Two-Decades: A Reflection (André)

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This email is part of our email series for our Black Friday 2020 early adopter enrollment of The Durable Business (TDB) course. Enrollment will be open between Friday Nov 27 through midnight Monday Nov 30 PST.

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(Firstly: Oops, apparently our main link to enroll in yesterday's email was bad, it didn't work. Hand on heart, this wasn't intentional. Promise.)

I have a love/hate relationship with Black Friday…

It's not much fun when our inboxes look like the wreckage after a hurricane has swept through.

But I did pick up two sweet deals. It would have been rude not to.

Interestingly: neither was from a Black Friday email campaign.

First was a lifetime deal to Publitio, the image/audio/video hosting provider we've been using for about a year. I love it.

And a (second) pair of computer screen glasses from Felix Gray. I've had 20/20 vision all my life, now at 47, I've experienced some vision deterioration. So I decided to get 0.5 magnification lenses for when behind the computer. Sign of the times.

That was enough excitement for one Black Friday.


As promised, today is the first of two personal, reflective emails about what we wish we had known decades sooner.

I'm writing today, Shawn tomorrow.

I'm an introvert.

I'm happy in my own company.

To an extent.

When I started on this journey seventeen years ago, being alone on an unknown adventure that I HAD to make work was scarier than a Stephen King movie.

I didn't know much of anything.

I had zero experience and no expertise to talk of.

The first tiny little business I created was around a problem I had to solve myself. It didn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that other people like me would likely be dealing with this same issue.

I had figured out how to automate a specific process. So I figured if I documented my workflow in a (very) short PDF doc (made up mostly of screenshots), other people might pay to learn how to automate this.

So I shared the workflow freely within some groups I was already a contributor to, and the signal was clear: this was more than useful, and some of them would have paid to solve this problem.

Discovery done, I created the guide.

I sold the guide on eBay for $9.99, and just like that, I was in business.

Validation in the hole, I built a (butt) ugly one-page sales letter (which I had no ideas how to write) and sold the same guide for $34.77.

It was as if I was playing a computer game and had just completed Level 1 and defeated the first level boss.

My experience and expertise had just been upgraded from putting something (underwhelming) into the world that solved a real problem and got a result, albeit a small win.

But it was lonely work.

There were many dark moments.

I found solace in little private groups of people just like me trying to navigate the same scary journey, doing their best, but not having a clear map of where we were headed.

(People like us do things like this.)

I had started contributing to some online communities. Sharing the little I knew with others to help them level up their skill.

Lynn Terry ran a bustling forum back in 2003, and I spent a lot of time contributing there. It felt right. It was all free.

At some point, I felt that a paid community would draw out a higher concentration of like-minded people who would be motivated to help each other grow.

After all, we all wanted the same thing: to earn an independent living online so we would never have to plug back into the matrix.

So in early 2004, I partnered with Lynn Terry, who had become a dear friend (who I've still never met in person). We decided to create a paid community.

We called it Turning Ideas Into Dollars (TIID).

We charged $12.97/month…

I know; we obviously weren't doing it for the money…

But that little barrier to entry was just enough to attract some quality people into our fold, people whose names you would recognize today.

Lynn and I did monthly challenges…

These challenges were mostly around promoting affiliate offers. Lynn focused on organic traffic, her strength, and I did paid.

I was no copywriter, so I developed what I now call a presell page.

We would spin up a campaign together from these two perspectives, then share our work within the community…

(The idea was simple: here's what we created and why, now it's your turn, go, when you get stuck, let us know.)

I failed more often than I had successes, but this didn't derail my forward momentum. Failure seemed to accelerate my learning, which seemed weird at the time.

I shared everything I did, so did Lynn, and as a result, our fellowship grew, and we all leveled up together.

I met a friend in that community, Brent Hall…

I eventually canceled his billing because our collaboration was so valuable it felt wrong to charge him $12.97 each month.

We pushed each other. I helped him; he helped me. The collaboration was magical.

Brent introduced me to the work of Jay Abraham and his Strategy of Preeminence. That right there was a game-changer, which informed how I thought about and develop my presell pages, which later became presell sites.

