Baptist minister Russell Conwell accomplished many things in his lifetime, but his most resonant and remembered speech turned essay, turned book is Acres of Diamonds.
The idea that you can do great things with what you have, just where you are, no matter where you are, inspired countless people across the world and still inspires newcomers to this day.
In reading Acres of Diamonds, I found Conwell well ahead of his time, and I came away either discovering a new facet of – or reinforcing – several of my beliefs. Here’s what I learned.
It’s Your Duty to Get Rich
In a time when the “prosperity gospel” would have been exceedingly controversial (though it still is), Conwell pragmatically asserts that getting rich is your duty.
Why? Because opportunities and the seeds of invention are everywhere. You don’t need to go elsewhere to find them. And all things being equal, it’s better to have the options money makes available than not. No advantages or benefits are afforded to the financially humble.
I love how Conwell says this without mincing words. It’s a call to abandon your preconceptions and long-held beliefs about money and to start creating your wealth without reservation.
The Same Stories are Told Repeatedly to Program You
Conwell offers the example of crooked and dishonest wealthy people. His independent claim is that such stories are repeated, publicized, and spread widely to reinforce the idea that “rich people are bad,” when such stereotypes are in the decided minority.
Of course, your desire to be rich would be lessened by the idea that you will become “bad” when you finally attain wealth.
It is an excellent reminder to start thinking for yourself and to question everything. No one has a gun to your head telling you to be rich and awful. You can be rich and amazing.
Find Out What the People Want and Supply It
The chief means to wealth, says Conwell, is to uncover what people want and to supply it. If people keep coming to your store asking for a specific product that you don’t provide, it may be time to start stocking it. If something is not working in your day-to-day, such as a belt, it may be time to invent a new belt that boasts better function and utility.
What do people come to you for? Or, what in your life isn’t working? These questions can illuminate your path to prosperity.
The Officeholder is the Servant of the People
Here Conwell states a fundamental truth that is well ignored by today’s officeholders. Dictates and mandates have all but taken the place of public opinion and voting. Today, governments seem as though they are either actively avoiding – or are deeply afraid of – people.
To be Great at All, One Must be Great Here and Now
A title will not make you great. A medal will not make you great. Awards will not make you great. Greatness is within the individual – that’s where it begins and ends. If you begin with greatness, the achievements will only have you shine all the brighter. But adding greatness to someone who is not great here and now will do little for their status long-term.
BONUS: Show Up, Do the Work, and Repeat the Winning Strategies
Conwell gave countless speeches across the world. His most prolific was Acres of Diamonds. By his admission, he didn’t know why Acres of Diamonds outshone the rest. There were other works he was surely proud of. But once he found the right note to hit, he kept hitting it, reportedly over 6,100 times!
Conwell’s speech may not have been perfect. Some even found the included stories and examples a little superfluous and hard to relate to. No matter. The message landed.
Decide now to get going, keep going, and never give up until you’ve found your winning strategy. Then, keep playing that note until the crowd cries “uncle” (they probably won’t!). But don’t be stubborn. Be willing to adjust. The opportunity you’ve been waiting for could be right in front of you.
Get your copy of Acres of Diamonds
I settled in for a James Allen classic hoping it would be a quick, simple, and inspirational read.
But as I got into Eight Pillars of Prosperity, I found it to be rather dry, and full of otherwise obvious (but not necessarily helpful) conclusions. There are relatively few if any tips or actionable insights in this book.
I identified a few zingers among all the observational waffle (rarely backed by real-life examples or stories of any substance, by the way), but the principles he espouses don’t seem to withstand lived experience, or the parsing of the inimitable Dan Kennedy. At least not in whole.
This is the same James Allen who wrote As a Man Thinketh, a veritable personal development classic. So, you can see why I may have felt a little cheated here.
But there is one thing I took away from the book that felt deeply resonant with my current experience of life, and that is this:
Develop Your Inner Wealth Before Developing Your Outer Wealth
What rings true about James Allen’s observations in Eight Pillars of Prosperity is primarily this, that there are happy wealthy people, and unhappy wealthy people. All things being equal, you want to be the former.
Things don’t make you happier, because of themselves they contain no joy. Joy can only be contained within a person (that means you).
You cannot find joy in a home, or a car, or a boat. They may give you a feeling of satisfaction or accomplishment, but they do not possess joy of themselves and therefore cannot give you joy either.
