Wizard Academy ∞ Wizard Academy Press ∞ Chapel Dulcinea ∞ Tuscan Hall ∞ Destinae
What Successful Companies
Have in Common - August 25, 2014
  If you were to ask 1000 people to name the behavior that marks 93 percent of all successful companies, what do you suppose they would tell you? I didn't ask 1000 people but I did ask Google, which is sort of like asking the...
Read Listen Download
Cost of Advertising: 2 Cents a Week - August 18, 2014
I've been writing these weekly memos for 20 years.
This is number 1,051. This week, for the first time,
I'm going to tell you about my business.
Thirty-one years ago, David Ogilvy wrote, "In some developing countries radio still reaches more people than television. Yet even there nobody really knows what kind of commercials make the cash register ring. Isn't it time somebody tried to find out?"- David Ogilvy, Ogilvy on Advertising,...
Read Listen Download
Pepsi's Digital Screw-Up - August 11, 2014
Todays memo is a long one, but I promise you it's worth it.
  Advertisers are attracted to online media when they're not entirely happy with their investments in traditional broadcast media. To understand the reasons behind their disappointments, we need only to revisit the subject of last week's Monday Morning Memo: "Linear, no-threshold thinking" assumes that every...
Read Listen Download
The Problem With Financial Types - August 4, 2014
Reliable data tells us exactly how many motorcycle riders have died trying to navigate an S-curve at 100 miles per hour. The straightforward logic of traditional accounting, with its linear, no-threshold thinking, predicts one-tenth as many deaths at 10 miles per hour. But we know...
Read Listen Download
How to Reward Customers - July 28, 2014
for Recommending You to Their Friends
American retailers learned some interesting things last year. Although consumer confidence was higher during Christmas 2013 than it was during Christmas 2010, ShopperTrak tells us that in-store, holiday foot traffic declined by almost half during those three years. But don't assume sales volume declined by...
Read Listen Download
How to Let Your Customer See You 3D - July 21, 2014
Michael participates in our monthly Wizard of Ads LIVE webinar. Last week, Michael asked for a method that would let him create fewer leads, but better leads. I responded by telling Michael that broad targeting can be done geographically by zip code, financially by income,...
Read Listen Download
A Termite in a Yo-Yo - July 14, 2014
Her plan was obviously brilliant, so why wasn't it working? Susan was as confused as a termite in a yo-yo. I was about to suggest an answer when she said it herself; "Culture eats strategy for lunch." Every experienced consultant knows that a third-best plan...
Read Listen Download
Sinatra's Riddle - July 7, 2014
1. Bring positive and negative into close proximity. 2. Resist the temptation to clad them in insulation. 3. Witness the flow of electricity as it leaps between the two. Speaking in 1980 of his songwriting experience with Paul McCartney, John Lennon said, "He provided a...
Read Listen Download
"But Isn't That Communication?" - June 30, 2014
  Institutions of higher education offer a degree path, a specific series of classes that will prepare you for the journey you're about to take. Wizard Academy's board of directors is preparing a similar map for those happy adventurers who come here for refreshment, instruction...
Read Listen Download
Cedric's Billion-Dollar Ant Farm - June 23, 2014
Cedric Yau is one of a handful of geniuses I know. In our most recent conversation, Cedric opened my eyes to a truth I had not previously encountered, but it reinforced everything I know about ad campaigns and it's about to make Cedric a billion...
Read Listen Download
The Customer's Forking Journey - June 16, 2014
Have you ever gone shopping only to come home with something entirely different than what you had planned to buy? Of course you have. We all have. "Physicists like to think that all you have to do is say, 'these are the conditions, now what...
Read Listen Download
Power of Silence - June 9, 2014
When Jacqueline Bouvier married JFK she became "Mrs. Kennedy." She was the Princess Di of her generation. Following her husband's assassination, Jacqueline's voice was almost never again heard in public. She quickly became the most mysterious and glamorous woman on earth. When she married Aristotle Onassis,...
Read Listen Download
The Truth of the Story - June 2, 2014
Dean Rotbart says you are three different people. The first of the three is the person you see when you look in the mirror;    the person you believe yourself to be. The second is the person other people see when they look at you; ...
Read Listen Download
Ask to See the Ad - May 26, 2014
The next time someone tells you an advertising success story, especially if that success was online, ask to see the ad - the content - that triggered it. Here's a Really Big Tip for you. You might want to write this down: "The media doesn't...
Read Listen Download
Don't Make Me Say Loren L. Lewis - May 19, 2014
Do you have code words and phrases whose meanings are known only to the people closest to you? I laughed a little when I realized the absurdity of some of the communication abbreviations that Pennie and I have developed over the years. Every couple has...
Read Listen Download
I've Come to Encourage You - May 12, 2014
  You can do it. I don't know how long it will take or what you will have to go through, but you can most definitely do it. 1. See your objective clearly in your mind. You must see it before you can seize it. It...
Read Listen Download
The Storyteller's Art - May 5, 2014
Of all the things that drive men to sea, the most common disaster, I've come to learn, is women. I borrowed that sentence from Charles Johnson, a storyteller who begins his tale, Middle Passage, with that line. I chose not to enclose it in quotation...
Read Listen Download
Access to Information - April 28, 2014
Retailers are asking, "Why do people buy from my competitors without even giving us a chance?" And I reply, "They gave you a chance. They just didn't physically come to your store." Customers carry instant access to all the knowledge of the world in their...
Read Listen Download
Courage is Security Plus Audacity - April 21, 2014
  "Cream rises to the top" is what we tell talented people who are frightened. It's a lie, of course, but it makes them feel like they have a chance. Confidence and courage are not the same thing. Confidence is trust in your ability. Courage...
Read Listen Download
The Big Secret of Great Ads - April 14, 2014
I should begin with an apology, I suppose, because the secret of great advertising, the secret to great wealth, the secret of status and stature and your name on the lips of all the beautiful people is actually a wee bit disappointing. Yes, it's a...
Read Listen Download
Seeing Women Differently - April 7, 2014
When Ann Richards was Governor of Texas, she said, "Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did. She just did it backwards and in high heels." Governor Richards was slightly militant in her feminism, as was common 20 years ago when she made her piercingly witty...
Read Listen Download
Nine Voices, Nine Movies - March 31, 2014
Nine Voices, Nine Movies Each of us speaks and writes without thinking. This is why so much of what we say is predictable. Do you want to be more interesting? Choose an unusual perspective and verb tense. A movie begins in the mind of the...
Read Listen Download
Statistics versus Stereotypes - March 24, 2014
Today we call it Data but we used to call it Statistics. Statistics are boring. That's why a clever boy in Silicon Valley gave them a new and better name. A scientist is willing to change a belief when presented with data, facts and logic....
Read Listen Download
Identity, Purpose and Adventure - March 17, 2014
People will direct their attention to whatever gives them a sense of identity, purpose and adventure. You must always remember this when crafting advertising. The fans of a sports team are the members of a club. Their team gives them identity, purpose and adventure. Political...
Read Listen Download
Haggard, Inconstant Splashes of Beauty - March 10, 2014
It's Friday morning, September 7, 1951. John Steinbeck emerges from deep in his writing of East of Eden to scribble a note to his friend, Pat Covici: "This week has been a hard one. I have put the forces of evil against a potential good....
Read Listen Download
Brands are Built on Core Beliefs - March 3, 2014
I look in the mirror and see the person I believe myself to be. You look at me and see the person you believe me to be. We don't see the same person. Businesses, too, see themselves differently than their customers do. A flatterer disguised as a...
Read Listen Download
Shrink Your Way to Success? - February 24, 2014
A cafe owner, famous for his soup, was told by his accountant that he could boost his profit significantly if he would add just 5 percent more water to the recipe. The accountant was right. The water was added and no one noticed. Months later,...
Read Listen Download
Guilt, Shame, and Failure - February 17, 2014
  Contrary to what my headline might suggest, this is actually an upbeat message. Guilt is about what you have done. Shame is about who you are. Failure in business has no connection to either of these. Failures are footlights along the dark pathway to...
Read Listen Download
Why We Are Attracted to Bad News - February 10, 2014
"Once, there were 3 kittens named Murry, Furry and Wurry..." I'll admit to fabricating Murry and Furry, but you and I both know that Wurry is often pampered and protected like a cherished pet. We talk about our Wurry and cuddle it. We share our...
Read Listen Download
Billy, Tom and Ted Go Viral - February 3, 2014
We could call this memo, "The Poodle and The Vamp, Part Two," but we won't. No one likes the sequel quite so much as they liked the original. Talent isn't rare. Our world overflows with worthy talent that continues day-to-day unrecognized. I'll wager that you...
Read Listen Download
The Upcoming Fork in Business Boulevard - January 27, 2014
Type "business plan" into Google and you'll see an impressive array of articles from BusinessWeek, The Wall Street Journal, Inc., Forbes, Entrepreneur and SBA.gov. Everyone has a business plan. Almost no one has an advertising plan. And we are coming to a critical fork in...
Read Listen Download
Conformity is Normity - January 20, 2014
"Normalization" begins with an idealized norm of conduct – for example, the way a soldier should ideally stand, march, and present arms, with each of these actions defined in minute detail. Individuals are then rewarded for conforming to this ideal or punished for deviating from...
Read Listen Download
What Dan Doesn't Do With Numbers - January 13, 2014
 This is the dangerous gang that learned How to Write Direct Response Ads last week. Really smart marketers screw up badly when they move from "Metrics are Good" to "Metrics are God." Dan doesn't do this. Dan came to Wizard Academy in 2001, determined to...
Read Listen Download
What You Will See in 2014 - January 6, 2014
  The Eye of the Storm is what we call the classroom in the tower at Wizard Academy. This name is doubly appropriate; not only is The Eye of the Storm a momentary escape from the buffeting winds of business, it was funded by Tim...
Read Listen Download
You and Your Dreams and Schemes - December 30, 2013
  The official wedding count for Chapel Dulcinea in 2013 was 824 weddings. When I talk about the number of weddings performed each year at Chapel Dulcinea I usually say, "more than a thousand," but it's not because I'm lying. I'm just telling the truth...
Read Listen Download
To Be an American - December 23, 2013
I admire John the Beloved and Abraham Lincoln. These were quietly determined and reliable men, full of love and compassion, unwilling to leave anyone behind. But if I am honest, I must admit that I'm actually more similar to Simon Peter and Teddy Roosevelt; blustering...
Read Listen Download
Sarah and George Explain - December 16, 2013
Why the World Needs Don Quixote
  Sarah says if you rely solely upon reason, your actions will be based upon what you believe to be possible. You'll not likely attempt the impossible. She goes on to say, "Quixotism is the passionate pursuit of an ideal which may not be attainable....
Read Listen Download
Will You Please Bring It Into Existence? - December 9, 2013
  You have within you an idea, a possibility, a thought that has never quite gone away. You tell yourself it's a childish fantasy. Perhaps it is. And that's precisely why you should rescue it from the shivering shadows. Let your child live in the...
Read Listen Download
Start Begins with Star - December 2, 2013
This ocean adventure called life is most easily navigated when we have a guiding light. The winds and waves of circumstance push at all of us. 1. We can passively go with the flow. 2. We can choose the badge of the victim. 3. We...
Read Listen Download
My Thanksgiving Thoughts, - November 25, 2013
For Friends Only
  Fifty-one times a year I write things I believe you'll find to be useful. Once a year I turn the mirror toward myself. This is that time. I hope you don't mind. I've enjoyed 8 distinct advantages in life for which I can take...
Read Listen Download
PowerNaming - November 18, 2013
Evocative Words Work Wonders
Give a mundane product an evocative name and you will dramatically increase its appeal. Humans are uniquely gifted to attach complex meanings to sounds. Some of these sounds are musical; pitch, key, tempo, rhythm, interval and contour. But much more specific in their meanings are...
Read Listen Download
Does Your Ad Contain Medicine - November 11, 2013
for What Ails Your Customer?
  A spoonful of Entertainment helps the medicine go down, medicine go dowwwwn, medicine go down. The public will give you their time if you offer them entertainment. They will give you their money if you offer them hope. But don't ever call it hope....
Read Listen Download
What's Been Your BEST Bad Idea? - November 4, 2013
You must attempt the ridiculous to accomplish the miraculous.
  David sees a giant and says, "I will defeat him." Everyone else sees a giant, as well. David walks toward the giant with his sling and BANG, David is king. That's a favorite story everywhere. Here's another. Don Quixote sees a giant and says,...
Read Listen Download
Why You Should Learn to Write - October 28, 2013
The following press release will soon be received by the media in Midland, Texas. Diamonds to be Cut in Midland (MIDLAND, TEXAS – October 29, 2013)[Name of Diamond Cutter] is coming to Midland to cut diamonds on Saturday, November 16th and the public is invited....
Read Listen Download
The Follow-Your-Passion Myth - October 21, 2013
One of the books I'll write someday is a collection of true stories gathered from extremely successful people. My business as an advertising consultant and seminar speaker has put me face-to-face with many of the brightest stars in the entrepreneurial sky. And rarely do I...
Read Listen Download
Beauty of the Unfired Gun - October 14, 2013
The Silent Rifle as a 3rd Gravitating Body
"Dangling like this from his leg, his upside-down perspective made him giddy. If this were to be his last moment he would die happy, but it would not. Instead, he'd soon be singing karaoke with a group of Korean tourists. But first, the roller coaster."
...
Read Listen Download
Time and Chance, Money and Love - October 7, 2013
My friend Jeffrey and I were talking one day about this and that when he said, as much to himself as to me, I think, "What is it that separates confidence from hubris?" I replied, "The outcome." "That's it!" Jeff gasped through his laughter, his...
Read Listen Download
Pleasure and Happiness - September 30, 2013
Do not confuse pleasure with happiness. Unhappy people can have pleasure. And uninterrupted pleasures are not happiness. Happiness is the result of knowing who you are, why you are here, and what you should do. We need identity, purpose, and adventure. Identity - Who am...
Read Listen Download
Lessons Learned From the Poor - September 23, 2013
I'm 21 years old but my thinning hair makes me look about 30. I consider this to be my greatest asset. I walk the retail sidewalks, looking in windows, deciding if I will go in. A peddler goes door to door unthinkingly, playing the odds,...
Read Listen Download
I Hate That I'm Good - September 16, 2013
I hate that I'm good at writing direct-response ads. You know the ads I'm talking about. The ones that sell you something you don't really want or need. Twenty years ago Woody and I bought Melrose necklaces at 11 dollars and sold them by the...
Read Listen Download
Think Backwards and Win - September 9, 2013
Reverse Your Thoughts, Increase Your Income
Unifying Principles are those guiding thoughts around which all your actions revolve. When you hold them in plain sight, you always know what to do next. Brilliant people stumble when they focus on the parts and neglect to see the webs of connections between those...
Read Listen Download
Nobel Prize-Winning Economist - September 2, 2013
Agrees With Wizard Academy
Headlines often tell the truth more powerfully than is completely accurate, a disturbing trend in this day of sound-bite news. The mental image conjured in the mind by the headline, "Nobel Prize-Winning Economist Agrees With Wizard Academy," is one in which the Nobel Laureate (1.)...
Read Listen Download
Customer Courtship - August 26, 2013
The Essence of Content Marketing
The perfect customer is like a beautiful woman, distant and desirable and pursued by countless competitors. An appropriate metaphor, don't you think? Most advertisers want ads that equate to a magical pickup line. "Tell me what to say to this beautiful woman so that she'll...
Read Listen Download
The Attention Span Myth - August 19, 2013
Commentators say that people today have a shorter attention span than in the past, but Jerry Seinfeld and I don't believe this is true. "There is no such thing as an attention span. There is only the quality of what you are viewing. This whole...
Read Listen Download
1. Improvisation
2. Innovation
3. Imitation - August 12, 2013
We tend to think of imitation as the opposite of innovation but I don't believe this is true. "Opposite" indicates opposed positions, left and right. But my observation is that innovation and imitation are usually the second and third positions in a continuing circle that...
Read Listen Download
Do You Know You? - August 5, 2013
When you find your mind wandering, ask yourself these two questions: What am I thinking? Why am I thinking this? And when you're busy, ask these three: What am I doing? What do I hope to gain by it? Why does this matter to me?...
Read Listen Download
Fortune's 500 or America's 5.91 Million? - July 29, 2013
Wal-Mart is the biggest company in America, followed by 3 oil companies and then Warren Buffett's Berkshire-Hathaway, Apple Computers, General Motors, and General Electric. Yep. Apple today is bigger than both General Motors and G.E. "Yippee, Skippy, call the press. Oh, you did already? And...
Read Listen Download
The Snowy Truth of Advertising - July 22, 2013
Every employee has opinions about the advertising that represents their company. This is natural I suppose because those ads, by extension, represent the employee as well. And so they tell the boss what they think, "and all of our customers think that, too." But if...
Read Listen Download
"When We Don't Fly, People Die." - July 15, 2013
"So there I was, first time in Iraq, officer in charge, first time under fire. I had been studying at the Air Force Academy for 4 years. I had a master's degree in leadership. And I was scared. You know, the first time I heard...
Read Listen Download
Roses for the Living - July 8, 2013
  You and I are aware of the superficial motives we have for the things we do, but only rarely do we consider the deeper motives that hide behind the superficial ones. Pennie and I have been discussing the future and how it revolves around...
Read Listen Download
The Insightful Advice of David McInnis - July 1, 2013
I've had a handful of memorable moments.Among them is a meeting with Zig Ziglar in 1986. Zig stood at a whiteboard and smiled at the 20 of us staring back at him with big eyes. Zig had written several bestselling books and created America's most...
Read Listen Download
The World's Ugliest Website - June 24, 2013
And the People Behind It
  In the world of bricks-and-mortar, 1. a spectacular building, 2. good signage and 3. an excellent location are the best advertising money can buy. In the binary world where Ones are bricks and Zeroes are mortar, 1. your website is your building, 2. your...
Read Listen Download
The Apathy of Leisure - June 17, 2013
A person capable of creating is happiest when they are creating. Artists create visual and auditory artifacts that affect our thoughts, moods and attitudes. Riddle-solvers perform feats of engineering and invention. Teachers create new understanding in the minds of their students. Entrepreneurs create businesses that...
Read Listen Download
On What Will You Shine - June 10, 2013
Your Spotlight of Words?
A radio commercial begins, "I'm Ronald Watersdown, and I'm here to tell you about a very important opportunity that I'm sure you won't want to miss. It's an incredible chance for you to..." What did those twenty-nine words make you see in your mind? Not...
Read Listen Download
Why Principles are Better than Rules - June 3, 2013
Laid side-by-side, a stick and a rope of the same length share a similar appearance. Likewise, rules and principles look alike even though they have virtually nothing in common. Rules are like sticks. You can prod people with them. You can threaten people with them....
Read Listen Download
The Day After This Day - May 27, 2013
The principal benefit of creative thought is hope. New possibilities are electric, and hope is the light that shines from them. Creativity is the source of hope even when your hope is in God: "I don't see a way out of this, but I'm betting...
Read Listen Download
College Isn't for Everyone - May 20, 2013
The smartest thing I ever did was drop out of college on the second day. What I wanted to learn, they couldn't teach me, so I left to figure it out on my own. That was 37 years ago. A number of years later I...
Read Listen Download
Ad Strategy vs. Ad Writing - May 13, 2013
Radio Ink magazine, published by Eric Rhoads, is the principal trade publication of the radio industry. Today we examine a feature article I wrote for that magazine recently. In it, I speak directly to the frustrations of the account executives - the salespeople - employed...
Read Listen Download
What I Do Today Is Important - May 6, 2013
For I Am Exchanging a Day of My Life For It.
Quixote sees the turning of the windmill as the flailing arms of a giant that must be defeated. Peter Pan will remain young only if he can escape a tick-tocking crocodile that has swallowed a clock. In 1904, old Mrs. Snow spoke of her late...
Read Listen Download
Secret Messages - Embedded Codes - April 29, 2013
Finally, an authentic, encoded message.
And you'll never guess where.
The Da Vinci Code was published in 2003, exactly 10 years ago. The book has been denounced as an attack on the Catholic church and sharply criticized for its historical and scientific inaccuracies, but that hasn't keep it from selling more than 80 million copies...
Read Listen Download
Becoming Bulletproof - April 22, 2013
Fear is the bullet that eliminates happiness. Fear is the bullet that kills the dream. Fear is the assassin of success. Why not become bulletproof in 2 easy steps? 1. Make peace with the possibility of failure. 2. Amputate your sense of shame. "Failure is...
Read Listen Download
Rise of the Corporate Assassin - April 15, 2013
If you're not being criticized today, then no one was listening when you spoke. Welcome to the time of the witch-hunt. This is that time when angry cyber-terrorists post incendiary online reviews and pretend their only motive is to protect the public. This is that...
Read Listen Download
Ancient Advertising Wisdom - April 8, 2013
I've never seen a business fail due to "reaching the wrong people." So why does every business owner instinctively believe that "reaching the right people" is the key to successful advertising? Who, exactly, do you not want to know about you? Who isn't qualified to...
Read Listen Download
How to Be Liked - April 1, 2013
The Private Advice of Harry Connick, Jr.
Chandler Canterbury is a child actor with a dazzling future. Immediately following the world premiere of When Angels Sing, a not-yet-released movie young Canterbury made with Willie Nelson, Connie Britton, Lyle Lovett, Fionnula Flanagan, Kris Kristofferson and Harry Connick, Jr., Harry grabbed a microphone and...
Read Listen Download
Unusual Creatures - March 25, 2013
If I had any sense, if I had half the brains God gave an aardvark, I'd talk about politics or religion and fewer people would be annoyed. But aardvarks look at me with pity because I'm foolish. My social filter is so misaligned that I'm going...
Read Listen Download
Voices of Books - March 18, 2013
Been Read, Being Read, Will be Read
Jeff says I have a confirmation bias, a strong attraction to information that reinforces my convictions and helps me prove my point. That makes sense. I'm an ad writer. Does anyone really want their ad writer to be unbiased? The job of the ad writer...
Read Listen Download
Hardship - March 11, 2013
Is it wise to protect the ones we love from the hardships that taught us all we know? Hardship is the undisputed School of the Masters, but very few students seek admission. Education begins with memorization. Having learned all the theories, steps and rules, we...
Read Listen Download
The Reindeer Effect - March 4, 2013
I think there should be something in science called the 'reindeer effect.' I don't know what it would be, but I think it'd be good to hear someone say, 'Gentlemen, what we have here is a terrifying example of the reindeer effect.'- Jack Handey The...
Read Listen Download
Look Through These Lenses - February 25, 2013
To See a Better Outcome
Things depend on how you look at them.Through what lenses do you examine possibilities? The first 2 lenses are intellect and emotion. Sometimes you use one, sometimes the other. This is normal. Intellect employs hard facts and cold logic. Emotion relies on soft intuition and...
Read Listen Download
A Sure-Fire Cure for the Blues - February 18, 2013
Nothing sounds appealing. Have you ever had that feeling? You're sort of hungry, but nothing sounds good. You want to have fun, but nothing sounds fun. So you drive to the bookstore but none of the books - not a single one of them -...
Read Listen Download
The Facebook Mirage, YouTube,
PayPerClick and the Superbowl - February 11, 2013
Rambling Thoughts, Spoken Plainly,
Certain to Irritate Someone, Somewhere
A mirage is not a hallucination, but a misinterpretation.We see the sky reflected from the ground and we assume it to be water. But it isn't. That reflection is caused by light passing through cold air that sits on a thin layer of hot air,...
Read Listen Download
Quixote and Me - February 4, 2013
(with a Quartet of Celts)
  Wizard Academy exists to educate, equip and encourage small business owners, little people with dreams who face giant corporations with big bank accounts. Like the windmills of Quixote, these giants are often unaware and unfeeling of their challengers. Don Quixote was an average man,...
Read Listen Download
Better Than Creativity - January 28, 2013
A rich knowledge of history is better than creativity. Let me qualify that. A rich knowledge of history is better than creativity if your goal is to make money. The most profitable form of creativity is to repurpose the proven. Do you want to put...
Read Listen Download
Doctor, My Eyes - January 21, 2013
We have, for the most part, the feelings we choose to have. Please don't be angry with me if you prefer to be tragic. I do not deny you this choice. I deny only that you have no escape. Our feelings in the first moment...
Read Listen Download
Shut Up. And Sell. - January 14, 2013
  Use half as many words and they'll hit twice as hard. Every writer knows it. Salespeople need to learn it. A few weeks ago I invested a day of training in the telephone staff of a client of mine and doubled their close rate...
Read Listen Download
"You May be Shoveling Horse Manure - January 7, 2013
But at Least You're in the Parade"
When your friend says something interesting, write it down. Better yet, post it online and give your friend eternal life. I was whining to Rich Mann over a plate of sushi one day when he reminded me to shut up and be happy. Rich didn't...
