≡ Menu

Say it With Flowers

“Say it With Flowers”

Wheelerpoint 3: “Say it With Flowers”

SAY IT WITH FLOWERS simply means PROVE your statements! “Happy returns of the day,” when accompanied by flowers, proves you MEAN it!

The flowers in his right hand as he proposes tell her MORE than the mere words from his lips.

You have just ten short seconds and two able hands to sell the prospect – and so you must FORTIFY your words with performance!

You must back up your selling “sizzles” with showmanship!

I do not mean you should be an insincere actor, but I do mean that your words deserve the support of your gestures and facial expressions. Your words will get much better results if SUPPORTED than if left hanging mid-air to themselves, no matter how good the words may be. You know how little the perfunctory “Thank you” of some clerk’s means to you. It lacks the reinforcement of sincerity.


Fitting action to your words is the third “earmark” in making a sales “stick” with the prospect. Talk with your hands? Yes – why not? – if you can use them in a dignified manner. Gesture with them – keep them busy. Pat them – rub them – move them – start them – stop them! Show them action and you will get action.

Make “Elmer” and “Nellie” SEE – FEEL – TOUCH – HANDLE – almost SMELL and TASTE your sales package and the things they will be heirs to upon placing their approval on the dotted line or their money into your palm!

Make your hands earn a living for you!


To keep unity in our examples of these five Wheelerpoints, let me stay with the vacuum cleaner, in illustrating this point. How to apply these same five points to other products will be illustrated in later chapters.


1. Run cleaner under table or into dark corner, point to Dirt Finder, turn switch on and off to dramatize the light and say: “It sees where to clean – and it’s clean where it’s been”

2. Step on Automatic Rug Adjuster. Invite prospect to do likewise (monkey see, monkey-do instinct). Then say: “It automatically ADJUSTS itself to any thickness of rug.”

3. Push cleaner away from you, maintaining your hold on cord. Then pull it back to you lightly, saying: “It has BALL-BEARING action – a child can move it!”

It’s the little things you do as you “speak your lines” that make the sale stand out. The movement of your hands, your head, your feet, and your pencil tells the prospect you are sincere – honest – convincing!

Your face is the prospects most reliable mirror.

But never, NEVER lose a sale because of an “unprofessional mannerism.”


“He moved listlessly, pointing aimlessly”

“He leaned on the counter and talked to me and to the next customer”
“He was slow and yawned several times in my face”
“He gazed into space, answering my questions”
“He became antagonized by my many questions”
“He got irritated when I didn’t understand quickly”
“His fingernails were shabby; so were his shoes”
“He kept reaching for his order book, trying to high-pressure me”


“It keeps the home clean.” (But how?)
” It’s a good investment.” (In what way?)
“It’s a good buy.” (All salesmen say that.)
“You’ll like it.” (I will?)
“I like it.” (So what—?)


“Listen to me – you just can’t go wrong on this.”
“Yeah, but theirs is no good.”
“I wouldn’t depend on what their salesman said.”
“I know my business. It don’t use up much electricity.”
“It’s not heavy – I can lift it – see?”


“I’m telling you…”
“You see what I mean?”
“Take my word for it.”
“Between you and me…”
“Don’t let this go any further, but…”


The salesman made three attempts to explain the Handy Cleaning Kit. He failed each time because he wasn’t thoroughly familiar with the attachments.

The salesman just pointed to the instrument, trusting that the prospect could get worked up over it “long distance” instead of “telegraphically.”

The salesman leaned on the counter, talking with his chin in the palm of one hand.

The salesman had some peculiar habit, such as picking his teeth, or scratching his head.

The salesman tossed the illustrated booklet in front of the prospect, hoping she would open it up and see the things in the booklet that might interest her.


A good single sentence should reinforce “Tested Words” with “Tested Techniques.”

The MOTION that accompanies utterance of words – the expression on your face at the time and the manner in which the “sales package” is handled – are a part of your successful sales presentation.

Say it quickly – but say it with gestures.

The, if possible, make the prospect imitate what you have done. Make him part of your “show.” It’s the MONKEY-SEE, MONKEY-DO instinct in the buyer.


If you want your selling words to “ring the bell” twice as hard, follow Wheelerpoint 3, and “SAY IT WITH FLOWERS” – and don’t ask the prospect if he wants to buy, but HOW and WHEN and WHERE and WHICH, the technique of closing a sale, which we will find in Wheelerpoint 4, in the next chapter.




Outrageous Marketing

My local butcher bought a case of an unknown orange drink to sell in his shop. Quite a few cans, in fact, because it’s cheap.

But, for about two weeks he sold absolutely none. Zero. Zip. Nada.

So last Sunday, when it was unusually hot (oh, at least 20 degrees celcius) I took out a bowl, filled it with cold water and left a load of these cans inside. And stuck it in front of the shop window.

Yesterday I went in and the owner told me people were laughing when they saw the bowl full of water and drink cans. They wanted to know if he had no fridge.

I asked if he made any sales.

Surprisingly – or not – he did.

You see, it was something they’d never seen round these parts.

It was novel.

It was outrageous.

It was attention grabbing.

Before, they never even noticed this brand of orange drink. Now they were buying it.

Sometimes it takes a little outrageous marketing to get things moving.





Here’s a quick video of John Carlton explaining the difference between a feature and a benefit.

I’ve learned a lot about copywriting and marketing from John over the past few years.

Both from his courses and his membership site where you get to see him critique real copy – even yours if you ask him.

His courses are amongst the best out there, especially his Kickass Copywriting Secrets of A Marketing Rebel, which is going for much less than it ever has before.

Hope you find the short video lesson useful.



Don’t Write – Telegraph

I’m a waffler. A rambler.

I can go on and on and on…

But, thankfully, only in my blog posts.

My copy’s a different matter. That’s where I make money.

I think what Elmer Wheeler is saying in this next part, as well as what Drayton’s saying in the video, is probably directed at me.


I’m going to stop waffling. I’m going to let you get on to read the next chapter…

As soon as I stop waffling.

Don’t Write – Telegraph

Wheelerpoint 2: “Don’t Write – Telegraph”

“DON’T WRITE – TELEGRAPH” means: get the prospects IMMEDIATE and FAVORABLE attention in the fewest possible words. If you don’t make your first message “click,” the prospect will leave you mentally, if not physically.

A good sales presentation should use as few words as possible. Any word that does not help to make the sale endangers the sale. Therefore, make every word count by using “telegraphic” statements, as there is no time for “letters.”

Learn the MAGIC of making your “selling sentences” sell!

