Overcoming Obstacles

Not long ago I ran a special on some mp3 files about selling your artwork. Quite a few of my on-line students purchased this series. As I’ve been perusing this course, something triggered a memory.

A year ago, I attended a workshop on interpersonal communications skills in New York City. The only thing that really ‘stuck’ with me from it was a presentation by an unadvertised guest speaker.

This fellow arrived in a wheelchair.

He had spent his entire life in one. Born with a rare genetic ailment, he was the size of a seven year old and had bones that were so fragile that something as minor as rolling over in bed the wrong way or sneezing could break one.

Writing this, I shudder just imagining the hardships of a life like his….and yet, the speaker didn’t look at his life as a horror. Quite the contrary.
In spite of staggering limitations, he created success for himself professionally, financially, socially, and emotionally. He was very clearly a very happy man.
He shared his secret – but I blew it off
Just being around someone like this is intensely inspiring – and it makes you think. One question that comes to mind right away is “What source is this guy drawing on? And how can I tap into it too?”
The speaker mentioned a book that he personally found helpful and illuminating and recommended it. When I went to Amazon, I saw a bunch of negative reviews (‘oversimplified’ ‘nothing new’) Even the organizer of the workshop disqualified it a bit saying it was a ‘little out there.’ I passed on it. So many books, so little time.
To make a long story short, I was in a bookstore last week and finally saw the book in the flesh. I picked it up and put it down. Then picked it up and put it down. (It’s amazing how powerful a few negative comments can be.) Then I noticed the book had testimonials from both Sam Walton, founder of Wal-Mart, and Mother Theresa. “That’s got to be a first,” I thought. “If nothing else, I want to learn about a guy who can get testimonials like that!”
What’s your business based on?
A lot of marketing education today focuses exclusively on technique. I call this the ‘vending machine school’ of business development. Entrepreneurs are told: “Put this in, push these buttons, pull this lever and success will come out. You’ll definitely sell your paintings.” You’ll find certain aspects of this application in Internet marketing, reinforce this point of view.

And it’s not entirely inaccurate.

There are some techniques that work exponentially better than other techniques and they’re well worth learning.

But there are other important dimensions to sales and marketing too that can’t be strictly attributed to technique.

For example, the legendary direct mail wizard Dick Benson pointed out that the single best ‘technique’ to get people to buy a second time is to make sure the first product you sell them is excellent. I’ve often talked and written about designing paintings that are such a ‘good fit’ for your marketplace (your who) that customers voluntarily help you sell them (‘buzz marketing.’). Remember the Ginsu Kitchen knives? The Ginsu guys, told the story of how they used 60 seconds of celluloid to transform one of the most boring product categories in the world – kitchen knives – into a brand so powerful it’s still on everyone’s lips two decades after the last time the ad ran.

Sometimes in business 1 + 1 = 4 or even 94. Why? Sometimes individuals with seemingly overwhelming obstacles create lives of remarkable accomplishment and contentment.


Clearly, there is no shortage of theories about this topic. In some ways the book “Power vs. Force” is nothing new. It is simple and parts of it are ‘way out there,’ but it hit me like a ton of bricks (in a good way.). Check it out. Highest recommendation.