Automatic Product Cash Postmortem

Automatic Product Cash was the first really runaway success product I ever made. It cleared almost twelve thousand dollars by the time all was said and done. This was another joint venture, this time with Mike Carraway, and on this occasion was sort of the opposite from my experience with John - Mike got right on my arse and said "do X, Y, and Z and have them in my inbox by tomorrow morning."

What Went Right

Obviously, we made a fucktonne of money. It's hard to avoid that being one of the things that went right. Mike is a bona fide badass in this space, so although I chafed mightily under his instructions and timeframe, I just shut the fuck up and did as I was told. I do not do well with authority and cannot stress enough just how Goddamn hard this was for me. But he was absolutely 100% right about everything (with precisely one exception I will cover later), and he permanently altered my idea of what a product ought to be.

I also cannot say enough about what an amazing person he was to work with. He walks his talk ten times over, and if he says he will do a thing, he will fucking do it. It might sound like bullshit... he's a former car salesman, and the glibness rolls off him in waves... but he means every damn word and he will make it fucking happen. He wouldn't say it if he couldn't do it.

What Went Wrong


Mike made one call that I went back and undid later. APC had originally been a different product called "Your Own Product: Start to Sales," and I had made a hundred-odd sales of that product. Mike did not want to upgrade those customers. Instead, he wanted to charge them full price all over again. And since I was in "shut up and do as you're told" mode, I did that. But once the sales slowed down and he cashed out of the JV, I went back through the customer records one by one to find all the customers who had already bought YOPS2S and refund their money.

I was unhappy about that decision. In fact, I spent the entire JV process with Mike feeling very awkward and uncomfortable and distrustful simply because it didn't seem like something I could be part of. When he said "we will do this many sales and have EPCs of this and put this much money in our pockets by this time of day," I was all

So you're telling me...
So you're telling me... wait, what?

...but he was totally on target and knew his shit. What's wrong about this is that I could have learned more and gotten farther by being more trusting. Instead, I was skeptical and waiting to see him be wrong and looking for the angle where he was trying to rip me off. Except there wasn't one, because he was absolutely sincere and earnest about the entire thing. I was just overly suspicious and didn't get as much out of that relationship as I could have.

What Was Learned

Great marketing will sell the shit out of a product that doesn't sell on its quality and merits alone. Production values matter, a lot, and so does attention to detail. Also, I didn't know dick about writing good sales copy. Basically, this was the point where I really kind of got my face shoved in how bad at this I am. I got this glimpse of a level I barely knew existed, and the only thing keeping me from going there was that I didn't know what the fuck I was doing.

The corollary to this, however, is that there are fast roads and slow roads. Mike takes fast roads. I am not a fast road person; I am long-term, slow-burn, gettin'-it-done. And to hang with Mike and his crew, I needed to be a Ferrari.

I am not a fucking Ferrari.

I'm more of a fully-loaded Hummer H2 in ultramarine blue.
I'm more of a fully-loaded Hummer H2 in ultramarine blue.

The biggest thing I took away from this project was that while Mike is awesome and it was fantastic working with him... I didn't want to be Mike. I didn't want to have Mike's business. I didn't want to live Mike's lifestyle, Not because anything was wrong with any of those things, but simply because they weren't me.

Don't get me wrong - Mike's a badass. He's a fantastic marketer, and if you get a chance to work with him, take it. He is just a different kind of badass than I myself want to be.

And the same goes for you. Regardless of whom you see doing what, keep in mind that you are not in this to copy someone else. You are in it to develop your own distinctive power, to do your own amazing and incredible things, and to be your own unique kind of badass.

Be yourself. Everyone else is taken.