My Story

I hope you’re comfortably seated and have a refreshing beverage handy, this may take a while. laughing

Let’s start from the beginning…

I’ve been doing sales for as long as I can remember. I got my first taste of selling at my parents’ jewelry store on the Jersey Shore at the ripe age of 12 (and of course, I crushed it cool).

From that point on, I worked at pretty much all of my family’s other businesses. Those ranged from the jewelry stores, a beachside motel, to a restaurant and ultimately a T-shirt shop. In fact, I opened up my own T-shirt shop in Daytona Beach, Florida right after my 16th birthday.

Aside from a Navy stint, bartending in Florida and the Virgin Islands, and working the yacht charter circuit for a couple of seasons in the Caribbean and the Med, sales has always been my thing. Let’s just say that I’ve done pretty much every kind of sales gig there is.

Whether it was electronics, office equipment, or real estate, selling has always come naturally to me. It was in my blood, almost as much as my desire to be in business for myself.

Of course, the more of an entrepreneur that I became, the more I found myself wanting to master sales and marketing as well.

My first real foray into “online marketing” was in 1991 with my rapidly-growing travel company, Destiny Travel Group. We had offices in Orlando, Florida and St. Thomas, USVI.

To say that our fledgling agency was an “early adopter” of online marketing would be an understatement. Hell, DTG’s online activities even pre-dated what would come to be called the “World Wide Web”. 

Yep, we were doing it LONG before the all-you-can-eat internet days. I’m talking about the closed networks like: Compuserve, Prodigy, and AOL. Back in the time when internet access was metered by the hour and painfully slow via screechy 56k dial-up modems (trust me, I feel old just saying that! yell).

Anyway, despite the insane limitations in service and the technology of the era, we thrived. DTG managed to profitably market travel services and products on those ‘old-school’ networks.

But you know what else?

We pulled it off on a truly global scale. We had clients booking with us from all over the world!

Once the web emerged in the early/mid-’90s, I decided to get out of the travel business.  It was time to start an internet consultancy to help other small businesses get on the next HUGE wave of digital commerce and online presence.

The writing was on the wall. The nascent World Wide Web was where I needed to be. WorldMarket Services first unveiled itself in Gainesville, Florida in 1994.

Despite the now-cheesy startup cliche’, I ran it out of the 1-bedroom apartment that I shared with my then-wife. We moved ourselves (and the company) to Los Angeles in late 1996.

Within three short years, WMS grew from a two-person operation into a thriving company.

At our peak, we had eight inside employees and twice as many outside developers and admins.

Despite our relatively small size, we had managed to build an enviable international clientele. I like to think that my sales and marketing chops had something to do with that. laughing

We also built our own in-house state-of-the-art data center from scratch in our Downtown LA office. This was unheard of for such a small shop to be able to pull off during those insane “dot-com-boom” days.

Within a few short years, WMS evolved from a tiny web consultancy to a full-service managed hosting and web development firm.

WMS was acquired by a larger company in 2001. They basically wanted our rock-solid clientele and gave me an offer that I couldn’t refuse. After well over seven years of working my head off to build the company, it was time to move on and even enjoy the fruits of my hard labor a bit.

After that, I co-managed another hosting company with a development partner based in Vancouver. I also ran their LA data center until they ultimately bought me out, about a year later.

Over the next couple of years, I found myself running a lucrative liquidation business that I accidentally stumbled into.

We specialized in selling off all the computers, servers, and networking hardware that were flooding the market. That was happening due to all of the “dot-coms” melting down during the post-2001 bust period.

Interestingly, many of them were my competitors just a few years before.

And yes, I found that whole chapter to be sweetly ironic, if I do say so myself. wink

So what did all of these successful ventures have in common?…

I wrote every word of copy that we ever used to sell our services and products.

From the online classified ads that I posted on the trade mags, nets, forums and bulletin boards, to the copy on our websites, all the way to the tri-fold brochures that we gave out at trade shows.

