First Impressions: “Launch” by Michael Stelzner

By Alexis Rodrigo | Entrepreneurship

Jun 22

Launch Michael Stelzner

UPDATE: The winner of our giveaway is Marya Miller of Congratulations, Marya! Thank you to everybody who joined!

Last week, I decided to try my iPad 2's e-reader capability. I ordered a copy of “Launch: How to Quickly Propel Your Business Beyond the Competition.” I got the Kindle format, because it was much cheaper than the iBook — which is even more expensive than the physical book.

I'm now in Chapter 5 out of 9 chapters, and in this post, I'm going to give you my first impressions on the book. If this post piques your interest, read on to find out how you can get a free copy of the book.

The Big Picture

“Launch” promotes a “new” kind of marketing, one that's focused on giving to others. Sound familiar? That's because this is the exact same thing I've been talking about since I coined the term, “Magnetic New Marketing.”

Michael compares business to a rocket ship. Content fuels it, and other people propel it. When your rocket reaches outer space, that means you've left your competition behind.

So you can imagine that, in the first few chapters, I didn't really feel like I learned anything new. It was good, though, to validate how I've always felt about marketing — particularly marketing online. Everything I've learned in my last three years of Internet marketing, and synthesized into Magnetic New Marketing, is correct!

My heart does start pounding, though, when I read about specific cases of when this new type of online marketing is used to great success. Particularly interesting was Mike's telling of how he built Social Media Examiner and made it the second biggest blog about social media in the span of a year.

I saw this happening before my own eyes, because, as a copywriter, I'd been following Mike online. Of course, I always thought he was a big name. I never realized he had to do some hustling to get social media experts to collaborate with him.

But he did and the details are all in “Launch.”

Chapter-by-Chapter Account

Chapter 1: Rockets Don't Fly Themselves

Mike (is that even Michael Stelzner's nickname? Oh well, I'll be calling him Mike from this point on) paints the broad strokes of his approach, which he calls the Elevation Principle. According to this principle, you achieve great results by providing great content and focusing on others — and removing “obvious marketing messages.”

Nothing new for me in this chapter, but it was good to read Mike's specific examples of the Elevation Principle at work.

Chapter 2: Starting Your Mission Plan

Mike provides practical guidance for setting your vision, goals and plan of action. He introduces the concepts of markers, speed, and motion, and how these influence the growth of a business. He also continues the rocket ship analogy with concepts like “gravity drag,” and “escape velocity.”

I found this chapter to be very practical and quite inspiring… although personally, I don't like getting into too much detail about my business. If we talk forest vs trees, I'm more of a forest type of girl. Also, I find the rocket ship analogy, shall we say, overly testosterone-y. It would totally resonate with my husband but simply whooshes over my head. Nevertheless, I vow to set aside an entire day to go through the process in this chapter.

Chapter 3: Finding Inspiration by Looking Outward

In this chapter, Mike makes the compelling argument that we will only grow if we have an outward-focused mentality. We need to reach out to other people, other industries, maybe even other cultures to find fresh ideas and ways of doing things. He says we need to find role models and inspirational content, and gives several ways to do this easily.

I'm loving the practicality of this chapter! Now I know, when I'm surfing the ‘net or stalking interesting people online, I'm not wasting my time. I'm using my Discovery System. And now I know how to do so more effectively and efficiently πŸ˜€

Chapter 4: Leveraging the Power of Other People

Speaking of looking outward, the Elevation Principle says it's “other people” who propel the rocket ship. And the key to activating them is by giving away stuff, without expecting anything in return. Here we learn the different types of people we should be reaching out to, how to choose them, and how to discover their needs — so we can help fulfill them.

Again, not a lot of new ideas here, but plenty of new action points. I'm particularly intrigued by Mike's tip for finding up and coming bestselling authors and other thought leaders. This comes in handy for my webinars, where I'm constantly in need of exciting experts to interview.

Chapter 5: Actively Engaging Other People

This chapter draws on Cialdini's principle of reciprocation (which you'd be very familiar with if you took my Magnetic New Marketing course). However, Mike warns against abusing this principle and calls, instead, for giving “genuine gifts” without expecting anything in return.

I'm enjoying learning about the three concentric circles of people we give gifts to, whom we should focus on (it's not who you think, I guarantee it!), and how to give gifts even to people who seem to have it all — or at least have more than you do.

I'm still finishing this chapter, and will publish the rest of my review in a future post. Meantime, I'd like to invite you to join my…

Launch Giveaway!

