Steven, What the F???

How the heck do you get a business partner motivated?

There is this guy, Steven Schwartzman. I have been working on internet marketing stuff for years... but... he can't freaking get a product launched to save his life!

My first contact with him was in 2003. I spent a week writing a PHP script for him, he paid me $650 for the job, it was all done and ready to sell. I even thought up a cool name for it. (HyperSplitter.)

We both made money, right? Wrong. In 2004... I get a message from him saying he needed some bug fixes. He waited so long to launch the product that some of PHP's changes broke the script.

I made the changes... then in 2005, I get a call from someone else saying, "Check out this web site... The script isn't for sale but I want you to look at the features on that site and clone the script. I would have bought resale rights but he isn't offering those either." I'm not even making that up... I really did get that phone call from Jaime Ojeda!

I think Steven eventually launched it but it only made a few hundred dollars. No big deal except it took him YEARS to launch it. Come on, Steven!!!

The guy is a great copywriter and he comes up with really great ideas for products. But he can't follow through! Everything he makes is half finished.

When I visited him last August he was working on a membership site. The last thing I said to him in person before getting on a plane and flying 3,000 miles back home was, "Promise me you'll have that product launched by the time I get back." It still hasn't been launched!

He does great when he's working for other people (writing copy and headlines) but for his OWN stuff... he just can't do it. He was supposed to write a report and registered a GREAT domain for it, but waited so long... that the domain expired... and copywriting legend HARLAN KILSTEIN snatched it up!

It was for that reason that I mentioned in Fast Food Copywriting about Mark Joyner's policy to never use the word "wait." You shouldn't be "waiting" on anything... ever.

Do everything you can right now. Focus on one thing and get it launched.

Steven had to study to take the LSATs for law school, he was sick for a while, he took a family trip to India and another to Portugal... okay, that's all behind you, it's time to get to work. Steven, can you launch just ONE product by the end of the week?

Come on dude. You come up with the BEST ideas I have even seen. If you just put products out consistently, you could be more popular than Brausch.

I'm sorry if I seem like a jerk here, or too nosy, but I want you to do well. All you need to do is keep posting special offers, keep building a list, and only work on things that will make you money. Not spending days helping someone else put up a web site for free.

Looking at my launch calendar over the past several years, I noticed that in 2006 I was lucky to even post one WSO. These days I feel guilty for going more than 5 days without posting one or sending a mailing out to my list.

Can you do one thing every day?

Please, give Steven some advice on staying motivated.
He NEEDS to get his ass in gear.


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  1. Online Marketing Blog › 5 Minute Articles Is LIVE! | March 6, 2008
  1. Well, Robert, you’re dealing with the type you described long ago on this very blog.

    The ETERNAL PERFECTIONIST, who has every single ingredient in their products that could make them successful, but hesitation kills the good spirit long before it’s even begun.

    There’s only one way to go: print all the comments that will be coming in, or link to this article and let him read what we think….

    As I have said many a time before your products are awesome and when you made the HyperSplitter that should be all that needs to be said. You made a super product – regardless of whichever minor bug. But if you’re a real friend why not offer to launch the product also?

    That’s pretty good free advice, don’t you think? πŸ˜‰

  2. I feel for Steven. There are a lot of us out here who have suffered from the same malady. There is an underlying reason for his hesitation. It could be fear of success (fear of the unknown), it could be fear of loss (old friends left behind if I become successful), perfectionism (as mentioned above), a bad habit formed over years, or sorrow in saying “goodbye” to a project. Or it could be the panic of facing reality and judgment. After all, as long as you’re still working on it, it has Potential (with a capital P). If you don’t get around to publishing it, no one can judge you (and find out you’re a “fake”).

    There are a lot of reasons for doing what he’s doing. But my recommendation would be not to dwell on knowing WHY. The thing to do is to move forward.

    In every project there is a sticking point – where he gets stalled. He needs to outsource whatever that item is. For me it was the sales letter. But I found that if I wrote the sales letter before I ever started working on the product (the part I loved!), then I had the hard part out of the way and it was pure joy after that. As a consequence I launched a product a month last year and am still on course for that this year. They are just cranking out!

