Martin Stellar - Coach & Consultant for ethical sales and business growth

Martin Stellar - Coach & Consultant for ethical sales and business growth

In Which I Get Naked. Also: A Dancing Skeleton

“If you cannot get rid of the family skeleton, you may as well make it dance.”

– George Bernard Shaw

No dummy, that Mr. Shaw.

In marketing your business, you can make fantastic use of that idea.

Those skeletons we so carefully hide, they can actually be a very useful tool to get more sales.

Provided you take them out of the closet and make them dance.


First the why, and then I’ll show you how.


When in business, it’s tempting to do nothing but paint rosy pictures

You’re fun, you’re smart, you’re capable and honest, you’re on time and communicate well…

You’d be great to work with, and that’s the message you want to convey.

So far, so good.

Problem is, if something sounds so good, if there’s nothing amiss… you don’t actually build trust, but you reduce it instead.

We don’t trust something that looks too perfect.

That goes back to my pet caveman Grog, remember him?

He might find prey in a forest clearing, but if there are no other animals around, they just might have been scared off by another predator, larger than him.

So his lizard brain tells him – and still tells us – that if something is absolutely perfect, something must be wrong.

If it’s too good to be true, it probably is.

That notion is hardwired into our brains.


To your prospects, a totally perfect picture has the same effect: it makes them apprehensive. Nothing could be that perfect, could it?

So instead of making everything look perfect, take one of your flaws and open up about it.

Get naked, admit you’re human.

Nobody expects you to be perfect.

In fact, we know you’re not.

And being able to say so is brave, effective, and shows that you understand you’re fallible, and that you’re ok with that.

It makes people like you more because you demonstrated that you have the courage to show the world that skeleton of yours.

Your sheer humanity.

You’re not afraid, you don’t hide.

You’re yourself, warts and all. Transparently. And people love transparency.


Not only that: if you look really closely, you’ll see that your biggest weak spot, the thing you’re most ashamed of, is actually at the same time a quality

Think about it: If your particular shortcoming is that you always give harsh snap-reactions to people, that means your brain works really fast, and that’s a quality.

Ok, so maybe it runs unchecked and you often upset people with it – that’s something you can work on.

But that actual aspect of your character? It’s good as well as bad, at the same time.

And showing that to people helps them like you, and trust you more, and that helps you get more sales.

My problem, my particular skeleton?

Let’s see, which one shall I pick today… Ah yes, this one. His name’s Bob.

Bob, say hi to the good people.

*Bob rattles a wave and clatters his jaw*

Good man. Now dance.

*Bob starts dancing an Irish jig*


Bob is one of my favourite skeletons

His fault is procrastination and I resent him for it.

More than once – or twice – I’ve missed deadlines.

Not the life-and-death, “we’re launching tomorrow and where’s my copy” deadlines – when push comes to shove I show up.

But I must (and no, this not an easy email to write) admit that sometimes I have to ask a client for another day, because I didn’t do my work on time.

It’s uncanny: I’ll sit myself down – research done and notes at hand – to start drafting pages, and right I hear the cupboard door creek open.

A second later I feel Bob’s boney hand on my shoulder.

“Dude, did you see the sunshine out today?”

Angrily, I rucksack my laptop and follow him out the door, pretending I’ll be doing some work on a terrace while he plays on the beach. I usually don’t.

And thusly, another golden afternoon is spent inefficiently – or so it seems.

Remorsefully I follow him back up to the house in the light of the setting sun.


And that’s always the moment Bob shows me why he’s actually there, part of my life.

I close the door behind me, and he smiles that lipless, no-ear to no-ear smile of his.

And I want to kick him in it.

Angry with him, with myself, and with the world.

But that’s when the magic happens.

I sit down, hoping I’ll have a good roll in the morning, writing that salespage.

My mind wanders over the notes and bits of draft I’ve pondered together in my mind, and suddenly:


In an instant, the whole thing crystalises in my mind.

From the corner of my eye, I see a joyous glint in his empty eye-sockets as I whisk my laptop out of my rucksack.

