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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1884 episodes

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
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
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
Are You Sure You Want to be Famous?

A FRIEND ROTATED MY BRAIN TOWARD THE SUBJECT OF FAME. He aimed my eyes in a new direction when he said, “Do you remember that thing you sent me 10 or 15 years ago?” I gave him the same blank look that you would have given him. He continued, “It was that thing Leonard Pitts wrote about being ‘the Man.'” I recovered it from the Random Quotes database at MondayMorningMemo.com, handed my phone to him and told him to read it out loud. When he was finished, we laughed together like two little boys who heard someone fart in church. Here it is: “I’ve got nothing against fame. I’m famous myself. Sort of. OK, not Will Smith famous. Or Ellen DeGeneres famous. All right, not even Marilu Henner famous. I’m the kind of famous where you fly into some town to give a speech before that shrinking subset of Americans who still read newspapers and, for that hour, they treat you like a rock star, applauding, crowding around, asking for autographs. Then it’s over. You walk through the airport the next day and no one gives a second glance. You are nobody again. Dave Barry told me this story once about Mark Russell, the political satirist. It seems Russell gave this performance where he packed the hall, got a standing O. He was The Man. Later, at the hotel, The Man gets hungry, but the only place to eat is a McDonald’s across the road. The front door is locked, but the drive-through is still open. So he stands in it. A car pulls in behind him. The driver honks and yells, “Great show, Mark!” The moral of the story is that a certain level of fame — call it the level of minor celebrity — comes with a built-in reality check. One minute, you’re the toast of Milwaukee. The next, you’re standing behind a Buick waiting to order a Big Mac.” – Leonard Pitts, January 14, 2008 THERE IS SOMETHING ABOUT LAUGHING WITH A FRIEND THAT SOAKS INTO YOUR HEART AND REDIRECTS YOUR THOUGHTS. I woke up the next morning thinking about fame, and how easily it comes and goes. I thought about Bill Cosby and Jim Bakker and Jimmy Swaggart. And then my computer told me “Joe the Plumber” had died. Remember Joe the Plumber? https://www.cnn.com/2023/08/28/politics/samuel-wurzelbacher-joe-the-plumber-dies/index.html He became a celebrity in 2008 when he asked Barack Obama a question. We learned later that his name wasn’t Joe and he was never a plumber, but his perspective resonated with a lot of Americans. And then it hit me: Andy Warhol was a painter, but what we remember about him was his colorful comment about each person receiving “15 minutes of fame.” I could feel the freight train of curiosity gaining momentum in my mind, so I had to quickly decide whether to grab a handrail, swing aboard and see where it would take me, or spend the rest of the day regretting having missed the chance. I didn’t want to live in regret, so I grabbed a handrail and was yanked off my feet into a noisy, rattling railcar. When my eyes had grown accustomed to the dust and the half-light, I found the following 19 statements carved into the wooden walls of that railcar. These statements were signed by Marilyn Monroe, Johnny Depp, Erma Bombeck, Tony Bennett, Emily Dickinson, John Wooden, Gene Tierney, Jack Kerouac, George Michael, Eddie Van Halen, Sinead O’Connor, Fran Lebowitz, Michael Huffington, Lord Byron, Arthur Schopenhauer, Michelle Pfeiffer, Clive James, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Davy Crockett. But not in that order. I’m not going to tell you who said what, because I don’t want your reactions to be influenced by your memories of those people. “Wealth is like sea-water; the more we drink, the thirstier we become; and the same is true of fame.” “Fame is the thirst of youth.” “Don’t confuse fame with success. Madonna is one; Helen Keller is the other.” “Fame comes and goes. Longevity...

