This essay is inspired by an email I got last night from Jay Abraham…
A quote, from Jay:
“BUT I DO NOT BELIEVE TRULY GREAT MARKETING OR STRATEGY IS POSSIBLE FROM SOMEONE – UNTIL (AND UNLESS) THAT PERSON EXPLORES THINGS LIKE HUMAN NATURE… HUMANITY… HUMILITY… VALUE PERCEPTIONS, AND ALTERNATIVE REALITY PERSPECTIVES. (And, all are thoroughly well-considered…)”
The caps are his. Most of the rest of the email did NOT use caps. (Aside from a stray word, like NOT!)
Take this to mean he’s shouting. But not from anger. Rather, from his emphatic belief in the power and importance of this message…
Truly great marketing and strategy is not possible until you truly, deeply explore subjects beyond marketing and business — including the very roots of human nature!
I’ve often said my Psychology degree didn’t get me much. And on a pure, superficial level, that’s true. Although having a degree was beneficial in pursuing my earliest marketing job, I’ve never once had a job that required a background in psych.
But my interest in and personal pursuit of the truths of psychology and an understanding of human nature have, no doubt, contributed to my success.
Degree or not, reading folks like Ken Wilber, Abraham Maslow, Carl Jung, and a whole host of mystics, philosophers, and other deep thinkers obsessed with the best and brightest possibilities of humanity — as well as its darkest shadows — gave me a depth of thinking and understanding that continues to stimulate interesting thought and conversation.
In other words, absorbing all of their perspectives broadened mine.
And if Jay Abraham is to be believed about this secret to business success, that was very influential in my success to this point. (And who are you and I to disagree with Jay when it comes to the deepest secrets to business success?)
I also think this touches on a deeper truth…
Reading almost anything beyond the world of business will make you a better, more interesting business person…
Perry Marshall is a fascinating case study in this.
Perry and I have had a handful of very interesting, thought-provoking conversations.
One Saturday afternoon, when he was visiting family here in Lincoln, we sat at a local coffee shop for almost three hours discussing a whole host of interesting topics… Including the very nature of God.
Perry thinks deep.
Perry is the world’s most-quoted expert on Google AdWords, and has the #1 book about how to profit from that ad platform. He also has one of the best-selling books on Facebook advertising as well.
Those are very tactical. Not a ton of deep thinking required to setup an AdWords account, and start running ads.
And if Perry chose to stay at the superficial level, he could probably do okay just talking about the tactical aspects of online advertising.
But that’s not where Perry stops.
Perry is a geek by nature. An engineer by trade. And an evolutionary biologist by passion. Somewhere in there, he also just so happened to become an amazing entrepreneur, copywriter, and online business specialist. Oh yeah, and there’s that 80/20 thing, too.
Perry’s monthly newsletter — the latest issue open on my desk — isn’t named anything to do with business. Rather, it’s called “The New Renaissance.”
What’s a “Renaissance man” (or woman) by definition? “A person with many talents or areas of knowledge.”
As much as he’s a business and marketing expert who has to stay on top of the latest trends, Perry knows if he ONLY did that, he’d be a follower and at best a compiler and curator of information. That’s nice enough in itself — and a valuable role for some.
But Perry is a creator. And for creation to happen, you have to THINK.
And great thinking comes from input. Exposing yourself to new ideas and perspectives. Looking at how things work in one arena, and thinking how that might apply elsewhere.
Perry has told me that his biggest breakthroughs in business haven’t come from reading business books. Rather, his biggest breakthroughs came as a result of studying biology. And, through that study of biology, being inspired to do things differently in business.
That’s why he wrote a book on Evolution. No, not business evolution. Evolution evolution. And it’s fascinating, if controversial.
But that’s exactly what makes him interesting. It’s what makes his audience want to keep paying attention to him, year in and year out.
This is the biggest curse I see in novice copywriters’ copy…
On a purely superficial level, great copy identifies a market problem, promises a solution, and makes an offer to fulfill on the promise.
And that’s what novice copywriters copy.
Because it’s what they can see and easily replicate.
But here’s a little tip: promises are boring.
