Day 2 of the 100-Day Funnel plan

 

So on the second day of the marketing plan took me two days, because it is a combination of concepts and execution.  The execution part is learning to make a web site hooked to an email list (done this before), but I had to find how to mesh Clickfunnels with Aweber, my email list.   At no time did it feel “easy” but at no time did I feel overloaded, either.

 

The other part of the game was refining my “Attractive Character”.  This is my public personae, the specific aspect of my personality I am projecting.   It is highly recommended that this be authentic and honest, but still an ASPECT of myself, not the totality. I remember Nichelle Nichols telling me that the public doesn’t want to know who you really are: they want to know the things that inspire and support their dreams.

 

If the first principle of “N-POD” (funnel creation) is Passion, that is because honest, powerful emotion is the fuel that will keep you going, and the thing you are communicating.  But the second principle is the “Starving Hive”: the people who are dying for what you have.

 

In one marketing class, the students were asked: if you had a restaurant, and could have one pre-condition to guarantee success, what would you want?   Some said location.  Some said great food.   The answer the teacher was looking for was A STARVING CROWD OF CUSTOMERS.

 

People who NEED what you have. That means you have to clearly define the VALUE of what you have, and present yourself in such a manner that they have confidence that you can satisfy their need.

 

And all of this should be honest: honest value, genuine need, and a reliable spokesman.   Why?  Because you are saying “follow me.”  You are asking them to trust you.

 

The “Sales Funnel” is nothing more than setting up a virtual store, introducing yourself, giving honest value for their time and trust, and only THEN asking them to trust you with their money.

 

FIRST you prove yourself. THEN you offer a value-for-value exchange.   Everything else is a technological or strategic means to that end.

 

So…do you walk up to a strange woman on the street and say: “wanna screw?”  If you do, you are likely to get a very poor result.  On the other hand, if you

  1. Exchange casual greeting.
  2. Exchange casual pleasantries

 

You are giving her a chance to evaluate your manners, body language, mode of dress, and more. She has a chance to decide if she likes what she sees.  You might then…

 

  1. Ask her if she’d like a cup of coffee. Some very low-pressure, low-risk activity, but still a step forward in intimacy.  During the conversation, you can determine if you have shared interests and values, and can make each other laugh–very important.
  2. You might then exchange contact information.   A phone number or email address, to continue the conversation.  We’re both mammals. Both sides know we are feeling each other out for possible reproductive behavior.  But even if this isn’t a possibility, there is still friendship!
  3. You might shake hands as you leave–you have now BROKEN FRAME and touched each other. Such a first contact is critical.
  4. If you then reach out and communicate, finding a shared interest, offering a second public meeting: a concert, movie, museum, amusement park.   Still safe.  Chances to expand physical contact, get to know each other more.   If you can get her dancing, GREAT because now you are displaying physicality, and possibly matching rhythms and movements, beginning to understand whether you would be good sexual partners.
  5. You might get a hug, or even a little kiss at the end of this.  Another step forward, where information is flowing fast.  You can accelerate this if you have friends in common, past experiences in common, etc.  The point is gaining trust, because you are asking her to take a risk with you.
  6. This cycle continues, either growing closer until one or the other suggests intimacy, or you find a plateau (“the friend zone”!  Be polite and respectful if you find yourself there.  She may know someone perfect for you, and if you are a gentleman about it, she’ll recommend you) or the two of you back away from each other: this try didn’t work.
  7. And now you are on the new level of your relationship, possibly sexual partners.  And the courting and growing intimacy should continue as you bond and possibly move toward being life partners.

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The above is one very common pattern for men and women.  Can you see this pattern in communicating with a potential CUSTOMER that your goods or services are what they need?  So far, we have

  1. Identified passion, and aligned our product with it. This means we can be HONEST about the value of our presentation. And honesty is critical for long-term relationships.   I believe you should always behave as if the customer can read your mind.
  2. Found the “attractive character” which is your public personae. This is an honest, simplified reduction of who you are, designed to help people discover you in a crowd of people screaming for their attention.
  3. You identify the “starving hive” of potential customers.  This is a concentration of people who need you.  What clubs do they attend? What social groups?  Schools? Restaurants?

 

In other words, answer the questions:

  1. WHAT is my Unique Selling Proposition?  Why should people spend their money with ME as opposed to anyone else, or keeping it in their pocket?
  2. WHO is my PERFECT customer?   The more time I spend concentrating on this, the easier it is to sell.    I would suggest no more than two: one male, one female.  Name them. Cut out a picture of each.  Post them on your wall.   Your advertising is talking  directly to them, not to a faceless mob
  3. WHERE do they collect, and HOW will you reach them? Personal appearances?  Advertising?  Blogging?   Podcasts?  Youtube?  Choose one or two, and focus there.

 

The “Funnel” is nothing more than the process, conceptual and technological, through which you meet, attract, introduce yourself to a new customer so that you earn their trust at every step, and induce them to come closer. If you are honest and generous at every step, and you have what they need, and communicate this to them in every word and action, they will come closer and closer to you.   There are a TON of moving parts here, and I’m hoping that Clickfunnels will automate enough of this, and have clarity on how all the steps fit together, sufficient to help me move these things from “conscious incompetence” to “unconscious competence”, the point at which marketing and sales becomes simple communication and creativity. All the machinery is in place: I just have to open my heart.

 

THAT is what I want, because if I am offering something of genuine value, then marketing becomes love, becomes growth.  Becomes part of a spiritual path.  And THAT is something worth fighting for, don’t you think?

 

Namaste

Steve

(if you’d like a free 14-day trial of this program, go to:  http://tinyurl.com/zokfj2l

 

And full disclosure:  yes, I am absolutely experimenting with their affiliate program. And yes, I am using this product personally, and sharing everything I’m learning about it.  So far…VERY good!