I wrote… everything.

Looking back, it’s fair to say that a huge part of our success was my ability to write winning, concise, and persuasive copy.

I’m just glad that I realized that I had a knack for it early on, because it definitely made a difference. 

See, it quickly became clear to me that people responded positively to the copy I wrote.

They would receive the sales message and best of all… take action!

Oddly enough, I didn’t think all that much about it back then. At first, I attributed imost of my success to my proven sales abilities. In any case, I was just glad that I was able to leverage this uncanny skill in such a tangible and beneficial way.

Over time, I committed myself to learning more about copywriting. I was committed to get even better at it. I read all of the “bibles” by Ogilvy, Halbert, Kennedy, Bly, among others. I also learned how to effectively test my copy to keep getting better and better results.

To cut to the chase… it was my copy that ultimately did much of the heavy lifting for our tiny sales team.

It gave our small shop a distinct advantage that allowed us to compete with the bigger guys.

Better yet, we were able to do it without the insane venture capital, churn/burn money, and massive marketing budgets that they had!

At the peak of the “dot-com-boom”, it was clear that we were doing something right. The competition was struggling to stay out of the red.

They were shelling out big bucks for copywriters, marketing firms, consultants, sales presentations, ad buys, and marketing materials.

Yet despite all of that big spending, they got iffy results at best.

And boy, did I ever hear about it!

All they would do is complain endlessly about struggling to increase sales at industry conferences, trade shows and meetups. They’d go on and on about how much capital they were burning on stuff that just plain didn’t work.

Then there was us. And when it came to our company’s marketing department, we were essentially a one-man band… guess who!

Yet, whatever I was doing right, made all the difference. I just kept on delivering results.

It kept us growing regardless of the fact that the rest of the market was struggling. Clearly my copywriting and optimized marketing strategies gave us an edge in a highly-competitive marketplace.

Look, it’s almost ridiculous when you think about it…

Here we were, an insanely lean and mean operation working out of an 800 square foot office on 6th and Spring in Downtown LA. Nonetheless, we were able to not only hold our own against the bigger guys, we beat them much of the time.

And yes I must admit, that was pretty gratifying. cool

Eventually, some of my longtime web clients started asking me for help with their site copy and even their marketing. They too were getting frustrated at burning money on consultants and copywriters who weren’t delivering results.

They liked the way that I wrote copy for our stuff, so they figured that I can help them too.

Keep in mind that I was a stressed-out CEO/network admin/project manager of an insanely busy, usually-understaffed web shop and data center during this time. Yet for some reason, I was crazy enough to take on most of the project offers that they threw at me.

Et voila!

I wrote winning copy for them as well, at least for the most part. Things got to the point where they would keep hiring me even long after they weren’t my web clients anymore (since I sold the company). They just couldn’t let go.

Fast forward an eventful six years or so…

I find myself at the bittersweet end of what can only be called an adventure-packed “temporary retirement” phase.

Which oddly enough, involved getting divorced while cruising the Western Caribbean aboard my 50′ sloop.

During hurricane season in the first few years, I’d park my boat up the Rio Dulce in Guatemala and go off to do other things. Those adventures included overland travel, family/friends visits back stateside, hanging around Europe with friends, writing, and even getting some poker in at some of my favorite tables. And yeah, I would occasionally pick up a consulting gig that was just too good to say no to.

Needless to say, life was definitely good.

As time passed, I decided that I should probably get back to working more while gradually weaning myself off of the cruising/globetrotting life.

And not only because the 2008 crash put a noticeable dent in my hard-earned retirement nest-egg! yell

(Side note: As much as I love boats, it’s absolutely true what they say about them being bottomless money pits.)

I eventually hired captains and staff to keep my beloved Andiamo working her trips off the Caribbean coast of Panama in the San Blas Islands.

