do we choose who to use?“In the 1950s, consumer packaged goods companies like Procter and Gamble, General Foods and Unilever developed the discipline of brand management – or marketing as we know it today – when they noticed the quality levels of products being offered by competitors begin to improve. A brand manager would be responsible for giving a product an identity that distinguished it from nearly indistinguishable competitors“– “How Brands Were Born: A Brief History of Modern Marketing,” a story in The Atlantic, 2011We choose the name we think of first and feel the best about. When no such name springs to mind, we type our problem into Google and a thundering horde of names appears.How often is your name the one that is clicked?When the customer types their problem into Google instead of typing your name, you get a high-cost, low-CAP click. [Conversion, Average sale, Profit margin] When the customer types your name, you get a low-cost, high-CAP click.Most ads communicate information, but good ads build relationship. You want yours to be the name they think of first and feel the best about.You want them to type your name into Google.Boring ads are about you and your company. Exciting ads are about the customer. Show them a movie on the visuospatial sketchpad of Working Memory, the movie screen of the mind!You can do this. Use your words. Use mass media.CHAPTER TWO:Most ads are not written to persuade. They are written not to offend.(Read more about this in today’s rabbit hole.)This is why most ads are flaccid, impotent, and ignored.EXAMPLE: a few of you mentally raised your eyebrows at the words flaccid and impotent. You would tell me those words should be changed. Perhaps I should shorten it to say, ‘This is why most ads are ignored,’ or soften it further by saying, ‘This is why some ads are less effective than they might have been.”It is never wise to willfully insult a person, but the risk of insult is the price of clarity.When asked to look at a piece of ad copy, well-meaning people instinctively scan it for images, ideas, and language that might be softened.Effective ads do not hit softly.Effective ads have impact. They challenge your previously held beliefs and send thousands of gallons of water spewing into the air when they knock down a fire hydrant while attempting to parallel park. Fleeing the scene, they almost run over a little dog. An old lady with a funny hat thrashes the air with her walking stick and shouts old-lady curses. We are glad the little dog is okay.CHAPTER THREEThe role of Human Resources and Public Relations is to broker a lasting peace.In their world, harmony and empowerment and inclusiveness are the rule.To allow the people under their care to be criticized and disparaged is unthinkable.They seek peace, harmony, and happiness for everyone.Social Media marketers live in that world, too.They are doctors and nurses in a beautiful place where people receive the loving attention they deserve.But…The role of the ad writer is to be a warrior.In their world, differentiation and ever-increasing dominance are the rule.To allow the...
2/13/20238 minutes, 59 seconds
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Does Your Company Have Core Values?

There are only three reasons to have a list of core values.   1: Inspire and reinforce “on-brand” behavior from employees.   2: Assist in the orientation and onboarding of new hires.   3: Inform investors, customers, and other interested parties of what they can expect from you.PROBLEM: When your core values include aspirational words that describe attributes rather than actions, your core values list will be interpreted differently by different readers, regardless of any clarifying language that might appear beneath the aspirational words.Use descriptions of actionsrather than create a list of attributes.These are a few core valuesthat describe aspirational attributesrather than observable actions:“Transparency”“Integrity”“Quality”“Accountability”“Respect”“Passion”How do you know if a person is transparent, accountable, or passionate?It is hard to know what a person is being, but it is easy to see what they are doing.Actions are easier to recognize than Attributes.This is why lists of attributes rarely ring true in the hearts of employees.When you list aspirational attributes instead of observable actions:Employees aren’t exactly sure what to do.New hires are intimidated and confused.Investors, customers, and other interested parties will not be able to clearly observe your core values manifested through the actions of your people.If your employees do not see your core values modeled by their fellow employees and reinforced by management each day, you don’t have a core values list; you have a wish list, a poster on the wall that will quickly become invisible.An actionable Core Values List will improve your company culture as well as the experience you deliver to your customers.Ray Seggern teaches:Your core values list is the STORY you are telling,the daily experience of your employees determines your CULTURE,and the reactions of your customers will be determined by the EXPERIENCE you give them.If you have a Wish List of aspirational attributes rather than a Core Values List of observable actions, here are a few examples of how attributes can be expressed and described as actions:Rather than say “Transparency,”we might say, “We make only honest and accurate statements about our products.”Rather than say “Integrity,”we might say, “We always follow through on our promises.”Rather than say “Quality,”we might say, “We will only sell products that are expertly manufactured from the finest materials.”Rather than say “Accountability,”we might say, “We never make excuses for our shortcomings or try to shift the blame to others.”Rather than say “Respect,”we might say, “We use courteous language at all times and maintain eye contact when others are...
2/6/20235 minutes, 43 seconds
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Just Three Words

Lately I’ve been trying to explain to uncomprehending faces how the most powerful opening lines are never questions, but statements that trigger more questions than they answer.I am certain those uncomprehending faces are my fault. I fear the idea that I am trying to teach may be bigger than the teacher.I am going to do my best today – one last time – to make it as clear as I can:The job of the opening line is to engage the reader, listener, or viewer.If the opening line doesn’t do it’s job, you risk becoming invisible.If your customer turns their attention away from you, you cease to exist.The most famous opening line in literature is, “Call me Ishmael.” It is a simple 3-word statement, but it triggers the following questions:“Is your name not Ishmael?”“Why are you unwilling to tell us your real name?”“And why did you choose the name ‘Ishmael’.”“Are you hiding from someone?”“And if so, why?”The face on the billboard at the top of this page is a close friend of mine. The billboard contains no company name, no logo, no domain name, and no telephone number. We give you no clue that might allow you to answer the questions that swirl in your mind:“Who is Elmer?”“Why is he coming”“What will he do when he gets here?”“Did su madre really name him Elmer?”As an ad, that billboard, “Elmer is Coming,” is woefully incomplete. In fact, every dilettante in the world of advertising will take great joy in pointing out that “only a moron” would put up such a billboard. It will be the talk of the town.“What a stupid billboard! It doesn’t have a call-to-action and it doesn’t have any contact information or even a logo!”But those billboards are only the opening salvo of an ad campaign that will continue for decades.After 4 weeks, when the city is buzzing with “Who is Elmer?” my friend will introduce himself on the radio and share who he is, where he came from, and what he hopes to do. Everyone who hears those ads will be anxious to tell their friends all about Elmer.What I am describing is not a “unique selling proposition.” It is simply a literary device, an artifact of truth upon which we can build a captivating ad, the beginning of a highly successful ad campaign.You never get a second chance to make a good first impression.Your first impression of Elmer is that he is easy-going and interesting and fun. (All of that is true, by the way.)Both of the examples I gave you earlier were just three words.Are you willing to try your hand at writing a 3-word statement that triggers more questions than it answers?I am not talking about a 3-word caption that needs to be accompanied by an image. “Elmer is Coming” works its magic even without a picture. Likewise, “Call me Ishmael.”Can you write a 3-word statement that triggers more questions than it answers? If your three words make Indy and me to want to know more, Indy said he will publish your name in next week’s rabbit hole.Send your three words to [email protected] before midnight Saturday, February 4th.If you see your name in the rabbit hole the following Monday, that means you got an A+.Roy H. Williams
1/30/20235 minutes, 48 seconds
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Numbers, Facts, Words, and Hands

Regardless of our chosen profession, most of us work with Numbers, Facts, Words, and Hands.You’ve probably never thought about it. I certainly hadn’t, until I was talking with my 13-year-old grandson, Gideon, trying to convince him to elevate the quality of books he reads. Gideon is an exceptional storyteller and a surprisingly good actor for his age. Based on his natural proclivities, I am convinced Gideon will someday make his money with words. There are hundreds of ways to do it.I was about to list the careers that depend primarily on a practitioner’s capacity to choose and use precisely the right words when it hit me: every endeavor requires the use of numbers, facts, words, and hands.Career choices fall into one of those four camps.Numbers. Facts. Words. Hands.Arrange those four in the order you prefer to use them. Your order of preference may not correspond with the order of your competence, but it usually does. We get better at the things we prefer, especially when we focus on them.Let’s look at the careers where the language of Numbers stands on tiptoe and shouts “Look at me!”Data scientist, structural engineer, statistician, bookkeeper/accountant/CPA, insurance company actuarial, theoretical physicist, astrophysicist, (pretty much any kind of physicist,) and the list goes on.And in which politesse is the finesse of finicky Facts essential to success?Teacher, lawyer, doctor, policeman, consultant, inventor, and the list goes on.And what pursuits depend on your ability to muster and master Words that tickle the intellect and elevate the ears?Stand-up comedian, ad writer, politician, broadcaster, podcaster, online influencer, reporter, novelist, screenwriter, lyricist, and the list goes on.You didn’t know lyricist could be a career? Bernie Taupin has made more than seventy million dollars writing lyrics for Elton John. Bernie doesn’t write the music. Just the words.Now let’s look at the careers that harness the Hands.Carpenter, plumber, artist, musician, masseuse, electrician, manufacturing technician, butcher, baker, candlestick maker. And the list goes on.No career relies on the use of a single category exclusively, but when you look at a career from a distance, it is easy to see that one of those four is used more often than the other three.I have no idea how you might use this information, but I felt it was an observation worth sharing.One final thought: I have known a lot of people who followed the advice of their guidance counselor and chose a career based on how they scored on a standardized test. Tom was one of those people. Twenty-five years ago, he said,“I scored high on math skills so they convinced me to major in math in college. I graduated and got a job with a bank and was very successful but not happy. Then one day I realized that I hated math and had always hated math and was an idiot for listening to my guidance counselor.”Tom left banking to become an ad writer and became even more successful than he had been as a banker.And Tom was a lot happier, as well.If you took a moment to arrange Numbers, Facts, Words, and Hands in the order of your preference, [email protected] would like you to share your list with him, along with anything else you would like to add.I told him you said aroo.He says aroo to you, too.Roy H. WilliamsCompanies are pouring big money into programs that teach “soft skills,” such as employee training, human resources, community outreach, and DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.) But do they get their money’s worth?Jack and Patti Phillips developed a method for determining the return on investment for programs like these and it has become the...
1/23/20235 minutes, 16 seconds
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An Extremely Very Common Mistake

You are rolling down the road when you wonder, “If I turn off the engine and quit burning fuel, how far can I coast?”If your thought was to save fuel, you have made a costly mistake. The fuel you will burn to regain your speed is a lot more fuel than you would have burned to maintain your speed.This isn’t just a common mistake. It is an “extremely very” common mistake.But you were wondering how far you could coast, so I will answer your question, as asked.Your ability to coast will be determined bySpeedMassFrictionGravity (Are you coasting uphill, or down? Anyone can coast downhill in a booming economy.)Advertising is the fuel that energizes your business.Speed of growth is determined by how heavily you have been advertising.Mass is determined by how long you have been advertising that heavily.Friction is the inefficiency of your people to consistently delight your customers.Gravity is the resistance of your competitors. How strong or weak are they?It has been my observation that a roaringly successful business with a lot of momentum can coast for about 6 months before people begin to suspect that something has changed. During those 6 months, the business owner will say, “I cut my advertising and nothing changed! I should have done this a long time ago.”At the end of a year, they begin blaming the media. “The thing we were using no longer works. We’ve got to find the new thing.”At the end of two years, the wheels begin to come off. But it has been so long since they changed their advertising that no one suspects it to be the problem.At the end of four years, the company is in real trouble.I have seen this movie so many times that I can describe every scene and quote every line of dialogue.Whether it is after a one-month vacation, a three-month sabbatical, or a six-month abandonment, when that company starts advertising again, they invariably become frustrated that it doesn’t seem to be making a difference. (Remember what I said? “The fuel you will burn to regain your speed is a lot more fuel than you would have burned to maintain your speed.” Payback is hell. It’s going to cost that company at least six months of painful fuel inefficiency to regain the momentum they lost during those six months they were lazily picking their nose instead of advertising.“Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up, it knows it must outrun the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning in Africa, a lion wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the slowest gazelle, or it will starve. It doesn’t matter whether you’re the lion or a gazelle – when the sun comes up, you’d better be running.”– Christopher McDougall, “Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe”A second business owner believes they can build their business to a certain size and then, “just hold what they’ve got,” as though that volume of business is something they can count on from now on. But “holding what you’ve got” is never really an option because the physics of mass, friction, and gravity apply to maintaining your current speed just as surely as they apply to regaining lost momentum.“Hold-what-we’ve-got” business owners quietly believe, “We have all these customers now, so we don’t need to reach them with advertising anymore.”BREAKING NEWS: People stay reached like grass stays mowed. A good restaurant is an exception to this rule. In truth, I think you could open a marvelous restaurant on the steppes of Mongolia and people would find it and tell their friends about it.But you’re not in the restaurant business.Your business inhales and exhales, expands and contracts, just like every other living organism. This fantasy of, “holding what you’ve got” springs...
1/16/20236 minutes, 41 seconds
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Storytellers, Writers, and the Original Magic Carpet

I recently read a pair of books by Arkady Martine, a writer who is new to Science Fiction. A Memory Called Empire (2019) and A Desolation Called Peace (2021), each won the Hugo Award for Best Novel.I like Arkady Martine and I like her books. She is an extraordinary storyteller.But she is not yet a great writer.That was not intended as an insult. Dan Brown sold a staggering number of The DaVinci Code, but he is not yet a great writer, either. We tend to read the book of a great storyteller only once. Knowing the story, the magic is gone. This is why every thrift shop in the world is stacked with countless copies of 50 Shades of Gray and The DaVinci Code.But we read the works of great writers again and again. A great writer could write an instruction manual and make it captivating.Literary evaluation is wildly subjective, of course, so I owe an explanation to Arkady Martine and to you.I never read borrowed books because I intend to circle passages and make notes in the margins along the way. To deface my own books with circles and notes is a sign of respect for the author, but for me to deface the book of a friend would not be a sign of respect.I will not finish a book if the author is not a great storyteller. I will not circle any passages if the author is a not a great writer.The hope of every great storyteller should be to also become a great writer. To win the Pulitzer Prize or the Nobel Prize in literature, you have to be both.John Steinbeck was both.J.R.R. Tolkien was both.Tom Robbins is both.Bill Bryson is both.Barbara Kingsolver is both.I am currently on page 26 of Barbara Kingsolver’s 546-page novel, Demon Copperhead,* and I have already circled 10 passages. Indy will transcribe those passages into the rabbit hole when I have completed the book. (The Random Quotes database is now 6,108 quotes and climbing. – Indy)The stories that comprise One Thousand and One Nights were compiled a thousand years ago. In one of those stories, Prince Husain travels to Bisnagar and buys a magic carpet. Do not let Disney mislead you. Husain’s carpet is not a ‘flying’ carpet that rides the air like a raptor. His magic carpet is like a good book. All you have to do is decide where you want to be, sit down, and you are there.Good writing engages all your senses as it moves you to another place, another time, another life.You are at a spongey 100-year-old seaside resort favored by the idle rich in the tropical south.“The air was heavy with oleander and sea mist colliding with mold and wood polish and hotel soap and the metallic vapor of Diet Coke and the alcoholic ferment of generations of cougars in Chanel No. 5.”– Olivia NuzziYou are now in the brittle north.“It’s FREEZING cold; like the air is made of broken glass. Our English cold is all roly-poly snowmen and ‘woo-hoo! it’s a snow day!’ a hey-there friendly kind of cold. But this cold is mean…”“It’s getting so hard to breathe, my lungs are filling up with ants and there isn’t room for air any more. There’s a monster made of cold, hard as the edge of a pavement, coming towards us in the dark and it’s cutting through the windscreen and doors and windows and the only weapon against it is heat, but we don’t have any heat.”“…she felt it now as vastly, cruelly impersonal; a frozen darkness absorbing you into itself. She felt it filling her hollow spaces, embedding itself as icy marrow in her bones and then consciousness seeped away from her into the Arctic blackness.”– Rosamund LuptonYou stood in the rain sixty-five miles north of Seattle.“And it rained a sickness. And it rained a fear. And it rained an odor. And it...
1/9/20239 minutes, 49 seconds
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Leadership: Another Look

I want you to:be more productive,reduce your mistakes,shorten your learning curve,and elevate your success.If I am going to help you do these things, we must first look at what’s hiding in your blind spot.Are you ready?Teamwork in Business is Highly Overrated.Teamwork is never the answer.Individual responsibility is the answer.A relay race is really just a series of individual runners, three of whom begin their efforts with an advantage, or a deficit, handed to them by the previous runner. If a runner increases that advantage or shortens that deficit, he or she was successful.When individuals are rewarded collectively, we create the illusion of a team.1: Individual responsibility brings out the best in us.2: You create a committee when you remove individual responsibility.3: Every bureaucracy begins as a well-intentioned committee.But we love to be members of a tribe. Being part of a team – a tribe – gives us a sense of identity, purpose, and adventure. These feelings help us to perform as individuals.Americans love football. But it isn’t the teamwork that attracts us. It is the tribalism and the tribal leaders.Quarterbacks, running backs and receivers – the tribal leaders who score the most points – are paid a lot more money than the rest of the team. So why do coaches tell players that every member of the team is “equally important”? I can’t help but hear the “Animal Farm’ voice of George Orwell, his tongue about to punch a hole in his cheek,“All animals are created equal. But some animals are more equal than others.”The role of a tribal leader is to instill the values, beliefs, and culture of the tribe into each of its members and each of its fans.Tribal leaders are different from tribal managers.A Manager – a Coach – holds each individual responsible for delivering the outcome that he or she has been assigned.Steve Jobs did not invent the Apple computer. Steve Wozniak invented the Apple computer.Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs were not a team. They were partners, each of whom had specific responsibilities.“Most inventors and engineers I’ve met are like me … they live in their heads. They’re almost like artists. In fact, the very best of them are artists. And artists work best alone …. I’m going to give you some advice that might be hard to take. That advice is: Work alone… Not on a committee. Not on a team.” *That is Steve Wozniak’s advice to you.“Nothing was ever created by two men. There are no good collaborations, whether in music, in art, in poetry, in mathematics, in philosophy… Once the miracle of creation has taken place, the group can build and extend it, but the group never invents anything. The preciousness lies in the lonely mind of a man.”– John Steinbeck, East of EdenWozniak was the first runner in a relay race. He handed the baton to Steve Jobs. When Jobs was forced to hand that baton to John Sculley in 1985, Scully stumbled and handed the baton to Michael Spindler who stumbled and handed it to Gil Amelio who fell on his face and left a 20-foot skid mark on the track.Steve Jobs returned to the company in 1996 and brought it back to life. After he died in 2011, tribal manager Tim Cook lifted Apple to a $1 trillion stock valuation, the first ever in history.Professor Scott Galloway made a piercing comment about the power of tribal leaders when he was interviewed by Christiane Amanpour,“As societies become wealthier and more educated, the reliance on a super-being and church attendance goes down, but they still look for idols. Into that void steps technology leaders because technology… …is the closest thing we have to magic. Our new Jesus Christ was Steve Jobs, and now Elon Musk has taken on that...
1/2/20237 minutes, 16 seconds
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WE 2023: “Working Together for the Common Good.”

I’ve been getting a lot of questions lately about the 2023 Zenith of the “WE,” so today I’ll give you a recap.The 3,000-year pendulum of Western Civilization* is energized by two good things that oppose each other: Every 40-year “ME” cycle is driven by the hunger for individuality and freedom of expression.Every 40-year “WE” cycle is driven by working together for the common good.We begin each of these cycles with the best of intentions; but then we take that good thing too far – all the way to the zenith at one end of the pendulum’s arc – and begin to mourn what we left behind. 20 years up to the zenith, 20 years back down; then we begin our 20-year journey up to the opposite zenith; then 20 years back down to complete the 80-year roundtrip.There are two reasons why so few people say, “Hey, I remember this!” 1. We don’t notice the truly important when we are distracted by the merely urgent.2. The pendulum is in the same position – headed in the same direction – just once every 80 years. How often do you listen to a 90-year-old when they say, “Back when I was 10 years old…” The 40-year “ME” cycle that began in 1963 was built on individuality and freedom of expression.  That “ME” zenithed in 1983, then it slowly deflated until 2003. That’s when we began our current “WE” cycle. And like every “WE,” it began with the beautiful dream of working together for the common good. As we reach the zenith of that “WE” – 2023 – we see the consequences of taking “working together for the common good” a little too far.Okay, a lot too far.Every zenith of a “WE” cycle is a time of intense opposition and strong beliefs. We feel that anyone who believes differently from us is stupid and evil and must be stopped at any cost. 1783 – The Revolutionary War ended on Sept. 3 with the Treaty of Paris. We spent the next 5 chaotic years writing and adopting – state by state – the Constitution.1863 – The middle year of the U.S. Civil War. Lincoln was assassinated 2 years later. Chaos.1943 – The middle year of America’s involvement in WW II. Two years later we nuked Hiroshima and Nagasaki.2023 – (We shall see what we shall see.) Religiosity is often intense at the Zenith of a “WE” cycle. Disagreements often result from a lack of definitions of terms. For the purposes of this discussion, these will be the definitions of Faith, Religion, and Religiosity:Faith is that in which you place your greatest confidence.(Science? Politics? Deity?)Religion is the formalizing of a code of orthodoxy around your Faith.Religiosity is weaponized religion.Every reader takes from a text what he brings to it.“It is a short distance between believing you possess an error-free message from God and believing that you are an error-free messenger of God. The minute I believe I know the mind of God is the minute someone needs to tell me to sit down and breathe into a paper bag. As a general rule, I would say that human beings never behave more badly toward one another than when they believe they are protecting God.”– Barbara Brown TaylorYou can get ancient scriptures to confess to whatever you want if you torture them long enough.“The history of the world shows that when you place an ego and a spiritual text (the Bible, Torah, Quran, Bhagavad Gita, etc.) in the same room, the text will always end up in a chokehold.”– Michele Miller-NelsonEvery person deserves to be remembered for their finest moment. From what I know of Ernest Hemingway,
12/26/20228 minutes, 20 seconds
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You Don’t Need Authority to be a Leader

Authority can be given to a person. Leadership cannot.People with authority often have no followers.People with followers often have no authority.Leaders require no authority. They say, ‘This is what I’ve decided to do.’ And then they do it. Others see them doing it and decide to follow.On Tuesday I was on the phone to my friend Manley Miller in New Orleans when he said,“No one wants to be a leader anymore. Everyone wants to be a commentator. You want to know how to identify a leader? Just took for the person who’s making the decisions.”The notorious billionaire oil man and corporate raider, T. Boone Pickens passed along this advice at the end of his life,“Be willing to make decisions. That’s the most important quality in a good leader: Avoid the ‘Ready-aim-aim-aim-aim’ syndrome. You have to be willing to fire. Learn from mistakes. That’s not just a cliché. I sure made my share. Remember the doors that smashed your fingers the first time and be more careful the next trip through. Be humble. I always believed the higher a monkey climbs in the tree, the more people below can see his ass. You don’t have to be that monkey.”In his book, “Where Have all the Leaders Gone?” Lee Iacocca, that innovative leader who breathed new life into one of America’s most important corporations said,“The most innovative research is often killed during the peer review process. Why? Well, let me put it to you simply: Imagine if every time Chrysler wanted to bring a new car to market, it had to depend on positive reviews from GM and Ford. Are you starting to get the picture?”During his rant at a Wizard of Ads partner meeting a few years ago, the dazzling Mick Torbay said,“You need to understand something: the committee is not evil. The committee doesn’t want you to fail. The committee has nothing but good intentions. But the committee can’t innovate. More than anything, the committee wants to look good to the rest of the committee… So don’t be surprised that when you present a really, really great idea to a committee, the only thing you’re gonna get is a reason why that idea won’t work; one reason for every member of the committee. The committee will always pull you to the center. The committee will help you avoid risk, but risk and reward are two sides of the same coin. If you avoid risk, then huge success is out of the question. Are you okay with that?”As we approach the beginning of a brand-new year, let’s go back to what I said in the beginning:Authority can be given to a person. Leadership cannot.People with authority often have no followers.People with followers often have no authority.Leaders require no authority. They say, ‘This is what I’ve decided to do.’And then they do it. Others see them doing it and decide to follow.What have you decided to do?You doing that, in 2023, is what I want to see.You’ve talked about it long enough.You’ve thought about it long enough.It’s time to get started.Roy H. WilliamsONE LAST THOUGHT FROM MICK TORBAY: “Your comfort zone is actually a prison cell. It’s the reason you’re not growing the way you should. The good news? Every business owner, including your competitor, has a comfort zone and most never dare to leave it. But you will. You dare. And that’s how we’ll win.”Ted Clark started out as a shipping clerk, then climbed the heights of the wealth ladder. He now advises people on how to leverage their way into society’s upper crust. The secret? OPM. (Other People’s Money) How to get it. How to use it.
12/19/20224 minutes, 23 seconds
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Heart Surgery en masse

We shall operate on the heart, but we shall not use a scalpel and it will not pump blood better when we are done. We have no interest in that muscle in the center of the chest.We will use magic words to operate on the center of emotions. We will change how people act, think, and feel. No one will die, but they will all be changed.Are you in?We will operate en masse on hundreds of thousands of people simultaneously.Screenwriters have been pumping out scripts for TV shows and movies that have captured and owned us for as long as we have been able to sit upright.As children we fell in love with cartoon characters.As teenagers we fell in love with heroes in action movies.As adults we fell in love with imagination, fascination, and surprise.We are going to use the secrets of screenwriters to create better, more effective ads in every form of media.Screenwriter Secret 1: Create colorful characters.The most memorable characters are always torn between two attractions.Screenwriter Secret 2: Deliver big ideas quickly.Short sentences hit hard.Screenwriter Secret 3: Win the heart.When your attention is directed by your mind, you are studying.When your attention is directed by your heart, you are being entertained.Screenwriter Secret 4: See the pattern.A great story has a pulsating rhythm of tension and release, followed by convergence.Screenwriter Secret 5: Know where you are going.A strong ending is the beginning of every great movie, every great story, every great ad.There are four kinds of thought:Analytical thought seeks to forecast a result.Verbal thought is hearing words in your mind.Abstract thought is rooted in unreality.Symbolic thought sees connections and perceives patterns.Music is a language of symbolic thought, as are 3-dimensional fractal images and similes and metaphors.Metaphors are magical.“A word of encouragement is an umbrella on a rainy day.”Metaphors are memorable.“Laughter is medicine.”Metaphors are money:“Lemon Wine is liquid sunshine.”Create that product.Use that metaphor.Become wealthy.These are just a few of the things taught for The Ad Writers Guild in a 2-year online course at Wizard Academy.You will be stunned.You will be staggered.You will be temporarily overwhelmed.You will be changed.You will pass, or fail.You will prevail.Roy H. Williams“The greatest thing by far is to be a master of metaphor; it is the one thing that cannot be learnt from others; and it is also a sign of genius, since a good metaphor implies an intuitive perception of the similarity in the dissimilar.” ― AristotleJoseph Fung has founded five technology companies, backed 20 more, and now is the CEO of an international educational organization that provides lifelong career training. Roving reporter Rotbart describes Joseph as, “a walking encyclopedia of business wisdom.” Listen as Rotbart and Fung discuss how to generate company culture, prepare employees for long-term success, invest in early-stage companies, and harness the rewards of diversity, inclusion, and equity. Where you gonna go? MondayMorningRadio! (dotcom)
12/12/20224 minutes, 47 seconds
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Frame. Reframe. Counterpunching Part 2

The pain of loss is psychologically twice as powerful as the pleasure of gain. When Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky published Prospect Theory in 1979, a generation of advertisers mistakenly began to speak to Pain, and to the fear of Loss.If you frame a choice as “Loss versus Gain,” most people will choose loss avoidance because “losses loom larger than gains.”But what if you want your audience to embrace the risk of loss? To what motivation, then, do you speak?Equally unwise is to frame a choice as “Pain versus Pleasure.” Pain and Pleasure are not as distinct as they may at first seem. You do not recall the event itself, but only your most recent memory of it.The experience of pain or pleasure during an event is replaced by the memory of that pain or pleasure; how it is perceived afterwards upon recall. Your memory is built upon what you were feeling at the peak point, and how the experience ended. These are the four peaks that matter:1. Elevation: a transcendent moment of happiness.2. Pride: a moment that captures you at your best.3. Insight: a eureka moment that gives you startling clarity4. Connection: a moment of knowing you belong.Don’t speak to the fear of loss – or to the avoidance of pain – unless you are counting on an immediate response from people who are easily alarmed.If you desire your audience to embrace the possibility of pain and loss, you must reframe the choice as “Fear versus Hope.”We have lionized feats of bravery and ridiculed acts of cowardice for millennia.“Are you a frightened, fearful little waste of skin, or will your actions be remembered for generations? Is there anything you care about more than yourself?”Loss vs. Gain, or Pain vs. Pleasure, can easily be reframed as Fear vs. Hope. To cause a person to prefer more pain instead of less pain, all you have to do is add a better ending.“With a beginning that invites each man to assume he’ll be the one who ‘outlives this day, and comes safe home,’ the speech skims over present difficulties to paint an evocative picture of future fellowship and hearty celebration. Instead of focusing on the suffering they’re about to face, the men project themselves years ahead, to the happy time when they will be old and honored, with even the meanest of their number elevated to gentry status as the king’s brothers-in-arms. With this vivid picture of their glorious future, the king moves the troops to conquer their fears and follow him to victory.”– Virginia Postrel, The Power of GlamourVirginia Postrell was referring to a famous speech Shakespeare wrote for a play in 1599. When they were impossibly outnumbered at Agincourt in 1415 and every man thought he was about to die; this is that famous speech given by King Henry V.HUMPHREY, DUKE OF GLOUCESTERWhere is the King? JOHN, DUKE OF BEDFORDThe King himself is rode to view their battle. EARL OF WESTMORLANDOf fighting men they have full threescore thousand. DUKE OF EXETERThere’s five to one; besides, they all are fresh.(The King, unseen, approaches from behind and hears… )EARL OF WESTMORLANDO that we now had hereBut one ten-thousand of those men in EnglandThat do no work today! KING HENRY VWhat’s he that wishes so?My cousin Westmorland? No, my fair cousin.If we are mark’d to die, we are enoughTo do our country loss; and if to live,The fewer men, the greater share of honor.God’s will, I pray thee wish not one man more.Rather proclaim it, Westmorland, through...
12/5/20229 minutes, 46 seconds
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Verbal Counterpunching

A person unconsciously frames a statement when they choose a perspective, a point of view, or an angle of approach.Verbal counterpunching is nothing more than the reframing of a statement made by someone else.Citizens of Britain said for centuries,“The Sun Never Sets on the British Empire,” to which a citizen of India replied, “The sun never set on the British empire because even God couldn’t trust the Englishman in the dark.”Frame. Reframe.Samuel Johnson – an Englishman – wrote this definition for “oats” in his dictionary published in 1755.“Oats: A grain, which in England is generally given to horses, but in Scotland supports the people.”“Which is why England is known for its horses and Scotland for its men.”– James Boswell, a Scotsman, the biographer of Samuel Johnson.Frame. Reframe.Wages were framed as the property of the boss as long as the media referred to worker exploitation as “non-payment of wages.” But when the media began referring to it as “wage theft,” wages were reframed as belonging to the workers. Within a few months, “wage theft” began showing up in bills to be considered by Congress.“There is a basic truth about framing. If you accept the other guy’s frame, you lose.”– George LakoffNiels Bohr believed that every true statement can be reframed to communicate an opposite truth. “The opposite of a correct statement is a false statement. But the opposite of a profound truth may well be another profound truth.”– Niels Bohr, winner of the Nobel Prize in PhysicsKeep in mind that verbal counterpunching does nothing to change objective reality. But most disagreements revolve around perceptual reality; the reality that is unique to the individual; the reality of what he or she perceives. Objective reality cannot be changed, but perception definitely can.Ronald Reagan was 73 years old when he ran for reelection in 1984. When his age was brought up in a debate, he said, “I will not make age an issue of this campaign. I am not going to exploit, for political purposes, my opponent’s youth and inexperience.” The audience exploded in laughter and Reagan won the electoral votes of 49 states that year.Frame. Reframe.When Senator Dan Quayle was running for vice-president in 1988, he said his experience was equal to that of John Kennedy when he ran for president in 1960. Vice-presidential candidate Senator Lloyd Bentsen responded, “Senator, I served with Jack Kennedy. I knew Jack Kennedy. Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you’re no Jack Kennedy.”Frame. Reframe.Big tobacco framed cigarette smoking as something that “real men” do. Tobacco ads feature strong, rugged men as smokers.Opponents reframed the issue by representing cigarette smokers as having black lungs, yellowing fingernails, and bad breath. Smoking is a matter of personal choice.People smoke because they are addicted.Smoking bans discriminate against smokers.Non-smokers have the right to breathe clean air.Tobacco companies do good through sponsorship of cultural, athletic and community events.Tobacco companies are attempting to gain innocence by association.Tobacco is just one of many presumed health hazards.Tobacco is the only legal product that – when used as intended – kills.According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), “Cigarette smoking among U.S. adults has reached an all-time low of 13.7% — a decline of approximately two-thirds.”“Reframing is not easy or simple. It is not a matter of finding some magic words. Frames are ideas, not slogans… It doesn’t happen overnight. It’s an ongoing process. It requires repetition and focus and dedication.” – George LakoffWhat...
11/28/20225 minutes, 45 seconds
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Storytellers: the Bad, the Good, and the Brilliant

There are four basic steps in every good story.Bad storytellers can do steps one and two, but recoil at step three.Good storytellers are willing to do step three.Brilliant Storytellers do steps three and four again and again.1. Create a character that people like, believe in, and can relate to.2. Launch that character on a hero's journey.3. Do terrible things to that character.4. Surprise your reader/listener/viewer by what happens next.And then what happens? Make it surprising.And then what happens? Make it surprising.And then what happens? Make it surprising.But it must also make sense.Predictability is the silent assassin of stories.Without trouble, there is no adventure.In 'That Hovering Question Mark,' I told you, "Every good story begins with a statement that triggers more questions than it answers." Ocean's 11 contains an excellent example of this."Off the top of my head, I'd say you're looking at a Boesky, a Jim Brown, a Miss Daisy, two Jethros, and a Leon Spinks. Not to mention the biggest Ella Fitzgerald ever."– Rusty (Brad Pitt) to Danny (George Clooney), explaining how they will run the con in Ocean's 11And that is how they did it! Ocean's 11 contains surprise after surprise, even though the writer told us the plot when he gave us that Rusty-to-Danny statement just 12 and 1/2 minutes into a 2-hour movie. It was a statement that triggered more questions than it answered.A BOESKY: Ivan Boesky was a trader on Wall Street who got caught committing securities fraud. In Ocean's 11, Saul pretends to be a wealthy bankroller who has insider information.A JIM BROWN: Named for the famous American football player, this refers to Frank Catton, a large, intimidating black man who stages a confrontation with Linus Caldwell so that Linus can lift the security codes to the vault.A MISS DAISY: 'Driving Miss Daisy' was a movie about a woman who uses a chauffeur to drive her around. Using a SWAT truck and a disguised driver, the Ocean's 11 gang escapes with their own special chauffeur.TWO JETHROS: Remember Jethro of 'The Beverly Hillbillies'? In Ocean's 11, Turk and Virgil provide two-man 'goober' distractions, such as using helium balloons to obscure the security camera on the casino floor so that Livingston can get into the video surveillance room.A LEON SPINKS: When Leon Spinks beat Muhammad Ali in a Las Vegas prize fight, it was something that no one expected. In Ocean's 11, no one expects the power to go out in the middle of a prize fight in Las Vegas. A fabulous distraction.ELLA FITZGERALD: In a famous 1973 TV ad, the voice of Ella Fitzgerald shatters a wine glass, then the voiceover says, "Is it live or is it Memorex?" (audiotape). In Ocean's 11, the guys make a videotape of a pretend robbery and play it over the casino's surveillance system while the real robbery is happening.Most stories should be told as fiction, even when they are true. When confronted with facts we are always on our guard. But "Once Upon a Time" dispels doubt, opens the imagination, and creates a willing suspension of disbelief.In 1999 I was on the phone with an 87 year-old man I had been hunting for several weeks. His name was William Lederer. I needed his permission to publish a famous letter he had written to America’s Chief of Naval Operations back in 1963. He gave me permission, then asked, “Where you calling from young man?”“Austin, Texas.”“I was...
11/21/20228 minutes, 36 seconds
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If Life is a Journey on Water…

If life is a journey on water, with our conscious mind above the waterline and our deep unconscious beneath, and if all the people in the world are drifting, surfing, drowning and sailing on that surface, shouldn’t there be a person on a wooden chair in the sky above the beach watching over it all?Shouldn’t there be a person?And a beach?The people along the sandAll turn and look one way.They turn their back on the land.They look at the sea all day.As long as it takes to passA ship keeps raising its hull;The wetter ground like glassReflects a standing gullThe land may vary more;But wherever the truth may be—The water comes ashore,And the people look at the sea.They cannot look out far.They cannot look in deep.But when was that ever a barTo any watch they keep?– Robert Frost“Calm yourself, Little One. There is always a person. There is always a beach.”I had an idea for the story, which by the way has been in my head for about 20 years now, and all it was to begin with was an image of a boy in a wheelchair flying a kite on a beach. And that picture was just as clear in my mind as it could be. And it wanted to be a story, but it wasn’t a story, it was just a picture. As clear as clear as clear…– Stephen King, May 29, 2013The last time the Stones were out on the road, between 2005 and 2007, they took in more than half a billion dollars – the highest-grossing tour of all time. On Copacabana Beach, in Rio de Janeiro, they played to more than a million people. Few spectacles in modern life are more sublimely ridiculous than the geriatric members of the Stones playing the opening strains of ‘Street Fighting Man.’– David Remnick, The New Yorker, Nov. 1, 2010Something of the sense of holiness on islands comes, I think, from this strange, elastic geography. Islands are made larger, paradoxically, by the scale of the sea that surrounds them. The element which might reduce them, which might be thought to besiege them, has the opposite effect. The sea elevates these few acres into something they would never be if hidden in the mass of the mainland. The sea makes islands significant…– Adam Nicolson, Sea RoomOn the edge of the water were a pair of waystones, their surfaces silver against the black of the sky; the black of the water. One stood upright, a finger pointing into the sky. The other lay flat, extending into the water like a short stone pier.No breath of wind disturbed the surface of the water. So as we climbed out onto the fallen stone the stars reflected themselves in double fashion; as above, so below. It was as if we were sitting amid a sea of stars.– Patrick Rothfuss, The Name of the Wind, p. 216This is the land of Narnia, said the Faun, where we are now; all that lies between the lamp-post and the great castle of Cair Paravel on the eastern sea. And you—you have come from the wild woods of the west?I—I got in through the wardrobe in the spare room, said Lucy.– C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch and the WardrobePennie and I have had the flu for more days than is supposed to be possible, and I have still not recovered my voice. There were days when I was not sure I dwelt in the land of the living.“The rain to the wind said,You push and I’ll pelt.’They so smote the garden bedThat the flowers actually knelt,And lay lodged–though not dead.I know how the flowers felt.”― Robert FrostAroo,Roy H. WilliamsNOTE FROM INDY – Taking care of Pennie and Roy prohibited me from putting together a rabbit hole for you. Sorry.
11/14/20224 minutes, 43 seconds
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Three Ways to Look at Water

