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Thursday, February 02, 2006

Thin Slicing through the Information Overload Jungle

I appreciate this article by Pat O'Bryan and am posting it here as a reminder to myself that simplifying and focus are my number one objectives.

Pat O'Bryan's Mission Control- start here
Pat O'Bryan's Blog personal, unedited, uncensored -
1/27/06 Thin Slicing through the Information Overload Jungle
The question kept coming up- I asked what problems you wanted help with at the seminar, and the problem that ranked #1 is "how do I deal with information overload?"
One reader claimed to have downloaded over a million pages of free information during the holidays.
Nobody is going to read a million pages of anything. Not in this lifetime.
We can work on this more at the un-seminar, but I can give you some strategies that will help you cut through the fog and focus on what you need to focus on.
Let's reframe the problem so we can get a handle on it.
We need to decide what's important and what isn't. Then we need to focus on what's important and let the unimportant stuff go. You have to be firm about this. Either something is relevant or it isn't. You know immediately. If it's not relevant, delete it.
That doesn't mean that reading for fun is a bad thing. I occasionally curl up with a glass of Shiraz and a Kinky Friedman or O. Henry book. From reading Kinky, it's obvious that he curls up with O. Henry, too. I love to watch Nero Wolf solve mysteries. I've re-read the "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy," and all the sequels, until I can recite pages of the stuff from memory- and I look forward to reading it again. Maybe it's the Shiraz, but I find something new and hilarious every time I re-read Douglas Adams.
That's not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about the hundreds of emails, ebooks, and offers that land in your mailbox every week. I'm talking about the conflicting information you get on important subjects like, for example, copywriting.
The solution is "thin slicing."
I got that concept from a book called "Blink," by Malcolm Gladwell. He also wrote "The Tipping Point." Both of these books are required reading, in my opinion.
Gladwell proves, using scientific data and fascinating stories, that we can rely on our intuition- in some cases- to make instant decisions that are more accurate than decision made after minutes, hours or months of thought.
You can gather enough data in two seconds, in some cases, to come to a firm and precise conclusion about very complex problems.
The data you need is in the "thin slice" of data that your subconscious needs to make that decision, and it gathers that data at light speed. All the other data is unnecessary, and may lead you to a wrong conclusion. It can certainly confuse you, and confusion is an unproductive state to be in when you're trying to build a "Portable Empire," or do just about anything else productive.
One way to use "thin slicing," is to be very clear about what's important to you. Train yourself. Practice. Write down the things that are essential for you to know and learn to recognize them instantly.
For example-
In my business, I've narrowed down what I do to three things.
1. I make products2. I sell them3. I attract subscribers to my list and get to know them, and let them get to know me.
In terms of my business, if the information falls under one of those categories, I'm interested. Maybe.
Actually, I slice it thinner than that.
One of the things I need to learn to sell my products is copywriting.
Maybe it's because I have lunch every week with a world-class copywriter, Joe Vitale, and two guys who are damned good copywriters, Craig Perrine and Bill Hibbler- but I'm pretty convinced that writing copy is not one of my strong suits.
Joe writes sales copy that makes me swoon with admiration and envy. Seriously. Joe writes sales copy like Stevie Ray Vaughan played guitar. Like YoYo Ma plays Cello. Like Picasso painted. He's that good.
Craig and Bill aren't quite in Joe's league (at copywriting. There have other strengths.), yet, but they can write circles around me with one hand tied behind their back.
They're awesome.
I'm learning.
I still have to write copy. Hiring a good copywriter costs thousands of dollars. Hiring a great copywriter to write one sales page can cost more than your parent's house. For my smaller promotions, I just have to write the copy or it doesn't get written.
So, I have to study copywriting. Here's where the "thin-slicing" comes in.
Of all the copywriters who teach copywriting, I've chosen to study Joe. I went to his $5,000 weekend copywriting seminar, and the text-book he created for that course is right here on my desk. It's stained and dog-eared. I've got the videos of that seminar, and I watch them when I need inspiration.
