Canadian Strengthsgiving

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Ten years ago this very day…

Yours Muscularly pulled a 28,000-pound school bus in Yonge-Dundas Square in Toronto (like Toronto’s ‘Times Square’) to raise money and awareness for TFSS, an organization dedicated to feeding hungry students in Toronto schools.

At the time I was running a personal training biz.

Some high-school kids found me online and invited to be a part of a presentation on nutrition they we’re doing for their class.

I accepted.

What I wasn’t prepared for was their statistics on malnourished youth, poverty, and hunger in Toronto schools.  I know how important the right nutrition is for health and brain power.  And didn’t think these kids were getting a fair shake.  So I decided to do something about it.

I found the charity and approached them with this crazy idea.

To my surprise, they loved it.

It was going to be ideal as part of Feeding Hungry Students Week, their big fundraiser and publicity push each year, which was about 11 weeks away.

Now I’d done vehicle pulls during my competitive career as a strongman.  But since retiring from the sport five years prior I’d hadn’t approached anything that resembled that level of training.  I was 170 pounds (compared with my competition weight of 220).  I’d have 11 weeks to train for it (I ended up gaining over 20 pounds during that stretch)…all while planning and organizing the event.

What followed was one of the craziest and most rewarding journeys of my life.

(I’ve been thinking I should write a book about it.)

Why do I bring this up?

Well, first it’s my 10-year Strengthaversary.

So it’s been on my mind.

And second, it was perhaps the most successful marketing campaign (and certainly the most successful from a media coverage standpoint) I’ve ever produced.  There wasn’t a single major media outlet in Toronto that didn’t cover it.  I was on TV, Radio, and in newspapers.  Sometimes all three at once…or at least that’s how it felt.  All wearing gear branded to my business, and all referring to me as ‘the owner of Evolution Fitness in Toronto’.  And that night, we we’re on the 6 o’clock news on EVERY channel.

For the charity, the figure was something like $20,000 raised.  Plus, they’d never had that kind of media attention for their programs.  They were thrilled.

Here’s the point:

It was unique hook (with a sensationalist twist).

Even cold-calling the busiest and most jaded editors and producers…with their phones ringing, their inboxes full and deadlines dropping…when I told them what I was up to they’d stop and say:

“I’m listening…”

I might well share a few marketing lessons from this experience over the next little while.

For starters, how can you model this idea for your business?  Let’s consider the possibility that you can’t pull a bus.  Totally ok.  Could you put on your own charity fundraiser and add to it an element of the extraordinary?  Could you make an offer that no one else in your industry is willing to make?  Could you be the ‘whistle-blower’ who calls out the nefarious practices of big companies in your industry?

(That last strategy landed me my first interview on national television when I promised to expose the big gyms dirty, dirty ways.)

Point is:

Yes, you need people to care…

But first you need their attention.

This is a rule not only of marketing, but of all forms of persuasive communication.

Alright, that’s enough for now.

I’m shipping off soon as it’s Thanksgiving Weekend here North of the border.

In honor of that day ten years ago, random acts of kindness, and all things strength and/or marketing I do hereby dub this day Strengthsgiving.  May yours be full of high-quality proteins…

With a delicious side-helping of creamy, fluffy generosity.

Hungry yet?

🙂

Happy Strengthsgiving,

Conor Kelly

P.S.  Unfortunately, I don’t have any footage of the event of I’d share it with you.  I’m working on getting some archival footage from one of the various media outlets.  Stay tuned.

 

Drink thee of this profitable smoothie

“The more you read, the more you will know.  The more you learn, the more places you’ll go.” — Dr. Seuss

I hate to burst your bubble…

But for anyone who thinks losing weight is hard, gaining weight is much harder.

(That’s if you’re trying to add the right kind of weight.)

I don’t care what anybody says, force feeding yourself copious quantities of plain chicken breast and rice seven times a day…sucks.   Back in my strongman days it got to the point where I almost couldn’t stand the sight of food.

I went to all kinds of extremes.

Eating by the clock.

(Instead of when hungry – which I almost never was.)

Calculating calories.  (Not counting; this was before My Fitness Pal and other smart phone apps that make tracking your cals a cinch nowadays…back then I literally used an almanac and a calculator).

Taking digestive enzymes.

