How Busy Are You?

Posted on December 31, 2014 by Robert Ringer


Considering the headline of his fabled full-page ad, it’s no wonder the late and legendary Joe Karbo was able to sell millions of copies of his self-published little paperback book The Lazy Man’s Way to Riches. The headline I’m referring to is: MOST PEOPLE ARE TOO BUSY EARNING A LIVING TO MAKE ANY MONEY.

What’s so great about this headline is that the vast majority of people can relate to it. And one of the least-understood secrets of good writing — including copywriting — is to write things that get people nodding their heads in agreement with your words.

When I first read Karbo’s headline, I immediately envisioned millions of people shaking their heads up and down. That’s because it’s evident that the vast majority of people are too busy doing what they have to do to bring in their revered paychecks to do what they need to do to make any serious money.

A paycheck is the only thing standing between Mr. Burbs’ suburban image and his ultimate nightmare: not being able to make the payments on his SUV and big-screen HD television set, which might result in the Snootsuns across the street discovering the bloody truth about him. God bless that bill-paying, nine-to-five job (a.k.a. voluntary servitude).

So, when Mr. Burbs gets home from work, does he sit down in front of his not-yet-paid-for big-screen TV, have a glass of wine, relax, enjoy a quiet candlelight dinner, then work on serious-moneymaking endeavors the rest of the evening?

Not quite. The reality is that when he steps foot inside his home, it’s time to deal with the daily cares of life — from the trouble Johnny got into at school that day … to unpaid bills … to studying the life-insurance packet that just arrived in the mail.

Mr. Burbs’ biggest challenge is to deal with this tidal wave of domestic yuck as quickly as possible so he can get to bed at a reasonable hour. After all, servitude is not an easy job. One has to be rested in order to perform tomorrow’s duties.

Now and then, of course, he fantasizes about working on serious moneymaking projects on the weekend. Which is a nice thought, but it rarely happens. Why? Because the weekend is his only chance to try to catch up on the daily cares of life that he wasn’t able to get to during the week.

Which can include such fun projects as shoveling snow from the driveway, changing the air filters throughout the house, gassing and washing the cars, grocery shopping, dropping off and picking up the dry cleaning, reinstalling Windows on his dying computer, and helping Johnny with a massive, but totally useless, project that is due in Ms. Malevolent’s class on Monday. Like time and space, the daily cares of life are infinite.

The result, of course, is that Mr. Burbs, notwithstanding his good intentions, never quite gets around to doing what he has to do to become the dealmaking entrepreneur of his dreams. Which usually results in his giving up all hope and submitting to the role of servitude as his lot in life.

As it turned out, though, Mr. Burbs’ plight was the best thing that ever happened to Joe Karbo. That’s because Mr. Burbs — make that millions of Mr. Burbs — bought Karbo’s book by the carload. They bought it because, in his brilliance, Karbo got them to shake their heads up and down as they read his ad. They instantly recognized that they were the very guys to whom Karbo was referring — the guys who were too busy earning a living to make any money.

That said, a good question with which to begin the New Year is: Am I too busy earning a living to make any money? If so, reread this article — three times. Servitude for life is a tough gig to handle.

Robert Ringer

Robert Ringer is an American icon whose unique insights into life have helped millions of readers worldwide. He is also the author of two New York Times #1 bestselling books, both of which have been listed by The New York Times among the 15 best-selling motivational books of all time.

24 responses to “How Busy Are You?”

  1. Keith Sims says:

    I think it is important to remember the very real role that fear plays in keeping many tied to the comfort of what is essentially an economic sinking ship. With the meager raise structure prevalent in this country the past seven years, there is no way to keep up with inflation–real inflation–not the imaginary fantasy-land numbers out from the GAO. I am a highly paid nursing professional but I too deal with this on a daily basis. I am often in the position of making the decision which bill to pay first. This is incredible when one considers that I make almost more than twice what my father made in his best year. I have come to the conclusion that the only way I can break free from this downward spiral is to work for myself, where I determine my raises and income limits.