Dr. Nick Grant, a psychologist, Dr. Mike Metzger of Clapham Institute, and Ray Bard my publisher, each taught me about water.Life is a journey on water. Your conscious mind is above the waterline. Your unconscious is beneath.That weightless, magical world below the waterline is fundamentally different from the world of facts, figures and logic that hovers above it.The arts are an invigorating plunge into the unconscious, that part of your mind that understands the languages of color, shape, proximity, radiance, shadow, silhouette, pitch, key, tempo, interval, contour, rhythm, and frame-line magnetism.Our relationship to the unconscious is like our relationship to water. We need it by the cupful to survive, but if you stay underwater too long, you will drown; a psychotic break.Life is a journey on water. To better understand this Jungian journey, watch Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan in the 1990 film, “Joe Versus the Volcano.”Nick Grant made me aware of the symbolic nature of water.Mike Metzger taught me how to look at water in a second way:You meet four people on the Ocean of Life, but you meet them again and again. The first person you meet is drifting, pushed each day by the winds and waves of circumstances. The drifter always goes with the flow. You know you’ve met a drifter when they say, “Whatever. It’s all good.”The second person you meet is surfing. They seem to be having a good time, but they never really get anywhere. They mostly paddle around in the ocean, looking for another wave to ride. The surfer is always looking for “the next big thing.”The third person you meet is drowning. Lots of people “go under” once or twice in life and need a helping hand. They may need rescue financially, or chemically, or relationally, but this is normal.There are also professional drowners: “It’s been the worst week of my life, I don’t know what I’m going to do.” So you come to the rescue… but the next time you see them, “It’s been the worst week of my life, I don’t know what I’m going to do.”The fourth person you meet is sailing. Confronted by the same winds and waves that controlled the drifter, surfer, and drowner, the sailor navigates. “If I turn the rudder and adjust the sails, this wind will take me wherever I want to go.”You cannot navigate by watching the wind and waves. You must have a fixed point, a non-negotiable guiding light that does not move. The North Star – Polaris – is perfectly aligned above the axis of the earth. It is that guiding light around which the whole world revolves. What is your non-negotiable, your star that does not move? When you have found it, you will always know where – and who – you are.Ray Bard taught me a third way to look at water. When you’re writing a book or considering a business venture, it is essential that you discover two things:1. How widespread is the public interest?2. How deep is that interest?If public interest is neither widespread nor deep, you’re looking at a puddle. Never invest time or money in a puddle.If interest is widespread but not deep, you’re looking at a bayou. Be careful. A bayou looks like an ocean at first because the interest is wide, wide, wide. But that interest is not deep enough to drive action. You can go broke when you see a bayou and think it is an ocean.If interest is narrow but deep, you’re looking into a well. You can draw a lot of water from a well. “The Care and Feeding of Quarter Horses” held no interest for most readers, but those who owned a quarter horse had deep interest. The book was successful.If public interest is wide and deep, you’re looking at an ocean. But you’re going to need a boat – a platform – on which to navigate your ocean. If you don’t have a platform,...
11/7/20227 minutes, 40 seconds
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A Day at the Zoo

People in museums stop to look at paintings that have people in them, but walk past paintings that have no people.Ninety percent of the books sold each year are fiction.Ninety percent of the books written each year are non-fiction.The same is true in movies and television: fiction beats non-fiction 10 to 1.Non-fiction is facts and figures, problems and processes, tips and techniques.Fiction is interesting people living fascinating lives.Non-fiction is reality and reality is a wildebeest held captive in a zoo.Fiction is escaping the zoo and adventuring in the wild.Good writing shines a mental movie onto the movie screen of the mind.Do the movies you write feature people in a zoo, or people in the wild? Are the people in your ads empty and hollow like zoo animals, or are they vivid and real like people you know?Henry David Thoreau told us, “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation, and go to the grave with the song still in them.”If you want to touch the quiet desperation in the heart of your customer, write ads that describe their pain and frustration, then offer to deliver them from it.If you want to touch the song that is in them, write ads that speak of freedom, fulfillment and joy. Show them the fascinating life they could be living.A well-written ad shines a mental movie onto the visuospatial sketchpad of working memory, the movie screen of the mind, located in the dorsolateral prefrontal association area.1On paper, on a computer screen, on a billboard, or coming through the speakers of a computer, a television or radio, words, words, words, words, words, words, words create those mental movies.Online reviews are powerful.Online reviews are not facts and logic.Online reviews are people’s impressions and reactions. Impressions and reactions are far more interesting than facts and logic.When a person describes their impressions and reactions, they are shining a mental movie into your mind.Q: Are you telling me that I should use customer testimonials in my ads?A: No, because you will not be able to resist editing your customer’s testimonial and the moment you touch it, that testimonial will become a predictable ad delivered by a ventriloquist’s dummy.Q: Why do ad writers assume the public is hungry for facts and logic?A: Most ad writers follow the rules of journalism when they should be following the rules of screenwriting.Journalists deliver facts. Screenwriters deliver fascination.Shine on, screenwriter, shine on.Roy H. WilliamsTodd Mitchell is a creativity sherpa that rescues writers, artists, musicians, actors, entrepreneurs, and innovators who are struggling with self-doubt and circling the drain in failure. You’re not down the drain yet! Raise your arm out of the water and let Todd Mitchell pull you back up into the air and sunlight where you belong.
10/31/20224 minutes, 21 seconds
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Bobbie Understood the Seasons

I have seen friends walk away from relationships, jobs, and promising careers when all they really needed was some time and space to gather their thoughts, slow their heart rate, and rediscover their joy.I’m not saying you should always, “hang on one more day at a time and wait for things to get better.” I am saying you need to recognize the changing seasons in your life.Bobbie Gentry knew when it was time to stop, turn the page, and begin a new chapter.Bobbie knocked the Beatles off the #1 spot on the music charts with “Ode to Billy Joe,” a song that she wrote, performed, and produced. She won Best New Artist and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance at the Grammy Awards. Eleven more of her songs made the music charts. She was a major headline act in Las Vegas and she co-hosted a successful TV series with country music superstar Glen Campbell.America watched as Bobbie Gentry provided the music for a major motion picture about her imaginary Billie Joe McAllister, then performed “Mama, a Rainbow” for her mother who was seated in the studio during the filming of a television special.The next day, Bobby quietly retired from the spotlight without fanfare, returning no phone calls, answering no letters, and granting no interviews. She had been in the spotlight for 14 years when she whispered, “Enough,” and walked away 41 years ago.What triggered it? Nothing. She simply realized that a season in her life had ended.Solomon spoke famously about the seasons of life in the third chapter of Ecclesiastes:There is a time for everything,and a season for every activity under the heavens:a time to be born and a time to die,a time to plant and a time to uproot,a time to kill and a time to heal,a time to tear down and a time to build,a time to weep and a time to laugh,a time to mourn and a time to dance,a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,a time to search and a time to give up,a time to keep and a time to throw away,a time to tear and a time to mend,a time to be silent and a time to speak,a time to love and a time to hate,a time for war and a time for peace.… He has made everything beautiful in its time.… I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God.One can think of the seasons of life in a few different ways.Financially, we go from survival to acquisition to distribution.Relationally, we go from seeking, to finding, to celebrating.In business, we go from learner, to doer, to teacher. This is essentially the Hero’s Journey, a sequence of events that is nearly impossible to escape:1. We meet the Hero in modest circumstances.2. He encounters the Call to Adventure.3. He meets the Old Man in the Woods who prepares him for what lies ahead.4. He then rises to the challenge of adventure and discovers abilities within himself he didn’t know were there.In the Bible we see Moses, Joseph, Samson, David and many others, including women such as Hannah, Esther, Abigail, Ruth, and Deborah as they encounter the Hero’s Journey.In literature and in the movies, we see Bilbo in The Hobbit, Frodo in The Lord of the Rings, Daniel LaRusso in The Karate Kid, Simba in The Lion King, Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games, Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, Neo in The Matrix, and Luke Skywalker in Star Wars.Luke was just a goober on the backwater planet of Tatooine when he was called to adventure. Obi-Wan Kenobi was the Old Man...
10/24/20228 minutes, 33 seconds
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How Quickly Will My Ads Start Working?

Ten different factors will determine how quickly your ads pay off.Do your ads capture attention or are they easy to ignore?Do your ads speak to a felt need, or are you answering a question no one was asking?Are you a known, trusted, and respected seller?Is the brand you sell known, trusted, and respected?What percentage of the public will ever – in their lifetime ­– purchase a product or service in your category?How often does the average person need to buy what you sell?Does your ad make the customer feel any urgency due to low price or limited availability?What percentage of the public knows your name and what you sell?In your category, what name will customers typically think of first and feel the best about?What percentage of the public considers you to be their preferred provider?Your answers to questions 5 & 6 indicate your product purchase cycle. Here are those questions again:“5. What percentage of the public will ever – in their lifetime ­– purchase a product or service in your category?”“6. How often does the average person buy what you sell?”Generally speaking, the longer your product purchase cycle, the longer it will take before your mass-media ads deliver a positive R.O.I.Online ads, however, work immediately. But will the customer type your name into the search block? If they do, you have already won the heart of that customer. They have chosen you as their preferred provider. This means you will enjoy an extremely low cost-per-click with a high conversion rate.But if they type the name of your competitor into the search block, then it will be your competitor that enjoys an extremely low cost-per-click and a high conversion rate.The starting pistol fires the moment a customer types your category into the search block instead of your name or the name of a competitor. Their computer screen overflows with the names of companies making them offers. If they see a name they recognize, the footrace is over in moments. But if no name is recognized, the names of several runners will be clicked.Every runner will pay a high cost-per-click due to gambling on an “unbranded” keyword.But only one runner will take home the prize money.Costs-per-click have never been higher.Mass media costs have never been lower.If you sell a product or a service with a long purchase cycle, the bad news about mass media is that it will take 3 to 6 months of weekly advertising before you begin to gain any real momentum.The good news is that the longer you use mass media, the better it works.1 This is how you make your name the one that customers type into the search block.I believe:Every advertiser should have a website.Every advertiser should be willing to pay for 100% of the clicks when a customer types their nameinto the search blockOrganic results are no longer enough.You’ve got to pay the price for your name to be seen.Your cost-per-click is extremely low when your name is typed into the search block.(I’ll tell you about #6 in a minute.)Ten years ago, Inc. magazine published an article by Jeff Haden titled, “How Google is Killing Organic Search.”“If your business depends on customers finding you in search results, you’re in trouble–and it’s likely to get worse. If case you haven’t noticed, pay-per-click ads are slowly taking over Google’s search engine results. That should come as no surprise since approximately 97% of Google’s revenues are generated by its core business, search engine advertising; Google is understandably protecting and extending its revenue turf… If you’re a business that depends on
10/17/20227 minutes, 48 seconds
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That Hovering Question Mark

Every good story – and every good ad – begins with a statement that triggers more questions than it answers.“I do not like to turn left when leaving my neighborhood…”“I was a 10-year-old boy holding a flashlight for my father…”“You are sitting in a candlelit restaurant when you hear a strange noise…”The second line of your story is where the narrative arc begins. The narrative arc is the sequence of events, the plot. [In a radio ad, sfx means sound effect]You are sitting in a candlelit restaurant when you hear a strange noise[sfx-open] and the walls are instantly covered with jagged shards of golden light.You hear another strange noise[sfx-close] and the jagged shards of light are gone.Murmurs of wonder flood the candlelit restaurant.[sfx-open] The jagged shards appear on the walls again, dancing in unison to some silent music that only they can hear.[sfx-close] And now they are gone.The crowd applauds this unexpected delight. Smiles are beaming. Teeth are bright.[sfx-open] More jagged shards. More golden light.[sfx-close] No one notices the man at the table in the middle of the room, staring at his tablecloth, lost in thought. A woman emerges from the shadows behind him. Startled, he looks up, drops to one knee,[sfx-open] and the golden shards of light dance fast and bright across his face and hers.And then they kiss.And the candlelit restaurant explodes in applause.[sfx-close]  A tiny little box sits empty on the table.Flickering Firelight diamonds, available exclusively at Morgan Jewelers.Begin your ad with a statement that triggers more questions than it answers! If your opening line reveals what is to come, change the opening line.“Guidomeyer’s Furniture is having a sale!”When an ad begins with a sentence like that, you can be sure it was written by someone who follows the 5 W’s of journalism: Who, What, When, Where and Why.Ads written by journalists are why most people hate advertising.Guidomeyer’s Furniture is having a sale!This week, Guidomeyer’s is having a saleat 1715 Barkmaster Avenue! Save! Save!Save up to 50% this week at Guidomeyer’sannual clearance sale! Guidomeyer’s has beenserving the needs of Pottersville for 71 years,so come to Guidomeyer’s and shop localfor all your furniture needs! We have recliners,coffee tables, end tables, nightstands, TV traysand financing will be available! Guidomeyer’sAnnual Clearance Sale! This week! 1715 Barkmaster!Hurry, hurry, hurry before all the good stuff is gone!Guidomeyer’s!Guidomeyer is who.A Sale is what.This Week is when.1715 Barkmaster is where.Annual Clearance is why.That formula is so simple an idiot could use it. And idiots often do.No, I don’t mean that. Words have meanings, so let me be accurate. I don’t think such a person is an ‘idiot.’ ‘Moron’ would be the accurate term. Technically, a moron is an adult with the mental age of 7-10. Morons are more intelligent than idiots and imbeciles, but they are an especially troublesome group because they are not aware of their shortcomings.Don’t be a moron.Getting the listener’s attention is easy, but holding that attention requires skill.Open with a statement that triggers more questions than it answers.Bridge quickly into the narrative arc, the plot.When your listener thinks they know where you are headed, take them somewhere else.Introduce divergent elements that don’t belong together,then make them converge, add up, and make sense.Lead your listener to the conclusion, then allow them to...
10/10/20228 minutes, 41 seconds
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The Immortals

I hope you are not prone to regrets. The next time you make the wrong decision, I want you to look back and remember that it seemed like a good idea at the time. You were given incomplete information. The future was unknowable. What is there to regret?Nevertheless, the dull ache of regret came upon me when Kary Mullis died without warning. I loved Kary for his sense of humor and his wit, and I will always cherish what he wrote in my copy of his book, Dancing Naked in the Mind Field. And then Loren Lewis died without giving me a heads-up. Loren was never a father-figure; he was my outrageous older brother. He was bombastic and vain and he taught me how to get things done when I didn’t have any money, and he would have taken a bullet for me.And then Perry McKee walked over the horizon without a wink or a wave good-bye. Perry was extraverted and impulsive and he made everyone laugh. When we were 14, Perry decided the day had finally arrived that he should light a fart and become the world’s first jet-propelled human. He wanted me to hold the match for him but I vigorously declined, so Ernie Henry held the match as the rest of us stood anxiously outside the closed door of Perry’s windowless bathroom. It was Brother McKee’s deep conviction that the miracle of jet-propulsion should be observed in total darkness.When Perry bellowed like a bull and tumbled out the doorway, we knew that Ernie had held the match too close.Ernie Henry is gone now, too. The immortals from my past are disappearing.The last time I spoke to Kary Mullis, Loren Lewis, Perry McKee and Ernie Henry, I didn’t know that it would be the last time I spoke to them.My only regrets are the things I left unsaid.Please don’t read too much into these musings. I’m fine. Pennie is fine. No one is dying.It’s just that time of year. The green of the grass is soaking back into the earth and the leaves are turning red and orange. Children are gathering into rooms again where an adult tells them not to talk. Men are chasing a tapered leather ball as escaped convicts blow whistles and toss their handkerchiefs into the air. I look for Andy Griffith to ask if he wants to get a Big Orange drink, but Andy is nowhere to be found. It won’t be long before my lawn pulls a white blanket up to its chin, just outside my front door. The squirrel in his cap and the plants in burlap will all settle down for a long winter’s nap. And then Springtime will pierce the pale heart of winter with a shout of green and a blade of grass, and we will dress in bright colors for Easter.Kary Mullis opened the door of genetic research when he invented Polymerase Chain Reaction.Loren Lewis opened the future of a 15-year-old boy when he showed him how to be unafraid.Perry McKee and Ernie Henry had no regrets. It seemed like a good idea at the time.Roy H. WilliamsSteve Curtin is ranked as one of the top 30 customer service experts in the world. His clients include Carnival Cruise Line, NAPA Auto Parts, and TJ Maxx. Steve believes every owner and every manager needs to have “the conversation” with every employee about why their job matters, and why their company matters. “The NASA janitor wasn’t mopping floors; he was helping to send a man to the moon.” Imagine what would happen if your employees felt the same way about the greater purpose of the work they do in your company! Steve Curtin and roving reporter Rotbart talk about it at
10/3/20224 minutes, 39 seconds
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Are You a Manager or a Leader?

Eighty-eight percent of the Fortune 500 companies that existed in 1955 are gone. Poof.Half of them withered because they had a manager in the role of CEO when they desperately needed a leader. The other half were destroyed by a leader when a manager could have held the company together and grown it incrementally.The most important role of a board of directors is to know when their company needs a leader and when it needs a manager.Managers prefer incremental change, evolution.Leaders prefer exponential change, revolution.Managers guard the status quo. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”Leaders invent new ways of thinking. “If it ain’t broke, break it, so we can create something new.”Managers prefer a map and a path.Leaders prefer unexplored territory.Managers say, “Ready, Aim, Fire.”Leaders say “Ready, Fire, Aim.” But this isn’t as crazy as it sounds. When shooting a cannon, this is called finding your range.Managers focus on planning and execution.Leaders focus on improvisation and innovation.Managers make organizational charts.Leaders make messes.Managers are given authority over others.Leaders are voluntarily followed by others.Kodak, Blockbuster, MySpace, General Motors, and General Electric were overwhelmingly dominant in their categories until their Manager-CEO’s fell asleep while guarding the status quo.Do not think the internet killed K-Mart, Montgomery Wards, Sears, J.C. Penney, or Bed Bath & Beyond. Walmart sells all those same products and they’re still doing fine because they saw the marketplace rapidly changing in August, 2016 and responded by putting visionary leader Marc Lore in charge of Walmart’s US e-commerce operations.Amazon did $398.8 billion in 2021.Walmart did $488 billion.Managers mistakenly think they can lead.Leaders mistakenly think they can manage.I know only two men who can perform both functions. Dewey Jenkins is one of them.If I written those words during the 10 years Dewey and I worked together, it would have sounded like flattery. But now that he is retired and I have stepped away, I am free to speak the truth.Good mothers can also perform both functions. Every good mother is a miraculous manager and a visionary leader.I was raised by an extremely good mother and my sons were raised by another.Good managers know what to “protect at all costs.” They know what not to change.Bad managers look only for compliance and conformity, blind to the special abilities that hide within their employees. But good managers see those special abilities and call them to the surface where they can sparkle. A good manager encourages your special ability and uses it to maximum effect, while partnering you with someone who sparkles in the area where you are weak.When you see a legendary duo, you can be sure that a brilliant manager put them together.The genius of visionary leaders is that they charge full speed ahead when they see opportunity on the horizon. When they see a storm coming, they steer around it.Visionary leaders recognize what is no longer working and do hesitate to change it. Bang. Gone.If you want to listen to the inner thoughts of visionary leaders and understand how their minds work, there are only two books you need to read.Sam Walton: Made in America (John Huey and Sam Walton)Iacocca: An Autobiography (Lee Iacocca and William Novak)As a special bonus to yourself, take a look at – Where Have All the Leaders Gone? – a slim volume written by Lee Iacocca when he was 82 years old.I love that book.And I love you,...
9/26/20226 minutes, 13 seconds
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The Problem With Plato

Anne Lamott wrote Bird by Bird, a marvelous book about writing. In it, she says,“Becoming a writer is about becoming conscious. When you’re conscious and writing from a place of insight and simplicity and real caring about the truth, you have the ability to throw the lights on for your reader. He or she will recognize his or her life and truth in what you say, in the pictures you have painted, and this decreases the terrible sense of isolation that we have all had too much of.”I’m going to attempt to do that today. I am going to attempt to write “from a place of insight and simplicity and real caring about the truth.”I hope I succeed, but you will have to be the judge.Another of my favorite paragraphs from Bird by Bird is when Anne Lamott says,“I know some very great writers, writers you love who write beautifully and have made a great deal of money, and not one of them sits down routinely feeling wildly enthusiastic and confident. Not one of them writes elegant first drafts. All right, one of them does, but we do not like her very much. We do not think that she has a rich inner life or that God likes her or can even stand her. (Although when I mentioned this to my priest friend Tom, he said that you can safely assume you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.)”I have often quoted Anne’s friend because I believe his remarkable statement bears repeating: “You can safely assume that you have created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.”I wrote to you recently about my first job in radio. It was at a Christian station in Tulsa owned by a wonderful man name Stuart who lived in North Carolina. He was impossibly tall and thin and looked exactly like a clean-shaven Abraham Lincoln.I had only been there a couple of years when Stuart flew to Tulsa, summoned everyone to the radio station, packed us all into the conference room and said, “People who work in Christian media often see and hear things that discourage them.” His face fell and he looked sad as he said, “And then they become bitter.”I could tell he was struggling to find the right words as he looked down at the ground. After a long silence he looked up into my eyes and said, “Promise me that you’ll never become bitter.”I looked into his eyes and nodded my head. One by one, he looked at every other employee until they nodded their head or said aloud, “I promise I’ll never become bitter.”When he had extracted that solemn promise from each of us, he drove back to the airport and flew home.It was a very short meeting that happened 40 years ago but I have never forgotten it.And I never became bitter.In later years I began to identify myself as “a follower of Jesus” rather than call myself a Christian, because “Christian” was coming to mean something that I don’t believe Jesus ever intended.I get uncomfortable when people sign God’s name to things Jesus never said.Thomas Jefferson, too, was uncomfortable with Christians who use the logic of Plato to extrapolate truths from the Bible. Platonists1 will argue, “If this statement in the Bible is true, then by extension this second thing is true. And if this second thing is true, then by extension this third thing is true.”I have been reading the personal correspondence of Thomas Jefferson in the national archives at founders.archives.govTwo hundred and six years ago – on October 16th, 1816 – George Logan wrote a letter to his friend, Thomas Jefferson, congratulating him for publishing,“a...
9/19/20228 minutes, 58 seconds
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Freedom and Responsibility

My friend is forever shouting about his Freedom. It is the only song he sings.Freedom is a good thing, but our love of freedom is why family sizes are shrinking. Children are a responsibility.Freedom and Responsibility are paired opposites, a duality. The more you have of one, the less you have of the other.I had written only those few words when I received a request from the American Small Business Institute to answer a question from Glenn in Calgary; he wanted me to predict the Top Five Qualities of an Advertising Consultant in 2023.I had the Freedom to answer however I wanted. I could be flip, funny, cute, self-serving, dismissive, scholarly, insulting, pedantic, or predictable. My Freedom was unrestrained. But I also had the Responsibility to give Glenn a list of five specific, attainable goals that would make him and his clients more successful.I told Glenn the Top Five Qualities for 2023 would be these:Ability to write good ads. I’ve never seen a business fail due to “reaching the wrong people.” Businesses fail because they say the wrong thing.Knowledge of how to differentiate a business from its category. You must make your client’s business distinctive and memorable.Honesty. You must be willing to accept responsibility for the failure of your ad campaign.Courage to say what needs to be said to the business owner. This is how you avoid campaigns that fail.Wisdom to know that good advertising will not fix a broken business. Choose your clients carefully, Glenn.Depression and Joy are another duality. The more you have of one, the less you have of the other.Pride – the inability to feel grateful – is what keeps us from feeling joy. The disembodied voice that tells us we need to be “proud, self-made men and women,” is the devil who robs us of our joy.Depression is unfocused anger. Joy is unfocused gratitude. The more you have of one, the less you have of the other.If you look for reasons to be angry, you will find them. If you look for reasons to be grateful, you will find them.Don’t be angry. Be grateful.Justice and Mercy are a third duality. And the tug-of-war between them is intense.The only hard choices in life are the choices between two good things.Justice and Mercy are both good things. When you encounter the tug-of-war between them, which one do you favor?Opportunity and Security, a fourth duality.When Opportunity increases, Security declines. This sounds like Risk and Reward, but it’s not. If Risk and Reward were a duality, increasing your risk would decrease your reward. But increased risk of failure increases potential reward. This makes Risk and Reward a synchronous potentiality contained entirely within the realm of Opportunity.Ultimately, it all comes down to Choices.Our plan is always to make good choices, not bad choices. But most choices are neither good nor bad in the moment we make them. They become good or bad in hindsight. They become good or bad due to consequences. The outcome is never entirely clear until after the show is over.We learn more from our failures than we learn from our successes. Good decisions come from experience. Experience comes from bad decisions.You cannot judge a person’s experience by their age. You can judge it only by what they have experienced. A person can have 30 years of experience, or they can 1 year of experience 30 times.Which will you have? Will you choose to embrace risk and take your beatings when you fail and learn hard lessons and win great victories? Opportunity is a good thing.But then again, so is Security.Roy H. Williams
9/12/20226 minutes, 42 seconds
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How I Met Indy Beagle

I was the new kid in a new town, ­getting ready to start the third grade.We had moved into a rented house beyond the outer perimeter of Skiatook, Oklahoma. There were no other houses within sight, so there were no neighbors to visit, no new friends to meet, nothing to do except walk in circles.School had not yet started. Our house – like most houses back then – had no air conditioning.The Oklahoma air was too hot, too dusty to breathe.That’s when Indy showed up and introduced himself.He said, “What are you doing?”“Walking in circles.”“Can I do it with you?“Sure.”I wasn’t surprised that Indy could talk, and I wasn’t surprised that he could walk into photographs and paintings and talk to the people in them. When he walked out of those images, he would tell me the most amazing stories.Indy suggested I should become a writer.The following summer, I was the new kid in another new town – Broken Arrow – but we had neighbors and a park and a house with air conditioning. Mrs. Fisher would read to the class for about 15 minutes each day while Indy slept beneath my desk. She read Charlotte’s Web and Way Down Cellar and then she told us to write a poem about anything we wanted.I wrote a poem about a dog.Everyone was impressed, even Mrs. Fisher.Pennie and I were 19 and had been married about a year when I launched “Daybreak,” a daily, prerecorded message of encouragement you could hear if you knew the right telephone number to call. You couldn’t leave a message because it was an “announce-only” machine that Pennie and I leased from the telephone company for $50 a month. I never told anyone my name or how they might be able to contact me. “Daybreak” was just the voice of a stranger on the telephone, talking to you as though he knew you. I woke before dawn each day and spent a couple of hours writing and recording a new 2-minute message and then I went to work.Fax machines had not yet been invented. The internet wasn’t even a fantasy.“Daybreak” grew to the point where Pennie and I had to add a roll-over line and lease a second answering machine from the telephone company because too many people were getting a busy signal when they called.One thousand different “Daybreak” messages were written and recorded in 1,000 days between 1977 and 1980.“Daybreak” cost us about $130 month which is a lot of money when you make $3.35 an hour before taxes.With 25% of our income going down those telephone lines each day, I got a second job monitoring an automated radio station in Tulsa once a week. I was given the shift that no one wanted. I went to work each Friday night at midnight and worked until 11AM on Saturday morning. Indy would always go with me to keep me company.I had been there for more than a year when the General Manager walked in one Saturday morning about 9AM with a few notes scribbled on the back of a napkin about “Amir’s Persian Imports,” a local place that sold Persian rugs. He asked me to write an ad for them, so I wrote a 60-second story that took listeners into the sky on a magic carpet ride.The ad performed well. Amir was impressed. My boss was impressed enough to offer me a full-time job.Indy just smiled and winked at me.Roy H. Williams
9/5/20224 minutes, 31 seconds
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If I Had It All To Do Over Again…

You’ve heard it said, and might even have said it yourself, “Knowing what I know now, if I had it all to do over again, I would…”Let’s play a game. Let’s pretend that you, “have it all to do over again.” You can return to any day in your past to begin reliving your life differently, but you must do it without “knowing what you know now.” You will have a second chance at a different outcome, but you must return to that day with no memory of what you did, or how it turned out.Will you trade your current circumstances and relationships for the “new and different choices” a second you will probably make? Think about it. If you travel to a time before your child was born, that child is not likely to be born. Another child, perhaps, but not that one.In fact, the jobs you get, the friends you make, and where you live are likely to be different the second time around.“Having it all to do over again” might create a better future for you, or it might create a worse one.Are you ready for the surprising second half of this game?Here it is: all of this has already happened. The original you was given the opportunity to return to any specific day in your past and THIS is the day to which you chose to return.Everything that originally happened after this moment has been erased. Your second chance has now begun.Why did you choose to return to this day? What different decision did you hope you would make?Is it something that you can decide today, or is it a choice you will need to make a number of days from now?Are you here for a second chance to have a conversation that never happened? To schedule a medical check-up before it is too late, or to take some other action that you deeply wish you would have taken?The only thing we can know for sure is this:“With every decision we make, we pass a point of no return and wonder what might have been.”Go. Live your life. Quit second-guessing yourself.Remorse is not where you want to live.Roy H. WilliamsNOTE FROM INDY – Let’s spend a day together.The Wizard Academy reunion is October 15. You should come.
8/29/20223 minutes, 17 seconds
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It Freaked Me Out a Little

I was writing about third gravitating bodies and I needed to know the year that Henri Poincaré wrote The Third Body Problem and won that huge cash prize from King Oscar II of Sweden.I typed “third gravitating bodies” into the Google search block. At the top of the results page was a featured snippet and something about it looked familiar. When I glanced at the source link, I saw that it was a Monday Morning Memo I had written recently.Evidently, Google thinks I know far more about third gravitating bodies than I actually do, because they seem to be under the mistaken impression that I am an expert in the field of theoretical physics, and I can assure you that I am not.But that’s not what freaked me out.When I clicked the source link, it took me to a Monday Morning Memo I wrote a few months ago. I had a clear memory of writing that memo, and for some strange reason I have a particularly clear memory of creating the image at the top of the page. I created that image by selecting three different magazine covers over which I overlaid an image of the Broadway cast of Hamilton.My memory of writing that memo and creating that artwork felt like it was only four or five weeks ago, but I knew that it was more likely four or five months.What freaked me out was when I looked at the date of that memo.I has been almost 6 years since I wrote it.I felt like Rip Van Winkle.I looked up at the door in the room where I was sitting, and waited for Rod Serling to step into that open doorframe. I could already hear his voice.“Consider if you will, the man who stared so deeply into the void of his computer, that when he looked up, he was 6 years older. There is a fifth dimension beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man’s fears and the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area we call The Twilight Zone.”My friend and business partner Ray Seggern spent yesterday afternoon with me. Ray is old enough to have an adult daughter who has completed college and worked for companies like Luis Vuitton and Rolls Royce and who will soon be married. Ray is 9 years younger than me.Shortly after he arrived for our meeting, he said, “You know how time seems to pass more quickly as you get older?”I nodded, so he continued, “What’s the word for that? Everyone says that a year seems like a long time to a 5-year-old because it’s 20 percent of his lifetime, but that same year goes by 10 times faster for a 50-year old man because it’s only 2 percent of his lifetime. What’s the word for that?”Ray and I sat and thought and scratched our heads and looked at each other for a long while.Here’s why I’m writing to you today: What’s the word for that?If you know – or even if you just made up a good word for it and are willing to share ­– send the word to [email protected] name will appear in the dictionary we are compiling.More about that in the rabbit hole.Indy says Aroo.Roy H. Williams
8/22/20224 minutes, 13 seconds
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War And Peace

Before Gandhi, there was Tolstoy.When Leo Tolstoy was 54, he wrote a book about the ethical teachings1 of Jesus as revealed in the Sermon on the Mount. For the rest of his life, Tolstoy advocated the use of peaceful, non-violent forms of resistance in the struggle for social change.Gandhi – the person we associate with peaceful, non-violent resistance – was 12 years old when Tolstoy’s book was published.Martin Luther King – the man who popularized peaceful, non-violent resistance in America – would not be born for another 45 years.In 1854, during the Crimean War, a British light brigade was ordered to charge the cannons of the Russian Empire.A “light brigade” carried only light weapons, such as sabers and pistols.Alfred Lord Tennyson wrote about this famous headlong charge toward certain death:Half a league, half a league,Half a league onward,All in the valley of DeathRode the six hundred.“Forward, the Light Brigade!Charge for the guns!” he said.Into the valley of DeathRode the six hundred.“Forward, the Light Brigade!”Was there a man dismayed?Not though the soldier knewSomeone had blundered.Theirs not to make reply,Theirs not to reason why,Theirs but to do and die.Into the valley of DeathRode the six hundred.Cannon to right of them,Cannon to left of them,Cannon in front of themVolleyed and thundered;Stormed at with shot and shell,Boldly they rode and well,Into the jaws of Death,Into the mouth of hellRode the six hundred…Leo Tolstoy was a Russian artillery officer in that war and was forever changed by it.That war – the first modern war – led Tolstoy to the Sermon on the Mount and convinced him of the truth of Jesus’ words.“Blessed are the peacemakers… blessed are the meek… blessed are the merciful…”Tolstoy was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize 3 times, but each time he wrote to the committee and asked them to remove his name from consideration.When the public grew angry that Tolstoy never received the Nobel, he confessed that he had privately rejected it and wrote,“First, it has saved me the predicament of managing so much money, because such money, in my opinion, only brings evil. Secondly, I felt very honored to receive such sympathy from people I have not even met.”Tolstoy was loved by everyone except religious leaders.Remember that book he wrote in 1882 about the ethical teachings of Jesus? It did not appear in Russia for 24 years because it was blocked by the Orthodox Church, the leaders of the Christian faith in Russia. They were worried that Tolstoy might have been talking about them when he wrote,“I sit on a man’s back, choking him and making him carry me, and yet assure myself and others that I am very sorry for him and wish to ease his lot by all possible means – except by getting off his back.”The religious leaders became angry again when Tolstoy wrote,“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.”Mark Twain, a contemporary of Tolstoy, may well have been making a joke about religious leaders in America when he wrote,“By trying, we can easily learn to endure adversity. Another man’s, I mean.”Tolstoy saw Jesus and his teachings as gold surrounded by the mud of religiosity. He said,“Truth, like gold, is to be obtained not by its growth, but by washing away from it all that is not gold.”This reminds me of Michelangelo’s description of how he carved an angel from a block of marble:“I just removed everything that was not angel.”I will leave you now,to consider all that you have been told,and wash the mud from the gold,and remove everythingthat is not angel.Roy H....
8/15/20224 minutes, 55 seconds
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Man Bites Dog

Predictability is the silent assassin of persuasion.When static electricity saturates the sky, lift the lightning rod of the new, the surprising, and the different and let the concert begin. The booming of the big bass drum will make the draperies tremble as the lasers light up the night.Give that anxious electricity something to focus on. Win the attention of the storm. Don’t tell us, “It was a dark and stormy night.”Light it up.When your jagged blade rips a gash in the sky and makes the darkness cry, we will lift our faces into the wet and laugh until the grass is green again.Light it up.We rarely raise our faces from these glittering screens because you rarely have anything new to say. We stare at the electricity behind this glass because it is always new, always surprising, always different.Look into our eyes and you will see the static electricity of our boredom is always there, always anxious, always looking for an outlet. Lift your lightning rod into that darkness. Set our world ablaze with the unexpected. We will reward you with our attention.Pixies, faeries, sprites and elves run naked through the darkness, laughing at everything, giggling with glee, eyes twinkling, feet flying, they run with abandon, afraid of nothing.What are you afraid of?Do you read boring, fact-filled fluff? Or do you read fluff made of different stuff?As you read, so will you write.When colorful, unexpected words fill your sight, you have raised your ink pen into the night and filled it with ink of electric light.Now write.When you have nothing to say, don’t let anyone convince you to say it.But when you have something to say, don’t say it regular and tidy with tucked-in corners. Say it with the rhythm of faeries running naked through the night. Rage, rage against the dying of the light.Where you begin is unimportant. How you proceed is all that matters.‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house not a creature was stirring, not even the faerie hiding behind the curtains with a match in one hand and a bottle of vodka in the other.This is not the end. This is not even the beginning of the end. But it is the end of the beginning.So tell me, what happens next?Roy H. Williams
8/8/20223 minutes
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How to Recruit and Retain Good Employees

Rugged individualism is the essence of America.It is also the reason that we, as a people, feel isolated and lonely.Our focus on personal, individual success is the reason we feel disconnected from one another. This is happening even in our marriages according to Ian Kerner, author of the book, So Tell Me About the Last Time You Had Sex, and Terrence Real, author of Us: Getting Past Me and You.“Individualism is not a natural fact; it has a history. In American Colonial days, society was communalism on a small scale. It was about farms and small towns and small villages. When you lived face to face with your neighbor, it was a palpable reality that the good of all was the good for each of us. Civic virtue was the force that went beyond individual gratification. It was part of being a civilized person that you had a sense of civic virtue. With the Industrial Revolution, and the myth of the self-made man, all of that went by the wayside and it was each man for himself.”– Terrence RealWe are living in a very conflicted time because most of us hold two conflicting beliefs. (1.) We believe in a culture of individual achievement, “ME”, (2.) but as we approach the zenith of a societal “WE”, there is a desire to find our tribe, to join, to belong, to work as a group for the common good.Next year is the zenith of our current “WE.” It happens once every 80 years.The previous “WE” zenithed in 1943 when America was united against Hitler. We threw ourselves into something bigger than ourselves; something we believed in, something that satisfied our need to belong and make a difference.And now you know why we see all those deeply impassioned splinter groups in the news each week.Here’s the good news: you can harness that same “need to belong” to recruit and retain good employees.Good employees are attracted to companies with a strong culture. They are looking for a company they can believe in, a place where they can belong and make a difference.When you want to strengthen your company culture, you need to publish your Unifying Principles. I have previously called these your “We Believe” statements.Publishing them is the easy part. The difficult part is that you have to live them.About eight minutes into his famous TED-X talk at Puget Sound, Simon Sinek says,“The goal is not just to hire people who need a job; it’s to hire people who believe what you believe. I always say that, you know, if you hire people just because they can do a job, they’ll work for your money, but if they believe what you believe, they’ll work for you with blood and sweat and tears.”Indy Beagle will tell you about Culture Wizards in the rabbit hole.Roy H. Williams
8/1/20223 minutes, 49 seconds
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My Favorite Francis