“XXX: The Return of Xander Cage” (2017)

“XXX: The Return of Xander Cage” is the kind of dumb movie smart people make when they’re stoned.   I don’t mean roaring falling-down drunk. I mean sitting around doing shots and smoking Purple Urkle (specifically referenced), and asking what kind of madness Vin Diesel’s alter-ego Xtreme Sports legend/Master spy could be up to.    Basically, there is some nonsense about a device that makes satellites fall out of the sky, forcing Xander from retirement (he’d been pretending to be dead) to catch the impossibly talented team  (captained by the wonderful Donnie Yen) who stole it.  Forcing him to create his own counter-team (including luscious and dangerous Bollywood star Deepika Padukone) to get it back.  In the process, bad jokes abound, impossible stunts aplenty thunder across the IMAX screen (if you accept the challenge) and Xander beds more women in the first act than James Bond does in a decade.  No exaggeration.   (This last point has been a point of irritation with several critics.  Hey, it is hella more likely than the number of bullets dodged and explosions survived intact in any given action sequence).  He’s a superhero, right?  And just as Spider-Man has the proportionate sexual energy of an arachnid…you knew that, right?

 

The movie also gives us some pretty damned fine ass-kicking across the gender spectrum (reminescent of Root and Shaw on Person of Interest), so I figure it balances.  But then, the part of me that enjoys this nonsense is pretty adolescent.   And make no mistake: I enjoyed it more than not. But cannot exactly RECOMMEND it.  I mean, this is some really lazy, stupid stuff on one level…but it is what it is, and if you go in warned…I mean, what the hell, its XANDER CAGE, right? And if that thought juices you, you won’t be sorry.  On the other hand…be warned.   For those who can dial their heads back to 12 years old…probably an “8”

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WARNING!   SAMBO ALERT.   Here, of course, is where I discuss the film from the context of my overall theory regarding cinema and race.  Proceed with caution.

Racially ambiguous Vin Diesel is a fascinating case. By my eyes he is 1/4=1/8th black, in that Octaroon-Quadroon insanity which, by the Contamination racial theory that destroyed my mother, makes him black.  He arguably shaved his head to deny viewers the curly hair data they need to interpret the olive skin, so that he can plausibly play Italians and be “white”.  Or as I said: ambiguous.   IF you consider him black, then he cracked that “100 million club” before “Creed” with movies like the original XXX and “Fast and the Furious”.  But if you do that, you are defining the maximum amount of Melanin or the darkest skin one can have and still be considered fully human.  I prefer to reject the notion, since someone with 1/8 white blood isn’t white, the only way someone with 1/8 black blood should be considered “black” is by the racist “one drop makes you whole” theory which was, my friends, no compliment.  It was the “a little tiny turd spoils a great big punch bowl theory,” promulgated by whites and culturally absorbed by brainwashed slaves and former slaves, then used to help form political blocks capable of confronting that racism.   American descendants of slaves resisted being broken into a category like “coloured” (as in South Africa) which allowed the rulers to play darker-skinned folk against each other.  Good for us!

 

But if the original XXX had some very nice nookie, what was predictable when the sequel, XXX: State of the Union (starring a snarling Ice Cube) was announced?   What my theory predicted was that the sex would be cut out, as it was in the remake of Shaft, Bad Boys, and countless other films.   And that as in those films, lazy narrative excuses would be offered (in “Shaft” it was that Toni Collette’s brothers were along for the ride.  In “Bad Boys” it was the “hysterical” identity mix-up between Martin Lawrence and Will Smith, in “Bad Boys 2” it was that Will Smith had to conceal his relationship with Martin Lawrence’s sister.  Hah hah!  What fun.   Unless you predicted it in advance, in which case you’re simply watching the machinations of a board room manipulating the script for the comfort of the audience).

 

In XXX: State of the Union they didn’t even bother with an excuse.  Here’s this alpha testosterone factory, fresh out of prison, and when a beautiful (white) woman asks him if there is ANYTHING else she can do for him…he asks for a cheeseburger.   Seriously.   The audience laughs.  I sit there in the dark, stewing over one of the lamest, most insulting lines I’ve ever heard.    Knowing that it fits the pattern perfectly.

 

And…Vin Diesel, Stealth Bro, takes the lead again.  What is predictable?  Plenty of nookie. Absolutely.   And Return of Xander Cage didn’t disappoint.   I’ve watched this process for over thirty years, and until CREED it never disappointed.   Was 100% predictable.   And no, it isn’t just “Hollywood.”  I distinctly remember July 4th, 1990 I saw “Die Hard 2” in Westwood, and they were running coming attractions for “Mo Better Blues” and there is a scene of Denzel Washington making love to a woman.   I was the only black person in the theater, and in an evil mood.   Instead of watching the screen, I turned around and looked at the audience.   All the women in the audience were leaning forward, smiling.   All the (white) men I could see were pressing BACK into their seats, away from the screen, scowling.  I’ve conducted this experiment many times since then, and the reaction has gotten less extreme (thank God) but the implications were obvious.  No, it doesn’t happen that way if the guy onscreen is white.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t work the same way with black men watching white men engage in reproductive behavior: the brain-washing is powerful.

 

This is ugly stuff, and I look at the statistics as revelatory of the “invisible hand” of racism in America, the images that people are willing to absorb as pleasure when their guard is down and they aren’t answering surveys.  I connect it to genetic and cultural competition, and perception of shared humanity. Tie it with statistics of police violence, economics, incarceration rates and perceptions of things like the Trayvon Martin case.

 

Can I “prove this” to the satisfaction of all?  No, and I have no interest.  I’m happy with those who have eyes to see–most of those who would like some more thorough analysis wouldn’t do a damned thing differently even if you conducted the experiments or crunched the data.  They simply have intellectual curiosity.  Frankly, I think a lot of them just want to slow down the process of action by asking you to jump through another couple of hoops.

