The Biggest ‘Thing’ That’s Enabled (& Ironically Stalled) My Freedom Over The Past 4 Years…

  • What’s the ‘thing’ that’s enabled me to build a couple successful businesses and travel the world in the process?
  • What’s the ‘thing’ that’s also held me back from taking my businesses, income, and subsequently, my freedom, to the next level?


Sales letters.


When I returned from 8 months of traveling through South America a few years back I was faced with a choice. Get a job, or leverage the skills I’d developed and create a small business.

I decided to write an eBook for James Bond fans and build a small business around it.

I put a lot of effort into that ebook it and it was pretty damn good.

But the best products don’t market themselves in the beginning… especially when you don’t have an established audience.

So what I’d do?

I wrote a sales letter.

I spent weeks on that first letter. I studied all the copywriting resources I could, and forced out a sales letter.

And you know what? It converted at right about 1% to ‘cold traffic’.

I started making sales and overtime, I built up enough customers, and a big enough back-end of product offerings, to have a tiny but profitable business.

Obviously, there were many factors that determine the success of a business venture… but none are more immediately impactful than a converting sales letter in my opinion.

Nothing else can enable your freedom more quickly.

A good sales letter works for you 24/7/365.

A good sales letter lets focus on other things — developing other products or traveling if you want.

I believe one of the greatest skills a business owner can posses is the ability to communicate effectively. To communicate the value of their products or services. And this is exactly what a well written sales letter does.

Now, I also believe that sales letters have held me back from achieving my goals.

How so?

Since writing that first letter I’ve gone on to write other sales messages that have pulled in over 10k in a few hours. Another did 25k over the course of a few days. I’ve written single blog posts that have pulled in 1-2k a month consistently for years.

BUT, I’ve never actually taken my writing abilities to the NEXT LEVEL. AND, I certainly don’t write enough of them!

I haven’t gone deep and really spent the time I know I need to spend. I’ve simply procrastinated. My copywriting skills have stalled & stagnated. And it’s no surprise that my freedom has been limited because of it.

I want to write more. I want to write better. I want more freedom. I want more money and abundance in my life.

That’s why I’m taking the time to go deep an hour a day and work on honing my copywriting skills.

If you want to join me on this journey, visit my site and signup.

– Derek


ANNOUNCING: The 8 Week Million Dollar Copywriting Challenge

I recently posted a quick survey to readers asking them what challenge they’d like to see next, and more importantly, PARTICIPATE in.

It’s time to get off our asses, change, and grow (& make more money if you’re in to that).

Well, the responses kind of shocked me a little. Many people wanted to participate in a copywriting challenge. The goal to wake up every morning and write for 1 hour.

My buddy Clay and I have literally been procrastinating on doing this challenge ourselves for close to a year now.

Instead of twiddling my thumbs about whether or not it was a good idea to faciliate this challenge… I took action, and in under 30 hours, was born.

I’m going to call this challenge “The 8 Week Million Dollar Copywriting Challenge”.

There’s pretty much zero excuse NOT to participate in this if you’re at all interested in business. Copywriting is one of the most valuable skills you can develop. You’ll be writing emails, scripts, sales letters, blog posts, ads, etc. Or you’ll at least be judging a copywriter and hiring someone to do it.

You can get the full details at the site:

The page is designed to look simple & like an actual letter because the focus should be on the words & copy.


Want To Participate In A Group Challenge & Achieve One Of Your Goals In 8 Weeks?

The time has come for another challenge. This time around, I want YOU to participate right alongside me.

I’ve provided a form below. Fill out what kind of challenge you’d like to see AND participate in. I want to get a group together and have all of us achieve something awesome.

My challenges are centered around not only just becoming a better person but also developing skills that can be leveraged in some capacity.

We’re going to use the principles behind these posts:
1. Anatomy of a successful physique transformation
2. 5 self-improvement ideas

I really believe that I’m developing a can’t fail goal setting system here.


