He has been at a number of the Internet conferences. Michel Fortin knows more about copywriting and testing copy than anybody that I've ever met.
I think that's one of the reasons why he's such a great teacher and also such a great copywriter. He tests every aspect of copywriting to find out what works. I know that most of the time, on any of the copywriting pieces that he creates, he has four or five tests that all run simultaneously… the color, the fonts, the placement of images.
It is truly amazing. He is a copywriting scientist.
How are you doing today, Michel?
Michel Fortin: I'm doing well, Ralph. Thank you very much for asking.
Ralph Zuranski: I really appreciate you taking your busy time. I know you get thousands of emails a day. You're in incredible demand. I hope that's not all spam.
Michel Fortin: Oh, actually those are real emails. I probably get two or three thousand emails that include spam.
Ralph Zuranski: Well, I remember that you're one of the first people to help volunteer with the “In Search of Heroes” program back at the big seminar when I put the wrong name on your photo.
Michel Fortin: Yes, that's right.
Ralph Zuranski: I was so embarrassed. You contacted me and said you've got somebody else's name on my photo. I think that endeared yourself to me immediately. I was so embarrassed.
Michel Fortin: Well, I didn't mind it so much. The other guy was a little bit better looking than me.
Ralph Zuranski: What is your definition of heroism?
Michel Fortin: If somebody goes out there and does one tiny little thing that makes some kind of a change in the world it is good. It doesn't have to be a huge legacy-type thing.
It could be one tiny little thing, like going to an orphanage and just spending ten minutes with an orphan. Or you go to a seniors' home. Or you see somebody who's trying to cross the street and has difficulty. Whether it's a person who has some kind of handicap or even a person who is fearful. You help them cross the street.
Michel Fortin: To me that's somebody who's a hero. They impressed in that one person's tiny little timeframe of their life, that little grain of dust, something that means a lot to them.
You know, there's an old proverb, an old story of a person who was walking along the beach. And they saw starfishes that were beached. They took one and threw it back into the ocean.
And the other person said, “you know, how can you make a difference when there's so many of these starfishes on the beach?” He said, “Well, I made a difference with that one.”
And that's the point! You don't have to be a huge success. You don't have to do some tremendous thing in order to be a hero. You can do something that is a blink in eternity, that can mean something to someone. To me, that's a hero.
Ralph Zuranski: Yeah, and boy that's true. Gregory Alan Williams, a person that wrote a book about saving a man's life in the L.A. riots, says “There's a little bit of good in the worst of us and a little bit of bad in the best of us. When somebody just does something good for somebody else, they actually become a hero.”
Michel Fortin: Absolutely.
Ralph Zuranski: Does that fit your definition?
Michel Fortin: Absolutely. Oh, yeah. You know, one thing I do, for example, when I go to a seminar. Whether I'm a speaker or just somebody in the audience and somebody comes up to me and asks me one simple question, I spend time with them.
Now, it could be something business-related, but it also could be something in terms of the seminar. It could be something as easy as what kind of, what do you think about the speakers, whatever.
You know, those are things of course, but the thing is that person values my opinion. Whatever I say I am going to make a difference… maybe not in that person's entire life. I may make a difference in that person's day or that person's, next hour. But, I made a difference and that's what a hero is, to make a difference… big or small.
Ralph Zuranski: Yeah, that's one of the things that really impressed me. You took the time. No matter how many people came up to you at the different conferences, you always drop what you're doing. You made sure you developed a relationship with that person. That's pretty rare for somebody that's attained the fame that you have in this industry.
Michel Fortin: Well, there is some point where I'm about to burst. I need to take some time out. Ralph, it has happened to you.
But, I can tell you that I truly believe in the Will Rogers dogma where he says that he finds a little bit of something interesting in every single person he meets.
And that's true. I meet people where that person may be to a degree, in my business, insignificant. But “holy geez,” when you spend just five minutes talking with that person you've either made a difference in that person's life, and that makes you feel good, or that person might have given you one tiny little tidbit of an idea… some information, feedback that will make a difference in your life
To me, I don't want to lose those opportunities. Every single person I meet I will try. I cannot guarantee, but I will try to spend some time with each and every person.
