242. Resisting Outside Pressure Proved the Power of Decision
Brian Kurtz resisted parental pressure to go into one of the professions and became an English major instead. Years later, when he had to choose between a writing position at Boardroom, Inc. or a branch of marketing few even knew existed, he had to look deep inside himself to carve out the right niche.
Brian Kurtz has been a serial direct marketer for almost 35 years. He says he never met a medium he didn’t like. Recently, he left his beloved Boardroom Inc., where he was responsible for the mailing of close to 2 billion pieces of direct mail in his career (and he did NOT lick every stamp!) As the founder of Titans Marketing LLC, his mission for the next 35 years, is to be the bridge between the eternal truths of direct response marketing and all that is considered state-of-the-art direct response marketing today. Brian’s ultimate goal is to umpire in the Little League World Series in Williamsport, PA while he is still upright…and he hopes it happens soon.
How Did You Start Using Your Talents?
“I loved writing, so when I got out of school with this English degree, I just figured I’d be a writer. So I started with one publishing company, then eventually landed at Boardroom, which was my first big job, in 1981. What was interesting was that in the first couple of years I was working on a marketing piece of the company in direct response, what we called list management. I was involved with mailing lists, but I kept looking over to the editorial side of the company. I kept on thinking, ‘I’ll still use this writing talent. I’ll go and become a writer.’”
The Most Impactful Turning Point?
“About a year or two into my tenure at Boardroom, a job opened up in the editorial department. I went to the guy who founded the company, Marty Edelston, one of my mentors, and said, ‘Look, there’s a job for me. I’m a writer. I should go over there.’ He looked at me and said, ‘Brian, I’ve watched you for the last couple of years and I really think you have a nose for marketing. Using your writing talent is one thing, but you use it in the way you express yourself, both as a salesperson and a marketer.’ To have somebody of his caliber tell me that when I was 23 years old—someone I respected and was starting to view as my mentor—I realized that this was a path that was gonna fit with what I was doing.” That was the path Brian took.
The Most Powerful Lessons Learned?
Brian cites the life-changing power of a definitive decision. “Once I decided not to take that editorial job and to stay in marketing, my career totally opened up. I was in that phase in life where I was not 100% committed. Now, all of a sudden the commitment was there to be in direct marketing. I started learning everything I could. I became a voracious reader of every direct marketing book I could get my hands on.”
Steps to Success from Brian Kurtz
1. Learn to identify people in your life who are already mentoring you. Mentors are crucial, and they often choose you, not the other way around.
2. Diversify your portfolio of job skills.
3. Learn from others and reciprocate by teaching them what you are learning. Brian calls this “mentor bartering.”
Connecting With Brian Kurtz
Email: email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org
Weekly blog: briankurtz.me/blog
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