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Creativity

Want to create? Meditate. Define “hidden gems” of your creative process to keep you going…

After close to 30,000 sales of my 7 Figure Marketing Copy Guide (thank you!), several years of development, and making just about every mistake you can make I’m finally getting it ready to bring to print! More updates on this soon, but in this post I want to share some key insights about this whole creation process. Insights you can leverage when you’re facing your own “Mt. Everest” sized creation goals.

[Creation Insight #4] Why you start to create isn’t going to be the reason you keep creating…

There’s lots of reasons to write a book, make a course, or create anything designed to help others on their own journeys. The obvious: establish yourself and your brand as an expert, get exposure and speaking gigs, make some extra (or possibly considerable amounts) of income. 

But there are less tangible benefits that I’ve stumbled into that now drive me personally more than all the rest… 

First, it vastly improves your understanding of the concepts & issues in your field.

It’s one thing to know how to do a thing, it’s quite another to be able to explain it. The difference is in the depth of understanding you have, knowing not just how a thing works but why. As you construct your training you’ll likely start teaching the how… but you’ll bump into the ‘why’ and you might not be so sure. This forces you to stop, think, and research.

Imparting ‘why’ brings your student into the depths of understanding with you, helping them not just solve the one problem, or learn one concept, but it gives them a principle to solve a myriad of other problems.

For example, consider “how to write a headline”… it’s fairly straightforward: grab someone’s attention and peak their interest enough to continue reading. You can create templates and recipes to answer this how, like I do in my book.

But if you stop there you miss the big picture. 

The answer to “why” a certain headline works and another doesn’t holds the key to getting away from the templates and moving into building influence, connection, trust, and intrigue with a reader.

How a thing works is knowledge, useful but fairly easy to find. Why a thing works is understanding, often precarious and difficult to define well and extremely valuable.

It’s why I split my book up in two core sections, one focuses on ‘how’ the next on ‘why’… but that’s another story.


And wisdom? It can mean many things, but I’ve found it’s best viewed as your own human connection with the ‘how’ and the ‘why’… the stories and experiences you’ve experienced that tie them together for your student.

What you create can have all three (knowledge, understanding, and wisdom) but in my experience the magic happens out of the realm of ‘how’ and in the realm of ‘why and wisdom’.

Put simply, creating a thing that helps others requires you to increase your depth of understanding on your subject of expertise… This is a beautiful thing.

It’s why I recommend pretty much all experts to write a book, even if they never publish it… the process of writing itself will help you as much as it helps your reader.

Another more abstract benefit? 

You learn how to organize information and your thoughts better. 

Feel like whenever you tell a story or try to explain a concept to someone it comes out like a bowl of spaghetti dropped on the floor? Samesies.

I’ll admit, the first few drafts of my book were a complete mess. I used to attribute this to my ADHD brain trying to spit everything out at once, but realized it’s because I never truly learned how to organize information. Some people are better at this than others, but it’s a learned skill for myself not a natural ability.

While I still have a lot to learn in the arena (just ask my wife) the act of writing my book has helped me improve in this area more than just about anything else. 

It’s forced me to look at my writing from a readers perspective and ask “is my point clear?”. If not, which is almost always the case with the first draft, I need to revisit the structure of the content and fill in any gaps (and remove repetition). It’s also helped me clarify abstract concepts in my own mind around copywriting & marketing.

Organization is giving someone a fork to eat the spaghetti instead of throwing it in their face. Useful indeed.

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Creativity

When in doubt, do. Avoiding the Motivation Trap.

After close to 30,000 sales of my 7 Figure Marketing Copy Guide (thank you!), several years of development, and making just about every mistake you can make I’m finally getting it ready to bring to print! More updates on this soon, but in this post I want to share some key insights about this whole creation process. Insights you can leverage when you’re facing your own “Mt. Everest” sized creation goals.

[Creation Insight #3] Avoid The “Motivation” Trap.

This is a tough one, I constantly have to remind myself of this: Action is the cure to confusion, and man is creating something new and useful confusing. You will find yourself stuck over and over again. You will stare blankly at the screen with tears of overwhelm welling up in your eyes. It happens to anyone who really cares about what they’re creating… At this point we are often tempted to start a side quest of ‘self help advice’ or motivational stimuli to “get us back in action.”

Maybe if I read that book on how Gary V hustled his way to the top again I’ll figure out why I feel stuck…

THIS IS A TRAP.

Gary isn’t gonna get you there, heck Gary would tell you to put down the dang book and get back to work. You’re stuck because you’re about to make a ‘breakthrough’ (hey that’s probably why they’re called that!) – stopping now will kill your momentum.

While there’s nothing wrong with self help or motivational content consumption directly, turning to it (instead of doing the thing we should be doing) is at best escapism, and at worst will completely derail us from what we need to do.

