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Archive for November, 2011

How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love the OWS Protests

That’s the headline to Matt Taibbi’s article in the current issue of ROLLING STONE MAGAZINE. Last week’s post was from a conservative columnist who writes for FORTUNE MAGAZINE. It’s only fair for a progressive view–and there’s few as good as Matt Taibbi. He alone is well worth subscribing to one of my favorite magazines ROLLING STONE. Herein are excerpts:

“I have a confession to make. At first I misunderstood Occupy Wall Street. The first few time I went down to Zuccotti Park, I came away with mixed feelings. I loved the energy and was amazed by the obvious organic appeal of the movement, the way it was growing on its own. But my initial impression was that it would not be taken very seriously by the Citibanks and Goldman Sachs of the world. You could put 50,000 angry protestors on Wall Street, 100,000 even, and Lloyd Blankfein is probably not going to break a sweat. He knows he’s not going to wake up tomorrow and see Cornel West or Richard Trumka running the Federal Reserve. He knows modern finance is a giant mechanical parasite that only an expert surgeon can remove. Yell and scream all you want but he and his fellow Franksteins are the only ones who know how to turn the machine off.

That’s what I was thinking during the first few weeks of the protests. But I’m beginning to see another angle. Occupy Wall Street was always about something much bigger than a movement against big banks and modern finance. It’s about providing a forum for people to show how tired they are not just of Wall Street but EVERYTHING. This is a visceral, impassioned, deep-seated rejection of the entire direction of our society, a refusal to take even one more step forward into the shallow commercial abyss of phoniness, short-term calculation, withered idealism and intellectual bankruptcy that American mass society has become. If there is such a thing as going on strike from one’s own culture, this is it. And by being so broad in scope and so elemental in its motivation, it‘s flown over the heads of many on both the right and the left.

The right-wing media wasted no time in cannon-blasting the movement with its usual idiotic clichés, casting Occupy Wall Street as a bunch of dirty hippies who should get a job and stop chewing up Mike Bloomberg’s police overtime budget with their urban sleepovers. Just like they did a half-century ago, when the debate over the Vietnam War somehow stopped being about why we were brutally murdering millions of innocent Indochinese civilians and instead became a referendum on bralessness and long hair and flower-child rhetoric, the depraved flacks of the right-wing media have breezily blown off a generation of fraud and corruption and market-perverting bailouts, making the whole debate about the protestors themselves—their hygiene, their ‘envy’ of the rich, their ‘hypocrisy’.

The protestors, chirped Supreme Reichskank Ann Coulter, ‘needed three thing: showers, jobs and a point’. Her colleague Charles Krauthammer went so far as to label the protestors hypocrites for having iPhones. ‘OWS’, he said is Starbucks-sipping, Levi’s- clad, iPhone clutching protestors (denouncing) corporate America even as they weep for Steve Jobs, corporate titan, billionaire eight times over’. Apparently because Goldman and Citibank are corporations, no protestors can ever consume a corporate product—not jeans, not cellphones and definitely not coffee’—if he also wants to complain about tax money going to pay off some billionaire banker’s bets against his own crappy mortgages.

Meanwhile on the other side of the political spectrum, there were scads of progressive pundits like me who wrung our hands with worry that OWS was playing right into the hands of assholes like Krauthammer. DON’T GIVE THEM ANY AMMUNITION! we counseled. STAY ON MESSAGE! BE SPECIFIC!. We were all playing the Rorschach-test game with OWS trying to squint at it and see what we wanted to see in the movement. Viewed through the prism of our desire to make near-term, within the system changes, it was hard to see how skirmishing with cops in New York would help foreclosed-upon middle-class families in Jacksonville and San Diego.

What both sides missed is that OWS is tired of all this. They don’t care what we think they’re about, or should be about. They just want something different.

We’re all born wanting the freedom to imagine a better and more beautiful future. But modern America has become a place so drearily confining and predictable that it chokes the life out of that built-in desire. Everything from our pop culture to our economy to our politics feels oppressive and unresponsive. People want to go someplace for at least five minutes where no one is trying to bleed you or sell you something.