So, true prosperity begins with self, not with the outer trimmings that most people mistake for success.
You can be happy, joyous, and content in any situation. In Western culture, we sometimes find it inconceivable that people who have access to fewer amenities could be any happier than us. But they often are.
There is a strong argument for the simple life marked by purpose, even if that purpose is to walk two miles to fetch water at a distant well daily.
Joy is available now, and your true inner wealth is your sense of joy.
If you focus on developing your character first, you will not look to riches and wealth to satisfy your misery. When riches and wealth arrive, you will be far more likely to do with them what is productive, fulfilling, and benevolent.
The focus of your life, therefore, should be on developing your character and inner wealth so you can be happy and wealthy.
Get your copy of Eight Pillars of Prosperity
Looking to create financial abundance?
Most of us HOPE we can make more money than we’re currently making.
Income isn’t everything, but all things being equal, a better income would mean more choices and more freedom.
As I’ve heard many wealthy people say:
99% of the problems you’re experiencing right now can be solved with money. You can tackle the other 1% with your newfound freedom.
But how can you attract and create financial abundance?
Trying and Failing
If you’ve been on this journey for a while, chances are you’ve already tried a lot of things to increase your income.
Maybe you started an Amazon FBA business…
Or tried affiliate marketing…
Or gave blogging a go.
Perhaps you’ve read some books or have taken some courses on generating an income online.
But there’s a good chance one of the following happened:
- You created a plan but never got started
- You created a plan and got started but gave up shortly after
- You created a plan, got started, and even made some progress, but something got in the way and you stopped
- You created a plan, got started, and even stuck with the project, but in the long run it fizzled out and you were no better off
You’re not alone, and it’s not your fault.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had a project, book, or business in progress that completely stalled out for no apparent reason, sometimes never to be finished!
You can be driven, determined, consistent, persistent, even resilient beyond the level of what most would consider reasonable…
And STILL encounter seemingly insurmountable obstacles that prevent you from attaining the wealth and success you truly deserve.
So, I Reflected on My Most Successful Years…
And I noticed something interesting.
There were specific things I was doing very consistently during those years.
I wasn’t making more cold calls, applying to more jobs or gigs, producing more content, or anything of the sort.
But there were certain behaviors I’d adhered to.
So, let’s look at what those habits were.
Read 52 Books Per Year
In 2015 and 2016, I read 52 books per year or a book per week. That’s a total of 104 books over two years.
I say this because 2015 and 2016 were some of my best years for attracting opportunity.
At times, my work life got a little out of control, but…
Momentum was on my side, and I couldn’t halt the flow of income opportunities if I tried.
I primarily read books on the topics of business, personal development, marketing, writing, leadership, spirituality, money, and investing.
Books like Think and Grow Rich, Beyond Positive Thinking, Smartcuts, The War of Art, The 4-Hour Workweek, The Secret, Life is Tremendous, and so on.
And probably without even noticing, I was being imbued with ideas to help me manage my income and increase my wealth.
I did learn some things I ended up applying and implementing…
But more than anything, what the books did for me was keep me in a state of flow and idea generation.
Document the Journey
In my most prosperous years, I was using hardcopy calendar pads to manage my schedule and log my income in the “memo” section.
The fact that I was physically writing down my income on the calendar pad was key because it helped me focus on the money that was coming in.
It only happened a few times, but I can even recall filling up the memo section and running out of space to log all my income sources.
But this is key:
I have tried too many solutions, both physical and digital, to know that digital tracking simply doesn’t produce the same effect.
Physically writing down your income sources is what has this work.
Go to the Bank
How do people pay you?
Nowadays, it’s more common than ever to be paid via direct deposit, am I right?
That’s no good, at least for our purposes. The more reasons you can create to go to the bank to make deposits, the better.
As much as possible, you want to be paid in cash or checks, so you can physically handle the currency.
Going to the bank all the time could negatively impact your productivity, so you may choose to mail in your deposits or use other alternatives.
The point is you want to handle, with your hands, all the income that comes in. You want to be able to shuffle the bills and checks.
And when you do go to the bank, get a receipt printed up so you know exactly how much money is in your account. NEVER fear facing the truth about your financial life.
Pay Yourself First
One of the things that people don’t do / hate doing / resist doing most in their financial life is paying themselves first.
But it makes VERY GOOD financial sense.
So, what does it mean to pay yourself first?