    So review the process, find the sticking point and outsource. Then do just the part you love, Steven – and you’ll breeze forward!

    Here’s to YOUR growing success – and accepting your own brilliance for your own benefit. And be especially thankful for a friend like Robert who will prod you.


  3. I know he’s a good friend but it’s not up to you to decide what he should or shouldn’t do.

    Ask yourself this “Is the man enjoying his journey through life?” If he is, simply enjoy his friendship and don’t put your stringent standards on him.

    Is this post a good lesson for those who procrastinate because they’re perfectionists, maybe.

    But you are right about finishing one project at a time and launching it before you go onto the next.

    Creativity to be useful must also be disciplined.


  4. Brian says:

    Pick your friends and business associates carefully!

  5. Richard says:

    I am a techie like Robert, but I have Steven’s problem. I do not have a solution, I am here to find one !!!

  6. I felt like you were talking about me when I read this post. This is me to a “T”. And I can tell you that it’s extremely frustrating to be able to produce for others and not for yourself. Some call it lazy, but Henrik hit the nail right on the head. Perfectionism has killed my creative spirit on many occasions. It probably sounds crazy, but it is difficult to do for ourselves that which is so easy to do for others. Thus we remain bound to being service providers forever, instead of “the boss.” This is something I’ve been working on, but still need lots of work on. Thanks for this great post…am enjoying the comments, too!

  7. Rich Joyce says:

    You can lead a horse to water, but if the horse don’t swim, it drowns….

  8. Reading this post made me think about myself 3 years ago.

    I’ve always been a kick ass STARTER.

    Never the the FOLLOW-THROUGH guy.

    In my opinion, this is neither good or bad.

    It’s just how I am – it’s how my brains works.

    So I used to try and make everything perfect and analyze and then tweak and then out of nowhere …my attention would be hijacked 180 degrees – and instantly.

    Now, I’ve got this new kick ass idea I know will make a ton of cash. And off to work I’d go.

    So close to the finish line I could taste it, yet so scattered I’d pass it all up to move on to my new cool and way more sexy idea.

    The cycle repeats endlessly until you break it.

    Which is easier SAID than done.

    Finding ways to WORK WITH OTHER PEOPLE who are good at FOLLOW-THROUGH is the way to go.

    I’m the idea guy.

    I’m so creative it can be a disadvantage at times.

    I need someone who can take my ideas and put them into action and keep me accountable and on point.

    The hard part is finding someone who you trust, like and
    work well with.

    Good hunting!

    Joe Lavery

  9. I actually contacted an old employer to ride my @$$.
    He was interested in marketing and a real go getter,
    but unfortunately he didn’t follow through.

    I was so down on myself,
    I felt I needed a drill sergeant to yell at me.

    I have the most supportive family in the world.
    I have written A book from scratch.
    I have built many GOOD sites.
    I know research, keywords, and traffic inside and out.
    I brought my site to the top of Yahoo and MSN.
    I’ve made sales in the past,
    and was unemployed for 2 YEARS.
    Gave my kids the best Christmas of their lives.
    And you know what?

    Now I have a job again.
    We gave homemade gifts this year.
    And the bills are piling up.

    I understand what I must do from here.

    But do I DO it?


    I listen to Anthony Robbins every night as I fall asleep.
    I wear a gold bracelet that says “Believe”.
    I spend time meditating on the dreams I have.
    But it ALL felt like a distant memory.
    I couldn’t get the mindset back.

    As someone once said, “motivation is like taking a bath.
    If you don’t re-do it every day, you start to stink.”
    (paraphrased of course)
    And nothing helped, because I’d heard it all before.
    (I could TEACH most of the motivational stuff)

    If there is an answer to be had,
    it’s individual for each person.
    Because if there were a push button answer,
    someone would have sold it already. LOL!!

    For me?
    I found my will.

    I smell freedom again. (LITERALLY AT TIMES)

    I caught this post from your email, Robert.
    And it was VERY timely indeed.
    As my first step is eliminating distractions.
    Shutting off the email comes first.