I think I understand now that that’s what the Occupy movement is all about. It’s about dropping out if only for a moment, and trying something new. It doesn’t need to tell the world what it wants. It is successful for now, just by being something different.”

These are only excerpts from Matt’s excellent article in the November 22nd issue of ROLLING STONE MAGAZINE. To read it in its entirety, pickup a copy or better yet become a subscriber. I’ve been hooked on their political reporting for 25 years and with age, year after year, it only gets better.

What Really Has The 99% Up In Peaceful “Constitutionally Protected” Protest

If you are like most of us then you are one of the 99%. If you happen to be one of the 1%, then lucky you. Just skip this week’s blog because you won’t be the least bit interested in what I have to say. This opinion piece ran in the Nov., 7, 2011 issue of FORTUNE MAGAZINE. It was written by Geof Colvin.

“The most important fact to realize about the rash of popular protests around the world— OCCUPY WALL STREET in the U.S., demonstrations in Greece, Spain, London and elsewhere in Europe, really aren’t about money or inequality. If they were, they’d be easier to deal with. They’re about perceived injustice. which reflects a deeper, fiercer problem.

The spark of the U.S. movement may soon be obscured as it’s taken over by career protesters, labor unions, and others who enjoy any chance to torment corporate managers. But the spark is where we find what’s new and meaningful, and it seems to have emanated from a feeling by the protestors that they aren’t getting a fair shot at prosperity. They believe that big companies, specifically major banks, have rigged the system to their own benefit and to ignore the suffering of ordinary people.

That perceived injustice is the real root of today’s rage. Yes, many Wall Street executives make tons of money, but plenty of hedge fund managers, for example, make far, far more, yet no one is camping outside their suburban Connecticut offices. For that matter, America loves Warren Buffett, just as they loved Sam Walton when he was the country’s richest man. Fellow citizens making billions do not by themselves get many people riled.

Even economic inequality isn’t enough to send mobs into the streets. Inequality in the U.S. has been increasing for over 30 years. During most of that period the rich were getting richer, and the poor were getting richer. But the rich were getting richer faster. Though the gap was widening, the lid stayed on discontent as long as everyone was moving ahead.

Inequality actually diminished in the recent recession, as it usually does in tough times. If inequality were the problem, people would be less upset today than they were in 2007. What’s new is that those with medium and lower incomes have not been getting richer for several years, while those with high incomes have been, and the unprecedented slowness of post-recession job growth has left many feeling deprived of their rightful opportunity to improve their lot. More broadly, they feel they’re being punished even though they did nothing wrong, while those whom they blame for the whole mess—the bankers—got bailed out and were raking it in. INFURIATING INJUSTICE.

The elements are the same in protests worldwide, whether the specific grievance is blatant corruption, as in China and the Middle East, or violation of the social compact as in Europe. The innocent are punished while the guilty are rewarded. That combination is intolerable.

In the U.S. this narrative is flawed and in some ways plain wrong. Most of the Occupy Wall Street protestors probably don’t know that they as taxpayers, actually made money from the bank bailout. They may be forgetting that millions of Americans are being foreclosed on because they willingly, even eagerly, took out mortgages they couldn’t afford. Some protestors are simply clueless, like one who responded to a question from the New York Times by saying ‘he never heard of Warren Buffett’, or one who complained to NPR ‘that we’re paying for the bailout’, or one who told the Times that ‘the airline Virgin America is a good company because it’s working on solar planes.’


At a private meeting of movers and shakers a few years ago, a CEO presented the facts on long-term diverging fortunes of the wealthy and the middle class in the U.S. Henry Kissinger, who was chairing the meeting, observed ‘that the situation held the makings of a social and political cataclysm’. It seemed an overly dramatic pronouncement, but he was right. Only a feeling of powerful injustice was missing, AND NOW IT’S HERE!

Even if Occupy Wall Street should evaporate, the fuel that’s feeding it will not. Think of it as a warning. Cataclysm is a long way off and it certainly isn’t inevitable. But we’re a little bit closer.

