Ralph Zuranski: Hi, this is Ralph Zuranski. I’m on the phone with Michel Fortin. He’s one of the leading copywriters in the world today. He is so successful in his writing that he’s helped a number of the Internet marketers achieve $1 million dollar days in sales.
He has been at a number of the Internet conferences. Michel Fortin knows more about copywriting and testing copy than anybody that I’ve ever met.
I think that’s one of the reasons why he’s such a great teacher and also such a great copywriter. He tests every aspect of copywriting to find out what works. I know that most of the time, on any of the copywriting pieces that he creates, he has four or five tests that all run simultaneously… the color, the fonts, the placement of images.
It is truly amazing. He is a copywriting scientist.
How are you doing today, Michel?
Michel Fortin: I’m doing well, Ralph. Thank you very much for asking.
Ralph Zuranski: I really appreciate you taking your busy time. I know you get thousands of emails a day. You’re in incredible demand. I hope that’s not all spam.
Michel Fortin: Oh, actually those are real emails. I probably get two or three thousand emails that include spam.
Ralph Zuranski: Well, I remember that you’re one of the first people to help volunteer with the “In Search of Heroes” program back at the big seminar when I put the wrong name on your photo.
Michel Fortin: Yes, that’s right.
Ralph Zuranski: I was so embarrassed. You contacted me and said you’ve got somebody else’s name on my photo. I think that endeared yourself to me immediately. I was so embarrassed.
Michel Fortin: Well, I didn’t mind it so much. The other guy was a little bit better looking than me.
Ralph Zuranski: What is your definition of heroism?
Michel Fortin: If somebody goes out there and does one tiny little thing that makes some kind of a change in the world it is good. It doesn’t have to be a huge legacy-type thing.
It could be one tiny little thing, like going to an orphanage and just spending ten minutes with an orphan. Or you go to a seniors’ home. Or you see somebody who’s trying to cross the street and has difficulty. Whether it’s a person who has some kind of handicap or even a person who is fearful. You help them cross the street.
Michel Fortin: To me that’s somebody who’s a hero. They impressed in that one person’s tiny little timeframe of their life, that little grain of dust, something that means a lot to them.
You know, there’s an old proverb, an old story of a person who was walking along the beach. And they saw starfishes that were beached. They took one and threw it back into the ocean.
And the other person said, “you know, how can you make a difference when there’s so many of these starfishes on the beach?” He said, “Well, I made a difference with that one.”
And that’s the point! You don’t have to be a huge success. You don’t have to do some tremendous thing in order to be a hero. You can do something that is a blink in eternity, that can mean something to someone. To me, that’s a hero.
Ralph Zuranski: Yeah, and boy that’s true. Gregory Alan Williams, a person that wrote a book about saving a man’s life in the L.A. riots, says “There’s a little bit of good in the worst of us and a little bit of bad in the best of us. When somebody just does something good for somebody else, they actually become a hero.”
Michel Fortin: Absolutely.
Ralph Zuranski: Does that fit your definition?
Michel Fortin: Absolutely. Oh, yeah. You know, one thing I do, for example, when I go to a seminar. Whether I’m a speaker or just somebody in the audience and somebody comes up to me and asks me one simple question, I spend time with them.
Now, it could be something business-related, but it also could be something in terms of the seminar. It could be something as easy as what kind of, what do you think about the speakers, whatever.
You know, those are things of course, but the thing is that person values my opinion. Whatever I say I am going to make a difference… maybe not in that person’s entire life. I may make a difference in that person’s day or that person’s, next hour. But, I made a difference and that’s what a hero is, to make a difference… big or small.
Ralph Zuranski: Yeah, that’s one of the things that really impressed me. You took the time. No matter how many people came up to you at the different conferences, you always drop what you’re doing. You made sure you developed a relationship with that person. That’s pretty rare for somebody that’s attained the fame that you have in this industry.
Michel Fortin: Well, there is some point where I’m about to burst. I need to take some time out. Ralph, it has happened to you.
But, I can tell you that I truly believe in the Will Rogers dogma where he says that he finds a little bit of something interesting in every single person he meets.
And that’s true. I meet people where that person may be to a degree, in my business, insignificant. But “holy geez,” when you spend just five minutes talking with that person you’ve either made a difference in that person’s life, and that makes you feel good, or that person might have given you one tiny little tidbit of an idea… some information, feedback that will make a difference in your life
To me, I don’t want to lose those opportunities. Every single person I meet I will try. I cannot guarantee, but I will try to spend some time with each and every person.
That’s why I think that’s crucial. You don’t want to blockade yourself because the biggest amount of learning I have made in a seminar is in the hallways, in the bars, in the restaurants, outside the seminar when people are chatting and smoking or whatever the case may be.
Those are the opportunities for you to learn a little something that can make a dramatic difference in your business. If somebody passes you by and even if you just needed to take 30 seconds, you miss that opportunity. You could have made either a lot of money or changed your life, made you happier at least for that day.