– The challenge is going to last 8 weeks. Hopefully we can get started next week or the week after.
– Time commitment will probably average out to 30 mins to 1hr per day.
– We’ll have a private member’s only forum setup.
– We’ll ALL pay to take part in the challenge. No free-seeking loafers who bring the group down. My payment will be infrastructure setup, some coaching/my time.

There are 4 challenges that I’d be interested in doing:

1. New online business income stream: we’ll start from scratch & produce a small biz that brings in its first sales & profit in 8 weeks.
2. A summer six pack – this could mean different things for different people, but the focus will be on losing the gut/fat for summer. For me, this will mean taking my fat loss to the next level. As you might know, I’m currently coaching a group of people through the Hollywood Physique right now.
3. Copywriting challenge: I’d like to wake up and write for an hour every morning. We’ll do this together and critique/help each other.
4. Learn a language: we each pick a NEW language we haven’t studied before, and tackle it. I’d probably use Benny Lewis’ program.
5. Other: have a cool idea? Respond to the email you’ll get from me.

Interested in achieving one of your goals by the beginning of June? Give me your input by filling out this form:

Are You Building Assets?

Here’s a concept that’s not necessarily overlooked or misunderstood… but often just straight up NOT FOLLOWED.

You should be building assets that you can sell and cash out of if necessary.

(Note: Sometimes these posts are pretty elementary. But, every once in a while I’ll run into a real life situation, where I’m reminded/warned of why a concept like this is so important. So writing this out helps me reinforce my own beliefs related to business.)

Definition of an asset: a single item of ownership having exchange value.

There are two business owners, Stan & Dan. Both guys are great web designers. They realize they can make a business out of their talents. They open up shop.

Fast forward 30 years. Stan & Dan are in their mid 50’s.

Both dudes have had a good career and made good money. But too many long hours at a computer without a standing desk. No exercise. Donuts to their faces…

Stan & Dan each suffer massive heart attacks.

Both men realize that they’ll be unable to continue their work as web designers.

Stan’s fine, he retires easily.

Dan’s in trouble, he needs an income. His retirement stash isn’t enough.

The only difference between the two men was this: Stan built a web design firm (God’s Jealous Of Our Web Designs, Inc.) that wasn’t strictly about him. He hired talent whenever possible, and grew them. And he showed talent how to hire new talent. While he was able to use his skills on a daily basis and have good control over his company, the overall business was an asset – just as valuable if he weren’t there.

Dan on the other hand, built a web design firm of his own (Dan, Inc.) and worked with a team… but that team simply supported his creative efforts. Without Dan, the company cannot possibly find new clients. And Dan can’t even really sell his client list because they want Dan’s talents, not his team’s.

If your business model collapses for whatever reason if you disappear, it’s time to stop for a second and think. Think about how you can turn your business into an asset, or create some other assets, other businesses, that you can sell if necessary.

There are all types of business models to chase and that can make you good coin. Just make sure the model matches your goals, lifestyle & financially speaking.

And of course, if you’re interested in passive income, then asset building is where you want to spend the majority of your time.

It’s funny… thinking, “I want to start a small business”, vs. “I want to create a big company,” will lead to job creation vs. asset creation.

It’s why even if you’re small, thinking big gives you a huge advantage.

(FYI: This blog is an asset. Even if I stop writing here forever, all someone has to do is pay the maintenance bills.)

Irresistible Offers

It’s taken me  a long time to understand ‘irresistible offers’ in business.

I mean, of course, on the surface, it’s an easy concept to grasp.

Give your clients an offer they can’t refuse. Make the value you’re giving them vastly exceed the value ($) they’re exchanging.

Simple, easy… right?

It seems that way, but judging by most of the offers I see out there… I don’t think a lot of marketers truly grasp this concept fully… myself included.

I think it makes sense to view what an irresistible offer would be in a dating scenario.

