Excerpt: 'The Wisdom of Ginsu'

Ed Valenti and Barry Becher are the guys who created the first infomercials with their commercials for products like the "Ginsu knife." But wait there's more! Now the Ginsu guys have written a motivational book called "The Wisdom of Ginsu."

The two draw on their experiences building a business on their wits and breaking all the rules to find lessons for work and life.

And for those who were always wondering, "ginsu" doesn't mean anything, in Japanese or any other language. The two made the word up. And the product was not made in Japan but in Ohio.

To find out more about these two ginsu guys, visit their Web site, www.ginsuguys.com.

Read two chapter excerpts from the book below:

Chapter 4


I'm not sure where the word zig comes from but I think our English partners used it often. It was meant to imply "good move." In business and in life we are all faced with decisions. Forks in the road, so to speak. Just as we always do, you should try to train your mind to look for the zig, the alternate way of doing something. Whether overcoming obstacles or making a decision, many times there are options. You just have to look for them. Our entire careers were, and continue to be, based on looking for the zig. I seriously doubt that if we followed the traditional way of doing business we would have ever come up with Ginsu, let alone be in this business at all. Logic dictated that the television direct response business was all about record offers, not products. Therefore, we should have avoided selling products entirely, especially products such as cookware and painters.

As Mr. Spock of Star Trek said repeatedly, "Logic dictates." Logic dictated that we should have stayed out of the knife business. With so many knife offers on TV and with everyone having a drawerful, how could we make money? We did all of these things and more because we zigged when everyone else said we should have zagged. If you think about your life and the decisions you have made, perhaps there was an opportunity for you that you may have passed up because your thinking was one-dimensional. I believe there are always alternatives. They are, however, not always visible. Learning to think differently will make them appear. It's truly amazing. Try it, it works.

Here's a simplistic story, but the point is well made. I remember my first trip to Disney World. Because I had never been there before, naturally I was intimidated by its vastness and worried about the lines. I remember reading in a book from an expert on the park that the shortest times in lines were possible if you always pick the lines on the right (many rides have two or more lines feeding into a ride). Why? He wrote that for some unknown reason people tend to always go to the left when given a choice of two lines. Therefore, the right line moves faster into the ride. I tried it, and it works. Wow, I thought, what a zig! Here's another really good one.


We were nearing the end of our first year in business and we had pumped up Miracle Painter sales to 20,000 sets per week. We felt enormously successful taking in $200,000 a week. We were on top of the world and only foreseeing better things to come. Then disaster struck: United Parcel Service went on strike!

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