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Obvious Adams: The Story of a Successful Businessman (Classic Reprint) Paperback – July 14, 2012

4.6 out of 5 stars 32 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Obvious Adams was the first of many published writings of this author. They ranged from magazine articles to hardcover books. It was his hobby. As his son once said, “I never saw Dad whenever he was on vacation or in his ‘spare time' that he didn't have a clipboard, some yellow copy paper and several pencils on hand, drafting his latest article or book.” Although he wrote for pleasure, sometimes anonymously and sometimes under pen names when not under his own name, most of his writings were published. In addition to magazine articles, he authored four major books: Captains in Conflict, Yours to Venture, All the Time You Need, and Try Giving Yourself Away. Bob Updegraff, as his friends and clients called him, was a business counselor serving as a personal advisor over a period of forty years to the top management of such leading companies as: Aluminum Company of America; American Brake Shoe Company; General Foods Corporation; W. T. Grant Company; John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance Company; Hart, Schaffner & Marx; Jewel Companies, Inc.; Kellogg Company; Lever Bros. Company; Shaw–Walker Company and Westinghouse Electric Corporation. He also carried out a special project for Reader’s Digest to which he had contributed several articles under various pen names. He served as Director for Scarsdale National Bank for 32 years; Jewel Companies, Inc. for 25 years; and W. T. Grant Company for 18 years. Although he resigned from all boards at age seventy as a matter of principle, he remained associated with several of his long-term clients well into his eighties. He was still writing articles and drafting books he hoped to publish at the time of his death at 88. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 70 pages
  • Publisher: Forgotten Books (July 14, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B008R2017A
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #494,898 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The idea that the best ideas seem obvious after they have been pointed out juiced my desire to find more creativity. There's something very teasing and encouraging about the idea that the answer might somehow be there in plain view if I could just see it...sort of like one of those puzzles that kids play where you find the tiny pictures hidden throughout a larger picture. That the answers to complicated problems might somehow be very plain if I could but see them, makes me want to keep searching.

The additions to this edition (added later by the author) are the reason I give the book 5 stars. Simple and only a few pages, these check lists of exercises offer practical ways to open eyes and wisdom to see the answer.

I especially liked his thought that you know you're close to the right answer when you can easily explain it to anyone, they all get it, and they all react with wide-eyed, "why didn't i think of that, it seems so obvious."

I read this classic after reading it's recommendation by the teacher in "the art of profitablility" by Adrian Slywotzky (also a book worth the study).
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Format: Paperback
There are a number of myths in business.

One of these myths is that in order to build a successful business you have to be special or lucky or charismatic or savvy.
After reading this story you will know the truth.

This profound and insightful fable will cause you to think differently about what "obvious" actually means in business.
Obvious normally suggests an absence of thinking: the result people come to without analysis or gathering of the facts.

By contrast what this book shows is that "the obvious" only becomes apparent when the logical information is gathered. This is why the seemingly un-impressive Mr. Adams was able to solve big problems for his company's clients. He didn't just jump to conclusions and follow the path his assumptions led him down. He took the time, each time he was faced with a problem, to simply gather the fact, and test his assumptions to reach the logical answer.

This will change the way you think about problem solving in business forever.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book is a a fantastic fable describing exactly what excellent marketing should accomplish. We don't need more cleverness, more creativity, or more ideas...we need more common sense. The problem with common sense is it's not at all obvious nor common. Read this book for a refreshing return to what should be obvious in your marketing efforts.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Gary Bencivenga recommended this book, that's all I needed to hear. (The quote above can be attributed to either him or another A-list copywriter).

The book is short, sweet, and effective.

Our protagonist rises to the top of a powerful ad agency, eventually becoming a legend, with his unique ability to convey the simple essence of a product. His ads outsell those of more seemingly talented copywriters.
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Format: Kindle Edition
While not a fan of the illustrated version, it remains a simple, clear reminder of keeping a simpler outlook on marketing, advertising, and business issues across the board.

The story of obvious adams is one of simple genius. Look at the problem. (also assess if there truly IS a problem). Remove assumptions. Just look at the problem as simply as possible and look for a simple solution. Break through what people expect to see and hear, from charts and diagrams to industry jargon...and find the simplicity.

In all of my working experience, I have always valued those who can see the obvious and who are not afraid to actually point it out.
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Format: Paperback
I really liked this little book. It was a gift from a top copywriter and I really appreciated it. It is a quick, easy read but contains valuable information including notes made years later by the author helping to explain his thoughts. Although written long ago much of the information is timeless. Highly recommended for everyone involved in advertising and marketing or in business. Ah shucks, I'm going to make my kids read it.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Great book that illustrates the power of common sense and good observation. I got this edition hoping it would include the author's later brief update on Five tests of Obviousness. But it was not included.
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Format: Paperback
Although originally published 51 years ago, this timeless treasure is the best sales and marketing book ever written. It is a must read for all of us who market and sell products, services, and/or ourselves (which includes just about everyone).
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