My Story

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

Let’s start at 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 yes, I crushed it cool).

I actually worked at all of our family businesses, which ranged from jewelry stores to a restaurant and ultimately a t-shirt shop. I ultimately set up my own T-shirt shop in Daytona Beach, Florida when I was 17.

Aside from a Navy stint, bartending in Florida and the Caribbean, and working the yacht charter circuit for a couple of seasons, 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 been in my blood. Almost as much as wanting to be in business for myself.

Naturally, the more entrepreneurial-minded I became, the more I found myself wanting to master the fine art of marketing.

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

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

Yep, we were doing it before the “all-you-can-eat” days. I’m talking Compuserve, Prodigy, and AOL. Back in the time when internet access was metered by the hour and painfully slow via 56k dial-up modem (yeah, 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 managed to pull it off on a truly global scale!

Once the web emerged in the early/mid-’90s, I decided to get out of the retail 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 web was where I needed to be.

WorldMarket Services first unveiled itself in Gainesville, Florida in 1994.

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

Within three short years, WM 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 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 my 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 my share about a year after WMS got sold off.

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-com’s” melting down during the post-2001 bust period.

Interestingly, many of them were companies that we were competing against just a few years before.

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

So what did all these successful ventures all 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 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, I can say that a huge part of my business success was due to 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 most definitely made a difference. 

See, it was abundantly clear to me that people tended to respond positively to whatever I wrote.

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

Oddly enough, I didn’t think about it all that much back then. If anything, I was just glad that I was able to leverage this uncanny ability in such a tangible and beneficial way.

Over time, I committed myself to learning more about copywriting, so I can 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 get better and better results.

To cut to the chase, my copy ultimately did much of the hard work and heavy lifting for my tiny sales team and me.

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

Best of all, we were able to do it without the insane VC 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 in the black.

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

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

And boy, did I hear about it!

All they would do is complain endlessly about struggling to increase sales at our industry conferences, trade shows and meetups. They’d go on and on about how much capital and VC money 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 it was that I was doing right, made all the difference. I just kept on delivering results.

It kept us growing regardless of how hard the rest of the market was struggling. Clearly my copywriting and optimized marketing strategies gave us such 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. We were working out of a tiny 800 square foot office space on 6th and Spring in Downtown LA. Nonetheless, we were able too not only hold our own against the bigger guys, we even beat them much of the time.

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

Eventually, some of my longtime web clients started asking me for help with their site copy and even their marketing. They 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 do the same for them too.

Keep in mind that I was a stressed-out CEO/network admin/project manager of an insanely busy, usually-understaffed web company during this time. Yet for some reason, I was crazy enough to take on most of the project offers that they would throw 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 for copywriting, long after they even stopped being my web clients anymore. They just couldn’t let go.

Fast forward an eventful eight 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 “Andiamo” my 50′ sloop.

During hurricane season in the first few years, I’d park her up the Rio Dulce in Guatemala to go do other things. Those adventures included overland travel, family/friends visits back stateside, hanging around Europe with friends, writing, and even playing some poker around the world.

In time, I decided that it was time to get back to working more, while gradually weaning myself from the “cruising 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 a “bottomless money pit”.)

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

She needed to earn her keep while I found myself taking on more writing and consulting projects abroad in order to keep my finances somewhat intact.

And as you may have guessed, I wrote all of the copy for the sailing business as well. It too turned out to be quite successful, in case you were wondering. This was a surprise to pretty much everyone who knows anything about Panama’s tourist market.

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

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

Sure, many other captains tried to duplicate our success, only to fail in spectacular fashion. By the time I sold off Andiamo to free myself even more from certain responsibilities, I’d reached a conclusion as far as my career was concerned:

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, what I enjoy doing, and why I’ve been able to succeed in most of my ventures.

Despite all of the enticing and even lucrative opportunities on my radar, as well as the IT consulting work that I was getting, I chose to focus on writing more than anything else.

I didn’t want to start another company, I didn’t want to be a boss or a project manager anymore.

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 that is wink.

I attribute my uncanny ability to write winning copy to the 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. 

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 that 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 in.

No matter where I go, 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 my services accessible to ANY business, regardless of the budget they have to work with. It’s one of the reasons why despite 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 ultimate goal to help at least some of them get it right. I aim to produce quality work and give 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 have come to understand that 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!