I'm so positive the Elevation Principle can help any business to grow, that I'd like to give one copy of it away.

All you have to do is post a comment below and tell me what your biggest, toughest business challenge is. What's keeping you from moving faster towards your business goals?

This Friday, June 24, 2011, 2 pm EST, I'm going to randomly pick one winner.

I'm giving away either a physical copy or Kindle format of the book. Therefore, to qualify for this giveaway, you must be either a resident of the United States or Canada, or have a Kindle account. All clear?

Go ahead, post your comment, and check back after 2 pm this Friday to see if you've won.


Lexi Rodrigo

PS: FYI, I purchased my copy of Launch; I didn't get a review copy. However, I am an affiliate of, so if you buy your copy through this link, I'll get a (very small) commission.



About the Author

Lexi Rodrigo is a communication and marketing professional for multimillion-dollar businesses, co-author of Blog Post Ideas: 21 Proven Ways to Create Compelling Content and Kiss Writer's Block Goodbye, and host of "Marketing Insights LIVE!." Connect with Lexi on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn.

  • Sue says:

    Hi Lexi

    Thanks for the great post. My biggest challenge is just getting enough content created for my site. I am trying to sell bundles and this is taking a huge amount of time. Just wish it would go faster though.

    • Alexis says:

      @Sue – Thanks for being the very first commenter! What do you mean by “content created for my site”? Do you mean content for your readers, or content for you to sell? Please clarify. Thanks!

  • Jean says:

    Starting out is really tough. I’ve only just started two months ago myself – where do I even begin with the obstacles and frustrations! I think my biggest challenge, however, is that I’m probably trying to take on too much at once. Couple that with literally no capital and well.. you see my picture.

    I need to learn SEO, copywriting, design, development.. it’s a lot to take in at once. I’m somewhat familiar with them, but there’s always more to learn. I’m experiencing burnout already and had a panic attack last week due to the stress.

    Maybe some focus from someone who’s been there, done that can help. Like Mr. Stelzner.

  • Hi Lexi,

    Thanks for the thoughtful review! My biggest struggle is time πŸ™ Finding time to create the quality content that positions me as an expert in my field and creates value for my customers (and also allows me to be found in searches). Finding time to meet and chat with potential clients, provide proposals, answer questions, etc. And of course, finding time to do the actual work that those other efforts generates.


  • Emma says:

    Hi Lexi, sounds like a great book! My biggest challenge is still the what I want to be when I grow up question. I am currently doing what people who find me ask me to do, but I would like to figure out what it is I want to do (a niche) and sell (or LAUNCH!) that!

  • rosi rouge says:

    Hi Lexi,
    Great post/review. If I don’t win, I will definitely buy the book. My biggest obstacle is time as well. I need time to learn how to implement all the changes I’ve been learning about into my website without going to my web designer each time!!! It’s a little overwhelming to keep up with the site, my Etsy site;, my facebook page: hankyblanky AND Twitter.
    Thank you for your inspirations!

  • NicolΓ‘s Vercesi says:

    Hello Lexi,

    Great post! My biggest challenge at the moment is defining who is going to be my ideal target client and once I have done that, determining the best way to approach it.

  • Paula says:

    I’ve been running my business now for 11+ years and it’s very successful… but I am completely bored with same old same old. I’m looking at starting something new to add excitement back into my work life and books like the one you reviewed are incredibly helpful.

    • Alexis says:

      @Paula – It’s awesome to hear from someone who has “arrived” and learn that even successful entrepreneurs still have challenges. Thanks for sharing!

  • Jeff Young says:

    Another awesome post, Lexi! And I have to agree with Sue. One of my biggest challenges is creating enough good content. I end up spending so much time working creatively on client projects, that I don’t always have what it takes to adequately launch my own projects. This book sounds awesome!

  • My greatest struggle right now is learning how to communicate what I do to people who need my services.

    I have created a package of services/products to quickly help people get content for their website–but it’s not what most people might think of when they hear “content”, as in blog postings or webpage copy. Instead, it’s a package of a promotional video, a professional interview on CD and MP3, a hard-copy booklet that can be handed out as a high-end business card, and a digital PDF booklet. Basically, it takes about one stress-free hour on my client’s end, and as a result they receive two hard-copy and two digital products that they can either sell or give away to build their businesses.

