What Great Sales Pitches, Marketing and Movies Have in Common

Marketers ruin everything…

Take storytelling, for example.

Storytelling is beautiful. It’s an art that grabs people by the shirt-collar and takes them on an emotional journey. But marketers are trying to ruin it…

It all started with Donald Miller’s Build a Storybrand book. That book was actually quite good and insightful, but it set off a wave of marketers infecting the art of storytelling with “tricks and tactics” and gimmicky formulas.

But rest assured: good storytelling is still alive and well. And if you want to learn it, I suggest doing so by watching great films, reading great fiction, or reading about it from literary geniuses…

NOT MARKETERS.

All that said…

I, a Marketer, am now going to ironically share with you four powerful storytelling lessons I learned from watching A Quiet Place: Part 2 over the weekend. I’ve seen these lesson improve sales pitches, marketing messages and great movies alike, and I’m absolutely in love with them.

1) Great Stories Start With a Situation

You don’t need a well-planned roadmap or copied-and-pasted formula. You need a captivating situation.

For example:

In A Quiet Place Part 1, the situation is that dangerous creatures roam the earth, hunting and killing anything that makes sound. You’re immediately made aware of the situation.

But, to keep the audience captivated by the tricky situation, there are a couple simple rules to follow.

2) Coincidences Should Never Help The Good Guy

When coincidences help the good guys, it ruins the story. For example, in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, the heroes all get sucked into a pit under the dessert. And for just a moment, you think “oooh, what a tricky situation! I bet that’ll be hard to get out of.”

But, it actually turns out to be super easy, and the heroes just happen to find exactly what they came to this massive dessert planet looking for. 🤦‍♂️

The coincidence killed the journey. Coincidences should only work in favor of the bad guys. That makes the story much more riveting.

3) Use “But” and “Therefore” to Connect Points, Not “And”

A Quite Place also uses a trick Matt Stone and Trey Parker used in making their show South Park: The story should connect with “but” and “therefore,” never “and”…

That’s because this “and” this happened “and” this happened “and” this happened is boring.

“BUT” this happened “therefore” this happened “BUT” this happened “therefore” this happened is way more interesting.

They escape the monsters, BUT then make sound. Therefore, they get away from the monsters again, BUT then they start running out of oxygen. Therefore they get new oxygen, BUT then the monster finds them. Therefore they blow up the oxygen to fight off the monster, BUT the monster survives!

It’s captivating.

4) The Stakes are Real

My biggest peeve with Avengers: Endgame is that they had two big opportunities to make the story feel EPIC, but missed it…

1) Time travel. How on earth will they figure that out? What will it cost? That could have been fascinating. Right?…

Or, maybe not…

Turns out to be super easy for Tony Stark. He comes up with time travel while he’s doing the dishes. LAME.

2) Time travel stakes. This one is a real bummer…

Everyone’s thinking “WHOA… Tony is going to have to choose between his daughter and the universe!” And that would have been a RIVETING story.

BUT… They came up with a nice coincidence to help the good guy get out of it. Turns out changing the past doesn’t change the future. He can conveniently go back in time and still return home to his daughter for supper. 🤦‍♂️

Convenient, but it hurt the story. You have to give the characters real stakes.

Great Pitches Do the Same Things

They give prospects a tricky situation to navigate.

The coincidences in the market actually make things tougher for the prospect, which is what your product’s various features helps with.

You use “But” and “Therefore” to lead the prospect to the need for your product.

And, you show that the stakes of not taking action are real. That’ll give prospects a captivating story to put themselves in.

But, I digress. I am a Marketer after all…

The Question.

Spring 2017, my son was born.

His name’s Easton, and he came out with a lion’s mane of soft, silky hair that had only recently been plucked from the hair-trees in heaven. I could snuggle him and run my hands through his mane for hours. 

He was born in the morning, so the rest of the day was pretty chaotic with doctors and nurses rushing about running tests. But at night, when everything calmed down, my wife lay on her hospital bed while I sat on the chair next to her, my shirt off, holding my new baby boy close to my heart.