 

The XXX situation is a case where the behavior could be predicted, as well as the past results. Doesn’t mean it is true, but that would require entering the hearts and minds, the secret and sometimes unconscious drives of all involved: writers, producers, audiences.  But I’m happy with predictive and explanatory capacity, even as I grasp that I can’t be “certain” that this particular instance is indeed “guilty.”   Not really “guilty”–human beings are what they are, and what I’m perceiving here is probably a near-universal issue with human perception.  It helps me to anticipate what I’m likely to experience in my life, and helps to push back against the blind (and sometime venomous) voices that say: “the playing field is level. The problem is just YOU” one hears, and will hear a lot more in the days to come.

 

No, it isn’t level, and never has been.  I can make my peace with that, but will not remain silent as people lie about it.

 

Namaste,

Steve

HJ 2-3 and fear

I made a very specific set of goals for 2017, and can feel my life fighting back to retain its original state.  One of the things it uses is fear, which never goes away if you are healthy.   Only an unhealthy brain is free of fear, which is a core survival emotion, telling us that there is a challenge in the wind.   The trick is to correctly interpret the signal, and then to anchor your emotions to a goal, and use it to motivate action.

 

For instance (gulp).   I have always been insecure about my writing.  And always will be.   Part of the problem is “the voices in my head” gathered from social feedback, my mother, and every failure or disappointment ever experienced.   Part of it is that my “editor” self will ALWAYS be more advanced than my “creative/writer” self. The Machine insists that we read 10X as much as we write.  As we do this, our ability to see flaws increase constantly (by comparing our work to the work of the Masters), and if we apply energy and focus, we constantly improve as we move new skills to unconscious competence.   The trick there is UNCONSCIOUS competence. We don’t even notice how good we are at X and Y.  Our attention automatically goes to Z, which is out of reach.

 

Which is why so many artists are depressive–they see that their reach will always exceed their grasp.    This perfectionistic part of their personality allies with the negative voices from the past (“see!  It’s true.  You’re lousy…”)  Because there is also a war between the “adult” and “child” selves, the notion of really learning sales and marketing is often anathema (“I can’t put a price tag on my heart!”).   Unless you are one of the lucky ones who attracts a superb team of agents and managers, or lucky enough to hit the zeitgeist and just blow up HUGE, you are likely to “underperform” by your optimistic estimates, sending you into a spiral of pain (“why don’t THEY see how good I am?   What’s wrong with THEM?” or “I must not be any good…”) fear that we aren’t good wars with the part of us that says we MUST succeed. A false ego shell protects the MUST from the terror of the CAN’T, and any threat to it can trigger crippling mortal terror.

 

In my own life, my career in Hollywood was zipping along pretty well when my life was turned upside down, for almost 20 years, by various family concerns.   When I re-engaged with Tinsel Town, it was after failures (couldn’t work long distance) and serious bad news (ageism.)  And the fear hit like a ton of bricks.  SOMEHOW, I had to test the hypothesis that I could still thrive in Hollywood, by taking enough actions to gather the data.(Note how I had to go into “robot” mode to keep the emotions at bay).  I had to get up to home plate and swing…either get a hit or strike out.  Then either work to get to second base…and then third…or sit down, figure out how to improve my game, and get back up to swing again.

 

Over and over.  Again and again.   The only way to know.   How the hell do I manage my emotions every day, day after day?

 

FIRST: Be crystal clear on what I wan to accomplish.   Let’s say that’s get a television series on the air, or a movie sold, produced, and distributed successfully.

 

SECOND: Realizing how much work this will take, how many barriers internal and external I will run into, I have to know WHY I want to do it.  So that when I think about it, I get POSITIVE emotions rather than the NEGATIVE emotions I’ll have if my brain starts dredging up pain from the past, and fearing the future.  Preferably, related it to every aspect of my life: how will taking these actions enhance my survival?  Sexuality?  Sense of power and control?  My emotions and connection with my family and friends?  My communication ability and capacity to help the world?   My mental acuity? My spirituality?

 

IF I CAN CONNECT THE FULFILLMENT OF MY GOAL TO ALL SEVEN AREAS, I AM “WIDE OPEN”.  All switches set to “go” if at every point I FEEL myself jump with energy when I contemplate the results.  NOW I have internal permission to kick butt.   NOW and ONLY now should I define what needs to be done.   The daily actions. The weekly goals. The monthly plans. The One-year outcome.  IF AND ONLY IF when I contemplate each of these levels I feel a powerful YEAH!!! I’m ready to go.   And from there…I am set up to do my very very best, at all levels, every moment of every day.   IF I can succeed…I just gave myself my best chance to do so.

 

Batter up!

 

Namaste,

Steve

HJ #4: The Hero Accepts the Challenge

(From 2004)

Well, obviously, unless the hero accepts the challenge, there is no story, in the simple sense. Of course, there are stories that deal with the process of decision (“Ordinary People”), and stories where the character is incapable of deciding. These are generally delicate, small stories requiring more advanced skills. What has to happen for a character to begin her journey? There must be more pleasure associated with the process than pain. There must be more motivation to move forward than to stay back. These motivations are both external and internal: the ghosts of our childhood are with us forever.

Tad James’ “Time Line Therapy” has an elegant model of the internal alignment which must exist in order to move toward our goals. Combining this with the Lifewriting approach, the following should be true (and this is slightly redundant):

1) Have a clearly visualized goal.
2) Your value hierarchy must be congruent with the goal.
3) Your beliefs must allow accomplishment of the goal. (You must believe it is possible, and that it is good, and that there will be more pleasure than pain associated with the result.)
4) Your positive and negative emotional “anchors” must permit the goal.
5) Your view of your personal history must allow the goal.
6) Your current web of associations must support the goal, or at least not be threatened by it.

Characters will always trip themselves up on one or another of these levels. And so will you, my friends. This is where meditation comes in. The first 15 minutes or so of meditation will be torture, as your ego tries like hell to stop you from going inward. This is absolutely normal. Just watch the thrashing, and record it in your journal. In metaphorical form, this is all fodder for your writing–or the way you learn the language of your subconscious. Your dreams will also be filled with imagery related to your quest. Write them down!

