Ralph Zuranski: Hi, I’m on the phone with David Garfinkel. He is the best teacher of copywriting in the world today. How are you doing tonight, David?
David Garfinkel: I’m doing great, Ralph. How are you?
Ralph Zuranski: I really appreciate the opportunity to have you answer some of these Hero questions. You’ve been a real hero of mine for a long time. I’ve seen you at a lot of the different conferences that I’ve been to.
David Garfinkel: Thank you.
Ralph Zuranski: Probably one of the first questions that I wanted to ask you, what is your definition of heroism?
David Garfinkel: Okay, in my mind, a hero is someone who has faced challenges and exhibited great courage in the face of risks and danger. I tend to think of a hero as someone who acts courageously for a goal or a purpose that’s greater than him or herself.
Ralph Zuranski: Now, have you ever considered that there is a silent type of heroism – people that are sacrificing their lives. I know that in my situation, taking care of my mom and dad, I had no idea the degree of sacrifice that it would take and just how much strength it would take to follow through on my original statement that I was going to take care of them.
David Garfinkel: Absolutely. You know it’s funny. We have this image of heroes because we have such a media culture and a celebrity culture. We tend to think of heroes as the ones that are best known and who do these great dramatic things. I think those people are heroes, but I don’t think they are the only heroes.
David Garfinkel: I think that what you’re talking about fits my definition very well. I just saw a movie called “Hostage” with Bruce Willis. I don’t know if you’ve seen it.
Ralph Zuranski: Yeah, I’ve seen that one too.
David Garfinkel: I don’t know if any of our listeners have seen it. I was seeing it with a friend who talks about heroes all the time and in fact she is a hero of mine. She says things, like when you do her a favor, she’ll say, “Well, you’re a hero!”
David Garfinkel: But during the movie, there’s this scene with a young boy. He’s tied up and he uses broken glass. Do you remember that scene?
Ralph Zuranski: Yeah, I do.
David Garfinkel: And he cuts the ropes? My friend got all upset because the broken glass was not only cutting the ropes, but it was cutting his hand. Blood was spurting all over the place and she sort of grabbed my arm. But you know the thing is, he wasn’t doing this because he was stupid or just to save himself. He was also trying to save his sister. The bad guys were holding them hostage. I remember whispering to my friend, “That’s what a hero does.”
David Garfinkel: He was sacrificing his own comfort and his own safety to save himself and another person. That’s my definition. Of course, you don’t always literally get your hands bloody and often a hero is selfless to help more than one person. I mean what you are talking about with your own parents is a great example.
Ralph Zuranski: I’ve also seen in working with kids for many, many years is that kids really and truly do have the potential of heroism within themselves. A lot of times, they don’t even realize that they have that potential.
David Garfinkel: No, and maybe one reason is that it is not recognized and valued when it’s at a small personal level. But I do. I recognize it and value it and you certainly do. You see it.
Ralph Zuranski: Well you know, when we were young, I created a secret hero that helped me overcome all the problems that I had as a kid, being a 99 pound weakling. You know, big nose, big ears, horned-rimmed glasses. I just sort of hated who I was and I had this fictional hero in my own mind that kept on telling me that, “It’s going to be okay. You can do this.”
Did you ever create a hero in your own mind to help you through difficult situations?
David Garfinkel: I think it’s terrific that you did that. That’s really great. No. I never did. I’ll tell you a little bit about heroes in my own life though. I had some pictures of real heroes on my wall. This is after I was older. Thomas Edison and Albert Einstein are real heroes to me.
David Garfinkel: But they are living people. I know some are very famous and some are not that I can tell you about. There’s a guy named Bob Parsons. He founded a company named GoDaddy that makes it real easy to do a lot of things on the Internet. He’s a real hero of mine.
David Garfinkel: Steve Jobs is a hero of mine even though I’m not a Mac guy. You know? I don’t even like the attitude that a lot of people have about Macintoshes. But what Steve did makes him a hero in my mind.
David Garfinkel: Someone we both know – Armand Morin. What he’s done for Internet Marketers and Internet Marketing, he’s a hero of mine.
David Garfinkel: Mike Stewart, we both know him as well. He’s helped ordinary people do things with audio, with recording and with video on the Internet, especially in business that no one else has done. He’s a hero of mine.
David Garfinkel: I know a doctor named Dave Wienerawski; he’s a friend of mine. I’m a customer of his. He’s a client of mine and he’s an MD. He gave up his practice and this might not sound like a big deal to a lot of people, but you have to understand. His father was an MD and that was what “he was supposed to do”. He gave it up. He retired to dedicate his life to creating better nutritional health solutions for people.
All of those people are heroes.
Ralph Zuranski: What is your perspective on goodness, ethics, and moral behavior?
David Garfinkel: Well, that’s a great question. I think that there is such a thing as good and there is such a thing as evil. There’s no doubt in my mind, but an interesting twist on that is I’ve come to realize that almost all people consider themselves good even though other people may consider them evil.