    I’m struggling because I have named my business “Stress-Free Info Products” but it has occurred to me that what I do isn’t technically creating info products, per se, but promotional content. My passion is helping draw people’s business expertise out of their heads and convert it into products that they can give away or sell–without causing them stress. And, I do this in a collaborative setting so that a group of businesspeople are able to draw upon each others’ audiences to promote themselves even faster and farther than they could on their own.

    So, I’m contemplating changing the name of my business to better reflect my concept. I’m stuck on the phrase “Instant Expert” or something like that, but I don’t like the cheesy, glad-handing sound of that kind of phrase. I’m very heart-based and really want to help people have products that they can use to promote and market their businesses, so I’m having a tough time finding a concept or phrase to wrap my services around. It’s tough because I’m dealing with both products AND services, and digital AND physical products, so it’s hard to encapsulate in just one pithy phrase! πŸ™‚

    It’s obviously taken me several paragraphs to explain what I do here, so I desperately need help from someone who could help me come up with a better way to describe my services and a better way to communicate the power of having done-for-you content created so quickly and easily.

    Thanks, Alexis, for your great blog; I always learn something from you on every visit!

    Jennifer Nagel

  • Kathy says:

    My biggest problem right now is finding a VA and/or personal assistant to handle so many of the necessary time-consuming tasks so I can focus on what I do best. It’s been about 15 years since I last hired outside help. I’m more than ready to let go and delegate, but having trouble finding the right person with the skill sets and experience I’m looking for.

    • Alexis says:

      @Kathy – Yes, it’s tough to find the right support. I have several VAs who take care of different aspects of my biz. Would it be better to spread your requirements among two or more people?

  • carrie says:

    Hi Lexi, thanks for posting your review as you read, I always find that helpful for my notes later on as well. I would say my biggest challenge is getting enough clients for continued recurring projects, such as blogging and newsletters. My business is based more on this monthly or weekly model, rather then one-off projects, plus this allows me more familiarity and longevity with clients, which I like, so I can be as up close and personal as possible.!
    PS I’m a Mike Stelzner follower for nearly 5 years now, and had read all his white paper materials and books, before the Social Media Examiner even!

  • Angela Ennis says:

    My challenges are almost a mirror image of Jean’s! I’m not as far along as she is, I’m doing the prep work and laying out the foundation to “launch” a business in medical writing. I’m looking at this prep work a stand alone project, called 365 Days, complete with goals and milestones and rewards! I just love the progression, structure, and critial info found in your 31 Days to Freelancing posts and have scattered them throughout the task list I created for 365 Days. I’m looking forward to sprinkling some of that good advice from Michael Stelzner’s book, “Launch,” into that task list as well so PICK ME!!! Thanks Lexi!

  • Marya says:

    Thanks for the helpful review, Lexi. I can see why you’re excited about “Launch: How to Quickly Propel Your Business Beyond the Competition”.

    My biggest challenge is doing too much for my clients and not enough for me. I still have a list of things to do for myself — things that would probably take my business to the next level, if I could only find the time (and the multi-tasking ability!)


  • Paul says:

    My biggest challenge is time management. I have several businesses that each pull me in different directions but I refuse to cut corners. I always want my clients to have the best service & product, as well as feel like they’re my only client, but it takes a lot out of me.

    Lexi, I would love to see an article from you on best practices for hiring & working with VA’s. Also, what aspects of your biz do you have them take care of?

  • Thanks for the post. I am really interested in building my own business and I have lots of ideas but right now I am struggling to do things in the proper sequences in a way that is “scaleable”. There are so many pieces to get it going and I do not want to go throwing money around before I have a clear strategy of all the steps – I guess that is what a good business plan is for! Right now I am learning and reading as much as I can from different sources. I just stumbled upon your post and I like it so I will be bookmarking your page! I will also look for a copy of Launch!

  • Michelle says:

    One of my issues is definitely writing content to add to my site to demonstrate my abilities. I am a WordPress developer and it’s been a frustrating process trying to get my name out there to those that are willing and able to pay for my services. I really need a marketing plan to be able to attract the right clients.

  • Sarie says:

    My biggest challenge is being discriminated over native English speakers. I am an Asian – a Filipina – I don’t know if it’s just me but more often than not, most employers seek out writers who are native english speakers despite the fact that you could very well converse and write better English than most native English speakers. When i say discrimination, it’s either they don’t hire you or they are willing to but with peanuts. πŸ™
    Now perhaps it’s a different story if you’re an Asian leaving in their country or other English speaking country. Have been freelancing for almost two years as a writer but seems not much luck. Now am freelancing as a VA cum writer – but I hope this discrimination would soon disappear and change.
    Well – i was lucky to have landed one small gig through your webinar participant Lexi, but of course I wanted a long term one. πŸ™ Hope I get someone soon.
    Thanks, Lexi.

