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Quantity Leads to Quality

If your goal is to do better work, start by doing more work.

We recently launched a turn-key video solution for financial advisors called Oechsli Mobile. We always learn a lot from running a new program and one thing we’ve learned in this one is ... nobody likes the way they look on camera. This tends to fade over time, but at first, it’s hard to watch yourself. Remember, this is in your head, not other people’s. Also remember, nobody is great at video at first, but you only get better through volume.

Recently we got an email from a client with a confession. He didn’t like how he presented on camera and was reluctant to post videos of himself for fear of being judged by his former coworkers.

We thought a lot about his situation and decided to send him an email with a segment from the book Art of Fear. We’ve copied it below, in hopes that it squashes that little voice of doubt in someone else’s head as well:

Hi X,

I received your email on my morning run yesterday and I've given it some thought. Quitting, at this point, would be a mistake. We've produced hundreds of videos since launching this program and I can tell you, your on-camera skills were better than 70% of them.

When I think back to the videos Stephen and I used to make, I chuckle. Many of them we stumbled and stammered through. They weren’t great ... but we made them. And it's through this process of making videos that we got better.

Here's a section from a book Art of Fear that makes the point.

A ceramics teacher announced on opening day that he was dividing the class into two groups. All those on the left side of the studio, he said, would be graded solely on the quantity of work they produced, all those on the right solely on its quality.

His procedure was simple: On the final day of class he would bring in his bathroom scales and weigh the work of the “quantity” group: fifty pounds of pots rated an “A,” forty pounds a “B,” and so on. Those being graded on “quality,” however, needed to produce only one pot—albeit a perfect one—to get an “A.”

Well, came grading time and a curious fact emerged: The works of highest quality were all produced by the group being graded for quantity.

It seems that while the “quantity” group was busily churning out piles of work—and learning from their mistakes—the “quality” group had sat theorizing about perfection, and in the end had little more to show for their efforts than grandiose theories and a pile of dead clay.

Don't worry about others judging you. Instead, know that you are creating something helpful. Over time your delivery will get better, your advice will get better and prospects will become attracted to you. I wouldn't normally take the time to write an email like this, but I feel like you are selling yourself short. You're a genuine and thoughtful guy—let it come out in your videos.

Sorry if this email comes across as "tough love" but that's my intention. I think you need the push.




We love the ceramics teacher anecdote. It stresses both the importance of taking action and the benefits of mistakes. If your goal is to do better work, start by doing more work.

Give yourself permission to be mediocre at first and hammer away on the thing you want to be good at. Show up, and then keep showing up. Don’t focus on perfection but rather on continual learning and improvement. Over time your average will turn to good, and your good will transform into great.

This is no more evident than with video production. If your company permits, get into video in a big way. The only equipment you really need is a smartphone and it does wonders for engaging current and prospective clients.

Don’t let yourself get stuck waiting or delaying. The only way to master your craft, stealing a Malcom Gladwell term, is to put in your “ten-thousand hours.”

By the way, the client we sent this email to decided not to cancel services. In fact, he is now producing more videos than he ever has—and each one is a little better than the one before it.


Stephen Boswell and Kevin Nichols are partners with The Oechsli Institute, a firm that specializes in research and training for the financial services industry. @StephenBoswell @KevinANichols

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