A lot of guys out there can’t understand why they’re not attracting the chickees they want. They blame x,y, z for their problems.

I just think their value proposition, their offer, is fully resitible (credit Jay Abraham for that comment).

Think about this from a woman’s perspective. You’re at a bar / club / etc. and talking with a guy. He’s dressed OK. He’s got a small pudgy belly going. His breath smells a bit like beer. He’s nice enough. Then he asks you what you’re doing later. If you want to go to another bar, or maybe back to his apartment. The apartment is a little ways away. Everything is just OK.

You probably pass, grab his phone number, and that’s as far as the interaction goes.

Now think of this… you’re talking to a guy who’s dressed sharp. He takes care of himself. He’s in shape. He’s very nice, very funny. He makes you feel comfortable. He has an apartment where you would go with your friends and his friends. It’s close. It’s in a nice area of town. He mentions alcohol, continuing the party. It’s easy. No pressure. It just kinda ‘happens’, you’re back at his place.

You get there, everything is fun and light… there’s no awkward pressure. There’s alcohol. His place is clean. He’s got a rooftop with a view. If you’re into a one-night-stand, sure, it happens. If not, you exchange phone numbers with a fun date planned for the future.

That’s an irresistible offer.

Are you making it easy, fun, comfortable for clients (or women) to do business with you? Do you limit risk on their part? Do you stack bonuses, have compelling add-ons? Is everything congruent? Is it harder to NOT do business with you? Will there be more pain if they don’t take the offer? Is it a no-brainer? Are you constantly tweaking for the best combination of features that solve your clients (women’s) most pressing needs?

Do you build a relationship before trying to ‘stick it in’?

Chances are your offers are pretty resistible & unforgettable right now.

Get to work. I know I am.


36 Reasons Why You’re NOT WINNING

  1. You aren’t willing to pay for things.
  2. You wont exchange for value for value.
  3. You pirate without thought.
  4. You don’t value thought.
  5. You worship losers, drug addicts, celebrities with no real talent, and lazy people.
  6. You think it’s nearly impossible to build wealth without being evil in some way.
  7. You think capitalism is evil.
  8. You look at wealth creation as a sacrifice of all the fun things in life.
  9. You think business coaches are snake oil salesman.
  10. You don’t continue to learn every day.
  11. You don’t read books.
  12. You desperately await getting home to watch television.
  13. You destroy yourself because it’s easier than building yourself up.
  14. Your self-esteem is tied entirely to what others think of you.
  15. You don’t think self-esteem should be tied to productive work.
  16. You don’t chose your work, it choses you.
  17. You think ‘working’ is a terrible thing.
  18. You use the word “workaholic”.
  19. You never actually produce anything yourself.
  20. You sacrifice yourself for others.
  21. You think that being of service to others is the highest moral good in life.
  22. You give your time to others in order to be polite.
  23. You want things NOW that you know you don’t deserve.
  24. You don’t find excitement in the knowledge that the things you want aren’t going to be handed to you.
  25. You feel sorry for your parents & grandparents because they worked so hard in the ‘system’ that now supports you.
  26. You don’t understand what money represents.
  27. You have no principles.
  28. You allow ‘gray areas’ in your life.
  29. You allow others to set your principles/morals/ethics for you.
  30. You think you’ll be happy sitting on a beach with a margarita your whole life.
  31. You just said to yourself…”Well a margarita sounds pretty good actually.”
  32. You knowingly commit self-sabotage & destruction.
  33. You have no path in life. You float.
  34. You envy those who are smarter than you.
  35. You wont try to work with people who are smarter than you.
  36. You give up because all of this sounds hard.

Aimless Travel Is NOT Liberating

You’ll hear travel writers and bloggers touting the joy, beauty, and necessity of ‘aimless’ travel. Of wandering without purpose.

My take: travel is of no value without a defined purpose.

When I’ve had no goal in mind during my travels, I’ve felt lost, bored, and usually resorted to thought-avoidance activities like drinking.