I’m telling you up front that I’m not sharing anything valuable or useful today, but don’t let that keep you from continuing.Today we’re going to talk about 7 guys named Francis.Alan Lightman is not one of those 7 guys.Lightman is a past professor at Harvard and a current professor at MIT and a famous physicist who was responsible for establishing MIT’s policy that requires all students to be trained in speaking and writingduring each of their four years as an undergraduate.Alan’s father Richard Lightman was a movie theater owner who played a major role in desegregating movie theaters in the South in 1962. Richard taught Alan how to get things done and make a difference.In his book, A Sense of the Mysterious, Alan writes,“Not long ago, sitting at my desk at home, I suddenly had the horrifying realization that I no longer waste time.”After he wrote that sentence, he wrote an entire book titled, In Praise of Wasting Time.That’s what you and I are doing right now. We are wasting time in a way that will invigorate you and cause you to think new and different thoughts.You are about to jump out of a deep rut in the road that has been your life.We are at the intersection of Monotony and Surprise. Are you ready to jump?Francis Scott Fitzgerald is the Francis we quote in the first hour of the 3-day Magical Worlds class at Wizard Academy.“The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function.”Francis Ford Coppola gave us Apocalypse Now and The Godfather trilogy.Francis “Frank” Sinatra gave Indy Beagle the song “It Was a Very Good Year.” Indy told me he plans to share it with you in the rabbit hole.Sir Francis Drake was a contemporary of Shakespeare and an explorer and a pirate for England, and a seafaring thorn in the side of King Philip II of Spain, who offered a reward for his capture that would be nearly $9 million today. Queen Elizabeth gave Francis a knighthood.Francis “James” Cameron gave us Avatar and Titanic, the first and third highest-grossing films of all time, bringing in $2.85 billion and $2.19 billion respectively.Francis “Frank” Zappa was an iconic musician, composer, singer and songwriter whose work was characterized by nonconformity, free-form improvisation, musical virtuosity and the comedic satire of American culture. His kids are Dweezil, Moon Unit, Diva Muffin, and Ahmet Emuukha.Francis Bacon is my favorite Francis. Like Francis Drake, he was a contemporary of Shakespeare. Bacon was a statesman, a philosopher, and a master of the English tongue. After the death of Queen Elizabeth, Francis Bacon served as lord chancellor of England for King James I, for whom the 1611 King James translation of the Bible was named.These are some of my favorite memories of Francis Bacon:“The job of the artist is always to deepen the mystery.”“A dance is a measured pace, as a verse is a measured speech.”“Reading maketh a full man, conference a ready man, and writing an exact (man.)”“There is no excellent beauty that hath not some strangeness in the proportion.”“Nothing does more hurt in a state than when cunning men pass for wise.”“A wise man will make more opportunities than he finds.”“Truth is so hard to tell, it sometimes needs fiction to make it plausible.”“The root of all superstition is that men observe when a thing hits, but not when it misses.”“Where philosophy is based on reason, faith is based on...
7/25/20226 minutes, 24 seconds
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Gerald was an unwanted third son to his father, so his mother took Gerald on long walks each Saturday night so they would not be available when his father came home drunk. To avoid a beating, Gerald and his mother would wait outside in all weathers until his father fell asleep.Gerald was 16 when his father died, so he quit school to help support his mother by singing in the London subways for tips.Gerald was a Scottish introvert who became famous, but who could have been much more so.I closed last week’s Monday Morning Memo with a famous line from one of Gerald’s songs: “Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right, here I am, stuck in the middle with you.”Some people surround themselves with a low outer wall, and a high inner wall. It’s easy to get to know them, but hard to get to know them well.Gerald was the opposite; he had a high outer wall and a low inner wall. It was nearly impossible to meet him, but those he allowed to get to know him, knew him well enough to know that he was attracted to the comfort of the familiar.New places and new faces were emotionally exhausting to Gerald, so he drank to hide from them.Gerald wrote,“Winding your way down on Baker Street, light in your head and dead on your feet, well, another crazy day, you’ll drink the night away, and forget about everything. This city desert makes you feel so cold. It’s got so many people, but it’s got no soul, and it’s taken you so long, to find out you were wrong, when you thought it held everything.”In the words of his daughter, Martha,“The soaring saxophone solo perfectly captures the endurance and triumph of the human spirit in adversity, the sun rising out of the darkness and lighting the way once again… ‘and when you wake up it’s a new morning, the sun is shining it’s a new morning, and you’re going, you’re going home’.”On that same album was a song called Right Down the Line.“You know I need your love, you’ve got that hold over me. Long as I’ve got your love, you know that I’ll never leave. When I wanted you to share my life, I had no doubt in my mind. And it’s been you, woman, Right down the line.”Both songs were on a 1978 album called City to City.That album almost didn’t get made. Gerald was not a people person.Paul Simon openly admired Gerald’s song-writing ability.Eric Clapton and Paul McCartney both wanted to work with Gerald, but Gerald said “no.”According to his manager, City to City was rejected by several record label executives because of Gerald’s defensive abrasiveness. The only reason they got a record deal was because Artie Mogull, the United Artists representative, “was in a rush and never met him.”When Rolling Stone interviewed Gerald, he said,“To be a ‘star’ in inverted commas – that is probably the last thing I want. I knew I’d written a good bunch of songs … I remember thinking I’d be pleased if City to City sold 50,000 copies.”City to City became a worldwide phenomenon, selling over 5.5 million copies.Hiding from people because his outer wall wasn’t quite high enough, the great Welsh poet, Dylan Thomas, drank himself to death.Hiding from people because his outer wall wasn’t quite high enough, the great American novelist, Jack Kerouac, drank himself to death.Hiding from people because his outer wall wasn’t quite high enough, the great Scottish songwriter, Gerry Rafferty, drank himself to death.His daughter, Martha Rafferty, gathered a collection of her father’s unpublished recordings during the lockdown of 2020 and posted them, with these comments, on a website.“His evolution as a songwriter was intimately connected to his love and joy of singing. Singing was...
7/18/20226 minutes, 20 seconds
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Inflection Point

The long-ago Greeks had two words for time: Kronos (χρόνος) and Kairos (καιρός).Kronos is chronological time, sequential time, the metered time of the regimented left hemisphere of the brain.Kairos is an inflection point, a time-window of indeterminate length during which something consequential happens.On the other side of the Kairos, things are forever different.Kronos time is quantitative and accurate.Kairos time is qualitative and important.The thing about moments of Kairos is that you can see them most clearly when they are behind you.We make decisions every day, and with every choice we make we reach a point of no return, and wonder what might have been.But I think you will agree that some decisions have longer arms than others. They are more consequential. They carry heavier Kairos and more profoundly affect our future.I believe we will be swimming in Kairos moments during 2022, 2023, and 2024. I can see their silhouettes on the horizon at twilight. Walk outside this evening, just as the sun disappears below the western edge of the world, and consider the silhouettes of events that have not yet happened.These moments of consequence float like icebergs on a rising tide of misinformation, and are blown toward us by the breath of newscasters. One-by-one, they will soon begin to arrive.The frustrating reality is that we won’t be making these pivotal decisions individually; we will be making them collectively.Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right, here I am, stuck in the middle with you.Roy H. WilliamsRoving reporter Rotbart is wandering the wide world with his family, but he and MondayMorningRadio will return to us after Labor Day.
7/11/20222 minutes, 34 seconds
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Magical Thinking

If you win the heart, the mind will follow. The mind will always create logic to justify what the heart has already decided.In 1981, Dr. Roger Sperry won the Nobel Prize for his documentation of brain lateralization, which basically says that we don’t have 1 brain divided into 2 hemispheres as much as we have 2 separate, competing brains.The LEFT hemisphere is the home of rational, logical, sequential, deductive reasoning. Think of it as the Intellect; the Mind. It puts you in touch with this world and leans toward suspicion and doubt.But the RIGHT hemisphere does none of those things. Think of it as the Heart. It understands the six sub-languages in the language of music; pitch, key, tempo, rhythm, musical interval and musical contour. The right hemisphere puts you in touch with a world that could be, should be, ought to be, someday.HOPE is alive and well in the right hemisphere of your brain. It understands symbols, and assigns meanings to shapes and colors. The logic of the right hemisphere is intuition, gut feelings, and hunches.Your body contains 100 million sensory receptors that allow you to see, hear, touch, taste and smell physical reality. But your brain contains 10,000 billion synapses. This means you are approximately 100,000 times better equipped to experience a world that does not exist, than a world that does.Call 1-800-Got-Junk.Life is happierwhen it’s less cluttered.Your house will be bigger.Your teeth will be whiter.Angels will sing.You’ll be a better dancer.Magical Thinking is a style of writing characterized by elements of the fantastic – woven with a deadpan sense of presentation – into an otherwise true story.Now this is where it gets really interesting; the right hemisphere of your brain doesn’t know fact from fiction or true from false. That’s the left brain’s job. This is why you can enjoy books, movies, and TV shows that you know are fiction.Magical Thinking is a style of writing that is full of HOPE.Magical Thinking doesn’t talk about the frustration of a situation or the pain of a problem. It illuminates a happy world in which anything is possible.Magical Thinking offers the customer an effortless, frustration-free solution.Employees, your boss wants you to know:“If you answer the phones for our company or knock on the doors of customers, please know that you are a vitally important part of the advertising and marketing team. Our customers expect you to be the living embodiment of our advertising; cheerful and helpful and magically able to make their problem disappear. We will become giants if we act like the company we claim to be in our advertising.”Magical ThinkingmakesMagical AdvertisingmakesHappy CustomersmakesBusiness Grow.Do you want to employ the power of Magical Thinking?Roy H. WilliamsAccording to Lynette Smith, July 4th is the perfect time for writing personal, heartfelt letters to colleagues, family members, friends, and others who have enriched your life. Lynette is a letter-writing evangelist who has authored multiple books on the art and impact of letters that will be kept and saved and savored for decades. “If you want to demonstrate genuine appreciation,” Lynette tells roving reporter Rotbart, “only a letter will do.”
7/4/20224 minutes, 42 seconds
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Just Keep Showing Up

It’s impossible not to like someone who likes you.This is why the secret of success is to just keep showing up.My friend Brett was studying theater in college until the day a professor told him to lie on his back, close his eyes, and “breathe blue.” Brett did his best, gave up, got up, walked out.Brett did not become an actor. But he did become a highly successful political consultant.In Brett’s own words, here’s how it happened:“I was looking at the bulletin board in the hallway of my dorm when I saw a little poster that said, ‘All the pizza and beer you can eat and drink if you work 2 hours on the telephone.’ I like pizza, I like beer, so I went to the address at the appointed time and made calls to ‘get out the vote’ for a political party. I didn’t care about politics at all, but I cared a lot about pizza and beer, so I came back night after night. They thought I was really dedicated.”“After several months of showing up, they invited me to work at an out-of-town rally. I went along and noticed the food is better when you go out-of-town. So I kept doing out-of-town rallies until someone asked me if I could write some ads for a campaign. One thing led to another, and here I am. Go figure.”The only unique part of Brett’s story is the part about breathing blue. The rest of it – the part about always showing up – is the world’s most common path to success.Brett quit showing up for acting classes. But he never quit showing up at political events.You will become the thing for which you keep showing up.“Believe in yourself” and “Never give up” are motivational clichés. They sound good, but they give you no real action to take. Do you want to succeed? Just keep showing up.We hear a lot about the value of persistence and determination, but the way to demonstrate those qualities is to just keep showing up.The most important time to show up, is when you don’t feel like showing up.When everyone else has dropped out, faded away, and quit, you are the king of the mountain.In his final speech at the end of his long and wonderful life, Paul Harvey talked about the importance of never failing to show up. He said, “Repetition is effective. Repetition is effective. Repetition is effective.”When you want your company to be the one people think of immediately and feel the best about when they need what you sell, just keep showing up. It’s easy to do. The problem is that most advertisers will choose to reach 100% of the people, but convince them only 10% of the way, due to not enough repetition.They didn’t “show up” long enough to become a permanent fixture in the mind.That same money could have convinced 10% of the people 100% of the way, but most advertisers aren’t willing to do that because they worry about who they are “leaving out.”I’ve got news for you: You don’t have enough money to reach everyone. Limit your focus to only that number of people you can reach with relentless repetition.Keep showing up.It works in relationships.It works in business.It works in advertising.Just.Keep.Showing.Up.
6/27/20224 minutes, 50 seconds
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Inside the Box, or Out?

My partner Kyle started a non-profit called “Neighbor in Need” after a developer made a comment that caused Kyle to become concerned about all the elderly people in his neighborhood who didn’t have the money to repair their homes, buy hot water heaters, replace air conditioners, or fix roof leaks. So Kyle decided to do something about it.What Kyle did was new, surprising, and different.That’s why it worked.If you want to bore people, just say what they expected you to say and do what they expected you to do. It works every time.You might even see them fall asleep.I have a friend who is building a condo tower in a town with a population of less than 100,000 people. He called a few days ago, laughing.He had hired a worldwide, world-famous company to manage the sale of the residential units in his building. They made a presentation to him about the “tried-and-true marketing plan” they intended to use.My friend said, “No, I’m going to ask my buddy to write me a series of radio ads. I’m planning to spend a small fraction of what you’re telling me I need to spend.”These professionals, understandably, began to vibrate with panic. “But we’ve tried radio and it doesn’t work! We’ve tried it again and again and it doesn’t work! You need to follow our plan!”My friend told them that radio advertising – quote – “works only as good as the ads you write.”Later, when they actually heard the radio ads, their panic rose to whole new level. The language and perspective of the ads was new, surprising, and different. And those three words can often mean, “experimental, reckless, and dangerous.”Things that are new, surprising, and different never feel as reliable as traditional wisdom.Don’t get me wrong; I believe in bringing the best of the past forward. I believe it to the core of my soul. In my heart, I am a traditionalist. But the problem with traditional wisdom is that it is often more tradition than wisdom.The problem with traditional wisdom in advertising is that it creates ads that feel familiar. And familiarity breeds contempt. Remember what I said earlier? “If you want to bore people, just say what they expected you to say and do what they expected you to do.”People hate ads that are predictable.The real estate marketers begged him not to air the crazy radio ads. They urged him to consider the story of how – in a much bigger city – they were able to convince nearly 1,500 people to register so that they might have a chance to buy a condo unit the moment they became available.Real estate roll-out campaigns like these typically span 56 days. The best they had ever done in 56 days– with a massive online push and billboards that blanketed a major city – was about 1,500 registrations.My friend was laughing because we were at day 14 of our radio push and our “experimental, reckless, and dangerous” radio ads had already generated more than 1,400 registrations and would soon top fifteen hundred.I wrote four ads and only the first of the four has been aired.I believe the second and third ads are the strongest.So now you know why my friend was laughing.I want you to do me three favors:1. Put things in your ads that are new, surprising, and different.Delight the public. Be remarkable.2. Quit thinking that the secret of success is to – quote – “reach the right people.”3. Slap the shit out of anyone who says to you, “No one listens to the radio anymore.”Indy has a wonderful rabbit hole prepared for you. To enter the rabbit hole, just click the image of Indy Beagle at the top of this page. Each click of an image takes you one page deeper.
6/20/20225 minutes, 58 seconds
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A Colorful Cast of Characters

The ancient Greeks understood psychology a lot better than they understood science.Hippocrates, the father of the Hippocratic Oath, believed that our information-gathering and decision-making processes are determined by an imbalance of 4 bodily fluids – red blood, yellow bile, black bile, and phlegm – two of which have never existed in the form that Hippocrates theorized.But the four basic temperaments that Hippocrates associated with these four fluids have lived on to be verified, codified, dignified and personified by screenwriters and novelists and social scientists* around the world. Hippocrates called these temperaments Sanguine, Choleric, Melancholic, and Phlegmatic.More than 400 years ago, Shakespeare depicted the full range of human behaviors and character types by embracing the original theories of Hippocrates. The National Library of Medicine has an interesting online exhibit about it.We see these four basic temperaments in ourselves, our family, our friends, and all the most interesting characters in every form of story-telling:The Wizard of OzLion (sanguine) Scarecrow (choleric) Dorothy (melancholic) and Tin Man (phlegmatic)Archie ComicsArchie (sanguine) Veronica (choleric) Betty (melancholic) and Jughead (phlegmatic)I Love LucyRicky (sanguine) Lucy (choleric) Fred (melancholic) Ethel (phlegmatic)Gilligan’s IslandGilligan (sanguine) the Skipper (choleric) the Professor (melancholic) Mr. Howell (phlegmatic)Star TrekCaptain Kirk (sanguine) Spock (choleric) Scotty (melancholic) Bones (phlegmatic)Magnum P.I.T.C. (sanguine) Tom (choleric) Higgins (melancholic), and Rick (phlegmatic)FriendsPhoebe and Joey (sanguine) Monica (choleric) Ross (melancholic) Rachel and Chandler (phlegmatic)SeinfeldKramer (sanguine) Elaine (choleric) George (melancholic) Jerry (phlegmatic)FrasierRoz (sanguine) Frasier (choleric) Niles (melancholic) Daphne (phlegmatic)The Golden GirlsBlanche (sanguine) Sophia (choleric) Dorothy (melancholic) Rose (phlegmatic)Sex and The CitySamantha (sanguine) Miranda (choleric) Charlotte (melancholic) Carrie (phlegmatic)Schitt’s CreekMoira (sanguine) Johnny (choleric) David (melancholic) Alexis (phlegmatic)Desperate HousewivesSusan (sanguine) Gabrielle (choleric) Bree (melancholic) Lynette (phlegmatic)Unbreakable Kimmy SchmidtKimmy (Sanguine) Jacqueline (Choleric) Titus (Melancholic) Lillian (Phlegmatic)Big Bang TheoryHoward (sanguine) Sheldon (choleric) Raj (melancholic) Leonard (phlegmatic)The OfficeMichael (sanguine) Dwight (choleric) Pam (melancholic) Jim (phlegmatic)Game of ThronesArya (sanguine) Sansa (choleric) Jon (melancholic) Bran (phlegmatic)Entertainment is the only currency with which you can purchase the time and attention of a too-busy public.An understanding of the predictable frictions between these four temperaments – and their deep and abiding need for one another – is the basis of every form of long-term entertainment. The novelists who win the Nobel and Pulitzer Prizes know this. The screenwriters of all the hit TV series know this. And the ad writers who make a difference know this.When you become intrigued with an interesting fictional character, you spend time with them,...
6/13/20226 minutes, 57 seconds
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The Promise I Made You

I made you a promise on November 22 in a Monday Morning Memo called “Time Travel”.This was how that memo began:“My friend Don has a time machine. He takes me with him sometimes. You should come, too! Every person who rides in Don’s time machine is changed by it.”“The United States Department of Justice has booked passage on Don’s time machine for countless prison inmates. State and local governments and hundreds of rehab centers have booked journeys for people as well. Thirty-five million in all.”“Each trip through time begins with a series of words…”I then described two different types of storytelling and the purpose and effect of each. And to give myself a little “third-party credibility,” I quoted Professor Steven Pinker of MIT and Harvard.When the word-count of that Monday Morning Memo indicated that we were approaching our destination and it was time to land, I instructed you to store your tray-table and return your seat to its full, upright and locked position. Then I told you something you probably didn’t know:“Every word in the English language is composed of just 44 sounds called phonemes. We arrange these into clusters called words which we string together in rapid succession so that others can see in their minds what we see in ours.”And then I talked about the Book of Beginnings. Do you you remember?“In the first chapter of Genesis, God says, ‘Let there be this’ and ‘Let there be that’ for 25 verses, and then in verse 26 he says, ‘Let us make mankind in our own image.'”“According to that ancient story, God spoke the world into existence and then gave you and me the power to do the same. When you, as a storyteller, speak a world into existence in the hearts and minds of your listeners, you are doing the work of God.”“Don Kuhl has spent the past 30 years unleashing the power of storytelling to help 35 million people find peace, hope, and happiness, and now he has written a book for you and me. It will be published early next year.”And then I promised you,“I’ll make sure you know when it’s available.”Roy H. WilliamsThat book is now available for pre-order on It’s called “Changing with Aging: Little Stories, Big Lessons.”Don sent preview copies to several people I know. Everyone who has received a copy has been enchanted and enthralled by the stories in Don’s book, as I knew they would be. Don is a remarkable teller of short, bright, heart-warming stories that overflow with honesty, transparency, and wisdom.Peter Vegso, the original publisher of that record-breaking series of books, “Chicken Soup for the Soul,” is such a fan of Don’s stories that he jumped at the chance to publish Don’s book.I have fulfilled my promise. I told you the book is available for pre-order. Do what seems to you good.My partner Johnny Molson was asked to speak to a 4th grade class last week about his career as an ad writer.When he left the school, Johnny texted me to say that two of the children had asked remarkably delightful questions. The first child asked,“Have you ever cringed at your own commercials?”Johnny answered yes, that he always cringes at the predictable commercials his clients occasionally demand that he write, but no, he never cringes at the happy ads that flow from the depths of his heart through his fingertips and then onto the radio and television airwaves. That’s when the second child asked,“Do you have a criminal record?”A...
6/6/20226 minutes, 58 seconds
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Wide & Shallow vs. Narrow & Deep

A successful cluster manager was one of 36 people in a class I taught 2 months ago. When we went into Q & A, he asked for suggestions about what to do with a poorly performing radio station in his cluster.He expected me to suggest a format change, or a clever promotional campaign using billboards and TV. Or he may have thought I was going to give him some half-baked idea about how he could use social media to build an affinity group around the station’s format, because these are the kinds of suggestions people make when a radio station wants to attract a bigger audience.Why is it that everyone assumes the way to increase a radio station’s revenues is to increase the size of its audience?I said, “I’ll answer your question if you want me to, but I need to warn you that my answer is extremely simple, it always works, and it’s going to embarrass the hell out of you that you haven’t already done it.” Then I smiled and asked, “Are you sure you want me to answer in front of all these people?”Since he was the only broadcaster in a room full of business owners and the whole group had bonded pretty tightly during the previous 2 days and nights together, he just smiled back at me and said, “Bring it.”I wrote something on a piece of paper, then folded it and laid it on the table in front of him. “Game on.”The other 35 people in the room clapped and cheered because they knew we were about to have fun.He said, “It’s my number 6 station. My top 3 stations are doing fantastic and numbers 4 and 5 do pretty well, but number 6 just kind of limps along.”“Does it make a profit?”“Yes, but nothing special.”“How many units per hour do you feel would be the right spot load on that station?”He said he’d like to keep it to just 14 units per hour.I said, “6AM to midnight, 7 days a week, 14 units per hour yields 1,764 ads per week.”Next question: “Based on your current audience size, name a spot rate you would be happy to get on that station if every advertiser bought equal daypart distribution across 4 dayparts, morning drive, mid-day, afternoon drive, and evenings until midnight.”He named a modest price per ad.I said, “I’m a local business owner, I’m going to buy 40 ads per week, every week for 52 weeks, and I insist that my 40 ads get equal daypart distribution 6a to midnight. I want morning drive, mid-day, afternoon drive, and evenings until midnight, just like we talked about; none of that R.O.S.* crap. Got it?”He said, “Got it.”I said, “During the next 12 months, I’m going to become a household word to a whole lot of people. Frequency and consistency! That’s the right way to use radio! Forty ads per week for 52 weeks is going to make my business the one your audience thinks of immediately – and feels the best about – whenever they or any of their friends need what I sell.”Next question: “On your #6 station, what’s going to be my 1-week net reach with a weekly 3-frequency, 52 weeks in a row?”The man knew his station, so he was able to name the approximate net reach my schedule would deliver each week. It was a net reach that could make a real difference for any advertiser. I said, “Never let an advertiser compromise frequency and consistency. If they don’t want to do radio right, they don’t get to be on this station.”He said, “But that’s not how advertisers buy radio in my town.”I said, “We don’t need to convince the whole world. We just need to find 44 small business owners who can understand that this is the right way to use radio. We’re going to explain it to them and answer their questions until we have found 44 business owners smart enough to buy 40 ads per week with equal daypart distribution 6AM to midnight.”Then I reminded him how little money those 40 ads per week were going to cost those 44 advertisers each month. I asked, “How many businesses...
5/30/202210 minutes, 36 seconds
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What You Do Today is Important

What you do today is important, because you are exchanging a day of your life for it.What will you do today?“If your life’s work can be accomplished in your lifetime, you’re not thinking big enough.”– Wes JacksonI knew a man who used to say, “I don’t ever get my hopes up. That way, I’m never disappointed.”If I had been the executor of his estate, his gravestone would say: “He had potential.”I often write about Identity, Purpose, and Adventure:Identity: Who am I?Purpose: Why am I here?Adventure: What must I overcome?Without trouble, there is no adventure.That being said, children and grandchildren are the most wonderful adventure.“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries: avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket-safe, dark, motionless, airless it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, non-redeemable. The only place outside of heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers of love is hell.” – C. S. LewisMy friend J.P. Engelbrecht sent me a text last week,“Finally read A Gentleman in Moscow. What a lovely book! Thank you for the recommendation.”For those who have not read it, A Gentleman in Moscow is about an older man who becomes, through no choice of his own, the protector and caregiver of a little girl. It is truly a remarkable book.Now that I think about it, Little Orphan Annie is essentially that same story.Many years ago, Pennie and I loved watching Anne of Green Gables (1985) when it was available on TV. Right now we’re watching the updated version, Anne With an E. Basically, it’s about an elderly brother and sister who become, through no choice of their own, the protectors and caregivers of…Oh, I guess it’s the same story as the other two.“I don’t know what your destiny will be, but one thing I know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who will have sought and found how to serve.”– Albert SchweitzerTo protect and equip and encourage others is what each of us was born to do.Who are you protecting?If you are a not a protector, you need one.What are you equipped to do?If you are not doing it, now would be a great time to start.Who do you encourage?Let that be the personwho decides what to carveon your tombstone.Roy H. WilliamsA Young Brian Scudamore had a series of private chats with a man who took $1,000 and turned it into a personal net worth of $3.5 billion. Simon Sinek told Brian his deepest insights the night he slept on Brian’s sofa. In Brian’s new book, you’ll meet an NBA superstar, a past president of Starbucks, a British advertising tycoon, and a winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics as they wander on and off the pages like movie stars on the red carpet at the Academy Awards. Wait! I just saw Bob Dylan, Martin Luther King, Dr. Seuss, and Charles Schwab. Roving reporter Rotbart talks to mega-famous Brian Scudamore, a longtime client of the wizard, on today’s happy and hilarious episode of!
5/23/20224 minutes, 23 seconds
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Do You See? Do You Stand in Wonder? Do You Take Off Your Shoes?

I write advertising because I’m good at math.According to my calculations at age 18, the odds of making a living as an ad writer were 117,682% higher than the likelihood that I could make a living as a poet.But really, poems and ads are the same thing.Good poems promote a new perspective in a brief, tight economy of words.Good ads promote a new perspective in a brief, tight economy of words.The objective of both is to get you to see something differently.Poets and ad writers want to alter your perception. To do this, they use words that cause you to hallucinate; to see something that isn’t really there. They want you to look into their magic mirror and see yourself less worried, happier, and beaming with light.Every generation worries about what the next generation seems to have forgotten.Perhaps I am an outlier even among my own generation, but I have long been concerned about how few people today understand the purpose of the arts.I am frustrated that so few understand the differences between the heart and mind.I am broken-hearted that so few know the basic stories of the Bible.“Earth’s crammed with heaven,And every common bush afire with God;But only he who sees, takes off his shoes,The rest sit round it, and pluck blackberries.”– Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Aurora Leigh, 1857Using the megaphone of poetry to whisper to us from 165 years ago, Dizzy Lizzy Browning is referring to the reaction of Moses in the desert of Midian when he saw a bush on fire in the distance that was never consumed.Moses turned aside to see it more closely. Looking into the glow, Moses heard a voice and took off his shoes because he knew he was in a special place.Elizabeth Barrett Browning is telling us that wonders are all around us, if only we would open our eyes. She is saying, “Stop. Notice. Go to the place. Realize that it is special.”How is that not an ad?When you know the basic stories of the Bible and the ancient Greeks, you see them echoed in the biggest movies, the best-selling novels, and the top-rated television shows.When you know those stories, you can use them as templates in communications of your own.These are stories that have proven to be magnetic, memorable, and persuasive. Note that phrase: “proven to be.”Repurpose the proven.In a movie directed by Oliver Stone in the second half of the 1980’s, Charlie Sheen plays a young man who follows a bad father figure, then turns to follow a good father figure. Can you name the movie?If you said Platoon, you are right. If you said Wall Street, you are right. Both movies told the same story, and both were a huge success. The primary difference was that Platoon took us into the green jungles of Viet Nam circa 1967, and Wall Street took us into the concrete jungles of Manhattan circa 1985.Here’s my point: Wall Street premiered less than 12 months after Platoon, but no one who saw it complained, “Hey, we were told this story last year!”Learn when and how to repurpose the proven.Solomon – another interesting Biblical character – said,“The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom. And though it cost all you have, get understanding.”Unconscious competence is called talent. A talented person instinctively knows what to do.Knowing what to do is wisdom.Conscious competence is called skill. A skilled person has studied talented people long enough to figure out what they are unconsciously doing and why it works.Talented people know what to...
5/16/20226 minutes, 17 seconds
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What They Didn’t Teach Me at Oxford, I Learned in Jail

In his 3,000-year-old book, Ecclesiastes, King Solomon tells us of the stages and phases of his life, his fads and fancies, his regrets and realizations. Then he gives us his final conclusions and advice. Next to the Good News of John, Ecclesiastes is probably my favorite book in the Bible.Oscar Wilde wrote a similar summary of his stages and phases, fads and fancies, regrets and realizations in a private letter to his best and last and only friend. Later published as De Profundis, “From the Depths,” this 55,000-word letter shines with the unfiltered transparency of a man who has nothing but time, nothing to gain, and nothing to lose.Indy Beagle shared a couple of passages from De Profundis in last week’s rabbit hole. After receiving several happy emails from rabbit holers, Indy suggested that I give Oscar’s story a wider frame and take you on a deeper dive.Grab your scuba gear.As a young man, Oscar fell in love with a woman who dumped him to marry his more conservative childhood friend, Bram Stoker. So Oscar married another young woman who bore him two fine sons. He soon became flamboyantly famous as a comedic playwright, a social wit, a raconteur, and a writer of children’s stories.*Oscar Wilde was like Coca-Cola. He was everywhere.And then he went to prison for being gay.“The gods had given me almost everything. But I let myself be lured into long spells of senseless and sensual ease. I amused myself with being a flaneur, a dandy, a man of fashion. I surrounded myself with the smaller natures and the meaner minds. I became the spendthrift of my own genius, and to waste an eternal youth gave me a curious joy. Tired of being on the heights, I deliberately went to the depths in the search for new sensation.”“I had lost my name, my position, my happiness, my freedom, my wealth. I was a prisoner and a pauper. But I still had my children left. Suddenly they were taken away from me by the law. It was a blow so appalling that I did not know what to do, so I flung myself on my knees, and bowed my head, and wept, and said, ‘The body of a child is as the body of the Lord: I am not worthy of either.’ That moment seemed to save me. I saw then that the only thing for me was to accept everything. Since then—curious as it will no doubt sound—I have been happier.”“I want to get to the point when I shall be able to say quite simply, and without affectation that the two great turning-points in my life were when my father sent me to Oxford, and when society sent me to prison… I was so typical a child of my age, that in my perversity, and for that perversity’s sake, I turned the good things of my life to evil, and the evil things of my life to good.”“A man’s very highest moment is, I have no doubt at all, when he kneels in the dust, and beats his breast, and tells all the sins of his life. I am completely penniless, and absolutely homeless. Yet there are worse things in the world than that.”“Nobody is worthy to be loved. The fact that God loves man shows us that in the divine order of ideal things it is written that eternal love is to be given to what is eternally unworthy. Or if that phrase seems to be a bitter one to bear, let us say that everybody is worthy of love, except him who thinks he is.”“Love is a sacrament that should be taken kneeling. Where there is sorrow there is holy ground. Someday people will realize what that means.”“Indeed, that is the charm about Christ, when all is said: he is just like a work of art. He does not really teach one anything, but by being brought into his presence one becomes something. And everybody is predestined to his presence. Once at least in his life each man walks with Christ to Emmaus… [Christ] had an intense and flamelike imagination… He understood the...
5/9/20227 minutes, 11 seconds
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When to Write It, and When Not.

If relationships matter to you at all, don’t put your negative emotions in writing.Spoken words land softly on their feet like a cat that has fallen from a tree. But written words often land with a thud, and the crack of a fractured relationship.My son Jacob taught me an African proverb last week,“The axe forgets, but the tree remembers.”That proverb reminded me to warn you,“Never put a negative emotion in writing.”There are few things as reckless and destructive as a text, an email, or a letter in which you “clear the air” by venting your anger, your fear, your frustration, your disappointment, or your sadness.If you cannot speak face-to-face with the person that you feel needs to hear what you have to say, then at least find a way to speak voice-to-voice.Never put a negative emotion in writing.I speak recklessly, but I write carefully. Every time I have put a negative emotion in writing, I have regretted it.Introverts prefer to communicate in writing. As a member of that 49 percent of our population, I say,“I understand your preference for writing instead of talking. You are good at writing. This is why it is especially important for you to realize that your negative, written words hit harder, hurt more deeply, and cause more widespread destruction than the words of your extraverted friends. So please, never put a negative emotion in writing. But the opposite is also true: your written words of recognition, praise, and encouragement will raise the spirits, strengthen the resolve, and give new energy to every person on whom you shine that happy light.”During the dark times, the tree will remember that light.And smile.Are you ready for a surprise? The same applies to advertising.If your relationship with prospective customers matters to you, don’t put negative emotions into your ads.You ask, “But don’t I at least need to describe the pain of the problem before I tell them about the solution?”No, because if you do, your name and your brand will unconsciously become associated with pain and problems. People will remember you when they need what you sell, but they will feel better about someone else. And this “someone else” they feel better about will probably make the sale.If you want to be that “someone else,” learn to write ads that make people feel good about themselves, their future, and you.I’ve been saying it for 35 years:“Win the heart and the mind will follow. The mind will always find logic to justify what the heart has already decided.”Did you know that I think about you several times each week? As I sit in the light of my computer screen at 2:30 each morning, I ponder the price you pay to read what I write to you. Money can be replaced but time cannot, so each minute you spend with me is spent forever. It can never be replaced. This is why I try to give you things that will last; things you can take with you and use again and again.I cannot see your face but I feel your presence and I want the best for you, just as you want the best for all the people that your life touches.Shine on, bright friend, shine on. All the trees around you will remember.Roy H. Williams
5/2/20225 minutes, 4 seconds
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Affinity Groups

An affinity group is composed of peoplewho share an identity marker.Backpackers are an affinity group.Corvette drivers are an affinity group.If you like to sew, you are part of an affinity group.Every sports team has “fans,” an affinity group.If you like wine, you are in that affinity group.People who like science are part of an affinity group.If you would rather drive than fly, you are part of an affinity group.In a class he taught at Wizard Academy, Ryan Deiss said,“Identify a tribe. Develop the tribe. Market to the tribe.”Ryan was talking about affinity groups.Affinity groups have an affinity for – an attraction to – a particular thing.Marketing to affinity groups is a smart thing to do.*Do you know the jargon of the affinity group you are trying to sell?People who spend time to save money are in an affinity group.People who spend money to save time are in a different affinity group.Your ad copy attracts one of these groups more strongly than it does the other. Do you know which group you are unconsciously targeting?Maggie Tufu is a fictional character, but she spoke profoundly when she said,“Tell me what a person admires and I’ll tell you everything about them that matters.”Mark Zuckerberg is rich because he controls one of the major gateways that allow advertisers to reach affinity groups.Every time you click on something – anything at all – you reveal intimate things about yourself to Mark and dozens of other data brokers. Soon you will have told them everything about yourself that matters.Allow me to quote a video that you will see near the end of today’s rabbit hole:“What all these companies have in common is they collect your personal information and then resell or share it with others… The entire economy of the internet right now is basically built on this practice. All the free stuff that you take for granted online is only free because you are the product. They make money by selling your data… As one expert puts it, ‘They’re the middlemen of surveillance capitalism.'”Several of the apps you have on your phone are tracking you for the purposes of letting you know which of their locations is “Nearest You” at any given moment. And they sell that data to data brokers, some of which are happy to tell anyone – who wants to kill you, kidnap you, or sell you an extended warranty – exactly where you are right now.The going price for that information is $45.Seems like there ought to be a law that makes this impossible, right? Well, there is an outside chance that such a law might soon be enacted.According to that video you’ll see near the end of today’s rabbit hole,“The one time that Congress has acted quickly to safeguard people’s privacy was in the 1980s when Robert Bork was nominated to the Supreme Court and a reporter walked into a local video store and asked the manager whether he could have a peek at Bork’s video rental history. And he got it. As soon as Congress realized there was nothing stopping anyone from retrieving their video rental records too, they freaked out. And lo and behold, the Video Privacy Protection Act was passed with quite deliberate speed.”At the end of today’s rabbit hole, you can see how one man is currently trying to motivate Congress by threatening to reveal all the detailed, personal information he gathered about each of them after spending just a few dollars with data brokers.This could get interesting.Roy H. Williams*Earlier, when I said, “Marketing to affinity groups is a smart thing to do,” please notice that I did not say that marketing to affinity groups is...
4/25/20225 minutes, 44 seconds
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Caribbean Santa

Thirty-five years ago, he patrolled a stretch of beach as long as two football fields on a Caribbean Island whose name I cannot remember.He pushed a wheelbarrow full of ice as he pranced from one end of his empire to the other, the music of his voice rising and falling over the sound of the surf.“I’m sorry I’m late, but I’m here. You want it. I got it.”His music would often stop. Then resume. Stop.Resume. Stop.Finally, we saw him, a tiny, native islander in his late 50’s, as slender and leathery as a bullwhip, his naked feet falling as lightly as snowflakes on the soft Caribbean sand.“I’m sorry I’m late, but I’m here. You want it. I got it… I’m sorry I’m late, but…”His song would stop abruptly when he saw a hand raised. Sprinting to that spot with his wheelbarrow, he would ask the vacationers to name the drinks they desired.I watched him for a while. He was a genius.Occasionally he would reach into the ice and produce the requested beverage, but usually, he would pull his empty hands out of the icy water and fly like a bullet to his shack at the back of the beach. He would leave so quickly that you had no time to tell him you would happily accept a substitute.He would return like Santa’s reindeer, his feet barely touching the sand, with the requested drink in hand, triumphant and proud not to have let you down.Once, as I saw him fly over the sand with cold drinks in hand, I thought I could hear the sound of sleigh bells,“More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name:‘Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! now Prancer and Vixen!On, Comet! on, Cupid! on, Donner and Blitzen!‘”That’s when it hit me: “This sandy song and dance is the daily floor show he gives us in this magnificent tavern without a ceiling. He is making a fortune in tips, and earning every bit of it.”I observed him long enough to decode his methods: if he suspected vacationers of feeling entitled and flinty, he would immediately pull their drinks from the ice, accept their money, and resume his happy song.“I’m sorry I’m late, but I’m here. You want it. I got it.”I was honored when he couldn’t find our drinks. Pennie and I smiled at each other as he sprinted across the sand and returned with them 90 seconds later.One minute after that, we smiled at each other again when we saw him pull those same drinks from the ice to serve an unhappy couple 20 feet away.Like I said, the man was a genius.When an unpleasant person is demanding my attention and I feel like showing them the bird that I keep in my hand, I think of that happy, slender islander, and tell myself that he is still there, his hands in the ice, his bare feet falling like snowflakes on the soft Caribbean sand.Roy H. Williams
4/18/20225 minutes, 1 second
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Not Happy With Your Profits?