I wept. I wept as though my eyes were channeling the endless falls of Niagara. 

To hold that precious tiny little boy in my arm and know that his life was, quite literally, in my hands… 
That was the closest I’ve felt to God. 

I think there’s something beautiful about these powerful moments we experience at the beginning and ending of lives. Both are cause for celebration in their own way. Both leave us speechless, wondering why. In my case, it was “Why me? Why do I deserve this precious untainted soul?”

When I was a missionary in Ghana, I started most conversations with “if God was standing here right now, and you could ask him anything, what would it be?” And in that part of the world, most of the questions people asked had to do with hardship. With why God lets bad things happen to good people. 

But for me, it’s the opposite. My question has always been “why do good things happen to people like me? Why was I blessed to be born in the most fabulously wealthy nation in history? Why do I have good health, sufficient means to take care of myself, and people to love…. but others don’t?”

And in return, the answer I’ve always gotten is not an answer but rather a question…

What God’s said back is “There’s no telling for now. The question is what will you do with it all?” 

Pac-Man and Education Will Die Together

Pac-Man would be a terrible teacher. And yet, the way we’ve built education is to teach our children and scholars to act like Pac-Man:

To go along collecting dots. Memorize the textbook, fill in the right bubbles on a scantron sheet, gather information for the sake of information. Collect the dots.

The result is millions of students graduating with a fancy certificate and a big bag of dots they have no clue what to do with.

It is a far more worthy ideal to connect the dots. To find meaningful connections and solve real problems.

Here are a few inspiring examples:

On Twitter, David Perell shared this fascinating connection between rivers, blood vessels, tress branches and tree roots:

Everything is connected.

And rather than compartmentalize the different elements of our lives (physical, mental, social, emotional, financial, spiritual), Melissa and I realized they’re all connected. And if you focus on physical well-being, it has a disproportionately positive influence on all the others.

When Reed Hastings & Marc Randolph started Netflix, it was also the result of a fascinating connection:

Marc knew he wanted to start an internet company. The problem was what kind? He tried direct-to-consumer shampoo delivery, custom-made dog food, but those didn’t hit. Then he made a connection between

  1. direct-to-consumer products
  2. the internet
  3. the rise of DVDs (which were not mainstream yet)

The result was Netflix.

Today, Netflix is a $25 billion company and is expected to spend over $19 billion on content in 2021.

I can’t think of a single class, lesson or test in school that could possibly prepare someone to make the connections necessary to build the next Netflix.

“Waka, waka, what the he**?”

The evolution of education needs to focus on helping students A) make meaningful connections and B) solve real problems. Memorization does us no good.

And the evolution of Pac-Man needs to take those cheeks full of dots and use them to create something beautiful.

But maybe we can just focus on education for now…

❤️// Zac “waka waka waka waka waka waka waka” Garside

P.S. You can play Pac-Man by clicking this link.

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Earn Your MBA in 4 Minutes

I saw this amazing post this week:

Ain’t that the freakin’ truth.

Then I had an idea…

What if I curated a list of resources that teach MBA school topics better than and in less time than a traditional MBA?

(NOTE: I don’t have an MBA, and I don’t intend to get one. So take my opinion with a grain of salt. Then again, if you take anyone on the internet too seriously, you have more serious problems.)

So, I’ve curated these free online resources that teach the major topics taught in most MBA programs better than those MBA programs – and you can read through the whole thing in 4 minutes. I’ve also attempted to summarize each resource so you can learn their main point in 7 seconds or less.

Onward:

Finance

On Twitter, Sahil Bloom demystifies and teaches Finance better than most MBA programs. He covers markets, money printing, sound money, bubbles, credit and debt, bonds and yields, call options, put options, margin trading, short-selling, bankruptcy, SPAC, gold standard, mafia bonds, fund rebalancing, perverse incentives **GASPS FOR BREATH** and several other topics in one of Twitter’s most epic threads:

How to Get Rich

Another world-famous Twitter thread by Naval Ravikant. The fact is, without leverage, accountability and knowing what you uniquely have to offer this world, you won’t get rich without getting lucky:

Leadership

Leadership is the act of giving people control over their work, competence in their work and clarity of why their work matters. Give them that and they will give you the world.

