As this is published, my guru and mentor Dan Kennedy is in hospice care. Here I am sharing some loving memories of Dan Kennedy at my dinner during No BS Super Conference 2019.
I learned a lot from him. I attached myself to him like ‘Velcro’.I studied him HARD. Over 350 mind maps, over 7500 bullet points. Three bookshelves full of binders and hundreds of hours of live, in person learning! I typed everything I heard and saw. I memorized during class, I analyzed and re-synthesized at night. I crafted an implementation plan for everything he taught me. For every hour I was with him, I invested ten more hours to research, analyze and build systems around what he taught me.
I will be sharing some of my favorite ‘Dan lessons’ as I think of him and pray for his healthy return and what insights I learned and put into action. Below is a reprint of a great article he shared about quitting:
My father told me that the reason doctors whack babies on the ass immediately after they are born is to communicate a fundamental truth they need to know to survive: outside the womb, life is tough. (Do doctors still do this? I don’t know. I’d guess not; today, it’d be viewed as infant abuse and threatening to the tiny soul’s fragile self-esteem, like, say, playing dodge ball and keeping score a bit later in life. But in 1954, the year of my birth, the Doc at Deaconess Hospital in Cleveland, Ohio delivered that whack 😊
Everybody is presented with countless opportunities to quit. We stumble into places far more hostile than we anticipated – my daughter’s full term in the Peace Corps, in some godforsaken jungle with rats on her tin roof, peeing through gaps, that leads to mind. We sign on for things that quickly seem more challenging and difficult than we’d hoped for – maybe putting to use what Parthiv provides to you; maybe putting together furniture from IKEA. We walk into dark alleys, perhaps stupidly or ignorantly or arrogantly, figuratively of course, and then get the crap beaten out of us, literally, and limp home, humiliated. The list of celebrated, influential and rich entrepreneurs with at least one embarrassing bankruptcy or very close call, past and contemporary, is long, long indeed. I myself, am on the list, and in very fine company. And if the doc’s message is true, that life is tough, life for those who claw their way to the peak of the business success and money pyramids is even tougher.
Entrepreneurship is all about managing a never-ending in-flow of crap, and diligently looking for the pony occasionally in it; about converting adversity to opportunity when you can, and not being overly troubled when you can’t. And, of course, not quitting.
Quitters are very uninteresting. What’s interesting and instructive is those who are unabashed, who are quickly resilient, who achieve redemption, who have a greater and grander next act. Over the long haul, this ‘resiliency’ may be the single most important of all personal characteristics.
How well can you take a punch? How quickly can you recover? How can weather storms of criticism or humiliation? How adept are you at reinvention? How courageously and creatively do you respond to difficulty? If you want to cultivate a characteristic, this is the one.
One way to do it is with little stuff. The day to day. A lot of people are easily derailed. Easily put into a funk lasting hours or even days. Easily compromise their agenda. The breeze from a missed punch is sufficient to send them to the canvas. They wonder why they don’t get more accomplished. It’s “their glass jaw.” At least be honest whenever you quit – especially if your reason is “gee, where’s the Easy Button, anyway? Don’t see it here. I’ll go look over there.” That kind of quitting isn’t about the place you walked into, the activity you started, the toolbox you opened up, the learning curve and time required. It’s about YOU.
In my book “Business Kamasutra” I write about how businesses are born very much like human babies. Unfortunately the infant mortality rate is very high in this segment. Most small businesses fail. The tragedy is that most failures are avoidable. As Dan says they need a whack on the ass – sooner rather than later. I wish more people would let Dan whack them on the ass. They really need it. His direct response and magnetic marketing principles transformed me from being a freelance tech consultant into a well known marketing agency. Any student would feel lucky to get one millionth of the amount of love I got from Dan.
I have a library of ‘everything Dan’ and I’m more than happy to share everything I have, everything I know, everything I’ve learned from this brilliant man. Just reach out and grab a time on my calendar.
Was Dan Kennedy impactful in your life? I’d love to hear your story. Leave a comment below.