The Holt persuasion technique in action…

It’s 5am and my 10-year-old is sat next to me.

I’ve been getting up at 5am for a few weeks now, as finding quiet moments during the day during Lockdown when you’re a parent is like trying to find a quiet moment during the day during Lockdown when you’re a parent.

It’s the mental equivalent of trying to relax on an idyllic beach while angry natives shoot at you.

It’s 5:03 now. I’ve tried to encourage my daughter to go to bed and get some rest.

So far, I’ve failed miserably.

Time for the famed Holt persuasion skills to work their magic…

She’s just asked to put the TV on.

“Actually, this is the time daddy does his writing, sweetie, so would it be OK to leave it off for a bit longer, my precious darling?”

… I roared.


So… she’s not disturbing me with YouTube – great!

She’s just sat there, stroking the pages of two oversize cookery books that she’s trying – and failing – to balance on her lap.

… stroking the pages… at a strange, uneven rhythm that, some would consider “mildly distracting”…

(Others would deem it as “fucking annoying”)

She just dropped one of the books again.

“I like being quiet in the morning… it’s nice… calm…. peaceful. I can hear birds. Can you hear the birds? I wonder what kind of birds they are… I saw a blue…”

“OK, buttercup… I suppose half an hour of YouTube won’t hurt…”, I interjected…

… authoritatively.

Great copy focuses on the needs of the audience. It finds pain points and agitates the hell out of them until they just… can’t… take… it… ANYMORE!

Great copy gets under their skin and then compels them to act.

Maybe, one day, she’ll teach me how to do it.

I wasted YEARS of my life…

As soon as I made the decision to give comedy a go, I was hunting for a gig… even though I’d not written a single joke.

(If you just thought, “I’ve seen your posts… you still haven’t written a joke”… dock yourself 3 points)

I dove straight in, not because I’m a productive beast of a man, but because I’d learned my lesson – I wasn’t going to make the same mistake I made when becoming a magician.

When I got into magic, I’d spend hours learning secrets, browsing forums, chatting to other magicians and practising moves.

It felt productive. It felt like I was making progress.

Thing is… I’d never get to the point where I perfected every element of a trick – the moves, blocking and script – to be able to actually PERFORM it for people. 

When I made the decision to actually become a magician… that’s when it hit me – I’d learned naff all. 

All I had were a bunch of half-assed tricks and moves that wouldn’t fool a blindfolded Stevie Wonder, looking in the wrong direction from 3 miles away.

I was “dabbling”. 

Ergh. I hate that word.

I’d been “learning” magic for years, but had NOTHING to show for it.

I wasn’t going to make the same mistake with comedy…

“Write jokes… get stage time… ask for feedback” – that’s it. Everything else is wasting time.

So, I booked my first gig and got writing.

(Even though it’s not essential to the story, my ego wants to tell you that this approach worked so well, I won the “Liverpool new comedian of the year” award on only my third ever gig… 

… but I won’t tell you that because I like to think that I’m spiritually and emotionally developed enough to let it go without boasting…


Pareto’s Principle… The 80/20… The Vital Few… 

… I don’t care what you call it. For every goal, there are certain actions that count more than others… 

… more than MOST.

Got a goal? Good. 

If the government passed a law dictating that you could only take ONE action towards achieving it, what would that action be?

What REALLY matters? 

What are the few things that are crucial to you succeeding? 

Not “maybe would help”, but VITAL? 

Sometimes it’s tempting to blitz a few of the smaller, easier items off our todo list, just to get a small dopamine hit and feel like we’re making progress, but it’s helpful to remember that it’s not the NUMBER of actions you take that counts…

… it’s the IMPACT of those actions that matter.

Everything is NOT equal.

It doesn’t matter whether you take one action or 3,253 actions… 

What is the most important, most impactful thing you can do – right now – to get closer to achieving your dream?

The EXACT script I use to land clients

“How much do you charge?”



“… you’re a mate though, so I won’t charge you that. How about £750?

Having said that, times are hard at the moment… £500?

Also, aren’t you a Capricorn who drives a red Fiat AND lactose intolerant? Let’s make it £250!

Oh, I forgot – you’re in the States, aren’t you? Let’s just call it $250…

Mind you… the fees and exchange rate will eat into most of that…

Why don’t I just do it for free?

