C’est la vie

This is one of those posts that I’m pretty sure no one will read. But it’s one I have to write.

It’s been 3 1/2 years since I last posted here. A little longer since I made the most hauntingly bad business decision of my life. A little less since I walked away from the IM community brimming with disgust and anger.

An awful lot has happened in the intervening years. In most ways I’m far better off than I was back then. Business has rarely been better. My 20th wedding anniversary is one week from today. My oldest daughter is starting college in London, and my youngest is entering middle school. From the outside, life is good.

But I have fewer close friends. I don’t trust a lot of people anymore. I stopped helping, sharing, and providing value inside my professional circle (although I share significantly more inside my social circle). And I became even more of a social hermit than I was before, which is saying something.

Mostly, I can’t shake the events of the 6 months following my 40th birthday. I managed to destroy most of what I had spent the previous half-decade building. I ruined my reputation. And I let myself and a lot of other people down.

I think what is most agonizing about how everything went down is how many people think of me and treat me as if I’m a crook. That somehow my evil plan from the beginning was to get a bunch of internet marketers really pissed off at me so they could write and say fantastically crappy stuff about me and never trust me again. (Side note: if you can avoid it in life, don’t piss off internet marketers).

Of course, the truth is far less interesting than the world would have you believe.

In what was probably an act of extreme hubris, I made an astonishingly poor business decision. I made it worse when I chose a business model that accentuated my massive and numerable weaknesses, while not taking nearly enough advantage of my equally massive and numerable strengths. Fittingly, no good “greatest regret of my life” story would be complete without compounding the impact by failing loudly and in public. And when that business started to get off track, I handled it poorly.

By the way, if you don’t have any idea what I’m talking about here, you have a couple of options. One, walk away. I kind of don’t want you to know about this because I feel like I’ve been miscast as the villain in my own life story. That’s my preferred option… you walk away and don’t know this stuff about me.

But the option you’ll probably choose instead is to go ahead and type my name in the ever-present search bar on your browser. You’ll find that a lot of people think I’m Satan’s spawn, come to earth to steal their children and rob them of their life’s savings.

So go ahead and search and find out how bad I am. And if you still want to read more after doing that then come on back… I’ll wait.

(waiting…)

Done? Good. After learning all that wonderful stuff about me, you just might be concerned that even as you’re reading I could be installing a super-secret trojan on your computer to raid your retirement and empty your kids’ trust funds.

Alas, I’m not.

I am, however, truly sorry for any hardship I caused anyone as a result of my poor decisions. I regret that I didn’t do better. I desperately want to exorcise those demons. I’ve given out 6-figures worth of refunds. I’ve apologized to a lot of people. And I learned a lot of lessons the (really) hard way.

Not that I expect anyone to feel sorry for me. That would be silly. I’m the one who made the mistakes, and the accountability is mine.

That said, there are some truly sick people out there who probably need to seek professional help for the joy they feel when they witness a public crash-and-burn failure. Ruthless, despicable, small-minded, petty people. If you don’t know what I mean, try failing in the public eye sometime and see what happens. The taunting, gloating, lies, and threats. It’s sickening. Truly.

If you do ever stick your neck out and have a public failure of the epic kind, look me up. I’ll buy you a drink (or three) and we can swap stories. Turns out there’s an entire subculture in the American business economy of successful people who have been dragged through the mud (sometimes for good reason, sometimes not) and yet come back to not only fight another day, but win repeatedly and often. I’ll welcome you to the club.

Look, those 6 months were too painful for me to forget. And the aftermath held me frustratingly in its grasp for most of the ensuing 2 years. And I hated it. And I hate that I created that in my life. And, at the end, it is what it is. As the title of this post says, “C’est la vie.” It’s time for me to move on. If you hate my guts, it’s probably time for you to move on, too. If you simply can’t, and feel like you still need a piece of me, then write me a really nasty, scathing, rage-filled email and get it out of your system. I’ll most likely delete the email unread. But if it makes you feel better, then go for it.

