Branding, Rebranding and Landing on Our Feet

If you’ve been a long time reader, you’ve seen the posting frequency slowly dropping down in the last 12-18 months. I’m still alive, but 2014 in particular for me has been a difficult year to come to terms with. There’s been some highs and lows, but mostly I’ve been struggling with direction. In no small part because I’ve hit some finishing lines and achieved what I’ve wanted to…but there are other things that have seemed so far out of reach I’ve considered giving up. In the end, 2014 has probably been my greatest year of personal growth.

So now it’s time to talk about what I’ve learned, what I’ve done wrong, what I did right and what is coming up next in 2015.


The name Married Man Sex Life

I actually remember standing in the hallway outside our bedroom door talking to Jennifer about choosing it. I figured it was going to be great for SEO purposes, which it is, as about 30% of my daily hits are gay guys searching for “Man Sex”. I kid you not. It’s never fallen out of the top one or two search terms for the blog.

I’m also filtered out by spam filters in many places and you can’t even access the blog from many locations.

That being said, it does identify a target audience quite well. Married guys wanting a better sex life.


I attracted a female audience along with a male one

This was unexpected. I really had no clue this was going to happen, though now I look back, it should have been expected. If you explain to guys how to attract women, if women aren’t showing up to your blog, you probably aren’t teaching the guys what the women actually want.

This has turned into both a good and bad thing, good in that it’s attracting a new potential audience, bad in that the original audience starts feeling neglected.


Over time I have fine-tuned my theories, tools and approaches

This is both a good thing and a complicating thing. Compared to what I knew in 2010 when I started, I’m several degrees higher in experience, knowledge and above all – smoothness in application. There’s not much I disagree with in what I’ve said in 2010, or in The Primer, but there’s so many missing thoughts and nuances from what I know now.

This fine-tuning has all come from reading tens of thousands of emails from 2010 through 2012 and reading thousands of people’s threads on the forum from 2012 through 2014. The biggest influence though has been the coaching from 2013 through 2015. I don’t give advice in a vacuum. Thousands of people follow my advice, then report back. If I see a problem somewhere, I start altering my advice to compensate. In an abstract sense, MMSL is also been a giant research project where I watch a massive data set playing out. More personally, I have lain awake at night worrying about hundreds of painfully real situations, trying to figure out how to best solve them.

This is all good, because I’m not stagnant and the advice is better now than before. It’s bad though because it’s almost impossible to see that change unless you wade through 1300 posts, read all the books and have a conversation with me. If you read something from 2011… you’re getting 2011 era advice and there’s some disconnect with what I think now.


I’m in competition with a free (slightly confusing) version of myself

Back at the beginning, MMSL wasn’t a business. It was just some guy with a day job, blogging at night. Back then it didn’t matter what I said, or how I said it, because worst case scenario I could just delete the blog and that would be that.

There are 1300 blog posts. All free. So most people just read the blog and maybe buy a book. You can essentially get five years of my work for $20. That’s fine in the sense of it having built something, but long term it’s not sustainable as a business model. Just as importantly, if you go the free route, the advice is less clear and easier to misapply.

In part posting is down in 2014 because I don’t want to continue to give it all away for free anymore. Plus it’s exhausting to write for nothing.

Essentially *all* the marketing types I’ve ever talked to about this have been utterly horrified at the idea I have that much content freely available.

Likewise the free forum is in some senses competition with the paid coaching. The coaching is superior to the forum on multiple levels, but there’s probably plenty of people who would pay for the coaching, who just opt for the forum. Plus it takes time, money and effort to support and moderate the forum. I don’t have a solution for that at the moment.


I’ve only been a writer, instead of a communicator

I’m a big reader and I love books. So I wrote a blog and wrote books. Because that’s how everyone else in the whole world learns too.

Er… no they don’t. It’s been a huge error to have focused on nothing but writing. Just because I would never listen to a podcast without a gun to my head, doesn’t mean other people wouldn’t love to have my stuff as a podcast. Or a webinar, or whatever.