And I know what he’s not saying: “You, Martin-boy, were not ready earlier today. All that research of yours, you had no idea of what to write with it. True or not?”

I ignore his unspoken words as I open a new file and start riffing a draft at breakneck speed.

“Aren’t you happy, now that I’ve forced you to sit and stare at the sea, now that all your ideas have slotted into place?”

I’m not listening anymore, absorbed in a torrent of ideas. My fingers barely keep up.

“You know I’m not all bad. Hm? Not really – I mean just look at that draft you’re creating!”.

Smug bastard.


I tell him to shut up and to go back to his closet – his work is done for the day.

He stalks off – very smugly – and hangs himself up on his hook.


Missing deadlines sucks.

I’m embarrassed to say it now, I’m embarrassed when I have to write to a client ‘Please allow one more day’.

But as a creative person – I’m pretty sure you can relate – pause and pondering are part of my work.

When I sit and stare at the sea, it looks like I’m wasting time.

It so much looks like it that even I believe it.

But in reality, it’s détente-time for my brain.


It’s when all the info I’ve been chucking in there gets reshuffled, when phrases and taglines get concocted, bubbling up by themselves.

It’s the time my subconscience needs to assimilate and puzzle together what I actually want to say.

For a creative person, purposeful procrastination is essential.

Without it, you’re only going to frustrate yourself, trying to create something that your creative engine isn’t ready to give you, yet.

I finish the draft before midnight, happy and satisfied. Good piece, it’ll be quick work to clean it up in the morning.

As I walk past his cupboard on my way to bed, I hear a rattle that sounds like ‘sweet dreams, little Stellar’ and there’s a distinct mockery to it.


Making your skeletons dance is good for business

But, you need to know how to do it because it can backfire horribly – which is why I’m planning to make issue #2 of the LEAP newsletter deal with exactly that.

Don’t forget: if you sign up before June 1st, you get 30 minutes of free consulting time on Skype with yours truly.

Best not miss it, I’d say.

Bob agrees.

Signup is here –>



Hey Man, This Mellow-Thighed Chick Just Put My Spine Out of Place

Today’s pop-culture reference: David Bowie’s Suffragette City. Good track.



“Come closer”, she said in that husky voice of hers

I scooted over.

She wrapped her arms around me from behind, and proceeded to mildly wrench my torso off my hips.

Next, she put her knee in the small of my back and did something to my spine that would make Jean Claude van Damme feel like an amateur.

Following that, she sat herself down on my ribcage, and everything popped and cracked.

From there on in, things started to become a bit painful.


Some five minutes later, I was shouting and grunting and actually thrashing about in agony on the table.

I may have insulted her, I don’t know – I was unable to hear myself think through my shouting.

To make sure I’d remember her, she put patches on my back that she connected to electrical wires.

I think the wires went straight into a wall socket because it felt as 220 Volts were being injected straight into my spinal fluid.

Took about 20 minutes to charge up my batteries, apparently, because then she came and unhooked me and said I could dress my beat-up frame.

I paid for the hour of first-class, medieval-grade torture, and went home.

My back feels terrific. I’m a new man.


There’s nothing like quality

I go see her any time I have a problem with my back, and I’ll wait three weeks for her to be available, instead of her assistant. I want Toni, nobody else.

We all know quality rules, but the question is: how do you make people understand that what you do or make is of real and true quality?

You know, without having to brag, or lie, or manipulate, or get all salesy on people – how do you do make people understand that you’re worth your salt?

As always, I’ll say by sending daily emails.

It’s free, it’s fun, people love receiving emails, and hey – it gets you sales too.

You know I preach that stuff every day.

You know I consider it business salvation, to communicate frequently with your people.

But, you might not be sure how it would work for you, in your particular business.

And that is why I created the LEAP Marketing newsletter.

Where my free daily emails tell you what I think – in my not at all humble opinion – you ought to be doing for your business, the newsletter tells you how to do it.

