Well, your husband's friend must have a great alternative method! Clicker-training is the most commonly used method with performing animals, but there are many other methods used with domestic animals, with different levels of success, depending on the individual personality of your pet.
I use clicker-training in my work and with my dogs. But not for everything. I use it for finite, definite commands such as sit, drop, down, give and so forth. I use it for other commands such as stay and come, too, but these commands are often very associative with your individual pet, so you may need to modify.
You don't have to use a clicker, you can use a whistle, or another sound that would be alien to what your puppy would naturally hear over the course of it's day. That's the point of a clicker - it's a `bridge' so to speak, it helps the association of deed and reward come faster to animals, so it needs to be a sound that they wouldn't otherwise normally hear (like, for example, your voice).
Operant conditioning is an effective, easy-to-learn and safe way of positively training your dog, cat, bird, horse etc. It's also fun and it helps motivate your puppy. There are some wonderful online resources for clicker-training - Karen Pryor's website, for example.
Just remember that dogs are opportunists. They will learn quickly and with enthusiasm when the rewards are right and it is meaningful to them. They will sit naturally through the course of their lives (of course!) but to get them to sit for you they need a good reason to do it - whether it be a toy, a treat, a cuddle, a game of tug-of-war. Until you get them into the habit of obeying you, there needs to be a reward EVERY time. That is why clicker-training can be so effective. They hear the click, they look for the reward, and it motivates them to continue in the behaviours that induced the click in the first place.
My average for clicker-training the most essential and basic of commands - the sit - is six minutes. It's astonishing how fast this method can work for simple commands.
Not only that, it's a really fun and very frustration-free method of training for owners, too, because it's very results-oriented and is easy to learn. And once you get your dog used to the idea of clicker-training, there really isn't anything you can't accomplish with it. Again, there are a number of different and highly effective positive training methods, but this one is one of the best, in my opinion, because of it's simplicity and mostly because of the ease with which it helps you communicate with your dog (or cat, bird, horse etc!).
I cannot recommend it highly enough. Good luck!