More on Marketing
1 year ago
You can learn more about marketing from these 8 copywriting frameworks than from a college education.
Email, landing pages, and digital content
Today's most significant skill:
Unfortunately, most people don't know how to write successful copy because they weren't taught in school.
I've been obsessed with copywriting for two years. I've read 15 books, completed 3 courses, and studied internet's best digital entrepreneurs.
Here are 8 copywriting frameworks that educate more than a four-year degree.
1. Feature — Advantage — Benefit (F.A.B)
This is the most basic copywriting foundation. Email marketing, landing page copy, and digital video ads can use it.
How it works (feature)
which is helpful (advantage)
What's at stake (benefit)
The Hustle uses this framework on their landing page to convince people to sign up:
2. P. A. S. T. O. R.
This framework is for longer-form copywriting. PASTOR uses stories to engage with prospects. It explains why people should buy this offer.
Dan Koe's landing page is a great example. It shows PASTOR frame-by-frame.
3. Before — After — Bridge
Before-after-bridge is a copywriting framework that draws attention and shows value quickly.
This framework highlights:
where you are
where you want to be
how to get there
Works great for: Email threads/landing pages
Zain Kahn utilizes this framework to write viral threads.
QUEST is about empathetic writing. You know their issues, obstacles, and headaches. This allows coverups.
Tom Hirst's landing page uses the QUEST framework.
5. The 4P’s model
The 4P’s approach pushes your prospect to action. It educates and persuades quickly.
The problem the visitor is dealing with
The promise that will help them
The proof the promise works
A push towards action
Mark Manson is a bestselling author, digital creator, and pop-philosopher. He's also a great copywriter, and his membership offer uses the 4P’s framework.
6. Problem — Agitate — Solution (P.A.S)
Up-and-coming marketers should understand problem-agitate-solution copywriting. Once you understand one structure, others are easier. It drives passion and presents a clear solution.
The issue the visitor is having
It then intensifies this issue through emotion.
finally offers an answer to that issue (the offer)
The customer's story loops. Nicolas Cole and Dickie Bush use PAS to promote Ship 30 for 30.
7. Star — Story — Solution (S.S.S)
PASTOR + PAS = star-solution-story. Like PAS, it employs stories to persuade.
S.S.S. is effective storytelling:
Star: (Person had a problem)
Story: (until they had a breakthrough)
Solution: (That created a transformation)
Ali Abdaal is a YouTuber with a great S.S.S copy.
8. Attention — Interest — Desire — Action
AIDA is another classic. This copywriting framework is great for fast-paced environments (think all digital content on Linkedin, Twitter, Medium, etc.).
It works with:
writing on thread
It's a good structure since it's concise, attention-grabbing, and action-oriented.
Shane Martin, Twitter's creator, uses this approach to create viral content.
8 copywriting frameworks that teach marketing better than a four-year degree
Yucel F. Sahan
11 months ago
How I Created the Day's Top Product on Product Hunt
In this article, I'll describe a weekend project I started to make something. It was Product Hunt's #1 of the Day, #2 Weekly, and #4 Monthly product.
How did I make Landing Page Checklist so simple? Building and launching took 3 weeks. I worked 3 hours a day max. Weekends were busy.
It's sort of a long story, so scroll to the bottom of the page to see what tools I utilized to create Landing Page Checklist :x
As a matter of fact, it all started with the startups-investments blog; Startup Bulletin, that I started writing in 2018. No, don’t worry, I won’t be going that far behind. The twitter account where I shared the blog posts of this newsletter was inactive for a looong time. I was holding this Twitter account since 2009, I couldn’t bear to destroy it. At the same time, I was thinking how to evaluate this account.
So I looked for a weekend assignment.
Weekend undertaking: Generate business names
Barash and I established a weekend effort to stay current. Building things helped us learn faster.
Simple. Startup Name Generator The utility generated random startup names. After market research for SEO purposes, we dubbed it Business Name Generator.
Backend developer Barash dislikes frontend work. He told me to write frontend code. Chakra UI and Tailwind CSS were recommended.
It was the first time I have heard about Tailwind CSS.
Before this project, I made mobile-web app designs in Sketch and shared them via Zeplin. I can read HTML-CSS or React code, but not write it. I didn't believe myself but followed Barash's advice.