It’s hard teaching, the kind of stuff that gets into the nitty gritty of building lasting relationships based on trust

Which is, in case you weren’t sure, the kind of relationship that gets you sales over and over again.
16 pages, print only, delivered to your doorstep once a month wherever in the world you may live.

I’ve been waiting to say this: She’s going to the printer’s next week.

Don’t miss out, because issue #1 is going to be a massively packed doozy.

Sign up here –>



Let's Throw Jimmy to the Lions. He's Doing Things Right

Let me introduce you to a client of mine, a gent by the name of Jimmy Kelly.

I love what he’s doing these days, and I want to show you that you can do the same thing for yourself with a small bits of concerted effort every day.

He had the mentorship program with me earlier this year, and like a good little soldier has been steadily plugging away, writing and sending an email every day.

They’re not bad, in general.

And sometimes, they’re a pretty little gem, like the one he sent today:


Updates from The Art of Creating Meaning

Framing People

It was Degas who said that “The artist’s reward is the frame”. He wasn’t far off the mark with that statement.

It’s amazing what a frame can do for a work of art. It’s a form of validation for the effort and brings it one step closer to actually finding a home on someone’s wall.

There is one problem however, frames can be prohibitively expensive, even the cheap ones. For someone like me, who is quite prolific when it comes to producing art, hard decisions in this area have to be made.

I line up newly produced paintings and I tell them straight – “You are all beautiful and deserving in your own right, but not everyone can go on to the next round”

It’s like a scene from America’s Next Top Model. There will be tears and tantrums, mainly mine. The paintings themselves are decidedly non-plussed by the whole affair. Almost telling me to just get on with it.

Finances are examined and then duly ignored as I procure some the materials for framing. Then the final decisions are made as to what will hang on the wall, for a short time at least, until a worthier new-comer arrives, fresh on the scene.

The painting that I swore would never be frameless again is ripped out without a second thought and the new one finds its true home on the wall. It will be there only for a short time, but a good time. It won’t be ignored, rather the opposite. It and the frame will be scrutinized every time I walk by.

You see, I make my own frames. Have the guillotine for cutting the angles and the under-pinner for joining them together. Everything a professional framer requires. I love that buzz of cutting and pining a new fresh frame together and then neatly slotting in the painting.

Hanging it on the wall is icing on the cake and the five, ten, sometimes fifteen minutes of staring that follows that moment.

It’s important to share our joys. A painting is for life and keeps on giving in new and unexpected ways. If you’re lucky enough to buy a painting of mine and it’s also in its original Jimmy-Kelly-made frame, your joy is possibly doubled.

This can be arranged by clicking here and allowing your imagination to see it hanging on your wall.



I say one could do a whole lot worse as an artist.

In fact, this email is a fine example of what you can achieve if you learn the right methods, and if you diligently apply yourself to regular practice

Now, this piece might not be your style or to your taste

But objectively speaking, for the audience he’s trying to reach, it’s brilliant.

For one thing, it’s perfectly personal: the way he describes – storifies, really – how his mind works is exactly the sort of showing your personality that makes emails work so well.

It makes people understand you, it gets them to KNOW you, and that allows them to like you

But there’s a lot more he does right: Jimmy mentions Degas, hinting at the fact that he’s not just a brushworker, but also UNDERSTANDS art, that he’s done his homework.

And even if a reader isn’t familiar with Degas, and even if the quote is (at first sight) superficial, showing you know what you’re talking about helps build trust.

There’s also some humour and self-mockery in it, which is another great way to engage people.

He talks about the practical process – another highly engaging thing because people generally really like learning how something works, what the process looks like, how things go together and so on.

And did you notice the ease, the relaxed style?

He’s not there to sell anything – he just shows up with something to say, something which is likely to be interesting to art buyers.

Oh wait, he IS selling something, since there’s a call to action and a link at the end.

And yet, nothing in the piece is pushy, or marketing-y, or desperate for attention.

It’s just a guy, talking to us about his work.


Real nice work

The result of some learning, and a ton o’ practice

Because believe me, when Jimmy started, his emails weren’t anywhere near this good.