    • Avery Horton says:

      INCOME LESS EXPENSES = X. To increase X, you can increase INCOME, reduce EXPENSES or both. The problem with most people is that when INCOME increases, so do their EXPENSES. Time to tighten the belt, Keith, or be stuck in the rat race. LIFE IS CHOICES – CHOOSE WISELY.

      • Keith Sims says:

        My belt is plenty tight. Retired 40k of debt the past two years. My family of four lives in a 900 sq. foot town home. we go out maybe 2-3 times a years for dinner and a movie. Hardly extravagant. We are a one car and one income family as of last year because we decided we could do a better job of raising my son than the state. I contend that the only way to break out of this cycle of mediocrity is to work for myself. Working for someone else is being stuck in the rat race.

        • Jean says:

          You're pointing out the direct expenses you pay, such as retiring debt, your mortgage and your few extravagances. However, have you checked your tax bills lately? I'm guessing that much of your income goes to fund your state and local governments in the form of property taxes, gasoline taxes, auto excise and license plate taxes, sales taxes and just-for-the-heck-of-it taxes. You may want to explore the possibility of moving to a lower-tax area of the country. I would venture that the government educational system will be equal to or better than you have right now but your overall quality of life would be improved (not to mention your financial status, even if your income remains the same.) I'm not discounting self-employment as a pathway to financial freedom, but before you take that plunge (I have, and sure as anything, Murphy came to visit shortly thereafter) explore the avenues you have at hand for wealth-building.

          • Keith Sims says:

            Right you are Jean. Someone calculated the tax burden in MD from O'Malley's 40 special sessions, where he and the legislature added numerous hidden fees and taxes on the residents of this state. It amounts to 4500 per resident. Pretty significant if you live here for ten or twenty years. Have plans to move west in about 2 years. A nice house in Plano, TX, for example, with 2500 sq. ft. can be had for less than what my 900 sq. ft. home in MD costs. Taxes in UT are among some of the lowest in the country. If I could give a young person one piece of advice to get ahead it would be to avoid high tax/fee states.

    • Jurgy says:

      or … figure out what you are paying for that you truly do not need … my point being that everyone's lifestyle rises to the level of their income … therefore raising your income limits results in raising your financial obligations … at which time you will be looking for new ways to raise your income …

      • Keith Sims says:

        Not everyone. Warren Buffett is a prime example. Lives in the house he bought in the 1960's. Money is a game to him. Personally, I have been shedding stuff I don't need for the past two years. I am done with consumerism. Raising my income will be used to accelerate my debt freedom day, and to look for investments that provide a good return.

  2. Marte says:

    For me, the question posed by your very wise words is "What headline can I write that will get my target audience shaking their heads in agreement, and placing orders."

  3. Avery Horton says:

    Enter text right here!

  4. Daniel says:

    OMG! I'm Mr. Burbs. In my best year I made six times what my Dad (a pretty successful Daddy Burbs) did in his best year working for Uncle Sam. I thought I was successful, but in retrospect it was all about trading time and talent for a paycheck that could (and did) stop with less than a day's notice. After paying for college tuition (two daughters at private colleges ain't cheap) and forking over a big chunk for taxes (did you ever figure out the real cost of that as a percentage of income?), we lived no better and had less time with which to enjoy each other, socialize, contribute to community and organizations, etc., than my parents did. Now, at almost 60 years of age, and at the end of savings, it's time to start all over. I just dusted off "Looking Out For #1" (it's been my constant companion since 1979), and thinking that I ought to read Mr. Karbo's book, too. What I'm feeling is an odd combination of blues, consternation, and excitement. Looking out my window I see my neighbor's (former Marine fighter pilot) American flag flapping in the breeze and sunshine and thinking about all the things a guy like me with experience has to offer my fellow Americans, feeling very fortunate to be here, and yearning for that "Tally ho!" moment when the next objective comes into focus.

