North of Jewfish Creek

Dear Friend & Subscriber,

      My cat is despicable.

       I hate him. When I first got him, he was the cutest thing I'd ever seen. Barely old enough to be weaned, a fuzzy, little black and white ball of fur with trusting little blue eyes that could charm the world. I'd walk down Ocean Drive with him and I could never get even half a block without some pretty girl stopping me so she could pet Alfred.

       All that's changed now. He's gone psycho on me. He zooms around the office like he's O.D.'d on meth. He bites. He stalks. He lunges. He attacks... and... in general, he makes himself as much of a pain in the ass as is within his feline capabilities.

       I'm as cruel to him as I know how to be. I hit him, shake him, kick him, throw him against walls... plus... I do truly terrible things to him with a hot fork.

       There are certain people in this world (like Karen Redpath) who believe cats can do no wrong. They always have some excuse, some "reason why" shitty behavior on the part of a cat should be tolerated: He was weaned too soon; he's still a teenager with raging hormones; you're feeding him the wrong food; his litter-mates shunned him; or whatever.

       Personally, I don't give a damn. If something bites and scratches and attacks me, I'm gonna fight back. In the case of Alfred, one day I had an inspiring thought. I picked him up, stroked him gently, looked into his trusting kitty-cat eyes and said, "I'm gonna have your nuts cut off!"

       And so I did.

       It helped, it really did. It didn't cure him but, it did slow him down and I don't have to use the fork on him quite so often these days.

       Here's a related story... and... as Dave Barry would say, "I am not making this up. I swear it's true."

       A couple weeks ago I'm riding in a car with a mild-mannered friend of mine. We're going to downtown Miami to get some copies made or something. We're zipping across the 5th Street Causeway and we come to our exit. Like all good little motorists, when we turn off and come to a stop sign... we stop.

       And we are immediately descended upon by two tough-looking black teenagers with a bottle of Windex and a handful of filthy rags. My friend tries to wave them off. He gestures and shakes his head "no" very emphatically. It didn't matter. They were like "human Alfreds"; they wouldn't stop. They start to spray goop on the windshield.

       Wanna know what my friend does? Without saying a word, he puts the car into reverse, backs it up... then... puts it in drive and charges right at them! They squeal and yell like stuck pigs. They are outraged and very vocal about it. So guess what else? My friend backs up... and... goes for them again!

Strangest of all is my reaction. I know this sounds insane... but... I was glad about what my friend was doing. I wasn't expressing it outside... but inside... I was cheering him on.

       I know it's not right. You can't go around running people down because they're annoying you. But damnit, there is so much annoyance in modern life, it's no wonder people "snap" every once in a while.

       Remember that case (a few years back) of the teenage boy who was in the Middle East somewhere and he was spray painting graffiti all over whatever town he was in? Remember how the news media in this country was outraged his punishment was to be tied to a post and given 'x' number of lashes?

       My immediate reaction when I heard that was, "Good! If the little bastard can't take an ass-kicking, then he should learn how to act like a decent human being."

       I was ashamed of those feelings. But then, I read a poll which said... 80% of Americans felt the same way I did!

       The people of America are, I believe, finally getting fed up. We've nearly reached the stomach-turning point. We have "compassion fatigue". The fact your great granddaddy was a slave or your parents wouldn't let you have a puppy when you were five doesn't cut it as good reasons... why... you should not be held responsible for your actions (I'm not even going to mention the ungrateful slimebags in the Middle East). What it's coming down to really is...


The Producers Versus

The Parasites!


      Another true story: Years back, I met Connie Stevens, the singer. The one who used to be married, I think, to Eddie Fisher. Ms. Stevens is a great champion of American Indians and she would have charity get-togethers to help them. She wanted me to help her with her efforts so I went to one of those gatherings. It was pathetic. All those dorks standing around at this cocktail party moaning about how unfair the American Indian has been treated.

       I found it all pretty disgusting until a guy next to me... an Indian... said, "This is all bullshit. Indians don't need charity. They need to get off their asses and go to work. The real 'Indian Problem' is most of them are just a bunch of lazy drunks."

