How To Enjoy Stress

When someone says, “I feel stressed.”

… It’s often meant as a bad thing.

But for a moment, imagine how much more you’d get done — and how easy it would be to overcome the challenges of work and everyday life — if you enjoyed stress.

Well friends, I have some good news…

Because I’m about to show you that “stress” might actually be the best thing for you. And when you understand the benefits of stress, I suspect you’ll start savoring it as much as I do.

But first, a short story…

As many of you know, I started running Strategic Profits at the beginning of last year.

And with it, came more responsibilities than I’ve ever managed before, like leading a team, executing multiple projects at once, driving forward both product marketing and fulfillment, business development, customer service, and anything else that needs to get done, but lacks a dedicated team member.

Plus, when I started the role, we were planning a big launch for Steal Our Winners, which in itself, had more moving pieces than any campaign I’ve ever been a part of.

Point being, I was faced with challenges unlike any I had overcome before.

And there were many late nights and long weekends at the office.

But whenever I would lay in bed at night and talk with my wife, I wouldn’t complain about all the fires I had to put out that day.

Instead, I’d tell her how much I LOVED doing it.

And the same is true today.

Now, many people in this situation would’ve been scared, or nervous, or anxious, or intimidated. And all of those words could’ve easily characterized the emotions I was feeling.

But instead of looking at my situation through a negative lense…

I viewed my stress as excitement.

“This is fun,” I’d tell myself.

And it’s a habit I’ve worked hard to develop whenever the butterflies in my stomach are flapping at top speed.

Because 95 times out of 100, those butterflies mean I’m doing something that’s pushing me to my outer limits and forcing me to grow as a person.

I’m getting better.

And even though this is a simple shift in perspective, it makes a profound difference.

But here’s the cool part…

I’m not some freak of nature who doesn’t get stressed.

On the contrary, it’s taken my whole life to get to this point (and I still have room to improve).

But one thing that’s helped me get here is by researching the best ways to deal with my emotions, which nowadays, isn’t too hard considering the Internet and the litany of academic literature on the subject.

For instance, most people don’t realize that psychologists have identified two types of stress:

Distress: This is the common form of stress that causes dissatisfaction and depression.

Eustress: This is positive stress that causes enjoyment, focus, and personal growth.
But here’s the crazy part…

Scientists found that the type of event doesn’t impact whether it causes distress or eustress. It’s the way we perceive these events that determine if we grow or suffer because of them.

For one person, a terminal cancer diagnosis might give them a newfound appreciation for life and force them to reconnect with an estranged family member.

But for another, it could send them down a spiraling depression full of anger and resentment.

The difference?

Perception.

As Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (don’t ask me how to pronounce it), wrote in his iconic book, Flow:

“How we feel about ourselves, the joy we get from living, ultimately depend directly on how the mind filters and interprets everyday experiences.”

In other words:

“The control of consciousness determines the quality of life,” writes Csikszentmihalyi.

That means that your job… or your spouse… or your President… aren’t responsible for your distress.

YOU ARE!

Personally, when I first uncovered this idea, it was a breakthrough for me. And since then, through study and practice, I’ve learned how to control the way I perceive stress.

And it’s been a game-changer.

Because now I find high-stakes, high-intensity work to be some of the most enjoyable, fulfilling, and satisfying experiences of my life.

And I suspect that by making a simple tweak to your own narrative about stress, the same could happen for you too.

You pen pal,

Matt Rizvi

Speaking Is Ruining My Writing

This is going to sound strange…

But it’s becoming harder and harder for me to be a productive writer.

Getting into flow is more challenging.

My mental bandwidth is stretched like taffy.

And I’m finding it nearly impossible to carve out time to sit in silence and execute my most celebrated skill.

The reason?

I just TALK so damn much these days.

As our team grows, my time is increasingly spent in meetings.

And that’s not a bad thing.

Meetings are where I delegate tasks, make decisions, clear bottlenecks, plan our operations, and provide feedback.

They’re muy importante.

And they allow me to leverage my time effectively.

But meetings also involve a lot of speaking on my part and require a similar amount of mental focus, creativity, and energy — especially as an introvert by nature.

In fact, nearly 6 hours of my day today was dedicated to meetings alone.

And that’s why I’d go as far as to say that speaking is ruining my writing practice.

The solution?

I need to scale my writing ability.

Which means:

Outsourcing more to members of my team…
Training up staff to my level of expertise. And…
Spending more time reviewing and editing copy instead of writing it from scratch.
Point being:

If you too are managing the day-to-day operations of your business — while also creating assets that require hours of deep work — then at some point, something’s gotta give.

