Nerd Numba 2 is back.

Have you ever suffered through an open mic night at a comedy club?

If you haven’t, consider yourself lucky.

When I used to work in L.A., I made it custom of mine to drop by the Comedy Store over there in Hollywood, right off Sunset Boulevard.

This is the club where anybody who’s anybody in comedy has rocked the stage from Robin Williams and Steve Martin, to Richard Pryor and Chris Rock.

If you arrived before 9:00 on Sunday night you got in free.  Well, there’s a two drink minimum but hey, listening to comedy buzzed is always fun for me so I never minded buying drinks.

So, I’d usually go to Miyagi’s at 8:00 for sushi, zoom North,  park in the Hyatt’s garage and run down the steep ass Hollywood Hills ramp so I’d barely make it in the door at 8:57 without having to pay a cover and without having to suffer through any of the open mic’ers.

The reason you didn’t have to pay to get in from 7:00 to 9:00 was because it was Open Mic Night.

This is where they’d let anyone who had the cajones, hop up on stage for 5 or 10 minutes  and give it their best shot.

Comics call this working out your routine.

These men and women were raw.  Real raw.  So raw in fact that almost everyone of them referred to the notepad of ideas they schlepped up on stage with them.

Every comic you admire has been this wet behind the ears but you’ve been fast forwarded to when they were polished.

As you can imagine most of these fledgling comics were stifled, nervous and were insecure.

They didn’t own the room.  It owned them.

What makes the difference between the person who quits and the person who goes on to become a superstar in comedy?

Is it self esteem?

Is it coaching?

Is it being in the right place at the right time?

Yes.  Yes.  And yes.

But without this next factor I don’t think any of those would’ve have been enough to push them through the tough times.

10,000 hours.

Yep.  10 large.  In Malcom Gladwell’s newest book “Outliers: The Story of Success” I learned that this number is one of the common denominators in any super successful person he studied for the book.

He found out that Bill Joy, co-founder of Sun Microsystems had logged more than 10,000 hours of computer programming while still in college.

At peak he was programming 8 hours a day while going to school.

Same story with Bill Gates.

This meant that when huge opportunities arose in the field of computing, these guys were primed for action.

No learning curve.  Just balls to the wall.

Does this 10,000 just apply to the tech field?  Nope.


The Indra Club, where The Beatles first played on arriving in Hamburg, as it appeared in 2007.

Before the Beatles ever rocked Ed Sullivan’s stage they had logged over 10,000 hours playing to rowdy crowds in little dive bars like the Indra in Europe.

In Hamburg there were times when they played for 8 hours straight, 7 days a week.

Did you know that most bands never even come close to approaching 50 hours of live performance time let alone 10,000?

No wonder they took the world by storm.

Malcolm found the same 10,000 hour wall  of practice had been climbed by students who went on to professionally play instruments in symphonies.

Practicing their craft for as long as they had was only one factor that led to these mega superstars success but it was a HUMONGOUS factor.

I can virtually guarantee you our friends who quit comedy after getting zero response from the crowd never wrote and performed for more than even 100 hours.

Most stand up comedy is writing.  I’ve seen some guys do a shtick where they just make fun of people in the crowd and roll off of what kind of response they get but that’s like 1 out of 100.

Everyone else pieces together anecdotes and funny stories line by line, word by word.

Then they work that same routine over and over again until it’s shines and flows effortlessly.

They, not unlike people who sell face to face, get to see how their words are landing on their crowd.

Along with the crowd’s feedback, fellow up and coming stars give dedicated students feedback so they can go back to pad and make sure EVERY word counts.

If you only write copy you have it easy compared to professional comedians and people who sell knee to knee.

You just have to get one component right.  The words.

They have to get the words, the vocal expression of those words and the memorization of precisely how to say them so they have maximum influence on their audience.

Have you logged at least 10,000 hours doing any specific skill?

I’ll bet Jay Leno had before he took over for Johnny Carson.  Wanna know why I think that?

First off, he was cocky enough to state openly that he was going to take over Carson’s job long before Carson retired.

I don’t think he’d be doing this if he hadn’t put in the hours.

Leno has stated that he saves all of his income from The Tonight Show and lives solely off his income from stand-up comedy.

I’ve heard you could see him working out routines on his only night off, Sunday, at comedy club in California.

That’s discipline.

I know he’s been called the hardest working man in show biz.  And even though Conan O’ Brien is taking over his spot in March of 2009, he is still #1 in the Nielsen Ratings.

But 10,000 is a lot.

I know.

Professional salespeople along with professional comedians are tough as leather.

Film actors are wussies.  They get re-do’s.  You and I don’t.

If you’re one of these special snowflakes who has decided to write their own copy to sell your own product or service or…

…have taken it upon yourself to learn the anatomy of powerhouse salesletter/sales kit…

You know it ain’t no stroll in the duck park.

But remember these words in your time of toil…

“If I am through learning, I am through.”

John Wooden

Here’s 4 Action steps you can take to improve any skill you’d like, with only expending 20 hours a week.

I learned this process from Michael Masterson of Agora Publishing.

They were applied to becoming a copywriter but if you use your naugen you’ll see how these steps are easily transferable into any field.

1.      Devote 3.5 hours a week (30 minutes a day) to drinking deeply from outstanding books or audios about the subject you wish to master.

2.      Spend 10 hours a week working on developing your copywriting skills.

3.      Spend a half-hour a day (3.5 hours a week) studying a successful direct-mail or e-mail package or promotion.

4.      Spend 3 hours a week learning the mechanics of having a copywriting business (scheduling, productivity, selling yourself, etc).

This model would allow you hit your stride in your chosen field in a little over 10 years.

And that’s only putting 20 hours a week of attention toward something.

But I’ve got a question for you.

Are you functioning at a mastery level already but you don’t even know it yet?

Or do you secretly know it but are holding yourself back out of fear of failure?

I hope not.

I’ll talk to you soon.

Wishing you speedy and spectacular success,

Note Taking Nerd Numba 2