Old-Fashioned Discernment in the Age of the Internet
You know what’s wrong with the Internet??
Smart people and stupid people get equal airtime.
And since stupid people tend to shout longer and louder than people who have acquired wisdom and judgment, ignorance generally prevails.
Is that a bit too cynical for you?
When you forward this e-mail to friends, Microsoft can and will track it (if you are a Microsoft Windows user) for a two week time period. For every person that you forward this e-mail to, Microsoft will pay you $245.00, for every person that you sent it to that forwards it on, Microsoft will pay you $243.00 and for every third person that receives it, you will be paid $241.00. Within two weeks, Microsoft will contact you for your address and then send you a cheque. I thought this was a scam myself, but two weeks after receiving this e-mail…
Remember that one? Did any of your friends fall for this and forward it to you?
I rest my case.
Listen up: The stupid will always be with us. “If you don’t want to win, no one will stop you.”Stupidity is not a function of capability, it is a choice.
At any Hooters restaurant, on any given day and at any given time, there’s a guy in there who thinks the waitress is attracted to him. Did you see that, Bill? She’s hot for me. Did you see how she was looking at me? I’m tellin’ ya, she’s gonna give me her phone number, just you see, Bill..
Uh-huh. Yep. Sure Steve, I think she really does like you.
(Reality is no match for a good fantasy.)
OK, so what’s the point? The point is, stupidity is cheap and plentiful. With stupidity, your options appear to be endlessly open. Enticing possibilities, immediate, apparent, as though you could just…
Wisdom is scarce and expensive and usually involves up-front commitments.
You decide between the two, every hour of the day.
Your customers decide between the two, every hour of the day.
At my first engineering job there was a guy in the next cubicle named Boris, who was a Russian immigrant. Boris explained to me what it was like to stand in bread lines in the Soviet Union and have virtually zero choices, then come to America and walk into a supermarket and suddenly be assaulted with choices, inundated with options from every direction.
The effect on him was visceral. Physically overpowering. It was so shocking that some of his Russian friends literally got on the plane and went back home, to where the number of choices was manageable once again.
That conversation happened fifteen years ago. How many more choices do we have now than then? No less than 100 times more, probably 1000 times more.
1000 times more people talking and sending out newsletters, and only you can decide who to pay attention to. 1000 times more places to spend or invest your money. 1000 times more businesses you can get into. 1000 times more opportunities to screw up. 1000 times more opportunities to succeed.
How do you navigate?
Being tech savvy won’t help. College education won’t help. A faster Internet connection or 30″widescreen monitor won’t help. Having more connections and a bigger rolodex won’t help. Being more motivated won’t help. Being a better copywriter won’t help. Getting more visitors to your website won’t help. A bigger email list won’t help.
No, all these things will only get you in more trouble, faster, unless you have THE number one 21st century success skill.
In the 21st century the #1 success skill– a skill that NOBODY ever seems to talk about – is discernment.
Discernment (di-sÃ»rn‘ment) n. Keenness of insight and judgment.
“How Do You Teach Someone Discernment?”
That’s a million dollar question, my friend. And the best answer I can give you is… you just have to watch both stupid and smart people thrashing around in the mosh pit of life and begin to discern the difference. It’s all in the contrast.
In no particular order, my own observations of wise men vs. fools:
- Stupid people proudly step forward and identify themselves. They self-select. As soon as this newsletter issue hits the streets, people who are angry about this newsletter and this irrelevant first section which “obviously has nothing to do with marketing”will send nasty emails and cancel their membership. This naturally weeds the stupid people out of my Renaissance Club. (When I gave Mendy this newsletter to proofread, that was her very first comment to me.)
- Smart people read Cosmopolitan to learn how to write compelling copy. Stupid people read Cosmopolitan because they think they’re actually going to get what the copy on Cosmo promises. (Or because they think that Cosmo is interested in honoring and empowering the female gender.) Honey, I’m sorry to break the news to you, but if it’s got airbrushed tits on the front cover, it’s probably more about using women than empowering them.
- Wise decisions involve obvious terms, clearly enunciated costs, certain drawbacks, and many of the true benefits may be written in the fine print. (Your wedding vows, for example.)