It means taking 10% of your income, the moment it arrives, and locking it away in a savings account, investment, or whole life insurance plan (take your pick).
It helps to put this process on autopilot, so you don’t even need to think about it.
Over time, if you can increase that amount to 20, 30, 40% and beyond, even better.
Regardless, the more income you have stored away, the better, because you’ll be in a better position to turn down projects, offers, or clients you don’t want to take on.
But don’t become attached to your savings. Emergencies, investment opportunities, and vacation plans will come up.
Affirm Your Successes
It may sound silly…
I have NOT been a big fan or believer of affirmations in recent years (I can recall putting them to the test on multiple occasions to no avail).
But there was one affirmation I found myself saying repeatedly from 2015 to 2016, and it was from T. Harv Eker’s Secrets of the Millionaire Mind.
It goes something like this:
I am a money magnet. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
You want to say this phrase whenever money comes in, no matter how little.
Acknowledging the fact that money is coming in will reprogram your subconscious mind.
More to Come in Financial Abundance…?
The above are the behaviors that I can recall adhering to from 2015 to 2016.
But there could have been others that led to my financial abundance
So, I will be updating this guide as I’m reminded of other things, I did to produce financial breakthroughs in my life.
If you found this helpful, and if would like to see more training like this in the future, then consider pre-ordering my Money Secrets Mastery course now.
I am bringing love to a situation that I had deemed loveless many years ago.
I can, on occasion, recall expressing gratitude for the situation because it brought money into my bank account. But love? I don’t think so. I hated the guy’s guts.
Honestly, I don’t know whether love has a chance in this scenario. I have remained repressed and largely unexpressed in this client relationship, and that’s something I can take responsibility for. I have expressed my needs when it was urgent that I do so, but I have largely remained agreeable to any requests that have come across my desk, even if they were completely unreasonable. At this juncture, they are only becoming more unreasonable and even incoherent.
I can’t do that anymore. My finances have suffered. Last year, I filed for a consumer proposal. My health has suffered. Just this year, mid-October to mid-November was specifically tough, and I am still on the tail end of recovery.
Being fully self-expressed in this client relationship could mean arguments. It could mean setting boundaries. It could mean the end of a workable working arrangement. I have already put my notice in for the end of December.
But that’s what bringing love to the situation looks like right now. Being honest and truthful about my needs. Being clear about what I’m willing to do and what I’m unwilling to tolerate.
I have enjoyed helping many people build their careers and businesses to this point. But many times, I have sacrificed myself to do that. And it’s not fair to me. Love has been missing there too. I have failed to recognize myself.
For the first time in a long time, I can see the insanity cycle at work, and love was the missing piece. And I’m tired of banging my head against the wall, trying to make a dent in the Universe where I am not appreciated, respected, or valued.
But I am not just bringing love to myself. I am bringing love to my client also. Because sometimes love is letting people know when they’re egomaniacal and bat-shit insane (in the kindest manner possible).
I love you.
Please forgive me.
At the risk of offending someone, let me say it like it is…
“Generating traffic” is a gigantic waste of time.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I know that you need eyeballs on your articles, eBooks, courses, or whatever you might be shilling.
But if you approach the problem the wrong way, and build your business on shaky foundations, you will suffer the consequences sooner or later.
I’ve seen it, and it gets ugly fast. You don’t want to end up there.
So, here’s the problem and the solution.
The Problem with “Generating Traffic”
If your business revolves around driving traffic, then here are some of the problems you’re sure to encounter:
It would be in any creator’s best interest to create traffic from one channel before worrying about adding more.
Most experts, even your online heroes, generally aren’t good at more than one or two channels.
Seth Godin? Blogging.
John Lee Dumas? Podcasting.
Ralph Smart? YouTube.
Take them out of their element, and they do not command the same authority.
Most businesses get their traffic from content / SEO first and social media second. So, it’s very easy to conclude that publishing like crazy is the answer.
But any chucklehead can now generate half-baked AI content and post it all day long…
And that’s what you’re competing with now.
Getting too focused on one channel to the detriment of all others is single-source dependency at its worst.
You need at least one backup channel should one fail you. And remember – one or more channels will fail you eventually.
The same can be said for monetization. Many businesses rely heavily on advertising and affiliate marketing (how many times have these revenue streams been impacted by changes from high up?) and haven’t built other revenue streams.
Complete Lack of Relationship Building and Audience Nurturing
When you’re focused on “traffic,” you’re focused on numbers.