My home page wasn't responsive when I started. Here it was:)
And then... Product Hunt had something I needed. Me-only! A website builder that gives you clean Tailwind CSS code and pre-made web components (like Elementor). Incredible.
I bought it right away because it was so easy to use. Best part: It's not just index.html. It includes all needed files. Like
among other things, tailwind.config.js
This is for non-techies.
Tailwind.build; which is Shuffle now, allows you to create and export projects for free (with limited features). You can try it by visiting their website.
After downloading the project, you can edit the text and graphics in Visual Studio (or another text editor). This HTML file can be hosted whenever.
Github is an easy way to host a landing page.
your project via Shuffle for export
your website's content, edit
Create a Gitlab, Github, or Bitbucket account.
to Github, upload your project folder.
Integrate Vercel with your Github account (or another platform below)
Allow them to guide you in steps.
Finally. If you push your code to Github using Github Desktop, you'll do it quickly and easily.
Speaking of; here are some hosting and serverless backend services for web applications and static websites for you host your landing pages for FREE!
I host landingpage.fyi on Vercel but all is fine. You can choose any platform below with peace in mind.
After connecting your project/repo to Vercel, you don’t have to do anything on Vercel. Vercel updates your live website when you update Github Desktop. Wow!
Tails came out while I was using tailwind.build. Although it's prettier, tailwind.build is more mobile-friendly. I couldn't resist their lovely parts. Tails :)
Tails have several well-designed parts. Some components looked awful on mobile, but this bug helped me understand Tailwind CSS.
Unlike Shuffle, Tails does not include files when you export such as config.js, main.js, README.md. It just gives you the HTML code. Suffle.dev is a bit ahead in this regard and with mobile-friendly blocks if you ask me. Of course, I took advantage of both.
creativebusinessnames.co is inactive, but I'll leave a deployment link :)
Adam Wathan's YouTube videos and Tailwind's official literature helped me, but I couldn't have done it without Tails and Shuffle. These tools helped me make landing pages. I shouldn't have started over.
So began my Tailwind CSS adventure. I didn't build landingpage. I didn't plan it to be this long; sorry.
I learnt a lot while I was playing around with Shuffle and Tails Builders.
Long story short I built landingpage.fyi with the help of these tools;
Learning, building, and distribution
Shuffle (Started with a Shuffle Template)
Tails (Used components from here)
Sketch (to handle icons, logos, and .svg’s)
metatags.io (Auto Generator Meta Tags)
Github Desktop (Pushing code to Github -super easy-)
Visual Studio Code (Edit my code)
Mailerlite (Capture Emails)
CookieHub (Consent Management)
That's all. A few things:
.fyi Domain: Why?
I'm often asked this.
I don't know, but I wanted to include the landing page term. Popular TLDs are gone. I saw my alternatives. brief and catchy.
CSS Tailwind Resources
I'll share project resources like Tails and Shuffle.
Beginner Tailwind (I lately enrolled in this course but haven’t completed it yet.)
Thanks for reading my blog's first post. Please share if you like it.
1 year ago
This is how I started my Twitter account.
My 12-day results look good.
Twitter seemed for old people and politicians.
I thought the platform would die soon like Facebook.
The platform's growth stalled around 300m users between 2015 and 2019.
In 2020, Twitter grew and now has almost 400m users.
Niharikaa Kaur Sodhi built a business on Twitter while I was away, despite its low popularity.
When I read about the success of Twitter users in the past 2 years, I created an account and a 3-month strategy.
I'll see if it's worth starting Twitter in 2022.
Late or perfect? I'll update you. Track my Twitter growth. You can find me here.
My Twitter Strategy
My Twitter goal is to build a community and recruit members for Mindful Monday.
I believe mindfulness is the only way to solve problems like poverty, inequality, and the climate crisis.
The power of mindfulness is my mission.
Mindful Monday is your weekly reminder to live in the present moment. I send mindfulness tips every Monday.
My Twitter profile promotes Mindful Monday and encourages people to join.
What I paid attention to:
I designed a brand-appropriate header to promote Mindful Monday.
Choose a profile picture. People want to know who you are.
I added my name as I do on Medium, Instagram, and emails. To stand out and be easily recognized, add an emoji if appropriate. Add what you want to be known for, such as Health Coach, Writer, or Newsletter.
People follow successful, trustworthy people. Describe any results you have. This could be views, followers, subscribers, or major news outlets. Create!