It is easier to increase sales than it is to cut expenses.In the words of Adrian Van Zelfden, “You cannot shrink your way to profit.”Cost-cutting CEO’s are hailed as geniuses by Wall Street and lauded as saviors by private equity firms because cost-cutting always works in the short-term.But that’s not how you build a business.When Roger Smith rose from his position of accounting clerk to become CEO of General Motors in 1981, Wall Street saw him as a brilliant businessman who was “optimizing operations” and “maximizing profits.” But anyone who loved cars could see that he was destroying one of America’s great companies.When I complained to one of my brothers-in-law that the GM brands were rapidly losing their distinct identities to become a bland blend of nothingness, he said, “You don’t understand business. It costs a lot to engineer and tool a new model of car for each GM brand,” (Chevrolet, Pontiac, Oldsmobile, Buick and Cadillac,) “so Roger Smith is building all the cars on a single platform. But each brand will get its own grill and headlights and interior and taillights.”I said, “Perhaps I don’t understand business, but I understand marketing and reputation-building from the hair of my head to the soles of my feet and I’m telling you that Roger Smith is destroying General Motors.”Every time I point out the dangers of an unsustainable plan to cash in on the 90-day attention span of the American investor, I am told, “You don’t understand business.”Always those same four words.Prior to the arrival of “optimizing, maximizing” Roger Smith in 1981, GM held 46% of the U.S. car market. By the time he left 9 years later, market share had slipped to 35.4% and was rapidly falling. When asked about the plummeting market share, he defended the bottom line: “You don’t pay dividends on market share.”By depriving his brands of the oxygen of creativity and innovation, Roger Smith choked the life out of General Motors.Oldsmobile died. Pontiac died. Buick is not far behind. GM’s market share in 2021 was only 15.2% of the U.S. car market.This did not have to happen.“Critics say Smith’s greatest flaw was overemphasizing that bottom-line mentality rather than working on improving product quality. ‘He was a bean counter,’ says Owen Bieber, who was president of the United Auto Workers during much of Smith’s tenure. ‘Suddenly, GM started making a lot of cars that looked alike. I used to tell him that you can’t have a Cadillac that looks like a Chevrolet and expect to sell them both.’”– Los Angeles Times, Dec 1, 2007By 1989 GM was losing $2000 on every GM10 it built. Asked by Fortune magazine why the program had failed, Roger Smith answered: “I don’t know. It’s a mysterious thing.”In June, 2009, when GM dropped to its knees and begged the bankruptcy courts for mercy, Motor Trend magazine had this to say,“Less than a year after celebrating its centenary, the company we knew as General Motors is dead. Once the richest and most powerful automaker in the world; the symbol of American industrial might; the engine room of the American economy, General Motors is now officially bankrupt.”*You cannot shrink your way to profit.Roy H. Williams* June 1, 2009 – A series of bad decisions based on grievously flawed assumptions led to GM having just $82 billion in assets and $173 billion in liabilities on June 1, 2009. This is a scenario that routinely repeats itself, but no one seems to be paying attention. – RHW
4/11/20225 minutes, 17 seconds
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Elegant Absurdity

The choice between a good thing and a bad thing is never a hard choice. The only hard choice is between two good things.Science is a good thing. And so are the Arts. Why choose?Rube Goldberg became wildly famous 100 years ago because his elegantly absurd inventions combined Science with Art.Elegant absurdity surprises and delights us because it reveals lofty creativity and deep commitment aimed at something that is not – to the logical mind – worth the effort.Confronted with the elegantly absurd, pure logic snorts a derisive laugh, but the heart laughs with peals of pure joy.YouTube and TikTok are filled with elegant absurdity. OK GO rode the rocket of the elegantly absurd to heights unknown, then Walk Off the Earth rode it like a surfboard to the edge of the world and beyond. The absurdly elegant inventions of Mark Rober and the elegantly absurd shenanigans of Rex and Daniel have given them massive influence in their fields of endeavor.Marching bands, baton twirling, and tap dancing… perhaps all kinds of dancing… are examples of the elegantly absurd because they require creativity and commitment to achieve something that, again – to the logical mind – isn’t worth the effort.Indy Beagle has examples of all these for you in the rabbit hole.Satire is another elegant absurdity.“Satire has done more to change society than a mountain of political policies. Everything from All in the Family to Saturday Night Live to The Daily Show… (not to mention court jesters, Twain, Menippus, Will Rogers). It’s a battering ram disguised as a rubber chicken.”– Johnny MolsonBut is ‘elegant absurdity’ as absurd as it first appears?“Life is a drama full of tragedy and comedy. You should learn to enjoy the comic episodes a little more.”– Jeannette Walls“The more evolved an animal is, the more time it spends playing.”– P.J. O’Rourke“Humanity has advanced, when it has advanced, not because it has been sober, responsible, and cautious, but because it has been playful, rebellious, and immature.”– Tom Robbins, Still Life With Woodpecker, p. 19So there it is. When you are literate in the basic concepts of the Sciences and the Arts, you are qualified to be elegantly absurd. You are that flash of energy, that illumination we see when two wires come into close proximity after having been connected to opposite poles of the same high-voltage battery.Shine on, bright friend, shine on.Roy H. Williams
4/4/20224 minutes, 30 seconds
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How to Win in Business

The great game of BUSINESS does not come with an instruction manual.The assumption of most players is that Customer Acquisition – lead generation – sales opportunities – is how you win the game.But the understanding of a Highly Skilled Player goes 2 levels deeper:Customer Acquisition (lead gen)Conversion (closing the sale)Remove the Friction (from the buying experience)Highly Skilled Players understand that exponential growth is unleashed by improving the conversion rate. Big differences in top-line sales and bottom-line profits flow from small improvements in Conversion.Highly Skilled Players are usually successful, but the Master Players – the paradigm shifters – the system disruptors – the Kings and Queens of their Categories – turn this Highly Skilled Order of Operations upside down.This is the methodology of every Master Player:Remove the FrictionCustomer AcquisitionConversionWithout exception, every one of the 26 Mammoth Successes in which I have played a part was triggered by Removing the Friction.When you remove the friction, you differentiate yourself in a profound and meaningful way. Customer Acquisition accelerates and Conversion Rate climbs.The friction in your customer’s Buying Experience is hard to see, but you can feel it in the reluctance of your customer.A customer survey will only add to your confusion because customers cannot consciously tell you what they subconsciously feel. You will read the results of your survey, do what your customers told you they wanted, but it won’t help you in the slightest.Let’s review:You need to remove the friction that creates Customer Reluctance.This is felt as a lack of sales opportunities, but you cannot identify the cause.Because it is subconscious, not even your customers can tell you the cause.Wait. It gets worse.When you were a kid, did you ever call “dibs”? If there was only one piece of cake and you wanted the right to eat that cake, you would call “dibs” on it. You had a preference and you wanted to impose that preference on others before they could impose their preference on you.Now that you are an adult, there is a new kind of DIBs – Data Information Bias – and it is far more costly than the loss of a piece of cake.I have a client who was successful long before they met me, but their Data Information Bias was impeding their ability to jump to a higher level. I recognized their DIBs when they told me to write ads that would drive sales opportunities to the telephone. Their data clearly indicated their conversion rate was much higher on the telephone than on their website.I said, “You have an extraverted sales assumption, a preference for listening and talking rather than reading and writing. And you assume that everyone else is like you. But it isn’t true. Your data isn’t telling you to drive your customers to the telephones, it is telling you to fix your website.”They believed me. They fixed it. And their sales volume doubled. Then we doubled the double by removing the friction in their mass media. That company is now approaching 10x the sales volume and profitability that was previously considered “successful.”You have already told yourself that you would have interpreted their data correctly. Am I right?Perhaps you would have. But that company’s data isn’t what is holding you back. Your own data and your own Data Information Bias is holding you back, but you can’t see it because it is hiding in your blind spot.If you knew it was there, they wouldn’t call it a blind spot.This last little bit that I am going to tell you – if I can figure out how to communicate it clearly – will resolve the final two mysteries that are lingering in your mind.If I am correct, you are wondering:“Why
3/28/20229 minutes, 58 seconds
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Let’s Go Time-Traveling

Gordon Atkinson’s Land of La Mancha is the finest literary work of loneliness that has been chronicled since Henry David Thoreau spent 2 years on Walden Pond.Here is how Thoreau opens that most iconic of early American books:“When I wrote the following pages, or rather the bulk of them, I lived alone, in the woods, a mile from any neighbor, in a house which I had built myself, on the shore of Walden Pond, in Concord, Massachusetts, and earned my living by the labor of my hands only. I lived there two years and two months.”Walden Pond, by the way, is only 2.2 miles from the old North Bridge in Concord where a British soldier fired “the shot heard ’round the world” that triggered the Revolutionary War.Come with me now to July, 1845 when Henry David Thoreau first arrived at Walden Pond:It has been only 69 years since Thomas Jefferson wrote that document by which 13 colonies of England broke away from King George and banded together to form this baby nation. (To put this in perspective, it has been 69 years since Chevrolet introduced the Corvette. – RHW) There are tens of thousands of Americans today who can remember growing up in the 13 colonies. They can recall reading the newspapers of Benjamin Franklin with his constant showering of articles advocating “No Taxation Without Representation” and how their fingertips became blackened by newspaper ink that was not quite dry.Florida became the 27th state 90 days ago and Johnny Appleseed died 15 days later. There is talk of the Republic of Texas also becoming a state. The newspapers of New York are buzzing about a new poem by Poe in which a raven walks around saying, “Nevermore.”That was America on the day Henry David Thoreau wandered off into those woods from which he and his book Walden would emerge 2 years and 2 months later.You’ve never read Walden? Here is a short passage from “Brute Neighbors,” one of the later chapters:“The mice which haunted my house were not the common ones, which are said to have been introduced into the country, but a wild native kind not found in the village. I sent one to a distinguished naturalist, and it interested him much. When I was building, one of these had its nest underneath the house, and before I had laid the second floor, and swept out the shavings, would come out regularly at lunch time and pick up the crumbs at my feet. It probably had never seen a man before; and it soon became quite familiar, and would run over my shoes and up my clothes. It could readily ascend the sides of the room by short impulses, like a squirrel, which it resembled in its motions. At length, as I leaned with my elbow on the bench one day, it ran up my clothes, and along my sleeve, and round and round the paper which held my dinner, while I kept the latter close, and dodged and played at bopeep with it; and when at last I held still a piece of cheese between my thumb and finger, it came and nibbled it, sitting in my hand, and afterward cleaned its face and paws, like a fly, and walked away.”Gordon Atkinson is still writing his book, Land of La Mancha, but 3 days ago he posted 25 entries from the journal he has been keeping since the day he became the inaugural artist-in-residence at Wizard Academy.Gordon and I have not yet spoken. You will understand why when you read what he has written.Roy H. Williams
3/21/20224 minutes, 21 seconds
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Was I Wrong in 2011?

In 2011, the attention of our nation was consumed by the economic problems caused by the sub-prime mortgage debacle of 2008. That’s why everyone thought I was crazy when I wrote these words…“Western Society is in danger of becoming self-righteous, sanctimonious and insufferably judgmental. If history is to be our guide, the next 20 years will be when we move from our agreement of mutual brokenness, ‘I’m Not Okay – You’re Not Okay,’ to embrace a self-righteous indignation, ‘I’m Okay – You’re Not Okay.’ Sanctimonious vigilante-ism will become popular as indignant leaders demonize their enemies and rally their followers by appealing to their inborn sense of rightness and social obligation, ‘Let’s clean this place up and to hell with compromise. They are entirely wrong and we are entirely right. They are stupid. We are wise. They are evil. We are good.’”“The last time we went through this, America formed a committee in Congress called the House Un-American Activities Committee (1938) and later watched with glee while Senator Joseph McCarthy destroyed countless lives by recklessly branding his enemies as ‘Communists,’ and creating the infamous blacklists.”“This sounds a bit far-fetched, doesn’t it? I know it does. I’m writing because I want you to be able to look back and recall how absurd this all sounded when I first told you what was on the horizon.”I brought that 11-year-old prediction to your attention because I’m going to share something else that I see poking it’s head up over the horizon.Are you familiar with the argument that roared among the founding fathers during the 1790’s?Thomas Jefferson feared tyranny and was worried that a strong Federal government would stifle individual freedoms. He envisioned a decentralized republic built of small, agricultural towns. Alexander Hamilton feared anarchy and desired the structure and order that a strong Federal government would provide. He envisioned centralized, efficient power at the top of the pyramid.When the Federalists passed the Alien and Sedition Acts in 1798 that restricted the activities of foreign residents and limited freedom of speech and of the press, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison wrote the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions, which called on state legislatures to nullify federal laws.I believe we are seeing the acceleration of that argument between “Federal Power” Hamilton and “States Power” Jefferson, but I believe this time Jefferson will win.I know you would like me to speak plainly, so I will. But first I want to make it clear that I am not advocating the thing I am about to describe. In 2011 I didn’t want to see our nation degenerate into two polarized groups that were equally self-righteous, sanctimonious and insufferably judgmental, but it happened anyway. Likewise, I don’t want to see a surging escalation of state’s rights that ultimately cause our nation to become an expanded and updated version of the European Union, but I believe that is where we are headed.By 2033 you will hear this idea of “each state doing their own thing” being proposed by Alpha Voices that will arise and popularize it.Ten years later, the “ME” cycle of 2043 will be launched in the heady delusion that all of America’s problems can be solved by letting each state become, in essence, its own little country. America will maintain a common currency and a standing army to defend the member states, but the real power of the nation will have shifted to the governors and state legislatures. When you cross a state line the laws will change in profound and meaningful ways.By 2063 we will have begun to realize that if you sow to the wind, you reap a whirlwind, and we...
3/14/20226 minutes, 56 seconds
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The Purpose of Heroes

Johnny Molson sent me a video of an elderly Ukrainian woman walking up to a heavily armed Russian soldier, the point man of a force that was occupying her town. Looking him in the face, she said, “Put sunflower seeds in your pocket so flowers will grow when you die.” *The note that came with the video said, “That’s a Patrick Henry/Paul Revere level story. That’s the shit Churchill wished he would have said.”Johnny’s note caused me to remember two things. The first was a passage from a remarkable op-ed from Yuval Noah Harari in London’s 200-year-old newspaper, The Guardian:“Nations are ultimately built on stories. Each passing day adds more stories that Ukrainians will tell not only in the dark days ahead, but in the decades and generations to come. The president who refused to flee the capital, telling the US that he needs ammunition, not a ride; the soldiers from Snake Island who told a Russian warship to “go fuck yourself”; the civilians who tried to stop Russian tanks by sitting in their path. This is the stuff nations are built from. In the long run, these stories count for more than tanks.”The second thing Johnny’s note brought to mind was something I wrote 19 years ago:Heroes are dangerous things. Bigger than life, highly exaggerated and always positioned in the most favorable light, a hero is a beautiful lie.We have historic heroes, folk heroes and comic book heroes. We have heroes in books and songs and movies and sport. We have heroes of morality, leadership, kindness and excellence. And nothing is so devastating to our sense of wellbeing as a badly fallen hero. Yes, heroes are dangerous things to have.The only thing more dangerous is not to have them.Heroes raise the bar we jump and hold high the standards we live by. They are ever-present tattoos on our psyche, the embodiment of all we are striving to be.We create our heroes from our hopes and dreams. And then they attempt to create us in their own image.Most people assume that legends, myths and stories of heroes are simply the byproducts of great civilizations, but I’m convinced they are the cause of them. Throughout history, the mightiest civilizations have been the ones with stories of heroes; larger-than-life role models that inspired ordinary citizens to rise up and do amazing things.Americans are united, at least for a moment, to set aside our petty bickering as we gaze in wonder at the people of Ukraine.My prayer is that Volodymyr Zelensky, his family and his nation, emerge from these dark days alive and free.Amen.Roy H. WilliamsPS – I have liked all of the Russians I have ever met. My strong suspicion is that Vladimir Putin does not represent the hearts of the people of Russia. One more thing: many of you have asked me about William and Sasha, Wizard Academy’s ambassadors to Russia. I have been very careful in my communications with them in recent days since Vladimir is angry with America and it might not be beneficial to be seen as having a lot of American friends right now. – RHW*The sunflower is the national flower of Ukraine, which makes grandma even more of a badass. – Indy
3/7/20224 minutes, 57 seconds
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Look, See, and Feel.

Motivational speakers often tell their followers to visualize accomplishing their desired outcomes; to mentally go into the future and feel the joy of that not-yet-happened moment.Visualization is the mental rehearsal of possible future events.When the word “rehearse” was invented more than 700 years ago, it meant to hear again; to re-hear.I am an ad writer. My job is to get people to repeatedly imagine doing what my clients want them to do. I want prospective customers to live those events in their minds.I could just as easily have been a songwriter.Each time you imagine an action that is followed by a sequence of events, you move precipitously closer to taking that action and bringing those events to pass.Athletes in every sport are taught this by their coaches.This is why I don’t listen to country music. I don’t want to visualize those events and imagine those feelings.Visualization – mental rehearsal – is a powerful thing.Visualization affects one-and-a-half percent of us a little more strongly than it does most people. We are the ones who are warned by psychologists not to get involved in role-playing games because we can get lost in the characters we play and lose touch with reality.This is why, for me, listening to a country song about heart-breaking loss and gut-wrenching grief is exactly like watching a horror movie. But I believe I understand the appeal of country music to people who are not afflicted with my condition. Shauna Niequist writes, “My friend Eve told me once that the ability to cry is a sign of health, because it means your body and your soul agree on something.”If I am right, people love country music because it helps them remember the things that are important in their lives.As Solomon said in the 23rd division of the book of Proverbs, “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.”His words apply equally to both of us, I think.To me, Solomon is saying, “Do not be in your mind the man you do not want to be.”But to the country music fan, Solomon is saying, “Feel deep and meaningful feelings in your mind if you want to be a deep and meaningful person.”I could be wrong. I have certainly been wrong before. But I do not think I am wrong this time.Roy H. Williams
2/28/20223 minutes, 51 seconds
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Branding is Not Informational. It is Relational.

A brief summary of this episodeThe goal of branding is to build a relationship with future customers. When a relationship has finally been established, you become who these people think of immediately – and feel the best about – when they, or any of their friends, need what you sell.Direct marketers often disdain mass media because it doesn’t allow them to “target and track” their prey. But these same Direct Marketers will give heavy bags of money to online influencers. It never occurs to them that every person listening to the radio or watching TV is an influencer of approximately 250 people.These 250 people are their Realm of Association. They are the people who listen to them when they speak. They are mostly friends and co-workers, but some of them are family.You have people in your life – acquaintances – with whom you are familiar, but they never quite made it into that circle that is your true Realm of Association.Here’s my question for you. Do you trust those people who never contact you unless they want something from you?Those people remind me of direct marketers. They target you – get something from you – and walk away smiling.Your true friends are the ones who spend time with you, who make you smile, laugh, feel good, and rarely ask for anything at all.A brand that you love is like a friend.Ads are either transactional or relational. A long series of transactional ads does not build a brand. It builds name awareness, yes, but not a brand.If I reach and win only 10 percent of your realm of association through my focused use of mass media, but you ­– my future customer – are not within that 10 percent, I am not worried in the slightest. My relational ads will have won the hearts of 25 of your best friends and it is likely that one or more of them will get my message to you when you finally need what I sell. If I reach and win 20% of your community through my relentless use of cheap and effective mass media, I will have reached 50 of your best friends.Decisions are rarely made in a vacuum.Each of us is surrounded by influencers who do not have blogs or podcasts or YouTube channels, but we value their opinions very highly. We trust the recommendations of our friends.“Reaching the right people” is not the secret to building a brand. The secret is to say and do the right things.Getting attention is easy. Any fool can do it.To win a person’s heart, you have to hold that attention. You have to nurture that little spark by the breath of your mouth and then blow it into a flame by your actions. You have to cause people to look forward to their next encounter with you. You have to make them enjoy spending time with you.This, mon chéri, is branding.Brand building is not something you test.Brand building is something you do.Your first encounter with a cold contact will be Low CAP.Low Conversion.Low Average sale.Low Profit margin.But when that contact types your name into the search block because they are looking for you – precisely you – those encounters will be High CAP.Direct marketers wear their CAPs low.Brand builders wear their CAPs high.The most successful direct marketers are those who first built their brands, then began offering specific things to their brand families at specific times, all the while maintaining and nourishing that bond their customers feel with the brand.My personal formula is one-third transactional ads, two-thirds relational.Television and radio advertising are astoundingly cheap and effective. They are the way to go if you want to build a brand. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.Aroo,Roy H. Williams
2/21/20225 minutes, 33 seconds
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When Words are Images and Images are Words

There are four kinds of thought.Verbal Thought is hearing a voice in your mind.Analytical Thought is deductive reasoning that seeks to forecast a result.Abstract Thought embraces fantasy and all things intangible.Symbolic Thought relates the unknown to the known. The pattern-recognition power of the right brain connects new ideas [abstract thought] with known information [analytical thought] in the deductive reasoning left brain.Symbolic Thought allows you to communicate the abstract by pointing to something familiar that shares an essential attribute with the abstraction you are trying to describe. This is the essence of all similes and metaphors.“This is the forest primeval. The murmuring pines and the hemlocks, bearded with moss, and in garments green, indistinct in the twilight, stand like Druids of old, with voices sad and prophetic…”– Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Evangeline“murmuring…”“bearded…”“garments…”“Druids of old, with voices sad and prophetic…”We’re talking about trees, remember?Symbols are a language of the mind.But that observation is just the beginning.I have no proof of what I am about to tell you. So if you continue to read, please understand that I will be sharing nothing more than a deeply held pet theory of mine. I can reference no sources other than 25 years of experimentation and my conversations with Indy.I believe the 4 types of thought are composed of 12 essential languages. Think of these 12 languages as the Operating System of the mind.I believe Numbers are a language of the mind.There are things that can be said in the language of Numbers that can be said in no other language. It is easier to learn mathematics when you think of Numbers as a language and the order of operations in math as the grammar and syntax of that language.I believe Color is a language. Red and pink say different things.Likewise, Shape is a language. A curve says something different than an angle.Arranging colors and shapes so they speak to us is the essence of composition in photos, paintings and illustrations. It is the basis of architecture, Feng Shui, and industrial design (cars, jewelry, furniture, etc.) In fact, it underlies every type of visual communication that causes people to think and feel a certain way.The human mind is given wings by its unique ability to attach complex meanings to sounds.When you use words, you are rapidly choosing which of the 44 Phonemes of the English language shares an essential attribute with the fractional abstraction you are trying to describe.Yes, the entirety of the English language is composed of just 44 sounds. This is not a pet theory of mine. This is settled science among the linguists of the world.When you speak or write, you are connecting Phonemes together in rapid succession to create words – sounds – that represent what you are trying to communicate.Did you know the written word has no meaning until it has been translated into the spoken word it represents? Graphemes, the letters of the alphabet and certain combinations of those letters like ch, sh, and th, merely represent the sounds – the phonemes – to which we attach deep meaning.Look again at ch, sh, and th. Don’t say the names of the letters in your mind. Make the sounds that each of those two-letter combinations represent, “ch,” “sh,” “th”Did it occur to you that “th” has two different sounds? Voiced “th” is the sound we hear in “the”. Unvoiced “th” is the sound we hear in “with”.It is my belief that a basic understanding of the 12 Languages of the Mind will make you a better communicator. Indy Beagle gave you a glimpse of one of the Languages – Symbol – before he got carried away in today’s...
2/14/20226 minutes, 40 seconds
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Storm’s Passion

Storm is a character in my mind.No, not so much a character as a caricature, an icon, an archetype.I occasionally meet Storm in the real world. Storm is sometimes male, sometimes female.You’ve met Storm, too.Storm is easily infatuated. Storm is in love with Love. Storm talks a lot about passion.But Storm is a rabbit, a mouse who runs at the first sign of difficulty or hardship.Don’t tell me what you are passionate about, Storm. Show me.Storm, I am old. I have lived many lives and I can tell you with certainty that commitment is the only true form of passion.Passion is not a feeling of fluffy-headed excitement. Passion is suffering. My friend Manley Miller taught me this.Passion comes from the Latin word “Pati,” the root word of Patience. We think of patience as an ability to wait. But patience, more accurately, is an ability to suffer.Compassion means “to suffer with,” to become a partner in the suffering of others. Compassionate people feel the pain of persons other than themselves.“…for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health…”Better and richer and health speak of hope.Worse and poorer and sickness speak of passion.Storm, let no one deceive you. Passion does not produce commitment. Commitment produces passion.Have you never heard about the injustices endured by that boy who was born less than 9 months after his parents were married, who then spent his life bringing peace and help and hope to others? He endured mockery, false arrest, a sham trial, a bullwhipping, and then spikes were driven through his hands and feet. They call these events, “The Passion of Christ.”Passion, at its core, is a parching thirst that cries out to be quenched.No, Storm. You are not passionate. You lack the commitment to be.I am finished talking to Storm. Now I am talking to you. Have you been saying, “I can’t find my passion”?Would you like to be passionate? Would you like to feel so strongly about something that you would be willing to suffer for it? Passion is a fire easily lit: just make a commitment and don’t look back, or left, or right; only forward.Make a commitment. Pay the price of it.Mark Jennison has a passion for the gym. I know this because he goes to the gym every day and suffers.Princess Pennie has a passion for gardening. I know this because I see her on her knees, patiently digging and planting and weeding and pruning to create a look and feel of harmony across acres of land.Brad Whittington has compassion for the homeless. I know this because he cooks for them and drives to an unsettling place to serve them one-by-one, face-to-face.Commitment is the only true form of passion.Make a commitment. Passion will follow.Aroo,Roy H. Williams
2/7/20224 minutes, 35 seconds
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Carl Jung, Peter Pan, and Egypt

You and I spoke last week about shadows being “holes in the light” that speak of past actions and their consequences.We are not the first to make that observation.The ancient Egyptians believed your shadow was the spent energy coming off you and dying in this world. Your shadow was separate from you but part of you, always there. The reason you could not see your shadow at night is because darkness swallows darkness.“The spent energy coming off you and dying in this world” sounds a lot like past actions and their consequences, don’t you think?Psychologist Carl Jung spoke of our shadow as the darkness within each of us. He said,“Everyone carries a shadow, and the less it is embodied in the individual’s conscious life, the blacker and denser it is… forming an unconscious snag, thwarting our most well-meant intentions… In myths the hero is the one who conquers the dragon, not the one who is devoured by it. And yet both have to deal with the same dragon. Also, he is no hero who never met the dragon, or who, if once he saw it, declared afterwards that he saw nothing. Only one who has risked the fight with the dragon and is not overcome by it wins the hoard, the ‘treasure hard to attain’. He alone has a genuine claim to self-confidence, for he has faced the dark ground of ‘self’ and thereby has gained himself… He has arrived at an inner certainty which makes him capable of self-reliance.”Did you notice that Carl Jung was speaking of past actions and their consequences?When Peter Pan first meets Wendy, she sews his shadow back on for him. Author J.M. Barrie used the shadow of Peter Pan as a symbol to help us better understand this “boy who would never grow up.” For Peter to be able to fly, Peter cannot have a shadow that binds him to the ground. He cannot have memories of the past. He cannot have memories of his mother.Victoria Rego writes,“In a moment of darkness, laying in my bed I suddenly remember Peter accepting his shadow before Wendy was able to sew it back on. It hit me in that moment that this is what we do with trauma. We tuck it away for safe keeping until we are either ready or forced to deal with it. This is how shadow work begins. When we do shadow work, we are learning to become aware of beliefs, ideas, triggers that we have been avoiding, parts of ourselves that we tuck away, so they do not ’cause trouble.’ Acknowledging these aspects of ourselves allows us to heal and find balance within ourselves.”I believe Carl Jung would have endorsed Victoria Rego’s observation.Are you ready to talk about history’s most famous shadow?David, that boy who slew a giant with a sling and then became a great king wrote of this greatest-of-all-shadows 3,000 years ago,“Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for you are with me…”Death, that final consequence of all our actions, casts a very great shadow indeed. It is a mountain that looms before us and none can escape it.But take hope, my friend. That mountain would not cast a shadow in this valley where we walk except there be a bright and happy light on the other side.Aroo,
1/31/20224 minutes, 29 seconds
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Shadows and Silhouettes

Your actions cast a shadow across space and time, affecting people directly – or indirectly – for generations.You already know this.The rest of what I’m about to tell you is speculative, but I believe I am right:Visually, a shadow is a hole in the light. A shadow carries the distorted shape of a moment beyond the moment itself. A shadow speaks of consequences.A silhouette is not a shadow. A silhouette is what we see when we look toward the light. A silhouette speaks of things to come.Painters and writers and photographers and historians and the makers of movies have always seen this, always known it.You have always known it, too.Shadows speak of the past. Silhouettes speak of the future. When you see a silhouette on the horizon, you immediately think, “And then what happened?”You can use these ideas to deepen the subtlety and artistry of your communication. Don’t worry that your reader/listener/viewer won’t understand. Trust their deep intuition. Trust the right hemispheres of their brains, that half whose principal function is to make connections and predictions through the recognition of patterns.Gut feelings, hunches, premonitions, and intuitions are psychological products of that wordless, pattern-recognizing logic of the right hemispheres of our brains.Zig-zagging enthusiastically back-and-forth across that landscape of possibilities, making connections and seeing patterns, you have a beagle in your brain.I call mine Indy.What do you call yours?Roy H. WilliamsPS – Einstein was a scientist who saw that time and space and reality itself were tied to the speed of light. E = MC2 : E – the energy in a thing = M – its mass x C2 – the speed of light, squared.In the first chapter of an ancient Jewish book of Beginnings, God says, “Let there be light” and our universe springs into existence. Scientists call this the Big Bang. Einstein, being Jewish, was familiar with the original story.We call it the speed of light, but a more accurate way to think of it would be the speed of reality; the frame-rate of the universe.Indy Beagle will explain the math of this conjecture in the rabbit hole. To enter the rabbit hole just click the silhouette of Indiana Beagle standing at the bottom of the clock in the image at the top of the memo. Each click of an image in the rabbit hole will take you one page deeper. This week, there are 20 pages in all.– RHW
1/24/20224 minutes, 6 seconds
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Correct and Expected, Right and Proper

I learned about advertising from listening to my eighth-grade football coaches.“Every play is a touchdown play if everyone on the team does their assignment properly.”That was one of the two things they bellowed at us every day. The other one was this:“If you succeed in football, you will succeed in life.”I was only 12 years old but that didn’t mean I was an idiot. I finished that season, but I never played football again. Those coaches believed what they were saying and that made my head spin because I knew it wasn’t true.If you believe, deep in your bones, in always doing what is correct and expected, right and proper, then I want you to be the engineer that builds the bridges I drive across. I want you to be the surgeon that operates on me. I want you to be the policeman that cruises the streets I drive. I want you to be the running back, the tight end, the wide receiver of the team I am playing against.When you’re playing offense and you know exactly what you are going to do and how you are going to do it, the defense knows it, too. You’re “telegraphing the play.” Defenders can read you like an open book.When you’re carrying the ball and the defenders don’t know what you’re about to do, it’s because you, yourself, don’t know. You are an amazing “broken field runner” because you make every decision at the last split second. You are never where anyone expected you to be. They leap to tackle you and grab empty air.If you believe in doing what is correct and expected, right and proper, I want you to write all the ads for the company my client and I are competing against.Predictable platitudes drip from the lips of people who say what is correct and expected, right and proper. Predictable platitudes flow like ink from the pens of the world’s worst ad writers. Predictable platitudes cause people to roll their eyes and say, “Get real.”I’ll tell you a secret if you promise not to be offended. I’ve never met a great ad writer who was taught how to write ads in college.Great ad writing is counterintuitive.You learn how to write great ads by keeping careful track of all the good ideas that should have worked, but didn’t. When you finally run out of good ideas and decide to do something crazy, dangerous, and ill-advised, tell your neighbors to keep an eye on the sky because the airshow and the fireworks are about to be spectacular.Congratulations, you have finally written a good ad.Every play is a touchdown play when your team is the only team on the field. But that’s not how football is played, is it? When you begin with the wrong premise, you always reach the wrong conclusion.To write an ad that is “correct and expected, right and proper” is the most foolish thing you can do.That’s all I have to say today, but Indy Beagle is going to take this discussion to a much deeper level in the rabbit hole.That’s where I’m headed now.Care to join me?Roy H. Williams
1/17/20224 minutes, 28 seconds
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A Second Reality

Twenty-three years ago, roving reporter Rotbart said to me,“You are three different people.1. There is the person you see when you look in the mirror.2. There is the person other people see when they look at you.3. There is the real you, the person no one can see but God.”Objective reality exists. I do not dispute it. Rotbart’s argument – and mine – is that you and he and I are not equipped to experience it.I live in a perceptual reality; a world that I perceive.You live in a perceptual reality; a world that you perceive.You see your own actions in the forgiving light of your motives, intentions, and regrets, while the “you” that is seen by others is shaped and shaded by their preferences, prejudices, and perspectives.John Steinbeck speaks of this in his preface to East of Eden,“The reader will take from my book what he brings to it. The dull witted will get dullness and the brilliant may find things in my book I didn’t know were there.”Steinbeck knew that we tend to see what is already within us.On May 1, 1831, an unspecified writer for The Atlas in London wrote,“We cannot see things as they are, for we are compelled by a necessity of nature to see things as we are. We can never get rid of ourselves.”Twenty years ago, my friend Kary Mullis challenged my musings about perceptual reality in front of a roomful of people. He said that his belief, as a scientist, was that “real” things can be measured, tested, and weighed. “Real things exist,” he said. “If it is not physical, it is imaginary.”I said, “Are emotions and opinions and beliefs real?”Kary described scientific method and Koch’s postulates, (the four criteria designed to establish a causative relationship between a microbe and a disease,) while I dragged a barstool to the front of the room. Holding up a copy of his book, Dancing Naked in the Mind Field, I said, “Kary, would you be willing to sit on this barstool and read the dedication page to us?”As Kary read the page he wrote to his wife, Nancy, his voice tightened and he stopped speaking as tears rolled down his cheeks. I said, “Keep reading, Kary. It’s all imaginary, remember?”When he could speak again, he admitted I was right, and that a whole world of reality exists beyond the reach of physical science.Kary Mullis was a highly confident genius who was willing to change his mind.Persons like Kary Mullis are exactly the people Desmond Ford was talking about when he said,“A wise man changes his mind sometimes, but a fool never. To change your mind is the best evidence you have one.”Kary is gone now and I miss him deeply.The world of 2022 needs more people like him, and quickly.Roy H. Williams“Many people hear voices when no one is there. Some of them are called mad and are shut up in rooms where they stare at the walls all day. Others are called writers and they do pretty much the same thing.” – Meg Chittenden“Ever realised how surreal reading a book actually is? You stare at marked slices of tree for hours on end, hallucinating vividly.” – Katie Oldham, Sept 12, 2014, retweeted 3,837 times, favorited 3,728 times
1/10/20224 minutes, 25 seconds
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At the Fingertips of an Ad Writer

“Hoare writes with the license of the nonexpert; you can feel the delight he takes in being unbound by anything but his enthusiasms.”John Williams was describing Philip Hoare when he wrote that line, but he could easily have been describing me. As a nonexpert, I am free to speculate and arrive at my own conclusions.So are you.And so is your customer.You, me, and your customer claim we use deductive reasoning, but it simply isn’t true. Deductive reasoning – the basis of scientific method – would require us to work diligently to disprove what we believe.Do you know anyone who actually does that?Rather than use deductive reasoning, we use inductive reasoning to search out information confirming that our values, beliefs, instincts, and preferences have been right all along.When confronted with contradictory information, our confirmation bias kicks in to assure us the contradictory information is not correct, so we dismiss it with the flick of a mental finger.Let me help you with that flicking away of contradictory information. I am an ad writer. Magical thinking, inductive reasoning, and confirmation bias sparkle at my fingertips.My job is to speak to that which is already within you. You have more than enough information. Let me agree with what you already believe.Google and Facebook will use their algorithms to help us build a community where we can surround ourselves with like-minded people who share our opinions and beliefs. Everyone who doesn’t agree with us is uninformed, misinformed, fooled by faulty data, foolish rumor, or evil geniuses.Magical thinking, inductive reasoning, and confirmation bias sparkle at the fingertips of every evil genius. But I am not an evil genius. I am the genius that agrees with you.Magical thinking is difficult to explain, but Kurt Andersen does a pretty good job:“Americans have always been magical thinkers and passionate believers in the untrue. Our nation was started by Puritans in New England who wanted to create a Christian utopia as they waited for the imminent second coming of Christ and the End of Days. To the south, a bunch of people were convinced, absolutely convinced, that this place they had never been was full of gold waiting to be plucked from the dirt in Virginia. They stayed there looking and hoping for gold for 20 years before they finally faced the facts and decided they weren’t going to get rich overnight.”“This was the beginning of America. Next we had centuries of ‘buyer beware’ charlatanism and medical quackery to an extreme degree, along with increasingly exotic, extravagant, implausible cults and religions.”“All those things came together and were supercharged in the 1960s, when you were entitled to your own truth and your own reality. A generation later the internet came along, giving each of those realities, no matter how false or magical or nutty they are, their own kind of media infrastructure.”A wonderful story is dazzling and attractive, regardless of whether or not it is true. This is the basis of all successful advertising.“Hoare writes with the license of the nonexpert; you can feel the delight he takes in being unbound by anything but his enthusiasms.”John Williams wrote those words in his recommendation of Philip Hoare’s new book, “Albert and the Whale: Albrecht Dürer and How Art Imagines Our World.”John Williams book review column is titled, appropriately, “Books of the Times.”Roy H. Williams
1/3/20224 minutes, 58 seconds
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These Will Be Your Challenges in 2022

The limiting factors that will challenge business owners in 2022 are inflation, Covid, and the recruitment of good employees.The bad news is that I can give you the solution to only 1 of these 3 problems.The good news is that it’s the big one: the recruitment of good employees.Ivan Pavlov won the Nobel prize for proving it’s not hard to sell a dog on the taste of meat.Successful jewelers know it’s not hard to sell a man on the woman he loves.Recruitment problems disappear when you know how easy it is to sell a parent on their child.A couple of years ago, Dewey Jenkins and I had a series of conversations about opening a free, private day-care center as a benefit for the employees of Morris-Jenkins Air Conditioning and Plumbing. The thing that kept us from doing it was that the majority of his employees – the technicians – drove their trucks home every night and went straight to their first repair each morning. Consequently, they would have no opportunity to drop off their child.But still, it was a great idea.Do your employees report to a specific location each day? Have you noticed that space for lease just down the street from you?Lease that space.Get a daycare license.Hire 2 or more people to run it.Open your recruitment ads with the words “Free, Private Daycare.”(And now you know why I was explaining the importance of “framing.” – Indy Beagle)Prepare to be amazed at the quality and volume of job applicants.Your employee problem has now been permanently solved.You’re welcome.What? What did you just say?“I can’t afford it.”Raise your prices. Inflation is happening whether you participate or not.“It’s easier to pay a big signing bonus.”Signing bonuses attract job-hoppers.“It sounds like a lot of trouble.”Paying big money for bad employees is another kind of trouble. Is that the kind you prefer?“I’ll just wait it out. Things will go back to normal pretty soon.”Here’s a fun fact I’ll bet you didn’t know: to maintain our population and our workforce, American women need to birth an average of 2.1 children each. The parents of today’s workforce produced only 1.8 births per woman and the birth rate today is at 1.64 and declining.We are at least 10 percent short of having an adequate workforce because that 10 percent was never born. So if you’re waiting for the workforce to get larger, you’re going to need to convince women across America to have more kids and then wait 20 years for those kids to grow up.Child-care is a huge, for-profit business that is crippling the buying power of single-parent (and two-parent) households across America. It is within your power to solve that problem for a small group of people, and in so doing, solve your own problem as well.Give it some thought.And may you have a Prosperous and Happy New Year.Roy H. Williams
12/27/20214 minutes, 15 seconds
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Old Cars in Barns