When I traveled to Cuba a few months ago, the simple addition of a ‘bucket-list’ made everything meaningful. It gave us something to work on. It gave us a creative pursuit that required THOUGHT, even though it consisted of drinking, smoking cigars, and listening to live music.

We focused on creating a great video that could inspire and guide others (it should be released soon). And, importantly, the work we did will bring us money or leverage in future pursuits.

It was productive work.

Here’s a quote I love from Ayn Rand. She writes that:

“The producer moves through his days NOT in random circles, but in a straight line, motion from goal to farther goal, each leading to the next and to a single growing sum…”

Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand

This applies to soooo much more than travel. It applies to everything in life.

If you’re gunna wander, that wandering better match your ultimate purpose and goals.

Otherwise you’ll find nothing but unhappiness… or worse, evasion from reality and thought.

Time Is NOT The World’s Most Valuable Resource

A doctor tells you have 6 months to live.

If you take a drug, starting today, you’ll live 9 months.

If you decline the drug, your last 6 months will be fairly comfortable. You’ll be able to do anywhere from 75-85% of your normal routine. 80% of the time you’ll feel tired but OK.

If you take the drug, you’ll feel sick 85% of the time. Your normal routine will be near impossible. You’ll be in bed most of the time.

(FYI: This scenario is REAL.)

What do you do?

If you think time is the most valuable resource in the world, you take the drug, right?


Wrong: Time isn’t the most valuable thing we have.

Time is worthless without quality.

Fill your life with quality.

8 Major Problems With Your Workout Program (& Quick-Fixes)

Hey fellas,

Today I’ll give you my opinion on why your workout program isn’t giving you the results you want… why it’s not taking you ALL THE WAY to your desired body.

This isn’t meant to be the ‘end all, be all’ advice for proper dieting and exercising. It’s meant to stir some thought and give you some ideas on what could be holding you back from getting all torn up from the floor up (if that’s the saying). I’ll give you insight into what’s preventing you from taking it all the way to the next level.

1. Too Much Wiggle Room

A lot of workout programs are written to appeal to a wide audience. The authors want to make sure that they give people the greatest chance of succeeding and sticking to the program, and this usually means letting some stuff slide (particularly dietary requirements).

The result is higher rates of adherence to the program and physical results coming slowly. But the major improvements don’t come as fast as they should, and the ‘next level’ never comes.

The Anabolic Diet and Tim Ferriss’ slow carb diet are great examples of this. Go on either of those diets for the first time, and you’ll start seeing some really good results. But both of those diets allow for WAY too much wiggle room. I can almost guarantee that your results will level off and stall.

2. Too Much Science**

** I say  ‘too much science’ with hesitance. It’s like saying, ‘too much truth’, or ‘too much more right-ness’.

The problem is that the results of the scientific studies fitness pros base their advice on are usually way too controlled to repeat in the average lifter.

(You might also like to know that some scientific studies are funded by supplement companies.)

The amount of intensity used in the studies is rarely, if ever, described well enough.

Here’s the deal… the DIETS of many programs rely on the science, and tell you to consume millions of calories, but then fail to get across the science of exactly how much INTENSITY is needed in the gym.

And, we end up thinking that we should be scarfing down insane amounts of carbs, eating whey protein powder by the bucket, and so on.

3. Not Enough Whole Foods

Whole foods will get you 10x the results as the synthetic stuff. Nuff said.

The times when I’ve tried to lose fat and was jamming down protein shakes, the results have been piss-poor in comparison to when I ate whole foods.

This means WHOLE EGGS. None of that pussy egg white B.S.

The body simply doesn’t digest ‘fake’ food as well as real, whole foods.

And the biggest sin of all? Most diets pay no attention to digestion. If your body isn’t processing the food you’re giving it, then you’ll get fat.

4. Way Too Many Carbs.

For the guy who’s not seeing the fat loss results he wants, I can almost guarantee he’s eating way too many carbs.