Big Fish or Little Fish – It’s Still About Getting Your Customer to Act

The topic for this weeks blog is all about ADVERTISING and since my book HOW TO BECOME A MAIL ORDER MILLIONAIRE is a guide on how to become wealthy by starting your own business it is extremely important to learn how to market your new business effectively and the best way to do that is to ADVERTISE.

Allow me to introduce you to John Boggs. He is first and foremost a sales guy. This is the rock upon which his distinguished career was built and why his advice contained within his new book ADvice By John Boggs: Common Sense Stories of Local Advertising and Sales is well worth heeding. No advertising glitz here, just battle tested and market-proven sales and advertising wisdom for those wanting to improve their sales batting average. John’s zest for life and passion for sales/advertising will put a tear in your eye and a spring in your step.

He starts his book with a quote from Stephen Grellet

“I expect to pass through this world but once. Any good therefore that I can do or any kindness that I can show to my fellow creature, let me do it now. Let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.”

The following are excerpts from his first chapter

“As I was growing up, I had grandiose plans for my life and career. I wanted to be a scientist, an astronaut and a doctor. I envisioned myself as being world famous. My grandfather was a wise man and enjoyed asking me what I was going to be when I grew up. More often than not, I would begin with the phrase ‘the top, the number one, or world famous.’

Each time I shared my dream of which I would become, my perceptive grandfather would say ‘It is better to be a big fish in a small pond rather than a small fish in a big pond’. He would explain to me that if I was important in a small domain, I would have more opportunity for achievement as well as create the possibility to move to bigger domains. Still, he didn’t stifle my dreams.

As I grew and experienced the world, his words became more of a guide for me than I would have ever expected. I found myself attracted more to smaller companies where I assumed leadership roles and quickly made a difference. I was attracted to becoming a big fish in a small pond. As my achievements grew, bigger ponds (companies and opportunities) presented themselves. And so the cycle repeated.

What does this have to do with advertising? Everything! All advertisers, especially those smaller than Coca Cola and General Motors, should heed my grandfathers. It is much better to be a big fish in a small pond rather than a small fish in a big pond.

How do you do this? Focus your advertising to a limited number of media options. Dominate the media options you choose and only expand to additional options after you become (and can maintain) being a big fish in that pond. How do you dominate? You grow and increase your ad size and even the number of ads per issue. Once you are the largest advertiser in your category, you dominate that medium.

Even the smallest circulation magazine has more readers than the average advertiser can accommodate. How many businesses could handle an influx of 30,000 or even just 10,000 new orders? Not many. It would truly be a case of too much of a good thing. Yet most advertisers focus on reaching as many people as possible with their sales message Very few advertisers write excellent sales copy, so only a few of the millions reached actually respond. How distressing would it be if every reader in every magazine or every viewer of every television program decided they wanted to take advantage of your offer? No business could hire staff fast enough to fulfill orders promptly and still maintain good customer service.

Fortunately for all of us, advertising does not work that way. Consumers (including you) go through a very rigid decision process before making a purchase. AIDA, no I’m not going to slip in a reference to an opera at this point. AIDA is an acronym for this process. Awareness/ Interest/ Desire/ and Action are the steps each consumer needs to go through before buying any product.

Many of today’s advertising salespeople are not schooled in how advertising works. Most do not know what it takes to be successful. Those who do often do have the courage to tell an advertiser the price of success. That price involves steering the potential customer through AIDA: making them Aware of your product, cultivating their Interest, creating an intense Desire to own the product, and giving them a strong incentive to Act. As you can imagine, a ¼ page ad run twice will not in most cases take the consumer as far as you need them to go.

A competent advertising salesperson can tell you the truth about how much you should spend and what your expectations should be.

Unfortunately, far too many will tell you what you want to hear, that you can get something for nothing.

There is so much more to effective advertising than the number of people you reach. Advertising is more of an art than a science. But if you apply basic scientific principles toward your advertising plan, as well as use common sense, much of the mystery dissolves.

John Boggs concludes the first chapter of his most useful book by quoting his grand father’s wisdom, once again. “It is better to be a big fish in a small pond rather than to be a small fish in a big pond”.

