Sundays with Abraham

by Jason Gracia · 28 comments

1The first thing you have to know about my car: Her name is Blue Thunder.

Second: She has a tape deck.

Why a successful businessman would choose to drive an automobile riddled with ancient technology, my friends and family can’t quite figure out. But I can. She’s safe, she’s loyal, and she brings me back in time (more on that in a moment).

Last night I found myself sprinting toward Blue Thunder, trying to avoid the arctic blasts of Wisconsin’s winter wind. Nearly out of breath, I reached the driver’s side door, got inside, and with cat-like reflexes slid the key into the ignition and brought her roaring to life.

Before shifting into gear, before checking my mirrors, I did what I always do: I reached toward the tape deck, nudged forward the awaiting cassette, and sat back as the reliable machine scooped it up and filled the car with sound.

Welcome to another edition of PowerTalk. I think you’re going to especially enjoy this session…

It was an interview I’ve heard many times before. In fact, the first time I heard Tony Robbins plucking insights from the mind of marketing titan Jay Abraham, I was just a kid sitting next to his dad.

Sundays with Abraham

I’ll never forget those afternoons, the sights, the smells, the sounds. Every Sunday my dad and I would head to Kopp’s Frozen Custard, a small chain started 64 years ago. We’d get our food, walk back to the car, and just as I did last night, gently nudge the cassette into the tape deck.

I loved every minute of it.

We’d listen to Zig Ziglar’s timeless tales about succeeding in sales and in life, Michael Gerber’s thoughts on the entrepreneurial myths, and, of course, Jay Abraham.

His success amazed me even then, as a kid. One story in particular made my jaw drop…and food tumble out of my mouth…a story about growing a $300,000 company to $500,000,000 in 18 months. Can you imagine? (Just how he managed that is below.)

He had learned so much over the course of his life that his mind operated like a supercomputer, churning out ideas as powerful today as they were on those lazy Sundays. It’s the reason I still listen to that interview. It’s the reason I’ll listen to it for years to come.

But, I think, it’s more than that. I think I also play that tape, that original banged up and bruised tape, to bring me back to those Sundays when life was simple and all that mattered was sharing an afternoon with your dad.

A Story of Silver & Gold

Abraham was tasked with growing a company that sold precious metals and rare coins. Up to that point they had no marketing systems in place aside from haphazard recommendations in a small newsletter. Jay was about to shake things up.

  1. He completely reversed the marketing message from get-rich-quick to get-rich-slowly
  2. He carefully educated the market with balanced perspectives on the investment opportunity
  3. He put systems in place to follow up with people who didn’t initially invest, bringing in thousands of lost customers
  4. He formalized the newsletter endorsement, ensuring each new subscriber would immediately learn of the opportunity to invest in gold, silver, and rare coins as well as drafting a quarterly newsletter insert
  5. He replicated the systems and success of the newsletter campaigns with dozens of other industry periodicals
  6. He put in place a biannual mail campaign for newsletter subscribers
  7. He sent prospects $100 worth of research reports containing the history of precious metals and rare coins, interviews with experts, and arguments for and against investment (to be balanced)
  8. He sent prospects two silver dollars to give them a sense of the history, mystery, and allure of silver
  9. He purchased textbooks with chapters on precious metals from publishers to send to prospects, without obligation
  10. He convinced Intergold (now the World Gold Council) to underwrite two million 30-page brochures to send to prospects
  11. He created starter kits for gold and silver investment
  12. He put in place a full-scale direct mail campaign
  13. He took over operations of under-performing investment promotions from other companies and, through back-end sales, turned a profit

On and on the list went, brilliant strategy after brilliant strategy, all focused on one goal. And he achieved it…masterfully.

The $500,000,000 Lesson

The tale dazzled me as a kid; the lesson delights me as a coach.

The Internet has introduced a bug into the entrepreneurial system. The ease of getting online has fooled people into believing in the ease of growing a business. It’s not easy. It’s hard work. Very hard work.