Ralph Zuranski: Boy, isn’t that true? Well, I know that you had a pretty rough childhood. Did you ever create a secret hero in your mind that helped you deal with those difficulties?
Michel Fortin: Well, not necessarily. I have been on the Internet for quite a long time. And the date was pre-Internet, like Bulletin board services and stuff like that. There were some games that I used to play like Dungeons and Dragons.
One of the things that I loved about playing those kinds of games was people didn’t know who I really was. So people didn’t have to disapprove of me because I had this huge fear of rejection, this huge need for approval when I was growing up because of the abuse of my childhood.
Michel Fortin: So the people, the friends that I’ve made on those Bulletin board services, even though I was lost, I really wasn’t a sociable person… a quasi-agoraphobic, I guess those people were my heroes.
Those people were the people who every time I logged in, and I remember having a 300 baud modem in those days on a Radio Shack Color Computer 64, which is comparable to the Commodore 64 with a one-line text browser where you type in one line of text. You press “Enter” and it takes about 15 minutes for you to respond.
Well, those people were my heroes. And later on as I grew up and became a teenager, there was a gentleman who became a mentor of mine. He was a big fan of motivational speakers, spiritual thinkers, psychologists and people who actually have made differences in the lives of other people. So, I became a fanatical student of Jim Rohn.
Jim Rohn is probably the premiere gentleman who has made changes in my life. In my business life it was Dan Kennedy, who’s also a big believer in having a positive mental attitude, in making the best out of your day.
So those were my, I guess if you want to call them secret heroes. They were my heroes. You know, I’ll give you an example. There is a quote that’s hanging above my desk.
I’m looking at it right now as I speak to you, Ralph. It’s been hanging there for almost a decade. It’s from Jim Rohn and it says, “There are some things you don’t have to know how it works. The main thing is that it works. While some people are studying the roots, others are picking the fruit. Life or success or whatever you want to call it, it just depends on which end of this you want to get in on.”
And that, to me, changed my life around because I was always overanalyzing. I was always trying to perfect. I was always trying to figure out ways to deal with the certain problems I had when I was growing up as a child.
And that made me realize just do what needs to be done. Do what works and don’t question it, and that changed my life around.
Ralph Zuranski: Well, there’s a real controversy these days about goodness, ethics and moral behavior. What is your perspective?
Michel Fortin: I can debate about this and we can go into big philosophical arguments about what is right, what is morally right and all that stuff. I’m a big believer in something that is very special to me. It is that we all have three minds.
We have the conscious mind and the subconscious mind, but we also have the super-conscious mind, a term that was originally coined by psychologist William James.
What happens is that the super-conscious mind, your intuition, your conscience, is telling you every single moment of every single day what to do. And what is right. And when people feel shame or guilt or something that makes them feel that they’ve done something wrong. It is not because it’s either wrong or right. It’s simply because it was not in a proper alignment with their own set of values, their own intuitions, their own super-conscious mind.
If you are in the process of thinking about doing something, take some time out to think about it twice rather than just going at it. Sure, sometimes you need to be expedient but look at it from the perspective of, “Is this something that meets and matches my conscience?” “Is this something that I feel is right?” And that’s the point.
We can talk about the arbitrary gray area of what ethics is and what it isn’t.
I don’t think that it’s a legal thing. It’s not black and white. But, everybody has a conscience. If you really want to do what is good in the world, if you want to do something that’s “ethical”, it’s not a religious question and it’s not a moral question. It is an inner question. Does it meet your conscience? Does it follow your intuition? Does it feel right rather than is it just right. Or is it textbook right. Or is it right according to the law right?
Ralph Zuranski: There are certain principles that people are willing to sacrifice their lives for. Are there any principles that you’re willing to sacrifice your life for?
Michel Fortin: I think so. The one thing that I believe in terms of principles is, the biggest one is, humility. And it’s something that I’ve learned in the process of my growing up and learning from problems, going through the problems that I went through when I was a child.
Michel Fortin: People have egos and it’s normal and it’s natural and we all have things that are near and dear to every single person. People will fight for what their egos tell them that they need to fight for.
I’m a very humble person. I always like to take the low road. I do like the approval. I do like the limelight. But, if I feel that somebody else can take it for me, if I feel that if there is something that I can do, that it takes away from me, but it makes somebody else’s life better, I will do that. That’s a really hard lesson to learn in humility.
Whenever you look at, for example, some of the discussion boards that I’m participating in, sometimes you get these really fierce battles. And there was a couple of times when people actually were against some of the things that I’ve either actually said or had done.
And I will go into the board and I will say, “You know, I so understand how you feel.” I have to look at it from the perspective of the other person. And I humble myself by saying, “Listen, every single person in this world is a teacher.”
Everybody teaches you in some way, the people who are nasty to you as much as people who are good to you. They’re all just teachers. They’re not good. they’re not bad. It’s not black and white. Things that happen to you or things that people tell you, it’s all teaching you something. Your consciousness is where you come to the realization that I am ready to learn, just like the old Confucian saying that, “When the student is ready the teacher will appear.”