David Marquet offers how to be a great leader better than any MBA program here:

Marketing

People make decisions to get closer to pleasure or further away from pain. That’s it. If you can offer both, you win.

Cole Schafer teaches the psychology of selling better than an MBA program in this article, The Psychology of Selling.

Strategy

A strategy is your articulation of 1) how your customer’s world is changing, 2) what’s at stake if they don’t adapt to that change, 3) how adapting will get them closer to pleasure and further from pain and 4) and how you can personally guide them on that journey with your product or service. It doesn’t need to get more complicated than that.

Andy Raskin teaches how to craft a Strategic Narrative in his popular article “The Greatest Sales Deck I’ve Ever Seen.

And here’s a BONUS STRATEGY TIP from Brian Knight:

Goal Setting

Goal setting is as simple as defining where you want to go, then asking yourself and your team “How?” until you can’t answer the question any further.

Take it from Andrew Holliday in this LinkedIn post.

The Truth About Hard Work

Work smarter not harder. Use a lever not your back.

Like Naval said, you need leverage. Hard work is overrated and a relic of the ancient industrial age.

Many thanks to Jack Butcher for this great meme that teaches the truth about hard word better than any MBA program:

Sales & Negotiation

Chris Voss, a former FBI hostage negotiator, provides highly practical methods for selling and negotiating in his book Never Split the Difference. Here’s a takeaway that taught me more about negotiation than business school ever did:

People are emotional creatures. To negotiate, rephrase the most important three words of what someone has said, get them to say “that’s right,” and ask “how am I supposed to…?” questions when they make a request that’s not aligned with your goals.

Chris breaks it down in this fantastic Google Talk:

Trust

It’s the one thing that fixes everything. If you create a place where people feel safe from danger, they’ll trust you.

Simon Sinek makes simple sense of trust in this TED Talk:

Creativity

We’re all born creative. But the obsolete education system beats it out of us at a young age.

To get or stay creative, create. Get away from the device. Make a contribution.

Seth Godin teaches creativity here:

(BONUS CREATIVITY TIP: Ed Catmull, in his book Creativity, Inc., teaches that a good team can make a bad idea good. But also, a bad team can ruin a good idea. Protect and nurture ideas for maximum creativity.)

On Learning

This one’s from me.

We’re at a crucial fork in the road. Traditional education is obsolete.

Notice what I just said there…

Education is obsolete. Not broken, not damaged, not dying…

It’s obsolete. It’s already dead. There’s no saving it. And if you’re hoping for some external entity like the government to save it, your hope will die in vain.

It’s on us to fix it. It’s on us to nurture leadership and to teach each other and our children good decision making and leverage. It’s on us to show each other how to seek out good information and build even better connections.

Learning is about solving problems and doing real work. It’s not about memorization or filling in scantron bubbles. It’s about learning how to create change in this world.

When my kid asks his teacher if can pee and the teacher says, “I don’t know, can you?, I hope my kid will stand there with his chest high and say “I don’t know, let’s see,” then pee his pants right there on the spot. I’ll gladly bring him new pants, pick him up and take him to lunch.

Why? Is it because I’m a psychopath that wants to watch the world burn?

Nope. It’s because I don’t want a system that rewards compliance and punishes creativity and questioning to beat the greatness out of my child. I want him to question things, solve problems and learn to create a better world for all.

We can all learn anything we want whenever we want. I hope this article has shown you that.

What’s left now is for us to connect with each other, solve interesting problems, and learn how to be leaders.

Here’s to learning.

If You’re “Competing,” You’ve Already Lost

I was a sophomore in high school…

It was a brand new high school, and the energy in the auditorium for our “opening assembly” was palpable.

I was shy, as I had been for the last three years in middle school. I sat in the back-half of the auditorium next to a random kid from my biology class.

The drill team danced, the student body officers hyped up the crowd and funny videos played to reveal our brand new school’s theme: Begin the Adventure. It was cool.

But then, the Student Body President stepped up to the podium for his welcoming speech…

This guy was something special.

