Rogue Ink

May 6, 2008

Being a Wuss is Bad for Business.

Filed under: Copywriting,Entrepreneurship,Writing — Tei @ 5:06 am
Tags: , , , , ,

I have an announcement I would like to make: I am a coward.

No, seriously. Hiding in trees is what I am all about. The brave ones went off to be paladins and stuff. Me, I stuck to my roguish ways, stayed in the shadows, tried not to be noticed, and every now and then, I’d poke my head out and trick some unsuspecting customer into hiring me for a gig. This is how I operated my business. And it actually worked decently well. No one is expecting a sneak-attacked by a copywriter. It’s the perfect disguise. I appeared, fully geared up, resume and references in hand, charm at the ready, to certain select clients I had decided beforehand would be amenable to my proposal. It was a very roguish way to go about things.

It is also REALLY cowardly.

You can’t be a wuss and run your own business.

I had a little wake-up call on this the other day. I’ve asked the good Men with Pens to make me a website (and a new blog, so consider this your first announcement that Rogue Ink will be relocating shortly), and Harry came up with a banner for me. It is quite possibly the coolest thing that ever happened to life. I had a small orgasm just looking at it. It is entirely possible that I threatened to kiss Harrison, just for being the mastermind behind it. I immediately forwarded the thing to twenty of my favorite people, and every single one of them wrote back saying, “Dude. What kind of virgin did you sacrifice to which unholy gods to get this banner?”

Look. Isn’t it awesome?

Okay. So we have established that it is, in fact, awesome. I went to bed all excited about it, dreaming blissfully of my beauteous website-to-be, and woke up in the morning with that strange feeling of doubt and guilt and possible impending doom that usually accompanies a Coyote-Ugly sort of morning-after. I had doubts about the banner. I suspected it was perhaps the kind of cool banner that you take home one night only to discover the next morning that he is not a good banner, he is not good for you, and he stole twenty bucks from you for whiskey. I was gazing at the banner, which was still blissfully sleeping, looking beautiful, wondering when it was going to wake up and be a very, very bad idea.


Because I am a coward.

I came up with some reasons why the banner was a bad idea. That my clientele wouldn’t like it, that it was too aggressive, that I couldn’t pull it off. All of this was complete and utter bullshit, though. I was scared the banner was a bad idea because I knew it would get me noticed.

Note to everyone: You are TRYING to get noticed. This is a good thing. If you have roguish tendencies like me, screw them. Consider this your biggest con. You are playing the role of someone who loves the spotlight, in order to serve the greater you. You have to ride the dragon, baby. Get some balls and just do it. Get out there.

Ride the Dragon. Or the Purple Cow.

I just read Seth Godin’s book Purple Cow. Yes, I know everyone else has already discovered the magic of Seth Godin. I am coming a little late to this party. Why don’t we all just celebrate my arrival and let it go, shall we? Excellent. At any rate, Purple Cow. Fun name. Good little book. If he’d put it out in paperback I might have bought it. I am not questioning the lack of paperback, for I know Seth Godin works in strange and mysterious ways his wonders to publish, I just don’t like hardbacks and I am too broke to afford them. So instead, I sat in one of the big cushy chairs at Barnes and Noble and read the thing cover to cover.

The Purple Cow theory, in essence, is that nobody needs normal. Everyone wants exceptional, extraordinary, remarkable. So freakin’ cool they wet themselves. So why was I afraid of the banner? Because it was a Purple Cow. And you have to be a special kind of rogue to ride a Purple Cow. Seth mentions this, actually, that there are few people becoming extraordinary because it’s scary to become extraordinary. Which it is. It most certainly is. It’s also really freakin’ cool.

An Anecdote From My Geeky Youth. And Adulthood.

When I was sixteen, I learned to swordfight. I was really good at it. Naturally good, born-to-it kind of good. Nobody had expected me to be any good at it initially, since I was tiny, blond, and a chick, so there I was on the sidelines, stealthily beating everyone, systematically. There was a tournament at the culmination of our training, and I almost didn’t participate in it, because I was incredibly fearful that I would lose, and that all of the acclaim I’d been getting by staying on the sidelines and only showing up to be awesome would all go away.

I did go to the tournament. And I won. It was glory on a stick and wrapped in bacon.