Sep 04
The Price of Intimacy

The comedian Mark Russell said you can judge a generation by its magazines.  magazine was first published in 1883. It was followed by  in 1974, which was followed by which was followed by Ralph Waldo Emerson was born in 1803, just a few weeks before the Louisiana Purchase was announced to the American people by President Thomas Jefferson. Emerson was 23 when Jefferson died. America was still heavily influenced by Europe, but Ralph Waldo Emerson saw a future that no one else could see. At the age of 34, he gave a speech to a group of college students in Boston that provided a visionary, philosophical framework for escaping the influence of Europe and building a distinctly American cultural identity. That speech was entitled “The American Scholar” and Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr. considered it to be America’s “intellectual Declaration of Independence.” Ralph Waldo Emerson was a poet, a writer, a lecturer and an encourager who inspired generations of positive thinkers that stir among us to this day. Friedrich Nietzsche considered him “the most gifted of the Americans” and Walt Whitman referred to him as his “master.” Emerson was also a passionate opponent of slavery. Throughout his life he urged Congress to bring slavery to an immediate and permanent end. When Emerson was lecturing in Springfield, Illinois on January 10, 1853, a then-unknown Abraham Lincoln was in the audience. Years later, Lincoln invited Emerson to the White House and told him of the impact that lecture had on him. Ralph Waldo Emerson spoke with whimsy, sentimentality, and vulnerability when he said, “IT IS ONE OF THE BLESSINGS OF OLD FRIENDS THAT YOU CAN AFFORD TO BE STUPID WITH THEM.” Modern businesspeople believe whimsy, sentimentality, and vulnerability to be weaknesses. But I know those people to be wrong. When you choose to like a person who does not like you, this is whimsy. IT IS HARD NOT TO LIKE A PERSON WHO LIKES YOU. When you choose to believe in someone, this is sentimentality. IT IS HARD NOT TO LOVE A PERSON WHO BELIEVES IN YOU. When you say something that requires humility and love, this is vulnerability. IT IS HARD NOT TO TRUST A PERSON WHO SAYS SOMETHING THAT ONLY A HUMBLE, LOVING PERSON WOULD SAY. As a writer, Ralph Waldo Emerson was lofty. But as a person, he was famously open and vulnerable. VULNERABILITY IS THE PRICE OF INTIMACY. Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote  in 1841. Elbert Hubbard wrote  in 1899. Dale Carnegie updated Emerson’s ideas in his book,  in 1936. Napoleon Hill wrote  in 1937. Norman Vincent Peale added a veneer of Christianity in his book,  in 1952. Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson wrote  in 1982. Stephen Covey wrote  in 1989. Joel Osteen wrote  in 2007. And every one of those writers owes a debt to Ralph Waldo Emerson. Life is about more than just business. It’s about balance. It’s about the freedom to be stupid with old friends. People cover the earth. They speak lots of languages and have confusing cultures, but every person is made in the image of God. Us is problematic because it necessitates the idea of “Them,” those who are not Us. Uh-oh. Self is who you think...

Aug 28
How Does Advertising Work?

I have a friend who is a famous online marketer. Last week he sent me an observation I found interesting. It occurred to me that you might find it interesting as well. “Now that targeting is pretty much dead on Facebook and Instagram, I have a theory that the rules of reach and frequency that have always applied to radio will also apply to social platforms as they shift away from micro-targeting and toward looking more like mass media.” [Frequency means repetition. – editor] And then he asked a question. “Can you remind me again what your magic formula is for reach and frequency when buying radio ads? I know this is a bit like someone asking me how to spell SEO, but this came up in a conversation I was having with a buddy the other day and I felt stupid that I couldn’t remember it.” Happy to help. Here’s what you’re looking for: APE = ADVERTISING PERFORMANCE EQUATION SHARE OF VOICE X IMPACT QUOTIENT = SHARE OF MIND SHARE OF MIND X PERSONAL EXPERIENCE FACTOR = SHARE OF MARKET SHARE OF MARKET X MARKET POTENTIAL = SALES VOLUME 1.SHARE OF VOICE: How much of the noise in your category in your marketplace is your noise? (All media combined, including word of mouth) 2.IMPACT QUOTIENT: The average impact of a message in your category is 1.0. If your ads are 30% better than average, you score a 1.3. If your ads are 10 percent weaker than average, you score a 0.9 … the Impact of your message can accelerate or reduce your Share of Voice 3.SHARE OF MIND is the percentage of real estate you own in your category in the mind of the average customer. 4.PERSONAL EXPERIENCE FACTOR is likewise measured with a 1.0 being, “exactly the experience your customer expected.” Anything above a 1.0 is a delight factor. Anything below a 1.0 is depth of disappointment. Online reviews are just measurements of a customer’s Personal Experience Factor 5.SHARE OF MARKET is your sales volume as a percentage of the total sales available in your category, in your marketplace. FOR A MESSAGE TO ENTER DECLARATIVE MEMORY  (mid-term memory – longer than Working Memory – but not yet Procedural Memory, which is involuntary, automatic recall,) A MESSAGE SHOULD BE REPEATED TO THE SAME INDIVIDUAL AT LEAST 3 TIMES WITHIN 7 NIGHT’S SLEEP. Further research has lowered this number to as little as 2.5 repetitions per week. THE MORE MEMORABLE THE MESSAGE, THE LESS REPETITION IS REQUIRED. Therefore, the only way to beat the system (Google) and save money is to create messages that are highly memorable. NOTE: Any limited time offer with a call-to-action is erased from declarative memory when the “limited time” window is closed. This is why you cannot build a brand with Direct Response calls-to-action. To become a household word and enter long-term Procedural Memory, you need to hammer your message into the mind of your target at least 2.5 per week for at least 3 years. But even then, it will fade within 24 months after your ads disappear, assuming that your ads have only the average 1.0 Impact Quotient. But a message – or an experience – with a significantly higher Impact Quotient can enter Procedural Memory and become automatic, involuntary recall, with only a single repetition. PTSD is an example of this. The key to absolute CATEGORY DOMINANCE is to elevate your Impact Quotient and Personal Experience Factor to numbers above 2.0. In other words, you’ve got to have awesome ads and deliver an amazing customer experience. But you already knew that. “This is perfect. Thank you. Have any of your partners tested APE in social ads (FB, IG, TikTok, etc.) to see if the numbers hold up? I would have to assume that Share of...

