Jay and Jeannie Levinson

Jay Conrad Levinson passed away last week at the age of 80. Jay wrote the seminal book, Guerrilla Marketing, which fundamentally changed the way people thought about marketing. In all, he authored or co-authored 58 books, which have been published in 62 languages, selling more than 21 million copies.


Before he revolutionized small-business marketing, Jay spent more than two decades in the advertising industry, where he helped create some of the most iconic marketing memes in history, including the Pillsbury Doughboy, the Jolly Green Giant, the Marlboro Man, Mr. Clean, Morris the Cat, and Tony the Tiger.

He was also a colleague and a friend.

I learned a lot from Jay. Here are six valuable sales, business and life lessons.

1. Think for yourself
Jay was a consummate thinker. And whether as an ad executive, a speaker or a consultant, he challenged his clients with his original thinking. Guerrilla Marketing was born when Jay challenged his own thinking, realizing that the strategies that worked for big companies (with their big ad budgets) wouldn’t work for small companies. He rethought marketing from a new perspective and created an entirely new approach. What do you need to rethink?

2. Collaborate
Jay didn’t rely solely on his own thinking though. Jay was smart enough to realize that two—or even three—heads are better than one. During his advertising career, Jay surrounded himself with smart, talented people. And throughout his writing career, Jay partnered with more than two dozen co-authors, including Seth Godin, Orvel Ray Wilson, Mark S.A. Smith, Elly Valas, Shane Gibson, Michael Larsen, Jill Lublin, Rick Frishman, and Mitch Meyerson. Who could you collaborate with to achieve better results?

3. Say yes
One of the reasons Jay had so many co-authors is that whenever someone would approach him with an idea for a new book in the Guerrilla Marketing series, Jay would say yes. Jay said yes to nearly everything, seeing potential and possibilities, rather than risks and downsides. How could you say yes more often?

4. Have fun
Throughout his nearly 60-year career, Jay loved what he did. From creating ad campaigns to writing, speaking and consulting, Jay took enormous pleasure in his work. Further, he always made time for fun with friends and family. I firmly believe his dedication to having fun made his work that much more effective. How could you have more fun in your work and life?

5. Encourage others
Jay liked to see others succeed. He was a teacher at heart. Guerrilla Marketing came about as a result of a class Jay taught at the extension division of UC Berkeley for ten years. And he was constantly praising and encouraging those around him. Who could use some encouragement from you?

6. Be generous
Jay was incredibly giving—of his books, of his time, of his support. And always with a smile on his face. He never even trademarked the term “Guerrilla Marketing” because he wanted other people to be able to use it. That generosity created legions of fans and advocates. How could you be more generous in your business and your life?

The legacy Jay leaves behind is tremendous, not just in books sold, but in businesses helped and lives touched. While his voice has been silenced, his ideas live on in his books and via the coaches he trained.

Want to benefit from Jay’s wisdom? Visit the official Guerrilla Marketing website for free articles, tips and more. And whether you’re in sales or marketing, there are Guerrilla books that will help you be more successful. Hit Amazon for a complete listing.

Better yet, stop by your local book store and pick up a few titles. Jay would’ve liked that.

How did Jay impact your life or business? What lessons did you learn from him? Please share them in the comments below!

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