How to Approach Prospects

People form “snap judgments.” They make up their opinions about you in the first ten seconds, and this affects their entire attitude toward what you have to sell them. Give them a brief “telegram” in these first ten seconds so that their opinion will be in your favor. Make the wires “sing” – so you, will be given the chance to “follow up.”

I find, after analysing 105,000 sales words and techniques and actually noting the results of tests of them on 19,000,000 people, that this is the “magic” used by most star salesmen who make single sentences sell!

For our example of this Wheelerpoint, let me again go back to the vacuum cleaner, and remembering the ten “sizzles” in this cleaner, let us see how we can formulate them into ten-second “telegrams.”

“Telegrams” That Click Open Prospect’s “Mental Pocketbooks”

“No other cleaner can use Positive Agitation until 1950.”

“The Grit Removers take out dirt you never knew you had.”

“You may forget to clean the bag, but the Time-to-Empty Signal won’t forget to remind you.”

Summary of Wheeler Point 2

A good sales presentation consists of as few words as possible.

If you hem and haw the “sizzle,” you will make few sales, for your prospects will walk away from you or complain that you are high-pressuring them!


Therefore, make your FIRST words make FIRST impressions by not STAMMERING and STUTTERING when you face your prospects. They make “snap judgments” of you and the merchandise by “sizing you up” with your first ten words.

First you use judgment in picking the right “sizzle,” and then you fit it to the prospect at hand. You dress up the “sizzle” in a ten-second message and practice Wheelerpoint 2, “Don’t write – TELEGRAPH.”

The technique that goes with what you say will then come to you naturally and easily, as we shall find in the next Wheelerpoint.

Next – Wheelerpoint 3: “Say It With Flowers”




Don’t Sell The Steak – Sell the Sizzle!

If you have anything to do with advertising you may have heard this expression.

But do you know where it comes from? Or, for that matter, what it really means?

I’ve heard so many people mention it and try to explain it. Failing miserably.

So I thought, why not reprint the original article?

It was written by Elmer Wheeler in Tested Sentences That Sell, and later elaborated upon in Sizzlemanship.


Wheelerpoint 1: “Don’t Sell The Steak – Sell the Sizzle!”

What we mean by the “sizzle” is the BIGGEST selling point in your proposition – the MAIN reasons why your prospects will want to buy. The sizzling of the steak starts the sale more than the cow ever did, though the cow is, of course, very necessary.

Hidden in everything you sell, whether a tangible or an intangible, are “sizzles.” Find them and use them to start the sale. Then, after desire has been established in the prospect’s thinking, you can bring in the necessary technical points.

The good waiter realizes he must sell the bubbles – not the champagne. The grocery clerk sells the pucker – not the pickles, the whiff – not the coffee. It’s the tang in the cheese that sells it! The insurance man sells PROTECTION, not cost per week. Only the butcher sells the cow and not the sizzle, yet even he knows that the promise of the sizzle brings him more sales of his better cuts.

For instance, let us take a certain modern vacuum cleaner and see how many “sizzles” we can develop to get the prospect saying “I want!” instead of “Oh hum!”:

  1. Positive Agitation.
  2. Time-to Empty Signal.
  3. Dirt Finder.
  4. Automatic Rug Adjuster.
  5. Non-kink Cord.
  6. Instant Handle Positioner.
  7. Non-tangle Revolving Brush.
  8. Grit Removers.
  9. Lint Removers.
  10. Dust Removers.

These ten big “sizzles” will make people buy this particular make of vacuum cleaner. The construction, the mechanism, and the prices are important, of course, but the “I want” points, as Paul Lewis puts it, are labor-saving, more leisure, cleaner homes and health.

Therefore, the vacuum cleaner salesman must advise himself:

  • Don’t sell the price tag – sell less backaches!
  • Don’t sell construction – sell labor-saving!
  • Don’t sell the motor – sell comfort!
  • Don’t sell ball bearings – sell ease of operation!
  • Don’t sell suction – sell cleaner rugs!

Health, comfort, labor-saving, leisure, and cleaner homes are the “sizzles” in this particular vacuum cleaner; construction and mechanism the “cow”.

Are you beginning to see what is meant by first finding the “sizzles” in what you are selling, before even attempting to form the words to convey the “sizzles” to the prospect?

Put on a pair of “sizzle specs” now and look at your own “sales package.” Then write down the one, five, ten, or twenty “sizzles” you find – in the order of what at first blush you believe will be of importance to the prospect.

Then Learn to Have “You-Ability”

One BIG QUESTION is running through the prospect’s mind as you are showing your merchandise and telling your sales story, and that question is:

“What will it do for me?”

Therefore, almost everything you say or do must be said and done in such a way that it ALWAYS answers this important question! You must develop a NEED for your product in the mind of the prospect – for until he realizes a need, you will make little sales progress.

Now all of the “sizzles” you list for your product may create a need in the mind of the customer – but remember that although these “sizzles” may be of EQUAL IMPORTANCE to you, they may differ in importance to the prospect. If you have “you-ability,” you will be able to take your “sizzles” and fit them to each prospect with uncanny accuracy!

“You-ability” is the ability to get on the other side of the fence – to put on a pair of invisible “sizzle specs” and see your product through the EYES OF THE CUSTOMER. “You-ability” is the ability to say “you,” not “I” – and the ability to present the “sizzles” in the order that the CUSTOMER considers important.

Summary of Wheelerpoint 1

Buried in every spool of thread, in every row of safety pins, in every automobile, in every insurance policy, in every grocery, drug, or toilet goods item, are reasons why people will want to buy it.

These big reasons we call the “sizzles.”

Before you even start to see your prospects, you must line up, in your own mind, the “sizzles” they will consider important. You will then have a “planned presentation,” based on all the information you can get about your prospects and your selling package.

You will find that the use of the word “you” in your sales presentation will have far more results than the word “I.”

Being able to say “you” instead of “I” is known as “you-ability.”

Remember this first Wheelerpoint: “Don’t sell the steak – sell the sizzle.”

Next – Wheelerpoint 2: “Don’t Write – Telegraph”



Does Spelling Good Kount?

Does Spelling Good Kount?
Well, Yes (But…)

“A man’s errors are his portals of discovery.” – James Joyce

“Ooh la la,” as the Faces sang on album that ended
their career. Last week, the more astute of you
will remember, I made a mistake.

Not just once, but several times over.

I gave a “though” when I meant to “thou.”

Yes, dear reader, to answer the oft-submitted
follow-up question… I do know the difference.

But apparently, the “Auto-Correct” does not… or
no longer does, thanks to my own tinkering no

But the bottom line is that, I let the error fly.
And you let me know about it.

Er… thank you for that. As penance, allow me to
give you this, in lieu of today’s regular issue.

