Episode #167 – T.J. Rohleder On Persistent Success Secrets Of The Blue Jeans Millionaire
Nobody thought he had any shot at all at becoming wealthy.
A high school dropout…
with an obsession.
While co-workers and family members laughed and put him down, he soldiered on.
He admits he was delusional in his pursuit.
When he met his wife and they started their direct-marketing company things changed.
A copywriter approached them and they began to work together.
The business started to flourish.
T.J. applied himself to learning sales copy and when he penned his first letter it brought in a cool million bucks.
The rest, as they say, is Goessel, Kansas history (population 400!).
So if you feel like you’re never going to succeed…
you’re beaten down…
and no-one believes in you…
THIS is the podcast for you.
In this episode, you’ll discover:
- How to have the last laugh when no one (not even your friends and family) believe you can succeed.
- The honest, no “bullcrap” truth of turning $300 into 10 Million (in 5 years!) without special knowledge, skills or ability.
- Almost fool-proof way to succeed by employing one method every successful person uses.
- The dirty-little secret of opportunity market spouses.
- A “can’t miss” way to sell in your market. The number one reason why the opportunity market is so rabid.
Intro and outro backing music: Forever More by CREO
David Allan: Hey, everybody and we’re back with another edition of the podcast I’m David Allan and I have a very interesting guest on the show today. Dan Kennedy actually called him at one time – one of the best copy writers in the opportunity market. Other people have referred to him as the 150 Million Dollar Man T.J. Rohleder, How are you?
T.J. Rohleder: I’m great man. Fired up ready to go.
David Allan: Awesome. And I hope I pronounced your name right. I hope.
T.J. Rohleder: Absolutely. It’s like rolling a letter.
David Allan:So T.J. for people who don’t know who you are and maybe aren’t down the rabbit hole as deep as some of us in direct marketing. Maybe start with where you came from what you were doing – because you have some of the most interesting, you know, direct mail. You’ve been featured on different people’s seminars and so forth especially of course the aforementioned Dan Kennedy. And just tell your story sort of what you were doing before you got into all of this sort of you know bring us up through the through the years to where you’re at now.
Well I’m a salesman you know. So I got into sales back in the mid 80s. Prior to that construction were factory work. I was a welder. A blue collar kinds of things which I’m still I’m still a blue collar person. I’ve no bluejeans millionaire because I don’t dress up and what you see is what you get grow. But I started by money making programs and getting involved in network marketing opportunities and that got me out of the factories started my own business. And then in 1988 I met my wife. And so you know
almost 30 years ago. And her and I started a little tiny direct response marketing company in Godso Kansas which without Google you’d never be able to find that out of four people.
And we started with 300 bucks and turned it into over $10 million in our first five years in total revenues. And you know that’s that’s my that’s my claim to fame her and I did it together we generated tens of millions of dollars and next year will be our 30th anniversary. So of the business and you know I just I learned direct mail from a from a master copywriter I’ll tell that story maybe later in the podcast but you know direct response marketing turning words into money.
Yeah. Now what was the first time you heard about like the concept or direct response that somebody another business person mentioned it to you. Did you pick up a book by accident. Like how did that start.
Oh no no no no. There really were no real books 30 some years ago on the subject. Do you know except available through mail order.
You know I don’t know but you know there I was just by a money making program. I answer to that. In some of the magazines about some of the business opportunities that worked for sale and ended up getting on all these mailing lists then you know so I know that that was you go to the mailbox. And if you’re a hot prospect and you’re buying lots of this stuff then you open your mailbox and it’s just flooded with junk mail and you know.
So that’s that’s really how I discovered it all. And and and ironically enough a lot of the money making programs that were for sale back then and a lot of of them are still for sale right now. It’s all about making money by selling the opportunity itself. You know that’s a common theme in our market right.
Yeah making teaching you how to make money.
It’s very strange telling selling money making program. Yeah it’s very it is. I’ve always thought that was a little bit funny.
