I’m currently going through the Michel Thomas Spanish course. My brother is too. The difference between us is that I studied Spanish for four years in schools with straight As, and he had no previous experience.
In terms of practical skill, he isn’t very far behind.
Why? Because, well... for one, schools suck at actually teaching stuff. They’re good at making students feel bad for not studying enough. In terms of preparing people for real life, they don’t do a very good job.
Secondly, Michel Thomas was a master of deconstruction. The language learning method he invented and pioneered, he built by taking a language apart and putting it back together in a way that makes sense for normal people to understand.
That’s how you can become more or less conversationally fluent in a new language in 25 hours (the total time for Spanish foundations + Advanced + Vocabulary + Language Builder is about 25 hours total -- less than two weeks if you listen for two hours a day). And that’s without memorizing, mind-numbing repetition, note-taking or anything but simply listening and participating when asked to.
WHAT > HOW
In anything you do, WHAT you do will often have much more significance than how you do it. The problem with most time management systems is that they maximize efficiency: getting a lot of things done. Instead, opt for effectiveness: getting the right things done.
Before you take the time to invest time, money, energy into a new business, diet, exercise plan, project, or whatever -- deconstruct. Figure out the critical pieces which will have the most impact.
For example, if you want to get good at copywriting, it doesn’t make sense to start from A and finish at Z. There are only a few elements within a sales presentation that have the most impact. The biggest one being how effectively it resonates with the emotions of the person being presented to. The most important skill in copywriting is understanding the emotional needs of the market. The second is being able to match those needs with a solution, AKA making a kick-ass offer.
And that’s really what you need to make a lot of money from the copy you write. The rest is secondary. Important, but not essential. Sometimes not so important.
If you really want to go in depth into a field, try this: Email the top 20 experts in the field and ask them for their top 3 book recommendations.
Then buy those books, and read them. For copywriting, mine are:
- Kick-Ass Copywriting Secrets of a Marketing Rebel, John Carlton
- Breakthrough Advertising, Eugene Schwartz (out of print, but you can still find copies - bought mine for $76... it's been sold on eBay for over $1k a pop -- it's that good)
- Scientific Advertising, Claude Hopkins
Personally I’m also a big fan of Joe Sugarman’s writing style. Hugely impressed. I once picked up a copy of his book Success Forces, planning to read a few pages to see what it was all about. Hours later I wake up out of some sort of trance on page 276, realizing I’ve just been a victim of Joe’s total mastery of the Slippery Slide... Forcefully yanked through page after page, barely registering what’s going on and loving every second of it. He’s a master and worth studying.
Here's a fun bonus if you actually want to master copywriting specifically:
If I had to give one exercise for learning copy, it is this. Write successful ads out by hands. Get your hands on a Swipe file of ads from the masters (Eugene Schwartz, Gary Halbert, John Carlton, Joe Sugarman, Ted Nicholas, Dan Kennedy, etc...) and start writing them out in your own handwriting. Look at the first sentence, memorize it, then write it down. Then compare your handwritten version to the original. Correct if necessary and move on. This process, if executed consistently, will change the way your brain is wired to think about how good ads are built. You'll automatically start writing better while getting a much deeper understanding of what makes good salesmanship good.
This is something that everyone says to do and almost no one actually does. Fun fact: Almost every one of the greats actually did this. Dan Kennedy reported having hundreds and hundreds of pages of copied down ads from doing this for over a year. If you want, pick a single copywriter you like and go through all his/her ads. This will get you even more familiar with the style and actual thinking process of that writer. I recently wrote out a bunch of Joe Sugarman ads and I already notice a clear shift in the flow of my writing. Very cool.