(If you're an SOI customer, this is how it all started. Way back in 2004.)

Brent came to London, where we collaborated in person. That in-person connection elevated us both. It was different from just virtual.

In 2007 Brent released The Multiplier Method into the world. It was probably the best marketing course online at the time (and for years following).

He gave me the courage to do the same, so I released AutoResponder Madness two years later.

For those first six years of my journey, I had a simple strategy…

  1. Learn through DOING.
  2. SHARE that learning opening, FREELY, and often.

This started in online communities and later moved to a blog on, before blogging was even a thing.

Looking back on the Wayback Machine, I cringe at what I wrote. But at the time, within that context, that behavior pulled me forward.

Learning and sharing was my way of not being alone in a scary online world. I faced my internal demons, the darkness, and the loneliness, through community and collaboration.

The relationships and friends I forged transformed my progress, experience, and expertise, more than anything else I did.

It's no weird anomaly that the “world” I have created at the top of the iceberg on TLB is intentionally vast and free and deep.

Contribution has always been the mechanism that accelerated my learning more than anything else. Growing is done best within a collective and through collaboration.

1 is always 1.

That was my first realization early on.

But when 1 joins with another 1, emergence is NEVER 2. At the very least, it's 3.

But if two decades of experience is anything to go by, it's always (always!) an order of magnitude greater when that collaboration is with the right person.

That's when magic happens.

Shawn is now part of my journey, and I'm better for it, and by extension, so is everyone else. Because our 1 + 1 feels like 13 right now. But I can see it being 100 soon.

I'll recap the biggest takeaways I've learned in the past two decades:

  1. The best way to learn is to DO. Practice trumps theory.
  2. Avoid working is isolation (even when you're a ‘company of one'). Seek (the right) community, form a buddy group (a small mastermind; Zoom is your best friend here), but most importantly, find a single person where you can hold each other accountable. It will be a game-changer.
  3. Share your work, share your understanding, do it freely and often.

It's no mistake that the worldbuilding we do at TLB is free and deep and nuanced (and for those who pay attention, Easter egg laden).

We share to clarify our own understanding, our precision of thought, to learn in public. It pulls everyone forward.

There is a point #4 I also learned…

Just as that paid group of 2004 attracted a higher concentration of people committed to the journey ahead, not everything can (and should) be free.

It seems obvious when you hear yourself say it.

Free is a great strategy to pull the best people towards a cause that matters, lifting everyone…

… but free and paid are an iceberg.

Below the surface, where some people choose to pay to access and give their attention, is a whole new world. It's deeper, more nuanced, and denizens are different, more committed.

(People like us do things like this.)

This email has been like writing a private diary entry for the first time, and as such, it's unraveled to be a bit longer than I thought it would.

So I'll end with two thoughts:

Thought one:

Shawn and I — hand on heart — know that The Durable Business course will change lives. We plan to pour everything we have into it.

Whether you enroll in this first live cohort or the subsequent evergreen version that will be created from this, you're in for a treat.

If this resonates with you, join us on this journey live (the link works this time).

Thought two:

If it's helpful, we want to offer something we've never done before…

Find a collaboration or accountably partner who you feel would benefit from going on this journey WITH YOU…

Hey bud, I'm participating in this hare-brained scheme by two nutcases, André and Shawn, and they reckon they will show me how to go from nothing to $100K in revenue in 2021. Fancy coming on this journey with me?

If you can find someone who will be dumb enough to say yes, we want to extend some extra help…

AFTER you've enrolled, reply to this email, and I'll send you a link to get a second enrollment in TDB for half price ($197.5). This means if the two of you agreed to split the cost, you both pretty much get in less a hundred bucks each.

If that's helpful, we're happy to do that.

Hope that was sort of helpful and perhaps inspiring in a weird way.

If you're interested in enrolling in The Durable Business, you can do that here (scroll down to the red button).

The comments are buzzing with activity (almost a hundred). If you have a question or an insight, please let us know.

André (and Shawn)


Reminder: enrollment for The Durable Business will close at midnight PST Monday, Nov 30.

We do plan to release TDB again in 2021 but we do not know yet when that will happen. Q2 at the earliest is a reasonable guess.