I've also studied with Ted Nicholas, Brian Keith Voiles, John Carlton, and several others. I've heard them speak at seminars, and I've read their books. I read John Carlton's blog religiously.
Sometimes, Ted will say something that absolute refutes something that John says. Ted writes like a courtly gentleman, and is famous for a Rolls Royce ad he created. John writes like a street fighter, or like the rock guitarist he used to be. He's sold a forest of golf clubs- he writes gutsy copy for guys.
Brian has a style of writing that is almost psychic- I don't think anybody but Brian can write like he writes. Joe says things that none of the other copywriters agree with...
So, when I'm studying copywriting I use Joe to establish the framework, and then thin-slice the rest. If John says something that fits on Joe's framework, I pull it out and add it to my working data. If what he says conflicts with Joe, I ignore it. Immediately.
That doesn't mean that Joe is necessarily better at teaching copywriting than John. They're both brilliant. You just can't follow both of them. They contradict each other.
If my goal was to be the world's best copywriter, I might take a different position. That's not my goal- my goal is to sell products. I don't need to be great at copywriting, I just need to be good enough to make the sale.
Each of those gurus has dozens of strategies for coming up with great headlines. I don't need hundreds of strategies for coming up with headlines. I don't even need two. I need one that works for me.
You probably noticed that I define my scope in a pretty narrow way. I just do 3 things.
Because I create products, I'm not real interested in private label products that other people create. Occasionally, I'll promote a product for a friend or because I think it's a great fit for my list- but I'm not looking for them. I am militantly uninterested in the latest affiliate strategies.
So, if I get an email about private-label products, or how to be a dynamite affiliate, or... the list of things I don't need to know is very large... Search Engine Optimization... RSS... whatever today's most popular distraction is, I delete it immediately.
Those things are important, but not to me. They're not what I do, and if I take the time to chase them all, I'm stealing time away from the things I know will make me money.
So, what's the solution to information overload?
First, get clear on what it is that you do. If you're just starting out, here's the most important hint you'll ever get: all of the gurus are right. Pick one.
That's right. One. Pick one and follow their advice. Buy their products. Read their newsletters. Use your intuition to find the one that resonates with you and then immerse yourself in their strategies, and make those strategies yours.
I learned that at the first internet marketing seminar I attended- about two years ago.
All of the speakers contradicted all of the other speakers. And they were all right. If you did exactly what any one of the speakers recommended, you would be successful. If you did what any two recommended, you'd get lost.
It's kinda like this- you need to decide where you want to go. If you want to go to New York, find the guru who can direct you to New York. If you listen to them, chances are you'll end up in New York.
However, if you also listen to the guy giving directions to San Francisco while you're listening to the directions to New York, and then somebody else starts telling you how to get to Houston... you're not going anywhere. At least, not anywhere interesting or profitable.
This takes practice.
Once you've clearly defined what you do, focus on the things that help you do what you do. Trust your intuition, and learn how to quickly recognize what's useful- and use it. Learn to recognize "noise" and delete it.
And stay tuned- there are some real exciting things going on concerning the "Portable Empire" un-seminar. I'm trying to find the best location. We've added two new speakers. There are some other surprises- I'll let you know the minute the tickets are available.
Remember- there are only 25 tickets... when the time comes, I don't know exactly how you'll do it, but you'll want to be one of the twenty-five.


At Sunday, March 26, 2006 1:45:00 PM, Blogger Rick Cooper said...

Interesting article Christy. Thin slicing is an interesting strategy for increasing your productivity.

I came across your profile on and found my way here. I like your writing style.

At Monday, April 17, 2006 12:31:00 PM, Blogger Ebayer said...

This is one of the most clever and truthful things I have ever heard about internet marketing (pick ONE) and your analogy of listening to three people giving directions to three cities when you only want to go to one is pure GENIUS!.

I will be reading your blog regularly.

BidNow on eBay


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