Tell readers what they'll get by following you. Can you help?
Add CTA to your profile. Your Twitter account's purpose. Give instructions. I placed my sign-up link next to the CTA to promote Mindful Monday. Josh Spector recommended this. (Thanks! Bonus tip: If you don't want the category to show in your profile, e.g. Entrepreneur, go to edit profile, edit professional profile, and choose 'Other'
Here's my Twitter:
I'm no expert, but I tried. Please share any additional Twitter tips and suggestions in the comments.
To hide your Revue newsletter subscriber count:
Join Revue. Select 'Hide Subscriber Count' in Account settings > Settings > Subscriber Count. Voila!
How frequently should you tweet?
1 to 20 Tweets per day, but consistency is key.
Stick to a daily tweet limit. Start with less and be consistent than the opposite.
I tweet 3 times per day. That's my comfort zone. Larger accounts tweet 5–7 times daily.
Do what works for you and that is the right amount.
Twitter is a long-term game, so plan your tweets for a year.
How to Batch Your Tweets?
Sunday evenings take me 1.5 hours to create all my tweets for the week.
Use a word document and write down your posts. Podcasts, books, my own articles inspire me.
When I have a good idea or see a catchy Tweet, I take a screenshot.
To not copy but adapt.
Two pillars support my content:
(90% ~ 29 tweets per week) Inspirational quotes, mindfulness tips, zen stories, mistakes, myths, book recommendations, etc.
(10% 2 tweets per week) I share how I grow Mindful Monday with readers. This pillar promotes MM and behind-the-scenes content.
Second, I schedule all my Tweets using TweetDeck. I tweet at 7 a.m., 5 p.m., and 6 p.m.
Include Twitter Threads in your content strategy
Tweets are blog posts. In your first tweet, you include a headline, then tweet your content.
That’s how you create a series of connected Tweets.
What’s the point? You have more room to convince your reader you're an expert.
Add a call-to-action to your thread.
Follow for more like this
Newsletter signup (share your link)
Ask for retweet
One thread per week is my goal.
I'll schedule threads with Typefully. In the free version, you can schedule one Tweet, but that's fine.
Pin a thread to the top of your profile if it leads to your newsletter. So new readers see your highest-converting content first.
Tweet Medium posts
I also tweet Medium articles.
I schedule 1 weekly repost for 5 weeks after each publication. I share the same article daily for 5 weeks.
Every time I tweet, I include a different article quote, so even if the link is the same, the quote adds value.
Engage Other Experts
When you first create your account, few people will see it. Normal.
If you comment on other industry accounts, you can reach their large audience.
First, you need 50 to 100 followers. Here's my beginner tip.
15 minutes a day or when I have downtime, I comment on bigger accounts in my niche.
My 12-Day Results
Now let's look at the first data.
I had 32 followers on March 29. 12 followers in 11 days. I have 52 now.
Not huge, but growing rapidly.
Let's examine impressions/views.
As a newbie, I gained 4,300 impressions/views in 12 days. On Medium, I got fewer views.
The 1,6k impressions per day spike comes from a larger account I mentioned the day before. First, I was shocked to see the spike and unsure of its origin.
These results are promising given the effort required to be consistent on Twitter.
Let's see how my journey progresses. I'll keep you posted.
Tweeters, Does this content strategy make sense? What's wrong? Comment below.
Let's support each other on Twitter. Here's me.
Which Twitter strategy works for you in 2022?
This post is a summary. Read the full article here
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9 months ago
20 Fun Uses for ChatGPT
Our RISE community is stoked on ChatGPT. ChatGPT has countless uses.
Early on. Companies are figuring out the legal and ethical implications of AI's content revolution. Using AI for everyday tasks is cool.
So I challenged RISE friends... Let's have fun and share non-obvious uses.
Jim MacLeod requested a design-themed Twitter thread from ChatGPT.
Giuseppe Fratoni writes novels.
"This is amazing!" Impotent. I asked about writing, mystery novels, and jazz.
"Develop a mystery novel plot in which a disillusioned homicide detective hunts a serial killer who targets jazz musicians who play Autumn Leaves."
Detective James Thompson is a seasoned veteran of the Homicide department, but lately he’s been feeling burnt out and disillusioned. His latest case, the murder of a young jazz pianist who was found brutally killed in his home, only serves to deepen his sense of despair … (much more provided)
3. Question-and-answer sessions
You have a guest speaker and want to ask audience questions.
