(Part 1 is here)
I arrived at the restaurant in Anna Maria Island to find my Uncle Jerry waiting for me at an outdoor table.
The air was cooler than usual, swirling gently in a steady breeze from the Gulf. Jerry wore a blue windbreaker over a white Polo and pleated khakis… his permanently side-combed hair unfettered by the wind.
He stood and embraced me when I approached his table, flashing his easy, politician-friendly smile.
“Great to see you,” he said, stifling the mystery like a pro. “I’ve been looking forward to this.”
I’d never met with Jerry alone before. This was a strange new dynamic to be with him, away from the buzz of family activity, and about to have “a talk.”
I felt… older.
In my wandering search for “the thing” upon which to build a new life after comedy for my wife and pending children (we were “trying”)…
I had discovered this thing called copywriting.
I was on fire at the idea of getting paid to write, but had also fallen in love with the idea of marketing.
Marketing was everywhere, and I had always been interested in it, but I’d never thought of it as “marketing.” I only saw the surface of the strategies with, for instance, direct response ads on TV.
“Why is this company in Pueblo, Colorado, instead of New York City?” I would wonder at hearing the call to action for the tenth time during reruns of CHiPs.
I imagined a lady named “Doris” in a small office with a wooden chair that creaked when she spun it, answering phones and stuffing envelopes with “no obligation information.”
More recently I’d taken note of how local businesses advertise their services… which ones had a catchy tagline (“Don’t Cuss, Call Gus”), which ones offered “free in-home estimates” or “100% Money Back Guarantees”…
I couldn’t put my finger on what drove my interest back then, but all these things had the scent of what I now recognize as entrepreneurialism.
I was getting the sense that THESE were the people who had found the answer to my burning question about how people without bosses make real money.
It wasn’t until I read Dan Kennedy’s book, The Ultimate Marketing Plan, that everything clicked.
“Holy crap! This IS a thing!” was the overriding thought I had while reading the book…
And now here it was, in black and white.
I was ecstatic to learn that my inherent fascination with how things are sold wasn’t just a random “mind hobby,” it was an entire industry!
And people who do it well can get very rich.
I felt as though I’d found my calling, but I had no idea how to enter a field where I had no experience or qualifications.
Which was why I’d driven an hour for this impromptu meeting with the only bonafide business person I knew personally.
“Before we start,” said Uncle Jerry, leaning forward in his chair. “I want to tell you the #1 thing a business needs before anything else…”
I guess I’d mentioned something vague about “going into business” when I’d proposed the lunch, and this was Jerry’s way of cooling my jets in case I was about to hit him with some half baked proposition.
“Before you do anything in business…” he continued. “You have to have a marketing plan.”
I sat back and smiled wide, “I’m very happy to hear you say that, Jerry. Because marketing is the exact business I want to go into.”
“Oh,” he said. “Well, that’s a fantastic business to be in! Every business needs good marketing.”
We had a big laugh over his relief that he wouldn’t need to burst my bubble about whatever hairbrained scheme I’d dreamt up in desperation.
“I just want to understand business,” I told him. “How it works… why they fail… why some people are successful at earning money from other people…”
“And, what the hell is going on in Pueblo, Colorado!”
I caught him up on what I’d discovered so far about business and marketing and how the two intersect, and he filled in the gaps, best he could, over club sandwiches and iced tea.
Honestly, I can’t recall any specific wisdom or a-ha moments from our conversation that day.
What I do remember, though, very clearly, is how it felt to have a QUEST.
To have that quest validated, and the possibilities of pursuing it confirmed.
It was the fuel I needed.
That we all need.
To continue our quest.
To find the books we need to read.
The people we need to meet.
The questions we need to ask.
The things we need to do.
Yes, there’s a helluva lot of work along the way…
But, believing in your quest, and always asking, “Why not me?” will get you wherever this is supposed to lead you.
Despite your upbringing.