North of Jewfish Creek

Dear Friend & Subscriber,

He might not know it but, a guy named Mitch Axelrod has written this month's issue of my newsletter.

What happened is, he was one of the attendees at my   "Patches of Light" seminar in Orlando... who... got to experience firsthand the pure unadulterated "pleasure" of suffering through a hot seat conducted by me and John Carlton. After Mitch got home from the seminar, he wrote an e-mail and sent it to some of his friends, one of whom then sent it to me.

I am reproducing it below (with just a tiny bit of minor "tweaking") because it's the best way I can think of to give you a glimpse of the information and wisdom the attendees received at my "Patches of Light" seminar:

Dear Friends,

Have you ever felt the white-hot heat of being roasted in front of 100 colleagues?

I’m not a big fan of criticism. Whenever I offer the point of view that "there is no such thing as constructive criticism" it’s always good for a stimulating debate among the purists who say there is no improvement without criticism.

Last weekend, I had the privilege of having 100 very smart and successful people collectively "criticize" then brainstorm one of our toughest marketing problems. I was in Orlando for the "Patches of Light" seminar hosted by legendary marketing expert Gary Halbert.

The two men at the front of the room leading the roast have had more marketing successes over the past 30 years than most of the top ad agencies. Between them, Gary Halbert and John Carlton are responsible for a billion dollars of products and services sold, and are considered two of the very finest copywriters and marketing minds in the world.

They attacked our marketing problem with double-barrel buckshot, and enjoyed every minute of blasting holes in our theory, approach, strategy and tactics. They sliced, diced and skewered every word I uttered. They roasted, toasted and barbecued until I was singed, then seared, then scorched. My butt is still on fire!

When it was over, I got a very nice and warm applause for standing in the fire. I suffered the slings and arrows to get to the breakthrough answers we needed. And, we got answers!

It was a "breakthrough" experience. I heartily recommend you do a "hot seat" experience IF you really want to break down barriers, bust through the BS, and break out to bigger and better possibilities. No real growth can occur unless and until we let go of existing thinking and the comfort zone of the status quo.

It’s not easy; but it’s well worth it. Are you ready to stretch?

I was gifted with the opportunity to spend three days experiencing major breakthroughs by being part of a dozen business-building hot seats, designed to generate solutions to people’s most challenging marketing problems.

It was a weekend with no handouts, no pontificating and no success BS.

Here was the entire agenda:

"Who Has A Marketing Problem?"

If you volunteered, the only condition for roasting was that you really wanted to solve your marketing problem. Don’t laugh; many people have big problems, but have no intention of listening to suggestions (even from experts) or doing what’s necessary to solve them.

Here Are 27 "Pearls Of Wisdom"
I Dug Up Last Weekend:

1.   Don’t worry about improving your image. Improve your substance. The world is starved for substance. Most people are working on image. Few work to improve substance. Those who do will stand head and shoulders above the rest.

2.   Fail fast. Drop losing projects immediately. After trying to find a solution to a marketing problem which simply didn’t exist, Gary Halbert wrote three words on the white board which most of us were thinking in our heads:

Drop This Project!

It’s not easy to let go of things we’re emotionally attached to, but it’s necessary to move on.

3.   Most people are self-absorbed. Appeal to their selfish side. Forget your point of view. It doesn’t matter. If you want to sell Johnny Jones what Johnny Jones buys... you MUST see Johnny Jones through Johnny Jones' eyes. What does he want more than anything?

4.   Gary said, "If I found the cure for AIDS, everyone would get it. How much money I make would not be an issue. When you discover something important enough, the goal is to make sure everyone who wants or needs it can get it. Shift attention from how much can you make to how many people can you help. The money will come."

5.   NOTHING is risk-free. LIFE is not risk-free. You’re a heartbeat away from a Christopher Reeves moment. If you can’t accept risk, you are living on the wrong planet. What risk can you take which might alter the quality of life as you know it?

6.   Hire experts. Don’t try to do everything yourself. Especially when it comes to the most important parts, including copywriting and crafting your sales message. Don’t spend a fortune on the unimportant things, then economize on the pivotal items. Know when to bring in the experts.

7.   Outspend the other guys. Many businesses do things on the cheap. Shoestringing and bootstrapping are successful strategies when money is tight. When money is there, spend it. A business campaign can rise or fall based on the money behind it. Don’t hesitate to invest money, especially on the important things. If you don’t have it, find someone who does and share the bounty. 100% of nothing is still nothing!

8.   You don’t want to sell just one million books (widgets, etc.). You want anyone who wants what you have to be able to buy it. Don’t set arbitrary limits. Find a way for everyone who wants what you have to get it. It will enrich you in the process.

9.   Don’t become a student of products... but...  do become a student of markets. Know your markets better than you know your products. If you fall in love with your product, it will blind you to reality. Fall in love with markets. If there isn’t a market, reconsider or drop the product. Use the SRDS (Standard Rates and Data Service directory) to find your buyers ( It’s not a cheap resource, but it’s vital if you plan to reach a pool of hungry fish.

10. Don’t do LMS… ("Lesser Mortal Shit") [a Halbertism]. Delegate everything except your highest value work. If you run out of highest value work, do the next most valuable work. Don’t do $10/hour work or you won’t ever reach your highest and best value.