Now I just wish he’d work harder to generate traffic so that more people see his writing.

That said, there’s also sense behind his madness: He has a job and doesn’t depend on art sales for his living, so it makes sense for him to really train his writing prowess first, and build the traffic once he’s confident and comfortable in his writing skin.


Anyway: I like this email. A lot.

So much so, that I’m going to piece that sucker apart for you in issue #1 of the LEAP newsletter, and give it an in-depth analysis.

It’ll be like my regular copy review – and then some, because I’ll be framing (heh) Jimmy and this email within the Listen-Explain-Ask-Profit framework which shortens to LEAP.

Now, don’t misunderstand: The newsletter won’t be just for, or about, artists – it’ll be much more than that.

In fact, I’ll show you how the principles and mechanisms he uses are universally applicable, because they work at the core of what building a relationship is about

It’s not about ‘artist-focused’ sales techniques – instead it’s about how you as a designer, or coder, or indeed painter, can use the principles and methods that work for you and with your people, regardless of what you actually make.

Why am I so convinced it’s universally applicable?

Because if you’re reading me, I’m pretty sure you are an artist in your own right: building your own ideal life, carving out your niche, living the work of art that is your life.


I’ll bet. It’ll all become clear in a week from now, when the first issue goes to the printer.

Sign up before May 31 and you’ll get a free 30-minute introduction call to go with it –>




There's a Market for Everything, Even Rotting Fish (No Joke)

Long one today: Subscriber Gareth writes in with a question about Leap and selling art:


Dear Martin,

As always thank you for your e-mails – much appreciation.

I have a question. Do you think this LEAP product would be very useful for an artist who is trying to sell or at the very least promote his art work? My concern is that most business approaches are about finding what people want and then giving them a tailor made product that suits their wants, but it doesn’t seem like I can use that approach fully. I’m like someone who has made a suit and is dashing around the streets looking for the person who might fit into it.

Yours sincerely,



The simple answer is: yes it’ll work.

But, there’s a big but.

The Leap system is a series of trainings that over time show you how you can find your own niche within the market

It shows you, if you study carefully and implement the lessons, who you really are to the people most interested in you and how you can find those people and build strong rapport with them.

In that sense, it applies to artists just like it does to a copywriter or a designer or a UX expert.



But how long can you hold your breath?

Look at it like this:

If you’re a tailor and you made a suit, and you’re looking for someone who fits into it, I doubt you’re going to be very lucky.

I know this for a fact, because I used to be a tailor.

That said, the very comparison doesn’t work, and here’s why.

When a tailor makes a suit, a client comes to him and gets measured up.

All details about style, comfort, fit, appearance are duly noted, and the tailor proceeds to create something specifically to the wishes and the form of that client.

When it’s finished, it is indeed very unlikely that another person will have exactly the same sizes or the same set of stylistic wishes.

In that sense, you could compare a fancy suit to a commissioned portrait.

The client comes to you and describes the type of painting they want, and you work to find the balance between those instructions and your own style choices

If you really ‘get’ what that person wants, and if you are able to put that identity down on the canvas, it’ll be him – not any other sitter. The guy who patronised you, well that’s the guy who’s on the painting.

No other man would recognise himself in it, and he shouldn’t: This one was made specifically for the client. Just like a suit.

But Gareth is in a different class: He creates the art that he himself wants to create, instead of what people ask him.

Which is obviously scary as hell, because indeed: Where on earth are you going to find those people who like exactly those things that your own drives and inspirations wrench out of you?

Interestingly, I created LEAP to answer exactly that kind of question.

That is to say: the newsletter doesn’t give you cut and dry readymade answers, but instead teaches you methods, strategies and ways of reading your market, so that you can answer those questions for yourself.

It teaches you how to ‘learn’ your market and how to connect with those people

It’s that saying: Give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day, but teach him how to fish and he’ll have food until he dies.

The newsletter is that: a fishing net, the instructions on how to identify your ideal ‘fish’, where to find them, how to listen to them, what to say to them, and how to craft an offer – bait, if you will – that’s right for them.