What roles you move off your plate is your choice.

But you better choose wisely.

Your pen pal,

Matt Rizvi

Stress + _____ = Growth

A couple of years ago, I discovered a powerful growth formula that I’ll never forget.

The source?

Best-selling author, Ryan Holiday.

You see, I was at a lecture in San Francisco where he was interviewed about how he finds “stillness” while maintaining such a productive lifestyle.

(For context, Ryan wrote 9 books by the ripe young age of 32.)

Not-so-supringly, there were lots of ideas that resonated with me.

…Like when Ryan explained that the reason he’s so prolific comes from his daily writing habit.

In fact, he believes that anyone who puts in the work — 365 days a year — is bound to produce volumes, whatever your craft.

But what I found most interesting was Ryan’s take on “streaks.”

For instance, he told a story about how excited he got when he bought an Apple iWatch because of the notifications telling him the number of days in a row he exercised.

It was motivating.

And even though it was tough at first, he soon found it emotionally easier to keep the streak alive than to break it.

But around day 37, he started to feel like crap.

Yet he kept exercising anyways.

Until at one point, his body felt so bad that he went to the hospital where he discovered that he had mono, which was exacerbated by the exercise.

And then it took him 2 months to recover.

The lesson?

Pushing yourself is important.

…But so are breaks.

“Stress + Rest = Growth,” Ryan said.

And I couldn’t agree more.

White-knuckling it will only get you so far.

At some point, you need to slow down and be still.

Your pen pal,

Matt Rizvi

A Bad Place To Work

Is your company a bad place to work?

If you’re an entrepreneur, you may not want to admit it.

Heck, you might not even know if you’re making this mistake.

You just see the symptoms:

High turnover
Low morale
Low productivity
Unengaged employees
Constant infighting
Political maneuvering
The list goes on.

But before you can fix a problem, you have to define it. And then create a vision for what life looks like once you’ve solved it.

In fact, it’s something I’ve pondered a lot recently as I grow our team at Strategic Profits.

And to help me with this dilemma, I turn to my favorite source of wisdom:

BOOKS

For example, last weekend I came across a couple powerful passages from the legendary Ben Horowitz in his book, The Hard Thing About Hard Things.

He writes:

“In good organizations, people can focus on their work and have confidence that if they get their work done, good things will happen for both the company and them personally. It is a true pleasure to work in an organization such as this. Every person can wake up knowing that the work they do will be efficient, effective and make a difference both for the organization and themselves. These things make their jobs both motivating and fulfilling.”

And in contrast:

“In a poor organization, on the other hand, people spend much of their time fighting organizational boundaries, infighting and broken processes. They are not even clear on what their jobs are, so there is no way to know if they are getting the job done or not. In the miracle case that they work ridiculous hours and get the job done, they have no idea what it means for the company or their careers. To make it all much worse and rub salt in the wound, when they finally work up the courage to tell management how fucked up their situation is, management denies there is a problem, then defends the status quo, then ignores the problem.”

Clearly, it’s better to operate a good organization than a bad one.

But setting that goal is 100X easier than achieving it.

So what are the solutions?

That’s what we’ll discuss next week.

Till then.

Your pen pal,

Matt Rizvi

How I Get Clients Without Trying

“Work here for 2-3 years and you’ll never worry about finding a job again.”

That’s what Mike Palmer — the legendary financial copywriter and my former Copy Chief — told my class of 7 brand-new junior copywriters on our first day.

It was quite the claim.

But he wasn’t lying.

Because when I decided to leave Agora just 2.5 years later, the simple fact that I worked in-house under his tutelage provided a flood of unsolicited copywriting opportunities.

Doors opened easily for me.

And as Mike promised, I never again struggled to find clients.

Obviously, there was plenty of hard work involved.

I spent long hours at the office (often on the weekends), I got my writing shredded in front of my peers, and I wrote thousands of pages of bad copy that ended up in the digital dust bin.

But by going through it all…

And adding that experience to my track record…

I developed a reputation that continues to pay dividends.

And as a result, I hear from businesses who want to hire me all the time.

Want the same?

Then here’s what I recommend, whether you’re a copywriter, designer, media buyer, or any other skill-based professional:

Worry less about things like cold email templates and job boards.

And instead, identify the most well-respected businesses in your industry.

Work your buttocks off to make an impression and land a job, even if it’s menial (for example, I started in customer service at Agora before finally landing the copywriting job).

