Wizard of Ads Monday Morning Memo

Roy H. Williams


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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1911 episodes

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.” REVIEW __ __ 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...

Apr 01
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 MondayMorningMemo.com and type “1963 ALL OVER AGAIN” https://www.mondaymorningmemo.com/newsletters/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 Google.com 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. Williams 50,000 new restaurants open in the United States each year, and most of them are...

Mar 25
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 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: __ __ THESE ARE THE REASONS BEHIND THOSE QUESTIONS: __ __ 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: __ At the end of 36 months, you will know if your business owner is tall enough to ride this...

Mar 18
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 https://amarillowater.com/?utm_source=google&utm_medium=gmb&utm_campaign=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.  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 adventures https://www.polygon.com/century-of-disney/23762914/disney-animated-films-ranked-adaptations-faithfulness-to-the-source-materialbegin 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

Mar 11
How to Become Invisible

THERE ARE TWO WAYS TO BECOME INVISIBLE, AND BOTH ARE EASILY ACCOMPLISHED. __ __ THESE TECHNIQUES ALSO WORK IN ADVERTISING. __ __ 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. __ 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

Mar 04
Are You Swinging for Information or Transformation?

[The wizard has been writing twice a month for  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: __ __ 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: __ __ The next three techniques employ what I call “The Hovering Question Mark,” since they are designed to trigger curiosity by delivering an incomplete message. __ __ 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....

Feb 26
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  an education by study, hard work and persistence. But you  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. Williams Seven-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...

Feb 19
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...

Feb 13
The Wisdom of Barbara Kingsolver

HOW TO SHEAR A SHEEP BY BARBARA KINGSOLVER Walk to the barn before dawn. Take off your clothes. Cast everything on the ground: your nylon jacket, wool socks and all. Throw away the cutting tools, the shears that bite like teeth at the skin when hooves flail and your elbow comes up hard under a panting throat: no more of that. Sing to them instead. Stand naked in the morning with your entreaty. Ask them to come, lay down their wool for 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  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. Williams PS – “How to Shear a Sheep” is just one of the many delightful poems in A LITTLE-KNOWN BOOK https://www.amazon.com/How-Fly-Thousand-Easy-Lessons/dp/0062993089/ref=sr_1_1?crid=29S4I2YS2IJEN&keywords=how+to+fly+in+10%2C000+easy+steps+by+Barbara+kingsolver&qid=1706663332&sprefix=how+to+fly+in+10%2C000+easy+steps+by+barbara+kingsolver%2Caps%2C351&sr=8-1 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

Feb 05
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...

Jan 29
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 man can 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...

Jan 22
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...

Jan 15
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. Williams PS – 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. – Indy Charlie 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  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  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 MondayMorningRadio.com.

Jan 08
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:  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. Williams Side 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 MondayMorningRadio.com

Jan 01
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” https://vc.bridgew.edu/honors_proj/155/ “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 SUAREZ Like 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. 153 Miguel 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...

Dec 25, 2023
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 https://www.forbes.com/sites/sundaysteinkirchner/2015/04/30/what-does-a-1m-book-look-like/?sh=5497d8d74b2a 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 https://www.abebooks.com/servlet/BookDetailsPL?bi=31427080692&searchurl=fe%3Don%26sortby%3D1%26tn%3DDon%2BQuixote&cm_sp=snippet-_-srp1-_-image2 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 https://www.abebooks.com/servlet/BookDetailsPL?bi=31445155925&searchurl=bi%3Dh%26ds%3D30%26sortby%3D1%26tn%3Ddon%2Bquixote%26an%3Dcervantes&cm_sp=snippet-_-srp1-_-image1, 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...

Dec 18, 2023
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,  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? https://www.mondaymorningmemo.com/newsletters/the-two-times-we-read-don-quixote/ 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. Williams Good 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 MondayMorningRadio.com

Dec 11, 2023
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,  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: __ __ “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...

Dec 04, 2023
Not 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. https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/audience-networks-drive-massive-volume-eat-up-your-budgets-fou/ 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...

Nov 27, 2023
The Purpose of Poetry

POETRY IS NOT LIMITED TO POETS. When you 1. say more 2. 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.”1 In 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.”2 Frederik 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 Martine Arkady 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 novelist Poetry 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. __ __ 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. Williams 1The Annals of the Heechee, p. 91 2 The Other End of Time, chap. 15 3A Desolation Called Peace, p. 269 4Working and Thinking on the Waterfront, p.95 5All the Light We Cannot See, p. 24 He 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 MondayMorningRadio.com.

Nov 20, 2023
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. https://wizardofads.org/partner/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  with their ‘press one’ and ‘press two’ and  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  My name is Michelle!!!! I work with Chapman, and YOUR INSURANCE CALL MATTERS TO ME!!!!” [MALE VOICE] Visit cigFlorida.com © Chris Torbay 2023 JONATHAN 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,  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 Goya BUT 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 Seinfeld BRANDON 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...

Nov 13, 2023
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 https://www.mondaymorningmemo.com/rabbithole/.) 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...

Nov 06, 2023
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 PORTALS like 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 PORTALS beckon 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. __ __ 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 PORTALS are 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 SPIRAL is a portal that pulls you in. It is always associated with a feeling of spin. ELEVATOR PORTALS take 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 DREAM is 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...

Oct 30, 2023
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. Williams PS – 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. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vanderbilt_family#Vanderbilt_family_tree

Oct 23, 2023
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, 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 riddle and 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. Williams On October 16, 1923 —  — 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 , right? Finding things that no one ever found before is what Rotbart does best! Prepare to be amazed at MondayMorningRadio.com.

Oct 16, 2023
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, https://www.sralab.org/researchers/jordan-grafman-phd 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 323 Do 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,  ISN’T EVERYTHING; IT’S THE “ We want more subscribers, more influence, more likes, more admirers, more fame, and more money. How much is enough?  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. Williams Curt 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. MondayMorningRadio.com

Oct 09, 2023
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 Davies Useful 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...

Oct 02, 2023
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. __ __ 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, https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2023/09/cold-medicine-decongestant-phenylephrine-ineffective/675303/ “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

Sep 25, 2023
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 Science.org 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.org Like 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, 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: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Just_Say_No “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. Williams To 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 MondayMorningRadio.com

Sep 18, 2023
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 exploration And the end of all our exploring Will be to arrive where we started And 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...

Sep 11, 2023