Yeah it is very strange once you sort of step back and think about it. So you were answering all these ads in the back of various magazines that people were sending all sorts of stuff.
And most of it was just not very helpful I trust.
Well you know I was I certainly wasn’t making any money with all the network marketing programs and stuff like that. And my friends and family they saw me spending all of my money on these plans and programs and they thought I was absolutely crazy.
And I was there’s no question about that. You know like a factory worker who thinks that he can become a millionaire and he had no special knowledge skills or abilities. I mean you know I it was crazy.
It was crazy to think that that someone like myself back then could have ever made a lot of money that come.
Like your persistence in sort of you know going through and purchasing these programs and sort of persisting despite the fact it sounds like you know that quite a few people around you and your family perhaps were saying you know how crazy and where.
And like forget it. And it’s never going to work. What did that persistence and that sort of confidence that you’re going to find something that did work where did that come from.
Well I think I think it really was just delusion at the time it was you know delusion kept me and I just I had this I had this fantasy that I could become a billionaire and and all of these network marketing programs that I was part of 35 years ago back in the first you know the middle 80s you know that that’s that’s what they’re all about.
You know they show you they draw the circles. They show you how you can have this huge organization and be oriented you know hundred thousand of all that was you know back. It’s even more pronounced today. Right. But you know so that I just bought into it. I see it now you know. Now I realize that all the people that laughed at me and my friends and family coworkers You know I asked me how right they.
I had the last laugh. So I mean I had the last laugh.
You continued unabated. So you were just hell bent on like I’m going to make this work.
Yeah yeah we just you know and then we we we got lucky in the beginning in the sense that there’s this direct response company that my wife and I started we sold a program called dialing for dollars which showed people how to make money with a simple telephone answering machine and all of the concepts and dialing for dollars basically still work today with some real tweaking. We don’t use answering machines anymore we use voice mail Bell you know messages we use webinars and all that kind of stuff. But but we came up with this little program for making money with an answering machine. We sold 160000 of them in the first four years. And
a lot of those people stayed with us for many many years because there’s an ability to this opportunity market place that I’ve been part of now for three decades. People just can’t get up. And the more they buy the more they want to buy. Every purchase fuels the desire for the next purchase. And they are truly insatiable and they spend a lot of money every penny that they have and then some.
Right. And you were and you were the same one.
I mean the sort of God and that’s that Pepsi that’s might. That was my connection to the marketplace. And out of everything I’ve learned and I’ve strived to learn as much as I could. I became obsessed with learning everything there is to know about marketing and sales copywriting information marketing and all that. But the one thing above everything else that’s made me more money and makes me more money than anything else is that that affinity that I have with the marketplace. I mean I am the market and they are me I understand these people way better than they’ll ever understand themselves and I don’t mean that in a cocky arrogant kind of way. I’ve worked really
hard to understand them and to understand yourself Well yeah I mean you know you really can’t understand anybody else until unless you really understand yourself. But but. Yes sure. So what. What was the desire behind my desire to make all this money what is what is their desire. I mean it’s a fantasy that people trade. It’s no different in some ways and maybe that’s a little off color. But people that are all caught up in pornography or whatever other fantasy that people get caught up in that they end up devoting large portions of their life to their chasing dream. You know because that’s
that’s what most all of this get rich quick stuff is it’s just a dream it’s a fantasy. And and people are chasing it now.
Did you have examples in your own life people that you knew that had been successful when like the network marketing thing or maybe a money maker.
Absolutely not. No way no way.
I said you always hear about those people you know go back to network marketing being the best example. You know there’s always the stories of you know sometimes you do actually see them in some of the National pep rallies the stuff that those companies have you know they’re they’re up on the stage they’re the superstars. Right. And there’s no question of that in network marketing alone. There are people that have made billions of dollars they’re making hundreds of thousands of money right now. You can go to some of the popular Web site to see all the stories of the people that started broke and now they’re making millions so it does happen but it’s mostly just a
fantasy for them. For the average person it will never happen.