Then from there, leverage that experience to build a thriving business.

It’s not the “fast” or “sexy” way to find a client.

But it worked like wizardry for me.

And I bet it’ll work for you too.

Your pen pal,

Matt Rizvi

The Biggest Break Of My Life

When I landed the biggest break of my life…

It unlocked a massive opportunity, new responsibilities, and even caused my family to move across the country.

In fact, it’s the reason I’m partnered with Rich Schefren and run the day-to-day operations of Strategic Profits.

So in today’s email, I’m going to let you in on a little secret…

I’m going to show you exactly how I landed this break.

And by following a similar path, I’m confident that you too can experience life-changing results.

But first, some context…

It all started in 2019 when I went to Justin Goff and Stefan Georgi’s first Copy Accelerator Live in Austin, Texas.

At the event, I met many top copywriters and brilliant entrepreneurs.

One of them was Peter Coyne, a former publisher at Agora Financial (which owned Rich’s business at the time).

He told me that he was working with Rich.

And they were publishing lots of content to their email list and Facebook group.

So I joined both.

And just two weeks later, I saw a post in the group saying they were looking to hire a publisher to run Strategic Profits.

It felt like fate.

So I applied. Got the job. And the rest is history.

Now here’s the thing:

While many previous events and actions lead to that outcome…

I simply can’t deny the power of masterminds like Justin and Stefan’s.

They allow you to meet people who can advance your business and career in unthinkable ways.

So if you want to experience that for yourself, do what I do:

Go to masterminds with really smart people.

It could land you the biggest break of your life.

Your pen pal,

Matt Rizvi

P.S. I’m writing this from Scottsdale, Arizona while attending this year’s Copy Accelerator Live. So if you’re here too, I’d love chat. Seriously. I mean it.

No. 1 Habit Of The Richest Copywriter I Know

I don’t know his net worth, but I suspect Mike Palmer is the richest copywriter I’ve ever worked with.

(And I’ve worked with MANY rich copywriters.)

Who is Mike Palmer?

Well…

He was the Copy Chief and a partner at Stansberry Research — one of America’s largest and most profitable publishers of financial newsletters (which recently IPO’d).

Over his career, he’s sold *hundreds* of millions of dollars worth of product — most notably from his “End of America” package and the countless iterations (and copycats) that spawned from that.

He’s truly a Master of the craft.

You can see it in his leads, his proof, his structure.

…Which is why his controls were rarely challenged.

But when I think of the ONE thing that separates him from the really “good” copywriters, it’s this:

Mike Palmer is PROLIFIC.

Not only does he write world-class copy, but writes it FAST.

In fact, I vividly remember Mike’s habit of leaving on Friday, then coming to copy review the following Monday with a brand-new headline and lead that would’ve taken a newbie copywriter months to get so polished.

Dan Kennedy says that “money is attracted to speed.”

And Mike took that message to the bank.

So when I first started working with Mike, I asked him about his secrets for writing words in a hurry.

For starters…

Mike recommended setting a timer — typically from 25 to 90 minutes (depending on your endurance) — and then forcing yourself to cut out all distractions when it’s on.

It’s a technique he picked up from the great David Ogilvy.

And while it’s not the easiest habit to hold…

And it’s sure not “sexy”…

Boy do timers work wonders on productivity.

And since learning this approach from Mike, I’ve found that these simple clocks are critical to my success when conducting “deep work.”

Ignore this advice at your peril.

Your pen pal,

Matt Rizvi

Should You Sell In Every Email?

“Should you sell in EVERY email?”

I get asked that question all the time.

But I’m scared to answer.

Because like a seasoned politician, my stance on email has flip-flopped.

For ages I believed you should absolutely have a hyperlink in every piece of email copy… and at other times, I’ve saved the CTA until after I delivered an abundance of value (like Gary Vee recommends in Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook).

But of late, I’ve adopted a different dogma with email sales:

Congruence is King.

Meaning…

When you deliver the right offer, to the right audience, at the right time — you can sleep easy knowing that you’ve sold the right way.

For example…

If a new prospect joins our list to learn the copywriting basics, it’s the perfect opportunity to sell them a copywriting crash course (like Best of Steal Our Winners: Copywriting).

Or if someone’s been on our list for a while, loves what we do, but is struggling to take their business from 6 to 7 figures, then it might be the right moment to sell them on personal coaching with Rich.

Point being:

It’s always a good time to sell.