  5. Terence says:

    Plan to make 'L'earning to work for your own dreams a priority by setting some time sensitive goals in that direction.

  6. Rick says:

    I never bought Joe's book but found an almost new copy in a foreclosure house I bought about 30 years ago. Robert, you didn't achieve what you've found by not taking (smart) risks. Nor have I.
    Most of the problems that people have are ones that have not – and never will – happen. The ones that do and are real, we just deal with. "Play the hand of cards that you're given." It's still about attitude and action.
    Plan your work and work your plan, but don't plan the results.

  7. Robby Bonfire says:

    So nice to see the fond remembrance of Joe Karbo. I remember that when he was promoting his book on infomercial-TV, part of the presentation would show Joe out for his daily 45-minute walk. And he lost mucho pounds over several weeks, he liked to share with everyone.

    With Joe Karbo's commercial in mind, I just started, on December 28th, taking a 100-minute walk, daily. This calculates to a 10-pound loss of weight, monthly, and, four days in, I am already into ketosis, which is a big surprise. I still have a copy of Joe's book and wonder if it is a collector's item?

    Joe Karbo and Cal Worthington, colorful and witty promoters that they were, certainly left their mark on the consciousness of residents of So. California, back in their day. They made a lot of friends along the way, too.

  8. This writing is talking, maybe, probably, to the minority of folks. The majority of people don't have the skills, ability, etc., to stop being a "work-a-daddy" or "mama". But all above, yes, applies to those of us who deeply value Personal Freedom. As a materially spoiled, working class, boy in the 40s and 50s, I could NEVER tolerate a "boss". Who is he to tell ME what to do!? So, I was fortunate to get education (GI Bill), and more fortunate to have been born with special talents. Not everybody has such talents. So I appreciate the cogs in the Great Wheel that keeps things moving… and enabled me to be "relatively" free and still "make a living" by doing things that contributed to the well-being of others. I thank God not only daily but sometimes hourly.

  9. seifpro says:

    gonna make heads nod in 2015!

  10. RealitySeeker says:

    Wage slaves rarely make any significant improvements in their income by reading self-help books because of two simple reasons: 1) They cannot seem to consistently, year after year, make the short-term sacrifices that are necessary for long-term gains. 2) They lack panache, talent, inventiveness, drive or a businessman's and/or a salesperson's personality. For example, I've met some terrifically rich salespeople. Each had some special trait (not necessarily genuine) about him or her, e.g.,., a likable humility, a smoothie who could build rapport, an intimidator who also possessed disarming charm, a "people person with the gift of gab'.

    One of the best sales-guys (and one of the richest) I ever knew was a fantastic liar. I met him years ago, and I have yet to personally meet anybody quite like him. He first got his start selling cars. That's right, a car salesman. And what a hustler, too. And the customers just loved to be hustled. It was kind of like the voters who like to be hustled by a Bush or a Clinton.

    Anyway, he immediately developed a symbiotic relationship over the phone with his "asshole customer".. That's right, he was among the first to understand how to really pitch a car over the phone to somebody he had absolutely no respect for. What was amazing was he never sold a car by actually walking on the car lot in an attempt to meet somebody without an appointment to see him. He never lowered himself by competing with other car salespeople. No, he leapfrogged right over the pack by developing a sales pitch he could use right over the phone. He let his fingers do the walking. His pitch was 90% lies, but it was so original that he fooled most of the people most of the time. He knew that he could speak with at least 80 people per day over the phone by simply starting on page one of the phone book and systematically calling until he met his quota. The math worked out like this: out of the 80 people he'd call there would be at least 7% on average who would already be in the market for a car. And an estimated 15% who might be in the market if you could convince them. That's just the way it was back then, some percentage of people were always looking for a product. And at the time "MOST PEOPLE WERE TOO BUSY EARNING A LIVING" to actually shop around and educate themselves on how, when, where and from whom they should make a deal.