Right. Right. And did you have any like did you have any business people that were you were you know maybe close to your family or some people you looked to that had been successful that sort of gave you that glimmer of hope.
No. No but we were lucky in the beginning because we we met this guy named Russ Bonhoeffer a legend in our business and he sent us. We were in the business six months and one day I went to the mailbox to grab all the orders that came in brand new to the business. And I I got a brochure from this guy in El Cajon California who I already knew his name. He was he was also in the opportunity market. And he sent along a little oh this is it’s kind of noteworthy you didn’t send a brochure. He sent a brochure with a little post-it note on their hand and it just said hey I like what you
guys are doing. Give me a call I think I can help you make more money. I will help him. And that started a relationship that is still going to to this day 30 years later. So that’s amazing. You know he he yeah he taught me direct mail. So he used to come out to our house. We’d pay him 25 bucks he’d come out to our house for the weekend and we at that time we were brand new in the business so we had a customer base and we would just sit around talking about what what other kinds of products that the customers might want to buy. And then he would just get really excited. He wrote all of this copy by by longhand on
So we always had to have a stack of legal pads right there when we can vote. All right. I guess he was just we would drink a lot of coffee and then we get excited and he’s going to start writing fast and furious that once he got started you just you didn’t you know you just let him go.
He was done. And they did. And then he cool off that you know after 10 minutes or 15 minutes he lose his train of thought or whatever and we drink some more coffee and talk a little bit more and up and sure enough we get all excited he’d start right when we took all those legal pad when we took him back to the airport on Sunday.
We would then on the way back home we stop at the pipers and we had a lady type it all up and then we turned it into sales letters. And that’s how that’s how I learned direct mail.
That’s also when I just go somewhere somewhere. As I was watching this guy do his magic. I said I’ve got to learn how to do this right. And I did. I taught myself how to do it. And my first sales letter brought in over a million bucks.
A good start took three months to write it though David. Three months to write it sounds like every every year sounds like every day it was worth it.
That would have brought it down and I wrote it all out longhand like he did you know that it was only years later that I said Man I can’t do this because it’s you know tears up your hand. I learned how to write on the computer and stuff like that you know.
Right so let’s sort of silly this was just sort of a you know a chance occurrence. Yes. I mean you said you knew who this guy was already but he reached out to you.
Yeah. Yeah. He sent us a brochure on his copywriting services and he included a personal note. And and to this day I really have to believe that that personal note made all the difference because you know you had your greenmail your white male and then the greenmail took the priority to the male with the money in it and the white male if you you know if sometimes you didn’t even get around to doing much with the white male if the business was good. So it was just that personal little touch. And I think in many many many ways all of us as marketers need to find ways to add some kind of a personal touch to make ourselves stand out a little bit add that element of oh I don’t
know what do you call it. I just call it human war.
DAVID Yeah yeah.
There’s like an empathy and a sense that you know it’s how you treat real friends of yours.
Yeah exactly. Exactly.
You know you speak a certain way to your friends and that’s kind of how you talked to the people that are you that you’re trying to create that for. Right.
That’s exactly how I I treat every single prospect and I’ve done business with with hundreds of thousands of people over the years. And when we put our friend on our sales letter we mean it. Yeah I mean a friend is somebody that you have something in common with somebody who’s trying to look out for your best interests. You know we really do try to reach out to people in an altruistic kind of way.
Now the market that you’re in they actually Mark and I have been in for lo these many years as kind of a bad rap against it.
That is an understatement. And this is a dirty rotten filthy whiny market.