In other words, to paraphrase Jesus, (will I lose subscribers over this? I might, but man it’s a good quote):

Come with me, and I’ll make you a fisherman of clients.


Now, let’s look at two notions, more specific to Gareth’s question

The first is: Keep your day job.

That is to say: make sure you have some activity that pays the bills, whether it’s working in a store or painting nativity scenes for Hallmark.

I mean, that whole starving artist myth is mighty romantic, but your landlord doesn’t care much about romance, and the art supply shop takes cash for payment instead of broken dreams.

So if you don’t have enough clients to keep you afloat, or a strategy to keep those clients coming in, you are indeed going to be a starving artist.

Which sucks, because they don’t tend to have a very high happiness rate, and the degree of daily starvation is entirely unrelated to the level success or indeed artistic expression of the starving artist in question.


I say: take care of yourself first, then make art. YMMV

Then there’s another notion: There’s a market for everything. Literally

Even rotting fish is a product that has fans and gets sold – which is not to say that I compare art to fish, rotting or otherwise.

But it’s true: it’s called Surstömming, it comes in a can, and according to a Japanese study, opening the can produces the most putrid smell in the world of food.

In Sweden, it’s a national heritage and it’s considered a delicacy.

And the people who like it? They really, really REALLY like it.

So Gareth’s task, if he’s adamant about making HIS art and not something with proven commercial viability, is to study the market, to listen and to suss out who actually are the people that like his kind of work.

And then, to create a way to get himself in front of those people and start communicating with him.

It’s not that hard – you just need time and consistent effort.

You gotta keep plugging away until it works, just like –

– guess what –

– EVERYBODY who has ever ran a business, online or otherwise, artist or carpenter or baker.


So the question ‘will LEAP work for me’, I can answer with another question: ‘Are you willing to MAKE it work?’

I can give you a net, a boat, the diesel to get you to the fish and the course to follow.

But it’s up to you to set sail and start angling for customers.

Over and over and over again, until you figure out the best way to catch ‘em.

Which, if you’re lucky, smart, and you work hard, can be within just a few months.

If you have that stamina, if you’re willing to learn, and if you’re so committed to selling your work that you’ll keep learning and implementing until it works?

Then yes, Leap will do you a world of good.

Sign up here –>



A Sales Lesson From an Ancient Fisherman + Don't Go Swimming With the Whales

Old Bo pulled his cap down and squinted.

He scanned the water left and right, and then pointed: “Dar, see? Dar’s a shoal of fish under dat dark patch o’er yon.”

He turned the key, and the ancient diesel engine hiccuped itself into motion.

He ruffled his beard, drew from his pipe, and said: “If ye wanna catch a fish, laddy…”

The boy had heard it a hundred times or more and chimed in: “… you gotta go to where the fish are”.

A few minutes later the boat was over the shoal and the fish started to bite.


In business, it’s the same.

If you want to sell something, you need to go there where your buyers are

That’s where you can listen to their problem and fears and doubts.

That’s where you get to talk to them and explain what you do and build trust.

That’s where you get to ask questions about their problems and the solutions they want.

And that’s where they’ll tell you everything you need to know in order to create and offer something that solves their problems.

This listening – really learning people – is something most people skip.

And that’s not only a recipe for business disaster, it’s also incredibly silly.

Because if you meet a person with a problem, and you start listening to them?

Then that person will tell you exactly what their ideal solution would look like, what they’re willing to pay for it, what they expect out of it, what the fears they have about buying, how they want to be talked to,how they do and don’t want to be marketed to…

If you listen long enough? People will tell you EVERYTHING.

So it’s no surprise that Listening – in other words, studying your market intensely – is one of the four main pillars of my LEAP marketing approach.

And, it’s why the first issue coming out in little over a week, is going to focus very heavily on the various ways you can listen to your market.

