I'm riveted by the biography of Napoleon Hill, the author of the classic book and Nightingale-Conant audio program Think and Grow Rich.
Not only did this man struggle for 20 years to write the definitive guide to success, but he experienced poverty, his life was threatened, his backers were murdered, he suffered from bouts of hopelessness, and his family suffered beyond all understanding.
His was not an overnight success.
One thing that stood out in Hill's life story was his ability to turn the negative into the positive. He always looked for what some people call that silver lining in the dark cloud. As I thought about Hill's life, I realized I've been noticing this ability to see the good in the bad practiced by others, too.
I was at a meeting with my friend Mark Joyner, Internet pioneer and bestselling author. I overheard Mark talking to a man who had just gone through hell due to the FTC. Mark listened to the man's sad story and then said, "Turn it into something good."
This was remarkable advice. It's the kind of thing Napoleon Hill would have said. It goes against what most people ever even attempt to try. The whole idea of taking whatever happens to you and turning it into something good seems, at first glance, preposterous.
But this also seems to be a key to success. I remember P.T. Barnum offering to buy a rival's elephant. He sent a telegram stating his offer. His competitors took Barnum's telegram and ran it as an ad, saying, "Here's what Barnum thinks of our elephant."
Instead of being upset, Barnum decided to join with those competitors. That gave birth to the famous Barnum & Bailey Circus. Barnum took the experience and turned it into something good.
The other day Nerissa, my love, released her first e-book. She had a small mistake on her site. When I went to promote her site, I used the mistake as a way to get attention for her e-book. I could have said, "Correct your site."
Instead I sent out an email that said, "There is a mistake on her site. If you can spot it, I'll give you a gift." This caused people to be curious, a powerful motivator. It drove traffic to her site. Sales jumped.
What I, Barnum, Joyner, and Hill are doing is one thing: Taking the so-called negative experiences in life and turning them into something good. I call this TIISG. It stands for Turn It Into Something Good.
You have the ability to do this. It's a choice. No matter what happens, take a breath and ask, "How can I turn this into something good?"
The question redirects your mind. Instead of looking at the problem, you are now looking for solutions. This is a brilliant way to learn how to operate your own brain. You become the master, not the slave, of your life.
Andrew Carnegie that tycoon who challenged Napoleon Hill to undertake his 20-year quest to uncover the secrets of success -- confessed that the principle key to his own staggering success was the ability to operate his own mind.
He told Hill, "I am no longer cursed by poverty, because I took possession of my own mind, and that mind has yielded me every material thing I want, and much more than I need. But this power of mind is a universal one, available to the humblest person as it is to the greatest."
It all begins with the basic TIISG question: "How can I turn this into something good?"
The answer will bring you new choices and happiness, and may lead to wealth you never dreamed of before.
Just remember TIISG.
Try it and see.
The Greatest Motivator Isn't What You Think— or, What I Learned from Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler on Valentine's Day
Last Valentine’s Day, Nerissa and I went to see a new movie, 50 First Dates, starring the beautiful Drew Barrymore and the funny Adam Sandler. Besides being a hilarious movie in a beautiful setting with a heartfelt message of true love, it also caused me to have an "a-ha" right in the middle of it.
Somewhere around halfway through the movie, as Adam is again reminding short-term-memory -loss victim Drew that he loves her, I suddenly realized the power of the greatest motivator of all time.
But let me first set the stage.
Most psychologists, direct marketers, and anyone who persuades for a living will tell you there are only two basic motivators: Pain or Pleasure. You either go toward what you want or away from what you don't want.
The standard argument is that pain is more powerful. I've tended to agree but also stated I would not focus on pain for idealistic reasons. I simply don't want to spread pain in the world. Focusing on it causes you to feel it. I don't want to contribute to the misery many feel. So my stance has been to focus on pleasure as a motivator in my sales letters and websites.
Most marketing experts agree that pain is the best trigger to focus on in any ad or sales campaign. They love to find a prospect's basic problem, and then rub their noses in it. They figure the pain would make the person buy or change.
The most common example they give is the insurance salesman who tries to sell you home coverage. If he focuses on pleasure, you will put off buying. If he tells you your house is on fire, you will buy. Pain causes immediate action.
So, like everyone else, I "knew" pain was the greater motivator. I simply focused on pleasure because it is a more noble route.
But then I saw Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler in their new movie, and suddenly I felt awakened, energized, and validated.
Here's the film's plot in a nutshell:
Adam is in love with a woman who can't remember anything from the day before, due to a head injury in an auto accident the year before. Every day is a new day. And every day Adam has to win her over again. Every date is new. Hence the title, 50 First Dates.
At one point in it, as Adam was again wooing Drew, I suddenly realized what I was really seeing.
I saw pleasure was the greatest motivator of all.
Adam was pursuing Drew every day, despite the pain and the odds, because of his growing love for her. He was going after pleasure. The pleasure goal was so powerful it erased every pain he might experience.
In short, all the marketing experts who say pain is the greatest motivator have forgotten the power of our driving force in life: Love.
People will scale mountains with luggage on their backs, swim upstream in a hurricane, and battle armies and all odds in order to fulfill that hard-wired emotion in us to love and be loved. Love rules.
All the examples we were given were unfair. People trying to sell insurance and resorting to pain haven’t figured out the real pleasure button to make someone buy. They've been too lazy to search for the pleasure trigger. Focusing on pain was simply an easy cop-out, a handy approach.
It's the same with all the massive ad campaigns that fail. Trying to get someone to quit smoking or stop drugs because of the pain they depict in the ad is the wrong approach. If we suddenly focused on the pleasure someone would have when he or she stopped smoking or taking drugs, we'd be moving in the right direction.
This is so obvious to me after watching the movie. Our goal as marketing and business people isn't to tell people what's wrong with them or to remind them of their pain, but to help them imagine and then experience the pleasure they long to have.
It's noble, yes, and it works. Talk about turning it into something good!
Love moves everyone.
Love is the great motivator.
Love is the great pleasure trigger.
According to my friend Kevin Hogan, author of The Psychology of Persuasion, love isn't an emotion but a mindset. And as a mindset, it is actually stronger than any emotion.
In short, you're dealing with the most powerful motivator of all time.
Reveal what there is to love about your product or service, and you'll give people authentic reasons to do business with you. Call it Love-Based Marketing. You won't sell everyone with it. You'll sell only those who are a match for your offer. That, in the end, is all you want. Then you're happy and so are your customers.
Just like Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler, you'll find a match to write home about.
And you might make a little money along the way, to boot.