I don’t remember anything he said in that speech, but I do remember how it made me feel:

Inspired.

Though I was shy and though I didn’t know very many students, I made a commitment in my heart that day that in two years time, when I was a Senior, I would be that guy. I would be the Student Body President and deliver a speech that moved the students’ emotions the same way my mine were moved that day.

Over the next two years, I had that image of myself standing at that podium etched in my brain. I thought about it virtually every day of my sophomore and junior years:

  • I thought about it while I made an absolute fool of myself in assemblies hyping up students
  • I thought about it when I bought a megaphone my junior year just so I could be known as “that guy” with the megaphone
  • I thought about it every time I prepared a speech for students, administrators and faculty
  • And I tried to think about it as I engaged with students, wanting desperately to be someone that was consistent (I didn’t want to be the kid who became unusually friendly during election season…)

Call it a self-fulfilling prophecy…

I did it. I did exactly what I set out to do.

Yes, it sounds silly, I was just a teenager. But here’s why this is important:

I discovered two things at that time on an emotional level that I’ve only recently come to understand on an intellectual one:

One – “You become what you think about.” ~ Earl Nightingale

Nightingale is telling the truth in his radio episode “The Strangest Secret” that if you set a goal, keep it in front of you and move with intention to pursue that goal, you will get it.

Two – You must apply “specific knowledge” to be successful

Naval Ravikant talks about specific knowledge. It’s knowledge that:

  1. You can’t be trained on
  2. Comes from your natural curiosity
  3. Feels like play to you but work to others

I found my specific knowledge as a 17-year-old: speaking. Inspiring people.

No one trained me on it. It’s something I’m just insatiably curious about and feels like play to me. While other people would rather die than give a speech, I see speeches as a beautiful opportunity to move people.

I lost sight of my “specific knowledge” and the power goal setting while my brain was being rewired by the evil traditional college system. But I’ve recently come back in touch with it, and it feels AMAZING.

I’ve also come to learn that when you pursue a worthy goal using your “specific knowledge,” no one can compete with you. It’s impossible. That’s because you’re not pursuing your goals or using your “specific knowledge” to “win…”

You’re doing it because the doing is a reward unto itself.

The outcome is irrelevant when you’re pursuing a genuine passion and curiosity.

Consider a few brands who have no competition:

Joe Rogan, who makes $50,000,000+ every year on his podcast.

Tim Ferris who is also fabulously wealthy from his.

Simon Sinek is a household name.

Jack Butcher is a category of one.

Even the company I work at, Power Selling Pros, has virtually no real “competition” after 13 years of success.

They all pursue a worthy goal with “specific knowledge” that only they have.

And yet, our traditional MBA programs teach us about competition, porter’s five forces and how to “set yourself apart” from competing businesses and job applicants.

While competition does exist, it’s the wrong thing for most people, especially young MBA students, to be thinking or learning about.

Instead, set goals. Pursue your “specific knowledge.”

And if you want help identifying yours, let me know. I’d be happy to help you find the “peaks and valleys” as they’re called that indicate where in your life you’ve found it.

I hope this inspires you.

My Writing Portfolio

I PUT THE NEEDLES IN THE WORLD’S CONTENT HAYSTACKS.

Hey mystery reader. 

I’m Zac. I’m the owner of this website and a Freelance Writer eager to help you with your brand’s narrative messaging strategy.

REASON BEING IS THIS:

Most companies treat their content like Amazon treats movies: they publish the occasional fool’s gold nugget in the midst of an unfathomable sea of absolute garbage.

It’s embarrassing, really. To drive my point home further, consider this question:

What brands do you genuinely trust for high-quality information 100% of the time?

If you’re like me, the answer is almost none.

Due to this fact, I hold three core beliefs about the power of content in today’s information-saturated economy:

1) A single piece of world-class content is worth more to a brand than any amount of paid advertising. Just ask Dollar-Shave Club…

2) When you find the right audience for your brand’s message, and you deliver a piece of world-class content to that audience, they will refer back to it again and again to achieve success in their personal and professional lives.