Aug 21
s Your Ladder Too Short?

I meet with dozens of people each year who tell me how they grew their companies to an impressive size, but then the growth slowed down. And then it stopped. They can see a lot more business out there; they just can’t figure out how to get it. I used to call this, “hitting the glass ceiling,” but I don’t call it that anymore. Now I say, “You need to add more steps to your ladder.” Here are a few things I’ve learned over the years: __ __ It usually takes business owners about 3 years of pushing and straining plus motivational talks, accountability partners and invigorated compensation plans that result in zero growth before they realize that they have already found all the customers who like to buy in the way the business owner prefers to sell. Do you want to hear something really weird? I have learned that it is almost pointless to suggest meaningful change to a business owner until their business has been flat for about 3 years. It has been my observation that they will always resist adding more steps to their ladder until they have utterly exhausted their confidence in their superpower. Has your business been flat for awhile? Are you tired of standing on your tiptoes at the top of your ladder reaching at high as you can with your strong right arm and finding nothing there? Add more steps to your ladder. Roy H. Williams Roving reporter Rotbart is taking a Sabbatical until Labor Day so that he can finish his new book about Volunteer Firefighters before the deadline. I’ve suggested to the rover that his son, Maxwell, ought to interview him so that you and I can hear all about this new book after it is finished. VOLUNTEER FIREFIGHTERS! WHAT WILL ROTBART THINK OF NEXT! You can count on me to let

Aug 14
Advice From an Old Man

I often share memories of wise old men who gave me good advice. I have a grandchild turning 17 today, so I will play the part of the old man. The person I am advising is you. ALWAYS DELIVER THE NEGATIVE TRUTH WHILE THE SALE HANGS IN THE BALANCE. IF YOU SMILE AND MAKE THE SALE AND KEEP QUIET UNTIL THAT PREDICTABLE MOMENT OF CRISIS ARRIVES, THE TRUTH WILL NO LONGER RING TRUE. IT WILL JUST SOUND LIKE YOU ARE MAKING EXCUSES. Tell your customer what they deserve to know while they still have the chance to walk away. Look them in the eye and warn them. Make it a moment they will never forget. Fools are attracted to slick and shiny liars who will tell them what they want to hear. But when you tell the negative truth while the sale hangs in the balance, you filter out the fools. When a fool hears your warning and walks away, dance and sing. Rejoice! You don’t want to live your life surrounded by anxious, nervous, finger-pointing fools. Tell the truth when it is not in your best interest. Smart people will trust you. Your relationships will last for decades. When everything is upside and there is no downside, you can be certain that someone is lying. The downside of the advice I gave you today is that you will definitely lose sales you could have made. The upside is that you really didn’t want to make them. Not only would you have lost that client within a few months, you would have eroded your integrity and lost your self-respect in the process. And if you keep eroding your integrity, you will soon become slick and shiny. Roy H. Williams I have a weirdly excellent rabbit hole for you to explore today. Do you know the way in? https://www.mondaymorningmemo.com/rabbithole/ – Indy Beagle Ken Paskins witnessed his grandfather and his father struggle to run a successful business. He was determined to find a better way. So Ken went to work for giant companies like Oracle and BEA Systems. Today Ken is the co-founder of a CEO coaching and peer advisory community that shows owners and CEOs of companies with 100 or fewer employees how to achieve their goals. Rather than rely on a single guru for sage advice, Paskins tells roving reporter Rotbart, his clients learn from experts and peers

