My Unfinished Business by Dan Kennedy7 min read

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My Unfinished Business is Dan Kennedy’s memoir. Covering a wide array of topics in short autobiographical essay form, Dan’s autobiography offers a valuable insight into the marketing mind of a man known by many as the “Millionaire Maker.”

My Unfinished Business Summary

Throughout Dan’s adult life, he’s made a diligent effort to devote some time every day toward working on positive steps towards goals, never just survival.

Dan on how he focuses on what matters,

I’m a very good compartmentalizer. In Psycho-Cybernetics language, I can ‘clear the calculator’ almost anytime, anywhere, lock whatever was getting my attention away, focus on whatever I need or chose to focus on. I have little storage boxes in my head, and I can put even the most dire things away in a box, close the lid, and then not think about it until I deliberately take that lid back off that box.

There are many, many reasons to be poor in America, but there are really no good reasons to stay poor.

No financial condition is permanent unless the individual accepts it as such.

Financial problems cannot be permanent without permission.

Give into momentary fear, get a lifetime of regrets.

Anytime you find yourself making a business decision based on fear, fear that decision more than you fear whatever’s scaring you into making it.

Dan’s office is full of “psychological triggers”, including lots of clocks (for awareness of time), lots of wealth and money symbols (for prosperity consciousness), Disney art and items (for creativity), and many other items that have meaning for him, that reinforce the kind of thinking he wants.

If you want to break in and get going in any field, somewhere there’s a big winner in that field who’d let you work for nothing.

One of the most difficult tricks to a successful life is living a self-aware, conscious life, of being honest with yourself.

The more successful we become, the more important it is to constantly question ourselves.

Dan’s first piece of business advice is to avoid anything that might lead you in a criminal situation.

His second piece of advice is to prevent unhappy customers from complaining to anybody.

When it comes to information marketing, it’s all about the pitch, the proposition. When you have a really terrific pitch and can present it with people who are authentic and believable, you don’t need celebrities, beautiful settings, Hollywood production values, or other trappings.

Dan believes in the importance of having a “reading program” and budgets time to read. He typically three to five books at a time, taking notes or, in some cases, tearing out pages to keep and discarding the bulk. He reads business, marketing, and self-improvement books predominately to extract fodder for his own writing, speaking, and coaching, as well as for personal benefit.

There is no value in “things”. Rather, there is value in selling “things”.

Dan mentions the following books, Possibility Thinking by Robert Schuller, Magic of Believing by Claude Bristol, and The Dynamic Laws of Prosperity by Catherine Ponder.

Dan recommends Earl Nightingale’s “Lead the Field” audio program.

Dan believes you should never let a dream die without extraordinary effort. Most people get stopped too easily. Most people give up on their dreams without putting up much of a fight.

Dan on never giving up,

I believe you are never too old, never too young, never too poor, never too anything to be required to give up on your dreams. Most people who make a lifelong practice of giving up on their dreams, ideas and opportunities wind up mastering only one skill: excuse-making, so they have a long, comforting list of reasons why they have not done more with life. I prefer achievement.

Dan on the one thing that makes people successful,

If you would like to know what I’ve decided is THE single biggest difference between successful people and ‘the mediocre majority’, between leaders and followers, between those who enjoy generally rewarding lives vs. those who lead mostly frustrating lives, here it is: how easily they take ‘no’ for an answer. If you wanted to focus on the one single behavior that has more to do with success than any other, this is it.

Goal-setting is fine and useful, but what good is it if you are willing to give up on or compromise the goal you set? The real key to success is “adamant refusal”—what conditions or circumstances or limits do you adamantly refuse to accept?

Jim Rohn once said that, if you’re broke, don’t start our by sticking up happy, positive affirmations like “I am wealthy” all over the place. Not yet. First, put up a big sign next to your mirror that says, “I’m 42 years old, I’ve got an education, a family to take care of, and I’m flat broke and I ought to be damned embarrassed to be that way in this land of abundant opportunity.”

“You can tell a lot about a person by what they refuse to accept or tolerate.”

Dan has a paperweight on his desk that reads: “It can be done.”

Dan believes that the big, big turning points or breakthroughs in life aren’t found in the seminar room. Rather, they’re found in the hallway or the bathroom, places you wouldn’t expect. For instance, Dan changed his entire business model when he heard Gary Halbert mention, as a throwaway remark, that he charged a $15,000 fee plus a 5% royalty on the sales that come from the client’s use of the copy.

In Dan’s words,

You have to be alert all the time, with your subconscious mind conditioned to run everything heard against a master-list of everything going on in your businesses and lives, to ring a bell when something’s said that might be used.

“Motion beats meditation”—Gary Halbert.

Dan on overcoming setbacks:

I have outright failed at first, at just about everything I’ve wound up doing successfully. In some instances, I’ve left an endeavor to return years later, and be successful at it. In most cases, I’ve started over right after a meltdown, the ashes still swirling around me. Generally, my viewpoint is not one of ‘success’ and ‘failure’, but rather of ‘unfinished business.’

Following are three business secrets Dan wished he’d discovered twenty years sooner.

Price elasticity. There is no restriction on what people will pay; there is only self-imposed limits, both psychologically and practical in nature. Most people undervalue themselves, their services, their products, poorly package and present those things, and underestimate what the market will pay. It is vital to grasp that we set our own prices.

Transaction size. It requires fewer $5,000 sales than $500 sales or $50 sales to get to each million dollar benchmark. But it is not proportionately difficult to create and sell a $5,000 think that to create and sale a $50 thing.

Continuity. Everybody ought to try to strive and fight and work to find ways to create continuity income streams in their business, and if they can’t, to get involved in a business where they can.

Study and emulate people who are great successes. Why? For verification and validation. Modeling is almost as useful as the discovery of a new or better way of doing something.

It’s easier to impress people that inspire them.

Dan recommends people read Grow Rich with Peace of Mind over Napoleon Hill’s other book, Think and Grow Rich.

“Renegade Millionaires,” entrepreneurs who make money on their terms, have some clear, strong ideas about how they want to live their lives.

Earl Nightingale once said that if you don’t have a successful model to follow, you could just observe what everybody else was doing and do the opposite.

Dan on excuse-making,

[It] is a destructive cancer that destroys your reputation with others as well as your own self-respect and self-esteem. Excuse-making is a sickness, a type of mental illness, a delusional distancing from rational thought and reality. Excuse-making robs you of opportunity, squanders talent and ability. Excuse-making is a sad statement of lack of character and integrity, a warning to others that you are not to be trusted.

Dan’s thoughts on excuse-making and raising your standards echoes Jack Canfield’s advice in The Success Principles and Tony Robbins advice in Awaken the Giant Within.

Other Books by Dan Kennedy

No B.S. Time Management for Entrepreneurs

The Ultimate Sales Letter

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