3) World-class content changes the way people think, the way they feel about themselves and the world around them and the way they act toward their fellow-man.

(But beware lest ye lose your soul pleasing the SEO overlords in the process)

Once you have a piece of content that does all this, you must hereby dub it as “pillar content.” It is content that you build your entire marketing strategy on.

NOW…

Below, you’ll see my “portfolio.” 

They say a picture is worth a thousand words…

But did you know words can be worth a thousand pictures?

It’s rare, but possible.

Here’s some times I’ve done it…

EMAILS THAT SELL

I write emails that make the rest of your inbox disappear.

Email is my bread and butter. This cockroach of marketing isn’t going anywhere, and if you get it right, it can drive massive growth for your brand. See for yourself and sink your thumb into these tasty reads.

To date, I’ve written thousands of emails that generate sales and keep the pipeline full for high-ticket items. Some examples (for privacy reasons, I can’t share the actual emails – but here are the stats)…

  • Subject: How a millennial influenced 100 people to NOT work with a small business
    • Sent to 1,173 people
    • Open rate: 39%
    • CTR: 7%
  • Subject: A letter from one of your customers
    • Sent to 3,378 people
    • Open rate: 53%
  • Subject: Ultimate Guide to Phenomenal Customer Service
    • Sent to 4,304 people
    • Open rate: 31.7%
    • CTR: 4.7%
  • Subject: (VIDEO) One simple trick to boost call conversion.
    • Sent to 6,429 people
    • Open rate: 24.6%
    • CTR: 5.9%

(BONUS: I’m featured on the impeccable Eddie Shleyner’s Micro-Course “Copywriting Wisdom of the Crowd” for sharing this little nugget about selling with features (not benefits):

ADDICTIVE YET INSPIRING ARTICLES

As the Head of Marketing for Power Selling Pros, I’ve penned hundreds of articles and emails to sell our high-ticket coaching programs for Home Service Contractors. Here are a few of the articles:

And a while back, I was brought on by the incredible copywriter Cole Schafer & brand builder Andrew Holliday to write some articles. Here’s a few:

Here’s some other work I’ve done for Sawyer, the “AirBnb” of Children’s Activities:

Also, I write regularly for Texas Farm & Ranch’s website and published magazines:

Getting the Most You Can Out of All You’ve Got – published in the national Farm & Ranch Magazine:

What to think about when buying a ranch – published in the national Farm & Ranch Magazine:

Bernard “Bernie” Uechtritz on Rural Real Estate Post-COVID-19 – published in Texas Farm & Ranch Magazine:

READY TO WORK TOGETHER?

Message me: zac@freemba.co

My Disgusting, Festering Mess of a Presentation

A few days ago, I went back to watch a speech I gave in 2017. It was for the Utah State University Citizen’s Scholar Conference…

And it was putrid.

Awful. Downright disgraceful. I can’t believe I allowed myself to give such a horrifically boring presentation on a topic I care so much about (empathy). And to punish myself for the dastardly speech, I’m allowing you to witness the humiliation here if you’d like: https://youtu.be/29oHM8Q2swM

And if not, I thank you for sparing me the embarrassment.

“Aww come on, Zac… that wasn’t so bad!”

You’re kind, but you’re wrong. It was bad. Very bad. And here’s why:

I started with “The purpose of my research is to persuade the general public…”

A terrible way to start ANY presentation. I then took it a step further down the slow and treacherous path to presentation purgatory:

“Empathy is defined in the Oxford English Dictionary as a physical property of the nervous system…”

Who farted?

As Gordon Ramsay would say:

Alright, enough of the self-loathing. The good news of all this is that I now know, after four years, exactly what went wrong and how to fix it. The problem with my speech was that I didn’t start with a story.

That’s it.

If I had started with a gripping emotional story about how I learned or earned the knowledge I came to share (something I learned from Russell Brunson’s book Expert Secrets) it would have changed the trajectory of my speech entirely.

In fact, to my hypothesis here to the test, I redid the speech without any preparation whatsoever. Because when I first gave it back in 2017, I had spent months researching empathy and building my own framework around it. I put together beautiful slides and impressive research to give my claims validity.