To me teachers are people or events or things that happen. And as a humbled person, my guiding principle is to always look at every single thing as some kind of a lesson. And that’s the principle I would sacrifice for. Yes, absolutely!
Ralph Zuranski: Everybody has low points in their life. I know you’ve had a fair number of those events in your life. What was the lowest point in your life and how did you change your path to have victory over the obstacles at that time?
Michel Fortin: I recently wrote – that’s actually not true. I wrote a book over ten years ago that I just recently put on the Internet for free. And it was a book that I’d written as a way to teach my self how to go through some of the hardships that I was going at that time. I was a go-getting, goal-achieving, goal-oriented, Type A personality, do as much as you possibly can-type person. And I realized that I was achieving a lot.
Michel Fortin: I was making a lot of money. I was a salesperson working on commission. And I was doing very well until I realized that I was neglecting and ignoring other things, especially my own self, the quality of my life. I was focusing too much on quantity of time rather than quality of life.
Well, “lo and behold,” in what seemed like a matter of hours I lost everything in my life… my home, my car, my furniture, my wife. I lost everything and then I went into bankruptcy. I even had to look at sleeping at the YMCA for shelter. And then I started writing that book. And I realized there are far more important things out there than material things. First of all, people are more important. Second is time.
Time is a commodity, a scarce commodity. And what you don’t do in this moment is something you will never be able to do, in that moment anyways. When that moment’s gone, it’s gone.
Do you want to spend it working on your business? Sure, if it gives you some kind of feeling that I’m doing something that I absolutely love to do. Or do you want to work in a job dreading those years until you retire?
Or are you going to work so much that you neglect the people that you love or the people who love you? So the point, I’m saying, is that the low of the low that I have gone through was the most precious and beautiful gift that I have ever received. It was the biggest lesson that I had to learn. And that’s what encompasses everything I just said up until this point.
Ralph Zuranski: People fear to do anything because they fear they’re “gonna” fail. And when catastrophic events like that occur to some people, they never recover. Would you say that it’s those events that change the course of our life for the better?
Michel Fortin: Those are events that do change your life. But you have to know there are things like death. There’s a grieving process to go through. When you’re in the thick of things, at that moment in your life, you’ll probably be depressed. You’ll probably have a hard time trying to see the lesson for what it is.
But when you have a chance to go through the grieving process, this pseudo-grieving process, you need to take a step back and look at your what is happening.
Michel Fortin: That’s why I’m a big believer in writing in journals. In fact, the book that I just mentioned was a book that was actually a way to write to myself on how to deal with the things that I was going through in my life. But, it was like writing in my own journal because that way you can teach yourself to be better.
You can teach yourself to accept things better. You can teach yourself to get out of that rut. Jim Rohn said it best.
If you are in a low point in your life, go help out somebody else who’s in a low point, the same low point as you. By teaching others or by helping others, you are actually helping your self. Because, then you can take a step back and say, “Well, gosh, I’m telling this person how to get out of this situation and I’m in the situation myself.”
And then you realize, because what happens is you let this intuition flow, this consciousness flow and you realize that you will get out of that rut by helping others. To answer your question, that’s what I would do.
Actually, writing in a journal is good. But, most often when you have an opportunity to go through the grieving process, do, be depressed. Be sad. Those are things, if you’re unhappy because something really bad happened to you, that is perfectly fine. When that’s done take a step back. And then you’ll learn. You’ll see the lesson for what it is. And you’ll grow from it.
Some people don’t step back. They keep themselves in that depression mode. Some people have bad things happen to them in their lives and they stay there for a very, very long time simply because they want to stay there.
Wayne Dyer said it best. “Your body has a natural ability to heal itself.”
If you have a cut on your arm are you going to force it to stay open because you want the world to see, “Hey, look.!, I have an open wound here. I’m hurting. I’m hurting. Take care of me.”
It gives you some feeling of grandeur, the fact that you are hurting, that it means something to you. No, your body’s natural process is to heal itself, the same way if something bad happens to you emotionally or psychically as well as physiologically.
Michel Fortin: Your body has a natural tendency to heal itself. Let the healing do its own job. It takes time. You don’t heal overnight of a cut wound, just as you won’t heal overnight of a bad situation or a bad event that happened in your life. But once you heal, now is the chance. That scar tissue is your body’s process to strengthen that one area that was broken.
You know bones that are broken, when they heal become even stronger than they were before. That’s the process of even a bad event that happens in your life. Something bad happens to you. Once you’ve healed, yes, you will have scars. But, you can turn your scars into stars! Because those scars are like shields that will protect you in case this stuff happens again. And it will make you stronger. And I believe in that totally.
Ralph Zuranski: It’s funny that you talk about journaling. Lorrie Morgan-Ferrero, who’s another copywriter, suffered sexual abuse as a young person. She’s now creating a course using journaling to help other women overcome the same trauma of that situation while growing up. So it’s fascinating that you would talk about journaling. Did it really help you also?
