Posts Tagged ‘Steve Olsher’

Meals With A Mission

January 24, 2014

Wednesday January 22nd, 2014 – Niles, IL

The best and most fail safe investment I think anyone can make is establishing and maintaining contacts. Knowing the right people can be an incredible advantage in life, and I believe anybody can do it if they make up their mind to accomplish it. It does take effort, but so does everything.

I have been around the block more than a few times, and have crossed paths with an extensive collection of nothing less than amazing people along the way. I’ve met a few leakers as well, but so does everybody. There are all types of monkeys in this human zoo, and it’s up to us to choose with which ones we will associate. Building mutually beneficial relationships is a lifetime effort.

Unfortunately, time happens to be a rigidly limited commodity for us all and dilutes the entire process. As life goes on, the more connections we make lowers the odds of maintaining a regular personal contact schedule with everyone. There just aren’t enough lunches to go around for all.

I remember reading an article many years ago about how successful people use mainly lunches but also breakfasts and dinners for the purpose of maintaining contacts whenever possible. There is a plan going in, but it doesn’t have to be greedy or one sided. It can and should be a win/win.

I wouldn’t be able to find that article if I tried, but I’m going to work on applying that concept as much as possible. It makes a lot of sense, and it’s excellent business. Everyone has their own schedules and different people are available at different times, but lunch is the best opportunity.

Everybody eats lunch, and it’s in the middle of the day and usually short. A lot of business can be done in a short amount of time, even if it’s just catching up with what’s been going on in each other’s lives. The belly to belly personal contact is much more lasting than a phone call or email.

I’m consciously working on ramping up my lunch schedule, and today I met up with my friend Steve Olsher aka “America’s Reinvention Expert”. Steve is an entrepreneur, and has made some remarkable leaps in a very short time. I always enjoy hanging out with him, because he lives and breathes what he’s doing. He’s definitely all in, and that’s the kind of energy I want to be around.

When I met Steve he was doing a “Reinvention Workshop” in Chicago a couple of blocks from Zanies where I was teaching a comedy class. I sat in on his workshop and it was not only fun but interesting as well. We have stayed in contact, and in just a few years his presence has exploded.

He is now the successfully published author of three tremendous books “Journey To You”, “Internet Prophets” and “What Is Your What?”, and holds seminars around the country featuring the absolute top of the top names in the speaking field from Larry Winget to the late Jay Conrad Levinson to many more. Steve has put himself in a league with the best.

I have nothing but respect for Steve, and I like him personally too. He’s out there slugging just like me, and he doesn’t claim to know everything. It’s a journey and an adventure, and that’s the kind of person I never get tired of being around. I’m not 100% sure how we can help each other, but we have a similar mindset and that’s good enough for me. He offered a lot of insight on what I’m looking to do, and I appreciated it all. It was well worth the trip, and lunch was delicious too.

Steve Olsher is an entrepreneur, published author and a friend I greatly respect.

Steve Olsher is an entrepreneur, published author and a friend I greatly respect.


Brand New Heroes

December 18, 2013

Tuesday December 17th, 2013 – Island Lake, IL

I’m finding myself thoroughly enjoying my focused pursuit of improving the marketing aspect of my career, and I predict enormous improvement in 2014. I’ve got a whole new area on which to focus, and it’s one that has been painfully neglected over a long period of time. It won’t take a lot to show significant improvement, but I’m shooting a lot higher. I want to be one of the greats.

That means I need a whole new set of heroes to emulate. When I was focusing on comedy and little else, I studied as many of the greats as I could in that field. I had my personal favorites like Rodney Dangerfield and George Carlin, but even if I wasn’t a fan I’d study anyone that had had even minor success. I watched everyone I could, and learned a lot even from the less than stellar.

The same is going to be true of my pursuit of marketing excellence. I wouldn’t put Dane Cook in the top 500 of comedy acts I’d study. He doesn’t make me laugh in the least and never has, but his marketing prowess fascinates me. He came along at a time where he saw how to use internet tactics to garner a loyal rabid following. He’s a master marketer, and one of my new templates.

I’ve always loved Jeff Foxworthy personally, but his marketing prowess makes me admire him that much more. He’s always been razor sharp in that department, and I am going to revisit what he did to put himself over the top. I respect the guy onstage and off, and there are lessons for me in what he did. I’m studying attributes in people I’ve never really paid close attention to before.