That victory led to a lot of things. The fact that I am a swordfighter has always been one of the things that made me stand out, made me get noticed. It was what I wrote my college entrance essay on, and it was the reason one of the admittance counselors noticed me and wanted me at University of Chicago. It’s a great icebreaker at parties. It’s a good thing to talk to hardware store guys about. They always remember me. That’s the chick who swordfights. You can’t BUY branding like that.

Swords have done good work for me, all my life. And I was afraid of a banner that touted this brand that has always worked for me. That’s just dumb. It’s unforgettable. It’s exciting and daring and memorable. And I’d be a damn fool not to keep using it, scary as the idea is.

There is a moral to this story. Harrison was very sweet about the whole Tei-is-being-a-wuss thing, and quoted Polonius at me. I will not do this to you, because I believe in wielding Shakespeare in a wrathful manner, not a comforting one. The moral of the story, therefore, does not come out of the Bard’s mouth, it comes out of mine:

Do not be a wuss. It is bad for you.

Thank you. Subscribe. Ride the Purple Cow.


  1. The banner is awesome.

    Everything is better with bacon. No, don’t contradict me. Everything.

    That is all. 🙂

    Comment by Allison — May 6, 2008 @ 5:13 am | Reply

  2. Actually, look at it this way. Be thankful that Harry and I have the balls and the smarts to put our foot down when clients come and say, “I think I’m going to change my mind.”

    We’ve prevented more than a few bad decisions by being able to quietly, gently and persuasively say, “Look, we really think you need to reconsider, and this is WHY we think you should.”

    Ask Dave Navarro. He’ll tell you.

    Your image and look has to fit YOU. We know this. We know what you need. It’s our job 🙂

    (Man am I ever looking forward to “subscribe to comments…”)

    Comment by James Chartrand - Men with Pens — May 6, 2008 @ 10:56 am | Reply

  3. Tei,

    You kick ass. ‘Nuff said.


    PS – everyone listen to James & Harry. They know their stuff.

    Comment by Brett Legree — May 6, 2008 @ 12:10 pm | Reply

  4. Tei,
    One of the things I REALLY like about you, ammend that to read: REALLY, REALLY like about you, is that you aren’t afraid to admit you are down here in the dirt learning this crap right along with the rest of us. Girl,that is what makes you smart. You get it quick and you aren’t afraid to say, “I screwed up and this is what I learned about it.” This is what makes people leaders and why people will follow you and learn from you.

    Now far be it from me to tell the Mighty Pen Men how to do what they do so well…but I didn’t even notice the sword til you metioned it.
    I would make it bigger or stand out even more. My eye went straight to the ink blot and stayed there. Just one little peanut gallery opinion.

    Comment by wendikelly — May 6, 2008 @ 2:32 pm | Reply

  5. Yeah, it’s pretty sexy. I can’t wait to see the site.


    “So instead, I sat in one of the big cushy chairs at Barnes and Noble and read the thing cover to cover.”

    Glad to know I’m not the only one that has done this…

    Comment by David @ PostcardPerfect — May 6, 2008 @ 2:45 pm | Reply

  6. Allison: True. Google ‘bacon bra,’ though, and we can test the limits of this theory.

    James: Oh, I see how it is. It’s all a scheme for CommentLuv. I am ON to you, Chartrand.

    And, yes, you were totally right. I have admitted this. I have written a blog post about it now. Tei was wrong, the Men were right. She is very grateful. Please, sirs, may I have another?

    Brett: Yay!

    Wendi: It’s not because I’m smart. It’s because I don’t have any other material.

    David: Dude. The cushy chairs are there to be loved.

    Comment by Tei — May 6, 2008 @ 3:17 pm | Reply

  7. “It was glory on a stick and wrapped in bacon. ” Where do you come up with this stuff! I just snorted Diet Coke out my nose thanks to you!

    I have to agree that the mighty Men with Pens know their stuff and if you can’t trust your own instincts…trust their experience.

    I love the banner!

    Comment by Sandie — May 6, 2008 @ 3:38 pm | Reply

  8. I, too, am just now reading Purple Cow and have requested all of his books from the library (also too expensive for me)! All this comes as very timely, I was just at an “industry” thing (which, in the yarn “industry” is a Sheep & Wool Festival…so the “” are used, in fact, to denote irony), and I had to keep telling myself to get OVER myself and talk to people, stand out, be noticed. It’s easy to be fantastically remarkable in my online business and then fail to TELL people, in person, about my fantastic-ness!