Every day I read about someone who tried a thing or two to grow their business, only to conclude it didn’t work and it’s too hard (or, better yet, impossible). One or two? One or two?!?!

This is the $500,000,000 lesson.

To grow the company from something small to something colossal, Jay Abraham didn’t try one or two things;  he unloaded an arsenal of marketing mayhem. He thrust himself into the task and just…worked…hard.

If you want to succeed as an expert online, you have to do more than produce lonely content. You have to do more than a guest post or two. You have to do more than post a quote on Facebook. You have to do more than wish for better things to come.

  • You have to speak to your market–live–and truly understand their hopes and their struggles
  • You have to create uncommonly valuable content that makes a difference in the lives of your readers
  • You have to create products and offer services that deliver reliable, tangible results
  • You have to reach out to peers and colleagues, everywhere, and establish relationships that will benefit all involved
  • You have to spend a lifetime trying to master advertising and copywriting
  • You have to orchestrate guest posts and ad swaps and joint ventures and interviews and webinars
  • And on and on and on…

It’s cheaper than ever before. It’s more efficient than ever before. But growing your business still requires good ol’ head-down hustle.

Some people have what it takes. Many do not. The ease of entry has welcomed millions online that aren’t prepared for the difficult–though worthwhile–road ahead.

But something amazing happens when you’re willing to go above and beyond, willing to put in the time and effort and, like Abraham, thrust yourself into the task.

You succeed.

_____

Something a Little Different

The first draft of this post included a footer asking for your greatest business lessons. I changed my mind. I now want to know your fondest childhood memory. Take a second to share your story below and move one step closer to creating a connection with the community that supports you.

Comments

Jason Gracia

So, what’s your favorite childhood memory? It can relate to business, but it certainly doesn’t have to. Can’t wait to read your responses…

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Emily Chase Smith

My dad was an architect in the days before CAD. I remember the tree stamps used to make the blueprints come alive and his particular way of writing that he told me took an entire college semester to master.
I can smell the electric eraser and picture myself sitting at the high drafting tables. How proud I was that his business bore our name, Chase Associates, Inc. Thanks for this question Jason – it brought back great memories.

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Jason Gracia

Emily,

What a wonderful story. It’s crazy how, despite the time between today and our pasts, the feelings and senses never seem to dull. Thank you so much for sharing.

Jason

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Aviv Vana

So much to learn in one post, my G-d!
Looks like you learned well from the greats. :-)

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Jason Gracia

Jay Abraham is a wickedly gifted strategist, no doubt about it.

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Aviv Vana

Fondest memory:
Waking up while it was still dark to go to my Father’s bakery with him to open-up the shop and start baking.
I ended up sleeping on the baker’s table all the time (it was a mile long).

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Jason Gracia

Wow…that got to me. Didn’t expect that. I can see it. Thank you so much for sharing.

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Susan Cousineau

I grew up farming so my favourite childhood memories recall livestock and playing outside in the forest and streams on our farm. Two strong memories that give me a sense of dedication and perseverance when I want to complain about how tough things might seem…

I remember having to be up and out to the barn many nights during February and March to check on our ewes that were close to lambing. This meant getting up every few hours, sometimes hourly, when it was at its coldest (often below -30 deg C) to make sure babies arrived in the world and were dry, warm and eating as quickly as possible. Sometimes we fell back to sleep, missed an alarm, or decided it wasn’t so important: and often learned the hard way that not getting yourself out of bed can be the difference between life and death. Hard lessons for kids to learn but it was sure good practice on learning how to get yourself up and out of bed against your will!

I also remember getting up with my dad at 5 or 5:30 am while he was getting ready to go out to work in the bush. He often wouldn’t get home, exhausted, until 7 pm or later, so this might be the only time I’d really get to see him during the day. Something about the quiet of the kitchen, under the only light on in the world, and the bubbling of the coffee maker, gave me a feeling of closeness to him and an appreciation of his struggles to making a living and feed a family in a pretty tough world.