It’s all too easy to rationalize this move – maybe we’ll stumble upon something that can get us going! But I imagine you have seen time and time again that this isn’t the case. You’re simply giving yourself excuse-bate for not doing anything.

The alternative? Remind yourself that the thing you’re resisting doing isn’t about doing it successfully or failing; it’s just about doing!

The act of attempting (fail or succeeding) will teach you everything you need to know about how to do it right, and how to stay motivated to keep going. If you succeed, great, problem solved. If you fail, great, now analyze what’s happened and try a different approach.

More importantly you won’t give into your lesser impulses. You will show your mind that you are in control of your actions, and over time it will become easier and easier. 

Now, you may need a break. Burnout is real, and you need to take care of yourself. If this is the case take a walk, call a friend, eat something to give your brain something to burn. But don’t digress into ‘searching for motivation’, it’s not out there – it’s created, not found.

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Creativity

Want to create amazing things? Better be open to getting help…

After close to 30,000 sales of my 7 Figure Marketing Copy Guide (thank you!), several years of development, and making just about every mistake you can make I’m finally getting it ready to bring to print! More updates on this soon, but in this post I want to share some key insights about this whole creation process. Insights you can leverage when you’re facing your own “Mt. Everest” sized creation goals.

[Creation Insight #2] I was open to feedback early & got people involved in my mission.

It can be tempting to fantasize about a grand reveal to the world of a well polished and finalized creation. Showing everyone who’s ever doubted you that they’re WRONG! That’ll show um!

But this is rarely how great things are created; especially if you’re taking on something you’ve never done before. It also may seem risky to reveal your plans. What will people think? What if I get laughed out of the room? What if, what if…

These feelings are common when you first start, in a real way creating anything is exposing the most vulnerable parts of yourself to the world.

But consider this, if you’re having those types of thoughts you might just be focused on the wrong person. The thing you’re creating (book, course, business) isn’t about you… it’s about the people you know it will help.

If your goal is to create the best possible version of the thing you’re making (it should be) you are going to need feedback from those you’re goal is to help.

For me this came in the form of a Facebook group. First I invited friends & colleagues who know me and my field, I would share parts of my book and get feedback and then I’d do my best to apply that feedback. 

This hit my ego hard at times when I had the worst confirmed, the bit I thought was bad was actually bad. But also was pleasantly surprised when someone found something I wasn’t sure about very helpful. Neat.

This group grew as more people found themselves interested in what I was creating, and it’s were my first group of buyers came from! (thank you!) Many bought even though I had given them access, just to support me on my mission to create the best dang book on copy out there.

So insight 2: It’s not about you, it’s about those you want to help… and Accountability works. Build a support & feedback group around the thing you want to create to help you refine & improve it. Get a group of people who care about your success and want to help, even if it’s just a few people to start.

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Creativity

Overthinking is the mind killer.

That’s a Dune reference for the uninitiated, what an amazing movie, go see it…

After close to 30,000 sales of my 7 Figure Marketing Copy Guide (thank you!), several years of development, and making just about every mistake you can make I’m finally getting it ready to bring to print! More updates on this soon, but in this post I want to share some key insights about this whole creation process. Insights you can leverage when you’re facing your own “Mt. Everest” sized creation goals.

[Creation Insight #1] Overthinking is the worst kind of thinking.

I’m a chronic overthinker. I make plan after plan, mind map after mind map, list after list, all with the intent of ‘getting myself ready’, but regularly ignoring a simple truth that: at some point you just have to start!

While it doesn’t hurt to have a plan, over planning (thinking) often raises the stakes so high that you psych yourself out of even getting started! You create a monster on your desk that your brain simply looks at and says “how bout no.”.

Another insidious aspect of overplanning is you get the satisfaction of ‘doing something’ through the process of planning. That’s often what our brain is looking for more-so than doing the thing. It want’s to feel that dopamine rush of completion of a goal, it doesn’t care that the goal (the plan) isn’t worth the paper it’s written on (if you don’t follow it).

So what can you do?

Make a rough plan if you must, get the key bits down that you can reference to as you go. But set a time limit, and if your plan isn’t complete (it won’t be) JUST START creating something, ANYTHING, related to your project.

If it’s a book, write an introduction even if you’re not 100% sure what it’s about. If it’s a course, record a part of it that you’re very confident you can teach off the top of your head. If it’s a business plan, write an about us page… 

You may not use these bits you create early on, that’s not the point. The point is to start the momentum of creation. You can always go back and revise your plan, but if you don’t start you won’t start!

I’ve re-written probably 90% of the content in my book over time, but starting is what kept me going! I didn’t know exactly where I was going, which might drive you crazy, but it has the added benefit of also taking off a lot of the ‘big picture’ pressure which an overly rigid plan often creates.