David Garfinkel: For example, I was very interested in writing movies for a long time. I studied screen writing and I will never forget, there was a very famous teacher of screen writing named Robert McKee.
David Garfinkel: He said that almost all people believe themselves to be good. The example that he gave and this is what I’ve come to believe, as I’ve just stated it, he said that the people in the Mafia, the mobsters, they call themselves The Good People.
David Garfinkel: Because they believe they’re providing drugs, prostitution and all of these other things that the middle class and the other people want, they consider them hypocrites. They consider themselves good people because they’re not hypocrites.
I just think that everyone should know that. That doesn’t mean that I consider them good. David Garfinkel: Okay? I just wanted to state that. People have different points of view. What some people call the law of cause and effect, in the Bible there’s a saying, “As you sow, so shall you reap.”
David Garfinkel: From some area of India, there’s a concept of karma. It’s the same idea. I believe that if you do things that you consider evil, that evil will befall you. If you do things that are good, good things will come to you. Not right away and not always in ways that you would have expected.
David Garfinkel: I think in terms of being ethical, it’s a lot harder to be ethical in the short run. But because of the law of cause and effect, it’s much easier in the long run. I also believe, and for all of the kids that are listening to this, I really, really would like to say this.
The happiest people, the most wealthy people, the most successful people, either they started to or they eventually grew to have a long-term perspective on life. They do things for the long run.
Ralph Zuranski: It’s funny that you talk about people thinking themselves good. One of the first heroes that we interviewed was Gregory Allen Williams. He was one of the stars on Bay Watch. He was the cop, Sergeant Ellerby. He was a Shakespearean actor. He actually saved the life of an Asian man during the L.A. riots. He was able to get the guy out of the car while he was being beaten to death.
David Garfinkel: Really?
Ralph Zuranski: He was an Asian guy and Gregory Allen Williams is a black guy, so when the mob turned on him to kill him and finish off the Asian guy, there was a Mexican gentleman who stepped in to take the beating so he could get him to the neighbors so they could get him to the hospital. I still remember this one quote. He said, “There’s a little bit of good in the worst of us and a little bit of bad in the best of us.”
David Garfinkel: That is so true.
Ralph Zuranski: People want to be heroes when they step up and do something to help others.
David Garfinkel: That’s right. I agree with you. That’s a wonderful story.
Ralph Zuranski: Anybody could be a hero if they just did something good to help somebody else.
David Garfinkel: Yes.
Ralph Zuranski: You know everybody has had low points in their life. What was the lowest point in your life? How did you change your life path to win a victory over all obstacles?
David Garfinkel: Well, there are a couple of things that come to mind. One was when my father died when I was nineteen. I don’t have much to tell you about what I did. I don’t think I did anything particularly heroic. I just went on with my life.
David Garfinkel: I don’t know if I did anything heroic at the other low point. I think the very worst time was, oh gosh, twenty years later when I was around forty. I had been trying to build a business for eight years and I had been trying to do everything right. I had been doing many things wrong without knowing it.
David Garfinkel: I was broke and my business was crumbling. The IRS had frozen my bank account. There were a couple of things and I can’t remember a day when this happened, but I think that fairly rapidly I came to make a couple of changes.
David Garfinkel: One is I learned what I call the “Entrepreneurs Secret.” I will tell you this, I came to recognize later from an excellent coach named Dan Sullivan. He has something called “Strategic Coach”. It’s for Entrepreneurs.
David Garfinkel: The Entrepreneur’s Secret is very different from the entitlement mentality. I know that those are big words for a lot of people, but the entitlement mentality is, “The world owes me a living. Screw you. Give me what’s mine.”
David Garfinkel: The Entrepreneur’s Secret is that you have to create and deliver a massive amount of value before you can really expect anything in return. You have to step up first. So that’s one thing that changed things for me.
David Garfinkel: Another thing was when I switched my focus from being a narrative writer; I had been a professional writer as a journalist. I think that people who do that, they serve a very important function. I’m not saying that there’s anything wrong with it. But for me, what really changed my life, not only my financial fortune but also allowed me to do more things for more people, is I switched my focus from being that kind of writer who just told stories, to being a copywriter who also told stories, but told stories that helped people to improve their lives and help businesses to make more money.
David Garfinkel: My own belief is that when you can do that, you can tell a story that is going to have a positive effect on someone, rather than it’s internal like inspiration. Or external, like helping a person to make more money, that’s when you can really make a difference for them.
Ralph Zuranski: Was your dad a hero to you? I know that you mentioned that when you were nineteen, he died. Was he that type of person?
David Garfinkel: I looked up to him. I don’t know if I would call him a hero. I mean, I missed him terribly. I guess I would say no he wasn’t because I didn’t want to live the same kind of life that he had lived. I don’t mean, getting sick and dying, but no, I wouldn’t say he was a hero.
David Garfinkel: I respected him and I loved him, but I wouldn’t put him in the hero category.
Ralph Zuranski: Do you have a dream or vision that set your course of life?
