I’ll admit: I procrastinate big-time on making really important positive changes in my life…
Even though this is one thing I’m consistently trying to improve, I still feel like I’m not nearly as proactive as I’d like to be, doing what it takes to move my life forward.
In fact, it’s almost a happy accident that I ended up where I am today.
While I do believe that there were quite a few things I’ve done right, and quite a few things I absolutely should take credit for…
Some of the most important decisions in my life were almost FORCED on me!
I’m going to share that side of my story in a moment, because I think it will be a bit of helpful insight you can turn over in your mind this weekend.
Also, because it points to a concept I learned from hypnotist Mike Mandel, called threshold. I’ll share what this is, and why it’s really the key to knowing if you’re ready — really ready — to make the change you desire.
And finally, I’ll approach it from yet another angle. I’ll show you how to use the threshold concept in selling — both in marketing and one-to-one — to help you create more breakthroughs there.
How about it? It’s a tall order for a Friday afternoon when I have another deadline, too. But I’m up for it if you are…
My unintentional but unavoidable big leaps toward success…
Let’s rewind all the way back to 2004, the year I graduated college, and the year before I discovered copywriting.
At my graduation party, someone had asked me what I was going to do with my life, now that I was done with school. I turned to my girlfriend, and said I was probably going to follow her to wherever she got accepted into a Psychology Ph.D. program.
Shortly thereafter, we were on a road trip, and she turned to me. She basically threw down an ultimatum. She didn’t want me moving across the country with her unless we were in a bigger commitment. Like, married.
I don’t know if I had clarity before that, but in that moment, I had perfect clarity that this was my path.
This set a timeline ticking. If all went well, we had about a year before she’d be moving for graduate school. I had a year to kill here in Lincoln, NE, where we’ve since returned to. Then I had to be ready to do something in some other part of the country.
Well, in that year to kill, I got my customer service job at the local gas company, answering calls from customers who hadn’t paid their bills all winter. Who had their service shut off on the first warm day of spring, and who needed my ear to scream into.
Still not sure of what kind of work I’d get in Oregon, where we discovered we were heading, I found the book, The Well-Fed Writer. I discovered copywriting.
Amazon tells me I bought the first edition of that book on March 23, 2005. The clock was still ticking. Our wedding was scheduled for July 9th of that year. Approximately two weeks after our wedding, we were scheduled to pack up our lives in a moving truck, and head for Oregon.
I had about three months. I knew I didn’t want another call center job. I knew I didn’t want to work in customer service. I would have tolerated sales. But what I really wanted was to become a copywriter.
I knew I had zero experience at that point. I wanted income security, so going from zero to full-time freelancer didn’t appeal to me.
But I figured maybe I could get an entry-level marketing job, and develop my chops, prove myself, and establish momentum I could turn into a freelance copywriting business within a couple years.
And so I applied for marketing jobs with gusto. I only picked companies that sounded interesting to me. Entrepreneurial companies where it sounded like I could really get in the middle of things.
And believe it or not, some fool hired me! (Hi, Jeff, I hope you read this like most of my essays!)
I had hit threshold, and within about three months I went from having a degree in psychology and no marketing experience, to discovering copywriting and direct response marketing, to having a full-time marketing job waiting for me when I rolled into town in Eugene, Oregon.
Now, I’ll share what threshold is in a moment, but first, the story of me LEAVING that job.
Like I said, I had plans from the beginning to leave. Heck, my bosses even knew it very early on. I think I may have even told them in the interview. That I planned to do a kick-butt job for them, and create a huge success story I could then leverage when I left. They also knew my wife was in school, and at best they’d only keep me as long as we were in town for her to complete her Ph.D.
Well, my original intent was to work there for maybe just a couple years. But they made it hard to leave. Most days at work were a lot of fun. We had free AMAZING sushi all the time (seriously, I still miss Sushi Domo). We had poker nights at the office. We had nerf fights and stress ball wars. We worked hard, played hard. And we had a ton of success. The company tripled over the time I was there, and my income did about the same.
It was very hard to leave. But then 2010 was coming, and my wife was applying for internships back in the Midwest. We wanted to move closer to home — we’d just had our first son, and our intent was to make our way back to Lincoln.
So by late 2009, I decided it was time. That my big dream of becoming a freelance copywriter needed to happen now, because I wasn’t going to find nearly as good of an opportunity for internship year, and I didn’t know of any really cool place to work in Lincoln, either.
