Jim Straw has been in business since before most of us were born.
He’s the guy Dan Kennedy called, “… one of the ‘quiet giants,’ a fellow I’ve watched and learned from since I was in short pants …”
Rather than give a long drawn-out introduction, I’m going to let my guest tell you about himself and why you should listen to what he has to say, so we’ll get straight to it.
Marko: Let’s begin by having you tell us a little bit about your background, your family life, childhood, growing up.
Jim Straw: As the eldest son of a farmer/aircraft worker, born in Oklahoma and reared on farms in Oklahoma, Missouri, and Kansas, I began my long, successful career in business at the age of nine; when I sold my first cans of Cloverleaf Salve and copies of “GRIT” newspaper. Even at that early age, I had the unique talent of recognizing an opportunity, implementing a plan, and making a profit.
My career has progressed through direct selling, service contracting, wholesale merchandising, entertainment (he was a professional Trumpet player, vocalist & Radio Announcer), freight forwarding, import/export, retail merchandising, warehousing, real estate, electronics manufacturing, finder’s fees, closeout merchandising, financial brokerage, business consulting, steel fabrication, gold & coal mining, offshore banking, mailorder, writing, and publishing.
Over the past 37 years, I have written well over 700 books, booklets, manuals, reports, courses and articles about doing business — all based on my own personal, hands-on experience. My writings are “specific” methods, techniques and approaches to doing business that anyone can use to start or expand their business.
As a mailorder marketer…with over 700,000 customers worldwide … I have sold over four-hundred million dollars ($400,000,000) worth of products and services by mail. Everything from Beauty Supplies to Heavy Equipment … Burglar Alarms to Sleeping Bags … Fishing Lures to Women’s Wigs … Automobiles to Wheelchairs … Investment Opportunities to Seafood … Consulting Services to “How To” Courses.
As a member of “Mensa,” with a lifetime of proven success in marketing, I identify myself as a “Marketing Genius.”
REZBI: Care to elaborate a little on the background of your parents and any siblings?
JIM STRAW: Not much to tell. My parents were middle class working people. Gainfully empolyed all their lives. They instilled in me and my siblings a sound work ethic.
As my Daddy once told me, “There are 3 way to make money. Steal it. Beg for it. Or, work for it. If you steal or beg, I’ll beat the hell out of you.” My only option was to work for it.
I had 2 brothers and 2 sisters … all younger.
Of the 5, I am the only one to venture into business. My Mother often asked my Wife, “When is Jim going go get a job.” — When I told her I had bought a bank, her response was, “Don’t be silly. People don’t own banks.”
Tell me about your background in education. Did you have any formal education/qualifications and, if so, how much?
JIM STRAW: I graduated from High School. Went off to college with a double major; Music and Mathematics.
Quit college my sophomore year when the Dean of Men discovered that I owned and operated a couple businesses off-campus and was making more money than the tenured professors. His advise was for me to “Go do what you are already doing and hire those we graduate.”
REZBI: Gosh. Sounds like the Dean had a wise head on his shoulders. Certainly not constrained by academic bigotry (if that makes sense).
What were those couple of businesses you were operating at the time?
JIM STRAW: I owned a doughnut shop 1 block off-campus and the RevereWare sales territory.
REZBI: From the sounds of things, would it be safe to say you were pretty successful with those?
JIM STRAW: Musta been. The Dean of Men said I was making more that the professors.
REZBI: Would you say you were self-taught in business or were there many influences in your life?
JIM STRAW: Self-taught … spending thousands of hours in the public library – and – listening to old business men who enjoyed talking with a young entrepreneur.
REZBI: Who did you read and converse with? Anyone in particular?
Or, better stated, who would you say influenced you most in print?
JIM STRAW: I didn’t read any particular author. I just read everything and anything I could find about doing business.
Unfortunately, most beginners fail to study the fundamentals of business. They are forever disappointed because business doesn’t work the way they have imagined it, or, worse yet, the way some con-man told them it did.
REZBI: Have to agree with you there — I fell into the same trap myself… more than once… and it cost me literally thousands.
Now, would I be correct in assuming you’ve never been employed by someone else? That you’ve always worked for yourself?
JIM STRAW: In my younger years, I often held “jobs” while looking for opportunities or to support my start-ups.
I’ve worked as a shoe salesman in a shoe store; backup musician (trumpet player); jowl cutter in a meat packing plant; wrangler on a number of ranches; dredger in an oil tank farm; radio announcer/disc jockey; and a wide variety of other sales jobs.
Of course, I’ve always been employed by my thousands of customers.
REZBI: Looks like you’ve had quite a varied working life. A lot like myself.
I suppose that can be good, especially in something like copywriting, which I’ve noticed you’re very good at.
In fact, that would be an understatement.
Would you say your background has made you a better marketer and copywriter?