And apparently Jennifer has been trying to tell me this for the last couple of years, but I’m obviously so much smarter than her that I didn’t listen very well. Which explains why when I told her about this amazing breakthrough in insight I had about this, she put her forehead against my chest and hammered her fists against my shoulders. My bad lol.


I’ve not been sharable

Here’s the thing, there a huge barrier to most people to link a blog post from “Married Man Sex Life” on a place like Facebook. Yet that exact same post from “” might have been linked.

Plus I’ve now had hundreds of people say they want to share the Primer, but can’t because of the language. That’s tons of lost business and people who could have been helped, who aren’t.


Jennifer finishing up her old job

I’m not sure I can ever really explain what it’s like to write something on your blog, and have someone start mailing it anonymously to your wife’s employer. We were fortunate enough to be in a place to be able to pull Jennifer from her job, and she has never given me a hard time about it. But the fact that sometimes, people really are out to get you, kills any sense of enjoyment or creativity and both are factors in writing well.

The up side to that though is Jennifer is home now. We get to see each other all through the day. Despite the doomsayers, it’s gone pretty well. She’s fallen into a mix of SAHM and my assistant. She’s enjoyed a year of reduced duties compared to her frenzy of full-time work, and she looks happier and more relaxed than I can remember her being for a while.

But for a long time us getting to hang out and be together was the goal driving the bus on a lot of motivation to work. Goal reached. Now what? Beats me, wanna go to lunch again? Zzzzzzz….

Our two girls are happier too and the travel bug trio have been more places this year than ever before.


So anyway… where from here?

2015 is going to be a long branding and rebranding project.

(1) MMSL will continue to exist on what is planned as a permanent basis. I’m not pulling posts et al. It’s too time consuming to change it, and people can just dredge it all up with the wayback machine anyway. I’m not planning to add lots and lots of new posts though. 1300 posts is already a colossal blog.

(2) The nexus of all my future work will start happening on As of right now it’s currently in a maintenance mode as I finalize the layout and seed it with some content. MMSL will fairly closely match for its template and probably this weekend I’ll switch that over as well.

(3) If I’m identifying with a particular topic, it’s “marriage”. There are a number of sub-topics within that though, so is intended to be the nexus of “marriage everything” and each sub-topic gets its own little website focusing nothing but that sub-topic and linking back to

(4) That allows MMSL to start defaulting back to nothing more than the question of “how does a married guy get laid more with his wife”, and over the years gets to expand into anything and everything else marriage related. Thus MMSL defaulting back to focusing on men, doesn’t simply dump the women off at the side of the road and wish them the best of luck.

(5) Defined content chunks. I’m moving toward a model where every content chunk needs its own small website and advertising, with some basic good but free information, followed by more advanced but paid information, in every format and delivery system I can reasonably produce, namely webinars, audio and books as a starting point.

(6) Point 5 is of course an information marketing model, but I don’t see myself doing the greedy evil of “it’s a $197 value, but if you buy in the next 24 hours, it’s just $79!!!” thing. There’s enough need out there that I think I’ll do vastly better long term with reasonable prices and having it be sharable. I have more than enough potential content chunks to create for years to come.

(7) The vast bulk of my efforts for 2015 will be in “finishing” MMSL as close as I imagine it can be finished right now. This will be a five part series aimed directly at the guy who *just* got the wakeup call that his wife is horribly unattracted to him and a step by step plan to turn that around. In terms of balance, think about two parts Primer, one part MAP Book, two parts unpublished + more recent posting, and all vastly more focused on simple, clear action steps. Webinars are the easiest to produce so we’re starting there, books et al starting the second half of the year.

(8) 2016 and beyond. The next thing I want to do is a series aimed directly at couples, though the college age guys / dating / spouse selection thing is high on the list too.

The big topic that I am drooling messily to get to do, is an integration of Enneagram personality typing into the MAP, but that’s going to need a serious cash on hand / Kickstarter approach to do what I what it to.