In issue #1, you’ll find:

– Why using Facebook for ‘market research’ is like fishing for sardines amidst a family of whales – completely ineffective cuz the whales gobble up everything – including you if you’re not careful

– How to identify not just your market and ideal buyer, but how you can instantly assess each individual and determine whether or not this person is indeed right for you, and you for them

– How to decide which places you should spend your time on, and which one to leave bloody well alone (hint: it’s mostly about the fun you’ll have – and no, I don’t recommend Flakebook)

– How to radically dissuade anyone who wouldn’t be right for you from getting in touch so you don’t waste your time with tire-kickers and fence-sitters

– How you can attract people who not only have great respect for your work, but who also want to pay you well (people will actually tell you ‘tell me where I can send you money’ if you do your marketing right)

– How, if you listen closely, you can use people’s very own words when selling to them, which makes the whole process easy and fun

And that’s just a few key points. The full 16 pages will contain much more in terms of hands-on strategies.

And, issue #1 will be about the one thing that makes your business work: THEM.

The other person, the guy or gal whose problem you want to solve.

I’ll show you where to find ‘them’, how to best filter out the noise and listen only to the people who are most likely to buy from you, and how you can use the things you hear to create marketing content that they’ll love and that will make them buy.

16 physical pages delivered on your doorstep, the result of many years of study and experimentation.

Wrapped up nicely in a simple layout but a structure that you can take up and implement in your business right away.

Oh, and, I’ve decided to add on an extra bonus for new subscribers: I’m giving everybody who joins before June 1st, a free 30-minute consultation

For me it’s good because it allows me to get to know the people who want to learn from me.

For you it’s good because you’ll be able to ask me anything you want and it won’t cost you anything extra.

Want in?

Then have a look over there, but bring your wellies and your sou’wester, because you and I are going fishing –>



The Difference Between $2-Plonk From a Carton, and a Fine Bottle of Rioja

Every now and then I get challenged on the prices I put on my products.

Interestingly, I never hear complaints from readers, prospects or customers (the people for whom I actually make my things) – it’s nearly always a friend in real life who’ll try to persuade me that things should be more accessible.

Now, I could do that, it’s not an unreasonable point of view.

I could offer discounts, or special offers, or indeed use a cheaper pricing model.

But here’s the problem with that.

People for whom price is a deal breaker are not shopping for quality – they’re looking for a bargain.

Which is fine – there are all kinds of valid reasons to save money.

For example, if I go on a trip and forget my headset but I have a podcast on my phone that I want to listen to while on the road, I stop at one of those Chinese-owned general stores we have here, and I buy a 1-Euro headset.

I know it’ll break before I get home, but that’s fine – I’m buying a disposable thing and it’ll last for as long as I need it. Probably.

However, if  I want to by headphones that’ll make my music sound like Adele is whispering sweet nothings straight into my ear, it’s different: Then I go to an audio store, try several, and will probably shell out $100 or whatever. Because at that moment, I’m looking for something really really good.

“Oh that’s more expensive than I had hoped for?


“Is it worth it?

“Ok then, here’s my money.”

Somebody who just wants to get hammered will go to a supermarket and buy cheap wine in a carton that tastes like diesel but gets the job done, while someone who wants to savour a bottle of fine fermented grape juice with a friend over dinner will have no problem paying a premium.

A person needing a knockabout car that’ll help them drive up the mountain to their cortijo will spend $500 on an old beat-up jalopy and they won’t care if it disintegrates or blows up within a year. It’s done its job, let’s find another one.

But someone who wants a safe, stable car with good traction so that even in heavy rains they’ll be able to reach home safely with their kids, without having to overnight with friends on the coast until the rain stops, they go and purchase a solid 4×4.

It’s all about how much value you are looking to get from your purchase. If you want something really cheap, then you are by definition not expecting a lot of value.

Because you now very well, deep down, that we tend to get what we pay for.

And that’s why my new LEAP newsletter isn’t cheap: at $79, it’s among the more expensive monthly courses. (In reality, that breaks down to less than you pay for a cup of coffee each day, so I guess it depends where people have their priorities).

But because of that price, I will feel obliged, morally and ethically bound, to fill those suckers up as densely as I can, each month.

