The Three Month Vacation Podcast: Online Small Business|Marketing Strategy Plan| Sean D'Souza | Psychotactics








January 2017
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Resistance seems like an overbearing force in our lives

We want to achieve a lot, but as soon as we get started, resistance kicks in. But did you know there are ways around resistance?

Resistance loves a loner. If you’re working alone, you’re just setting yourself for an encounter with resistance. Resistance loves to play the game of winner. We need to put resistance in second place. Here’s how to go about the task of winning the game.

Click here to read: How To Beat The Resistance Game

Direct download: 124_Re-Release_The_Resistance_Game_Part_1_-_Can_Resistance_be_Beaten-.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm FJT

There are two options in life: greatness or mediocrity. But greatness seems so elusive, even so pompous. How do you call your work “great”?
How do you even know or benchmark “greatness?”.

And can a small business achieve greatness or do you have to be a dominant player like Apple, Disney and Walmart?

Click here to read: Good to Great

Whenever you run into tips on productivity it’s always this earth shaking advice

You’re advised to make these monumental changes to improve your business or life. In reality all you need are tiny little tweaks.

Important tweaks, but tiny ones. And some of these tweaks are slightly irreverent. Which is what makes these productivity tips even more interesting. You’ll enjoy this episode on productivity—gentle productivity—and here’s a tip. You may end up sleeping a lot more as well!

Click here to read: How Gentle Productivity Gets Astounding Results

Direct download: 122_Re-Release_How_Gentle_Productivity_Gets_Astounding_Results.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm FJT

If you were to boil down marketing to a single word, it would be “risk”.

When a client is ready to buy they still hesitate. Even when there’s a sense of urgency on their part, they still go through a series of steps before they come to a decision. What are those steps? Why do clients seem to back away at the last minute?

Click here to read: How To Overcome The Hesitation Factor

Direct download: 121_Re-Release_Risk_-_How_To_Overcome_The_Hesitation_Factor.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm FJT

Why do we learn so slowly? Is it because we’re not good learners?

Is it age? Or is it something quite different? The problem of learning (and teaching) is dependent on the concept of Teacher vs Preacher. When you’re a preacher, you give the feeling of a ton of information, but there’s no true learning, no true application.

A teacher, gets the student to apply the skills. When you’re creating info-products, writing books or articles, this is what needs to be kept in mind.

Click to read: Why Learning a New Skill is So Difficult

Trying to come up with a suitable name for your book or info-product seems like a nightmare

What if you’re wrong? What if the name isn’t well received?

However, there’s a way to make your book really stand out. And guess what? It’s not the title that matters. It’s the sub-title.

Find out why we’ve been tackling things the wrong way and how to get a superb name for your book or information product/course before the day is done.


In this episode Sean talks about

Part 1: Why your crappy name will bury your book/information product.
Part 2: The critical role of the subtitle and what makes it stand out.
Part 3: How to use a title and then add random interesting sub-titles.


My friend, Karen, was about to have her first child.

As you’d expect, she was a bit apprehensive but also quite joyful. One of the reasons why she was so excited was the whole process of giving a name to her soon-to-be child. She had half a dozen books on “naming the child”.

While we were visiting, we had a little conversation about the naming process and she went into a lengthy explanation about how she intended to name the child. Of course, I expected her son to have an interesting name.

Several months later when I ran into Karen online, I asked her the name of her son.

“Jack”, she said.
“Jack?” I responded almost incredulously. “You went through all of those books, and all you could find was, Jack?”

“Yes,” she said. “I was going to find a fancy name when I ran into an article that asked me to go to the doorway and call of the name of the kid 20 times in a day. It seemed easy to shout out “Jack”, then something like “Bertrand, so “Jack” it was.

And that is how my friend, Karen named her first born.

Your “firstborn” might need a slightly different process. Especially if your firstborn is a book – and you are called upon to name the book. This is where we go slightly mad. We’re not really sure how to name our products.

Which is why this article is all about learning a structural method that will help you name your products. We will look at books or information products that already exist, and see how they have gone about the process. We will also take a look at what we’re doing at Psychotactics and how even when we understand the concept, we tend to get it wrong. Well, sometimes you can just get lazy.

What are we going to cover?

1  Why your crappy name will bury your book/information product
2  The critical role of the subtitle and what makes it stand out?
3 how to use a title and then add random interesting sub-titles.

All of these three steps are part of the journey that we need to take the name our information product. As always we need to start at the top, and that takes us to the first topic.

1) Why your crappy name will bury your book/information product.

The list you see below are the successive names given to a single book.

The author tried repeatedly to come up with a great name, but these were the names he came up with—despite putting in a great effort. See if you like any of the names.

– The Parts Nobody Knows
– To Love and Write Well
– How Different It Was
– With Due Respect
– The Eye And the Ear.

Have you heard of any of these books?

Possibly not, because they never made it to the bookshelf. And the author, a “certain guy” called Ernest Hemingway, died before the book’s title was finalised.

So what was the name of the book that made it to the shelves? It’s called “A Moveable Feast”. “A Moveable Feast” caught the attention of the editors and then the readers and became a bestseller (and has stayed high on the ‘books to read’ list). But it could have easily been dead in the water, with a title like “With Due Respect” or “The Eye and the Ear”.

As it appears, it’s not enough to just write a great book—you can kill your book with a lousy name.

So how do you name your books? The simple answer is to make it curious. And how do you make it curious? You use both the title and the sub-title to dramatic effect, that’s how. But let’s not start with the title and take on the sub-title instead. In fact, let’s take a few good (and bad examples from the Psychotactics stable itself).

As it appears, it’s not enough to just write a great book—you can kill your book with a lousy name.

Title: The Brain Audit
Sub-title: Why Customers Buy (And Why They Don’t)

So is the title interesting?

Yes, it’s interesting at once. We’re terribly interested in anything to do with the brain, and so in a sea of books, a name like The Brain Audit stands out immediately. But that’s where the sub-title comes in.

Would you know if The Brain Audit was a medical text or a book on calisthenics? It would be hard to tell, right? If you look up for books that have the term “Brain” in it, you get a range of books including one called “The Brain That Changes Itself”, “Brain Rules”, “Brain on Fire” and you can’t really tell which one is a business book and which one isn’t. And that’s where the sub-title comes into play.

So yeah, that sub-title worked. Time to choose another, eh?

The second product we take a look at is a course on Uniqueness. At Psychotactics, we have a homestudy version on “how to make your company stand out in a crowded market place”. So what’s the name of the information product? It’s called:

Title: Pick One
Sub-Title: Getting to Uniqueness

Did that sub-title excite you?

If the answer “NO” comes to mind, you’re on the right track. So now that we’re decimating the crappy sub-titles, let’s go digging further and find out some more that could do with improvement. Let’s look at a set of three books that were written on the topic of presentations.

Title: ‘Black Belt Presentations’
Sub-title: No sub-title.


In fact, while we’re here, let’s list at least a few of the products and see why some products are easier to sell than others. And why the sub-titles make such a difference.

