| “Nothing is Secret Anymore!” – The Confessions of a
Millionaire Information Broker |
By Matthew Lesko
Information is the currency of
today’s world. Those
who control information are the most powerful
people on the planet – and the ones with the most bulging
The timely delivery of vital
information is one of the most lucrative businesses you
can have in this new millennium.
I should know.
I started one of the most successful information
brokerage businesses in the country. I’m also perhaps the
world’s most well known information broker, and I’ve made
millions of dollars from doing it, and I’m going to show you
how to easily do the same.
Let me backtrack a little
All my life I
wanted to start my own business. I didn’t care what it was – I just wanted to learn how
to feed myself and not work for someone else. I even considered selling hot
dogs on the mall near the Washington Monument. I just wanted to be my own
I had a string of failed businesses before I hit
the big time. It was
while working as a computer administrator of a travel company that I
learned something that changed my whole life.
The hot shots that ran the
company fascinated me.
They were powerful individuals who discussed, negotiated
and executed big deals all the time. In order to get in on some of
that wheeling and dealing, I’d hang around late at night when they
had their meetings, and volunteer to get coffee and doughnuts, do
the Xeroxing -- do anything to try to learn how to be like
One day, they came into my office and
asked me – not to get coffee – but to get information on how
good or bad the rental car business was. It seems they were
considering making a bid to acquire Avis Rent-A-Car, and needed
some good market information to go along with the financial
statements they were poring over. I, of course, said “Yes, yes, yes!” I was their “yes man,” even
though I knew nothing about the rental car business and had no idea
where I was going to get this information.
Well, I wanted
to do this so badly I could almost taste it. This was one giant
step up from coffee and Xeroxing that lucky people are offered
once in a lifetime, and I didn’t want to blow it. I saw myself as a young turk
on the way up the ladder of success. But I didn’t have a clue where to go for the
I sat in my little office wondering if I could
make the grade. I sat
there staring at my desk hoping something would pop into my head
and give me the magic answer. I stared at the telephone and then picked it up
“Here I am in Washington D.C. needing to
know about the rental car business. Who can I call?
Why not the government? I pass all those big buildings everyday on the way to
work. Maybe someone
there can help me.”
Well, it worked! By starting with the
government information operator, I was able to work my way through
a dozen more calls and referrals until I finally found an expert
in the rental car business.
It turned out to be a man who used to be the president of
Hertz and was now in Washington – and bored out of his mind with
his government job. He
actually invited me to lunch so he could tell me everything he knew.
I was shocked!
believe that in 45 minutes on the telephone, I could locate a real
expert who was willing to tell me everything I needed to know about
the rental car business.
And, he even wanted to take me to lunch!
was so excited about the information I had just received that I burst
into a meeting my boss was having with his hotshot merger and
acquisition buddies. He
was eager to hear everything I learned from my lunch right then and
They were blown away.
believe that a young turk like me, who didn’t know anyone, could get
such information that we had all assumed was privileged and
I got more excited about the information I
dug up on the rental car business than with any program I ever wrote
for the company. I knew
then that information was power. I also knew then that there
was immense value in delivering timely information on
I was hooked. I started a new business obtaining information for
people on anything they needed.
I became a consultant to people in the merger and
acquisition business, and I got all the information they needed to
make their business a success – information they were unable to
This time, success finally happened. The business grew from just
me, a telephone, and a desk in my one-bedroom apartment to over
30 employees and a million and a half dollars in sales in a little more
than 3 years. Even after
a string of failing businesses, I finally realized my first success, and
I’ll show how you can do it, too.
How to Create
Money Out of Thin Air
What I learned early on is
that you can literally take information that is free to obtain,
but oftentimes hard for the average person to find – turn
around and sell it for big bucks. All it requires is a little resourcefulness, and the
knowledge of where to find the information that is sellable.