Read Listen Download
Three New Things for 2013 - December 31, 2012
Today I'm going to tell you 3 new things you need to know about. My enthusiasm will probably make it sound like I'm giving you a sales pitch. Sorry about that. If you're not in the mood, the tiniest motion of a finger will take...
Read Listen Download
A Tale of Two Lawyers - December 24, 2012
I recently spent a day with two lawyers who practice the same legal specialty. We'll call them Nick and Ralph. They live on opposite sides of the country. They met at a conference and became friends. Nick read my books, attended Wizard Academy, and decided...
Read Listen Download
Our Changing Nation - December 17, 2012
The Miraculous Disappearance of Black-and-White
Most of the choices we make have effects we did not anticipate. This is due to the Law of Unintended Consequences. "Economists and other social scientists have heeded its power for centuries; for just as long, politicians and popular opinion have largely ignored it."- Rob...
Read Listen Download
Anything Too Stupid... - December 10, 2012
Voltaire is often quoted as having said it, but he never did. It was actually Pierre de Beaumarchais in 1775, just a few months before Thomas and George and Ben and the boys wrote their scathing letter to England's king. Beaumarchais was working on the...
Read Listen Download
Time is a Solvent - December 3, 2012
An auction house is an island of cast-offs and misfits where the rejected and broken feel finally at home. I am speaking of the merchandise, of course, not of the people. Perhaps I am speaking of the people, as well. From the age of 18,...
Read Listen Download
A Holiday Bonus MondayMorningMemo - December 2, 2012
Want to Wow 12 Friends for $96?
A hardback copy of Pendulum sent to the 12 addresses of your choice for just $96. Shipping and handling included; 12 books, 12 deliveries, the works. Wow. You've got at least a dozen friends worth eight bucks apiece, right? Michael Drew, co-author of Pendulum, is...
Read
Wise Men and Fools - November 26, 2012
A wise man sees both sides of a matter. The fool sees only one. The origin of the word "wizard" is wise-ard. It means wise man. Nothing more. The wise-ards of the Christmas Story followed a star, had an adventure, made a discovery and leaped...
Read Listen Download
How Radio Ads Must Change - November 19, 2012
We can listen much faster than we speak. Consequently, a listener's mind will wander when we take too long to make a point. This isn't new. What is new, however, is the current trend toward voluntary, rapid distraction. Defenders of this practice call it 'multi-tasking.'...
Read Listen Download
Success and Significance - November 12, 2012
Everyone wants to make the same three things," the Princess said, "money, a name, and a difference. But our actions are dictated by the one we want most." You can make a name for yourself - become famous - or you can make a lot...
Read Listen Download
Intersection of Ways - November 5, 2012
Most people believe in The Way Things Ought to Be. Others embrace The Way Things Are. Arguments, terrorism and war happen at the intersection of these Ways. "Here's what you ought to do." "That's just not going to happen." "Okay, then we'll fight." An even...
Read Listen Download
Pendulum 451 - October 29, 2012
Fahrenheit Revisited
Pennie and I were at the airport in San Francisco about to board a flight for home. I needed a book to read. I'd been thinking about the halfway points in Pendulum theory as well as pondering a phenomenon I've decided to call Information Saturation....
Read Listen Download
Friends, Family, Staff and Customers - October 22, 2012
How Much Are They Holding You Back?
The pervasive fantasy in business today is that you can tweak your way to success. Tweakers believe you need only "monitor your metrics" to ratchet your way to the top of the mountain. "Hold your position, then make a tiny change and click up to...
Read Listen Download
Radio of Tomorrow? - October 15, 2012
Travel agencies were eliminated as a business category when the Digital Age arrived. Likewise, encyclopedias found they were no longer needed. Soon we were opening the newspaper each morning to read headlines we already knew about. Newspaper doubled over in pain and fell to its...
Read Listen Download
20,000 Years of Advertising - October 8, 2012
A New Book is in the Making. Want to Be Part of It?
More than 1,000 businesses will be featured in this book. Each will have fewer than 100 employees. On average, they'll have been operating for at least 20 years. We're going to ask them about their advertising.Research tells you what ought to work.We're going to ask...
Read Listen Download
Mountains and Molehills - October 1, 2012
How much do your name, logo and color scheme really matter?
A schmuck falls off the balcony on the 30th floor. A putz is the guy he lands on. A putz is passively stupid; ridiculously unlucky. Could a company succeed with a name like Putzmeister? Could a company win if its logo was indistinctive and boring...
Read Listen Download
Why It's Dangerous To Give Advice - September 24, 2012
I am, by profession, a communications consultant. I craft strategies, write ads and buy media. My clients ask for my advice. They even pay me for it. Advice is dangerous to give. If you are thinking, "Yes, it's dangerous to give advice because your advice...
Read Listen Download
2013: When the Tribe Becomes a Gang - September 17, 2012
Every "Me" cycle in society begins with: 1. a beautiful dream of freedom from restraint 2. a hunger for self-expression 3. a search for individuality Our last "Me" cycle began in 1963 and reached its zenith in 1983 when freedom from restraint had evolved into...
Read Listen Download
Tigers Do Not Purr - September 10, 2012
A Look at Choices and Consequences
You wrestle with lions daily. Lions are powers outside yourself: circumstance and serendipity, fate and phenomenon, bad luck and good. A lion can oppose or assist you. It can be your enemy or friend. A gang of lions is called a pride. Interesting. Unlike lions, tigers...
Read Listen Download
Miraculous Insights - September 3, 2012
From Unstructured Data
June 25, 2012, 8:29 PM Step 1: Create a monster by networking 16,000 ultrafast computer processors. Step 2: Feed the monster 10 billion images chosen at random from YouTube videos. Step 3: See what happens. What Happened: The monster taught itself to recognize cats. "We...
Read Listen Download
How Jack Became a Dull Boy - August 27, 2012
Jack became dull when he failed to free the beagle in his brain. You let your beagle romp and play, don't you? Don't you? The beagle in your brain connects nonlinear events - think of these events as a collection of dots - to reveal...
Read Listen Download
5 Ways to Solve Problems Creatively - August 20, 2012
  “Big ideas come from the unconscious. This is true in art, in science, and in advertising. But your unconscious has to be well informed, or your idea will be irrelevant. Stuff your conscious mind with information, then unhook your rational thought process.” - David...
Read Listen Download
Courage, Confidence and Humility - August 13, 2012
Courage might look like confidence to onlookers but confidence and courage are not the same. Confidence means you’re not afraid. Courage means you do your best even though you’re scared half to death. Courage does not rely on confidence. Courage relies on commitment. “It embarrasses...
Read Listen Download
Your Private World - August 6, 2012
Reality doesn't exist; at least not in the way that we usually think of it.  Dr. Jorge Martins de Oliveira writes, “Our perception does not identify the outside world as it really is, but the way that we are allowed to recognize it, as a...
Read Listen Download
Possibility Thinking - July 30, 2012
Dave saw adventure where others saw only shadows because Dave is a creative genius who never forgot how to play. The mind wants closure, for everything to add up and make sense, for there to be no loopholes, paradoxes or remainders. Intellect wants to believe...
Read Listen Download
Listen to the Voice of Experience - July 23, 2012
“Out in the open Wisdom calls aloud, she raises her voice in the marketplace…”
- Solomon, Proverbs ch. 1
Wendy Clark sponsored a trio of young protégés to attend this year’s annual Young Writer’s Workshop at Wizard Academy. While she was on campus with her crew, she said, “There really needs to be a book of helpful tips for start-up business owners. The E-Myth...
Read Listen Download
Growing Up In Oklahoma - July 16, 2012
A 30-Year Examination of Money and Jews
“Attention, Wal-Mart shoppers,” is a phrase I heard a lot as a kid. My school career began at Hilldale elementary in Muskogee, Oklahoma. Having been absent from that fair city since 1973, I Googled Muskogee to see what had changed in 39 years. As it...
Read Listen Download
How It All Began - July 9, 2012
Robert Pirosh died on Christmas Day, 1989, in Los Angeles. He was born in Baltimore in 1910.  But prior to that Christmas Day in L.A., Pirosh taught screenwriting at the University of Southern California.  He was considered a credible screenwriting coach because he had written...
Read Listen Download
Speak in 4-Part Harmony - July 2, 2012
Inclusive Communication by Design
Roughly 400 years before the wise-ards followed their star to Bethlehem, a Greek physician recognized four basic styles of behavior, calling them Choleric, Phlegmatic, Melancholic and Sanguine in the mistaken belief that these observable patterns of behavior were triggered by excesses of certain bodily fluids....
Read Listen Download
Four Kinds Of Curious - June 25, 2012
If I could give you the gift of Curiosity, I would risk a great deal to do it. I would buy it for you illegally, inject it into your arm with a needle and watch as Life flowed into your eyes. I would do this...
Read Listen Download
The Myth of Multi-tasking - June 18, 2012
Joe Kraus was co-founder of excite.com in 1993. Today he’s a partner at Google Ventures, an angel investor at LinkedIn and on the board of the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Kraus says we live in a culture of distraction. Prior to the availability of smartphones, we...
Read Listen Download
Glorious Failure - June 11, 2012
A Message at Graduation Time
  The person who achieves spectacular failure has at least attempted something bold. Failure is a temporary condition. Success is likewise temporary. Life, itself, is temporary. So quit hesitating. Do something.  Mediocrity comes from having perfectly implemented tried and true, traditional wisdom.The outcome is the only...
Read Listen Download
Information Like Bullets - June 4, 2012
1. Today’s reader is riddled with information hitting us from every side. 2. Traditional and online media assault our senses to the point of sensory shutdown.3. Consequently, today’s reader is strongly attracted to numbered lists.4. A numbered list promises a starting point, a conclusion, and...
Read Listen Download
Fame and Fortune - May 28, 2012
Want 'em?
  “Show me what a people admire, and I will tell you everything about them that matters.” - Maggie Tufu I agree with Maggie Tufu even though she’s a character in fiction. Dare to look closely at what our society admires. It will take your...
Read Listen Download
Magical Realism in Advertising - May 21, 2012
Fantasy and Science Fiction are alike in that each requires the creation of a complete new world. Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, The Avengers and Planet of the Apes each occupies its own imaginary universe. Fantasy and Sci-Fi are great for entertainment but not so...
Read Listen Download
How Not To Be Bored - May 14, 2012
The average person would rather be angry than bored. Anger is exciting. Likewise, love and hate are not opposites. The opposite of both is indifference. I'm not suggesting that you be angry all the time. I'm suggesting only that you care enough to take action....
Read Listen Download
The Future of Talk Radio - May 7, 2012
  “You know me; I find a crowd all headed in the same direction and call it my parade.” - Roy Laughlin, April 26, 2012 Brother Laughlin uttered this phrase as he was telling me of his involvement in the development of two new daily...
Read Listen Download
Alfred 42 Years Ago - May 5, 2012
Oklahoma: 1970
Alfred taught me never to be ruled by fear. I met Alfred when he took the first photograph of my family that didn’t include my father. Mom wanted a family photo, I think, to prove we were still a family. Alfred was married to Ella...
Read
She Was 22 Just Like Me That Day - April 30, 2012
She jumped from the window of a building on New York’s East Side on January 19, 1981. Her face was erased by the fall. I’m not sure what I was doing that day but I did not kill myself. No one knew her name so...
Read Listen Download
Oscar, Dorothy and Ze (Zay) - April 23, 2012
  Guilt is about what you have done. Shame is about who you are. I’ve always been attracted to people who are guilty, but unashamed. Guilt without shame is audacity, a special kind of courage.  It’s what we admire in the little boy who shouted,...
Read Listen Download
America's Antoni Gaudi - April 16, 2012
He seems to have been crazy. Seems to have been. Bubbling, babbling in bits of broken English, Sam was a cantankerously crazy old man. But what he left behind was beautiful. He worked on it alone from 1921 to 1954, then signed the deed over to...
Read Listen Download
Measuring the Height of a Brand - April 9, 2012
How tall is your brand? As long as we’re on the subject of brand identity and reputation, how are brands created in the first place? Is a brand merely the sum total of all the things a company says about itself? Of course not. Ads...
Read Listen Download
What Are You Doing Here, Elijah? - April 2, 2012
    Elijah, according to the Bible, was a Tishbite. Google “meaning of Tishbite” and the first page of results will give you a glimpse of the grand sweep of opinions we have when it comes to things religious. Tishbite means “stranger” according to some...
Read Listen Download
The Power of Once Upon a Time - March 26, 2012
“‘Hunches,’ his mother used to call them. The boy was beginning to understand that intuition is really just a sudden immersion of the soul into the universal current of life, where the histories of all people are connected, and we are able to know everything,...
Read Listen Download
What PPM Means - March 19, 2012
To Radio Advertisers
Before we begin, you need to know that a "3.0 frequency" is RadioSpeak for reaching the same listener 3 times. TSL means "Time Spent Listening" and PPM is "Portable People Meter." Hi Roy,   I’m sure that you receive this question often, but I didn’t find...
Read Listen Download
Richard's Recipe for Happiness - March 12, 2012
And Don's Single Biggest Mistake
This isn’t what Richard Exley said last week, but rather what I took from it: If you want to be truly happy, 1. Commit to a cause greater than yourself. 2. Value people rather than things. 3. Give thanks for what you have instead of...
Read Listen Download
Quixote Across the Years - March 5, 2012
In 1605, Quixote’s fearsome giants were windmills and Dulcinea1 was his beautiful, impossible dream. “What giants?” said Sancho Panza. “Those you see there,” answered his master, “with the long arms, and some have them nearly two leagues long.” “Look, your worship,” said Sancho. “What we...
Read Listen Download
Angel in the Darkness - February 27, 2012
    My back is against the wall and I don’t know what to do. The vortex of this crisis is pulling me into a toxic blue quicksand of the soul. I struggle until hope is gone. The light is growing dim. I have no...
Read Listen Download
"Leap, and the Net Will Appear." - February 20, 2012
- Gaelyn Foley
  James Lipton asked Barbra Streisand the secret of her success. She responded by saying, “At the moment of commitment, the Universe conspires to assist you.” - September 8, 2003, while recording an episode of Inside the Actor's Studio that would air on March 21, 2004...
Read Listen Download
Nostalgia is a Dangerous Drug - February 13, 2012
I love Garrison Keillor’s Lake Wobegon for the same reason I love Norman Rockwell. The people in those worlds are quirky but loveable, flawed but happy, sincere but imaginary. When you think about it, Lake Wobegon is a lot like Andy Griffith’s Mayberry, where the...
Read Listen Download
Are Two Heads Really Better Than One? - February 6, 2012
“Two heads are better than one,” is often quoted but horribly wrong.  Trust me, I know. Anything with two heads is a monster. “Nothing was ever created by two men. There are no good collaborations, whether in music, in art, in poetry, in mathematics, in...
Read Listen Download
Why Radio Doesn't Work - January 30, 2012
My original plan was to make today’s memo the sequel to last week’s memo about media buying, but I decided not to go to the trouble. You see, I’m convinced no one believes me. I wrote last week’s memo to warn you of the extraordinary...
Read Listen Download
Who Is Your Customer? - January 23, 2012
Media Buying Lesson Number One
I’ve never seen a business fail because they were reaching the wrong customer. But I’ve seen hundreds fail because they were saying the wrong things.   Most ads answer questions no one was asking. How did we Americans become so fixated on “targeting the right...
Read Listen Download
Advertising in 2012 - January 16, 2012
People today are different, less naïve, less gullible, less open to suggestion than in the past. Christopher Isherwood describes this difference perfectly:  “To live sanely in Los Angeles or, I suppose, in any other large American city, you have to cultivate the art of staying...
Read Listen Download
40 Years and 3 Miles Apart - January 9, 2012
  1845: This is the year Johnny “Appleseed” Chapman will plant his final apple tree. Mark Twain is 10 years old, living the boyhood that will bring us Tom Sawyer. Florida will be added to the U.S. this year, raising the total number of states...
Read Listen Download
America 2.0 - January 2, 2012
America contained about two and a half million people when we declared our independence in 1776. Today’s Portland, Oregon is bigger than that. The Constitution (1787) empowered every citizen who was white, male and a landowner. Minorities, women and poor people? Not so much. America...
Read Listen Download
Flat Rock, Wide Pond - December 26, 2011
A Barely Explicable Collection of Moments
Every person is a collector, I think.Businesspeople collect money.Travelers collect places.Competitors collect shining moments.Insecure people collect conquests, panties hanging from the bedpost.My own collection consists of curiosities, tokens of moments nearly forgotten; captured glimpses of interesting lives. I’m not certain what this says about me...
Read Listen Download
Merry... I Don't Know - December 19, 2011
  I’m a Merry Christmas person. Does that make me bad? "Happy Holidays" doesn’t carry quite the same exuberance for me as "Merry Christmas." And I must shamefully confess that deep in my heart I still think of Navajos, Cherokees and Apaches as Indians. My...
Read Listen Download
Shining City, Troubled Sky - December 12, 2011
Do Creative People Have to be Self-Destructive?
  New York Times writer Samuel G. Freedman asks, "Can the forces that make you creative also kill you?" "Can you live with control and yet create free of restraint?" "Can you live enough of the dark side to tell the tale without becoming a...
Read Listen Download
What to Expect in 2012 - December 5, 2011
“Added value” is the popular name for what’s included at no extra charge. But we are entering a time when it will no longer be sufficient to tell the world what you include and what you stand for. To hold the attention of the public in...
Read Listen Download
It's Always Christmas at Wizard Academy - November 28, 2011
Man of La Mancha rocked Broadway in 1965 with its thundering theme song, The Impossible Dream.   You remember that song, don’t you? It opens in soft reflection, “To dream the impossible dream... To fight the unbeatable foe…” but then it defies mortal gravity to...
Read Listen Download
Life in the Clothes Dryer - November 21, 2011
  Most people see life as a linear progression, a canoe ride on the river of time. The scenery passes. The sun rises and sets. Occasionally there is a storm. It’s a tempting metaphor because we often think of time flowing like a river and...
Read Listen Download
The Happy Future of Education - November 14, 2011
  Our system of education is built on the belief that learning is best achieved by bringing the best of the past forward through expert advice and clear example. Consequently, educators rise through the ranks like officers in the military: through compliance and conformity to the norm....
Read Listen Download
The Old is New Again - November 7, 2011
Storytelling is gaining momentum.  Open-mic nights are the hot ticket in Los Angeles, Chicago, Detroit and New York with people lining up two hours before show time to hear storytellers tell stories. Let’s look at the reasons why: “Storytelling is human connection at its most...
Read Listen Download
Pearl Was a Bit of a Whore - October 31, 2011
  Pearl was a bit of a whore. We never kept her in a fence So she had puppies at least once a year. She was a good mother.Abandoned in the country, starving, We found her when I was in third grade. She knew she...
Read Listen Download
Anomaly - October 24, 2011
Your brain is hardwired to notice the exception, the incongruity, the discrepancy, the disturbance, that thing – no matter how small – that doesn’t belong.   “Something of the sense of holiness on islands comes, I think, from this strange, elastic geography. Islands are made larger,...
Read Listen Download
How Fresh Is Your Adventure? - October 17, 2011
Anxious anticipation, nervous trepidation, heart palpitation and a tingling sensation are the smells and bells of adventure.  Paul Tournier was a 3 year-old orphan in Switzerland when Teddy Roosevelt became President of the United States.  Paul grew up to become a doctor.  He did a...
Read Listen Download
Choosing a Voice for Your Pen - October 10, 2011
Style Guides and Audio Signatures: Part Three
Words shine like a movie projector on the screen of imagination, creating lifelike images in the mind. 1: Which actors will you place on the screen?  Will your voice be first person “I,” second person “you,” or third person “they?” 2. What will be your time...
Read Listen Download
An Unlikely Pair - October 3, 2011
The boys were born on the same day in the same year: February 12, 1809. Both were intensely private. Each boy lost his mother in early childhood. Neither was close to his father. The two never met but together they tipped the world on its...
Read Listen Download
Everyone is Entitled to Their Own Opinion - September 26, 2011
But Not Their Own Facts
  "If you've read about social media or been to any marketing conferences, you've probably heard tons of advice like love your customers, engage in the conversation, be yourself, and make friends. I call this unicorns-and-rainbows advice. Take a couple of time-honored adages, add in...
Read Listen Download
Tuesdays with Stéphane - September 19, 2011
Eleven million copies of Tuesdays with Morrie have been sold.   But one hundred years before Mitch Albom began spending the-day-after-Monday with Morrie, a previous Tuesday gathering had already left its mark upon the earth and walked triumphantly into the pages of history.  You are...
Read Listen Download
A Style Guide for Your Actions - September 12, 2011
Style Guides and Audio Signatures: Part Two
  THE OUTER YOU: The best ad campaigns have a style guide. Implicit or explicit, the style guide is always there. A visual style guide determines the look and feel of visual ads, signage and décor. Audio Signatures (distinctive enunciations, sound effects, special effects, unusual...
Read Listen Download
Styles Guides and Audio Signatures - September 5, 2011
    Ad Campaign: a series of ads bound together by a set of distinctive identifiers. Can you name the identifiers that mark your campaign? Okay, there’s the font you use for your company name and the color scheme you use on your business cards,...
Read Listen Download
Whose Emails Do You Read? - August 29, 2011
  You’re reading this and I’m honored, because you delete far more emails than you open. Which others do you open? I know, of course, that you read emails from your closest friends and family. But are there any newsletters, blog posts or subscriptions that...
Read Listen Download
Journeys Of Imagination - August 22, 2011
What Do You See In Your Mind?
The goal of the batter is to hit the baseball. This is why every kid who holds a bat is told, “Don’t take your eye off the ball.” Later, when endurance is needed, we say, “Keep your eye on the prize.” Can you name the...
Read Listen Download
An Open Experiment - August 15, 2011
This will be the smartest thing I’ve done in years or it will be the stupidest. And I’m going to do it openly so the whole world can watch to see what happens as these next few months unfold. The promotion of Wizard Academy is...
Read Listen Download
How Soon Will My Ads Start Working? - August 8, 2011
These are the 5 questions you must answer before you can know how soon your ads will start working: Q. 1: What percentage of the noise made in your category – in all the different media combined - is being made by you? This is...
Read Listen Download
On the Horizon - August 1, 2011
If History, Indeed, Repeats Itself
  “There is a holy mistaken zeal in politics as well as in religion.” - The Letters of Junius, 1769 - 1771 “The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to bed in the streets,...
Read Listen Download
Relevance, Real-evance, Relate-evence - July 25, 2011
Relevance has always been an important part of effective communication but never so much as today.   The appalling dropout rate in High Schools and the sharp decline in church attendance are just two of the indicators of an accelerated demand by people for relevance....
Read Listen Download
Work With What You've Got - July 18, 2011
(That Iron Door is 8' wide, 10' tall. Balcony doors are 12' wide, 8' tall. BIG.)
      A 20 year-old kid walks the streets in Oklahoma. Married. No money. Works construction by day, changes tapes in an automated radio station from 1AM to 11AM each Saturday morning for $3.35 an hour. No microphone. No one will know if he's doing a...
Read Listen Download
Interesting Things Going On Right Now - July 11, 2011
Once a year I allow myself to ramble a bit in the insane delusion that someone out there might actually want to know what’s happening in my life. Deep in my heart I know the only people who really care about my private trivia are...
Read Listen Download
Differentiate or Conform? - July 4, 2011
   Chronic problems in business are usually the result of binary thinking. “It’s either this way or that way. It can’t be both.” Strangely, the answer is almost always “both.” “Should I try to attract the price-driven (transactional) customer, or should I go for the...
Read Listen Download
17 Strangers - June 27, 2011
PROVED: Technique Beats Inspiration
  Wizard Academy completed an experiment last Thursday and we’re prepared to share the results of it. Amateur musicians were gathered from across North America. We refused to allow them to create music in the manner they preferred. Instead, we showed them video clips of...
Read Listen Download
The Ones Who Don't Go Away - June 20, 2011
How to Become Self-Selected, Part Two
Monday Morning, One Week Ago - “Honey, I liked this week’s memo but you never really told us how to become self-selected. You just gave us examples of other people who have done it.” I took another look at that memo and said, “You’re right,...
Read Listen Download
How to Become Self-Selected - June 13, 2011
The Secret of Peter, James and John
  Dewey Jenkins is a self-made man, the sort of person every parent hopes their child will become.  Like many of us, Dewey started with nothing, nada, zip, zero. He worked hard, was focused and patient, always tried to do the right thing, accepted his...