-Steve Barnes

Day #1 of my 100 day marketing experiment

I promised that I’d detail what I was studying as I work to re-structure my business to take it to the next level. The first thing I had to do was look at the structure of my life, and see where the business fit in.  The next was to look at the different aspects of a business.  I had NEVER done this from the perspective of a business owner.  Always, ALWAYS, it was working “Up” from the lifestyle of an artist.  In other words, I didn’t even know what I didn’t know.  The total picture included things like finances, customer service, innovation and development, marketing, sales, culture, and more.   All of these are “areas of constant improvement” that have to be looked at constantly, or the entire business fails.

 

Money is made most directly by marketing and sales (customer service and satisfaction KEEPS a customer, but attracting those customers in the first place is marketing.  Convincing them that their money is best spent NOW by exchanging it for your goods and services is sales.)

 

About seven years ago, while I was living in Atlanta, I first decided to get serious about this, and my marketing friend Andy Duncan introduced me to a concept called the “N-POD”, for “Net Profits On Demand”.  Basically they are virtual vending machines, linking up about ten different “steps” in marketing into an overall cycle, each supporting a different product.  No one  of them necessarily makes a ton of money, any more than one gum-ball machine pays your rent. But if you have a hundred of them?  A thousand?  Well, you make a bit from each, right?

 

Except with the N-Pods (also called “sales funnels”)  there are advantages.

 

  1. You learn from each one.   Invest everything you learn from building one and put it into the next.    They should get a little bit better every time.
  2. They won’t all do the same.  Some will do better. Study what you did there.  If the analytics are right, you should be able to fold more money into advertising and increase revenue. In other words, if you determine that you get $2 for every $1 you invest in advertising, put 90% of the profit back, and you’ll roll that cash up FAST.
  3. Once I saw what the overall pattern was (eleven steps) I could see clearly why most marketing efforts fail miserably. Further, I could look at ANY successful marketing effort, and see how they were using the same principles.  Every article, speech, book, or whatever on the subject related to the same principles.  It seemed a very sound way to finally learn the ENTIRE PROCESS rather than focusing on a piece of it.
  4. I knew, and I mean KNEW that the overall structure was what I needed.  And that I needed to create 100 of them to really learn it.  This was just like “The Machine”, right?   Where you write 100 short stories, one after another, and keep your eyes on THAT ball.  And over and over again, I FORGOT THIS.  The minute I started making money, I forgot the overall structure and concentrated on the pieces that seemed to be working.

 

I never, ever ever created even a single complete “N-Pod” or “funnel.”  Making money? Yes.  But actually building my business?   No. I was juggling too damned many balls, and just couldn’t hold it all in my head at one time.

 

Fast forward several years, and I started my new business, “MasteryPlus”, and once again realized I needed to build “complete N-Pods.” Dammit, I said it outright to my partners.  And again…as soon as we actually created a cash flow, I focused there, on WHAT WAS IMPERATIVE RATHER THAN WHAT WAS IMPORTANT.

 

I needed to focus on the OVERALL structure.   Build cars, then take them on the track and test them. I got stuck selling parts.   Arrgh.

 

Fast forward again, and by building an overall pattern for my personal life (multiple arenas: finance, business, health, family, emotions, spirit, etc)  then focusing in on business, defining those 7-10 categories, and then committing to rotate between them on a weekly basis, I hope to God I’ve finally got a structure to keep things in balance.

 

Focusing on Marketing, I went all the way around Robin’s barn (heck, what does that even mean?) to the “N-Pod” concept, this time called a “sales funnel.”  Again, it was a way of hooking together a vast swath of different technologies, things that might have taken a HUNDRED professional programmers and artists and bookkeepers just ten years ago.   Dear God, it’s complicated.   No wonder I couldn’t hold it all in my head!!

 

Maybe you could juggle it all. I obviously cannot. But need to, or my business CANNOT reach my core goal, fulfill my core value.    So what I looked for was one product or service that covers as much of this stuff as possible.   The best one would replace multiple pieces of technology I’m currently using, which includes:   web site, sales pages, shopping cart, webinar software, membership software, autoresponder, analytics software, bookkeeping software,  digital product delivery software, traffic manager…

 

Count ’em up.   That’s TEN DIFFERENT PIECES right there. The human mind can handle +-7 pieces at one time. I’d estimate that my artist’s brain can’t even count that high.  I can probably handle THREE plus or minus two pieces.  Over that, and my brain just freaks out.

 

This is desperation time.  What the %^$$.  So I decided to focus down, and focus down, and find one thing to concentrate on that covered the entire pattern.   And the closest thing I’ve found is Russell Brunson’s “Click Funnels” product.  It can’t possibly be perfect, but with the single exception of  traffic management (advertising), it covers the whole thing. Everything. And covers enough different pieces that it can actually save me money IF IT WORKS.

 

How do I test it?  How about by building 10 funnels in 100 days?  Each of them complete, even if clumsy.   They provide an entire pattern, and swear that you can build a full funnel in less than a day. MUCH less.   Is this true?  Will it work?   I don’t know.  But I’m gonna find out, dammit. My family’s security, AND MY LIFE MISSION depends upon it.  So I’m going to detail what I’m learning about the “N-Pod” process AND about Brunson’s specific approach to it, with full disclosure:  IN ORDER TO GET ACCESS TO HIS FULL TRAINING, I’M BECOMING AN AFFILIATE FOR HIS PRODUCT.   By doing that, I get access to a couple of thousand dollars worth of his training in the full power of his system. Why? Because he’s hoping I’ll spread the word for him, and make him money.   Well, I share every good thing I find.  If THIS is good, you couldn’t stop me from telling every entrepreneur out there “here is a real pathway to power!”

 

But I have to be 100% honest, or I’m betraying your trust, and that I will not do.

So first, here is the link to Brunson’s company if you want to try a FREE two-week test-drive, like I’m doing.

http://tinyurl.com/jlzsnrf

 

The plan is to do the free two weeks, followed by three months of paid membership.   About 100 days.   Then I’ll evaluate what has happened and see if I believe this is the route I want to go. Remember: the intent is to build funnels, test the company, and overlearn the entire process so that it no longer feels so damned complicated.