David Garfinkel: Actually, I’m really glad that you just asked me that question, because I think I’m going to probably do an about face on my last answer about my dad. When I was about fifteen, this was about four years before my dad died, he was writing this book with his boss. My dad was a scientist. He was having such a hard time writing the book.
David Garfinkel: You know, writing has always come easily to me. Now I’m going to make a little distinction here, writing well never comes easy to me. Actually, just getting words down on the page, just writing, that’s always been easy. He was having the hardest, hardest time and I really wanted to help him. I wanted to help him so bad, Ralph.
David Garfinkel: I offered to and of course, it was nice of me to do that, but I didn’t know how I could help him. I didn’t understand anything about physics or what he writing about. I remember him looking at me and saying, “David, if you could do that, if you could help people to write more easily, that would be the most wonderful thing.”
David Garfinkel: I think that more than being a hero, he was an inspiration for my dream and my vision. I created the World Copywriting Institute and I have the vision of eradicating copywriting illiteracy in this world. What’s copywriting illiteracy? It doesn’t mean that you don’t know who to write. It doesn’t mean that you can’t read or write, which is what people normally think of as illiteracy.
David Garfinkel: What I call copywriting illiteracy is the inability to write words that prompt other people to do something – to take action. I would say that someone is copywriting illiterate even if they are a copywriter, or work for an ad agency or anything. If they can only write advertising that doesn’t work. It doesn’t inspire or motivate other people to take action, so this is a long-term goal – to eradicate copywriting illiteracy in the world.
David Garfinkel: This is the mission for the rest of my life.
Ralph Zuranski: Wow. That’s a great vision because part of the Heroes program is that once the kids learn to find their own hero within and then go and publicize local heroes, their job will be to write good copy, sales copy that will promote that person’s business in the local community so they can afford to do more good things in the community itself.
David Garfinkel: Once the kids get out of school, they become the ultimate copywriter resource for the local businesses. A lot of times local businesses can hire kids, but they can’t hire copywriters like yourself for $500 per hour.
David Garfinkel: Ralph, thank you. That is such a wonderful goal that you have for your program.
Ralph Zuranski: I guess that we’re both optimists and wanting to change the world in a specific way to make it a better place, starting off with the kids.
David Garfinkel: Yeah.
Ralph Zuranski: You are obviously an optimist.
David Garfinkel: I am an optimist, but I’m also a pragmatist. I know that things always work out best in the end if you stay the course, if you persevere. But I also know that we don’t always know, we usually don’t know what’s going to happen along the way.
Ralph Zuranski: Boy, isn’t that true?
David Garfinkel: Yeah. There’s a very controversial author name Robert Ringer. He wrote a book called Winning through Intimidation, Million Dollar Habits, Looking Out for Number One. A lot people think he’s all about selfishness. He’s really not in my opinion.
David Garfinkel: He has a really neat concept called “Positive Thinking with the Expectation of a Negative Result”. What he means by that is that, things are always going to work out, but they’re not always going out the way you expect them. You’re going to have a lot of false starts.
David Garfinkel: You’re going to have a lot of disappointments along the way. If you expect that, it’s not going to destroy you. It’s going to remind you that you are on your path and you just have to keep at it.
David Garfinkel: To use a baseball analogy, you have to swing a few times and you have to miss a few times before you get a hit. You can’t win all the time. I’ve gotten to the point in my life now, and I’m a big optimist. A lot of people can’t believe how optimistic I am, and yet I consider a project or even a day to be a success as long as I’ve won more than I’ve lost.
David Garfinkel: It doesn’t mean that I’m going to win everything. I’m just going to win more than I lose.
Ralph Zuranski: That’s a great concept. You look at the flip side and what everybody is expecting – instant gratification. You know, when people don’t get that instant gratification they sort of get embittered. They start saying, “No good deed goes unpunished.”
David Garfinkel: Well see, I love instant gratification. I do. Maybe that’s why I’m a copywriter because I understand that concept in others. If you can appeal to people’s sense of getting a real quick reward, you’re will work better. But I also have fifty years of life experience and I just have seen the way that things go for me and everyone else.
Ralph Zuranski: Do you think that it’s hard for people to change and that it takes a lot of courage to pursue new ideas?
David Garfinkel: Yeah, I think it is hard. I think for most people it is very hard and I think that I’ve been blessed in that I have that courage. It’s one of my greatest strengths. You know, courage by the way, doesn’t mean fearlessness in my mind. Courage means willingness to act in the face of fear.
David Garfinkel: I want to tell you, Ralph, I’ve also learned to hear and to listen to and to trust my intuition. That’s important with new ideas. I want to say something. The world does not accept new ideas. If you have new ideas, that’s going to be a lesson for most people.
David Garfinkel: You have to learn how to sell and you have to learn how to accept rejection. Especially when you know the idea is right and people all around you are just shaking their heads.
Ralph Zuranski: Yeah.
David Garfinkel: Or even violently arguing with you. You have to endure that. You have to endure temporary setbacks. The other thing is that you have to understand that not every new idea is a good idea. But if you believe in something with all your heart and soul and you can be open to feedback, you have to understand that most new ideas have the germ of a good idea in them. It may not be the way that you originally expected it.
