February 7, 2021

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss…

…Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it.   

This is from a poem called “If—“ by Rudyard Kipling…but it might as well have been titled “The Entrepreneur’s Credo.”  

It encompasses so much of what we work for, work on, and work towards, as business owners. And it applies to “intreprenuers” as well (which is not a word but a concept I’ve written about before). 

You can check out my take on “intrapreneurs” and “second rainmakers” at these two links. 

But today I want to break down this stanza of Kipling’s poem—not as a student of English Literature (although I could…I was an English Major in college as you might recall). 

Rather I will dissect it from the standpoint of being a lifelong student (and occasional mentor) of direct marketers, copywriters and other entrepreneurs/intrapreneurs. 

And I admit that I have taken some “poetic license” to prove my points…

(If you want to read the entire poem, I’ve copied and pasted it into the P.S.—it’s worth reading a few times—but I will focus my post today on the short piece of it above. But feel free to send me your commentary on any or all of it…either from the English Major perspective or the “real world” perspective…I am open to both.) 

Abundance over scarcity 

You must have this mindset to be a successful entrepreneur…and it has little to do with how much money you have in your bank account. 

It’s also at the root of Kipling’s poem. 

Your abundance resides in a different “bank account” called your relationship capital (which compounds exponentially, if you take very good care of it, and you don’t spend it frivolously). 

And it lasts forever whether you intend it to or not.  

Click here for more about “The compound interest from relationship capital”

Money is always about the past…but your relationships, resources and accumulated wisdom are assets that accompany you wherever you go in the future…and they are assets that are both portable and the most powerful you own.

When Kipling says you can risk all of your winnings and lose it on “one turn of pitch-and-toss” (which in entrepreneur-speak is “a spectacular idea that was only a spectacular idea at the time”), making back those winnings again (see “Getting back on the horse” below), while not crying in your soup for decades, is what will keep you on the right path.

I’m sure you might have other interpretations. I am reading between the lines a little here.

Getting back on the horse

What would you do if you lost everything and had to start over?

It depends how you define “lose everything.”

If you define it like many successful entrepreneurs define it (who have lost a lot of money or time on a failed project or business), you will realize you can never “lose everything” while you are still breathing.

To this breed of entrepreneur problems are seen as simply setbacks…which then become challenges to overcome.

And then with the right perspective and toolkit (that you have developed over time), problems, setbacks and challenges turn into new opportunities very quickly.

No real failures. No real losses.

You win or you learn (nod to my friend Susan Garrett).

What’s in your toolkit?

It’s what is in everyone’s toolkit.

It’s what you take from the past that’s worth taking (see above re: relationships, resources, wisdom)—and leave everything else dead and buried in the past (nod to my Strategic Coach, Dan Sullivan).

If you do this then the world is always your oyster.

Sharing your hero’s journey…or keep it to yourself?

The line in Kipling’s poem above that instructs us to, “…never breathe a word about our loss”

seems incongruent with most of the stories we hear from entrepreneurial (specifically marketing) personalities in our world.

Many wear their failures like a badge of honor, talk about them incessantly, and they want you to know all about their “loss” on a regular basis and what they have overcome to be who they are today.

It is not only a story they tell occasionally…they repeat it early and often, and use it as a tool in a very public way.

Not a bad thing…but it is a “thing.”

Some do it with complete sincerity to show what they had to endure to get where they are today–and that’s certainly one way to handle the ups and downs of a career.

But Kipling’s take is different…and I find it refreshing.

He seems to be calling out those who use their rags to riches (to rags to riches, to rags to riches, etc.) stories as a crutch rather than a useful tool to teach what they have learned from those bumps in the road.

Kipling’s take is not a “rule of thumb” in reference to talking about your sordid past (i.e. your losses) to prove yourself in the present (and future).

He simply offers a different way to look at it which is not only refreshing but also profound…and it forces you to go beyond the superficiality of your story, warts and all.

To “never breathe a word about your loss” doesn’t mean you hide it out of embarrassment (according to Kipling–or that’s how I read it).

I think he is saying to never speak of your loss because not complaining about the adversity you’ve endured shows strength of character and true humility.

My fear around sharing any hero’s journey when it is to prove to yourself that you can overcome anything, is that it can fall apart when you come against a “superior hero’s journey.”

That is, one that is a lot worse than yours by any standard and because it reached lower into the depths of despair,  it also resulted in something “better” than yours too (i.e. the superior journey came from less and achieved more).

