Desperation as a Marker of Success

“How desperate are you?” asks Drayton Bird. “The more desperate you are, the better you are likely to do.”

When I first got started as a freelance copywriter, I was certainly desperate.

I had quit my job to become a financial planner. I kept trying to make it work from April 19 until June 12 of the year 2005. But during those seven weeks I had only earned about $200.

Not good.

I had only about two weeks of money left in the bank, three if I really stretched it, so I was faced with a choice: try to get a job or launch my freelance copywriting career.

Getting another job was not appealing to me. Plus, I had been writing sales copy in my previous job.

So on June 13, 2005, I officially hung out my shingle as a freelance copywriter. And nearly seven years later, here I am.

Another British man you may have heard of is James Dyson, the inventor of one of the most successful vacuum cleaners in the world.

Back in 1979, Dyson decided to create the best vacuum cleaner in the world. It took him five years of prototyping before he was ready to bring it to market.

Unfortunately, Dyson had trouble finding any takers. Almost nobody wanted to manufacture or sell it. Finally, when a licensing deal with Amway went bad, Dyson decided to make and sell his vacuum cleaner himself.

Manufacturing is an expensive and risky business. Nevertheless, Dyson borrowed $900,000 and used his house as collateral for the loan.

Today, Dyson is one of the best-selling vacuum cleaners in the western hemisphere. It is a billion-dollar private company, and Dyson himself is still the 100% shareholder. Dyson says this about his experience:

I work hard when I’m at work. But when I get home, I don’t speak on the phone, and I don’t do e-mail. I try to get 10 hours of sleep. But I liked living on the edge. All those years that my house was in hock to the bank… I liked the danger, the idea that everything depended on getting that next product right in every way.

Drayton Bird went from being broke and £165,000 in the hole to selling his agency for “a million or two.” James Dyson went from being $900,000 in the hole to owning a billion-dollar company.

So the question is worth repeating: How desperate are you?

-Ryan M. Healy

P.S. There’s still time to get Drayton Bird’s ebook. In fact, just yesterday I discovered that Drayton is giving purchasers of the ebook a free 11-minute video in which David Ogilvy explains how to inspire and motivate people.

Click here to get your copy while it’s still available.

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Ryan Healy

Ryan Healy is a freelance copywriter, list manager, and the author of Speed Writing for Nonfiction Writers. Since 2002, he has worked with scores of clients, including Agora Financial, Lombardi Publishing, and Contrarian Profits. He writes a popular blog about copywriting, advertising, and business growth, has been featured in publications like Feed Front magazine, and has been published on sites like,, and

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