    Comment by Tara — May 6, 2008 @ 4:03 pm | Reply

  9. You know, the Seth Godin thing continues to amaze me. I just don’t get what people see in him.. he says the most ordinary and truly banal things and people swoon like he was pulling golden eggs out of his mouth.. oh, well.. anyway..

    The banner is perfect. “Perfect” gets overused, unfortunately, so I need more adjectives, but really: it’s perfect.

    Comment by Tony Lawrence — May 6, 2008 @ 5:51 pm | Reply

  10. Sandie: It would’ve been better with the other punctuation though. Damn my internet connection.

    Tara: Correctly used ironic quotations! How delightful!

    Tony: They are ordinary. They’re not banal though. I like him mostly because it’s like having a buddy around who tells you to quit being stupid. Some of the most obvious ideas are the ones we don’t follow through on. See above.

    Me: “But what if people NOTICE me?”

    Godin: “Dude. That’s what you’re GOING for.”

    Me: “Oh. Right. I knew that.”

    Godin: “Now I will repeat this advice from several angles twenty times over, and put it in book form, and I expect we shall never have to have this talk again. Capiche?”

    Me: “Fine. Mean meanypants.”

    Comment by Tei — May 6, 2008 @ 6:46 pm | Reply

  11. Tei,

    “To thine own self be true” or something else? Inquiring minds want to know…

    Great post. Crystal wrote one about Secret Business Syndrome over at Big Bright Bulb a while back, that also talks about getting your light out from under that bushel basket. So true! Shout and be proud! Well, unless you want to starve and be meek.

    Sixth grade should not haunt anyone, but it haunts a lot of people. Good for you for going around it and through it.


    At the risk of incurring the wrath of my beloved Pen Men (and Lord I know what that can do to me), I’ve got to agree with you. The sword is not catching my eye at all, though concept-wise, I adore it. The ink is excellent, but the sword could use some oomph. (That’s a technical designer term, of course.)


    I’ll get back to you. I have to go polish my collection of seven gilt-edged, leather-bound volumes of Sethness. I’m off to swoon and catch a golden egg at his blog after I finish polishing. 🙂



    Comment by Kelly — May 6, 2008 @ 6:51 pm | Reply

  12. It was, in fact, “To thine own self be true.” If it was “Neither a borrower nor a lender be,” I might have had to take umbrage. I busted back at him with “There is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so,” my own personal favorite tidbit of wisdom from that play.

    Oh, Shakespeare. Is there anything you CAN’T do?

    Comment by Tei — May 6, 2008 @ 7:13 pm | Reply

  13. It’s a cool banner and you should definitely use it.

    Comment by markdykeman — May 6, 2008 @ 7:44 pm | Reply

  14. Yes, yes, I get: everybody loves Seth. I *know* that. I just don’t see why. I of course haven’t read everything the man has to say, but I’ve been reading his blog for more than a month and it’s just.. well, I’m sorry, but to me it is banal. If his books are better, he’s doing himself a disservice by putting such drivel on his blog, because there is nothing that will convince me to spend a dime to read them: his blog does exactly the opposite for me.

    Kelly, if you think there are golden eggs at Seth’s blog, we must live on different planets. Nor am I the only one to think so: because it puzzles me so much that so many of you do swoon so dramatically, I’ve introduced other people to his blog with the question “What do you think of this?” and I’ve gotten the same sort of reactions I expected: shrugs, raised eyebrows, “He makes money with this???” comments..

    So I dunno. Y’all must be Republicans or something 🙂

    Comment by Tony Lawrence — May 6, 2008 @ 8:08 pm | Reply

  15. “Y’all must be Republicans or something”

    Oops. Forgot to explain that, so I had better do that before somebody gets really ticked.

    I’m VERY anti-Republican. I wouldn’t vote Republican if the other candidates were all convicted thieves and murderers. For the life of me, I cannot understand how any thinking person could vote Republican.

    Yet people do. Thinking people. Very bright people. I play poker with one of them every Thursday night – he’d re-elect George Bush if he could. He is a very bright, very well informed person and I can’t help liking and respecting him.. yet he votes Republican..

    So when I can’t understand how someone could think as they do, yet recognize that they are intelligent and must have good reason, I just shrug and think “Y’all must be Republicans or something”.