I mean, I could easily create a $19/month newsletter, if I didn’t care about quality.

But just for the fact that you’d not be expecting much from it, I wouldn’t be very motivated to create something stellar. If people are not expecting much – why go all out?

That’s not how I do business. It wouldn’t help you.

I give you the very best of what I know, the very things that make my business work, and I present that in a structure that gives you grip on your business, your market and your sales.

The first issue, for example, is going to be a fantastic little starter: I’m going to show you exactly how I managed to create the relationship I have with my readers, and how that turns into sales over and over again, even though my list is – I’ll say it again – tiny.

In fact, my list is so small that it makes me want to buy a Ferrari. Yes, I have issues.


Issue #1 will be like a Single Malt Copy case study – you’ll learn how and why these daily emails work so well, and what I did beside writing emails to make all this work.

And no, it’s not at all because of my writing skills, such as they may be.

In fact, scrutinous readers will have noticed I take grotesque liberties with grammar, cultural idiom, spelling, you name it. And yet, it works. How so? That’s what you’ll learn in Issue #1.

And yes, this is supposed to be the call to action, and yes, I should have had the salespage with more info ready by now, but as they say in Spanish: En la casa del herrero, los cuchillos son de palo. Or something like that: In the home of the blacksmith, the knives are made of wood.

Ah yes, the life of a maker of things: As a tailor, I only had one decent suit for myself… as a copywriter, creating pages for myself is an advanced type of torture, and the cobbler’s kids have no shoes.

Oh well, we push on like good little chillun’, doesn’t we?

Pip pip.


Two Shopping Experiences Where I Was Misjudged – One Lost Me Forever, the Other Won My Respect

“I don’t know if this pump will fit the valve on my tyre, you see. It’s a type only used in Holland. Can I just quickly try the pump, and see if it works?”

“The young woman looks at me and says: ”No”.

“Really? I just want to try it before I buy. My bike is right outside”.

“No, she says. ”You could just pump up your tyre, and then you wouldn’t need to buy the pump anymore”.

Clearly, she mistook me for someone with nefarious intentions.

So I smiled at her, and said “Que no, tonta!” – Of course not, silly! – and put a 20-Euro note on the counter.

She understood I was ok and started rummaging round for a boxcutter.

I tried the pump, paid, pumped the tire to 5 atmosphere, and rode off into the sunset.

Later that day, I’m in a bar having a beer, doing some writing on my novel.

Comes time to pay, I notice that one of the coins in my hand isn’t a 2-Euro piece – $3.50 or thereabouts – but a Turkish coin of almost exactly the same size and no monetary value in Spain.

I think back and remember where I received it – a guy gave me change earlier that day and I pocketed it without looking, I remember clearly.

So this morning I go back to his shop and say: “You made a mistake yesterday with the change – you accidentally gave me a foreign coin”.

He takes the piece from me, barely even looks at it, and walks to the till. The coin disappears somewhere and without any objection at all, he gives me a 2-Euro piece.

I tell him: “You need to get rid of that you know, the next guy who gets it might get angry”. I don’t even have time to tell him that passing counterfeit money is illegal, when he answers:

“No, I’m keeping it, for myself”.

Riiiight… for himself. As a souvenir – of course.

Bollocks: someone played him a bad coin, and he’s going to put it in someone else’s hand, and hope it won’t get noticed.

Two experiences, two results: The guy, I now know I can’t trust him.

The woman – well I could have been offended at how she misjudged me, but I prefer to respect her for running her business with a bit of care.

And, I respect her for having the balls to tell me why ‘no’, when I asked her. Many people would just oblige even though they’d rather not.

And hey, she’s got every right to refuse.

Sometimes you have to.

A few weeks ago a guy got in touch wanting copy, but before he could tell me anything – even the name of his company – I’d have to sign a non-disclosure agreement.

Yeah, that just don’t work for me – so I had to decline. Even though it was a sizeable project and the money would have come in handy.

No is a useful word in business. It should be used any time you feel someone invades, or very likely will invade, your own personal territory, your space, your truths, your peace of mind or your ethics.

