“Learning is rooted in repetition and convexity, meaning that the reading of a single text twice is more profitable than reading two different things once.”
– Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Lebanese-American essayist and scholar
When I was in college, The Odd Couple TV show (a classic with Jack Klugman and Tony Randall) was on twice a night at 7:00 and 11:00 with reruns of the 114 episodes that were produced from 1970 through 1975…and I couldn’t get enough.
In fact, many evenings, after dinner, I’d watch the 7:00 rerun, go to the library from 7:30 until 10:30, and return to my room for the 11:00 episode.
It never got old…I ended up memorizing at least 110 of the 114 episodes…and in the process I got into the habit of studying at the library “just enough but not more than was necessary” (an affliction that affects many college students everywhere then and now).
Years later I realized this habit of repetition was nothing to scoff at…and despite The Odd Couple never being anything in my life but an entertaining binge (does anyone ever do that today? ☺), I believe the lesson was significant:
A lot of a great thing is better than a little of lots of mediocre things.
At least that’s how I’m spinning it.
First, so I am not embarrassed to tell you that “odd” story.
And second, to assert that repetition is the cornerstone of all education…leading to knowledge…and wisdom.
Note that the definition of “repetition” in this context does not refer to rote memorization… or simply regurgitating facts that have been drilled into your head multiple times.
It’s about repetition with a purpose…to embed into your brain anything and everything that is important to you…”news you can use”… whether in your personal life or business life.
Having fun facts at your fingertips you have learned through repetition, useful or mundane, to spit out at a moment’s notice, is a nice by product of regular repetition…whether as icebreakers at a cocktail party…or when you decide to become a contestant on Jeopardy.
But what I’m referring to here is getting to the root of eternal truths, fundamentals and core principles that are most meaningful to you…and related to what you believe you are on earth to do before you depart.
Purposeful repetition is the critical piece to get there.
And that I got to this by watching 114 episodes (multiple times) of a meaningless 70’s sitcom is shocking isn’t it? 🙂
Some examples of meaningful (or purposeful) repetition that I’ve learned over the years:
- Copying successful ads. In the words of Gary Halbert: “Get yourself a collection of good ads and DM pieces and read them aloud and copy them in your own handwriting.” (And please read the P.S. for a way to apply this in your own writing.)
- When I sell copies of Gene Schwartz’s masterpiece Breakthrough Advertising, I attach a letter to the book with instructions on how to get the most out of it (it’s dense): I recommend that buyers read the first three chapters multiple times before reading the rest of the book…so they can train their “Gene Schwartz muscle” to think like Gene…because then the book will make much more sense and be way more applicable too.
- While working at Boardroom over 35 years, we had an expression to describe the process of creating our “greatest hits books” (with content from our newsletters)…we called it “slicing the salami.” For example, an article about a diet plan for heart disease could appear in a general health book or in a broad based consumer book…probably only read once by the reader of those respective books…but no harm/no foul if the reader read it twice in both books. And if they did read it twice the odds just doubled that they would take it to heart (pun intended).
- When the amazing Brendon Burchard posts significant memes and quotes on social media I remember him saying that what he posts is in a “rotation” so that everything doesn’t have to be new all the time…but everything does have to be consistent with his vision…and the “greatest hits” get repeated often. (That’s not a direct quote, just my interpretation of what he told me.)
- Re-working core concepts in these blog posts for you every Sunday are full of repetition (sorry/not sorry)…but hopefully you see it as repetition with a purpose…since they are my core beliefs based on 40 years in the marketing trenches. I also know you don’t open and read my posts every week (boo, hiss)…so there’s a “shampoo, rinse, repeat “mechanism in all of this (like what Brendon does). I do it with purpose by trying a new spin on those core beliefs and concepts: Whether you know them already (from me or someone else), heard them but forgot (it happens to the best of us)…or simply never heard them before. Thank you for indulging me with my purposeful repetition. ☺
I think there might be a gene or chromosome for “purposeful repetition.”
My son did the same thing with Seinfeld reruns as I did with The Odd Couple reruns…but somehow I don’t recall in his case there was too much studying in-between the early evening episode and the late evening episode.
He was also able to identify the full episode (with all the intricate and related side plots—Seinfeld was brilliantly written) simply by watching the first minute of each show (a very useful talent).
His “gene” was much more powerful than mine…it took me at least 5 minutes into each episode of The Odd Couple to identify the full episode (which also had many fewer subplots).
I guess studying in the library is overrated.
P.S. Kim Krause Schwalm, my good friend and A-List copywriter (and also a student of “repetition leading to wisdom”) knows as well as anyone that one of the best ways to get better at writing winning promotions is to study successful controls.
Whether you copy them in your own handwriting or not. ☺
It’s why any serious copywriter worth his or her salt often maintains their own collection of promo “swipes” that they can study and learn from.
This practice on its own can be valuable.
But imagine if you could combine with it a soup-to-nuts breakdown of one of these successful controls by the copywriter who actually wrote the promo?
That’s exactly what Kim Krause Schwalm does in her Million-Dollar Control Breakdown Master Class.
And she doesn’t just break down one promo, she breaks down six of her most successful, longest-running, multi-million-dollar controls in six separate 60-90 minute sessions.
Plus Kim includes a master swipe file of 57 variants in her Master Class, including the cover and offer tests, and email creatives used for these promos.
She’s also thrown in 5 valuable bonuses, including a bonus control breakdown of her promo that beat the legendary Jim Rutz not just once, but twice.
Kim’s allowing me to offer a generous discount to folks who are part of my online family when you get her Million-Dollar Controls program by May 15th.
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Don’t forget to use BK300 as your coupon code at checkout to save $300…and then have another $100 go to charity:water…and you can also email me if you would like any Titans Products with a $50 discount too!