JIM STRAW: Not really. I just write as if I were talking directly to you.
REZBI: Would you say your writing has improved over the years through experience, or was it always up to that standard?
And, if you feel it has improved, in what way?
JIM STRAW: Of course it has improved. Anything you can do today, you will do better the more you do it.
I have learned to anticipate what my readers may be asking themselves and answer their questions before they ask them.
REZBI: Okay, Jim, let’s get down to the nitty gritty.
With the life and successes you’ve had, there just HAS to be more.
I mean, let’s face it, the average Joe would fill a mountain of books if he put his entire life in print.
You, obviously, are not average.
I mean, how many people in the world just buy banks?
Dan Kennedy, of all people, has called you, “one of the ‘quiet giants,’, a “fellow I’ve watched and learned from since I was in short pants …“”
You don’t get an endorsement like that by having an ordinary life.
Tell something you’ve never mentioned before, something funny, something amazing… something our readers can really get their teeth into.
I don’t know, maybe the President called you for advice and you blew him off because you were too busy… anything.
JIM STRAW: As I told Dan, “If I had known he was watching in short pants, I would have pointed and giggled.”
Hmmm … something I have never mentioned before? — Well, I am ambidextrous. I do almost everthing as well with my Left hand as I do with my Right hand. — Does that count?
Beyond that, I type over 140 words per minute … with proper (or improper) capitalization and punctuation.
Tell us how you went about buying huge businesses, etc., such as a bank.
JIM STRAW: Okay … now I get it.
Back in the early 80s I went to New York City to discuss some business ideas with some other entrepreneurs. — I was early and found myself in a magnificent office building before anyone had arrived in their offices.
Attempting to light a cigarette … it was legal back then … I discovered that my lighter was out of fluid and I had no matches. The only person in the building was the janitor, so I asked him for a light and he obliged. — After lighting my cigarette, the janitor decided to join me in a smoke and we struck up a conversation.
After I told him about some of my business dealings, he made the comment, “What we really need is …… “
That simple comment made over $16 Million for me over the next 5 years.
One of my success secrets is that I “listen” … no matter who is talking; from Fortune 100 CEO to janitor.
By the way, I have NEVER bought any “huge” or even “big” businesses. I have always bought smaller businesses and made them big – but – don’t ask me which ones. I don’t think the current owners would appreciate it since most of them have taken the “big” business I sold them and made the business “small” again.
REZBI: Now THAT… is a story.
I think, even though most of us know it, the majority don’t listen, hence we miss the opportunities. And for those of us who do listen, we recognise the opportunities but do nothing with because, as someone once said, opportunity is “usually disguised as hard work”.
One thing I realised in consulting was that you pretty much don’t have to do any work at all. Just walk around the shop floor and ask everyone else how they’d improve things.
And, somewhere among those questions and answers, will be the solution to the problem.
And, as you found out, there may be further opportunities.
I’d like to ask you, if I may, about your course “You Can Be A Millionaire In One-Year Or Less!” How did that come about and can you tell us a little more about it than you already have on the site?
JIM STRAW: Over the years, through my writings, I have taught a multitude of business people (many of them became millionaires) how to make money doing the various things I had done – but – there was one big “secret” that I had never shared with anyone because my friend and I had promised each other we simply wouldn’t tell anyone (except our kids and grandkids, of course).
My friend … not totally retired … released me from the promise and I began writing down all of the elements of what we had been doing; including details about how and “why” we did it that way. It took over 2 months to just write it down.
Back in the day, I could have (and did) make tons of money working just 4 or 5 hours each week – but – I have never been able to abide wasted/leisure time so, while I was making tons of money in just a few hours each week, I was wheeling and dealing doing other “real” businesses. — Some of those other businesses lead to me writing about them as well.
Some other businesses happened by accident … like the one I tell about in my Snooper Report — http://www.businesslyceum.com/snooper.html
After I wrote the manuscript for “You Can Be A Millionaire … ” it was my intention to use it to form and train a new “group” of young(er), aggressive entrepreneurs and participate with them in deals worldwide – but – at my age, I simply didn’t need the activity – and – since I don’t do telephones anymore (too hard of hearing), I just couldn’t do it.
By the way, what I teach in my ‘Be A Millionaire’ course works everywhere in the world. You may read testimonials from Spain and England on the sales page … http://www.businesslyceum.com/BeAMillionaire.html
Someone recently asked me, “If it’s so profitable, why not just do it yourself, instead of writing about it?” — Well, I HAVE for over 50 years (even now, I do a couple good deals each year) – but – why do mathematicians write math books? Why do Medical Doctors publish their methods? Why do Plumbers, Electricians, Composer, Architects, and even Hobbyists write handbooks and instruction manuals? — We write down our methods for the younger generations, so they won’t have to learn for themselves how it’s done, as we did, by trial and error.
To be continuted…