  • Angie Newton says:

    Biggest challenge is planning! I have quite a few sites/blogs that I’m working on (in addition to being a VA) and I sometimes feel I’m spinning my wheels. I need some type of schedule for each site or something. See I can’t even explain it to you LOL

  • LeaAnn says:

    Wonderful post. There are so many obstacles when it comes to starting an online business. I’ve been online for almost 5 years and I just started my VA business a couple of months ago. My biggest obstacle right now is finding clients. Social media seems to be the way to go but I’m what you call as “social hermit” so I’m trying to come out of my hole and be more active.

  • Mike W. says:

    My biggest challenge is finding enough time to get things going well enough to hire some help.

  • Cara C. says:

    Great post, Lexi! My greatest challenge is balancing my at-home-business with my family (and we’re planning for more children soon, so the challenge will only get greater). I try not to schedule myself too heavy, but it still seems difficult to juggle it all. Not to mention, when the baby is napping may not necessarily be my most creative moment to pound out designs!

  • Elizabeth says:

    I appreciate the post. Boy, my biggest challenge is definitely time management–keeping the ball moving to keep the business moving while actually doing the work. I can feel when I’ve dropped one ball, even if at the time it seems to make sense, but later on, it becomes noticeable.
    Thanks, again, and thanks for the contest…my Kindle can’t wait to download it. πŸ™‚

  • Kenya Hudson says:

    Excellent post. My biggest business challenge is converting visitors to my website into customers. I love to network and interact with people and I do have a Facebook page and Twitter account for my online business but very little interaction!?!

  • Lexi – Thanks for the wonderful review and contest! You rock.

  • Hi Lexi –

    Thank you so much for such a great review! I think my biggest problem is marketing itself. In my mind, there are only two ways to market – twitter and facebook. I know that’s just NOT true but I have some how gotten myself stuck in a twitter and facebook black hole!

  • kate says:

    This sounds like a great giveaway I would love to read this book!

  • Regina says:

    I would say my biggest challenge is content writing. I was to speak to my customers, not sell to them. I despise hype so getting it done in *my* personality has been a challenge. Thanks!

  • Regina says:

    I would say my biggest challenge is content writing. I want to speak to my customers, not sell to them. I despise hype so getting it done in *my* personality has been a challenge. Thanks!

  • Kathleen says:

    I have a hard time making the time to put my own site together. That and actual marketing are my biggest challenges.

  • Christina says:

    My biggest challenge is ltrying to work full time while still also trying to get freelance clients after I get home. I just don’t have the energy a lot of the time.

  • Lawrance says:

    The main challenges I am facing: finding resources to invest in my newly opened online business as well as making my business known, finding the best and most effective ways to advertise to the targeted audience.
    Thanks for the initiative of the book giveaway, good idea.

  • Didn’t even have to think about it. My biggest challenge is properly estimating and quoting big projects (ongoing). I also have trouble quoting short projects that require intense research and a lot of time. I habitually underquote them —


  • Tishia Lee says:

    I debated about posting my comment. I feel like after 4.5 years of being in business as a Virtual Assistant that I shouldn’t be having the issues I have so I feel ‘silly’ for sharing. But here goes…

    My biggest business problem – fluctuating finances. One month is great, the next month not so great. That I think comes from another problem – not keeping clients or getting them to hire on as retainer clients. I do a lot of project based work but that doesn’t keep clients around long term (even though some are repeat clients). I need to bring on retainer clients that will bring in a steady stream of income every month.

  • Without a doubt, my biggest challenge has been generating the funds to pay outsourced staff, without working myself to death in the process. It becomes a vicious circle of Catch-22; harder to sign clients without the staff, tough to lock in staff if you don’t have the clients.

    After a year of drastically undercharging in order to pick up market share, I’ve finally gotten into position to start soliciting sponsors and investors. Of course, now I’m so busy filling orders there seems to be no TIME to mount a serious campaign.

    I know it’s a nice problem to have, compared to some others, but I’ll still be quite happy to get it solved.

  • paulo peres says:

    Oh, I would like so much the book, but i arrived late. :/
    So, great review Lexis.
    i liked so much.
    Thanks for share.

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