Michel Fortin: Oh, absolutely. I hurt in my journals so much, especially in those, those dark times in my life. It’s also a great reference tool because it makes you more resilient that next time something happens in the future. If it happens again, or whenever, you do have a chance to go back and reflect and review entries in your journal. You realize how far you’ve grown and that in itself it is a strengthening process. Because, then you can see, “Wow, I really went through that. I really felt that way? Oh my goodness, how far I’ve grown.” And that in itself makes you grow even more, even in good times.
Ralph Zuranski: What is the dream or vision that sets the course of your life?
Michel Fortin: I live by one motto and one motto alone. I don’t believe in goals. I don’t believe in an end result specifically in my life. You know, there is two types of people in this world.
There are the people who always will live in the future where they always have something that they want to look for, a vision or a dream or whatever. Like you just said. Then there are people who are in the rapture of the moment, people like artists. I think it was, I can’t remember exactly who, but I believe it was Dr. Tony Alessandra who said, “You’ve got rowers and you’ve got drifters and then there’s nothing bad with either one of them.”
Michel Fortin: People who row, going toward a destination, will row. People who drift will enjoy the scenery along the way as they drift in that river going towards the ocean. Me, that’s what it is and the point is this. If you want me to say that I do have a dream or a vision it is this, to always do what I love. Joseph Campbell said it best, “Follow your bliss. Do what you love. The money will follow. The business will follow. The success will follow.”
Even if those things don’t, the fact that once you go through your life and you end up looking back on your life and you say, “I really enjoyed my life. I’ve really done something that I totally love.” So do what you love or love what you do. That’s the ultimate vision and it’s my vision.
Ralph Zuranski: Well, in everybody’s life, there is positive. There are setbacks. There are misfortunes and mistakes that we make. How important is it to be an optimist and take a positive view of things?
Michel Fortin: Well, optimism has a lot of sometimes bad connotations as much as good connotations.
Ralph Zuranski: Really?
Michel Fortin: Optimism is not motivation and people misinterpret that. Optimism is a positive mental attitude. The one thing that you need the most and that’s beyond being an optimist is not just being a realist but being a student. If you have a bad situation, try to learn as much as you can. That’s why journaling is so important. Try to learn as much as you can in terms of looking at the positive aspect of what happened.
There is a technique called the “best and better technique.” Look for what’s the best you can pull from every situation and how you can be better next time, how you can better your own self from the event. Is that an optimist? Not necessarily. People will take optimism and look at it as some form of motivation.
Jim Rohn said it best. “If somebody’s going down the wrong road, they don’t need motivation to speed them up, they need education to turn them around” So being an optimist is not some “Pollyanna,” bang your head against the wall and hey it hurts but hey, I’m happy about it and I’ll keep, you know, bumping myself against the way.
Michel Fortin: No, I think if you want to look at optimism in the best way is to look at it as an educational process. Learning is part of it… sitting down with people, talking with them, spending time with them, reading books, spending your time on learning as much as you possibly can.
You will be able to go down the right road. Fast or slow doesn’t matter and that’s not optimism. That’s just being. That’s just following your conscience. That’s just being a realist. It’s not being a pessimist. It’s not being optimist. It’s probably an optimal point of looking at it, an optimal point or way to look at things, but it’s not necessarily optimistic.
Ralph Zuranski: Do you think it takes courage to pursue new ideas?
It absolutely takes courage. You know courage is not the absence of fear. Courage is the ability to take risks when there is fear. As the old saying goes for people who, like speakers when they speak onstage, they say you’ll never be able to get rid of those butterflies. Your job is to make those butterflies dance in formation and that is courage.
Ralph Zuranski: How important is prayer?
Michel Fortin: If I pray to any one God or any one Spirit or any one process in this world, I pray for three major things strength, courage and wisdom. I pray for the strength to be able to do what is necessary, the courage to be able to go ahead and do it, the courage to be able to also accept defeat when you need to accept defeat, and wisdom.
Exactly, that’s the prayer of serenity that they use for example in “Alcoholics’ Anonymous,” And that’s the most beautiful prayer in the world because then you have the wisdom to know the difference, the wisdom to know what to do, when to do it, how to do it, who to say it to, at what time, and when not to do things, when to shut up, when to stop yourself from doing things that you shouldn’t be doing and stuff like that. So to me courage, yeah, that’s it, absolutely.
If you have a new idea, you’re always pushing the envelope in every day of your life because you’re always growing and evolving. The problem is are you going to be pushing it by a millimeter today or are you going to be pushing it by a yard. And that takes courage. It also takes courage to realize that in the first place, not just the courage to do it. That takes strength but to me courage is absolutely necessary, absolutely.
Ralph Zuranski: Do you think that in the process of pursuing new ideas and using that courage that you’re going to experience discomfort in the pursuit of your dreams?
Michel Fortin: Well, absolutely. It’s going through life. If you’re ever going to do something, you have to take the goods and the bads with it. The good will outweigh the bad, of course, but there will always be bad. There’s always going to be discomfort.