In the clips below, you’ll find a whole bunch of
musings on what spelling and grammar should mean –
or shouldn’t — for writers.

We’ll start here…

* Yep, “thou”… “though”… not even close, in all
but a lunatic’s dictionary.

In my own defense and to answer another of your
questions (not asked but implied), there is indeed
a career difference between copyWRITING and
copyEDITING. I’m the former but, it turns out, not
much of the latter.

To make it clear once and for all, copyWRITERs
write stuff. CopyEDITORs disdain what’s written,
usually with red ink on their fingers.

* You won’t believe this, but I’ll try anyway: I
used to be a spelling bee champ. Or at least, a
frequent finalist.

Of course, this was back in eighth grade when
“spell checker” meant “nun with a red pen and a
stern look.” Much more intimidating than a setting
under the “Tools” menu in Microsoft Word.

These days, though, you’re right. It’s all too easy
to let the machines do the work.

And much as machines can make a good frappuccino,
they fall short on subjective judgment.

In that spirit, let’s polish off this old chestnut
(a poem from the CR archives that I didn’t write):

The Spell Checker Poem

Eye halve a spelling chequer
It came with my pea sea
It plainly marques four my revue
Miss steaks eye kin knot sea.

Eye strike a key and type a word
And weight four it two say
Weather eye am wrong oar write
It shows me strait a weigh.
As soon as a mist ache is maid
It nose bee fore two long
And eye can put the error rite
Its rare lea ever wrong.

Eye have run this poem threw it
I am shore your pleased two no
Its letter perfect awl the weigh
My chequer tolled me sew.

Ah, ha ha… phew! (Wipe tears of laughter and joy
from thy (thine?) cheeks here) I never get tired of
that one.

** And as long as we’re reading poetry, how about
the one by this clown? Goes by the name Chaucer or
something — what a hack!

Whan that April with his showres soote
The droughte of March hath perced to the roote,
And bathed every veine in swich licour,
Of which vertu engendred is the flowr;
Whan Zephyrus eek with his sweete breeth
Inspired hath in every holt and heeth
The tendre croppes, and the yonge sonne
Hath in the Ram his halve cours yronne,
And smale fowles maken melodye
That sleepen al the night with open yë –
So priketh hem Nature in hir corages –
Thanne longen folk to goon on pilgrimages,
And palmeres for to seeken straunge strondes
To ferne halwes, couthe in sondry londes;
And specially from every shires ende
Of Engelond to Canterbury they wende,
The holy blisful martyr for to seeke
That hem hath holpen whan that they were seke.

Of course, Chaucer was writing back in the 1300s,
when there was a severe shortage of grade school
teachers or nit-picky emails from readers ;).

** Here’s a story that seems like it’s got little
to do with anything: Have you ever heard the secret
history of whipped cream?

Says my wife, on one Sunday a long time ago the
King and Queen of France decided to drop on a
friend for dinner. Along with, they brought a
jillion or so of their palace entourage.

France being a Catholic country, all the shops were
closed. So in a panic, the chef and staff had to
improvise a feast.

When it came to dessert, he didn’t know what to do
to make it “fancy” enough for the king. At the last
minute, he whipped together fresh cream and sugar -
- or what they French now call “chantilly,” after
the chateau town where it was invented.

The royals lapped it up (not literally, I don’t
think) but the chef couldn’t be consoled. He went
upstairs and fell on his own sword (literally this

“Too bad,” said the queen, after hearing the news,
“I thought it was pretty good.”

(Gourmands and historians, I know… it sounds like
“une légende urbaine” to me too. But let it go. The
story works better that way.)

** By way of trying to get to a point that story
doesn’t quite get to, try this:

Some time ago, my father showed me a piece of promo
copy from one a client. “Look at this,” he said,
“the calculation in this subhead is wrong.”

And right he was. It was a blunder, flat out. “It
makes me not want to read further. And I’ll bet
that’s true of other readers, too.”

On this, I remember thinking, I’m sure was right
too. And that would be a shame. After all, I knew
the product — a financial letter — that the promo

Typos aside, it had a 95% accuracy rate on its
market picks… with a running average of better
than 130% gains.

** This begs the question: Just how important are
typos and other small errors, in the grand scheme?

Convention tells us they matter a lot. And lots of
smart people would agree. But I can’t help but
wonder if they — we — should.

** You may or may not know this, but one of
America’s most famous novelists, F. Scott
Fitzgerald was miserable when it came to spelling.

So many editors refused to look at his work because
of it, he had a room in his hope papered with their
rejection letters.

Even Maxwell Perkins, who finally saw potential
behind the typos, called Fitzgerald’s spelling
skills “lamentable.”

And Fitzgerald never got over his bad spelling
either. He even repeatedly misspelled the name of
one of his closest writer friends, Hemingway, as
“Earnest Hemminway.”

I’m not making that up.

** Hemingway wasn’t much better. He regularly told
his editors that fixing his garbage spelling
mistakes was “what they were paid to do.”

Faulkner, too, was ham-handed at spelling. Even
though he and Hemingway both won Nobel Prizes for

So were Flannery O’Connor, poet John Keats, and
Jane Austen — all notoriously bad with the typos
and genuine spelling mistakes.

Along with them were John F. Kennedy, William
Butler Yeats, Winston Churchill and Ben Franklin.

Again, I’m not making this up.

In a love letter, Keats famously wrote “purplue”
instead of “purple.” When his lover caught him on
it, he tried to convince her it was a real word,
meaning “a cross between blue and purple.”

Thanks to her thick Hampshire accent, Austen
thought ‘tomatoes’ was spelled ‘tomatas.’

Franklin, not to be outdone, used to blame his
spelling mistakes on the “inadequate alphabet.”

Even Einstein was a rotten speller — twice over,
it turns out, because he made mistakes in both
English and German.

Does that make any of these men and women “flops?”
Does it make their work irrelevant or discardable?

Fortunately, not in the eyes of some.

** What I’m getting at, I guess, is that — sure –
we all hate to make mistakes.

And yes, the rules of style and grammar DO matter.
Absolutely. But even if you can’t forgive the
writer before you, be sure to tell yourself this

That style is surface, not substance. And substance
is far, far more important to writing well.

** This is important because, ask yourself, how
many times have you read technically perfect
writing that had no heart?

On the flip side, have you ever read a typo-laden
note from, say, a little kid… that still managed
to hit you in the gut?

** Rules matter, but sometimes… they don’t matter
so much as we seem to think they should, is I guess
what we’re getting at. Or trying to. Some years
back, I wrote about this in another issue of the
CR. It went something like this:

“Who needs rhetorical questions?” asks Ned Hardy,
self-anointed curator of the Internet.