- Foolish decisions have immense appeal and obvious benefits with easy-looking terms and… lots of fine print that spells out the true cost.
- Wise people research history and read original sources. Fools check on the latest buzz. Most “direct marketers”and most people in most marketing and advertising jobs have never read Scientific Advertising by Claude Hopkins, for example.
- Most people who go into a new business do not research the history of that business or find out why so many others who went into that business failed. (Do you know who the original sources are in your industry? I can guarantee you, most of your peers have heard of them but few have ever read them.)
- Wise people research online and offline. Wise people take a trip to the library and search collections of used books. Fools suppose that if it can’t be found on the first page of search engine results, it surely must not exist.
- Wise people know that education costs money.
- Fools think that “information wants to be free.” Hey, if information is defined as that which most people don’t know or can’t know, then free information isn’t really information at all, is it?
- Wise people focus on timeless principles. Fools focus on quick tricks. In March I did a teleclinic with Jonathan Mizel and Glenn Livingston, explaining the “www dash”technique. In short, it’s a domain name trick where, for example, you can’t buy http://doctor.com – but you can buy http://www-doctor.com. This can dramatically increase the CTR on a Google ad or other web advertising link, typically by 70% or more. Very exciting, potentially misleading, in some cases it’s the difference between a successful web project and an unsuccessful one. But if it’s the only competitive advantage you have, it’s gonna be short-lived. I don’t really like this technique (Bryan doesn’t either), but do I teach it as a competitive weapon that can be used very effectively in certain circumstances. And I also made sure that in our teleclinic, we delivered some substantial marketing strategies along with the promised tricks and techniques.
- Wise people know that principles are simple and techniques are complicated. Fools think techniques are simple and quite sufficient for success anyway. They won’t be bothered with the underlying principles. That stuff is too involved and too boring. Plus, “black hat”is more fun anyway, isn’t it?
- The wise make time to do things right the first time. Fools never have time to do it right the first time, but somehow they find the time to do it over again… and again… and again.
- When wise people get criticism from another wise person, they ask, “Hey, is there anything else I should know?”Fools mouth off to the coach when he tells them to do their pushups.
- Fools think only of the immediate benefit; Wise men think three or six or ten chess moves ahead and consider the long term consequences. Once at Dan Kennedy’s VIP meeting, Dan illustrated a perfect example of this.The new Eminent Domain decision had just been handed down by the Supreme Court, which states that if your local government thinks your Cabin On The Lake isn’t generating enough tax revenue, they can pay you what the tax rolls say it’s worth and sell it to a developer who wants to build condos on it.(This is one of the most fundamental and far-reaching confiscations of personal rights in the last 100 years, altering the very nature of property ownership.) Dan had calculated the long-term implications of this on real estate prices, under-the-table election payoffs, impact on the political process, and its far-reaching effects on developers and investors.Yet most people in real estate that he spoke to hadn’t the slightest idea that this was important and were not even following to the Supreme Court case at all.
I don’t know that anyone can just sit down and teach you to be wise. You can’t go to a seminar and acquire this vital 21st century skill in an exciting, star-studded weekend getaway. However, you can:
- Become aware of the distinction and begin thinking about it and noticing it – because vital lessons are literally everywhere in your life, quietly shouting to you to be noticed and absorbed.
- Associate with wise people, and distance yourself from people who always seem to be screwing up their life with bad decisions.You can’t fix them anyway.
- Seek and accept sound advice, even when it’s uncomfortable, negative or embarrassing.
- Disregard the raucous shouting, the flattery and surface level buzz, and tune into the quiet, calm voice of reason.
- Watch the Jerry Springer show, pen and paper in hand. Write down every mannerism, expression, motive and impulse you observe, and… expunge those habits from your life.
Oh, and every business you see advertising on Jerry Springer, make sure you’re never in a position to need to patronize. And then… don’t ever watch Jerry Springer again, or hang out in places like your local Laundromat where it’s on all the time.
This article is an excerpt from the Perry Marshall Marketing Letter, which is sent out monthly via good old fashioned snail mail. Try a subscription for $99 and get $600 of cool stuff just for giving it a whirl – www.perrymarshall.com/club
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