Matthew McConaughey writes in his book, Green Lights,“Cool is a natural law. If it was cool for THAT time, then it is cool for ALL time. A fad is just a branch on Cool’s trunk; a fashionable fling whose 15 minutes can never abide, no matter how long she trends to try. Cool stands the test of time, because cool never tries. Cool just is.”My friend Crazy Tony taught me about “cool” 45 years ago when we attended Broken Arrow High School together. Tony made a lot of money buying and selling old cars. I was known as Beatermaker because Tony was forever frustrated by my uncanny ability to drive a fabulous car and, within a week, make it look like a beater.“Beatermaker,” he said, “every guy who has found an old car in perfect condition believes he has found a gold mine. But it’s almost never true. If a car wasn’t highly desirable when it was new, no one wants it 20, 30, or 50 years later. But if a car was admired and desired on the day it was born, it will be cool forever, no matter what condition it’s in.”That was the insight that made Crazy Tony tens of thousands of dollars when we were in high school.The passage of time, the recklessness of the human race, and the slow smokeless burning of decay make old things rare. But it it does not make them wonderful. Remarkable buildings and books and paintings and songs don’t get better with age. They were wonderful the day they were born. I know it, Matthew McConaughey knows it, and now you know it.But what makes them wonderful?Wonderful things were touched by someone who knew the secret of wonder and how to capture it. When you know how to capture wonder, you carry it in your head, your heart, and your hands. You glitter when you walk.Isaac Newton knew how to capture wonder and he passed the secret of it forward in just 14 words. Countless millions have read those words and assumed Newton was talking about himself. He was not. Newton was giving you his most precious advice. He was telling you how to capture wonder. He was telling you how to glitter when you walk.In 1675, Newton wrote, “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants.”Isaac Newton stood on the shoulders of Galileo, Kepler, and Copernicus in astronomy, Huygens, Euclid, Henry Briggs, and Isaac Barrow in math, Kepler and Descartes in optics, and Plato, Aristotle, and Maimonides in philosophy. Newton combined the insights of all these men and made them uniquely his own.Choose your giants. Stand on their shoulders. Repurpose the proven.Vincent Van Gogh stood on the shoulders of Monticelli and Hiroshige. Long after they were dead, they taught him how to paint. He studied their paintings, captured their wonder, and made it uniquely his own.Johnny Depp stood on the shoulders of Pepe Le Pew, the cartoon skunk, and Keith Richards of The Rolling Stones. They taught him how to become Captain Jack Sparrow. Depp studied their mannerisms, captured their wonder, and made it uniquely his own.I stand on the shoulders of John Steinbeck, Ernest Hemingway, Robert Frost, Asimov, Tolkien, Paul Harvey, and Edwin Arlington Robinson. They taught me how to write. In fact, I borrowed “the slow smokeless burning of decay” from Robert Frost and “glitter when you walk” from Robinson. They don’t mind. Each of them stood on the shoulders of giants of their own choosing.Do you have time for me to give you one more example?In the rabbit hole you’ll find “Summer Wine,” a hit song written by Lee Hazlewood that made the Billboard Hot 100 in 1967. When you listen to it, you will think it sounds like a movie score. This is because Hazlewood took three famous movie themes that don’t belong together and made them fit. He captured their wonder and made it uniquely his own.Yes, cognoscenti, you understand.The 3 giants on whose shoulders Hazlewood was standing...
12/20/20216 minutes, 48 seconds
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Your Inquisitive Mind

When your intuitive mind senses a pattern and begins to search for the completion of that pattern, we call this, “curiosity”.But sometimes our searching for the completion of a pattern goes sideways, takes a shortcut, gets it wrong. The false logic that springs to mind as a result of this wrong turn is so common that it has a Latin name, “Post Hoc, ergo Propter Hoc.”Blame Isaac Newton.Newton taught us to think of cause and effect as sequential: a pool cue strikes a ball, which strikes another ball. As a result of our trust in Newtonian physics, the often-wrong logic of Post Hoc ergo Propter Hoc is almost irresistibly seductive because it begins with the observation that two events occurred in sequence.Remember a TV show called The West Wing?Jed Bartlet: C.J., on your tombstone it’s going to say Post Hoc ergo Propter Hoc.C.J.: Okay, but none of my visitors are going to be able to understand my tombstone.Jed Bartlet: It means, “One thing follows the other, therefore it was caused by the other.” But it’s not always true. In fact, it’s hardly ever true. We did not lose Texas because of the hat joke. Do you know when we lost Texas?C.J.: When you learned to speak Latin?Do you remember The Big Bang Theory? In a 2009 episode, Sheldon Cooper was speaking to his mother on the phone:“The Arctic expedition was a remarkable success, I’m all but certain there’s a Nobel prize in my future. Actually, I shouldn’t say that. I’m entirely certain… (audience laughter) No, Mother, I could not feel your church group praying for my safety… (audience laughter) The fact that I’m home safe does not prove that it worked. That logic is Post Hoc ergo Propter Hoc… (audience laughter) No, I’m not sassing you in Eskimo talk.”Similar to “Post Hoc” is the broken logic of simultaneous occurrences, Cum Hoc ergo Propter Hoc, “With this, because of this.”“The bigger a child’s shoe size, the better the child’s handwriting. Therefore, having big feet makes it easier to write.”The mental sleight-of-hand of “Post Hoc” and “Cum Hoc” are what make advertising – and conspiracy theories ­– so easy to believe.@WardQNormal writes,“The trouble with conspiracy theories is that a lack of evidence is taken as proof that the conspiracy is everywhere. This is like thinking that the reason you never see elephants hiding up in treetops is because they’re good at it.”Seeing patterns where they don’t exist can be costly and dangerous. But still, I am wildly in favor of curiosity.Zora Neale Hurston wrote,“Research is formalized curiosity. It is poking and prying with a purpose.”Albert Einstein said,“Curiosity has its own reason for existing. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery every day. Never lose a holy curiosity.”Gemma Stone,“When we enter a conversation with curiosity, we allow ourselves to see things differently and to be surprised by what we discover.”Tom Robbins,“Curiosity, especially intellectual inquisitiveness, is what separates the truly alive from those who are merely going through the motions.”Dorothy Parker,“The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity.”And none other than Daniel Boone – yes, THAT Daniel Boone – said,“Curiosity is natural to the soul of man and interesting objects have a powerful influence on our affections.”Like I said, I am wildly in favor of curiosity. If I could, I would inject it into your arm with a needle. Curiosity will take you on trips like no other drug.Roy H. Williams
12/13/20214 minutes, 57 seconds
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Me and New Orleans

I’ve been saying for 20 years that I’m going to write a buddy movie about Jesus and the 12. I’ve got the whole thing in my head.But who am I to put words in the mouth of Jesus? The idea of creating a fictional Jesus who does and says things that are not in the Bible could easily be the pinnacle of hubris.I believe John Steinbeck was gripped by a similar fear. He and Elaine rented a cottage in England in 1959 so that he could work on his 20th century update of Le Morte d’Arthur by Thomas Malory, after he abandoned his half-finished story of Don Quixote as an old man in California who has watched one-too-many westerns on TV.He explained his motive for Le Morte d’Arthur shortly before he left England.“Malory wrote the stories for and to his time. Any man hearing him knew every word and every reference. There was nothing obscure, he wrote the clear and common speech of his time and country. But that has changed—the words and references are no longer common property, for a new language has come into being. Malory did not write the stories. He simply wrote them for his time and his time understood them … And with that, almost by enchantment the words began to flow…”– John Steinbeck, from a letter dated March 27, 1959.Steinbeck’s unfinished works, King Arthur and His Noble Knights and Don Keehan, Marshall of Manchon, are both amazing, and he never explained why he didn’t publish them. But having read everything Steinbeck ever wrote – including 50 years of his private correspondence published as A Life in Letters – I am convinced that John Steinbeck heard the same voice in his mind that I hear in mine, “Just who the hell do you think you are?”But still, I remain committed to making my buddy movie about Jesus and the 12.It occurred to me 2 years ago that I could save a lot of money on set design and costumes if I moved the story from Israel 2,000 years ago to the city of New Orleans today; interesting people in comfortable clothes in a colorful city.Little did I know that Chris Poché already had my idea. But Chris didn’t discover his buddy movie in the Bible. Chris Poché, like John Steinbeck, saw a buddy movie in Don Quixote de La Mancha.In a recent interview with Mike Rowe, Poché said,“And when I started reading it, what struck me was that it’s not a big epic tale. It’s little. He never gets out of his neighborhood. He’s on this cruddy old horse that can’t go very far. He just rides around the neighborhood doing crazy crap. And I’m reading and thinking, ‘Well, that could happen to anybody, any place, any time. I don’t need the desert in Spain in 1605. I don’t need to see a monster through his eyes. That windmill was not a giant. That was the whole point. He’s nuts… Maybe I could just make this [movie] right here. Doesn’t matter where it is. Doesn’t matter what year it is. It could happen to anyone.’ Little did I know, at that moment it was happening to me.”Chris Poché of New Orleans is what the cognoscenti of Wizard Academy call, “our brand of crazy.” And it is this special brand of craziness that has made Chris and a few dozen of his buddies an important part of Mardi Gras.“Everyone in New Orleans is Don Quixote. Everyone. That stupid little Mardi Gras club happened because I looked at my buddy who is my accomplice in all things stupid. I looked at him and said, ‘Do you know what? We’re going to start one of these clubs, but we’re not marching, we’re riding around in power recliners dressed like lounge...
12/6/20215 minutes, 51 seconds
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You and Your Lottery Ticket

“Hope is not a lottery ticket you can sit on the sofa and clutch, feeling lucky. It is an axe you break down doors with.” – Rebecca SolnitIn just 25 words, Rebecca gave “hope” a new identity, introduced a new purpose for it, and caused us to imagine the beginning of a new adventure. She supplied the words, but we created the movie in our minds.Persuaders don’t tell you the truth; they lead you to it and let you discover it for yourself. Rebecca Solnit is a talented persuader, a gifted teacher, and a wonderful storyteller. She made us see hope as a powerful tool that can smash down barriers and give us access to things we desire.We broke down the door that kept us out, so now we are… where?That is up to you. What do you hope for?# # # #I will now reveal – bit by bit – my true purpose in writing these things to you:“Astral projection is a term used in esotericism to describe an intentional out-of-body experience that assumes the existence of a soul called an ‘astral body’ that is separate from the physical body and capable of travelling outside it throughout the universe.” – WIKIPEDIA“That sounds a bit woo-woo, so I’m out.”“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen… Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.” – Hebrews 11:1-3, in the Bible“That sounds religious, so I’m out.”“Every morning, Tony Robbins engages in a 10-minute priming exercise to channel his energy and create the ideal conditions for a fulfilling day. By taking charge of his mindset and emotions, he cultivates a positive state, which greatly increases the odds that he will experience happiness, success and fulfillment throughout his day.” –“That sounds like mind-over-matter, so I’m out.”“Don’t worry. Be happy.” – Bobby McFerrin“Wishful thinking is self-delusion, so I’m out.”“Stay focused, ignore the distractions, and you will accomplish your goals much faster.” – Joel Osteen“Every elementary school teacher has said that to every little kid in America for the past 100 years. I’m out.”“Hope is not a lottery ticket you can sit on the sofa and clutch, feeling lucky. It is an axe you break down doors with.” – Rebecca SolnitEach of us has hope. We cling to it. Rebecca told us precisely what all those other people were trying to tell us, but she chose the word “hope” instead of “visualize,” “focus,” “priming exercise,” “faith,” “Astral projection” or “The Law of Attraction,” because each of those other words and phrases have associations and connotations that might push us away from the truth.What is the truth?This is the truth: You imagine action before you take it. You see yourself do it before you do it. No person has ever cheated on their life partner without first imagining it in their mind, and no person has ever created anything marvelous or good without first seeing it in their mind. And no person has ever sold anything without first causing the customer to imagine buying it.The job of an ad is to cause people to imagine taking an action.I asked earlier, “What do you hope for?”Let me ask it differently, “What action do you want your customer to take?”Do what Rebecca Solnit did. Begin with something familiar; something that you and your customer agree on. Then build a bridge from that point of agreement to where you want them to go.You cannot take your customer where you want them to go until you first meet them where they are.What does your customer already believe in? Start with that.Roy H. Williams
11/29/20215 minutes, 27 seconds
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Time Travel

My friend Don has a time machine. He takes me with him sometimes. You should come, too! Every person who rides in Don’s time machine is changed by it.The United States Department of Justice has booked passage on Don’s time machine for countless prison inmates. State and local governments and hundreds of rehab centers have booked journeys for people as well. Thirty-five million in all.Each trip through time begins with a series of words.My friend Don is a storyteller.Stories of the past help us to know who we are.Stories of the future help us to see who we can become.Stories are more effective than facts for changing beliefs and behaviors. Facts cause us to put our shields up and become skeptical. But when we are absorbed in a story, we drop our intellectual guard.With these thoughts in mind, Don invented “interactive journals,” booklets that allow people in crisis to revisit their past and imagine a better future. Each reader of an interactive journal becomes the co-creator of two stories. (1.) the story of how they got into this mess, and (2.) the story of a brighter tomorrow.We imagine every action before we take it. If we want to change our behaviors, we need only to imagine different actions than the ones we have imagined in the past.Stories are portals of escape into alternate realities.An examination of the brain of any mammal will let us know its superpower. Monkeys can swing artfully through trees, not because their bodies are different, but because more than half their brain mass is devoted to depth perception, color differentiation, and guided grasping.According to Professor Steven Pinker of MIT and Harvard,“The human brain, too, tells a story. Our brains are about three times too big for a generic monkey or ape of our size. The major lobes and patches of the brain are different as well. The olfactory bulbs, which underlie the sense of smell, have shriveled to one third of the expected primate size (already puny by mammalian standards), and the main cortical areas for vision have shrunk proportionally as well…while the areas for hearing, especially for understanding speech, have grown…to twice what a primate our size should have.”The superpower of we humans is our unique ability to attach complex meanings to sounds.Every word in the English language is composed of just 44 sounds called phonemes. We arrange these into clusters called words which we string together in rapid succession so that others can see in their minds what we see in ours.In the first chapter of Genesis, God says, “Let there be this” and “Let there be that” for 25 verses, and then in verse 26 he says, “Let us make mankind in our own image.”According to that ancient story, God spoke the world into existence and then gave you and me the power to do the same. When you, as a storyteller, speak a world into existence in the hearts and minds of your listeners, you are doing the work of God.Don Kuhl has spent the past 30 years unleashing the power of storytelling to help 35 million people find peace, hope, and happiness, and now he has written a book for you and me. It will be published early next year.I’ll make sure you know when it’s available.Roy H. Williams
11/22/20215 minutes, 3 seconds
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Creative Handcuffs and Isaac Asimov

Creativity is counterintuitive. You hate it when you are handcuffed and expected to do your best work, but the secret of doing your best work is to be handcuffed. Creative restraints bring out the best in you.When Sean Jones sold controlling interest in Spence Diamonds a number of years ago, I left that company when he did, just as I left when Dewey Jenkins sold his company two weeks ago.My relationship is always with the business owner, never with the company. Here’s why: a brand without trust is just a product, and a product can be replaced. To become truly trusted, you have to forge a bond with the customer.People don’t bond with corporations. People bond with people.I am a better-than-average ad writer,(1.) because I cheat.(2.) because I don’t fight the handcuffs.This is how I cheat:(1.) I never work with a person unless I really enjoy talking with them. My relationship with that person is the source of my inspiration. How can I make the world love and trust someone if I don’t love and trust them myself?(2.) My new friend must have unconditional authority to say “absolutely yes” without having to check with someone else. Anything with two heads is a monster.(3.) Their company must be operationally excellent. Great ads won’t grow a broken business.(4.) The product or service they sell must have a solid profit margin and a long purchase cycle. A short profit margin is the father, and a short purchase cycle is the mother, of every twitchy little bastard that has ever been born.I hit home runs because I never swing at a pitch that is not in my sweet spot. Ad writing isn’t like baseball. A baseball batter gets to look at only 6 pitches – 2 strikes and 4 balls – before they have to leave the batter’s box. But the independent ad writer doesn’t face a pitch count. You can wait for the perfect opportunity that is in the center of your happy little sweet spot.The crack of the bat shatters the crystal silence as the adrenaline pumps the crowd screaming to their feet the ball arcs through space toward a little boy in the seventh row who has been waiting patiently all day with his baseball glove.Your sweet spot may be different than mine. This just means you have a different superpower.The secret of success is to know your superpower.I promise you have one. It doesn’t matter that you’re not an ad writer, you have a superpower! If you don’t know what it is, ask the people who know you best.So now you know how I cheat.I mentioned a second thing that makes me a better-than-average ad writer: I don’t fight the handcuffs. Yes, I scream at the handcuffs, I mourn the day they were born and I suggest to the handcuffs that they do things that are not anatomically feasible, but then I calm down and pretend they are cuff links and that I am the kind of guy who wears cuff links.A few months ago Sean Jones asked me to meet the new CEO of Spence Diamonds. His name is Callum Beveridge. Callum flew to Austin and we spent a couple of days together and I really like him. When he asked me if I could bring back the magic of the old Spence Diamonds radio campaign. I told him that it would be impossible because Sean Jones was no longer available as a voice actor. Any attempt to bring that campaign back to life without its principal character would be like trying to swim the English Channel wearing handcuffs. It would impossible.Callum reminds me of Dewey Jenkins. Both of them, when I said, “It’s impossible,” asked me the same innocent question: “Well, if it could be done and you were going to do it, how would you go about it?”“Well, Callum, the only way would be to use Sean Jones as a character that never appears on-stage. Conversations with him would always have to take place off-stage. The first time I saw this done was when I read Isaac...
11/15/20217 minutes, 43 seconds
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Your Time in the Elevator

When Pennie and I were preparing to move away from the town of our childhood, I told my friend Phil that I felt I was holding onto the end of a rope in the half-light of limbo, and I had no idea where the other end of the rope was tied. I have never forgotten what he said.“This is your time in the elevator. You are between two worlds. You are leaving behind the way it has been, but you have not yet arrived at the way it will be. You don’t know if you are going to a higher place or a lower one. The only thing you know for sure is that when those elevator doors open, you will be surrounded by new faces, new spaces, and new places; everything will be different. A new chapter in your life will begin and you will have to figure everything out. But that part is easy. The hard part is being in the elevator. The hard part is not knowing.”Your going-away party is over; your friends are gone. A new opportunity and a new town await you, but you are not yet there. You are in the elevator. It is awkward and filled with uncertainty. You want those doors to open so you can face what awaits.You remember that feeling, don’t you?Phil’s counsel about the elevator came from a book he had read. He said the book was called Passages: Predictable Crises of Adult Life, by Gail Sheehy. It was published in 1976.When Phil Johnson died, he left me his favorite tie. It is blazoned with shelves of beautiful books from top to bottom. He wore it often.Phil also left me his library of more than 3,000 books, a portion of which now fill the shelves in the reading room of the Enchanted Emporium in the Village of La Mancha, just 200 yards south of the Tower at Wizard Academy.The next time you’re on campus, wander over to the Enchanted Emporium and plop yourself down in one of the soft, red leather reading chairs with a glass of wine and a book from Phil’s library.When you see the titles of the books he read, you will know the man.I think you will enjoy having met him.Roy H. Williams
11/8/20213 minutes, 26 seconds
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Looking in the Rear-View Mirror

“Unless your goal is to go backwards, you cannot make progress while staring into the rear-view mirror.”An opening statement like that would usually indicate a motivational message, but I’m doing something different today. I’m not backing up and I’m not moving forward. I’m pausing to look at the long road behind me and the short road ahead.A reflective mood requires a rear-view mirror.I’ve spent an hour on the phone each Friday morning for the past 10 years with my friend Dewey Jenkins. We won’t be doing that anymore. Dewey was offered so much money for his company that it made no sense to keep it.At the top of this page is a photo I snapped as Dewey walked onto the second-story porch of the historic Duke Mansion in Charlotte a few years ago. I had been sitting out there admiring the view when he walked in with his characteristic grin. *Click*We had wrapped up the famous “Mr. Jenkins and Bobby” campaign by giving Bobby $100,000 so that he could pursue his dream of becoming an actor in Hollywood. Now we had to accelerate our momentum and elevate our trajectory in a new and different way. Dewey and Jonathan and Casey and I were building a rocket ship while we were flying it.The new campaign, “Mr. Jenkins Told Me…”, has been even more successful than “Mr. Jenkins and Bobby.” Mr. Jenkins is still the center of attention even though he is now off-stage. The values and beliefs of his company are reflected by the things his employees remember him saying. “Mr. Jenkins Told Me…”The people of that company will be recalling things Mr. Jenkins told them for generations to come. (Indy put some of those TV ads in the rabbit hole for you.)I left the company when Dewey left, but Jonathan and Casey will doubtless reach the stars.Dewey Jenkins called me the morning after he closed the sale of his company.Mr. Jenkins told me, “It was June 23, 2000, when I heard you speak at the Airtime 500 Conference in St. Louis. I bought your first two books for $20 each and they took me to $20,000,000 a year. And then I came to see you in 2011 and we began this grand adventure…”And a grand adventure it has been.# # # #I closed my computer and went to bed after I wrote that sentence. Three days have passed and a lot has happened.Two more of my close friends have sold their companies, bringing the collective sales price for all three companies to considerably more than one billion dollars.Pennie tells me I must write to you next week about, “Your Time in the Elevator.”It is a story that began 37 years ago.I look forward to writing it.Roy H. Williams
11/1/20214 minutes
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The Favorite Con of the Plantagenet Kings

King Edward of England inherited control of Gascony in France from his mother, Eleanor of Provence, a French noble. But when the 27-year-old King of France decided in 1295 not to let the King of England control part of his country, Edward asked his English nobles to raise an army so that he could regain control of his real estate on the other side of the water.His nobles said, “Edward, Gascony doesn’t really belong to the nation of England; its revenues belong to you, personally. So we’re out. You need to deal with that on your own.”A con man who wants your money will present you with a phony opportunity. But a con man who wants your vote will present you with a phony emergency.Having thus been rebuffed by the Earls of England, Edward summoned a vast assembly of barons and bishops, knights and burgesses, men of the shires, and representatives of towns and cities, and told them their nation was in danger. He said,“The King of France, not satisfied with the treacherous invasion of Gascony, has prepared a mighty fleet and army for the purpose of invading England and wiping the English tongue from the face of the earth.” 1It was complete bullshit, but it worked.Alarmed, outraged, and afraid, the people of England gave lying King Edward the army he needed to invade France and fight for his real estate. And thus the fuse was lit that would later explode as The Hundred Years War.Edward’s lie cost the lives of tens of thousands of English husbands, sons, and fathers.Fifty years later, Edward II told that same lie to a new generation of English husbands, sons, and Dads. In 1345, he began spreading propaganda throughout England that the French were spies and aggressors whose only goal was to invade England and convert the population to French speakers. He got the people of England so worked up that when they got to France in 1347, “they tore it to pieces like a pack of distempered dogs. The army marched through the countryside, slaughtering and brutalizing as it went.” 2The war that Edward II started that day lasted 116 years, 4 months, 3 weeks and 4 days, and resulted in more than 3,000,000 innocent people dying violently in France. In the end, the French won. The English lost all of their possessions in France except for the city of Calais, which they held until 1558.Fifty years apart, two different kings told the same lie to create a national emergency. And both times, it worked.And it still works today.Roy H. Williams
10/25/20214 minutes, 13 seconds
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On a Rainy Autumn Day…

On a Rainy Autumn Day…October 18, 2021ListenAHis father called him Bunny because he was born on Easter Sunday.Bunny’s younger brother got a scholarship to Harvard.I’ve had both of Bunny’s phone numbers memorized for the past 48 years and I mention his name at least once a week. “Don’t make me say Loren L. Lewis” has been a private joke between the Princess and me since we were 17 years old.I spent my Oklahoma weekends helping Loren load and unload the mountain of antique furniture he would buy at auction.Loren infected me with an addiction for auction browsing that has never left me.At the end of each auction, he and I would load 5 times more furniture than could possibly fit into – and on top of – his 1960 Ford Station Wagon. It became a point of honor that we never had to make a second trip. Loren was a legend. He and I could have hauled the entire contents of the average 3-bedroom home, including all major appliances, in just one load.Pennie witnessed Loren work his magic more than once, so when she and I go to Costco or Home Depot or a plant nursery or an auction and buy far more than we can possibly pack into her little SUV, she will always look at me and say, “Do you think we can get it all home?”I smile and say, “Don’t make me say Loren L. Lewis.”I always get it home in just one load. Always. We may look like the Beverly Hillbillies as we roll down the road, but I graduated magna cum laude from the Loren L. Lewis School of Hauling, where our school motto is, “Of course we can get it in just one load. Don’t make me say Loren L. Lewis.”When I was 15, Loren was 30. Anyone who saw us together would assume he was my older brother or my very young uncle.Loren taught me how to rebuild an automobile engine. Loren drove me to the emergency room when I nearly sliced off my forefinger while trying to shave down the edge of a plastic light switch cover. After we left the emergency room, Loren took me to a seedy bar in a weird part of Tulsa to show me how to hustle pool.I woke up last night feeling that I had allowed the merely urgent to displace the truly important. I Googled “Loren Ladic Lewis” and saw his obituary.My big brother died on June 20th of last year and no one told me.What’s even worse is that in the 16 months that have come and gone since he died, I was always too busy to call either of the numbers I have known by heart for the past 48 years. What was I doing 17 months ago that was so desperately important?Is there a person you love that you haven’t called in a while?Don’t make me say Loren L. Lewis.Roy H. Williams
10/18/20214 minutes, 9 seconds
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Which Type of Generous are You?

In America, “generosity” implies an openhanded sharing of material resources.A restaurant can serve generous portions.A donor can be generous with their money.A friend can be generous with their pickup truck, their lawnmower, or their cabin at the lake.While some people are generous with their money; others are generous with their time. They will drive you to the airport, feed your pet while you’re away, and help you pack your stuff, load the truck, and move you to a better place.Are you more generous with your money or with your time?Those who are generous with their money are known as givers or donors or philanthropists. And those who are generous with their time are known as helpers or volunteers. But we have no special name for people who are generous with their encouragement, because those people are extremely rare.What is encouragement, exactly, and why is it so rare?The prefix en was extracted from Latin and came to us through the French. When it precedes a noun, en means to include, allow, or cause to happen. So when you encourage someone, you cause courage to happen within them. You give them a gift they can carry bravely into their future. You make them less afraid.Generic encouragement is as obvious and awkward as flattery. “You’re a winner!” “You can do it!” “Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger!”To truly encourage a person, you must speak to an ability, a talent, or a special sensitivity they possess. When you privately tell a person about something special you see in them – something that they, too, know is there – you give them courage and confidence.“I’ve noticed that you see connections and relationships between things that most people never notice. I think this may be one of your superpowers.”“I’ve noticed that you can always tell when someone doesn’t feel included, and then you make them feel like they are part of the group. I really admire this about you.”“I’ve noticed that when everyone else is making excuses, you are the one who steps up and does what needs to be done. The world needs more people like you.”To see the good things that hide within a person, you need only to pay attention.Attention is high-denomination currencyin any transaction between two people.Attention is something you payand insight is what you can buy with it.If you want to have insight into a person’s hopes and dreams,you need only to pay attention.I know you. You want to empower people. You want to give them courage and confidence to face the future with a smile. You want to help them be stronger and happier.How do I know this about you?By choosing to read these memos I write, you are showing me a little of what is inside you. I tell you this so you will know I am not flattering you when I say that I know you want to give that little jolt-of-joy and spark-of-life to the people you care about.So the next time you’re with someone that matters to you,talk less and listen more,pay attention to their actions,and when you notice something they are good at,tell them what you have noticed they are good at.Everyone else who knows them will forever be giving them advice.Be that rare and special person who gives them honest encouragement and loyal support.Aroo,Roy H. Williams
10/11/20215 minutes, 14 seconds
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Meet Your Customers Where They Are

Did you know that mood and mode share the same root word?1I point this out because you cannot take your customer where you want them to go until you first meet them where they are. And where they are is in one of two different moods, or modes of shopping: transactional mode and relational mode.Each of us operates in both modes, but we tend to choose our mode according to the category. If the category in question is one which you (1.) have an interest, (2.) have no preferred provider, and (3.) are willing to spend time to save money, you will approach that purchase in transactional mode.If the category in question is one which you (1.) have no interest, (2.) have a name in mind that you feel good about2, and (3.) are willing to spend money to save time, you will approach that purchase in relational mode.A customer in relational modeThinks long term.Considers today’s transaction to be one in a series of many.Does not enjoy comparison shopping or negotiating.Fears only “making a poor choice.”Hopes to find an expert they can trust.Is willing to spend money to save time.Desires a long-term solution provider.Is likely to become a repeat customer.A customer in transactional modeThinks short term.Considers today’s transaction to be the end of the relationship.Enjoys the process of shopping and negotiating.Fears only “paying more than they had to pay.”Considers themself to be the expert.Is willing to spend time to save money.Desires a lower price.Is a good source of word-of-mouth advertising.Relational customers are High CAP:High ConversionHigh Average SaleHigh Profit MarginTransactional customers are Low CAP:Low ConversionLow Average SaleLow Profit MarginWhen you target High CAP customers in Relational Mode, you face these dangers.You must create a company culture that causes your employees to take pride in delivering the experience that is expected by the customer in relational shopping mode.If you disappoint the relational customer, they take it as a personal betrayal. You were their trusted provider and you let them down.When you target Low CAP customers in Transactional Mode, you face these dangers:Transactional customers have no loyalty to you. Your relationship ends when the transaction is complete.Transactional customers who are attracted to you for reasons of price alone will abandon you for the same reason.There is nothing that someone else cannot do a little worse and sell a little cheaper. This is why no business is secure when it targets customers in transactional shopping mode.The words you use in your ads send signals to your customers. Do your word choices appeal to customers in relational mode, or do they speak to customers in transactional mode?Give it some thought, because it really is a big deal.Roy H. Williams1 Latin modus “measure, extent, quantity; proper measure, rhythm, song; a way, manner, fashion, style,” from a Proto-Indo-European root med “take appropriate measures.”2 When you “feel good about a name,” it is because you have repeatedly heard good things about that company though advertising or word-of-mouth.My friend Bill Bergh taught me about Transactional and Relational modes of decision making
10/4/20214 minutes, 59 seconds
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Lonely and Ignored, Outcast and Rejected

“I did all the right things. I touched all the bases in exactly the right order and I was highly rewarded for it. If you had done what I did, you would have been rewarded, too.”Abel didn’t say it, but Cain heard it. And in his rage, Cain sent his brother to the other side of that open door through which we all must exit.Do you remember the Nashville man who blew himself up inside his motorhome in front of the telephone building on Christmas morning? The final report released by the FBI said, “Anthony Quinn Warner chose the location and timing so that the explosion would be impactful while still minimizing the likelihood of undue injury.” And it went on to say that Warner was driven in part by, “the loss of stabilizing anchors and deteriorating interpersonal relationships.”When otherwise normal people become violent and begin killing random strangers, we usually dismiss them as “crazy and evil” and that’s the end of our discussion.Jordan B. Peterson1 says,“We make our sacrifices in the present, and we assume that by doing so, the benevolence of the world will be manifested to us. That’s why we’re willing to forego gratification and to work. In doing these things, we sacrifice.”“So Cain sacrifices, but God rejects his sacrifice. And that ancient story is brilliantly ambivalent about why you can work diligently and make the proper sacrifices and yet fail, which means that despite all that work and all that foregone gratification, an implicit covenant has been broken. And Cain responds to that with tremendous anger. He raises his fist against the sky and shakes it and says, ‘This should not be!’ And then he takes revenge. He says, ‘I will destroy what is most valuable to you.'”“So he goes after Abel, who is an ideal person whose sacrifices are welcomed by God and he kills him. And then all hell breaks loose in the aftermath. The more I delved into that story, the more it shocked me. I couldn’t believe that much information could be packed into what’s essentially 12 lines.”“We see the suffering and the horror of our lives, the vulnerability and the mortality of everything that we love and cherish, and we see our failure, and that turns us against being. But there is another part of us that maintains faith and strives forward.”A great many people have quietly spoken to me about the unfairness of their lives. And each of them had a valid point. If we lived in an organized universe where hard work and good intentions were always rewarded, and laziness and dishonest manipulation were always punished, the list of winners and losers in this life would look radically different.This idea of winners and losers becomes particularly thorny when you throw God into the mix. Kate Bowler writes,“Blessed is a loaded term because it blurs the distinction between two very different categories: gift and reward. It can be a term of pure gratitude. ‘Thank you, God. I could not have secured this for myself.’ But it can also imply that it was deserved. ‘Thank you, me. For being the kind of person who gets it right.’ It is a perfect word for an American society that says it believes the American dream is based on hard work, not luck.”Twenty years ago, David Brooks wrote a book called Bobos in Paradise, and then a few weeks ago he wrote an update called, How the Bobos Broke America. The following is from that update.“The Bobos didn’t necessarily come from money, and they were proud of that; they had secured their places in selective universities and in the job market through drive and intelligence exhibited from an early age, they believed. They were – as the classic Apple commercial had it – ‘the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers.’ But by 2000, the information economy and the tech boom were showering the highly educated with
9/27/20218 minutes, 6 seconds
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The Path that Brought You Here

When you list “features and benefits” in your ads, you are speaking to the customer who is currently, consciously in the market for your product. What percentage of the public do you suppose that might be? One percent? I doubt it. In most categories, it is only a tiny fraction of one percent.But what about the remaining 99.9 percent? When they aren’t in the market for your product, they have no interest in your features and benefits.Do you remember the story of the Tortoise and the Hare? This is my letter to the rabbit:“Dear Rabbit, quit waiting until the last minute to advertise, hoping to impress the unwitting customer who has not already chosen a preferred provider. Be like the Tortoise. Impress future customers with stories that tug at their attention and make them smile and you will become their preferred provider. It takes courage and patience, but it’s how you win the race.”Looking back at your career, can you describe the moment when your foot first fell onto the path that brought you to where you are today?“I was a 10-year-old boy holding a flashlight for my Dad…”“I won the race by only 20 seconds, so he beat the shit out of me…”“I was in the drive-through line at McDonald’s…”“I was looking at my brand-new baby boy and thinking about the kinds of things that happen to people when they’re least expecting it…”Those are the opening lines of the origin stories of Ken Goodrich of Goettl Air Conditioning, Mark Jennison of, Brian Scudamore of 1-800-GOT-JUNK?, and Tim Schmidt of the United States Concealed Carry Association.People listen to the TED Talk of Simon Sinek and realize the importance of “Start with Why,” but they never really know how to do it. Most of them describe the outcome they are hoping to create, or they just approach their Unique Selling Proposition from a new and different angle.If you want to “Start with Why,” write your Origin Story.If your origin story could be told by anyone else in your category, you have not created an origin story; you are telling us about your passion. Or you are telling us what you hope to accomplish.Have you ever read the bio of an artist?“I have loved painting since I was 4 years old.”“I knew I wanted to be a painter when I was 3.”“My mother tells me that I was painting before I could talk.”Those are not the opening lines of origin stories. Those are just people describing the longevity of their passion.If a jeweler says his “Why” is that he wants to “help people celebrate the important moments in their lives,” this is not an Origin Story. He is just telling us what he hopes to accomplish.To prove my point, these are the excellent opening lines of 8 different origin stories from 8 different jewelers:“Tom Heflin was a railroad conductor. His wife had a sister…”“Standing at the engagement ring counter, I felt like Oliver Twist asking for another bowl of porridge…”“Five years before Teddy Roosevelt led the Rough Riders, Simon Schiffman stepped off the train to stretch his legs…”“My Dad was a house painter. He taught me to sand and scrape paint old paint until my fingers were aching and raw…”“During Hurricane Betsy in ‘65, my Dad moved us into his jewelry design studio…”“When I opened the store I had no money. We didn’t have the money for inventory, so I…”“Morris Jacobs immigrated to America as a boy. He came through Galveston…”“My Dad died in a car crash when I was 3 years old. So my Uncle Joe taught me…”As those 8 jewelers just demonstrated, origin stories are not interchangeable.There is no template, no pattern to follow. There is only a snapshot of a fleeting moment, a remembered glimpse of an unfocused future, a haunting voice that has whispered all your life, “Keep trying.”When was the moment that your foot first fell onto...
9/20/20216 minutes, 3 seconds
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Do You Deliver What You Promise?

