April 27, 2016

I hope you don’t think I am being disrespectful with my subject line…but I was just given this coffee mug as a gift:

And if that wasn’t enough, another one of the Legends being profiled in my new book is also on the same mug:

Ogilvy is now my Homeboy too!

And he’s got my back to boot!

By the way, thank you to everyone who gave me feedback on the foreword to my new book.

It’s done and if you’d like to read the final copy of the foreword – grab it here.

Anyway, this awesome gift reminded me about a blog post I wrote quite a while ago about the one-in-a-million copywriter and Renaissance man, Eugene (Gene) Schwartz.

So this week, with so many new subscribers on my list, I decided to update the post and send it again.

The lesson of “It’s not always about the money” is one for the ages…as is the lesson of being “the world’s best” (since we only go around this life once).

And finally, the lesson of what “reciprocation” is all about is as relevant today as any time in the history of marketing…

Here’s the post…I hope you enjoy it:

It’s not always about the money….

I was blessed to know Gene Schwartz…and not just casually, either.

Gene was my friend, mentor and business partner…and I learned so
many lessons from him.

Those of you who don’t know who I am talking about, Eugene “Gene” Schwartz was one of the most successful and prolific direct response copywriters who ever lived.

His classic book, Breakthrough Advertising may be the most important book ever written on copy and creative.

It’s considered a lost classic…but also considered the number one book for anyone who is serious about copy, creative…or for that matter, understanding human behavior at the deepest level.

Calling it simply a book about copywriting does it a disservice.

The book was important enough for Marty (Edelston) and I to re-publish it as a “Boardroom Book” when we saw a live bid on eBay for an out-of-print copy at $950.

Not one word has been changed from its original 1966 version which is a testament to its timelessness.

During the 1980’s, Gene wrote many of Boardroom’s most successful direct mail packages-and he also wrote some of the biggest winners for Rodale Books (publishers of more health books than anyone at
that time).

And here’s the kicker: Boardroom and Rodale never paid him a dime for any of those landmark packages.

Here’s how that came to pass…

Gene had his own company called “Instant Improvement” which published health books on many esoteric and eclectic topics which were sold with some of the most famous direct mail packages ever written.

Classic headlines included:

“How To Rub Your Stomach Away” and

“The Tao of Sexology”

But I digress…

Instant Improvement was a small but mighty company…and Gene got to play with the “big boys” in health publishing because he understood that without being able to mail the best lists of other health book buyers, he didn’t have a business.

His house list was quite small-while Boardroom and Rodale had the most responsive and largest lists of health book buyers.

Since Boardroom and Rodale needed world class copy and Instant Improvement needed world class lists, these three direct marketing leaders comprised the most powerful group of allies since World War II… (Excuse the hyperbole…but it was a huge alliance).

Gene exchanged copy for names…even though he could have commanded the highest fees of any copywriter at that time.

This amazing relationship led to millions of books sold and also a much more efficient way to get the best health information distributed to as many people as possible.

Boardroom and Rodale were able to mail millions of names using Gene Schwartz controls for years…even after his death…and Gene was able to mail millions of Boardroom and Rodale names “on exchange” at an acceptable return on investment for his much smaller books.

But there was nothing “small” about Gene Schwartz…I never met a man who played larger.

He traded his talent for the asset he needed most at the time…and money was a by-product, not the starting point.

And that brings me to my quote for this week:

“Reciprocation is about you, then me, then you, then me…and be the first to give service, information, concessions”

-Dr. Robert Cialdini

Understanding how to be a true partner with those you work with leads to exponential growth and true business building…

…which beats a series of “revenue events” by a mile.

When I say that I was a close friend to Gene Schwartz, it makes me proud; when I say I was his partner to help build three multi-million dollar businesses, businesses that had as their mission to disseminate the most useful and life-saving health information to consumers, I know we made a real difference in the world working together.

And of course this also means I’m just old…but as Marty used to say, “I like getting old because now I know so much.”

Thank you, Gene, for being one of the wisest entrepreneurs I ever met.

And for writing my favorite book about human behavior (and



P.S. If anyone on this list would like to know how to get their hands on a copy of Breakthrough Advertising, send me an e-mail; but maybe more importantly, if you want to get your hands on one of those mugs, go here (and no, I do not get an affiliate commission…and no reciprocation required)!

About the author 

Brian Kurtz

  1. Hi Brian, thanks for the blog post. I checked out the mugs but I think I like the “It’s a Halbert thing, you wouldn’t understand” design on that page even more…

    Sorry to leave a public comment, but I’m not able to find an email address. I wanted to ask how to order a copy of Breakthrough Advertising. Are you still helping out with that?

    Thanks again!


    1. Did you email me, Daniel about Breakthrough Advertising? If you did you know that the books are on back order…but coming soon!

    1. Hi Grace,

      Thanks for ordering the 5 disc boxed set while you are waiting for the books to be printed…you will love the interviews and video with Gene (my Homeboy)! 🙂

  2. Hi Brian,

    Another request here to purchase Breakthrough Advertising. Can we speak over email?

    Many thanks,


    1. Should have Breakthrough Advertising books by mid April…just heard from the printer. Hopefully you emailed me, Ryan, about being on the “back order list.” If not, send me an email to be sure.



  3. Hi Brian,
    I would like to purchase a copy of Breakthrough Advertising also (Hardcover, if possible).

    What would be the process for that?

    Thank you,

  4. Hi Brian,

    I’m trying to find a link to the coveted Breakthrough Advertising. Do you still have copies of the most current edition? You don’t, per chance, sell copies at Bootcamp in Delray do you? It just occurred to me that might be the case, in which case I would avoid shipping costs to Canada. (I’m still a fledgling copywriter)


  5. Hi, Brian.

    I would like to purchase a copy of Eugene Schwartz’s book, “Breakthrough Advertising.” Can you email me with information about price and availability?

    Thanks so much!

    Julia Bellair

  6. Hi Brian, just wondering when will I receive the book if I order it now? I am located in Canada. Thanks.

    1. Sorry I just saw this, Paul…hope you ordered…but if not, it takes about 2 weeks on average to Canada…sometimes less.

      The book is a game changer

  7. Hello Mr. Kurtz,

    I’m just beginning my freelance writing career and have been searching all over the web as well as several bookstores to find a copy of the book”Breakthrough Advertising” by Eugene Schwartz. I noticed that your site instructed anyone who wanted a personal copy to contact you. Could you send me a copy of the book? I don’t mind the selling price as long as it’s within reason. Many people are selling this masterpiece for upwards of $500 and it’s certainly above my budget.

    Thank You,

    Sharee Biggs

  8. Isnt there another book by Eugene Schwartz called Breakthrough Intelligence:How to talk and write about anything to anyone…? Heard you were reprinting it..would like info about it to buy.Thanks.

    1. Hi Reenee,

      The book you are referring to is called “The Brilliance Breakthrough: How to talk and write so that people will never forget you.”

      It’s a lost classic that I re-published. I sell it with a workbook at:


      I hope you will pick up a copy. Very different than “Breakthrough Advertising” but game changing in its own way too.

  9. Which edition of the “Breakthrough Advertising” do you sell?
    Wrote somewhere that it have been edited after the 4. edition, so would be interested in an older version.

    Thank you


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