Read Listen Download
Curves Cost Money - June 6, 2011
Curves are difficult to create in bodies, buildings and furniture. But they always attract attention. Curves are good. All the best stories have them. Good movies, plays and books curve one way then another, taking us in directions we did not anticipate. We can never...
Read Listen Download
On Being a Consultant - May 30, 2011
Once a month my partners and I have a videoconference. We solve problems together and I share a few stories of things I learned the hard way. Craig Arthur, director of Wizard of Ads - Australia, tells me these stories are his favorite parts of...
Read Listen Download
Facebook and Twitter - May 23, 2011
For Traditional Retail and Service Businesses
  I feel a bit like the boy in the Hans Christian Andersen tale of The Emperor’s New Clothes, though I’m not nearly so brave as he. You remember, don’t you? Two weavers promise an Emperor a new suit of clothes that will be invisible...
Read Listen Download
How to Select Your Message Delivery Vehicle - May 16, 2011
1. You have something to sell and 2. You want to tell the world about it. These are my first questions: 1. Are people already looking for it? 2. Can you deliver your message in 8 words or less? If the answer to both questions...
Read Listen Download
Why Ads Fail - May 9, 2011
I've never met a business owner whose advertising failed because they were reaching the wrong people. Let me say that again. I've never met a business owner whose advertising failed because they were reaching the wrong people. Advertising fails when people have    1. no...
Read Listen Download
Thoughts Too Big for Us - May 2, 2011
We stay too busy to think big thoughts. This frantic busyness, this voluntary slavery to the merely urgent is preferred, I think, because big thoughts make us realize that we are much smaller creatures than we like to pretend. “We often talk about Hurricane Katrina...
Read Listen Download
How to Create Life - April 25, 2011
   See it. Believe it. Say it. These are the first steps.But be prepared; most people will think you're an idiot. Or delusional.Or full of yourself. Maybe they're right. The outcome is all that separates confidence from hubris.You saw it in your mind. You believed it could happen....
Read Listen Download
Time and Attention are Currency - April 18, 2011
You open your mailbox and grab a handful of paper. How long does it take you to sort that mail? Do you open each envelope and consider its message, or do some of them get tossed into the trashcan unopened? More than 71 billion dollars were...
Read Listen Download
Our Attraction to Brands - April 11, 2011
Brands are extensions of belief systems. You are attracted to a brand when it stands for something you believe in. We buy what we buy – most of it, anyway – 1. to remind ourselves and 2. tell the world around us     who we...
Read Listen Download
Japanese Summer - April 4, 2011
You Can't Quit Knowing What You Know
“My name is Natsu and I’ll be serving you today.” Pennie said, “Natsu… What a pretty name!” “Thank you. I was named after my grandmother. It means 'summer' in Japanese.” Thirty seconds earlier, Natsu had looked like any other waitress. But now that we knew...
Read Listen Download
All My Weird Friends - March 28, 2011
Ken and Barbie are perfect. Ken and Barbie are plastic. Ken and Barbie are hollow. I do not prefer them. True friends are flawed in endearing ways. Quirky. I’ll never forget the morning when I asked a roomful of newly arrived Wizard Academy students to...
Read Listen Download
How I Know the Recession Is Over - March 21, 2011
As you do or don’t know, I make my living as an advertising consultant. My income is directly tied to the growth of my clients’ businesses, so you can be sure I keep a close eye on their income trends. Although my office works with...
Read Listen Download
Why Advertising is Rarely Scalable - March 14, 2011
Most people believe advertising is scalable. These people are right. And they are wrong. SCALABLE:  When a large-scale problem can be solved by the straight-line, linear expansion of a small-scale solution, that solution is scalable.  Example: You want to put a box of loose snapshots into...
Read Listen Download
America's Finest Hour - March 7, 2011
What makes us America? If you were to name a single incident in American history that you feel was America’s finest hour, what would it be?Would it be a moment of patriotic sacrifice?  “I only regret that I have but one life to lose for...
Read Listen Download
But Why Are You Going to College? - February 28, 2011
“Do you see a man skilled in his work? He will stand before kings.” - Proverbs, ch. 22   Stand before kings? Sounds great! But how does one get “skilled in his work?”   American children were taught for 100 years that all we had...
Read Listen Download
Does God Like You? - February 21, 2011
  If you’re reading this sentence, it’s because the headline (A.) startled you by its intrusive, personal nature, (B.) irritated you by its assumption that God exists, (C.) intrigued you because you never really thought about it, or (D.) touched a pre-existing suspicion or belief...
Read Listen Download
The Wisdom of a People - February 14, 2011
How does one reconcile these two famous proverbs? “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” That first platitude would argue that pre-emptive action is a waste of time and resources; "Leave well-enough alone." The second...
Read Listen Download
Calculate the Cost of Customer Acquisition - February 7, 2011
A Brief Examination Into the Health of Your Marketing
STEP 1: What percentage of your sales volume comes from repeat or referral customers? These customers are driven to you by past satisfaction. Don’t read any further until you’ve decided on a percentage. Give it your best guess. STEP 2: What percentage of your sales...
Read Listen Download
Harnessing the Midlife Crisis - January 31, 2011
  If you’re a man, you will definitely have a midlife crisis. When it happens – and it can happen a number of times - you can let it lift you to the next level, or you can let it unravel your life.  Wizard Academy’s...
Read Listen Download
Random Entry - January 24, 2011
The Key to Getting Attention.
A Guaranteed Cure for Writer's Block.
In an over-communicated society, predictability is the enemy of effective writing.  A recent Yankelovich study tells us that Americans are confronted by more than 5,000 selling messages per day – radio and television and magazines and newspapers and billboards floating on an ocean of store signage,...
Read Listen Download
5.91 Million Reasons - January 17, 2011
Why America Needs Wizard Academy
According to the U.S. Census, our nation is home to 5.91 million business owners whose businesses have fewer than 100 employees. If the American dream is to survive, these small businesses must thrive. The success of Wal-Mart and Google is not enough.  Wizard Academy is...
Read Listen Download
The Emily Dickinson of Photography - January 10, 2011
I look at Vivian Maier and remember Jane Hathaway, Mr. Drysdale’s scholarly secretary on The Beverly Hillbillies.  Vivian was born in France in 1926. We don’t know how or when Vivian came to America, but at age 11 she began working in a New York...
Read Listen Download
Rivalry of Thought - January 3, 2011
Uptight vs. Anything Goes
  “Proverbs contradict each other. That is the wisdom of a people.” – Stanislaw Lec   EXAMPLE 1. “Win the heart and the mind will follow. The intellect can always find logic to justify what the heart has already decided.” In other words, speak to...
Read Listen Download
A Flashbulb Lights the Moment, - December 27, 2010
But the Sun Shows Us the Way.
"Success is a snowflake,” she said. I was talking to the princess of my world, doing my best to ignore the day that waited impatiently outside our door. I had shown her the photo of Jane DeDecker’s Old Man and the Sea and told her...
Read Listen Download
The Sparkling Secret of Success - December 20, 2010
Ray, I agree with what you said. Determination must be fed or it will fade. Commitment, on the other hand, is settled, secure, irrevocable. Costs are no longer counted. You’ve heard me say many times that one of our society’s most costly mistakes is this...
Read Listen Download
Gold Laughs at Stocks and Bonds - December 13, 2010
A Look at Personification and Brandable Chunks
Gold, for thousands of years, has been the world’s only truly secure investment. The economy ebbs and flows, like the tide. It always has. It always will. But gold is like the Rock of Gibraltar. Safe. Secure. Indestructible. If all the gold in the world...
Read Listen Download
Name the Number. Say It. - December 6, 2010
The single biggest mistake made in face-to-face selling is the seller's reluctance to name the price.  When your customer asks, “How much?” the next syllable to leave your lips should be the first digit of a number. “But you don’t understand. That’s just not possible...
Read Listen Download
High-Risk Writing - November 29, 2010
a peek, a glimpse, a conclusion
It is dangerous to write sentences that require the reader to think. Frankly, you would be safer to blindfold yourself and walk in front of a Taliban firing squad wearing a Jesus Loves You T-shirt. Here's an example of dangerous writing:“Amnesia is not knowing who...
Read Listen Download
Van Gogh's Hero - November 22, 2010
Merry Christmas from Roy and Pennie
  Adolphe Monticelli has been forgotten by all but the most devoted art historians, but his legacy will live eternal through the work of Vincent Van Gogh, Paul Cézanne and a whole generation of French Impressionists. Monticelli may rightfully be called, "The World's Most Influential Painter That...
Read Listen Download
You Are the Sum of Your Beliefs - November 15, 2010
"Thoughts are the threads that bind us to deeds.Deeds are the ropes that bind us to habits.Habits are the chains that bind us to destiny."- Inscription carved on the West Wall at the Palace in Maygassa  My friend Don Kuhl says, “All change is self...
Read Listen Download
When Divergence Becomes Convergence - November 8, 2010
And It All Comes Together
We love that moment when a divergent anomaly becomes the missing piece of the puzzle.The key that unlocks a mystery.The “Eureka!” of an inventor.The punch line of a joke.We hunger to see disparate elements resolve into a coherent pattern.Tedious teachers tell us the answers. Astounding...
Read Listen Download
Paul's Adopted Son - November 1, 2010
Today’s memo was recorded 12 years ago.
  Paul Compton had a wife and four daughters, and in later years, a fourteen-year-old son added himself to the dinner table. That son was me. My own mother was a great cook and she loved me like crazy, but Mom had to work full...
Read Listen Download
Three Ads - October 25, 2010
One Bad, Two Good
Ads are (1.) category-focused, (2.) product-focused, or (3.) client-focused. The good thing about category-focused ads is that they’re portable; anyone in the category can use them.  The bad thing about category-focused ads is that they don’t distinguish you from your competitors, because anyone in the category can...
Read Listen Download
Path to Improvement - October 18, 2010
BONUS: The Wizard’s Prediction of What’s About to Happen
Is there any part of your business you’d like to improve? Listen to me: You won’t improve what you don’t measure. Here’s how to get the ball rolling: Step One: Identify, clearly, what you’re trying to make happen. Step Two: Determine how progress might be...
Read Listen Download
What to Say - October 11, 2010
Old ideas are carried by old words. New ideas are carried by new words. Old words keep you inside the box. New words help you escape it. If you want to remain inside the box and fall behind the pack, just keep talking about target...
Read Listen Download
Buzz Snatching - October 4, 2010
from our correspondent in St. Petersburg, Russia
Roy, Ogilvy's St P. office is a client of ours, only there are a tonne of project managers there, and we had really only one contact person, with a few other managers who knew vaguely about us. I was chatting to the lovely Katya, my contact...
Read Listen Download
Are You Having Fun? - September 27, 2010
I was talking to an old friend. He asked the usual questions."Family okay?""Everyone is great.” "Business good?" "Busier than ever." "But are you having fun?" He asked the question as any child of the ‘60s would ask it. The anthem we sang as young men...
Read Listen Download
Yes, Numbers Do Lie. - September 20, 2010
These 14 furniture store owners came from across America for a private session at Wizard Academy. Might your business group enjoy a day or two on campus? You choose the curricula. “Numbers don’t lie” is what people say when they defend their faulty logic. Their...
Read Listen Download
Two People. Both Right. - September 13, 2010
Two young people are given the same directive by their boss.  One of them, palms upward, says, “But I don’t know how.”  The second one doesn’t know how, either, but quietly thinks, “I’ll figure it out.”  The first one grows up to become a manager...
Read Listen Download
Island You - September 6, 2010
  1. No man is an island.  2. Every man is an island.  John Donne famously wrote, “No man is an island” in 1624. The entire passage reads, “No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of...
Read Listen Download
We're Getting Mall-ed Again - August 30, 2010
The Web Follows the Pattern of Brick and Mortar
Old Persian tile showing Cyrus the Great fighting a lion.Cyrus was the king of Babylon during Daniel's episode in the lion's den. From the collection of Wizard Academy.   “Over the past few years, one of the most important shifts in the digital world has...
Read Listen Download
Left Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook - August 23, 2010
I’m going to explain a sophisticated ad-writing technique to you today, but I have confidence you’ll understand it perfectly. Learn to incorporate it into your writing and your ads will produce better results, generate more comments and make people smile. Tight-asses will criticize you, of...
Read Listen Download
Walk on Water - August 16, 2010
  Life is a journey on water. We spend our lives floating between the sunlit scenery of the conscious mind and the shadowy depths of the unconscious below. Dr. Richard D. Grant tells us our relationship to the unconscious is exactly our relationship to water.1....
Read Listen Download
Wile E. Coyote, Billionaire - August 9, 2010
There's not a lot you can learn from the Road Runner, but the Coyote knows the secret of wealth.  In September, 1949, the Coyote - Carnivorous vulgaris - built a catapult. But instead of launching him toward the Road Runner, it launched him straight up...
Read Listen Download
How to Spot a Wiener Dog - August 2, 2010
Picasso and Lump. In the foreground is Picasso's famous drawing of him.    I concluded a recent Monday Morning Memo entitled “Melvin the Lion” by saying, “We won the game when we picked the wiener dogs. This is the dirty little secret of advertising: you...
Read Listen Download
Steinbeck's Unfinished Novel - July 26, 2010
John Steinbeck began writing a novel in the summer of 1957 and abandoned it the day after Christmas. I was born 93 days later. Those two events were unconnected before today. Steinbeck wrote the first 114 pages of his novel before setting it aside. He...
Read Listen Download
What Is Woman? - July 19, 2010
“Bitter arguments often result from a lack of definition of terms.” This is one of the first lessons the Cognoscenti are taught in the Magical Worlds Communications Workshop. Cognoscenti Skip Moen – an Oxford scholar – gave me a tragic example of this during his...
Read Listen Download
Melvin the Lion - July 12, 2010
"The winner is determined when..."
A couple of weeks ago Sean Taylor attended a high-class function to receive the Melvin Jones Award on my behalf. Melvin Jones founded the Lions Club International and his award is the highest honor the club can bestow. You can’t win the MJ Award unless...
Read Listen Download
Answer 13 Again - July 5, 2010
"Do It Backwards"
CLOCKWISE: Henry Ford, Kary Mullis, Genrich Altshuller, Sam Walton I was explaining to my apprentices the difference between cost-based accounting and customer-based accounting. “Cars in 1908 sold for about $2,500 apiece. Nearly 2,000 entrepreneurs became car builders between 1886 and 1908 and each of them...
Read Listen Download
Escape Your Comfort Zone - June 28, 2010
Discover the Buried Treasure
Last week I spent long hours preparing nine ad-writing apprentices for what lies ahead. Strangely, each of them signed up for this excruciating 7-week adventure for the same reason; they wanted to escape the handcuffs of specialization. None of them are new to marketing. The...
Read Listen Download
How to Make Plastic Explosives - June 21, 2010
From Things You Carry in Your Mind
  A Chinese proverb extols the strength of the written word: “The palest ink is better than the best memory.”   “Ah, yes, Xiao,” (Shee Ow, ‘Little One,’) “but the written word has no meaning until it has been translated into the spoken word it...
Read Listen Download
It All Adds Up - June 14, 2010
Marty Markowitz. Know the name?I thought not.Marty is the borough president of Brooklyn, one of New York City’s five municipal corporations. His domain stretches nine miles by eight. Marty’s not even a mayor, yet more people live under his authority than lived in the whole...
Read Listen Download
Let Ignorance be Your Advantage - June 7, 2010
How to Become a Wise Man (Wise-ard)
Ignorant people aren’t stupid but merely uninformed; a marvelous advantage when you need a perspective from “outside the box.” The truly naïve are so thoroughly “outside” they’re not even sure what you mean by “the box.” When you consult specialists within your industry, you’re talking...
Read Listen Download
Self Definition - May 31, 2010
The Secret of Self Definition Corporate mission statements all sound alike because companies stand for pretty much the same things: “We believe in honesty, quality products, a positive work environment and a fair profit.” Yawn. You and I write mission statements because we want people...
Read Listen Download
Sheepdogs Be Damned - May 24, 2010
"Well, it's a non-stop blitz of advertising messages. Everywhere we turn we're saturated with advertising messages trying to get our attention… We've gone from being exposed to about 500 ads a day 40 years ago to about 5,000 a day today... It seems like the goal of...
Read Listen Download
Faux Authenticity - May 17, 2010
“No one is sincere except for me and you.
And lately I’ve had my doubts about you.”
  We're staring into the face of a trend. I told you in Dec. 2003 that we were moving into an era of “working together for the common good” and that the transition would take 6 years. Thousands of you from Stockholm to Sydney to...
Read Listen Download
Counterintuitive Radio - May 10, 2010
“The best radio ads entertain the public and generate favorable comments.” That kind of thinking is why most radio ads don’t work as well as they should. I know it’s counterintuitive and disconcerting but the ads we hate often work better than the ads we...
Read Listen Download
Remove the Limiting Factor - May 3, 2010
I tried to write some tips about business growth for you this week. I really did. But I found myself drawn to this, instead. – RHW
  “Most of one’s life… is one prolonged effort to prevent oneself thinking.”- Aldous Huxley, 1894-1963 “Our minds are lazier than our bodies.”- Francois, Duc de La Rochefouchauld, 1613-1680 You probably have a limiting factor in your life that’s holding you back.A limiting factor may...
Read Listen Download
Optimism for Beginners - April 26, 2010
I detest the Positive Thinking cult. Yes, you read that correctly. But I am supremely optimistic.  I see the Positive Thinking cult as the religion of Hubris; man worshipping himself. “I am my own god. I control my own destiny. There is nothing I can’t...
Read Listen Download
Change Their Minds? - April 19, 2010
Not a Chance.
People don’t really change their minds. They simply make new decisions based on new information. In the absence of new information, there will be no new decision.  Give a person the same information you’ve given them in the past and they’ll make the same decision...
Read Listen Download
Wizard Academy - April 12, 2010
discovering the science behind every art
Art is the language of relevance. Science is the language of credibility. Art is interpreted by feelings. Science is what’s left when feelings are gone. Art is the language of the brain’s right hemisphere; science is the language of the left. And the tug-of-war between...
Read Listen Download
Combine 2 Ingredients for Explosive Ads - April 5, 2010
  Relevance and credibility are the matches and gunpowder of advertising.  Relevance is a glowing promise that can ignite the flame of desire.Credibility is quiet power: Details. Facts. Proof.The flame of relevance without the gunpowder of credibility is empty, glittering hype; fluffy and without substance....
Read Listen Download
Play On - March 29, 2010
I’ve been thinking a lot about aging. Now I’m a cliché for sure: a middle-aged man contemplating all the things in his life that will likely remain undone. The weirdest triggers send us off on these melancholy journeys. By “us” I mean pampered American men....
Read Listen Download
Swim to Kansas - March 22, 2010
“Hello ladies. Look at your man. Now back to me. Now back at your man. Now back to me. Sadly, he isn’t me. But if he stopped using lady-scented body wash and switched to Old Spice, he could smell like he’s me. Look down. Back...
Read Listen Download
Fortress of Belief - March 15, 2010
A fortress protects you and makes you feel safe.  A strongly held belief is a fortress. It protects your view of reality. You defend your fortress when you feel it’s under attack. But is every strongly held belief true? The sincerity of the believer does...
Read Listen Download
Failure at 33 and 1/3 RPM - March 8, 2010
I’m always stunned, slack-jawed, big-eyed and stupid when a person chooses to do what obviously won’t work. I stand there in a daze, awed by the fact that Jesus can love such idiots as the human race.  Maybe I overreact.My first big-eyed moment happened when...
Read Listen Download
What Are You Trying to Make Happen? - March 1, 2010
And How Will You Measure Progress?
Violent crime in America declined each year from 1993 to 2004. Then just about the time the iPod became popular in 2005, violent crime began trending upward.CONCLUSION: iPods cause violent crime. Or at least that was the conclusion of a 2007 report published by The...
Read Listen Download
What to Expect: 2010 to 2023 - February 22, 2010
Moses was 40 years old when he tried to lead Israel out of Egypt by the strength of his own arm. He failed, then ran from the anger of Pharaoh like a little girl. But who can blame him for trying? He was, after all,...
Read Listen Download
The Power of Labels - February 15, 2010
Even When They're Wrong
Christian Jürgensen Thomsen was a young man interested in archaeology so when the Danish government of 1816 needed someone to climb into the attic of Copenhagen’s Trinitatis Church and sort through the rubble that had collected there, Thomsen was their man.Upon entering the attic, Thomsen...
Read Listen Download
How I Win the Ad Wars - February 8, 2010
Frankly, I Cheat. You Can, Too.
I became an advertising salesman so I could buy groceries. A college dropout with no financial safety net, I installed aluminum guttering on houses during the day and changed reel-to-reel tapes in an automated radio station at night. Our format was radio preachers who needed...
Read Listen Download
Guilty Pleasure - February 1, 2010
January 27, 2010: It’s weird when you think about it: Apple releases the iPad just as Salinger breathes his last. It feels like the ending of a play. J.D. Salinger and Jack Kerouac were the tortured voices that led us into forbidden places in our...
Read Listen Download
Forty Years From Now - January 25, 2010
In 1969, spending time with your friends meant piling into a car and driving around. Every town had a strip called “the drag,” a place to see and be seen as you cruised back and forth at 20 miles an hour. It's how you made...
Read Listen Download
Blind Spot - January 18, 2010
Today's memo is a long one
But worth reading if you want to make money.
If you knew it was there, they wouldn’t call it a blind spot.Hidden within your blind spot is your limiting factor, the thing that holds you back and limits your success.Find your blind spot and stare your limiting factor in the face. Acknowledge the reality...
Read Listen Download
Which Market: Interest or Exchange? - January 11, 2010
Transactions can be immediate or transactions can happen over time.The purchase of a “Flashing Blue Light Special” is an immediate transaction. I give you something. You give me something. Now we’re done. Transactions like these indicate an Exchange Market where customers are in Transactional shopping...
Read Listen Download
A Behind the Scenes Look at Why - January 4, 2010
The Full Plate Diet is Everywhere
 You’re about to begin seeing The Full Plate Diet everywhere you look; bookstores, grocery stores, airports, wholesale clubs… everywhere. This is an interesting story. I think you’ll enjoy it. Especially since you’re a big part of it. Read on.Ray Bard served as the first chairman...
Read Listen Download
Four People. Sort Of. - December 28, 2009
Read to the End and Find a Business Application
It’s entirely possible that today’s memo will make you think less of me.  Maybe not. We’ll see.People fall into 4 categories in my mind:1. People I owe.2. People I know.3. People Invisible.4. People I must fight. If you object to people being put in categories,...
Read Listen Download
Deader Than a Bag of Hammers - December 21, 2009
Mini Bikes, Tape Recorders, Leisure Suits and Yellow Pages
The Las Vegas Hilton, 2003: The stagehand said, “This is the stage where Elvis appeared when he played Vegas.”  He was helping me set up to speak to the managers of all the local, county and state fairs in the English-speaking world. When my stage...
Read Listen Download
Targeting the Imaginary Customer - December 14, 2009
Ask the wrong question and you will get the wrong answer
Most businesses target an imaginary customer because someone – probably an advertising salesman – once asked, “Who is your customer?”Ask any businessperson, “Who is your customer?” and he or she will likely answer with a singular customer profile. Something like, “My customer is a career...
Read Listen Download
I See Adventure in Your Future - December 7, 2009
The 2009 Annual Report of Wizard Academy
It’s hard to read the label when you’re inside the bottle. Sometimes you need to get away from it all, step outside your surroundings and make some new decisions. To help you do that, we\'ve built you a business school. Some people think of Wizard...
Read Listen Download
Selling: Civic vs. Idealist - November 30, 2009
You want an example?
 Romulus Whitaker is saving the rainforest in Tamil Nadu, and with it, dozens of species of animals. The problem is complex, but so is Romulus Whitaker. Tim Bauer is fighting air pollution in the Philippines with a 2-stroke cylinder head that reduces hydrocarbon emissions by...
Read Listen Download
Home for the Holidays - November 23, 2009
It's beginning to look not like Christmas
They say you can never go home again, just like you can’t step into the same river twice. Things change.Have you ever been to a class reunion?"Cigars had burned low, and we were beginning to sample the disillusionment that usually afflicts old school friends who...
Read Listen Download
My Holiday Gift to You... For Real - November 16, 2009
Tom Hennen has a line in his poem, The Life of a Day, that says,“We examine each day before us with barely a glance and say, ‘no, this isn’t one I’ve been looking for,’ and wait in a bored sort of way for the next,...
Read Listen Download
What Do Your Customers Care About? - November 9, 2009
Peg the Needle on the Relevance Meter If You Want to See Results
Ads are often written under the assumption that we can get people to care about things they don’t really care about. But this approach rarely succeeds.Traditional ad-think says: 1.    Target the right people2.    Leverage the right media (visual media for visual products, etc.)3.    Use creativity...
