You Gotta Believe!

“Millionaires don’t believe in astrology. Billionaires do.”

– Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919)

I took my 10 year old son Evan to his karate school last Friday night, for a special “Board Breaking Class.” Although I don’t know of many people who have ever actually been attacked by a board, his instructor thought it would be good for the kids to put some of their skills to the test, so we signed up.

We got there early, and Evan ran right over to pick up his allotted 10 pieces of one foot square, one inch thick, pine. After a brief demonstration by the instructor (who apparently was using trick wood, based on the way it crumbled with just the slightest touch of his hand), Evan got in line with the other kids.

One by one they broke the wood, and I have to admit that by the time it came to be Evan’s turn, I was as excited as he was. He walked over, knelt down, positioned the wood between the two cinder blocks provided, and raised his hand high over his head. Then, with one quick focused movement, he brought his hand down on the wood as hard as he could.

Nothing happened. The wood just sat there looking at him. So he tried it again. Nothing. And again, and again, AND AGAIN. Nothing, nothing, NOTHING. From 20 feet away I could see how red his hand was getting, and I finally had to stop him so that he wouldn’t hurt himself. Needless to say, we went home that night very disappointed.

Later that weekend, and now wondering what to do with 10 pieces of one foot square, one inch thick pine, I set the wood up in the basement between two cinder blocks. Then I went upstairs to find Evan.

Once again, he knelt down, raised his hand, and brought his fist down on the wood. This time — BOOM! — the wood snapped in half as his hand reached the floor. After a quick celebration filled with the usual idiotic hooting and hollering that we American males are famous for, I put another board down for him to break. Boom, broken. And another, same thing. He broke five boards in a row in about two minutes, and I suddenly began fearing for the lives of all the cutting boards in our kitchen.

You know the point of the story. When you believe that you can do something, it’s easy. When you don’t, it’s impossible.

January is the most popular month of the year for launching new E-Newsletters, and I know that for the many of you who began back then — as you now face your fourth or fifth issue — you’re having some doubts. You’ve spent time, effort and money getting your E-Newsletter set up and out the door, and you’ve yet to see any clear return on your investment (the boards haven’t broken yet and your hand is getting pretty sore).

The purpose of this week’s newsletter is to encourage you to have faith and keep going, even in the face of no measurable results. Because once your “board breaks,” and you get that first call from a complete stranger who says, “We’ve been reading your newsletter for 6 months, and we’d like you to come in and talk with us about doing some work,” you’ll find that the calls come more frequently and more predictably.

Relationship marketing (of which, E-Newsletters are a tool) takes longer to get started than its cousin, Direct Marketing. And even when it does, you often can’t make an airtight link between the cause (consistently marketing to your existing relationships) and the effect (profits).

That said, it’s easier, more cost effective and ultimately more profitable to have prospects find you than it is for you to go looking for them.

By the way, I’m well aware that there are people who would argue that words like “faith” and “belief” don’t have a measurable impact on results, and therefore don’t deserve a place in serious business. I disagree, and Evan and I are willing to bet that none of those people have ever broken a piece of wood with their bare hands.

Keep writing and see you next time!

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