Dean Kamen spent 10 years of life and $100,000,000 developing the Segway, a gyroscopically balanced transportation device.
Investors predicted it would crush golf carts, wipe out global warming, and render cars obsolete in big cities. It was hyped through the roof as some kind of “mystery transportation device” that would “revolutionize how we travel.”
They invested in factories to crank out 480,000 Segways per year to make way for what would surely be an explosive phenomenon.
Personally I too was excited at the time, thinking someone had at long last invented the hover board from one of my favorite movies, Back To The Future 2.
Imagine my complete disappointment when, in 2001, the Segway was released… to the thrill of no one. Consumers took one look at it and yawned. It was nothing more than a $3,000 glorified scooter… and one that made you look like a total dork at that.
Eight years later now in 2009, sales just passed 50,000… TOTAL. It’s target customers are fat mall cops.
(Since then, Dean has moved on, working to invent a water purifier that runs on bull shit… literally.)
I mention this catastrophic failure because it demonstrates in gory detail THE biggest money secret of all time.
…A secret so valuable that once you truly figure it out and put it to work, you will be envied… you will be hated… and men and women from all walks of life may even seek to murder you for it.
What is it? Simple:
Sell something people desperately WANT!
Not “need”… not “might want”… and definitely not “should want”…
…What’s that? Are you over there rolling your eyes at me, thinking “C’mon Greg, that’s obvious! Of course people have to want what you’re selling!”
Well, if that “secret” sounds obvious to you, then that means you’ve never tried to actually USE it to make any serious money.
Because every single success story I’ve ever read (including my own successes I’ve had with certain products) relied more on stumbling into the right combination of market, message, and product than it did on crafting some magical guaranteed potion of desire they thought would sell (or even more dangerous is something you want to sell simply because you love it.)
I’ll say that one word again, because it’s so important: STUMBLING.
Here’s the unvarnished truth you won’t hear from anyone who hasn’t actually fought tooth and nail with their own money in a marketplace trying to sell some widget:
EVERYBODY STUMBLES INTO THEIR SUCCESS.
Yup, it’s true. Everybody. It’s not planned. That’s exactly why:
- Drug companies spend billions on marketing trying to figure out which drugs will be a hit with buyers… BECAUSE THEY DON’T KNOW. With all the R&D that goes on and with all the years of experience they have in that industry, they still do almost as much guessing as I did back when I was still living with my parents trying to figure out how to make a buck.
- Google, with all it’s BILLIONS of READY CASH locked up in some vault somewhere, still can’t figure out how to make more money with something other than little classified ads. It’s true: literally 95% of their money comes from Adwords, which are nothing more than 120 character classified ads that get displayed when someone uses their search engine. Google has a ton of other projects going on including mapping the globe photographically, scanning in every book in existence, and reinventing Microsoft Office… plus their employees are encouraged to spend 20% of their working time on their own “pet projects” in hopes one of them will become the Next Big Thing. Why? BECAUSE GOOGLE DOESN’T HAVE A CLUE WHAT’S GOING TO MAKE MONEY!
- Untold thousands of marketers online and millions more of the Great Unwashed Masses herd and stumble around every day constantly in search of a gold mine they can leech onto and suck dry before someone else comes along to do the same. They buy $2,000 marketing courses, kits, and software and go to $10,000 seminars in hopes that ONE will contain the magic bean they can plant to grow their own money tree. It’s kinda funny because these products are almost always marketed at business owners who want to make more money from their existing business… yet who do you ACTUALLY see at the meetings and message boards? Desperate nomads in search of a drink of pure water amid the desert of dry bleakness that is their lives. The main person getting rich here is the seller of the course, software, or seminar – for he realizes that selling “make money” products is always a reliable gold mine to tap when you’re out of original ideas… but if he’s really honest with himself, even he stumbled into his success in one way or another.
- Joe Sugarman (whom I’ve met in person – wonderful guy with a wife who could melt butter from across a room), made good money with his electronics catalog company JS&A (in the 70′s, pre-Sharper Image) but didn’t actually become a billionaire until he was forced out of business and tried a new idea of selling sunglasses that block the blue spectrum of light, making it MUCH easier to see in bright sunlight… thus, BluBlockers were born and Joe made a killing on infomercials and later in stores. Oh and get this: Joe didn’t even invent BluBlockers – he stumbled into them by hearing about the concept from some other guy!