David Garfinkel: Experience over time helps you a lot to improve your success ratio.
Ralph Zuranski: So do you feel that when you are pursuing your dreams, you are probably going to experience a lot of discomfort in that process?
David Garfinkel: Yeah, yeah. You have too. Let me tell you. It’s different than you might expect if you’ve never done it, because even when things are going good, even when you are winning, there are frustrations. It’s just the nature of life.
David Garfinkel: The other thing is when you are pursuing your dreams; you’re not the same person today that you were a week ago. If you are really pursuing your dreams, you start to grow. You start to become more than you were.
David Garfinkel: A funny thing happens when you start to grow. What happens is you become a different person in the same world. So, the world is reacting to you differently and you’re not going to quite believe all the things that are happening. You’re not going to be familiar with them. You’re going to be out of your comfort zone.
David Garfinkel: When you are out of your comfort zone, that’s the definition of discomfort, right?
Ralph Zuranski: Yeah.
David Garfinkel: But that’s not an issue for me. In fact, for these days I would say that it’s more uncomfortable to do nothing than to do something that’s a little uncomfortable.
Ralph Zuranski: I know that to attain your dreams, you have to believe that they can become reality. How long did it take it for your dream to become the greatest copywriter teacher to become reality?
David Garfinkel: It didn’t take that long. I think I first sort of owned that, claimed that, discovered that, asserted that, in the late 90’s. Here we are in 2005 and I would say that by 2001, 2002 I was there. Not everyone accepted it but no one ever said, “No David, I’m a better copywriting teacher than you. Here’s the proof.”
David Garfinkel: It didn’t take that long, but one thing is that there were a lot of other goals of dreams and goals that I had before that the seed of this, the essence of this. I was writing; I was first published when I was eight. I was a professional writer in my 20’s and I was doing seminars in the 80’s, teaching people to write, but not copywriting.
David Garfinkel: It took a while for me to see this particular dream. But whenever I’ve had a dream, not necessarily as big as this, they’ve always become reality. There are a couple of important things that I’ve learned about that.
David Garfinkel: One is that you can create an outcome of your dream, the end results. A lot of people, I think certainly me, I used to think that if I can be in charge of the outcome, I can be in charge of my path to get there. This is, “what is it going to look like”.
David Garfinkel: That part isn’t true. You don’t know what you’re going to go through. After all if you did then you would already be there, because, it’s an adventure to achieve a dream.
David Garfinkel: You have to become someone else. You’re the same person, but you have to become more of who you truly are. That’s an adventure and there are unknowns. Maybe nobody knows. Maybe you’re blazing a trail that’s never been blazed before.
David Garfinkel: The other thing is you’re not in control of the time table either. I know that a lot of people suggest that you set goals with specific dates on them. I do that. But I find that it doesn’t always work out that way.
David Garfinkel: Sometimes it takes longer and sometimes it happens a lot faster. Ultimately, we’re not in control. There’s something bigger than all of us. I would call it God. A lot of people call what’s in control God, other people have other names for it. I think it’s funny. It’s a delicate balance. You have to do your part. You have to give your all to try to control it but then you have to understand that there’s more to this than just you.
Ralph Zuranski: When you are pursuing your dreams and you’re striving to be the best that you possibly can, given the realization that you’re not going to get anything until you actually give everything that you can. You’re sort of prey to doubts and fears. I know that great people, like yourself, that along the pathway and when you are going through the difficult times in life that fear and doubt seems to rear its ugly head. How did you overcome that?
David Garfinkel: What I find is that I have a lot of doubts until I make a decision. Once I make a decision and I’m fully committed; I don’t have any doubts anymore. I really can’t explain this, because it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.
David Garfinkel: Doubts are not usually a problem for me. Fears are very real and I would be lying to you if I said that I didn’t have fears. I do. I’ve even learned that fear is for me, and I bet for other people too, disguise themselves as something else. I mean, I know what it is to be shaking with fear.
David Garfinkel: But I also know what it is to be very tired or to come up with all these excuses or to feel overwhelmed. I now believe that those are just fear in other clothing. I wouldn’t say that I’ve overcome them, Ralph; I would say that I’ve learned to live with it.
David Garfinkel: It’s about acting and I think faith is the answer for me. I’m not a religious person. I want to be very clear. I’m a spiritual person. I believe that there’s more to us than we can see or observe with our senses, but I don’t go to temple or church. I’m just sort of an independent person in that way. Yet it is faith. It’s faith in God and it’s faith in this process that helps me get there.
David Garfinkel: The other thing that I want to say is that I’m a creative person. You are too. You had an imaginary hero who helped you through some tough times, right?
Ralph Zuranski: He’s still with me.
David Garfinkel: Well, that’s good. Our imaginations can go in all different directions and for me; I’ve imagined some horrible things that were going to happen to me when I was afraid.
The worst things that I have ever feared have never once come to pass.
