What do you need to focus on if you want to be a high-level professional — the best in your field?
We just wrapped up recording the sixth and final session of the Story Selling Master Class. I was talking with Joseph Rodrigues, my partner on the project. And I was telling him about an idea I had.
I’ve been getting more and more requests for another live event, a lot like the Advanced Direct Response Copywriting Workshop I did back in November 2014.
And as I was thinking about what I could do, I started thinking about spring training.
Specifically, spring training is well-known as a baseball phenomenon, though it appears in football and other sports, too.
It’s where all the major league players go practice in Arizona and Florida in the early spring, to get ready for the regular season.
They do batting practice. They do running practice. They do drills. They work on the fundamentals. They work on position play. They really go heavy on working on the basics.
They may also do some scrimmaging and exhibition games, but those aren’t the real focus.
The real focus, every spring, is to get back to the fundamentals. Because when it comes to any high-level performance activity, the fundamentals are the foundation of great play.
You could have trick plays, and gimmicks, and all sorts of crazy tactics that you come up with. But if they’re not based on a solid grounding in the fundamentals, you’re going to fail.
This also made me think of the focus of the Titans at The Titans of Direct Response…
Here we were, at a gathering of the greatest minds in direct marketing. It was a once-in-a-lifetime combination of some of the most successful direct response entrepreneurs and business builders, challenged to share their most valuable insights they could fit into a single hour presentation (or in some cases, a roundtable discussion with even less time).
Almost to a person, the Titans didn’t focus on whiz-bang tactics. They didn’t focus on the latest gimmickry, or technological innovations that were creating marketing opportunity.
No, they focused on the basics. The fundamentals. The mindset and principles.
It was like spring training all over again.
Even though they would occasionally let slip a tactic of sophisticated approach they were applying, they still focused on how that was grounded in the same direct response principles that have been in play for over 100 years.
I remember walking away with it really impressed on me how important it was to focus on the principles.
The opposite of this? Shiny object syndrome…
Here’s the downside of this. Even at Titans, there were a few isolated complaints from people who wanted “something new.” Who came for the latest innovation or breakthrough (never mind the BEST advice from a group that collectively represented tens-of-billions — if not hundreds-of-billions — in sales).
When you’re selling marketing and business advice, you have to find all sorts of ways to create the “new.”
Sometimes it’s a genuinely new adaptation of the classic principles.
Other times, you’re just putting a new layer of paint on it.
But you have to focus on new, new, new.
That’s what sells. That’s what keeps people interested.
(In investing, the corollary is that most investors would be far better off following Warren Buffett’s most boring advice, but instead they’re constantly chasing the next overnight 10-bagger opportunity that will never materialize.)
Then again, from time-to-time, people will embrace the fundamentals…
That’s why I’m considering starting a “spring training” for direct response business building…
I don’t have any firm plans as we speak, but this would be a return to live, in-person events. Perhaps here in Lincoln, Nebraska — or Joseph recommended Los Angeles.
We would pick a topic, and I’d cover all the fundamentals that both beginners and pros embrace and use every day.
This would be like Steve Nash, the basketball player, practicing free throws. In his career, he made 90.4% of the free throws he attempted. That’s off-the-charts. He made free throws so consistently, a lesser player may insist he didn’t need to practice. And yet, Steve Nash practiced free throws, consistently and on-the-edge-of-obsessively, throughout his career. It’s exactly why he made 90.4% of his free throws, throughout an 18-year NBA career.
It would be like Jerry Rice, running the football all the way to the end zone, every time he caught it in practice. As Bo Eason — a teammate — tells it, Jerry would catch the ball and take off for the end zone, in a practice drill where every other teammate would jog the ball back to the quarterback. When Rice was asked about it he said that he was training himself that, “every time these hands touch the ball, this body ends up in the end zone.” Jerry Rice is the all-time leader in most stats categories for wide receiver, including touchdown receptions. He still holds over 100 NFL records, the most of any player by a wide margin — including most career touchdowns.
We’d probably still cover some valuable new stuff. But the focus would be spring training — covering the fundamentals.
I think it would be only natural that the first topic would be copywriting — but we’ll see. We’re still in the earliest idea stages for now.
In the mean time, I encourage you to start your own regular spring training and work on your fundamentals…
As much as shiny objects and new ideas are sexy and appealing, the ROI tends to be much lower than sticking to what works.
You have to build your foundation. And reinforce it. And make sure it’s kept up.
Think about this like a building…
You always build a building from the foundation up. When you’re getting started, you want to make sure you have a great foundation. Without it, anything you try to build will crumble.
If you’re expanding the building, the first thing you need to do is check the foundation. Will the foundation you already have in place support your expansion plans? If not, what do you need to do to reinforce or add to that foundation to support the expansion?
And throughout time, a foundation can fall into disrepair. You need regular maintenance, checking and repairing the foundation if needed, to keep the building standing strong for years and decades.
The same thing applies to your skills.
You need a strong foundation of the core skills and principles. As you look to grow your business and your career, you need to tend to the foundation, and perhaps expand it to support the desired growth. And even as you continue to succeed, you need to reinforce your foundations to ensure a solid, successful career and business through the years and decades.
Click below to comment if this sounds like something you’d be interested in, perhaps joining me in-person for some time this spring.
Yours for bigger breakthroughs,