Jay Conrad Levinson is the father of Guerrilla Marketing, and sadly he passed away recently. I was fortunate enough to meet him at my friend Steve Olsher’s “Internet Prophets” event not long ago. I got to spend a few minutes with Jay, and really enjoyed his demeanor. He was charismatic.

Dan Kennedy is another name in marketing gurus. So is Jay Abraham. There are others thicker than bugs on a trucker’s bumper all over the internet, but I’ll start with the top recognized names and work my down from there. I am soaking in all I can, and loading my gun with new bullets.

I’ve always been fascinated by master marketers and promoters, but from afar. Now I’m doing it from a much closer point of perspective, and hope to become one myself. Names 99.9% of the public has never heard of but still became multi millionaires such as E. Joseph Cossman, Melvin Powers, Joe Karbo and others are the ones I’m going to study and model. Those are my heroes.

It honestly doesn’t matter to me if I ever get famous. I’d love to be well known, but that’s not the same animal. Matt Groening of ‘The Simpsons’ is well known. The Unabomber is famous. It doesn’t always pay a dividend to be famous. Infamy is technically fame, but I want no part of it.

Gene Simmons of KISS has always fascinated me. His marketing acumen is off the charts, yet their music is iffy at best. I’ve never been a KISS fan, but I love how they have created a money machine and I’d like one too. It doesn’t have to be as big, but steady cash flow would be sweet.

There are many others I haven’t even heard of yet, but for now I have a giant pile of articles to read and digest, and PDF files I’ve been compiling on my computer for years. I’m going to dig in and get to work. A lot of people have a big head start on me, so I have some catching up to do.

Can you identify this person? It's ok if you can't, he can buy and sell you and me like railroads on a Monopoly board. He's done ok for himself.

Can you identify this person? It’s ok if you can’t, he can buy and sell you and me like railroads on a Monopoly board. He’s done more than ok for himself.

Here's another face you may not recognize, but Jay Conrad Levinson made a huge mark with his 'Guerrilla Marketing' brand. He was a giant in his field.

Here’s another face you may not recognize, but Jay Conrad Levinson made a huge mark with his ‘Guerrilla Marketing’ brand. He was a giant in his field, and his work will live on.

Melvin Powers started the Wilshire Book Company and made millions over a fabulous career in mail order. I bought books from him, and eventually came to know him personally. He's a very generous person and extremely successful, even though most people have never heard of him.

Melvin Powers started the Wilshire Book Company and made millions over a fabulous career in mail order. I bought books from him, and eventually came to know him personally. He’s a very generous person and extremely successful, even though most people have never heard of him.

A Whole New Game

December 10, 2013

Monday December 9th, 2013 – Chicago, IL

My pursuit of marketing excellence begins. This is going to be the majority of my focus for the rest of my life, and I want to put it out there so people call me on it. My natural instincts are to be a performer first and focus all my creative energies there, but that route proved to be a dead end.

It takes plenty of creativity to be a marketer too, it’s just focused in a different direction. I need to consciously divide my waking energy between my actual product(s) and getting word to those I need to have be aware of who I am and what I can do so they can hire me . It’s a balancing act.

Before, all I would focus on was the ‘show’. I loved it and still do, but there was far too little of an effort put into the ‘business’. There was enough work for enough time that I didn’t need to put much effort into chasing it, and in fact it found me. I was competent enough to have bookers line up for my services. What I didn’t realize was, they weren’t ever going to get me to the next level.

Now I know much better, and I need to approach those who can help me advance. They would include network television show talent bookers, national and international media outlets, meeting planners for corporate events and venues I have wanted to work but haven’t for whatever reason.

I can even improve dramatically with places I already work. It would take minimal effort to put together a monthly or even quarterly newsletter of what I’m doing so I can get my name in front of them even more. They already hire me, but even one more booking would be worth my while.

This is just simple business maintenance, but I’m ashamed to admit I haven’t done it. There are zero excuses, and I’m going to change my ways immediately. What needs to get drilled deep into my rock hard skull is that these are sales accounts, and they bring in money. They’re cash cows.

It would be easy to beat myself up now, but that won’t do one bit of good. What will do plenty of good is to look ahead and make dramatic changes for 2014. On the good side, I can’t think of anybody who has paid more dues than I have getting a show together. I’m completely fresh meat to a whole new market, and I have to believe I’ll be able to get hired and establish a stellar name.

I’ll also continue to work the places I already do, but market myself a whole lot better. I’ll stay in much better contact, and I’ll put time and effort into a mailing list to keep my name fresh with booking agents, media and fans. Those are all areas that need to have steady contact maintained.

