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Cristian-Dragos Baciu, Direct Response Copywriter, Offers an Insightful Reading List for Marketers & Copywriters

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Today’s book-talk is with Cristian Dragoș Baciu, copywriter, fellow stoic and triathlete.

Dragoș works as a Direct Response Copywriter at Savabros, a Romanian company that serves conservative Americans. Savabros creates and sells information products and services that people find interesting and important in their lives.

What’s direct response copywriting, you probably wonder? It’s a form of marketing that focuses on the immediate moment and making buyers take action as soon as possible.

Dragoș tries to live his life after the stoic principles – an ancient philosophy that can easily be applied in our modern lives. He discovered stoic wisdom thanks to Ryan Holiday‘s book recommendations, especially Meditations, by Marcus Aurelius.

He is also an athlete. Dragoș practiced professional football for 12 years, and now focuses on training for triathlons. He wants to do his first Half Iron Man this year. For those of you who don’t know, a triathlon is a race that consists of long distance swimming (around 2 km), cycling (90 km) and running (21 km) – and all these done without any rest time between them.

Find out more about his favorite books, the ones he’d recommend to marketers and copywriters, but also his reading habits.

Estimated reading time for this interview is 8 minutes. If you'd rather listen to it, you can do it on iTunes, Google Play or Stitcher.

What’s your favorite book and why? Business and non-business, if possible.

I want to keep my answer focused, so instead of listing some books I’m going to start with the one that stuck with me the most, and then mention a few others as well.

So for business related books, the one that I think had the most impact for me was Decisive: How to make better choices in life and work, by Chip & Dan Heath.

However, I highly recommend all the books written by the Heath brothers, especially Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive And Others Die. This one’s a must-read for marketers.

The reason I enjoyed their work so much is because they offer real-life stories and insights that makes it so much easier for the reader to imprint that information in his mind.

Another worthy mention would be The 80/20 Manager: The Secret To Working Less And Achieving More, by Richard Koch.

As for non-business – and selecting a single title here doesn’t come as easily as for the business ones – after careful consideration, I will go with anything written by Sven Hassel.

Red Storm Rising by Tom Clancy also deserves mentioning. Plus Asimov’s Foundation trilogy. And let’s not forget Along Came a Spider by James Patterson.

Actually, Patterson is really something else. He doesn’t even write the books himself. He just puts together a very detailed brief, that he hands over to a talented writer and bang!, you have a best-seller.

Let me add another one. This one’s from a Romanian writer, Fanus Neagu, and it’s called Ingerul a Strigat (The Angel Has Shouted – would be a rough, English translation for those who don’t speak Romanian).

Lovely-lovely book, by one of the most fascinating characters of the Romanian literature.

Oh, and let’s not forget, Ego Is The Enemy by Ryan Holiday.

Was there a moment, specifically, when something you read in a book helped you? Can you tell me about it?

I’ve had plenty of ‘a-ha’ moments when reading for sure. Just recently, I came across this little nugget of wisdom that warns you about the dangers of being overly specialized in one domain or another.

The potential problem with this could be that instead of being an asset, that expertise really becomes a limitation. One starts tackling every obstacle with the same mindset, with the same mental model, while ignoring other potentially more viable means for getting across that bump.

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What books had the biggest impact on you? (perhaps changed the way you see things, dramatically changed your career path)

I’m going to go on a slight detour here, and instead of naming a book, I’m going to mention a poem. That poem is If by Rudyard Kipling. If there’s anyone out there who has not read the letter, please, please, go and do so now. Kipling wrote it as life advice for his growing up son.

And it was presented to me, likewise, by my father and it has served me as a moral compass in life ever since.

What books would you recommend to youngsters interested in your professional path? Why? (no number limit here)

Now I’ve heard a lot of A-list copywriters recommend Eugene Schwartz’s Breakthrough Advertising as the no. #1 book to read for those who want to go down this career path.

And while I’m not disagreeing with them – not entirely at least – I would like to give just one reasons why one should not start off his training by reading this book.

That’s because the book presents a few advanced marketing concepts that will completely confuse a rookie up to the point where he could start thinking that this is just too complicated. (It’s really not.)

Instead, I’d just go with something that’s a bit of a more light read, like Dan Kennedy’s Ultimate Sales Letter, or Joe Sugarman’s The Adweek Copywriting Handbook.

Either one of these will give you a solid building block that you can then expand upon with the more advanced courses, like Breakthrough Advertising, or Clayton Makepeace’s Ultimate Desktop Copycoach.

I’m interested in finding out more about your reading habits. How often do you read? In what format?

It’s pretty straight-forward: I try to read at least 20 pages a day. Why 20 pages? It works as a way of tricking my mind by telling it I won’t spend that much time reading. 20 pages. How long can that take me? Once I get into it, I rarely stop at just 20 pages. Especially if I really like the book.

As for format, I read both Kindle or paperback books.

How do you make time for reading?

I don’t believe in such a thing as not having time to do something. If it’s important for you, you will find time.

Do you take notes or have any other technique for conquering the torrent of information?

Not really, no. When I come across something I think I need to remember, I just make a mental note, read it again a few times and try and imprint it in my memory.

However, I believe the best way of truly getting certain information to stick with you is by teaching it to others.

How do you choose what books to read next?

Well, I take suggestions from people at work. Also, if there’s someone I admire, like Ryan Holiday for instance, I will use him as a guiding beacon. He has, on his website, a really nice list of books he has read and that he recommends. So if I’m lacking inspiration, I check that list out as well.

Do you prioritize the books recommended by certain people? Is there anyone that you consider a book-recommendations guru?

Mmm, tricky question, as I haven’t really thought about this until now. The answer will be ‘no’. But that’s because I don’t think I have ever been faced with such a dilemma between whether I should now read book A or book B.

Last question: what book are you currently reading and what are you expecting to gain from it?

I just started reading Succeed: How We Can Reach Our Goals, by Heidi Grant-Halvorson. I’m curious about finding out more about the inner forces that drive us to tirelessly pursue certain goals and carelessly abandon others.

All books mentioned by Cristian-Dragos Baciu in this interview:

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