Ralph Zuranski: Do you feel that 90% of the things that we fear and worry about never become reality?
David Garfinkel: I don’t know if I would put a number on that. I think that if you worry about something long enough, it will become a reality. I think that whatever you focus on is what your life tends to become. But, I think that if you worry about something once and I think that a lot of worries go away when you take action toward a goal that’s meaningful to you.
Ralph Zuranski: Do you believe that fear of failure is probably the most crippling element in most people’s lives that keeps them from achieving the success that they desire.
David Garfinkel: That might be. Yeah, I don’t know if it’s the most, but I think that it’s probably lack of permission and lack of belief in the possibility. But fear of failure is right up there. There’s a wonderful book that I have that I read constantly. I read snippets from (I keep it in my bathroom). It’s called Failing Forward by John Maxwell. He documents in a very down-to-earth, understandable way how failure is part of the success process.
David Garfinkel: How you can’t succeed at something without going through failure. So, I think fear of failure is a big impediment towards people getting what they want.
Ralph Zuranski: Do you experience service to others as a source joy in your life?
David Garfinkel: Absolutely. Let me tell you a story. As you know and anyone listening to this interview can tell, I’m a talker. I’m a speaker. I talk a lot. One of the things the people like me do is we will find people who are good at transcribing stuff to transcribe it for us.
David Garfinkel: I have one friend; I just had breakfast with him the other day. I used to hire him to do transcription. I don’t that much anymore, but we’re still friends and he has other clients. We’ve gone different ways in our lives a lot, but he was telling me, five or ten years ago. He’s a very intelligent man. A friend of his ended up with breast cancer.
David Garfinkel: He wanted to raise some money for her. He remembered what he had learned from me. I hadn’t taken him on as a student, but he had just learned it from listening to my materials. He ended up writing a letter for her that raised $7,000.
Ralph Zuranski: Wow.
David Garfinkel: This guy is not a copywriter. I cannot tell you the joy that brought me. I hold very expensive seminars and I mentor people, it’s very expensive. There’s nothing that brings me more joy than when one of those people has a win or has a breakthrough.
David Garfinkel: But I also have a free newsletter and I have a free blog. I try to give away a lot of content. I have to make a living and for what I want to do, I need a lot of money. I’m not talking about changing one copywriter’s life; I’m talking about the whole world.
David Garfinkel: I also want to reach as many people as I can. I know that some people can’t afford it. There a lot of people that are not willing to pay what its worth, so they may not get the same value as those who are but they can get something. Often, I’ll send something in my newsletter and I’ll get e-mails back from people and they say, “David, what you just told me solved a problem that I’ve been wrestling with. Thank you so much.”
David Garfinkel: Ralph, that brings me more joy than when I get a big check and I put it in the bank – a lot more joy. I certainly like money and I certainly like help making other people make money, but it’s not my biggest joy in life.
Ralph Zuranski: How can people benefit from your newsletter and your blog? What are the URLs of those?
David Garfinkel: Oh, that’s easy. The newsletter is called the World Copywriter Newsletter and the URL for that is www.CopyNewsletter.com. The blog, I don’t have an easy to remember URL, so I’m just going to tell you the easiest way to get to the blog is for you to sign up for my newsletter, I’ll send you an e-mail afterwards automatically. Or the other way is just go to Google and type in “world copywriting blog” and you’ll get a lot of links to it.
David Garfinkel: There’s a more complicated way, but I don’t expect people to even get this. It’s www.World-Copywriting-Institute.com/blog. The easiest thing is type in copywriting blog. I think I’ve got the top search engine rankings with my blog.
Ralph Zuranski: That’s great. I know that I’ve been to a lot of the conferences taking photos of everybody and you seem to have a good sense of humor. How has that been able to help you in the face of serious problems?
David Garfinkel: I’m going to answer that in a couple ways, okay? Often when I’m under a lot of stress, I can tell I’m under a lot of stress because my sense of humor just goes. Boom. When things get really tense, my sense of humor just disappears. But on the other hand, I can’t say that I’m relaxed when things aren’t going so well.
David Garfinkel: Once I get over some crisis points, humor is what carries me through. It’s so important. Joking around with friends, listening to comedy that I think is funny, and those kinds of things. It’s what carried me through, Ralph. If I didn’t have that I don’t know if I could have made it this far.
Ralph Zuranski: I believe that’s true.
Who do you believe are the real heroes in our society today?
David Garfinkel: I think that anyone that is trying to make a difference in the lives of others is a hero.
Ralph Zuranski: I do too.
David Garfinkel: There all kinds of people who get recognition in the media and they’re famous. Those people are heroes. There’s no doubt about it, but I think that there are people in all walks of life.
David Garfinkel: I want to say something important that people need to realize. We look to others for signs of how we are doing, but a hero is not always recognized by everyone as a hero. Some heroes run up against tremendous opposition.
Ralph Zuranski: Boy. That’s true.
David Garfinkel: I also want to say that just because I think someone is not a hero, maybe someone is not a hero to me or I don’t like them, doesn’t mean that they’re not a hero. This is most obvious in politics or competition. You could have a quarterback for a team that you didn’t like and he could still be a hero.