Drinking flax seed oil.

I could go on.

As a trainer I’ve also had many clients whose goal was to build muscle.  One point I’d consistently drive home is you have to put in the building blocks.  Your body doesn’t synthesize muscle out of thin air.  Protein and calories are the raw materials it needs.  That’s why you’ve got to have a caloric surplus.

What’s this all have to do with you?

Writing, producing content, copywriting, and finding marketing hooks is the same.  You need an idea surplus.  You’ve got to regularly feed your brain plenty of building blocks from which those are created.

How do you do that?

By reading.  A lot.

I try to make it a point to read at least two hours per day.

If I’m being honest, it usually ends up being closer to one hour.  What do I read?  Primarily, anything having to do with marketing, copywriting, or persuasion.  But I also “supplement” with a variety of subjects from magazine articles (I love The Economist), history books, books on science, biographies, and literature and fiction too.

What this does is give me a vast pool of data, facts, stories and ideas to pull from when in a creative mode.  All these healthy ingredients go into the blender of my subconscious and emerge as a green smoothie of knowledge.  I use this to connect two or more ideas in ways that form “hooks” useful in teaching, influencing, and selling (as I’ve done with the calorie surplus thing here).

What I’ve discovered:

I have two main types of readers.

The first type is interested in getting better at doing email, copywriting, etc. so they can do it themselves.  If that’s you, I just handed you what has been a BIG ingredient in my success (and the success of many others) on a vibranium-plated platter.

The second type is grinning, rubbing their hands together…

…And simply biding their time until they get me to do all this shebang for them.

If you’re the second type, and doing that volume of reading sounds both prohibitive and unappealing – never fear.

I attack such tasks with fanatical zeal so you don’t have to.

Get your vitamin boost and request your Free Brainstorm Call here:

http://calendly.com/conorkel/emailincome

And if not…

Happy Reading,

Conor Kelly

The amazing true story of Whitney Houston’s epic superbowl performance

On Monday it will be 7 years since Whitney Houston’s death.

And since I just watched Whitney, the Kevin MacDonald documentary of her life on Netflix, here’s a story I think you’ll find interesting.

First, a little context.

I was never a fan of her music.

And I’ve never had any particular fondness for the U.S. national anthem either.  When well sung it’s rousing, to be sure.  What I’m less about is its war imagery and vague undertones of neo-imperialism.

That said there’s one clip of Whitney Houston I’ve watched at least 50 times…her singing of The Star Spangled Banner at the 1991 Superbowl.  I think it’s one of the most insane vocal performances mine ears doth heard.

I get chills every time.

I never knew the story behind it, though.

To hear her music manager tell it, they gave her rendition some serious thought.  You see, African Americans have also had an iffy relationship to the anthem because it’s about some of the state organs of violence that – at times – have been targeted toward black people.

The song is typically a waltz performed in 3/4 time.

So what they decided to do was adapt it to 4/4 time.

They reasoned this would give Whitney more space to hold out the big notes.

Plus, all black music is in 4/4.

He redid the arrangements.  Had the orchestra rehearse it.  And they hated it.  Nevertheless, he sent Whitney the recording, “what do you think”?  But never heard back.  It wasn’t until a week before the big game that he saw her and she admitted she hadn’t heard it.

She said, “play it.”

Then leaned back, closed her eyes, and listened intently.

When it was over, all she murmured was, “got it.”

What the world heard that day was the unrehearsed first take. 

 Watch it here:

 

 

 

For anyone who knows anything about music, let alone performing, that is…CRAZY.  It’s genius on another level.  Here she was this young woman with a big voice, on the world’s greatest stage, letting it all hang loose.

Uninhibited.

Free.

Indeed, freedom is ultimately what the lyric is meant to convey.

And it’s what you feel as she sings it.

I don’t think it’s possible to overestimate the power of this moment.  I may not be her #1 fan.  But for that alone, damn if she wasn’t one of the most badass singers to ever walk this planet.

Hats off, Ms. Houston.

R.I.P.

One more thing…

Genius and talent played a role.

But that level of command, both musically and over her performance, would never have happened if her mother Cissy – herself an accomplished vocalist – hadn’t drilled them into her from a young age.

What if she hadn’t?

Happy Inspiration,

Conor Kelly