Pre-generate questions with ChatGPT. "And here's a question from our AI?"
The conference is about Western water scarcity. Water management expert. My AI question was...
Which desalination-related questions should I ask an expert?
How is desalination currently being used around the world, and in what types of locations is it most effective?
What are the potential advantages and disadvantages of using desalination to provide fresh water?
What are some of the key challenges and limitations of desalination technology, and how are they being addressed?
Richard's a board game expert. He suggests using ChatGPT to plan games. Note: Some people have started getting help solving crossword puzzle clues.
Tanya Thompson thinks it helps dating. ChatGPT:
Here are some flirty first-message ideas for dating apps:
I noticed you from afar. I had to say hi and see if we clicked.
Your profile picture is gorgeous. I'm obsessed with your [Feature] and want to know you better.
I don't usually message first, but I had to. You're [Attractive Quality] and I can't wait to talk.”
Hello. Your profile intimidates me. I'm starstruck by your [Attractiveness]. (Many instances)
ChatGPT excels at one-on-one conversations.
PepperBrooks: "I'm sad and lonely."
ChatGPT: I’m sorry to hear that you’re feeling sad and lonely. It’s natural to feel down sometimes, but it’s important to remember that you’re not alone. There are many people who care about you and want to help you. It can be helpful to talk to someone about your feelings, whether it’s a close friend, family member, or mental health professional.
Sometimes, just expressing your thoughts and emotions to someone else can help to alleviate your sadness and loneliness. It’s also important to take care of yourself and do things that make you happy, such as spending time with loved ones, pursuing a hobby, or exercising. These things can help to improve your mood and make you feel more connected to others. Remember that you are strong and capable, and that you can get through this difficult time.
Daniel Nestle asked ChatGPT to generate journal prompts to help him deal with anxiety.
Write down the things that are causing you anxiety at the moment.
Describe a situation in which you felt anxious and how you coped with it.
Reflect on how your thoughts and beliefs contribute to your anxiety.
Write a letter to your anxiety, expressing your feelings and concerns
Imagine yourself in a calm and peaceful place, and describe it in detail.
(many more items followed)
Also, naming ideas.
Me: Name this drink. Japanese gin, unsweetened tonic, lime, Szechuan pepper, grapefruit.
ChatGPT: How about “Sakura Sunrise?” The name incorporates the Japanese gin and the citrus flavors of grapefruit and lime, and the word “sunrise” suggests a fresh and invigorating start to the day. Alternatively, you could go with something like “Peppered Grapefruit Gin Fizz” to emphasize the unique flavor combination of Szechuan pepper and grapefruit.
7. Translation on the go
Monks recommends: ChatGPT is a perfect mobile translation tool. Say you need help in Italy.
ME: Translate to Italian
Where is the nearest gas station?
ChatGPT: “La mia auto sta per esaurire il carburante, mi puoi dire dove si trova la stazione di servizio più vicina?”
ME: In 3 months, I want to run 5km. Plan out how I can do this.
ChatGPT: Here's a 3-month plan to run 5km.
Start by walking for 15–20 minutes each day to build up your endurance and get your body used to regular exercise.
After a week of walking, begin incorporating short jogs into your routine. Start by jogging for 1–2 minutes at a time, with walking breaks in between. Gradually increase the length of your jogs and reduce the amount of time you spend walking.
Once you can jog for 10 minutes without stopping, start increasing the distance of your runs. Aim to run 1km without stopping and then gradually increase the distance over time.
In addition to your regular runs, incorporate strength training and stretching into your routine to improve your overall fitness and reduce the risk of injury.
(more details continued on)
9. Integrations and coding
10. Teacher lesson plans
Spencer Crandall saved time.
This morning, I wondered who has the hardest job. Teachers.
Many students, little time. ChatGPT could handle lesson planning. I tried it and got this.
Lesson Title: The History and Impact of Artificial Intelligence
Students will understand the history and development of AI and the potential positive and negative impacts on society.
AI timeline AI technologies and applications
Introduce the topic of artificial intelligence, and explain that it refers to the development of computer systems and algorithms that can simulate human intelligence and behavior.
Show the timeline of significant events in the history of AI, and discuss the key milestones and developments in the field.
