Around 1975, a man on the verge of homelessness was wandering the streets of New York, cold and desperate. He could barely feed his family.
He had a good education, a great work ethic, and a dream… but he couldn’t find work. Not the work he wanted. He was a writer, you see.
One day, he wandered into New York’s library to keep warm — but reading became a regular habit for him during winter. He read Tolstoy, Edgar Allan Poe, and other greats… and it gave him an edge.
But not enough of an edge.
One day he hit rock bottom (or so he thought): he hocked his wife’s jewellery to pay the bills.
Then he saw a boxing match that changed everything.
He watched Mohammed Ali beating Weppner… Weppner was the underdog and getting absolutely slaughtered — but he wouldn’t give up. He had only a slim chance of winning, but still he never gave up.
This fight was our man’s inspiration.
He wrote for more than 24 hours straight — and when he was done, he held the script to Rocky in his hands.
Our man was Sylvester Stallone.
Spurred on by what he knew was a great story, he went to many producers… and received many rejections.
As the rejections came pouring in, Stallone got poorer and poorer until he really hit rock bottom: he could no longer afford to feed his dog. He sold his best friend for $25 outside a liquor store — and was devastated.
But he carried on pushing his story and eventually someone agreed to make the film. Stallone was delighted — but his condition was that he play the lead. He would play Rocky. Because that’s where his heart really lay: as an actor. That’s what he was trained in.
They told him he wasn’t an actor; he should stick to writing… and Stallone turned down more than $100,000 — despite his dire situation.
The studio offered more and more money, and Stallone kept refusing. But the studio recognised the strength of the story… and eventually offered him $25,000 and the lead role. He took it. Then went straight back to the liquor store where he’d sold his dog to wait for the man who’d bought him — and bought him back.
It cost Stallone $3,000 to buy his dog back, but they both ended up in the film.
And as for the film itself? Well, it won an Oscar for best picture in 1976. And the star? One of the best-known actors in the world.
Sylvester Stallone was in it for the long game. He could have made a quick $100k… but he knew he was perfect for that film and he knew it would launch his career.
Sly knew the money was in the long-term impact and the long-term relationships – just like any other business.
Which is why I wrote my book Business For Superheroes – you can buy a copy here, and why I’ve put together a 12-week course to help you write your book. You can find out more here – and if you have any questions at all, simply drop me an email and I’ll happily answer them.
Vicky Fraser is a copywriter, author, and entrepreneur. She really did run away with the circus… but when she’s not swinging from a trapeze, she’s showing other copywriters and small business owners how to work with better clients, make more money, and stop missing bathtimes, first words, and dinners with angry partners. In fact, she wrote the book on it. Get your copy here.
PS I’m not promising your book will launch a Stallone-esque Hollywood career. Obviously. But I can promise it will open a whole new way of marketing your business and help to position you and the go-to expert in your industry. Plus, it’ll be fun. I’m getting fantastic feedback from people and the outlines and chapters they’re sending to me for critique are genuinely, startlingly, good.