But the truth is you know but it’s also a market that is very lucrative and the people within the market are really great people even though sometimes they don’t behave. You know they do they behave poorly. You know it’s it’s it’s it’s a really I thought about getting out of this market for many many many years. But I keep coming back to it because you know I know it so well. It’s just you know you want it for so long. But but ultimately that’s not enough. And the money’s not enough. I I really have an affinity for these people and I feel their pain and they’re all in pain and they’re in great great great emotional pain. And you know they’re
just they’re they’re they’re just like I was 30 some years ago and they haven’t changed it it’s not going to change 30 50 years from now. You know albeit you know a little bit more fragment with the Internet like that but but with the psycho graphics behind the whole thing it’s never going to change people. People are not just looking to make a lot of money they want to make a lot of money fast and easy and they want the dream to be real and they want something to get excited about and more than anything else.
I think that’s what it is for a lot of these people you know they’re just they’re they’re there I know I don’t want to say they’re bored out of their mind.
I don’t want to say that. Let’s just say that they’re not they’re not happy and they they really just want something to get. That’s why I like look. Let’s go back to network marketing. Ninety 97 98 percent of the people in Network Marketing already but even making a thousand bucks a month. Some of these people say with those things for years because because they want to feel alive they like wanted the pep rallies. They like being around other like minded you know kind of people that are excited. And so the money really doesn’t even factor in. I mean they’re always hopeful. You know they’re going to sign up some heavy hitter or some nonsense like that you know.
Now for you personally did you ask as you went forward into the opportunity market before you started your own company and you were buying these money making things.
I was the customer before I became a seller. Yeah.
Yeah and people were telling you like forget it this is never going to be you you’re never going to be rich or whatever you know.
However they characterized it. Was they’re part of it your motivation to prove these people wrong.
Oh absolutely. Oh absolutely no question about it it was that there was that little kid you know the little kid that you know you’re pushing him down and they just keep coming back you know or whatever.
So sure you know I. Nobody. I suffered some humiliation. Right. You know people people not only laughing behind my back but laughing right in my face you know like oh he thinks he’s going to get rich someday they just thought that was the funniest damned thing in the world.
And you know what it is really looking back at it all looking back at it all I totally the joke really was on me not them because because most people most people that have my kind of background you know blue collar guy think he’s going to become a millionaire. I mean come on that’s I could see I could see it really was a joke. But you know really was no question about it.
Yeah. It’s very interesting. Do you find that motivates you now too because you know when you’re talking because you are are are your market as you’ve pointed out repeatedly. Does that motivate you to help these people because you want to help them prove people wrong too.
Well I I if I had a thousand dollars for every time I’ve said to one of my customers I’ve said things to the effect of Hey we’re going to make that wipe a believer or something like that.
Right. But God only knows how much money have.
You know really were they have they they all have people in their lives that are naysayers. Critic you know the world is full of all of that. And so they’ve got all kinds of oh the fact that a lot of these people they’re there by in these programs behind their spouses back.
So I’m very very very very very common.
You know they’ve got credit cards that their spouses don’t know about. They’ve got phone numbers that their spouses don’t know about. They’re sneaking around behind their spouses back. So I see all of that is just very very very common thing. But inside it’s their desire for having something more. And they know that other people have done it. There’s tons of social proof out there even though when you when you really study it you’ll see that there are isolated stories but you know my story is very isolated to bed yet. And yet I’m a high school dropout. I have no knowledge skills or abilities.
I wasn’t born with any any good looks or any talent or anything you know just I just had just had this crazy idea that I could make a lot of money and then I ultimately I fell in love with the marketing that I fell in love.
See that’s that’s the difference between me and a lot of my customers that you know I fell in love with all this stuff to the point where it became sort of an opposition and I devoted every waking minute of every day to you know trying to really master some of this stuff.
Do you see that do you see that as a you have that in common with the people who’ve been successful in past.
Oh what a successful at anything he does. You know this this this whatever you want to call it drive determination. This is the way that they make it so. Well no just in business in general. You know the people who succeed are the longest stand and the most are the ones who who make it if not the top priority in their life. It’s definitely one of the two or three top priorities in their entire life.
Yes it seems to me too. I sort of didn’t get into it really you know through.