    MY answer is:

    “Project Lockdown”.
    And even if it’s JUST for me,
    my mind maps will be realized.
    I’ll let the markets decide from there.
    My only goal at this point is a new laptop.
    (ie: a small amount of sales)
    I’ll let the markets decide from there.
    Blog about my journey for feedback,
    with no intent to produce profit,
    mostly the intent of avoiding forums.
    I’ll let the… oh, I said that already πŸ˜‰

    Someone said: Your options are to
    get into the public eye, or fade into the woodwork.
    So I’ll let the PEOPLE decide from there. πŸ™‚

    I feel for you Steven.
    I have for 8 years now.

    The good point is, if you have the knowledge to help others,
    once you get going, there’s no learning curve!
    So, if we can do it all for them?

    Consider your best friend in need of help.
    Having written and asked, even pleaded for your time.
    Will you give it?

    Of course you will.

    So look in the mirror, and become your best friend.

    … I carry a mirror in my pocket.

    … My kids gave it to me.

    I believe, and was EXACTLY were you are.
    NOTHING is gonna stop me now!!

    Get my personal email from Robert if you like. (used for this post)
    I’ll climb YOUR tree about progress if YOU climb MINE.

    Hope it helps!!
    Keep us posted, K?

  10. Paydex says:

    Great Post!! If Steven never talks to you again for humbling him….. well….

    aww, don’t worry- he won’t do that. πŸ˜€

  11. Renee says:

    Whoa–you hit a strong nerve here!!! The sad thing is that you can’t motivate Steven, only he can do that for himself. It could be any one or combination of factors, but that’s going to be up to him to sort out and FOLLOW THROUGH on. If he can’t do it for himself, nobody can do it for him.

    Robert, even if you can’t help Steven, you’ve helped a ton of your readers with this post. So here’s a whopping big THANK YOU!! for a timely wakeup call.

  12. Phil Rogers says:

    I once took one of those tests that determines what type of worker you are. (Similar to the Belbin test).

    I came out very strongly as Innovator and Problem Solver, but scored very low on Completer/Finisher.

    It’s true – I come up with ideas and start to implement them. Then when I’ve proved to myself that the idea works, I get bored and move on. As a result, nothing gets completed.

    Mr. Schwartzman must be the same type as me.

    Is there a cure? Not really. It’s only my financial situation that’s keeping me going, but it’s getting harder the nearer I get to the end.

  13. Mike says:

    I used to be self-employed. Since major life changes took place, I’ve tried to get back to that position; tried every business opportunity and learnt every doctrine and skill going – all to no avail. Just about very post so far resonates with me. When I look back on it, there is more than one reason. For one, I had more energy – mentally and physically. Secondly, I had more time – death was too distant to seriously contemplate, now it can be counted in a few decades – if I’m lucky. This makes you pause, which in turn is what helps you kill the fresh enthusiasm you need to complete the multitude of tasks you’d breeze through previously. Another thing is that you become overloaded because the information you have shows you where the pot-holes are – you would have just hit them and bounced back when you were blind and carefree, now you hesitate, unsure which foot to put forward first. These are some of the things that cause us to continually fail, there are many more. There is certainly no panacea. One thing that I do recall though, is that I “just did it.” No time to reflect, just do the job and take the money and pay the bills. Another thing is something all successful programmers do – make a plan, then break it down into blocks that you can “just do” first. Oh boy, I wish I could “just take my own advice..”
    An awful lot of people are in a similiar situation. Perhaps the question “..what the f…” should be directed toward someone who hasn’t encountered, or succumbed to problems on the road to success.

  14. Lee says:

    How the heck do we get to contact you?
    I’ve replied to yuor email address, I’ve left a commenton your blog and I’m still waiting for a reply from you, do you have a support email? I bought the Blackhat PHP script and I need some help

  15. Robert Plank says:

    Lee, I would be glad to help you. Your e-mail probably got filtered. This happens especially when people reply to the PayPal “thank you for your purchase” e-mails… Outlook catches them as junk mail and trashes them.

    Could you find that e-mail in your sent folder and re-send it to me? Thanks.

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