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073 A Lesson in Swagger from a Wooden-Legged Civil War Soldier
15th July 2015 • Rough Draft • Rainmaker.FM
00:00:00 00:07:27

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Anybody out there know who Cyrus Trask is? Anyone?

You won t find out who Cyrus Trask is if you eyeball a list of country singers. No. The only way you can find out who Cyrus Trask is is by reading John Steinbeck s novel East of Eden.

John Steinbeck describes Cyrus Trask as the father of Adam and Charles Trask. Cyrus is the patriarch. The family stud.

He s a daunting man who lies “so convincingly about his military heroics during the Civil War that the government appoints him to a powerful position in the Army administration.”

But he was never in battle long enough to acquire any real world experience.

He went on a rampage to become an old soldier. He re-fashioned who he was and became a national hero and authority.

It s also a beautiful story about how you as a writer can develop authority. Authority in your voice. Authority in your content. Authority in your domain.

In this 6-minute episode you’ll discover:

  • People with authority have energy
  • People with authority have swagger
  • People with authority have substance
  • The downside to being an authority

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The Transcript

A Lesson in Authority from a Wooden-Legged Civil War Soldier

Voiceover: This is Rainmaker.FM, the digital marketing podcast network. It’s built on the Rainmaker Platform, which empowers you to build your own digital marketing and sales platform. Start your free 14-day trial at RainmakerPlatform.com.

Demian Farnworth: Howdy, and welcome back to another episode of Rough Draft, your daily dose of essential web writing advice. I am Demian Farnworth, your host, your muse, your digital recluse, and the Chief Content Writer for Copyblogger Media.

And thank you for sharing the next few minutes of your life with me.

Anybody out there know who Cyrus Trask is? Anyone?

You won t find out who Cyrus Trask is if you eye a list of country singers. No. The only way you can find out who Cyrus Trask is is by reading John Steinbeck s novel East of Eden.

John Steinbeck describes Cyrus Trask as the father of Adam and Charles Trask. Cyrus is the patriarch. The family stud.

He s a daunting man who lies “so convincingly about his military heroics during the Civil War that the government appoints him to a powerful position in the Army administration.”

But he was never in battle long enough to acquire any real world experience. This is what Steinbeck writes:

The first time he saw the enemy was at eight o clock one spring morning, and at eight thirty he was hit in the right leg by a heavy slug that mashed and splintered the bones beyond repair.

Within minutes that leg was amputated. But that didn t stop Cyrus.

He went on a rampage to become an old soldier. He re-fashioned who he was and became a national hero and authority.

It s a beautiful story on how you as a writer can develop authority. Authority in your voice. Authority in your content. Authority in your domain.

So, you ready to take a rugged ride through the exploits that made Cyrus Trask the hard-to-ignore scholar-soldier? It ll help you on your mission to put a little dent in the universe.

People With Authority Have Energy

Somebody with authority has energy. Rarely do we admire a sloth. It s the vibrant man or woman who chooses the steps over the escalator, churns out quality blog post after quality blog post and never seems to sleep.

They concentrate their forces. Make their accomplishments seem effortless. And they crush their enemies totally.

Even though Cyrus lost his leg, he continued to chase women. And he did it brutally. That s not to be admired …

What s to be admired is that he eventually focused that energy on being thoughtful. To being a military mastermind.

People With Authority Have Swagger

Also, someone with authority has swagger. An aura of coolness. A cock to their head. A courage to catch hell. And to give hell.

Jack Sparrow. Madonna. Obama. They ve all got swagger.

Sometimes it s hard to put your finger on exactly that cocky quality that sets them apart. Other times it s not.

Cyrus carved himself a beechwood leg and hobbled around on a crutch until he could walk on his own. And when he could walk on his own, he struck a frightful and grand pose.

That s swagger.

People With Authority Have Substance

However, Cyrus wasn t just a spectacle without substance. In time he developed an excellent military mind. He poured over text books. He studied maps. The experience that he lacked, he made up with training.

He bought every book about war. Read every report. Subscribed to the leading papers.

But he didn t just stop with the battles, movements and campaigns but he learned about the units, down to their regiments, colonels and where they were stationed.

In time he went from a shaky understanding of geography and military strategy, to a celebrity to be reckoned with.

And that s when he started writing.

It didn t take long for the generals and cabinet secretaries to notice Cyrus. He got their attention because he wrote cornerstone content with authority.

He did not back down.

He recommended corrections for war mistakes. Suggested new manuvers to succeed the entrenched ones.

Then he strode into their offices wooden leg beating out an aggressive rhythm and game over.

There s no denying it: people will judge you by appearance. Whether it s your face or the design of your blog. What they don t see counts for nothing.

That means you can t get lost in the crowd. You can not allow yourself to be buried in obscurity. You must stand out.

Make yourself a lightening rod for attention. Appear larger than you really are. You want to be more mysterious than the bland. More colorful than the timid masses.

Dominate a subject. Teach it with swagger. And people will notice.

The Downside to Being an Authority

There is a downside to being an authority. You can never rest if you want to dominate the top spot. You must continually work on your craft.

Cyrus trained his boys to be sharpshooters with their rifles. And even after they could knock a bluejay off a fence post from 200 feet out, Cyrus never let them skip practice.

On the one hand, this type of training is a drag if you don t love what you do. On the other hand, it s a dream come true if you love it. That s why it s so important to choose your career carefully.

If you do, then you ll never lose that thirst to read another book, listen to another podcast or sit at the feet of another authority.

After, of course, people have sat at your feet, you little swagalicious icon of authority, you.

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