Two Paths and the Knowledge for a Blessed Life

If you happen to have studied the world of business and marketing, there’s this famous “case study” given, about the most successful sales letter of all time.

It is a marketing campaign, which ran between 1975 to 2003, and was responsible for over $2 billion in revenue for Wall Street Journal, a US business-focused newspaper. They used to post this short letter in people’s mailboxes, and it converted like crazy.

Thousands upon thousands bought a subscription to WSJ based upon this letter, and it contributed in making WSJ be the largest newspaper in the US by circulation.

Over this period, they had in fact had many, many other writers who tried to beat the conversion ratio of subscribers that this advertisement pulled in, but nothing worked as efficiently as what you’re about to read.

Hence why it is known as “the greatest sale letter” and here’s how it starts:

“Dear Reader:
On a beautiful late spring afternoon, twenty-five years ago, two young men graduated from the same college. They were very much alike, these two young men. Both had been better than average students, both were personable and both – as young college graduates are – were filled with ambitious dreams for the future.
Recently, these two men returned to college for their 25th reunion.
They were still very much alike. Both were happily married. Both had three children. And both, it turned out, had gone to work for the same Midwestern manufacturing company after graduation, and were still there.
But there was a difference. One of the men was manager of a small department of that company. The other was its president.
What Made The Difference
Have you ever wondered, as I have, what makes this kind of difference in people’s lives? It isn’t always a native intelligence or talent or dedication. It isn’t that one person wants success and the other doesn’t.
The difference lies in what each person knows and how he or she makes use of that knowledge.
And that is why I am writing to you and to people like you about The Wall Street Journal. For that is the whole purpose of The Journal: To give its readers knowledge – knowledge that they can use in business.”

* * *

The letter goes on to then affirm that if you’ll read WSJ, you’ll also be like that successful later man, who had the extra “knowledge edge” over his colleague. For knowledge is power and WSJ will give you that “knowledge advantage” that others don’t have.

Yet the “secret sauce” for why this letter was so successful was not in the follow up text, but right in the opening paragraphs you just read. Would you like to know why this worked so well?

For marketing is not stupid. We live in the age of marketing after all, where we are served as many as 5000 ads in one single day.

When one ad performs so remarkably well, it’s because it understood what makes people tick, better than we often understand ourselves.

So let’s explore then why this letter performed so well. For its undeniable success is based upon a deep insight into human nature. It tapped into a number of psychological levers, which literally made people subscribe…

Once Upon a Time On the Battlefield of Life

The Buddha was once said to have told to his disciples this story:

“There was once upon a time, a man laying wounded on a battlefield. He had an arrow deeply embedded in his body and was in much pain. Surrounding him were his companions who wanted to help him. They all agreed, the arrow needed to be pulled out, if he was to live.
But this was a painful procedure. The arrow had to be carefully pulled out and quickly bandaged, so the wound could heal.
So the man was stressed and afraid. What if the procedure wasn’t done right? What if these people didn’t know what they were talking about? What if there was another way, a painless way, that no one knew?
The wounded man, wanted to be absolutely certain that he had at hand, all the knowledge he could gather about the arrow and his condition. He wanted to be dead certain, that he had the best information.
So he began to probe those on the battle field: “From what direction did the arrow come from?”, “How did it enter his body?”, “Of what materials was the arrow made of?”, “What was its length, its width, its form?”, “Who was the agent who shot this arrow?”, “Have they found him?”, “What is he like?”
And as he kept asking these questions, piecing together all kind of info about the arrow, his condition deteriorated and he died.
The Buddha went on to explain to his disciples, that his role among them, was to show them, “how to pull out the arrow”.
“The arrow?”, his disciples asked, “What do you mean by that?”
“The arrow,” the Buddha said, “is the way of the world”.

* * *

Through this story the Buddha was to share an insight into our existence, that’s perhaps more relevant to us in the 21st century than ever before. That’s because we are amidst a great “info fog” that has almost entirely obscured the essentials of life.

And like with the man on the battlefield, one of the consequences of this is, that we are prone to ask all types of wrong questions, while our life passes us by…

For there are two great issues at the heart of this story…

© 2023 Jonah's Club by Center for Meaningful Leadership Inc - A Non-Profit Organization


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