I went to AWAI’s Bootcamp in November 2009, and 3 months and 3 days later, I walked out of someone else’s office for the last time.
Looking back, I say there are unintentional but unavoidable big leaps (and there are more like them) because it wasn’t my dream that made them happen. It was outside circumstances dealing with my wife’s school that forced the move in both instances.
Who knows how long it would have taken me to make both moves, if it weren’t for that? Heck, I could still be working for that company in Oregon, or still working in the gas company call center (okay, no, not that!).
Which brings me to…
The threshold secret I learned from a world-famous hypnotist…
When I started studying from Mike Mandel, the world-famous hypnotist, he kept mentioning this idea of threshold. Mike works with a lot of people for various change work, but tries to minimize client time these days.
When he does client time, he really wants to make sure that he gets results. So he started trying to understand the difference between those people he gets results with, and the people he doesn’t.
He’s learned something interesting. Results aren’t necessarily about him or his methods. He’s using methods that have proven themselves to work. He’s used them successfully with thousands of people. And yet some people don’t get results.
So what’s the difference?
When someone is at threshold, they’re ready to make the change they’ve come to him for. As long as he doesn’t apply techniques that are totally ineffectual or counter-productive, he can help these people get the results they desire.
When they’re not yet at threshold, they’re not ready. And it doesn’t matter if he uses methods that have worked on thousands of people before them. It’s like there’s a big barrier that still exists between them and the outcome they want.
So, what’s threshold?
It actually has a really simple definition. You know you’re at threshold if these three things are true:
- Something has to change.
- It has to be me.
- And it has to be now!
A lot of us can look at our lives and think that something has to change. This is really common, but we do nothing about it, or make only nominal gestures toward creating the change we want.
It’s only when we take on personal responsibility for the change that we can really drive it forward. There’s the line from Spider Man that “With great power comes great responsibility.” Apparently Stan Lee, the creator of Spider Man, also personally likes to use the reverse, “With great responsibility comes great power.” It’s only insomuch as you’re willing to take responsibility for the change you desire that you can claim the power to make the change.
Finally, even if those other things are true, if you don’t feel that it’s urgent, you won’t do what you know you need to do to create change.
The two examples above from my life are great examples of where I hit threshold. In both cases, I knew I was moving so I needed a new job. I wanted it to be a good job. That meant something had to change. I knew nobody was just going to hand me a job in the places I was moving to, so I had to put myself in a position where I was creating my opportunities. And because I had deadlines tied to when we were moving across the country, I had a very limited time to make that change happen.
And so there was no question in my mind that I was ready for the change I desired — there was no question that I was at threshold.
How to apply the concept of threshold to make more sales and profits…
I’m reaching time to hit “send” so I’ll have to make this quick.
If a prospect isn’t at threshold, they’re probably not going to buy. Since we most often buy to solve a problem, I think this applies really well.
If you’re selling in person, you could actually use the threshold qualifiers as you’re asking consultative selling questions.
— “So, it sounds like you’ve reached a point where it’s clear you need to solve this problem. Can you tell me all the things that help you know that something has to change?”
— “If you don’t do something about this situation, is someone else going to make this problem magically go away for you? Is someone else going to take care of it, or does it have to be you?”
— “What about putting off this decision? We can always put off action, but what are the consequences and risks of you not taking action now?”
You might disqualify a few prospects if you ask these questions. It might become clear — to them and to you — that they’re not at threshold, so they’re not ready buyers. That’s okay. If they’re not, you can figure out what’s going to push them over the line. And if it makes sense for you to follow up to that point and even encourage it, you can close them later. Or, if it’s clear they’re nowhere near threshold, you’ll know your efforts are better spent finding prospects who are much closer.
In marketing, you can’t apply the same personalization, but I think it’s just as relevant. In fact, I have a plan to work this into a sales letter for a little side project I’m considering, in a personal-improvement area. I think it would be a perfect way to call the prospect to task, and make them self-identify as at threshold, and thus as a qualified prospect.
But I also think you can use this as a principle to help you with strategy.
If you know people will hit threshold at different times, how can you account for that in your campaign and follow-up strategy? What messaging can you put in place to show people that they are threshold, when that becomes true for them? How else does this apply?
I think this is a very powerful concept and understand of how big life-changing decisions can happen, and it has applications all over the place. In short, it’s a pretty big breakthrough!
Yours for bigger breakthroughs,