David Garfinkel: Maybe you don’t think so. But maybe he’s helping his teammates out or he’s helping kids or a fundraising drive to wipe out a disease or something. The other thing is because we have this star-studded society, I’ve come to realize that in a very limited way, I’m sort of a celebrity. Not like a household name or anything, but in the particular world that we know about; the Internet Marketing seminars and the entrepreneur seminars.
David Garfinkel: You tend to see that people are always looking to see who the celebrities are. You know, we may be heroes. I understand that I’m a hero to people. I think that’s great.
I also want to say that ordinary people in life, a teacher in a school can be a hero. A coach can be a hero. A brother can be a hero to his little brother. A sister can be a hero to her brother or her sister. The guy who owns the corner store can be a hero. An executive in a business that you’ve never heard of can be a hero. An athlete can be a hero.
David Garfinkel: I would say that it’s anyone who is putting some time in their life, making some effort to make the world a better place. My mother is still alive, which I’m grateful for. I just talked to her today, in fact I mentioned before this call, her phone, she’s only taking calls. She can’t make calls out and she can’t use the Internet until Saturday when the phone company, Verizon, can get its little truck and go to her house and fix the phone.
David Garfinkel: She, at the age, I don’t know if I’m allowed to say her age, but she’s older than I am. I’m 51, so do the math. She goes the schools and she mentors kids that come in from other countries and who need help. That’s heroic.
Ralph Zuranski: Yeah, that’s the truth.
David Garfinkel: I’m so proud of her. She said that she wanted to listen to this interview. So there you go, Mom. I’m really proud of you. You’re my hero.
Ralph Zuranski: So you really think that heroes are really important in the lives of young people?
David Garfinkel: Absolutely. We tend to have this very ennobled, sophisticated, superior, advanced view of ourselves as people. We tend to see ourselves as this really advanced race of people – six or seven billion of us. But there is something that I’ve noticed as a teacher and that is that we learn by imitating. Monkey see, monkey do sort of thing.
David Garfinkel: It’s true. I don’t care if the person is a world class athlete, a genius, a leader, the head of a corporation. It doesn’t matter. People will look to other people for cues. That’s where leadership comes in. that’s where heroes come in. There’s a joke. Hopefully not your parents, but some parents say this and sometimes people say this. In life they say, “Do as I say, not as I do.”
David Garfinkel: That’s ironic but it’s also really backwards from the way life really works. I think that these days, all the negativity and all the confusion in our world, we need heroes more than ever. Kids really need heroes and positive role models. Just as an example of what to do.
Ralph Zuranski: I know what you mean. It’s so important and I think that you pretty much defined how people become heroes and helping other individuals. I see that you are making the world a better place through your copywriting college and helping people learn to transform their lives and the lives of others by helping people to write copy. It actually generates income.
David Garfinkel: Thank you, Ralph.
Ralph Zuranski: Let’s face it. That’s what makes the world go round.
David Garfinkel: Yeah, it’s not just money. There’s a guy named Zig Ziglar who trains people, who says, “Money isn’t everything, but it’s right up there with oxygen.”
Ralph Zuranski: That’s true. Life is better with it than without it.
David Garfinkel: It sure is.
Ralph Zuranski: What do think about the In Search of Heroes Program’s impact on the youth, parents and business people?
David Garfinkel: I think that it’s such a great idea and I know that you’ve had this idea for a while. Until you sent me these questions and I had a chance to think about them, I didn’t realize how important it is and why it’s important.
David Garfinkel: One of the most important things is that we don’t talk about heroes that much as a society in general. I know that there are programs, leadership things, organizations that do, but I mean as a society as a whole. To go out to schools and tell kids, “Hey, you don’t have to turn on the T.V. set or go to the movie theater, or open the newspaper to find heroes. You can find them right in your own back yard, in your own school, in your own community. You can find business people who are heroes.”
David Garfinkel: I think that is terrific. I also want to say that there is so much negativity these days. It’s almost cool to be cynical. Its been that way for a while in our society. It seems to run through the course of the fabric of everyday life. I think that you are doing something to offer an alternative to that, Ralph.
David Garfinkel: That’s great.
Ralph Zuranski: I was just listening to a tape today and they said that 80% of all the news that people hear on T.V. (most people watch T.V. about 30 hours per week) is about negative things. Things that people have no ability to have any impact on at all other than just creating fear in their lives.
David Garfinkel: I think that’s true. I also know that from a marketing point of view, somebody tried once to come up with a newspaper that only had good news and they couldn’t sell anything. So I think that we are oriented towards that. It’s a complex problem; nevertheless, we are looking for good news. We are looking for things to feel good about. We are looking for people to inspire us, people that we can identify with.
David Garfinkel: People that we can relate to and if you can help people focus on that – and you are. The fact that you are doing that is very positive, it’s very important.
Ralph Zuranski: What do you think are things that parents can do that will help their children realize that they too can be heroes and that they can make a positive impact on the lives of others?
