I’ve never completely revealed this in public.
For years I’ve been reluctant to talk about it. Mostly because it
sounds like total B.S. (even with the proof below).
I realized there’s some big, BIG lessons here for…
… anybody in business
… anybody wanting to access rich decision makers
… anybody struggling with their fears
So I put aside my hesitation, rolled out my trusty Mac, and crafted
About 8 years ago I received a letter from Warren Buffett. In this
letter he invited me to be his personal guest at Berkshire’s AGM.
It all started a few weeks before when I received a phone call from
an ex-girlfriend living in London.
She knew I’m a huge Buffett fan. She called to say the night before
she chatted to Buffett in a London bar.
I was stunned.
We spoke on the phone for 10 minutes as I grilled her about him.
I remember putting the phone down feeling stunned.
What are the odds an ex-girlfriend of mine is going to meet one of my heroes?
Reveling in the energy rush of the phone call, I get an idea – why
don’t I write him a letter?
I couldn’t think of a reason not to, so I did.
This presented me with my first obstacle…
He gets hundreds – maybe even thousands – of letters each month.
Which means he’d have a gatekeeper opening his mail.
So I had to get passed this gatekeeper. And I had to make my letter
unique and different.
“How do I do that?” I pondered.
Then I thought to myself, “He’s never been to Oz. So he’s probably
never touched an Aussie $10 note. Since our currency is so
colourful and has a unique texture, he’ll probably get a kick from
holding it between his fingers.”
So that’s what I did.
I attached an Aussie $10 note to the top of my letter.
Attaching money to direct mail letters is a ploy I’ve been using
since the beginning of my copywriting career. And I can count on
one hand the number of times it’s failed.
In other words…
… It almost ALWAYS works!
So I felt confident I’d get passed the gatekeeper.
GETTING A RESPONSE FROM MR BUFFETT
Getting a response was my second challenge. And to be honest, it
was a very REAL challenge.
After all, this guy is the second richest man in the world. He’d
have huge demands on his time and focus.
So, to get him to respond I needed a compelling hook.
Thankfully, the hook was obvious – my ex-girlfriend.
So the letter opened up with…
“Mr. Buffett you don’t know me but you do know a friend of mine. In
fact, you met her the other night in a bar in London. She’s the
pretty blonde you chatted to etc, etc.,”
So now armed with my hook and attention getter (the $10 note), I
moved onto the rest of my letter.
I shared what his life, his teachings and most notably how his
famous “Letters From The Chairman” have impacted me. I also shared
my own story… and what my plans were for the future.
After checking for typos and grammar mistakes, I mailed the letter.
FAST FORWARD WEEKS LATER
Like any other day, I am flicking through my mail. Except this day
is different. What do I see amongst the pile of rubbish?
A letter from Omaha.
There’s only one guy from Omaha – Warren E. Buffet, baby!
It couldn’t be. Could it?
So I open the letter and lo and behold… it’s from the man himself.
Check it out on the About page of this website.
THE REAL KICKER OF THIS STORY
What I thought was my hook (my ex-girlfriend bumping into him in a
bar) was NOT my hook at all.
Turns out Buffett wasn’t in London and hadn’t been in years. Turns out the guy she met was a fake… and was leading her on (though you’ve gotta admire the brass balls on the guy).
Anyway, the real Buffett must have found it amusing or something
because he responded.
Not only that, I scored an invite to Berkshire’s AGM, too.
Attention: you MUST do something different. If I knew Mr. Buffett
received lots of letters with Aussie $10 notes my letter would have
been drowned out. So I would have needed to do something else.
So the key to being different is FIRST researching what your
competitors have communicated to your market. Without this
intelligence you can’t create contrast in your message.
Hook: What I thought was my hook i.e. my ex meeting him in the bar
didn’t turn out be. The REAL hook was the “look alike” that he
Story: My story must have connected with him on some level. I
wouldn’t say that it inspired him as I’d be bullshitting myself.
But some connection took place. That, my friend, is the power of a
well written story.
Have a shot: I’m halfway through the Steve Jobs biography. I am an
Apple fan though not fanatical like others. Something I’ve noticed
though from reading his story is Jobs lived his life.
He S-T-R-E-T-C-H-E-D himself.
If I look back over my life the coolest, most memorable experiences
took place when I stretched. Even the way my wife and I met was a
STRETCH (we met on a dating website. I can’t believe I’m putting
this in print).
So don’t be afraid to stretch in your own life.
Trump asks himself a question in his deals… and it’s a question I
ask as often as I can. Here it is: “what’s the worst that can
If I can live with the downside, I go ahead.
Till next time