You Have To Spend Time In The Woodshed

When newbie entrepreneurs ask Reilly what it takes to scale a business in less than a year he’s often reminded of his Perry Marshall story.

Perry Marshall is revered in marketing circles as one of the iconic rock stars of Facebook and Google Ads.

Like Reilly, Perry is a great man for telling yarns. Here’s one he tells about an American radio publicist called Mike Van Norden.

‘Mike is simply the best radio publicist in the country. He’s also a rabid, incurable Van Halen fan – loves Eddie’s wicked guitar.

‘So finally, when he made a few bucks, Mike dropped a couple of grand on a Charvel guitar and a Peavey 5150 combo amp – exactly the same as Eddie Van Halen plays.

‘Then he hired a guitar teacher for some lessons, one who could play those Van Halen riffs.

‘OK bud, I want you to teach me how to play Spanish Fly, Eruption, and The Cradle Will Rock,’ says Mike enthusiastically.

The guy looked at him like he’d just applied for Chief Astronaut on NASA’s next mission to Mars.

He said, ‘Buddy, it takes a guy 20 years to learn how to play those tunes right. You could possibly learn ‘Back in Black’ in maybe a month… you think you could start with something a little more reasonable… like twelve bar blues or something?’

‘Mike tried for a while, but discouraged and dejected, he eventually sold his gear and went back to just being a fan.’

‘You see,’ continued Perry, ‘The steepest part of any learning curve is the ‘spending time in the woodshed’ part where you’re not even good enough to have fun yet.

‘No-one sees you. No-one’s watching. It’s hard work. But it has to be done.’

‘The business version of this is wanting to go from zero to ten grand a month in, like, 2 months.

‘It doesn’t happen very often. I know it’s hard to get excited about 400 bucks a month from your new marketing but the funny thing is, that may well be the cornerstone of your long-term success.

‘Celebrate small victories. Make a couple of hundred dollars and raise a toast. Then make five hundred. Then a grand.

‘It’s OK to be a beginner at something. We’re all at the beginning of SOME learning curve, every day.

‘Metaphorically at least, pick up that guitar and let the guy teach you the simple power chords. One day you might find you love that guitar, and that Eddie Van Halen lick isn’t as impossible as it once seemed.’


  • Contrary to what the quick-fix movement would have you believe you can’t rush or force development. Stephen Covey likened it to ‘The Law of the Farm.’ That all the truly good things in life take time and can’t be forced or rushed.
  • Gandhi also counselled on the dangers of quick-fix thinking. He warned of seven things that can destroy us.
  1. Wealth without work.
  2. Pleasure without conscience.
  3. Knowledge without character.
  4. Business without ethics.
  5. Science without humanity.
  6. Religion without sacrifice.
  7. Politics without principles.


‘The only thing that endures over time is the ‘Law of the Farm.’ You must prepare the ground, plant the seed, cultivate, and water if you expect to reap the harvest.

Stephen R. Covey


  1. What areas of your life or your business do you need to spend ‘more time in the woodshed?’


Reilly heard a wonderfully evocative story from his buddy Tom Heavey yesterday.

Tom sadly lost his daughter Emma to cancer last year and needless to say the family were heartbroken.

In the midst of their grief an invitation came from Connacht Rugby to invite Emmas young brothers – Jack and Tommy – to the Sportsground to watch Connacht train.

When they arrived they were met by none other than the Connacht Director of Rugby himself, Andy Friend. He chatted to them; told them he knew they played with Monivea rugby club; and enquired as to the positions they played and what their dreams were for the future. He escorted them around the gyms and the training rooms and then took them outside to where the Connacht squad were training.

There, he had a reception organised by Connacht and Monivea legend – Caolin Blade – in their honour and they were introduced to every player on the Connacht squad.

Many will rightly remember Andy Friend as the man who guided Connacht Rugby to the semi-final of the URC and qualification for next seasons European competition. Two young boys will remember forever a truly caring human being who made time for them at a challenging time in their lives.

Before Andy Friend leaves Connacht he will talk with Margaret Cox tomorrow morning at 9am in the Galmont Hotel. It’s being organised by Galway Executive Skillnet and admission is free. You just need to register online at

Join Reilly and Tom to experience the presence of a truly remarkable human being.

Choose and benefit from Pádraic Ó Máille services: Smacht Programme, Keynote Speaker, Business Coaching, Business Mentoring, and One-to-One Coaching.

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