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Jason Gracia

Susan,

What incredible stories. And what an incredible work ethic. I love those stories, stories where you see character being built before you. Up early, work hard, strong results. Those are qualities that will serve you well for the rest of your life.

Jason

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Megan Pringle

This probably isn’t my favorite childhood memory, but after reading about you hanging with your dad makes me think of old memories with my dad.

The neighborhood I grew up in has a big hill in the middle of our cull-de-sac. I had been begging my dad to teach me how to ski all winter long and one day he decided we could give it a whirl on the hill. I didn’t have my own skis or boots, so I had to use my dad’s. We stuffed extra socks on the toes of the boots so they’d stay on well enough, but there wasn’t anything to do about the skis being so much taller than I was.

He helped me lug all the gear to the top of the hill and get all hooked in. I asked him what to do and he told me to just bend my knees a bit and aim straight ahead. As for stopping -he told me to just fall over when you get to the bottom. Sure thing, Pops!

I tipped forward and felt like I was going 100 miles per hour. I was at the bottom before I knew it and flopped into the biggest snow pile around. My dad ran up expecting me to be sobbing, but I was laughing so hard!! He plucked me out and pushed me back up the hill (apparently it would take too long to take the skis off and walk up?) and I repeated our drill over and over again.

I’d give skiing another go now, but probably would need to be taught how to stop properly. :)

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Jason Gracia

Megan,

You have a way with words. I can see you zooming down that hill and loving every minute of it. :)

Jason

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Estevan Montoya

Thanks for this inspiring article. I had to really think of this because I had an overall great childhood.

Of all that I remember from a child, the memory that stands out is, like you, of my father. In the 70’s – 80’s people were in love with martial arts. There was a switch to boxing as being the predominate fighting sport. While that was the case, my father rose to obtain a black belt. Eventually he became the world champion in the 115lbs weight class for the World Karate & Kickboxing Association (WKKA).

He achieved all this before I was born and started to wind down in his kickboxing career before I was 5.

But you gotta know my father. He has fight in him. Therefore, he went after one more title…the North America Muay Thai Championship.

To make a long story short, I watched him, from the front row seating, knock out his opponent in the second round. With pride and joy he brought me up to the ring and held me on his one shoulder, while holding a title belt over his other shoulder.

Even thinking of it now brings tears to my eyes as I think of how great a man my father is and how he included me in his greatest achievements.

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Estevan Montoya

PS. I was seven when this took place.

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Jason Gracia

Estevan,

Now that was an amazing story! A world champion??? That’s…amazing!

I’m so happy you have that moment locked in your mind. It’s right out of a movie, the victorious father hoisting his son onto his shoulder as the crowd cheers and the credits roll.

Thank you so very much for sharing this with us.

Jason

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Barrie Davenport

A memory that really stands out for me is small and simple — but many good memories are like that! On Christmas morning one year when I was about 7 or 8, my sister and I each got small red transistor radios with earphones. In a time well before computers, much less boom boxes or iPods, this little radio was sooooo cool. I remember lying in bed Christmas night next to my sister with both of us listening to the one hip radio station in Atlanta at the time, and Nancy Sinatra was singing “These Boots Were Made for Walkin'”. It was my first introduction to listening to music I liked instead of what my parents listened to, and that was so awesome!

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Jason Gracia

Barrie,

Another fantastic story. You are all so gifted at creating images in the minds of your readers. I can imagine you and your sister on Christmas night, brimming with joy over your brand new gifts, rocking the night away…

Jason

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Casey

Love this Jason. My fondest memory…Christmas Days on our farm in Zimbabwe celebrating with the extended family, playing garden darts and croquet on the lawn. We’re all scattered around the globe now:(

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Jason Gracia

Casey,

I’m sorry to hear that the family is now spread throughout the world, but happy you have these memories of Christmas. You’ll have them forever. I wonder if “garden darts” are the same thing as our “jarts.” I loved those! Too bad they were outlawed after someone realized kids tossing deadly lawn darts into the air was a slightly bad idea.