Read Listen Download
The Booty Call Incident - November 2, 2009
Big Brother is Alive and Well
 My son’s cell phone rang. He answered, “Hello?”“I’d like to speak to Booty Williams, please.”“This is Booty.”[long pause] “Is your name really Booty Williams?”“That’s right. Booty Call Williams.”“That’s awesome.”The call was from a telemarketing firm that had purchased my son’s contact information from a magazine...
Read Listen Download
Social Media: Myth or Miracle? - October 26, 2009
Slide 210 from The 40 Year Pendulum, a Dec. 2003 presentation of the Wizard of AdsBack when I was an advertising salesman, business owners would often dismiss me by saying, “I believe in word-of-mouth.” Then with a smug, self-satisfied look, they’d say it again, as...
Read Listen Download
Trigger Emotions with Light and Color - October 19, 2009
A tiny bit technical, but extremely valuable.
In 1869, Monet was painting at La Grenouillere when he realized that the color of an object is modified: 1. by the light in which it is seen, 2. by reflections from other objects, and 3. by contrast with juxtaposed colors.Monet translated his observations into...
Read Listen Download
Turn, Turn, Turn - October 5, 2009
The Mark of a Remarkable Business
   Business midgets focus on profit margin, “I can sell these for double my cost!” But business giants focus on turn, “How many more would I sell if I lowered my price?”Retailers call it “inventory turn.”  Restaurateurs call it “table turn.” Either way, it’s a...
Read Listen Download
Wealth - September 28, 2009
 Every life has a scoreboard and how you choose to keep score is up to you.How are you measuring success?I’ve known men and women who measure success by their ability to attract the opposite sex. You’ve met these people, too, haven’t you?Some people measure success...
Read Listen Download
How to Make Money - September 21, 2009
If it takes money to make money, how does one make money when he has no money at the start?A person without capital has nothing to leverage but his or her time. This is why millions of Americans wear the handcuffs of hourly wages.When I...
Read Listen Download
Problem Solved - September 14, 2009
After 4 Years of Fighting It
Did you recently – finally – begin to receive the Monday Morning Memo after having subscribed some time ago? We’ve been trying to get it to you, really we have, but the internet gods have not been kind to us. We've known for 4 years...
Read Listen Download
Why Everyone Should Grow Up Poor - September 7, 2009
The 2009 Labor Day Message of the Wizard of Ads
When I was a boy, I noticed that people often remember things as having been better - or worse - than they really were. I would listen to friends and family and think, “That’s not what happened at all. I was there.”Call me jaded, but...
Read Listen Download
Fatal Optimism - August 31, 2009
The Alligator and the Mockingbird
  Few people are as tiresome as the person who lives life in a minor key. Pessimistic people remind me of Eeyore the donkey:“I don’t think we can do it.” “This idea will never work.” “It’s probably going to rain.”On the other hand, few people...
Read Listen Download
The Poodle and The Vamp - August 24, 2009
Or, The Secret of Being Discovered
  The warm-up band is leaving the stage amidst thunderous applause, bowing and waving to the crowd, throwing kisses, fists pumping into the air. Now it’s time for the headliner, the living legends, the singers you came to see. A drummer takes the stage and...
Read Listen Download
Carve Your Important Things In Stone.
For Free. - August 17, 2009
  "Give a product away, and it can go viral. Charge a single cent for it and you’re in an entirely different business... ‘Free’ has the power to create a consumer stampede.”– Chris Anderson, Free: The Future of a Radical PriceA few weeks ago I...
Read Listen Download
How Do You Want to Feel Right Now? - August 10, 2009
   We've invented a machine that lets you select your mood. This astounding device can be adjusted to make you feel however you’d like to feel. It’s called a radio.The distinct advantage of humans is our ability to attach complex meanings to sound. The most...
Read Listen Download
Boldness Buys the Priceless - August 3, 2009
A Look at Management vs. Leadership
A group of students from the University of Texas recently asked Corrine Taylor to set up an interview with me on the subject of leadership. My schedule hasn’t allowed me to do that interview yet, but their request did trigger some thoughts on the subject.Maybe...
Read Listen Download
Sailing With Magellan - July 27, 2009
How to Turn $100 into $100,000
Magellan was a misfit, a visionary with a better idea, a curious explorer of things unknown. He would have fit right in at Wizard Academy. But a similar outlook on life isn’t the only thing that connects us to Magellan. There’s a tangible connection as...
Read Listen Download
Spend Not a Penny - July 20, 2009
and Get Real Skinny
The Full Plate Diet is an incredibly cool book. And because you’re a friend of Wizard Academy, you can have a no-charge advance copy. That’s right. No charge. Nada. Zero. Zip. The publisher – Wizard Academy board member Ray Bard of Bard Press – is...
Read Listen Download
What Time Is This? - July 13, 2009
  A close friend told me last week why his wife doesn’t like me: having seen me speak before a crowd, she is convinced I lack humility. I am a boastful man, arrogant and unprincipled, merciless and cold.She’s not the first to have said these...
Read Listen Download
Magic of the Elbs - July 6, 2009
Did you know I’ve been writing these Monday Morning Memos for 15 years now?  And in all that time:1. There’s never been a Monday when I didn’t send a Memo.2. I’ve never repeated a Memo that had been previously sent.I’m going to break that second...
Read Listen Download
Grin of the Cheshire Cat - June 29, 2009
What will be your customer's memory of you?
“It [the Cheshire Cat] vanished quite slowly, beginning with the end of the tail, and ending with the grin, which remained some time after the rest of it had gone.” – Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1865)I never ask the graduates of Wizard Academy, "What could...
Read Listen Download
Why I Have No Goals - June 22, 2009
Maybe it’s because I was a young adult in the Dress-for-Success, go-go 80’s and retain vivid memories of those hollow days. Maybe it’s because Pennie and I had close friends who stepped on the landmines of “Get Rich in Real Estate With No Money Down,”...
Read Listen Download
Portals, Reveals, and Partial Reveals - June 15, 2009
How to Get Customers to Give You Their Time.
Portals create intrigue in paintings, photographs, literature and movies. Architects use them to lengthen the time we spend in landmark stores and theme parks. Portals say, “Come on in. Stay awhile.”Dr. Nick Grant, a close friend, was examining a group of photographs in my Accidental...
Read Listen Download
The 12 Languages of the Mind - June 8, 2009
I write today with some hesitation, the same hesitation I felt 2 weeks ago when I wrote about the romance of shadows and the piercing of horizontal planes. You may recall that I asked, “Was this stuff interesting for you or did it go over...
Read Listen Download
How Will You Measure Success? - June 1, 2009
The keeper of my calendar told me a few weeks ago that David Rehr had called to schedule a day with me in Austin.  I scratched my head and wondered why.David served as a congessonal aide on Capitol Hill when he was young, then he...
Read Listen Download
How to Make Your Store Interesting - May 25, 2009
Romance of Shadows, Curiosity of Vertical Planes
    Illumination and Proximity are 2 of the 12 languages of the mind. Your feelings about an item are affected by the way it’s illuminated. Feelings of romance, intimacy, prestige and adventure are triggered by the hot spots and shadows of a campfire, a fireplace...
Read Listen Download
Dream the Impossible Dream - May 18, 2009
The Tinkerbell Effect describes things that exist only because people believe in them. Remember Tinkerbell, the fairy in Peter Pan who is revived from near death by the belief of the audience?[Tinkerbell has drunk the poison meant for Peter Pan.]PETER PAN: Her light is growing...
Read Listen Download
Quixote's Horse - May 11, 2009
A year before the birth of Barack Obama, John Steinbeck bought a pickup truck, named it “Rocinante” and went looking for America. His final book, Travels with Charley (1962,) is a journal of his thoughts and memories as he drove that pickup 10,000 miles across...
Read Listen Download
How to Make Big Things Happen Fast - May 4, 2009
As you know, I’ve been trying to get one of my favorite business authors to the Academy to host a 2-day event. Today I’m pleased to announce that July 28-29 you can meet and be mentored by the great Jon Spoelstra.Jon is going to teach...
Read Listen Download
Style Tips for Ad Writers - April 27, 2009
Your unconscious writing style is how you write when you’re simply being yourself. You also have a formal style and you might even have a whimsical style. But three styles is usually as good as it gets. Language, however, is extraordinarily plastic. You can make...
Read Listen Download
How to Describe - April 20, 2009
Minor key life is the mournful echo of a hollowed-out gourd, bleached in the sun, hard and empty. Life should be lived in a major key, drenched in the colors of nature, quivering with energy, throbbing with purpose.Last week I showed you how to extract...
Read Listen Download
How to Choose Colors - April 13, 2009
We learned last week that numbers are a language. Things communicated in numbers can be spoken in no other language. And because numbers are language, numbers can lie.Color, too, is a language.We use the language of color to reinforce – and contradict – statements made...
Read Listen Download
Bad Math and You - April 6, 2009
Activity Based Accounting, Part Two
The key to Activity-Based Accounting is never to separate the numbers from the activities of the people represented by the numbers. When numbers in a business lose their connection to people and their actions, the numbers are no longer trustworthy.Never forget these 3 things:1. Not...
Read Listen Download
Activity Based Accounting - March 30, 2009
How Wal Mart Killed K Mart and Best Buy Beat Circuit City
I spoke to a small auditorium full of business school grad students at the University of Texas last month. They were fascinated by my case study of Transactional vs. Relational customers. I saw their eyes widen and their heads move up and down slowly as...
Read Listen Download
Never, Never, Never - March 23, 2009
1. Never promise everything you plan to deliver.Leave something to become the delight factor. That unexpected, extra bit you deliver “because we love you” will go a long way toward helping the customer forgive and forget any areas where you may have fallen short. Great...
Read Listen Download
Fear Is Contagious - March 16, 2009
I am reminded of what Michel Eyquem De Montaigne said with tongue in cheek during the French Renaissance 450 years ago, “My life has been filled with terrible misfortune; most of which never happened.” As expected, we received a firestorm of email 2 weeks ago...
Read Listen Download
Curiosity Rocks - March 9, 2009
8,000 years before Stonehenge and the Pyramids
 The rocks of Gobekli Tepe (pronounced Go-beckly Tepp-ay) are a curiosity, and curiosity rocks.Travel with me to that ancient land between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in southeastern Turkey.A shepherd wandering on the hillside where grows a solitary Mulberry tree, spies the top of an...
Read Listen Download
Wobble - March 2, 2009
The Beagle Sings with Buble
My staff can hardly get any work done. It seems the whole world is calling to ask what I think will happen with our economy.The President of the United States made a primetime speech last week.  The press is an interesting animal. The Chicago Tribune...
Read Listen Download
The New Magic - February 23, 2009
of the Wizard of Ads
Ten years ago I taught you how to create relational ads that target the right hemisphere of the customer’s brain. Advertisers who learned this technique made a lot of money.Five years ago I taught you that 2008 would be the final year in a series...
Read Listen Download
Let Me Tell You a Story... - February 16, 2009
Magic Words to Penetrate the Filter,
Erase Suspicion and Lower the Guard
 It was exactly 10 years ago. I was on the telephone with an 87 year-old man I had been hunting for several weeks. I needed this man’s permission to publish a private letter he had written to America’s Chief of Naval Operations back in 1963....
Read Listen Download
What Is America? - February 9, 2009
America, I think, is not a place. If another people lived here, the geography would be the same but it would not be our nation.America, I think, is not a government. Our pendulum swings from one extreme to the other and our politics are not...
Read Listen Download
Substance Over Style - February 2, 2009
How to Advertise in a Recession
"If you say that there are elephants flying in the sky, people are not going to believe you. But if you say that there are four hundred and twenty-five elephants flying in the sky, people will probably believe you." - Gabriel Garcia Marquez,winner of the...
Read Listen Download
A Preview of Coming Attractions - January 26, 2009
As We Look at the Business Climate of 2009:
A new generation of entrepreneurs is emerging from the shadows. None of these is well funded but they are focused, relevant, and in step with the public. Some of them will grow to become business icons by mid-2012. (Three and a half years from now...
Read Listen Download
Please Don't Throw Me in the Briar Patch! - January 19, 2009
Change is inevitable. Growth is optional. *
We’re living in a time of tumultuous change. A misinformed president declares a war. The value of homes – which were never supposed to fall – fell. The SEC can’t make Wall Street color between the lines and 700 billion dollars goes missing. A 50...
Read Listen Download
Breakthrough Answer 13 - January 12, 2009
Turn It Upside Down. Do It Backwards.
TRIZ is the Russian acronym for a string of words that mean “Theory of Inventive Problem Solving,” an innovation matrix of the late Genrich Altshuller, a Soviet scientist who proved:1. there are only about 1,500 basic problems in life and 2. implementing one or more...
Read Listen Download
The Secret of Success - January 5, 2009
Tiny, Reliable Indicators are Clockwork Angels
A successful consultant uses small indicators to make big decisions. If he explains his methods to data-worshippers, he sounds like an idiot. When it later turns out that he was right, the doubters claim he was lucky, saying, “You can’t possibly extrapolate that outcome from...
Read Listen Download
The Secret of Happiness - December 29, 2008
Albert Schweitzer. In background, clockwise from lower left: Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Ann Radcliffe, Horace Mann, J.M. Barrie, Marian Wright Edelman, Anne FrankAlbert Schweitzer was a musician and physician who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1952. This is the message he left for us when...
Read Listen Download
Storm Fear - December 22, 2008
First it gets dark, then the air slaps you from every direction and the ocean falls from the sky. Laws of gravity have been repealed. Your thoughts reach up like flowers for sunlight but the sun cannot be found. I am darkness. I am the...
Read Listen Download
Introverts and Extraverts - December 15, 2008
Run the following ad in any newspaper:2006 Honda Civic DX 4dr, White, 63,000 miles, $8,100. Call 555-1212These are the questions you’ll be asked by nearly half your callers:“What year is that Honda Civic? Is it a 2-door or 4-door? What color? How many miles on...
Read Listen Download
What to Expect in 2009 - December 8, 2008
Ready to Play Leapfrog?
The coming year will be fun, adventure-filled and profitable for people who have their wits about them. A number of small business owners are positioning themselves to overtake their much larger rivals. Will one of these companies be yours?Not many years ago, General Motors and...
Read Listen Download
Gather Up the Fragments - December 1, 2008
Chapter six in John’s story about the life of Jesus tells us how he fed 5,000 people with 5 loaves and 2 small fishes. I have no problem reconciling God and science, so the miracle bit doesn’t stumble me in the least. The thing that...
Read Listen Download
Becoming Credible - November 17, 2008
Tom Wanek believes credibility can be “purchased” by risking one or more of six currencies. The more you put at risk, the more believable your message.Currencies that Buy Credibility:1. Material WealthOf the six currencies, we see material wealth risked most frequently in money-back guarantees and...
Read Listen Download
The New Language of Effective Ads - November 10, 2008
Most women can tell at least one funny story about a tragic first date. In most of these stories, a misguided man spends the entire evening saying,“Here's an example of how wonderful I am...”“Let me tell you what I can do...”“...and that's what makes me...
Read Listen Download
The Seven Chairs - November 3, 2008
The fifth one ended up in France.
  Peter Wenders chooses stories and illustrations for children’s books. It’s 1954, and today is a day like any other; Wenders sits innocently in his office, believing that people are who they claim to be. And he assumes they’ll do what they say they’ll do.But...
Read Listen Download
Tomorrow's America - October 27, 2008
Humility and Simplicity are the New Frontier
Americans have always treasured independence and achievement. We’ve seen ourselves as fighters who stood tall after every victory, chin up, chest out, shoulders back. And to the victor go the spoils, right? Big houses, big cars, lavish vacations; these were the American dream.But we recently...
Read Listen Download
Thinking Outside the Box - October 20, 2008
Part Two: If You've Got the Nerve.
“The brain has three natural roadblocks that stand in the way of truly innovative thinking:1.    flawed perception2.    fear of failure3.    the inability to persuade others.”– Dr. Gregory Berns, neuroscientist, psychiatrist, and Distinguished Chair of Neuroeconomics at Emory University.Need a fresh perspective? Want to alter your...
Read Listen Download
How to Think Outside the Box - October 13, 2008
On January 19, 1998, I wrote a Monday Morning Memo titled, Creativity is an Inert Gas. It was published as chapter 89 in The Wizard of Ads. These are a few of its paragraphs:      Moments of emotional recovery are the best times to think...
Read Listen Download
Husbands Who Cheat - October 6, 2008
No, We're Not Talking About Advertising Today
I recently had dinner with a young friend who has been married for about a year. When he said that he and his wife were hoping to have a child, I knew it was time for The Talk.  An older friend gave me The Talk...
Read Listen Download
$700 Billion. Greg Saw It Coming - September 29, 2008
And Tried To Warn Us Three Years Ago
Greg Farrell, bottom left, with Bill Aberman, Jeff Sexton, and the rest of the class known as The Midnight Revellers at Wizard Academy in June, 2004I met Greg Farrell in 1999 while on a book tour promoting Secret Formulas of the Wizard of Ads. We...
Read Listen Download
Some Things There Are That Last Forever - September 22, 2008
I recently asked a group of 14 men to share a snapshot from their photo albums of random memory, a vivid image, unfaded, a moment inexplicable, captured forever by a long-ago click of that camera in the brain.Here’s what they handed me on scraps of...
Read Listen Download
Sailing the Sea of Japan - September 15, 2008
Elizabeth was a young Quaker girl who fell happily in love and got married in 1929. “Morgan Vining, my husband, swept my little boat out of the shallows into the sunlit depths of life’s stream and we had almost five years together before, in a...
Read Listen Download
How to Write Ads - September 8, 2008
for Realtors, Used Cars and Free Puppies
Real estate is a business involving mountains of money. It’s also a business in crisis. Put these together and it means ka-ching if you know how to make the phone ring for realtors.You ought not be surprised that I know how to make phones ring. ...
Read Listen Download
The Extraordinary People Myth - September 1, 2008
A Monday Morning Memo of the Wizard of Ads
It’s like you’ve asked him to defend his religion; the business owner who believes in growing his businesses through exceptional service delivered by extraordinary people gets testy when you ask him to name a business that has successfully employed this strategy. It’s like trying to...
Read Listen Download
A Post American World? Really? - August 25, 2008
Our American men dropped the baton in the 4x100 meter relay. It was embarrassing. Unthinkable.A few minutes later our American women did precisely the same thing.The commentators were brutal, but accurate: “You have to look at the new leadership at USA Track and Field and...
Read Listen Download
Dealing with Rejection - August 18, 2008
Advertising salespeople are highly paid because rejection hurts. They told me to rub Zig Ziglar on it, but the sting and the ache stayed with me. I was 20 years old.The smiley seminar speaker said, “Look in the mirror each morning and repeat these affirmations.”Sorry,...
Read Listen Download
The Magic Table - August 11, 2008
A Monday Morning Memo for the Clients and Friends of Roy H. Williams
You walk into a room, empty but for a table carved from crystal. Girdling the table are 11 other persons whose occupations are similar to yours. You place ten thousand dollars on the table, your gift to the group. Each of the other 11 does...
Read Listen Download
Follow the Sound of Bulldozers - August 4, 2008
and the Smell of Fresh Paint
Commercially speaking, where are things happening in your town? Move to where the action is. Follow Best Buy, Home Depot, Starbucks and the other Big Boys who have already done the research. Nothing draws a crowd like a crowd. Media costs are escalating and the...
Read Listen Download
Art. Brand. Cultural Icon. - July 28, 2008
It's as easy as A.B.C.
You’re attracted to art 1. when it stands for something you believe in, 2. when it shows you a reflection of your own core values, or3. gives you a glimpse of your inner face.You're drawn to a brand for precisely the same reasons.A cultural icon...
Read Listen Download
Feeding Stray Puppies and Kittens - July 21, 2008
Mom’s off-white Formica table with wobbly metal legs had a charred circle on top where I once set a pan that was way too hot. Mom couldn’t afford a tablecloth to cover it, but whenever she suspected a person might have nowhere to go for...
Read Listen Download
Where Does America Spend Its Ad Dollars? - July 14, 2008
(Uh oh, am I about to light an email fire I can't put out?)
Traditional wisdom says, “Advertise in the newspaper. Everyone reads the newspaper. There are lots of radio stations but only one newspaper.”The problem with traditional wisdom is that it’s usually more tradition than wisdom. Take a look at the chart at the top of this page...
Read Listen Download
Richie's Red Bus - July 7, 2008
The Monday Morning Memo for July 7, 2008
I’ve known Richie Starkey since I was five. He turns 68 today. Richie said the only thing he wanted for his birthday was for you to pause today at noon, wherever you are in the world, make a peace sign with your fingers and say...
Read Listen Download
Radio/Newspaper Smackdown - July 6, 2008
Story begins below image.
(Image size reduced to fit this page)
If I told you our experiment was constructed specifically to test radio versus newspaper, I’d be lying.  Like most discoveries, we stumbled on this one by accident. Here’s how it happened: Lifestyle Centers of America is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to lead you...
Read Listen Download
Superficial Reality - June 30, 2008
Beauty is impossibly thin.
The thinnest human hair is half a million angstroms thick. Typing paper is a million angstroms. Yet the layer of quicksilver that turns plate glass into a mirror is only 700 angstroms thick. It would take 714 such layers to equal the thickness of a...
Read Listen Download
Make Your Mission Statement Ring - June 23, 2008
“The fundamental shortcoming of most mission statements is that everyone expects them to be highfalutin and all-encompassing. The result is a long, boring, commonplace and pointless joke. Companies are all writing the same mediocre stuff.” - Guy Kawasaki Most organizations try to define themselves by...
Read Listen Download
Shorter is Better - June 16, 2008
The Wizard's Laws of the Universe, Lesson One
My friend Kary Mullis once said, “Claims made by scientists… can be separated from the scientists who make them. It isn’t important to know who Isaac Newton was. He discovered that force is equal to mass times acceleration. He was an antisocial, crazy bastard who...
Read Listen Download
A Comparison of 9 Major Media - June 9, 2008
The Medium is Not the MessageMarshall McLuhan’s famous line, “The medium is the message,” is at best a Japanese koan (ko-ahn.) You know, “What is the sound of one hand clapping,” and all that? I’m sure I’ll get a thousand ranting emails about this, but...
Read Listen Download
Back When We Killed for Tennis Shoes - June 2, 2008
Back When We Killed for Tennis ShoesMAY 14, 1990 – The cover of Sports Illustrated showed a pistol being shoved into the back of a high school kid. Those were the days when an alarming trend swept this land of purple mountains, majesties, above the...
Read Listen Download
Visuospatial Sketchpad - May 26, 2008
(the movie screen in your mind)
Visuospatial Sketchpad(the movie screen in your mind)Time travel is fun. Want to learn to do it? Follow me.The year is 1608. England buzzes with William Shakespeare. Hamlet, Macbeth, and King Lear are performed to rave reviews while 44 year-old William grieves the death of his...
Read Listen Download
Sholem Aleichem - May 19, 2008
(SHO lem a LAY kem)
Sholem Aleichem(SHO lem a LAY kem)When Samuel Langhorne Clemens began to write, he adopted the pen name Mark Twain, a common shout among riverboat pilots on the Mississippi river.When Sholem Rabinovich began to write, he adopted the pen name Sholem Aleichem, a common Yiddish greeting...
Read Listen Download
Horizontal Thinking - May 12, 2008
Horizontal ThinkingAmerican education teaches a subject vertically, narrow and deep. And the deeper one plunges into the subject, the narrower it gets. Specialization.1a. Liberal Arts1b. Literature1c. Spanish Literature1d. Spanish Literature of 1492-16811e. Miguel de Cervantes (1547-1616)1f. Don Quixote de La Mancha by Cervantes (1605)1g. Symbolism...
Read Listen Download
Customer Profiles - May 5, 2008
Customer ProfilesI’ve never seen a business fail due to reaching the wrong people. But if you listen to advertising sales reps, “reaching the right people” will solve all your problems.And guess who has exactly the right people for you?The conversation usually goes something like this:...
Read Listen Download
How to Make Business Good
When Times are Bad - April 28, 2008
Archetypal Patterns, Part 3
How to Make Business GoodWhen Times are BadArchetypal Patterns, Part 3Here's the Pattern: When times are tough and customers are scarce, business owners buckle down and try to become even better at the things they do well. They do this because they trust the Guide...
Read Listen Download
Archetypal Patterns - April 14, 2008
Part One. Reconciling the Challenge pattern to the Guide pattern
Archetypal PatternsPart One. Reconciling the Challenge pattern to the Guide patternHalf your brain sees a hierarchy. Deductive reasoning is a product of this. Vertical. Sequential. Objective. Scientific. Hard facts. Details."Be for what is."The other half sees connectedness. Intuition is a direct result. Horizontal. Chaotic. Subjective....