Title: Be Kind, Be Helpful or Begone
Sub-title: How To Build A Powerful, Community-Driven Membership Website

Title: Attversumption
Sub-title: The strategy behind attraction, conversion and consumption

Title: Website Components
Sub-title: No sub-title.

Title: The Secret Life of Testimonials:
Sub-title: Simple, Powerful Techniques to Get Better Clients-And Sales

Title: The Power of Stories
Sub-title: How to Turn Average Stories into Cliff-Hangers

Title: Chaos Planning
Sub-title: How ‘Irregular’ Folks Get Things Done

Title: Client Attractors:
Sub-title: How To Write Benefits, Features and Bullets That Speed Up Sales

Title: Design Clarity in Minutes
Sub-Title: How to put some sanity into your design with some really simple tweaks

Title: How Visuals Help Increase Sales Conversion On Your Website
Sub-title: No Sub-title.

Now as you scan those names, you can quickly tell which of the sub-titles work and which don’t

You can also tell that those without sub-titles aren’t well thought through, or definitely hampered by the lack of the sub-title.

So let’s just stop for a second and see what we’ve covered:

•            That the title matters
•            But first we must pay closer attention to the sub-title
•            That it’s easy to get lazy or rushed and forget to put in the sub-title
•            That some sub-titles don’t work as well as they should

Which brings up the question: Is there a simple way to write a sub-title? And the answer is yes. You can indeed create great sub-titles every single time. Let’s find out how.

Part 2: What makes a sub-title stand out?

So we’re clear.

We all put our hearts and souls into creating a title for our books and products—but yes, the sub-title is often the one that draws us in. So how do we go about creating this sub-title? The easiest way is to jump right in and create. So what’s the simplest formula possible?

There is no ONE formula. And rightly so, because that would make every sub-title boring. Instead let’s look at just two.

Method 1: Headline-type of sub-title
Method 2: Problem, solution, target
Then let’s head over and pluck out a few bestsellers, shall we?

Method 1:  Headline-type of sub-title

Let’s first look at what they’re all about and then put in a sub-title that reads just like a headline.

a) LEAN IN, by Sheryl Sandberg with Nell Scovell: The chief operating officer of Facebook urges women to pursue their careers without ambivalence.

Title: Lean In
Sub-title given: Women, Work and the Will to Lead

Sub-title: How Women Can Forge Ahead In Their Careers Faster Than Ever Before
Sub-title: The Untold Story of One Woman’s Career Surge (And How You Can Do It Too)
Sub-title  Why Women Need To Pursue Their Careers Without Ambivalence

b) THE ONE THING, by Gary Keller with Jay Papasan: Narrowing your concentration and becoming more productive.

The second book has already done the work for us.

Title: The ONE.
Sub-title given: The surprisingly simple truth behind extraordinary results

Sub-title: How to narrow your concentration and become more productive
Sub-title: The keys to narrowing concentration and increasing productivity.

c) GIVE AND TAKE, by Adam M. Grant: A Wharton professor’s research discloses that success depends on how we interact with others.

The third book has a vague sub-title but let’s work on it.

Title: Give and take
Sub-title given: A revolutionary approach to success

Sub-title: How People Interaction Creates a Quicker Road to Success

d) THE POWER OF HABIT, by Charles Duhigg: A Times reporter’s account of the science behind how we form, and break, habits.

And the next two books follow as well.

Title: The Power of Habit
Sub-title given: Why We Do What We Do In Life and Business

Sub-title: The Quiet Secret to Making Habits Stick Forever
Sub-title: How Habits Rule Us (And How To Break Bad Ones Forever).
Sub-title: How to Make Good Habits Out Of Bad Ones

Just adding a headline to your sub-title makes the book stand out.

It almost doesn’t matter what the title happens to be. Well, not quite true. The title matters, but it’s the sub-title that can be made to do the grunt work.  But writing headlines for your sub-title is not the only way. You can have sub-titles with the familiar formula found in The Brain Audit.  And that is the problem and solution combo.

String them together and you can pretty some pretty outstanding sub-titles for your book. If we were to take the subtitles of the book that we have just looked at, and put in the problem-solution formula, you would get some pretty interesting subtitles. Let’s give it a crack, shall we?

The total for The Brain Audit is “The Brain Audit” but what is the subtitle?

The subtitle has a problem and the solution. It goes like this: “why customers buy (and why they don’t). And that’s a problem and solution strung together.

Method 2: Problem, solution, target

Let’s look at the subtitles of the books we just brought up and let’s see how they too could work with subtitles that incorporate the problem and solution.

a)LEAN IN, by Sheryl Sandberg with Nell Scovell: The chief operating officer of Facebook urges women to pursue their careers without ambivalence.

Problem: Doubt/Ambivalance
Solution: Move ahead
Target audience: Women

My Journey Through Career-Doubt—And Beyond

b) THE ONE THING, by Gary Keller with Jay Papasan: Narrowing your concentration and becoming more productive.

Problem: Concentration issues
Solution: Beat the issues
Target audience: People who have trouble concentrating

The art of beating concentration issues (and becoming more productive)

c) GIVE AND TAKE, by Adam M. Grant: A Wharton professor’s research discloses that success depends on how we interact with others.

Problem: Lack of success
Solution: Success through interaction
Target audience: People who want to succeed

The Hidden Secrets of Interaction (And How Successful People Use Them Well)

d) POWER OF HABIT, by Charles Duhigg: A Times reporter’s account of the science behind how we form, and break, habits.

Problem: Form/break habits
Solution: Form/break habits
Target audience: People who want to form/break habits

How To Turn Bad Habits Into Good—And Make Them Stick

As you have just heard, you can quite easily use the problem and the solution to create subtitles. So w hat have we covered so far? We looked at the power of subtitles vs titles. And subtitles pack so much punch. You can create your subtitle by writing a headline or you can use the problem and solution to create a subtitle that is just as effective.

However, just to prove it is the subtitle and not exactly the title that does all the grunt work, let’s change the subtitles of some very well known books.

Example: Good to Great

Good to Great: How to turn your potatoes into twice the size, overnight.
Good to Great: The Secret to Non-Boring Garden Landscaping
Good to Great: How Indonesia turns out an endless array of badminton champions
Good to Great: The Story of Singapore Airlines’ Profitability
Good to Great: Why Turkey Is The Second Fastest Growing Economy In The World
Good to Great: Why Bacteria Is Winning The War Against AntiBiotics.

Blue Ocean Strategy: How to turn your potatoes into twice the size, overnight.
Blue Ocean Strategy: The Secret to Non-Boring Garden Landscaping
Blue Ocean Strategy: How Indonesia turns out an endless array of badminton champions
Blue Ocean Strategy: The Story of Singapore Airlines’ Profitability
Blue Ocean Strategy: Why Turkey Is The Second Fastest Growing Economy In The World
Blue Ocean Strategy: Why Bacteria Is Winning The War Against AntiBiotics.