Aug 07
What it Means to be Average

THE FIRST HALF OF WHAT I’M ABOUT TO TELL YOU, I HAVE TOLD YOU BEFORE. BUT YOU WILL UNDERSTAND WHY I CHOSE TO REPEAT IT WHEN YOU READ THE SECOND HALF. – RHW The average person has 5 senses. We can see, hear, taste, touch, and smell. We also have the ability to interpret magical little constructs called “words,” sequences of letters that allow us to see things that are not there and have experiences that are not happening. Let us talk about that for a moment. The average human is equipped with approximately 100 million sensory receptors to gather the data that will become seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, and touching. This sensory data is nothing more than: __ __ Those wavelengths, vibrations, chemicals, and surfaces are real. But color, sound, smell, taste, and touch exist only in your mind. “They do not exist, as such, outside our brain. Actually, the universe is colorless, odorless, insipid and silent.” – Dr. Jorge Martins de Oliveira Your 100 million sensory receptors put you in touch with the world around you. But your brain contains 10,000 billion synapses. This means you are 100,000 times better equipped to experience a world that does not exist, than a world that does. And then you have – just forward of your left ear – Broca’s area, which is always searching for the new, surprising, and different, anxious to distract you with something more interesting than that which currently occupies your mind. All these things are standard equipment because you are fearfully and wonderfully made. We, average people, have all these things plus intuition, that astounding logic of the mute right brain, allowing us to predict things that are likely to happen, based upon patterns we have observed. ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE IS MACHINE INTUITION, A PREDICTIVE OUTPUT BASED UPON PATTERNS THE MACHINE HAS BEEN TAUGHT TO RECOGNIZE. Allow me to tell you how it all began: average people created a machine that was deaf, mute, and blind. Then, they created a silent language made of only two numbers, zero and one. Then, using only that language, they taught their deaf, mute, and blind machine to hear, speak, and see. And now they are teaching it to recognize all the patterns that energize human intuition, that nearly-instantaneous ability to make accurate predictions. Here is a question: will the computers of the distant future believe the story I just told you, or will they conclude it to be merely myth and legend? Jesus answered, “Didn’t I say you are gods?” (READ IT FOR YOURSELF https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=John%2010%3A34-36&version=NIV in the 10th chapter of John, the 4th book in the New Testament.) When Jesus said that 2,000 years ago, was quoting the 82nd Psalm, written by Asaph during the Babylonian exile 6 centuries earlier. Or so I have been told by an Ai bot named “Beta.” If you look at the top of this page, you can see Aloha pointing to the note Beta sent me. My oh my, what will we gods think of next? ONE LAST THING: You may have noticed that I choose to use a lower-case “i” following a capital “A” when I abbreviate the words “Artificial Intelligence.” I do this because a lifetime of pattern recognition causes me to see the name Al, as in Al Pacino, Al Capone, and Al Gore, when a capital “A” is followed by a capital “I.” I point this out to you because I don’t want you to think I am unaware that everyone else uses two capital letters when they abbreciate Artificial Intelligence. I have the...

Jul 31
Chatterton and Rowley

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

Jul 24
Don’t Worry. Be Happy.

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

Jul 17
What, then, is Love?