Show examples of AI technologies and applications, and explain how they are used in various industries and fields.
Discuss the potential positive and negative impacts of AI on society, including its potential to improve productivity, efficiency, and safety, as well as its potential to create new challenges and concerns, such as job displacement and ethical issues.
(many more details followed)
11. Find podcast guests.
Joeri Billast suggested:
Who should be on my Web3 podcast?
ChatGPT: Web3 marketing experts, influencers, and thought leaders make great podcast guests. These include Web3 marketers, content creators, business owners, entrepreneurs, and technologists. You could invite Web3 startups and organizations to your podcast.
Please give examples.
ChatGPT: Ideal Web3 marketing podcast guests include:
Tim Berner-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web
Chris Dixon, general partner at Andreessen Horowitz
Vitalik Buterin, founder of Ethereum
Joe Lubin, founder of ConsenSys
Susan Fowler, author of Whistleblower
(many other suggestions)
12. Comments and reviews on social media
Lisa Monk thinks ChatGPT can help retail staff with social media.
She asked ChatGPT to "review this restaurant"
POSITIVE CUSTOMER REVIEW: I absolutely love this place. We eat out a lot however this place has topped it all. Perfect meals, amazing staff and the timing for it all was great! Special thanks to Sophie B (you rock) From your guests all the way from the Gold Coast, THANK YOU
ChatGPT REPLY: Thank you so much for your kind words and for taking the time to write a review. We are delighted to hear that you had such a great experience at our restaurant. We are thrilled that you enjoyed your meal and the service provided by Sophie. It’s always a pleasure to serve guests visiting from the Gold Coast and we are grateful for your support. We look forward to welcoming you back again soon. Thank you again for your positive review.
CUSTOMER REVIEW: Most average food, there is a nice view, But that’s about it
ChatGPT: Thank you for your review. We apologize if your dining experience was not up to your expectations. We strive to provide top-quality food and service to all of our customers, and we will take your feedback into consideration as we continue to improve. Thank you for letting us know about your experience.
Zack Seipert said, "I researched some famous unsolved murders, and ChatGPT laid out the crime, suspects, clues, and more." I bet experienced detectives could solve some of these cold cases.
14. Reduce bias
Joanne Taylor struggles to remove biases from her writing. She asked ChatGPT for ideas.
I asked ChatGPT to check a text for racial bias, and it did well.
I designed a small, unique table using ChatGPT and MidJourney. I edited ChatGPT's idea for clarity and brevity before entering it in MidJourney.
16. Serialize a novel
Scott Scowcoft led ChatCPT through iterations of a story text to create serialized novel frames. You can view this here.
17. Interview preparation
I was on a sales podcast. Although this is marketing-related, it's not my forte. I asked ChatGPT for help with a sales interview. Response:
Here are some interview questions about the future of sales and how to answer them.
How will technology affect sales in the future?
Technology will impact sales in the coming years. Automation and AI could be used to handle routine tasks, and data analysis and CRM could become more important. E-commerce and online sales channels are also reshaping the sales landscape.
How will the salesperson's role change?
Future sales roles may change in response to changing customer needs and expectations. Salespeople must be knowledgeable and consultative to help customers navigate complex products and services. Increasing importance of data analysis and CRM tools will require salespeople to understand and use technology effectively.
Future sales professionals will need what skills?
Future salespeople will need many skills. Sales professionals must have strong communication and interpersonal skills, as well as product and service knowledge and the ability to use data analysis and CRM tools effectively. Adapting to changing customer needs and staying current on industry trends will also be important for sales success.
18. Gift ideas
I need Christmas gift ideas for my wife. I asked:
Suggest a gift idea under $200 for a middle-aged woman who loves The Eagles.
A middle-aged woman who loves The Eagles might like a vinyl record of "Hotel California" or "The Long Run." Many music fans enjoy the unique sound and experience of vinyl records.
Pair the record with a high-quality record player for a complete gift. The vinyl record and record player should fit within your $200 budget for an Eagles fan.
19. Explaining complex concepts
I entered: Explain quantum physics to me as if I were 10 years old.
Quantum physics is a branch of science that studies how tiny particles, like atoms and subatomic particles, behave. These particles are so small that they don’t always follow the same rules as the things we can see and touch every day.