… and give you $250 for your time?”

If you want to get better at sales, you probably don’t need to learn a new “close”…

… or persuasion technique to win over clients.

If you’re anything like me…

… you probably just need to learn when to shut your mouth and stop talking.

(In this case, at “OK.”)

A quick way to write better copy

Achilles had his heel…

Superman had Kryptonite…

For Jonathan Ross, it’s asking for help improving his “Google Ranking”.

We all have our weaknesses.

(Mine is similes – I’m like a left-handed squash racquet at a Barmitzvah)

When business owners write their copy, there’s one weakness I see more than any other.

They stop too soon.

Specifically, they stop asking “So what?” too soon.

That’s right, we’re talking features and benefits.

Wait! I know…

… you’ve heard this before.

You already know this, right?

You know not to talk about your course being “online”…

… you should talk about it being “easily accessible – from ANY device… allowing you to more easily learn new and valuable skills.”



Not far enough.

I’m presently listening to Michael Singer’s book, “Surrender”.

It’s a spiritual book, but…

… what struck me was how much of it relates to copywriting.

Singer talks about goals – about how people always want the same things…

… houses, cars, piles of money, 38 seconds peace while having a poo.

As Singer points out, you don’t want a billion pounds.

Not really.

If you got a billion pounds but were stranded on a tiny desert island, would you be happy?

Probably not.

(Although… you would get your 38 seconds of peaceful pooing time…)

There’s a feeling behind the money…

… probably “safety” or “security”.

Now we’re getting somewhere – a feeling, an emotion…

… something inside ourselves.

And that’s the key…

Keep asking, “So what?” until you end up with an emotion or feeling that doesn’t depend on the outside world.

When the benefit is something “outside” of us, we need to go deeper.

Until you get to something totally internal.

Your course is online…

So you can easily access it…

From anywhere…

Meaning you learn more skills…

Earn more money…

Become more valuable, and…

… feel safer, and more secure, with greater feelings of self-worth.

Now we’re getting somewhere.

Don’t say “Boinking your missus”…

“My own private island, full ownership of the Tunnocks Teacake factory, -16% body fat, $18m in the bank, a swimming pool filled with cocaine and a fleet of Lambo’s…”

“That it?”

“Oh, yeah, I’d like to finally learn how to open a pistachio nut.”

Where do you want to be in five years?

It’s a classic interview question, asked to help employers figure out what kind of aspirations and ambitions you have.

Technically, there’s no “wrong” answer to this question, though:

“standing over your sliced up carcass, holding a machete, dripping with blood…” 

…comes pretty close.

(that reminds me, I never did hear back from the care home…)

Goal setters ask the “5-year” question a lot too. 

Even if they’re the kind of person that needs 3 weeks of meditation and a quick consult with the iChing to decide what to have for lunch…

…they still imagine where they will be in 1,825 days.

Should you pick a goal 5 years into the future?

Sure. Why not? If that sits well with you and gives you a solid path to follow, then go for it.

If your “5-year planning” face is the same as your “I’ve just imagined my parents having sex” face however, you need another approach. 

The good news is there is one, and if you’re a fan of terrible horror movies, you already know what it is…

Look behind you.

It turns out that there are two ways to get better:

1. Picture a brighter future and do what you need to do to make it happen.

2. Look at who you were yesterday, and try to be a little bit better.

Goal setters with 10-year planners (colour-coded, obvs) will tell you that option 1 is the only way – you need a future target to head towards. 

They may even use metaphors involving planes, boats and GPS.

What they don’t realise is that even though option two SEEMS like you’re setting sail without a map…

…or rudder…

or Nintendo Switch (I can’t remember the exact analogy)

…it’s not.

You can’t ask yourself, “How do I want to get better today?” without thinking about the kind of person you want to become.

You can’t ask yourself, “How can I improve my business today?” without imagining what a better business looks like.

You can’t ask, “How can I be better today?” without imagining a better future.

So, if you’re the kind of person that hates goal setting – the kind that despises looking into the demotivating chasm between where you are and where you want to be, try looking back instead.

It’s still future planning, but sneaky future planning. 

It’s a way of getting better – without the terrifying 5-year, step-by-step, “have to follow or we’re all gonna die!” style road map.