Poison Pens: Pick up a red pen, expect to read in red ink…

Written by: MJ DEMARCO

Thanks to The Fastlane Entrepreneur Forum, I’ve interacted with millions of aspiring entrepreneurs over the last 15 years. Yes, MILLIONS!

Here’s what I learned: Most won’t succeed as they dredge through life with a cadre of poison penslimiting beliefs and destructive premises that fund poor decisions and hence poor outcomes. For example, if you hate your job but falsely believe “Starting a business is risky,” you’ll stay stuck in that job, choosing unknown risk over known pain.

Limiting beliefs make Poison Pens
What poison pens are ruining your life?

If you carry these poison pens, they then become responsible for writing your story, page by page, day by day.

Limiting Belief = Poison Pen = A Bad Life Story

Arming yourself with these pens to write your story while expecting a different outcome is like picking up a Stephen King novel and expecting a romance over some diabolical horror show.

Here are the 8 most destructive poison pens that will turn your entrepreneurial endeavors into the same: a diabolical horror show with a predictable ending: The death of your entrepreneurial dreams.


The market is NEVER saturated if you offer a better product and a better value. People who ask such questions aren’t looking to create value, they’re looking to chase money; which is why they ask about “saturation.”

RETHINK: Think of the market like a raging river; it naturally gravitates toward value and value is the path of least resistance; the water doesn’t care how fast or how much it is flowing; it simply goes where it needs to go.


Actually, you do have time, but starting a business isn’t as important as Netflix, sleep, video games, TikTok, or the Yankees’ 75th game of the season. Translation: My entertaining comfort is more important than my freedom.

RETHINK: There are 168 hours in a week and if you have a 40 hour workweek, there are 128 hours left for your dream. How can you make time by removing what truly isn’t important your life? Or, what adjustments can you make that will help you invest more time in your rat-race escape?


Money certainly helps but it isn’t a requirement. Value is blind and doesn’t ask you for a bank account balance. If you have skills, you can charge a premium price—money—for those skills. When people refuse to acquire skills, they refuse to acquire money.

RETHINK: What skills can you hone to increase your value? Where is your money going? What side-hustles can you start that will raise your value per hour worked?


No one is born with skills, you must acquire them with grit & focus. I wasn’t born an entrepreneur or an author. I honed these skills over years through deliberate practice. Do you think Tom Brady was born with a football? Or Messi with a soccer ball? For me, financial freedom was more important to me than the latest Call of Duty release.

RETHINK: Again, what is your priority? Winning a damn video game? Or winning at life and living a dream? Put forth the same effort into your entertainment vices into learning and skill development. And then one day, you might win the real game—life.


Wow, it is so awesome you live in a perfect Utopia where there are no problems, no faulty products, no inconveniences, no poor customer service experiences; nope, life is just perfect!

What a joke! This poison pen reflects someone who has no clue, and no chance.

RETHINK: What irritates the F* out of you? Solve it! Be better!


That’s right. I forgot that in all of recorded human history, no one has ever started a business and succeeded when they had kids. This poison pen is medicating your cognitive dissonance for your inaction and makes you “feel good” about doing nothing.

RETHINK: It’s because you HAVE kids is why you need to commit to a better outcome for them. Every minute you spend in a job you hate is a minute away from them. Remember, 168 hours are in a week.


That’s OK. You don’t need to quit your job because it can help you with skill development, ideation, funding, and network expansion. Your life isn’t your job; your job is to set yourself free from the rat-race tyranny & the “work, buy and die” paradigm. Isn’t that worth your time? 

RETHINK: What needs to happen before you give yourself the “green light” to quit your job? Personally, I recommend growing sales and a verified productocracy. I never advise quitting without some prior validation in the business arena.


BLANK represents a faulty identity issue. I have ADHD. I’m divorced. I’m a recovering alcoholic. I’m the wrong gender or race.

Again, value is generally color blind; if you have what I want, I won’t care that you wet your bed as a kid. How much does it cost and when can I get it?

RETHINK: Think about the last few things you bought… did you ask the person who sold you those items about their grades? Did you ask them for their bank account balance, their sexual preferences, or their emotionally absent parents?  Value is the ultimate non-discriminating entity!

CONCLUDE: When someone posts at my forum and I see these “poison pens,” I know they are a lost cause; unless they swap their poison pen into a growth pen, a belief system capable of writing a new story.

What poison pens can you ditch so your life can take on a new story arc?

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MJ DeMarco, Author / Entrepreneur

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