    So, from cars he went on to selling real estate. And that's where he made a real killing. He had the personality, drive and the commitment. And out of those three. I'd say personality was the key to his success.

    Happy New Year. And good luck to all of you wannabes, as you go out there and swim with the sharks. And remember, your business partner, Uncle Sam, is going to want his share of the profits. The top tax-rate has just been raised, again. Your business partner (really, he's your boss but you just haven't figured it out yet) needs the money.

    • Robby Bonfire says:

      Wage slaves, it may be stated, DO NOT READ self-help books. That is why they remain wage slaves, that, plus the fact that they have a mind-set that a raise, even if it really just represents a cost of living adjustment, represents some kind of "success."

      • RealitySeeker says:

        "Wage slaves…..DO NOT READ self-help books".

        Really? Than who in the Sam-hell is making all of these self-help gurus rich?

        Ketosis and the bio-detoxification associated with fat loss and a new exercise regimen must be sullying your brain function.

        Tell me: who purchases millions of self-help books if not wage-slaves? And who are self-help books written for if not for those in most need of help? Is it not "Mr. Burb" the starry-eyed book-buyer who has budding aspirations of becoming the next Donald Trump or Hugh Hefner?

        By the way, if you really want to improve your health, keep on exercising and also add plenty of fresh food and juice to your diet. By fresh I mean plenty of uncooked fruits, vegetables and nuts. You'll live longer and better your cognition.

        Happy New Year!

  11. Robby Bonfire says:

    Oh, I get it, everyone who reads a self-help book is a wage slave. And everyone who checks out of FAT MART with diet soda, chips, Twinkies, french fries, cake, cookies, candy bars, Kool Whip, and a truck load of micro wave pizza, along with 50 HFCS and MSG products is rushing home to read the latest health and nutrition book on the market they just bought.

    I marvel at your connectivity "logic," got any more brilliant insight to share with us?

  12. RealitySeeker says:

    "Oh, I get it"….

    Excuse me, but I don't think you do.

    Each and every reader who reads a self-help book is obviously not necessarily a wage-slave. Duh. …….However, deducing which demographic is "nodding their heads" in masse when they read a book titled, "The Lazy Man’s Way to Riches" should be an easy task. Especially for somebody who writes as well as you do. Really, your writing has entertained me for years. And it's gotten better over time. And even when I disagree with you, I'm at least somewhat satisfied by your writing skill.

    Get this: the truth is millions of wage-slaves nod their heads at some catchy title; some are hooked into buying the book; a few take it home and read some of the pages; only fraction actually finish; even less comprehend what they've read; and a minute number derive any benefit because they don't actually following through. Why? Because that's human nature……..

    ……..Because most humans are wired for living life from hand to mouth is why they inevitably fail to achieve any worthwhile goals. It's human nature to seek out short-term pleasure. Look at what people stuff their faces with! You said it yourself, "Fart Mart"! And how many farts have you farted my friend?

    Hey, can you handle the truth? Listen: all of the fat-assed, glutinous cows who graze on the junk food until they completely ruin their health is the quintessential example of how humans tend to live life for short-term satisfaction. It takes discipline to maintain a healthy body, mind and spirit. Massive amounts of discipline. And it takes even more discipline to achieve a marketable standard of excellence— unless, of course, you get really lucky, have exceptional talent, genes, beauty and/or natural genius.

    Get it? Got it? Good!

  13. Robby Bonfire says:

    Let me guess, you are Professor, Emeritus of Fatuous Blather at U.C. Davis?

  14. Consuelo R Jones says:

    OMG, That would be amazing. Thanks for sharing.

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  16. don1aw says:

    UPDATE: 10-18

    Original uncultivated copes of Joe Karbo's The Lazy Man's Way to Riches are still available. These are brand new, often termed "New/Old Stock". Also there available are copies of the updated version by Richard G Nixon.

    F&P publishing was reformed as The Lazy Man's Way to Riches, LLC and the company has been reviving all of the old web sites. They also just put up a new site for Joe Karbo as well.