Start before you’re ready, and you’ll find yourself much more ready than you thought.

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aside copywriting

You’d have to be reckless.
2021 Macbook Pro ad

We’ve created something wild. With a fire in its belly. This thing, draws everything in. Moving silently, night and day. Into the deepest blacks and brightest lights. It’s eye, razor sharp. It’s sound, deafening. Pretty… dangerous. So why would anyone give this beast more power? You’d have to be reckless. What have we done? And, more importantly, what will you do with it?

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Creativity

A curious case of horror, drama, The Office, category busting & why you need to rethink your approach creativity.

I turned to you and said ‘John really loves his children.’

I was watching an interview with Stephen Colbert on The Late Show, where John Krasinski shared a unique approach to creating his horror blockbuster movie “A Quiet Place 2”. Colbert describes the film as terrifying, admitting that him and his wife “may have watched some of it with the sound off” (the films sound effects, and no sound at all, is regularly referenced as one of it’s most notable features). He followed this admission with an observation: “This film has heart, [while terrifying] it is actually a deeply moving story at the same time.”

Stephen followed with the question: “How do you mesh those two I don’t usually associate ‘deeply moving human story’ and horror.”

John’s answer holds a lesson for us who create things for a living…

An insight on how we can combine the seemingly incompatible into something new and unique; something that uses the power of one to enhance an element of the another. This concept flits with both what we’d call Category Busting in the realm of innovation, and Genre Busting in the world of literature, film, and music.

John answered with a story, a lesson he learned from famed producer and director Greg Daniels during his time on The Office.

“It was like three weeks into shooting and I was so nervous for a scene. And he [Greg] asked: ‘You okay?’ And I said yes… this is my favorite joke in the script and I want to make sure I deliver it really funny…”

“And he said: ‘Whoa, you don’t deliver anything funny. You just deliver it and let people decide whether it’s funny or not… you just do the character, and if they fall in love with you, they’ll go on any ride.'”

John continued: “I thought of him when they said direct a horror movie. I don’t know how to do a horror movie, so instead I just did a family drama and Trojan horsed it as a horror movie. I thought… you’ll be more scared If you fall in love with these characters.

Category Busting is a classic innovation generation strategy, a process for innovative product or idea development. Much like a eureka moment it can happen on purpose, but more often happens on accident or born of necessity, as was the case for John. He didn’t know how to do horror, but he did know how to do family drama.

“Family drama?” You may rightfully wonder. But think about it, was “The Office” really a mockumentary (itself a type of category busting) comedy? Or was it secret a “family drama”? Anyone who knows and loves the show (diehard fan myself) knows it’s incredibly funny; but upon reflection it truly is a drama about a ‘family’ born not from birth but from circumstance and all the complications that come with it. A family whether they liked it (Michael) or not (Stanley). It’s torn apart, it’s reforged in new ways, it’s messy, it’s beautiful, it’s a love story, and it’s often times simply hilarious. A hilarity born out of “wow that’s so true” as much as Michael Scott’s antics. Perhaps John wasn’t thinking that in-depth about it at the moment he shared that thought with Stephen & his wife on the tonight show, but I’m sure he’d mostly agree with that conclusion.

“You’ll be more scared if you fall in love with these characters.” Yes, John knows where authentic horror stems from, a fact that many horror movies miss. It comes from falling in love with the characters. So he focused on that, a fact that is made quite clear by a powerful deduction shared by Evie, Stephens wife who was joining them in the interview…

Stephen: “What did you say after there’s a critical moment when the children do things… Near the end of the film… And what did you say to me after that great moment?”

Evie: “I turned to you and said ‘John really loves his children.'”

I’ll admit, I haven’t seen the first or the second Quiet Place, not because I didn’t think they’d be great movies; but for a reason I’m only now understanding. I have a young son of my own, and I distinctly remember seeing the first trailer, I saw a the father and son on the bridge and a looming dread. I felt the tension and knew the implications. A younger me would have revealed in the suspense, but now I just see a kind of horror I would never want to face; fictional or otherwise.

Nonetheless, I found that John’s answers and Stephen’s and Evie’s observations in this interview stuck with me. I love to listen to people discuss creative processes, and to try and glean notes that I can apply to my own. You see most people approach creativity as something that “finds you”, when in reality it’s, at least in part, a process of searching for ways to combine the things you already have with things you’re curious about. Smashing them together and observing how the pieces interact. Layering them. Slowly taking them apart and combining them in unique and different ways. It’s often call it “category busting” or “genre busting” but I think from now on I’m going to think of it as “the horror movie born from a family drama called The Office”.

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copywriting

Webinars Convert When They Do These 3 Things…

An Easy to Follow Outline For Creating Webinars Worth Watching