Thursday, [11:14] AM
Today I’m going to write whatever pops into my demented little head.
You see, every time I sit down to write a newsletter I imagine having a personal conversation with you. And the goal of the conversation is to help you however I can.
If you need a kick in the butt… I’m gonna kick your butt.
If you need advice from a wise older Uncle (I said “older” not old. I’m not old yet!)… I’m going to be that Uncle for you.
If you need an understanding pair of ears to listen or a shoulder to cry on… I’m going to do that, too.
And I’ve been doing my best to try and do all that for you.
But today is all about ME. Today I’m going to say whatever the hell I want to say. So this issue may ramble with no point whatsoever.
Frankly, I don’t care.
I think there’s something in my heart and head that needs to come out… and I don’t yet know what it is. The only way I can extract it out of me is to just start writing.
My Most Important Gary Halbert Copywriting Lesson
In fact, that’s one of the most important things Gary Halbert taught me. NEVER sit and stare at a blank screen or pad of paper. When you sit down to write… WRITE!
If you can’t think of anything to write, then simply write “blah blah blah” until something pops into your head.
If you write “blah blah blah” for 30 minutes (or whatever your dedicated daily writing time is) then that’s OK.
But that’s highly unlikely. What will probably happen is you’ll write “blah blah blah” for a while and then a thought will pop into your head. So write that thought and when you go blank again, continue writing “blah blah blah”.
Guess what. My mind just went blank, so blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah (kinda reminds me of the teacher in all the Peanuts cartoons)… Oops, just went blank again… blah blah blah blah blah blah…
Hey… here’s something I bet you’ve never heard before…
Don’t Get Too Close To Your Heroes…
You’ll probably discover they’re human, too… with plenty of faults just like everybody else.
I have a confession.
After I got to know Gary Halbert really well, I found myself being very critical of him. More critical than I usually am with everybody else.
Because he was a hero of mine. And heroes are supposed to be perfect, right?
Halbert was the best copywriter in the galaxy. Everything he touched turned to gold. He only had to think about a direct mail offer and millions of dollars would immediately come flying into his mailbox.
If you hired him to critique and re-write your sales letter that bombed, he would walk on water to the meeting, touch your letter with his special anointing and it would make you an immediate millionaire.
Gary was the stuff of legends… and (as I discovered) he was human, too, with plenty of faults.
Your heroes and the people you admire are all flawed human beings just like everybody else.
Uh oh, it’s happening again…
blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah… OK, something else just popped into my cranium…
I can be really hard and overly critical with people. Probably because I’m really hard and critical on myself.
I don’t accept excuses from others because I don’t accept them from myself.
I’m really working on being more compassionate with people… and easier on myself, too. But I’ll be honest with you… I can be a really insensitive, vengeful S.O.B. sometimes.
I’ll never forget one time when I was out on Halbert’s boat. I went on and on about some scumbag client who I felt did us wrong. He didn’t keep his agreement with us and wound up not paying us what he had agreed to pay.
I ran off at the mouth about what I would like to do to him… and potential people I could hire to do it. He was a lying dirtbag and he deserved a beating, etc.
After I ranted and got the anger out of my system, I got philosophical.
WHY was this guy like this? How could he do this to us? Doesn’t he know he put us in a bad spot financially by not keeping his word. How could anybody do this… and on and on.
Halbert was so patient with me. He never said anything. He just steered the boat and let me rant until I ran out of steam.
(If you ever get to meet me in person, you’ll find that when I get wound up, I have a tendency to go on and on… often repeating myself until I’ve beaten the subject into the ground. I’m working on talking less and listening more.)
After my rant I asked Gary, “How could this guy do this to us?”
Gary calmly replied…
“Because he’s a flawed human being simply doing the best he can.”
Gary’s reply hit me upside the noggin like a 2×4. Nothing more was said until we got back to the dock.
I was ready to travel to this guy’s house and kick his ass… but Gary’s reply immediately quelled my anger.
The man’s compassion was overwhelming. Even with scumbags who didn’t deserve it.
Gary could truly forgive and forget.
Probably because he had gotten into a few transgressions in his life… but in spite of that, people still forgave him.
One time he told me…
“When I was young I worried that people were thinking the wrong things about me. Then, as I got older and into a few transgressions, I began to worry people were thinking the right things about me. And then, as I got older yet… old enough to have a little wisdom…
“I Realized Nobody Was Thinking About Me At All!”
Like many of the things Gary taught me, I’m just beginning to understand that “Halbertism”.
And I’m really trying to be more compassionate like Gary.
I did a post a few months ago about a recent health scare. Everything turned out OK but I discovered that the possibility of death really helps me focus on being more compassionate.
I can be so quick to judge people without trying to understand why they do what they do.
I have friends with all the talent in the world and it frustrates me to see them doing nothing with it.
I judge them harshly because they don’t choose to be ambitious and follow the same path I did.
But you never know what’s in a person’s heart, do you? You never really know the reasons people do what they do… or fail to do.
Maybe they’re a late bloomer and will do something productive late in life, like Colonel Sanders.
Or just maybe, in spite of the fact they were given all the talent and brains they need to create a truly successful life… they choose to piss away their priceless potential in front of the “idiot box”.
They get to choose what they do with the precious gift of life they’ve been given. I can’t choose their path for them… and I have no right to judge them either.
I’ll admit… it’s really difficult for me to see people piss away their precious lives. It hurts especially bad when it’s a family member or close friend.
Oh, I’ve TRIED to get them to change by motivating them… and even being critical of them… but neither approach has ever worked. It really frustrates me.
I just have to move on and hope that maybe something will motivate them to do something fulfilling with their lives… instead of grinding away for 40 years in mind-numbing servitude to a job they hate.
Aw crap… it’s happening again…
blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah…
I’m feeling worried a lot lately… and a little sad. Not sure why exactly.
I really miss Gary Halbert. I’ve got some challenges he could probably solve in less than five minutes if I could just get on the phone with him like I used to.
But he somehow still communicates with me. I have no idea how he did it but the lessons I learned from him seem to come back to me at just the right time.
When I’m working on business deals or copy, I can almost hear his voice telling me an appropriate “Halbertism”.
(Don’t worry. I’m not delusional. I’m not actually hearing voices. It’s just a figure of speech.)
Recently when I was stuck on a piece of copy, I remembered a “Halbertism” I learned when Gary was staying in my home in Costa Rica.
One day he was talking about the power of telling stories in your copy.
To show me an actual example, he created a story about a fictitious bodybuilding product discovered in the jungles of Costa Rica. We both thought it was so good, he immediately called John Carlton and read it to him over the phone.
I used that story later as a swipe for a bodybuilding product of mine. It was one of my most successful bodybuilding promotions to date.
So when I recently had to trash what I had written for a client and start all over again, Halbert reminded me of one of his many lessons at the perfect time.
Funny how that works. And it seems to be happening more and more lately.
So as those lessons pop into my mind, I think I’ll preserve them for posterity here on the blog.
It may not be my most coherent writing… but what’s more important is to get it out of my head and written down before it disappears into the ether.
As long as you don’t mind these “stream of consciousness” type of ramblings, I’ll be glad to start sharing more and more Gary Halbert lessons with you.
My 30 minutes is up. Gotta get back to the work that supports my bad habits of eating regularly and sleeping indoors.
We’ll talk again soon.
All the best,