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

Jul 10
Our Hunger for Relationship

We have a need to belong. We want to be seen and heard. We want to be missed when we are not around. We want to have genuine connection. This is the basis of relational ad writing. Never heard of it? That is because most ads are transactional, not relational. In a transactional ad, an air conditioning company might claim to be, “The Honest Air Conditioning Company.” But in a relational ad, the owner does not claim to be honest. They just say something that only an honest person would say. THE PEOPLE IN RELATIONAL ADS ARE MARKED BY THEIR VULNERABILITY. KARLA: When something at home isn’t working right and you need a guy,  your friend says, JOHNNY MOLSON: “I’ve got a guy.” KARLA: Hi, I’m Mrs. Michael and I want to be your guy. You need a plumber. You need an electrician. You need an H-Vac technician; I WANT TO BE YOUR GUY. I’m a happily married woman with two grown children, but back when I was raising two babies, my husband and I started a plumbing company, an electrical company, and an air conditioning company. Make no mistake: Mr. Michael is a genius with tools, but he did NOT enjoy running 3 big companies,  Guess what? I LOVE IT! I know that if I make your problems vanish into thin air, then  SARAH: “I’ve got a thing at home that isn’t working right, and I need a guy,”   KARLA:  YOU’LL say, JOHNNY MOLSON: “I’ve got a guy. Her name is Mrs. Michael.” KARLA: Plumber, Electrician, H-Vac technician. I’m Mrs. Michael, and I want to be your guy. DEVIN: Go to MrsMichael.com KARLA: OR… go to Iwanttobeyourguy.com DEVIN: MrsMichael.com RELATIONAL ADS ARE NOT PORTABLE. THEY ARE TRUE ONLY OF THE COMPANY THAT AIRS THEM. TRANSACTIONAL ADS ARE PORTABLE. THEY CAN BE USED BY ANYONE WHO WANTS TO MAKE THE SAME OFFER, USE THE SAME GIMMICK, TELL THE SAME LIE. Mrs. Michael does not use transactional ads. She uses relational ads that let you know who she is, what she believes, and how she thinks. You are free to like her or not. Most people like her.  No surprise, right? We tend to buy from people we like, people with whom we agree, people who remind us of ourselves. Did it ever occur to you that a transactional ad with an urgent, “limited-time offer” is erased from the mind as soon as the deadline is passed? We do not retain information that is no longer relevant or meaningful. The only thing we remember is to never pay that company their asking price because they will soon be having a sale. Goldcasters Fine Jewelry sells a startling amount of jewelry per capita in a town that is located less than an hour from the inspiring city of Indianapolis. Goldcasters’ sales volume would be impressive for a jewelry store in Los Angeles, San Francisco, or Chicago. Like Mrs. Michael, Goldcasters uses relational advertising. DEVIN: Brad Lawrence, owner of Goldcasters Fine Jewelry. BRAD: When I opened the store, I had no money. We didn’t have the money for inventory. I brought wax models from school to use to cast into projects for customers. And hence the name Goldcasters. Things were so tight at times I remember the backside of my wedding ring was gone because I didn’t have the money to buy gold to size rings. So I’d cut the pieces out of the back of my wedding band to use as gold stock to size rings for customers. And then when we could afford to, then I’d replace it back onto my...

Jul 03
Reap the Whirlwind

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

Jun 26
Mosquitoes Trapped in Amber

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

Jun 19
Patrick and the Supreme Court

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

Jun 12
Criticism and Encouragement

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

Jun 05
The Source of Our Culture War

William Shakespeare, wearing the mask of an imaginary Prince of Denmark – Hamlet by name – suggested that human knowledge is limited. “THERE ARE MORE THINGS IN HEAVEN AND EARTH, HORATIO, THAN ARE DREAMT OF IN YOUR PHILOSOPHY.” Each of us lives alone in a private, perceptual reality. We can communicate with one another only to the degree that our perceptual realities overlap. There is an objective reality, but humans are ill-equipped to experience it. THE DEGREE TO WHICH YOU UNDERSTAND THE LIMITATIONS OF YOUR PRIVATE REALITY IS THE DEGREE TO WHICH YOU ARE SELF-AWARE. Dr. Jorge Martins de Oliveira is Director of Neurosciences at the University of Brazil, on the Editorial Board of Brain & Mind magazine, and is the author of “Principles of Neuroscience.” This is what he has to say about Perceptual Reality: “Our perception does not identify the outside world as it really is, but the way that we are allowed to recognize it, as a consequence of transformations performed by our senses. We experience electromagnetic waves, not as waves, but as images and colors. We experience vibrating objects, not as vibrations, but as sounds. We experience chemical compounds dissolved in air or water, not as chemicals, but as specific smells and tastes. Colors, sounds, smells and tastes are products of our minds, built from sensory experiences. They do not exist, as such, outside our brain. Actually, the universe is colorless, odorless, insipid and silent.” “Although you and I share the same biological architecture and function, perhaps what I perceive as a distinct color and smell is not exactly equal to the color and smell you perceive. We may give the same name to similar perceptions, but we cannot know how they relate to the reality of the outside world. Perhaps we never will.” Dr. Roger Sperry won the Nobel Prize in 1981 for discovering that we don’t have one brain divided into two hemispheres, as much as we have two separate, competing brains. Sperry was able to demonstrate that we have a logical, rational, sequential, deductive-reasoning (SCIENTIFIC) Left Brain, and a romantic, artistic, connection-seeking, pattern-finding, (ARTS & HUMANITIES) Right Brain. He said, “Each hemisphere of the brain is indeed a conscious system in its own right, perceiving, thinking, remembering, reasoning, willing, and emoting, all at a characteristically human level, and… both the left and the right hemisphere may be conscious simultaneously in different, even in mutually conflicting, mental experiences that run along in parallel.” Did you notice it? The Left and the Right hemispheres can have “simultaneous, mutually conflicting, mental experiences.” You can have a single experience and walk away with two opinions of what just happened! “In fact, romanticism and science are good for each other… The scientist keeps the romantic honest and the romantic keeps the scientist human.” – Tom Robbins But what happens if the Left Hemisphere completely ignores the voice of the Right Hemisphere? What happens if the Right ignores the the Left? C. P. Snow published “The Two Cultures and the Scientific Revolution” in 1959. He believed that Science and the Humanities were the driving forces of western society, but they were splitting us into a society of “two cultures.” LOOKING BACK OVER THE CULTURE WAR THAT HAS INCREASINGLY DEVOURED US THESE PAST 20 YEARS, IT WOULD APPEAR THAT C.P. SNOW WAS RIGHT. In May of 2023 the world renowned neuroscientist Dr. Iain McGilchrist was discussing the (SCIENTIFIC) Left Brain, and the (ARTS & HUMANITIES) Right Brain when he said, “Something I discovered in medical school, was that this corpus callosum, this connecting band, spent at least half its time, if not more, sending messages to the other hemisphere, ‘You keep out of this, I’m dealing with it.’ So it wasn’t so much facilitating as inhibiting. Primates have...

