Sadly, none of the dudes on this list tweet, blog, text or accumulate badges on foursquare…
I’m guessing the reason is pretty obvious. But, they’ve each left legacies and a substantial body of work capable of fueling tremendous entrepreneurial growth and transforming business. If you know their work, revisit it. If not, find it and devour it and leverage it to take your venture, idea and life to the next level.
1. Gary Halbert | Persuasion in Print – Gary was a legendary copywriter and marketer, but was also known as a near-mystical storyteller, both in life and in print. And, though he passed a few years ago, he left a tremendous educational legacy in the form of a series of letters to his sons that were the equivalent of an A-list copywriting education. They’ve since become known as The Boron Letters and you can read all of them online at TheGaryHalbertLetter.com
2. Buddha | Service, Giving & Compassion – It’s not about religion, it’s not about dogma, IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU! Leading with humanity, respect, compassion, awareness, presence, service and hard daily work. The fundamental lessons taught by Buddha thousands of years ago still resonate powerfully in business today. A great place to start is Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind, Tao De Ching or Ron Hogan’s edgy, modern interpretation Getting Right With Tao (which rocks).
3. Claude Hopkins | Test or Die – Back in 1966, Hopkins wrote a 70 page book called Scientific Advertising that forever changed the way companies crafted sales messages…at least those who were paying attention. Among, them, David Ogilvy, who credits Hopkins’ book with changing his life. Because Hopkins focused in on the need to measure and improve what you do. He championed results and metrics over ego. And, that was huge. The amazing thing is, Scientific Advertising is just as relevant today as it was more than 40 years ago.
4. Milton Erickson | Story, Trance, Influence & Action – Erickson was a legendary therapist whose work in hypnosis, storytelling and trance laid the foundation for a broad array of transformative mindset technologies, including what others would eventually turn into neurolinguistic programming or NLP. While his work was centered in the field of therapy, the skills and discoveries he made about the power of language and story to drop people into trance states then lead them to change translates beautifully to the area of influence, sales, persuasion and marketing. You can learn more by starting with My Voice Will Go With You and Phoenix: Therapeutic Patterns of Milton H. Erickson. Just promise to use your new found powers only for good.
5. Eugene Schwartz | Matching Headlines to Market Stage – Schwartz is legendary for having sold over $1,000,000,000 with his copy. But, he didn’t just stop at selling other peoples’ stuff. He also wrote a little known book called Breakthrough Advertising. Little known, that is, to nearly everyone but the small handful of people who’ve used the knowledge contained within it to understand how to create headlines and copy that match the “stage” of a market…then generate big, fat piles of cash. The book is expensive ($80 – $200, if you can even find it in stock). Don’t cheap out, this gem is worth hundreds of times the price.
6. P.T. Barnum | The Power of Entertainment – We all know P.T. Barnum, showman extraordinaire, the first-ever “show-biz millionaire” and creator of Ringling Bros & Barnum & Bailey Circus. Why study him? Because, he understood and leveraged the power of engagement and entertainment phenomenally well. And, especially, if you’re either in or are thinking about launching a business that educates others, understanding how Barnum integrated entertainment and “mesmerization” into a business model is a powerful lesson. He was also a complex, polarizing person who came back from the financial failure. You don’t need to like him or his views, you do need to understand what he did. Check out P.T. Barnum: America’s Greatest Showman.
7. Keith Richards…oh…he’s not…never mind…
8. David Ogilvy | The Power of Selling En-Masse – The founder of one of the largest ad conglomerates in the world, Ogilvy brought a direct response sensibility to large scale communications sharing, “In the modern world of business, it is useless to be a creative, original thinker unless you can also sell what you create.” Study not only his approach to advertising, but how he built his empire. Read anything you can get your hands on, but start with Ogilvy on Advertising.
9. Stevie Ray Vaughan | The Power of Passion – Vaughan was a legendary blues guitarist and performer. But, there’s something immensely powerful to be learned from the way he lived, performed and created music. He was all in. Completely and utterly absorbed. If there’s a word that goes deeper than passion, he embodied it. Reportedly humble in person, he gave everything he had when he hit the stage. And, in devoting his life to this singular muse, he created magic that people could not get enough of.
It didn’t even matter if you were a blues fan, when you were in his presence, you were drawn in. Hell, there was a pretty good chance you wanted to BE him. Back in 1980, at the age of 26, he wrote a love song to his wife, Lenora, after she rallied 7 friends to chip in $50 each to buy him a 1965 Stratocaster guitar. The song was called Lenny. You can listen in here. Close the door, close your eyes and turn it up. If you don’t get it from that…
10. Fred Lebow | The Power of Will – A die-hard runner and much beloved founder of the New York City Marathon, Lebow turned a dream and some serious marketing savvy into one of the largest athletic events in the world. Starting from humble beginnings with only 55 finishers in 1970 (Lebow finished 45th), the race has now grown into one of the most prestigious marathons in the world, boasting more than 40,000 finishers, millions of live fans and tens of millions of TV viewers. Lebow’s accomplishment were a testament to what happens when you blend passion with marketing genius and extraordinary will. Start your reading with Anything For a T-Shirt, then google and read.
11. Bonus Live Person: Trent Reznor | Making Your Own Rules – Founder of the band Nine Inch Nails. After working successfully in the traditional music label model, he turned everything upside down, stepped outside the box everyone believed defined the space and created a new paradigm. Reznor isn’t just a brilliant musician and performer, he’s also an extraordinary provocateur, community builder, business strategist with an eery ability to see where the industry is capable of going, then lead the way.
And, like many others who’ve achieved a certain level of success by breaking a lot of rules, people tend to have strong feelings about him. What he’s accomplished applies across many different industries. This video from TechDirt’s Michael Masnick does a great job of laying out what Reznor did and how it impacted not only the band, but the entire industry.
So, that’s my top 10. If you’ve got thoughts on them or have others you think would be of value, feel free to share away in the comments below.
And, if you’ve found value in this collection, why not share it?
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