He has 22 more zingers like these in his post, “How
to Write Good” (yes, his winking title, not mine).

For instance, #4 which warns, “Employ the
vernacular” and the ever popular #2, “Prepositions
are not words to end sentences with.”

At #3, we can forgive him the overused, “Avoid
cliches like the plague (they’re old hat).”

But only because he’s got my favorites at #10 and
#15, where he says “One should never generalize”
and “Be more or less specific.”

Mind you, I’m not always a fan of these “rules”
lists, mostly because I’m not a fan of writing
rules in general.

How so?

Don’t get me wrong, I believe rules matter. But do
they always apply? No. At least as simply as Ned’s
list tries to pretend. For instance, at rule #18,
he says, “One word sentences? Eliminate.”

That’s hogwash.

In copy and lots of writing, one-word sentences
provide a kind of illumination and rhythm can be a
great way to underscore a point and control pacing.
I use them all the time, and without apology.

Likewise, his list warns at #19, “Analogies in
writing are like feathers on a snake.” Hmm. In my
opinion, that’s as overly strict as… as… well,
you get the point.

** Those aren’t the only times I’ve thrown a few
tips out there that seem to fly in the face of
conventional wisdom.

In fact, digging through the archives, it looks
like I’ve done it a lot more than I remember.

For instance, here’s an old tidbit on how to use
numbers in copywriting:

“Statistics, percentages, dollar amounts… can all
hit harder than words, used properly. But where
normal writing might spell out a number,
copywriters often opt for the actual digit (9…
3… 5,632%) when possible.

“Why? Because it’s much faster to soak up and
harder hitting. It sticks. And it’s instant. Both
are things that all good copy must be.”

Or this one, on how to “write like we talk:”

“The grand-daddy of rules about sales copy is that
we’re supposed to ‘write like people talk…’ This
simply means that you generally want to use shorter
sentences… even clipped phrases and small
words… plus lots of contractions… and, yes, the
occasional (or even frequent) ellipsis.

“Oh, and one line paragraphs.

“Without verbs.

“Not always, but often enough that people move
between sentences in a way that mimics what we call
‘barstool speaking.’

** What I guess I’m saying is this: Yes, typos can
be dangerous (just ask the guy who blew through
that “SOTP” sign).

And yes, even small errors can send one miles off
course down the road (I read that once in a juice
bottlecap). We — me included — should all pay
more attention.

But just be sure that the devotion to precision
isn’t costing you a greater insight, which is
simply this: good writing and good thinking in
general depend much more on the quality of the core
ideas than on the style in which they’re presented.

This nor anything else is an excuse to write or
think sloppy. It’s just a correlated caution.

Or at least, it’s what I think quietly to myself
(up until now) each time I get an email that
starts, “Hey, don’t you know how to spell…?”

Contributed by John Forde
Guest Contributor


I’ve got something special for you today.

This is a particularly brilliant piece by the late great marketer and copywriter Gary Halbert. And somehow I missed it, until I got it in an email a couple of days ago.

Now, when I say brilliant, don’t assume it’s the humour-filled pieces Gary usually wrote.

Granted, there’s some humour in there, albeit dark humour. But it’s a very serious piece. With a very serious message.

Now, with the kind permission of Kevin and Bond Halbert I’m reprinting that same article here.

I urge you to read it from beginning to end.

Here’s an intro by Bond:


This edition of The Gary Halbert Letter is one of the top ten favorites among the readers and it’s easy to see why.

The story and the lessons contained in this classic issue will be valuable forever.

In fact, these teachings saved my career and my life!

But, something to think about is how my father gets right out of Boron and instead of hiding the fact, he embraces and exploits the situation.

He really got in front of the story and turned what most would consider a career ending event into a huge advantage.

When this all went down, there was never any talk about covering up what was going on.

I never even thought to hide the situation and neither did my pop.

Maybe we both knew it was going to make for great stories.

Anyway, the moral is…

If you are afraid of what failing will do to your reputation or your future potential, look at what Gary Halbert was able to do with a situation far worse.

Don’t let yourself worry about your past or the fear of failing in the future, stop you from anything.

With that said, enjoy this classic issue and all of the valuable insights.

Sir Bond
The House of Halbert
PS Whether or not you have already read The Dark Side of Success, give yourself a treat and stop what you are doing right now and read this particular issue. You get more out of this letter, every time you read it.


From: W-A-Y West of Jewfish Creek

Dear Friend & Subscriber,

I’m in danger.

This is really true. It’s not an opening statement I’m using for shock value. No. It’s not a joke either. Or a clever prelude to a marketing lesson. The alarm bells in my head are clanging and shrieking, stridently demanding attention.

Why? Listen: I’ve been on an especially hot roll lately and it’s starting to go to my head. For one thing, I’ve just produced my first TV show (it’s about the Beverly Hills Medical Diet) and I think it’s a very good first effort. For another, I’ve just beaten one of my old direct mail control packages and now my client can profitably double his mailing schedule.

And He Was Already Mailing
700,000 Pieces Per Month!

And so on. But, best of all, as far as my ego is concerned, I just received a letter from a man named Drayton Bird who is the Vice Chairman of Ogilvy and Mather Direct in London. And, the reason that letter was so good for my ego is he was writing to tell me he is in frequent telephone communication with David Ogilvy and that Mr. Ogilvy has just sent him all back issues of my newsletter including what Mr. Bird refers to as the “brilliant” dollar bill acknowledgement letter. Mr. Bird wanted to know, among other things, if he could include some of my work in the upcoming new edition of his book called “Common Sense Marketing.”

Well, I don’t know about you but, for my money, David Ogilvy is easily the most astute advertising man alive and, to have captured his attention through these letters is the prize feather in my self-serving war bonnet of ego accolades.

Except for the actual numbers that are produced by a good piece of marketing: Those, of course, remain the supreme accolade of your work.

Or else the supreme indictment.

Have you ever heard of the Caples Awards? John Caples is one of my marketing heroes, but the new wrinkle in the awards given in his name makes me sick. You know what some slobs have decided about the Caples Awards? It’s this: The direct marketing piece in contention doesn’t have to be a winner for the writer to win the award, it only has to be “creative.”

Isn’t that nice? It must truly cheer many a clients’ heart, after being rendered damn-near destitute by some fool’s bird-brained, stupid ad campaign, to know the writer won the “Caples.”

Shame on everybody connected.

Forgive me, I digress. Anyway, to get back to what I was saying, if you were to visit my offices and look around and talk to the staff, you’d see pictures of me with some celebrities and clients, you’d see I have a loving and gorgeous woman, you’d see framed letters on the walls from subscribers and clients I’ve helped make a lot of money, you’d see me working with my children, you’d see all of us laughing and joking and having a good time while everybody works like crazy and, if you could also read my thoughts, you’d see a man (me) dangerously close to making one of the deadliest mistakes a man can make which is…

Starting To Believe
Your Own PR!

