Big IdeasSelling

The magic of thinking big

By 05/23/2013August 12th, 20224 Comments


A few weeks ago I had dinner with an old friend at Charlie Palmer Steak at the Four Seasons in Las Vegas.

I hadn’t seen Frank in 25 years, and we caught up on a lot of stuff that’s happened in both our lives, good and bad.

You have to understand. When I first met Frank in 1986, I was a wide-eyed freshman at the University of Wisconsin – Madison. I didn’t have a clue about school, business, or life.

That summer, I had the opportunity to  work for The Southwestern Company out of Nashville, Tennessee. We sold educational books door-to-door, 80 hours a week, on straight commission, 780 miles from home in upstate New York.

Frank was the fearless leader of our group of about 25 students. He was a senior, and a rock star in my book. I think he made about $30,000 that summer, and a lot more the next two summers.

He taught me how to sell ideas, how to communicate one-on-one with people from all walks of life, and how to run my own small business.

More than anything, he taught me how to think big. That alone has served me well ever since.

3 quick takeaways and big ideas

1. Look for successful people

Not hard to do, right? They’re everywhere.

Problem is, in our society, success is almost looked at with derision. Get past society’s disdain for successful people, and seek them out.

2. Learn from successful people

Instead of envying them like a majority of people, study them. Figure out what they’ve done to get where they are, and follow their lead.

If you’re a copywriter, learn from people like Clayton Makepeace, Bob Bly, Don Mahoney, John Carlton, and Dan Kennedy.

Among many other things, one thing they all do – they’re always thinking big.

3. Aim to not only be like successful people, but eventually beat them

I admired Frank, studied everything he did, and learned from him, but I did  one thing wrong. I held him in such high regard that I never thought I could beat him (and I didn’t.)

These days, I admire those copywriters I just mentioned. I read everything I can get my hands on by them. And I try to put it all into action.

The only difference between the Steve Roller of 2013 and the Steve Roller of 1986? I actually believe that one day I’ll “beat” them.

That could mean many different things.

It could mean earning more lifetime income (because I’m planning to live a lot longer and write my entire life.)

It could mean writing more best-selling books, or putting on more big events, or impacting more copywriters through training and coaching.

The fact is, I believe I can do it.

I got that from Frank Monzo live and in person over the course of three summers. I also just dug it out from a dog-eared copy of his Advanced Sales notes dated January 20, 1987, where that word is listed in points number 2, 9, 10, and 13.

Thanks, Frank. I owe you one.



Steve Roller

Author Steve Roller

I'm a business coach, author, copywriter, world traveler (33 countries on five continents so far), and professional speaker. In addition to helping companies get more customers and make more money, I help other writers create profitable businesses. I offer one-on-one coaching, professional copy critiques, and live, in-person business-building workshops. When I'm not writing, coaching, or speaking, I enjoy nothing more than hanging out with my wife and four kids and planning my next adventure.

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Join the discussion 4 Comments

  • Jen says:

    Thanks Steve, in addition to thinking big, door to door sales seem to play a big role in the lives of many successful copywriters. Hmmm…

    • Steve Roller says:

      Thanks, Jen. I know Dan Kennedy says there’s no better training for copywriting than learning how to sell door-to-door. I think it’s because you become very empathetic, seeing things from the other person’s point of view. Also, the dialogue in a face-to-face sales presentation (a good one at least) is remarkably similar to the cadence and flow of good sales copy.

      That being said, I think it’s easier to learn copywriting than selling face-to-face.

  • Darnell McCray says:

    Good points Steve! I have some swipe files from Clayton Makepeace that I am hand-copying to burn them in my brain.

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