In my book HOW TO BECOME A MAIL ORDER MILLIONAIRE I show you how the AIDA principle can help you succeed in the mail order business and by the way it also contradicts a lot of what John says about advertising but only because John Boggs was talking about advertising to reach consumers to make a purchase at retail. There are different rules for direct response (mail order) advertising that make it very easy to grow a business quickly and with much less up front advertising expenditures, where every dollar you spend on advertising will allow you to make at least two dollars back, and even more.

Learn How and Save $10
Only available to readers of this blog. You can buy direct and save with the special price of $29.95 plus $3.50 for first class postage and handling. Send a check or money order in the amount of $33.45 payable to SUPERIOR PRESS along with your name and address to: Superior Press 333 N. Michigan Ave STE 1032 Chicago IL 60601 and I will promptly ship the book. Or you can purchase the book at the regular retail price from Amazon.

Shocking Mating (s-e-x) Secrets Reveal Survival of the Fittest

Terry Tom Brown, a science student at Columbia University has written a delightful essay in the October 16, 2011 issue of the New York Times. Some excerpts follow.

“Throughout the school year I am employed at a popular nature museum where I care for animals, primarily insects. To me it’s the best job ever. For a science student, it’s much better than folding clothes at a department store. I have also learned a lot, odd facts I tend to spout out during dinner conversations, like: ‘Butterflies can see with their genitals. They have photoreceptive cells on their sex organs’.

“I actually have said those words on dates. That’s how a nerd copes with first-date anxiety.

“I also collect information on animal courtship and my knowledge is extensive enough to make David Attenborough blush.”

“Did you know that a female hump-back whale lifts her genitals above the water while males fight for her affections? Male fruit flies give females a gently pat on the behind to let them know they are interested (not much different from some guys I know). Panamanian golden tree frogs wave their tiny hands to communicate their desires. And albatrosses, which stay together their entire lives, keep it interesting by entertaining each other with goofy ritual dancing”.

“I think life would be good as a monogamous albatross, partly because I find human courtship senseless. In almost all species of animals I have studied, a remarkable gesture of interest is what wins a mate. In humans, it’s the opposite”.

“Constructing a brightly colored nest works wonders for the bower-bird. Clownfish will actually change their sex in the right setting. Bonobo chimpanzees display their physical interest in one another directly and ceaselessly, performing sex acts as greetings”.

“Perhaps humans have simply entered a new stage of evolution in which we have abandoned chocolates, door holding, flowers or any overt gesture of interest for a new and unnatural order of things”.

“Dating sites are like virtual zoos, but for humans. You can learn about the various creatures by reading their panels and observe them without any real danger, but you should think carefully before squeezing through the bars to meet what is lurking on the other side”.

“Working at the museum greenhouse recently, I saw a pair of bird wing butterflies engaged in a courtship dance. The male, with his shimmering green wings, flies up and under the female repeatedly until she submits. This male looked exhausted; he had spent so much time seeking here attention that his wings had become tattered and faded”.

“That evening a large group of children were in the museum for a special event. A few were excited seeing a large butterfly carrying a smaller one in flight. At first I thought it was the same mating behavior of the previous pair but then I realized it was something tragically different”.

“The female was spiraling in the air with the corpse of the male butterfly attached. He had died during intercourse. He must have been so exhausted from impressing her that when she finally gave in, he gave out. Spending most of the day resisting him, the female did not have the strength to remove him, so she died also.”

Insects and other animals survive in many cases because they put out more effort than their competitors. This is true of most self-made millionaires. If you truly want to become a mail order millionaire why not start with a FREE TRIAL of my book. This small effort on your part could not only make you a survivor but quite possibly the next mail order millionaire. Here’s my special offer for you.

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Only available to readers of this blog. You can buy direct and save with the special price of $29.95 plus $3.50 for first class postage and handling. Send a check or money order in the amount of $33.45 payable to SUPERIOR PRESS along with your name and address to: Superior Press 333 N. Michigan Ave STE 1032 Chicago IL 60601 and I will promptly ship the book. Or you can purchase the book at the regular retail price from Amazon.

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