Jeffrey Eisenberg and I had lunch in a Japanese restaurant on April 28, 2007. I know this because he said something I quickly wrote down and later added to my Random Quotes database: “Marketers are paid to make promises that businesses have no intention of keeping.”Jeffrey wasn’t talking about marketing; he was talking about company culture, that invisible component that causes businesses to rise or fall.We humans search forIdentity (Who am I? What do I believe?)Purpose (What am I supposed to do? Why am I here?)Adventure (What must I overcome?)Identity, Purpose, and Adventure are what lives are built upon.Story, Culture, and Experience are what businesses are built upon.According to Ray Seggern,Story is what your business tells the public in your ads. Is your story a fairy tale or is it a mirror?Culture is an inside job. You cannot buy it or outsource it. It is what your employees feel when they work for you.Experience is what your employees deliver to your customer. Does it live up to the Story you told?Did you notice the parallels in those two lists?The Story you tell the public is a statement of your Purpose,but the Culture of your company is your true Identity,and the Experience you deliver to your customer will forever be your big Adventure, the forever source of your challenges, obstacles, and difficulties.Ray Seggern says that Story, Culture, and Experience are the 3 touch points on the ever-spinning flywheel of business, and when they align they create that perfect vortex of perpetual reinforcement and ever-increasing momentum that lift your business to breathtaking heights of profitability and fame.The Story you tell determines the Experience your customer expects. But whether or not your customer receives it will be determined by your Culture.Owners and managers like to believe their customers are receiving the experience they intended for them to have. But the best intentions are no match for company culture.In the famous words of Peter Drucker, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.”Company culture is what causes businesses to rise or fall.Are you ready to work on your culture? Are you ready for your next big adventure?I hope so. Because this is the one where we find the buried treasure.Roy H. Williams
9/13/20214 minutes, 10 seconds
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Clowns to the Left of Me, Jokers to the Right*

The illustration at the top of today’s Monday Morning Memo features Indy Beagle wearing a yarmulke as he says,“The FBI just released its hate crime statistics for 2020. Are you ready? 36% of victims were attacked for being black, 10% were attacked for being white, and 9% were attacked for being Jewish. Of all hate crimes motivated by hatred of the victims due to their religion alone, 57.5% targeted Jews, although Jews are less than 2% of the U.S. population.”That illustration will be hotly criticized by two people.The first person will be the one who refuses to accept the validity of the FBI’s hate crime report. They will want to “set the record straight” by telling me that the FBI report was “fake news planted by Jews,” or some other nonsense.The second person will be outraged by the “deeply offensive” image of a dog wearing a yarmulke and accuse me of implying that Jews are dogs.But you, since you are not looking for a reason to be outraged, knew immediately that Indy is wearing a yarmulke as a symbol of support for his Jewish friends. And because you are perceptive, you noticed long ago that Indy is black, white, and brown.Small-minded people give themselves power by being easily offended. One person considers even the smallest request to be an attack on his or her personal freedom, and another person considers the rest of us to be asleep. Each of these believes that they alone know the true facts; they alone are awake.Although these two persons sit at opposite extremes on the sociopolitical spectrum, they are alike in that they both have an inflated sense of self-importance, and they are both easily outraged.I do my best to ignore them, because to pay attention to them is to give them power.The strange thing about all of this is that I agree – in principle, at least – with both sides. I agree that we must be vigilant to protect our liberties, and I agree that we should be sensitive to the needs of others.But the extremists on both sides have taken a good thing too far.You will remember that I predicted all of this many years ago when I wrote Pendulum, a book about the predictable, cyclical swings in western society for the past 3,000 years.The bad news is that it will get worse before it gets better. The good news is that it will get better.Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right. Here I am. Stuck in the middle with you.*I appreciate your companionship, your tolerance, and your sense of humor.I like you.Roy H. Williams
9/6/20214 minutes, 15 seconds
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No One in the Bible Spoke English

Did anyone besides me grow up reading the King James Bible?Shakespeare was 40 years old when King James commissioned a new translation of the Hebrew/Aramaic/Greek Bible into English, and he was 47 when it was published in 1611.During those 7 years, Shakespeare wrote a dozen plays including Othello, All’s Well That Ends Well, King Lear, Macbeth, and The Tempest. So if the cadence, rhythm and phrasing of the King James Bible reminds you of Shakespeare, well, it’s because that’s how people spoke back then.But only if they lived in England.In the year 1611, approximately 597,000,000 people lived and breathed and wandered the earth. Of these, only 5,600,000 spoke English. So the great-good-gift given by generous King James benefitted slightly less than 1 percent of the world.But still, I like the King James Bible.The book of Genesis opened my mind to the law of duality and to the power of words. The book of Ecclesiastes gives me perspective; few things are as important as they seem, and nothing is permanent. The Gospel of John fills me with wonder and gives me hope.The King James Bible tells me the English language is a constantly evolving, shapeshifting animal.It has been 410 years since King James translated the Hebrew/Aramaic/Greek Bible into the English of Shakespeare, and during those years the words “spirit” and “ghost” have traded places.We think of “spirit” today as the ethos or essence of a thing, and we think of “ghost” as a frightening apparition from beyond the grave. But in the 1611 Bible, those definitions are transposed:In the 14th chapter of Matthew’s Good News we read,“And straightway Jesus constrained his disciples to get into a ship, and to go before him unto the other side, while he sent the multitudes away. And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone. But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary. And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea. And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear.”Holy Ghost appears 89 times in the King James Bible. In the 14th chapter of John’s Good News we read the words Jesus spoke during the Last Supper to his remaining 11 disciples, just after Judas Iscariot walked out of the room to betray him to the religious leaders who despised him and the Romans who would crucify him:“But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.”No matter which translation you read, the Bible is a wonderful book. It takes you into an ancient Middle Earth populated by Pharaohs, Philistines, and Pharisees.Pharaohs: those imperious, mysterious rulers of mystical, magical Egypt.Philistines: pagan Greeks whose champion, a giant named Goliath, was defeated by a young shepherd boy named David who later became King of Israel.Pharisees: leaders of the faith into which Jesus was born. When he grew up, Jesus criticized the Pharisees harshly for their tendency to behave like today’s Taliban, focusing all their energy on the enforcement of the letter of the law but missing the spirit of God’s law entirely. When you read what Jesus said to them! Oh, my!Unlike Jesus, I was born into the Christian faith. Now that I have grown up, I continue to...
8/30/20215 minutes, 39 seconds
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Floating on the Ocean of Time

A snapshot is a message in a bottle floating on the ocean of time.We had “picture day” at school when I was growing up. Is that still a thing?Our 8th grade yearbooks were delivered to Sequoyah Junior High the following summer, just before we started the 9th grade. There was no internet, no email back then, just letters in our mailboxes telling us to come to the school and pick up our yearbooks on a certain day between the hours of such-and-such.After I picked up my yearbook, I got on the telephone with Elaine, a girl my age who lived 4 houses away. Elaine and I were going through our yearbooks together, page by page over the telephone, making comments about every picture when lightning struck. I was looking at a snapshot of a girl I had never met. Although she and I had gone to the same school for 2 years, I had never once encountered her.I said to Elaine, “Pennie Compton.”Elaine answered, “She was in my math class. She’s really nice and super smart.”And then my ears were surprised to hear my mouth say, “I’m going to marry that girl.” I had never said such a thing in my life and I never did again. But deep down I knew it was true. Don’t ask me how, but I knew.A few days later my class schedule arrived with an invitation for all the parents to come to Sequoyah Junior High on Friday night at 7PM to meet their kid’s homeroom teacher and then classes would start on Monday.I didn’t show my Mom the invitation because my first-hour class was Oklahoma History taught by Coach Meeks, a man famous for lecturing kids on how he made his own sun-dried beef jerky and how every young man should drink protein shakes to build muscle mass.Yeah, no need for Mom to meet him. No need for me to go, either. I already knew my way around.But wait! Here was a list of the other 26 kids assigned to my homeroom class and one of them was Pennie Compton!I was the first person to arrive on Friday night. I took a seat at the back of the room and kept my eye on the door. After about 20 minutes, I saw a man and a woman walk in with the girl I had seen in the photo. I got up, strode to the front of the room, shook the man’s hand firmly and said with a smile, “I’m Roy Williams. You’re going to be seeing a lot of me in the future.”Pennie was embarrassed because she had no idea who I was, but it wasn’t long before we were friends.Oklahoma History was memorable. Coach Meeks liked to show off the heavy wooden paddle he made for disciplining unruly boys by beating them on the backside. According to him, those rows of half-inch holes drilled in the paddle were there “to reduce the wind resistance,” but those of us who experienced his beatings knew those holes were there to leave white polka dots on your bright red ass.I got my first butt-tattoo for spontaneously laughing when I shouldn’t have. Coach Meeks was talking about the glory and wonder of the O.U. Sooners Football Team when he decided to steer us onto the straight and narrow path by shouting, “If you succeed in footbaaaaall you will succeed in liiiiife.”Three years went by. Pennie had boyfriends and I had girlfriends but I always knew I would marry her one day. We went a thousand places together on the nights when neither of us had a date, but we never once held hands and I never tried to kiss her. But we told each other everything.The only secret I ever kept from Pennie was that I was deeply in love with her.I got a full ride to Oklahoma State University. She got a big scholarship to an exclusive private school. I attended classes at O.S.U. for a day and a half, then called Pennie and said, “I’m dropping out. Let’s get married and figure out the future together.”She said, “But we’re both so young and poor. Why don’t we wait a couple of years?”I said, “In a couple of years, we’ll still be young and poor.”She thought that was funny and laughed. I said,...
8/23/20218 minutes
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Unbranded Search and The Yellow Pages

You are too young to remember when there were no search engines.Sit. Relax. I’ll tell you about it.In the days before the dawning of the internet and the Age of Aquarius, every household was given a fat telephone book, and in the White Pages of that book, the names of companies and individuals were listed alphabetically. To find a company’s contact info, all you needed to know was their name.Branded Keywords are the new White Pages. If you want to contact a specific company, just type that company’s name into Google and badda-bing, badda-bang, badda-boom, “Here is how you can reach them.”In the back of that same fat phone book were The Yellow Pages®, a directory for customers who were currently, consciously ready to buy, but who had no preferred provider in mind.Unbranded keywords are the new yellow pages. When you are currently, consciously ready to buy, but have no preferred provider in mind, simply type the name of the category into Google and a bunch of ads will appear. These ads will be listed, of course, according to which companies were willing to pay the highest price.Funny thing: that’s exactly how the yellow pages worked. Business categories were listed alphabetically in The Yellow Pages®, but within each category, the businesses that spent the most money were listed first. Full-page ads, then half page ads, then quarter-page ads…Have you ever heard the story of The Tortoise and The Hare?Aesop was a Greek storyteller whose 158 little parables about life were considered to be so wise that he was quoted by Aristotle, Herodotus, and Plutarch more than 2,000 years ago.In one of these stories a tortoise and a hare – a sort of rabbit – ran a race. The tortoise began running immediately but the rabbit decided to wait until the race was nearly over and then dash across the finish line ahead of the slow, patient, relentless tortoise. The tortoise won that race, of course, because the rabbit was unable to overtake his enormous head start.The rabbit lost the race when he chose to wait until the last minute – the Zero Moment of Truth – to begin running.In the world of advertising, the rabbits win the customer only when there are no turtles in the race.Turtles use mass media – TV, Radio, and Outdoor – to win the hearts of customers while the rabbits are still asleep. These customers become familiar with the turtle; they like the turtle, so they type his name into the search block when they are ready to buy what the turtle sells.The advertising rabbit failed to wake up because there was no starting gun, no unbranded keyword. The turtle wins the customer, gets the click, makes the sale.The times may change, but the hearts of humans do not. Given the chance, they will always buy from a familiar face instead of a stranger.Become a familiar face – or a familiar voice – who tells wonderful stories.It only takes 158 of them to be remembered forever.Roy H. Williams
8/16/20216 minutes, 25 seconds
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Branded vs. Unbranded Keywords

A branded keyword is one in which the name of your company appears. When a customer types the name of your company into a search string, they are looking for you, they believe in you. A friend might have recommended you, but usually it was your advertising that won them over.Either way, you have done well.Unbranded keywords include phrases like “air conditioning repair” and “diamond engagement rings.” When a shopper types an unbranded keyword into a search engine, it is a clear signal that they have no preferred provider in your category. No one has won them over.The best online marketers track their branded and unbranded keywords separately because they know that when you follow unbranded keywords all the way from the search string to the gross profit made on those sales, you will often find you spent more money on unbranded keywords than you made on the sales they brought in.That’s when you should drop them like a hot rock.Look at the case study at the top of this page. I have removed the name of the company, the category, and the cities, but the data is real, it is recent, and it is accurate.We spent $37,398 in unbranded keywords in City 1 so that we might have the privilege of losing $8,299.We spent $30,008 in unbranded keywords in City 2 so that we might have the privilege of losing $17,238.We spent $6,273 in unbranded keywords in City 3 so that we might have the privilege of losing $6,409.After losing $31,946 we grew tired of feeling privileged.Meanwhile, in City 1 our investment of just $7,452 in branded keywords made us a gross profit of $49,480 after deducting the cost of our branded keywords.In City 2 our investment of just $14,648 in branded keywords made us a gross profit of $62,976.In City 3 our investment of just $2,998 in branded keywords made us a gross profit of $9,042.But all the young digital weasels tell me I’m not looking at it correctly. They scold me for tracking branded and unbranded keywords separately, and smugly point out, “When you combine them into one big package, the return on investment is perfectly acceptable.”Some of my closest friends are world-famous online marketing experts who know how to create campaigns that allow you to monetize all the customer enthusiasm that has been generated through your radio and TV and outdoor advertising.None of my friends is young enough or smug enough to be a digital weasel.Digital weasels always fail to deliver what they proudly promised. Back when I was a 14-year-old boy on the wrong side of a little Oklahoma town, I would have pulled these weasels aside, put my arm around their shoulders and whispered in their ears, “Be careful not to let your alligator mouth overload your mockingbird butt.”But I have mellowed and matured.Or at least I pretend I have.Les Binet and Peter Field did what data scientists do; they monitored the advertising of more than 1,000 businesses for more than 15 years, then published the data.Binet and Field are not digital weasels. I smile every time I listen to them.ALes Binet says, “If you build your business, or try to build your business, using short-term efficiency measures – cost per response, click-through rates, that kind of thing – you’re on a hiding to nothing. You’re going to run your business into the ground, we believe, because those are not the things that grow the business, long-term.”Les Binet goes on to say, “You need to talk to people, not just who are in the market right now, but people who might come to market over the next two to three years. You need to engage them with things that are more humanly relevant, more general, more universal, and crucially, you need to engage them at the emotional level… So if you want really disproportionately large marketing effects, if you want big...
8/9/20216 minutes, 25 seconds
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How to Write a Verb Avalanche

A verb avalanche is a highly engaging description that causes you to see, hear, and feel action all around you. You dodge each tumbling word-boulder only to leap, jump, roll and scramble to dodge the mountainside of word-boulders that follow close behind it.causes, see, hear, feel, dodge, tumbling, leap, jump, roll, scramble, dodge, followThat example included 12 verbs among 43 total words. Roughly 1 in every 3 1/2 words was a verb.Verb Avalanches are built from verbs: action words.“Thorin stepped up and drew the key on its chain from round his neck. He put it to the hole. It fitted and it turned! Snap! The gleam went out, the sun sank, the moon was gone, and evening sprang into the sky.”– J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, chapter 11stepped up, drew, put, fitted, turned, Snap! went out, sank, was gone, sprang10 verbs among 43 total words. Roughly 1 in 4 words was a verb.(Snap! is onomatopoeia, a word that imitates, resembles, or suggests the sound that it describes. When constructing a word avalanche, onomatopoeia counts as a verb.)Here are some other examples of onomatopoeia:Machine noises — honk, beep, vroom, clang, zap, boing.Impact sounds — boom, crash, whack, thump, bang.Sounds of the voice — shush, giggle, growl, whine, murmur, blurt, whisper, hiss.“Jacob slipped into the shadows, ducked down a hallway, climbed a wall, and hid in the shadows above the throne room.”slipped, ducked, climbed, hid.4 verbs among 21 total words. Roughly 1 in 5 words was a verb.“Jacob was afraid for his friends. He slipped into the shadows, crept over a rooftop, slid down a tree, hurried away from the palace, and ran all the way to Bethlehem.”– Chris Auer, The Littlest Magi   was afraid, slipped, crept, slid, hurried, ran6 verbs among 31 total words. Roughly 1 in 5 words was a verb.“The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes ‘Awww!'”– Jack Kerouaclive, talk, be saved, desirous of everything, yawn, say, burn, burn, burn, exploding, see, pop, goes, ‘Awww!’14 verbs among 69 total words. Roughly 1 in 5 words was a verb.“I love writing. I love the swirl and swing of wordsas they tangle with human emotions.”– James Michener love, writing, love, swirl, swing, tangle In this sequence, 2 verbs – writing and swirl – were used as nouns, but we are counting them anyway. Even when used as nouns, verbs have impact.6 verbs among 17 total words. Roughly 1 in 3 words was a verb.“The important thing in writing is the capacity to astonish. Not shock – shock is a worn-out word – but astonish.”– Terry Southernwriting, astonish, shock, shock, astonish.5 verbs among 19 total words. Roughly 1 in 4 words was a verb.“I want a life that sizzles and pops and makes me laugh out loud. And I don’t want to get to the end, or to tomorrow, even, and realize that my life is a collection of meetings and pop cans and errands and receipts and dirty dishes. I want to eat cold tangerines and sing out loud in the car with the windows open and wear pink shoes and stay up all night laughing and paint my walls the exact color of the sky right now. I want to sleep hard on clean white sheets and...
8/2/20216 minutes, 44 seconds
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A Lesson in the Physics of Advertising

Isaac Newton discovered that force – impact ­– is the result of mass x acceleration. This is why the impact of any statement you make = the size of the idea x the speed of successfully transferring it from your mind to the mind of your customer.Newton also discovered, “For every action there is an equal but opposite reaction.” The faster an advertised offer produces big results, the less well it will work over time.EXAMPLE: When a direct-response offer generates big money quickly, you can be certain that the longer you do it, the less well it will work. To gain attention, a thing must be new, surprising, and different. When it becomes old, predictable, and the-same-as-before, we turn our attention elsewhere.You already know this.Advertising is, in at least some aspects, a science. But systems-focused business owners are demanding that advertising become a science in all its aspects. They say, “Give us fast-acting, reliable advertising that drives ever-increasing sales opportunities,” and the sellers of advertising are saying, “You got it, boss! Coming right up!”I am reminded of the quest for a perpetual motion machine.The first documented claim of perpetual motion was made by Bhaskara of India in the 12th century. It has been followed by countless others. But not one of them has ever worked, and science has proven that none of them ever will.In his book on the subject of Perpetual Motion, Henry Dircks wrote,“A more self-willed, self-satisfied, or self-deluded class of the community, making at the same time pretension to superior knowledge, it would be impossible to imagine. They hope against hope, scorning all opposition with ridiculous vehemence, although centuries have not advanced them one step in the way of progress… The history of perpetual motion is a history of the fool-hardiness of either half-learned, or totally ignorant persons.”When you spend all day, every day talking with enthusiastic young advertising professionals, you meet a lot of people who fit that description.But I promised you a lesson on the Physics of Advertising. Here it is.Newton’s first law of thermodynamics is a version of the law of Conservation of Energy, which tells us that energy can neither be created nor destroyed but can only be transformed from one form to another.EXAMPLE: The chemical energy contained in gasoline can be transformed into kinetic energy, light energy, heat energy, and the percussive energy that you and I call sound, but those energies were there in the gasoline all along.When it is expended, the energy stored in the gasoline is gone. You cannot burn the same gasoline twice.Goodwill, reputation, share-of-mind, and other forms of “buying energy” can be stored in the mind of the customer in 3 different ways.The Performance of your product or service.When you deliver or exceed what the customer expected, you store “buying energy” in the mind of your customer. If you fall short of their expectations, gasoline is burned.A Referral from a friend or an online review.Word-of-mouth is when the buying energy stored in the mind of one customer is shared with another customer. When that word-of-mouth is negative, more gasoline is burned.Stories told in Advertising and by salespeople.Relational energy is built in the mind of the customer when your beliefs are aligned with their beliefs. Some people call this “branding,” but I prefer to think of it as customer bonding. When you create urgency with a limited-time offer, you force your customer into acting “now or never” and gasoline is burned.“Big Money Quickly” happens as the result of urgency; usually a shortage of time, or product, or opportunity. But shout “wolf” too often and the villagers no longer come running....
7/26/20218 minutes, 22 seconds
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Twitmyer’s Mistake

Edwin Twitmyer failed to close a loophole and it cost him the Nobel Prize.Twitmyer was working on his doctorate in Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania. His dissertation was on The Effect of Emotions on the Patellar Reflex, or Knee Jerk.To make his research possible, Twitmyer built an elevated chair with a remote-controlled rubber hammer that would strike the person’s patellar tendon and trigger the predictable leg-kick. He didn’t tell his subjects when he was going to release the hammer, he simply let it fall and then measured how far the leg kicked. When his subjects complained that the hammer caught them by surprise, Twitmyer began sounding a bell just before he activated the hammer.One day he accidentally sounded the bell without dropping the hammer and the subject’s leg kicked, even though the tendon had not been stimulated.Twitmyer knew he had stumbled onto something important. He then began doing the same to his other subjects and found that they, too, would kick their legs forward upon the sound of the bell, even when they were trying not to. He published his findings in his doctoral dissertation in 1902, one year before Ivan Pavlov announced the results of his dog research at the 1903 International Medical Congress in Madrid.But when Twitmyer presented his work at a meeting of the American Psychological Association, his research drew little response from the crowd.Ivan Pavlov was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1904, not Edwin Twitmyer.Twitmeyer knew he had a loophole in his research, but he failed to close it. As a good scientist, he acknowledged in his paper that the leg-kicks of the subjects could – theoretically – have been caused by his subjects voluntarily moving their legs, even though he was certain this was not the case.That same possibility had occurred to the other scientists as well.Here’s my point: When it comes to the purchases your customers make, each of them is occasionally a scientist. So when you speak to the customer’s intellect, you have to close all the loopholes. If you don’t, their doubts will remain and someone else, someone like Ivan Pavlov, is likely to make the sale.But when you speak to the emotions you are speaking to that part of the mind that is more interested in feelings rather than facts. Win the heart and the mind will follow. The intellect will always create logic to justify what the heart has already decided.When my partner Johnny Molson heard about Twitmyer and Pavlov, he said,“So the moral of the story is that if a fella named Twitmyer wrote about conditioned responses a year before Ivan Pavlov did, that means you and I have been conditioned to associate Pavlov with conditioned responses, which would make it literally a Pavlovian-Pavlovian response.”Here’s my second point: The discoverer of a new thing – the genesis agent – is rarely the one who gets the reward. The fame, the money, and all the credit goes to the popularizer who knows how to get people’s attention.You don’t need to be the first.You just need to be the one people see.Roy H. WilliamsA
7/19/20214 minutes, 31 seconds
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20 Minutes Left to Live

My friend Brian Scudamore shared a story with me last week. Today I’m sharing it with you.Ted Leonsis was on a little commuter airplane that lost the ability to use its wing flaps and landing gear. Face-to-face with the possibility of imminent death, Ted wrote a list of 101 things that he promised himself he would do if he lived. Start to finish, that list took 20 minutes.By May 27, 2021, Ted had accomplished 81 of those things.What would be on your list of 101 things to do before you die?When Brian Scudamore met Ted Leonsis at MIT, Ted sat him down and gave him 20 minutes to write his 101 things.What Brian wrote on his list is unimportant.What Ted Leonsis wrote on his list is unimportant.What is important is what you write on your list.You can download and print these 2 sheets of paper with lines numbered 1 to 101, or you can create your list of 101 things on your own computer.When you are finished, if you’d like someone to read your list and believe that you will, in fact, do every one of the things listed on it, send your list to [email protected]’ve got 20 minutes. Start a timer, then start your list.Don’t overthink it. Don’t worry about spelling or grammar. If you live beyond the next 20 minutes, you can correct those things later.Your plane is falling from the sky. If you’re going to finish that list, you have to add something every 12 seconds.Start your timer.Go.Indy and I will continue this story in the rabbit hole.Roy H. Williams
7/12/20212 minutes, 55 seconds
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Identity Marketing

Bad marketing is about you, your company, your product, your service. “I, me, my, we, our…”Good marketing is about the customer, and how your product or service can elevate their happiness. “You, you, you, you, your…”With every purchase we make, we shout to the world who we are.We are attracted to products and services and brands and celebrities and organizations and friends because we see a reflection of ourselves in them.Our purchases and alliances are identity reinforcement.I’ve built a career on this belief.Simon Sinek says the same thing, but differently. Four minutes into his famous TED-X talk in Puget Sound, Simon says,“Here’s how Apple actually communicates. ‘Everything we do, we believe in challenging the status quo. We believe in thinking differently.’At 5 1/2 minutes,“People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it. The goal is not to do business with everybody who needs what you have. The goal is to do business with people who believe what you believe.”At 7 1/2 minutes,“The goal is not just to sell to people who need what you have; the goal is to sell to people who believe what you believe. The goal is not just to hire people who need a job; it’s to hire people who believe what you believe. I always say that, you know, if you hire people just because they can do a job, they’ll work for your money, but if they believe what you believe, they’ll work for you with blood and sweat and tears.”As Simon approaches the 11-minute mark, he says,“People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it. If you talk about what you believe, you will attract those who believe what you believe.At 13 minutes:“People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it and what you do simply proves what you believe. In fact, people will do the things that prove what they believe.And at 15 1/2 minutes, he starts talking about Martin Luther King:“He didn’t go around telling people what needed to change in America. He went around and told people what he believed. ‘I believe, I believe, I believe,‘ he told people. And people who believed what he believed took his cause, and they made it their own, and they told people. And some of those people created structures to get the word out to even more people. And lo and behold, 250,000 people showed up on the right day at the right time to hear him speak. How many of them showed up for him? Zero. They showed up for themselves. It’s what they believed about America that got them to travel in a bus for eight hours to stand in the sun in Washington in the middle of August.”Most people call this the “Start with Why” talk, but Simon never did. Although he did use the word “why” 28 times, he used the word “believe” 32 times, and 28 of those were in his most high-impact statements.You gain the power of persuasion when you learn to see through the eyes of others. This allows you to talk to them about what they already care about instead of lecturing them on what they ought to care about.It sounds easy, but it’s not. To see through the eyes of others, you have to open your heart and mind to values and beliefs that are not your own.The only hard choices in life are the choices between 2 good...
7/5/20217 minutes, 58 seconds
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Peter, Brian, Richard and Indy

Peter Raible was born in 1929 and he died in 2004.Of all the interesting things he said, this is perhaps my favorite:“We build on foundations we did not lay. We warm ourselves by fires we did not light. We sit in the shade of trees we did not plant. We drink from wells we did not dig. We profit from persons we did not know.This is as it should be.Together we are more than any one person could be. Together we can build across the generations. Together we can renew our hope and faith in the life that is yet to unfold. Together we can heed the call to a ministry of care and justice.We are ever bound in community.”My friend Brian Scudamore puts it this way, “We are bigger and better together.”About a dozen years ago, Wizard Academy board member Dr. Richard D. Grant held a Sunday morning chapel service in Tuscan Hall after an all-day-Saturday Wizard Academy reunion. He began that service by bowing his head and quietly speaking his thanks to all the unseen people who worked to create the clothes we were wearing.It was a surprisingly moving experience.Dr. Grant began with our socks, and spoke of his appreciation for the people who grew the cotton and tended the sheep for the wool from which our socks were made.And then he spoke of his appreciation of the people who worked the machines that knitted those fibers to become the socks we we had on our feet.And then he spoke of his appreciation of the people who created all the bits and pieces from which our shoes were made. And as he named those bits and pieces that come together to make a shoe, we saw each of those people hard at work, and we understood the benefit we took from their labor.By the time he got to the people who cut our hair, every person in that room was deep in contemplation of this wonderful, magical, interconnected world in which we live. And we loved the people who carried things across oceans for us, and the truck drivers who deliver things to warehouses for us, and the warehouse workers who load those things onto trucks for us so they can be delivered to the stores in which we shop, and to the restaurants in which we take such great delight.I hope to someday find the recording of that morning. I would like to share it with you.Indy Beagle tells me that 33 percent of the things we worry about never come to pass. The next 33 percent are so inconsequential that they are not worth our worry. The third 33 percent are things that might come to pass but cannot be changed, no matter how well we worry. This leaves only a tiny percent that are important, and could come to pass if we do not take action.I looked at him and said, “Is that your way of telling me to chill out?”Looking directly into my eyes, Indy just nodded his head.And then he quickly added, “Stop and smell the roses. Lie in a field and look at the clouds. Quit thinking so much about your reputation and your bank account and all the wonderful things you own. No one wins the rat race except for the rats.”Then his voice softened a little as he delivered his conclusion, “And in the end, the rats find out, after a lifetime of struggle, that there is no reward for the winner.”Thank you, Indy. It’s good to keep things in perspective.Roy H. Williams
6/28/20214 minutes, 55 seconds
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Such As It Is

It is 3AM on a Thursday morning and I haven’t yet written the MondayMorningMemo. In fact, I haven’t even started it.The fact that you are reading it right now means that I did, in the end, get it done, such as it is.Reading is a form of transportation that takes you to a different place and time.You are with me at 3AM as I try to think of something that might entertain you. I keep asking you what you’d like to read, and you keep not telling me.“Write what you want,” you say.At 4:46AM you watch as I visit the home page at to see which of the 5,394 random quotes will pop up on the sidebar to inspire me.“One sword keeps another in the sheath.” – George Herbert, (1593–1633)It’s an interesting thought.I assume George Herbert was a military man, but I decide to Google him to be sure. As I type his name and birth year into the Google search block, I wonder, “What would it be like to live in a world where everyone carried a gun at all times? Would one sword keep another in the sheath?”Indy Beagle opens one eye and quietly says, “You don’t want to put your dog in that fight. Think about something else.” And then he goes back to sleep.A contemporary of Shakespeare, George Herbert was a famous metaphysical poet and a priest in the Church of England! He was born into an artistic and wealthy family, began classes at Trinity College in Cambridge in 1609 and was noted as an exceptional speaker by none other than King James the first. Yes, the King James of the 1611 King James Bible, that King James.George Herbert was elected to Parliament in 1624.We are now in England 397 years ago as Google, our tour guide, tells us more about the man who said, “One sword keeps another in the sheath.”“After the death of King James, Herbert renewed his interest in ordination. He gave up his secular ambitions in his mid-thirties and took holy orders in the Church of England, spending the rest of his life as the rector of the rural parish of Fugglestone St Peter, just outside Salisbury. He was noted for unfailing care for his parishioners, bringing the sacraments to them when they were ill and providing food and clothing for those in need. Henry Vaughan called him – quote – ‘a most glorious saint and seer’. He was never a healthy man and died of consumption at age 39.”Who was Henry Vaughn, and what is “consumption,” anyway? I’ve heard of it all my life.Oh! Consumption is what they used to call Tuberculosis! Who knew?Henry Vaughn was another metaphysical poet and a physician. (yawn)Having wrung the last drop of honey from the story of “One sword keeps another in the sheath,” you and I decide to wander around Cambridge in 1609, the year that George Herbert entered Trinity College and came to the attention of King James. Indy Beagle, upon hearing of our journey, decides to go with us.We wander first into The Eagle and the Child, a pub in Cambridge that William Shakespeare was known to haunt. The locals call it The Bird and Baby. It stands opposite the oldest building in Cambridgeshire, the Saxon church tower of St Bene’t’s church which dates from around 1025. A tavern has stood here since 1353, famous for selling beer “for three gallons a penny”.I ask the bartender if he knows a young man by the name of George Herbert. Without looking up, he shakes his head “no.”Behind me, I hear Indy say, “Can we buy you a pint?”Shakespeare is sitting alone at a table scattered with ink-stained papers.“Sit,” says Shakespeare, as he pours wine from a jug into three wooden cups. The cups slosh a little as he slides them across the table. He looks down at the papers. “This new play I am writing is shit.”Indy leaned over and whispered in my ear, “Cymbeline.”“It began as a tragedy but a comedy now emerges....
6/21/20216 minutes, 14 seconds
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Framing: You’ve Been Doing It All Your Life

You choose a frame every time you look through the lens of a camera, sketch an image with a pencil, or write words with a pen. But today you’re going to start choosing your frames consciously, rather than unconsciously.The job of the ad writer is to introduce a new perspective and trigger a new belief. The best ads make people think and feel differently.When you look through the lens of a camera, you notice that as you move closer you see more detail, but less context. This ratio of detail-to-context is determined by your proximity. And as you circle an object, its profile and its background change with every step you take. Your angle of view determines your perspective.1. Proximity: The details you share reveal how close you are to the subject.2. Perspective: What is your angle of view? Are you a first-timer or an expert? Are you the manufacturer, the customer, or just a reporter with an opinion? Or are you the product itself?Proximity and Perspective:“I was sticky-smelly-suffocating, enveloped in nasty residue from places unspeakable when magical soap and steamy-soft hot water gushed from heaven above and the stickiness and smell of a lifetime of abuse melted off me like tears in the rain. I was stripped naked, but alive again, looking at my true color, when a rush of air lifted me off my feet a little and held me in its warm embrace until I was radiant and dry. This is the new me: happy and fluffy, beaming and bouncy, smiling and smelling brand-new. I am your carpet. Thank you, thank you, thank you for calling Roy’s Carpet Cleaning.”That ad began in first person, past tense perspective (I was…) and ended in first person, present tense (This is the new me… I am…)Your choice of person (first, second, or third) and your choice of tense (past, present, or future) are just two of the many choices you make every time you write. Choose them consciously rather than unconsciously and your writing will leap to a higher level.Ad writers seek to reframe our perspectives, redirect our thoughts, and renew our minds.Sales trainers and motivational speakers do the same.Beryl Markham was a female aviator who could have been an amazing ad writer. She published a 1942 memoir about her experiences growing up in British East Africa in the early 1900s. In 2004, National Geographic ranked her book, West With the Night, as number 8 on its list of the 100 best adventure books.Beryl Markham understood proximity and perspective:“The hills, the forests, the rocks, and the plains are one with the darkness, and the darkness is infinite. The earth is no more your planet than is a distant star – if a star is shining; the plane is your planet and you are its sole inhabitant.”– Beryl Markham, West With the NightErnest Hemingway said,“She has written so well, and marvelously well, that I was completely ashamed of myself as a writer. I felt that I was simply a carpenter with words, picking up whatever was furnished on the job and nailing them together and sometimes making an okay pig pen. But [she] can write rings around all of us who consider ourselves as writers … it really is a bloody wonderful book.”I have a friend who helps inventors get funding from investors. He says the most important part of his job is the construction of “the dinner party story.” He says, “People like to invest in things that are fun to talk about. Give them a good story to tell and they are likely to invest their money in it.”The world around you is teeming with people willing to give you their money in exchange for elevating their happiness.You just need to start telling the right story.Roy H. Williams
6/14/20215 minutes, 15 seconds
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Lost and Found

A small chapel was built in Spain in the year 1150. Its name translates into English as, “Our Lady of the High Grasses,” because a religious icon was lost and then found in the high grasses or “tocha” nearby. For nearly 1,000 years, this chapel of Nuestra Señora de Atocha has been standing in the center of Madrid, with the life of the city revolving around it.Well, not exactly “this chapel.” In 1890, when the original chapel could no longer be repaired, Pope Pius IX commissioned that a Neo-Byzantine Basilica* be built to replace it. That Basilica was destroyed during the Spanish Civil war and its reconstruction was completed in 1951. All things considered, it is not the chapel itself but the idea of “Our Lady of the High Grasses” that has been around since 1150.The original chapel was 470 years old when the Mayflower disembarked on Plymouth Rock in 1620, the same year that representatives of King Philip IV of Spain took possession of a new galleon that had been constructed for him in the shipyards of Havana. Christened as the Nuestra Señora de Atocha after the old chapel in Madrid, this new galleon was 112 feet long, made of mahogany instead of oak, and required a crew of 110 men.The crew’s first job was to deliver 40 tons of gold and silver from Central America to King Phillip IV in Spain. It took them more than 2 months just to load it all onto the ship. The heavily armed Atocha was given the honor of sailing as the almirante, or rear guard of a 28-ship convoy.But those 28 ships Captains weren’t thinking about pirates when they set sail for Spain on September 4, 1622. The protracted loading of the ships had caused them to depart 6 weeks late. They were sailing into the heart of hurricane season.On the morning of September 6, just two days after setting sail from Havana harbor, the remains of 8 of those 28 ships lay scattered from Marquesas Key to the Dry Tortugas.The mighty Nuestra Señora de Atocha sank in 56 feet of water, losing all of her 265 passengers, soldiers, sailors, and slaves except for 3 sailors and 2 slaves who survived by clinging to the top of the mizzenmast. A few weeks after those 5 were rescued, a second hurricane swept the ship and its treasure to parts unknown. The Spanish government searched for the wreck of the Atocha for more than 60 years.And then it became the stuff of legend. Four hundred million dollars-worth of sunken Spanish treasure was lying somewhere on the shallow ocean floor near Key West, Florida, free for the taking.During the 20th century, the treasure of the Nuestra Señora de Atocha was discovered hundreds of times in just 30 feet of water by boats full of people who chose to ignore it.Princess Pennie and I were the guests of Mel Fisher and his family in Key West, Florida, shortly before Mel died in 1998. It was Mel’s son, Kim, who told us of the hundreds of fishing lures they pulled off that pile of treasure before lifting those gold bars into the sunlight in July of 1985.And so our story goes full circle: a ship’s treasure was lost, and then found, in the high grasses of the ocean 835 years after the treasure for which it was named was lost, and then found, in the high grasses of central Spain.Spain… bullfighting… Ernest Hemingway… Key WestConsidering that Ernest Hemingway spent 27 years of his life on the Pilar, his custom-made fishing boat in Key West, I am reasonably confident that at least one of those fabled fishing lures was his. But even so, Hemingway would have been just one of the countless sport fishermen who returned to Key West at the end of the day to drink a beer and tell a story about catching “a big one” that broke their line.Yes, those fishermen caught a big one...
6/7/20216 minutes, 3 seconds
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Our Need to Solve a Mystery

Your ability to speak and understand words is a function of the logical, rational, sequential, deductive-reasoning left hemisphere of your brain. Your left-brain hungers for accuracy and seeks to forecast a result.1But the other half of your brain – the wordless right hemisphere – is wired for pattern recognition.2The right hemisphere has no morals, no discretion, and doesn’t care whether a thing is true or false; that’s the left brain’s job. But visual patterns, musical patterns, mathematical patterns, and patterns of behavior trigger what you and I call intuition; gut feelings and hunches. Your can be sure that your wordless right hemisphere is at work when you suddenly know something, but you’re not entirely sure how you know it.It is during the solving of mysteries that the equal-but-opposite left and right hemispheres are fully engaged.Talent is unconscious competence.If the right hemisphere of your brain recognizes the patterns within great writing, you will likely be a talented writer, but you will not likely be a great writing teacher. It is difficult to transfer talent.Skill is conscious competence,usually obtained by observing a talented person and then figuring out exactly what it is they are doing unconsciously. Skilled people make great teachers.This tug-of-war between talent and skill is found in every field of endeavor.But today my fascination is fixed upon speculation, another type of mystery-solving that involves our pattern-seeking right hemispheres.Speculation is responsible for every form of gambling, including speculation in the stock market. Speculation is why we love great stories told in books, TV shows and movies. Speculation is why we marvel at magic tricks and laugh at good jokes and groan at the ones that are obvious.If you want to bore people, just say what they expected you to say; do what they expected you to do. But if you want to captivate those people, delight them with a series of small surprises.Are you beginning to understand the purpose of those unexpected words in great literature, symbolic song lyrics and amazing ad copy? Talented people write those words unconsciously. But you and I can learn to write them consciously.In last week’s rabbit hole, Indy Beagle, Laura Nyro, and The Fifth Dimension gave us the inexplicable word “surry” in Stoned Soul Picnic, along with a debate about what “surry” might mean. But “surry” was only the first surprise we encountered.“Surry down to the stoned soul picnic. There’ll be lots of time and wine, red-yellow honey, sassafras and moonshine. Rain and sun come in akin, and from the sky come the Lord and the lightning. There’ll be trains of blossoms. There’ll be trains of music. There’ll be trains of trust, trains of golden dust. Come along and surry on sweet trains of thought.”Fifty-three years after this song hit the charts, our left-brains continue to demand an explanation of what Laura Nyro was trying to say.Meanwhile, our right-brains are enjoying the picnic.Roy H. Williams1 Broca’s area (slightly forward of your left ear canal) and Wernicke’s area (just behind your left ear,) along with a high-bandwidth bundle of nerves connecting these two called the arcuate fasciculus is what gives us our superpower: the ability to attach complex meanings to sounds, and then to make those sounds through the effortless coordination of diaphragm, larynx, lips and tongue. This ability to communicate highly detailed information is what puts you and I, along with all the other humans, in charge of this spaceship we call...
5/31/20216 minutes, 13 seconds
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You Are What You Can’t Let Go Of

My friend Brian Scudamore said something so insightful that Starbucks printed it on 10 million coffee cups:“It’s difficult for people to get rid of junk. They get attached to things and let them define who they are. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in this business, it’s that you are what you can’t let go of.”Brian was talking about physical junk and mental junk as well.What is the junk you need to get rid of? Do you have an attachment that defines you?“You are what you can’t let go of.”Some people can’t let go of authority.Some can’t get go of fame.Some can’t let go of anger.Some can’t let go of pain.Look around. What do you see?I see groups of people who believe something, hating other groups of people who believe something else. They, like us, are defined by what they can’t let go of.Jesus talked about this in his famous Sermon on the Mount. He said,“If you are planning to give a financial gift to the work of God and you know that someone is pissed off at you, (this is the Williams “Street” Translation) go to that person and apologize and be reconciled. Then you can offer your gift.”1Jesus was more interested in what you were carrying in your heart than what you were carrying in your hand.What you carry in your heart defines you.Immediately after Jesus finished his famous Sermon on the Mount, he made the same point another way.As Jesus was going down the road, he saw a much-despised tax collector named Matthew sitting in his tax collection booth. “Come and be my disciple,” Jesus said to him, and Matthew jumped up and went with Jesus. Later, when Jesus and his disciples had dinner at Matthew’s house, Matthew invited all his notorious swindler friends to be there also, so that they, too, could hear what Jesus had to say. But when the religious leaders saw what was happening, they were indignant and demanded to know why Jesus associated with men like those. Jesus told them, “Sick people need a doctor. Now go away and understand what God meant when he said, ‘It isn’t your sacrifices and your gifts I want—I want you to be merciful.'” 2, 3The funny part of this story is that it all happens in the book of Matthew, the despised tax collector who invited Jesus to dinner and then became one of the 12 disciples who stayed with him always.I have always found it interesting that Matthew’s book is the first book in the New Testament.Roy H. Williams1 Matthew 5:232 Matthew 9:9-133 Jesus is quoting Hosea 6:6, which had been written about 750 years earlier
5/24/20213 minutes, 28 seconds
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So You Say You’re an Expert…