11. Two things will get a person’s attention and interest: Showmanship and the "Reason Why". To get the attention of the person you’re after, a little theatre will go a long way. Be creative. If you’ve got 20 big fish to catch, don’t send a letter... but... do send a courier. Gain their interest with a powerful "reason why". Why would they... why SHOULD they... give you their time and attention? What’s the most compelling "reason why" you can give which satisfies their self-interest? If you don’t know, ask your buyers.

12. Understand the Triangle of Marketing… #3 is the copy, #2 is the message, and #1 is the audience. Make sure you have the right/best/hungriest/rabid audience, or your message and copy won’t ever get seen, heard or read. A mediocre message to a great audience will always do better than a great message to a mediocre audience. Know your audience, hone your message, and don’t scrimp on copy. Like an interesting story, good copy gets read.

13. Don’t care about what ANYONE thinks. How often do we hesitate and delay because of what others might think? We thwart our success and happiness worrying about what other people think. We don’t regret the shots we do take, even when they don’t work out. We do regret most of the shots we don’t take. Follow the real desires which lurk deep in your heart. Don’t worry about what others think.

14. Tell your story. A powerful story creates an emotional link. I call this the "E-Link". John Carlton, one of the world’s highest-paid copywriters, says personality is missing in most marketing messages. He suggests we "pinch-them-in-the-butt" and tap the passionate "sweet spot". Tell a story. Connect it to what the person can DO (results, accomplishments), and how the person will FEEL (the strongest E-Link). What story can/will you tell?

15. Gary wrote on the board...

Greedy People Lead
 Lives That Suck!

      Enough said.

16. "Gun-to-the-head-thinking" can get you out of a jam or tough time. If someone had a gun to your head, and to save your life you had to craft the best message you could, what would you say?

17. There’s too much bad news. We can’t hear the voices of light. Cats find the sun spots. They seek the patches of light. (Did you catch that? That's where the name of the seminar came from... "Patches of Light" seminar.) How can you be a source of light?

18. Speak… "from down below." If you want your credibility to soar, don’t speak from your mouth; speak from your pelvis. Imagine your entire chest cavity as one big voice box. Speak "from down below"… and you will create a stronger, more powerful presence. (Thank you, Burt Dubin for this little-known sage advice used by opera singers to get the most from their precious instrument.) [Gary's Note: I have no recollection of Burt's statement.]

19. You’re NOT in the marketing business. You’re in the ARITHMETIC business. If your arithmetic doesn’t add up, you won’t have a business for very long. Start counting.

20. You want to sell your products and services to "addicts" - profound, irrational, passionate, rabid, insane people who buy frequently and spend a lot. That’s your IDEAL buyer. Where are they? How can you reach them? What will you say to them?

21. 10,000 hours… that’s how long it takes to become really good at something. That’s 2,000 hours per year for five years. It can take doctors and other professionals twice that long (10 years), and most self-made millionaires take four times that long (that’s right, 20 years is the average time it takes for self-made millionaires to achieve "overnight" success). You can’t invest a few hours in something and expect to become an expert. There are many self-proclaimed "pseudo-gurus" who emerge after one or two successes and claim expert status. Experts hone their chops over time. What’s your expertise? Hone it, refine it and continuously improve it.

22. The "instant-gratification-society" claims millions of lives each year who fall for the Success BS that the road to success, fame and fortune is quick, easy, painless and risk-free.

23. Entertainers, artists and musicians practice 10,000 hours to hone their chops, most of it in solitude and anonymity. Entrepreneurs suffer ups and downs, ins and outs of all kinds over many years before they hit their stride and achieve consistent and lasting success.

24. There are no shortcuts. Then again, why should there be? The journey, the process itself is the reward. The achievement of a goal or objective is icing on the cake. The real payoffs are what we learn, how we grow, who we meet and how much we pass on to others.

25. If we polish up and internalize these pearls of wisdom, especially those which challenge our existing boundaries and beliefs, the payoff can be priceless.

26. If we seek out and embrace critics, we will learn things we could not know otherwise. It’s courageous to listen to the truth, especially when it’s unpleasant. Seek the truth and embrace it. Don’t run from it or hide from it. The truth WILL set you free.

27. Things I disagree with most can often be the truth which does me the most good. Beware of what you defend, protect and reject. It just might be a life-changing gift in disguise.

This weekend I opened up to the possibility that my view is skewed (it is), and my thinking is broken (we all have blind spots). That doesn’t mean I’m broken, just my thinking. Last weekend I didn’t defend, protect or project an image or vested interest. I didn’t try to prove I was right, look good or be inauthentic. As a result, I got astounding insights and an amazing amount of valuable input.

I hope in sharing these Pearls of Wisdom they make as much a difference in your quality of life and quantity of prosperity as I know they will for me.

With my highest esteem, I am yours truly,


PS… Today more than ever, people are hungry for substance over style, truth over hype. The dumbing-down of advertising and marketing communication, lowered expectations and the unrelenting appeal to our ignorance... not our intelligence... have people thirsting for messages with substance and truth.


I want to thank Mitch for the kind words he had to say  about my "Patches of Light" seminar. We will be duplicating  the tapes of that seminar in the near future and offering them for sale at a very low price. (Just enough to recoup our costs.) In the meantime, we've enclosed an audio tape from   the seminar which may contain information of interest to you. If it does, just give us a call at the phone number on our letterhead (305/534-7577).

   Gary C. Halbert


P.S. This is the first time I've included my personal e-mail address on the letterhead of my newsletter. There's a funny story behind how my screen name became "NoSexGary" and maybe I'll share that with you in a future issue.


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