Drifting, Surfing, Drowning and Sailing
In Puddles, Swamps, Wells and Oceans
About 10 months ago Mike Metzger flew from Clapham Institute in Annapolis to spend a day with us in Austin.
“You meet 4 kinds of people on the ocean of life,” Mike said.
“Those who drift just go with the flow. The wind and the waves control their speed and direction. The drifter quietly floats along and says, ‘Whatever.'”
“Those who surf are always riding a wave, the next big thing. They stay excited until the wave fades away, then they scan the horizon for something new. Surfers don’t usually get anywhere, but they make a lot of noise and put on a good show.”
“Those who drown seem to stay in the center of a storm. It doesn’t matter how often you rescue them, they’ll soon be in another crisis, crying, ‘Help me, save me, it’s been the worst week of my life. I don’t know what I’m going to do.'”
“Those who sail are navigating toward a fixed point. They counteract the wind and waves by adjusting the rudder and shifting the sails to stay on course. But without an immovable, fixed point in your life, there can be no sailing. There’s nothing for you but drift, surf or drown.”
Can you name the fixed point in your life, your immovable object?
Metzger’s metaphor reminded me of something Ray Bard once taught me. Bard, that legendary publisher of business books, speaks of 4 kinds of opportunities:
“When you’re thinking about writing a book on a subject or considering a business to go into, it’s essential that you find out 2 things:
1. How widespread is the public’s interest in it?
2. How deep is that interest?”
“If interest is not widespread and not very deep, you’re looking at a puddle. Never invest time or money in a puddle.”
“If interest is widespread but not very deep, you’re looking at a swamp. Be careful of swamps. They look like oceans at first because everyone is interested. But that interest is shallow, not deep enough to drive action. Investors go broke when they see a swamp and think it’s an ocean.”
“If public interest is wide and deep, you’re looking at an ocean. But you’re going to need a platform on which to navigate your ocean. If you don’t have a platform, you’ll drown. And you’re going to need a plan or you’ll drift.”
“If public interest is narrow but deep, you’ve got a well. Don’t underestimate it. You can draw a lot of water from a well. I once knew a writer who wrote a book called The Care and Feeding of Quarter Horses. The book held no interest for readers who didn’t own a quarter horse, but those who did had deep enough interest to buy the book. It was extremely successful.”
Are you in a puddle, a swamp, an ocean or a well?
Are you drifting, surfing, drowning or sailing?
Fifteen months ago I taught a student and her daughter how to go sailing in a well. They wrote me recently to say that their family business has since “exploded.”
You may recall that I mentioned Dixie Huthmaker as a “doer” in the PS of last week’s Monday Morning Memo. Those who clicked that link were told they could join the Ocean’s 11 and experience a 3-day brainstorming session with the Wizard of Ads.
All 11 seats were filled in just a few hours, so we scheduled a second class for October 2-4, 2007.
Roy H. Williams
Gosh, this place is buzzing.
Marketing to Women? Your instructor will be the always-fabulous Michele Miller whose marketing-to-women blog was named by Forbes as one of the Five Best Business Blogs. What percentage of your sales are made to women? Next week in the academy’s Tuscan Hall. Acadgrad discount.
5 Secrets to Building a Practically Perfect Business starring Adrian Van Zelfden, the CPA, attorney, and financial genius who has rescued the wizard often. May 1-3 in Tuscan Hall. Acadgrad discount.
How to Write Powerfully and Clearly The Academy’s most popular online course. Taught by Sexy Jeff Sexton. Acadgrad discount. Starts May 4 online.