I’d Rather Fail Big than Live Small

I’d Rather Fail Big than Live Small

I just got back from driving by the hill country and listening to Dan Kennedy interview Gene Landrum. As a “gold” member of Dan Kennedy’s mentoring service, I get CDs every few weeks of Dan, or his partner Bill Glazer, interviewing a mega-successful entrepreneur.

Lundrum gave Dan a delightful interview complete of amazing stories taken from his books. And he made me feel like I belonged to a group, which is a feeling I don’t get much- already when I’m hanging out with musicians. You’d be amazed at how many artists and musicians are just sitting around waiting to be discovered while they continue to do the same thing all the other musicians and artists are doing.

Losers, losing by following losers. Not much of a plan, but it’s pretty popular.

Until I discovered the internet marketing world, I felt like the only square pin in a world of round holes. Listening to Dan’s interviews makes me realize that I’m truly in good company- I’m a member of a group of entrepreneurs who follow Sam Walton’s Rule #1.

Do you know Sam’s “Rule #1?” He used it to build the most successful retail business in history.

Do you want to know the secret that he used to make WalMart unstoppable?

Keep reading.

His “rule #1” has been my credo all my life, and I’ve caught a great deal of shit for it- it turns out that Ayn Rand, Thomas Edison, Frank Lloyd Wright, Henry Ford, H. Ross Perot, Donald Trump, Richard Branson, and most of my other idols had the same credo.

Want to hear a story?

Due to a bizarre and surreal series of circumstances, I found myself living the life of a high-school drop-out street hippie in 1973. I’d tell you the story, but you wouldn’t believe me.

Kafka’s an amateur compared to East Texas wingnuts- and I got on the wrong side of a town complete of East Texas wingnuts and had to quit high-school at 17.

My best option at the time was to move in with a house complete of hippie musicians in the Montrose area of Houston. It was shelter, and we usually could scrounge food- Anderson Fair, a spaghetti restaurant that featured folk music, would satisfy us in return for a few hours of music, but only the zucchini spaghetti.

You can live on zucchini spaghetti if you have to.

We played strip clubs and gay bars. We played for peanuts- literally.

After a year or so of this, on a hot and humid night, I accidentally drank a quart of mysterious tea, which caused me to take a psychic time-out. When I came back from visiting the red queen, I realized I needed to go to college.

So, I walked, in the early morning hours, by the darkest, most dangerous part of Houston, to the bus stop and took the bus home. I walked into the house as my father was drinking his morning coffee and announced that I was ready to go to college.

Skeptical, he suggested I get a job. After a year or so of manual labor, I finally made my way to North Texas University- on the strength of a good SAT score and a better audition with the piano faculty.

After a year of cutting down trees, I was probably the “buffest” piano major on the campus. While I was there, I designed and -with the help of a physics major buddy of mine- produced the first laser light show in the southwest. We had a running engagement at the Fort-Worth Museum of Science and History.

After three years at NTSU, I sent an audition tape to the University of Texas, and got accepted in their graduate composition program.

I nevertheless hadn’t gotten my high-school diploma, technically, I was a high-school drop-out going to grad school.

I loved college. I ended up with music and English minors, but that only tells part of the story. I was a photography major, studying under Gary Winnogrand. I studied journalism. I took art classes. I was in heaven. My degree plan was to not worry about getting a degree. I was getting an education.

After a few years, I got a glimpse of the naked under-belly of the modern classical music world and didn’t like what I saw. A showdown with a famous composer during a seminar was the final straw.

He accused me of prostituting my art by making money writing commercials. What a crock! This was the same guy who financed his studio by doing sound-effects for shampoo commercials. And some of the other ways he prostituted didn’t have anything to do with his art.

I bailed on college, and joined a rock band.

Wouldn’t you?

A short time later, we were touring with Cheap Trick, Heart, ZZ Top, The Climax Blues Band- it was a wonderful, exhausting, amazing experience.

At this point in my life, I was probably the best educated high-school dropout rock star on the planet.

What’s this got to do with internet marketing, writing e-books, and running an international online business?


I think the most valuable assistance of my internet marketing lifestyle is the people I get to hang out with. After years of being a loner, I’ve got a “peer group!”

I get to hang out with Joe Vitale, who broke all the rules in the book publishing business, and went to number one twice on the national best-seller charts- while the authors who played by the rules sat around and complained.

I get to hang out with Cindy Cashman, who made a million bucks by “writing” and promoting a blank book with a great title.

I get to hang out with Craig Perrine, who has achieved amazing success by breaking the rules in the internet list-building business.

And there are many others- the internet marketing is world populated with wild, intelligent, brave, and interesting people.

These are the mavericks- the square pegs- I’m honored to know them.

All my life, I’ve heard “get a REAL job!”

The miserable, gray people- the ones retained in the job they hate (which, according to Dan Kennedy’s research, is at least 2/3 of the population) wanted me to join them in their misery.

Parents. Teachers. Unsuccessful musicians. Bosses (musicians have lots of bosses- because we keep a day-job just long enough to book gigs, then we move on).

Television- Trump and Branson have TV shows, and that’s a good start… but they’re about hiring employees! The winners get a JOB!

You can bet your momma’s egg money that Donald Trump doesn’t want a job. Richard Branson doesn’t want a job. They didn’t get where they are by working for someone else.

I think they should award prize money to the contestant that tells Donald Trump to take a flying f**k at the moon, and starts his own business.

The education factories- imagine what would happen if schools taught entrepreneurship instead of wage-slavery? Our whole education system sucks lemons because it’s based on a 19th century form, and designed to turn out workers- for jobs that haven’t been obtainable in decades! Factories that turn out groups of miserable, gray people- experiencing by the week and living for the weekend.

What would happen if they taught people how to think, instead?

Family- here’s the big one. Anytime my family gets together, I get to hear about how I’m the one who’s always “coloring outside the lines” from one of my relatives- he thinks he’s insulting me!

That’s the thing I’m proudest of, and the meaningful to my success. Nobody ever achieved anything important, or grand, or OUTRAGEOUS by coloring inside the lines.

Following the rules is for losers.

Did you notice the list of idols I put at the top of this article? They have a lot of things in shared:

1. They didn’t wait for permission to be great- they just went ahead and did it.

2. They didn’t worry about credentials or diplomas. Richard Branson has an eighth grade education. Frank Lloyd Wright had about three months of formal schooling. All educated successful people, in spite of of how much “schooling” they have, are self-educated. You can’t trust the educators to educate you.

3. They were OUTRAGEOUS! Branson and his hot-air balloons, and now space flights. Thomas Edison announcing the light bulb long before he truly had produced one. Everybody on that list listened to sage advice from the gray people and called bullshit on it. Then they went on to create a better world.

4. They made their own rules. And then broke them.

5. They had grand failures, followed by grand successes.

I tell my clients at the Your Portable Empire University, and I’ll tell you- there ain’t no such thing as failure. It’s all data. To succeed BIG you may have to fail big. It’s just a stretch of highway- you may have to go by some bad road to get where you’re going.

The odds that we will be as successful as Thomas Edison or Richard Branson are small, already if we try… but if we don’t try, there’s no chance at all.

I’d rather fail big than live small, wouldn’t you? Especially knowing that “failing big” is just a stop on the way to “living large.”

And what was Sam’s “Rule #1?”

Here it is: “Break the rules.”

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