Yet despite all that effort, my words fell flatter than a pancake at McDonald’s (I mean really, have you seen how flat those puppies are?).

But the redone version with no preparation? Though it’s not perfect, I’m 100% confident it’s better. And the reason why is simple:

I started with a story. And anytime you’re preparing a presentation, you should too.


If you’d like, you can listen to the redone version on my podcast Spiky-Haired Thoughts here.

How to Coach Anyone

Coaching is simple, but it’s not easy. Great coaching goes against all our natural impulses.

When faced with helping someone get better, our tendency is to take control. To “do it ourselves” or “be the hero.”

But trust me, no one wants you to be their hero. They want to be their own hero.

A great coach doesn’t swoop in and save the day, they guide. Here’s how:

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1. To coaching anyone, you need good conversation.

But good conversation doesn’t come easy. To start a good conversation, remember these insights:

Once you have a good conversation started, the ongoing quality of the conversation depends on your personal character. All the trickery and tactics of good conversation in the world fall apart (eventually) if you lack strong character.

To develop stronger character, remember…

2. The four coaching principles:

When an attitude of real intent, “extreme listening,” self-reliance and positive trajectory permeate the conversation, things go well regardless of how much you know about a topic or how skilled you are in the “tactics” of good conversation.

That’s because the best coaches aren’t always the most highly skilled. They’re the people with the strongest character. We’re drawn to people who radiate optimism, integrity and honesty.

Now, the greatest challenge of coaching is making sure we’re addressing the real challenge.

To do that, I’m not going to reinvent the wheel… instead, I’ll turn to Michael Bungay-Stanier, a world leader in the art of coaching. He teaches that you can identify the real challenge by asking…

3. The 7 coaching questions:

  1. What’s on your mind?
  2. And what else? (asked multiple times because a person’s first answer is never their best answer)
  3. What do you want?
  4. What’s the real challenge here for you?
  5. How can I help?
  6. If you’re saying yes to this, what are you saying no to?
  7. What’s been more useful here for you?

Now at this point, based on the quality of your conversation and your character and the questions you’ve asked, you should have an idea of what this person really needs. So your next goal is to guide them toward the real solution to their real challenge. To do that, we’ll use…

4. The four coaching quadrants

The breakdown is simple: your job is to help this person you are coaching to identify what the next step is for them. Which of the four quadrants do they need to enter to address their real challenge.

When you know what quadrant they are dealing with…

If they’re having severe performance issues in life or work, then formal performance coaching with a subject-matter expert is needed.

If they need to improve their performance at something, but the need for improvement isn’t so severe that they could get fired or experience a similarly disastrous consequence, informal performance coaching from a boss or respected peer may be the answer. This is usually achieved by mustering up the courage to ask for help.

If it’s more a matter of personal development than performance, you may be able to help if you ask the right questions.

The four quadrants are meant to help you identify what the real solution to their real challenge is.

Offer your advice in a friendly, straight-forward way. “It seems like you’re dealing with a [performance/mindset/relationship] problem. What are your thoughts?”

Let’s review:

  1. Great coaching starts with a thoughtful question and great conversation.
  2. To keep the conversation going, embody the four coaching principles: real intent, “extreme listening,” self-reliance and positive trajectory.
  3. To find the real challenge someone is dealing with, ask Michael Bungay-Stanier’s 7 coaching questions.
  4. To find the real solution they need, try to identify which of the four coaching quadrants they are dealing with. Then, guide them in the direction they should go.

That’s how to coach anyone.

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The Opportunity We’re Wasting

It’s stupid. I mean really stupid. It’s outrageous, in fact.

Every one of you reading this email, myself included, has instant, free access to 4.5 billion other people. And yet, how do we use this power that our ancestors could only dream of?…

We use it to watch cat videos and short clips of Gordon Ramsay cussing at restaurant owners (guilty 🤚).