(9) Coaching is pretty close to where I want it now. I’m seeing ways to better target it to the clients I feel I best work with though.

(10) Jennifer and myself. We have 2.5 years before youngest goes off to college. Our goal is to work like crazy and then move to a warmer climate city as we both hate the snow with a passion. Then we get to do more traveling for fun and doing live events. She’s really put in serious effort supporting me this last five years and I think she deserves success too.


Thank you

And as always, I am very grateful that so many people have read and supported me over the years. It’s been a long road and Jennifer and I would have failed several times over were it not for people reading and supporting us.


20 Years and General Catch Up

 SD:  Hi Athol and Jen, it’s Thanksgiving Day and I’m taking a break from the family and working on my computer. Checked MMSL blog and see no entries since October. Just wondering if you guys are doing okay?

I’ve bought all 3 books. Athol’s advice is great and I appreciate all the work you’ve put into MMSL. Hope all is well. Just checking since no new posts for a month. New content is not the (only) point — just wanted to make sure one of my favorite bloggers is doing ok. And will be posting again when ready :-)

Athol:  Hiya, it’s been a busy month. I am alive!

Firstly, the easy one, Jennifer and I just celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary. We went to Florida and essentially did a repeat of our honeymoon, namely visiting Universal Studios and Disney World. It was a great time and we did two days at Universal and two days jumping around the Disney parks.

If you go to Universal, it’s completely worth it to stay in the on-site hotels. The benefit of walking distance to the parks, early access to the parks and the free upgrade to your tickets to the Express Pass completely rocks. We caught some lower traffic days but were completely exhausted from riding rides rather than standing in line. Both the major Harry Potter rides are exceptionally well done.

Disney World… I guess I’ll just assume you’ve heard of it. Stayed at Animal Kingdom Lodge and it’s all giraffes and zebras in the back yard of the hotel. Nice. The major change from last time we were there was the advent of the Magic Bands – your all purpose park tickets, credit card and Fast Passes – in the form of a handy little electronic wrist bracelet. I’m told they can track down lost kids who wear them too, so there’s probably some kind of GPS thing in there as well. It’s the sort of thing that if you really think about it, this is the way the entire country will be in about 15-20 years and it smacks of population control and Big Brother. But holy crap the lines move so much faster to get into the parks and for some reason the white swirly light thingy turning green just makes me happy.

So fun, fun, fun, fun…. and came back home and immediately got a low level pneumonia that I’ve fought off heroically for the last two weeks. I knew I was getting sick before we left for Florida, but at that point the money is already spent, you aren’t getting it back and all complaining can do is make everyone else enjoy themselves less. So just grin and bear it while away and come home and crash.

Thanksgiving was remarkably low key this year in that we didn’t host it. We just got to eat the food, though for some unclear reason there is now more food in our fridge than we took to Thanksgiving. Which I suppose defines it as a good Thanksgiving.

Writing the blog is complicated these days.

One issue is time, I’ve been in a situation where I can only reasonably do two of the three potential things of, (1) coaching, (2) the forum, and (3) new content creation. I’ve been slowly extracting myself from the day to day of the forum, and the coaching is going well and I’ve finally got it down to a solid three days a week of calls, rather than spread all through the week.

Just doing the coaching itself is teaching me a lot more fine tuning of my overall approach. I’ve posted less, but some of the posts are my most important ones. The Leadership Moments one is crucial for example. It’s also a case of seeing a ton of people working through the process step by step and seeing where the common stumbling blocks are. I’ve not so much been wrong in the past, but there are unquestionably ways the emphasis on certain things can be better defined and some things are just quicker to apply now.

I’m also seeing how much of a jack-of-all-trades I was trying to make MMSL. It’s Sexy Moves, it’s for men, it’s for couples, it’s affair busting, it’s about adding basic Alpha when you have too much Beta, it’s Nice Guys, it’s dealing with toxic spouses, it’s about personal energy, it’s anything and everything. Plus everything was essentially on the blog in some form and it’s hard to sell something as a book when you also have it on your blog for free. #Facepalm. Thus new content, actually has to be somehow new.

