“Obvious Adams” by Robert Updegraff
(Persuasion Play Podcast 003)

I started the book reviews on PersuasionReadingList.com over two years ago. The first was My Life in Advertising by Claude C. Hopkins, a classic written in 1927.

Over those two years, I’ve summarized my favorite lessons from 17 books — and I have a dozen or more on my bookshelf waiting to be read and written up or otherwise shared.

Can you justify such behavior? Image from Steve Martin's movie "The Jerk", 1979
Image from Steve Martin’s movie “The Jerk”, 1979

It’s been fun and educational on my end — and I hope on your end too!

As I continue along my PRL journey, learning about the forces that influence us and how we, in turn, can influence the world around us, I was bound to find my way back to advertising.

I first heard of Robert Updegraff’s 1916 book Obvious Adams on Ben Settle’s podcast. (Ben is a copywriter and the inspiration behind my daily emails to my favorite readers).

Advertising great David Ogilvy (yes that Ogilvy) encouraged his staff to read Obvious Adams once per year!

Ogilvy-approved? I picked up a copy for myself — cheap!

"Obvious Adams" by Robert Updegraff
“Obvious Adams” by Robert Updegraff


It was a small book. (It still is small, I suppose.)

Updegraff tells the story of Oliver B. Adams, a young man in the advertising business who thinks of the obvious course of action — and takes it.

Seems… obvious, doesn’t it?

To everyone around him, yes his solutions seem obvious — yet no one is quite able to see as clearly as Oliver.

Everyone else, it turns out, is

“doing too much advertising and not enough selling!”


Seeing as how the copyright has run out on this little book from 1916…

…Knowing that repetition helps us to learn and absorb ideas…

…Knowing that I enjoy rocking out in the car (to audio books and copy writing podcasts)…

…Knowing that Obvious Adams is over 100 years old, yet contains secrets that Ogilvy was willing to share

It seemed obvious to me that I might record the book for repeated listening!

(My friend Ryan laughed at me when I told him this brilliant idea!)

(and now that I think about it… this might have been Ben Settle’s brilliant idea!)

And to share it with you, I’ve added it to PRL’s Persuasion Play Podcast.

Listen, and listen more than once.

At least, that’s my plan over the upcoming years.