This can be fatal. I’m not talking injurious to your business (although it can most certainly be that), I’m talking fatal, fatal.

Like once upon a time when it almost was for me. Listen: Do you remember how, in my direct mail pitch, to get you to subscribe, I promised to write about “the dark side of success”? Well, it’s time for me to do that. Therefore, this letter is not about how to improve your marketing or make more money. No, this letter is about how to keep your success from ruining your life as it almost did mine. If you have children and/or anyone else you love and, if you think there is value in these letters, this is the one, by far, that would be the most important to let your loved ones read. What you are about to learn is just how dumb, foolish and ignorant a supposedly intelligent man (Ol’ “Guru Gary”) can be. But let me suggest something: Before you smirk and get condescending about the stupidity I am about to reveal and say, “that Halbert is really dumb, that stupid stuff will never happen to me,” I suggest you listen to that little whisper in the back of your mind that says…

Don’t Be Too Sure.

Don’t Be Too Sure.

Don’t Be Too Sure.

Let us go back in time to the first half of 1973. Back then I was truly living high on the hog. I had sold my half-interest in Halberts Inc. (the coat-of-arms company with over seven million customers) for a sum that translates into today’s money to something like 2 to 2-1/2 million dollars. I also had my publishing company (Good News Incorporated) cranked up to where it was generating millions of dollars per year. I had highly profitable investments (sometimes my silver futures contracts would appreciate as much as $20,000 per day), I had a showplace home atop a hill, a condo in Ft. Lauderdale, a boat in the Florida Keys, lots of hangers-on and, in general, I was…

A Big Fish In A
Little Pond

And believe me, I milked it for all it was worth. For example, whenever I found myself in a conversation with strangers and the conversation turned to money and everybody was trying to impress everybody else, I would always emerge victorious by using one of my conversational “toppers.” Like so: If one of the group would ask me how much my income was, I’d say, “Oh about 20 thousand, I guess.” And then they’d smile and say, “Well, that’s not too bad. I guess $20,000 a year is decent money for a young guy like you.” And then, of course, I’d use my “topper” by saying…

“Oh No, You Misunderstood. My
Income Is $20,000 Per Day!”

You like that one? Did it make you smile a little? Pretty clever, huh? Actually, what it really demonstrated was my…

Insufferable Stupidity!

I’ll tell you something: Watch out for self-made guys in their 30′s because many of them are just as insufferable (and dangerous) to themselves and others as I was.

Another example. Once upon a time, the First National Bank in Massilon, Ohio wouldn’t even let me have a checking account because their credit research deemed me so unworthy.

Can you imagine that? A bank that says you’re such a bummer they won’t even let you deposit money?

So guess where I did my banking after I made my big bucks? You’re right. Right there at the good ol’ First National. And guess who, when the bank deposit was especially huge, made the deposit himself?

Bingo. You’re right again. Picture this: It’s about two o’clock on a Monday afternoon. The door to the bank opens and in walks what appears to be a young guy in his 30′s who has been working on a road gang. He’s wearing faded and torn blue jeans, a sloppy sweatshirt and he’s carrying a canvas bag over his shoulder. He waits patiently in line and, when he gets to the teller, he tells her he wants to make a deposit. And then in full view of all the customers in the bank and its employees, this rather shabby-looking young man starts pulling out wads of checks and cash and stack them side-by-side a foot or so high in front of the open-mouthed teller.

Sort of asking for it, wasn’t I?

Well, I got it and it went down like this: One day in the first week of July, 1973, just after dark, I went to get the groceries out of the trunk of the car. The car was outside the garage and, as I was coming from inside the house, I had to push the button that would open the garage door automatically. As soon as the door went up, I saw two figures standing outside the garage wearing ski masks. At first I thought they were kids and I started to bitch. But the complaint died in my throat as I discovered they were indeed adults and were both armed with .45 caliber handguns. Have you ever seen a .45? I carried one for three years when I was an MP and they are scary. Especially when you are looking into the business end of one of those monsters.

One of the guys marched me over to the air conditioner unit on the west side of the house just outside the garage and had me take off my glasses and give them to him. Then, he did something strange; he said to me very politely, “I’m putting your glasses here on top of the air conditioner so they’ll be easy to find when this is over.”

Then he marched me back into my house where his buddy had already subdued my wife, Nancy. Then they tied me up, blindfolded me, gagged me and put me inside a canvas sack.

They also did all this to Nancy except they didn’t put her into a sack.

Then, they ransacked the house. They took our “emergency” silver coins, they took a cherished heirloom ring that Nancy had been given by one of her favorite relatives and they took sacks of mail all containing checks from our recent full-page ad in “Parade” magazine.

At this point, Nancy said, “Gary, do something! They’re even taking the mail!”

But what was I to do while all tied up inside a canvas bag?

Anyway, they wanted more and they began to threaten us. However, after a while, they were convinced there was nothing else to get and they left, taking my car (a Cadillac naturally) and all the loot they had gathered up including thousands of checks written to “Good News Inc.” which were worthless to them. By the way, before they left one of them said, “This is what happens to people who make a lot of money and who live in a big house like this.”

Have you ever had anything like this happen to you? I hope not. It’s unnerving and much more so than you would think. You know, we’re all so used to watching TV we sort of get the impression that, after a violent act, a person just gets up, brushes himself off and goes about his business.

Trust me, it’s not like that at all.

I’m no stranger to violence and danger. I grew up in a town that was, during my youth, the most heavily industrialized per capita city on earth. I’m talking about Barberton, Ohio and, back then, it was sometimes, almost like a war zone. In high school, my buddy, “Pompadour Bill,” and I would drive around in his father’s car and we kept a German Luger and two knurled steel blackjacks in the glove compartment. Then later, when I was an MP, I was sent to Germany and my tour of duty consisted of breaking up massive bar fights and dealing with enraged servicemen and going up against everything from pocket knives to a lunatic with a double-barreled shotgun.

But this was different. This was in my home, my sanctuary, my cave that was supposed to be my “safe place” and secure from the tigers and bears and demons of the night.

And my family was home!

Not only my wife, but my kids too, who were all (thank God!) asleep upstairs.

Anyway, for nearly a year after this, I could hardly sleep. I was already a heavy beer drinker back then and, after the robbery, I began to drink even more heavily. My work suffered, my business went downhill and I knew something had to change.

