How I’d have dealt with the “Schofield Queuing” thing…

Shamefully, I wasn’t paying too much attention to The Queen’s funeral arrangements, but I did hear about the “Tale of Two Celebrities” queueing saga.

(Dear god, if International folks thought us Brits loved waiting in line BEFORE this, gawd only knows what they’re thinking now)

In the red corner, we have David Beckham – world famous footballer and long-time stubble bearer. The man who took his life into his hands and queued among the great unwashed for twelve hours so he could pay his respects.

And in the yellow corner, we have Philip Schofield and Holly Willoughby – the This Morning presenters who, because they were there “in a professional capacity”, were given deluxe, VIP, Diamond encrusted, lightning-fast passes that seemingly allowed them to bypass the throng and go straight to the front of the line.

(Kinda reminds of me of that time I got a cheat code for Sonic the Hedgehog that let me walk through walls)

Needless to say, skipping the queue annoyed folks. Even fans of This Morning were pissed. All four of them.

Some Twitter users petitioned ITV to sack them.

(You know it’s bad when the calm and serene folk of Twitter kick off. You know how reticent they are to voice their feelings)

When This Morning next hit the airwaves on Tuesday, everyone was waiting for the inevitable apology.

They’re still waiting.

Instead of apologising, the presenters came out with this:

“Like hundreds of other accredited broadcasters and journalists…”



OK, NOW I’m done.

“Like hundreds of accredited broadcasters and journalists, we were given official permission to access the hall and moved to the front for reporting purposes. Please know we would never jump a queue.”

And that ^^^, my dear subscriber, is the best the combined brain power of the This Morning team could come up with after staring at a whiteboard with the words “HOW THE HELL DO WE SALVAGE THIS?” on it for THREE BOODY DAYS.

It’s not for me to say whether we should be annoyed or not, but…

There ARE two people – and ONLY two people – who have good cause to be pissed at “Schofeby”. 

(I’m a bit shit at nicknames).

The two people at the front of the “I’m sorry, but we’ve got to cut the queue off here” line.

Imagine standing for a day, only to be told to go home cos the line was too long?

If I was on the This Morning team, I’d have pitched them the idea of totally owning their VIP status:

“Yeah, we jumped the queue. But we had a damn good reason – we’re celebrities, bitches! If I wanted to spend more time hanging around ordinary people, I’d do my big shop on Thursday nights and talk to my executive assistant”

That would’ve been awesome.

Of course, I’d have been fired immediately, but what a way to go…

Whatever happens, Phil and Holly look like a pair of selfish so-and-so’s.

They saved themselves 12 hours, but the media clear up is going to be more intensive than getting a 1-star slaughterhouse fit for a Queen’s King’s banquet.

* Sorry, that’s gonna take some getting used to.

I’m willing to bet £3.52 that, if Phil and Holly could do it over, they’d plump for the “let’s queue for 12 hours” option.

It’s why you have to be careful with shortcuts. 

What you save in time, you pay in consequences.

It’s why most folks don’t save time by driving across roundabouts or through shopping centres.

Sure, you’ll save time and get to hang around lots of people in uniform…

… but the consequences are a little on the “messy” side.

Same with copywriting…

You could join a bunch of email lists, save their emails and sales pages, and then blindly tweak them to suit your business, but…

Unless you know what’s going on under the hood – and I mean you know exactly why that email was sent… at that time… to this particular segment… and who that sales page is aimed at…

… you could end up doing a “Schofe”.

If you’re looking for a non-shortcutty way of writing emails that sell, click here and check out “Sent.” – my day-by-day email writing course.

I know it’s a bold claim… but, so far, NONE of the folks who’ve joined have ended up trending on Twitter, with an outraged public demanding their heads.

Who knows though… maybe you’ll be the first! 🙂

John Holt

P.S. Dammit…

I wrote this entire email and only NOW realised I missed an obvious This Mourning pun…

Were you up at 2:17am? I nearly emailed you

Today is not going to be a good day…

Probably. I don’t know for sure as it hasn’t happened yet.

If history has taught me anything though, it’s that I’m not very productive after a restless night.

I’ve been up since 3 am. And I’m not virtue signalling there BTW.

You won’t find a “Hello insomnia my old friend 😢😢😢😢!” woe-is-me tweet or a “Look at me, crushing the shit out of my day, 2 hours ahead of the 5 AM Loser Club!” post adorning my Facebook wall.