       He's right. America offers the same opportunities for American Indians as it does for what you might call American Americans. But, I'll tell you this: If you let any group of people suck on the government tit for free for a long enough period of time... they'll come to believe... the world owes them a living.

       By and large, Indians suck. Basically, they're scum. I feel free and clear to say this because (1) I have to believe what my eyes see, and (2) because, by and large, I, myself am American Indian.

       Alas, I digress. Let me make my point and then move on. Listen: We've tried welfare. We've tried food stamps. We've tried locking people up. We've tried program after program after program. So, henceforth and thusly, I suggest unto thee...


Let's Give Castration

A Chance!


      It's simple. It's fast. It's cheap. And, it's effective. Denmark uses it on sex offenders and it works like a charm.

       By the way, did you know child molesters are never cured? They never stop their behavior except when they're locked up, executed... or... castrated.

       I propose we do full castration on all habitual criminals and a "partial" on all first offenders. Imagine this scenario: Rufus Slimeola and his merry little group of gang-bangers are cruising in their tricked-out Bronco with their bowel movement music going full blast. They spot some pretty girls and get out of the Bronco to talk with them. Rufus pulls one of them into an alley, beats her, rapes her, then kicks her a few times and moves on.

       He gets reported to the cops and he gets picked up. No big deal. Rufus has been arrested 17 times before. Usually, he ends up spending a few days inside visiting with his homeboys and often, it doesn't even come to that. Actually, more often than not, Rufus walks almost immediately because... there are so many "Rufuses"... the "system" just can't handle them all.

       Check this out: If you want to go to jail for stealing a car in Miami, you have to do it nine times. That's no joke! There's so much crime here, the sentence guidelines say you've got to be guilty nine times before you do even one day of time. Which means, of course, you're probably going to have to steal 200 or 300 cars before you're actually caught and found guilty nine times.

       Back to Rufus. This time Rufus is not taken to the holding tank. Nobody gets him a lawyer. Nobody reads him his rights or bothers to listen to his "attitude rap". Instead, he is immediately taken to an infirmary, strapped down, given a local anesthetic and one of his testicles (my damn cat is eating part of my newsletter now) is removed. He's bandaged up and released with a friendly warning...

                         "Well, Rufus... we got one of 'em now... and... if you ever do wrong again...

                      snippy, snip-snip... there goes the other!"

       This would get Rufus' attention. Especially if all the cops would start wearing little gold scissors pinned to their shirt collars.

       Any of this got anything to do with marketing? Any of this have anything to do with you making a buck?

       You betcha! What you've just read is going to serve as an introduction to what just might be the most powerful marketing concept I've ever come up with. No! No! No! I am not suggesting we castrate the non-buyers. That might be going too far... even by my standards. And besides, some petty, little bureaucrat would probably find something wrong with the idea anyway.

       No, what I really want to introduce you to here is a concept I call "EPC" which stands for...


"Engineered Paradigm Change"


      First, just in case you haven't had your coffee yet, let me explain what a "paradigm" is. It's pronounced "para-dime" (like in penny, nickel, dime) and it is the frame of reference in which we operate.

       A book by Stephen L. Covey tells of the following incident: A father is on a subway with his two young sons. They are out of control. They're howling, and jumping up and down and running around like bats out of hell. In other words, they're acting like my cat, Alfred.

       During all of this, the father makes no effort whatsoever to discipline his children. He just sits there with a blank look on his face, oblivious to the pandemonium created by his kids.

       Finally, one of the other subway riders can't take it anymore. He approaches the father and says, "Excuse me Sir, but your children are out of control. They are upsetting everyone on this train. Don't you care at all? Aren't you going to do anything about it?"

       Then the father replies, "Oh my gosh! I'm so sorry. We just came from the hospital. Their mother has died and I'm pretty much out of it. I don't know how to handle it and I guess they don't either."

       The other subway rider goes through an immediate change. He's no longer angry. His anger has been replaced by compassion, he now wants to help.