    And so it is with Seth Godin. Y’all love him to death, and I don’t. Y’all must be Republicans or something 🙂

    Comment by Tony Lawrence — May 6, 2008 @ 8:19 pm | Reply

  16. Mark: Thankee. I think I will.

    Tony: Republican, sah! You malign my honor.

    I can’t believe I’ve spent this much time defending Seth Godin.

    I don’t think he’s a genius. I think he’s useful. I don’t love Seth. I love Naomi. I love James and Harry. I love Amy. I love people who make me laugh. Do I think he’s the next god of marketing? Nah. But I think a lot of it is useful. A blog post on how to write a customer service response letter effectively? On how not to get traffic to bounce away from your blog? On how to self promote? It’s handy as anything else I’ve seen out there on marketing. It’s just not funny like IttyBiz or Kelly.

    It’s also short. I suppose the virtue of the books is that they’re longer, and go more in depth.

    Comment by Tei — May 6, 2008 @ 8:22 pm | Reply

  17. Well, actually. I’m kind of old-school Republican. In the ‘smaller government’ way, not the ‘conservative and religious’ way. It’s ’cause I like to do my own philanthropy. Are we actually going to have a political argument over here? I mean, really? HERE? This is such a silly place.

    Comment by Tei — May 6, 2008 @ 8:24 pm | Reply

  18. Ride your purple cow, flash your sword, and rock on! I have had to learn to act the part of a fearless business person. And you know what? It gets easier after a while. After a while you learn to think big, act bigger, and rock the world!

    Comment by Alisha — May 6, 2008 @ 8:48 pm | Reply

  19. Tei,

    Gee, thanks. I do try to get a laugh here and there, glad it’s working! Nobody gets a roar out of me like Naomi, though. She rocks, and I’m not just saying that ‘cuz she may read it. 😉

    Seth is not the next thing in marketing, he’s the last thing. Maybe Tei’s the next thing; maybe Naomi. Still, he’s the reason we talk about Remarkable and mean “exceptional, worth remarking on, and worthy of word-of-mouth”; we understand Permission Marketing because of Seth; he’s the reason Frank Gelett Burgess* is finally free from his purple cow.

    Teeny quote from my blog re: Seth—

    I read Seth Godin’s blog daily, not for the twenty posts that breeze right by me, lovely but inessential, but because every 21st post is so simple, so wise, so within me already, that I feel like I’ve spent an hour in meditation.

    This is just such a post. Beautiful.

    That’s about it, Tony. Yeah, his books are generally better than the blog. Churning out thoughts every day is how he hits the grace notes. He’s worth sticking with.

    Until later,


    *Trying to free himself, Burgess wrote this poem which I have always adored, a century before Seth freed him:

    Ah, yes, I wrote the “Purple Cow”—
    I’m Sorry, now, I wrote it;
    But I can tell you Anyhow
    I’ll Kill you if you Quote it!

    Comment by Kelly — May 6, 2008 @ 9:28 pm | Reply

  20. I told you to call him HAROLD. He likes that. 😉

    *ducks and runs*

    Comment by Amy — May 6, 2008 @ 9:34 pm | Reply

  21. OH and PS: I am a HUGE coward when it comes to business. Dancing naked in the streets — no problem. But I’ve been known to hang out in trees to attract potential clients. Actually, closets. I hang out in closets. I’m scared of heights, and I’m clumsy as hell, so you won’t find me in a tree.

    Comment by Amy — May 6, 2008 @ 9:36 pm | Reply

  22. I’m getting freaked out (but in a good way)! I can’t help checking your blog every day. I feel as though I’m reading about myself when I’m on here, but you’re always one step ahead. And that, to me, is makes you noticeable. And damn useful. Why should I figure out my own shit when I have the rogue to do it for me?

    PS. The sword is the FIRST thing I noticed. As a whole, the banner totally *rocks.* You know it.

    Comment by steph — May 6, 2008 @ 10:51 pm | Reply

  23. @kelly: nope, still don’t see it, sorry. He must be a Republican too..

    I read a lot of blogs.. Seth sure isn’t my favorite, and he’s going to get dropped very soon. Long, long before this one, I’m sure.

    Comment by Tony Lawrence — May 6, 2008 @ 11:09 pm | Reply

  24. Steph: That’ll be my new motto. Rogue Ink: Doing it for you since 2008.

    Tony: Aw, thanks. Glad I’m not a Republican anymore.

