Our industry lost two greats last week, Audri and Jim Lanford.
I met Audri and Jim in January of 2000 when they hosted (with Jay Abraham), the “Billion Dollar Internet Strategy Setting Summit and Custom Marketing Makeover Process” .
How’s that for an outrageous promise?
It was one of those events like “The Bencivenga 100” or “The Titans of Direct Response” (humble brag) that everyone remembers…not just because the content was amazing and that the speakers were best-in-class but also that it was held in January of 2000, only weeks after many had predicted the end of the world on January 1, 2000.
Well the world didn’t end at the start of the new millennium, this Internet thing did catch on (have you noticed?)…and Audri and Jim solidified their position in the marketing community as thought leaders, innovators and champions for a new era in direct marketing.
Because their death was so sudden…and totally random and unpredictable (and without going into the details it involved a gas leak which destroyed their house while they were home), I certainly want to share the most important lesson of life being so capricious…and that none of us knows if today will be our last…or if we will live for decades more…and that living for today is all that matters.
“Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, and today is a gift… that’s why they call it the present”
Despite being heartbroken by their loss, there are some additional lessons I would like to share from Audri and Jim since I have a feeling that most of you have never heard of them; but if you currently do any marketing online, you owe a debt of gratitude to them for paving the way for so many things you probably take for granted today.
My good friend Jeff Walker—also a good friend to Audri and Jim—shared a video tribute to them last weekend and talked about their “commitment to testing”—and if you think that is a new phenomenon online, it has always been a way of life for all marketers (yes, even before the Internet) and I never met anyone more “scientific” about how they thought about testing than Audri and Jim.
And not just testing lists…we’re talking concepts, new business ideas…everything.
I don’t know if they were into science and math at the deepest level but I always thought that if M.I.T. had a school of direct marketing, Audri and Jim would be the most decorated graduates.
(Jeff reminded me that Audri earned a PhD from Standford…not surprising)
They had a “professorial” way about them…but with more tenacity than any marketers I have ever met…a devastating combination of smarts and savvy.
They combined their voracious appetite for unrelenting testing to find the winner with a hunger to use only the best marketing resources and techniques they could find, and adding in a deep passion for everything they did—and the result was success after success from two of the most innovative human beings you will ever meet.
I love this marketing formula which I have written about in the past:
Audri and Jim simplified that formula and made it about so much more…and this is how they might have calculated things:
Relentless Testing + Best-in-classresources + Passion = Exponential Innovation
The two formulas are kissing cousins for sure…but when I think of Audri and Jim, I think way beyond “Direct Marketing Success” as the result of all they accomplished…they were pioneers who never stopped learning, never stopped teaching and therefore never stopped innovating.
It was no accident that they held a “Billion Dollar Internet Summit” only weeks after many predicted there would be no one alive on the planet let alone that we would be on the verge of the most exciting time in the history of the world to be a marketer.
One other big thing I learned from Audri and Jim–and why I want to honor them today—is that they gave me, and everyone they touched, the gift that I mentioned in the subject line.
It is imperative that no matter what stage we might be in our life at any point in time, figuring out your “non negotiables” (i.e. those things you will not do or engage in under any circumstances) is a critical exercise.
I know a lot of people who beat to their own drum, who are rugged individualists, and who love to go right when everyone else is going left.
Audri and Jim were certainly rebellious in that way; but I believe for them it was much more than just daring to be different…it was about “living life boldly and never compromising.”
I think in the dictionary next to the word “congruent,” you could see a picture of Audri and Jim.
Audri and Jim were always at the cutting edge in all they did and could have gone into hundreds of different businesses…but they were always about making the right choices FOR THEM; and they were all about never violating their “non-negotiables” when it came to life and business.
They did what they wanted and what felt right in terms of their values, skills and passions; and they lived where they wanted and interacted and surrounded themselves with people who were aligned with those values.
It’s a subtle thing since like so many intellectually gifted people we all know, Audri and Jim were somewhat private…but they spoke with their actions and their lives are a lesson in congruence for all of us who knew them…and now you know about them too.
How they designed their life together is worth emulating.
So yes, the big lesson for today is that tomorrow is promised to no one…and as Jeff said in his video and I will repeat here (however clichéd it might sound), hug your family, reach out to some friends to tell them you love them…and then just innovate in every aspect of your life…today.
Also, I encourage you to live life boldly and never compromise on your “non-negotiables” even in the face of mounting pressure to “settle” and do things that you know are inconsistent with your core beliefs.
I know that’s easy to say when life’s mounting pressures (like paying the mortgage or doing things out of necessity rather than within your passion) allow you to “negotiate” that it’s OK to settle.
But at least be self-aware when you are not living your life the way you really want to live it.
Therefore, when your house is paid off (micro example) or when you have the freedom to no longer compromise on your non-negotiables and not engage in things you swore you would not engage in (macro example), you can, in the spirit of today’s tribute, “be like Audri and Jim.”
P.S. Consistent with how Audri and Jim lived their lives, I want to share something special with you from my good friend Bill O’Hanlon.
Bill just created a free video series on “resetting your career”…and he has done it himself several times…and he’s doing it now in the music industry.
How Bill is running his life is 100% consistent with understanding his non-negotiables and living into his passion rather than taking a path of least resistance.
The fact that he has published dozens of books and had so much fame and fortune (i.e. Bill is a world famous author, a renowned therapist and a marketing/launch expert to boot) makes Bill the right messenger for this message.
Specifically, he is currently pursuing a new career that has no guarantee of equaling the “success” (note quotation marks) he has had in the past.
But the reality is that this new path will be more successful no matter what direction it goes…since it is exactly what he has always wanted to do.
He has made three free videos about how to make big changes in your life or career.
He’s calling it “Reset.”
He has personally made four major career transitions and as alluded to above, he has worked in the past as a therapist and coach, not surprisingly helping many others make big life transitions too.
In these videos he shares some useful lessons and strategies for how to know when it is time for a big life change and how to pull it off successfully.
At the end of the last video in the series, there is no course or big-ticket item or offer.
This is NOT an affiliate deal or a money maker for Bill or for me.
Instead, Bill simply asks if you have gotten at least $10 of value from the free series, please go to iTunes and download his album.
If you don’t typically download music, he asks that you just buy the single, “The Man I Could Be,” for 99 cents.
Becoming a songwriter is his latest “Reset” and he has not made the album available for streaming, since right now songwriters are getting a raw deal from Spotify and the other streaming services, making fractions of a penny for each stream, resulting in income of only hundreds of dollars even for songs that are streamed millions of times.
Bill’s goal is to get his album, “Being of Sound Mind,” to the top of the iTunes chart to get his music out there and capture the attention of music industry movers and shakers.
Again, there are no affiliate fees for me and the free content is based on Bill’s extensive experience in resetting careers for himself and others.
I thought it was a gift I could give to you to further honor my friends Audri and Jim Lanford.
I know you will find it helpful no matter what transitions you might be going through in your life and career.
And please share Bill’s wisdom where you can in your own tribe:
Go forth and multiply!