So, after a year, more or less, of living like this, I sold my business to a tall Texan named Jerry Antill for $15.00 and never bothered to cash the check. By the way, at that time, the business had over 1,000,000 customers and more than $60,000 cash-on-hand plus all its other assets.

What I did next is I moved my family to Los Angeles, California so my wife and I could become patients of the Center for Feeling Therapy which was formed by a group of nine psychotherapists who were formerly associated with the famed Institute of Primal Therapy formed by Arthur Janov.

The founders of the Center for Feeling Therapy were acclaimed worldwide. They were supposed to be the best. They had been on 150 talk shows like Merv Griffin, Johnny Carson (I was in the studio audience), Good Morning America and all the others. They published endless learned articles and, I believe, four hardcover books. When Nancy and I signed up for this “therapy” it was our understanding that in about nine months we would be relieved of all our mental trauma and we’d be able to get on with our lives.

What We Got Instead Was
A Three And A Half Year

These so-called psychotherapists, all licensed by the State of California, turned out to be the most sophisticated and manipulative mind-benders the free world has ever known. They nearly ruined the lives of hundreds of their patients. They were, (unknown to me at the time), sexually molesting some of the female patients while they were sucking money out of all of us with an efficiency that would’ve made even Jim Bakker envious.

They controlled your life. Everything from where you worked to where you lived and even to with whom you could sleep.

Let me take a moment here to say that, at this point, you may be saying, “How could any intelligent adult let such a thing happen? That could never happen to me.” Well, what I say is you only ask for therapeutic help when you are very vulnerable so…

Don’t Be Too Sure.

Don’t Be Too Sure.

Don’t Be Too Sure.

By the way, all of those “therapists” were subsequently indicted by the California Board of Medical Quality Assurance and they went through the longest malpractice trial in California history and they all lost their licenses and were publicly shamed. If you are interested, you can read about it in the September 30, 1987 edition of the “L.A. Times.”

But anyway, I didn’t get out of that “therapy” until January, 1978 and while I was in it, my mind was in virtually constant turmoil. And, while in the midst of this mental turmoil in 1976, I was approached by a couple of guys who wanted to go into the mail order business. The idea was to sell a book on “Proud Bi-Centennial Americans” and also a decorative bi-centennial plate. The idea was I’d write th copy and put up the money and these two guys would run the business. well, for a little while, things went fine. We mailed our sales letters, took in orders and started to produce the products both of which, incidentally, had to be personalized.

Then, all of a sudden, everything went bad.

One of our big direct mail rollouts only produced a fraction of the earlier test results to that list. Also, all my income from other sources, for reasons not relevant to this story, almost dried up completely.

In a nutshell, what happened is we ended up with thousands of orders and not enough money to fill them all.

This was certainly a bad situation but it was, I felt at least correctable. You know, at that time, a lot of people had come to know and respect me and I was pretty sure I’d be able to borrow enough money to fill all the orders and make things right.

Alas, this was not to be. What happened next is one of our customers who had not received his order decided to complain and he did so to a local TV station. Well, as you know, the news media is ever hungry for bad news and they sent a camera crew to our offices. The resulting footage was not very dramatic but, when it was aired, we came to the attention of the postal authorities and soon thereafter two postal inspectors came to our offices. Soon they learned that, even though I wasn’t the official owner of the business, I was, in fact, the “force” behind the company.

Which was true.

So they wanted to talk to me.

So, not knowing any better, I invited them to my house.

Big mistake. Real BIG! You see, at that time I was living at 637 Pacific Coast Highway, right on the beach in Santa Monica, California. My home was one of only 17 on that stretch of real estate (law forbids the building of any more) and it was truly fantastic. The house next door to me was formerly owned by Peter Lawford and it was the western White House when Kennedy was president. I’m not going to go on and on about my house but I will say it was perhaps the finest home I’ve ever seen. It had a 50 foot swimming pool and it later became the most expensive home in history ever to be sold at private auction.

So, in come these two postal inspectors, one of whom I can hardly remember and the other whom I’ll never forget. The one I’ll never forget was a tall, skinny guy with a scraggly mustache who had a look of deprivation about him. In fact, to me, he looked like a guy who’d never had a good meal or a good woman in his entire life.

And guess how he reacted to my home on the beach with its 50 foot heated swimming pool?

You know already, don’t you? Let’s just say he wasn’t exactly overjoyed to see me enjoying the evil fruits of my capitalistic endeavors. During that first meeting, and during subsequent ones, he would slip in comments like, “Well, I guess I’ll never know what it’s like to live in a house like this.” Or, “I’m sorry to have to ask you and your wife to ride in this plain old car but we can’t all have Cadillacs.”

And so on.

So it begins to look like this is really serious and it’s not going to go away so my partners and I hire a lawyer. I can’t remember his name. Actually, I only chose him because he was so handy as he was in the same building as our offices. After we explained everything to this lawyer he said it was obvious that none of us ever had any criminal intent (true) and we should open our books and give the postal inspectors any info they wanted.

That was a big mistake. A real BIG mistake!

Look, being investigated is like being interviewed by a TV news team. In other words, if they find out 50 good things about you and one bad thing, it is only the negative that is recorded on their minds and has a chance of going on the air or in their reports.

We were indicted. All three of us. For mail fraud.

What happens next is the postal inspectors have a little chat with my two “co-conspirators” and it is explained to them that if they help the inspectors get me (Mr. Big), they will be allowed to plead guilty to only one count of mail fraud and probably get a suspended sentence.

And, to their eternal shame, those two guys laid down and rolled over. And, in fact…

They Were So Scared
They Pled Guilty To A
Crime Of Which They
Were Innocent!

Perhaps I’d better modify that “innocent” part a bit. According to the law, you are not guilty of any type of fraud, including mail fraud, unless you had “criminal intent.” Well, let me tell you, neither of those two guys (or me, for that matter) ever had one smidgen of criminal intent.

On the other hand, the mail fraud statutes are written so broadly it is difficult for anyone who has ever mailed a letter not to be found guilty. It’s so bad, in fact, that sometimes, it seems to me anyone who has walked by, driven past, or flown over a U.S. post office is guilty. What this means is that, often, a jury does not have any real choice as to whether or not to find a defendant guilty. You see, what happens is the judge will issue jury instructions that dictate the jury must find you guilty if such and such or so and so occurred.

And since those such and such’s and so and so’s are so broad in scope…

98% Of All Defendants
Are Found Guilty!

Here’s a side story. Once upon a time, in the San Fernando Valley, some paid arsonist torched a restaurant and a couple of people were killed. He was guilty of trespassing, breaking and entering, arson and murder.

And They Got Him
For Mail Fraud!

‘Cause somebody, to get the insurance payoff, sent the claim in by mail. And the prosectors know, if they can’t get someone for something else they can almost always get anybody for mail fraud.