For example, sometimes they can be in two places at the same time, or they can be friends with each other even if they are far apart. This might sound strange, but it’s what scientists have learned from studying these tiny particles. Quantum physics helps us understand how the world works at a very small scale, and it can also help us make new technologies, like computers that are much faster than the ones we have today.
20. AP-style editing
Blogs, journals, and books follow AP Style. I asked ChatGPT to "edit using AP Style" and it did a great job.
And then... "Write a catchy headline for a blog post about 16 ChatGPT uses"
Here are some possible blog post titles for 20 creative ChatGPT uses:
“20 Fun and Creative Ways to Use ChatGPT: From Games to Quizzes and More”
“The Ultimate Guide to Using ChatGPT for Entertainment and Creativity”
“20 Reasons to Use ChatGPT: How it Can Enhance Your Gaming, Storytelling, and More”
20 Entertaining Uses for ChatGPT You Never Knew Were Possible”
“Unleash Your Imagination with ChatGPT: 16 Creative and Fun Ways to Use it”
In a previous post, I said ChatGPT will change marketing careers forever. I have never made a statement like that in my life. Even in the early days of the internet, people were cautious.
This technology was just released two weeks ago, and over a million people are already using it. This is the fastest technology adoption in history.
Today's post offers inventive and entertaining ideas, but it's just the beginning. ChatGPT writes code, music, and papers.
1 year ago
Reasons Why AI-Generated Images Remind Me of Nightmares
AI images are like funhouse mirrors.
Google's AI Blog introduced the puppy-slug in the summer of 2015.
Puppy-slug isn't a single image or character. "Puppy-slug" refers to Google's DeepDream's unsettling psychedelia. This tool uses convolutional neural networks to train models to recognize dataset entities. If researchers feed the model millions of dog pictures, the network will learn to recognize a dog.
DeepDream used neural networks to analyze and classify image data as well as generate its own images. DeepDream's early examples were created by training a convolutional network on dog images and asking it to add "dog-ness" to other images. The models analyzed images to find dog-like pixels and modified surrounding pixels to highlight them.
Puppy-slugs and other DeepDream images are ugly. Even when they don't trigger my trypophobia, they give me vertigo when my mind tries to reconcile familiar features and forms in unnatural, physically impossible arrangements. I feel like I've been poisoned by a forbidden mushroom or a noxious toad. I'm a Lovecraft character going mad from extradimensional exposure. They're gross!
Is this really how AIs see the world? This is possibly an even more unsettling topic that DeepDream raises than the blatant abjection of the images.
When these photographs originally circulated online, many friends were startled and scandalized. People imagined a computer's imagination would be literal, accurate, and boring. We didn't expect vivid hallucinations and organic-looking formations.
DeepDream's images didn't really show the machines' imaginations, at least not in the way that scared some people. DeepDream displays data visualizations. DeepDream reveals the "black box" of convolutional network training.
Some of these images look scary because the models don't "know" anything, at least not in the way we do.
These images are the result of advanced algorithms and calculators that compare pixel values. They can spot and reproduce trends from training data, but can't interpret it. If so, they'd know dogs have two eyes and one face per head. If machines can think creatively, they're keeping it quiet.
You could be forgiven for thinking otherwise, given OpenAI's Dall-impressive E's results. From a technological perspective, it's incredible.
Arthur C. Clarke once said, "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." Dall-magic E's requires a lot of math, computer science, processing power, and research. OpenAI did a great job, and we should applaud them.
Dall-E and similar tools match words and phrases to image data to train generative models. Matching text to images requires sorting and defining the images. Untold millions of low-wage data entry workers, content creators optimizing images for SEO, and anyone who has used a Captcha to access a website make these decisions. These people could live and die without receiving credit for their work, even though the project wouldn't exist without them.
This technique produces images that are less like paintings and more like mirrors that reflect our own beliefs and ideals back at us, albeit via a very complex prism. Due to the limitations and biases that these models portray, we must exercise caution when viewing these images.
The issue was succinctly articulated by artist Mimi Onuoha in her piece "On Algorithmic Violence":
As we continue to see the rise of algorithms being used for civic, social, and cultural decision-making, it becomes that much more important that we name the reality that we are seeing. Not because it is exceptional, but because it is ubiquitous. Not because it creates new inequities, but because it has the power to cloak and amplify existing ones. Not because it is on the horizon, but because it is already here.
