I was once characterized by a book reviewer as a “motivational writer.” Apparently he felt that this moniker debased me. It didn’t.

I am very happy that my writing sometimes has the effect of motivating people. I find it hard to understand what is wrong with that. If he meant to imply that my work doesn’t have substance he should have said so. But I don’t think he dared say that because the book he was reviewing was about building businesses — and that is something I know a great deal more about than the average reader of that book, including him.

Still, a lot of folks have the idea that motivating people is somehow less legitimate than, say, just providing them with information. The thinking seems to go something like this: “Don’t try to excite me. Don’t try to get me moving. Just tell me the facts.”

But knowing the facts is only 20 percent of success. Testing the facts by putting them into action is 80 percent.

I can’t say for sure when motivation started creeping into my writing. But it was at least 20 years ago — well before I started writing books about marketing and business. I think it began when I became a consultant and realized that I couldn’t force my clients to execute my ideas. If I wanted them to follow my suggestions, I would have to take the extra step of motivating them to do it.

When I make presentations to a group, I try to motivate my audience to take the action I want them to take by using the persuasive techniques that I teach marketers to use in selling products. For one thing, I express the value of my ideas in terms of how the people I’m speaking to (not me or anyone else) will benefit from them.

I also sell one idea at a time. I have learned that if I try to do more, they (and I) will come away with nothing.

Whenever possible, I present my ideas through stories — because stories, more than any other information-sharing technique, have the power to inspire.

And I provide proof to support the claims I make. Tangible, relevant, and impressive proof.

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The Unexpected Side Effects of Making Money (and How to Avoid Them)

My life changed dramatically and immediately when, in 1982, I decided to make “getting rich” my number one goal.

Within a few weeks of that decision, I convinced my boss to raise my compensation from $35,000 to $75,000. A year later, I was a bona-fide millionaire.

My status changed too — from just another good employee to a junior partner and employer of hundreds. This made me more confident. And that confidence had a noticeable effect on everyone I dealt with. They took my opinions more seriously. They gave me more respect. Most memorably, my lifestyle changed. Instead of eking out a modest living, paycheck to paycheck, I was able to buy a car without asking how much it cost.

But making this change happen had two negative consequences:

1. I gave up thousands of hours of good times with friends and family.

2. I did a few things I wish I hadn’t.

When I set that goal, I knew there were more important things in life than money. But I suspected that I would be more likely to achieve it if I made it my number one priority. That turned out to be terribly true. There is enormous power that comes from saying “I will put this goal above all others.” It is impossible to understand that power until you have experienced it.

Most people won’t even dare to try. And maybe that is because most people have more sense than I had back then.

I didn’t recognize how monomaniacal I would become. I didn’t anticipate how willing I would be to put my family second. Most of all, I didn’t realize that I would be making some ethical concessions along the way. When my partner and I were accused of misleading advertising, I was actually shocked. All of our copy had been run by lawyers. It was accurate to the letter of the law. How could they call it misleading?

Because some of it was.

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