59,523 years ago, we’d have been friends // Dale Carnegie wouldn’t approve of this, but your customers might

“I see you’ve got your ADHD eyes going again…”, 

my friend Nik said as we were chatting in her lounge.

She’s the first one to ever point this out to me. She’s either a) super perceptive or b) not as meek when it comes to spotlighting physical foibles as my other (two) friends…

Apparently, I do something weird when I’m talking to you.

I thought I’d let you know, on the off chance we should meet at a community library opening ceremony or Ursula Andress look-a-like competition.

Even though I’ll be totally engrossed in your story about the time you asked your mum for a Bakewell tart and she misunderstood, instead bringing you a lady of questionable moral virtue from the village of Bakewell…

… my eyes will be all over the place.

Not in an “oh my god, are you having a seizure?” kinda way…

I’ll just be scanning the environment.

59,523 years ago, I’d have been a useful member of the tribe.

I’d be the first to yell, “Fuck – a tiger!”

We’d definitely would’ve been Facebook friends then.

Now, when we’re chatting in the relative safety of your miniature Argos homeware department, it’s not quite so critical.

I just look like I’m sizing up your assets to see if it’s worth clubbing you to death and hawking your stuff.

So I want you to know, if we ever meet and you see my eyes looking around… 

I’m probably not planning on clubbing you to death.

Looking at everything might be a Dale Carnegie faux pas, but it’s a pretty useful skill to have when it comes to copy.

Being able to come up with new hooks, angles, and mechanisms can often make or break your campaign,  so being able to look at your offer from every possible angle is like me 59,523 years ago – pretty darn useful.

It’s also how comedians create hilarious new jokes from “done to death” material, like holidays, relationships, and having kids – there’s always a fresh new angle lurking for those that know how to look.

You might think you already know everything about your product, market, and audience… but you probably don’t.

If you came at it from a different angle… what would you see?

What are you missing?

An easy way to try this is to stretch yourself – instead of coming up with 5 email ideas for your next promo… come up with 20, 30… or 50.

The first few will come easy, but the rest will be a struggle.

Your brain may hurt. Keep going.

I’ll warn you now – you’ll come up with some of the most god awful, “I wish I could set fire to my eyeballs so I could unsee that” ideas doing this, but…

… you’ll also come up with some unexpected gold every once in a while. Gold you’d never have discovered unless you looked a little harder.

John Holt

97 seconds remaining…

A few days ago, I told you how sitting on the toilet was going to relieve my RSI.

(New subscriber and wondering what the heck I’m on about? Click here to read that email)

Short story – sitting on the toilet will NOT help relieve my RSI.

Also: binge-watching murder medical mysteries starring Dick Van Dyke is NOT an effective diagnostics tool.

It wasn’t RSI. It was my ulnar nerve.

I won’t bore you with the anatomical details (mostly cos I haven’t the foggiest what the physio was talking about. She started making weird hand gestures symbolising tunnels and it got a bit weird).

Turns out, the shed load of writing I’ve been doing these past two weeks has meant my arm has been pressing on my desk too much, pinching the nerve.

Yep, you heard…

I’ve been getting on my own nerves!

The sophisticated, NHS budget-draining treatment to cure this condition?

I’ll use the physio’s words…


No toilet-based tuggery required. I just set an alarm for 10 minutes and stop typing when it dings.

(there’s 1m:37s left in case you were wondering)

Even though my RSI diagnosis was off by three digits*, the point of my original email stands – if you want to start a new habit, tie it to something you’re already pretty good at doing.

* I’m betting no one understands that, but I’m still keeping it in.


There’s an even better “BONUS” takeaway from my misdiagnosis (Murder) of my “tingly pinkie” condition.

A lesson that’s even more beneficial for you and your business.

Especially if you’ve ever wondered why your killer offer didn’t sell as much as you’d expected…

Or if you’ve ever felt ”stuck” on a plateau, no matter what you do…

Here’s the valuable lesson:

If you can’t… 


Ah, man… I was just getting to the good stuff. 

Maybe next time. Physio’s orders…

John Holt


1. You get access to my GOOGLE DRIVE OF AWESOMENESS!!!!, including a year’s worth of “Yay – no more blank page syndrome” email prompts that’ll make your life a little easier.

2. I spent 7 minutes trying to find the most hideous purple I could for this image – please help me ensure this wasn’t wasted.

3. At least 3% of the emails I write are generally helpful – either helping you make more sales or taking a bit of the struggle out of marketing that awesome thing you sell.

4. Very occasionally, you’ll be vividly imagining what I look like while sitting on the toilet. (Admit it, you’ve always wondered)

5. Did you notice there is no number “2” in this list?

6. Balls. I forgot to go back and take it out, didn’t I?

7. Most of the tips I share – like how you should always use an odd number of bullet points – are super simple to use.

Want in on the best email list emanating from my postcode?

insertgaghere dot com and smash the bejeezus out of the “CLICK HERE FOR FREE STUFF” button.

Trust me, you don’t wanna know what subject line I was going to use

My right arm hurts. Nothing that would make Bruce Willis wince or Steven Seagal squirm or anything… just an niggly ache.

I suspect it might be RSI.

I say “suspect” because my medical training thus far extends to watching 73 episodes of Diagnosis Murder and pretending to listen when my wife’s talking about Grey’s Anatomy.