On with my story: So, here I am indicted for mail fraud and, in August of 1978, I went to trial. It lasted about a week and guess what was the most persuasive piece of evidence the feds had against me?

It Was My House!

Yep. One of those zealous little public servants stuck a camera over the hedges on the beach side of the property, took a picture, had it blown up to poster size and then forced the jury all week to look at this photo of “Halbert’s Beach Villa.”

Know this: If you are a successful businessman, there is no such thing as a “jury of your peers.” Basically, your fate will be decided by 12 men and women who are “have nots” and who believe all the “haves” got that way be being crooked.

I was convicted.

I was sentenced to 18 months but I was released on my own recognizance, pending appeal. The appeal took three years and, guess what?

I Won!

The trial was, in my opinion, a farce and, unbelievably, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals seemed to agree. Now what happens when you win an appeal is you are back to square one. What that means is the government has the option of putting you on trial again, dropping the whole thing or else letting you plead not guilty to a much lesser charge.

That third choice, the “plea bargain” is, by far, the most popular choice. And that is what the government decided to do with me, to let me plead guilty to a misdemeanor and pay a fine or something. You see, by this time, the “news value” of “The Big Bi-Centennial Rip-Off” was non-existent and, after everything that came out in the 1978 trial, I think even the prosecutors no longer thought I was such an evil guy.

But this was not to be. And, according to my lawyer, it was because that “from hunger” postal inspector wouldn’t let it go.

I don’t know if that’s true or not. But I do know this: The mental and emotional turmoil of being “in therapy” and fighting these mail fraud charges cause me to go broke around the time of the first trial. However, between 1978 when I filed my appeal and 1981 when I won it, I did something unthinkable:

I Made A Lot Of
Money All Over Again!

And in 1981, when the postal inspector came out to serve me, I was then living at 201 Ocean Avenue in Santa Monica and I owned two apartments there (they’re co-ops) which were both worth a ton of money.

Can’t have that, can we? No Sir. So, in August of 1981 I got back on trial again. But this time I’ve got a new lawyer (wait’ll you hear about all my wonderful lawyers) and I’m a lot more prepared and I think I’m going to win. The prosecution trots out the picture of the house again but, anticipating this, my lawyer and I have prepared what we think are effective counter arguments.

So, the trial ends on a Wednesday or Thursday afternoon and when the jury walks past me, they actually look friendly and that’s a good sign says my lawyer. But the next morning as they walk past me and my lawyer, their heads are down and they won’t even look at me and that’s a bad sign says my lawyer.

And later, that afternoon, they find me guilty.

And, in an interview, what do they say as to why they found me guilty? “It’s the house,” they say. “Anybody who was really trying to do right and fill those orders wouldn’t have lived in such an expensive house.”

“But I thought we explained that,” says my lawyer.

“Yeah, but just look at this article that is in this morning’s ‘Herald Examiner,’” says a lady juror. And she waved it in front of our faces and there was a three page article all about my house complete with pictures, the main one of which was the same one the jury had been forced to look at poster size all week.

What a strange coincidence. Here it is something like six years since I’ve lived in this house and the “Herald Examiner” which is a morning paper comes out with this long article about the opulence of the house and its furnishings and all the Rolls Royces and other exotic cars parked outside and so forth and it comes out just in time for the jury to see it…

And Take It In The
Jury Room With Them!

Incredible timing, right?

So we immediately ask for a new trial and I’ll never forget the judge’s face as he denies the motion muttering how he may be wrong but we’ve got to make sure the appellate court has enough work to keep them busy.

So once again I file an appeal and try to retain my sanity (I never did regain it) as I wait for the outcome.

This time it only takes 2-1/2 years and I lose; I don’t see how but I did.

And on May 21, 1984 I reported to Boron Federal Prison Camp (“Club Fed”) in the Mojave Desert to start serving my time. I’ll tell you a little about that experience in a minute but first two more of my semi-famous “side trips.”

First, I want to tell you a little about the seven lawyers I used fighting this nightmare. One of them was a respected law professor who wrote both of my appeals. Another was a Mormon who fought his heart out for me but could not overcome the impact of the newspaper story about my house. Another one did almost no preparation for my case and he was eventually disbarred. Another one is the naive, young guy who told me to freely give the postal inspectors any info they wanted. Another one was too busy laundering drug money to be of any real help to me and, besides, he was found shot dead in the Century Plaza shopping center while clutching a paper bag full of paper money. Another, reputed to be a “fix it” lawyer, was indicted along with a local judge for obstructing justice.

I Sure Can Pick ‘Em
Can’t I?

The seventh attorney was Howard Weitzman. Remember him? He’s the guy who won for DeLorean and the only attorney in this story who I have decided to mention by name. You know, I really have a lot of respect for this guy. Here’s why: When I asked him to do some post-conviction work for me he said…

“Gary, you ought to get someone
else because other lawyers
will do it cheaper than me and
you don’t have much of a
chance anyway.”

I could hardly believe it; honesty from a lawyer? So I hired him, he gave it his best shot, I lost and paid him willingly and never regretted it simply because…

He Was Straight
With Me!

By the way, I talked to him on the phone from Boron the day after DeLorean was acquitted and I told him that, when the verdict was announced, the whole camp burst into applause!

Isn’t this a bitch of a story? Hold on. You ain’t heard nothing yet. Let’s take side trip #2.

Away we go. After my conviction in 1978, while I was on appeal, I did some work for a publisher back East. What I did is I wrote a diet ad for him that featured a San Diego M.D. (a psychiatrist) that became one of the highest pulling ads in history.

Considering my situation, I was very careful about what I wrote. I checked and double-checked with the doctor to make sure the ad was accurate.

The money started coming in like crazy and the guy back East couldn’t keep up with the orders. I literally begged him to slow down, to stop advertising till he got caught up. To no avail. He got thousands of orders behind, many of which were four months overdue. And guess what? Yep. He got indicted, I got indicted and the doctor got indicted…

On An Ad I Thought Was “Hound’s Tooth Clean”!

Those indictments were later dropped but they massively interfered with my mental peace and also prevented me from bringing in character witnesses during my second trial.

Lord, love a duck; I was starting to feel like a one-legged man in an ass-kicking contest.

But so what? What can be learned from all this that is of practical value to you?

A lot. Assuming you don’t want to be robbed, incarcerated or swamped with the emotional and financial trauma of litigation, I herewith offer 10 rules for your consideration:

#1. Stop living in a dream world!