Read Listen Download
The Future of Radio - April 7, 2008
The Future of RadioTen years ago, Eric Rhoads asked me to appear on the cover of Radio Ink in a suit of armor. Since Eric is one of my closest friends and a major supporter of Wizard Academy, I agreed to do it for him....
Read Listen Download
Ancient Greeks and Turning Fifty - March 31, 2008
Ancient Greeks and Turning FiftySocrates was right, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” Most of us have moments when we ask, “Am I happy? Is this what I want to do? Am I making a difference? Would I be missed if I were gone?”Introspection...
Read Listen Download
Contemplation - March 24, 2008
ContemplationTwenty-five years ago, my friend Richard Exley read me some words I've never forgotten.Here they are:If I had my life to live over, I’d try to make more mistakes next time. I would relax. I would limber up. I would be sillier than I have...
Read Listen Download
Teddy Roosevelt's Daughter - March 17, 2008
Teddy Roosevelt's Daughter“What will he write of us, Cissy, this young man who has taken it upon himself to tell our stories?”“I’m not a mind reader, Alice.”“He never met us. He didn’t know us. He has seen us only through the lens of books he...
Read Listen Download
Buried Treasure - March 10, 2008
Buried Treasure2008 is shaping up to be an unhappy year for most product and service categories.  If your year-to-date numbers are trending ahead of 2007, I salute you. Today’s Monday Morning Memo is for the remaining 96 percent of American business owners. Here’s what I...
Read Listen Download
Where is Your Blind Spot? - March 3, 2008
Answer: If you knew, it wouldn't be a blind spot.
Where is Your Blind Spot?Answer: If you knew, it wouldn't be a blind spot.Accelerate the performance of your business in 2008. Find your blind spot and fix it. There are 7 common blind spots with 4 common causes. The most common blind spots have to...
Read Listen Download
2008: Year of the Beagle - February 25, 2008
Courage... Curiosity... Intuition.
2008: Year of the BeagleCourage... Curiosity... Intuition.In the biggest news since Tiger Woods won the U.S. Open a beagle has taken top honors at Westminster for the first time in history. Arooo! Aroo-Aroooooo! In the happy little village where I spend a lot of time,...
Read Listen Download
7 Step Secret of Success - February 18, 2008
How to Get Where You Want to Go
7 Step Secret of SuccessHow to Get Where You Want to Go1. See your destination in your mind. “When you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.”– White Rabbit2. Start walking. “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single...
Read Listen Download
Once Upon a Time - February 11, 2008
Once Upon a TimeI was freshly married to Pennie and barely old enough to see over the dash of a car but I wanted to show her the magical places of my childhood, so we saved up enough money for 3 tanks of gas and...
Read Listen Download
Clarity is the New Creativity - February 4, 2008
Clarity is the New CreativityIn the language of academics: The central executive of working memory is the new battleground for marketers. Writers are successfully surprising Broca, thereby gaining the momentary attention of the public, but an absence of salience remains.In the language of newscasters:Are your...
Read Listen Download
Hello and Goodbye
from John and Jane Doe - January 28, 2008
Hello and Goodbyefrom John and Jane DoeJanuary 28, 2008John and Jane Doe4321 Happily Thereafter Ave.Everytown, USATo the Companies Who Want Our Money,Yesterday’s selling techniques aren’t working so good. Have you noticed?We’re betting that your traffic has been trending downward for the past few months. Are...
Read Listen Download
2008: Year of Transition - January 21, 2008
2008: Year of TransitionIn January of 2004 I launched a public presentation: Society’s 40-year Pendulum. Audiences from Stockholm to Sydney to Vancouver to Myrtle Beach will recall my statement, “2003 was the first year in a 6-year transition from the Idealist perspective to the Civic.”2008...
Read Listen Download
The Glass Ceiling - January 14, 2008
The Glass CeilingEvery business that tries to rise to its full height will bump its head on a glass ceiling they didn’t realize was there. That glass ceiling is created by the business owner’s core beliefs about the customer. Traditionally, 5 out of 10 customers...
Read Listen Download
2008 Business Forecast - January 7, 2008
from high atop Wizard's Tower
2008 Business Forecastfrom high atop Wizard's TowerAmerica split into 3 camps last year.Those camps came sharply into focus at Christmas.1.    The Hunker-Down crowd cut back their purchases, uneasy about dwindling dollars and rising debt. Traffic in non-discount retail stores was sluggish as a result.2.    The...
Read Listen Download
Gravity of the Edge - December 31, 2007
Gravity of the EdgeWhether it exists in the public consciousness or only in my mind, I can't be sure, but there’s an anxiousness about 2008 that gives me pause. We seem to be pushing our way to the edge.Presidency, economy, war. What will happen?I take...
Read Listen Download
Actions Speak Louder Than - December 24, 2007
Actions Speak Louder Than I’m a big believer in the power of words. But when words aren’t backed by corresponding actions, talk is cheap.Have you ever felt a disconnection between what a company promised you in their ads and what they actually delivered?I carry a...
Read Listen Download
Time and Chance. - December 17, 2007
Time and Chance.Concorde was a child of the 60s. Flying 11 miles above the earth at twice the speed of sound, this jet was literally faster than a rifle bullet. London to New York in 2 hours and 53 minutes.The Concorde isn’t flown anymore.During a...
Read Listen Download
Danger Signals: - December 10, 2007
Sounds of Circling the Drain
Danger Signals:Sounds of Circling the DrainThese are the noises companies makeas they’re going down the tubes:1. “Our only problem is traffic.”Slow traffic is a symptom, not a disease. Look for its cause. WHY is traffic slow? Is it because the public doesn’t know about you,...
Read Listen Download
Thrive in a Recession. How to. - December 3, 2007
Thrive in a Recession. How to.Some people say a recession is coming. Others say it’s already here. Experts say the best way to start a recession is to predict one’s on the way. So hey, I’m not predicting a recession, okay? REMEMBER! If a recession...
Read Listen Download
Wrong Turn Taken on the Straight and Narrow - November 26, 2007
by Roy H. Williams
Wrong Turn Taken on the Straight and Narrowby Roy H. WilliamsIn the Land of the Way Things Ought to BeI’m handsome and wealthy and strong and free.But in the Land of the Way Things Really AreI’m struggling and awkward, a bit bizarre.I threw a party,...
Read Listen Download
American Indian Eloquence - November 19, 2007
reprinted from Magical Worlds of the Wizard of Ads (2001)
American Indian Eloquencereprinted from Magical Worlds of the Wizard of Ads (2001)     America’s Thanksgiving holiday originated when the Pilgrims gave thanks to God for sending them an Indian friend named Squanto. This much you already knew. What you didn’t know is that long before the...
Read Listen Download
A Tour of Tigers - November 12, 2007
A Tour of Tigers TIGER ONE: Are you trying to Grow a business, Build a career, Overcome an obstacle?"Those who expect moments of change to be comfortable and free of conflict have not learned their history." – Joan Wallach ScottFerocity is a wondrous tool.STOP. Read...
Read Listen Download
Ronald, Bill and You - November 5, 2007
Ronald, Bill and YouI thought Bill Clinton was a good president for the same reason I thought Ronald Reagan was good; both were excellent head cheerleaders. Their politics, personalities and characters were different, but each had a similar ability to keep things from spinning out...
Read Listen Download
Tomorrow Has Come. - October 29, 2007
Tomorrow Has Come.When The Cluetrain Manifesto was published in 1999, it smacked of silly futurism, like Maxwell Smart’s shoe-phone and Dick Tracey’s TV-wristwatch.Both of which are now possible.Likewise, the societal shift predicted by The Cluetrain is already happening. Can you feel it?Here’s a look at...
Read Listen Download
Is Yours a Brand or a Bland? - October 22, 2007
Is Yours a Brand or a Bland?Procedural Memory is the key to your brand being automatically remembered.Accomplish this through Relevance x Repetition.Symbolic Thought is how to make a brand meaningful.Access this by linking the unknown to the known.Particle Conflict is the way to make a...
Read Listen Download
Choosing Your Magic Words - October 15, 2007
Choosing Your Magic Words“I’m a surfer,” she said as she extended her hand. It almost broke my heart. Her husband had moved her into a tiny fixer-upper on the tear-stained cheek of an Oklahoma town. With a young child dangling from each of her arms...
Read Listen Download
Do You Lean Toward Niche Marketing? - October 8, 2007
Do You Lean Toward Niche Marketing?Think too deeply about customer profiling and you’ll soon fall into niche marketing. And the problem with niches is they’re not created equal. Have you chosen a niche too small?Reis and Trout inadvertently popularized niches in their extraordinary 1981 book,...
Read Listen Download
Can You Make It Talk? - October 1, 2007
People are more interesting than non people.
Can You Make It Talk?People are more interesting than non people.Mingle a bit of wood, paint and cloth, then drench the pile in sparkling imagination and a new person leaps onto the stage.Few techniques in communication are as powerful – or as often overlooked –...
Read Listen Download
Seeing Yourself Real - September 24, 2007
Paper Roses Have No Fragrance
Seeing Yourself RealPaper Roses Have No FragranceMost of us are out of balance and suffering for it. We’re either too pragmatic or too romantic. The pragmatist never stops to smell the roses. “What’s the use? Just get the job done, move onward and upward. Winners...
Read Listen Download
An Extremely Very Good Book - September 17, 2007
An Extremely Very Good BookAt first glance it would appear that Vince Poscente and I stand for exactly opposite things. Vince is all about speed. His mantra seems to be, “You don’t have to choose; you can have it all. And you don’t have to...
Read Listen Download
The Monster Under My Bed - September 10, 2007
The Monster Under My BedI learned last week why I’m no good at making small talk. The realization blew my mind.Pennie and I were sitting in the sun room looking at our computers when she asked, “Did you get the email from Janet?”“Yes.”“Should I answer...
Read Listen Download
Making the Big Money - September 3, 2007
Making the Big MoneyA check arrives in my office and a one-day meeting is scheduled. The business owner arrives on the appointed day. This is going to be tough. It always is.To earn my money, I must take the client through 5 steps that are...
Read Listen Download
But Isn't Jewelry a Visual Product? - August 27, 2007
But Isn't Jewelry a Visual Product? I’m sitting in the grand ballroom of the Mandarin Oriental hotel in New York, surrounded by hundreds of people in tuxedoes and evening gowns. So this is a five star hotel, huh? Seven hundred dollars a night. Wow.The tuxes...
Read Listen Download
A Conversation Between Friends - August 20, 2007
Are You Willing to Look Inside Yourself, Friend?
A Conversation Between FriendsAre You Willing to Look Inside Yourself, Friend?Do you ever ask yourself hard-to-answer questions like, “What am I trying to make happen?” “How will I measure success?” “What is holding me back?”Rarely do we question our own objectives.Even more rarely do we...
Read Listen Download
Ready. Angle. Frame. - August 13, 2007
Ready. Angle. Frame.Advertising begins only after you win the attention of your target, a difficult thing to do in this overcommunicated world. May I suggest you do it like the Great Ones?When you’re ready to tell your story, choose an angle of approach. Then frame...
Read Listen Download
Do Good Ideas Always Work? - August 6, 2007
Do Good Ideas Always Work?The mind is full of clever ideas. But few of them will actually work.My friend John Young says, “A smart man makes a mistake, learns from it, and never makes that mistake again. A wise man finds a smart man and...
Read Listen Download
What Courage Can Do With Six Dollars - July 30, 2007
What Courage Can Do With Six DollarsBrad Lawrence has been a client of my firm for 12 years. During that time, he’s grown his business beyond all expectations.Mostly because he’s got guts.Recently, Brad was looking at a sort of charm bracelet for his jewelry store....
Read Listen Download
non sequitur - July 23, 2007
non sequiturWhen I was in high school, it was considered a big deal if you could control a steel ball under a piece of glass with a couple of buttons that flipped little flippers. The steel ball would bounce from side to side and bells...
Read Listen Download
Why Most Ads Don't Work - July 16, 2007
Why Most Ads Don't WorkI’ve said many times, “Most ads aren’t written to persuade, they’re written not to offend.”This goes back to chapter one, “Nine Secret Words” in my first book, The Wizard of Ads. Do you remember the nine secret words? “The Risk of...
Read Listen Download
M=12 12 - July 9, 2007
M=12 12I wish I could remember who gave me the book by Howard Rheingold: They Have a Word for It: A Lighthearted Lexicon of Untranslatable Words and Phrases. (Sigh.) If you ever give me a book, please write me a note in the front of...
Read Listen Download
Wisdom of Women - July 2, 2007
Wisdom of WomenI had the great good fortune to be raised by a single mother who was in extremely difficult circumstances: she had no education, no money, and received no monthly child support checks. And these were the June Cleaver/Leave It To Beaver years when...
Read Listen Download
Accelerated Branding - June 25, 2007
Accelerated BrandingWhy do some brands connect when others don’t?Where should you begin when building a brand from scratch?How does an old brand become new again? It's just like in the movies.Have you ever bonded with a character in a television series or a movie? That...
Read Listen Download
How to Make Your Ads Sparkle - June 18, 2007
How to Make Your Ads SparkleNinety-nine percent of all ads fail to sparkle for the same reason that most diamonds are dull: They’re overweight. A perfectly edited ad will shoot points of light across the darkness like a perfectly cut diamond. But rare is the...
Read Listen Download
How to Succeed as a Consultant - June 11, 2007
How to Succeed as a ConsultantStep 1: Become extremely good at something. Anything.“Do you see a man skilled in his work? He will stand before kings; He will not stand before obscure men.” – from the book of Proverbs, chapter 22Step 2: Push beyond the...
Read Listen Download
How Art Touches the Heart - June 4, 2007
How Art Touches the HeartHow is it that you and I interpret art the same way? We agree that the musical score to Star Wars feels adventurous and triumphant. But what within the music tells us so?And there’s something about slow music in a minor...
Read Listen Download
Are Your Ads Getting Enough Complaints? - May 28, 2007
Part Three in a Three Part Series
Are Your Ads Getting Enough Complaints?Part Three in a Three Part SeriesWhen an ad campaign is producing big results, there will usually be complaints from the public.When an ad campaign is getting poor results, the public rarely complains. What makes people hate an ad?1.    It’s...
Read Listen Download
10 Ways Retail is Changing - May 21, 2007
Part Two in a Three Part Series
10 Ways Retail is ChangingPart Two in a Three Part Series1. Hidden Profit Centers are the new MarkupLow-cost providers such as Sam’s Club and Best Buy are selling “in-store exchange” policies at the cash register to supplement the manufacturer’s warranties they don’t honor. In other...
Read Listen Download
How Retail is Changing - May 14, 2007
Part One in a Three Part Series
How Retail is ChangingPart One in a Three Part SeriesThe old assumption in advertising was that the customer didn't know, and wouldn't know unless you told them.This is no longer a valid assumption. Today's customer enjoys access to information far beyond what any of us...
Read Listen Download
The Media Is Not the Message - May 7, 2007
The Media Is Not the Message"I'm in the furniture business. Which media should I use?""I'd like to target people who are afraid of the dentist. Can you recommend a good mailing list company?""My uncle uses television ads to attract new customers and they work really...
Read Listen Download
What's Holding Your Business Back? - April 30, 2007
What's Holding Your Business Back?If I were to ask you what's limiting your growth, you'd likely tell me, "Traffic. If we had more traffic, we'd make more sales. What we need is more traffic."But traffic is rarely the problem. It's simply the byproduct of a...
Read Listen Download
The Women In Our Lives - April 23, 2007
The Women In Our LivesI owe my optimism to my mother, a single parent whose ironclad confidence kept my sister and I from ever suspecting how poor we really were. We felt like Mom could do anything. She made us feel like everything was going...
Read Listen Download
What Makes Jack a Dull Boy? - April 16, 2007
What Makes Jack a Dull Boy?Filippo Beccari is an Italian dance teacher a long way from home. Hoping to enrich the lives of 62 orphans, he visits the orphans daily and encourages them to move to the music as he hums or plays. The year...
Read Listen Download
Drifting, Surfing, Drowning and Sailing - April 9, 2007
In Puddles, Swamps, Wells and Oceans
Drifting, Surfing, Drowning and Sailing In Puddles, Swamps, Wells and Oceans About 10 months ago Mike Metzger flew from Clapham Institute in Annapolis to spend a day with us in Austin."You meet 4 kinds of people on the ocean of life," Mike said."Those who drift...
Read Listen Download
When Knowledge Isn't Enough - April 2, 2007
When Knowledge Isn't EnoughLooking to make a change? Remember: transformation happens experientially, not intellectually.We often receive instruction and agree, "I see what you're saying," but seldom do we actually do the thing we learned. We just agree with it in our minds.This is a problem.Daniel...
Read Listen Download
Money and Art - March 26, 2007
A Wizard Academy Field Trip
Money and ArtA Wizard Academy Field TripShe judged us one-by-one as we entered the building. Chin held high, she looked down the ridgeline of her nose like she was sighting along the barrel of a gun. A quiet sniff let us know she did not...
Read Listen Download
Do Your Words Make Music? - March 19, 2007
Let's Look at Magnetic Meter
Do Your Words Make Music?Let's Look at Magnetic MeterModern schools teach Journalism and Creative Writing.Study Journalism and you'll write ads that are informative. Study Creative Writing and you'll write ads that entertain. But neither is likely to persuade.Only one school of writing always1. introduces a...
Read Listen Download
The Faded Color of Empty Words - March 5, 2007
The Faded Color of Empty WordsAdvertising isn't working like it did a few years ago. You've noticed this, right?Most advertisers are convinced that technology is to blame.TV advertisers will tell you that TiVo and her sister Digital Video Recorders are blocking their television ads. But...
Read Listen Download
10 Unusual Ways to Advertise - February 26, 2007
10 Unusual Ways to AdvertiseAre you a one-person company with a lunch-money ad budget?Good News: Time and money are interchangeable. You can always save one by spending more of the other.When money is tight, spend time.(If you don't have any money AND you don't have...
Read Listen Download
Will You Embarrass Yourself? - February 19, 2007
Will You Embarrass Yourself?Are you anxious to look foolish in front of others?Will you happily submit yourself to ridicule?Are you willing to do a thing badly until you've learned to do it well?Probably not, unless you're the one in five hundred who has what it...
Read Listen Download
Be For What Is - February 12, 2007
Be For What IsMy friend and fellow Worthless Bastard Brett Feinstein occasionally quotes his business partner, Jamie, as saying, "Be for what is." I think I understand what Jamie is saying.There are basically two ways of seeing:1. the way things ought to be.2. the way...
Read Listen Download
Language of Shadow and Silence - February 5, 2007
Language of Shadow and SilenceSilence is a language of context.White space is silence in print ads.Visual saturation is its opposite. Shadow is another language of context.Silence is seen and shadows are heard in the dim-light quiet of the printed word:We had come home.We had discussed...
Read Listen Download
Thought Particles On Broadway - January 29, 2007
Thought Particles On BroadwayYou're deeply unhappy with the way things are, but you're not quite sure what to change or who to blame. Depression is the name we give to unfocused anger.Grief is the name we give to Anger + Sorrow.Cruelty is the name given...
Read Listen Download
Peter Pan and Superman - January 22, 2007
Peter Pan and SupermanGlance at the headline above and you think, "Imaginary characters."Add angels to that list and the category will blur to "Characters who do good" if you're a believer in angels, but will remain unchanged if you consider them to be imaginary.Change it...
Read Listen Download
Symbolic Thought: the Secret to Selling - January 15, 2007
Symbolic Thought: the Secret to SellingAs we learned in last week's memo, a person can't imagine a personal future without assembling it from stored memories of their past.This means your customer will better understand the new and different when you relate it to the old...
Read Listen Download
How to Create a Different Future - January 8, 2007
How to Create a Different FutureWe do not remember days. We remember moments.The secret to creating a different future is to remember a different past.Literally.What do you remember about your past? Do you remember the pain? The frustration? The injustice?Unless you want to live these...
Read Listen Download
Method or Madness? - January 1, 2007
Method or Madness?Sorting my email, I came upon a survey sent to me by an acquaintance:I'm about to change the name of my company from The Success Clinic to something else, and I need your help to find the best name. Which of these do...
Read Listen Download
A Memory of Life - December 25, 2006
A Memory of LifeI still don't know his last name.Gille arrived from Michigan in a small jar with his photograph on the lid. His friend had sent an email to Chapel Dulcinea asking if we'd be willing to launch some of Gille's ashes into the...
Read Listen Download
I Am Sleep - December 18, 2006
I Am SleepWhen Too Bigwedges into a head too small,When Too Hardcrowds into a life too soft,When Too Muchhas happened to make sense of it all,I am Sleep.Let me do my work.– Roy H. WilliamsHave you ever been confronted with an idea Too Big, a...
Read Listen Download
Souls of Cities - December 11, 2006
Souls of CitiesI've created ads for local businesses from coast to coast for nearly a quarter century and I've studied the population of every place for which I've written ads; more than 100 towns in all. And I've presented seminars in an additional 92. That's...
Read Listen Download
Why We Buy - December 4, 2006
Why We BuyHappiness rarely triggers commerce. Unhappiness often does.Purchases are triggered by dissatisfaction with the way things are. We purchase when we have a need, a desire, an itch to scratch. We want to change our condition, our surroundings, our state of mind. We buy...
Read Listen Download
Revealing the Vivid Unexpected - November 27, 2006
Part One: The Secret of Saying Too Little
Revealing the Vivid UnexpectedPart One: The Secret of Saying Too LittleSuffice it to say that last week's memo had precisely the effect I had anticipated. We'll speak no more about it.I will not dissect my own writing like a formaldehyde frog in the dim light...
Read Listen Download
Live Your Crowded Hour - November 20, 2006
  Standing at your bedside, I don't know if you're dead or only sleeping.Soon our friends will lay pennies on your eyes to pay Charon for your passage. A silly ritual, our friends will do it anyway. But you were dead long before you died.Something...
Read Listen Download
Your Customer and You - November 13, 2006
Your Customer and YouYour prospective customer has questions about you. Where's the first place they're likely to look for answers?Sadly, your wonderful "Big enough to serve you, small enough to know you" public image probably isn't going to be enough to walk that customer out...
Read Listen Download
Because It Needed to Exist - November 6, 2006
Because It Needed to Exist"Savannah's squares may be public, but they feel private. Their massive, gnarled oaks – dripping with Spanish moss – create an insular mood, not to mention a deep shade… So lazy and calming are these ancient parcels that they act as...
Read Listen Download
Irrational Commitment - October 30, 2006
or, Why Did Wizard Academy Build a Free Wedding Chapel?
Irrational Commitment or, Why Did Wizard Academy Build a Free Wedding Chapel? Irrational commitment is a powerful thing. It is the stuff of heroes. Legends live because of it.And like anything powerful, it can be turned toward darkness.But let us look toward the light.Francis Bacon...
Read Listen Download
What's with the Name Wizard Academy? - October 23, 2006
Are You Guys a Cult, or What?
What's with the Name Wizard Academy?Are You Guys a Cult, or What?Sigh... We get asked that question a lot.No, we don't have anything to do with witches, warlocks, séances, Harry Potter or Halloween. We're simply a school of the communication arts.Our mission is to improve...
Read Listen Download
The Power of PR - October 16, 2006
The Power of PRAdvertising is what you buy from the sales department of the media. Public Relations (PR) is what you get from the news department for free.How many ads do you suppose a good news story is worth?Q: Which of the following statements is...
Read Listen Download
Refer to an Unseen Action - October 9, 2006
A Master's Method for Subtly Surprising Broca
Refer to an Unseen ActionA Master's Method for Subtly Surprising BrocaToward the end of last week's Monday Morning Memo I promised, "Next week I'll teach you how to increase the magnetism of a message by referring to unseen action." Mischievously, I preceded that statement with...
Read Listen Download
The New Targeting - October 2, 2006
The New TargetingPersona-based writing is the new Targeting. According to what we've seen so far, ads that employ persona-based writing are outperforming yesterday's demo-targeted ads by an average of 81 percent.Website copy, direct mail letters, radio scripts and magazine ads that use persona-based language are...
Read Listen Download
Six Things Explained - September 25, 2006
Six Things ExplainedEvery Nazi believed every other Nazi had character and integrity. Likewise, the Ku Klux Kooks and the Taliban believe themselves to be the high defenders of all that is holy and true.Your judgment of the "character and integrity" of others is rooted in...
Read Listen Download
Heroes, Friends and Personal Pride - September 18, 2006
Heroes, Friends and Personal PrideWill you tell me the truth about yourself if I let you do it from behind a mask?I'm collecting impressions today and I'm willing to share my collected data with you. My hope is that we'll both will get a glimpse...