You know why?

Cos I couldn’t find my bloody phone.  

I’m trying to get my sleep dialled in at the moment.

A few years ago, I was Vaynerchucking my way through life, staying up till 2 am and getting up at 7.

“Margaret Thatcher had only 4 hours of sleep”, I’d tell myself, forgetting she also looked like she survived on four hours of sleep.

Recently though, I’ve upped my game. I’ve switched off devices, cut my evening Red Bull consumption down to single figures, and hit the hay by 21:30.

I’m ready for retirement village life, yo.

The switch works well, unless…

I wake up at night.

If I do that, I’m screwed. Cos I’m one of those annoying people who wake up like this:

My missus won’t thank me for sharing this, but early on in our togetherness, I once woke up and said “I love waking up with you.”

Her response to this Hallmark movie-worthy moment?


Waking up early is bad for me.

That’s what happened today. As my crusty eyes opened at 2:17, my hamster brain immediately leaped straight on his wheel…

“You could write an email about waking up early…”

What?? No!! Shut up!

“You know you’re looking for some social media ideas? I think I have one….”


You ever seen a hamster try and stop one of those wheels?

Anyway… my noggin has been whirring since the early hours.

Today, at some point… I’m going to flag.

Ain’t enough Kenco in all of Amazon’s warehouses to prop me up.

But that’s OK, cos I is a professional.

I plan for this.

I’m like a Navy Seal. Or at least the one whose book I read:

“Prioritise and engage” – that’s what he said.

Or, in less shouty military language:

“Look around and decide what you need to do”

As entrepreneurs, shit happens. Sometimes a lot of shit.

You can time block your day full of big rocks, 80/20s, and W.I.N.’s, but you better be ready for when it goes wrong and the fan begins to whiff.

Don’t beat yourself up if something doesn’t go to plan, or you fall short.

Take a second to see where you are and figure out your next move.

We’re entrepreneurs. 

We’re problem solvers.

This is what we do.

Today, for me that means front-loading everything.

My goal is simple…

Tank myself full of caffeine and blast through my to do’s by lunch.

That way, when my hamster brain screams, “I’m out!” at 2pm, I’m good.

Right, that’s enough. 

I’ve a lot to do today and, what’s worse…


John Holt

How’s my segue? Call 1-800-CLUNKY

How’s my segue? Call 1-800-CLUNKY

Funny how your view of things can change…

Case in point – on this morning’s dog walk, a helicopter flew over.

Back where I used to live, that could only mean one thing:

“The Police are searching for a hoodlum”.

Where I am now, it still only means one thing. But a different thing:

“The guy opposite me’s Waitrose delivery has arrived”

You think I’m joking? I’m not.

Moving from one of the most deprived areas of the UK to living across the road from a man worth £950 million pounds shifts your perspective.

It’s like wanting to boost your click-thru rate…

Actually, that’s a lie. 

It’s absolutely NOTHING like boosting your email click-thru rate. 

It’s not even close.

But that absolutely WAS my next thought after seeing the chopper whizz by, scaring my fearless beast.

And that ^^^ – officially the world’s clunkiest transition ever – actually has a point:

The more you think about how life events can be turned into emails…

… the more transitions randomly appear in your head.

Truth is, I could’ve easily used the “perspective/changing environment” angle to smoothly segue into:

“When it comes to your marketing, here’s a simple way you can shift the perspective of your audience, so they’re more engaged…yadda yadda yadda”

But no. That would be too easy. And valuable.

Instead, I chose to give you an insight into how my brain works. So now you, me, and my court-ordered psychiatrist (Hey Dr. Tomlinson!) now have something in common.

If you struggle writing emails, or you’re OK starting them… but find yourself veering wildly into different tangents, ending up with something so knotty, even M Night Shyamalan gave up on it halfway through…

… you might have a transition problem.

The good news – it’s a reps thing. The more reps you put in, the easier it gets.

The bad news – YOU have to do the reps.

Transitions are a “groove” you get into.

But to get into the groove you’ve got to prove your love to meeeeeeeee. oh oh oh oh…

… create it first. That takes reps.

John Holt

P.S. Oh, and If you’re feeling brave…

There’s an “EXTREME LEVEL” transition exercise included with this.

All you need is an internet connection and the willingness to fly by the seat of your pants. You’ll even get to watch over my shoulder as I go first…

Does your audience care about your _____?

