Rumor Mill

Jeez. You cop to being a certain age, and the pups gang up on you.

I was just talking to Halbert — who is much, much older than I am — and he told me about a post on some copywriting blog urging everyone to study what he, I and Dan Kennedy offer… because we’re all gonna be dead soon.

I mean, we’re all waaaaay past forty, and to a twenty-something, that’s one foot in the grave. I guess.

Just hearing about this post cracked me up… but I am taking it upon myself to dispel the rumors.

First: We’re all ridiculously healthy. We’re a little pissed off about some of the details of lost youth, but for the most part we’re all happier than we’ve ever been. (And, in two cases, even more physically alluring than ever.)

Second: While Dan does enjoy his trotters, he’s an eminently sane man and not risking life and limb with every race.

Some people have slightly more dangerous hobbies than others. These days, the most risky thing I do is drive on the freeway… but I still sit in with bands occasionally, in rowdy bars full of bikers, hookers and cowboys (the usual night trade of Northern Nevada cocktail lounges), and if I ever sat down and figured out the potential mayhem of any of those gigs, I’d have to stay home and pull the covers over my head.

Also — I don’t smoke. Apparently I was on some teleconference, and had to cough a few times. Guys — I probably had a cold.

Or, hey, do this: Set a stopwatch for one hour. Hit it, and start talking as fast as you can. Don’t stop for the entire hour.

See how clear your voice is toward the end.

It’s vicious work, talking. Harder on the body than you’d expect.

I work out with a sadistic trainer who is determined to get me into triathalon shape, I play tennis (badly) and golf (even worse), and I often figure out copy angles by walking for two or three miles here in the foothills. (Distracted, stumbling over rocks and bumping into trees, but walking with purpose nonetheless.)

This is so embarrassing, having to explain personal stuff.

Finally… Halbert is as fit as an ox.

Okay, fit as an insane ox, but fit nonetheless.

We’ve all abused our bodies along the torturous courses of our respective careers. Dan has flown more miles than Superman (racking up total g-force accumulations equal to an astronaut), Gary has been obsessed with high voltage indiscretion all his life (he’s not shy about telling tales on himself), and I’ve never hidden the fact I was a long-haired, counter-cultured hippie/beatnik entranced by the Dark Side pretty much right up until the time I got serious about freelancing.

We have all put in our time partying at The Big Damn Watering Hole, and we’ve all calmed down considerably. Neither Dan nor Gary drink anymore, and if I have two beers in an evening I have to call my old pals and brag about it.

We channel our passion through our work these days. Mindful of history, perhaps.

We’re just trying our best to do the right thing, and maybe pick up a few well-earned baubles along the way.

However… none of this “we’re all fine” banter means the basic message of that guy’s warning post is wrong.

You SHOULD learn as much as you can from all of us. Not because we’re one step ahead of the Grim Reaper, though.

Because we’re all seriously considering various forms of active retirement.

That means… you’ll all be left with the second string as guides.


I can’t speak for Dan or Gary… but I’m booking things out through the end of the year, and then I’ll play it by ear. I still have a lot of projects I want to get into the mix, and I’ll always be there for my long-time clients.

But the possibility I’ll cut back doing personal critiques, or discontinue the Insider’s Club past the current membership scrolls is always there. (That’s why I limit membership to one year at a time.)

I got novels to finish, you know. Music to record. Art to artify.

This truly is a period of time they’ll be talking about for generations. The Web is still in its Wild West infancy, things are hopping… and personal access to a handful of the best in the biz is still a reality.

The potential for anyone smart enough to grab this kind of raw opportunity has been duly noted on all our main websites, in glowing testimonials. Lives change, fortunes accumulate, and business becomes fun again.

Grizzled we may be, but the experience, savvy and know-how we bring to the table cannot be faked.

The old school rocks, and always will.

Don’t take it for granted.

John Carlton

P.S. That smoking rumor just frosts my ass. I did smoke for a while, but quit twenty-five years ago. I got started in my late teens, cuz I wanted to look cool like Humphrey Bogart. (I didn’t. I looked like a scary kid gagging on a Salem.)

Then, I found out that Bogart was only cool for a few years in the forties. Afterward, the cigs ate him alive, and he died a shrunken, fragile shell.

Smoking sucks.

P.P.S. Almost forgot — I’m still letting people get the Pro Level Freelancing Career Kit (the one with all the personal attention and swipe files and other goodies). You can read the letter at the hidden page

P.P.P.S. One last thing. I’m speaking at Halbert’s big seminar down in Miami next week. It’s filling up fast, and crammed with pedigreed notables in both the offline and online marketing world.

If you missed rubbing elbows with advertising’s royalty at Bencivenga’s New York event, here’s another chance to meet many of the same folks.

Check out the details at

Miami. What a concept. It’s a little vision of what America would have been like if Spain hadn’t lost the Spanish-American war…

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"11 Really Stupid Blunders You're Making With Your Biz & Career Right Now."

  • John Gilvary says:


    A lousy golfer? I would have thought you’d be a low single digit handicapper, with all the golf products you’ve sold. 🙂

    See you in Miami.


  • Steve says:

    Hey John,

    Your fans in the UK probably wonder one thing…

    Why is it that the USA copywriting Guru’s are mostly bad tempered stroppy,and miserable?

    Is it because of your ages?

    Of course the genuis factor does make up for it

    (I’m getting worried cos I’ll soon be 48…)

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