I don’t consider myself to be a Buddhist, but I’ve read quite a bit of Buddhist teachings…
(And, in fact, there are very many top copywriters who can say the same. In a speech at Phillips Publishing, the legendary Eugene Schwartz called himself “partially Zen.”)
In Buddhist teachings, there is a concept called “Beginner’s Mind.”
In a minute, I’m going to tell you how the concept of Beginner’s Mind led to one copywriter more than DOUBLING the customer base of one of the world’s largest financial publishers…
Within 15 months…
When he was brand new to direct response copywriting.
Intriguing? You bet!
But first, let’s talk about what the heck this Beginner’s Mind thing is…
Sometimes the easiest way to understand something is to first look at what it’s not.
So what’s the opposite of a beginner? Let’s say, “expert.”
What makes an expert? Well, it’s someone who knows a lot of stuff about something.
Now let me tell you a little secret about the ego. My ego. Your ego. Everybody’s ego.
The ego likes to be right. The ego likes to know things. The ego likes to believe it’s an expert — even when it’s not!
(And here I’m talking about a weak ego, not the kind of healthy, strong ego I’ve written about before.)
And so the ego will make shit up. The ego will convince itself that it knows something, even when it does not.
And, in fact, even when presented with direct evidence that it is wrong, the ego will only become even more convinced of the 100%-wrong thing that it made up.
This is completely natural. It’s really common in children. And we don’t automatically grow out of it. It’s something we all do.
But, it’s destructive.
And, in fact, this prevents you from ever really learning anything! As long as you’re convinced you already know, you can never really learn.
If you want to learn and get good at anything, you have to be willing to be wrong!
You have to be willing to fail. You have to be willing to suck at it. And, importantly, you have to be willing to not know.
When you’re willing to not know…
And you come at the situation from a sense of curiosity, with a desire to learn…
Suddenly, the whole frame shifts.
You pay more attention.
You’re not eliminating evidence because you don’t agree with it.
You’re open to discovery.
And, you learn. You learn quickly.
Yes, it’s inevitable that you’ll use your past understanding to respond to the situation. Yes, the more background you have for any given task, the better you’ll be able to respond in the moment.
There’s something about the attitude of the beginner that can speed up your path to winner…
This is the essence of Beginner’s Mind…
When you come at a situation with as few preconceptions and “knowns” as possible, you’ll get the clearest picture of the reality in front of you.
You’ll learn best how to act in that specific situation.
And because you’ll have accurate thought and best action, you’ll get the best outcome from the situation as well.
Now let’s get specific.
Let’s apply this to copywriting…
I met Dan Ferrari on the first night of Titans, in September 2014. Our mutual friend Julie Hassett had invited us both to an Italian dinner, among a handful of copywriters.
Dan was memorable.
He had a big, broad grin, and long, sun-bleached surfer hair. And a heck of a good attitude. He was all smiles — the kind that’s in his eyes, his face, and his whole freaking body.
He had zero background in direct response at the time.
But he was clearly committed to learning — just being at Titans set attendees back multiple thousands of dollars, plus travel and lodging.
And he had the Beginner’s Mind attitude. He was there, he said, just to soak in as much as he could. To learn. To meet. To connect.
He had decided he wanted to do this copywriting thing, and he decided Titans was where he needed to be.
Later that month, he’d landed a gig at Motley Fool, already one of the world’s biggest financial publishers.
And he started writing copy.
He took any and all copy assignments they’d give him, worked hard, and paid attention…
He was willing to not know. So he’d listen. He’d get advice. He’d get recommendations for what to try. When he got an assignment, he followed through on copy feedback.
And when his copy was tested, he always wanted to know the numbers. He’d look at how well (or how bad) something did, and tried to figure out why.
He was there to learn. He came at the opportunity with a Beginner’s Mind. And he knew that by learning fast, he could get results fast.
And he did.
Within 15 months, roughly 50% of the customer base at Motley Fool had been acquired through Dan’s copy.
That means they’d DOUBLED the customer base with his copy.
He did really well for himself.
He made a name for himself.
He even earned a testimonial from the great Gary Bencivenga!
And since then, he’s continued to work with the highest-level financial publishers, with a small group of copywriters known for creating breakthroughs.
Dan is a great example of how fast you can accelerate your career, if you really dive into learning what works…
And in order to learn best, you have to be willing to set all assumptions aside. You have to be willing to tell that ego of yours to shut up, when it tries to tell you that it already knows.
You have to come at it from a Beginner’s Mind… Even if you already have a lot of experience under your belt.
Heck, Dan said his biggest goal in the last year or so is to get back to that Beginner’s Mind attitude, and find out what else he can learn and what new breakthroughs he can create by being open to new understanding.
That’s why Dan is a Master of Response.
BTMSinsiders members already have access to his interview here (just click his name in the “Course Contents”). You can also click that link to sign up and start streaming immediately.
Or, you can reserve a 24-hour pass to all the Masters of Response interviews when they are released a week from today.
Yours for bigger breakthroughs,