I dunno what all that equates to. Probably a BTEC in Thoracic Surgery or something.

Anywho… deciding I’m not a big fan of pain, I Googled ouchiness prevention techniques.

Weird wrist stretches seem to be the order of the day.

Good news – I can do them anytime… anywhere. All I have to do is tug my fingers back until tears run down my face… and then dial it back a smidge.

Bad news – even though they’re simple to do, require zero equipment, and don’t need me to time block three hours out of my day…

I’m not going to do them.

I just know I won’t. There’s almost ZERO chance of me remembering.

If I’ve learned one thing about me (and that’s pushing it) it’s – if I’m going to do something – I need to give that something a time and place.

“When I do ____, then I’ll do [THE THING I SHOULD DO]”

I need a cue… something to tell my brain “Wait a second… this reminds me…”.

So  when starting a habit, my first task is deciding when and where it’s going to fit in my day.

Dr Google says I need to do these exercises at least once a day, so…

Where’s someplace I go – at LEAST once a day – where I could safely pull back my fingers and squirm without anyone calling the Police?

Like most of life’s problems, the answer was staring me in the arse.

The bog.

Every time I sit on the toilet, I’ll do my wrist exercises.

Now… I really want to burn the imagery of me tugging at my wrist while sitting on the toilet into your brain, so I’m going to type it again…

Every single time I sit on the toilet, I’m grunting and tugging at my fingers.

The great thing is, because the wrist exercises only take a few minutes, it leaves the other 43 minutes for me wide open for me to do other things, like work on my musical.

(a “riches to rags” story of a bookish American president who becomes a Scottish Football sensation for a South Lanarkshire club. Working title: “Academical Hamilton of Hamilton Academical”)

If you’ve got a marketing habit you want to start habituating, the lavatory might not hold the key for you (especially if it’s networking-based, even roomy ensuites get crowded fast and you can guarantee at least half your stash of Charmin double velvet 3-ply will be gone afterwards)…

… but some other bog-standard activity probably does.

“When I’m driving back from the school run, I’m going to plot out today’s email…”

“Every time I boil a kettle, I’ll grab my phone and reach out and warm up one of my weaker connections say “hi” to another human being…”

“While I’m out on the dog walk, I’m going to try and remove the horrific imagery of John sitting on the toilet from my memory…”

I’ve just laid up the perfect transition to talk about something in “Sent.” – my email writing course for business owners who want to write an email that sounds like them… without wanting to get bogged down in all the copywriting bollocks…

… but, as you can see by the lack of a blue, underlined fragment of text…

I despise perfect transitions. Far too easy.

Besides, I’ve just had my morning coffee and can feel a wrist exercise coming on…

John Holt 

Do you have a podcast?

I’m not even going to try and conceal this from you…

I’m EXCESSIVELY excited about my new microphone.

It’s vivid red, glows an even vivid-er red when it’s “LIVE”, and has a rubber top you can tap to mute/unmute yourself and turn the light off/on.

(I *may* have spent 47 minutes in total darkness tapping the button, pretending I was being pursued by half a Police car…)

My next sentence is short but it’s pulling double duty – explaining both why I bought a new mic AND why you should give any number of hoots.

I want to be a guest on your podcast.

I’ve set myself a stupidly high goal, part of which involves putting more of me out in the world* and guesting on podcasts doesn’t seem like a totally foolish way of doing that.

* Not physically, you understand. I mean in a “boost my profile”-y kinda way.

Basically, I’m looking to whire* myself out as much as possible so we can chat about anything your audience might find interesting.

* Not a typo, but a portmanteau I invented. (I’ll let you guess)

In a few seconds, I’m going to audaciously ask you to hit reply so I can be an awesome guest on your podcast, so…

Why don’t I help you discern if I’m airtime-worthy by giving you a list of some of my noteworthy escapades…

(“Yay – a short list”)

… along with some topics I can reckon I can talk about for longer than three minutes without sounding like a total doofus…

(“Thank god – a SHORTER list”)

We could talk about:

– How I went from full-time magician to landing three heavyweight copywriting clients despite having NO experience, NO connections and a Covid inspired “WHEN DOES THE BARBERS OPEN AGAIN?” haircut

– The time I won a stand-up comedy competition on only my third ever gig!

– Surviving as a freelancer without resorting to drugs, alcohol, or colossal carbohydrates consumption

– How to use humour in your emails (especially when you think you’re not funny)

– Ever wondered what the easiest way for an 8-year-old to set their leg on fire is? Wonder no more because I HAVE THE ANSWER!!! (and the four-inch thigh burn to prove it)

– Croupier, social worker, timeshare salesman, private detective, supermarket cashier, radio presenter, and accountant… I’ve done all of those jobs – EXCEPT ONE! But which one… (and how a chequered CV can be your best advantage when you know how!)

– Pivoting to a brand new career as a freelancer and starting from scratch!

PLUS – simple copywriting and comedy wins for business owners who want to stand out from their competition… without getting bogged down in “wordy” stuff.

(I should probably have put that one higher up the list. Ah well, that’s the price you pay for drafting emails on stone tablets…)

TL;DR: If you’re looking for a podcast guest, I’m available.

If you think I’d be a good fit for your rabble, hit reply and let’s make it happen.