Direct Marketing Article
25 Secrets of Lasting Success
by Bob Bly
A few weeks ago Bill R., a subscriber, wrote me the following e-mail:
"What advice would you give somebody who is starting out that wants to be a
success - as a copywriter or just in life in general? What advice would you
give to a son or a nephew graduating high school or college as they go into
"I guess I am looking for the one thing that you think is most important to
being successful or most important in life in general ... or any words of
wisdom that you have. What is the one thing about life that everybody should
know to be happy?"
It's an intimidating request, because the older I get, the less I seem to
When Thomas Edison wrote that "we don't know one-millionth of one percent
about anything," you can certainly apply that to me and success.
My own accomplishments are fairly modest. I earn a nice living, but I am not
in the Donald Trump or the Michael Masterson league - or even close.
My family and I live a pretty ordinary life, in a pretty ordinary suburb.
I like to think I'm a good dad, but I am not sure my sons always agree.
Other than my family and work, I don't have many other interests or
activities (except reading).
So I am not confident that Bill is asking the right person for advice on how
to achieve success in business and in life.
And yet he is not the first to ask me. I get dozens of similar requests a
year from my readers.
So to satisfy Bill - and maybe you -- here's what little I know about
prospering and enjoying life.
Please keep in mind that my advice may not be right for you. It is merely
what has worked - or not worked -- for me:
1-Be yourself. Do not pretend to be someone or something you are not. Your
uniqueness will appeal to a certain segment of the market. These folks
become your best fans and customers.
2-Following your passion - doing what you love - does not guarantee
financial success. But not doing what you love guarantees a life of boredom
and unhappiness. The trick is to find a niche where your passions and
interests intersect with the needs of the market.
3-Learn a financially valuable skill so you can command a decent salary or
(if you are self employed) a respectable fee.
4-Those workers and service providers who command top dollar either (a)
perform a service that makes or saves their employer or client money or
time, (b) have a skill for which the demand exceeds the supply, or (c)
specialize in a narrow niche with little competition.
5-If you can earn a salary or generate a net income as a self-employed
service professional or independent contractor of $200,000 a year or more,
you won't get rich. However, your life will be easier and you will be
financially more secure than 95% of Americans.
6-Given the choice, have your children when you are young and possess the
energy it takes to parent active youngsters.
7-Spend as much time as you can with your children when they are young and
still want you, even if you must make sacrifices in your professional
achievements to do so. This time passes quickly and once it's gone, it's
gone for good.
8-Strive to achieve a liquid net worth of at least $2 million by age 50. You
won't be rich, but again, you'll have more financial security than about 95%
9-The best piece of financial advice I ever got was from Florida freelance
writer David Kohn, who told me: "Live below your means." Doing so further
enhances your financial security.
10-With your wealth, avoid buying material possessions that are unnecessary
- especially luxuries that depreciate in value over time. Use your money to
buy income-producing assets, assets that appreciate in value, or services
that free up your time for other activities.
11-Avoid debt of any kind to the extent you are able. I have zero consumer
debt except the mortgages on investment properties. Cars I buy for cash. If
you have to get a loan or lease to drive a particular model car, you can't
12-If you lend money to friends or family, do it with the expectation that
the money is really a gift rather than a loan, and do not expect to ever get
the money back. If you are repaid, even in part, consider it found money.
13-Every day you wake up and everyone in your family is in good health, and
you have food to eat and a decent place to live, you are ahead of the game.
14-When writers, Internet marketers, and entrepreneurs brag to you about how
much money they make, divide the figure they give by three. As my colleague
Fred Gleeck is fond of pointing out, the only numbers you can trust are your
15-In your business, always under-promise and over-deliver. Give your
customers not their money's worth, but more than they have a right to
expect. Err on the side of being too generous rather than being too rigid or
16-Before criticizing a supplier or vendor, say something positive - what
you like about the work -- first. The more insulted a vendor feels, the less
motivated they become to serve you.
17-Do not allow yourself to be belittled, insulted, or demeaned verbally or
in writing by others. When someone makes a snide or degrading comment, your
reply should be: "What was your purpose in making that comment to me?" It
will stop them in their tracks, and embarrass them so they never do it to
18-Do not give people unsolicited advice.
19-To paraphrase Dan Kennedy, guard your time like the gold in Fort Knox.
You can always make more money, but time lost or wasted is gone forever.
20-As long as a business or life decision does not involve risking the
mortgage money, make it quickly. Successful people are able to make swift
decisions and carry them out with speed.
21-The #1 difference between successful people and those less successful is
that successful people act on their ideas. Ideas are a dime a dozen. Without
action, ideas are worthless.
22-Do not think you must reinvent the wheel on every new product or business
project. Most things have already been done before. All you need to do is
add a twist or put your own spin on a product or service to create demand
and make it profitable.
23-If you are successful, you can be arrogant and boastful, but why do it?
Your bragging makes others who are less successful feel badly about
themselves. What's the point of doing that? Also, don't refer to yourself as
a genius or superstar in your marketing copy. If you were a genius, you
wouldn't have to say it - instead others would be saying it and you could
24-Focus on your work - on creating valuable products, giving great service,
going the extra mile for your customers - rather than how much money you
want to make.
25-Start investing right away, when you are young. Do this early enough, and
compounding can make you rich. Wait until you're 50 or 60, and you could
find yourself in desperate straits. And diversify. Put 10% of your wealth in
an investment that moves in opposition to the stock market, such as precious
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