Another cage I’ve thought for a while about rattling is the National Speakers Association. I’ve heard mixed reviews on whether to join or not, and it’s a significant financial investment that has no guarantee of bringing in speaking work. I have had people I respect tell me to join, and others I respect tell me to avoid it. I’m still on the fence, but I’m going to look into it a lot more closely.

The main reason I am considering it at all is that speakers as a rule are light years ahead of any comedian in the marketing department. James Gregory and Heywood Banks are a pair of shining stars at comedy marketing, while there are too many speakers to count. Todd Hunt is outstanding as is Larry Winget – but so are Dale Irvin, Greg Schwem, Mikki Williams and Steve Olsher. I’ve met all of these people personally and will model their methods. I’m playing a whole new game.

I'm thinking about joining the National Speakers Association. I have heard pro and con, but I'm still deciding.

I’m thinking about joining the National Speakers Association. I have heard pro and con, but I’m still deciding.

Fundraiser Focus

October 3, 2012

Tuesday October 2nd, 2012 – Fox Lake, IL

   My main project for the next two weeks is going to be attending to the details pertaining to the comedy benefit fundraiser show for Officer Josh Albert at Shank Hall in Milwaukee on October 17th. The lineup of comedians is set, but that was the least of my concerns. There’s a lot more to do, and seeing how I’ve managed to lose money on most benefits I’ve ever done I’m a bit wary.

First and foremost, I need to get the media behind it to get the word out. There was significant media coverage when the accident first occurred, and hopefully this can help put as happy of an ending to it as possible. Obviously it would be best if it never happened, but that’s not how it is.

I’ve received several responses from various media outlets in Milwaukee, and I’m encouraged. I don’t care who gets interviewed, I just want word to get out the event is taking place at all. My cousin Katie will be able to tell the story far better than me because she was there, and hopefully that puts butts in seats to show support. The comedians and I will handle everything from there.

But beyond that, I’m hoping to do even more good if I can. I’m attempting to reach as many of my comedian friends who have CDs or DVDs or books and have them donate two copies of each – one for Officer Albert to listen to while he’s recovering and another to be used for an auction.

I know Officer Albert isn’t the only person recovering from horrific injuries, and I wish I could find a way to spread some comedy around to them. I thought of this last year when I was dealing with my own medical issues, and the idea still appeals to me. But first things first, I’ll make sure this event comes off successfully before worrying about saving the world. I can’t do everything.

So far, we’re looking good. My friend Drew Olson from 540 ESPN Milwaukee agreed to host the evening. He is very well liked in town, and hopefully those in the media that may not be my biggest fans will help support the cause despite my involvement. I don’t want personal politics.

My other focus is rounding up items for a silent auction. What will sell, I have no idea. I have had several donations already though, and I’m thrilled beyond words. My comedy writer friend Bill Mihalic put a word out to Jay Leno, and Jay’s assistant said a signed picture is on the way.

I asked Eddie Brill the best way to get a David Letterman signed picture, and I have no doubt if it’s at all possible Eddie will help make it happen. If not, I’m sure he will have some suggestions as to what else I can do or who else I can approach. I do have an extensive list of quality people.

Another friend Steve Olsher really came through with an amazing combination package of self help materials including a videotaped seminar weekend I was a part of this past summer and two of his bestselling books. The retail value of the package is $593.79, and I’m grateful to accept it.

Pat McCurdy’s manager Brian Murphy will donate some of Pat’s merchandise, and he’s one of my all time faves. Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel writer Tom Haudricourt wrote a book that I really love about the ’82 Brewers and is donating a signed copy. This is a start, but there’s more to do.

Acting Class And Storytelling

April 15, 2010

Tuesday April 13th, 2010 – Oak Park, IL/Milwaukee, WI

I’ve often heard comedians can easily transform themselves into actors as a rule, but for whatever reason I never chose to take that path. It never interested me. I was content with being a comedian, and I still am. The thrill is in that live performance. It never gets old.

Looking back, I wish I would have taken some acting and improv classes along the way. It would have added more texture to what I do on stage, and not hurt me at all. I probably won’t get a sitcom at this point, but it still would have been nice to have at least a couple of acting roles under my belt to round out my resume. I’m just now starting to get into it.

There was a one day seminar today designed to make speakers improve stage presence. It was sponsored by The National Speaker’s Association (NSA) and I heard about it from Steve Olsher, my new friend I met who taught his seminar on reinvention. He invited me to go along with him and I did. It was a chance to network and learn from a professional.