Stuff like this really can happen to you. People who never take any risks are boring cowards but people who take stupid risks are, in fact, stupid. Consider this: The news is full of stories about the dangers of AIDS yet, by far, the #1 and #2 most common preventable cause of death in the U.S. are cigarette smoking and not wearing a seat belt. Yet millions of dummies still smoke and ride around sans safety belts while mouthing banal quips about how everybody has to die of something.

Trust me, Buckwheat, if you get lung cancer or permanently mangled and/or paralyzed in a car crash, the memory of all those cute little banalities you used to say will make you vomit.

And so it is with taking unnecessary chances in your advertising campaigns. No one is in complete control of his or her destiny but, for God’s sake, don’t beg for problems like I did. You’ll get enough problems no matter how careful you are without insisting on having more.

#2. Stop lying!

To your customers, to your partners or business associates and to yourself. If you lie in your direct mail letters and/or space ads or commercials, the one time you get caught may easily cause you more grief than it was worth for the hundreds of times you slipped by.

And hear this: In the last 1-1/2 years I’ve met three different people who routinely cheat everybody they do business with. Well, let me tell you, one thing I learned while serving time is that not everybody who gets cheated elects to right that wrong via litigation. Instead, many choose mayhem or murder. But you don’t really believe any of those wimps you’ve ever shortchanged would do anything like put out a “contract” on you, do you?

Don’t Be Too Sure.

Don’t Be Too Sure.

Don’t Be Too Sure.

#3. Immediately acknowledge every order you receive via first class mail!

Pound-for-pound, penny-for-penny, this is the most profitable point in all your communications with your customers. But profit is not the issue here. No. The issue here is staying out of trouble. And, believe me, nobody represents more “trouble potential” than a customer who has sent in his hard-earned money and feels it has disappeared down a rathole because no one ever bothered to confirm or acknowledge his order.

#4. Fill all orders as fast as you can!

Both times I got in trouble with the post office, it was because of unfilled orders. Had the orders been filled and filled promptly the ads and letters would most probably never been questioned. Whether a certain statement in an ad or letter is deceptive is often subjective. However, there is nothing subjective about an unfilled order.

You either did or you didn’t and, if you didn’t, you are begging for trouble.

#5. immediately give a refund to anyone who wants one!

Stop screwing around with this. If you say you’ll give refunds, do it and do it promptly. If you don’t one day you may end up with a problem that can no longer be solved even if you do finally decide to make refunds. The problem I’m talking about, of course, is the one where you become a convicted felon.

#6. immediately answer all your white mail!

“White mail” is any written correspondence from a customer that does not contain an order; like requests for more info, requests for refunds, inquiries from BBBs and government agencies, etc.

Failure to communicate can lead to a loss of ability to communicate like, for example, when you’re locked up.

#7. don’t rub your wealth in other people’s faces!

Showing off is one of the “perks” of being a success. However, I’d like to suggest you avoid trying to impress people who are losers. Losers are bitter, frustrated people who are constantly looking for new people to blame for their failures. And, if their bitterness becomes too intense and their focus settles on you, only trouble can result.

Go ahead and drive your Rolls to a meeting of the Young Millionaires Club but beware parking in the K-Mart lot.

#8. don’t trust your life to a lawyer!

I don’t care if he’s your brother, your father or you spouse. It seems to me that almost all lawyers are forced to have an “ethical bypass” operation as soon as they pass the bar. Question: What show has the most ridiculous premise of all shows on network TV? Answer: L.A. Law. L.A. Law always has a bunch of lawyers sitting around discussing lofty ethical considerations.

Are you kidding? That’s not what lawyers sit around and gab about. No way. What they truly concern themselves with is…

Milking Money
From Misery!

But what’s the alternative? Well, what I suggest is, in addition to your lawyer, you get some “reality oriented” advice from someone who has already suffered through whatever legal problems you currently have. Believe me, you can get more sound advice from a few intelligent ex-cons than all the lawyers in the world.

Hey, you want to know how you can tell when your lawyer is lying? That’s easy. It’s when his lips are moving.

#9. keep yourself healthy!

If you pump a little iron and run three or four miles a day, you’ll unconsciously give off a different class of vibes that signal you’re not a vulnerable wounded fish and easy prey for all the two-legged sharks of the world.

#10. keep your sense of humor!

You think I’ve had it hard? Don’t be silly. What I’ve endured is nothing compared to a kid born with AIDS, a man who has lost his family in an air disaster or any of a jillion other things that millions of people endure bravely every day of their lives.

Look, if history is any guide, none of us are gonna get out of this mess alive so we may as well have a few laughs along the way.

Want to know when you finally realize it really has happened and you really are incarcerated? It’s when that big, ugly, muscle-bound guy across the hall informs you he thinks you’re “cute.”

Want to know when you know you’ve done too much time? It’s when you’re glad he thinks you’re cute!

Thank God I wasn’t in long enough to get to the second stage but, I’ll tell you, I learned what it means to really miss your woman and I remembered why my nickname used to be “Goat Glands Gary.”

Enough. Someone once said every man’s life has value if for nothing else than to be used as a bad example. Maybe that’s me. You’re a dumb bunny if you follow my footsteps. Instead, let me serve you another way…

Let Me Be Your
Bad Example!

Gary C. Halbert

P.S. Are you one of those people who take chances because going to “Club Fed” sounds like a vacation to you? Trust me, there are a few things about it you won’t like. For example, do you have a tendency to befoul the atmosphere and make funny little noises when you use the bathroom?

How wonderful! Just think, when you go to Club Fed you can “share” those quaint little personal eccentricities with dozens of other people everyday who will be going to the bathroom with you! And gosh, you can also enjoy all their quaint little personal bathroom habits.

Are you someone who values your privacy? Hmn? I wonder how you’re going to like it when some hack tells you to “bend over and spread ‘em” so he can explore your most private bodily cavity with this flashlight.

And don’t think that, just because Club Fed is a camp, it only has white collar felons. That’s not the case. There are also bank robbers, drug dealers, blackmailers, contract killers and many, plain old garden variety murderers.

Oh yeah, and there’s one more bad thing about Club Fed.

You Can’t Leave!

P.P.S. On the other hand, I think going to Club Fed was easily the most valuable experience of my life. One of the reasons is that, in a perverse way, it set me free. One day I was jogging and I suddenly realized I felt much lighter. Why? Because of lack of guilt. You see, I figured that serving time for something of which I was not morally guilty made me even. It made up for all those library books I never returned, the teenage girls after whom I lusted and I was even able to forgive myself for all those times I drove while drinking for which, in my opinion, I really deserved to go to prison.

Sometimes life evens things up, doesn’t it?

For more of Gary’s articles visit http://www.thegaryhalbertletter.com/newsletter-archives.htm

and you can visit Bond’s site here: http://bondhalbert.com/