In an effort to cram more useful stuff into my noggin, I’ve taken drastic action…

I’ve finally started watching some of the 18,253 marketing courses I’ve bought in the last 23 minutes.

Writing about Breakthrough Advertising reminded me I have a long-lost video of Eugene Schwartz talking about his writing process so, as my brain was already in “Schwartz mode”, I thought I’d watch it.

Let me tell you… this thing has more mic drops than a clumsy, three-fingered roadie after 3 bottles of vodka, but let’s focus on one.

Eugene admits he’s not the best copywriter on the planet, but he does make one claim:

“There is no one working here – that I know of – that works harder than I do…”

The man isn’t a legend JUST because of his work ethic, though undoubtedly that’s a big part of it.

Point is, he knew what he did best.

Let’s turn this over to you…

Can you pinpoint one important aspect of your work where you run rings around your competitors?

To paraphrase Tina Turner…

What do you do better than all the rest?

“Hi, I’m **** FIRST NAME***and I _____ better than anyone else.”

Of course, it helps if your target audience cares about your _____.

“Dave, meet Phil, he can recite more digits of Pi while juggling pensioners than any matador I know…”

Me? I’m shooting for “funny”

“Funny-est” seems like a stretch goal… but one worth going for.

(Especially for someone that doesn’t seem to own a fucntioning spell checker)

“You want funny, engaging, split your sides copy? I know just the guy…”

^^^ That’s what I’m hoping people will say… followed by the words:

“… his name’s John Holt”

What about you? What’s your “thing”?

John Holt

I’ve broken 0.009875% of my body

I won’t tell you HOW I did it, but I’ve hurt my little toe pretty bad.

It’s not because it’s embarrassing or anything, but If I told you, you’d definitely make this face…

And I don’t want you to do that, so let’s just leave it at “I did something… and now my toe hurts”.

So, I did something… and now my toe hurts.

Bashing your tiniest digit isn’t a major injury. If you check your favourite news app, you’ll notice it didn’t make the headlines.

You might think damaging 0.009875% of my carcass wouldn’t impact my life much.

And if you do think that, I know one thing about you…


Because – even for someone who sits on his arse for most of the day…

Bashing my toe has been a major inconvenience.

I can’t walk in shoes – even my super duper comfy ones – without a girlish scream manly wince.

(You know, like action heroes do when getting their wounds tended by an attractive female)

Not only can I not get my daily steps in (there goes my three-day, 500+ steps-a-day streak), but I also realised I was going to struggle with something else…

How I deal with getting stuck when writing.

Normally, when my brain throws in the towel, I do what a lot of writers do…

Crack open the gin and pop in my VHS of “Tim Henman’s Greatest Wisecracks”.

Go for a walk.

Nietzsche famously said, “all truly great thoughts are conceived while walking”.

I’m not going to argue with that, even when he’s dead.

I get some of my best ideas while striding masterfully through the English countryside avoiding dog poop.

(Apart from the golf ball throwing thing…)

There’s just something magical about being in a different posture in a different place that unkinks your brain hose and releases all your best ideas.

But for the next week or so, walking’s no longer an option for me. 

I’m going to have to discover a new “anti-kinking” habit.

I usually turn to the internet for solutions, but fear what results Google would throw at me for using a combination of “kink” and “brain hose”

So I’m testing some ideas…

Today, I’m experimenting with looking out of my window as I limp around my office listening to binaural beats to see if it has the same magical effect.

This feels like a good plan though, to my neighbours, I probably look like a man on the brink of doing something vaguely “terroristy”, as I stare blankly out into the void, bobbing my head to music only I can hear.

Anyway… if I don’t end up in prison, this might be a good alternative to walking in nature. 

Why am I telling you this? 

(Aside from wanting you to testify in my defence if needed)

Constraints are a beautiful thing.

Just like tennis is more fun when you’re playing on a court, trying to keep it in the lines…

… marketing can be more fun when you give yourself some boundaries to play in.

Blank pages can be terrifying things, but…

“Come up with an email angle about your purpley toe” is a constraint that gives you something to play with.

It’s often working within “restrictive” boundaries when you come up with your best ideas too.

If you ever feel “stuck”, try imposing some restrictions on yourself and see what happens.


P.S. I feel like this is something I could dive deeper into…

If you’d like me to think about it a little more (while terrifying my neighbours), hit reply and let me know.