 

In the first 14 days I’m committing to build three funnels, then one a week thereafter. You’ll watch me create the first 3-4 of them.

Here are my choice for the first:

  1. Lifewriting for Writers (this is a product Tananarive and I taped at the LASFS clubhouse early last year.  We did well with it, but it has languished.)
  2. Revolutionary Writing.  (This course is the one teaching how to express your personal philosophy or politics without destroying the entertainment value of your work.)
  3. The Soulmate Process.  Super proud of this one.   Nothing is more important than love, and I believe we can ALL find that core connection, that it is a human right, requiring only honesty and self-love to open the door.
  4. The Lifewriting Membership group.  Very proud of this, currently nurturing it. Just hired our first part-time employee (a “community manager”) but this MIGHT not be a separate “funnel”. It might be an “add on” to another purchase.

 

Whew.   A lot, huh?  Yeah, it is.   It’s complicated enough that it makes me feel stupid. I don’t like feeling stupid. Do you?

As we go, let’s also talk about the  eleven “N-Pod” steps I learned seven years ago.  I’m sure that Brunson’s process will be similar…but maybe not. We’ll see. This process should work for ANY legal product or service, to one degree or another.  Heck, you could probably adapt it to illegal products and services.  But drug dealers and professional assassins will have to work that out for themselves.

 

Let me know how it works for you though, will you?

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THE FIRST STEP IS PASSION.

 

You have to find something you care about.  PASSIONATELY.   Because EMOTION IS THE FUEL OF SUCCESS.  When you hear a salesman, or a Hollywood executive, or a market saying “I’m SO excited!!” jumping up and down, this is because PASSION is critical to access creativity and also keep you going when things get tough.   SALES IS A TRANSFER OF ENTHUSIASM FROM ONE PERSON TO ANOTHER.   There may be dishonest approaches, but this is the only one I’ll even let into my mind.  I have to believe something I’m doing or selling is OUTSTANDING.  Then all I have to do is find the people out there who are like me.    This needs to all be tied into my core beliefs, values, and life plan, right?   What is my greatest goal?   ONE MILLION AWAKE, AWARE, ADULT HUMAN BEINGS.  Yeah. That inspires me, every day.

 

“Lifewriting for Writers” “Revolutionary Writing”, “The Soulmate Process” and “The Lifewriting Membership Group” ALL tie directly into this. Are means to that end.  Would I give them away for free if I could afford it?  Hell, I’d PAY people to take them if I could afford it!  And that means it is honest, in alignment with my soul, to make them a part of my business.

 

So start by asking how YOUR product or service expresses YOUR passion.  Why you believe in it.  Would you sell it to your closest friend? Your mother or father or brother or sister?   Would you PAY someone to use it if you could afford to?  Do you feel like you have the “cure” for a real social ill, can relieve some real pain in the world, or bring some genuine and lasting pleasure?

 

If not…find something else to sell.  Your soul is at risk if you don’t.

 

 

Namaste,

Steve

The Hero’s Journal #2

(from 2004)

Hero Rejects the Challenge.

Why? Because a challenge great enough to really expand you, or move you to the next level, will threaten your ego. Such a change is interpreted as “death,” and will trigger the same fear response. I remember attending a sexual magic workshop once, and all I was being asked to do was go back to my cabin and make love to a beautiful woman. I freaked out, and had such an extreme fear response that it felt as if I was going to die in the morning.

If this seems ridiculous, you have to grasp what sexual magic is. If you’ve never experienced it, consider that there are countless disciplines that alter consciousness through control of breathing alone. Modifying the body’s orgasmic response is exponentially more powerful. The intensity of an orgasm is in direct proportion to the amount of your ego you release at that moment. In other words, the more YOU are there, the less the pleasure is. There should be a momentary sense of dissolution of ego boundaries between you and the lover, or you’re doin’ it wrong, friend. Now, in this workshop, we were playing with this response in fascinating and direct ways. In other words, we were creating a Pavlovian Stimulus-Response loop between an egoless state and the most powerful positive sensation your body is capable of experiencing. The ego, knowing it cannot compete, strikes back with its strongest weapon: fear of death. I asked Swift Deer, the workshop leader, what I should do. He said I should go out and talk to a tree.

For those of you who don’t know, the “Talk to the Tree” exercise is done something like this. Find a friendly-looking tree along a moderately-traveled road. Connect with it emotionally. Then wait until another human being walks by. Note the way your posture and carriage and facial expression shift as soon as there is another person. This is the “mask”, the ego weight you carry to conceal your true self from the world. It is the cost you pay for being inauthentic. One of the secrets to Mastery is to be the same way with people as you are with the tree.
Well, I leaned my head against that tree, and sobbed my eyes out. And I found my self saying (to the tree — believe me, I know how nutty this sounds), “How can you do it? How can you just be the same, no matter what? Whether it’s hot or cold, whether it’s snowy or rainy or the sun is shining, whether they love you or hate you, how can you just be the same?” And in some odd tree way, it answered me. “I’m just a tree, man,” it said. “My roots go down, my branches go up. I’m just me. I can’t be anything else.” Implicitly: so why try to be?

I got it. And went back up to finish the exercise, and finished the rest of the workshop.

But we do. And the fear of dying, of shattering the ego walls, paralyzes us. F.E.A.R. We’ve all heard it: False Evidence that Appears Real. And there’s another acronym just as accurate but less appropriate for mixed audiences: Fuck Everything And Run.

But running brings us to another incredibly powerful exercise for dealing with fear. It requires that you have a physical activity that will take you into second wind. Walking, running, clubbells, kettlebells, jumping rope, swimming, all will work. This exercise, taught to me by Coach Sonnon, is so powerful it is almost like magic.

All right.

1) Sit for 10 minutes and bring the emotion of fear into your body. Powerfully directly. Imagine worst-case scenarios, whatever you need, until you are shaking, crying out of your nose, sobbing.

Ten minutes.