       What has happened to that fellow subway rider is... he has undergone a paradigm change. His frame of reference is now very different. The "context" in which he views and evaluates the behavior of those out-of-control children has been completely altered.

       Now, know this:


Most Paradigm Changes

Happen By Accident!


      You're in an office and some dull clod invites you to a business-related dinner party. You know it's gonna be so boring, you'll hardly be able to stay awake. You're about to offer up a great excuse... when... all of a sudden... a splendid-looking young lady with an utterly dazzling smile interrupts to ask what the "dress code" is for the party.


Instant Paradigm Change!


      What was, an instant ago, a suffocatingly, boring business/social obligation has now become... an opportunity for excitement! And nothing changed about the event... except... the context in which you were relating to it.

       In the movie about Clark Gable's life, it starts by showing how he first met Carol Lombard who later became his wife. What happened was, she was going to a Hollywood party when she was jumped by a small group of really nasty guys. As she was trying to fend them off, Clark Gable happened by, saw what was going on, and came to her rescue. He waded right into the middle of that deal and beat the living shit out of the bad guys.

       Her relief was profound. She had an immediate "endorphin dump" which means pleasure-creating brain chemicals began to flood her system. This endorphin dump almost always occurs when someone suddenly experiences a huge relief from stress.

       Clark Gable couldn't have engineered a better beginning to his relationship with Miss Lombard. There is nothing which makes a person as immediately affectionate for you as you rescuing them.

       So, in this case, Clark Gable sure was lucky, right?

       Nope. Luck had nothing to do with it. You see, Clark Gable did engineer that fracas. Those "bad guys" weren't really bad guys at all; they were, in fact, studio stunt men who were doing Clark Gable a favor and making sure he got off on the right foot with the woman he was so attracted to. In other words, what we're talking about here is...


An Engineered Paradigm Change!


      The message is: If the context in which you are working isn't working for you... change the context!

       You know, when my mother died, I was naturally very affected. I remember a few times being in sort of a fog and having to apologize to people, "I'm sorry. I just learned my mother has died and I'm not thinking too clearly."

       What would happen is, a person who was annoyed with me would now become immediately sympathetic and want to be helpful in any way he or she could.

       John Carlton told me about a girl he knew in college who, whenever she missed a class, would use the excuse her grandmother had just died. The problem was, she "killed off" her grandma so many times, it became a struggle to remember which teachers she had used that ploy with and which ones she hadn't. Clearly, if you're gonna "kill off" your loved ones to engineer a paradigm change, you need to keep careful note of what you've told whom.

       OK, so maybe killing off loved ones is a little gross. How about something less gross... but still... very effective? So, let me tell you...


How I Invented

"Doctor" Feingold!


      A lady friend of mine was staying in a hotel in Orlando. It was a huge hotel and they must answer 1,000 calls an hour. Their standard telephone greeting is, "Blah Blah Hotel, please hold."

       They don't even give you a chance to talk. You're left there holding the phone for an eternity listening to some vapid, canned music. Finally, disgusted, you hang up, wait a while, and then call again. Same thing, "Blah Blah Hotel, please hold." Over and over, it was making me crazy.

       So, about the 7th time I called, before the person on the other end could even get started, I blurted out...

                        "Medical Emergency! Do Not Hang Up. This is Doctor Feingold. One

                    of my patients is a guest in your hotel and I must speak with her immediately!"

       I got right through.

       Does this seem a bit underhanded to you? It doesn't to me. When you think about it, what I did... did not hurt anyone. All it did was, get me the simple connection I think I was entitled to in the first place.

       Look, the way we're all treated today is unfair. We are reduced to being instantly put on hold or trying to communicate with "voice chips". I think Southern Bell here in Miami is having an efficiency contest within their employee ranks to see who can get their customers off the line the fastest... preferably... without even talking with them.

       For example, if you dial 411 for information here in the Miami area, you will not get a human being. You will get an infuriatingly syrupy "female" voice chip asking, "What City?" Then it waits for you to answer and it asks, "What listing?" Then it waits for you to answer again and it says, "Thank you." Then you get another voice chip giving you the phone number.