Read Listen Download
Business Life Cycles - September 11, 2006
Are You Embracing Fundamental Change or Incremental Change?
Business Life CyclesAre You Embracing Fundamental Change or Incremental Change?Why does every branch of medicine have pediatric specialists? Are kids a different species than adults?In a word, "yes."According to Dr. David Nichols, "Children are susceptible to different diseases than adults. Their basic anatomy is the...
Read Listen Download
Visual Images vs. Mental Images - September 4, 2006
Visual Images vs. Mental ImagesA visual image is a simple thing, a picture that enters the eyes.But a mental image is more complex.Assembled in the mind from information real and imagined, mental images are complex composites of sight, sound, taste, touch, smell, opinion and mood,...
Read Listen Download
Avoiding Ad Speak - August 28, 2006
Avoiding Ad SpeakContrary to popular belief, Americans don't hate advertising.We just hate ads that sound like ads.Do your ads sound like ads? Are you guilty of Ad-speak?Ad-speak is filled with polished words and filtered phrases that deliver no information and have no relevance. Ambiguous claims...
Read Listen Download
7 Diagnostic Tools for Marketing - August 21, 2006
7 Diagnostic Tools for MarketingDo you feel that something might be wrong with your business but you're not quite sure what it is?Solving the problem is the easy part. The tricky part is getting clarity on exactly what the problem is.Careless doctors treat symptoms. They...
Read Listen Download
Pioneers and Settlers - August 14, 2006
Pioneers and SettlersI was planning to write When Marketing is a Mirage, but that's going to have to wait. Because today I'm hearing the voice of John Steinbeck as he mumbles to his poodle, Charley, and ambles toward his pickup truck:"When I was very young...
Read Listen Download
That Glowing Bridge to the Unknown - August 7, 2006
That Glowing Bridge to the UnknownTo go from one state of consciousness to another...To move from an old opinion to a new... To travel from ignorance to insightand darkness to light...requires a portal.A portal is a transitionary device of sight or sound that functions as...
Read Listen Download
String Theology - July 31, 2006
String Theology Quantum Mechanics and General Relativity are both accepted as scientific fact even though they're mutually exclusive. Albert Einstein spent the second half of his life searching for a unifying truth that would reconcile the two.Einstein was searching for String Theory. It not only...
Read Listen Download
Doing My Happy Dance - July 24, 2006
Doing My Happy DanceLast Thursday the Wall Street Journal published a story about a new book written by two of our faculty members, hinting strongly that if the biggest advertising agencies on Madison Avenue would just buy a copy and read it, they would find...
Read Listen Download
How Often Should I Change My Ads? - July 17, 2006
How Often Should I Change My Ads?About 15 years ago I concluded that a medium-impact broadcast ad should be replaced only after the typical listener has heard it at least 12 times, and a low-impact ad should be replaced after achieving a frequency of 20....
Read Listen Download
Persona Based Selling - July 10, 2006
Persona Based Selling We buy what we buy to remind ourselves and tell the world around us who we are."Nothing is so powerful as an insight into human nature, what compulsions drive a man, what instincts dominate his action, even though his language so often...
Read Listen Download
Where Do They Bury the Rascals? - July 3, 2006
Where Do They Bury the Rascals?Colorful and interesting people surround you in life, but in a graveyard, everyone becomes boring: "John Smith. Devoted Husband, Loving Father."That's it? That's a life remembered?Where do they bury the interesting people? Where do they bury the reckless daredevils and...
Read Listen Download
The Image and The Actual - June 26, 2006
The Image and The ActualEach letter of the alphabet represents a phoneme, a tiny sound that joins with other tiny sounds to make the more complex sounds we call words.Words are mere shadows cast by ideas. But the ideas they represent are real.Numerals are images...
Read Listen Download
Will You Do It? - June 19, 2006
Will You Do It?"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore....
Read Listen Download
New Things to Get Excited About - June 12, 2006
New Things to Get Excited AboutBANG. Jeffrey and Bryan Eisenberg's new book hits the shelves of every bookstore in America today. Waiting for Your Cat to Bark?Well, are you?Many of you have heard me speak about society's 40-year pendulum and how we're currently in the...
Read Listen Download
Pregnant with America - June 5, 2006
Pregnant with AmericaThe most famous quote attributed to Alexis de Tocqueville is, "America is great because she is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, she will cease to be great."Strangely, Tocqueville never said it. He did, however, make a number of astounding...
Read Listen Download
Lenny the Misfit - May 29, 2006
Lenny the MisfitCaterina dumps baby Lenny on her boyfriend, then moves to town and gets married to someone else. Neither Lenny's father nor his mother is willing to give Lenny their family name, so he is known only by the name of the mountain under...
Read Listen Download
Pricing, Value, and Salability - May 22, 2006
Business Proverbs for Business Owners
Pricing, Value, and SalabilityBusiness Proverbs for Business OwnersPricing – If you're not worried that you're pricing it too cheap, you're not pricing it cheap enough. That's the best advice I can give you about Pricing in a single sentence.Never ask, "How much might someone be...
Read Listen Download
The Four Faces in Every Store - May 15, 2006
The Four Faces in Every Store"You can be anything you want to be," was once the anthem of America. But we seem to have twisted that sunlit dream into a shriveled demon that whispers, "Hurry, hurry, hurry and you can be everything you want to...
Read Listen Download
Will You Change Your Little Corner? - May 8, 2006
Will You Change Your Little Corner?Nehemiah is a book of the history of the Jews. Have you ever read it?450 BC – It is the time of Socrates, just a few years before Plato, Aristotle, and Alexander the Great: Nehemiah is a government worker who...
Read Listen Download
A Very Interesting Ad - May 1, 2006
A Very Interesting AdThe doctor's waiting room glowed with old magazines.As I stood there amidst this strange illumination, I noticed an ad for IBM Consulting that featured an executive woman peering thoughtfully into the distance. In the foreground hung the three questions that haunt every...
Read Listen Download
Sleep Is The New Sex - April 24, 2006
Sleep Is The New Sex"Men think about it every seven seconds or so. Women romanticize it. Teenagers yearn for the weekends, when they might get a little of it... Sleep is the new sex." – Susan A. Nielsen, journalist for The OregonianThe National Sleep Foundation...
Read Listen Download
The Cashier Con - April 17, 2006
The Cashier ConI've noticed a disturbing trend. Maybe you have, too:Cashiers have become the new pitchmen.The old pitchman came to your door and knocked. He sold encyclopedias or vacuum cleaners or miracle soap. Whatever. But you were trapped by your own politeness. You couldn't think...
Read Listen Download
Hunger of the Candle for the Flame - April 10, 2006
Hunger of the Candle for the Flame You are a column of wax.Your purpose began as a spark, a flicker easily ignored. But you didn't ignore it. You turned to face it and your head caught fire.Grace Hansen admonishes, "Don't be afraid your life will end;...
Read Listen Download
Outsiders and Thought Particles - April 3, 2006
Outsiders and Thought ParticlesMy computer-programmer friend Akintunde used to spend his Sunday afternoons with Pennie and me. When my audio-book Thought Particles: Binary Code of the Mind was released, Akintunde took home a copy and listened to it several times. We had long talks about...
Read Listen Download
Thought Particle Technology has Arrived - March 27, 2006
Thought Particle Technology has ArrivedI consider Pandora.com to be the first commercial application of Thought Particle technology. Have you allowed Pandora to read your mind yet?Pandora.com is a streaming music service crafted by a couple of hundred really serious music experts whose ideas about music...
Read Listen Download
The Origin of Creativity - March 20, 2006
The Origin of CreativityI like to think God said, "Let there be..." and then paused to think for a moment. Suddenly it came to him, "Light!"If you accept the book of Genesis, then God is a creator by nature. And he created us in his...
Read Listen Download
Having Arrived at the End
and Forgotten to Live - March 13, 2006
Having Arrived at the Endand Forgotten to Live2005 was an amazingly bad year for Pennie and me. Her mother died, my father died, and then we were brought horribly low by a financial surprise with two commas to the left of the decimal point. There...
Read Listen Download
Poor Writer's Almanac - March 6, 2006
Writers Seminar, Book Release Party, Call for Submissions
Poor Writer's AlmanacWriters Seminar, Book Release Party, Call for SubmissionsCan you be in Austin on Saturday, April 22?SEMINAR: We're planning a writer's seminar in palatial Tuscan Hall featuring Chris Maddock, the rarely seen teacher of Advanced Wordsmithing, and Jeff Sexton, the instructor of that always...
Read Listen Download
Why Most Ads Put Us to Sleep - February 27, 2006
Why Most Ads Put Us to SleepHow often are you conscious of the fact that Earth, only Earth, is buried beneath an ocean of air?We, the fleas that dance on the skin of Mother Earth, live in this dry ocean. We use it to hold...
Read Listen Download
Blogs And Reality TV - February 20, 2006
The Changing Face of America
Blogs And Reality TVThe Changing Face of AmericaDo you remember when America watched awards shows?If you were somehow unplugged and didn't receive the newsflash, the combined strength of Paul McCartney, Madonna, U2, Mariah Carey, Coldplay, Faith Hill and Jay-Z wasn't enough to swing the hammer...
Read Listen Download
Treasure Hunt - February 13, 2006
Treasure HuntThis week I didn't feel like writing about advertising or business or leadership or anything else an ambitious soul might find useful. So if you're in a vibrating hurry with far too much to do, right here would be the place to stop reading....
Read Listen Download
Stronger Ads = More Complaints - February 6, 2006
Stronger Ads = More ComplaintsIt's no secret that stronger ads generate faster growth. But with each higher level of awareness comes an increase in complaints:"I'm sick of hearing your ads."TRANSLATION: "It makes me mad that I can't ignore you.""Your ads don't sound professional. They're not...
Read Listen Download
The American Dream - January 30, 2006
The American DreamAmerica is a democracy and we believe in free enterprise. Let's look at that for a moment: Democracy is majority rule. Groupthink. "United we stand, divided we fall." But the key to business – free enterprise – is to have an absolute dictator.In...
Read Listen Download
The Future of Ad Writing - January 23, 2006
The Future of Ad WritingAmerica has been flattered by advertising ("Because you deserve it"), misled by ads ("Lowest prices anywhere"), hyped by ads ("While supplies last"), and lied to repeatedly ("Guaranteed!"). The result of all this misinformation is a growing numbness to ad-speak. We're becoming...
Read Listen Download
The Critical 0.05 Percent - January 16, 2006
The Critical 0.05 PercentIt takes 1,800 electrons to equal the mass of a single proton.Protons and their cousins – neutrons – make up 99.95 percent of the mass in the universe. Yet it's the electrical charges of the seemingly insignificant 0.05 percent – those tiny...
Read Listen Download
Inside the Outside - January 9, 2006
Inside the OutsideIt hit me. "I've become an eavesdropper, listening to the conversations of strangers." It's 5:00AM and I'm sitting at the bar of an all-night café on the wrong side of town eating a three-dollar breakfast, listening to the smelly, funny stories of downtrodden...
Read Listen Download
Competitive Environment - January 2, 2006
Competitive EnvironmentThe bottom-rung loser in one town can move to another town and often become the king of his category. All it takes is weak competitors. I've seen it happen a dozen times.Whether you dominate your marketplace won't be determined solely by the strength of...
Read Listen Download
Lonely Outsider - December 26, 2005
Lonely OutsiderI was in the shower when my cell phone started ringing. Pennie answered it for me. It was my partner Jeff Eisenberg.Dripping, I took the phone. "Yo. Jefferson.""I'm sending you an article from The Economist. It's something I've heard you talk about a hundred...
Read Listen Download
Four Kinds of Ads - December 19, 2005
Four Kinds of AdsGreat ads can be either product-specific or store-specific. Bad ads are generally category-specific. And then there are franchise ads.Franchise ads build the master brand. The hope of every franchisee is that the ads provided by the franchisor will generate enough brand magnetism...
Read Listen Download
Hi Def Imagination - December 12, 2005
Hi Def ImaginationPeople tell me they want to learn to think outside the box.No problemo. The secret is to stay out of the box to begin with.You crawl into the box when you think about your problem and wrap its known obstacles around you. So...
Read Listen Download
Are You Merely Determined? - December 5, 2005
Are You Merely Determined?Determination is emotional, a moment of intense focus with clenched jaw and the visualization of a mission accomplished.The sneer is gone from Casey's lip, his teeth are clenched in hate,He pounds with cruel violence his bat upon the plate;And now the pitcher...
Read Listen Download
What Are You Offering? - November 28, 2005
What Are You Offering?Businesses don't fail due to reaching the wrong people. Businesses fail when they say the wrong things.And they say the wrong things when they believe what the public tells them.Conduct a survey. Ask the public to describe in detail the kind of...
Read Listen Download
Do You Need A Miracle? - November 21, 2005
Do You Need A Miracle?Finances. Relationships. Health... the tall monsters we face in life's dark ocean when we awaken underwater, alone in the night, not knowing what to do.Ever been there?People respond to deep crisis in different ways. There are:1. Handwringers who talk about the...
Read Listen Download
What Women Want - November 14, 2005
What Women WantI did a bad, bad thing.Last week's memo ended too abruptly. "Yes, selling to men can be very easy. But how does one sell to women? Ah. That is a different question. – Roy H. Williams" The phrase, "sell to women?" was hyperlinked...
Read Listen Download
It's Not Good for Man to be Alone. - November 7, 2005
It's Not Good for Man to be Alone. "The whole nature of man presupposes woman, both physically and spiritually. His system is tuned into woman from the start." – Carl Jung, Two Essays in Analytical Psychology "What can a man say about woman, his own...
Read Listen Download
How to Buy Word of Mouth - October 31, 2005
How to Buy Word of MouthThe price of making a powerful statement is cheap compared to the cost of ads that don't work. So make a statement that counts. This is the best advice I can give you.I'm not talking about making a grand and...
Read Listen Download
Can You Come Out and Play? - October 24, 2005
Can You Come Out and Play?We're building a school of the communication arts. Do you want to come along?Oh, the questions we'll answer together! The interesting things we'll find! We've built a chapel where we can think big thoughts. And a grand auditorium where we...
Read Listen Download
Does My Local Business Need a Website? - October 17, 2005
Does My Local Business Need a Website?How many months has it been since you went looking for information in the yellow pages? How many minutes has it been since you asked your favorite search engine? I think you just answered the question about whether or...
Read Listen Download
Margaret, Mabel and Jimmy - October 10, 2005
Real Things are Often Bigger than the News
Margaret, Mabel and JimmyReal Things are Often Bigger than the News Mabel is a widow deep in poverty with two hungry children of her own. Washing other people's laundry ten hours a day, Mabel earns barely enough money to keep them fed. To keep a...
Read Listen Download
Are You Willing to be Weird? - October 3, 2005
Are You Willing to be Weird?No one wants to be average. But everyone wants to be normal. What's up with that?You can't imitate your way to excellence. It can be achieved only by breaking away from the pack, abandoning the status quo. But breaking away...
Read Listen Download
Fact Based or Values Based? - September 26, 2005
Fact Based or Values Based?Relentless repetition was once enough to drive your message home. But it isn't quite that simple anymore. The impact of your message in this over-communicated hour depends largely on the structural basis of your statements. A statement is either fact-based or...
Read Listen Download
For Sale: Free Time - September 19, 2005
For Sale: Free TimeDo you want more free time? Then you must buy it. Free time is never free.There are only four ways you can buy free time:1. Work fewer hours. Learn to say no. You'll have more free time immediately.Cost: Lost opportunities, reduced income.2....
Read Listen Download
Imagine No Delusions - September 12, 2005
Imagine No DelusionsWe Baby Boomers had beautiful dreams back in the '60s and '70s, but we didn't do much about them. It was enough back in those days just to "Visualize World Peace" and sing wistfully about a brighter tomorrow. Remember John Lennon's song, Imagine?Imagine...
Read Listen Download
What Kind of Cat are You? - September 5, 2005
What Kind of Cat are You?It was a term once used to describe exceptional jazz musicians. African-Americans spelled it "hepcat," while their white counterparts heard "cat" and assumed "hep" to be a modifier. Hence, "hep cat." In 1942 Bob Clampett created the first color Looney...
Read Listen Download
Art as a Tool of Marketing - August 29, 2005
Art as a Tool of MarketingMedia fragmentation and the evolution of social values are forcing advertisers to spend more and more money to reach fewer and fewer people. Two weeks ago I mentioned the possibility of using non-traditional media (NTM) as a supplement to your...
Read Listen Download
I Did Not Die Today - August 22, 2005
An Introduction to Chaotic Ad Writing
I Did Not Die TodayAn Introduction to Chaotic Ad WritingI am, for the moment, alive and well as an ad writer. But I feel I'm being stalked by iPods, cell phones, instant messaging, and increasingly fragmented media choices. And they're all gunning for my life....
Read Listen Download
A New Kind of Teamwork - August 15, 2005
The Changing Face of Media
A New Kind of TeamworkThe Changing Face of MediaDo you remember the Seinfeld episode where Jerry, George and Elaine are waiting for a table in a Chinese restaurant? The plot revolves around the fact that George is desperate to make a phone call but the...
Read Listen Download
Chasing the Carrot on a Stick - August 8, 2005
COURTESY NOTE: This is one of those days when I write about something other than business.
Chasing the Carrot on a StickCOURTESY NOTE: This is one of those days when I write about something other than business.Have you ever been in a K-Mart during a "flashing blue light special?" The sad circus begins when an employee rolls out a chrome cart...
Read Listen Download
Science Proves the Wizard Right Again - August 1, 2005
Science Proves the Wizard Right AgainOkay, let's be clear about this: I'm proud of myself today. So proud, in fact, that you might want to skip reading this memo because all I'm going to do is strut. It could become sickening. Seriously. Frankly, I can't...
Read Listen Download
Getting What You Want - July 25, 2005
Getting What You WantOne of these days I'm going to calculate the odds of pulling away from a drive-thru window and actually finding what was ordered in the bag. For 3 years I've been calculating the odds of getting extra lemon for your tea when...
Read Listen Download
Perceptual Reality - July 18, 2005
Perceptual RealityEarth's population reached 1 billion persons in 1804, 2 billion in 1927, 3 billion in '59, 4 billion in '74 and 5 billion in late '86. And on October 12th, 1999, Earth's population surpassed 6 billion. The number of passengers on Spaceship Earth has...
Read Listen Download
Marketplace Realities - July 11, 2005
Is There a Limit to How High You Can Climb?
Marketplace RealitiesIs There a Limit to How High You Can Climb?Last week a client achieved 42 percent of his market potential. Never before had I seen a business break the 40 percent barrier. It was kind of like seeing someone run a four-minute mile. I...
Read Listen Download
Will He Read The Art of War? - July 4, 2005
Will He Read The Art of War?If you want to glimpse the inner forces that drive an organization, you need only observe their methods and listen to their words. Especially when they're not paying attention.Words and methods reveal motives. Listen to a person carefully and...
Read Listen Download
Our Hurtling World - June 27, 2005
Our Hurtling WorldMarketing was easy in the old days. You had ABC, NBC and CBS, a local newspaper and half a dozen radio stations. That was it. There was no Fox, no WB, no cable channels, no FM radio and no such thing as a...
Read Listen Download
A World Without Oil - June 20, 2005
A World Without OilSometimes I go to funny places in my mind. Do you ever go exploring?Lately I've been imagining a world without oil. No oil for cars, no oil for 18-wheelers, no oil for jets. Not even any oil for construction equipment or ambulances....
Read Listen Download
Unhappy People - June 13, 2005
Unhappy PeopleHave you ever noticed how unhappy people always want to share their unhappiness with you? It may come in the form of a whine, a complaint, a rant, or sanctimonious "constructive criticism," but come it most certainly will.The thing to remember when an unhappy...
Read Listen Download
Are You Putting Lipstick on a Pig? - June 6, 2005
Are You Putting Lipstick on a Pig?When business is slow, the wise business owner wonders what might be wrong with his business. The average business owner thinks only that something is wrong with his advertising. As I said last week, I believe it was advertising...
Read Listen Download
Targeting Through Ad Copy - May 30, 2005
Targeting Through Ad CopyFor years, advertisers have attempted to target "the right customer" through carefully selected media vehicles. Mailing lists aimed at specific demographic, geographic and psychographic profiles have fallen short so often that a 3 percent conversion rate is considered a big success. Carefully...
Read Listen Download
Helping to Rebuild an Economy - May 23, 2005
Helping to Rebuild an EconomyIf natural resources determined the wealth of nations, Brazil would be the richest country on earth and Japan would be the poorest. But resources have little to do with building a healthy economy. Prosperity happens when the swimming pool installer sells...
Read Listen Download
When Numbers Go Bad - May 16, 2005
A longer than average Monday Memo, but worth it.
When Numbers Go BadA longer than average Monday Memo, but worth it.Are you one who believes the reliability of research is assured when the sample size is adequate and the respondents are properly qualified? If so, "research" will likely lead you to some tragic conclusions...
Read Listen Download
Power of Weakness - May 9, 2005
Power of WeaknessFeatures and benefits, features and benefits, features and benefits. We've polished our pitches to such a degree that we've dimmed our abilities to persuade. The customer is only half listening because the inner self is asking, "What are they not telling me?"Those who...
Read Listen Download
The Power of Purpose - May 2, 2005
The Power of Purpose"...And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him, 'What are you doing here, Elijah?'"...
Read Listen Download
Counter Branding - April 25, 2005
Counter BrandingWhen your business category is dominated by a single brand and all the other brands put together don't equal them, it's time to create a counter-brand.Counter-branding – business judo – is rare and dangerous. But when you're overwhelmingly dominated, what have you got to...
Read Listen Download
Power of the Buzz - April 18, 2005
Bryan and Jeff Eisenberg have a New Book
Power of the BuzzBryan and Jeff Eisenberg have a New BookPeople have said for decades, "Word-of-mouth is the best kind of advertising. That's the best kind: word-of-mouth." You hear this so often when you sell advertising that my friend Bob Lepine used to joke about...
Read Listen Download
Belly of the Whale - April 11, 2005
Belly of the WhaleStanding inside Chapel Dulcinea recently, I looked up to see the great ribs beneath the roof beams above me and thought, "Jonah in the belly of the whale." Do you remember the story? It's only four short chapters, a 5-minute read. The...
Read Listen Download
Advertising, Like Reduction Sauce - April 4, 2005
A Monday Morning Memo from The Wizard of Ads
Advertising, Like Reduction SauceA Monday Morning Memo from The Wizard of AdsHi Roy, Thanks for the mention in the MMM today. It never ceases to amaze me the buzz something like that creates. Reading it also reminds me of the other conversation that took place...
Read Listen Download
Canadian Diamond Pavilion - April 2, 2005
funded by the staff of Spence Diamonds of Canada
Canadian Diamond Pavilionfunded by the staff of Spence Diamonds of CanadaFuture Project. Will Open in Late 2006.Situated just down the walking trail from Chapel Dulcinea,the Canadian Diamond Pavilion will be a placewhere wedding receptions can be held at no charge. Designed by architect Marley Porter,...
Read
Adventure - April 1, 2005
begins with dedication to a cause
Adventurebegins with dedication to a cause"What giants?" said Sancho Panza."Those you see there," answered his master, "with the long arms, and some have them nearly two leagues long.""Look, your worship,'' said Sancho. "What we see there are not giants but windmills, and what seem to...
Read
Advertising, Like Paint - March 28, 2005
"The thing that has been will be again." And other 8 Word Answers.
Advertising, Like Paint"The thing that has been will be again." And other 8 Word Answers.People who try to stay "on the cutting edge" tend to see everything as new. But the thing that has been will be again. And that which currently is, has been,...
Read Listen Download
Where Have Your Fingers Been Walking Lately? - March 21, 2005
Where Have Your Fingers Been Walking Lately?A few years ago, your customer could compare you only to your competitor down the street. But information gathering and comparison shopping have since become effortless, thanks to the internet. Tens of millions of us are gathering and comparing...
Read Listen Download
The New Marketplace - March 14, 2005
NOTICE: This memo ends with a link to an ad writing course description. So don't be surprised.
The New MarketplaceNOTICE: This memo ends with a link to an ad writing course description. So don't be surprised.The last line in most TV or radio ads is usually a "call to action," right? Especially if the ad was produced locally: "Hurry. These prices won't...
Read Listen Download
Jonah - March 11, 2005
New Revised Standard Version
JonahNew Revised Standard Version[Jonah 1]1 Now the word of the LORD came to Jonah son of Amittai, saying, 2 "Go at once to Nineveh, that great city, and cry out against it; for their wickedness has come up before me." 3 But Jonah set out...