Of course it won’t work for every single title. For example, if you took the name like The Brain Audit and put any sub-title, it wouldn’t work. But these examples are to show you that the title, for the most part, is not the crazy holy grail that you’re looking for.

It’s nice to have a great title.
But it’s a better strategy to have an even better sub-title.

Which brings us to a moment of utter clarity.

The sub-title matters. That’s what really gets the attention of the customer both in the book store, on Amazon or on your website. Without the sub-title, we’re handicapping the book or info product. And yet so many of us (me included) have quite easily placed our emphasis on the title, and ignored the sub-titles.

Well, now you know…

So is the title of any use after all?

Yes it is.
But should you go nuts trying to get a great title? No you shouldn’t.

The cartooning course we have is called the DaVinci course. Is that a great title? No it’s not. But the greatness comes from its “invisible” sub-title. So what should the sub-title have been? It should have read like this: How to go from non-artist to amazing cartoonist in 6 months (or less).

The same applies to our headlines or Article Writing Course that don’t even have titles and yet are booked out months in advance. The promise they bring is what draws the audience to the product/services. And yet, would I ever swap a title like The Brain Audit for something else? Of course not. Not having a great title is not critical for an infoproduct, but once you get one, it’s an invaluable asset.

So how do you create your titles?

In the past, the titles were today’s sub-titles.

– How to stop worrying and start living: Dale Carnegie
– The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Stephen Covey

Then times changed to focus on the subtitle while the title shrunk

– Freakonomics
– The Tipping Point
– Posititioning

Some titles come from every day language e.g. the tipping point, positioning, etc. And some are made up e.g. Freakonomics, Strengths Finder.

So is there a way to find a title?

Yes, if you pay close attention. When you’re in a conversation, pay close attention to what’s being said. Every sentence has the potential for some unusual term or word that could become a book title. e.g. the last sentence has “close attention”, “potential”, “in a conversation”, “conversation”, “what’s being said”.

And while you may not have great use for any of those, they are all book titles that can be used.

To get book titles from your own field, open up magazines and books related to your field

Immediately you’ll see a whole bunch of terms within a book. A management book will yield titles such as “Myth of the Change”, “Cascade”, “burning platform”, “marines take care of marines” etc.

In fact I just opened up a management site and the words/titles popped out with amazing regularity. So yes, it’s all around you, these titles. And finding a title isn’t so scary as it once was, because we know that while titles are great, it’s the sub-title that really gets the customer’s attention.

So go out there and create your sub-title.
Then your title.


1  Why your crappy name will bury your book/information product
2  The critical role of the subtitle and what makes it stand out?
3 how to use a title and then add random interesting sub-titles.

Next Step: We all want to create profitable products but aren’t sure where to start

We hope for some amazing formula, when all you really need are three core questions. So what are the three questions you need to have in place and how can you get started today?  Click here to continue your information products journey: How To Create A Profitable Product (Three Core Questions).

How do we get talented?

Part 2 of “How To Get Talented” is a bit of a shocker.

You realise that talent is only the stuff you can’t do. If everyone can do what you can, then it’s not really a talent.

Ok, so that’s the spoiler, but listen or read anyway.


In this episode Sean talks about

Part 1: Pattern recognition and energy
Part 2: How can you achieve a ton of talents
Part 3: Is all talent inborn?

Read online:


Definition No.2: Talent is merely high speed pattern recognition.

What is 11 x 13?

What is 11 x 27?
Yes, it’s 297.

And just for good measure, what’s 11 x 45?
If you said 495 in a flash, you’d have the right answer.

However, the chances are you were slightly flummoxed by the questions

You could clearly see that we were dealing with the 11 times table, but it made no sense whatsoever when you had to multiply these random two digit numbers with 11. And yet a 10-year-old could do it quite quickly. I know this to be true because I teach willing 10-year-olds this simple maths trick.

Let’s start at the top, okay?

First, let’s look at the numbers. What’s 2 + 7? OK, so take that 9 and stick in the centre, of the 2 and 7. What number do you get? Sure it’s 2-9-7. Now, what’s 11 x 27? It’s 2-9-7.

Confused? My brain took a little time to work out the system as well

So let’s take a simpler example where you already know the answer. What’s 11 x 12? It’s 132, right? So what we did was take the 1 + 2, and we got 3. We stuck that number 3 in between the 1 and the 2. And we got 1-3-2.

Okay, so what’s 11 x 44?
4 + 4 = 8. So that’s 484.

What’s 11 x 33?
3 + 3 = 6. So it’s 363.

Once you have the pattern, you can pretty much multiply any two digit number by 11 and get an answer in seconds

And what you’ve done is acquire a talent. An witty-bitty talent, but a talent nonetheless. And the way we’ve gone about it is to isolate the pattern and then roll it out slowly. At this point, your brain can figure out the pattern no matter what two digit number you multiply with 11.

A similar concept applies to just about any skill

Take drawing for example. Many, if not most of us, say we draw like a six-year-old. And you know what? You’re right. You draw like a six-year-old because you stopped drawing when you were six. You can walk into any school on the planet, and you’ll find that kids love drawing.

Give them a set of crayons, chalk, even a piece of coal, and they’ll be drawing endlessly. But ask them to do maths or grammar, and they look at you like you’re a banana.

However, that kid gets a packed lunch and is sent off to school. The years whizz by and those kids are 10. Ask them about grammar, or multiplication tables, and they can give you pretty solid answers. But ask them to draw and notice what happens. They draw like six-year-olds.

Talent is about pattern recognition

Those kids were given patterns that involved algebra and grammar, and so they picked up on those patterns. Music? Arts? Clay modeling? All the stuff they did right at the start? Well, that’s for babies, isn’t it? And this is how we go about life. We learn or are given patterns, and we dump the others. Or at least put them in cold storage. Some patterns are crucial, so we keep refining them.

Take eating with a spoon, for instance.

When you were a year old, trying to get a spoon full of mashed potato from the plate to your mouth was a major issue. Given a chance to “do your own thing” the potato mash would be partly on your face, on the ground and the dining room floor would look like a potato war zone.

Now you’re able to use a fork, knife and conduct a conversation while trying to look up Facebook on your phone—and all at the same time. Somewhere along the way, pattern recognition kicked in. What seems like a mundane task of eating a potato was once horribly complicated. But given enough time and pattern recognition, you’re now a pro at potato eating.

And that’s because all of this pattern recognition is costly in terms of energy

Think of it as a mansion with lights. When you’re first learning something new, you have to turn on every light in the house. It takes enormous energy just to do the simplest task. Over time the brain figures out the pattern. Instead of every light, it turns on half, then quarter of the lights. Finally, it probably needs almost negligible energy to do a task you’re familiar with.

Take for example the task of walking. You were utterly hopeless at walking when you first started, right? You don’t think much of it now, do this small task for me. Stand up and walk across the room, and say “left foot, right foot, left foot, right foot, balance, balance, balance.”

You’ll make it across the room, but your brain is using up so much energy that it instantly rebels. And it does so because it’s already worked out the pattern. It needs almost no power to get you to walk across that room.