Jason

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Joy

I was raised in upstate NY…the land of rolling hills and forest and lakes. My dad was quite a chaotic man, and the energy in our home reflected that. However, on Sundays he would take hours long drives through the country-side – and he was always in such a magnificent mood for those drives that my siblings and I would race to the car to join him. There would consistently be a spot with a beautiful view and sunlight radiantly shining and he would say “This is God’s country – your backyard”.

So, two things. One: I spent five years living aboard a sailboat with my two young children. I taught them the ocean and neighboring hills were their backyard. They feel it, as I did. It gives us a sense of deep gratitude and also accountability for how we show up in world, and care for ‘our back yard’.

Two: We love road trips. To get in the car and drive, is still one of my greatest pleasures. I don’t have to know where I’m going and I don’t have to have “supplies”.

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Jason Gracia

Joy,

I don’t know where to begin. I’m with you on road trips and love to hop in the car whenever I get the chance (where I can listen to more cassettes!). And living aboard a sailboat for half a decade? Wow. Your children are so lucky to have that experience. And what a backyard…

Jason

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Greg Hickman

My fondest memory of being young was basiclaly the furthest I can think back to this point. I was 4 years old at Disney land. We had just gotten there and it was way past “bed time” at that age.

We were at a restaurant and I was super sleepy. Right as the waiter placed the dish of pasta in front of me, I passed out, face first into the dish. My parents left me there to sleep. :)

If I were to say when my life sort of came “online” as in, my earliest memory…it was about mid free fall into the dish of my pasta.

:)

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Jason Gracia

Greg,

You win.

I don’t think anyone else is going to top this slice of fondest memories as a kid. I hope your parents at least turned your head so you could breathe among the noodle and sauce.

Jason

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Stephen Lahey

From ages three to five, my family lived in NYC (Jackson Heights) while my dad was attending grad school. During that time, my grandfather would often read to me for hours from classic books. “The Jungle Book” was my favorite.

For years now I’ve been reading with my daughter. It’s a nice tradition that I hope she’ll always remember.

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Jason Gracia

Stephen,

What a wonderful tradition to maintain. It’s amazing, isn’t it, that something as simple as reading words on a page can stick with us for a lifetime? I hope your daughter continues that tradition with her own someday.

Jason

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Michelle Dale

Okay just talking shop for one sec before we go into my childhood memory. This post really resonated with me, particularly this part “He put systems in place to follow up with people who didn’t initially invest, bringing in thousands of lost customers “.

I’ve taken the plunge this week and for the first time since I started my business in 2005 I’ve got an actual ‘sales’ department together, starting this week, and the first task is to go through all our previous prospects and customers who were interested and didn’t buy and approach them to see if their circumstances (or minds!) have changed. I take this as a sign I’m on the right track.

Okay so childhood memory, sadly the first question would have been easier to answer… I used to spend a lot of time with my grandmother, best memories were the picnics in the summer she used to take me on, we’d take loads of food (this woman really knew how to cook) and play games all day, it was awesome :-)

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Jason Gracia

Michelle,

Nice! Two birds with one stone. :)

You are absolutely on the right track. For any number of reasons, people don’t buy the first time. Often, they won’t buy the fourth, fifth, or sixth time you contact them either (which is why blogs have become so vital to online business).

Reaching out to past prospects will, without a doubt, result in new business. I guarantee it.

Your fondest memory is precious. Summer picnics with grandma sounds perfect, especially as I look out my office window and see a frozen landscape of snow and ice.

Jason

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Scott Dinsmore

Fishing, hiking and exploring with my dad and looking for frogs in any pond we could find :).

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Jason Gracia

Makes me want to shut down the computers and take a stroll through the wilderness…

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