You have every right to decline.

You can, for example, decline to take up my new LEAP Marketing Newsletter, once I finally get the sales page ready this week. (Today? Is there a copywriter in the house?)

Not that I recommend it – it’s a pretty solid piece of business training, the way it’s shaping up.

More about that in the next few days…

Meanwhile, go here if you already know how to run a successful business, but you just want to learn how to write daily emails that keep bringing in sales –>



DOH! So It Was In Front of Me All the Time?

It’s not that I’m dumb, but it sure is interesting how sometimes, the obvious stares us in the face and we just will not see it.

Which is, for example, what happens whenever a woman happens to like me.

I kid you not: almost every time a chick is interested in me, I’m over in the other corner, trying to make eye contact with a completely different woman, usually one who has no interest in me whatsoever (and who may or may not be wearing yoga pants).

But I digress.

Read more

Let My People Go! Thoughts on Writing a Novel

Ok, so a few days ago I told you about my big audacious plan, the one which is going to turn my life upside down.

The plan which, I mentioned, starts with the novel that I’m currently writing.

I think I’m about 50% through with the first draft, and I have the storyline about 80% ready. More or less.

I’m not yet sure how to marry to main character to the waitress at the roadside diner, but I’m sure I’ll figure something out as I go along.

It’s a bit of an adventure, this book.

I think I would call it a sci-fi comedy noir, but that doesn’t really do it justice.

It’s… more out there than that.

It’s called:

“We’ve got humans!”

This is the Prelude (for now):



Vlardr slammed on the brakes.

His mining rig hung still in space, slightly humming.

Somewhere outside in the vacuum, it seemed there was a gospel choir going “Hummmmm….” in a particularly jazzy harmony of hot fifths and sevenths.

He looked at the shimmering apparition in front of him and said: “Guy, get out of the way. This is a very powerful machine and if you don’t move it’ll hurt you. Badly.”

“I said stop”, replied the shape. “Let my people go!” The gospel choir picked up in volume, and a tiny trumpet started playing a solo in a blues scale.

Vlardr said: “Who are you?”

Thunderously, it sounded “I am GOD”.

Vlardr the Stoic blinked.



I TOLD you it’s out there…

In stores and on Kindle in the next two months or so, Zarquon help me.

Do forgive that this isn’t a helpful sales-teaching email like normal – I’ve been stuck with the storyline for months, and only yesterday finally had the a-ha moment, so now I know where to go with it.

I’m excited, I can’t wait to finish this thing.



P.s. Yes, I’m still working, obviously.

Even though I no longer accept writing projects for clients, I do still have my mentorship program for people who want to learn how to email daily for fun and profit:

Chicken or Egg – Write Emails or Build List?

Got a nice reply to my yesterday’s email:

“I have one [a list], but it’s got one person on it: me. Should I start emailing myself, just to develop the practice?
I am very much stuck in the “busy making a living” cycle, except I’m too busy and not making enough of a living. Lots of “plans” to “fix” this, but only the most preliminary of steps have been taken toward the actual fixing. Everyone tells me I need to offer a freebie to get people to download. Bogus? I see no other reason for someone to subscribe to me, though.”

You might be surprised, but I hear that a lot.

So this is what I replied:

“Yep, start writing, even if you don’t have anyone reading. Better that, than to have traffic but no experience writing this kind of stuff, or indeed a body of work to show, once you do start getting traffic.

For list building, have a look at Kim Roach’s work at to get some good ideas for traffic. Then make a landing page, explain why your daily updates are fun and useful, ask for a signup.  A freebie is very useful, start making one now. The notion ‘why else would they sign up’ is not useful, that’s just because you’ve not yet had the extended practice and experience of writing, or the reactions it will get you once you start.

Don’t wait building your list until you have a freebie though, that would just be procrastination.

So, write :) Get that into your system, and all the other aspects will get taken care of as and when appropriate.



Nuff said, methinks.

Not sure you know how to write those emails and write them well? Lemme help you with that –>

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