September 5, 2020

The world’s smartest people do not necessarily provide the best answers.

Instead, they focus on asking the right questions. 

-Ted Nicholas, April 2005

I’ve often said that one of the most important characteristics of a top copywriter is to be a world class interviewer.

Of course having superior writing chops helps once you suck out all there is to suck out of the brains (and experience) of the client.

Copywriters then turning those client thoughts into poetry (with a call to action! 🙂 ), leads to the highest success rate.

And being an expert interviewer (or questioner) is true for marketers and entrepreneurs and not just copywriters.

I believe that many of these copywriters, marketers and entrepreneurs are the “world’s smartest people” Ted Nicholas is referring to.

And I think you would agree, in the spirit of being interested rather than interesting they become far more successful by simply asking the right questions.

Can we do this while quarantined (and on Zoom or Skype) rather than in person?

Sure we can.

It’s not as intimate and you can’t read the full scope of body language as you can face-to-face (well, you can read most language from the waist up). 🙂

I found this 7 minute video in the archives of my blog page from two years ago…when COVID 19 wasn’t even a thought in anyone’s mind (or that there would be a pandemic for that matter).

It talks about “Leadership by walking around.”  And it also includes a quick summary of the I-Power program invented by Marty Edelston, the Founder of Boardroom (my former company).

Back in the stone age of 2018, “walking around” was still both literal and figurative.

“Literal,” in the words of business guru Peter Drucker, when he dubbed the phrase, “Management by walking around.”

There was a prehistoric time (pre 2018) when few offices were 100% virtual and we actually went to some physical structure (like a “building”) to work. Yes…that happened.

It was where the CEO, President (or any leader) spent time walking around the office to get the ebb and flow directly from employees, gaining ideas and insight gotten no other way.

And it’s where employees could team up and launch the next big idea by asking questions of colleagues in the hallway, the lunchroom or the bathroom (the last one catering to gender specific brainstorms).

While my video is a little dated to some extent (I do mention remote offices but nothing about being quarantined), it is imperative that you still need to walk around whether you work remotely or you are just stuck in your basement for 6 months.

And of course now we have the full bodied “figurative” version:

Management By Walking Around happens on Slack or any other way you communicate with various employees or teams in your business; and because of remote offices, you can’t count on meeting them in the hallway (or anywhere else), so you have to make the additional effort to communicate with (and ask questions).

And if you have a physical office, you can do even more of this.

But the impetus to do this is more important than ever.

Then there’s Marketing By Walking Around which I have written about before…and in Overdeliverespecially in Chapter 8 where I make the case that customer service and fulfillment are marketing functions first.

I open the chapter with this quote (which I came up with after being lectured many times on this subject by Dan Kennedy): 

“Marketing by walking around is a requirement, not a choice”

Throughout the chapter I discuss many concepts and techniques to make sure this part of your business is top priority including: 

  • The importance of listening in on customer service calls regularly
  • Using “secret shoppers” effectively
  • How to plan for disasters in advance
  • The best ways to create “barriers to switch” from your brand

This is an easy case to make…and I’m sure you can think of many more ways to make marketing by walking around a top priority.

Being remote (or even quarantined) is not a reason not to do it; in fact it’s a reason to do it even more.

And…you still need to venture outside of your office (wherever it may be) as well–with a mask that is not as a disguise (for right now at least).

I love this quote from Claude Hopkins, author of the classic, Scientific Advertising, written in 1923, which as far as I know was a little before virtual offices became fashionable–and it was in-between the two pandemics of the past century.

I guess he had more time and freedom on his hands to walk around on the outside:

“I owe much to (my childhood poverty). It took me among the common people…I came to know them, their wants and impulses, their struggles and economics, their simplicities. Those common people whom I know so well became my future customers. When I talk to them, in print or in person, they recognize me as one of their kind.”

And I guess it is better to walk around without a mask too to be more easily recognized. 🙂

Click here to get a free PDF of Scientific Advertising, a unique illustrated and annotated version.

David Ogilvy put it more succinctly:

“The more prospects you talk to, the more sales you expose yourself to, the more orders you will get.”

All of this leads to Leadership By Walking Around…inside your company and outside your company.

It all begins with asking the right questions (and if you need any coaching on the critical business questions to ask, see the P.S.).

I know many of you subscribe to the notion that “marketing isn’t everything…it’s the only thing”…that’s why I love you so much.

But Leadership includes the entire package: Marketing, Finance (Accounting and Cash Flow), Human Resources, Analytics, New Product Development.

All of it.

So put on your walking shoes.

Socks (only) are permitted while you are in front of a computer.

Barefoot is OK on the beach.

But keep walking.



P.S. Jay Abraham, who wrote the Foreword to Overdeliveralso wrote and created some other stuff too (understatement).

In fact at there is a course he created, How to Get From Where You Are to Where You Want to Be (which cost him $200,000 to produce) and 19 keynote presentations he has given throughout his career. All free. Check those out.

Based on the blog post above, I want you to have another special piece of content from Jay:

How To Get The Most Out Of Asking Critical Business Questions

As I told you last week when I was responding to my “One Star Reviews” on Amazon, (with charm and grace I might add!), I repeated something I mention a lot:

I haven’t invented anything.

Rather I take what I learn from those who “invent” and I connect the dots and innovate as I see fit.

Regarding knowing how to ask good questions, thank goodness I have mentors like Jay who have invented a template for that (and many other things I might add).

Just click on Jay’s brain below (i.e. his forehead) and download a copy of it for yourself.

It’s a document you will want to have as a reference tool forever.

P.P.S. From a Serbian “linguist” and member of our online family), Srdjan Misic:

In the Serbian language, Schwartz, or, as we would spell it, Шворц, or Švorc, is kind of a very old slang word for being broke. It’s probably related in some way to the German word. Here’s a reference:

Apparently, it has the same informal meaning in the Czech language too.

These German words in Slavic languages are all leftovers from the former Austro-Hungarian Empire.

Anyway this always struck me as mildly amusing in relation to Gene Schwartz, who in my mind represents everything opposite of being broke.

I was just mentioning this to someone and thought that it might be mildly amusing to you too.

It is more than amusing—it’s prophetic.

Thank you for sharing that curious fact, Srdjan!

How I will interpret this:

If you buy Breakthrough Advertising anywhere else but from Titans Marketing, you WILL go broke (literally):

Have you seen what it’s being sold for on Amazon and eBay?

However, if you buy it at, you will benefit from Gene’s wisdom at the lowest price available…with some exclusive swipes from Gene, and an offer to buy an additional swipe file of some of Gene’s most successful promotions.

And if you want to read something about Gene which coincides with what Srdjan said above (“…Gene Schwartz, who in my mind represents everything opposite of being broke”) read this to learn about the legend that is Gene Schwartz:

Click here to read Genius…passion…and building large mice

About the author 

Brian Kurtz

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