She needed to earn her keep while I found myself taking on more consulting projects abroad. It was a good way to keep my finances somewhat intact, without having to go back to my old life in LA.

As you may have guessed, I wrote all the copy for the sailing business as well. It too turned out to be quite successful. Our success was a surprise to pretty much everyone who knows anything about Panama’s volatile if not fragile tourism market.

Especially when you consider that the venture thrived in what can only be called the “quasi-lawless” business climate in Central America. Oh, I got some stories about that (wait for the book 😉 )!

See, this part of the world had a highly unpredictable tourism market at the time. I should also mention that this part of Panama was blessed with an insanely fragile infrastructure. 

Sure, many other captains tried to duplicate our success, only to fail in spectacular fashion.

By the time I took on an investing partner then ultimately sold off Andiamo to close yet another chapter and free myself a bit again, I’d reached a conclusion:

Copywriting was the one thing that I really wanted to keep doing.

There was simply no denying the fact that it’s what I do best, and why I’ve been able to succeed in most of my business ventures.

I had to resist all of the enticing and even lucrative opportunities on my radar, including the IT consulting work that I seemed to keep getting.

All I really wanted to do was keep writing winning copy and creating value for others. I wanted to help OTHER businesses and companies succeed. 

See, copywriting is not only in my blood. It’s in my psyche.

I’m always studying it. I’m always analyzing what works and doesn’t work. I’m always looking for ways to get better at it.

It’s the only thing in my life that has ever come somewhat naturally to me.

Other than perhaps… my masterful air-drumming, killing Doors songs in karaoke, and poker wink.

I attribute my uncanny ability to write winning copy to two things that I’m most passionate about… selling and writing.

Want to hear something crazy?

Writing copy almost never feels like “work” to me. 

Another thing that I love about copywriting is that it can be applied in so many different ways. It allows businesses to benefit from it on SO many different levels!

I also love the fact that I can do it wherever I happen to be. And rest assured, that I most certainly exploit that benefit to its fullest.

See, I’ve been a “digital nomad” long before it became something that millennials think they invented laughing. And for what it’s worth, I actually prefer the term “location-independent”.

Let’s just say that I travel extensively. I’ve been to (and lived in) well over 60 countries in just the last decade alone. Other than cruising my own boat, my dream has always been to be a global citizen. And I wasn’t going to wait until I was “retirement age” to do it.

When people ask me where I’m from, I tell them… “Earth”. And yes, there are MANY places in this world where I can easily feel at home.

No matter where I am, I always see a clear need for quality copywriting and marketing know-how that’s backed by proven experience.

It’s the stuff that seriously increases the chances of success. I for one am committed to making myself accessible to ANY business, regardless of the budget they have to work with. It’s one of the reasons why I still offer a relatively low-cost rewriting service despite my relative success.

I’m a big proponent of paying it forward any way I can. I continue to walk the walk.

Here’s a hard cold fact… 

For virtually any business operating today, a productive online presence is no longer an option, it’s downright critical to survival.

I am talking about the difference between success and failure. In my experience, the vast majority of companies and websites simply do it wrong and it costs them dearly.

My goal is to help at least some of them get it right. How? By producing quality work and giving solid advice.

I want others to benefit from my three-plus decades of hard-earned real-world sales, marketing and copywriting experience.

Understand that everything I know about business, sales, marketing, and technology comes from decades in the trenches and “hard knock school” (sheepskin not included).

I consider helping ANY business, regardless of how small in this ever-changing digital world to be a worthy challenge and a noble cause.

Why?

Because since I’ve made it through both the boom and bust times and have had my own dreams come true, I came to a realization…

It’s my mission to keep paying it forward.

And what better way to do that than by helping other business owners, entrepreneurs and professionals reach their own goals?…

…By helping them realize their own dreams?

Lofty? Perhaps.

But then again, aren’t dreams supposed to be? 🙂

Thanks for reading, I hope that it was worth your while.

I look forward to helping you!