“It takes a lot of courage to release the familiar and seemingly secure, to embrace the new. But there is no real security in what is no longer meaningful. There is more security in the adventurous and exciting, for in movement there is life, and in change there is power.” – Alan Cohen
When I turned 50 – seven years ago – I changed my priorities. Walking across a bridge in Rome one beautiful June afternoon, I decided I had enough money. I vowed to spend my prime hours writing, teaching, and working on the various charities I support.
I radically simplified my business life by selling and/or consolidating many investments and enterprises. I also reduced my consulting work to a very limited number of core clients. More important, I promised myself and my family that I would take on no new clients and start no new businesses.
Two fledgling businesses – ETR and a real estate development project in Latin America – required my continued involvement since they were so young. But now they both have very competent and experienced people at the helm, so I don’t have to work with them on a day-by-day basis.
That frees up my time. And I intend to devote that time to writing.
When I finished my latest book, Ready, Fire, Aim, I felt that I had nothing left to say about business. Ready, Fire, Aim contains all the important lessons I’ve learned about starting and growing entrepreneurial businesses. Confessions of a Self-Made Multimillionaire explains what I know about personal productivity. Power and Persuasion tells what I know about leadership. Automatic Wealth and Automatic Wealth for Grads cover what I know about wealth building.
So I told ETR’s CEO, MaryEllen Tribby, and my editors at ETR that at the end of this year, they would no longer hear from Michael Masterson. I’d be spending my writing time on poetry, short stories, film scripts, song lyrics, and novels.
“You don’t need me anymore,” I told them. “ETR has plenty of great business experts contributing new ideas. I’m done.”
“Okay,” they said. But I could tell they didn’t believe me.
“I’m serious,” I insisted. They just smiled.
Well, they were right to smile. Because since then, I have committed to no less than seven new business books. I’m working on four of them at the same time, and making notes on three others.
Have I lost my mind? No. I really felt spent when I finished Ready, Fire, Aim – but it didn’t take very long for me to get charged up and interested in a new set of questions:
- How has the world of direct marketing changed in the last 10 years? What will it look like 10 years from now?
- How do great copywriters write such great copy? Where do they get their ideas for leads?
- How can baby boomers who “forgot to get rich” live out their years in luxury, harmony, and happiness?
- What advice can I give to my friends who aren’t multimillionaires and aren’t interested in becoming rich?
- How can I continue to slow down and simplify my life?
- How can I achieve more balance in my life?
And, finally, I’ve been thinking that I should write about my personal experiences. I could explain how a former Peace Corps volunteer who didn’t know anything about business – and didn’t even like business – became such a successful entrepreneur. My story might encourage young people who may think they don’t have what it takes.
In the three months that have passed since I decided not to write any more business books, I have committed to the following:
- First, the “big” book for 2008 – which will be published by John Wiley & Sons and sold in bookstores all over the world – will be a practical guide to direct marketing.
There have been plenty of great books written about direct marketing. But so much has changed in the past decade that MaryEllen and I felt there was a need for one that would deal with all the new media and technology – including e-letters, e-zines, e-mail, blogs, Web advertising, pay-per-click campaigns, search engine optimization techniques, affiliate marketing, teleseminars, teleconferences, video conferences, multi-channel marketing campaigns – AND the old standbys: direct mail, direct print, telemarketing, direct radio, direct television, and platform selling.
Just looking at that list of topics gives you an idea of how much ground we’re going to cover. And because MaryEllen is a specialist in how to put good marketing ideas to work in particular situations, I think the combination of my concepts and her specific explanations of how you can apply them will make for a sensational book, one that every entrepreneur, marketing executive, and copywriter will want to have.
MaryEllen tells me that the John Wiley people want the first draft done by April so it can be on bookshelves next fall. We’ll keep you posted on the progress.
- Then there are three “small” books that I’m doing for AWAI. They will be sold separately and used as textbooks for some of their programs.
I’m just about finished with one of them: The Architecture of a Sales Letter. It details, for the first time in print, my theory on how to structure an (almost) irresistible offer.
The second small book will be about how to effectively critique (and improve) marketing copy. It will include a full explanation of my peer review process, as well as Mike Palmer’s wonderful “CUB” protocol. These two concepts have already revolutionized the way Agora Inc. works with copy, and they are quickly becoming the preferred approach of many other industry leaders. If you are involved in the creation of marketing copy and haven’t yet mastered these techniques, this book will be must reading. It should be available toward the end of 2008.
The third small book will be about how to write great leads. I am looking forward to doing this one, because it will be the culmination of many long discussions I’ve had with master copywriters Bill Bonner and John Forde over more than 15 years. Just this year, at a private copywriting retreat in France, it all came together. It combines Bill’s principle of indirection… Gene Schwartz’s idea about how the prospect’s knowledge of the product affects copy… and an idea I’ve been working on about lead genres.
- My fifth book of the year will be a revision of Confessions of a Self-Made Multimillionaire, with a new title and lots of new chapters. This will be my first book focusing on all four aspects of success: health, wealth, personal development, and social interaction.
- My sixth book is tentatively titled Secrets of a Chicken Entrepreneur. Drawing on many of ETR’s most popular articles, it will explain how I became an “accidental businessman.”
- Finally, there will be a book based on my “Live Like a Billionaire” and “Living Rich” articles in ETR. Tentatively titled The Rich Mind (and possibly done in collaboration with Gary Scott), this book may introduce a line of products and seminars about living like a billionaire without spending like one. This subject should be very appealing to baby boomers who have given up on the hope of retiring early. When they find out how well they can live on a limited nest egg, I hope they will be inspired.
I am excited about all these projects, but I’m equally excited about getting my poetry and fiction published. As longtime ETR readers know, that has been a major goal of mine. So to get both my business books and my personal writing done, I’m going to have to spend a good chunk of my time doing nothing but writing. And that means I won’t have time to write articles and essays for ETR on a regular basis. Instead, I’ll write when I have something new to say. I’m sure I’ll be in ETR at least once a week. Who knows? It could be much more than that.
Meanwhile, you will be getting lots of great stuff from MaryEllen Tribby, who will be writing for ETR more frequently. ETR’s in-house experts will be contributing to ETR more often, too. Look for articles by Search Engine Marketing Specialist Alexis Siemon… Vice President of Marketing & Business Development Wendy Montes de Oca… Director of Internet Marketing Patrick Coffey… Editorial & Creative Director Charlie Byrne… Customer Service Manager Sharika Kellogg… and Investment Director Andrew Gordon.
Plus, we’ll be bringing you articles from marketing experts like David Cross, Rich Schefren, Yanik Silver, Jay Abraham, and Timothy Ferriss… master copywriters like Bob Bly, John Forde, and Clayton Makepeace… successful business builders like Paul Lawrence and Marc Charles… and motivational experts like Robert Ringer and Brian Tracy. These people know everything I know, and have plenty of their own secrets.
You’ll be in very good hands with them.
And don’t forget, in addition to all the other writing I’ll be doing, I’m going to continue to post entries from my personal journal on the Michael Masterson website.
I look forward to sharing my new ideas with you in ETR and on the website – as they come – in 2008.[Ed. Note: Mark Morgan Ford was the creator of Early To Rise. In 2011, Mark retired from ETR and now writes the Palm Beach Letter. His advice, in our opinion, continues to get better and better with every essay, particularly in the controversial ones we have shared today. We encourage you to read everything you can that has been written by Mark.]