David Senra

September 22, 2021

The Man Who Sold America: The Amazing (but True!) Story of Albert D. Lasker and the Creation of the Advertising Century


My top 10 highlights from the book

1.  Advertising is a very simple thing. I can give it to you in three words: Salesmanship in print.

2. Before he arrived on the scene, advertising agencies were mostly brokers of space in newspapers and magazines. With Lasker's prodding, the industry became a creative force and began earning substantial commissions.

3. His rare ability to put troubled geniuses to work on challenging problems grew in part from the fact that he himself had been driven by "a thousand devils.”

4. Albert measured himself against the man who had braved the privations and horrors of the Civil War, epidemics, and hurricanes and made several fortunes in a foreign and sometimes hostile land.

5. Thomas was often taken aback by his young colleague's unconventional views and methods.

6. He decided that he could represent as well as anybody, because at least as far as he could tell, nobody in his office really knew anything much about the business they were in.

7. He was beginning to suspect that advertising agencies were leaving an enormous amount of money on the table. Lasker felt sure that he could build the business, and boost commissions if he could improve the agency's copywriting.

8.  You are insufferably egotistical on the things you know nothing about, and you are painfully modest about those things about which you know everything.

9. Hopkins began imparting his theory of copywriting. We should never brag about a client's product, he said, or plead with consumers to buy it. Instead, we must figure out how to appeal to the consumer's self-interest.

10. Lasker argued that rather than maintaining many modestly successful small brands, the company needed to create one overwhelmingly powerful product.

About David Senra

Learn from history's greatest founders. Every week I read a biography of an entrepreneur and tell you what I learned on Founders podcast