May 29
“No One Listens to the Radio Anymore”

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

May 22
What Do You See?

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

May 15
Archetypes are Bigger Than You Think

Richard Feynman, winner of the Nobel Prize, said, “Nature uses only the longest threads to weave her patterns, so that each small piece of her fabric reveals the organization of the entire tapestry.” He was speaking, of course, of DNA, the organizing pattern of every type of life on our planet. Your DNA contains the archetypal pattern of your physical body, but the world around you is bigger than your body. THE WORLD AROUND YOU CONTAINS AN INFINITE NUMBER OF ARCHETYPES. An archetype is any recurrent pattern recognized by the pattern-seeking right hemisphere of the brain. Archetypes exist in our minds and in the physical reality that surrounds us. Archetypes are the interface that allows us to interpret, understand, and catalogue what we are experiencing. Archetypes are the basis for all similes and metaphors. Carl Jung understood this. If you Google “Jungian archetypes” you’ll find that most writers list the archetypes as twelve basic characters: Lover, Magician, Explorer, Creator, Sage, Outlaw, Hero, Jester, Everyman, Caretaker, Ruler, and the Innocent. These 12 characters populate the movies, television shows, novels, myths, and award-winning ad campaigns we experience on a daily basis. But what Jung actually taught is that archetypes are the psychological structures that allow us to recognize recurrent patterns in the world around us. They are the unconscious organizers of perceptions and ideas, since they spring from the systemic order that transcends both the external world and the human mind. Jung claimed there can be no master list of archetypes because there are an indefinite number of them, one for every recurrent pattern we observe. And not just patterns of personalities, but patterns of events, as well. Examples of events that follow an archetypal pattern include: Reproduction, Substitution, Reconfiguration, Following a Path, Collapse, Renewal, De-alignment, Re-alignment, and the Investment Bubble that always precedes delayed gratification. Every introduction of change requires a Pattern Shift, a transition from one pattern to another. Although most events could be categorized as “transitions,” an Archetypal Transition is a specific type of event, such as the ritual of Initiation (baptism,) or the ritual of Union (marriage,) or the ritual of Casting Out (divorce.) An Archetypal Transition is a portal to a new identity. Some examples of Archetypal Transition include being parented, courtship, loss of virginity, a sudden change in status, and preparation for death. Archetypes of Transition open the door for a new and different person to experience a new and different world. As a writer, you create new realities in the imaginations of your readers, so it is perfectly reasonable that you should observe and name new archetypes. You are not limited only to those named by Jung and popularized by tradition. In fact, I have invented names for several recurrent patterns that I have observed, and have mentioned several of them to you already. And now I officially give you permission to do the same: 1. Go. Observe the world around you. 2. Recognize and name the recurrent patterns that you find. 3. Keep a list of them. Indy Beagle and I look forward to reading about your discoveries. Ciao for Niao, Roy H. Williams PS – Today’s soirée was inspired by my partner, Vi Wickam, https://wizardofads.org/partner/vi-wickam/ who sent me the Richard Feynman quote that opened today’s Monday Morning Memo. When Victoria Pelletier sets her mind to achieving a goal, she won’t let anything or anyone stop her. Nor will she blame anyone but herself when things don’t go the way she planned. Those two personality traits — being unstoppable and making no excuses — have been a recipe for success since she became the chief operating...

