I’ve nothing against Eckhart Tolle, but…

Couple of things…

1) I’ve nothing against Eckhart Tolle. I’m sure he’s a wonderful man. (I’ve also been known to rock a sweater vest when the occasion demands it.)

2) I’m about to ask you to guess a number. I know you… you won’t do it. But can you at least consider having a stab when you get to that bit?

Awesome. Let’s crack on…

There are a lot of situations in life where “more = better”.

The following example is not one of them.

I’m sharing it because I can almost guarantee you that it highlights a trap you’ll either fall into or… at the very least, skirt perilously close to plopping into at one point in your life.

So pay attention to avoid the trap.

I got an email from Sounds True. (Ironically, NOT a made-up company).

They do a lot of spiritual recordings and courses. Anywho, they sent an email today for a course featuring Eckhart Tolle.

One of the bonuses for his course is access to “Eckhart Tolle Now – where you’ll discover even more doorways into Presence through ____ hours of teachings and practices”

Here’s the “guess the missing number” bit…

How many hours of teaching and practices do you think there are to access the power of now?

Go on, pick a number.

2? 5? 10?

Are you ready?

No, seriously… are you ready? Because your head is about to explode.

It’s 450.

I shit you not. One (just ONE!) of the three bonuses you get has 450 hours of content.

That’s crazy – especially for a course that is meant to be lightening your mental load and helping you enjoy the present moment.

This is why you need to think about your bonuses… and focus on benefits rather than just features.

The “Thud” factor (adding bonuses and goodies to the pile to make your offer more attractive) can be a great way to beef up your offer, but there’s a limit…

You can’t just keep mindlessly piling stuff on, thinking more is better.

“More” is not always a benefit.

Your clients want to get “there” (wherever the hell that is) quickly and easily.

It takes experienced climbers 19 days to complete a return trip to Everest base camp – that’s 456 hours… only SIX more than it takes you to go “full Tolle” so you can sit down for ten seconds without fighting the screaming voices inside your head.

Rather than a “Sherpa’s only” level bonus, if I was promoting this, I’d be urging a quick win bonus:

– a 10-minute “presence realignment meditation” you can use anywhere to quiet your mind…

– a “one-pager” featuring the main takeaways from the course for easy learning…

– an online journal or notebook you can use to note down your thoughts, such as “hour 48… can’t… feel… my legs…”

Sometimes more IS better. But that’s only because “more” is also “easier”, “quicker”, “faster”, “better”, “more impactful”.

This email has ZERO value

“What the hell happened?”, asked my wife, 1.5 milliseconds after stepping foot in our house.

She was standing in disbelief.

I was standing in the kitchen… soaking wet, in a pool of a liquid she had to praying was water.

(It was)


She wanted a good answer. Unfortunately, I didn’t have one.

Don’t get me wrong… I knew exactly why I’m drenched AND why I’m standing in a puddle of exactly 2.25litres of water.

But neither of those answers comes close to “good”.

Here’s what happened…

I recently became one of those insufferable people who drink out of plastic gallon containers.

(If you’re looking for an easy way of annoying people without talking to them, I thoroughly recommend carrying one everywhere)

Anyway, for some reason – and please don’t ask me why I did this…

(Why do all my stories start off with that phrase?)

… I decided to run a test:

What would happen if I just kept drinking from the container… without releasing the pressure or breaking the seal?

Essentially, I was doing that thing you do as kids when you keep “sucking” a glass to your face. If you’ve done it, you’ll know what I mean. It makes your lips swell like you’ve had an entire Kardashian family-sized injection of plumper).

You can probably see where this is going…

So there I am – a 47 year old, responsible father of two (I’ve helped create human life for crying out loud) – suckling away at an oversized container… to see what happens.

Honestly? I expected it to crumple a little bit, like a plastic bottle. But it didn’t.

There was a crack. And then a bang.

A bloody loud bang too.

It exploded right in my face.

And that’s when my wife walked in to see me dripping wet, holding the handle of a shattered receptacle… 

When one of your strengths is creativity, it’s pretty easy to come up with “rational” explanations to explain even the most bizarre events – like being drenched in water.

