Updated: Aug 19, 2020
It was the first day of my freshman year of high school on a hot summer day in late August. I had just moved to a suburban Ohio town from northwest Florida.
On my schedule for third period was Physical Education class. A handful of grumpy teachers corralled a few hundred of us stinky, sweaty ninth graders into the gym and presented several options to pick from for our P.E. class for the semester.
Each P.E. teacher made his or her "pitch" about their class to the group. There was a gymnastics class. There was tennis. There were sports games like dodge ball or volleyball.
Then the head coach of the football team, Bob Gregg, made his pitch for his "physical fitness" class.
Something inexplicably clicked when I heard him speak. I immediately decided that was the class I was signing up for.
Now, I was never an athletic kid at all. My athletic "career" as of that point had consisted of playing on the "Chevy Novas" girls' softball team in 5th grade...where I consistently struck out at bat and dropped balls in the outfield, if I played at all.
I had never tackled any kind of sports besides softball, which I clearly did not excel at.
But there was something about the way Coach Gregg talked that I just found so motivating. He made me actually want to push myself.
The next day, he had us all out in the parking lot to run a mile. A MILE!!! (WTF had I gotten myself into?)
I huffed and puffed, lagging behind most everyone else with the kids reeking of cigarettes who hung out in the school smoking area (yes, they had those back then) and the rest of the "out of shape" crowd at the rear.
But I made it through that mile, even if it meant walking for half of it. And I kept working at it until I could run the whole thing without stopping.
Same with doing a push-up. Not those "girls'" push-ups using your knees on the ground, but "guy's" push-ups With Coach Gregg requiring the correct form.
It started with being able to do one. Then ten. Then twenty. By the end of the semester when we were tested, I was able to do 50.
Then there were the bent-knee sit-ups. By the end of the semester, I had worked my way up to doing 92...within two minutes.
Coach Gregg also had me doing pull-ups. Bench pressing weights. Jump squatting.
Basically the same rigorous, merciless workouts he was known for giving his football players at practice. Which, by the way, was one reason the Centerville Elks were one of the top two high school football teams in the entire state of Ohio year after year (the other was our arch-rival, Cincinnati Moeller).
How did Coach Gregg take a completely unathletic, out-of-shape 14-year-old and in the course of a semester or two turn her into someone who could bench press 150 pounds, and perform all those other athletic feats I described?
It's because he made me BELIEVE I could do it. He made me believe I could do hard things. And he gave me the tools, techniques, and teachings so I could DO them.
He also set high expectations, which I then set for myself. And he helped me appreciate the value of hard work.
So many parallels between this and being a freelance copywriter.
As my personal trainer, Dave, who reminds me of Coach Gregg, tells me all the time, "A before B before C". Meaning, you have to master A before you move on to B, etc.
I had to master getting through that one mile run even if it meant walking, before being able to run it all.
I had to master doing one "guys" push-up well, before being able to do 50.
I had to master bench pressing 50 pounds before I could do 150.
And on and on.
Same with writing headlines, leads, fascinations, closes, emails, etc.
That's one reason why I think every copywriter, no matter what niche they write for, can learn a ton by going through my Copywriting Velocity program.
It's ideal for beginners, advanced, and everyone in-between. Everything can be applied to any type of sales promotion: online, direct mail, advertorial, you name it.
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Yours for smarter marketing,
P.S. Funny story: when my younger brother entered high school and tried out for the football team, Coach Gregg called out his name and realized he was my younger brother. Coach Gregg then told him,"If you work half as hard as your sister, you'll make a damn good football player."
My younger brother made the team, and by senior year had worked hard to earn a starting position on the offensive line. But on the first play of the first game of the year versus Cincinnati Moeller, he suffered a knee injury, was carted off the field, and was out for the season. He did get a girlfriend though afterwards, so the year wasn't a total loss. And yes, he still talks to me. (Although there's always been some sibling rivalry!)
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