You lead the world in client attraction, client acquisition, and client retention.A prospective client has made an appointment with you.I am invited to watch and take notes.These are those notes:In your first meeting with a prospective client, always have a white board or a pad of those giant “stickie notes” to write on. Bring your own colored markers.If you are in their facility instead of your own, begin by asking if you can hang one of the 25 x 30 inch sheets somewhere so that you can make some notes and illustrate what you hope to achieve.When the sheet is secure on the wall, say, “I appreciate that you took the time to meet with me today. I was once told that bad advertising is about you… your products and your services. Good advertising is about the customer, and how your products and services will make their lives better and happier. In that spirit, I want to NOT talk about me today. Instead, I want to answer, in plain language, all your questions and concerns about [INSERT THE NAME OF THE TOPIC IN WHICH YOU ARE EXPERT.] My goal isn’t to tell you what I can do for you. My goal is to demonstrate what I can do for you. I want to give you the solutions to every problem and every frustration you face. I want to give you the answers to every question you have about [INSERT THE NAME OF THE TOPIC IN WHICH YOU ARE EXPERT.] All I need you to do is name those questions for me.” And then write 1. in the upper left corner of your giant stickie note as you say, “Number one,” and then turn to the client, and smile, and wait.Write down each thing they say and then read it back to them.Resist the temptation to comment on what they say! Do not begin a discussion. Just write down each of their questions and say,“Awesome. Can you think of anything else?”“Thank you. Can you think of anything else?”“Excellent! Can you think of anything else?”When they can think of nothing else they would like to know, turn and look at their list. Study it for a few moments.With a different color marker cross out each of the numbers, “1. 2. 3. 4.” etc, and then write “1” next to the question that you have chosen to answer first. Write “2.” next to the question you want to answer second.When you have renumbered their questions, tackle them in the order that you have chosen. When you feel you have answered a question sufficiently, ask “Shall we talk about this some more, or is it okay to move on?” When they tell you that it’s okay to move on, draw a line through that question to indicate that it has been dealt with.As the prospective client sees each of their questions crossed off the list, they will have a strong feeling of “Organized Progress Toward Goal.” And if your answers were good, they will conclude that you are the most competent expert they have ever met.When all their questions have been answered and you have explained exactly what they need to do to achieve all their goals and objectives, sit down at the table across from them and ask, “Where would you like to go from here? What would you like to talk about next?”If you do this correctly, you will have talked only about their questions and their goals and their objectives. You will have said nothing about what makes you better than your competition.Don’t talk about yourself. Talk about them, their needs, their questions, their goals and objectives. Don’t have a sales pitch. Have solutions.The objective of this exercise is to gain a clear understanding of what the client wants, and then to make an honest evaluation about whether or not you are the right person to help them.This is not a sales technique. You are just giving away a free sample of your advice.If you are truly an expert, the customer will know.And if you are not, the customer will know.Roy H. Williams
5/17/20215 minutes, 36 seconds
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The Sneak Attack to Expect When Selling Your Company

At the bottom of last week’s Monday Morning Memo, I asked, “Does it surprise you that the multibillion-dollar investment funds that used to buy manufacturing companies and mortgages are now bidding to buy successful home service companies at record-setting prices?”Immediately following my publishing of that comment, a client of my partner Ryan Chute asked him for any insights he might be able to provide about the Private Equity firms that were trying to buy his business. Another Wizard of Ads partner, Stephen Semple, has worked with almost 100 business owners who sold their businesses. Here is what Steve told Ryan:“There are three problems I’ve seen over and over. The first problem is that there is a due diligence clause in every sales contract that professional business buyers regularly use to lower the price. Here is how it works: the closing is scheduled for Friday afternoon (yes, almost always a Friday.) At noon on Friday the buyer drops the price. They tell you they have come across something that says the price is now 20-30% lower.”“These business buyers are banking on the owner having already sold the company in his heart. The champagne is on ice and the owner is not emotionally capable of walking away from the closing table. To fight this, the seller needs to remain ready to walk. Walking away is the only power the seller has.”“The second problem I have seen is this: selling a business is a slow process and the closer it gets to the closing of the sale, the more the business owner mentally and emotionally disconnects from the business. They stop investing in the business, stop growing it. This is a dangerous thing to do because if the sale falls through, they have to get the momentum going again.”“The third problem is that most business owners don’t actually know what their business is worth. Knowledge is power, and you desperately need the power of knowledge when you are preparing to sell your business.”“Ryan, my best advice is that you tell your client to run their business like they are planning to own it for the next 20 years. Remind them that their business isn’t actually sold until the check is cashed.”Ted Rogers owned a cable TV company. When a buyer came along, Ted negotiated the price to be based on the number of subscribers he transferred to the buyer on closing day. Ted was now prepared to spend more per subscriber to acquire new subscribers than he had ever spent before. He ran promotions and offered bonuses to drive up his subscriber count. The buyer was now motivated to close the sale quickly because the price was going up every hour.The technique that Ted Rogers employed can be used by any seller of any business. All you have to do is base the sales price on a metric that is within your control, not the buyer’s control. It can be top line sales in a rolling 12-month window, or gross profits in a rolling 12-month window, or you can negotiate the closing price to be adjusted up-or-down by the same percentage the company has grown or declined during the due diligence window. Pick a metric that you control.And then start growing your business as you’ve never grown it before. By remaining fully engaged in your business, you have now stripped the buyer of his power to ambush you at the closing table.And then, when the deal is done, come to Wizard Academy and tell us your story and we’ll help you celebrate.Aroo,Roy H. Williams
5/10/20214 minutes, 43 seconds
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The Obstacle/Opportunity of 2021

Have you noticed that 2-day deliveries are taking 4 to 5 days to arrive?Shipping companies can’t hire enough warehouse workers and delivery drivers.Have you noticed how long it takes to get the food you ordered?Restaurants can’t hire enough kitchen workers and wait-staff to serve their customers.Service companies nationwide are seeing just 3 or 4 job applicants respond to online recruitment ads that used to generate 40 to 50 inquiries.The limiting factor for business growth in 2021 won’t be a shortage of sales opportunities. It will be the shortage of employees.The Wizard of Ads Partners are rapidly writing recruitment ads for hundreds of businesses across America. Phone lines are ringing and email inboxes are dinging with new requests for recruitment every hour.If you are reliable, conscientious, have a good attitude and are willing to work with your hands, you can write your own ticket anywhere in America.The construction trades can’t find enough people to pour foundations, erect frames, hang sheetrock, build cabinets, lay flooring, and install roofing.Home service companies can’t find enough people to fix plumbing, run wiring, repair air conditioning, paint walls, clean gutters, trim trees, or power-wash driveways, decks and sidewalks.The strongest employers are starting new employees at $80,000 a year and experienced tradespeople are spiraling upwards beyond $100,000 faster than the tornado that carried Dorothy and Toto to Oz.“Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” indeed.Twenty years ago, the internet was the Emerald City. Tech workers were needed everywhere.But then we figured out how to do a lot of that work with software instead of people.Follow a rainbow to where it touches the ground today and you will find a happy, hard-working, hands-on service worker. These men and women are the new pot of gold.Companies that rise to the challenge of recruiting, training, and retaining good people will be the ones who leapfrog ahead of their competitors.Do whatever it takes to become the company that everyone wants to work for “if they are lucky enough to get hired” by you. You’re going to have to pay your employees more than you planned, but you’re also going to be able to charge more than you planned.The service company who can answer the phone and say, “Yes we can and we’re on our way,” is the company you want to be.This is the mountain you must climb if you want to see the view from the top.Roy H. Williams
5/3/20214 minutes, 5 seconds
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Train Tracks and Race Cars

An overwhelming force enters the marketplace.A train is coming. You wish it wasn’t.1. Will you stand on the track with your back to the train and deny its existence?This business owner is saying, “Their customer is not our customer. They will not affect us.”He is doomed by his delusion.2. Will you denounce the train to everyone who will listen?This second business owner says to state and local government, “We don’t want them here.”He may win a battle or two, but he will always lose the war.3. Will you face the train with one foot on each rail and say, “Bring it on”? This third business owner is saying, “I’m better at this than you are. I’ll make you regret coming to my town.”I’ve occasionally seen this business owner defeat the giant, but only if the giant was sick, distracted, or not in the mood to fight. Usually the little guy loses.There are two proven ways to defeat a giant:1.Go where the giant cannot.Trains run on rails. The rails dictate where the trains go.Sam Walton was a small-town retail hustler in a hillbilly state. The giants who occupied the promised land were Sears, Kress (K-Mart), and J.C. Penney.Big department stores need big populations. As a general store, Sam could operate profitably in towns too small for Sears, Kress, and J.C. Penney. Sam opened his first stores outside of Arkansas in Sikeston, Missouri and Claremore, Oklahoma; towns of about 10,000 people.Sam Walton grew Walmart to $8 billion – a size equal to Coca-Cola at the time – before he opened a store in a town large enough to have more than one McDonald’s.2. Let the giant show you the way.Stand alongside the track and grab hold of the train as it passes. This is a strategy that businesses owners 1, 2, and 3 never considered.Once aboard, stand between the train cars where you don’t have to fight the wind. Let the train cut a hole in the wind for you. You are riding in the slipstream. Haven’t you seen race cars pull up tight behind the leader and ride along in their slipstream until the time was right to slip to the inside and slingshot past them?Walmart was slow, but they did act in time. They studied Amazon and saw what was working. Then they committed to upgrading their online shopping experience.They allowed the giant to show them the way.Wal-Mart wasn’t able to slingshot past Amazon,* but they were able to retain their status as a giant. They did not become a has-been like Sears, Kress, J.C. Penney, or Blockbuster Video.Is there a train headed your way?What is its name?What is your plan?Roy H. Williams*Although Walmart currently does more total volume than Amazon, their online volume is only one-sixth as big. Additionally, Amazon’s market cap of $1.7 trillion makes that company worth 5 times as much as Walmart.
4/26/20214 minutes, 41 seconds
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How to Sell Diamonds and Other Illogical Things

Information can be objectively true but have no relevance to you personally.This is the difference between objective reality and perceptual reality.The opposite is true, as well.You can perceive a person to be beautiful when that person is objectively average. You can also perceive information to be important when in truth, it is not.But in perceptual reality, that person is beautiful.In perceptual reality, the information is important.Objective facts do not win the heart and mind. The magic that creates perceptual reality – personal truth – is relevance.Relevance is a happy shout of Yes to the question, “Do I care?”Just because a thing is true doesn’t mean we have to care.The first time I taught publicly about perceptual reality was in 1994 when I was invited to speak to 1,500 jewelers in London at the 400th Anniversary Celebration of the Goldsmiths of the United Kingdom. Afterwards, Pennie and I were whisked away to the world headquarters of DeBeers to meet with Roger Van Egan, their director of marketing.DeBeers wanted to know why my small handful of jewelry clients were selling 20 times more diamonds than the average American jeweler.My answer, in a word, was “relevance.”On date nights, my jewelers were on the radio speaking to couples in cars.“The Christmas season is a GREAT time to get engaged. She’s going to want to show her new engagement ring to everyone she cares about, and most of those people are going to be conveniently gathered together at Christmastime. If you show up at the Christmas party of your girlfriend’s parents and she is NOT wearing an engagement ring, you get to listen to Great Aunt Gertrude talk all night long about her recent gallstone operation. But if your girlfriend IS wearing an engagement ring, the only thing Aunt Gertrude will want to know is whether you’d like another piece of pie before, or after you ride Cousin Larry’s new motorcycle. One more thing: the day she starts wearing your engagement ring is the day her Mom quits calling you “What’s-his-name.”“But your ad didn’t say anything about why he should buy an engagement ring from your client! You said only that he should buy an engagement ring!”Au contraire, mon frère. That ad made my jeweler fun, approachable, and most importantly, NOT SCARY.But when courtship mode has run its course and the honeymoon is over, men who believe “actions speak louder than words,” tend to be poor communicators.Seeds of doubt, disillusionment and divorce are planted when a woman thinks, “This is not the man I married. He doesn’t love me anymore.”“Ladies, many of you will be fortunate enough this Christmas to find a small, but beautifully wrapped package under your tree bearing a simple gold seal that says Schiffman’s. Now you and I both know there’s jewelry in the box. But the man who put it there for you is trying desperately to tell you that you are more precious than diamonds, more valuable than gold, and very, very special. You see, he could have gone to a department store and bought department store jewelry or picked up something at the mall like all the other husbands. But the men who come to Schiffman’s aren’t trying to get off cheap or easy. Men who come to Schiffman’s believe their wives deserve the best. And whether they spend 99 dollars or 99 thousand, the message is the same: men who come to Schiffman’s are still very much in love… We just thought you should know.” [Hard stop. No location tag.]That ad on the radio said to men, “Buy a diamond from Schiffman’s and she’ll know that – unlike “other guys” – you are...
4/19/20217 minutes, 7 seconds
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Why You Should Reinvent the Wheel

“Don’t look where you don’t want to go.”Every mountain climber knows this rule, and I want you to know it, too.Your mind has conscious and unconscious power over your actions. When you imagine something, you begin bringing it to pass.What is the mountain you’re trying to climb?If you want a happy and joyful marriage, imagine what that would look like. Not just from your own perspective, but from your partner’s perspective, too. Think about it often.If you want to build a successful business, imagine what that would look like. Not just from your own perspective, but from your customer’s perspective, too. Think about it often.Think about how you can make the biggest difference in the shortest amount of time with the resources you have available. Don’t wish for what you don’t have. Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.If you do what I just told you, you will occasionally reinvent the wheel, but that’s okay. That wheel will be your wheel, and you will understand that wheel in ways that no one else understands wheels.Business writers like to write about companies who disrupt their categories.Disruptors are people who reinvent the wheel.In 2004, Blockbuster Video had 9,094 locations, 84,300 employees, and nearly $6 Billion in revenues. Things were fine. Why reinvent the wheel?Netflix reinvented the video-rental wheel when they eliminated the car drive to the video rental store. And then they reinvented the wheel again – their own wheel this time – when they eliminated the mailing of DVDs.I was intrigued with Roving Reporter Rotbart’s interview with Carl Schramm on MondayMorningRadio a couple of weeks ago. Schramm manages a $2 Billion foundation whose goal is to help entrepreneurs succeed. It’s safe to say he knows a lot about entrepreneurship.According to Schramm, successful entrepreneurs are marked by 3 characteristics: Determination, Experimentation and Innovation.“Experimentation and Innovation” sound a lot like reinventing the wheel to me.Blockbuster still has one location open in Bend, Oregon.Q: How did that Blockbuster store survive?A: Determination, experimentation, and innovation.They reinvented the wheel.Rachel Greenblatt of NBC reports the Covid lockdown had three big winners: The introverted, the productive, and Jeff Bezos.This makes sense to me because:1. Introverts do their best work when they are not distracted by social interruptions. (I do my best work in the 6 hours following 2:30AM each day. I am usually asleep by 7PM.)2. Highly productive people used the lockdown as an opportunity to reinvent the wheel.3. Jeff Bezos believes every wheel needs reinvention. Except the flywheel, of course. (Jeff Bezos fans will laugh at that line. The rest of you just need to Google, “Jeff Bezos flywheel.”)Indy Beagle says Aroo.I’ll tell him you said Aroo back.Or you can just meet Indy in the rabbit hole and Aroo him yourself.Roy H. Williams
4/12/20214 minutes, 53 seconds
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Is the Customer Stupid?

Your assumptions about the intelligence of your customer will colorize and slant your ad writing in ways of which you are not even aware.Is the customer stupid?The writer of the 139th Psalm did not believe that customers are stupid. He said to God, “I will praise you; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”Harvard University Medical School made a 3-minute film that illustrates the idea that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made.” It’s called The Inner Life of a Cell, and Indy Beagle has embedded it on the first page of the rabbit hole for you. To enter the rabbit hole, all you have to do is click the image of Indy at the top of the Monday Morning Memo.In the book, Wizard’s First Rule by Terry Goodkind, we read,“Wizard’s First Rule: People are stupid; given proper motivation, almost anyone will believe almost anything. Because people are stupid, they will believe a lie because they want to believe it’s true, or because they are afraid it might be true. People’s heads are full of knowledge, facts, and beliefs, and most of it is false, yet they think it all true. People are stupid; they can only rarely tell the difference between a lie and the truth, and yet they are confident they can, and so are all the easier to fool.”When you make unsubstantiated claims, or if you “substantiate” your claims with sophistry, false facts, overstatements or hyperbole, you are writing under the assumption that people are stupid. But a lot of money has been made by giving gullible people false hope. When a person deeply wants to believe that what you are saying is true, they will believe it, in spite of the fact that you are lying.The assumption that people are stupid will help you write more effective political advertising, direct response advertising, and television infomercials. It will also help you build your downline in multilevel marketing.But conning stupid people out of their money is like beating up little children. I can do it, I just don’t want to.There are two ways to write ads that target intelligent people. The first way is to immediately substantiate your claim with highly credible evidence each time you make a statement of benefit.EXAMPLE: Black Diamonds. Exotic. Rare. And Beautiful. A star exploded and sent an asteroid hurtling toward our galaxy a long time ago. That asteroid was more than half-a-mile wide, and it flew through space until it struck the earth. That asteroid was made of black diamonds. The National Science Foundation announced the news about these outer-space diamonds and then the New York Times wrote a story about them. Black Diamonds. Exotic. Rare. And Beautiful.The second way to advertise to intelligent persons is to use “Magical Thinking,” a style of writing characterized by elements of the impossible woven with a deadpan sense of presentation into an otherwise true story. Magical Thinking goes beyond the realm of exaggeration and moves into the realm of entertainment.EXAMPLE: Life is happier when it’s less cluttered. Your house will be bigger! Your teeth will be whiter! Angels will sing! You’ll be a better dancer. Go to and prepare to be amazed.If you make untrue statements and expect them to be believed, you are writing to a stupid person. But if you make untrue statements for the purposes of entertainment – knowing they will not be believed – you are writing to an intelligent person.If I provided an example of advertising filled with strong assurances, baseless claims, puffery and hyperbole with no evidence to support those claims, you would say, “Wow. I hear ads like that every day.”And now you know why people are so very annoyed by most advertising.Roy H. Williams
4/4/20215 minutes, 42 seconds
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Four Big Words of Encouragement

When a person assumes they have superior wisdom, they will offer you their advice. This is an unmistakable sign they think you are an idiot.I smile when a person says to me, “Can I offer you some friendly advice?” They instinctively use the word “friendly” as a qualifier because, deep in their guts, they know what they are about to say isn’t friendly at all. They want to give me their critique, their criticism, their evaluation.Still smiling, I shake my head and say “No.”Unsolicited advice is the junk mail of life.You don’t need advice. You need encouragement.Not flattery. Encouragement.You can do the thing you would like to do.Of course you can.You can become the thing you want to become.Of course you can.You can achieve the thing you hope to achieve.Of course you can.I don’t know how long it will take, or what you will have to endure, but I do know that you can do these things if you decide to. The only enemy you cannot outwit or outwait is death.You were created in the image of God.He does not think you are an idiot.And neither do I.Roy H. Williams
3/29/20212 minutes, 49 seconds
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10 Tips for Advertisers

Bad ads waddle like a porcupine and make lots of little points.Good ads charge like a rhinoceros and make a single point powerfully.This is true regardless of your choice of media.Ad budgets are like that, too.When universities ask me to address their Advertising & Marketing majors just prior to graduation, I always warn those young “advertising experts” never to give advice to friends or family members who are involved in a local business. “This is because everything you have been taught assumes you will go to work in marketing for a Fortune 500 company, or for an advertising agency that places the media for large, national brands. You have not been taught how to grow a local business.” And then I ask their professors – in front of the students – whether they agree or disagree with what I just said.One hundred percent of the time, without exception, every professor has agreed with me. Most of the time, they start nodding their heads in affirmation when I say, “…everything you have been taught assumes you will go to work in marketing for a Fortune 500 company…”The most dangerous of these Fortune 500 concepts is the idea of a “media mix.”The widespread belief about the value of a “media mix” has caused small business owners to sprinkle their ad budgets across several different media because they are worried they are going to “miss” someone. After all, “Not everyone listens to the radio.” “Not everyone watches the news.” “Not everyone looks at billboards.” “Not everyone blah, blah, blah.”Advertiser, you can’t afford to reach everyone. You’ve got to choose who to lose.Would you rather reach 100% of the people and convince them 10% of the way, or reach 10% of the people and convince them 100% of the way? Repetition is effective. Repetition is effective.Don’t be a porcupine. Be a rhino.If you sell a product or a service that most people will need sooner-or-later and you suspect you’ve been sprinkling your ad budget, “a little bit here and a little bit there,” try spending 80% of your ad budget on a single mass media and the remaining 20% online. The choice of mass media is up to you, but it’s hard to go wrong with local broadcast radio or television newscasts. People rarely record the TV news on their DVRs. They watch it live. The same is true of live sporting events.By the way, in case I forget to tell you this later, repetition is effective.“Wait a minute,” you say, “you told me to be a rhino and not to sprinkle my budget, but now you’re telling me that 20% of my budget should be spent online! What’s up?”Google is the new phone book, so you must have an online presence. Properly used, mass media will make you the provider that people think of immediately and feel the best about, but the first thing those people are going to do when they need what you sell is go online to look for your phone number, or your store hours, or your street address, or at your online reviews.You’ve got to show up when your customer is looking for you.There are instances – particularly in the home service categories – when it makes sense to use geotargeting. If time and energy are an underutilized resource, the placement of door hangers and lawn signs and the slipping of flyers under windshield wipers are old-school techniques that still pay big dividends. This is what I call, “shoe leather on the sidewalk.”The geotargeting of neighborhoods can also be done online, and geofencing will even allow you to target the people who enter and exit a specific building. Cool, huh?“But what if I sell a product or a service that only a tiny percent
3/22/20216 minutes, 51 seconds
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Methods of an Ad Writer

Brian, good thoughts!The Neuroscience of Behavior Change link you sent was a great explanation of what Dr. Alan Baddeley calls “Procedural Memory.” You will recall this from The Magical Worlds Communications Workshop at Wizard Academy.Working Memory is consciousness, imagination, the thought you are thinking NOW.Semantic Declarative Memory contains things you can remember, but you cannot remember how or when you learned them.Episodic Declarative Memory is like Semantic Declarative Memory, except that you can remember the episode; the how and when of the learning.Procedural Memory is long-term, involuntary, automatic recall. It is electrical memory aided by chemical traces along the neural pathway. A perfect golf swing, the movement of fingers by a typist or a concert pianist, or the automatic recall of an advertiser’s name; all these are positive expressions of Procedural Memory.Procedural Memory = Salience (impact or relevance) x Repetition.The greater the impact of the message, the less repetition is required. And keep in mind, repetition costs money.The Short-Term Goal of the Direct Response Ad Writer is to speak to an immediately-felt need of the customer who is currently, actively in need of the product or service in question.The Short-Term Goal of the Future Needs Ad Writer is to create Episodic declarative memory by saying or doing something new, surprising, or different, so that future recall of the episode might be established. To do this, the ad writer must make the reader/listener/viewer smile, laugh, cry, become nostalgic, become fearful, or get angry.This is because emotion triggers adrenaline and adrenaline is the biochemical adhesive that creates those chemical traces along the neural pathway. Information without emotion is of limited value.The Long-Term Goal of the Future Needs Ad Writer is to deliver a series of salient messages with enough repetition-over-time to create Procedural Memory, but without any of the negative associations that come with anger, sorrow and fear.So now you understand PTSD. It is simply is a negative expression of the long-term, involuntary, automatic recall known by neuroscientists as Procedural Memory, a product of Salience (importance, relevance, or surprise) times Repetition. With enough salience, a repetition of only one is sufficient to create Procedural Memory.Always good to hear from you Brian!Oh. One last thing: Those of you who didn’t see Brian’s email to Indy Beagle in last week’s rabbit hole were likely intrigued by the new, surprising, and different opening of today’s Monday Morning Memo: “Brian, good thoughts!”“Am I reading a private email to someone named Brian?” Or you may have wondered, “Brian who?” or if your own name is Brian, you may have asked, “How is the wizard personalizing the main body of the Monday Morning Memo to each individual reader?”In any case, those opening 3 words achieved reader/listener/viewer engagement, the first step in The Short-Term Goal of the Ad Writer.Aroo,Roy H. Williams
3/15/20215 minutes, 22 seconds
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The Ever-Changing Song of America

1492: An Italian, funded by the Queen of Spain, sailed west to find the east, discovered a small island in the Caribbean, decided it was India, and sailed home to share the happy news. Ponce de León, Balboa, Cordoba, Cortés, Coronado and 24 other conquistadors were sent from Spain to bring home whatever they could find.1562: France sent Laudonnière on 3 expeditions to South Carolina and Florida, but Spanish Admiral Menéndez slaughtered the French in 1565 and built the fortress city of St. Augustine, Florida. 1620: Religious misfits from Holland and England boarded a ship called the Mayflower, crossed the Atlantic in 66 days, landed at a place called Plymouth Rock, met some friendly natives and celebrated Thanksgiving with them, presumably on the last Thursday in November.1662: A Dutchman named Peter Minuit bought Manhattan Island from a group of local Indians for merchandise worth 60 Dutch guilders and built a thriving community there. It is considered to be the greatest real estate deal in the history of the world. Two years later, the English showed up with cannons and announced that they would now be in charge. The Dutch asked, “Can we keep our houses and our businesses and all of our stuff?” The English said, “Sure, no problem. You just have to let us be in charge.”The Dutch smiled and said, “Welcome to America.”In the decades that followed, the sons and daughters of Spanish conquistadors and French explorers and religious misfits and Dutch traders and English soldiers were joined by tens of thousands of optimistic adventurers and entrepreneurs and families who dreamed of a better life. They came from everywhere.And then slave traders arrived with shiploads of captives for sale. But no one smiled at the captives and said, “Welcome to America.” In fact, these dark-skinned newcomers were not allowed to keep houses or businesses or anything else, not even their own children.July 4th, 1776: A new nation was born when everyone got tired of the English being in charge. And as this baby nation grew, her people began to sing.1886: The song of Ellis Island, the song of the Statue of Liberty.“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me. I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”– Emma Lazarus1904: The song of a Century of Progress.I’m a Yankee Doodle dandy, a Yankee Doodle, do or die.A real live nephew of my Uncle Sam, born on the Fourth of July.I’ve got a Yankee Doodle sweetheart, she’s my Yankee Doodle joy.Yankee Doodle came to London just to ride the ponies, I am the Yankee Doodle boy.– George M. Cohan1968: The song of our Wandering Years.“Kathy, I’m lost”, I said, though I knew she was sleeping,“I’m empty and aching and I don’t know why.Counting the cars on the New Jersey Turnpike,They’ve all come to look for America…”– Paul Simon1980: The Song of CelebrationEverywhere around the world, they’re coming to America.Every time that flag’s unfurled, they’re coming to America.Got a dream to take them there. They’re coming to America.Got a dream they’ve got to share. They’re coming to America.They’re coming to America. They’re coming to America.They’re coming to America. They’re coming to America.Today… today… today… today… today!– Neil Diamond 2010: Lady Liberty no longer lifts a torch, but a toast to the newcomers.“So raise your glass if...
3/8/20218 minutes, 8 seconds
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One Too Many John Wayne Movies

Hollywood has been feeding us romanticized history ever since Birth of a Nation splattered across the silver screen in 1915.Romanticized history is a lie.People will always believe lies that reinforce their worldview.Hollywood feeds us romanticized history because we love it, and the fictions we love best are those heroic stories of pioneers and settlers and cowboys during the years of America’s westward expansion.John Wayne was a powerful icon of rugged individualism for two generations of American men. He was self-reliant and manly and brave, the living embodiment of maximum masculinity. There was no woman in distress he could not save, no wilderness he could not tame, no fight he could not win.His real name was Marion Morrison and he grew up in Southern California. According to WIKIPEDIA, “He lost a football scholarship to the University of Southern California as a result of a bodysurfing accident and began working for the Fox Film Corporation…. It was John Ford’s Stagecoach (1939) that made Wayne a mainstream star, and he starred in 142 motion pictures altogether. According to one biographer, ‘John Wayne personified for millions the nation’s frontier heritage.’”The real-world Americans who traveled westward in the hope of finding a better life were, for the most part, poor people with nothing to lose. With few tools and no resources, they improvised as best they could. They endured painful hunger, parching thirst, desperate cold, raging disease and the untimely death of people they loved.We romanticize these struggling families of an earlier century and call them “self-reliant, rugged individuals.” We imagine them as strong, beautiful characters in a John Wayne movie.Here is my question: When you scrape the Hollywood glitter off these people and see them real, was their resourcefulness an expression of exuberant confidence, or was it a product of their abject desperation?Many of you sympathized with the millions of us Texans who shivered in our homes for several days at below-freezing temperatures with no heat, no light, no water and no toilets.I drilled numerous yellow holes in the snow.No electricity means no hot meals, and in southern states like Texas, icy streets mean no deliveries, no fire trucks, no ambulances, and no police. Even the grocery stores were closed.The hospital nearest our home was evacuated.When Pennie and I had been without water for 3 days, the ex-governor who presided over the deregulation of energy in Texas (and dismantled the regulations that would have insured the consistent delivery of water and electricity in our state,) called a press conference to proudly announce that Texans would gladly, “be without electricity for longer than three days to keep the federal government out of their business.”Now there is a man who has watched one-too-many John Wayne movies.And then there is the senator from Texas who decided that, “to be a good Dad,” he was going to hop on a jet and find some comfort at The Four Seasons in sunny Cancun, Mexico. But I can make room for that. I don’t really blame him for it. If I wasn’t concerned about Covid, I might have done it myself.The “John Wayne” part of that story is that he flew to Cancun with a mask on his face displaying the image of an old Texas flag from our pre-statehood years. That flag shows the star of Texas with a big cannon and the words, “Come and Take It.”In 1835, when European settlers revolted against the government of Mexico, they got control of a cannon in a border town, then flew a flag with a drawing of that cannon and added the words, “Come and Take it.”Basically, they were just flipping the bird to the Mexicans.But why – 186 years later – would a person flaunt a symbol that insults Mexicans while escaping TO...
3/1/20217 minutes, 41 seconds
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Hot Country. Cold Sport.

They did not do it because they thought it would be funny. Four members of the Jamaica Defense Force did it as a statement of pride and determination.Dudley Stokes, Devon Harris, Michael White and Caswell Allen traveled from their tropical island to snowy Canada hoping to make it into the 1988 Winter Olympics.Miraculously, they qualified.When Caswell Allen was injured 3 days prior to the start of the Olympics, he was replaced by Chris Stokes, who was only in Canada to support his brother Dudley.Smaller than the state of Connecticut, Jamaica is not a wealthy island. The men had to appeal to other teams for basic equipment in order to compete.  But as the Olympics are forever a celebration of global cooperation, the other nations were happy to loan them what they needed.When the United States ice hockey team was eliminated, American TV stations needed to fill airtime and chose to focus on the Jamaican bobsled team.“Feel the rhythm! Feel the rhyme! Get on up, its bobsled time! Cool runnings!”The first run ended poorly when Dudley Stokes jumped into the bobsled and the push-bar broke, resulting in the Jamaican team coming in third from last.The team ranked next-to-last on their second run due to White remaining nearly upright through the first corner as he struggled to crouch down properly in his seat.After a blistering fast start on their third run, the Jamaican bobsled careened into the wall of the track and flipped over on top of the team at 85 miles per hour. Bruised and battered, the four men climbed out, walked with the bobsled to the end of the track, then picked it up and carried it off.The crowd went wild.Did the Jamaican team call it quits? No, they did not.The four qualified again for the 1992 Winter Olympics in Albertville, France. The following year, Disney released Cool Runnings, a comedy film inspired by the team’s experience in the 1988 Games.In the 1994 Olympics* in Lillehammer, Norway, the four Jamaicans finished ahead of the United States, Russia, Italy, France and Australia.At the 2000 World Push in Monaco the Jamaican team won the gold medal.You will never become good at something unless you are willing to be bad at first. But if you stay with it, things will be fine in the end.If things aren’t fine, it’s not the end.Roy H. Williams*In case you were wondering why we had Winter Olympics in 1992 and again just 2 years later in 1994, it was because the International Olympic Commission decided to separate the Summer and Winter Games and place them in alternating even-numbered years. 1994 was the year that decision was implemented.
2/22/20214 minutes, 6 seconds
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Our Biggest Mistake Ever

“Giving a microphone to every human being is the worst mistake we have made in human history.”ME: Are you saying social media was a mistake?“When dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but with creatures of emotion, creatures bristling with prejudice and motivated by pride and vanity.” ­– Dale CarnegieME: But doesn’t everyone deserve to be heard?“Every man has a right to his own opinion. But no man has a right to be wrong in his facts.” – Bernard BaruchME: We seem to be at war with ourselves.“War is awful. Nothing, not the valor with which it is fought nor the nobility of the cause it serves, can glorify war. War is wretched beyond description and only a fool or a fraud could sentimentalize its cruel reality. Whatever is won in war, it is loss the veteran remembers.” – John McCainME: But we’re waging a war of words, not blood!“But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and those things defile a man.” – Jesus, in Matthew 15ME: Can’t we just listen to the good people and ignore the bad?“Men who believe themselves to be good, who do not search their own souls, often commit the worst atrocities. A man who sees himself as evil will restrain himself. It is only when we do evil in the belief that we do good that we pursue it wholeheartedly.” – David FarlandME: I agree with that, especially the part about searching our own souls. When I see a person of real character, I always want to ask, “What darkness did you conquer?” Mountains do not rise without earthquakes.“Hard times create strong men.Strong men create good times.Good times create weak men.And weak men create hard times.”― G. Michael HopfME: Are you saying we brought this social storm upon ourselves through our own weakness and self-indulgence?“You can never make the same mistake twice because the second time you make it, it’s not a mistake, it’s a choice.” ­– Steven DennME: Will we ever quit making the old mistakes?“No one remembers the former generations, and even those yet to come will not be remembered by those who follow them.” – Solomon, Ecclesiastes ch. 1ME: Based on what you said earlier, if these are the hard times created by weak people, is the next phase when we become strong people that create good times?“You can always count on Americans to do the right thing – after they’ve tried everything else” – Winston ChurchillME: What should I do while I wait for all this social rage and weirdness to become less angry and weird?“Go, eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart, for God has already approved what you do… Enjoy life with your wife, whom you love…” – Solomon, Ecclesiastes ch. 9ME: Sounds good to me.Roy H. Williams
2/15/20214 minutes, 18 seconds
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Disagree and Commit

We were sitting in my backyard sharing a $600 bottle of wine he had brought.He said, “I got all 250 of my employees together on a Zoom call and told them, ‘You can disagree passionately and share your opinion while we are in the discussion phase, but when a decision has been made, you need to commit to the successful implementation of that decision as though it had been your own. To disagree and work half-heartedly and receive a paycheck is not an option. To disagree and covertly sabotage the plan and receive a paycheck is not an option. To disagree and whisper behind closed doors and receive a paycheck is not an option. You can either recuse yourself by turning in your resignation, or you can disagree and commit. Those are your options.’”My friend is strong, fair, and a marvelous employer. I have always admired him. Raised in a family with no money, he became stunningly successful by the time he was 40.That conversation with my friend is what triggered last week’s Monday Morning Memo about “Those Glorious Creative Handcuffs.”Ad writers like myself always believe we have the best answers and that people should listen to what we say. “But…” I tell my partners, “your client didn’t hire you to be CEO. They hired you to make their plan work. If you believe you can improve their plan, you need to communicate what you would change, why you would change it, and how you would implement that change. But once you’ve had your day in court, your job is to make their plan succeed brilliantly, even if it’s stupid.”In 40 years of ad-writing I’ve chosen to walk away only twice. In both instances I knew the only way the decided-upon plan could end was with a large, smoking hole in the earth where their successful company used to be. In both of those cases I was right. In every other instance, “Those Glorious Creative Handcuffs” clamped on my wrists triggered some of the best creative work I’ve ever done.“Disagree and Commit” works miraculously well, but only if you wash the memory of your ‘better plan’ from your mind. Never speak of it again. Never think about it again. When you’ve had your day in court, commit to the plan and make it a point of honor to make that plan succeed.And then celebrate, celebrate, celebrate when it does.This will make you a person that every employer wants to hire, and every brilliant person wants on their team.Roy H. Williams
2/8/20214 minutes, 26 seconds
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Those Glorious Creative Handcuffs!

If one were to assume that a blank sheet of paper – complete freedom – is the best way to coax maximum creativity from the human mind, one would be wrong.The highest levels of creativity are launched from the tightest constraints.Consider this request made a couple of weeks ago by a student in our monthly webcast.Hi Roy, I work with a micro-distillery in our province who recently developed a lower-priced brand of affordable liquor. It is called: lōk(ə)l and they spell it phonetically, with a k and a schwa. (ə)They make vodka, gin and schnapps packaged in plastic bottles. How can we advertise this on the radio to get people to look for the right product?  Not to mention there is some muddiness marketing “local” when everyone is jumping on the “shop local” train… there is even another alcohol beverage called Local with a similar style.Thanks for all your help.Let’s examine our creative restraints and limitations:Plastic bottles shout “cheap.”“Locally-produced vodka” is not a strong selling proposition.“Local” is an overused generic descriptive, but we’re stuck with it as a name.A competing product has the same name, but with the correct spelling.If we cannot differentiate our brand, our radio ads are likely to sell the products of companies other than our own.Bottom line: lōk(ə)l vodka is memorable only because it is spelled with a k.These are the creative handcuffs we wear as we write a series of 30-second radio ads in an effort to give this brand a personality that says something other than “cheap generic vodka.”Are you ready to ride?Lokal vodka is NOT low-cal, low calorie, lightweight vodka. You’re thinking of a different brand. Lokal-with-a-K is full-bodied, genuine, authentic vodka made right here in Saskatchewan. Vodka is spelled with a K, not a C. Lokal-with-a-K is old-school vodka, the kind that will kick your ass if you drink too much of it. We also make gin and schnapps. This stuff is fabulous, but to make it affordable we put it in plastic bottles, ’kay? Lokal-with-a-K is available in every store that has good taste.AD 2:Lokal-with-a-K vodka is made right here in Saskatchewan, which also has a K. And Vodka is spelled with a K, so we spell Lokal with a K. You say, “Hey, you also make gin and schnapps and they don’t have a K.” But in THIS deck of cards, Vodka is KING, Schnapps is QUEEN, Gin is the JOKER and the joker is wild. Drink has a K.  Kick has TWO K’s, but Compromise is spelled with a “C.” Lokal-with-a-K is fabulous, but to make it affordable we put it in plastic bottles, ’kay? Lokal-with-a-K is available in every store that has good taste.AD 3:Lokal-with-a-K vodka is made right here in Saskatchewan, and because you love it, we’re now making it with extra K. We also put extra K in our gin and schnapps. Vodka is KING, Schnapps is QUEEN, Gin is the JOKER and the joker is wild. With these three in your hand, you’re on your way to a Full House. Drink has a K.  Kick has TWO K’s,...
2/1/20217 minutes, 25 seconds
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The Twilight of Consciousness

I have long been fascinated by twilight. In fact, I often use that word to describe flavors that are complex and muted.But what is twilight, really?“Twilight is the illumination of the lower atmosphere when the Sun is not directly visible because it is below the horizon. Twilight is produced by sunlight scattering in the upper atmosphere, illuminating the lower atmosphere so that Earth’s surface is neither completely lit nor completely dark.” – WIKIPEDIATwilight lasts only about 20 minutes.“There is a brief time, between waking and sleep, when reality begins to warp. Rigid conscious thought starts to dissolve into the gently lapping waves of early stage dreaming and the world becomes a little more hallucinatory, your thoughts a little more untethered. Known as the hypnagogic state…”– Vaughan Bell, Science Writer, The Atlantic, April 20, 2016I think of this time “when reality begins to warp” as the twilight of consciousness, that time when the subconscious mind takes the intellect for a ride.Dr. Scott Barry Kaufman and Dr. Jerome L. Singer, Professor Emeritus of Psychology at Yale University, are studying a different twilight of consciousness. “Daydreaming is a normal, widespread, human phenomenon that people are aware of consciously and can report reliably on questionnaires. Large numbers of people from different walks of society, gender, and ethnicity report considerable daydreaming in their daily lives.”Kaufman and Singer have determined there are three types of daydreaming.1. Positive-Constructive Daydreaming (playful, wishful, constructive imagery)2. Guilty-Dysphoric Daydreaming (obsessive, anguished fantasies)3. Poor Attentional Control (the inability to concentrate on ongoing thought or external tasks)Further study indicated that1. Positive-Constructive daydreaming is related to Openness to Experience, reflecting curiosity, sensitivity, and the exploration of ideas, feelings, and sensations.2. Guilty-Dysphoric daydreaming is related to Neuroticism.3. Poor Attentional Control is related to low levels of Conscientiousness Current neuroimaging research supports Singer’s idea that daydreaming is the default state of the human mind.Your daydreams are the voice of your powerful subconscious as it tries to assist your conscious mind. When your subconscious mind and your conscious mind are working together to achieve a common goal, you can believe that it will happen.So, if our daydreams are the voice of the subconscious mind and we want our daydreams to be Positive-Constructive, how can we fill our subconscious with productive, helpful, happy images?Two thousand years ago, we were given this advice:“Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eyes are healthy, your whole body is full of light. But when they are unhealthy, your body is full of darkness. See to it, then, that the light within you is not darkness.” *If I were to translate this to the language of the 21st century, I would say,“If you turn your attention to good things, your mind will shine. But if you turn your attention to dark thoughts, your mind will be full of darkness. So pay attention, then, or you will find yourself full of darkness.”You have the power to turn your attention wherever you will. Aim it at productive, helpful, happy things. Don’t obsess over problems. Focus your attention on solutions. Not just solutions for the problems you’re currently facing, but solutions in general.Stories of...
1/25/20215 minutes, 22 seconds
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The Bounce: How High? How Long?

