People Are Seventeen Forever on the Inside

Harlan Coben

“I'm 48 years old, not a kid anymore by any definition, but here is a universal truth that every adult at some point will realize: We are all always 17 years old, waiting for our lives to begin.” – Harlan Coben, Born Jan. 4, 1962.

You can write pretty persuasively for people of any age or situation if you keep this truth in mind.

No matter what it is you are trying to get people to buy or do, realize that they just want to get their shit together and get these obstacles out of their way so their real lives can finally happen to them.

Note – they aren't going to go out and change their lives. Not even after they buy your product that does whatever it does. Remember, they are 17 mentally. They don't work for stuff – the expectation is that opportunity will just plop into their laps.

But you know, first they have to get rid of these hurdles in the way and the albatrosses that are holding them down. They need to shed these layers of barnacles and moss that they've collected over the years.

And if you promise to help them do that – and it's easy to make any problem-solving product make that promise – they will listen.

Because they feel like you get them, deep down.

You see the hidden potential they believe they have.

You see the huge obstacles they see that are preventing their progress.

You see the anchors and baggage that drag and hold them back.

No one else sees it.

That's how they know you are the one who can finally set them free.

Try it. Try speaking to the teenager in people and see how differently they behave when you do.

Like many children coming of age, all they want is for an adult – someone with experience and wisdom – to understand them. To see them. To acknowledge them.

Do that, then they will follow. And also buy.

3 thoughts on “People Are Seventeen Forever on the Inside”

  1. Colin–this is one of the most useful insights you’ve ever revealed. It’s a 500-word masterclass on persuasion and what really makes us tick. Right to the core. And the “extra” in your email today gives specific ways to apply it. I’ve already, printed, and added it to my toolbox.

    1. Thanks! I really appreciate the feedback (and the plug for the email exclusives, lol). When I first read that quote, it made me think of my late dad, who was in touring rock bands in his 20s, and he was still talking about playing music in his 60s before he passed, even though he hadn’t done it SINCE his 20s. Still making plans in his mind for what he was going to do “next” when all that work, and health issues, and all the divorces, and house moves, etc. were done with. But it’s never done with, and people put off those youthful wishes and ambitions their whole lives. Touch it, and you’ll connect directly with the person they see themselves as.

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