The following is the 6th chapter from Peter Nevland’s book, Wiener Dog Marketing. His interview with Roy Williams about the business lessons from the Buda Wiener Dog Races continues from where it left off in Chapter 5.
Roy: Now, Peter, how many business owners have succeeded because they did something they were never meant to do?
Peter: There’s this guy I know named Roy H. Williams. He never finished college. He went to two days of college.
Roy: Day and a half.
Peter: He ended up having an impressive GED.
Roy: Don’t even have that.
Peter: He doesn’t even have a GED. Do you have a high school diploma?
Roy: Graduated in the bottom one-third of my class.
Peter: Graduated in the bottom third of his high school class. He has a high school diploma. However, he is paid millions of dollars every year and is sought after as, perhaps, the most well-respected marketing consultant in the United States, if not the world. And yet, he rose above. I know… I know this is uncomfortable…
Roy: Listen, I would say it differently…
Peter: I’m just saying…
Roy: I won’t say highly respected. I would say this, “to my knowledge, I’m fairly certain that I am the most highly paid…
Peter: most highly paid… ad writer, absolutely…
Roy: …ad writer in the world. And so, that doesn’t mean I’m the best…
Peter: No, no, no, no, whatever…
Roy: …just the most highly paid.
Peter: Hey, hey, stop. You’re changing. You always promo me, and you give me crap because I always say, “Roy, you can’t actually say that. It’s not actually true,” whatever. I’m doing for you what you always do for me. I don’t actually worship at the altar of Roy… ’cause that would be a terrible altar to worship at (laughing heartily). But seriously, there’s something inspiring about your story.
There’s something inspiring about wiener dogs that taps into… I know you run from emotions like the plague when it comes to business… but there’s something very real about the emotions of a business owner and his team… that when you come up with the offer that inspires them, that gets them excited, gets a team united, gets the wiener dog owner united behind “My wiener dog can win!” there’s something powerful about that. And we have to be looking out for the idea, the concept that can unite commitment and passion, right?
Roy: Well, so…
Peter: I mean, you made it.
Roy: Here’s the thing.
Peter: You shouldn’t have made it.
Peter: I got an engineering degree. Then I was a spoken word artist. Now I’m this marketing consultant.
Roy: Let’s talk about that for a minute.
Roy: So here’s the real truth. Whenever you left Motorola…
Roy: You had a big bankroll of money because you were single and making big money…
Peter: That I collected over three years. Three magical years at Motorola!
Roy: So for three years, you were this very highly paid engineer. And you didn’t need any money because you were single, and you didn’t spend any money because you worked all the time.
Peter: Had no kids.
Roy: And then you said… “You know what, I think I’ll uh, I think I’ll follow my real dream, which is to do performance art. You had plenty of money. I knew that money would run out, and it did. And then, I supported you in a really small way, just to keep you going. And for another 2 or 3 years, you kept going. And I said to myself, “after six years of you continuing and struggling and pushing,”… and you did some big stuff in England and Germany and Australia and all over. But the thing was, I said, “someday he’s gonna fall in love and get married. And God help him when he has a child. ‘Cause all of this, touring the world and sleeping on friends’ couches, you know….”
Peter: That’s not what women dream of.
Roy: That’s not what women dream of.
Peter: That’s not what kids dream of either.
Roy: That’s not what kids need from their daddy. And I said, “someday, he’s going to need an actual career, and I’m going to suggest to him that he write ads.” So I made an investment. I made an investment for six or seven years.
Peter: Did you really think of all that at that time?
Roy: I really did.
Roy: and I said, “Someday, he’s gonna get tired of all this. He’s gonna grow up. Peter Pan is gonna grow up and fall in love. And Peter Pan is gonna have a child. And he’s gonna say, “I need a real job. I need security.” And I’m gonna say, “Well, this is going to be a painful, painful thing for you to do. But if you’ll take all that same talent, and if you’ll aim it at helping business grow….”
Roy: “…they will give you a lot of money to help them grow. And it takes the exact same skills as being a poet.”
Roy: To be a poet and a performance artist, it takes the exact same skills, no different. And if you can aim those skills at writing ads for businesses…
Roy: …you can make a wonderful living for your wife and your children, and it’s all going to be wonderful. And so I knew that someday that would happen. And if it didn’t, well I helped a young man that I love to follow his passion. Ok, so maybe I’m wrong. Maybe something else happens, and I helped a young man follow his passion. Are the odds of that high? No. The odds are high that he’s gonna fall in love, wanna get married, and have some kids. He’s gonna have a crisis that he needs to make real money. Actual life-sustaining money. And I’ll be able to say, ’cause I’ve always been there for him, “Hey, why don’t you write ads. You’d be really good at it.”
Peter: In other words…
Roy: I was investing in the future.
