In some circles, list building is being introduced like a new concept. Maybe the methods of building lists and the content of the lists changed in time but list building is as old as humanity. Even Hubba the Stone Age man was building lists. His lists were simple like “the people from whom I can take the meat” and “those that take my meat after they hit me in the head.” Of course this was not called liberal economy at that time.

We start making lists the moment we begin to interact with other people. Children make lists of other children that share their toys with them and those with whom they share their toys. Teenage boys build lists of girls with and without “potential.” And last but not least geeks like me make lists, when they are young, of bullies, geeks, girls (this used to be one big and useless list made up of all the girls on the planet) and other people. However when we geeks grow up to be Bill Gates or Steve Jobs, we start to build very different kinds of list. If you know the men, then you know what I mean.

List building for commercial purposes is very old. It is as old as commerce. In Mesopotamia hundreds of thousands of clay tablets were found by archeologists. Some of these were later deciphered to be religious scripts, scientific studies and histories but a large number of them were commercial. Among the commercial tablets were lists of clientele and their addresses. It may be hard to believe but all great minds think alike and we didn’t invent the rules of commerce. We inherited them from our ancestors who inherited them from their ancestors who inherited them from our Hubba. I thank Hubba, every night before I go to sleep, God rest his soul.

If you ask me, invention of paper must have made things easier. Can you imagine writing about innovations and new products on clay tablets that weigh a ton? Distribution would really be problem. I don’t want to imagine the cargo fees for a product catalog. However that was their only means and they used it for a more successful enterprise. Thank God, Egyptians started to use Papyrus plant as a paper predecessor so that the workers of postal services started to grow smaller in size. Have you ever thought about it? Maybe the ancient hostility between postmen and dogs started with the invention of paper. Before paper, dogs were so afraid of giant postmen that their grand children (of the dogs I mean) preyed on postmen ever since just to forget about the humiliation of their ancestors.

After the invention of paper (as we know it) in China the commercial lists started to be used up to their full potential. Now for some marketing specialists paper is also ancient history. They keep their lists in special computer files “saving the trees.” We didn’t invent list building but we use it to be more successful. We have thousands of years of success stories and mistakes to take as a reference. We have the chance to repeat successes and never make the same mistakes.

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