That's why I think that's crucial. You don't want to blockade yourself because the biggest amount of learning I have made in a seminar is in the hallways, in the bars, in the restaurants, outside the seminar when people are chatting and smoking or whatever the case may be.
Those are the opportunities for you to learn a little something that can make a dramatic difference in your business. If somebody passes you by and even if you just needed to take 30 seconds, you miss that opportunity. You could have made either a lot of money or changed your life, made you happier at least for that day.
Ralph Zuranski: Boy, isn't that true? Well, I know that you had a pretty rough childhood. Did you ever create a secret hero in your mind that helped you deal with those difficulties?
Michel Fortin: Well, not necessarily. I have been on the Internet for quite a long time. And the date was pre-Internet, like Bulletin board services and stuff like that. There were some games that I used to play like Dungeons and Dragons.
One of the things that I loved about playing those kinds of games was people didn't know who I really was. So people didn't have to disapprove of me because I had this huge fear of rejection, this huge need for approval when I was growing up because of the abuse of my childhood.
Michel Fortin: So the people, the friends that I've made on those Bulletin board services, even though I was lost, I really wasn't a sociable person… a quasi-agoraphobic, I guess those people were my heroes.
Those people were the people who every time I logged in, and I remember having a 300 baud modem in those days on a Radio Shack Color Computer 64, which is comparable to the Commodore 64 with a one-line text browser where you type in one line of text. You press “Enter” and it takes about 15 minutes for you to respond.
Well, those people were my heroes. And later on as I grew up and became a teenager, there was a gentleman who became a mentor of mine. He was a big fan of motivational speakers, spiritual thinkers, psychologists and people who actually have made differences in the lives of other people. So, I became a fanatical student of Jim Rohn.
Jim Rohn is probably the premiere gentleman who has made changes in my life. In my business life it was Dan Kennedy, who's also a big believer in having a positive mental attitude, in making the best out of your day.
So those were my, I guess if you want to call them secret heroes. They were my heroes. You know, I'll give you an example. There is a quote that's hanging above my desk.
I'm looking at it right now as I speak to you, Ralph. It's been hanging there for almost a decade. It's from Jim Rohn and it says, “There are some things you don't have to know how it works. The main thing is that it works. While some people are studying the roots, others are picking the fruit. Life or success or whatever you want to call it, it just depends on which end of this you want to get in on.”
And that, to me, changed my life around because I was always overanalyzing. I was always trying to perfect. I was always trying to figure out ways to deal with the certain problems I had when I was growing up as a child.
And that made me realize just do what needs to be done. Do what works and don't question it, and that changed my life around.
Ralph Zuranski: Well, there's a real controversy these days about goodness, ethics and moral behavior. What is your perspective?
Michel Fortin: I can debate about this and we can go into big philosophical arguments about what is right, what is morally right and all that stuff. I'm a big believer in something that is very special to me. It is that we all have three minds.
We have the conscious mind and the subconscious mind, but we also have the super-conscious mind, a term that was originally coined by psychologist William James.
What happens is that the super-conscious mind, your intuition, your conscience, is telling you every single moment of every single day what to do. And what is right. And when people feel shame or guilt or something that makes them feel that they've done something wrong. It is not because it's either wrong or right. It's simply because it was not in a proper alignment with their own set of values, their own intuitions, their own super-conscious mind.
If you are in the process of thinking about doing something, take some time out to think about it twice rather than just going at it. Sure, sometimes you need to be expedient but look at it from the perspective of, “Is this something that meets and matches my conscience?” “Is this something that I feel is right?” And that's the point.
We can talk about the arbitrary gray area of what ethics is and what it isn't.
I don't think that it's a legal thing. It's not black and white. But, everybody has a conscience. If you really want to do what is good in the world, if you want to do something that's “ethical”, it's not a religious question and it's not a moral question. It is an inner question. Does it meet your conscience? Does it follow your intuition? Does it feel right rather than is it just right. Or is it textbook right. Or is it right according to the law right?
Ralph Zuranski: There are certain principles that people are willing to sacrifice their lives for. Are there any principles that you're willing to sacrifice your life for?
Michel Fortin: I think so. The one thing that I believe in terms of principles is, the biggest one is, humility. And it's something that I've learned in the process of my growing up and learning from problems, going through the problems that I went through when I was a child.