Peter: Yeah, but also, in other words, “Peter, here’s your wiener dog.”
Roy: Here’s a wiener dog.
Peter: I think it could be a champion wiener dog.
Roy: If you ever, if you ever decide you want to bet on a sure winner…
Roy: …bet on advertising. Because advertising is where the money is. And you would like for the money to be in slam poetry. But it’s not in slam poetry. No matter how much you would like for it to be in slam poetry, it’s not in slam poetry.
Peter: Let me put it this way: the expectations for a wiener dog are far lower than they are for an Olympic sprinter. The expectations for someone to be entertaining, funny, charming, a wordsmith, in marketing are far lower than the expectations would be if you are trying to become the most famous poet in the world…
Roy: Absolutely. I agree.
Peter: …most famous speaker in the world,
Roy: Listen, anybody…
Peter: The most famous performer in the world.
Roy: The most famous… Listen, anybody who can do competitive…
Peter: The most spectacular athletic feats of a performer on stage in the world. Most spectacular singing, diction, baritone voice…
Roy: Anytime a person has aspirations to be a compelling, magnetic, celebrated slam poet, you have dramatically exceeded… by multiples exceeded the highest level of ad writers. If you say, “you know what, anybody that is that committed and that good with language to perform and actually have aspirations to be a champion slam poet, which you were…
Roy: Slam poets and songwriters can write great ads. They always can.
Peter: I’m a wiener dog owner who doesn’t realize I have a wiener dog.
Roy: No, you’re a wiener dog who doesn’t realize they’re a wiener dog.
Peter: Oh, I’m a wien… even better.
Roy: You’re a wiener dog. You’re a wiener dog whether you realize you’re a wiener dog. So listen, I don’t have to convince Peter to be anything other than what he already is. Peter has already decided to be a wiener dog, but he’s running on a track where there is no money.
Peter: Ahhh… I see.
Roy: Hey, wiener dog, I’m gonna let you keep being a wiener dog.
Roy: I want you to be a wiener dog. I insist on you being a wiener dog but run on this other track.
Roy: You know why? ‘Cause this track is lined with gold. This track is full of money. This track helps people’s dreams come true. On this track, the further you run, the more people celebrate your success.
Roy: Run on this track because everyone is watching if you run on this track, little wiener dog.
Peter: You’re saying that passion pointed in the direction of the poor house will simply get you to the poor house faster.
Roy: That’s exactly right. Either you have a business, a skill, a product, you have a service, you have an offer that people would absolutely want if they knew it was available…
Roy: …or you’re running on the wrong track, and you should get on the track that people will pay you to run on. If you don’t have something that people would want, they would desperately want this if they knew it was available,
Roy: …if you don’t have that, either develop it or shut up and get a job.
Peter: Can you think of another example of a wiener dog on the wrong track? Someone you couldn’t have predicted that this would work out so ridiculously well? The public went nuts for something that seemed so trivial and insignificant.
Roy: Alright, so here’s the thing. This goes back to my very first client, forty years ago. His name was Stanley Burton.
Peter: When you were a young boy.
Roy: I had hair.
Peter: 12 years old.
Roy: I had hair. I can show you pictures.
Peter: You’ve got too many photoshop skills to convince me.
Roy: And so Bobby Stevens of Altar Auto Body in Muskogee, Oklahoma (names changed to protect lives)…
Roy: So anyway, he was the older brother of a friend of mine. He had moved to Muskogee because that’s where a Bible school was.
Peter: Ok. Right, right, right.
Roy: And, uh. He was a stickup artist. I knew he was a real stickup artist. He was running from assassins… literal assassins.
Peter: Wait, wait, wait, wait. Stickup artist? Ok, some people who are young and inexperienced. I’m really young and only 44 years old. Tell those people, stickup artist.
Roy: Stickup artist says, “Give me all your money.” Now, if you’re an amateur, you point a gun at someone. If you’re a professional, you grab ’em by the back of the head. You stick a pistol in their mouth.
Peter: Good, good!
Roy: …and when they taste the barrel of the gun, and they can taste the gunpowder, you say, “give me your money.” And you can’t talk because there’s a pistol in your mouth.
Peter: Id nard noo nalk
Roy: And so what happens is, they wet their pants as they crap their underwear…
Peter: That just happened to me.
Roy: …and they give you their money.
Peter: I just crapped my pants and wet my underwear.
Roy: And so, when you know you’re dealing with a pro, he says, “you never point a gun at somebody, you grab ’em by the top of the head, right behind the crown of their head.”
Roy: ’cause if you pull the trigger, and you blow their brains out their mouth.
Peter: It’s hard to miss.
Roy: You don’t want to hit your own hand. You don’t want to hit your own hand.
Peter: mm hmm.