“Wow – I guess those two and a half push ups I cranked out last month paid off. I didn’t think I was squeezing that hard”

Which would be great… if only one of my other main values wasn’t honesty…

“I wanted to see what would happen if I did the sucking-sucky-cup face thingy with the jug…”

Unless you’re the kind of human who needs to be told not to suck on things that shouldn’t be sucked on, you won’t find any value in this email.

But it probably made you feel a little better about yourself.

I did want to tell you something important though…

Recently, I removed “Five Days to Funny” from the GOOGLE DRIVE OF AWESOMENESS!!!!

(if you don’t know what that is, it’s basically a simple, easy to follow, way that even “unfunny” people can use to create original gags)

Before you start crying, I just added it back in… but only for a few days.
I plan on rejigging the GDOA!!!! in the next few weeks. But, for about 48 hours or so, you’ve got another crack at downloading the “Five Days to Funny” pack here.

DOM DOM DOMMMMMMS (+ a peek at my new offer)

I’m writing this at silly o’clock. Here’s why…

Two days ago, I joined a gym.

Yesterday, I visited said gym and pushed and pulled some heavy things.

(If your mind just replied with “Oh yeah? And what did you do AFTER you used the vending machine?”, dock it 10 points)

Anyway… today, I shall mostly be in PAAAAAAAAAIN!

I don’t know how much pain to expect.

(It’s been a while since I’ve done battle with those unforgiving salmony pink 5lb dumbbells)

I might not be able to move my fingers… so I’m getting this out to you now, while I still can, before DOM DOM DOMMMMMMS set in.

It’s weird, cos even though I’ve been working out at home with DDP Yoga and bodyweight HIIT workouts (gawd bless ya, Joe Wicks!) for a couple of years, I know I’m still gonna spend the next few days walking like a nervous Elvis suffering with rickets.

There’s no getting around it – doing new things messes you up.

What most people don’t realise is that you can control how much it messes you up.

The gym is a good example so let’s use that before my ability to govern my phalanges runs out.

There are two common approaches new gym members take – slow and steady or “attack every piece of equipment, bouncing around the gym like a ball on a roulette wheel”.

I know what you’re thinking:

“John’s an imbecilic ‘ball’ type if ever there was”.

And you’d be wrong. I did some in-depth research.

(Googling “beginner gym workouts” and only reading the first results counts as “in-depth research”, right?)

I found a basic routine that hit all the major body parts – biceps, pecs, glats, noms, etc…

I kept it nice and simple – three sets of each exercise (one per body part).

Also, I made sure to set the resistance level to “docile Buddhist”, mostly because I didn’t want to hurt myself…

… but also because I wasn’t confident my grunting would adhere to gym etiquette should I go all out.

So, even though there’s no getting around the discomfort, it’s probably not going to be that bad.

It’s a bit like my new offer…

(Did anyone else just hear a clunk?)

Putting yourself out there with a new offer is always going to be a little uncomfortable. So, learning from my gym lesson, I’m making it easier on myself…

I’m going to be offering critiques again… but with a little something extra.

It’s too early to give you all the details, as I’m still putting the sales page together, but…

Rather than it just being a critique, there’s also going to be a brainstorming element to it as well.

Coming up with ideas, hooks, and angles is one of my superpowers. It’s also one of the things I love most about marketing, so I’m leaning into that more to make it more comfortable (for me) and better (for you).

I’ve done a few of these recently, including one for my old copy chief (let me tell you, my imposter syndrome did not like that one bit).

But whether you’re interested in interfacing with my brain or not…

Focusing on your strengths is a great way to make uncomfortable things slightly more comfortable.

I should have sent you this months ago

Even though an email list can feel like a one-way affair*, it’s a good idea to reach out and check in with your audience regularly.

* Do I want to make a gag/simile/metaphor about “one-way affair”? Nah, think I’ll leave it

Goals, challenges, and pain points change.

Last year’s major, urgent, “MY LIFE WILL EXPLODE UNLESS I FIX THIS NOW!!!!” problem is now just a fuzzy memory. 

“That was 7 minutes ago… I’ve got 59 new problems since then!”