2) Now begin your aerobic exercise. Continue until you reach second wind, and for at least five minutes beyond that place.
This just flat works. The reason is that the physiological profile of hormone dump during cardio-respiratory distress is very similar to the hormone dump during extreme fear. Instead of calling it “Second wind,” call it “Second gear”–a cortical response, a neurophysiological adjustment to increase efficiency so that the body can function under the specific stress. CRD is more primal than any fear you are likely to have locked in your body. When you take this physical road, you are hitting the “reset” button on your neurology, clearing out years or decades of fear response in minutes. Bizarre as it sounds, you can get a 20% (approximate, subjective) reduction of fear IN YOUR FIRST SESSION. Then, of course, practice this a couple of times a week as needed.

This is an example of a “mastery” technique. This is not a game, and I am not BS-ing you. You’ve just had a “hidden secret” placed right in front of you, for free. All you have to do is try it. Any aerobic activity that will trigger a “second wind” response will do it (second wind usually kicks in after 13-18 minutes of steady-state exercise). This is why you MUST engage your body when you seek Mastery. The mind will deceive you. The body, subject to physical rule and laws, cannot.

The “5MM” will get you started integrating mind and body, the cheapest and most efficient method I know. Check it out!

Namaste
-Steve Barnes

The Only Constant Is Change

Infinite Possibilities - Barnes.jpg

I hear a lot of definitions around “What is Right” and “What is Left” or Conservative/Liberal, Republican/Democrat, Nature/Nurture, Male/Female,  Defensive/Embracing and so forth.   There is no agreement, and never will be.  There are popular, academic, scholarly, philosophical and deeply politicized definitions, many of which are deeply prejudiced.

 

It seems to me that clusters are more important than specifics or mono-blocks, so long as you also realize that individuals actually contain multitudes: that they can lean “Copnservative”  t on one issue, but “Progressive” on another.  We’re complicated.

 

While making it clear that politics is not my arena, many of my close friends are indeed deeply politicized, and I’ve listened to and engaged in  thousands of hours of talk on the subject.   My primary goal in defining things so that they make sense to me is to define things in a way that avoids damning or praising either side.   Not that I don’t prefer one side, because I do…for my own reasons.  Not that I don’t think that one side or the other can, as the pendulum swings, be a more rational approach to the world’s problems.   But any definition that implies a basic flaw in the most basic aspects is to be avoided.  I see nothing useful there.

 

While there is no definitive one for me, one that works in so many cases that I find myself thinking in these terms more frequently than any other is that the Right seems to be the protector of traditions and history, and the Left is a cultivator of dreams for our future. What works on the one hand, what might be even better on the other.  Clearly, both approaches have plusses and minuses.  MOST of what we do is rooted in past behavior.  A culture that reinvents the wheel every day never progresses.  You don’t seek a new way to tie your shoes or drive to work every day.   It is through inculcation of habits, grooving what we know about everything from clean water to infant health that we survive.  But it is dreams, testing, asking how we can improve, how can we be healthier, happier, more free, asking what traditions are obsolete, and how can human beings evolve socially, that is responsible for all we have accomplished as well. Everything was once new, once mocked, once reviled…until it worked.  At which point it become part of our heritage, and we move on.   And this is not negative.  It is not foolish to question the new, any more than it is foolish to question “we’ve always done it that way.”   Mutations tend to produce cancer more often than Wolverine.  Tradition keeps us alive.  But without Progression, we stagnate and die.

 

There will always be a tension between these things.  And if there was an objective position to take, it would be clear (I believe) that in general there is an equal amount of wisdom and asininity on either side.   As I’ve said…there are individual eras or moments of history in which one side is probably far more “correct” than another, but  as beings functioning WITHIN the system, it is probably difficult to know at the time.  We’ll have different opinions. And that’s part of the cost of living in a democracy–we will disagree about what is the best way to live, how much of the past is good, and which future we should build.

 

It is galling at times. Frightening.  Exhilarating.  The only alternative I know of would be to be ants or termites, which have not changed in a hundred million years…or on the other hand to be utterly anarchic, everyone following his own path, which is no better than total regimentation depending on how much one values survival over “freedom.”    Sigh.

 

Its tough.  But if you think that the current world is providing challenges we’ve never faced before, I politely suggest that you are looking at the surface, and haven’t studied your history.  Everything old is new again, and we’ll survive this part of the cycle, the human race inch-worming forward, never too far ahead of itself without triggering a backlash, which in turn triggers a drive to vault forward again. Those who will contribute the most, who the world needs the most, will be those who can see both the Yin and the Yang, and grasp that those one either extreme who scream “all is lost” or “we’re the only truth” have always been among us. And they have always been wrong.

 

I choose to think there is nothing so special about the current generation that we happen to be the ones for which it is finally true.  How we feel depends upon what we focus on, the questions we ask ourselves.

 

I choose both joy, and readiness. The children of the world need me to be an adult. The sleepers need someone to be awake.   To be awake, and adult, and remember the cycles of change strikes me as being the best way I can thank those who came before me…and make the way for those who will follow.

 

Namaste,

Steve

Love, healing, and the Morning Ritual

A FB friend recently complained about people who wish understanding for historical grievances, but in his opinion show insufficient concern for similar current problems in other countries.  My response:

##

“If you care as much about what happens to other children as your own, you cannot function. That’s just survival. Any more than someone else’s injury hurts you as much as your own broken bone.”

His response, I thought was honest:   “I cannot function.”

##

No, he cannot.  NO ONE CAN.   IF you make sure everyone in the world is fed before you eat, YOU WILL STARVE.  In a world of bees or ants or termites, MAYBE it would be possible to be totally Other-serving, or even to really care as much about what happens to other people as yourself.