Roy: And I’m going, “oh, this is a pro. And he says, “It’s funny when they can’t talk, but they can taste the barrel of the steel of the gun, and they can taste the gunpowder in the gun barrel… they can’t say anything. They do what you say, ’cause they know you cannot miss blowing their brain stem out their back.”
Peter: And you happen to know this guy might be a stickup artist.
Roy: He’s a stickup artist. A real stickup artist. He’s not kidding.
Roy: So why is he in Muskogee, Oklahoma, going to Bible college? He got religion.
Peter: He heard the voice of Jesus.
Roy: He did. He found Jesus, and here’s what happened. A motorcycle group, and another motorcycle group, I forget their… were going to have a big drug deal. This is, like, 1977. And so, he decided, him and his buddy would show up, hide in the bushes. They found out about the deal, ambushed it, took the drugs from this group and the money from that group. They were con-men before that ever happened. They had everybody looking for them to kill them already. But when they robbed the money from this motorcycle gang and these drugs from this other group, whatever they were, then stuff got real.
Peter: So he comes to Muskogee, Oklahoma…
Roy: Muskogee, Oklahoma, and his day job was, he was an auto body repairman. And he would repair cars. He was actually kind of good at it. He was really good at it.
Peter: It’s the perfect cover.
Roy: And so he’s in Muskogee going to Bible school. He is repairing cars. The very first sale I ever made was to this guy. He had a little body shop and his body shop… and I promise I’m not making this up. It was a mini storage building. And it was the width of one car, but it was the depth of two cars. So you could put two cars in it, nose to tail. And the only electricity in the whole building was one lightbulb in the ceiling. So to run his, uh, tool compressor he had to unscrew the lightbulb, screw in a little adapter and plug in a 110 compressor, and run a little 110 series compressor (aaaaagggghhhh) for like 10 minutes. And then he’d have an air tool (eeeegggghhhh) like a sander or whatever, (iiiieeerrrrh). And then you had to wait ’til the compressor built up some more pressure.
Peter: Right, right, right, right.
Roy: So what happened was he had a two-car, no light, 110 socket, mini storage business.
Peter: Very professional business.
Roy: So listen. This is the guy that was my first client. I made him so gigantically successful that three years later he had a 10,000 square foot body shop.
Roy: He woke up, dressed in a suit all day, and all he did all day was serve donuts or coffee and write estimates all day. He had, like, 17 full-time body-repairmen working for him.
Roy: And so, this guy, in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. He had an offer, and he had a delivery system. He was really truly going to do everything he was promising. He was really truly going to do it. He was promising some remarkable things. And so, I promised the things that he was actually truly going to deliver. He really, truly was going to deliver them.
Roy: And he did deliver that. And it was remarkable. And it worked. And so he became this legend. And he became this huge, very successful company. And everybody wanted to hire me. And I’m going, “I just recognized a wiener dog.”
Peter: Umm hmm.
Roy: This guy had an idea. He was going to be that. He was going to do that with me or without me.
Peter: You could count on him to be a wiener dog.
Roy: I could count on him to be a wiener dog. I’m going, “you know what, I’m going to gamble on this guy. I believe he’s a sure bet. This guy really is what he says he is.” And when you see that as an advertising person, bet the farm.
Dwayne Johnson did this after he realized that his football career was a bust.
College dropout to highest paid advertiser in the world. Stickup artist to incredibly successful auto body shop owner. If you’re on an unsuccessful or not well-paid enough track, you can get on the wiener dog track to wealth and success. But you have to have at minimum this one thing, or you can’t be a wiener dog…
Commitment beats passion every day of the week. Commitment survives when passion dies. It picks passion back up on its feet and brushes off discouragement and disappointment. It finds ways to make progress when everyone says it’s impossible. It finds ways to eat struggles for breakfast. And it tends to be connected to something that’s bigger than yourself.
1. What are you committed to achieving at all costs in your business? What steps are you taking to achieve that?
Just because your business/career isn’t currently successful doesn’t mean it has to stay that way. If you’ve got wiener dog commitment, it’s a matter of finding a way to apply your assets to what the public is looking for. Dwayne Johnson did this after he realized that his football career was a bust. He applied his athleticism, showmanship and family background to a career in professional wrestling, becoming the most successful wrestler of all time, “The Rock”.
This doesn’t just apply to individuals. Motorola started out as the Galvin Manufacturing Company producing “battery eliminators”, which soon became obsolete. Paul Galvin challenged his engineers to develop a radio that could work in cars. That invention proved so popular it forced the company to change its name to align with what got the public’s attention.
3M started producing mining equipment in Minnesota. Under financial pressure from poor sales, they initiated a corporate culture of invention, discovering niche products in adhesives, chemicals, etc… that had nothing to do with mining.
2. What current activities are you involved in that are sucking your profitability and/or time? How can you redirect those activities to align with the commitment you just wrote down?