1 year ago
Bernard Lawrence "Bernie" Madoff, the largest Ponzi scheme in history
Bernie Madoff ran the largest Ponzi scheme in history, defrauding thousands of investors over at least 17 years, and possibly longer. He pioneered electronic trading and chaired Nasdaq in the 1990s. On April 14, 2021, he died while serving a 150-year sentence for money laundering, securities fraud, and other crimes.
Madoff claimed to generate large, steady returns through a trading strategy called split-strike conversion, but he simply deposited client funds into a single bank account and paid out existing clients. He funded redemptions by attracting new investors and their capital, but the market crashed in late 2008. He confessed to his sons, who worked at his firm, on Dec. 10, 2008. Next day, they turned him in. The fund reported $64.8 billion in client assets.
Madoff pleaded guilty to 11 federal felony counts, including securities fraud, wire fraud, mail fraud, perjury, and money laundering. Ponzi scheme became a symbol of Wall Street's greed and dishonesty before the financial crisis. Madoff was sentenced to 150 years in prison and ordered to forfeit $170 billion, but no other Wall Street figures faced legal ramifications.
Bernie Madoff's Brief Biography
Bernie Madoff was born in Queens, New York, on April 29, 1938. He began dating Ruth (née Alpern) when they were teenagers. Madoff told a journalist by phone from prison that his father's sporting goods store went bankrupt during the Korean War: "You watch your father, who you idolize, build a big business and then lose everything." Madoff was determined to achieve "lasting success" like his father "whatever it took," but his career had ups and downs.
Early Madoff investments
At 22, he started Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC. First, he traded penny stocks with $5,000 he earned installing sprinklers and as a lifeguard. Family and friends soon invested with him. Madoff's bets soured after the "Kennedy Slide" in 1962, and his father-in-law had to bail him out.
Madoff felt he wasn't part of the Wall Street in-crowd. "We weren't NYSE members," he told Fishman. "It's obvious." According to Madoff, he was a scrappy market maker. "I was happy to take the crumbs," he told Fishman, citing a client who wanted to sell eight bonds; a bigger firm would turn it down.
Success came when he and his brother Peter built electronic trading capabilities, or "artificial intelligence," that attracted massive order flow and provided market insights. "I had all these major banks coming down, entertaining me," Madoff told Fishman. "It was mind-bending."
By the late 1980s, he and four other Wall Street mainstays processed half of the NYSE's order flow. Controversially, he paid for much of it, and by the late 1980s, Madoff was making in the vicinity of $100 million a year. He was Nasdaq chairman from 1990 to 1993.
Madoff's Ponzi scheme
It is not certain exactly when Madoff's Ponzi scheme began. He testified in court that it began in 1991, but his account manager, Frank DiPascali, had been at the firm since 1975.
Why Madoff did the scheme is unclear. "I had enough money to support my family's lifestyle. "I don't know why," he told Fishman." Madoff could have won Wall Street's respect as a market maker and electronic trading pioneer.
Madoff told Fishman he wasn't solely responsible for the fraud. "I let myself be talked into something, and that's my fault," he said, without saying who convinced him. "I thought I could escape eventually. I thought it'd be quick, but I couldn't."
Carl Shapiro, Jeffry Picower, Stanley Chais, and Norm Levy have been linked to Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC for years. Madoff's scheme made these men hundreds of millions of dollars in the 1960s and 1970s.
Madoff told Fishman, "Everyone was greedy, everyone wanted to go on." He says the Big Four and others who pumped client funds to him, outsourcing their asset management, must have suspected his returns or should have. "How can you make 15%-18% when everyone else is making less?" said Madoff.
How Madoff Got Away with It for So Long
Madoff's high returns made clients look the other way. He deposited their money in a Chase Manhattan Bank account, which merged to become JPMorgan Chase & Co. in 2000. The bank may have made $483 million from those deposits, so it didn't investigate.
When clients redeemed their investments, Madoff funded the payouts with new capital he attracted by promising unbelievable returns and earning his victims' trust. Madoff created an image of exclusivity by turning away clients. This model let half of Madoff's investors profit. These investors must pay into a victims' fund for defrauded investors.
Madoff wooed investors with his philanthropy. He defrauded nonprofits, including the Elie Wiesel Foundation for Peace and Hadassah. He approached congregants through his friendship with J. Ezra Merkin, a synagogue officer. Madoff allegedly stole $1 billion to $2 billion from his investors.