There’s nothing to it. These are the only things you
1) Believe the notion that we live in
an information society, and if you’re willing to make a few necessary
calls (or e-mails), you can gather information on almost anything –
and make that information sellable.
need to know where to look for the information. Although there are countless
sources of information, if you do nothing else but tap into the
world’s largest source of free information, you can find
virtually everything that you need. That source is the U.S. Government. [I’ve spent 25 years of my life
as an information broker, and I have yet to find a source of
information more comprehensive than the U.S. Government.]
Do you want to get an idea of just how vast
the government’s information reserve is?
If you took all the major commercial
publishers in the United States, they collectively produce
50,000 new titles in all the libraries and bookstores around
the country in a single year.
In contrast, one single publisher in the government
(the National Technical Information Service) publishes over
100,000 titles a year.
Multiply that by the number of government agencies that
produce information, and the amount of information becomes
The range of subjects on which you can find
information is also mind-boggling: The government not only
counts people, the number of jelly beans manufactured in the
country, toilets installed, and how many potatoes grown; but also
gives investment trends and opportunities likely to show up in the
Wall Street Journal in weeks; it also answers any legal question
better than the highest paid lawyer. There are 700,000 government experts in
any field you can imagine, who will give you free information
simply because you asked.
How to Use the Information
1) Find customers who need, and are willing to
pay for, specialized information. Position
yourself as someone who knows how to find information on
practically everything, but do narrow down the types of
information you can get for your customers’ specific
needs. That way, you
zero in with the precision of a sharpshooter, instead of just
firing a shotgun that goes in all directions.
As an information broker, always remember
what Willy Sutton said when asked why he robbed
banks. He said,
“Because that’s where the money is.” You need to live by the same slogan if you want to
stay in business.
Choose the path of least resistance. Choose a customer base that
consists of rich people or big companies that have
money to spend on finding out how they can get richer -- and are
willing and able to spend it.
2) Gather specialized
information that would be of great interest to a specific business
sector (example: Internet marketers). Position yourself as an
expert on a particular subject, then write in-depth special
reports that feature the specialized information you found, package
them in an e-book, and make them available to Internet marketers for
a fee. As an alternative,
you may also create a newsletter that regularly updates the
specialized information – and make money on the paid
More and more businesses are realizing the
value of having good information for good decision-making. Whether big or small, a
business can’t succeed today unless it keeps up on the latest
What kind of information do businesses
need? They need
information on their markets, their competition,
technology, money sources and
regulations, for starters.
Develop a sensitivity to the needs of your prospects by
asking them directly what they need. From that, you can determine the kind of information
that would best satisfy their needs.
Here’s a useful
tip: You’d do well to
develop a ‘hook.” A
“hook” is a marketing term that makes it easier for people to
purchase your services. It’s taking the situation I mentioned earlier about
“knowing how to find information about practically anything” and
refining it down to a specialty. If you specialize in some interesting aspect of the
information brokerage industry, it’s easier to attract your prospects’
Define your niche by identifying the
customer group that you specialize in helping: small businesses, or non-profit
organizations. Or, you
can define it by the area of information you want to deal
with, such as health information, company information, or
Another way you can describe your business is by the
medium of the information you want to provide, such
as: only database
searches, only document retrieval, or only interviewing industry
I was fortunate enough to have started in
Washington D.C., where I developed the hook of government
information. It gave
me an instant edge over my competitors, even though I had no more
experience gathering information then they did. To make a long story short,
the government information I’ve amassed over the years have earned
me the title of the nation’s top expert on government
information, and I've been privileged to be featured in the New York
Times, Wall Street Journal, and several national TV programs.
The key to becoming a successful
information broker is to be the first to find the information,
and deliver it on a timely basis to those who want it. Then sit back and watch the
money appear out of thin air!
Matthew Lesko is a New York times syndicated columnist, and author of 2 New York Times best-sellers. He is regularly featured as the nation’s top expert on government information on TV programs such as Larry King, Oprah, David Letterman, Jay Leno, the Today Show and Good Morning America. His latest book, “Free Money for Entrepreneurs on the Internet” identifies hundreds of little-known sources of free government money for “net-repreneurs” and reveals the secret formula for easily obtaining the money for your business.