Patrick recently forwarded a note to me from Arnie G., a regular ETR reader. “Other ETR readers might be interested in what this guy has to say,” Patrick advised — and I agreed.

So, here it is, expressed in seven “how-to-benefit-from-ETR” morsels:

1. Read ETR — even if you don’t think you have the time. “I’m a regular reader,” says Arnie. “Have been for the last two or three years. I love ETR. I’ve learned a lot from it.” Not every article in every ETR is going to knock your socks off, but there will surely be something each day that can help you. It might be a big idea about how to become healthier or wealthier. Or it might be a small fact or useful tip on how to make your life richer or more enjoyable. If you allocate a mere five minutes a day to scanning ETR — and give it more than five minutes only when you see something that you want to spend more time on — you’ll be sure to get the best of it. If you are concerned that you won’t be able to limit yourself to five minutes, use an egg timer. Stop the moment it buzzes. You may have to end your reading in the middle of a sentence the first few times you do this, but very soon you’ll be efficiently skimming a full day’s message in a mere 300 seconds.

2. Learn a financially valuable skill. “First,” says Arnie, “I heeded your advice of learning a financially valuable skill (in my case, copywriting) and getting a second income. I love reading marketing books, so I wanted to do something along those lines.” I’ve often advised you to start on the path to financial freedom by learning a financially valuable skill (if you don’t already have one). If you don’t intend to be a doctor or lawyer, focus on a skill that contributes to (and is recognized by the powers that be as contributing to) the profits of a business. For example, there is virtually no limit to the amount of money you can make if you become a good CEO, profit-center manager, marketer, copywriter, consultant, or salesperson. Arnie took this advice to heart.

3. Start your own business. “I turned my favorite pastime into a money-making venture,” says Arnie, “trading and dealing in rare business books. I don’t make millions doing so, but I love doing it and it’s a great way to make extra money.” If I’ve said it once . . . the fastest way to acquire wealth is to create your own business. It doesn’t have to be a one that takes up all your time. You can get it going and then hire someone (your son? your spouse?) to run it for you. If making money is your primary aim, you’ll want to choose a business that is good at making money. But if you want to enjoy the business that is making you wealthy (albeit a bit more slowly), you might want to consider, as Arnie did, turning a hobby or passion into a business. (I told you how to do that in Message #963 and Message #1032.)

4. Use direct marketing. “Basically,” says Arnie, “I used direct marketing — over the Net — [to start my business]. I use the Internet auction site eBay. Some weeks, I’ve pulled in almost $3,000 . . . and I’ve even been featured in a paper with a circulation of almost 1 million people because of it. I’ve also been asked by eBay’s PR company to be a success case study!” The best way to get a business rolling is by using direct-marketing techniques. I’ve talked about this many times, most recently in Message #963. Arnie followed my suggestion and was able to generate positive cash flow almost from the start.

5. Develop joint ventures. “I used another concept that you favor,” says Arnie. “I used a joint venture. That joint venture has meant that I’ve been able to mail 50,000 sales letters at absolutely no cost to me — in just the last couple of months alone. It just goes to show that there are no excuses . . . even with zero money, you can still start a business.” I’m a big believer in joint ventures. They have been a major part of the success I’ve enjoyed. In the ETR Message #883, titled “The Easiest Way I Know of to Make a Ton of Money,” I talked about a recent joint venture I’d gotten into. I said, “There are two reasons why I’m happy we decided on a joint venture. First, we didn’t have to spend a penny. We contributed a product we already had, and our partner supplied the cash and the marketing know-how. Second — and this is probably more important — we increased our chances of success dramatically by partnering with a business with a proven track record of marketing in its area of expertise.” Arnie did the same.

6. Grow the business within your business. “I utilized the ‘business within my business,'” says Arnie, “by effectively becoming a consultant to other people who wanted to make more money (i.e., most of the population). You see, whilst I’ve concentrated in a specific niche market, I believe my concepts are universal — and duplicable.” Once you’ve got that financially valuable skill I mentioned earlier, you can “double up” on it. I explained in Message #929 that once you’re an expert in your field, you can not only grow your own company but also market yourself as a consultant — and earn money (even big money) by helping other people develop their own businesses. Arnie built on this idea.

7. Get off your butt and do something — now. “It all came about,” says Arnie, “by my actually doing something — anything — rather than sitting back and procrastinating. Unfortunately, that’s what nearly everyone does . . . they do nothing and ultimately they get nothing! It’s all about taking that first step and going from there as your experience and confidence grow.” We all dream about doing something important, about becoming rich or famous or starting a rock band or making a movie. We all have impressions, heartfelt impressions, of what we could be.

Most people are happy to dream those dreams forever. But a few of us are willing to do something more — to take steps toward attaining our dreams, to get off our duffs and, like Arnie, do something. We spent two weeks at the beginning of January planning the coming year. If you read ETR during that time and were stimulated enough to “do something,” you have a specific plan of action and 10 solid resolutions for improving your life in 2004. But if you have been content to sit on the sidelines and wait . . . wait for a miracle to happen . . . wait for a bolt from the blue to strike and magically give you what you dream about . . . well, then, you are no closer to achieving your goals than you were on January 1. It’s not too late to reinvent your life. Do something about it today.

[Ed. Note: “Arnie G.,” like many of the names in ETR (including “Michael Masterson”), is fictitious — used to protect his privacy. If you’d like to share your success story with ETR but are concerned about getting your name out there on the Internet, have no fear. We’ll be happy to give you a pseudonym, just as we did with “Arnie.” (By the way, “Arnie” is a 30-something man from Manchester, England. All of his quotes are real.]
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