That is, your exciting promise is boring without context, without character, without depth and dimension of perspective, without story.
Bill Bonner, founder of Agora, is widely thought by copywriters to be one of the greatest copywriters alive today.
Read his work for a while, and you won’t think you’re reading copy. At least not if your study is primarily having read the top 10 books on copywriting.
Read an essay of his, and you might hear a slice of life story about his interactions with the workers on his farm in Argentina. It’s all little stuff. Full of incredibly vivid detail about the humanity and interactions.
The problems of a fracturing, failing, debt-based global economy occasionally peak out at you. They personal impacts of a struggling financial system are sometimes felt.
The promises of benefit by following the right path are often implied, but never shoved down your throat.
Propositions are occasionally offered, but they are not forced, and mostly presented as an, “If you want to make this decision, here is your chance.”
A cursory read, and you’ll likely write it off as a wandering yarn woven by a wandering mind… Certainly not incredible copy.
And if you do read one of the promos to which his name is signed, it may feel a little more in line with your expectations of copy.
But even those essays are serving a purpose. And doing it with subtlety that only adds to its power.
They only continue to build a following — a movement — of rabid followers who are always ready to give Bill and Agora their attention, and their money.
Which all points me to the main point of this essay…
Attention is the most valuable and hardest-to-get resource available today…
I’m not talking a list of thousands of subscribers. I’m not talking followers on Facebook, or likes, or whatever.
I’m talking real, human attention and focus.
As consumers, our attention is fleeting. Our focus has been fractured, and is constantly pulled into 1,000 different directions.
Even folks who don’t have ADHD are still struggling to keep up with the constant barrage of stimuli to which we are all subjected on a daily basis.
But even in that, there are voices that are heard. That rise above the fray. That constantly get attention — even when they speak in a whisper.
Those voices are the leaders of today and tomorrow.
Those voices are those that will be heard.
And if you want YOUR voice to be among those that are heard and that get attention, I have a simple recommendation…
Be Fucking Interesting!
Follow the examples and maxims laid out above.
Read a lot — take in a ton of input. And I’m not talking about putting Fox News or MSNBC on 24-hour loop — that’s a good way to STOP thinking. You need a constant inflow of DIVERSE opinions and perspectives. Ideas that challenge your own. Ideas that offend you. Don’t dismiss them out of hand. Rather, ask yourself what you can learn from them. There’s ALWAYS something to learn. Try to understand where that perspective comes from. How it’s justified.
(Incidentally, I heard recently that Larry King, after conducting something like 10,000 interviews during his career, has ceased to believe anything — especially about the nature of the world. Which is a very interesting state. He’s heard so many well-reasoned but totally conflicting opinions and perspectives, that he struggles to hold any belief with confidence. I don’t know that this is ideal, but it certainly has lessons.)
Then, think. Every time you read something new, think about how it fits into your current worldview. Does it change anything? Does it give you new ideas to apply in a novel way on something else you’re working on? What grand lessons from one topic or subject area can be transposed onto something seemingly unrelated?
Then, rinse and repeat. When something excites you, pursue it. Read more about it. Try to get the top 3 to 5 conflicting perspectives on it. Not just “for” and “against” — but also the outsider perspective that recognizes the limits of a mere pro/con argument.
Along the way, learning a little bit about human nature should happen. But you can approach human nature in lots of ways. You can understand human nature by looking at how people interact through the financial markets. You can understand human nature by looking at marketing test results, or by digging into studies of behavioral psychology, or political polls. You can even understand human nature by looking at how atheist scientists and religious people argue with each other with the devout conviction that only they hold the truth. There’s a lot of ways to understand human nature besides picking up a psychology book (although those can be good too).
Oh yeah, and go out and live a little bit, too. Pursue your hobbies, passions, interests, and kinks. Find a safe space to explore — both the outer and your inner world. Live in the moment. Embrace both positive and negative experiences — joy and suffering, pleasure and pain.
Develop your own perspective, informed by research, study, and a life well-lived.
Then, bring that back into the business world. Into your writing and your message.
You’ll be amazed at the difference it makes in your ability to attract and command attention.
Yours for bigger breakthroughs,