I share this because I’m studying something I think the Free MBA audience can benefit from hearing about:

“The Permissionless Apprentice” by Jack Butcher. Everyone here should cough up the $49 it costs to buy that course. And if you have kids above the age of 16, get it for them, too. Here’s why:

Jack’s decree is simple: you don’t need permission to act, you have the internet. You have the ability to create something of value for someone without their permission, then offer it to them (arbitrage…).

Want to design for a brand you love? Do it. Just make the designs. Then, find the decision maker (LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, email… I guarantee you can find a way to contact them), send them what you made and show them the upside of giving you their attention.

For example: back in 2019, I wanted to become a freelance copywriter. I didn’t know where to start. So, I paid $97 to buy Cole Schafer’s “How to write words that sell like a Florida snow cone vendor on the hottest day of the year.

After I’d read it, I sent Cole an email expressing my gratitude and asking some additional questions. He responded, we had a good email exchange, then it ended.

I responded to a few more emails with comments and praise, he always responded back. I promoted his course in a few places online.

All the while I expecting nothing in return.

When he held a headline writing contest online I contributed an entry. I didn’t win, but he Venmoed me $50 anyway as a thanks for supporting him.

Seven months after our first email exchange, Cole asked if I’d be interested in doing some writing with him.

I said yes (obviously…)

And in 2020 I made well over $10,000 writing for people Cole introduced me to alone. And that’s nothing compared to what people who take this path more seriously earn.

And the “hours” involved were significantly less than what a traditional job would have required for that kind of pay…

Right now, I’m working without permission on another project for someone else I admire. They have no idea I’m doing it, but I intend to send it to them when I’m done and offer $20 for wasting their time if they don’t like it.

We are sitting on an absolute treasure trove of opportunity with the internet. It’s insane my friends. Take advantage.

You could take the traditional university path (these are Jack Butcher’s words, not mine):

“Memorize this and we’ll give you a certificate that confirms you memorized it, you owe us $xxx,xxx.” In the U.S., that number is above $42,000 for one year.

Or, you could take the path of The Apprentice (again, Jack’s words):

“Choose a skill, practice relentlessly, and we’ll pay you more as you get better.”

Be an apprentice. Thanks to the internet, the only person you need permission from is yourself.

“Automate or Die”

There’s two types of learning:

1) “Just in case” learning: this is learning done in school. Geometry, geography, calculus, physics. Stuff you learn just in case you need it one day.

2) “Just in time” learning: this is learning that’s personal, timely and relevant. It’s just in time. “I can use this to make my life better right now.”

Today’s topic is something I hope you’ll find as just-in-time learning.

At my full-time job, I’m building out lots of reporting and automation right now. Stuff that’s going to be very cool and helpful when it’s done.

But the process of creating it all right now?

For someone of my skill set and tastes, it feels akin to trudging a marathon through thick molasses. It’s terrible. But here’s why the work of automating repeatable tasks and tracking important metrics is so crucial:

  • It gives you freedom – commodity tasks like billing people, entering data, depositing money into your Roth IRA or 401k, paying your own bills, or pulling reports to see how your business or department is performing are tedious. But when you build systems around them and automate them, you just got back the most precious resource of all: time.
  • It gives you confidence – when you ask most people (both in life and business) to reveal their habits, processes and results, they shiver. They hide behind the guise of “well, we’re working really hard…” or “we’re very busy.” Because being busy and working hard are great excuses for turning in poor results. They garner sympathy points. But being busy and working hard are choices. And so is automating and building. The latter requires greater upfront work, but it gives you so much freedom in the long-run.
  • It gives you valuable ($$$) skills – wanna make more money? Have more fun? Learn to love and excel at what other people hate. Most people hate automating and building systems. And that’s exactly why the experts in automation can charge a premium for their work.

Here are some things you can automate:

  • your gym schedule
  • your meal plans
  • your marketing
  • your sales outreach
  • your retirement contributions
  • your budget
  • your grocery delivery
  • expense reports
  • spreadsheet tracking

Imagine all the time you’ll get back if you automate those repeatable commodity tasks. Imagine how much more you’ll be able to focus energy on what you actually love?

“Automate or die.”

Shout out to Jack Butcher for inspiring this mini-article.