Inside the mind of an industry titan, counterintuitive marketing strategies, and why wealth is relative

Building Blocks: Actionable insights to build an Intentional Life

Hey everybody,

Here’s another batch of actionable insights to start your week off right, so you can be more intentional with how you live, work, and create.

Let’s get started.

Insight 1: Know where you’re going before you begin

When he finished The Power Broker, it was thirty-three hundred typewritten pages, more than one million words. ([His editor] cut three hundred thousand: three normal-size books.)

We rarely get a peek inside the mind and method of the titans of our time.

Robert Caro is one of those titans.

A behemoth in the journalism space with dozens of awards to his name, including two Pulitzers, he’s been called “the most influential biographer of the last century.”

In this article, Caro dives into his method for writing books that will stand the test of time.

Two parts to his method stand out to me…

He knows the end before he starts:

He has always known the last line for each book before he writes the rest of it. “This is the way I do it,” he says.

He keeps the central purpose of the book in mind at all times to stay focused:

So Caro knits together his fingers until he knows what his book is about. Once he is certain, he will write one or two paragraphs… that capture his ambitions. Those two paragraphs will be his guide for as long as he’s working on the book. Whenever he feels lost, whenever he finds himself buried in his research or dropping the thread — over the course of ten years, a man can become a different man entirely — he can read those two paragraphs back to himself and find anchor again.

Insight 2: Be open to counterintuitive strategies

Amanda Natividad is a badass marketer.

Her latest article, 8 Counterintuitive Marketing Strategies That Actually Work opens with this fun fact:

Boxed cake mixes before 1933 required only water. But when Duncan Hines’ cake mix forced the consumer to add fresh eggs as well, sales soared. After just a few weeks, Duncan Hines had almost half the market share for cake mixes.

If you want to improve your marketing through being authentic and front-loading value, her article is a must-read.

#3 is my favorite: Give away valuable info to get paying customers.

Freely giving that value — guides, calculators, templates, etc — helps people trust and refer you. In a time when there’s more competition than ever, sometimes the only way to stand out is to lead with value, and trust that the investment will come back to you.

I’m currently focusing on this strategy by giving away a ton of valuable content on my website related to how to build a fulfilling life and business. My thought is, if people like the free content, they’ll love the paid course and community I’m building. (I’ll keep you posted on how it goes.)

Insight 3: Wealth is a relative measure

How much money would it take to change your life?

Turns out, that number is relative.

Because wealth is relative.

If you’re a broke college graduate, $50,000 is a lot of money.

If your net worth is $450M (like Jay Z circa 2011), $50,000 is a drop in the bucket (representing 0.01% of your net worth).

In this article, Nick Maggiulli walks through his 6 Levels of Wealth to help us understand how our spending changes depending on our current level and how we can reach the next level.

Question for the Week

What do you actually want to achieve in life?

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So if you enjoy Building Blocks, I’ll be forever grateful if you help me spread these insights by sharing this issue with other entrepreneurs.

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Let me know what you think and what you’d like to see in future issues. I’m always working to making Building Blocks more valuable for you.

Insights in Action

One of the best ways to clarify your thinking is to write it out.

So if you want to develop your thinking on the Question for the Week, or start applying insights from today’s newsletter, send a tweet to @CoreyWilksPsyD with your thoughts and put #BuildingBlocks at the end so I can find it.

Not ready to “think in public” yet? No problem. You can also reply to this email if you want to share your thoughts with me.

Until next time—memento mori,

Corey Wilks, Psy.D.

Licensed Clinical Psychologist

Executive Coach


Check out the cohort-based course I’m building here.