Here’s the point. If you do what you love. If you do something that you have zest and passion for and you’re so fully absorbed in the process, you tend to not even think of the discomfort even though you are actually feeling it. Your body is feeling it. If I’m doing something that I love I’m going to finish this because it’s important.
If I do something that I love, the discomfort level will be on the back burner in my mind, although it will always be there. Yanni, a very famous composer who writes New Age-type music, he’s like me in a certain way. Whenever he writes a whole CD or a new song or even a new kind of symphony, he locks himself in his room for two, three weeks at a time. He forgets to bathe. He forgets to eat. He forgets to sleep, because he is so engrossed in the moment.
Discomfort, yes, but are you actually focused on your discomfort? No, if you do something you love, then you’ll have a chance to look at all the things that are uncomfortable, drudgery, perfunctory or even painful, as things that are important to you. They’re part of something that gives you purpose. You will turn the important into the urgent.
You will turn the discomfort into comfort. It’s a natural, physical knee-jerk reaction. I can’t really express it well enough in words. Essentially you’ll be able to turn the uncomfortable into the comfort. Or you’ll be able to accept or have a tolerance level higher if you were doing something you absolutely love because that purpose drives you. Everything that happens to you, that may be bad or may make you uncomfortable, is so in the back of your mind, you just trudge along. You will be going wherever you want to go.
Ralph Zuranski: How important is the belief that your dreams will actually become reality?
Michel Fortin: First of all it is extremely important, but it’s not important to the degree that you might think. I don’t feel people should believe that their dreams become reality because belief is something you can’t change on a whim. How can you believe something that you don’t believe?
Can you force yourself to believe in something? Can you believe in your dream? No, you can’t. It’s not something you can change on a whim. If I don’t like asparagus today, do I have to force myself to like asparagus? No, I mean, I can’t change the way I feel. If I don’t believe in my dreams today, I can’t switch it just like with one flick of a switch and say, “I’m believing in my dream,” but here’s the difference.
If I have dreams and I do tiny little things that will make me consciously purposeful every single day as I head towards my dreams, the more and more this internal switch will flick on for you, not only to believe in your dreams but to know that your dreams will become reality. And there’s a big difference between belief and knowing.
Ralph Zuranski: That’s a profound point. When you are trying to achieve your dreams there’s a tremendous amount of doubts and fears. And, a lot of people in your life will try to crush your dream because they don’t want you to change for fear of having to change themselves. How did you overcome your doubts and fears?
Michel Fortin: By journaling is the one way. The other point is to always constantly listen to yourself. Be true to your own self. You know, to thine own self be true, in Shakespeare’s “Hamlet.” And the one thing that you have to understand is, this is absolutely so true.
I don’t mean to proselytize for any religion. And I don’t mean to sound religious, but we are all like Jesus, where we’re crucified between two thieves, tomorrow and yesterday… in other words, fear and guilt.
The fear of what’s going to happen tomorrow and the guilt of what happened in the past, they are always gonna be. But, like Jesus, he was true to himself. He did what he needed to do. If you have fears and you have doubts, that’s perfectly fine as long as you realize that the more focused you are on yourself the more you let the “inner you” tell you what to do, guide you in what you’re doing.
Michel Fortin: The more you write to yourself as much as even talking to other people about how you feel about certain things, that is learning process that will give you the ammunition to destroy lack and limitation.
There’s also another thing. I know, I think it’s the most important. The greatest creator of fear is a low self esteem. Any lack and limitation in your life that are there, you know. They’re not just lack and limitations, because they exist. They’re lack and limitations because you believe they are lack and limitations.
The only way to circumvent, to overcome, to destroy those fears, at least to reduce it, is to increase the belief that you have in your own self. The more you work on your own self-esteem, the more you have confidence in yourself.
The more you work on having confidence in yourself, all the other fears and all the things that are destroying or attempting to destroy the things that are good to you in your life, the things that you want to do in your life, will almost dissipate by themselves. The reason is because you’ve become a bigger believer in the best thing that ever happened in this world, and that’s you.
Ralph Zuranski: Well, is there anybody that helped give you the willpower to change things in your life for the better?
Michel Fortin: Well, like I said, whenever I grew up, I had a mentor. And I’ll tell you one thing that really had the most profound impact in my life. He kept telling me every single day and it may not sound profound, but he said, “turn off the tape recorder”. Okay? Now, let me explain what that means. I was a salesman and as I grew up and I was trying to make sales. I had fears and doubts but a lot of times it was because I was saying that to my self.
There was a tape recorder in my mind that kept telling me, “I’m stupid. I’m a failure. I don’t. I’ll never amount to much. I will always. I’m going to fail. This is not for me. This is too lofty of an ambition for me. Or, this is impossible for me to reach! Blah, blah, blah.”
My mentor sometimes he would just look at me and I wouldn’t even say a word. He would look at me and say, “Turn the tape recorder off, Mike”.
Michel Fortin: And that is the most profound thing that I’ve ever, ever been taught because we all have tape recorders in our minds. We do become what we think about. You reap what you sow.