You don’t need a giant carb meal after a workout.

You don’t need a pre, during, and post workout protein shake with 60 grams of dextrose in it… like I used to pound down. Eat some steak and eggs.

You don’t need a whole weekend or even a whole day to ‘restore glycogen’. You probably only need 1 hour.

5. The Program Assumes INSANE Intensity (Which Is Awesome) But People Don’ Understand What It Takes.

This was illustrated above but it needs its own bullet point.

You’re likely NOT going hard enough in the gym.

If you’re not ‘feeling’ it in your muscles you’re doing it wrong. If you work your shoulders and don’t walk out of the gym unable to take your shirt off without some difficulty, you’re probably not going hard enough… you just ‘warmed’ up.

Other thoughts on intensity:

  • Way too much rest time between sets.
  • Way too much time in the gym. 1 hr is overkill, people burn out. You don’t need marathon sessions in the gym. In fact, I’d say that if you’re going over 40 minutes, you’re resting too much and wasting your time. The problem here is that most people’s intensity isn’t high enough during a workout under 30 minutes, so staying longer will help get the needed work in.

6. The ‘No Direct Bicep’ Work Mantra & The ‘Culture Of Wheels’

I call bull-shit.

I used to follow this lame-ass advice and what I’d end up with? Horrible bicep size. Fat thighs, and a body nobody cared about. (I’m sure there’s also a correlation to some of the other bullets here – ie poor intensity – but the point remains.)

For the average lifter, who gives a shit about the size of the legs? Yes, work your legs hard. Do heavy squats, do deadlifts. I personally really enjoy these exercises to get the sweat going and work my abs. But, you should be working your biceps if you want them to grow.

I think ‘no bicep’ work is harmful advice for a lot of guys.

Which leads me to the final point:

7. The Programs Have No SPECIFIC End Result In Mind

This is a huge one. A lot of times we follow workout programs that are just designed to put on X amount of muscle. Most of the time that just means an extra 5 lbs of muscle on our thighs (and a lot of fat before the ‘cut’).

What’s the point?

This is what leads a lot of guys to be seen as ‘gym rats’ but then with their shirts off no one can even tell they work out.

It’s a shame.

BONUS 8. Nuts Suck.

I’ll throw in this one because it’s fun.

Nuts are healthy in moderation. People overeat them, guaranteed. If you’re on a diet, don’t touch them.

Here’s what to do now:

Email me using this contact form or on tweet @DJohanson if you need a recommendation on a diet/exercise program other than the Hollywood Physique, which is what I shamelessly recommend for anyone who has some experience in the gym.


Beating People Gives Meaning

This post comes almost directly from an email I sent to a friend recently.

I just got a library card and checked out ‘The Art Of The Start‘ by Guy Kawasaki. It seems decent.

I grabbed one idea from the beginning… basically, Guy says you need to have a meaning behind what you’re starting. For me, right now that meaning is paying rent and doing cool shit. I think I need to go further.

He mentions in there that when Apple first started, their MEANING was to beat IBM. Then, later it was to crush Bill Gates.

Then he talks about how his new company’s meaning is ‘enabling entrepreneurs.’

Have you ever heard about his new company? NOPE.

He seems to miss the obvious… having COMPETITION, wanting to BEAT OTHERS, is a great way to add meaning to what you’re doing.

For instance, I would love to start a company that put Paypal out of business. That would be badass.

I don’t have a lot of meaning via competition at this point. I’m not trying to destroy a company, or make it difficult on them.

This doesn’t have to be a malicious thing.

Imagine playing basketball with a group of friends and no one cares about winning… it sucks. It’s boring. But if they try, all of the sudden, it’s fun. And I don’t hate my friend who beats me after the game. He makes me better.

I think beating people, good ole fashioned competition, gives sufficient meaning to business endeavors. What do you think? Leave me a comment.