May 08
Content Without Context is Boring

You see a photo of a man in a blue jacket standing in front of McDonalds. That photo contains at least 3 pieces of information. Information is content. 1. Man 2. Blue Jacket 3. McDonalds Content without context is boring. That photograph was taken to encourage you and elevate your hope. DOES THAT SURPRISE YOU? IT SHOULD, BECAUSE YOU HAVEN’T BEEN GIVEN ANY CONTEXT. The man in that photo, Brian Scudamore, was a 19-year-old kid sitting in his car in exactly that spot in that McDonald’s drive-thru line when he noticed a ratty old pickup truck that had rounded the corner a few vehicles ahead of him. Spray-painted on the side of that truck were the words “Junk Hauling” along with a telephone number. Brian thought, “I could do that,” and as those four words echoed in his brain – “I could do that” “I could do that” “I could do that” – the world’s largest private junk removal service was born. Brian’s company is about to break through the clouds into the sunlight of one billion dollars in annual revenue. Just below the bottom frameline of that photo, the logo for 1-800-GOT-JUNK? is monogrammed on that blue jacket. RAY BARD RETIRED A FEW YEARS AGO, BUT PEOPLE STILL SPEAK IN HUSHED TONES ABOUT HIS GENIUS. Brian Scudamore has that same kind of genius. Ray Bard put it into words for me several years ago while we were having lunch. He said, “Every dazzling success is made from four components, and everyone, everywhere has the first two.” I raised my eyebrows to indicate that I was listening. Ray said, “Number one is a Big Idea. Everyone has a Big Idea. Number two is Nuts & Bolts; the step-by-step, the how-to, along with a few examples that demonstrate the Big Idea. Everyone has a Big Idea and some Nuts & Bolts.” “Okay, what are numbers three and four?” “Number three is Entertainment.” I raised my eyebrows again. “Entertainment is the currency that will buy you the time and attention of a too-busy public. Information is the medicine they need, but entertainment – wit – charm –  – are the spoonfuls of sugar that help the medicine go down.” “And number four?” “Number four is Hope. People don’t just need advice, they need genuine encouragement. When you give them a glimpse of a future that is better than the past, when you help them see a tomorrow that is better than today, and they see it is within their grasp, you have done the only thing that any business ever needs to do.” Ray stopped talking and just looked at me. I looked back at him, waiting for him to continue. It was one of those moments when time stands still. I honestly can’t tell you whether it was 15 seconds or 3 minutes, but it felt like forever. He finally said, “Roy, the objective of every business is to make someone happy.” Brian Scudamore knows that, and I think he may have been born knowing it. And now you know it, too. So here’s the question: What are you going to do to make someone happy? Roy H. Williams PS – If information is content, then context is the framing of that information; the presentation of it, the backstory, the angle of approach that makes the information interesting. Your goal as a storyteller is revelation and delight, to pull back the curtain and reveal a mystery.

May 01
An Honest Attempt to Understand

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

Apr 24
Your Personality Drives Your Business

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

Apr 17
Celebrate Your Partner

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

Apr 10
Mork calling Orson. Come in, Orson.

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

Apr 03
Start Your Own Business

IT IS NAIVE TO BELIEVE THE WORLD IS A MERITOCRACY, BUT IT IS DEFEATIST TO BELIEVE THAT YOU CAN’T WIN. Six years ago, notacoward  https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=15659076wrote, https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=15659076 “Entrepreneurship is like one of those carnival games where you throw darts or something. Middle class kids can afford one throw. Most miss. A few hit the target and get a small prize. A very few hit the center bullseye and get a bigger prize. Rags to riches! The American Dream lives on. Rich kids can afford many throws. If they want to, they can try over and over and over again until they hit something and feel good about themselves. Some keep going until they hit the center bullseye, then they give speeches or write blog posts about ‘meritocracy’ and the salutary effects of hard work. Poor kids aren’t visiting the carnival. They’re the ones working it.” We’ve all seen what notacoward was describing, haven’t we? Each of us knows people who were born on third base and think they hit a triple. They populate the royal families, the financial aristocracies, the college fraternities, and the luxury resorts of our planet. The business world is full of empty suits and corporate assholes who like to pretend they earned what they were given. WHEN YOU GROW UP IN THE POOR PART OF TOWN, YOU SEE HARDWORKING PEOPLE SHAKE THEIR HEADS AND SAY, “It’s not what you know; it’s who you know.” “It’s not what you know; it’s who you know.” “It’s not what you know; it’s who you know.” https://www.mondaymorningmemo.com/nepotism/ This is nothing new. It has always been true. But it doesn’t have to apply to YOU. I knew it didn’t apply to me because I once heard a 3,000-year-old story https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1%20Samuel%2017&version=NASB of a shepherd boy who became King because he was stunningly good at being a shepherd boy. When a lion attacked his sheep, he killed the lion. When a bear attacked his sheep, he killed the bear. And when a giant taunted his nation, he killed the giant. The son of that King later wrote, “Do you see a person skilled in his work? He will stand before kings; He will not stand before obscure people.” ** https://www.biblegateway.com/quicksearch/?quicksearch=Do+you+see+a+person+skilled+in+his+work%3F&version=NASB IS IT WISE TO PROTECT THE ONES WE LOVE FROM THE PROBLEMS THAT TAUGHT US ALL WE KNOW? I know a lot of successful people who wish they knew how to give their children the hardships that made them rich. One successful young friend – just 42 years old – has created four separate fortunes during the past 20 years and is working on a fifth one. He started with nothing: no family money, no angel investor, no connections. His only assets were his courage and his relentless efforts. I asked him recently what advice he would offer the emerging generation. He said, “I think the question this younger generation needs to be asking themselves is, ‘Ok, now what?’ Yes, it sucks, but it also sucks that previous generations were drafted and shipped off to die in wars. So shit happens. And sometimes people slip through the cracks. I’m happy to not call them ‘lazy’ if they’re willing to acknowledge that they still bear the responsibility of doing something… anything… to improve their lot. Because lingering in whiney little bitch mode sure ain’t gonna get it done.” If you have fallen into the trap of believing that you don’t have the money or the connections to rise above your circumstances, lift your head and open...