If you think you’re a failure, if you think that you will fail, if you think that you’re not good enough or whatever, then you are. You are what you think! And, a big philosophy that I go by is by the Latin philosopher Rene Descartes. In 1637 he said, “I think, therefore I am”. If you think you’re a failure, you are!
If you’re thinking you’re a success, you are. So that thing that my mentor kept telling me, “turn the tape recorder off” is just a very modern way to look at it. But it’s so true! And, that has changed my life.
Ralph Zuranski: How important is it to forgive others who upset, offend or oppose you?
Michel Fortin: Ralph, did you now that forgiveness is a very selfish thing? Did you know that actually forgiving is not because you’re doing it for the other person? You, you know, forgiveness is probably the most selfish act you could ever do. And it’s a good selfish act because when you forgive you are releasing all the tension, all the bad stuff that you’re holding on to that’s going to cause you great problems, great turmoil.
If you forgive and you let go, it’s unbelievable the release that you get in your life. I used to be stubborn. I would look at each person and the person who would do me wrong. I would be stubborn enough to say, “I hate that person and I’ll never talk to that person again.” But who’s really being hurt here?
Now, I’m doing it because I’m thinking that I don’t want to give the person either the pleasure of my forgiveness or I just don’t want to show the person I’m really mad at that person.
Once you forgive, you let go. Guess whose life is going to be more enriched? Both of yours, of course, but the most important person is you. So forgiveness is extremely important because the more you forgive the more you can let go rid of all the nasty stuff and start working on the good stuff in your life.
Ralph Zuranski: How important is service to others as a source of joy? Do you find joy in serving others?
Michel Fortin: Well, it’s the same idea. Jim Rohn said, “Don’t become wealthy at the expense of others. Become wealthy in the service of others.” Every person who is happiest in this world serves others.
Whether you’ve built wealth because you produce a product or provided a service that was at the service of others or you gave value to other people’s lives or you gave your life to charity serving others, to me that is so important.
By doing that it is like forgiveness in a sense, where you can get out of that this huge feeling in yourself that you’ve accomplished something that is true to you, not something that is going to be a goal that you reach in the future, not something that is going to be true to the other people around you who you’re serving and you’re thinking that you’re just doing this for other people.
No, you’re doing it for yourself. Gosh, you know, it’s so important for you to understand and I’m speaking to the people listening to this call. It’s so important for you to understand that when you give of yourself, the law of karma is there.
You get back, and sometimes ten times more, what you give out. It’s the same thing in a bad way. If you are bad to the world, if you don’t serve others, if you withhold the goodness that you can put out in the world, it will come back and bite you in the butt. So yeah, I believe in being at the service of others, absolutely.
Ralph Zuranski: How important is it to maintain a sense of humor in the face of adversity?
Michel Fortin: The greatest cure for pretty much all disease that has actually been scientifically proven. Although it’s premature now, but there are more and more tests proving that laughter is the greatest immune system kicker.
I don’t know where these tests are, This is anecdotal so I can’t back this up. I read so much about it, but there are tests that have proven in the moment of laughter that your endorphins get kicked in. The dopamine in your brain and your body gets kicked in.
Your hormone levels get kicked up a notch and those things in turn increase the immune system. Those things help to fight off disease. I’m not saying that that’s true in every case. I mean, I don’t want to say a person who has cancer should laugh their way until they’re healthy again.
Michel Fortin: That’s not my point. But, maybe if they’re hurting while they have cancer, laughter is a good way to take their mind off of it. Michel Fortin: It is basic and fundamental to being able to help cure yourself. Laughter is the source of goodness in the world but it is also the source of goodness in your own self, body-wise as much as mind-wise.
Ralph Zuranski: Yeah. Other than Jim Rohn, who are the other heroes in your life?
Michel Fortin: Oh, my goodness, do you have a couple of hours?
Ralph Zuranski: Sure.
Michel Fortin: I have a lot of mentors in my life but I think there’s quite a few of them. I’m not a religious person. I am a very spiritual person. I read a lot of spiritual leaders because I believe they have a lot to teach us… whether it’s Jesus or the person actually I’m really referring to is the Buddha.
I’m not a Buddhist, but I enjoy reading a lot about the Buddha. I’ve read the Dharmapadda and the Bodghivad Gita, for example, and other books of other spiritual leaders. They’re mentors to me because they show and they lead by example.
They’re the perfect example of love and goodness in this world. What they teach is important.
Now, I’m not going to say that you should not believe in the virgin birth and the crucifixion and all that stuff in Jesus’ life but, did you actually take the chance to stop and just read the words that Jesus uttered, for example, on the Mount?
The lives that they led were inspirational and I don’t mean to say that from a religious perspective. I’m just saying, “Listen to what people teach you. Listen! You want people to realize you are saying, “Yes, I hear what you’re saying.”
