What’s the most important skill to get rich?
Or, heck, if you don’t really care about getting rich, but instead making a massive positive impact and contribution — what’s the most important skill to do that?
Talk to a bunch of suckers and wannabes about this, and they’ll give you the laundry list. Maybe, today, their list includes…
— Facebook ads
— Email marketing
— Direct response
— Trading bitcoin
— Coding apps
And so on…
Any one of these skills — on a tactical, technical, and even technique-based level can be used to create value or business results. Getting really good at one of these might even make you a cool million.
But I don’t know anybody who is building high-eight-figure, nine-figure, and beyond businesses on the back of these skills.
I also don’t know anybody who is changing cultures or creating movements on the back of these skills either — creating the changes they wish to see in the world.
People who change the world operate on another level entirely…
One of my most treasured kudos came from Mark Ford, who you may know by his pen name, Michael Masterson.
After reading one of my Breakthrough Marketing Secrets essays, Mark wrote…
“I’m very impressed with your thinking. Good thinking, I’ve said countless times, is the essence of good non-fiction writing.”
Mark is a partner in a privately-owned company that — were it available for sale — would likely be worth multiple billions of dollars. Yeah, that’s with a “b.”
He’s considered one of the top copywriters, direct marketers, and copywriting mentors in the world (though his mentorship is not available at any price today, as far as I know). His insights and perspectives on business and entrepreneurship have influenced millions.
Mark’s thinking has profoundly shaped my own, and pretty much everything he’s ever written comes with my seal of approval, for what that’s worth. (Here’s his Amazon author page.)
Okay, I’ll quit gushing.
But in Mark’s note to me is a sign of what he values.
Not the writing. Although the writing is a reflection of it.
Instead, he states that he was impressed by my thinking.
I’ve seen this focus over and over again among the most successful people I know…
In fact, I was in a room a little over a year ago where it made me a little dizzy.
In the room were Jay Abraham, Michael Gerber (The E-Myth), Darren Hardy (SUCCESS magazine), and others. There were less than 50 people in the room. Some, creating a bigger impact and more wealth — but less well-known — than the three I named here.
There was almost ZERO talk of tactics, techniques, and the list of skills I laid out in the introduction to this article.
ALL of the conversation was about THINKING.
Better Thinking = Bigger Impact.
There are many ways to measure impact. In a business, it’s most often customers (aka number of people served) and lifetime value (aka how much you’ve served them).
A business’s total customer count times the average customer lifetime value defines the total revenue history of the business.
Yes, I’m simplifying, but you get the point.
The thing is, you can increase some of this with tactical recommendations. For example, if you want to increase the lifetime value, you can develop a tactically-better way to communicate with past customers and make them new offers.
But the thinking you put into that — what you offer, to which past customers, and how you present it — will make a much bigger impact.
And then once you’ve done that, more thinking is required. If that offer wasn’t successful, why? And if it was, how can we repeat that success? And then, how can we add more customer flow into the front end?
And so on…
But then, there’s even more thinking.
Once we’ve done all of that, what assets do we have in play that can be leveraged in new ways? Are there additional ways our customers would like to be served — additional products or services — that we’re not willing to develop, but that we can source on their behalf? Who would the trusted and preeminent supplier of those products and services be?
Or perhaps we have internal resources that would be valuable to people outside our business, if we found a way to make them available. For example, the manufacturer may have downtime in their factory that could be leveraged by another business, reducing waste and increasing the productivity of the existing resources. Or perhaps our internal software platform could, with minimal effort, be packaged for external sale. Or maybe we could start a second or additional businesses that would be easier to make work because they’d have access to our current business systems and back office.
Using your back office across a dozen or more business units is something you’ll never get to if you’re trying to increase profits by writing better copy for your business. And yet, it could have 100X the profit impact.
That’s the power of thinking over tactics.
This applies doubly to communication…
When it comes to writing and persuasive messages, there’s a big divide…
Those who consistently face challenges and hardship are most often those who also struggle with sitting down and thinking out the logical progression of their message before putting it together.
On the other hand, great communicators and persuaders — in business and elsewhere — can make the same plea in 3 minutes or 3 hours and have it be equally understood. Because they understand the thinking and the structure of logic behind their message, and will adapt it to fill the space and time allotted.
(I once heard the same thing said of great storytellers. They tell the same story over and over and over again, and always keep it interesting because they know both the key milestones they must hit in the shortest telling, and the million details they can include in the longest.)
No matter how you’re communicating, knowing your message and the thinking behind it will create a bigger impact.
This applies if you’re creating a selling message. It applies if you’re trying to rally a staff of thousands around a shared corporate mission. It applies if you’re starting a movement to change the world.
Great thinking is the secret.
Is superior thinking a gift from God?
Or, if you prefer, a genetic trait?
I won’t argue against there being inborn differences. The person born with intellectual disabilities or who has developmental issues clearly has different thinking capabilities than someone fortunate to grow up with a healthy brain. And among healthy brains, there are differences as well.
However, this is also something you can get better at.
Unfortunately, our educational system emphasizes rote memorization over thinking. For the most part, in school you’re graded on your ability to remember and repeat information.
In business and life though, the kind of valuable thinking and intelligence is based on a different process. Instead of remember and repeat, it’s acquire and apply.
If you memorized the top 100 most successful advertising headlines of all time, you might be able to have some fun in the hotel bar at some internet marketing seminar. But it’s no guarantee you’d ever create a profitable promotion. Just because you can remember and repeat, “They laughed when I sat at the piano…” you’re not a great copywriter.
Alternately, if you acquire an understanding of what went into that ad — that it was a reflection of the human desire to prove wrong those who mock you in doubt of your ability — you might be onto something. Then, when you find the opportunity to tell that story, applying the deeper message in a new context, you could create a massive breakthrough.
Remember and repeat will get you As in school.
Thinking — acquire and apply — is what matters most in life, and in creating results in business and beyond.
Earlier today, I released my first “guest” training on BTMSinsiders, featuring my coach, Joseph Rodrigues. It’s all about how to acquire and apply information to grow your business, further your career, get better business results, and experience more success.
And, in fact, I will be so bold as to promise it will make you more intelligent.
Yours for bigger breakthroughs,