The meeting was at the studios of Ted Sarantos in Oak Park, IL. He’s been teaching for forty years, and I really liked the guy. He gave us techniques and exercises and there were about 40 people there, most of them speakers. My friend Deb DiSandro was there, and we hadn’t seen each other in a while. Like me, Deb is always trying to improve everything.

After the seminar, many of us went out to lunch and visited some more. I got to sit next to Ted and pick his brain about acting and teaching, and he did the same about comedy. It opened me up to a whole new world, even though I really don’t have any desire to go full time into acting. I’d be interested in taking Ted’s class to learn some basic fundamentals.

The main thing about going to seminars is the contacts that can be made. I met Steve at his seminar, then he asked me to go to this one and now I met Ted Sarantos. I see there’s a whole world of people I need to know, not just comedy people. I am behind on all of it.

Maybe I wasn’t ready until now, but I totally feel that I am. I love teaching and I know what I’m doing, but it doesn’t hurt to attend other seminars and watch how others deliver their material. I’ll pick things up here and there and it will make my classes even better.

Tonight I drove up to Milwaukee to participate in a storyteller’s club started by my old friend David Lee Hendrickson. He was a comedian for years, now he’s doing this. People get up and tell stories about their life. Some are sad, others funny. Everyone has a story.

I’m not sure where he’s going with it, and I don’t think he knows yet either. Still, it was fun to watch the people work, and I even got up and told a couple myself. If I have plenty of anything it’s interesting life stories – all of them true. I hope David succeeds with this.

The venue for the storytellers is The Safe House in Milwaukee. That’s a legendary joint everyone should experience. I hadn’t been there in years and forgot how unique and fun it is. Acting lessons by day, storytelling by night. It’s a wonder I have any free time at all.

A Saturated Saturday

March 22, 2010

Saturday March 20th, 2010 – Chicago, IL/Elkhorn, WI

Today was loaded with surprises, most of them good. The one I didn’t like was waking up to several inches of snow on the ground, which made me have to scrape it off my car, which made me have to hustle faster than I wanted to on slick roads to get downtown for the seminar I signed up for about reinventing my life. Still, I was able to make it on time.

The teacher’s name is Steve Olsher. He wrote a book called “Journey To You” and he’s a life long entrepreneur. He told some interesting stories up front and I liked the guy right away. I respect how hard it is to get people in a room, and he did a lot of things correctly.

It was the weather that screwed us. Nobody expected snow, sleet and slippery roads but good weather has the opposite effect. People want to wash their cars and go outside so the same result happens – they stay away from the event. I’ve had it happen to me quite often, so I felt Steve’s pain. I stayed as long as I could, but wasn’t able to finish the entire day.

I politely excused myself and drove north for my show in Elkhorn, WI at the Evergreen Golf Course. I’d heard it was snowing pretty good and didn’t want to risk it by cutting the drive time too thin. It was white knuckles and brake lights for way longer than I’d hoped.

I arrived at the Evergreen Golf Course at 7:10 for an 8:00 show and was surprised to see a jammed full parking lot. I had to park a ways away and walk in the snow, but I wasn’t at all upset about that. Full crowds mean full payment, usually in cash. The place was really jumping and that’s always a plus. Not only that, I worked with two competent comedians.

The opener was a newer guy named Matt Drufke. I’ve seen him at Zanies a few times at the Rising Star Showcases I host on Monday nights, and he did a fine job then. He’s from a town called Huntley, IL which is not on the beaten path. Getting stage time isn’t easy to do on a regular basis, but I’ve never heard him complain. He’s got some upside potential.

They wanted a two headliner show and my old friend Vince Maranto was the other one. We’ve worked together a ton at Zanies and we both feel comfortable onstage and off. He did an excellent job as he usually does and it was a fun night all around. I went up and did what I do, and the audience loved it. They loved all of us. This was a pleasure all around.

Working with good guys who are professional makes everything a whole lot more fun. I wish it could be like this every night. Not only were the other comedians easy to handle, the guy in charge of the Evergreen was nice too. His name is Russ and he gave us easy to follow directions and let us do our show. He also made sure we were fed and watered too.

The show was booked by a comedian named Jerry Wolski who used to live in Chicago but is now in Los Angeles. He’s been asking me for months to do this show and I’m glad he did. Everything went smoothly and Jerry was about as low maintenance to work for as I’ve ever experienced. Everything was right about tonight, and I’m grateful for every little detail – including being paid in cash a minute after getting off stage. Take THAT Giggles.