The 2021 we’ve been waiting for has not yet begun.I was reminded of this when I received a meme from a friend. It said, “Omg, what’s the first thing you’re gonna do when YOU get the vaccine shot?? You’re gonna go back home, wait a month, get your second shot, go back home, wait 14 days for antibodies, then keep wearing a mask and social distancing until community transmission reduction. That’s what.”When it finally gets here, the 2021 we’ve been waiting for will be different than 2020, but in what way, I cannot say.Many of us made adjustments in 2020:Working from home replaced going to the office.Online meetings replaced face-to-face meetings.Home delivery replaced driving to the store.Fancy meals at home replaced eating out.Will some of these adjustments stay with us?And if so, to what degree and among how many people?The Bounce:There will doubtless be a pent-up demand for travel. Will we resume traveling as we did before, or will some of us be reluctant? How high will our travel-hunger bounce the airlines, the cruise ships, and the hotels? And how long will this bounce last?Our hunger for the hospitality of restaurants, cafes and bars will doubtless shoot those businesses to new heights, but how long will this bounce last? Will home delivery of products, groceries and meals continue at dramatically high levels, or will it fall back to where it was before, or will it land somewhere in-between?Unable to spend our money on vacations, travel, and fine dining in 2020, we showered jewelry stores and home service businesses with fountains of cash. Will this trend continue, or will we redirect these fountains of affection onto new categories of purchase?I honestly do not know.The only prediction I am prepared to make is that a lot of office space is going to remain empty.Day after day I speak with employers who rave with delight about the productivity of their people working from home. Without exception, every one of them has told me they do not plan to renew the lease on their office space. A number of these employers previously housed more than 500 office workers each.That’s a lot of office space.As a boy, I was friendly with a number of adults who had lived through the Great Depression. Thirty years after the Depression was over, those people continued to bear its marks.How many of us will bear the marks of the 2020 lockdown long after Covid-19 has been tamed? We can only guess. But the events of 2020 will affect consumer behavior for many years to come.It will be a fascinating – and important – thing to watch.Roy H. Williams
1/18/20214 minutes, 29 seconds
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The Secret of Happiness

We live in a nation that has mistaken pleasure for happiness.Pleasure can be pursued directly, but not happiness.Think of the times you have felt truly happy. In each of those moments, you were feeling grateful for something; a special moment with a special person, a beautiful sunset, the arrival of good news…Happiness is the warm glow of gratitude, and the happiest people in the world are those who have learned to celebrate the ordinary.“Lasting happiness starts with one question… what can I celebrate?”– Michael Beckwith“Celebrate, celebrate, celebrate!”– Dewey Jenkins“Happiness, not in another place but this place… not for another hour, but this hour.”– Walt WhitmanAre you old enough to remember Zig Ziglar? He was constantly talking about maintaining “an attitude of gratitude.”Take a moment to write down 5 things for which you are grateful. Then take another moment to realize that each of those things makes you happy.Right now I’m celebrating Aaron and Kelsie Kleinmeyer of Kansas City. They are in the process of building America’s second free wedding chapel, and the remarkable part is that they are doing it on their salaries as schoolteachers!Did you read what Manley Miller wrote in the rabbit hole last week about passion?“We use the English word ‘passion’ to describe a love for something, or a deep inner drive. ‘I have a passion for cooking,’ or ‘I have a passion for fishing,’ or ‘I have a passion for football,’ or whatever. But passion is a word borrowed from the French ‘pation.’ The root of the word is ‘patior,’ a Latin word that means ‘a willingness to suffer.'”“Feelings follow actions. When you commit to something, what you’re saying is, ‘Even if this gets hard, I’m going to keep on doing it. Even if this causes me pain and suffering, I’m going to keep on doing this.’ That’s why the last week of Jesus’s life is called the Passion Week. It’s not because everything was warm and fuzzy and lovey-dovey, but because it was a week of suffering. Jesus was fully committed to pay the price of reconciling us back to God. He decided in advance that our lives were worth his suffering.”1. Pleasure is easily purchased, but pleasure is not happiness.2. Happiness is the warm glow of gratitude.3. Passion is happiness taken to the next level.Aaron and Kelsie have a genuine passion about marriage. They are willing to sacrifice so that other couples can have a beautiful place to get married. Their little chapel on the prairie is a gift of love to thousands of couples they’ve never met.To receive with gratitude brings happiness.But to give with joy requires passion, the most intense happiness of all.Didn’t someone once say, “It is happier to give than to receive,” or something like that?Roy H. Williams
1/11/20214 minutes, 16 seconds
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Indy Beagle’s Day Off

INDY BEAGLE’S DAY OFFA Story by Indy Beagle, Written in 3 ChaptersCHAPTER ONESpraytan and Boxwine arrived in a white Cadillac convertible fringed in blondes.Boxwine slid out the passenger door and reached for the nozzle while I was filling up my new Hudson pickup on the other side of the pump.I gave him a steady stare. “What have you done?”“We’re headed to the lake. Wanna come? You can bring all your little cartoon friends.”I glanced at the white Caddy. “Nice car. I noticed it on the lot at Baddley Brothers.”Boxwine showed me every tooth in his mouth. “Me and Spray are takin’ it for a test drive.”“Do the brothers know?”Boxwine looked at my Hudson. “Did that ol’ skinflint wizard really give you that truck for Christmas?”I nodded.“Is it real, or did he just conjure it?”“He’s not that kind of wizard.”“What kind is he?”“A Wizard of Ads.”“Hell. Advertising ain’t nothin’ but tellin’ lies with a smile.”“Boxwine, if that were true, you’d be the greatest ad-man on earth.”He placed his cap over his heart and said, “Ratdog, that’s the nicest thing you’ve ever said to me.”I heard Floyd’s feet hit the pavement and then the Hudson door opened behind me.Great. A muppet and a hula girl were going to defend my honor.Aloha spoke first. “Hey girls!”The blonde sitting next to Spraytan asked, “Are you really a hula dancer?”Aloha went into hula mode and the Cadillac girls responded with admiration.“Hop out and I’ll show you how to do it!”The white Caddy rose up 5 inches when the 7 blondes jumped out.Floyd had already retuned his guitar to make it sound like a ukulele and the ballerinas, Bali and Ha’i, were flanking Aloha when the blondes arrived on our side of the gas pump. And then the light show began. Red and blue Christmas lights twinkled from the tops of 3 police cars as they slid to a stop on each side of the white convertible.Lieutenant Bascom waited until the dance was over before he pulled the trigger on his bullhorn. “Boxwine! Spraytan! You boys kiss the asphalt!”While the boys were lying on their bellies sniffing exhaust fumes and motor oil, waiting to get cuffed and scuffed, Floyd beamed his best muppet smile and said, “Bali, Ha’i, and Aloha are riding up front with Indy, but you’re welcome to hop in back with me.”Hudson pickups have better suspension than Cad convertibles. Loaded with 7 blondes and a muppet, my truck dipped only an inch and a half. I twisted the key and the exhaust pipe pitched a perfect C major, accompanied by the voice of Aloha, “Ladies and gentlemen, if you haven’t already done so, please stow your carry-on luggage underneath the seat in front of you or in an overhead bin. Please take your seat and fasten your seat belt. And also make sure your seat back and folding trays are in their full, upright position.”Floyd slapped the top of the cab with an open palm and shouted, “To the lake!” and was immediately echoed by ten females calling in unison, “To the lake!”As I pulled away, Floyd began singing an old Johnny Cash song, “I hear the train a coming, it’s rolling around the bend, and I ain’t seen the sunshine, since… I don’t know when…. I’m stuck in Folsom Prison, and time keeps dragging on.”We were halfway to the lake when I asked, “Where’s Alfie?”Aloha said, “When Floyd jumped out of the truck, Alfie jumped into the glove box.”Ha’i raised her hand and twittered, “And then I locked it.”I sighed and unlocked the glove box. Alfie was blushing all the way to the tips of his pointed ears.Raised in the harmony of Santa’s workshop, elves have no idea how to handle confrontation.– Indy Beagle
1/4/20214 minutes, 41 seconds
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What Would You Have Me Do?

Reading the title of this essay, “What Would You Have Me Do?” might cause you to imagine me defending myself, saying in effect, “I had no choice.”But I want you to hear those words in an entirely different tone of voice.“What would you have me do?” is a quiet question that I often ask God when I am feeling conflicted or uncertain. I cannot not say I always feel him guiding my heart in answer to my question, but I can say that I always feel better for having asked.I have never “not believed” in God. In my private, inner world, faith is not a matter of logic or evidence. I never try to “prove” the existence of God, but if you will indulge me, I will share a pivotal, personal story of when I felt he answered my question, “What will you have me do?”My only intention is to encourage you. Like faith, encouragement is not logical. It is simply a warm light that can brighten a private, inner world.It was 1977. Pennie and I had been married less than a year and we were trying to figure out what to do with our lives. I was working for $3.35 an hour in a steel fabrication shop, cutting, welding, grinding, and pressure-testing gigantic heat exchangers to be fitted on oil wells. With hammers pounding on metal, grinders showering you with sparks, and the acrid smell of welding fumes burning your nose, a steel shop is the perfect place to develop your private, inner world.One morning I slipped into a bathroom stall at work, but not because I needed to go to the bathroom. I lowered the deck on the toilet, locked the door and sat down to talk to God. “What would you have me do? If you tell me, I’ll do it. And I know you can get a message through to me because you’re God, right? And one more thing. I know you hear me, and I know you’re not going to forget that I asked, so I don’t plan on bugging you about this. I trust you’ll tell me when you’re ready. Amen.”I stood up and unlocked the door just as the buzzer announced it was break time. Walking out into the 45,000 square foot work floor, I was scanning the tops of all the tool cabinets for my coffee cup. Having said everything that I needed to say to God, my only thought was to grab a cup of coffee.The thing that happened next is difficult to describe, but I’ll do my best.All at once, and very unexpectedly, I knew exactly what I was supposed to do, and it startled me. I didn’t see anything or hear anything, but my surprise was exactly as though I had looked across the floor and seen myself pull a message from a letter pouch and hold it out for someone to take.This knowledge, or awareness, or whatever you want to call it, was altogether different than anything I had ever experienced. Without seeing a sight or hearing a sound, I felt just as certain – and was every bit as surprised – as if I had seen a person and heard a voice.I walked over to the time clock, grabbed my timecard, clocked out, got in my car and drove to the Federal Building in downtown Tulsa where I presented myself to a weary woman sitting at a desk. “I’m here to become a postman,” I said, and then I told her the story I just told you.When I left, the woman was no longer looking weary. She was surprised, befuddled, and contemplative. I think she was struggling to decide whether I was delusional, or if it was remotely possible that what I was telling her might be true.I lived in a continual state of excitement for the next two days, but when I quieted my heart to continue my conversation with God in that private, inner world, I realized that I wasn’t supposed to work for the United States Postal Service, but that I was to deliver messages of a different sort.On my lunch break that day, I drove back to the Federal Building, found that same woman, and gave her the rest of the story. When I left, she looked even more surprised, befuddled, and contemplative than before.Next, I rented an announce-only answering machine from...
12/28/20209 minutes, 36 seconds
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A Message in a Bottle

“In a bombing run over Kassel, Germany, Elmer Bendiner’s B-17 bomber was barraged by 20-millimeter shells which resulted in direct hits on their gas tanks. But none of the shells exploded. The next day, the maintenance chief found 11 shells inside the gas tanks, any one of which should have taken the plane down. When they opened the shells, all were empty, except one. In it was a hand-written note scrawled in the Czech language. Upon translation, they found it said, ‘This is all we can do for you now . . . Using Jewish slave labor is never a good idea.’”– Fall of the Fortresses, by Elmer BendinerA captive Czechoslovakian Jew sent a message in a bottle through an ocean of air, not knowing if it would ever be read.The first message in a bottle was tossed into the sea in 310 BC by Aristotle’s protegé, Theophrastus, hoping to determine if the Mediterranean Sea was formed by the inflowing Atlantic Ocean.In 1177 A.D. an exiled Japanese poet launched wooden planks on which he had engraved poems describing his predicament. His story is known today as The Tale of the Heike.In the 1500s, Queen Elizabeth created an official position of “Uncorker of Ocean Bottles” in the belief that some bottles might contain secrets from British spies.Edgar Allan Poe’s “MS. Found in a Bottle” (1833) and Charles Dickens’ “A Message from the Sea” (1860) taught us to “cast our bread upon the waters” and trust the wisdom of the waves.In the summer of 1977, NASA tossed a message in a bottle into the vast ocean of space. That bottle was Voyager 1, and it included a golden record with greetings from earth in 55 languages along with a collection of 117 sights and sounds including whale calls and the music of Chuck Berry. That record was also engraved with pictorials showing how to operate it, along with the position of our sun relative to nearby pulsars. We did this because we wanted extraterrestrials to know which solar system our bottle was thrown from.After zipping through space for more than 43 years Voyager is only 23 billion kilometers away. It will take 17,720 years for it to travel one light year, less than one quarter of the way to Alpha Centauri.Seven billion of us are crammed on a tiny speck of dust circling an 11,000-degree fireball as it shoots through a limitless vacuum at 52 times the speed of a rifle bullet.Have you ever considered that our planet, itself, is a spherical bottle and we are the message it contains?If Shakespeare was right, “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players,” and if the writer of Hebrews was right, “We are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses,” then you and I are backstage right now while others occupy the spotlight. I have been waiting for this moment so that I could speak to you alone, without the others hearing.I believe you underestimateyour talent, your experience, your value.You make a bigger difference than you realize,and you matter much more than you know.You will be amazed when you understandall that you have accomplished!We both know it is easy to love people we do not likebut God really does like you!I see him cheering for youfrom the sidelines.And I like you, too.I tossed this note into the worldwide ocean of ones and zeros and whispered for it to find you.And here you are!Merry Christmas.– Your Secret Admirer
12/21/20205 minutes, 24 seconds
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Why I Don’t Believe in Goalsetting

Do you have a deep-seated belief, but you’re not sure where it came from?I have passionately rejected the idea of goalsetting for more than 50 years, but I’ve never understood why I felt so deeply about it until just a moment ago.Welcome to Sunday morning, November 29, 2020.The word “goal” has a certain wishfulness attached to it.“Starlight, star bright, first star I see tonight, I wish I may, I wish I might…”I do not believe in goals.I believe in responsibilities.I believe in decisions.Which of the following is the more effective self-talk?A: My sales goal this month is $200,000.B: It is my responsibility to sell $200,000 this month. And I have decided to do it.Goals do not change behavior.Decisions change behavior.(Yes, a goal can occasionally lead to a decision.When that happens, focus on the decision, not the goal.)Desire is rooted in the ego.Identity is rooted in the heart.Goals are produced by desire, what you want.Decisions are produced by identity, who you are.If your goal changes who you are, then you have made a decision to be a different person.If what you want is more important than who you are, then you are an addict.Alcoholics Anonymous is in the business of long-term behavior change. I find it interesting that they do not teach their members to focus on the goal of not drinking. They teach them to make a decision not to drink… one day at a time.They emphasize the decision, not the goal.Goals have attraction.Decisions have consequences.A goal aims your mind at a desire.But your mind is easily distracted by desire after desire after desire.When you make a decision, you pull the trigger and ride that bullet.Decisions have consequences.The Bible has an interesting passage in the second chapter of the book of James:“Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If you say to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,’ but do nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?”Few things reveal a person’s identity like the tip they leave on a table.If you leave a specific percentage, you are disciplined.If your tip is determined by the quality of the service, you are a judge.If you tip lavishly even when the service is bad, you are an encouragement.Regardless of which of these people you have been in the past, you are only a decision away from being a different person in the future.Roy H. Williams
12/14/20204 minutes, 46 seconds
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The Absence of Goodness

The partial meltdown of the Three Mile Island nuclear reactor in 1979 happened because of a burned-out lightbulb.When a particular safety system was malfunctioning, that bulb would light up and the technician would alertly take care of the problem.No one anticipated a burned-out bulb.Their mistake, according to my partner Cedric, is that they were monitoring for failure instead of monitoring for the absence of goodness. “That bulb should have been bright when things were good and go out when something was wrong.”A system can malfunction in countless ways but there is only one way it can function perfectly.You need to expect goodness and monitor for the absence of it.Did I tell you that Cedric is a programmer, a data scientist, and a genius?One of Cedric’s most important inventions is a system that monitors the vast array of data-crunching computers used by an important hedge fund. “The old system monitored for failure,” says Cedric, “but certain functions happen only intermittently, so a problem could exist for hours before it was discovered.”Cedric’s new programming checks every element of the system once per minute, round the clock, to confirm that everything is working correctly. But his system isn’t looking for a problem. It is looking for perfection and notifies Cedric when it fails to find it.Cedric says, “One mother tells her son to call when he gets to his friend’s house (and then takes action if she doesn’t get a call by the expected time). Compare this to the mother who says, ‘Call if you get into trouble,’ never realizing that it could be hours after a car accident before she would know that something was wrong.”The first parent is monitoring for the absence of goodness.The second parent is monitoring for failure.The lucky hedge fund with the perfectly monitored system owes a debt of gratitude to Captain Jack Sparrow.Jack Sparrow peed on the comforter in Cedric’s bedroom every time his automated kitty litter box was full, so Cedric wrote software that checked for failure once per minute.Cedric lost 3 comforters before he realized the automated kitty litter box could malfunction in more ways than he could predict, so he wrote new software to “monitor for the absence of goodness” rather than monitor for failure.Problem solved.An automated kitty litter box is a complex system.The data-crunching computers of a hedge fund are a complex system.Employees are a complex system.Are you monitoring for mistakes to criticize, or for performance to praise?If you want smooth transactions, happy customers, and big profits to be ordinary, you must cheerfully expect these things and then come to the rescue only when they fail to happen.Employers who have strong corporate cultures and happy, long-term employees are the ones who have learned to celebrate the ordinary and praise their people when things are going well.If that is not how you have operated in the past, you are only a decision away from being that employer in the future. Just ask my friend, Paul Sherman. Indy tells me you can find him in the rabbit hole.Roy H. Williams
12/7/20204 minutes, 59 seconds
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The Nine Juices of Life

Works of art are made by people who have tasted one or more of the nine juices of life and they want you to taste the juice, too. This was the belief of a teacher who lived in India 2,000 years ago. His thoughts were chronicled in the Natya Shastra of the Hindus. According to that teacher*, these are the Nine Juices of Life:Love heals pain and frees the ego. Your appreciation of beauty (gratitude) connects you to the source of love.Joy is expressed in laughter, contentment, and happiness. But if you pursue these things directly, they will evade you.Laughter, contentment and happiness are experienced only as a consequence of love.Wonder is the result of becoming fascinated with life. Playfulness and curiosity allow us to journey into mysteries that end in magical awe.Courage is the energy that comes when you call upon the Warrior within you. Courage manifests itself as bravery, confidence, and pride.Sadness allows you to experience compassion, that precious emotion that allows us to relate more deeply to one another. Grief is another expression of sadness, an inescapable part of healing.Anger is fire, heat and light. If anger is not acknowledged and respected, it becomes irritation, hatred, and violence. Feel your anger, but do not let it guide you. Actions taken in anger can destroy a lifetime of good.Fear is most commonly expressed as worry, doubt, and insecurity. When we hide beneath it, we shut down completely.Disgust is revulsion and rejection of something considered offensive, distasteful, or unpleasant. Disgust turned inward is self-pity and self-loathing. This cannot be healed except through love.Peace is not external, but within. It is that deep, relaxing calm that occurs when you become so full that you are empty. Five hundred and seven years ago, Giovanni Giocondo wrote about this kind of peace in a Christmas letter to a friend. “No peace lies in the future that is not hidden in this present little instant. Take peace!”If our Hindu teacher was right, every actor, musician, storyteller, painter, poet, dancer, sculptor, photographer, novelist and playwright is trying to express one or more of those nine feelings: Love, Joy, Wonder, Courage, Sadness, Anger, Fear, Disgust, and Peace.I’m not a Hindu, but I think the idea of the nine rasas is one worth contemplating.It has always been my conviction that interesting perspectives and ancient wisdom can be found in religions that are not your own. But even so, I am always unsettled when a person says, “All religions teach basically the same thing.”If a moral code is all you seek, then yes, most religions teach a similar moral code.But the laughter and joy of a reckless faith is an altogether different thing.Roy H. Williams* The theory of rasa is attributed to Bharata, a sage-priest who may have lived sometime between the 1st century BCE and the 3rd century CE. It was fully developed in about the year 1000 by the rhetorician and philosopher Abhinavagupta.
11/30/20205 minutes, 3 seconds
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Inside Your Eyelids

This is what good marketers see when they close their eyes:Win the heart and the mind will follow. The mind of the customer will always create logic to justify what their heart has already decided.We buy what we buy to remind ourselves – and announce to the world around us – who we are.A tribe is a group of self-selected insiders.Identify a tribe, (an affinity group.)Develop that tribe.Market to the tribe you have developed.Gathering your tribe is easy. (A.) In your first encounter, make sure they win big. Give them far more than they gave you. (B.) Speak to your tribe about what they ALREADY care about.All of the above can be summarized in two words: Identity Reinforcement.Entertainment is the currency with which you can purchase the time and attention of a too-busy public.Television and radio, YouTube videos, blog posts and social media deliver results because they deliver entertainment.Information is medicine. Entertainment is a spoonful of sugar.Reaching the customer is mechanical, a question of media selection.Convincing the customer is artistic, a question of message creation.Reaching the right people is easy. Saying the right thing is hard.Online, when you target the right customer at the zero moment of truth you are fishing with a hook for today’s customer.At the zero moment of truth online, the best hooks are information, availability, and free shipping.Customers seeking information have not yet chosen a preferred provider.Customers seeking availability want the product immediately.Customers seeking free shipping want to save money.When using mass media – TV and radio – at the zero moment of truth, your message must be urgent.Urgency is achieved when the desire is widespread, but the availability is limited.Customers in transactional mode are worried about spending money. They are willing to spend time to save money.Customers in relational mode are worried about spending time. They are willing to spend money to save time. This is why they will choose someone they feel they can trust. In the absence of a previously chosen preferred provider, they will choose to trust Google reviews and Amazon reviews.Television and radio are called mass media for a reason: they reach the unfiltered masses. When you use mass media, you are fishing with a net for future customers and their influencers.The goal of advertising in mass media is to become the preferred provider, the one the customer thinks of first and feels the best about.Mass media – TV and radio – can deliver big results quickly, but only for products that have broad appeal and a short purchase cycle.Food and entertainment have broad appeal and a short purchase cycle.Engagement rings and air conditioners have broad appeal and a long purchase cycle.The longer you use mass media, the better it works. The effects of mass media are cumulative. But it only works for products and services that have broad appeal.When using mass media long-term for products with a long purchase cycle, your message must be memorable.Mass media fails miserably for products with narrow appeal.When your product has narrow appeal, online media is your answer.Make your store and your website interesting. The seller who gets more of the customer’s time is the one most likely to get their money.Online, when you want to target the customer at the zero moment of truth, you have
11/23/20208 minutes, 4 seconds
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Like I Was Saying…

Every beginning starts with an ending.This is one of the principles of Pendulum theory.And the middle is always in the middle.When our fight with King George ended in 1783, thirteen powerless colonies became “The United States.” This was the beginning of the first America; 3 million citizens clinging to the eastern edge of a vast, uncharted wilderness. Truly, “a land of opportunity.”Eighty years later – 1863 – we were in the middle of a war between ourselves. (1861-1865)And July 2nd of that year – the middle day in the 3-day Battle of Gettysburg – was also the middle day of the middle year in our 5-year Civil War.Fourteen years after the Civil War ended, Charles M. Russell and Frederic Remington headed west to capture the ending of the Wild West. Their paintings and sculptures of those ending days now sell for millions of dollars.Nineteen years after Charlie and Fred headed West, Teddy Roosevelt led his “rough riders” up a hill during the Spanish-American War. His arrival on that hilltop signaled the end of the Wild West, the end of the Spanish Empire, and the end of the first America.1As I said earlier, every beginning starts with an ending.The second America began when Teddy became President in 1901. This second America was a land of progress and achievement, a World Power, a country of cars and department stores and Coca-Cola, electric lights, running water, and houses everywhere.Do you remember when Whitney Houston sang, “I Wanna Dance with Somebody”? America’s memory of the Civil War was more recent than that when they elected Teddy Roosevelt.One of Teddy’s first official actions was to invite Booker T. Washington, a black educator, to dinner at the White House. White-hot rage was ignited across the South. According to historian Deborah Davis, “There was hell to pay… This story did not go away. An assassin was hired to go to Tuskegee to kill Booker T. Washington. He was pursued wherever he went… There were vulgar cartoons of Mrs. Roosevelt that had never been done before.”The Revolutionary War ended and the first America began: Opportunity America.One hundred and twelve years later – 1901 – the second America began: Achievement America.One hundred and twelve years later – 2013 – the third America began: Virtual America,a “sharing economy” featuringvirtual ownership, (Airbnb, Uber, TaskRabbit)virtual currency, (Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin)virtual reality. (Facebook, Twitter, TikTok)2013 was also the halfway point in the upswing of society’s pendulum toward the zenith of our current “We” cycle. The halfway point is where we begin to take a good thing too far. In 2013 we shifted from “fighting together for the common good” to simply “fighting together.”Western Civilization2 has done this every 80 years for the past 3 millennia.I wrote at length about it in Pendulum several years ago:1783 marked the ending of our Revolutionary War.1783 was the zenith of a “We.”80 years later…1863 marked the middle of our Civil War.1863 was the zenith of a “We.”80 years later…1943 marked the middle of WWII.1943 was the zenith of a “We.”80 years later…2023 will mark the zenith of our current “We.”I wonder what we’ll be in the middle of then?Roy H....
11/18/20205 minutes, 27 seconds
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Do You Seuss?

Dr. Seuss had1. the courage to make up new words,2. the confidence that his readers would understand what these new words meant, and3. he was a master of meter, the rhythm that is created when you arrange your words so that the stressed and unstressed syllables fall into patterns.There are a couple dozen types of meter, but Dr. Seuss used only one of them, anapestic meter, sometimes called galloping meter because it tumbles off the tongue.People often conflate meter with rhyming. But meter does NOT have to rhyme to work its magic.“What magic?”The magic of being musical.“Meter makes words musical?”Yes.“Even when read silently?”Yes, even when read silently.“So, what’s the benefit of it?”When words become musical, they enter into the non-judgmental, pattern-recognition portion of your mind.“Non-judgmental?”The right hemisphere of the brain doesn’t know fact from fiction; that’s the left brain’s job. Pierre de Beaumarchais understood this way back in 1775.“How do you know?”It was in 1775 that Beaumarchais wrote in The Barber of Seville, “Anything too stupid to be spoken is sung.”“I think you’re making all this up.”Dr. Roger Sperry documented it in 1981 and they awarded him the Nobel Prize for it.“Oh… so maybe I should just shut up and listen?”Might be a good idea.“Please continue.”Bounty, the quicker-picker-upper.BMW. The ultimate driving machine.My client would not, could not, did not commit these crimes. If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit.“Are those examples of anapestic meter?”No, anapestic meter is two light stresses followed by a heavy third stress, like this:Oh, the sea is so full of a number of fish,if a fellow is patient, he might get his wish…and that’s why I think that I’m not such a foolwhen I sit here and fish in McElligot’s Pool.And who could forget,The children were nestled all snug in their beds,While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;And mamma in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,Had just settled down for a long winter’s nap,When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.Away to the window I flew like a flash,Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snowGave the lustre of mid-day to objects below,When what to my wondering eyes should appear,But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer…“Okay, but can you give me an example of anapestic meter that doesn’t rhyme?”And his cohorts were gleaming in purple and gold;And the sheen of their spears was like stars on the sea,Like the leaves of the forest when Summer is green,Like the leaves of the forest when Autumn has blown,For the Angel of Death spread his wings on the blast,And the eyes of the sleepers waxed deadly and chill,And there lay the steed with his nostril all wide,And the foam of his gasping lay white on the turf,And so there lay the rider distorted and grey,And the widows of Ashur are loud in their wail,So I walk by the edge of a lake in my dream.“But you said Dr. Seuss made up new words and trusted that people would know what they mean.”You want to hear some made-up words?“Yeah, but not from Dr. Seuss.”Why not?“Because I won’t be speaking or writing to little kids. My people are old enough to drive cars, drink beer, and vote.”Fair enough. Here are some grown-up, made-up words.The reason you haven’t seen me out is because I’ve been Hiberdating.I type slowly because I’m Unkeyboardinated.Give me a bus ticket to anywhere. I’m going Columbusing.I can’t remember where I...
11/16/20207 minutes, 22 seconds
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Battleground or Playground?

Jacques Cousteau, the man who made the world care about the ocean,said, “A lot of people attack the sea. I make love to it.”But he was French.Not being French, I don’t see each day’s work as a choice between attacking or love-making. I see the future unfurl each morning as a fork in the road. Will I choose the battleground or the playground?Do you see business as a necessity of life, a battleground swarming with vendors, employees, customers and competitors that have to be kept at bay? Or do you see each day as a playground where the principal game is called, “How can we make others happy?”I have lived a strange life these past 40 years, spending all day, every day talking with business owners about their best and worst experiences in business.What I have noticed is that there are patterns, one of which is that the “business is a playground” people are happier and more successful.They didn’t become happy because they were successful. They became successful because they were happy and wanted to make other people happy, too.1. Are you making people happy?2. How are you doing it?3. Where do you find your inspiration?Inspiration is an interesting subject. Decades of searching for it have taught me, “Take your inspiration from wherever you find it, no matter how ridiculous.”My hero Robert Frost found inspiration in ridiculous places as well.The way a crowShook down on meThe dust of snowFrom a hemlock treeHas given my heartA change of moodAnd saved some partOf a day I had rued.Here are three ridiculous places where I have found inspiration:J. Peterman catalogueChuck Lorre Vanity CardsChipotle Story CupsJ. Peterman catalogueIt’s Friday night at a 200-year-old pub off O’Connell Street in Dublin. World headquarters for conversation. Dark mahogany walls. Lean-faced men. Ruddy-faced women. The bursts of laughter aren’t polite, but real, approaching the edge of uncontrol. The stories being told are new, freshly minted, just for you. There is no higher honor. The room roar is high (but still, not as bad as in New York restaurants where you can’t make out what it is you, yourself just said). These Irishmen, in collarless Irish shirts and tweed caps, have managed to keep their mouths shut all week, saving up the good stuff for now, for Friday night, this very place, this very moment… How could one single city possibly give birth to Yeats, Shaw, Joyce, Wilde, Beckett… and all those here tonight as well? Working-Class Irish Pub Shirt, well-suited for both the intoxication of talk and the difficult art of listening. Not bad for just hanging out, either. Or, when absolutely necessary, for looking interesting. Simple collar band. Seven-button placket. Stud at neck. No-nonsense, rounded shirttails. Two-button cuff. No pocket. You’ve got to carry everything you’ve got… in your head.Chuck Lorre Vanity Cards# 397 CENSORED BY ME (by myself) I’ve decided to save everybody a lot of unhappiness and not submit this week’s vanity card to the CBS censors (I know when I’ve crossed the line with these things and I don’t need a bunch of corporate lawyers getting their cotton blend panties in a bunch). Accordingly, I’ve banished the offending card to that dark place where all my offending cards go – the internet. View the censored 397.#634  Russia, if you’re reading this, hack into the Nielsen computers and make our ratings higher.Chipotle Story CupsIn 2014, Chipotle asked a number of America’s best writers to craft stories to print on the sides of their cups. This is the story written by bestselling author Barbara Kingsolver:“Two-Minute Cheer for the Home Team”The ancient human social...
11/9/20207 minutes, 9 seconds
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Is Your Company Out of Rhythm?

The economy, commerce, business, the stock market and free trade: all of these were built on our ability to sell things to each other.This is why the job of the ad writer is incredibly important.Television and radio, newspapers and magazines, direct mail and email, word-of-mouth and live chat, social media and outdoor, telephone calls and sales calls are just different channels of communication.Every point-of-contact with your customer is a channel of communication.Your website is where questions are answered and additional information is gathered. But this doesn’t happen until the customer first hears about you and is intrigued enough to seek you out.External messaging – advertising, social media, news stories, and word-of-mouth – is where the conversation begins.External messaging usually triggers a visit to your website.This is the first hand-off in the relay race.If your website is built for ecommerce, the sale might be closed there, and the conversation ended. But if you have a phone room, or face-to-face salespeople, their job is to continue the conversation begun by external messaging and accelerated by your website.When a customer leaves your website to contact a salesperson, this is the second hand-off in the relay race. The baton is now in the hand of the third runner, a live human being.Have you ever seen a three-legged race where the right leg of one team member is tied to the left leg of another team member, requiring them to run in a synchronized manner?The first runner is your ad writer. The second runner is your salesperson. The bond that ties them together is your website. When these are synchronized, coordinated, and singing the same song, you have channel alignment and a high close rate.When they are managed separately, each of them going their own way, you have salespeople complaining that they aren’t getting “good leads” and that your ads are “reaching the wrong people.”I’ve never seen a company fail due to reaching the wrong people. But I’ve seen countless companies struggle due to a lack of channel alignment.I’m done talking now.Roy H. Williams
11/2/20203 minutes, 47 seconds
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Seinfeld and Solnit

Seinfeld was “a show about nothing,” but we couldn’t get enough of it because each of us knew a George, an Elaine, and a Kramer.Rebecca Solnit’s book, The Faraway Nearby, reminds me of Seinfeld. I love this book, but I can’t really explain what it’s about. Solnit can write about nothing and keep you mesmerized. Sort of like Tom Robbins, but entirely different.Sigh.I’m not sure what else to tell you.“In this gorgeously written and insightful book, Solnit weaves essay and memoir so that the nature of the story itself is sharply drawn from every imaginable angle. Personal history, geography, maps, ice, mirrors, and breath play back and forth, as the structural threads of narrative are wound, knotted, and unwound… In a world increasingly bereft of the genuine, Solnit’s writing shines with heart, wit, and soul.”– Lindsay Hill, Publishers Weekly“The product of a remarkable mind at work, one able to weave a magnificent number of threads into a single story, demonstrating how all our stories are interconnected.”– Bookforum“A brilliant, genre-refuting book.” – San Francisco ChronicleHere is an example of what those people – and me – are trying to describe:“I used to go to Ocean Beach, the long strip of sand facing the churning Pacific at the end of my own city, for reinforcement, and it always put things in perspective, a term that can be literal too. The city turned into sand and the sand into surf and the surf into ocean and just to know that the ocean went on for many thousands of miles was to know that there was an outer border to my own story, and even to human stories, and that something else picked up beyond. It was the familiar edge of the unknown, forever licking at the shore.”“I found books and places before I found friends and mentors, and they gave me a lot, if not quite what a human being would. As a child, I spun outward in trouble, for in that inside-out world, everywhere but home was safe. Happily, the oaks were there, the hills, the creeks, the groves, the birds, the old dairy and horse ranches, the rock outcroppings, the open space inviting me to leap out of the personal into the embrace of the nonhuman world.”“Once when I was in my late twenties, I drove to New Mexico with my friend Sophie, a fierce, talented, young black-haired green-eyed whirlwind who had not yet found her direction. We had no trouble convincing ourselves it was worthwhile to drive the two days each way to New Mexico because there was a darkroom there that she could use to print photographs for a project we had. In those days we were exploring what we wished to become, what the world might give us, and what we might give it, and so, though we did not know it, wandering was our real work anyway.”“I had discovered the desert west a few years before with the force of one falling in love and had learned something of how to enter it and move through it…”– Rebecca Solnit, The Faraway Nearby, p. 31-32We relate to Seinfeld because we, too, have had Jerry’s friends but called them by different names.We relate to Rebecca Solnit because we, too, have felt alone, discarded, and ignored.We relate to Rebecca because we have driven to New Mexico with a crazy friend.Who was your crazy friend?What crazy things did you do together?How did it happen that you fell out of touch?Roy H. Williams
10/26/20204 minutes, 54 seconds
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How to Walk Through an Advertising Minefield

If you are going to communicate effectively with a person, you need to know something about their beliefs.Most writers assume their readers see and believe as they do. And when they knowingly write to people who believe differently, their writing often takes the tone of an argument, leaning heavily on evidence and examples, with undertones of disparagement and mischaracterization. Such writers persuade no one, but rather drive the wedge deeper.1. To make the sale, you must win the respect of your audience.2. Belief is never a matter of evidence; it is always a matter of choice.3. You cannot take a person where you want them to go, until you first meet them where they are.4. (A) Perspective: You have to see through their eyes.(B) Empathy: Feel what they feel.(C) Use the words they love. When you meet your customer in that safe place, and establish the bond of a common perspective, then you can gently begin to give them new information.5. People never change their minds. If you give them the same information they were given in the past, they will continue to make the same decision they made in the past. They will continue to disagree with you.6. When a person appears to have “changed their mind,” they have simply made a new decision based on new information. And this new information should always be shared from the platform of a common perspective.7. Win the heart and the mind will follow.The mind will always create logic to justify what the heart has already decided.This will be the first ad in a one-year series:My name is Tim Schmidt and you’ve probably never heard of my company. We teach people how to avoid danger, save lives, and keep their loved ones safe. We currently have nearly half-a-million members. But still, you’ve probably never heard of us. Because our members are trained NOT to talk about it. Chances are, some of our members are friends of yours. And they’ve never told you. Because talking about it is NOT what we do. What we do is avoid danger, save lives, and keep our loved ones safe. Our members are doctors and single moms and firemen and grandmothers and Veterans and Democrats and Republicans and members of every faith. We are thoughtful, responsible, and non-violent. But when you are with one of our members, you are safe, because they know exactly what to do if something crazy happens. More importantly, they know exactly what NOT to do. We are the United States Concealed Carry Association. See what we’re all about at Discover the little-known backstory of the US Concealed Carry Association at USConcealedCarry.comHere’s an interesting question:Q: Why would anyone ever knowingly walk into a minefield?A: Because they need to get to the other side.Is there a minefield you need to cross?Have you been avoiding it because everyone keeps telling you how dangerous it is?Are you ready to get started?Roy H. Williams
10/19/20204 minutes, 24 seconds