“Everyone lives by selling something.” – Robert Louis Stevenson

Maybe you are young. Maybe you are lazy. Maybe you just haven’t caught a break. Whatever the reason, the success you’ve wanted has so far eluded you.

Here’s something you can do that could help. It won’t cost you any money. In fact, it will bring you a second income. But it will take an investment of time. About 100 hours. Would you spend 100 hours of your time if it could increase your chances of success by 1,000 percent?

Before I tell you what to do, let me tell you why this occurred to me. I was reading an issue of John Forde’s excellent Copywriter’s Roundtable (#347). In it, he told the story of legendary sales guru David Ogilvy. Ogilvy, as John points out, was a college dropout who got a job as a chef in Paris – and, when that went nowhere, got a job selling stoves in Scotland. He was a door-to-door salesman.

He didn’t especially like selling. And he certainly never planned to make selling his career. But poverty induced him to give it a shot. And he discovered, much to his surprise, that it was a pretty easy game. He figured out the tricks of the trade in a matter of weeks and, before a year was up, he was his company’s top salesperson.

He was so good at selling that his boss asked him to write a manual explaining to other stove salespeople what he did. When an advertising agency in London saw the manual, they hired him. Soon thereafter, a man came to the agency looking for some help in opening his hotel. Since he only had about $500 to spend, the job was given to the lowest man on the totem pole: Ogilvy.

Even back then, in 1938, $500 didn’t buy you much. Ogilvy couldn’t afford to place lots of ads in magazines or newspapers, and he certainly couldn’t afford radio. So he did the only thing he could: He wrote a short invitation to the hotel’s grand opening and printed it on thousands of postcards that he sent to every name in the local phone directory. The result? On opening day, the hotel was booked solid.

I see two themes in this story – actually, two sides of one theme: direct selling. Ogilvy’s first job was making door-to-door sales. And his first success was through direct-mail marketing.

It occurred to me that I’ve had the same experiences.

When I was still in high school, I had a job selling aluminum siding on Long Island. And then, a few years later, I had a job selling pots and pans in Queens. I’ve mentioned both of these jobs many times in past issues of ETR and in my books. They taught me some fundamental secrets about selling. And, like Ogilvy, my first big success was the result of a direct-mail package. (It was for a financial advisory that, today, is a $50 million business.)

Door-to-door selling and direct-mail marketing – they taught Ogilvy what he needed to be super-successful in his life. And they were instrumental for me too.

And we are not the only two. Zig Ziglar and Mary Kay Ash and Richard Branson had the dual experience of selling door-to-door and by direct mail. So did Jay Abraham, Bill Bonner, Rich Schefren, and Justin Ford – to mention just a few names that you’ve seen many times in ETR.

I don’t think this is a coincidence.

There is no substitute for experience. And when it comes to success in business, these are the two core experiences everybody should have. And that means you.

So if you haven’t yet worked as a door-to-door (or telephone) salesperson, get a job nights or weekends doing so. The newspapers are full of ads looking for part-time help. It doesn’t matter what kind of selling you do as long as you do it for at least 100 hours. After 100 hours, you can decide if it makes sense to continue. But even if you don’t continue, you’ll have experienced something that will benefit you throughout your professional life.

If you do your best to become your company’s top salesperson during that time, your mind and heart will be completely transformed in a way that nothing else will ever accomplish. You will discover some very basic secrets (true secrets) about the art of persuasion that you will be able to use to achieve all your goals – your career and wealth-building goals for sure, but also your personal goals. You’ll be amazed.

After you have made that transformation, then you will be ready to take the next step: putting your knowledge to work in your first direct-marketing sales effort. You can create an information-based business in a weekend using direct email if you know what you are doing.

But it all starts with that basic selling experience, which cannot be gotten any other way than by doing it. So get out the local newspaper and get yourself a part-time job. And then, after you’ve put in your 100 hours, write to us and tell us how you have changed.

[Ed. Note: Get Michael Masterson’s insights into becoming successful in your business and personal life, achieving financial independence, and accomplishing all your goals on his brand-new website. You’ll find updates on all of Michael’s books, news on upcoming ETR events, Michael’s blog, and room to send in your comments and questions. Check it out today.] [Ed. Note: Mark Morgan Ford was the creator of Early To Rise. In 2011, Mark retired from ETR and now writes the Palm Beach Letter. His advice, in our opinion, continues to get better and better with every essay, particularly in the controversial ones we have shared today. We encourage you to read everything you can that has been written by Mark.]

Mark Morgan Ford

Mark Morgan Ford was the creator of Early To Rise. In 2011, Mark retired from ETR and now writes the Wealth Builders Club. His advice, in our opinion, continues to get better and better with every essay, particularly in the controversial ones we have shared today. We encourage you to read everything you can that has been written by Mark.