       At least, that's the way it's supposed to work. Often enough, it screws up. I just called to get the number of the Delano Hotel and ended up with the DeLido Hotel. And I had to call information again (another $1) to get the right number.

       But, that voice chip really can't tell what you are saying. All it responds to is sound. There's an operator lurking in the background listening to what you're saying so she can get that automated system of hers to give you the number you need without her having to dirty her hands by actually talking with you. (Does that work as a metaphor?)

       Here's what I do now: The voice chip asks, "What City?" and I yell...




      Then, just like I had made an intelligent response, it asks, "What listing?" and I repeat a little longer...




      And the voice chip says, "Thank you" and an operator comes on and, although she's upset (personally, I don't give a damn) she actually talks with me.

       (Dr. Feingold manifests himself in many ways.)

       Here's how I used to engineer a paradigm change when I was selling encyclopedias door-to-door. What they trained you to do was, dress up in a suit and tie, go to somebody's door while carrying a huge briefcase, knock loudly on the door... and... when someone opens it, you give them a big shit-eating smile, paw your feet back and forth on the ground (really) and ask if you can come in.

       Think about what that homeowner sees when he opens the door: An eager beaver, pushy person...


Who Has Salesman

Written All Over Him!


      Natural reaction of the homeowner? Tense up, get rid of him, tell him you're not interested.

       Now, compare that encounter with this one: You (the homeowner) open the door and about five yards away, a young man is standing with his back to you looking at the flowers in your yard. He's wearing a neat, short-sleeved shirt and he doesn't turn around when you open the door. He appears preoccupied. After a few seconds, you ask if you can help him. He turns around slowly with a shy smile. "Sorry, I didn't hear you open the door," he says. "I guess I got a little wrapped up in looking at your flowers. Listen, I think maybe I've got the wrong house. I'm looking for the Buckwheat family."

       "No," you say, "this is the right house. I'm Mr. Buckwheat."

       "Oh good," replies the young man. "I've been asked to get in touch with you. May I come in and talk with you for just a minute?"


Bingo! Sir Gary Of Halbert

Busts Another Door!


      My first direct mail success was the result of an engineered paradigm change... and... I've been using it ever since. Think about it: Most direct mail packages are like that door-to-door salesman. They begin screaming right from the envelope, "I want to sell you something! I want to sell you something!"

       My letters, as you know, almost always "sneak-up" on people. I think it's a big mistake to "telegraph" your intentions when you are selling. A little "warm-up" goes a long way.

       How do we use this insight to increase our marketing profits? There are many ways and they are very effective. I'm going to give you about a week to ponder this subject and then I'm going to explain to you in exquisite detail how... what you have you just read in this letter... can increase (by a large percentage) the amount of fungolas in your bank account. I suggest you re-read this letter several times to make sure you fully understand what I've written and are 100% prepared to immediately utilize the EPD profit-making techniques I'm going to share with you in the next edition of this newsletter.

       In the meantime, I've made myself a strange promise.

       I've decided to write something new and have it posted on my website ( every single day for the rest of my life. I've decided to call these little nuggets of writing "Halbertisms".

       So, every day from now on, you can go to my website and read something new! EVERY day! Seven days a week, 365 days a year. This will be separate from my monthly newsletter.

       Much of what I write will be marketing tips. Some of them will be wry observations on something which has amused me. Sometimes they will be vulgar and profane. Collectively, they will serve as an exhaustive written documentation of my abject insanity. This is where I'm gonna let it all hang out and write EXACTLY what I want to write. I do censor myself slightly when I write my monthly newsletter. But, not when I write the "Halbertisms".

       There are already 21 of these written and posted on the Internet. You'll find them at   "HOTD" stands for "Halbertism Of The Day".

       Check it out. You might learn something... plus... you might read something that amuses you and lightens your day.

       It's up on the Internet right now and... don't forget...


There Will Be A New One

Posted Every Single Day!


   Gary C. Halbert

  P.S.  I can't think of anything to write as a "P.S." this month. So sue me.



Copyright © 2003 Gary C. Halbert.  All Rights Reserved.