How To Manufacture a Hit

There are more than 5,000 artists in De Fen Oil Painting Village in China who create knockout copies of popular original paintings day in and day out.  Each of them earns close to $300 a month.  At this rate, they’ll have to work for 8,330+ years to make as much money as an original Van Gogh painting sells for.

1.The Story of Chelm Justice

Eons ago, there is a small town named Chelm somewhere in Europe. To bring order in the city, the people of Chelm elect an impartial judge. One day, filled with rage, the town cobbler kills one of his customers.

The cobbler is bought up in front of the judge who sentences him to die by hanging. This is really bad news for the town. One townsman gains courage to stand up and speak: “If Your Honor pleases, you have sentenced to death the town cobbler! He’s the only one we’ve got. If you hang him who will mend our shoes?”

“Who! Who?” cry all the other townsmen in Chelm together.

The judge thinks for a while, nods in agreement and reconsiders his verdict. “Good people of Chelm,” he says, “What you say is true. Since we have only one cobbler it would be a great wrong against the community to let him die. As there are two roofers in the town, let one of them be hanged instead!”

Action Summary:

  • Be unique.

2. Michael Jordan vs Joe Kleine

Michael Jordan of Chicago Bulls Slam Dunking the Ball

Its 1996 and Chicago Bulls wins the NBA basketball championship.

  • Michael Jordan earns $80 million that year (including endorsement deals).
  • Joe Kleine – a player on the bench of the same winning Chicago Bulls team – makes a total of $272,250 that year.

Same winning team. But a difference of a whooping 293:1 in their earnings!

Action Summary:

  • Be the best at what you do.  Because the difference between #1 and #2 is growing wider in all the fields!

(But what if you aren’t the best in your field? Read on…)

3. Boring Dennis Rodman vs Exciting Dennis Rodman

Dennis Rodman – another basketball player – plays for LA Lakers.  For years, he puts up impressive rebounding numbers on the scoreboard.  But yet he goes totally unnoticed.  And does not making his millions.

He is definitely no Michael Jordan.  Nowhere as good.  And nowhere as popular!

But one day, Dennis changes all that.  No he doesn’t magically become as good as Jordan.  But he colours his hair red!  The only basketball player to do so!

Dennis Rodman: Before & After. Black boring hair hid him in the pack. Red exciting hair made him rich and famous!

He colours his hair red and everyone starts noticing him.  The media start following him.  Pretty soon – he becomes very popular.  And earns millions of dollars worth endorsement deals! And also attracts the attention of Carmen Electra!

Still nowhere near as rich as Michael Jordan.  But he does a lot better than before!

Just because he took the courage to do something different, something unique and stand out from amongst the crowd!

Action Summary:

  • Create your own personality.
  • Do something bold and outrageous.  Something whacky.  To stand out from the crowd.

4. Manufacturing a Hit Car

Henry Ford’s Model-T that makes him the richest person in the world

Many folks mistakenly believe that Henry Ford invented automobiles.  But that is far from truth.  When Henry Ford started the Ford Motor Company, there are 14 other car manufacturers in the state of Michigan.  And 87 car manufacturers in the whole of USA!  Very stiff competition.

But while all the other 87 car manufacturers are trying to learn from each other to advance their field, Henry Ford takes a different approach.  He goes outside his industry to find ideas.

And an idea he finds from the meat packing industry!

Henry studies the Chicago meat packing industry to see how their productivity is so high.  And learns that each worker only does one specific narrow task. Workers don’t move. They stand in their station. And a pulley system is used to move the meat from one working station to the next where the worker would do his one specific task efficiently.

Henry Ford copies this assembly line system for the manufacturing of cars too. And revolutionizes the automobile industry – becoming the richest person living in the process too!

Action Summary:

  • Look outside your field of interest. Most revolutionary ideas come from merging 2 fields.
  • Copy hit ideas from other industries.

5. Manufacturing a Hit Comic

Kevin Eastman is brainstorming with his friend Peter Laird about comics in 1983.

While brainstorming, they ask a question: what could they do to improve their chances of coming up with a hit comic? And the solution they come up with is ingenious!

They start counting their inspirations.

1. Cerebus the Aardvark is a surprising cult comic of the time. Its about a pig superhero who drinks and cusses. But is very smart. Misfit animal superhero.

2. Ronin by Frank Miller is also a hit comic of the time. Ninja movies are doing well too. Ninjas.

3. Daredevil is another hit comic. It’s about a blind mutant whose other senses are heightened beyond normal human ability because of radio active exposure. Mutants.

4. The New Mutants is another comic they are inspired by. It’s about teenage mutant superheroes undergoing training.  Teenage mutants.

Eastman and Laird mix all of these 4 inspirations together. And come up with teenage mutant ninja misfit animals undergoing training.

They come up with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles!  Which becomes a huge hit!


Leads to:

Cerebus the Aardvark + Ronin + Daredevil + The New Mutants = Inspiration for the hit comic Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Action Summary:

  • Mix 3-4 hot trends and create your own hit.
  • “Copy from one, it’s plagiarism; copy from two, it’s research.” – Wilson Mizner


Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird took a loan to publish the first issue of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. But they didn’t just sit and wait for the sales to roll in.  Instead, they took massive action and sent out 180 press kits to all the media stations!


Action Summary:

  • Even hit products require backup from marketing.  Your product may be awesome.  But if no one knows about it, how will it ever become a hit?