Leo Babauta, "The Tao of Marketing"

Leo Babauta is the writer of Zen Habits: Smile, Breathe & Go Slowly, which was hailed by Time magazine as one of the top 25 best blogs in the world in 2010. Mr. Babauta lived in Guam, but currently lives in San Francisco. According to his website, "Zen Habits features three powerful articles a week on: simplicity, health & fitness, motivation and inspiration, frugality, family life, happiness, goals, getting great things done, and living in the moment." The essay (blog post) featured here was written as a guest post on Steve Rubel's blog, Micro Persuasion. As of this writing (September 15, 2010), Mr. Rubel has moved his blog to The Steve Rubel Stream.

Click here to read Leo Babauta's "The Tao of Marketing."


Read Leo Babauta's "The Tao of Marketing." Read it quickly but thoroughly. After a quick read, please define these terms. You may use Wikipedia or an online dictionary. Try to write the terms along with their definitions on a sheet of paper. The act of writing by hand helps you remember the definitions.

  • white paper
  • Steve Rubel
  • Zen
  • ruffle
  • frugal
  • blog
  • Taoism
  • personal branding
  • viral
  • viral marketing
  • cynical
  • spam
  • slick
  • overbearing
  • crave
  • TIVO
  • pinnacle
  • pit (verb)
  • embrace
  • bulldoze (verb)
  • blitz ("blitzing")
  • smother

Thinking Critically

Answer each questions as completely as you can, using well-formed sentences. Although there is no "correct" answer, please be sure to support your answer with evidence from the text.

  1. What is the main point of Babauta's blog entry? Is there one sentence you could point to and say "This sentence articulates Babauta's main point"?
  2. How does Babauta establish credibility in his introduction? What is his tone, and what words or phrases help create that tone? Why do you think Babauta speaks of his accomplishments in the first five paragraphs?
  3. Leo Babauta uses short, often one-sentence paragraphs in favor of traditional, longer, multi-sentence paragraphs. What is the effect of these short paragraphs?
  4. How does Babauta characterize the old way of marketing and advertising? He offers several short examples. Do you think his effect would be the same if he were to expand upon the examples? Are the examples he offers enough?
  5. According to Babauta, what does the old way of advertising and marketing try to create in people? By what means?
  6. If you were to sum up the essence of what Babauta calls the new way of marketing, what would it be? How would it be accomplished, according to Babauta?
  7. Babauta uses several visual cues, including short paragraphs, headings, ordered list (numbered), and bulleted lists (bullets, no numbers) to help readers understand the content easily. How are these visual cues helpful? Can you use these visual cues in your own writing? How?

Writing Assignment

Babauta writes, "Marketing of old was (and still is) a pushy industry, forcing a brand down people's throats." He also argues that "[p]eople who didn't know they wanted an iPod before, who didn't know they wanted an iPhone or Macbook Air, or a Google Android device ... will instantly crave it when advertising is done with them. Take a look at the following commercial for an Apple iPhone 4.

To what extent does this commercial attempt to manipulate the consumer (or what Babauta calls "regular people") into buying the product? In a 500 - 750 word essay argue that this Apple commercial does or does not adhere to "The Old Way" of advertising. You may also write your essay on the extent to which the commercial adheres or does not adhere to "The Old Way."

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