The fear is that it could become a needless competition (if you allow for it).

It’s what I call the “I’ve overcome so much more than you” syndrome.

I can’t play because my journey is way too boring.

I often even feel inferior because I’ve never gone bankrupt or to jail (but it’s still early)!

But I can live with that for now. ☺

However it makes me think that when I write about my near death experience as part of my “loss” (bankruptcy or jail looks better than THAT), I feel guilty about it in light of Kipling’s notion that it’s a show of less strength of character and a lack of humility.

All I can say to that is…



P.S. Here is the complete Kipling poem, “If–“

I could have written about it some more (beyond the part I focused on)—but since I didn’t have an assignment to do that from an English Professor, I considered that optional…for me and for you. It’s still an “Entrepreneurs Credo” however:

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
    But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
    Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
    And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
    And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
    Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
    And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
    And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
    To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
    Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
    If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
    With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
    And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

Send me any thoughts you may have.

P.P.S. Does anyone in my online family NOT have a copy of Breakthrough Advertising?

How could that be?

Breakthrough Advertising is the most important book ever written about marketing, copywriting and in a larger context, human behavior.

The book has been on my mind lately for a number of reasons.

Thinking about…

  • …how I have launched a “Breakthrough Advertising Study Group” inside my Titans Xcelerator Mastermind—led by various members of the mastermind—and it has been mind-blowing. (If you want to get on the waiting list for Titans Xcelerator, click here.)
  • …that I just bought two URL’s: “BreakthroughAdvertsing.com” and “Breakthrough-Adverising.com”…having missed the boat years ago…and why I still don’t own briankurtz.com. I know…ouch! Briankurtz.com goes to “Brian Kurtz Productions” and the home page is beautiful home interiors. At least he’s no competition.
  • …that I own those two new “BA URL’s” now…however they are not “hooked up yet” so to buy the book you still need to go to www.BreakthroughAdvertisingBook.com …but not for long!
  • …that we just sold into our 50th different country for the book…which has enticed us to “infiltrate” further the countries with the most buyers outside the U.S. (with targeted ads): The United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and Germany. And note: It’s already translated into “U.K.,” “Canadian” and “Australian”—how convenient is that? ☺
  • …how Gene Schwartz’s wife Barbara, who I own the exclusive rights to this masterpiece with, can’t believe the appetite for Gene Schwartz’s timeless wisdom. She said:  “I knew he was smart…but 50 countries around the world smart?”
  • …how the book was written in 1966 and not one word of the manuscript in the “Titans Marketing edition” has been changed…and it’s  100% relevant today as it was when Gene penned it…but why wouldn’t it be? Human beings are still the same as they were in 1966, no?
  • …that this edition has a new afterword written by me…and a mini-swipe file of some of Gene’s classic ads…and if you don’t want to buy the book (which I would say is a bad move), you can click here and read the afterword.
  • …that if for some reason you have never heard of this book–or Gene Schwartz for that matter—click here to receive a history lesson and some interesting insights into the mind of this world class copywriter (and 20th Century Renaissance Man)–who I was lucky to call a friend and mentor.
  • …how my next evil plan for the book is to record an audio version. Coming soon to a P.S. in this blog/Sunday email in 2021.
  • And finally, the last reason why I had “Breakthrough Advertising On My Mind” (not a song sung by Willie Nelson but I love his version Always On My Mindsing it Willie!), was that I just placed an order for the 5th printing since getting the exclusive rights 6 years ago…so brand new hardcover copies will be available if you would like to order today. 

Since Breakthrough Advertising is on my mind for all the reasons above, and copies are in inventory ready to ship, what are you waiting for?

I want to get it on your mind…and more importantly, into your brain too.

You’ll thank me later. ☺

Order here:


About the author 

Brian Kurtz

  1. Breakthrough Advertising……Fantastic Book….The more I read it the more I am

    beginning to understand,Advertising…Copy…Human Behaviour. I am no master of writing copy,

    just an older newbie wanting to learn, marketing, advertising, copywriting and

    entrepeneurship. Some people say Breakthrough Advertising is a hard book to read/follow

    ..I say not even knowing masses of marketing, advertising, etc…its an exciting book

    to read/follow.

    Breakthrough student


    PS. I am reading through some of your blog archives…just read “I was there” blog
    and god knows why I was “welling up” near the end, anyway enough blathering,
    “Breakthrough Advertising” is the Biz.
    PPS. Bit more blather…”If” was a song by Telly Savalas

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