 

That is your choice, and a case could be made that it is spiritual and in some way enlightened and evolved. But let’s look at what I actually said: “if you care as much about what happens to other children as your own, you cannot function.”  Meaning that if YOU choose to starve unless everyone eats, that is an adult choice. But if you say your CHILDREN must starve unless everyone eats, you have done something that the world will judge as foolish, destructive, and worthy of scorn.  Your children will die. And while you have the right to decide to starve for your beliefs, you do NOT have the right to bring children into the world and starve THEM for your beliefs in any self-replicating culture I know of.  It will be dead in one generation.

 

And in this instance, failure equals “wrong”.  “Abusive”.  “Evil.”  Get it?   Contrary to reproductive imperatives in this instance is considered “evil” by almost anyone in any time in any culture anywhere in the world.

And here’s the truth:   People who do this don’t love themselves. In fact, often, they are so damaged that looking within themselves, serving themselves, healing themselves, is like looking into a sack filled with snakes. Digging in a dung-heap for crackers.   So they care about other people.  Wisdom is easier to dispense than follow.

 

There will ALWAYS be stress, poverty, pain in the world.  If you have no center, you must have STRONG walls.   If you have no walls OR center, you are a circle with no circumference.  Some enlightened folks seem to connect with all the joy in the world, and make this work.   Others connect with all the joy AND pain in the world, and frankly they are beyond my understanding.  I can but bow.

But these people do not function in the “real” world of adult responsibilities.  Either they are wandering mendicants, or retreat to monastaries, or are supported by some community.  They can barely gather for themselves.

 

And can never care for others, especially helpless children.  They cannot function.

The continuum of consciousness goes from:

Sleeping Child to

Sleeping Adult to

Awakened Adult (Awakened Children are rare and precious) to

Awakened Adult with Intermittent non-dualistic awareness to

Awakened Adult with sustained non-dualistic awareness to

States grouped under the category “Enlightened” which have no linguistic equivalents.

 

For all practical purposes, the only states that can be discussed in an essay like this are the first two: Sleeping Child to Sleeping Adult.   They are the realm of consensus reality, the adult “everyday world.”  This is the root.    And just as emotional/spiritual pain can anchor in the “root” of body, such that you have to process it before you can heal, such pain also anchors in the “root” of the adult “mundane” world.

 

Navigating the “hunting gathering” of finance.  Fail to do this in the natural world and you starve.

 

Navigating the “natural balance” of action-reaction, resources and gathering, fitness and avoidance of predators, attraction-attracted aspect of the physical body leads to joy in movement, facility, energy, health, and the ability to attract the people you are attracted to.  Failing to do this in the natural world equals death.

 

Asking if an animal can navigate the territory of self-love is generally a fool’s question.  Their survival drives are wired TIGHT.  They automatically take care of themselves, and an animal that does not is immediately known to be sick.  I’m afraid I have to ask you to apply this same rule to human existence.

 

These three arenas: Finance/Career, Health/Fitness, and Self love/Relationship are the “root” of our existence.   TRYING TO BYPASS THEM IS A GRAVE ERROR.   If you awaken your self-love, and have been abused, you will likely deal with massive anger at the people who damaged and discounted you.    Anger is fear.  The antidote for fear is gratitude.

 

In other words, you can safely address the root through your “Morning Ritual” in the following fashion:

 

  1. Start with Heartbeat Meditation, listening to/feeling your heartbeat, connecting with the source of love.
  2. Focus until you can connect with the loving child within you.   Even if only the potential of a single fertilized cell.  If necessary, seek support for this from a teacher or professional hypnotist, meditation teacher, therapist.  My own “Ancient Child” technique is powerful.
  3. MOVE YOUR BODY.   Your emotions are directed by your focus, the questions you ask, and the way you breathe, tense-relax your muscles, and hold your posture.  10-20 minutes with a daily commitment to improve 1% at this daily.
  4. WHILE MOVING, focus on the things you are grateful for.   IF you cannot think of anything, you have defined an area where you are lying to yourself.   Would you miss your eyesight?  Yes?  Then why the hell aren’t you grateful for it now???  Miss internet access when its gone?  Yes?  Why the hell aren’t you grateful for it now???  EVERYONE has things they could be grateful for if they decided. Without exception.   Musashi’s first Principle is “Do Not Think Dishonestly”.   If you can’t get through this first doorway YOU ARE A SLEEPING CHILD, blaming the world for choices YOU have made, even if it is only to accept the poisoned values spoon-fed you as a child.  Or the similar poison fed to you by a sexual partner: the values communicated to you when your reproductive circuits are open are hellaceously tenacious.   You CAN’T think your way out of that box…but you CAN MOVE YOUR WAY out of them.  Focus.  Move.
  5. When you can access those emotions.  It may take time and practice. Give yourself 30 days!  Find a partner and report DAILY on your practice.   A virtual partner here on FB can work beautifully.  If your negative ego shell is too strong YOU WILL NOT BE ABLE TO KEEP IT UP FOR 30 DAYS.  Which means that if you get enough leverage on yourself, MAKE yourself do this, YOU WILL CHANGE.  YOU WILL HEAL.  However hard it is, you have identified the medicine that can save you.    And brothers and sisters, once you identify ONE thing that will change your life, you need “only” find the allies, powers and faith that enable you to do that ONE THING.

 

The “Morning Ritual” can be this ONE THING for you. Connecting with your heart.  Connecting with the animal reproductive circuits that can turn a passive frightened animal into a snarling monster protecting its young.  SEPARATING the “adult” from the “child” so that your heart is safe and that Mommy/Daddy animal self protects it at all costs…reaping love in the process.

 

Do NOT drain that energy away by trying to heal the world, until you have healed yourself.  Your children will starve. They will hate you for your neglect, and you lose the very creativity you need to solve your life issues and progress.

 

You remain asleep, enmeshed in a nightmare you feed with your own lack of direction. Change this by asking a ONE question: HOW CAN I IMPROVE MY MORNING RITUAL BY 1% TODAY?

 

That single question can save your sanity, so long as you can take the ACTION of actually performing your ritual for 10-20 minutes daily.

 

There it is: something anyone can do.   The question is: will you love yourself enough to do it?

 

Only you can answer that question, but I pray your answer will be “yes.”