300 visits today. 100 visits tomorrow. 400 visits the next day. And so on.
And the thing we forget is that there are real people behind these numbers.
I’m preaching to myself as much as anyone else when I say this, but:
If you don’t take the time to build relationships, nurture your audience, and genuinely care about the people you’re serving…
Your precious “traffic” will start looking for alternatives. People have too many choices nowadays.
Author Dan Kennedy says the greatest sin in marketing is being boring.
So, in your audience nurturing efforts, you can’t afford to be sending nothing but “Hey, there’s a new post on Conceited Guru Self Aggrandizing Fest .com). You’ve got to mix things up and keep it interesting!
And if you don’t have a passion for the audience you’re serving, please, do us all a favor and find yourself another business.
I know it’s hard to start over but understand that there are plenty of people who are more than deserving of the spotlight and have a genuine passion for the niche waiting in line to be noticed.
You can create content around every relevant keyword under the sun.
The question you’ve still got to ask yourself is…
Is there any business value in the keywords you’re targeting?
Some business owners I know gave up on the idea that the audience they’re targeting would ever respond to aggressive call to actions, so they’re perfectly content driving people to their site that may or may not take any action.
And when I say, “perfectly content,” what I really mean is they are shaking in their little booties wondering whether their precious businesses are going to collapse.
This is an easy problem to solve if you focus on personality rather than content, but we’ll talk about solutions later.
For now, let’s talk about the problem with no personality…
Zero Focus on Establishing Your Personality
Look, you don’t need to be the face of your business…
But someone or something does.
At the very least, you need a mascot.
Many creators get a little too focused on riding the content hamster wheel…
While doing nothing to establish their unique personality, interests, talents, strengths, and weaknesses with their fans, followers, and subscribers.
In a world rife with AI-generated content, humanness is going to reign supreme.
In a world where people can read, listen to, or watch anything from home, real-life experience is going to reign supreme.
Does your plan include human connection? Pressing flesh? Loving on your audience? Hosting live events?
Are you the kind of person people even want to meet?
No matter how hard you try, you can’t fool anyone. You’re not a superhero. You’re human. That’s what makes you relatable.
People are tired of hearing smart people ramble and would prefer to hear you speak authentically from the heart.
If you have no personality to share with others, of course, you’re going to end up having to rely on generating more traffic.
Sabotage is not as rare as you might be inclined to think.
Sure, casually disguised phishing emails are easy to ignore (although the scammers are getting cleverer)…
But if someone wanted to, they could launch a botnet attack against you, and you would have no way of tracing it back to the instigator (this happened to me).
It’s crazy what a little money can do.
Plus, any chucklehead could launch a negative SEO campaign against you, linking to your site from low-quality Private Blog Networks (PBNs) that Google has already blackballed.
If all your eggs are in one basket (e.g., SEO), you’re at greater risk than you might think. Because sabotage usually has a significant long-term impact.
Why Building a Following Needs to be The Focus
Building a following solves most if not all the problems “traffic businesses” have. Here’s why:
You Don’t Have to Hit the “Content Ball” Out of the Park
Many newbies think better content is what’s going to get them noticed.
True, you’ve got to focus on the content (specifically on your unique approach to it), but I have seen far too many entrepreneurs disappointed with the long-term results of trying to one-up their competition’s content to believe this is the way.
(Especially if they are copycatting content without adding any of their SOUL to it – Stories, Opinions, Understanding, and Lessons.)
The great thing about growing a following is that you won’t need to hit the “content ball” out of the park anymore. In the eyes of your audience, you can do no wrong.
There will be those who want to hear what you have to say, on just about any topic, simply because it’s coming from you.
People can get a “top 10” listicle anywhere…
The one thing they can’t get anywhere else is YOU.
You’ll Know What to Create Next
If you have a following, they will tell you what they want from you next. At times, you won’t even need to ask!
Imagine not having to guess what your audience wants from you. Imagine not having to spend untold hours setting up a sales page or creating new offers only to be met with crickets…
And instead taking dozens or even hundreds of pre-orders on your next course because your fans, followers, and subscribers have told you what they want!
One of the reasons “traffic businesses” have trouble staying afloat is because their offers are based on what they think their audience wants, not on what audiences have specifically asked for.
How do some entrepreneurs make bank on small lists? This is how. They listen to their audience and act on the information available.