Last time I sent a “what can I help you with?” email, the majority of responses were asking how to be funny in copy…

… so I popped my “Five Days to Funny” project in the GOOGLE DRIVE OF AWESOMENESS!!!!

The time before that, my inbox filled up with “I don’t know what to talk about in my emails. Help me, Holt!” faster than my plate at an all-you-can-eat buffet two minutes before closing time…

… so I created a year’s worth of email prompts so you never have to face the blank page.

I mention these just as a way of proving I’ve got a track record of not being totally useless. 

So with that in mind (and sincere apologies for not asking you sooner)…

What do you need help with now?

Be honest. Or funny. Or both.

But don’t reply with what you think other people reading this might want.

I only care about what you want.

If you and I met up for a coffee (before 1pm please – I’m trying to get my sleep dialled in)…

What two questions would you ask me?

Why two questions? Well, it’s because I know you, you cheeky scamp…

You’ve got a serious question… but also a funny response you’re dying to fire back at me. And I don’t want you to have to choose.

See? I’m helping you already.

What else are you struggling with right now?

P.S. I definitely shouldn’t tell you this, but it’s worth replying to this email.

Being the recovering people-pleaser I am, odds are I’ll send you either a screen capture video or long-winded reply helping you solve it, regardless of whether it leads to a new freebie inside the GOOGLE DRIVE OF AWESOMENESS!!!!

P.P.S. Balls. I shouldn’t have said that. DO NOT READ THE P.S.!!!!

How to write original jokes… in HALF the time

There aren’t many jobs where you can do half the work and still get the same result…

You don’t hear heart surgeons saying, “I sliced his veins and removed his bad heart… I’m pretty sure he’ll be fine.”

But if you’re looking to firm up your funny muscle*, it turns out there’s a way you can do 50% of the work and still get 100% of the payoff.

* I reserve the right to come back and rephrase “firm up your funny muscle” later.

Here’s how…

In its most basic form, a joke consists of two parts – the set-up and the punchline.

Take this Stewart Francis gag:

“My father has schizophrenia, but he’s good people.”

“My father has schizophrenia” is the set-up.

“… but he’s good people” is the punchline.

Read either of those pieces on their own and you won’t be laughing. But package them together with a deadpan Canadian delivery system… and you’ve got a winner.


Granted, it’s been a while since I’ve studied maths, but if you have to come up with a set-up and a punchline… I make that TWO things you need to create. 

What if you could write a solid, original gag by only writing the punchline?

How? By changing how you see your social media newsfeed.

Instead of seeing it as a never-ending stream of ego-inflating posts, start looking at your Twitter/Facebook/Tinder/MySpace timeline as a collection of SET-UPS.

Here are some “setups” I’ve grabbed from my Facebook feed:

1) “I just ate three avocados because they were set to expire in 11.5 minutes.”

2) “The online biz world needs a privilege check”

3) “When was the last time you practiced self-love?”

What’s your reaction to those set-ups? 

What could a good punchline be?

1) “I just ate three avocados because they were set to expire in 11.5 minutes” 

“I know how you feel. I just drove to Aldi, bought a six-pack of Tunnocks Teacakes, and cannonballed them in the car park because they were due to expire in November 2025. Phew – that was close!”

2) “The online biz world needs a privilege check” 

“Privilege check? Whatto – please make it out to Barnaby Cholmondley III and I’ll have my footman drive me around on the way home from Polo club”

3) “When was the last time you practiced self-love?”

“I’ve been doing it for ages. Unfortunately, I learned ‘self-love’ from Sean Connery, so I’ve been mistakenly massaging my mantelpiece for ten years.”

(15 bonus points if you got that one)

Coming up with funny replies to your social feed is a quick-fire way to hone your joke-writing skills.

Not only is there an endless collection of material to work with, it’ll force you to think about topics you’d never have thought of, so you’ll feel confident making jokes about ANY subject.

And because the social media giants crave your attention more than a needy reality TV show contestant, you can open your newsfeed wherever you go, meaning you can improve your gag writing pretty much anywhere.


P.S. Here are two more set-ups for you:

“FB’s Community Standards bot is on the fritz right now.” 

“What’s the difference between life coaches and therapists?”

Hit reply and let me know how you’d respond to these.