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is Secret Anymore!” – The Confessions of a Millionaire Information
By Matthew Lesko
is the currency of today’s world.
Those who control information are the most powerful
people on the planet – and the ones with the most bulging
timely delivery of vital information is one of the most lucrative
businesses you can have in this new millennium.
I should know. I
started one of the most successful information brokerage businesses in
the country. I’m
also perhaps the world’s most well known information broker, and
I’ve made millions of dollars from doing it, and I’m going
to show you how to easily do the same.
me backtrack a little bit.
my life I wanted to start my own business.
I didn’t care what it was – I just wanted to learn how to
feed myself and not work for someone else.
I even considered selling hot dogs on the mall near the
Washington Monument. I
just wanted to be my own boss. Sound
had a string of failed businesses before I hit the big time.
It was while working as a computer administrator of a travel
company that I learned something that changed my whole life.
hot shots that ran the company fascinated me.
They were powerful individuals who discussed, negotiated and
executed big deals all the time.
In order to get in on some of that wheeling and dealing, I’d
hang around late at night when they had their meetings, and volunteer
to get coffee and doughnuts, do the Xeroxing -- do anything to try to
learn how to be like them.
day, they came into my office and asked me – not to get coffee –
but to get information on how good or bad the rental car
business was. It seems
they were considering making a bid to acquire Avis Rent-A-Car, and
needed some good market information to go along with the financial
statements they were poring over.
I, of course, said “Yes, yes, yes!”
I was their “yes man,” even though I knew nothing about the
rental car business and had no idea where I was going to get this
I wanted to do this so badly I could almost taste it.
This was one giant step up from coffee and Xeroxing that
lucky people are offered once in a lifetime, and I didn’t want to
blow it. I saw myself as
a young turk on the way up the ladder of success.
But I didn’t have a clue where to go for the information.
sat in my little office wondering if I could make the grade.
I sat there staring at my desk hoping something would pop into
my head and give me the magic answer.
I stared at the telephone and then picked it up thinking:
I am in Washington D.C. needing to know about the rental car business.
Who can I call? Why
not the government? I
pass all those big buildings everyday on the way to work.
Maybe someone there can help me.”
it worked! By starting
with the government information operator, I was able to work my way
through a dozen more calls and referrals until I finally found an expert
in the rental car business. It
turned out to be a man who used to be the president of Hertz and was
now in Washington – and bored out of his mind with his government
job. He actually invited
me to lunch so he could tell me everything he knew.
couldn’t believe that in 45 minutes on the telephone, I could locate
a real expert who was willing to tell me everything I needed to know
about the rental car business. And,
he even wanted to take me to lunch!
I was so excited about the information I had just received that I
burst into a meeting my boss was having with his hotshot merger and
acquisition buddies. He
was eager to hear everything I learned from my lunch right then and
were blown away.
couldn’t believe that a young turk like me, who didn’t know
anyone, could get such information that we had all assumed was
privileged and confidential.
got more excited about the information I dug up on the rental car
business than with any program I ever wrote for the company.
I knew then that information was power.
I also knew then that there was immense value in delivering
timely information on demand.
was hooked. I started a
new business obtaining information for people on anything they needed.
I became a consultant to people in the merger and acquisition
business, and I got all the information they needed to make their
business a success – information they were unable to find
time, success finally happened. The
business grew from just me, a telephone, and a desk in my one-bedroom
apartment to over 30 employees and a million and a half dollars in
sales in a little more than 3 years.
Even after a string of failing businesses, I finally realized
my first success, and I’ll show how you can do it, too.
How to Create Money Out of Thin Air
I learned early on is that you can literally take information that is free
to obtain, but oftentimes hard for the average person to find
– turn around and sell it for big bucks.
All it requires is a little resourcefulness, and the knowledge
of where to find the information that is sellable.
nothing to it. These are
the only things you need:
the notion that we live in an information society, and if you’re
willing to make a few necessary calls (or e-mails), you can gather
information on almost anything – and make that information sellable.
need to know where to look for the information.