I’m seeing more and more how each thing can be sliced off and defined as it’s own topic and really the only long-term solution is simply more coherent content. So… defined audience + defined problem + defined solution = defined product topic and therefore long term success.

If there’s a problem in the marriage right now, it’s Jennifer going crazy that I’m spending all this time thinking rather than producing *anything* of the next layer of content that I could create.

So, um… working on my marriage lol.

Jennifer:  Happy Anniversary to us! Wow, 20 is a strangely impressive number. And yes, I do go crazy with Athol endlessly thinking about the many permutations of producing huge amounts of content and what should come first…and…and…and. But the end product is always so impressive that I find it hard to truly be angry.  (And as a completely unrelated side note, the place holder note for this section for me to write a little something said “Jennifer: something something dark side”. Thought you all would get as much of a kick out of that as I did.)



Self-Deprecating Humor

Forum Question: Can a comedian with a self deprecating sense of humor be an Alpha Male? I remember hearing that John F Kennedy had a self deprecating sense of humor and he was an Alpha Male. I have always had a self deprecating sense of humor and wonder if I should alter it. 

I think you have to separate the comedy from the comedian when you’re thinking of whether it’s Alpha or not.

Being a comedian… especially a professional one… is unquestionably Alpha in that anyone with the balls to stand on stage with nothing but a microphone, and entertain a crowd of people for an hour, is very much walking a tightrope of victory or failure. A big part of it is not caring what the audience thinks, and how they might be offended et al. That’s Alpha.

The caveat to that being you actually have to be good at it and pull it off to be Alpha. If it goes well, it’s amazing. If it goes poorly, you reek of the most awkward social failure.

It’s also Alpha to a decent percentage of women to have a high intelligence, and the average IQ for a professional comedian is in the 140 range. Connecting different nuggets of information into something funny requires a high IQ. Almost everyone is smart enough to get the joke, but the creation of the joke requires a moment of very high IQ.

The comedian, or perhaps more correctly the comic persona, can be more or less attractive, based on what vein of humor the comedian is attempting to mine. Usually comedy is based on some sort of social disconnect, vulnerability, fear or frustration. Less common professionally is wordplay, because after an hour of wordplay humor, it’s no longer punny.

Self-deprecating humor is a variety of using personal vulnerability as a power source. As such it tends to reduce your attractiveness. However it’s possible to use the observation of that same vulnerability, and the under lying social disconnect creating it, and do it from a stronger frame of attractiveness.

It’s the difference between making a joke about you being some variety of loser, and you making a joke explaining how losing happens. You essentially frame yourself as a winner by default.

As a rough example of this, Louis CK is unquestionably at the top tier of the comedy world, but a fair bit of his material is centered on being unattractive and failing with women. Someone like the late Patrice O’Neal mined a lot of humor out of explaining male-female social dynamics. The average guy in the street is probably going to be a lot better off doing Patrice-like humor than Louis CK-like humor.

Oh and in terms of Presidential humor, well again, you already have massive social proof in that you’re the President of the United States.

And drones. I’m pretty sure having the ability to unleash attack drones makes you funny.


20 Completely Arbitrary Rules For Being a Good Dad  Be a dad, as opposed to mom’s helper.

2.  Every dad needs to be able to do an impression of a completely fearsome creature, that can be defeated by a four-year-old.

3.  If you have no clue what to do at home, you’d be surprised how often ordering Chinese food for dinner solves 75% of the problem.

4.  Your kids have a need to be proud of you. That thing that makes them proud, is probably that thing you stopped doing to spend more time with the kids.

5.  Know that the best moments in your kid’s life, are typically preceded by the words, “Don’t tell your mother.”

6.  Accept that you’re probably going to screw up being a dad at some point. All you can do is your best, and hope that one day it was enough, and you’ll be forgiven.