- Michael Dell started selling computers out of his college DORM ROOM. It was just something he was doing anyway that happened to blow up and get huge. Nowadays he’s a billionaire because of the #2 X factor below. He had the skills to succeed but still stumbled into his initial opportunity.
You can have the most awesome marketing system in the world, but you won’t sell a damn thing unless you’re offering people something they WANT. Marketing is your jet engine, but a product people want is your fuel.
Not only that, but not all markets are created equal. Your choice to sell one type of product or another will either make you rich or severely limit your income… even if you dominate the industry! For example, there’s a pre-set limit to your income if you decide to manufacture paper towels. Also, the maturity of the industry will determine how much you can make. Sure, diamonds are hugely profitable, but just go and try to compete with the De Beers family. Ha!
As for me, I stumbled into every major success I’ve ever had. Ever! The only difference between me and someone who’s broke are these 2 things:
1. I’ve stepped up to the plate to bat (and struck out) more times than any “normal” human being has the stomach for. Most… no, ALL the people I know would’ve just given up after a couple things didn’t work. Back when I sold insurance door to door, my boss told me that he’s seldom seen someone so impervious to failure as me. I could make 120 sales calls per day to complete strangers and had 4% of them on average let me come over to their house to talk insurance. Unheard of for a newbie. Still, I hated that gig and left after awhile because I didn’t really believe in the product and figured out it was a lot easier to make money with advertising than in-person phone calls and visits.
2. Once I have a hit ad/product combination, I have studied enough marketing and business to fully exploit the success for maximum return on investment. This one is really the “X factor” because even if someone has enough determination to keep punching at the jagged steel of opportunity with a bloody fist until it pays out, it still takes an unreal amount of knowledge and experience to extract maximum money from it before someone else comes along and screws up the whole thing (and they will – it’s not a question of IF but WHEN.)
I said earlier that success is never planned. That isn’t completely true. You can plan to have success with SOMETHING… but you can never plan to have success with a PARTICULAR thing.
Just ask Dean Kamen with the whole Segway disaster. His company of 200 employees owns over 500 patents in the U.S. and worldwide. Five hundred! So from his point of view, who cares if Segway didn’t work out? Even if his success rate is less than half of one percent, he can still get rich and afford to provide incomes to 200 families.
Thomas Edison was the same way. He cranked out thousands of inventions, yet most of us only remember his life for ONE thing: the lightbulb.
Think about that for a minute… your WHOLE LIFE spent sweating, testing, and trying… and in the end you’re remembered for one, maybe two successes if you’re lucky. The rest of your life is only of interest to specialists and nerds… or nerdy specialists.
This is how it works for EVERYBODY throughout all history. No one is immune. Not billionaires… not George Washington… not even fucking Einstein. (Washington lost far more battles than he won, and the only reason we even know about Einstein today is because a prominent physicist at the time just happened to see one of Einstein’s research papers and invited him up to his place out of curiosity to see what this whole “relativity thing” was. Einstein worked hard on his theories, but he stumbled into his fame and success.)
I would be the last person to dump on The Secret, but no matter what New Age Attraction Hippies say, getting rich and building a legacy ain’t easy. And that is the real reason why people will envy you, hate you, and maybe even want to kill you when you discover a gold mine that pays real dividends.
It’s HARD to keep going in the face of failure… and most people are lazy. Tap an oil well gusher and you better have a backhoe ready to dig it out and suck it dry because it won’t be long before the buzzards begin circling your exposed body.
That’s why Napoleon Hill said the major thing you need for success is a “definite major purpose” – because without that you will lack the drive needed to get back up and keep coming at ‘em, bloodied and beaten.
You almost have to want it more than living life itself. “It” means different things to all of us. If you don’t feel a kind of raging drive for what you’re after… if success were guaranteed and you wouldn’t drop everything to run off for it tomorrow with reckless abandon… it’s a sure sign you’re chasing the wrong thing for the wrong reasons.