You just gotta make sure you have an appropriate offer to sell given the state of your prospect and the context of your copy.

And to be honest, this has been one of the biggest challenges when writing emails.

It’s hard to sell when I don’t have an offer that’s congruent with the topic of these essays.

But luckily, that’s all about to change.

Because once we’ve finished implementing the Infinity Funnel Formula with Steal Our Winners, I’ll literally have hundreds of offers at my fingertips on day ONE.

And from there, I’ll be able to create an infinite combination depending on my needs.

So no matter what business problem I’m writing about… or strategies I’m sharing… I’ll have a great offer that fits the situation like a tailored suit.

In other words:

This development is what I’ve been waiting for as an email marketer. And it will allow me to finally sell the right way, in every single email.

Want to do the same?

Then make sure you discover the Infinity Funnel Formula for yourself.

If it’s such a game-changer for me, I suspect it will be for you too.

Your pen pal,

Matt Rizvi

My Cringe-Worthy Management Mistake

To be honest…

I’m not always the best manager.

Leading a team is still new to me.

And as a result, I recently found myself falling for a grave mistake that I vowed to avoid:

Giving HARSH criticism.

You see, I’m a strong believer in learning from feedback. If a team member is messing up, it’s my job to show them what they’re doing wrong and help them do it right.

And that’s all well and good…

As long as I’m giving guidance the right way.

…Which is where I’ve been mucking up lately.

Case in point:

A couple of times over the past weeks, I’ve lost my patience, snapped on an employee, and gave feedback in a way that didn’t lead to improvement and understanding. But instead, it caused anger and resentment (a recipe for low productivity and high turnover).

In fact, after one such instance, an employee DM’d me saying that my public lashing of another teammate made him “cringe.”

(Which I thanked him for saying and found to be enlightening feedback for myself.)

So what’s the alternative?

It’s an approach I’ve been reminded of recently while binging Ted Lasso on Apple TV (watch it if you’ve got it):

Positive reinforcement.

In other words…

When showing someone what they’re doing wrong, you should also compliment them on what they’re doing right and explain how correcting their error will simply make their work even better.

For example, instead of saying:

“Matt, your leadership needs to improve. When you lose your patience, it undermines your authority and damages the entire team’s morale.”

…You should say:

“Matt, I’m really impressed how you’ve managed the team so far with less than 2 years of experience. But I bet if you toned down your critiques and had a little more patience, it would take your leadership to the next level.”

Granted, this rule is easier spoken than unbroken.

But the lesson is everlasting:

When you give feedback with kindness, folks are more likely to correct their mistakes, which makes your job as a manager a whole lot easier.

And that’s what matters most to moi.

Your pen pal,

Matt Rizvi

My “Scene” At The Airport

I have a confession…

I used to make scenes often at the airport.

Mostly because I feel like the TSA scanners are government overreach and violate my 4th Amendment right against unreasonable searches.

So whenever I flew (before getting TSA Pre-check), I would opt out of the scanner in lieu of a frisking that I preferred to think of as a free “full-body massage.”

In fact, one time when opting-out…

The TSA agent gave me the standard pat-down. But when he swabbed his hands afterward, the machine flashed red and alerted “Explosives Detected.”

Luckily, I left my bomb in my other jeans that day (joke).

But I was required to come with them to a special room where video cameras and cell phones were NOT allowed.

Now, I don’t want to say exactly what happened in that windowless closet… but I can say it wasn’t fun.

…Which brings me to my point for today:

Even though opting out of the TSA scanner gives me more control (at least, I tell myself it does), it also comes with costs.

And the same applies to being a freelancer.

Sure. There are many benefits to being a “free agent.”

  • Like an auctioneer, you can sell your services to the highest bidder.
  • You’re not forced into uncomfortable positions (like making big claims about products you don’t believe in).
  • And if you’re ever tired with how things are going, it’s easy to break things off and part as friends.

However, freelancing also has its costs.

Good clients (like good copywriters) are hard to come by.

Some won’t value your work. And others will simply waste your time with incessant Slack messages or false promises of potential upside.

Trust me; I’ve been through it.

That’s why, when you find a great client, you gotta do great work–over and over again.

Become so indispensable that they go back to you for ALL their copy needs. They can’t even be imaging their biz continuing without you.

Because when that happens, we no longer have a client-copywriter relationship…

But a real partnership where you can negotiate big benefits (like fat royalties, profit share, and even equity).

Sounds good, right?

Now go out and earn it.

Your pen pal,

Matt Rizvi