Read
Mountain Without Summit - March 7, 2005
Mountain Without SummitI wrote three memos to you this week, but decided not to send the first two. The first one, We Are Sancho Panza, is the dancing safari into symbolic thought that I promised you in last week's memo. It begins, "Who can explain...
Read Listen Download
Wedding Chapel Dulcinea - March 1, 2005
Who is Dulcinea?
Wedding Chapel DulcineaWho is Dulcinea?(Dul – sin – AY - uh) She is Tom Sawyer's Becky Thatcher. She is The Little Red-Haired Girl of Charlie Brown. She is the sacred muse of Alonso Quixano who in 1605 stepped into some rusty armor to become the...
Read
Pattern Recognition - February 28, 2005
Pattern Recognition"And all shall be well and All manner of thing shall be well When the tongues of flame are in-folded Into the crowned knot of fire And the fire and the rose are one." In this strange passage from Little Gidding, poet T.S. Eliot...
Read Listen Download
Confidence - February 21, 2005
Where to Get It and How To Keep It
ConfidenceWhere to Get It and How To Keep ItGetting confidence and keeping confidence – emotional muscle – is like getting and keeping any other muscle; it just requires daily exercise.But where does confidence come from? Is it merely a feeling – the product of an...
Read Listen Download
Running with the Beagle in my Brain - February 14, 2005
A Politically Incorrect Search for Adventure
Running with the Beagle in my BrainA Politically Incorrect Search for AdventureThis year marks the 400-year anniversary of the publication of Don Quixote, so I seized the opportunity to spend some hours in the study of 1605. (Arooo! Aroo-Aroooo!) And as all such beagle runs...
Read Listen Download
Your Life is a Journey - February 7, 2005
But where is it taking you?
Your Life is a JourneyBut where is it taking you?You had friends and laughter, adventure and romance. Remember the halcyon days of your youth? But then the friends went away, the laughter faded, the adventure ended and the romance was over.It was time to go...
Read Listen Download
Climbing the Hill Too High - January 31, 2005
Climbing the Hill Too HighNiche marketing was born the day a clear-eyed realist chose to dominate a subcategory when the master category seemed too high a hill to climb. "Instead of trying to become a major retailer of home furniture, I'll become the king of...
Read Listen Download
Voices of Dissent - January 24, 2005
Voices of DissentI was writing an upbeat and instructional memo to send you today called Confidence: Where to Get It and How to Keep It. But it's going to have to wait. This other thing just wouldn't turn me loose until I wrote it down...
Read Listen Download
The Gift of 500 Years - January 17, 2005
The Gift of 500 YearsIt was Christmas Eve, 1513. In just two more years, 78 year-old architect Giovanni Giocondo would be dead, having filled Europe with magnificent buildings and bridges that continue to stand unweathered in the year 2005. During that night he wrote a...
Read Listen Download
Before You Begin Writing Those Ads... - January 10, 2005
Before You Begin Writing Those Ads...Which do you think would work better, the brilliant execution of a flawed strategy, or the flawed execution of a brilliant one? In business, it's the flawed execution of a brilliant strategy that usually wins the day. Most advertising professionals...
Read Listen Download
Thoughts to Think - January 3, 2005
In the New Year
Thoughts to ThinkIn the New Year"You've heard that before you die, your whole life flashes before your eyes? This is true. It's called living."I'd love to take credit for that line, but I lifted it from an obscure novel by Terry Pratchett. It's one of...
Read Listen Download
Success Through Discontent - December 27, 2004
Success Through DiscontentSuccess is conceived in the womb of the mind the moment you look around and say, "I don't belong here. These are not my people." And it is born when you cogently express - to yourself and to the world - who you...
Read
At The Heart of Romance - December 20, 2004
At The Heart of RomanceFrom Claude Monet's impressionistic portrait of his wife and son, to Sue Monk Kidd's tender book, The Secret Life of Bees, to the nosecones of bombers and the biceps of bikers, to the garish and awkward Miss America pageant, we continue...
Read
MIT Study Proves Us Right! - December 13, 2004
MIT Study Proves Us Right!I've been telling you (March 25, 2002) and telling you (Feb. 10, 2003) that:1. transactional customers are bargain hunters, and2. brands are built on relational customers, and3. the split between transactional and relational shoppers in most product categories is roughly 50/50,...
Read
Steppe Beyond Time - December 6, 2004
Steppe Beyond TimeThe steppe is a belt of grassland extending 5,000 miles from European Hungary through Ukraine across Central Asia to reach its end in Chinese Manchuria. Mountain ranges divide the steppe into distinct segments but horsemen cross such barriers with ease, so steppe riders...
Read
Courageous and Smart - November 29, 2004
Keep Your Eye on Rushkoff and Pitts
Courageous and SmartKeep Your Eye on Rushkoff and PittsLeonard Pitts tackles ticklish topics with reckless audacity and elegant grace. Three years ago I said to Princess Pennie, "This guy is one of America's greatest living writers. Sooner or later he's going to become a very...
Read
Marketing Without Media - November 22, 2004
Hear no Advertising. See no Advertising. Speak no Advertising.
Marketing Without MediaHear no Advertising. See no Advertising. Speak no Advertising.I think we've had our fill of ads. And by "we," I mean the entire population of the twenty-first century. That's a dangerous and controversial statement coming from a man known as The Wizard of...
Read
Hit Machine - November 15, 2004
Hit MachineThey had more #1 records than the Beatles, the Beach Boys, the Rolling Stones and Elvis Presley combined. And you've probably never heard of them. The Funk Brothers were 13 ragamuffin musicians who laid down the signature keyboard blitzes, guitar riffs, bass lines and...
Read
Buckle Up for 2005 - November 8, 2004
Buckle Up for 2005Wow. I just spent 37 minutes previewing a Sunpop video soon to be released by Wizard Academy Press. Selling Customers Their Way features my partner Jeffrey Eisenberg with psychologist Dr. Richard D. Grant in an amazing discussion about high-level, face-to-face selling. Awesome...
Read
Marketing in 2005 and Beyond - November 1, 2004
Marketing in 2005 and BeyondThe Age of The Baby Boomer ended in 2003. The torch has been handed to a new generation with new ideas and values. Sure, we Boomers still hold the power at the top, but the prevailing worldview that drives our nation...
Read
Deconstructing a Great Ad - October 25, 2004
Deconstructing a Great AdTransactional and Relational are the two styles of selling and the two modes of buying. Customers in Transactional mode are concerned only with today's transaction. They enjoy the process of shopping, comparing, and negotiating. Their only fear is paying more than they...
Read
New Definition: Deconstruction - October 18, 2004
New Definition: DeconstructionGosh. I've been using the word "deconstruction" incorrectly and words are important to me. Sunday, Oct 10, 2004 – A New York Times story reporting the death of Jacques Derrida is headlined, "Celebrated Philosopher Created Deconstructionism." Since deconstruction is a word I often...
Read
Keep the Cheese - October 11, 2004
Keep the CheeseHave you ever been in a place and wanted out of it? A place in your life I mean? A time when you decided, "You can keep the cheese, just let me out of the trap?" Being out of the trap is good....
Read
The New Selling - October 4, 2004
The New SellingAsk a roomful of people to give you all the words they associate with "salesman" and they will immediately say, "pushy, manipulative, slick, self-serving, phony," and a list of other things no mother wants her child to be.Ask that same roomful of people...
Read
Two Worlds - September 27, 2004
Two WorldsA couple of weeks ago I wrote to you about differing perceptions of time, Chaotic, Linear, and Cyclical, and closed by saying, "There is a fourth perception of time that's shared by all of us; the time of the mind, imaginary time, moving forward...
Read
Scent Memory - September 20, 2004
Scent MemoryA lot of people have been telling me lately that they remember hearing or reading somewhere "that our sense of smell is the easiest of our senses to recall." This is most likely due to the new TV ad for Red Zone deodorant that...
Read
Our Perceptions of Time - September 13, 2004
Our Perceptions of TimeHow do you see time? Do you see it as:1. Chaotic - things happen randomly; history has no path?2. Linear - history has a path and it is straight and fixed?3. Cyclical - that which has been will be again, because history's...
Read
In a Box in the Closet... - September 6, 2004
In a Box in the Closet...Thelma Toole believed in the talent of her son, though no one else could see it. And as mothers are wont to do, she pestered important people to take a look at 'the marvelous thing' her darling baby boy had...
Read
Doing Well vs. Doing Good - August 30, 2004
Doing Well vs. Doing GoodDonald Trump has been doing well all his life. But Agnes Bojaxhiu spent her life doing good.Born in Skopje, Macedonia in 1910, Agnes was 21 when she began teaching school in a bad part of town. Looking outside her door each...
Read
A Window to the Future - August 23, 2004
A Window to the FutureWhen I presented my latest research to a theater full of businesspeople and advertising professionals in Stockholm, Sweden, a number of them immediately bought plane tickets to cross the Atlantic for the full Wizard Academy experience. (To meet a few of...
Read
The Great Ad Myth - August 16, 2004
The Great Ad MythAds are like houses. You can do a good job constructing a badly designed house, but when you're through, you've still got a badly designed house. It doesn't matter how good you are with a hammer and a saw when the blueprints...
Read
When Will My Ads Start Working? - August 9, 2004
When Will My Ads Start Working?The length of the "ramping up period" an ad campaign will require before you begin to see results is determined by the following factors, listed in descending order of their importance: Product Purchase Cycle Share of Voice Impact Quotient of...
Read
Happiness is... - August 2, 2004
Happiness is...Let's begin by defining what happiness is not. Pleasure, fleeting pleasure, is not happiness. Likewise, momentary joy isn't happiness either. For "happy," Webster gives us three meanings: notably fitting, effective, or well adapted. favored by luck or fortune. enjoying or characterized by well-being and...
Read
When a Customer Asks "How Much?" - July 26, 2004
When a Customer Asks "How Much?"Generally speaking, it's best to establish the value of a thing before you name its price. But when a customer asks, "How much?" they want to hear a number. To precede that number with a probing question or a qualifying...
Read
Socioquake - July 19, 2004
SocioquakePennie and I were eating breakfast in Sydney, Australia, with our partnersCraig and Angela Arthur (photo above) when Ange began singing, "We're happy little Vegemites, as bright as bright can be. We all enjoy our Vegemite for breakfast, lunch and tea. Our Mummies say we're...
Read
Da Vinci Code Revisited - July 12, 2004
Da Vinci Code RevisitedThe success of The Da Vinci Code has triggered new interest in the sacred feminine. No, I'm not endorsing Dan Brown's tiresome view of the sacred feminine being preserved through earth-rituals involving the deification of Gaia, Mother Earth, Mother Nature, paganism, Wicca,...
Read
Magnetic Power of the Mental Image - July 5, 2004
Magnetic Power of the Mental ImageI recently wrote a Monday Morning Memo called Just a Regular Guy about how Chuck Wepner's fight against Muhammad Ali provided the inspiration for Sylvester Stallone to peck out the screenplay of Rocky, a low-budget film that, against all odds,...
Read
Just Over the Horizon - June 28, 2004
Just Over the HorizonThe horizon is an imaginary line that recedes as you approach it. Happiness is like that for some people. Are you one of them? Do you think of happiness as being out there for you "someday, maybe, as soon as...?" As a...
Read
Just a Regular Guy - June 21, 2004
Just a Regular GuyAs a boxer, Chuck Wepner earned the nickname "The Bayonne Bleeder" because of the punishment he took even while winning. Tom Donelson of Inside Boxing writes of him, "Wepner was what one would call 'a catcher', a fighter who often used his...
Read
The Feel of Real - June 14, 2004
The Feel of RealIn her 1991 book, The Popcorn Report, Faith Popcorn wrote of a trend called Fantasy Adventure: "What is Fantasy Adventure exactly? It's vicarious escape through consumerism, catharsis through consumption. It's a momentary, wild-and-crazy retreat from the world into an exotic flavor, a...
Read
The New Branding - June 7, 2004
The New BrandingMost branding campaigns are costumes worn by advertisers to the Media Masquerade Ball. They were the hot ticket during the pretentious Baby Boomer years when blue ribbons were awarded to those with best costumes, but look around and you'll see that we're moving...
Read
Media's Missing Mass - May 31, 2004
Media's Missing MassBack in the days when every teenage boy dreamed of outrunning a police cruiser, the wisdom handed down from aging speedsters was, "Remember son, you can't outrun them radios." The fact that policemen were constantly connected by 2-way radios was mind-boggling to us....
Read
The Future of Advertising - May 24, 2004
An Open Letter to Advertisers from The Wizard of Ads
The Future of AdvertisingAn Open Letter to Advertisers from The Wizard of AdsGoogle tells me it was the often-quoted Greek orator, Anonymous, who first said, "The only thing constant is change." Though I agree that change is ever with us, it cannot be said that...
Read
The Value of Misfits - May 17, 2004
The Value of MisfitsNext week I'm going to write about The Future of Advertising, I promise. (I'm aware that many of you endure my odd wanderings into the Forest of Contemplation only because you know that I will sooner or later return to deliver a...
Read
Family Values vs. Business Values - May 10, 2004
Family Values vs. Business ValuesSince most arguments result from a lack of definition of terms, let me define for you what I mean by "family values versus business values": Unconditional acceptance and equality are family values. Performance-based acceptance and chain-of-command are business values.Build a business...
Read
Stagolee Shot Billy and Bojangles Danced - May 3, 2004
Stagolee Shot Billy and Bojangles DancedThe song "Stagolee" has been wailed by Fats Domino, Wilson Pickett and the great James Brown. Bob Dylan, Neil Diamond, Huey Lewis and the Grateful Dead have all taken turns as well. Strangely, the story is true. It happened in...
Read
Shoestring Marketing for the One Man Band - April 26, 2004
Shoestring Marketing for the One Man BandA wonderful tribe of strange visionaries who threw caution to the wind, flinging themselves into an economic unknown, created our American economy. I speak of the brave individuals who started their own businesses on a shoestring and a prayer....
Read
Roy's Bizarre Theory of Books - April 19, 2004
Roy's Bizarre Theory of BooksWhen one of my business partners,Michele Miller, mentioned that she'd just read a good book about writing called Bird by Bird, I quietly found the title at amazon.com and clicked the button that would rocket a copy toward me. The book...
Read
Languages of the Eye - April 12, 2004
Languages of the EyeIn chapter 6 of Magical Worlds of the Wizard of Ads I quote professor Neil Postman as saying, "What we think of as 'reasoning' is determined by the character of our language. To reason in Japanese is not the same thing as...
Read
Prisoner of Shadows - April 5, 2004
Prisoner of ShadowsDo you have plans and dreams "but now is not a good time" to get started on them? Are your hands and feet bound by memories of yesterday and fears of tomorrow? Have you been living as a prisoner of shadows?NEWS FLASH: There...
Read
Surface, Motive, Essence - March 29, 2004
Surface, Motive, EssenceEverything in life can be evaluated in 3 ways: 1. by Surface2. by Motive3. by EssenceSurface tells us what a thing is. Or it lets us know what has happened. We see Surface with perfect clarity. But does it tell the whole truth?Why...
Read
Name Recognition isn't Branding - March 22, 2004
Name Recognition isn't Branding"Getting your name out" isn't worth much when there's no mental image attached to your name. Unaided recall and top-of-mind awareness are excellent ways to measure name recognition, but they don't tell you anything about the strength of a brand. York, Lennox,...
Read
Business Model No. 4: Path Dominance - March 15, 2004
Business Model No. 4: Path DominanceInventory Management, Proprietary Product, and Custom are the first 3 business models. The last, number 4, is Path Dominance. Like water, Path Dominance silently follows the path of least resistance, going to where there is no competition and then winning by...
Read
Business Models No. 2 and 3 - March 8, 2004
Business Models No. 2 and 3When I wrote to you recently about the business model I call "Inventory Management," I mentioned that it was just 1 of the 4 universally successful business models. Having now received 527 emails asking about the other 3 business models,...
Read
We Are Sancho Panza - March 7, 2004
A Happy Message from the Gospel of Don
We Are Sancho PanzaA Happy Message from the Gospel of DonWho can explain our four-century attraction to Don Quixote? The book is hard reading and dull, full of inconsistencies, and confusing. A little like the Bible. And yet Don Quixote is the second most widely-read...
Read
Gift of a Jew - March 1, 2004
Gift of a Jew1933: America is drowning in the depths of the Great Depression when Max Gaines loses his job as a novelties salesman and is forced to move into his mother's house with his wife and two small children. As he lays his battered...
Read
It Ain't Always the Ads that Do It - February 23, 2004
It Ain't Always the Ads that Do ItWe Americans enjoy intensely romantic dates and wonderfully lavish weddings, don't we? It's the American way - hot and breathless, dripping with anticipation. And we have the world's highest divorce rate. This, too, seems to be the American...
Read
Convergence: Alan, Herbert, and Harry - February 16, 2004
Convergence: Alan, Herbert, and Harry1887: Alan Alexander is a 5 year-old boy in England and Herbert Wells is his teacher. Harry Colebourn will be born this year, not many miles away. Although Alan and Harry will both live to become old and gray, the two...
Read
Duality - February 9, 2004
Duality"Proverbs contradict each other. That is the wisdom of a people." - Stanislaw Lec We've said it in a thousand different ways for a thousand different years. Isaac Newton said it famously: "For every action there is an equal but opposite reaction." In the movie...
Read
Shock and Awe - February 2, 2004
Shock and AweDo you remember watching what appeared to be Fourth of July fireworks as newscasters kept repeating, "This is the shock and awe part of the invasion. This is shock and awe?" Do you remember how the Iraqis seemed to be neither shocked nor...
Read
The Look of 2004 - January 26, 2004
The Look of 2004It appears that 2004 will be the year that the new Wizard Academy campus will be built. Princess Pennie and I are currently choosing between 3 pieces of property – each with a spectacular view – and the smallest is 21 acres....
Read
The Confusion of Nemo Chapman - January 19, 2004
The Confusion of Nemo ChapmanNemo Chapman was a teenager devoted to the South De Kalb County YMCA, "a guy down on one knee helping out a little kid, or with kids just hanging around his neck, following him everywhere he went." When Nemo was presented...
Read
The Death of Hype - January 12, 2004
The Death of HypeFourteen weeks ago I wrote you a memo that said, "The bad news is that it's going to get harder and harder to make ads work. The good news is that advertisers are going to have to become a lot more honest....
Read
Art Marketing - January 5, 2004
Art MarketingDon't be confused by the title; we're not talking about "the Art of Marketing" today. We're talking about the marketing of art.Last week I wrote to you about ritual, one of the languages in Symbolic thought. Shape, color, surface and emblem are languages in...
Read
The Language of Ritual - December 29, 2003
The Language of RitualAccording to cognitive neuroscientist Dr. Ricardo Gattass, the 4 kinds of thought are Verbal, Abstract, Analytical and Symbolic. I believe Ritual to be one of the most powerful languages of Symbolic thought.Like myself, you probably grew up rejecting conformity with every ounce of...
Read
What's Your Story? - December 22, 2003
What's Your Story?Do you remember the pivotal moment when your foot first felt the path you walk? My moment came when Charlie Myers grasped my hand, slapped a ten-dollar bill into it and said, "I think it's a great idea and I want to help....
Read
1963 All Over Again - December 15, 2003
1963 All Over AgainDecember, 2003: We're about to finish 1963 for the second time.Forty years is how long a true "generation" stays in power, during which time social change will be evolutionary, rather than revolutionary. But in the waning years of each generation, "alpha voices"...
Read
Soul Searching - December 8, 2003
Soul Searching"Men who believe themselves to be good, who do not search their own souls, often commit the worst atrocities. A man who sees himself as evil will restrain himself. It is only when we do evil in the belief that we do good that...
Read
In a Tux at the Waldorf Astoria - December 7, 2003
The True Story of how the Wizard of Ads met the King of Journalists
Princess Pennie anxiously studied the program as I looked over her shoulder. "Maybe a page fell out," I said, "maybe our names were on a page that fell out." "No," she answered slowly, "it's alphabetical. This is the page our names would've been on." I reached down...
Read
Your Seat in the Stadium of Life - December 1, 2003
Your Seat in the Stadium of LifeRegardless of how many people suggest that you start thinking "outside the box," it cannot in truth be done. As long as you are living within your skin, you will always be in a box. Your box is your perspective,...
Read
Swimming in an Ocean of Robots - November 24, 2003
Swimming in an Ocean of Robots"Every man with a new idea is a crank until the idea succeeds."- Mark Twain"The dissenter is every human at those moments of his life when he resigns momentarily from the herd and thinks for himself."- Archibald MacLeish"In every generation...
Read
Japanese Sunshine - November 17, 2003
Japanese SunshineAs Japan rose from the rubble of a devastating world war, Masaru Ibuka and his partner opened a repair shop among the broken fragments that once were Tokyo. They called their shop "Tokyo Tsushin Kogyo" and said its purpose would be "To do what...
Read
The Making of a Brand - November 10, 2003
The Making of a BrandRugged, strong and self-assured, John Wayne embodied the values that American males held dear in the 1940s, 50s, and 60s. In his footsteps followed Clint Eastwood (Dirty Harry,) Bruce Willis (Die Hard,) and now Keanu Reeves (The Matrix.)But America didn't love...
Read
Me and My Man Morris - November 3, 2003
Me and My Man MorrisDo you know your company's percentage of unaided recall? In other words, what percentage of your prospective customers will think of you as a possible option when your business category is named? If less than 10 percent of your prospective customers will...
Read
Eisuke's Little Girl - October 27, 2003
Eisuke's Little GirlEisuke had a university degree in economics and another in mathematics, but his true love was his music. His wife, Isoko, was the granddaughter of Zenjiro Yasuda, the founder of the Yasuda Bank and one of the world's richest men. Zenjiro Yasuda had...
Read
Remove Your Limiting Factor - October 20, 2003
Remove Your Limiting FactorThe majority of business owners say they believe in "customer service," "service after the sale," and "exceeding the customer's expectations." But how many of them actually do it? Your company has a mission statement. But what are the odds that your customers could...
Read
Point of the Curve - October 13, 2003
Point of the CurveYou've met people who stayed ahead of the curve. Perhaps you live at the curve's edge yourself - always the first to try a new thing and then the first to move on. You've also met people who drag along at the...
Read
Not Enough Customers? - October 6, 2003
Not Enough Customers?Low store traffic is only a symptom, not the disease. And if advertising could always cure the disease, then advertising would always increase traffic. But advertising doesn't always work. The traditional excuse is, "We must be reaching the wrong people." But I've never...
Read
Secret Hiding Place - September 29, 2003
Secret Hiding PlaceInept at almost everything, Little Elias was ridiculed and scorned by his father virtually every day. His only place to hide was in the secret world of his mind - a place of imaginary friends too wonderful to describe. During the summer of 1918,...
Read
Demise of the Yellow Pages - September 22, 2003
New York City, 1886: As dock workers uncrated the Statue of Liberty, Richard Sears was busy launching the company that would create catalog shopping in America, John Pemberton was mixing his first batch of Coca-Cola, and Gottlieb Daimler was tightening the last bolt on the...
Read
Cohen of China - September 15, 2003
"The bullet that caught me in the left arm had made me think. Supposing it had been my right arm and I carried my gun that side, I'd not have been able to use it. As soon as we got back to Canton I got...
Read
Different Strokes for Different Folks - September 8, 2003
Ever wonder how some people can love an ad that you hate with a purple passion?  Even the best ads miss the mark by a mile with at least half their target audience. Ads are like music; a distinctive style and message that repulses some...
Read
Voices of the Great Ones - September 4, 2003
Click the image to hear other voices
Voices of the Great Ones Click the image to hear other voices "World-class cereal-eating is a dance of fine compromises. The giant heaping bowl of sodden cereal, awash in milk, is the mark of the novice. Ideally one wants the bone-dry cereal nuggets and the...
Read
The Real Ichabod Crane - September 1, 2003
"He was tall, but exceedingly lank, with narrow shoulders, long arms and legs, hands that dangled a mile out of his sleeves, feet that might have served for shovels, and his whole frame most loosely hung together. His head was small, and flat at top,...
Read
Names: A Marketing Myth - August 25, 2003
You're at a conference table half a century ago with Zora Arkus-Duntov. He's looking for a name for Chevy's sexy new sports car. Someone says "How about Corvette Stingray?" Zora says, "I like it."  Any chance of that happening today? I think not. These days...
Read
That Rascal Tom - August 18, 2003
Tom was sent to prison for rustling cattle, poaching, extortion, robbery and attempted murder. But Tom was sneaky enough to escape from prison. Not once, but twice. Such a rascal was he that when the government began pardoning whole cellblocks full of prisoners due to...
