July 3, 2017

I want to talk about an important topic today that might not seem directly related to direct marketing success; but like everything else, all roads lead to marketing in our crazy little world, right?

I believe that you can only do your best work (in marketing or anything else for that matter) if you are surrounded by the best of the best, people who lift you up and never let you get away with a simple “pass/fail” grading system.

The bar is always higher than you think…and it’s who you hang out with that matters.

It’s also important to figure out who not to hang out with…and I don’t just mean the friends who got you into all sorts of trouble in high school…

I was reminded this past week about this concept of “loving everyone because when I stop loving you, you own me” (which is a piece of wisdom from my friend and world renowned speaker, Sean Stephenson).

The reminder came as I saw Sean speak to over 5,000 high school students and couldn’t help thinking about Sean’s drive and fearlessness to rid the world of insecurity.

​And not long ago, Sean​ ​had a terrible accident​ (which was a near death experience ​for him)…and I will never forget what he told me as he began his road back to being 100% healthy:

“My recovery is accelerating and I’m coming back fearless!”

When I was visiting with Sean after his accident I recall talking about​ “The importance of loving everyone.”

We then got into a conversation about how it’s way more difficult to “write someone off” than to accept them with all of their wart​s.

Giving to others​​ “100-0” ​ (i.e. ​you ​never expect anything in return when ​you​ contribute to others) is still ​preferable​…but now that ​we have discussed this in previous posts in various ways, ​ I’ve been getting the question:

“What does it take, Brian, for you to finally give up on someone?”

I had to think long and hard about that one.

I came up with four things that seem to be consistent when I have written someone off…and I have to admit, we are talking about less than the amount of people I can count on both hands over 5​9 + ​year​s:​

1) They lie. ​I​t could have been something big or small, but it ​is​ usually bi​g.​

But I also remember people who​ lied to me​ and realized how hurtful that was…and when they came clean and we realized we could trust each other again, the relationship sometimes became stronger than ever.​

2) They are arrogant. ​ ​I wrote last week about the thin line between confidence and arrogance…but when someone completely loses sight of how little they ​are​ contributing…not simply to me but to the world​..​.​writing them off is so much easier.

And it’s a burden lifted.

​Yes…​there is ​often ​a fine line between “arrogance” and “confidence”​…and because I tend to give people the benefit of the doubt, I am unfortunately one of those people who usually makes the distinction later rather than earlier​ in a relationship.​

However, I believe that this is OK since there is no rush on this sort of thing…​life is long.

That is, giving up on people too soon is far less satisfying than giving them multiple chances to contribute to you and others in your life.

But knowing when to give up is still valuable too.

3) They are only “takers.” ​ ​Those who take and never give ​exhaust ​us. ​ ​

And this behavior usually comes with the ​arrogance in #2 above.

​Once we can recognize that we are dealing with a “taker,” we can ​get to a point where there is no longer any ​benefit or good feeling about being a 100-0 giver.

I highly recommend the book Give and Take by Adam Grant for help on how to be the right kind of “giver” and to recognize lifelong “takers” earlier and easier.​

And his other distinction in the giving and taking we do–the idea of “matching”–is important to understand as well.

Being able to give with no expectation of a return while still not feeling abused is one of the keys to being a giver of the highest order.

4) They are always the victim.​

My favorite quote on this one is one I have shared before and it has sat on my desk for over 20 years:

“The only consistent feature of all your dissatisfying relationships is you.”

It is so tiring​ to be around people who don’t take responsibility for their actions.​

And it is easier to stop hanging around with someone who is always blaming everyone else for all of their hardships, especially their conflicts with other people.​

​Enough about writing people off​.​

​Now let’s talk about​ it much more positively: ​H​ow to really love everyone…within reason​.​

​I’m guessing that ​the more ​you ​talk with the smartest ​(​​and most content) ​people in ​your​ life, ​the more you observe that a huge part of their core makeup can be summed up in one word:


Here’s the best prescription I know for staying positive, not falling into long term funks and not writing off people too quickly
–while being grateful all the time​ (following the prompts ​every morning ​from The ​Five Minute Journal):​

1) Write down three things you are grateful for
2) Write down three things that will make today great
3) Write down an affirmation or two:

​”​I am __________ & ____________​”​

And every evening, before going to bed, follow the advice of ​entrepreneur coach​ Dan Sullivan:

Write down your three wins for the day.

Not what you could have done better…not where you fell short…not what “almost happened”…but ​just “three wins” with no conditions.

Some of you may be saying that there are days when that is

​impossible, when ​​you just can’t find ​any​ wins.

I say you are not looking hard enough.

The story I like to tell ​about finding wins under difficult circumstances ​centers around my father-in-law who had a massive stroke in April of 201​3.

​B​y the time my wife and I arrived in Florida to see him, he was unconscious and he never regained consciousness before passing away a few days later.

During the three days he was in ​h​ospice…where I sat and watched him take his final breaths…I came up with three wins every one of those days.

I was incredibly sad…my father-in-law was a business mentor of mine and a wonderful, generous man…

​I loved him like a second Dad.

He ​really loved me to​o.

And while he passed away in front of me, it was still about “wins​.”

​T​he situations and stories I recalled while sitting there for three days ​were all about the wins he created for me and my family during his lifetime.

They included ​what it takes to be an amazing provider for ​your​ family, ​the attributes of ​a husband and father who​ always​ puts family first, ​lessons about being ​a tough but fair businessman​, ​and a willingness to let go of his precious daughter to the likes of me!

I figured if I could get w​ins on days​ like that, there are ​no​ days without wins.

Knowing I was writing this post today, here is what I wrote in my journal this morning:

I am grateful for:

1) Having a growing list of people who seem to open and read my stuff (thank you!)​
2) ​My amazing wife and kids who love me despite all of my flaws​
3) Being cancer free for ​9​ years as of ​next month!​

What would make today great?

1) You reading this
2) Connecting personally with at least a dozen new people ​over the next week​
3) Getting through ​a doubleheader calling hundreds of balls and strikes behind the plate (I umpire baseball) without incident and with total satisfaction

I am…

…a writer
…a serial direct marketer
…a contributor

Now you try…and if you start doing this every day yourself, that​ will be one of my wins before ​my head hits the pillow tonight.



About the author 

Brian Kurtz

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