All the skills you struggle with are a matter of pattern recognition and pattern execution

When you see someone giving an excellent presentation, you wonder how they become such great speakers. And yet, you’re not looking at their feet, are you? If you look at the feet of excellent speakers, they’re not randomly moving around the stage. They’re purposely moving in a triangular shape from one end to the other. When they get to one edge of the triangle, they stop. They scan the audience from one end to the other, thus making eye contact.

So without saying a word, a speaker would have to learn how to walk, how to stop, how to make the sweeping eye contact—all elements of pattern

recognition. When you look at the speech, it’s a series of items that include the graphics and content on the slides, the structure of the presentation, great stories and examples, and yes, crowd control. If you thought, “hey,

I’ll never be as good a speaker as that guy up on stage”, you’re right. You’re right because there are dozens of elements that the brain has to recognise and then implement. Just the walking across the stage might take you a few weeks to master, let alone everything else.

But what about those who can pick up patterns instantly?

All of us, without exception, pick up patterns very quickly. We do have biases of picking up patterns. Some of us may find reading to be more fruitful than audio, while others may love audio. Some may prefer video and others detest video.

Picking up of a pattern relies strongly on the bias, but also on the way the pattern is laid out. A good teacher can get a student to pick up patterns a lot faster than a mediocre teacher that simply doles out information.

Even so, some of us recognise patterns faster than others

Stephen Wiltshire is a pretty good example of instant pattern recognition. Wiltshire is an autistic British architectural artist. He’s gained fame as he’s able to draw an entire city after just seeing in once. In video after video on YouTube, Stephen draws New York, Rome, London and Singapore after just a single helicopter ride.

His work is so precise that he matches every window, pillar, and doorway. And this is the kind of pattern recognition that most of us refer to when we talk about talent. We can’t just waltz into a room, pick up a violin and play complex music.

We feel that only talented people can do this. Yet, there’s a downside to being able to do very complex activities almost instantly. Wiltshire, for instance, struggles with everyday activities: like boarding a train or having a long conversation with people.

The reality is that we “average” people can achieve a ton of talent in various fields

We consider ourselves to be pretty average, but with the right teacher, the right methods and the right group, we can achieve extraordinary levels of talent in diverse fields. There’s no instant hit for us, of course, but we can achieve all of the talents we need and still do everyday activities with ease. The moment the talent or skill is broken down into isolated pockets of learning, we can quickly pick up the talent and become exceedingly good at a skill.

Talent is just pattern recognition and pattern execution at high speed

And you know it’s a pattern because you can see the works of art. You know a Picasso is a Picasso because Picasso had a style. And what is style? Yup, it’s just science sped up.

Picasso may not have been able to explain how his brush work ended up as a piece of art, but the very fact that we recognise it means he used a system, a style that was his own. For a forger to replicate a Picasso, all he needs is the blueprint of the pattern and we’d be duped into buying a very expensive piece of junk.

It’s easy to believe that all talent is inborn

Yet, almost everything we do today is a learned behaviour. Our languages, the ability to write, speak, walk, dance, cook—they’re all a style; a pattern. And while no doubt there’s something, some hardware we’re born with, the vast majority of what we do is all learned through pattern recognition and execution.

Which brings us back to 11 x 22
Yes, the answer is 242.

But what about 11 x 29?
You carry over the digit because it adds up to 11. So it’s 3-1-9.

And one more. What is 11 x 99?
Hah, you’ll have to remember that by heart: It’s 1089.

See, it’s a pattern. Find a great teacher, who has a good system and a group, and you’ll magically become talented. No doubt practice will be involved, but it’s far less practice than you’d imagine. And the results will be far superior to just plodding around on your own.

So we’ve finished two definitions of talent.

– Talent is a reduction of errors
– Talent is a pattern recognition system.

Let’s go to the third part, which will stop you in your tracks a bit. Let’s explore talent from quite another angle: something you can’t do.

Definition No.3: It’s only stuff you can’t do.

Imagine I told you I was really talented at washing dishes.

Okay, how about sharpening pencils, would you consider that a talent?
And yet when I say: I’m magnificent at cooking or superb at drawing cartoons, you’re instantly interested, aren’t you?

In effect, talent is only something you and I can’t do.

If you can wash dishes and I can wash dishes, it’s not a talent.
The moment you can do complex maths equations and I can’t, hey, now you’re talented.

Look around you and see what you consider to be talented people

They’re just people who are doing things you can’t do. They know how to write programs, or can sing well, or dance well. And you can’t do it, so it’s suddenly a talent. I grew up in Mumbai, and when we were out on the street, we’d have kids speaking different languages.

I learned about six languages without trying too hard. While I’m not fluent in all those six, I can understand and be understood.

If you showed up from a country where the only language of instruction is English, you’d think I was excellent at learning languages. However, on the streets of Mumbai, almost any kid would know more than two-three languages.

It’s the same in Europe as well. You’ll find most Europeans on the mainland are fluent in two or three languages. And they don’t think it’s something wonderful. They don’t see it as a unique talent.

Now put yourself on the starting blocks of any Olympic sport

And almost immediately you see how the competitors consider themselves. They don’t see this vast gulf of talent. Sure, one athlete may hog most of the medals, but it’s not like that athlete is way ahead of the others. They’re just marginally faster, often by a few hundredth of a second. And so are you, by the way. You write slightly better than the next person. Or slightly worse, as the case may be.

But there’s one more pretty insidious point we have to cover

Let’s say one person can write, draw, cook, dance, sing, take pictures, garden, and ski very well. And let’s say you can’t do any of the above. It seems like you chose the short straw in life, right? That when you were born, somehow you got deprived of all but the most mundane of skills.

That somehow the other person can excel in half a dozen competencies, and still continues to “discover” more talents along the way. Surely not one of us is so deprived while another person has such a vast number of abilities.

There’s no doubt that we all have different brains, but to have such a high inequality of talents seems utterly bizarre. ”Even so, we’ve come to believe this untruth. Which is where I need to take you down a slight detour of why I feel so passionate about this talent discussion.

Back in 2008, I started up a blog on this topic of talent

I had to write things down because the more I discussed this issue of talent, the more people brought up objections. And it’s not like they’d stick to a single point either.

I’d find the topic would bounce wildly from Michael Phelps, to genetics and everything in between. But it wasn’t enough to write a blog. And so I decided to do something that would prove without a doubt that talent can be acquired in an incredibly short period.

The challenge was simple enough

If you walk into a cafe and ask: Who’s a writer? Who’s a singer? Who’s a dancer? You’ll get some response. If you were to ask “Who’s a cartoonist?” the place goes quiet.

So we decided to start up the cartooning course. It wasn’t about picking people who could draw. Instead, it was quite the opposite. The challenge was to turn everyone into a cartoonist. Notice I didn’t say, “anyone.” I said, “everyone.”

