One of the best direct-response marketers I ever met never sent an email, wrote a sales letter, or attended a networking event. He couldn’t speak a word of English, much less read or write…
He wasn’t even physically capable of holding a pen.
This legendary “salesman” was 12 lbs. of fighting muscle. He walked tall at roughly 6 inches high, and measured just around a foot long, tip-to-tail.
Yes — he was a cat.
Over the years, this miniature Viking taught me invaluable life lessons:
- Succeeding against impossible odds
- Winning friends and influencing almost-enemies
- Applying persistent persuasion to make the best sale
- Becoming a legend in your own time
The Texas Cowboy Cat Policy
My Dad is an old-fashioned Texas cowboy, and they follow a code:
- If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy
- A man’s hat is sacred
- A cat’s place is in the barn
Also, never feed cats. And, most importantly, under no circumstances, up to and including the zombie apocalypse, no cats in the house. There is no appeal.
Furry was the most ordinary little orange cat imaginable… an aging fixed tom who’d been abandoned and lived semi-feral by his wits and the charity of the local snowbird community.
At least we thought he was ordinary — until we got to know him better…
VCU Masterclass #1 — Set a powerful goal you care about
One January night when the snowbirds were gone, Furry showed up, wet, shivering, gaunt from the winter, and very pitifully asked if we couldn’t just spare a few scraps… please?
“The Cat Policy” automatically triggered.
“Don’t feed that danged cat!” my father ordered. Any sensible cat would have seen clear defeat, and looked elsewhere.
But not Furry.
VCU Masterclass #2 — Pitch the right message to your most receptive audience
Furry understood that if he wasn’t visible, he wasn’t marketing, and if he wasn’t marketing, he wasn’t going to get fed. So he stubbornly pressed himself up against our sliding glass door and beamed looks of cuteness and tragedy at his target audience — my soft-hearted mother.
Within two days, there were scraps being left outside.
My father consulted The Cowboy Code, and discovered that, when in doubt, “Mama ain’t happy,” trumped “The Cat Policy.” So he reluctantly allowed us to first feed Furry, and then to put out a fleece-lined box.
Just as long as it was clearly understood that the cat was not, ever, coming inside.
VCU Masterclass #3 — Never give up! “No” only means “probably yes — later”
Furry twitched his whiskers, eyed the warmth and comfort waiting for him, and prepared the long campaign of convincing my dad that his “no” was really a “yes” waiting to happen.
Furry was too good a persuader to demand the sale, though.
Unlike most cats, he never yowled or clawed, no matter the provocation. Instead, for the next six months, he embarked on a direct-response sales campaign.
VCU Masterclass #4 — Demonstrate your value
Every day brought a new reminder of what a good little kitty Furry was.
- Good morning rubs
- Loving companionship
- Frequent presents (dead mice, but no birds)
- Minor incursions past the front door (never protesting when caught, of course)
Finally, he made it to the living room rug and curled up, perfectly content with just a tiny corner… please?
VCU Masterclass #5 — Milk as much value out of one sale as possible
Furry was the ultimate “camel in the tent.” Before long, he was inside for most of the day. Then he was curling up on laps for movies.
And by the next winter, he was allowed to sleep inside.
My father grumbled, and frequently dumped Furry off his napping perches. To which Furry responded by allowing us to carry him around upside down like a baby, shooting my dad, “See how much they love me?” smirks.
VCU Masterclass #6 — Become a legend in your own time (it’s great job security and you can write your own rules)
Then my great-aunt arrived for a visit, unexpectedly bringing her yappy little dog into the house.
We never had a chance to warn her that our sweet little Furry was a famous dog-fighter. According to local lore, he’d painfully taught every dog around — irrespective of size or meanness — a painful lesson in respect.
Yet our Champion Dog-Whipper took one look at that tissue-box Napoleon, and, unimpressed, headed for the loft.
“Now that is a good cat,” my dad announced.
VCU Masterclass #7 — Never apologize for living your best life
With his place in the family assured, Furry proceeded to live life to the fullest. He enjoyed…
- Favorite nap spots
- His own bed — which he never slept in because he preferred our kids’ beds
- Favorite laps
- Absolute job security
- Plenty of food and warmth in winter
His greatest triumph came on those rare nights when he even managed to quietly jump up on my dad’s lap and sit purring, ever so softly.
VCU Masterclass #8 — When it’s time to go, walk out on your own terms, and leave them crying
Furry wasn’t a young cat when he showed up at our door, and he realized before we did that his trails had been run.
One cold winter night nearly five years after he first arrived, we woke up to a terrible cat fight. By the time we got outside, Furry had his attacker down — and despite horrific injuries — was busily mauling a full-grown lynx.
Even the local vet fell instantly in love, cooing over him for being such a brave, good little kitty.
He was never quite the same, though.
Several months later, he picked another fight. We found Furry under a car — alongside a badly hurt mountain lion. Furry didn’t survive, but he put up one heck of a fight.
I’m convinced Furry, as a true-hearted viking, is in Valhalla, cuddling up to a Valkyrie, purring sweetly and casting covetous glances at Odin’s chair.
Not all goodbyes are so dramatic or final, but Furry’s final lesson fits almost every situation.
Whatever the circumstances — from price negotiations to letting clients go — when it’s time to go, make sure you walk out on your terms, leaving behind a crying audience and shoes that can’t be filled.
2021 Won’t Be Boring!
Thank you all for having me as one of the Reality Blogger Challenge Finalists! It’s been a huge honor, a ton of fun, and a genuine challenge as I’ve tried to match wits and words with some truly exceptional writers and marketers.
Hopefully you’ve enjoyed reading my articles as much as I’ve enjoyed writing them.
If you’d like a whole year of fun and useful stories like:
- The Valhalla Cat
- 21 S.M.A.R.T. Bites to Eating a Birthday Elephant
- Learning How to Pave Your Path to Success with Roadblocks
You know what to do! Voting will start soon, and I’d really love it if you choose me to be the one to spend 2021 exploring the wonderful world of wealthy web writing with you.
Together we can:
- Pursue and achieve our dreams…
- Pause at interesting spots in the road…
- Have a LOT of fun…
… And develop personalized success systems to help you manage all the different aspects of your best writer’s life.