Those are the mentors that mean a lot to me. Another few mentors, modern-age mentors… I’m a big fan of Brian Tracy. I’m a big fan of Jim Rohn, of course Tony Alessandra. And, the funny part about it is I have learned a lot of things from current spiritual leaders. I do believe that Joseph Campbell, who is probably one of my biggest mentors in that realm, has taught me so much about the power of the inner self. Joseph Campbell is the one who uttered those famous words, “Follow your bliss.”, He is one of them.
Michel Fortin: Florence Scovel Shinn is another and John Randolph Price. Those are more of the spiritual kind of guys, but also Louise Hay. I read a lot about that stuff. Now, you can say it’s all “metaphysical mumbo-jumbo.” The point is not to believe in whether it’s metaphysical or not.
The fact is I just listened and learned to apply whatever I learned in the way I want my life to go. That’s the whole point of any religious, philosophical and thinking process. It is not to believe in what people tell you. It is to make use of it.
Ralph Zuranski: Do you feel that there are any real heroes in our society today that aren’t getting the recognition that they deserve?
Michel Fortin: Absolutely, but you know, those who are the real heroes are people who don’t seek recognition in the first place. They’re not heroes for the sake of recognition. They’re heroes because they’re heroes.
To answer your question with a very blunt answer, “Yes of course there are heroes out there today in the world that do deserve more recognition!” But when you ask them that question, what do you think they’ll say? “I don’t care. I do what I feel is right, point, period.” And that’s the more important thing about that.
Ralph Zuranski: Why are heroes so important in the lives of young people?
Michel Fortin: Everything that’s going to happen in this world, even today, is molded, created, prepared by, built on by first of all people. And people were once children.
They were once kids. Their lives today very often are molded by the things and the people and the instances and the events and the circumstances of their childhood as much as what is going on in their lives today.
I was lucky. Well, I guess I’m not lucky because I believe everybody has that capacity. It’s not luck. But I was lucky. I guess a better way to say it is, “I was fortunate to look at my lessons in my life and look at them as the most beautiful gifts in the world, and to have mentors and heroes in my life that have helped me.”
But there are so many kids out there that fail to go through this “fortunate” process that I went through. So if they have an opportunity to have heroes in their lives, boy oh boy, can you imagine the goodness that we can unleash in this world? They will be molded. Their future will be molded so that they will be the molders of the future.
Michel Fortin: So today the people that make differences in people’s lives is because they had differences made to them in their own lives when they were young. It is when you are young that your entire life is almost dictated. Now, good or bad, you can have bad stuff happen to you and it dictates your life in a good way.
You know, there’s an old story about the two sons of an alcoholic father who grew up. One became an alcoholic and one became a very successful businessman. When an interviewer asked them the question “why are you who you are today?” and they both answered the same answer, “Well, I didn’t have any choice; look at my father.”
One blamed his father for being the way he is. The other one looked at his father and used that as a springboard for not being like him. So fortunately, they might have had heroes in their lives that made them go that way, especially the one that’s positive, but the thing is whether it’s true or false. The thing is we all need heroes but the kids need them the most because they are the molders of the future.
Ralph Zuranski: How does it feel to be recognized as an Internet hero?
Michel Fortin: I would be very misleading if I said it didn’t feel good, because it does feel good. I think that’s the ego part of me. But what I feel best about is I have testimonials on my website about the lives that I’ve changed. And that makes me feel good. But what I put on my website, what I put out in the world as a way to prop my own self up is just the tip of the iceberg of what I get every single day.
We talked at the beginning of this call about all these emails I get every day. A good percentage of those emails are just tiny little words from somebody who I made a difference to in their lives. It doesn’t have to be this huge thing that I can actually use as a testimonial.
It doesn’t have to be an actual business or a success or whatever. I had people who emailed me after the big seminar and said, “Michel Fortin Fortin, you’re a person that I’ve been following for so many years and it was such a huge honor and pleasure to have met you.”
Michel Fortin: That brightened up my day. To me I don’t need to have recognition in the other way where I actually have to put out stuff in the world to get recognized. One tiny little email made the difference in my life just as much as what we were talking at the beginning.
About spending just five minutes with somebody at a seminar somewhere, how much of a difference you made in that person’s day. And that’s the kind of recognition I enjoy, even more than the actual pats on the back that I get in the public way. I prefer the small private little ones because they put a smile on my face.
Ralph Zuranski: How are you personally making the world a better place?
Michel Fortin: By being me. That’s probably the best answer I can give you. I follow what I believe in. I am true to myself and most important, I do what I love to do. When you do what you love to do, we were talking about giving good service or being at the service of others.If you love doing what you do, how much better are you going to serve the people around you?
How much more passion and zest will you have for not only what you do but what you expresses about service to others. If you had a choice to buy a product from two different service providers or two different stores and one person hates their job and the other one absolutely loves their job, how much more willing will that second person be to help you.
How much more in service of you will that person be? Of course, a lot more. So, how do I expect to make a change in the world just by being me? Just by being Michel Fortin! Just by being the person who loves to do what he does because that will give all these byproducts of everything we just talked about on this call.