7.  Know that when you were little, your father was totally faking it. He had no clue what he was doing with you. Yet you thought he was amazing.

8.  Small naughty children are like Klingons. Speak to them as such, and they respond so much better. Come here now. Put toys away.

9.  Go to your kids’ parent teacher nights and the other school stuff like their plays and sports events. Yes they can be painfully boring, but you being there is important to them.

10. Part of your job is to let your kids take risks and fail. Life isn’t always fair, or easy, or simple. Sometimes the best teacher is a bad outcome. It’s your job to let them get hurt, but not injured. It’s your job to let them get embarrassed, but not ashamed. It’s your job to let them get anxious, but not fearful.

11. Have a good marriage. In a world of divorce, you’d be surprised how seriously kids appreciate that you’re still together.

12. Show the kids how to do stuff. Almost anything counts.

13. You should treat the kids all the same in a general sense, but different kids have different needs, so you’re going to have to treat them differently too.

14. Play ball inside the house. The kids are more valuable than the things that can be broken.

15. You do a vastly better job at defeating under the bed monsters than mom ever will.

16. Wear the dumb crap they bought you for your birthday, if only during the party.

17. If your kid does something good, put it on display on the fridge. When you take it down, keep it all in a secret stash somewhere.

18. Realize that half the time your kids are hanging out and watching sports with you, or whatever it is you’re into, your kids aren’t really into it. They’re just not opposed to it and are here just to hang out with you.

19. Tell them the stories from when you were little, about your dad.

20. Say you love them.

Jennifer is Back on the Sauce

So we’re in the grocery store, and I’m HUNGRY. I’m doing that slightly light-headed grabbing of everything tasty and fun and tossing it into the shopping cart.

I’m in trying new things mode.

Oh wow. Smokey garlic onion sauce.

That sounds delicious. Yes please.

Jennifer: “Oh, that sounds nice.”

Athol: “It does.”

Jennifer: “What I miss though is A1 Steak Sauce.”

Athol: “Oh, I didn’t know they stopped making it.”

Then I gaze down and literally stare right at a bottle of A1 Steak Sauce. Now I’m trying to  comprehend why Jennifer misses something that is obviously still available to buy, and is also inexpensive. It’s even on sale. WTF is happening?

Athol: “It’s right here, if you want it, you can have it you know.”


Athol: “So…. why don’t you buy it anymore?”

Jennifer: “Well you hazed me about it.”

Athol: “I did?”

Jennifer: “Yeah.”

Athol: “Oh.”

And…. hmmm… I don’t recall hazing her about it. Maybe some light teasing though. Okay so let’s not quibble about a few times she may have made mistakes with condiments. That’s all He Said, She Went Bloop Bloop Bloop. We’ll never really be able to assign actual blame. I’m pretty sure any hazing she mentioned was horribly overstated based on her sensitive feminine nature.

It’s roughly at this point I recall that I haven’t seen a bottle of A1 Steak Sauce in my house for… ah… well since the old house and we moved in 2006, so according to the math, I’m an asshole.

Athol: “Oh I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to make you not eat something you liked. I feel terrible.”

Jennifer: “It’s okay.”

And off we went down the aisle, steak sauce gently nestled in the cart like the prodigal son back in his old bed. I really do feel bad about it.

But seriously now, I like to think Jennifer and I communicate pretty well. If we can miss these things, anyone can miss these things. Life is too short to miss out on the stuff you want. If you like things, you may as well enjoy them no matter what your partner feels about them. (Assuming it doesn’t have a direct negative affect on them of course.)

It’s not like I have to eat A1 Steak Sauce if she eats it. And in case someone thinks this post was sponsored by A1 Steak Sauce, please be assured that I think it should have a large warning label attached to it saying, “WARNING! Tastes like bovine rectum juice.”


So anyway…

what are you holding back on enjoying because of your partner?