 

Namaste,

Steve

Writing to Change Minds

 

A few weeks back I was asked to participate in a conference where the question was:

How do we change the world as writers?

As part of this, I recorded an interview with a lovely lady named Laura Leigh Clarke (great English accent!) who quizzed me on this, and a number of factors that will make the difference when you’re looking to influence society through your writing.

You can catch the interview here:

“The Thinking Work of Writing Material That Can Change Minds”

http://everythingstory.org/Steven_Interview

In this interview I discussed:

  • the first, and little talked about step, to writing something that can create change
  • the important distinctions to be aware of in gender differences
  • how to use questions to overcome prejudices, and limitations in beliefs
  • the main driver in writing powerful material
  • the “carrier tone” to having you message really heard
  • how to rob your reader of his chance to argue with you!  (This is sneaky stuff, and scared the crap out of Plato)

And much more…

Now be forewarned–this is part of a larger effort to raise awareness and resources to change society, and I’m just a little cog in a much larger wheel.  But that can be good, because Laura is a savvy lady and I think she’s put together an excellent roster of other people you can learn from.

When you register to view the interview (free!) you will also receive access to interviews from a host of experts including:

  • successful indie authors, and show makers,
  • peacekeepers on nation-building,
  • professional screenwriters, and film makers,
  • futurists in the areas of webisodes, filmmaking and publishing,
  • developmental psychologists, and cultural historians,
  • people who are changing the economies of whole countries through education,
  • people who are using scriptwriting to change the lives of young offenders,
  • change makers who are making it safer for women in India, and around the world, through their documentaries

… and even a few philosophers!

This insight will give you the thinking and knowledge to write some world-changing material.

Go ahead and register for this material (for free) whilst it’s still available

http://everythingstory.org/Steven_Interview

Write with Passion!

Steve

P.S. this is part of a bigger project – Storytelling for Social Profit: The Summit, where experts from a range of disciplines were interviewed in order to give you, as a storyteller, a grounding in tangible tipping points that will create a difference in the world.

The full schedule of free interviews is clickable at the bottom of the page where you view my interview.

Go ahead and watch my interview: “The Thinking Work of Writing Material That Can Change Minds”

http://everythingstory.org/Steven_Interview

A Bridge Too Far

I don’t feel that I have much useful to say directly about the upcoming inauguration.  Indirectly, sure, and I do.   But when I see something  that simply strikes me as deeply, problematically  illogical, I think commenting is appropriate.   And I’ve seen, repeated many times, now, a meme I find impossible to believe sincere.

There were two things that put Trump out of the running for my vote from the get-go.   One was that he had never held elected office, so I had no idea at all how he might function within one.  I might have made an exception for a high-ranked military man.    I do believe that there are intelligent reasons a person could disagree with me, and obviously many do, and did.

 

The other was his dogged, endless Birtherism.  Why I consider this problematic is another essay.  If you think an intelligent, emotionally balanced adult would think the idea plausible, that’s your business.   I do not, and see no useful conversation to be had on the subject.

What I WILL address is the notion that  people think that because one of the people  in Hillary’s campaign floated the “Birther” notion first, there is some faint equivalence.  Or even that “she started it.”

No.

First of all, it is impossible to determine “who started it”, who first suggested that Obama was not a  Citizen, that in fact he sat at the center of a vast, complex, and ultimately time-traveling conspiracy to defraud the American people.    Conspiracy theories about any remarkable incident rise up like toadstools after the rain.  Trying to figure out which sprouted first is a fool’s errand.  And in the arena of black leaders, there has ALWAYS been a sort of person who wanted and needed to believe that any resistance, or movement, or leader with a brown face was actually a puppet for some white guy somewhere.   I heard such things about MLK, Malcolm X, Nelson Mandela, the NAACP, the Black Panthers, and on and on and on.  So it was 100% predictable that the same thing would happen with Obama.  Who was first?  Not a real issue.

If   this was a positive thing, if Trump had made dozens (hundreds, probably) of statements about, say, Veterans Benefits, but Clinton never mentioned the issue, but some functionary downstream  in her campaign floated the notion, would there be some equivalence between them?  Would she deserve remotely as much credit?   Of course not.  The fact that she hadn’t said it herself would be a valid criticism:  she didn’t consider it important or practical or useful or in alignment with her values, and it would be asinine for her or any of her supporters to claim that she was on Trump’s level on that issue.

 

Whether positive or negative, one Trump comment equals one Clinton comment.

 

One Comment from someone X removed from Clinton is equivalent to One Comment from someone X removed from Trump.   Whether positive or negative.

 

The NUMBER of times you say it also factors in: If I say something X times, it is equivalent to  you saying the same thing X times.

 

Context would matter: a private conversation as opposed to a television interview, for instance.  Spontaneous statements as opposed to planned and carefully written speeches. And so on.

 

If you think the “Birther” thing was harmless nonsense, that’s your position.  I take no pleasure from saying this, but if you considered it a grave and sobering concern, please don’t tell me.    Just quietly unfriend me, because we will never see eye to eye on this, and I don’t enjoy thinking poorly of people.

But I cannot believe that an intelligent person really believes that what  I say, personally, is in any way equivalent to what some employee or neighbor or relative of yours says.   That you are as responsible, positively or negatively, as I am even if you didn’t say it and I did.

Please, just don’t defend this one around me.  I consider it a  political   meme trying to justify something done to win an election. Smirk, laugh, pat each other on the back if you want, on your own time and in your own threads.  But don’t try to tell me the situations are equivalent, because that is a bridge too far.  I have little interest in politics, but a great deal of interest in the truth.   The question “what is true?” is central here, and what is true is that I just don’t believe these things are equivalent, or that any intelligent and sane person really does.  But that I do believe that politics twists people into saying and defending indefensible positions.   One of the reasons I dislike the entire arena, and marvel at the people who manage to enter it without tarring their souls entirely.

In some contexts, bullshit helps roses grow.   Whatever happens next in America, this is not that context.

Thank you.

Steve