Virtually everything that’s a threat to a traffic business isn’t a threat to a “following business.”
Consider the following:
- Tunnel vision? Not a problem, because people want to follow YOU, and they will follow you on their favorite channels. Even if one of your accounts gets deleted, you’ll have others to fall back on.
- No intent? It’s all good. Not every piece of content you create needs to be focused on intent. If you prioritize relationship building and audience nurturing, your followers will buy from you, even if you don’t do content perfectly, sometimes without prompting. Trying to sell too aggressively might even hurt you.
- Sabotage? It’s okay, you’ll get by. Even if your website goes down during a launch, your followers will be like, “Oh my god, her site got flooded with traffic and it shut down!” You’ll become a legend. Your followers will DM you via social media and check in to see if everything’s okay, which is another valuable touchpoint you can leverage.
Don’t think in terms of traffic. Shift your mindset. Think in terms of people, of human beings, of individuals just like you who have wants and needs.
People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. So, orient your marketing message around the people who are taking time out of their days to check out your stuff.
Remember – everyone wants to feel important. Everyone wants to feel like they matter.
In a time when most people are struggling with health, finances, and relationships, if you can be a beacon of light, you will build a business that matters to others. And that will solve your traffic problem.
Spirit has brought to my attention that, even with an experiment that’s been designed around love and positivity, there are some potentially toxic downsides to it that I hadn’t originally thought of.
This is not necessarily a bad thing. Experiments are like that. You try, you learn. You fail, you learn. You succeed, you learn. It’s part and parcel of the process.
I cannot and will not diminish all the amazing things that have already happened on this journey so far, much of which I attribute to a) surrendering, and b) being rather than merely doing. Getting to be, especially in the last month or so, has been one of the greatest gifts in my life.
But reflecting on the possible downsides of the experiment has been giving me some pause.
The Invisible Stress of Failing Publicly
Stress is invisible, I know, so maybe the expression is a little redundant.
But as I’ve already shared, I have not been doing this experiment perfectly. I kicked it off at a time when I was just beginning to recover from burnout, and I’m not completely over it yet. I don’t think I have had any all-out dicey days, but I have had some dicey moments.
If I had started this experiment at my physical and mental best, failing may have held considerably less significance for me.
But right now, I don’t need more stress in my life, and I didn’t know that failing you was something that could weigh on me.
To be fair, failure was not something that was explicitly defined in the beginning. It would be more accurate to say that I haven’t been following all the rules I laid out for myself all the time.
But it is a potential downside to an experiment that was supposed to be healing and joyful. Feeling guilty for my stumbles isn’t going to produce healing or joy.
“Positive” to the Exclusion of “Negative”
This was never supposed to be a “positive thinking” experiment contrary to what the title might lead you to believe.
It was more based on the idea that the Universe responds to everything we think and feel, so all things being equal, better to dwell on the “uplifting, inspiring, and informative” versus the fluffy or negative.
Of course, life presents us with people, circumstances, and events that occur to us as positive, negative, or shades of grey in between all the time. How we define good or bad is up to us, but one inescapable truth of life is things happen. They just do.
Life tends to be more enjoyable when we feel good. And it is even possible to train ourselves to view potentially negative events as positive. But thoughts do not negate circumstances.
When I stop to think about it, the most inspirational moments in life are the ones where someone had to rise out of hardship, challenge, or adversity. In that sense, such events aren’t necessarily “bad,” but they can appear that way initially.
I don’t necessarily have the answer. It would be a cop-out to say, “Life is always in balance” or “Life is always in harmony,” but that is the closest thing to truth I can muster as I contemplate what “uplifting, inspirational, and informative” really means.
Ultimately, you never know what people, events, and circumstances might turn out to be “uplifting, inspiring, and informative” when they didn’t appear that way at the outset.
The above realizations don’t discourage me. Rather, I feel like I’ve discovered something about myself I’ve been unaware or unconscious of. I even feel like I may have understood a deeper spiritual truth.
I need to give myself some grace for being imperfect, and for doing this experiment imperfectly. It would be amazing if I managed to pull it off without effort, but then would it even be worth doing?
It has also occurred to me that these missteps are part of the journey – they are supposed to happen, so my life is reflected back at me like a mirror. I get to see how I do things and why. And there is much to be learned from that.
So long as there are things wanting to emerge out of this experiment, I’m going to keep going. And for the time being, more things are emerging.