Investors believed Madoff for several reasons:
- His public portfolio seemed to be blue-chip stocks.
- His returns were high (10-20%) but consistent and not outlandish. In a 1992 interview with Madoff, the Wall Street Journal reported: "[Madoff] insists the returns were nothing special, given that the S&P 500-stock index returned 16.3% annually from 1982 to 1992. 'I'd be surprised if anyone thought matching the S&P over 10 years was remarkable,' he says.
- "He said he was using a split-strike collar strategy. A collar protects underlying shares by purchasing an out-of-the-money put option.
The Securities and Exchange Commission had been investigating Madoff and his securities firm since 1999, which frustrated many after he was prosecuted because they felt the biggest damage could have been prevented if the initial investigations had been rigorous enough.
Harry Markopolos was a whistleblower. In 1999, he figured Madoff must be lying in an afternoon. The SEC ignored his first Madoff complaint in 2000.
Markopolos wrote to the SEC in 2005: "The largest Ponzi scheme is Madoff Securities. This case has no SEC reward, so I'm turning it in because it's the right thing to do."
Many believed the SEC's initial investigations could have prevented Madoff's worst damage.
Markopolos found irregularities using a "Mosaic Method." Madoff's firm claimed to be profitable even when the S&P fell, which made no mathematical sense given what he was investing in. Markopolos said Madoff Securities' "undisclosed commissions" were the biggest red flag (1 percent of the total plus 20 percent of the profits).
Markopolos concluded that "investors don't know Bernie Madoff manages their money." Markopolos learned Madoff was applying for large loans from European banks (seemingly unnecessary if Madoff's returns were high).
The regulator asked Madoff for trading account documentation in 2005, after he nearly went bankrupt due to redemptions. The SEC drafted letters to two of the firms on his six-page list but didn't send them. Diana Henriques, author of "The Wizard of Lies: Bernie Madoff and the Death of Trust," documents the episode.
In 2008, the SEC was criticized for its slow response to Madoff's fraud.
Confession, sentencing of Bernie Madoff
Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC reported 5.6% year-to-date returns in November 2008; the S&P 500 fell 39%. As the selling continued, Madoff couldn't keep up with redemption requests, and on Dec. 10, he confessed to his sons Mark and Andy, who worked at his firm. "After I told them, they left, went to a lawyer, who told them to turn in their father, and I never saw them again. 2008-12-11: Bernie Madoff arrested.
Madoff insists he acted alone, but several of his colleagues were jailed. Mark Madoff died two years after his father's fraud was exposed. Madoff's investors committed suicide. Andy Madoff died of cancer in 2014.
2009 saw Madoff's 150-year prison sentence and $170 billion forfeiture. Marshals sold his three homes and yacht. Prisoner 61727-054 at Butner Federal Correctional Institution in North Carolina.
Madoff's lawyers requested early release on February 5, 2020, claiming he has a terminal kidney disease that may kill him in 18 months. Ten years have passed since Madoff's sentencing.
Bernie Madoff's Ponzi scheme aftermath
The paper trail of victims' claims shows Madoff's complexity and size. Documents show Madoff's scam began in the 1960s. His final account statements show $47 billion in "profit" from fake trades and shady accounting.
Thousands of investors lost their life savings, and multiple stories detail their harrowing loss.
Irving Picard, a New York lawyer overseeing Madoff's bankruptcy, has helped investors. By December 2018, Picard had recovered $13.3 billion from Ponzi scheme profiteers.
A Madoff Victim Fund (MVF) was created in 2013 to help compensate Madoff's victims, but the DOJ didn't start paying out the $4 billion until late 2017. Richard Breeden, a former SEC chair who oversees the fund, said thousands of claims were from "indirect investors"
Breeden and his team had to reject many claims because they weren't direct victims. Breeden said he based most of his decisions on one simple rule: Did the person invest more than they withdrew? Breeden estimated 11,000 "feeder" investors.
Breeden wrote in a November 2018 update for the Madoff Victim Fund, "We've paid over 27,300 victims 56.65% of their losses, with thousands more to come." In December 2018, 37,011 Madoff victims in the U.S. and around the world received over $2.7 billion. Breeden said the fund expected to make "at least one more significant distribution in 2019"
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