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Your Audience Lacks History by Parthiv Shah

by | In the Magazine, Parthiv Shah

My mentor, Dan Kennedy, taught me to “go deep”.

While most people forget what they learned yesterday, I “go deep” when Dan Kennedy is speaking. 

There’s a quote he says that I love, he says “I know the mind, like the parachute, is most valuable open.” I agree with these words a 100%. 

You’ll always find me in the front row, taking feverish notes, mindmapping what I’ve learned, and putting it all into action.

Dan talks a lot about super-achievers and what makes them different. They are not distracted; rather, they remain focused on taking the tiny steps and maintaining an accurate routine to achieve their goals.

Today I wanted to share with you something I pulled out of my Dan Kennedy NoBS Inner Circle archive.

Would love to know your thoughts on it. Leave me a comment below.

At the MailboxMillions2.0 June Event, I was speaking to a member who is a millennial.

Conversationally, I found that his reference of Joe Sugarman only goes back as far as BluBlockers.

For the record, well before Blu-Blockers, Joe was the first direct-response advertiser to accept credit card orders via a toll-free phone number.

It can be useful to go back before that watershed moment and see how guys like Joe got people to order without impulse convenience, without a Buy Now button to click.

Also for the record, if 90% of today’s online marketers were time-travel dropped into 1960 and had to get people to write out checks and mail in orders, they’d starve.

Their skill level is nowhere near high enough.

I get it. Everybody’s too busy chopping to sharpen their axes. Too busy in this moment for dusty history.

You need and want it curated and condensed, which is why I’m here and how I earn my daily bread ’n jam, so I shouldn’t complain.

My sorrow over accelerating superficiality isn’t the point here, today.

Instead, the point I’d make is:

In your advertising, marketing, selling, teaching, beware your audience’s limits of reference. It’s probably measured only in months or a handful of years backward, not decades.

It likely lacks knowledge of history.

Comic book heroes

I recently got a book about comic book heroes and the Cold War. Marvel’s initial heroes –including Hulk, Fantastic Four, Iron Man – are children of the Cold War, heavily influenced by it, and intertwined with it.

Peter Parker and I both did drills in school, prep for the day Russia dropped the big one on us. Not worrying about attending next year’s G8 Summit.

It occurred to me as I started reading it that somebody 30 years old has no reference for any of it. They have no knowledge of the Cold War.

So, when politicians or pundits talk about a return to the Cold War, now with Putin, a huge swath has absolutely no idea what the devil they’re talking about.

For a million dollars, they couldn’t name the U.S. President it began or ended under, what drove it, and why we were so worried over it every day.

If 40, they were born in 1979. I was born in 1954.

Their backward reference limit for most things is birth + 15: 1994. Mine: 1969. I reach further by
conscious choice. Most won’t.

I’m not talking about obscene ignorance or stupidity:

There is a lot of that. I recently saw ‘on street interviews’ with tourists visiting the Lincoln Memorial, asked what war Lincoln was involved with.

The college students on summer trip, assigned Abe to World War II, World War I and even World War III. And giggled about being wrong.

I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about ‘time frame’ or ‘frame of reference.’ You can’t communicate effectively without pinning down the time span in which they have references.

Generally, the furthest anybody goes back is their high school years.

Most mature business people, maybe 20 years, in their field. The younger, the shorter.

If 25 now, limit is about 5 years. Before that, they think dinosaurs roamed. They don’t know Fred and Barney rode dinosaurs at the stone quarry.

In marketing, selling, speaking to an audience, it’s important to (a) know what they know and (b) personally know a lot more than they know.

Here’s an interesting observation Hill missed, that I’ve made about all the super-achievers: they have extraordinary depth of knowledge about what they do.

Everybody else has casual knowledge.

 About Parthiv Shah

Parthiv Shah is the Founder and President of, a locally grown and internationally known digital marketing agency in suburbs of Washington DC. Parthiv is a data scientist, practicing principles of BIG DATA in small business space.

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