David Garfinkel: The first thing I would say is that parents should encourage their kids to try things. Parents need to help kids understand about risk, because it’s important to take risks. But, it’s important to not take crazy risks. If you grew up with parents who were risk takers, you might have a better sense for that. If you didn’t, you may have to learn the hard way.
David Garfinkel: Ultimately the worst ‘hard way’ is to take such a big risk that you die. Then you don’t get to take any more.
Ralph Zuranski: That’s true.
David Garfinkel: You need to learn to answer the question, “What’s the worst thing that could happen?” If you can’t handle the worst thing that could happen, you need to take a smaller risk. I think parents need to encourage kids to take risks that they can handle.
David Garfinkel: There’s another thing. I think parents can demonstrate helping others by their own actions, not just by their own words. I don’t think parents need to be perfect nor can they.
David Garfinkel: There’s no perfect being walking around on this planet walking around in a body that I know of. Okay? But, just because you can’t be perfect doesn’t mean that you can’t be good. You can’t focus on what’s good inside you and I think that by demonstrating the activity of helping others with their own actions and not just their own words, I think parents can be very helpful and empowering their kids to realize that they can do the same thing.
David Garfinkel: I think that it’s also good; I’m not a parent so I’m talking a little out of my area of direct experience here. I still think to do activities together that celebrate acts of heroism and the hero point of view, people positive accomplishments, acts of service, by doing those kind of things together that’s probably the most important thing.
Ralph Zuranski: Yeah, I believe that’s true. As your final question, this is one of my favorite ones.
David Garfinkel: Uh, huh.
Ralph Zuranski: I was wondering what you thought of this. If you had three wishes for your life and the world that would come true instantly, what would they be?
Three wishes for your life and the world.
David Garfinkel: I don’t know. I think that the world is a classroom for everybody all the time but it’s a different classroom for each person. I think part of our path here is to learn. To learn the rules, the way things work. To learn who we are and what we are here to do. If what we’re here to do is to make the world a better place, then I think that it’s important to find a way to do that.
David Garfinkel: I’m not sure that everyone is here to do that. I don’t know.
Ralph Zuranski: It’s a tough question.
David Garfinkel: When I was a little kid, my mother tells me that my parents had a nickname for me. The nickname was ‘instant coffee’. Because I wanted stuff and I wanted it now! I didn’t even want to take the time to brew the coffee. Well, these days, I brew the coffee. It tastes better.
David Garfinkel: I think that one of God’s greatest gifts to us is the fact that things don’t always happen instantly, that there is a process and that we can learn. We can experience the joy of that and even that we can experience the pain of learning how not to do things so that we have a real reason not to do things the wrong way again.
Ralph Zuranski: So, sort of a learning experience then.
David Garfinkel: Yeah.
Ralph Zuranski: Like you can’t learn what you need to do until you failed doing it a number of times the wrong way.
David Garfinkel: I think so. One of the most valuable things in my life was studying screen writing even though my own life path has gone in a different direction. I remember one of my teachers, not the teacher but his wife. He was a wise man, but she was a lot wiser. I remember she told me that somebody said, “You can’t really learn anything until you’ve learned it and forgotten it seven times.”
David Garfinkel: It sounds silly. The way that we learn in school is that you are supposed to learn it once and get it right on the test. They don’t seem to think much about how much you are going to know it later.
David Garfinkel: But I think that it’s not only about failing and doing it wrong, it’s about repetition. I think one of the greatest movies anyone can watch is The Karate Kid.
David Garfinkel: Mr. Meogi going, “Wax on. Wax off.” He’s making the kid wax all of his cars so the kid is going nuts. Then when it comes time to fight, he realizes that through the repetition, he has learned to protect himself against the punch better than he ever would have thought.
David Garfinkel: Do you see? There’s a lot of value in doing things right over and over again too.
Ralph Zuranski: Do you think that’s the best way to ingrain it into a person’s mind so it becomes a reflexive action? They are ready for their moment of great glory because they have put in the practice, they put in the work, they put in the effort so that when the moment comes to experience great success, they’re ready.
David Garfinkel: Yeah. I think so. I think that you want to be open to failure, but you want to focus on success. I think that when you find something that works, and maybe this is a problem for a lot of people, especially creative, adventurous people. I’ve noticed this with businesses that I’ve worked with too, they found something that works and they get bored with it so they go out and try to find all of the things that don’t work, instead of sticking with what works.
David Garfinkel: You have to have a combination of both.
Ralph Zuranski: You feel that it’s important to have a balance in life, a balance of success, and a balance of failure.
David Garfinkel: I don’t think that you need to seek out anymore failure. I think that it will find you, but I think that you need to allow for failure and don’t see it as a bad thing. Just understand failure is one of the stepping stones in the path to your next success.
Ralph Zuranski: So rather than call it failure, you just think that it’s like Thomas Edison. He found a gazillion ways that the light bulb didn’t work rather then identifying it as a failure. It was just a way that it didn’t actually work.