    Comment by Tei — May 6, 2008 @ 11:44 pm | Reply

  25. Tei, you have to go out there with a bang and just WOW THEM! How can people take notice if you don’t stand out right? I had a different experience from yours with swordfighting except mine was swimming. I was maybe 12 and my swimming coach has just told me I’ve graduated from swimming lessons and ought to start to start thinking of entering competitions. I swallowed a lump in my throat and basically squeaked, “Competition?”. I was terrified and had an image of me being left behind in the pool. I would look really really bad so I just stopped going to class. I still love swimming though. Up to now, I wonder where my life would have led if I had taken the ‘plunge’. I was a Scrabble gold medalist in high school though but I doubt that’d be a Purple Cow during parties. More like a fly. 🙂

    And like Wendi, I never noticed the sword either. I just looked at the ink blot straight away and said, ‘hey, that’s cool.’

    Comment by ksyu — May 7, 2008 @ 12:10 am | Reply

  26. I’m having one of those rare moments when something is so funny I can’t even respond. I’ve sat here for five minutes trying to think of how to say how funny that new motto is. I’ve got nothing. It’s just that hilarious. Glad you liked the other one, too. And thanks for leading me to my fellow Canucks!

    Comment by steph — May 7, 2008 @ 1:22 am | Reply

  27. I love the banner.

    Its like your tattoo meets the Big Orange Splot. If you haven’t read The Big Orange Splot, I’ll let you in on a secret: its the best book about individualism (and zoning) ever written in 20 pages or less. In fact, if you were here, I’d insist that you walk to your nearest Children’s bookstore not owned by a conglomerate and read it. Then buy it to support your local children’s bookstore.

    If you know me you know that this comment is very out of character for me. I’m the Walmart crusader. Although I rarely shop there, I LOVE the idea of Walmart. Its everything wonderful about capitalism and the free market and changing supply to meet demand with everyone gallivanting off with lower prices and Salmon for 5 dollars a pound even if you can’t fish for it off your own dock in San Francisco. But when it comes to children’s bookstores I have a soft spot. I’ll pay more for the same book just to buy it in places with soft chairs, cookies, amazing new titles by local writers, and hidden corners where my two year old can giggle with discovery and excitement. Yes, I know. Everything is on amazon. But isn’t the search worth it?

    I also love the name Harrison. Its going on the list because I’m an optimist.

    Also, writing this post brings to mind my own pet-peeve for writing. Unclosed parentheses are to me what misused bunny ears are to you. Maybe its the anal-retentive mathematician inside me but there have to be an equal number of “)” for every “(.” Otherwise its madness. Its like that little voice in your head thats making the aside (the one that goes in the parentheses) never stops. It takes over. There is a coup.

    This post used to have parentheses (closed). But despite how many times I closed them, the ranting Walmart-endorsing voice took over. Usually I discover that the ranting parentheses voice is really my voice breaking through whatever other voice I have chosen. Suddenly from within the well phrased, meticulously voiced response comes my own self: sarcastic, empathetic, or apologetic but always enshrouded in parentheses.

    Comment by The Monsters' Mama — May 7, 2008 @ 11:04 pm | Reply

  28. Anyone who can enjoy kendo (is that what you meant by sword fighting?) has to have secret brilliance hiding within them. I love the banner!

    Best wishes,


    Comment by Barbara Ling — May 7, 2008 @ 11:41 pm | Reply

  29. ksyu: Scrabble rocks my little world.

    Steph: Anytime, babe.

    Taravitch mine: Will you come around here all the time and then you and I can have long rants vis-a-vis the destructiveness or otherwise of capitalism? I realize you are here on Friday but I love you so.

    Barbara: Why, thank you. I actually have to go take up kendo now, or this banner will make a liar of me. I swordfight double-handed short swords, usually. But now the katana is here and I must fulfill my destiny.

    Comment by Tei — May 8, 2008 @ 12:28 am | Reply

  30. […] for example. I’ve had the website for ages. Remember the supremely cool banner? Harry is a tiny god in human form. In fact, we have decided that he is the Lord of the Underworld […]

    Pingback by Broken Baby Bird Necks, or Business Launching « Rogue Ink — June 4, 2008 @ 5:25 am | Reply

  31. […] power and the glory. They didn’t even get mad when became the Lousy Boss. And when I became a wuss, they very firmly and gently told me to stop it. Which I […]

    Pingback by A Love Letter to the Men « Rogue Ink — June 9, 2008 @ 6:07 am | Reply

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