There would be no failure

Every single person in that cafe would become cartoonists if they joined the course. But of course, I had my “cafe” at 5000bc. And so I offered the course free of charge. Today that course costs over $1000, but back then I wanted to prove that this crazy goal was possible. And if you look at the work that comes out of the cartooning course, you will frankly, be stunned.

The same concept needed to be applied to article writing or headlines or copywriting. It wasn’t just about getting one person or two people to be very talented. I wanted to make the training like I got on the streets of Mumbai. Everyone was able to speak “languages.” Everyone had the talent.

It’s incredibly hard to believe that talent isn’t inborn

We somehow like to believe we’re special, but for the most part, talent is just a reduction of errors. If you find the errors, you can fix them. The fewer errors you make, the better you are at completing a task. Fewer errors result in greater efficiency.

Instead of the job just being another mundane task, you’re now able to push your limits. So when I took two days to write an article, I had no energy to do much else. Now I can write over 4000 words in a morning, and I still have the energy to find some great stories and make the article come alive in a way I could never do before.

All those errors I used to make back in the year 2000, well, I don’t make many of them anymore. And so hey, I’m a writer. That’s the first point: talent is a reduction of errors.

The second point is simply one of understanding how your brain works

It’s all about pattern recognition. You probably couldn’t multiply 11 x 24 before today, but now you can. And maybe you can’t write a sales page without banging your head against a wall, but given the pattern, you will.

Any skill can be broken down into smaller bits, and you can recreate the pattern. Will that make you Michael Phelps or Usain Bolt? No, it won’t. There are a lot of other reasons that we’re not covering right now.

Instead of bringing up objections about why you can’t do something, go out there and find the teacher, find the system, find the group. And understand it’s a matter of recognising the pattern and then executing it.

Yes, you can cook food as well as any other accomplished chef. You can draw just as well as anyone. And you can make an outstanding presentation. All the limits lie in not understanding the pattern.

Finally, the last definition of talent is a closer look at ourselves in the mirror. How come we got passed up when the next guy got not one but a dozen talents? And how come we consider those gifts to be talents only because we can’t do it. It’s time to ask yourself these hard questions.

The concept of inborn talent is a prison.

If you believe in innate talent, that’s it; you’re done. You can’t learn any more. You’re stuck forever. Or you can start searching for a teacher, system, and group. And explore a world like never before.

Oh, and yes, I am really talented at washing dishes!

If you missed Part 1, here is the link:  Rapid Talent (How To Get There and What Holds Us Back)

To read online:
To join 5000bc:

Direct download: 118b_-_Rapid_Talent_How_To_Get_There_and_What_Holds_Us_Back.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm FJT

Why do others seem more talented than we are?

 Is talent innate? Is it just practice? Or is there something else.

Incredibly the key to talent is in the way you define talent. Change the definition and you see it in a whole new light.

In Part 1 of this episode on talent, you’ll see how mere definitions change the way you see the world of talent (and how it can get you talented faster than before).

Additional rocket launch audio recordings used in this episode are courtesy of NASA (


In this episode Sean talks about

Part 1: Our battle with talented people.
Part 2: Is talent a reduction of errors?
Part 3: What has “Austin’s Butterfly” got to do with talent.


7 miles per second

That’s what it takes for a spacecraft to break out of Earth’s orbit. Breaking free of the gravity of Earth and heading into space is called “Escape Velocity” and is easily one of the biggest challenges of space travel. The spacecraft needs an enormous amount of fuel to break free of Earth’s gravity. And yet, that very fuel adds to the weight of the rocket. The more fuel you have, the more thrust you achieve, but the fuel also adds to the weight of the rocket.

It’s almost a maddening Catch 22 situation that scientists have been trying to solve for ages.

And it also drives us crazy when we look around us and see people who are clearly more talented than us

We had this problem in school. Some kids were brilliant at writing and others that excelled in maths.

As we grew up, we noticed people who sang better, danced better, are better artists, speakers, pick up languages faster than we could ever imagine.

And then we brush it off

We believe we were born with certain skills and it’s best to use them to our fullest capacity. The gravity of our situation holds us back.

That’s not the way scientists look at gravity. For them, gravity is a challenge. Achieving “escape velocity” is simply a matter of breaking through what holds us back.

It’s always about how to go at 7 miles per second in the most efficient manner possible.

What you’re about to read is my battle with talent.

You may already know of some of my skills. Writing, drawing, teaching, painting, cooking—that’s what you might have seen. You may not know that I’m also an excellent babysitter, dance exceedingly well, learn programs at very high speed and know more than six languages.

And the reason I’m stating all of this isn’t to impress you. In fact, it’s the reason why I started studying the science of acquiring talent back around the year 2008. I’d be sitting at the cafe, and someone would come up to me and tell me how I was “talented” at drawing. I’d be on the dance floor, and I’d get a compliment about how well I danced.

Compliments are amazing. They were my Jamba Juice.

They spurred me on to get a lot better. But they also drove me crazy. It almost seemed like people were suggesting I was born with the skill. And so I started on an uphill climb. To prove that innate talent may not exist. In reality, I don’t care whether it exists at all. But it wasn’t easy to say it out aloud because the very concept of acquiring talent seems improbable. “Not everyone can be Michael Phelps,” they tell me. Not everyone can be Albert Einstein.

The funny thing is I love pushback

I love it that people kept putting objections in my way because somehow I had to prove beyond any doubt that talent could be acquired. What made the challenge even more interesting was the concept of 10,000 hours. I was determined to prove that you have didn’t need anything remotely close to 10,000 hours to acquire a very high level of skill.

But you don’t have to believe me—well, not right away.

All I’m asking you to do is listen to three definitions of talent. And then I’ll have made that little dent in your universe. Or at least that’s the theory. So let’s get down to the nitty-gritty of talent and see why mere definitions can make you see the world the way I see it.

It might even make you a better dancer.
Are you ready? Let’s go, then.

Definition No.1: A reduction of errors.

No matter where you look, you find people who have talents in one area or another—except one.

Not one person has innate talent when it comes to riding a bicycle.

Definition No.1: A reduction of errors.When you see parents trying to teach kids to ride, they run wildly behind the kid, shouting out instructions that fall on deaf ears. After all the kid is trying desperately to pedal, steer and not go kaboom into the tree. So no one teaches you to ride a bike, and no one (at least no one I know) was born with the ability to ride a bicycle.

Assuming you can ride a bicycle, that leaves us with only one conclusion

Bike riding has x. no of errors you can make. Errors that involve steering, pedalling, balancing, etc. And slowly but surely, you started eliminating those errors one by one. The more errors you reduced, the less crashed into trees. Eventually, as you ironed out most of the mistakes, you were able to sail away down the road, chattering with your friends.

Talent is a reduction of errors

When you begin to learn a new skill, you make an enormous number of errors. Like a student driver who’s learning to drive a stick-shift, you lurch back and forth, trying to master the skill. Since your brain has no reference point of the errors, it’s unable to cope, and you continue to find the learning extremely tedious. If you were to ask someone how to learn to drive a car or a bicycle for that matter, they tend to answer in a single word: practice.