David Garfinkel: I think that you’ve got to be careful. In Thomas Edison’s case that’s true. He was looking for the one way it was going to work and he found 10,000 ways that it didn’t. It’s okay to say failure and it’s okay to experience it. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off.
Most important, think about what happened. Think about what you learned from it. Try to not to make the same mistakes too often.
Ralph Zuranski: So do you think that even though we do fail, that doesn’t make us failures?
David Garfinkel: Absolutely. I think that is a great point. The biggest successes have had more failures than most people who consider themselves failures. A lot of people give up when they fail once and they think, “Oh, I’m a failure.”
David Garfinkel: No. you just experienced one failure on the path to success. It’s resilience. It’s bounce-back. It’s being able to say, “Okay, that didn’t work. I failed on that. No big deal. I’m not going to do that again. Let me try a different way.” Or, “Let me try to do it right.” Or, “Let me try to do it the way I was trying to do it, but let me get it right this time instead of getting it wrong.”
David Garfinkel: That’s Okay.
Ralph Zuranski: Do you think that it’s important just to say, “I’m never going to give up. I’m just going to keep on trying until I finally figured out the way it works”?
David Garfinkel: That’s been important for me and also I think you need to realize that sometimes, changing your plans, changing your course, course correction, adjustment, you have to be careful about that too. You can become so headstrong about a goal that’s not really the goal that you should be going after.
David Garfinkel: I think that you just need to be alert and aware. If you know that there is something you are supposed to do, if you really know in your heart that it’s something that is right for you – never give up. Keep at it. But be willing to try different ways. Be willing to be flexible. Be willing to be open to new information, feedback.
Ralph Zuranski: Do you think that is where the heroes in people’s lives come in handy in helping to guide them in the direction that is best for them.
David Garfinkel: I think of people like that are more like teachers, coaches and mentors. But, I think that a teacher, coach or a mentor can certainly be a hero.
Ralph Zuranski: Yeah, absolutely, because they can definitely take kids lives and get to know the kids and who they are. Then they help to direct them on a pathway that they don’t even know that would be the best. Just like your dad, you are becoming a great teacher of copywriters. That seed started back when you were fifteen and your dad gave you that.
David Garfinkel: I don’t know what he knew. I certainly didn’t know it at the time. I just thought, “Oh” and went off and did something else. The funny thing about that, Ralph, I didn’t even realize until a couple of years ago, I didn’t even remember that. It has just sort of been developing in my unconscious mind for a long time, that whole incident with my father.
Ralph Zuranski: That’s amazing. I really appreciate your time and coming on the phone for your “In Search of Heroes” interview. Is there one piece of wisdom that you would like to leave for the kids?
David Garfinkel: Yeah. It’s tough being a kid. It’s tough because sometimes you feel like you are an adult and all of these people are putting all of this pressure on you. You have all of these responsibilities, but you don’t have all of the privileges of being an adult.
David Garfinkel: You have all of these people telling you what to do and you get these conflicting signals. All I can say is stick with it. Every person listening to this, you have something that you came here to do. You may know what it is or you may not know what it is, but if you can stick around, keep your eyes open, be curious, be willing to try things, be willing to get help, and be willing to help others, you can have a life better and more fulfilling and more exciting and more important than you ever imagined.
Ralph Zuranski: That’s really great, David. I really appreciate your time and again thank you so much.
David Garfinkel: You’re welcome. Thanks, Ralph.
Ralph Zuranski: I hope to see you at the Big Seminar.
David Garfinkel: Yeah, I will see you there. This was fun.
Ralph Zuranski: Okay, you take care.
David Garfinkel: Bye.
David Garfinkel is President of Overnight Marketing in San Francisco. The firm specializes in Results-Driven Direct Marketing for Entrepreneurial Businesses, helping them get more sales back from the advertising they do. As a marketing consultant and master copywriter, David has worked with businesses in 81 different industries
He’s an established teacher of business writing skills with a long list of successful clients in the corporate, entrepreneurial and professional services arena. David’s Money-Making Copywriting Course is the only such course endorsed and recommended by the National Mail Order Association.
David’s clients include such well known companies as IBM, United Airlines, Pacific Bell, Time-Life Books and MCI. Today, most of David’s clients are smaller prosperous businesses that want to increase sales quickly, and sustain the increase at the lowest possible cost. David still works in many industries, but most of his clients are in the seminar, software and financial services businesses.
David is the co-author of Effective Sales Management and Guerrilla Marketing for the Imaging Industry. He is one of a small group of experts on Bank of America’s web site. In his early career, David was an award-winning business journalist. He completed his journalism career in 1985 as McGraw-Hill Magazines’ San Francisco Bureau Chief.
Today David is frequently sought out by the media for his expertise on marketing, and has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Fast Company, Home Office Computing and dozens of other newspapers, magazines and trade journals throughout the U.S.
“David Garfinkel is a treasury of inside secrets about direct response marketing. The information he presents flows directly from his mind to your bank account.”
– Jay Conrad Levinson, Author, Guerrilla Marketing