Read
Selling to Introverts - August 11, 2003
The ratio of extraverts to introverts in our nation is 50.5 to 49.5 percent. So why do sales trainers assume that every customer is extraverted?  Extraverts like to engage you verbally, believing that dialog produces superior thinking. Consequently, the best way to keep an extravert...
Read
Looking into the Crystal Ball - August 4, 2003
The business world consists of little islands in oceans of economy. Cities and regions are the islands, where merchants are affected by every layoff and expansion of a major employer. Nations are the oceans, barely navigable tides of inexorable forces. Today we examine those oceans....
Read
Invisible Hero - July 28, 2003
We remember John Steinbeck as the Nobel Prize winning novelist of Grapes of Wrath, Cannery Row, Of Mice and Men, East of Eden, and Tortilla Flat. But we know little else about him. His too-much fame has kept us from seeing him whole. Were you...
Read
When Change is in the Air - July 21, 2003
The prophet wanders in from the desert crying, "I have seen. I have seen. We must change." And as the people listen with mounting interest, leadership plots to kill him. This is the way it has always been: Julius Caesar. William Wallace. Malcolm X. Robert...
Read
Want to Quit Driving the Rutmobile? - July 14, 2003
Abraham Maslow called it "self-actualization." A funny term, that. I never quite understood its meaning until I realized that to "actualize" a television set is simply to press the button that activates it and turns it on. Hence, to be a self-actualizing person is to...
Read
Do You Have a Sword in the Stone? - July 7, 2003
The Sword in the Stone, Excalibur, was the symbol of everything Camelot stood for. It was the axis around which every decision revolved and it embodied all the values the people held dear. And no one could remove the sword from its place except Arthur,...
Read
Ads, Bulls, Bosses and You - June 30, 2003
Some of my best advertising strategies were never implemented because I foolishly designed them around "what I would do" if I owned my client's company. But I didn't own his company. He did. Do you want to build a reputation for creating extraordinary ad campaigns?...
Read
Syndicated Advertising - June 23, 2003
Dear Mr. Gibb, You indicated in your email that you are a journalist researching the features and benefits of a specific syndicated advertising program. Hopefully, my comments and observations will be useful to you. Or at the very least, entertaining. Let us examine the heart...
Read
Moongrave Starmonkey - June 16, 2003
The Longest Monday Morning Memo Ever Sent and Perhaps the Least Useful But I Think You Might Like It Anyway. In The Wizard of Ads he was the hero of chapter 59, Silver Paint and a Weed-Eater. Secret Formulas revealed him as my cohort in...
Read
The Natural Advantages of Women - June 9, 2003
"If fifty-million people say a foolish thing, it is still a foolish thing." - Anatole France For decades we've been taught that "above the neck, there is no difference between a woman and a man." Sadly, this is just another foolish thing that we've believed. ...
Read
So You Want to be a Writer - June 2, 2003
Millions of people have ideas for books - plans to write books - hopes, dreams and aspirations about books, but very few of them are actually writing books. If you want to write, here is some sage advice from some of the world's great authors:...
Read
Foolish Things We Believe - May 26, 2003
An email was recently passed along to me by one of my readers that said, "Some months ago you alluded to research being done that would reveal the fact that things 'you heard' were as or more effective than things you saw. In other words,...
Read
Remember You Heard it Here First - May 19, 2003
"Claims made by scientists, in contrast to claims made by movie critics or theologians, can be separated from the scientists who make them. It isn't important to know who Isaac Newton was. He discovered that force is equal to mass times acceleration. He was an...
Read
Feynman's Pendulum - May 12, 2003
Feynman's PendulumWell, I did it. I actually did it. I put the lime in the coconut and drank'em both together. I put the lime in the coconut; it made me feel better. Seriously, my Nigerian pal Akintunde Omitowoju came over for lunch on Sunday and...
Read
An Advertiser's Question - May 5, 2003
Q: I'm a 52-week radio advertiser currently reaching 32% of my area's 18-34 population with a frequency of 2.9 each week, 52 weeks in a row. (I know you teach that weekly frequency should be at least 3.0, but I figured 2.9 was close enough.)...
Read
Do You Have Too Many Employees? - April 28, 2003
When a young man asked Margaret Thatcher if she had any advice that might help him rise to his full potential, she fixed him deep in her steady gaze and said, "Stay a little bit hungry and a little bit cold."  I believe she gave...
Read
Making Good Stuff Great - April 21, 2003
Adding a Third Gravitating Body
When a meal, a painting, a movie or an ad seems a little flat and boring, the likely culprit is insufficient divergence. Most creators, whether chefs, artists, cinematographers or ad writers, instinctively add what "feels right" throughout the creative process. And this is why average...
Read
I Just Don't Have the Time - April 14, 2003
"I just don't have the time..." What would you create if you were given 250, 14-hour days to do it? Would you write a book or screenplay? Study a complex concept? Become fluent in a foreign language? Build a ship in a bottle? It's been...
Read
How to Become an Expert - April 7, 2003
You want to know how to become a world-renowned expert? It's easy, really. All you have to do is: 1. Look around until you find something that interests you. 2. Think about it a lot. 3. Make some interesting observations. 4. Have a few new...
Read
When Good Ads Fail - March 31, 2003
You ran an inspired series of wonderful ads. And got nothing in return. What? Like so many Sir Galahads on the quest for the Holy Grail, businesspeople continue to search with near-religious ardor for "the perfect ad campaign." And many, when they have found it,...
Read
Advertising In Time of War - March 24, 2003
Q:I'd like to show my support of our men and women serving overseas and would appreciate suggestions on how to go about doing this in my ads. A: Step One - think of everything that you'd like to say to our brothers and sisters who...
Read
So What's the Next Move? - March 17, 2003
When a businessperson asks, "Here's where I am right now; so what's the next step?" they expect me to be able to answer them. But I've never been able to do it. Questions about "the next step" invariably make me ask, "Where are you trying...
Read
Sneak Preview - March 10, 2003
Sundown in Muskogee (a new work of fiction) chapter 1
It's ten after four in the morning and I just woke up because I finally figured it out. Forty-four years old, in my sleep, I figured it out. They called him "Sundown" because he was dim, not very bright. I could never figure out why...
Read
A Society and Its Heroes - February 17, 2003
Heroes are dangerous things. Bigger than life, highly exaggerated and always positioned in the most favorable light, a hero is a beautiful lie.  Did George Washington really chop down a cherry tree and then confess to his father? Could Paul Bunyan really do the work...
Read
Transactional and Relational Redux - February 10, 2003
The recent MMMemo, 2003: Year of the Internet's Bar Mitzvah, merged with last week's memo about Boomers and Xers, can be combined with the following Transactional/Relational shopping-style analysis to give you a revealing glimpse into the future of marketing in North America.Every person has a...
Read
Two Ways of Looking at the Truth - February 3, 2003
A Monday Morning Memo from the Wizard at wizardacademy.org
The legendary Richard Feynman, winner of the Nobel Prize for physics, was unlike other physicists in that he didn't consider the truth to be viewable only through the micro-lens of current conditions. In fact, he laughed at the naiveté of such a perspective, saying, "Physicists...
Read
Josie's Third Gravitating Tangerine - January 27, 2003
The Monday Morning Memo from wizardacademy.org
Just before the holidays, JG Tornoe received this interesting email from one of our students:Hi JG,As I was setting up this still life, arranging the tangerines around the pitcher, I was thinking of the academy and some of the concepts we learned about when one...
Read
Societal Metamorphosis - January 20, 2003
The Monday Morning Memo from Wizard Academy.com
Russell Taylor is a real-life example of how our society is quietly going digital. Taylor is a university-degreed geographer who is also a husband and a homeowner at the tender age of 24: "I can't believe that a city the size of Austin doesn't have...
Read
2003: Year of the Internet's Bar Mitzvah - January 13, 2003
The Monday Morning Memo from wizardacademy.org
For a period of about 3 1/2 years (from late '96 to mid 2000,) the first question I was asked following every public session I taught was "What about the internet?" My answer never changed: "The internet is a baby born premature. Although she will...
Read
Have You Ever Really Thought about It? - January 6, 2003
The Monday Morning Memo from wizardacademy.org
During his time on the hot seat at Wizard Academy, author Russell Friedman made an interesting observation about coping with success: "We must reconstruct our identity with every fundamental change in our lives& Because it is not familiar, success has become an invader. We ask,...
Read
Shadow of an Unspoken Question - December 30, 2002
The Monday Morning Memo from wizardacademy.org
Every sales presentation should answer the customer's question, "What's in it for me?" This question is often unspoken and may even be unconscious in the customer's mind, but it's always there, casting a shadow of disinterest and doubt.Most presentations are focused on the features of...
Read
See the Angel? - December 23, 2002
The Monday Morning Memo from wizardacademy.org
"The greater danger, for most of us, lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark... Lord, grant that I may always desire more than I can accomplish." - Michelangelo"Ah, but a...
Read
Swimming in the Sky - December 16, 2002
The Monday Morning Memo from wizardacademy.org
We live in the air and sunlight of the conscious mind. So when I wrote to you recently that the unconscious mind is an ocean, dark and deep, and that our conscious awareness is merely a sea journey on its surface, that metaphor was not...
Read
Are You Normal? - December 9, 2002
The Monday Morning Memo
"Everybody wants to be normal, but no one wants to be average." But isn't normal synonymous with average? Don't both words mean basically the same thing?I recently wrote to you that misunderstandings often arise from a lack of definition of terms. Likewise, the answer to...
Read
Life is a Carnival Ride - December 1, 2002
The Monday Morning Memo from wizardacademy.org
"Life is truly a ride. We're all strapped in and no one can stop it.... I think that the most you can hope for at the end of life is that your hair's messed, you're out of breath, and you didn't throw up."- Jerry SeinfeldBudapest,...
Read
Are You Happy? - November 25, 2002
The Monday Morning Memo
Misunderstandings are often the result of a lack of definition of terms. When two people define a term differently without realizing it, they can argue for hours without ever moving closer to resolution. I'll bet you've seen it happen. Bystanders exclaim, "But they're both saying...
Read
Who the Heck is Kary Mullis, anyway? - November 17, 2002
The Monday Morning Memo from wizardacademy.org
I was reading a collection of quotes recently when I discovered one that made me smile: "There is a general place in your brain, I think, reserved for 'melancholy of relationships past.' It grows and prospers as life progresses, forcing you finally, against your better...
Read
What do Rich People have in Common? - November 11, 2002
The Monday Morning Memo from wizardacademy.org
Okay then, besides having a lot of money, what do rich people have in common? No, it's not intelligence or education. Look around. The world is littered with unrewarded geniuses and every store has at least one clerk with a master's degree or a doctorate.No,...
Read
Radio as Taught by Wizard Academy - November 3, 2002
The Monday Morning Memo from wizardacademy.org
Why is it that when you're driving and looking for an address, you turn down the volume on the radio? Ever stopped to think about it?You can close your eyes, but you cannot close your ears. Sound is invasive, intrusive and irresistible. You hear and...
Read
Exponential Little Bits - October 27, 2002
The Monday Morning Memo from wizardacademy.org
Exponential Little BitsThe Monday Morning Memo from wizardacademy.org  Makers of miracles have magical little helpers. Is there a miracle you'd like to make?  Would you like to learn the magic of the elbs?Elbs are Exponential Little Bits, tiny but relentless changes that compound to make...
Read
The Meaning of Life - October 20, 2002
The Monday Morning Memo from wizardacademy.org
I named them "The Fearless Flyers" because each of them boarded an empty jet shortly after the attacks on the World Trade Center. They were Chet Young from Iowa, Dick Taylor from New Jersey, Akintunde Omitowaju from Nigeria and Dr. Kevin Ryan from Utah.It was...
Read
A Glimpse of Things to Come - October 14, 2002
The Monday Morning Memo from wizardacademy.org
From: "Brett Feinstein"Date: Wed, 9 Oct 2002 06:19:59To: "Roy H. Williams"Subject: Not sure how to track this down but... My partner, Jamie, called me today to say he had been watching theToday Show yesterday (Wednesday) and saw an interview with composer Mike Post. Post, as...
Read
Wanna Help Make a Movie? - October 7, 2002
A Monday Morning Memo from wizardacademy.org
The principal difference between a salesman and a consultant is that a salesman believes "the customer is always right." But a consultant is paid to tell you the truth even when you don't want to hear it. People either love or hate a consultant. Ray...
Read
"Houston... the Beagle has Landed." - September 30, 2002
A Monday Morning Memo from wizardacademy.org
I'll bet you thought Neil Armstrong said "Eagle," didn't you?When the commander of the Apollo 11 mission announced thelunar arrival of the Beagle on July 20, 1969, the world held itscollective breath in anticipation. Today is another day like that.Well, kind of... almost.... sort of......
Read
Will Rogers and the Shoemaker's Kids - September 22, 2002
Your Monday Morning Memo from wizardacademy.org
Will Rogers, that most famous of Oklahomans, was once asked if he could speak for five minutes at a luncheon. "No problem," said Will, "when do you need me to do it?" "Tomorrow at noon," came the happy reply. "Gosh, I'm sorry, but it would...
Read
Might Isaac Newton Have Been Wrong? - September 16, 2002
The Sequel to Last Week's MMMemo, "Have You Been Kicking the Box?"
You've long been told, "For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction." But it isn't true. When a person expresses love, where is the necessary "equal and opposite reaction" then? Newton's oft-quoted third law of motion is usually true in physics, but it...
Read
Have You Been Kicking the Box? - September 9, 2002
The Sequel to Last Week's MMMemo, "Beware Your Metaphors"
There's really no such thing as "thinking outside the box." But we can select a different box to think in. Your box is your business model, your world-view, your paradigm. It is the framework of the metaphor that you use to make sense of the...
Read
Beware Your Metaphors - September 2, 2002
A MMMemo about the Subtle Power of Symbolic Thought
"Life is a bowl of cherries; beneath a thin layer of sweet stuff, it's mostly just the pits." "When life hands you lemons, make lemonade." "Plan against both the most probable and the most dangerous course of action by your competitors. Branch off and do...
Read
Encourager of Others - August 25, 2002
The Monday Morning Sequel to Last Week's Memo, "Eddie's Song"
The world's most widely recognized sculpture, The Thinker, would probably never have come into existence had Rodin not received encouragement from a poor Scottish lad named William Henley. The son of an obscure bookseller, William was afflicted with tuberculosis of the bone, a condition that...
Read
Eddie's Song - August 19, 2002
A Monday Morning Memo in Three Part Harmony, from www.WizardofAds.com
Have you ever heard someone singing a song and then found yourself singing it all the rest of that day? Songs are funny things, even when they're not sung to music. Sing words of victory and you'll soon start feeling triumphant.. Sing of warmth and...
Read
Timing Isn't Everything, (but it helps.) - August 11, 2002
A Memo for a Tightly Compactified Monday Morning When You're Probably Too Busy to Read It.
Ever notice how easily you spend money during the weekends or when you're on vacation? Carpe Diem. Enjoy the moment. Your fantasy life won't be over until you get back to the Office on Monday morning.Actually, that's not true. Your fantasy life will be over...
Read
The Longest 1,000 Days - August 5, 2002
A Monday Morning Memo for Those Who are Feeling a Little Bit Battered
Have you ever experienced a window of time in which everything went wrong simultaneously? You take a small step forward and a nail punctures your foot. You take another step, looking down this time, and bang your head on a low-hanging potted plant. It swings...
Read
Singularity - July 29, 2002
The Prequel to last week's MMMemo, "fEinstein's Assertion"
In last week's memo we spoke of the duality of the universe, otherwise known as The Law of Two. Likewise, this week's memo could easily be titled, The Law of One. This Law of Singularity was powerfully communicated in the movie City Slickers when Curly,...
Read
fEinstein's Assertion - July 22, 2002
A Bold Attempt to Crawl Out to the Fruit on the Skinny Part of the Branch
"David Sklansky and Mason Malmuth are a pair of authors whose poker books revolutionized the game. They are, far and away, the best theorists and writers about poker ever. Yet reading Sklansky and Malmuth will not make you a winning poker player in tougher games....
Read
Patterns within Patterns, All around You - July 15, 2002
The Wizard's Final Attempt at a Simple Explanation of the Third Body Problem
It happened again last week; I accidentally used the term, "third gravitating body" and was immediately asked for an explanation. Sigh. I really need to quit doing that. The unavoidable truth is that it takes at least two hours and an auditorium full of special...
Read
Rainy Fourth of July - July 8, 2002
(Musings Found in an Old Trunk in the Attic of the Wizard's Castle)
"The sun did not shine. It was too wet to play. So we sat in the house all that cold, cold wet day. I sat there with Sally. We sat there, we two. And I said, 'How I wish we had something to do!' Too...
Read
A Dollar a Person a Year - July 1, 2002
A Well Kept Secret of the Wizard at www.WizardofAds.com
More than half a million people have read the book, seen the video, or attended the seminar in which I say, "Involuntary long-term memory, or 'branding,' is dependent upon saliency (relevance of ad copy) and the ratio of ad repetition to listener sleep. Sleep erases...
Read
Creativity Cubed - June 24, 2002
A Monday Morning Memo from the Wizard at www.WizardofAds.com
"Ideas are the product of connections, both logical and illogical. Effective creativity is a merger of these logical and illogical thoughts together to form revolutionary new strategies and plans. Sadly, most Americans focus only on what has already been developed by others." - Dave Lakhani,...
Read
What a Novel Idea. - June 17, 2002
A Monday Morning Memo from the Wizard at www.WizardofAds.com
"The novel as we know it came into existence in the year 1740, with Samuel Richardson's Pamela. There had been novels before this, but they tended to be either fairy tales or picaresque "true narrations." What Richardson did was to create a highly elaborate daydream...
Read
Text of House Resolution 269 Honoring the Achievements of Antonio Meucci - June 11, 2002
The following resolution was passed on June 11, 2002 in the U.S. House of Representatives:HRES 269 IH 107th CONGRESS1st SessionIN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVESMr. FOSSELLA submitted the following resolution:RESOLUTIONExpressing the sense of the House of Representatives to honor the life and achievements of 19th Century...
Read
Becoming a Writer - June 10, 2002
A Note from the Wizard at www.WizardofAds.com
You have a great book hiding within you. So are you going to coax it out? "I'd love to write a book, but I don't know how." Sure you do. You learned how in elementary school, remember? Words become sentences. Sentences become paragraphs. Paragraphs become...
Read
Two Places at Once - June 3, 2002
A Note from the Wizard to Help You Better Understand Yourself and Those you Love
"Absent-minded professor" is a term often used to describe a person who isn't very observant. Do you have a friend who sometimes loses track of what they're doing? And even occasionally of where they are? Are you a bit that way yourself? Absent-minded professors aren't...
Read
Magic Words - May 27, 2002
A Monday Morning Memo from the Drafty North Tower of the Wizard's Castle
f you take pride in your rational, logical demeanor and consider yourself to be above emotional distractions, I'm afraid I've got some bad news for you. Beneath that calm, outer shell you're just as out-of-control as the rest of us. Like it or not, the...
Read
Silent No Longer - May 20, 2002
Warning Today's Memo is Highly Controversial and I Do Not Pretend to be Objective
I can be silent no longer. I am prejudiced concerning Jews. But my prejudice is not against them. I am prejudiced in their favor.Tulsa, Oklahoma - 1978: 20 year-old me is in need of a car. I dream of a Triumph Spitfire. Waking early one...
Read
Executive Summary on the Middle East - May 13, 2002
Attributed to comedian Dennis Miller, but actually written by comedian LARRY Miller of L.A.
A brief overview of the situation is always valuable, so as a service to all Americans who still don't get it, I now offer you the story of the Middle East in just a few paragraphs, which is all you really need. Don't thank me....
Read
Do You Have a Book in You? - May 6, 2002
A Monday Morning Reflection while Looking out a New York Window
One by one, ten men and Holly Buchanan had risen to tell us their names and a little about themselves. Now it was time for the distinguished, older gentleman in the back row to stand and do the same. "My name is Keith Miller and...
Read
Is Happiness a Reasonable Goal? - April 29, 2002
A Monday Memo Borrowed from an Email Discussion between Wizard Academy Alumni
One of my great joys is to monitor the online discussions between Wizard Academy graduates. From astrophysics to advertising to albino monkeys, you never know what question will be posed by one to be pondered by all. Recently, Lisa Davis stepped sideways from a discussion...
Read
Free. The Beagle. - April 22, 2002
A Misty Moment of Magic on a Marv Ellis Monday Morning.
Do you remember the birth of the beagle in June, 2001*?.In much the same way that Fraser began as Diane's boyfriend in a single episode of Cheers and then went on to become a regular and then to have a show of his own, the...
Read
The Exact Science of Creativity - April 15, 2002
A Monday Morning Thought from the Wizard at www.WizardofAds.com
It was during the Business Topology module of the Magical Worlds curriculum that John Quarto-vonTivadar raised his shy hand and quietly asked, "Have you ever studied TRIZ?" Seeing the blank look on my face, John knew instantly that he might as well have asked, "How...
Read
Are You Making the Old Mistakes? - April 8, 2002
Another Monday Morning Thought from the Wizard at wizardacademy.org
You need some new ideas because the old ones aren't working. The time has come to reinvent your product and your company, maybe even yourself. But the only framework within which you can visualize a new system is the old system. Like a dog chasing...
Read
CRM the Next Big Thing - April 1, 2002
A Monday Morning Memo for those Retailers Who Want to Operate Ahead of the Curve
Branding has dominated the landscape of corporate America in recent years, but the best business minds in America predict that we'll soon be hearing that term with steadily decreasing frequency. According to analysts Joe Romano (Scull and Co.) and Eric Rhoads (Radio Ink) and Shuki...
Read
Two Kinds of Customers - March 25, 2002
A Monday Memo Explaining the Great Mystery of Retail from wizardacademy.org
The student became the teacher last week when Wizard Academy graduate Bill Bergh taught me something that I had never previously realized, even though Dr. Nick Grant had explained it to me at least half a dozen times. It was one of those times when...
Read
Is God in the Details? - March 18, 2002
A Monday Morning Update on the Wizard's Evolving Theory of Thought Particles
The left brain is your link to this physical world and the right brain is your link to the spiritual. It's all very simple, really. It's just a question of body and soul.Sight, sound, touch and muscular control are housed in the brain's left hemisphere...
Read
How to Get Free Press - March 11, 2002
Good News from the Wizard at wizardacademy.org
Heads look down and hands begin to write every time I say it in a public seminar, so I always give people time to write it down. It's one of those things that's so obviously true that people are surprised they never thought of it...
Read
How to Survive a Family Business - March 4, 2002
A Monday Morning Memo from the Wizard's Study at www.wizardacdemy.com
If you run your business like a family, you're headed for disaster. The only thing that could possibly be worse would be to run your family like a business. Business values and family values are fundamentally opposite. Healthy families are built on unconditional acceptance and...
Read
Help the Wizard Help You - February 25, 2002
A Monday Morning Invitation from wizardacademy.org.com
One of the self-imposed guidelines regarding these Monday Morning Memos is that I try very hard never to use the words "I," me," or "my" when writing to you about your life and your career. This rule is broken no more than twice a year....
Read
How to Steal Your Life Back - February 18, 2002
(Or, Stealing Home Plate to Score the Winning Run in the Baseball Game of Life)
The catcher walked out to the pitcher's mound and everything came to a halt. Their brief conversation was punctuated only by the sweep of their eyes as they slowly scanned the crowd. The moment passed, the catcher walked slowly back to his place, and the...
Read
Mental Jigsaw Puzzle - February 11, 2002
(Monday Morning Ramblings of a Distracted Wizard at wizardacademy.org )
We live in a society that is over-busy. (I'll bet you're feeling a bit "behind" even as you read this, aren't you?) I'm currently working on a MMMemo entitled "How to Steal Your Life Back," and plan to send it to you soon. But this...
Read
The Wizard Talks About God - May 15, 2000
The Monday Morning Memo
  Subject: Just a couple of questions for you--if you have time for one of your readersDate: Mon, May 15, 2000, 6:37 PMDear Mr. Williams:I am a 38-year old woman from Massachusetts. I read your first book and loved it. You mention God a lot...
Read
Wizard Academy Library Tower - January 8, 2000
I'm Anxious for You to Tour It
Wizard Academy Library TowerI'm Anxious for You to Tour ItThe stone road leading to the wine cellar will begin at ground level and continue level into the sloping hillside, perfectly Pole-Star North – 300 feet – until you arrive at the door of the wine...
Read
Alfred 40 Years Ago - September 5, 1970
Oklahoma: 1970
photo by Alfred Alfred taught me never to be ruled by fear. I met Alfred when he took the first photograph of my family that didn’t include my father. Mom wanted a family photo, I think, to prove we were still a family. Alfred was...
Read