Mar 27
Remove the Friction and Grow

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

Mar 20
Calculating the Cost of Customer Acquisition

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

Mar 13
“You’re just the one she hasn’t left yet.”

OUR SONG BEGAN IN 1971 WHEN HUNTER S. THOMPSON WROTE ABOUT THE END OF THE 60S. HE MAY AS WELL HAVE BEEN WRITING ABOUT THE END OF A LOVE AFFAIR. “WE HAD ALL THE MOMENTUM; WE WERE RIDING THE CREST OF A HIGH AND BEAUTIFUL WAVE. SO NOW, LESS THAN FIVE YEARS LATER, YOU CAN GO UP ON A STEEP HILL IN LAS VEGAS AND LOOK WEST, AND WITH THE RIGHT KIND OF EYES YOU CAN ALMOST SEE THE HIGH-WATER MARK – THAT PLACE WHERE THE WAVE FINALLY BROKE AND ROLLED BACK.” You are free to use – or not use – words and phrases from that sad soliloquy at the end of a dream. But the song lyrics you are going to write won’t be about the end of the 60s. You are going to write a song about the end of a love affair. Another group of possible words and phrases you might use popped into my head during a business trip to Las Vegas in 2010. I was passing through the casino as I headed back to my room after speaking to an auditorium full of strangers when I saw a pattern, thought a thought, and wrote it down before I fell asleep. “GIRLS IN BLACK SPANDEX PANTS, HIGH-HEELED BOOTS AND BAGGY LEATHER COATS PUNCTUATE LAS VEGAS. VODKA FUMES TRAIL LIKE INVISIBLE PUPPIES AS THEY PASS THE DEAD-EYED, SPENT ONES GOING THROUGH THE MOTIONS OF HAVING FUN WITHOUT HAVING ANY OF IT.” But the most important part of this song that you – yes, you – are going to assemble from bits and pieces of these shattered memories will be the phrase that Brad Whittington scribbled down in 2012 as he was driving past the Mean-Eyed Cat, a famous dive bar. “YOU’RE JUST THE ONE SHE HASN’T LEFT YET.” That’s the hook, the recurrent chorus. “You’re just the one she hasn’t left yet,” will show up repeatedly as you write this song that some lucky singer is going to make famous. That singer will tour and sell T-shirts and sign autographs and be famous. But you and me and Brad are going to reach into our mailboxes and pull-out handfuls of songwriting royalties. Did you know that singers and their bands get zero money when their songs play on the radio? The only people who make money from airplay are the songwriters. That’s going to be you and me and Brad. Bernie Taupin doesn’t sing or play an instrument, but he has collected more than 70 million dollars in royalties from the lyrics of songs that play on the radio each day. Brad and I feel the musicians and singers should get some money, too, but that’s not how the system works. Oh, well. Maybe they’ll get rich selling concert tickets and T-shirts. Or maybe they should learn to write song lyrics. TO SUBMIT YOUR SONG, ALL YOU HAVE TO DO IS FOLLOW THESE SIMPLE STEPS: __ Yes, I was serious about sending us a recording. We need to hear the...

Mar 06