Yet, practice is not the answer

Even deliberate practice is not the answer. Instead, what’s needed is an understanding of errors. When the brain consciously or sub-consciously knows what errors it’s making, it prompts us to take corrective action.

Take for example the act of dealing with a hot pan. There’s only one kind of error that’s possible with a hot pan. And yet a two-year-old child may not realise that glaring error and head right for the pan. But once we’re aware of the mistake, we take scrupulous care to avoid hot pans. We also avoid stepping in dog poo, potholes, and closed doors.

The trick to learning, or talent, isn’t just in practice or deliberate practice. Instead, it’s about understanding the errors. Once you understand the errors, you are closer to fixing them. Once you’ve reduced or eliminated the errors, you effectively are talented.

An excellent example of error fixing is the website building software called Dreamweaver

If you were to open up Dreamweaver today, you’d find the option of viewing a website in two different modes. You could see the website in HTML on the left-hand pane, while simultaneously seeing the graphical view of your site on the right. Even if you were completely oblivious about HTML code, all you’d need to do is open up a perfectly good looking website in Dreamweaver.

Then head into the HTML pane, and make a single change. You’d immediately see the change reflected on the right-hand side. Immediately your brain would go into “hot pan” mode, recognising the error. You may run into hot pans in the future, but at least you know better because you’ve learned from your mistake.

Many of us believe that talent is either inborn or acquired by practice

Instead, it’s acquired by a reduction of errors. Everything you do today had a huge error rate at one point in your life. Addition, subtraction, spelling and grammar were all riddled with errors. Some people you may know make mistakes such as spelling. They spell “you’re” as “your” or “pique” as “peak.”

When you see these mistakes, you experiencing a situation where the person has not learned to spot and correct the error. You can’t fix a mistake unless you know you’re making one in the first place.

Take for instance my niece, Marsha

When Marsha was just three years old she came to visit us in New Zealand for the first time. At the time, her speech was a bit garbled, like most three-year-olds. Even so, one of the letters that foxed her was the letter “r.”

Wherever “r” was prominent, she’d substitute it with a “y.” So “road” became “yoad,” and “room” became “yoom.” And of course, we only ever “yolled in the gyass” (that’s “rolled in the grass”). If you tried to point out that she was pronouncing “r” as “y,” she would look at you with puzzlement. In her brain “r” sounded like “y.”

Then one day I decided to speak exactly like her.

I didn’t say “road,” I said “yoad.”
I didn’t say “grass,” I said “gyass.”

Marsha didn’t say anything, or if she did, she probably said it in her garbled method. But within two days, she was pronouncing the “r” perfectly. Her brain, it seems, was able to detect the error when the word was said incorrectly. And within days, and without any training, she was able to fix the problem.

This isn’t to say that all learning is made through trial and error

The brain is a pattern-recognition system and will learn efficiently enough by just copying patterns. It’s why we learn to speak a language, then adopt the accent of a parent and then change our accents depending on where we go to school.

A good chunk of learning is purely pattern recognition. What holds us back from learning a skill like dancing, cooking or drawing, isn’t pattern recognition, but knowing what we’re doing wrong.

There’s a video online called “Austin’s Butterfly.”

It shows a group of very young children appraising the work of one of their classmates. Austin, who’s probably in first grade, and has just drawn a butterfly. There’s only one problem. The Tiger Swallowtail butterfly looks amateurish, and the kids know it. At that tender age, they’re not about to let Austin get away with such a terrible piece of art.

Then something quite unusual happens.

The teacher takes over and asks the kids to give feedback

One by one they pipe up with their critiques, so that Austin can take a crack at the second draft. They point to the angles, the wings, making the wings of the butterfly more pointy. They go on, and on, and the illustration improves with every draft.

Six drafts later, the butterfly looks like something you’d find in a science book. The finished butterfly is so stunning that anyone—you, me, anyone—would be proud to call the illustration our own.

What’s at work is simply a reduction of errors

This article isn’t about becoming Michael Phelps or Muhammad Ali. We’re all tempted to diverge into why we’re not winning gold medals by the dozen at the Olympics. And yet, even at that level of super-heroes, there’s only one gold medal winner.

Why is this so? In the Olympic pool, Phelps is often only one-hundredth of a second faster than his rival. That’s hardly an advantage. The only difference is that Phelps is committing fewer errors. And just for the record, Phelps too was beaten by a much shorter, stockier swimmer from Singapore. On that particular day, in that particular race in the Rio Olympic Games, Joseph Schooling made fewer errors.

Talent is merely a reduction of errors.
When you reduce the errors, you get talented.

But that’s only the first definition.

But what of those who seem innately talented?

They do things that we could never hope to do. In the next section, we look at the second definition of talent. Where talent is just pattern-recognition at high speed.

(Additional rocket launch audio recordings used in this episode are courtesy of NASA (

Continue reading or listening here: Part 2:  Three Definitions of Talent—And Why They’ll Help You Understand Yourself Better

Part 2

The listen:

To read the article:

Direct download: 118a-Rapid_Talent_How_To_Get_There_and_What_Holds_Us_Back.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm FJT

Which is the most frustrating part of an article?

Yes, it’s the First Fifty Words. We get so stuck at the starting point when writing an article, that it’s almost impossible to go ahead.

But what if there were not just one, but three ways to create drama in your article? That would be cool, wouldn’t it?

Well, here you go. Not one, but three ways to start your article with drama and get attention.


In this episode Sean talks about—Three ways to get your readers attention.

Part 1: The power of story
Part 2: Disagreement with your premise
Part 3: How to create intrigue with lists

You can read it online here: 
3 Ways To Create Instant Drama In Your Articles


In 1974, New York had a problem that didn’t seem to go away.

No matter where you rode the subway in New York, there was graffiti painted both inside and outside the trains. Young men with their spray cans covered the city’s trains with their version of art and soon the subway came to be seen as a symbol of a city on its way to the gutter.

The city put up security fences, razor wire and brought in guard dogs

They even went through one amazingly misguided strategy to paint all the trains white. Sure enough, The Great White Fleet as they called it, was soon covered with a fresh layer of graffiti. The city couldn’t seem to think of any way to solve the graffiti problem.

Then along came David Gunn

In 1984, Gunn was appointed as the president of the New York City (NYC) Transit Authority. Gunn had a track record of cleaning up subways in Boston and Philadelphia. Even so, the city of New York had been battling the graffiti problem for over a decade. What radical idea could Gunn implement that would turn back the clock to better times?

As it turned out Gunn’s solution centered around a single idea

The moment a train was bombed with graffiti, it was to be pulled over and painted. If a train car was being repaired, they’d ensure the car remained graffiti-free.

If they found graffiti on a train overnight, the NYC Transit Authority would sweep in and repaint the train. Even during rush hour if they found a train had been “bombed”, they would pull it back to the yard and clean it up, so that the graffiti was nowhere to be seen.

On May 12, 1989, the city declared victory over the city’s graffiti artists.