Although there are countless sources of information, if you do
nothing else but tap into the world’s largest source of free
information, you can find virtually everything that you need.
That source is the U.S. Government.
[I’ve spent 25 years of my life as an information broker, and
I have yet to find a source of information more comprehensive than the
you want to get an idea of just how vast the government’s
information reserve is?
you took all the major commercial publishers in the United
States, they collectively produce 50,000 new titles in all the
libraries and bookstores around the country in a single year.
In contrast, one single publisher in the government (the
National Technical Information Service) publishes over 100,000
titles a year. Multiply
that by the number of government agencies that produce information,
and the amount of information becomes absolutely staggering!
range of subjects on which you can find information is also mind-boggling:
The government not only counts people, the number of jelly
beans manufactured in the country, toilets installed, and how many
potatoes grown; but also gives investment trends and opportunities
likely to show up in the Wall Street Journal in weeks; it also answers
any legal question better than the highest paid lawyer.
There are 700,000 government experts in any field you
can imagine, who will give you free information simply because
to Use the Information You Gather:
customers who need, and are willing to pay for, specialized
Position yourself as someone who knows how to find information
on practically everything, but do narrow down the types of
information you can get for your customers’ specific needs.
That way, you zero in with the precision of a sharpshooter,
instead of just firing a shotgun that goes in all directions.
an information broker, always remember what Willy Sutton said when
asked why he robbed banks.
He said, “Because that’s where the money is.”
You need to live by the same slogan if you want to stay in
business. Choose the path
of least resistance. Choose
a customer base that consists of rich people or big
companies that have money to spend on finding out how they can get
richer -- and are willing and able to spend it.
specialized information that would be of great interest to a specific
business sector (example: Internet marketers).
Position yourself as an expert on a particular subject,
then write in-depth special reports that feature the specialized
information you found, package them in an e-book, and make them
available to Internet marketers for a fee.
As an alternative, you may also create a newsletter that
regularly updates the specialized information – and make money on
the paid subscriptions.
and more businesses are realizing the value of having good information
for good decision-making. Whether
big or small, a business can’t succeed today unless it keeps up on
the latest information.
kind of information do businesses need?
They need information on their markets, their competition,
technology, money sources and regulations, for
starters. Develop a
sensitivity to the needs of your prospects by asking them directly
what they need. From
that, you can determine the kind of information that would best
satisfy their needs.
a useful tip: You’d
do well to develop a ‘hook.”
A “hook” is a marketing term that makes it easier for
people to purchase your services. It’s
taking the situation I mentioned earlier about “knowing how to find
information about practically anything” and refining it down to a specialty.
If you specialize in some interesting aspect of the information
brokerage industry, it’s easier to attract your prospects’
your niche by identifying the customer group that you
specialize in helping: small
businesses, or non-profit organizations.
Or, you can define it by the area of information you
want to deal with, such as health information, company information, or
international information. Another
way you can describe your business is by the medium of the
information you want to provide, such as:
only database searches, only document retrieval, or only
interviewing industry experts.
was fortunate enough to have started in Washington D.C., where I
developed the hook of government information.
It gave me an instant edge over my competitors, even though I
had no more experience gathering information then they did.
To make a long story short, the government information I’ve
amassed over the years have earned me the title of the
nation’s top expert on government information, and I've been
privileged to be featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal,
and several national TV programs.
key to becoming a successful information broker is to be the first
to find the information, and deliver it on a timely basis to
those who want it. Then
sit back and watch the money appear out of thin air!
Matthew Lesko is a New York times syndicated columnist, and author of 2 New York Times best-sellers. He is regularly featured as the nation’s top expert on government information on TV programs such as Larry King, Oprah, David Letterman, Jay Leno, the Today Show and Good Morning America. His latest book, “Free Money for Entrepreneurs on the Internet” identifies hundreds of little-known sources of free government money for “net-repreneurs” and reveals the secret formula for easily obtaining the money for your business.
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