I want to make a lot of money. I mean I’ll say I didn’t buy a lot of those things kind of like you did when I was a kid. So when I was a kid I guess or like a young adult I would buy stuff on the back of magazines because I had sort of that same desire. I had some people around me some neighbors and some family friends that were like pretty wealthy. And so I was surrounded by that and maybe at some point I moved away from be extremely wealthy and to like I just got absorbed into the psychology and everything of it. And that’s what sort of drove my passion you know to get into the things I ended up in. But it’s interesting to see a lot of people who are very successful are very obsessed you know with whatever. And in this case direct marketing people
now that I know in direct marketing and they’re just they’re very excited about it even though they’ve been in it for like 30 40 years. You know they’re just it’s very.
It’s just like oh and by the way by the way one of my biggest pet peeves David is the fact that when when you when someone gets off set with marketing and sales and information selling or whatever a business fit you know all of a sudden they’re labeled and they’re like some kind of a workaholics freak or kind of a greedy Hitto such a group or people or people are just oh bad they’re feeling so sorry for them because all they ever do is think about making money.
All said you know what. You know what.
People don’t have a habit. People people can have a hobby. People can have a hobby and be totally of or or or art you know art or music or whatever you know. And the way that the way that the way that others look at people that are devoted to their music or their other art forms or more their hobbies compared to the way people feel about somebody that that’s that that has those same whatever you want to call it up sections about businesses you know. So it’s not about the money it’s not about the greed or anything like that business. It’s very fulfilling and it’s something that we we we do put a
lot of ourselves into it. But we also get a lot out of it and we provide a lot of value to the people around us that are part of our teams and stuff like that. So I’ve got I’ve got staff members that have been with me for many many years. And you know we provide a lot of value to a lot of people.
Yes sure. I see what you’re going to it’s like you never see somebody who’s like immersed in music is trying to make music maybe or or you know maybe a D.J. or an actual musician and they’re just you know they’re around that 24/7 365 nobody seems to call them a freak.
But you want to know on the on the on. On the contrary they tend to admire them because of how dedicated they are to their art when it’s business or making money or marketing or sales or copywriting. All of a sudden you get a bad name to it.
So to say you know yeah that a real pleasure having you on the show. So people want to get a hold of you they want to avail themselves perhaps of some of your products or get in touch with you what’s the best way they should do that.
OK so I’ve got a Web site thanks for asking. Yeah. I’ve got I’ve got my main web site is w w w and then it’s my name T.J. rollator T.J. our 0 8 LCDR dot com. So OK. When they go there. There’s 63 of my books that I’ve written on marketing are available for instant download is just certain groups that are dot com.
Great blog site. Man thank.
My my number one book which is some people think I just have one book because I’m the book on most famous for whatever is how to get super rich in the opportunity market. Right. Which is there and then and then if you want to see a current promotion that I’m doing at the Web site right now still being worked on but it’s up there it’s what’s hot right now. Dot.com. OK. So just to show you I talked a little bit about this postcard that leads to a one hour webinars that want our Webinars on that Web site. So what’s hot right now without an apostrophe. Right.
So what. But anyway so I appreciate the opportunity to share. And every big shot is just a little shot that just kept shooting and there is no difference. All of the most successful people I’ve ever met and I’ve had the privilege of meeting some some really successful people they just people that are deeply committed to their businesses they’ve fallen in love with with the kinds of things that they sell the people that they sell to. And they just strive to learn and to sort of master all of this to the best of their ability.
I think that’s great. I think you’re exactly right and you’re your own story has borne that out over lo these many years. And I want to thank you for coming on the show making time for us.
And a pleasure. Yeah it’s been a real it’s been a real pleasure. Stick on the line a little bit. You judge everybody else right who listens to this podcast. You know why on this back listen to this one a few times because T.J. has been there he’s done it. You heard where he came from. And I think those are just a lot of important lessons that he laid out there in his own career trajectory and his life and for everyone else will be back again next week with Hopefully someone just as exciting and informative as T.J..