Notice what just happened?

You started reading this article to find out how to write the First Fifty Words. But before you knew it, you were transported back to New York, the subway and the graffiti dilemma. And the reason why you got to this point is because of the drama created by the First Fifty Words. When your article, presentation or webinar has a powerful opening, the client gets pulled along happily.

And yet, it’s not always easy to know how to go about creating those First Fifty Words. So today, let’s take a look at three ways to create the drama.

Method 1: The power of story
Method 2: Disagreement with your premise
Method 3: Lists

Method 1: The Power of the Story

In the 1980’s a persistent drought swept through the African Savannah.

Watering holes dried up, food was scarcer than ever. Yet, one animal, the kudu, wasn’t affected as much. This is because the kudu can continue to get its nutrition from the hardy Acacia tree. Most other animals don’t tangle with the Acacia’s thorns, but the kudu navigates its way between the thorns to get at the juicy leaves.

But suddenly dozens of kudu started dropping dead.

When the kudu were examined, there seemed to be no reason for the deaths. They looked perfectly healthy and didn’t appear to be suffering from any malnutrition. However, the number of deaths soon soared into the hundreds, then into the thousands.

Now we may believe that Africa is one vast open area, but in reality a lot of wildlife lives in vast ranches

While it was devastating for the ranchers to see the kudu fall to the ground in heaps, they were also puzzled by the inconsistency of the deaths. On one ranch the kudu continued to thrive. On other ranches, their numbers decreased precipitously. There seemed to be no answer to the question, until they considered the number of kudu on the ranches.

On some ranches there were a lot of kudu

On others there were a lot less. As the drought raged on, the kudu had no other vegetation but Acacia leaves. Once the tree lost all its leaves, it would no longer be able to harness sunlight. In effect, the Acacia trees would die. In an act of self-preservation, the tree started producing more tannin.

Not just more tannin, but lethal amounts of it. Biologist and African herbivore expert, Professor Woutor Van Hoven examined the rumen of the kudu and found the digestive system to be in complete shutdown. Now tannin is a compound can only come from a natural source. It wasn’t hard to point fingers at the Acacia tree.

On the ranches with dense kudu populations the Acacia tree was producing 400% more tannin

The tannin was getting inside the digestive system and killing the kudu. In effect, the Acacia trees were culling the kudu. On the ranches with sparser kudu, the tannin wasn’t anywhere close to these lethal amounts. The plant was clearly going through a stage of self-preservation.

Story, it seems is easily the fastest way to get a client’s attention

And we all know this fact of attention-getting to be true. But we aren’t sure where to find the stories or how to make them work and then how to reconnect them to the article.

Those are three elements in themselves, so let’s start with finding the stories. I tend to find my stories all around me. But if that’s not a good enough answer for you, here are a few links. Go to, or live,, bbcearth or
In effect, what you need to do is to go any of these sites, spend some time reading and then save whatever you need to Evernote.

Of course, as I keep harping on repeatedly, without Evernote, you’re just wasting your time.

I can literally find hundreds of stories in a few minutes, precisely because of Evernote. Finding stories was a bit of a nightmare at first, but I soon realised I could find two or three stories a day that related to history, geology, biology and case studies.

Added to that were my own personal stories, and so the first problem was done and dusted. If I could find three stories a day, I’d have about 21 stories by the following week. And no matter how prolific a writer or speaker I turn out to be, I can’t go through that volume of stories. But how do you know which stories work?

Look for the unfolding ups and downs

The most boring story is one that stays on a single track: either up or down. A good story is like the kudu story. It started out with the drought, went to the fact that kudu didn’t care and neither did the ranchers. Then kudu start dying, yet the next ranch with fewer kudu has no such trouble. The biologist comes in, investigates and we have the killer: the Acacia tree itself.

It was an act of self-preservation. That story has bounce all the way, as do most good stories. You’ll probably have noticed the same bounce for the NY subway story. How the situation went from bad to worse, until David Gunn came in and put an end to the graffiti.

Stories make for a dramatic start

You know how to find the stories and how to store them in Evernote. You can even find the bounce in these stories. What remains is how to connect them to your main content. Notice how I finished the kudu story? The last line was about self-preservation.

So what would the theme of the article be? Sure, self-preservation. But what if the last line was “speedy response”? Well, then the article would head over to “speedy response”. The last line of your story, whatever you happen to choose, is what creates the bridge towards the rest of the article.

The first port of call should always be a story, or analogy

When you go to and read the reviews of The Brain Audit, you’ll find most of the readers seem to agree on one fact. Many of them seem to suggest The Brain Audit is exceedingly easy and refreshing to read. But what makes it refreshing? Or rather what makes content boring? It’s clearly the lack of stories and analogies.

You can’t turn more than two-three pages without running into analogies and stories in The Brain Audit. The Three Month Vacation Podcast has at least three stories or analogies and it could go to as many as six or seven. Articles, webinars, reports—they all have stories and analogies.

To get your article going, you need to start storing stories

You need to start looking for those ups and downs.
And then it’s a matter of reconnecting by inserting the last line into the story, so it reconnects with the article.

But stories are just one way of taking on the First Fifty Words. The second method is to disagree with your headline.

Method 2: Disagreeing with your premise

In 1949, the ad agency DDB had a reasonably big challenge.

They were given the opportunity to sell the Volkswagen Beetle. This wasn’t just another car. It was a post-war German “people’s car”, connected with development plans that went back to Hitler himself. Plus the car was small, slow and considered ugly.

Added to the challenge was the fact that DDB had a paltry advertising budget of just $800,000. So how do you create instant drama when the odds are stacked against you?

You simply disagree with your premise, or in the case of Volkswagen, the prevailing premise

Back in 1949, the war had ended and overblown consumption was the order of the day. American cars were big, bulky and drank tons of fuel. All the advertising pointed to how fast most American cars happened to be. All, except Volkswagen, that is.

One of their earliest ad took almost everyone by surprise. It said: Presenting American’s slowest fastback. And the ads talked about how the cars wouldn’t go over 72 mph (even though the speedometer shows a top speed of 90).

What Volkswagen Beetle advertising did was create intense drama by disagreeing with the status quo.

The very same principle applies to your article writing and gives you the clue as to what you should be doing as well. To snap your audience out of whatever they’re doing, it’s a good idea to disagree with the prevailing situation or idea.

And since you’re the one who wrote the headline, what better way to go than to disagree with your headline?

Let’s take an example.

Let’s say your headline says: How to increase prices (without losing customers)

You’d think the article would continue in the vein of increasing prices, wouldn’t you? But instead, it goes the other way. The first paragraph instructs you to reduce your prices in half. Then down to a quarter of the original price.

And then the text goes on to explain something you’re already quite aware of: that reducing prices is a very bad strategy. However, the technique it uses is what gets your attention. Instead of going in the direction you’d expect, it moves in quite the opposite direction. Disagreement works because of the mild shock, and the consequent curiosity to figure out what’s happening.

