What does it mean when a prostitute’s gut growls?
That was the topic of the original introduction to this book. But I had to change it. Too racy. As I intend to publish a large fraction of this book for free, I didn’t want to get penalized by Google. I’ll include the original if there’s ever a print version. For now, I’ll just say this: all any audible gastrointestinal contraction means about anyone is that they’re human.
It depends. When did your personal development journey begin? I like to think mine started when I was 19, waking up from a heroin overdose for the third time in the shower, being held by my screaming girlfriend, with a river of blood squirting from the vein where a needle poked a hole.
But I’ve come to realize that we may have the wrong idea about personal development; the traditional paths that lead us to better ourselves don’t always begin where we believe them to. And buckle up, Superstar, because this is going to get nice and philosophical, but I promise to round back to the good stuff. Plus if you’re a true personal development junkie, you eat information and knowledge for breakfast, and this’ll be nothing more than a snack.
You could say most of our lives are dedicated to personal development. From the moment we’re born, in some way we are continuing to develop ourselves. Even people we’d classify as “lazy” or “losers”—adults who’ve given up, so to speak—continue to develop themselves throughout life.
The kid who dropped out of high school to sell drugs and became a criminal had to develop keen street instincts to continue his schemes. Until he got sent to prison. Then he had to develop himself to understand the dynamics of the big house, at the risk of death.
His classmate who also dropped out because she got pregnant at 16, only to have three more kids in a span of five years, all from different fathers, undoubtedly had to personally develop herself enough to care for her children. Being a mother is a hard job, and many may conjure up images of a skinny, meth-addicted girl smoking a cigarette while holding a baby as I tell this story, but let’s say for a second that is who we’re talking about: she’s had to continuously improve her wits to keep on living the existence that you judge so much.
We hear stories like these in traditional personal development circles, but only as overtures to grand symphonic tales of redemption: the classic “I was down and out, only to turn my life around” Campbellian monomyth of rebirth.
It’s a classic tale any personal development or self-help copywriter can’t help but rehash (because it works).
Now don’t get me wrong: I’m all for people turning their lives around for the better. As I once told my friend who took issue with the echoes of dogma that fill the room of every 12-step program around: if someone finds enlightenment within AA, even though I think it’s annoying that all they do is repeat the same platitudes over and over, I’m happy to see them doing so, as opposed to smoking crack on the street, or drowning to death in a bottle.
The issue I take is with the grandiosity specific to “the personal development industry” that (and this is from Wikipedia):
Personal development or self-improvement consists of activities that develop a person’s capabilities and potential, build human capital, facilitate employability, and enhance quality of life and the realization of dreams and aspirations.
As if human beings, regardless of their intent, aren’t always developing themselves.
I saw a homeless man on the subway near Hollywood just last week who was selling tasers, pepper spray, and phone chargers. I very much doubt his intent was to “facilitate employability” or fully realize his “dreams and aspirations,” but his instinct and ingenuity were the result of developing himself enough to know the supply and demand of goods in the area (two women bought pepper spray for $20 a pop, and he upsold them both tasers for $10 more). But you won’t see him jumping up and down at a Tony Robbins event, being lauded for his brilliant street hustle.
Which means you must view the development of the self as an innately universal human process; it transcends external identities like class.
In one way or another, whether you’re:
The sooner you understand that we’re all motivated by the same human instincts, the sooner you can communicate with people on a larger scale.
Because I know you want to help people. I know about the fire that lights you up inside, how badly you want to enrich yourself by enriching the lives of others, and your desire to see the audience’s eyes twinkle when it finally clicks for them.
And for my Superstar copywriter, I know how you dream of setting the industry on fire, and getting paid the big bucks to write about transformational products that you’d consume and write about for free anyway.
It’s the same fire that propels me forward: to educate people that what drives true transformation is the ability to communicate with people on a human level.
That’s how you inspire change through words.
I was asked by a business consultant what I was most proud of one year. I thought about it, and said, “I wrote a speech for the CEO of a bank, and after he delivered it to the board, he said they walked out of that meeting a completely different business.”
There had been other accomplishments that year. But this was the one I thought of. Knowing I had mastered the ability to move people through my words made it worth the years of sacrifice.
I got sober at 19, shortly after that overdose I mentioned earlier. Seven years later I sought help for sex addiction (the original introduction’s topic that I shall tell you about another time), which was in 2016, and coincidentally ended up being the same year I began my career as a freelance copywriter. So it makes sense that my profession and my personal development journey are so closely intertwined.
After two years, I quit my 9-5 to freelance full time, joining one of the most sought after agencies in the online space, Conscious Copy & Co., whose roster of clients included the likes of Tony Robbins, Brendon Burchard, Eben Pagan Training, Bulletproof, JJ Virgin, Joe Polish, and more. Since then I’ve also:
I’ve written about it extensively, but personal development is near and dear to my heart because of what I’ve gone through to be here with you, sharing these words:
Sometimes I look back at my life and feel like many forces have conspired for a very long time to kill me. But I’ve persevered through it all.
Whenever I’m struggling, I seek to learn as much about my problem and how to fix it as possible. It’s the same way I approach my career as a marketing professional and copywriter.
When done right, what we do is magic. We help people create lasting change in their lives. I’ve seen it happen many times.
Guy on the left wrote several books and is training for a marathon after years of taking the time to work on himself; guy on the right has worked pretty hard to get to where he is, but still can’t figure out why he sabotages all of his opportunities, and his relationships are a mess.
And I’m going to give you everything I’ve got in hopes that it helps you help someone else.
Copywriting & Messaging Principle #1: Know The Arc Of Transformation
Your ability to deliver transformation to those you can help depends on whether you understand the specific moment when they will be open to receiving your message. Know the arc, or transformation is impossible.