Hello Lock Pickers
I’m going to tell you how to get rich. I promise. No joke, I promise. How do I know? Because I done it. I got busy, I took some advice and I did it. But first we must digress. But trust me, I am going to tell you.
Let me introduce Felix Dennis. A hero of mine. A scoundrel, a one time ne’er do well, a lad from a very poor family, and a multi, multi, millionaire.
It all started – like so many good things – laying on the floor, smashed out of his mind at a flat in Fulham, London. By chance he made friends with a couple of lads who produced a magazine, a cheap, tatty, hideously unprofessional affair called ‘OZ’ – because the two men at the helm were from Australia.
After writing the first ever review of the debut album by a then lesser known rock outfit called ‘Led Zeppelin’, Dennis was soon promoted to co-editor and it wasn’t long before the magazine was involved in the longest conspiracy trial in English legal history.
This was not for writing album reviews, oh no, rather because while the ‘real’ boss Richard Neville was away in Australia, Dennis and Jim Anderson thought it would be a good idea to invite the hormonally chaotic, carefree, and professionally absent world of schoolkids to submit content for the next issue, to be appropriately entitled “Schoolkidz Oz”.
They promised to publish whatever they received – space permitting. And you can imagine, remember being a schoolkid? Unsurprisingly it was all too much for the 1969 UK establishment, who couldn’t handle cartoons of Rupert the Bear with a massive penis, and other predictably rude and crude fare of the British schoolkids imagination
While all three were let off the main charge, they were all given prison sentences for lesser charges, with Dennis receiving the least time because the judge thought him “much less intelligent and therefore less culpable”. However, after some shady dealings with the chief justice and various appeals, they were all three – rightly – let off of all charges.
Felix Dennis continued in the publishing game, with Kung-Fu magazines (at a time when Bruce Lee’s incredible flick “Enter The Dragon” was wooing audiences worldwide), and then Home Computer magazines when home micros exploded onto the market a few years later. He went on to become one of magazine publishing – and the UK’s richest men.
Like we all do eventually, Felix Dennis Died. Not before upsetting the apple cart once more by stating he’d “pissed away $100M on sex, drugs and rock and roll” and later stating, “I built a Nasdaq company turning over $2.5m while on crack cocaine…I never slept for five years. You can get a lot done if you don’t have to waste fucking time sleeping.”
RIP Felix Dennis.
In 2007 I had just finished writing a lighthearted but informative little book I called ‘The Bumpology’, – named after but couldn’t be further from – Jacques Derrida’s book on language, ‘The Grammatology’, which I’d studied on my masters degree a few years earlier.
I’d been selling lock picking tools, mainly bump keys and associated items online for about a year and a book on the technique seemed to make sense, with sales later confirming that.
I needed someone to print The Bumpology and so sent a few emails off to various ‘print on demand’ people to get a few hundred copies made. I took an offer and soon had the freshly printed copies in my flat. More stock to stack up against the wall in my ever increasingly stock and paperwork filled flat. It wasn’t uncommon for me to wake up with my leg lacerated by twisting and turning over a spiky bump key all night. The stuff that dreams are made of!
The owner of the company, a man also called Chris, soon contacted me. He was interested in my business and started asking questions. He had every reason to be interested. I’d started the company on a budget of ZERO, with a computer that had been given to me by a friend. I was living in my old bedroom at my mum’s tiny house with just dial-up internet and this huge yellowing ex-office computer. But business was flying, things were going well. I’d moved into my own flat, it was growing, and I had a principle of sorts, I had given myself three basic rules: ‘Honesty, availability, and quality‘. Three things I had found sadly lacking from the three of four online lock picking shops I’d used before then, experiences that left me less than impressed.
I soon became friends with Chris who’s main business was the sketchy world of SEO – ‘Search Engine Optimization’, or, how to get your online shop to rank highly on Google with both money and other nefarious, and largely undisclosed means.
Befriending Chris was a Godsend. Before long he was doing budget SEO work for my business, just because he liked me and was impressed with my small, but efficient business acumen. Business continued to grow and I continued to apply my basic rules, Honesty, availability, and quality.
Then one day, during another of our long, funny, and incredibly useful evening Skype chats, he said the magic words: “You need to read this book”. Now, when a dodgy SEO salesman (the used car salesmen of the internet in many ways) tells a rather arrogant student of French philosophy and psychoanalysis he needs to read a book there’s a moment of resistance. When he tells him the book is called ‘How to Get Rich” there’s laughter. I have never been a fan of “How To” books. Those who can, do, those who can’t, teach, etc. Why would anyone who actually knew how to get rich, write a book about it? Surely they’d be busy enjoying their life?
‘Trust me on this one” he said. “Haven’t I helped your business loads already? I don’t have shares in this book, I didn’t print it!” he said. “Order it now, I am trying to help you”. So reluctantly, I paid the $5.99 they wanted and ordered “How to Get Rich” by Felix Dennis.
Over the next two years my business transformed, and I set the foundations for what is now one of the most respected lock picking retail operations on the planet. Trading better than ever, over a decade and a half later. Sure I’ve put a Hell of a lot of work in, and I have stuck to my principles, but without that book, I don’t think it would have lasted, or been anywhere near as successful.
The beauty of the book is he isn’t selling snake oil, there’s no equations, graphs, bar-charts, workflow schedules, none of that really off-putting nonsense. Half biography, half motivation course, Dennis tells you how he did it, how others have done it and most importantly why. And the real bonus is his emphasis on giving the customer what they want. Basically it reinforced my own rules, and gave me the courage to continue to implement them.
What was once a man in a room, with an old Curtis key cutting machine keeping up the neighbours is now a multi-national eCommerce operation, with a bevvy of full-time staff, part-time staff. all manner of consultants and other professionals, working round the clock to provide the best possible products and service possible. Its a slick machine with a human heart that provides those wishing to purchase lock picking tools an environment of honesty, availability, and quality.
I didn’t learn how to trick people, how to blag it, how to con or how to manipulate. I learned that people are willing to buy if you treat them with respect, from your products to your website, from your photographs to customer service, from your emails to your returns policy. Our focus is to make the customer happy – which is good, as that’s what I believe the customer wants.
So there you go. If you want to be successful, if you want to embark on the many ups and downs of running your own business, if you want to get rich, I am more than happy to pass on the golden advice that was passed onto me. And I will say it to you as it was said to me…
Trust me on this one. I don’t have shares in this book, I didn’t print it. Order it now, I am trying to help you.
HOW TO GET RICH – FELIX DENNIS
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