Ralph Zuranski: There’s a lot of problems facing societies all over the world today, like racism, child and spousal abuse and violence among young people. Do you have any good solutions for those problems?
Michel Fortin: Education! Education. We cannot change the world by forcing it but we can change the world by educating it. I was once a college teacher. There’s such a great sense of fulfillment that one gets when they teach other people.
Michel Fortin: If you look at the laws and rules and all that wonderful stuff, they do exist for a purpose. And I understand that. But I also believe in education because the more you educate people the more you will change the world rather than forcing it to change. So, if you’re going to help out somebody in their own lives you need education. If you’re going to help out people to realize maybe they are bad people and they’ve done hurt to others education is the answer.
It’s not proselytizing. It’s not trying to argue with them. It’s just teaching them and teaching them until they’re ready to be taught and they’re ready to change. I’ve met a lot of people who change their lives because they’ve learned and they’ve decided to learn and that’s the key. Education is probably the most profound answer I can give to that question. It’s just education.
Ralph Zuranski: What do you think about the “In Search of Heroes” program and its impact on youth, parents and business people?
Michel Fortin: Well, that’s the point. This is exactly what it is. What do you think it’s doing? It’s educating. This is exactly why I love this program and I was one of the first people to actually be fully aware of it and fully aware of my potential contribution to this program.
I do believe that this program is not just a point of going out there and being heroes. It is going out there to teach other people the power of being a hero. It educates them and then makes changes in their lives and the lives of the people around them. This will grow exponentially.
Ralph, you’ve seen the movie “Pay it Forward” haven’t you?
Ralph Zuranski: Yeah.
Michel Fortin: That’s my point. You don’t necessarily have to be a hero or you don’t necessarily have to get somebody to become a hero. All you have to do is to educate others on how powerful it is to become one. If they do become one, then they do it to others and then they do it to others and then they do it to others. It’s one huge multi-level marketing process.
Ralph Zuranski: What are the things parents can do that will help their children realize they can be heroes and make a positive impact on the lives of others?
Michel Fortin: Well, if I had to, if I could boil it down, I think I said two core actions or two core activities on this call. They are teach and listen.
Michel Fortin: How can parents make changes in the lives of their kids – the first thing, of course, is to listen.
A lot of the strife that we have in today’s world, I believe, and I’m a firm believer, is because we are all so busy with the goings-on in our lives. We don’t stop and listen as much as to our own selves and as much as to the people around us and more importantly to the kids in our lives… if you take a chance to sit down and just listen! And, the second part, is to teach, to educate.
Teachers are probably the most underrated people in our society, the most underrated profession in our society. I’m a big believer in teachers. I mean, I used to be one. I’m a teacher right now, being a copywriting coach as much as a motivational speaker or whatever you want to call it, but it’s all teaching. That’s all it really is. It’s not motivation. It’s not all that stuff. It’s teaching. So, yeah, that would be those two fundamental activities:listen and teach.
Ralph Zuranski: If you had three wishes for your life and the world that would instantly come true, what would they be?
Michel Fortin: That I would, well the first wish is that I wouldn’t have any wish. I believe in just being. This might sound a little “woo-woo” to some people, but I don’t want any wishes because I just want to enjoy my life now. I don’t want to wake up at 67 years old and look back on my life and say is this it? And then those are the times that you wish.
Those are the times when you realize what you’ve done wrong. No need to wish; just do. Don’t wish for something now. Just be!. And then you enjoy the process. Then when you are 67 you won’t need to have any wishes because you’re going to look back and say I’m happy. I’m satisfied. I’m fulfilled. I did what I needed to do. I did what I loved to do.
The second wish would be that more people followed those two things I mentioned earlier, to listen and to teach. And the only way that I can do that is not necessarily to wish for it but to actually do it myself.
The more you actually listen and teach yourself, the more you’re actually teaching other people to listen and to teach. The third one is a little hard for me because I don’t wish for much.
Michel Fortin: I wish that if people listening to this call found some grain of something that helps them, whether it’s at that very moment or later in their lives. It doesn’t matter. To me that would be the one wish I have.
Ralph Zuranski: Those are wonderful wishes and I just really appreciate your time in answering these questions and just sharing your wisdom with the world. I just can’t tell you how much I appreciate you.
Michel Fortin: Oh, same here, Ralph, same here. I think that we are both kindred spirits. You know, the thing is when we meet at seminars sometimes and we just discuss some of the things that are going on in our lives like you and your parents and all that stuff, the fact is that it’s not that I just stand there and take time to listen to you, but you also do that to me.
You are the perfect embodiment of everything I spoke about so the whole point is I appreciate you as much and I appreciate what you are doing with this program, Ralph, this is a great program and I wish you the most, the best.
Ralph Zuranski: Well, I thank you for that. You offer to help in the early part of the program really inspired me. I have been working on the program for 13 years.
Michel Fortin: I understand absolutely.
Ralph Zuranski: And I just want to thank you again.
Michel Fortin: You’re most welcome.