But it’s one thing to examine an ad or an existing article. How do you create this disagreement in your own articles?

Let’s start off with a headline: The 3 Keys To A Perfect Ayurvedic Diet. How could you disagree with this headline in your first paragraph? Start off by thinking how you could sabotage the perfect Ayurvedic diet. Got the idea, yet? All you need to do is think up your headline and think of the exact opposite behaviour.

Let’s try another headline, shall we?

How to get your projects done using an unknown system of time management. Now let’s disagree with the headline.
Time management is an erroneous concept, which is why most of us struggle to get anything done. Haven’t you gone through whole days where you’ve had loads of time, but still failed to get anything done? That’s because we don’t really work with time. We work with energy instead.

See what’s happening?

You’re pushing in a headline that seems to talk about one thing but the opening paragraph seems to disagree. But you don’t have to keep the disagreement going.

After you’ve made your point in a paragraph or so, you can go back to the original premise of the article. You’ve completed your mission. You’ve woken up your audience with the disagreement and they’re keen to read more of what you have to say.

So far we’ve looked at stories. We’ve also looked at disagreeing with your premise. But there’s a third way that really helps when you’re feeling blank. And this method is called the “list method”. Let’s find out how we start articles with lists.

Method 3: Lists

Let’s take one type of list:

The Netherlands 70%
USA 30%
UK 30%

Ok, so let’s take another list:

A bucket
A spoon
Two ladles of chocolate ice-cream

Lists get attention and especially when you use it within the First Fifty Words.

And in case you’re wondering, the first list that comprised of the Netherlands, USA and UK, it was a factor of social trust. In the Netherlands, 7 out of 10 people say they trust each other.

In the US and UK, only 3 out of 10 people seem to have social trust. However, we’re not here to debate the issue of social trust. What we’re looking at, is the power of lists when used in the First Fifty Words of your article.

The moment you slide in a list, the reader is intrigued

And rightly so, because a list is a sequence of elements and somehow that sequence needs to end up in a logical place. So if your headline was: “How to get a business up and running in 90 days”, you could start your article with a list.

That list immediately catches the attention of the reader and keeps that attention as you transition over to the main article.

Lists don’t need much preparation

Unlike a story that needs all that bounce and mystery, a list is almost sterile in its approach. You don’t even need any disagreement in a list. If anything, a list seems to take the reader right to where they want to go, just like a recipe.

And that’s why lists are so cool, but there is a downside. Lists are so spartan that they stand out. If you’ve used a list to start up an article recently, you’re probably going to have to wait to use a list again. The very format is so conspicuous that it requires a good deal of time to pass before you can re-use the technique in another article, podcast or presentation.

Nonetheless, they are great starting points and in you’re in a tricky situation, start with a list.



In this very article, we ran into the story of the NY subway, the kudu on the African savanna and the story of the Volkswagen Beetle being introduced to America in 1949. Stories are easily the best tool to get the attention of your readers within the First Fifty Words.

It’s what I use consistently in books from The Brain Audit to Dartboard Pricing. If you find it easy to read the books, yes, it’s because of two elements. The first is the structure of the book, but easily the biggest other factor is the sheer volume of stories and analogies that help you understand the concepts faster and more permanently.

However there’s more than one way to skin a cat

The method we looked at was the factor of disagreement. And the way to go about disagreeing with your headline is to write a headline e.g. How to buy a second hand computer that will last six years—and then go in the opposite direction. Tell the reader a story about computers that failed. Go the opposite way and you do what DDB did with Volkswagen Beetle. And this method sure gets a ton of attention.

Finally we get to the third way: creating lists

This method is the easiest of all. For instance, if I wanted to start this article with a list, I could start with the three points we’ve covered, namely, “The power of the story, disagreeing with your premise and lists”.

And that would get the reader curious enough to want to read more. Then I could continue the article by simply explaining each of the points and fleshing them out in detail.

But where should you start? What’s the ONE thing you can do?

If you’re stuck for time, try the list today. But ideally the best thing you can do for the long run is to fire up your copy of Evernote. Start saving stories.

Go to BBC Earth,,, and start saving stories. There’s nothing more powerful than stories especially when you’re starting up the First Fifty Words.

Next Step: You know how they say "first impressions count?"
Well, they do. Within the first three seconds of reading an article or an email, your client is already making a decision whether to read on. Many of us aren’t restricted to email. We use webinars, video, podcasts and presentations. And all of these media have one thing in common: they all need a great start.

Learning how to really create outstanding openings (whether in articles or any media) is deeply gratifying. And powerful.
More details:



Direct download: 117-The_First_Fifty_Words-How_To_Instantly_Get_Your_Readers_Attention.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:12am FJT

What links thousand year old organisations with a bike company like Harley Davidson?

What do football teams have in connection with businesses owners that can take time off?

It’s all here in these free set of goodies (yes, 36 audio files) and a PDF. You’ll love how you can implement much of this information right away.

Learn Why Marketing ‘Doesn’t’ Work. And Why You Need Structure In Your Business!


You will learn in The Brain Alchemy MasterClass:

1) The Spider’s Secret: How to get customers to call you instead of you chasing them.

2) The Three Prong System: This tool will change the way you look at your business forever. Ignore at your risk.

3) How to create a huge demand for your product or service: This secret is over 10,000 years old and works every single time. And most businesses don’t use it.

>>Right click here and ‘save as’ to download this episode to your computer.

>>Here is the link to get: The Brain Alchemy MasterClass Free (Yes, all 36 audio files and the PDF)


The difference between you struggling in your business and zooming ahead is understanding the structure of business

Working hard is great, but it’s not the solution to your problems. No matter what business you’re in — a structured marketing system is the best way to exponentially increase your sales.

The Brain Alchemy is about tactics and strategy that will form the very core of your business, no matter whether you’re just starting up, or have been in business ‘forever.’


There are over 253 testimonials for The Brain Alchemy MasterClass


When I heard the Brain Alchemy MasterClass my immediate reaction was, “Damn, I spent so much on going to business school and they never taught us any of these.”

I had a big paradigm shift in the way I was thinking about business and marketing. I also understood that no matter how much I think I might be communicating clearly, the receiver might not be listening right – this revelation came about listening to participants speak. And it is true the other way round also.

Biggest learning was the power of giving. This really stuck with me – and also to give in the right possible packaging.

-If you did implement something, what did you implement?

I have been letting the material sink in and I plan to implement few of it. I will keep you posted about it.

I would definitely recommend this course, because Sean is an amazing teacher. He breaks down complex subjects into simple manageable bites and makes sure that we are able to consume the information.

The course is pure gold !

I would like to add that – I am a big fan of Sean and Renuka – mostly because it showed me that the size of the team doesn’t matter as much as how much power they pack.

Thank you for giving The Brain Alchemy away, Sean.


Here is the link to get: The Brain Alchemy MasterClass Free (Yes, all 36 audio files and the pdf)



Direct download: Episode_116_-_How_To_Get_2500_Worth_of_Goodies_Absolutely_Free.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:28am FJT