It’s time I embrace the new me. In my life I’ve succeeded beyond what I could have reasonably expected. In my life I’ve failed beyond what I thought could be tolerable. I’ve made genius decisions and I’ve made pathetically boneheaded mistakes. Ultimately, I am who I am. And I’m a better person through all of it.

After all that’s happened, there are some mistakes I’ll never make a second time…

You’ll never catch me coaching anyone professionally again. Ever. Even though I proceeded to have a better business than ever doing exactly what I taught (and I still think it was some of the best teaching you’ll ever get), being any kind of a coach is a terrible fit for me. And that much worse for the student.

And I seriously doubt I’ll ever play big in the affiliate space again. I just don’t like the people and attitude it tends to attract. It’s a dirty, slimy, greedy game. And, unfortunately, when you screw up playing the game you’ll instantly be branded as the worst of everything bad that’s associated with it. Sad. And true. And not worth it.

And there is at least one thing I miss that I’ll definitely start doing again…

I love learning cool new stuff. And I love sharing it. I loathe feeling like I can’t share it and can’t be me. I built my (first) online reputation sharing good knowledge, powerful tools, and boring stories about my life. It was good. And I liked doing it.

Sure, the other stuff will forever be part of my internet identity. But I can’t let that keep me from doing what I do. So I’m posting to this left-for-dead blog again. And I’d like to keep doing it. Flame me if you will. Excoriate my intentions and call me names again if you must. That’s just more of the same and it’s been done to death. I’m not immune to it. It hurts. But not as much as hiding from it does.

C’est la vie. I’m back. Quietly.

5 Comments C’est la vie

  1. Arvin Hill

    WOW!!
    I am probably one of the few in this game – I’m new Ok? – that don’t know the story. I applaud you. Yes you made mistakes, but stood up and admitted that you did. I can understand some people being upset, but if it’s about the money, quite frankly if $1,000 was all I lost in this business…
    I have invested a lot more in coaching programs that have not taught me as much as I have learned from you-tube!!
    Good luck to you in your new incarnation.
    Cheers

  2. Mike Howell

    Hi Matt,

    It’s wonderful to see you haven’t deserted your passion of IM. OK, you made some mistakes and certainly got some people upset but I think we all do this to some degree throughout life. To come out an admit your wrong is terrific but more importantly to be able to face it head on and do something about it is more important.

    Matt, I have some software programs of yours which I have always loved but due to an illness that incapacitated me for well over two years followed by trouble with my computer I need to be able to reactivate again. I have written to your email address at mattharward.com however, I never heard back so will write again in the hope you get back to me.

    Matt, I really hope you move forward from all this and make yourself proud because you have a lot to offer. Cheers!

    Mike

    1. mharward

      Sorry about your troubles, Mike. I hope all is better now… or at least close enough.

      My mattharward.com email got spam-bombed pretty bad when everything hit the fan. I gave up trying to salvage it quite awhile ago. I apologize for the inconvenience. I’ll contact you via email and see what I can do. It’s been a few years since I had to activate any commercial licenses… I’ll see what I can dig up.

      1. kumar

        Mr Mharward,

        Very few people have it in them to face the world with honesty, I appreciate it. Understand, the honest person will always have to bear the cross in this world… and, the dishonest makes merry fora while (till he is caught sooner or later in his misdeeds), i dont know your age, location profession but in this world humanity is alive due to people like you! Who, inspite of various hardships in life, wish to stick to the straight lane, rather than taking short-cuts n life. Be prudent, and failure is only a stepping stone to the stairs of success! While shooting an arrow, we have to move it back before we infuse all our strength to hit our target… CEST LA VIE! cheers! hv fun, fight it out! A sincere man like you can do it man, have no regrets! And, do not treat life in a sorrowful way else it gives us back, what we give to it ;)) Tk care

        Kumar
        (Communications Consultant)

        1. mharward

          Thanks, Kumar, I appreciate the thoughts. I agree that, although they can be very painful, learning lessons the hard way (provided you actually learn the lesson) can be significant stepping stones to success. I’m glad I’m not the only crazy one who sees it that way 🙂

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