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don’t trust a book by it’s best-seller status

Funny story today:


Years ago, when I worked at my old job, the CEO interviewed a decently-known guru. Well, at least at the time. I haven’t kept up with his work, nor do I remember his name. Some guru, right? But take my word for it: Dude was a certified guru (at least in his own mind).


This well-known guru recently wrote—and launched—a best-selling book at the time my CEO—let’s call him Jack for the sake of clarity, and no, that isn’t his real name—interviewed him. And so, as any good interviewer would do, Jack asked Guru his secret for becoming a best-selling author.


And, boy, when I say this was guru madness at its absolute peak, believe me, I’m underselling it. But as any good guru knows, Guru’s “secret” technically made sense, was easy enough, and at least a worthwhile investment.


Lemme explain why before I reveal his egregious secret:


A best-selling book grants you super powers.


Other business owners take it as gospel. Wannabe gurus use it as justification for when they get caught fapping to online gurus. The average person eats it up like cake. I’m sure airport bookstores decided to add some of these faux best-sellers to their stores because of their best-seller status alone. I could go on and on.


A best-selling book also skyrockets your positioning and prestige.


Having a best-selling book probably lands you on stages at conferences, TEDx panels, and more. It also makes for preemo real estate in your Twitter—and especially your LinkedIn—bio. And I’m willing to assume you’re more likely to land podcast requests as a best-selling author.


And a best-selling book helps you “get away” with charging higher prices (even if you’re not “worth” what you charge).


I’m sure there are other benefits to the best-seller status too.


But attaining best-seller status the way Guru revealed does come with a steep (or minimal) cost, depending on your ethics and morals.


So, what’s his secret?


Buying as many copies of his own book as needed to grant him best-seller status.

Told you this investment strategy was simple and chock full of guru-y goodness.


But I can also see the merit in it — ethics and morals aside. And who knows, mayhap it is more ethical to buy hundreds of copies of your book instead of forking that money to the Meta’s and Google’s of their world for advertising.


And you know what?


This doesn’t just happen with best-selling books. This same sneaky, borderline gross “secret” happens all across the world of media.


This is, in fact, how the world works.


Almost every type of PR you see was bought and paid for. All the Forbes lists, like the 30 under 30 list, are bought and paid for. Twitter followers and even retweets can be bought and paid for. (I know, I bought a course from a popular Twitter influencer once which preached using bots to grow your followers.) In fact, it’s the main reason Elon backed out of buying Twitter: They wouldn’t reveal how many of their users are bots.


This extends past the world of business too: A large majority of laws are bought and paid for by companies who benefit most from them (even “anti-corporate” laws like higher minimum wage).


Don’t believe me? I’ll try to not get too political with my real life example:


I spent summers in high school and college working for Phantom Fireworks, the largest firework company in the U.S. The CEO of Phantom, who lives in my hometown, is worth about 2x more than Trump. Yes, he’s *that* wealthy. Regardless of what you think of Trump, his $3 billion (give or take) net worth ain’t nothing to sneeze at. And this CEO in my hometown is worth DOUBLE — which is an absolute metric fvckton when you’re comparing billions.


Anyway, this dude is at least kinda close with the Clintons. They’ve traveled to my bumfvck poverty-ridden hometown, known for its steel mills in the 50s, which has since gone on to lose 75% of its population since then, to his house on multiple occasions. I’m sure he’s had other political friends and ties too.


But as rumor and speculation have it… one of the secrets to Phantom’s success—besides making fireworks in China for pennies on the dollars and selling them to Murcians for hundreds of dollars—is that their CEO would “grease” lawmakers’ pockets to make selling fireworks illegal in other states. The only exception, of course, was Phantom’s. Now, I can’t prove this and this is pure speculation… but it’s the type of speculation I have good reason to believe.


Before I go off on a tangent, here’s the important part:


People lie.


Numbers lie (sorry Jay-Z).


The media lies.


Christians and Muslims lie.


Everyone lies.


You shouldn’t just hire someone if they have a best-selling book, a Forbes 30 under 30 mention, loads of glowing testimonials, or even impressive results.


Not only is stuff like this easy to fake, but there’s a great chance the type of mf who would fake stuff like this is both charming and a sociopath. Not a good mix of characteristics to leave your years of blood, sweat, and tears growing your business with.


More:


There are a countless number of horror stories, particularly rampant in the copywriting profession for whatever reason, of clients paying lump sums of cashola to copywriters who don’t write a damn word, scam the innocent business owner, then ghost them.


And even if we give someone the benefit of the doubt with, say, the impressive results they’ve generated for their clients… that doesn’t necessarily mean they can duplicate their results with your business.


Every business is different.


It has different customers with different “triggers” that make them tick.


Different offers.


Different product margins.


Different websites.


Different branding.


Different positioning.


Different expertise.


Different customer loyalty.


The list goes on.


Now, someone who has generated impressive results for other businesses like yours is more likely to succeed than some random Joe Blow. But that ain’t always the case.


When it comes to email copy, for example, even the best copywriters have duds. This even happens to your humble narrator. Shocking, I know.


I’ve written single emails that have made over $50k in revenue for my clients…


…and I’ve written 14-email sequences that generated a whopping $0. To be fair, this happened years ago with an unproven offer. But I still write duds of emails that barely scrape four figures, let alone $50k.


Moral of the story?


Be cautious when making a hire. Do your due diligence (yes, even when you hire me). And if you do hire someone — either as an employee, a contractor or freelancer, or an agency?


Make sure their values align with yours.


People like to do business with people like them. As a service provider, it’s easier, more fun, and more fulfilling working with people like you and businesses you believe in. As a business owner, building a team with similar values can bring you lifelong friendships, wealth, and opportunities.


Or on the flip side:


As a sociopath, nothing scares them more than a real, authentic company culture. Because a strong culture like that is the biggest threat for exposing them like the scammer they are. This is the same thing that happens when you expose those Indian spam calls asking for gift cards. As soon as you call them on their bluff, they scream profanities at you and hang up.


Such is the way of the world.


It’s how the world works, whether you like it or not.


That said, if you want to make more sales in your business (without doing any more work, and, in most cases, doing far less work than you otherwise would), hit reply, and let’s chat.


But a quick warning:


Even though I’ve generated impressive results for my clients—such as unlocking 2,348.44% revenue growth from email in two years and generating more money from my emails alone in 2021 than the entire business grossed, from all its marketing channels, in 2019—I can’t promise you’ll have similar results.


Plus, I don’t have a best-selling book nor am I on any Forbes list.


But I’ll always try my best, of course. And pardon my bias, but there ain’t a better email copywriter this side of Ben Settle you could hire.


But alas, results do vary.



John

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