Episode #185 – Bond Halbert On Life Lessons From A Legend. The Gary Halbert Way To Success. (Part 1)

by John McIntyre

This is a different kind of episode.

You could say it is about family.

More than a year and a half ago I (Dave) recorded an almost three-hour interview with Bond Halbert.

He told great stories about his legendary father, Gary.

Cautionary tales?

Life lessons?

They’re fun and hopefully will bring a smile to your face…

while giving you some ideas to reflect on as you follow your own path.

Bond was very gracious with his time and this is part one of two I will be releasing here.

So Merry Christmas to you…

the listeners who love and support the McMethod Email Marketing Podcast.


In this episode, you’ll discover:

  • The Gary Halbert secret to success. Once he found it…he never looked back.
  • How did Gary get into direct mail? A semi-weird job is only the start.
  • Gary didn’t enjoy building a business…it wasn’t writing ads…THIS is what Gary was all about.
  • Cautionary tales Bond reveals about Halbert family life.
  • How Bond pulled off having Amazon sell his book for him.

Email Marketing Podcast Episode 185


Intro and outro backing music: Forever More by CREO

David Allan: Bond Halbert on the show today, Bond how are you?

Bond Halbert: I’m good thanks for having me

David Allan: Yeah, I think it was Pauline Longdon who connected us if I remember correctly may
have originally I mean I’ve listened to your dad’s stuff and read your dad’s stuff for many years it’s actually why I got into copywriting which I’m sure is apretty common story from the peoplwe’ve had oh yeah but you actually lived it…

Bond Halbert: Yeah, started his career the day I was born. yeahDavid Allan: Wow something I didn’t know. Since then of course now I never got to meet your father because I got into this
long after he had passed away unfortunately and you know I don’t want to turn this into a show by your father but maybe you
know take us back to those sort of halcyon days if you will when you weregrowing up for people who haven’t read maybe some of the books that been put out about it you know your of your dad’s
life and his connection with you and and your brother and sort of give us sort of the maybe see you know a few insights
into how crazy a time that was that. Did people realize this was really crazytime or was it just you know I seem like normal business stuff going on?

Bond Halbert: Well tell you what – first I never mind talking about my father that’s I love talking about him so that’s not an issue and I don’t mind if you ask me any question to do with my father the other thing is you know I’m gonna give you some answers that I don’t typically give so that you’re not hearing just the same old story of you know him and my relationship from you know the get-go and stuff like that.

My dad was a very strange character and one of the things that I always separate his life in two phases the way that I think

about it because he he radically changed

his existence in the way he thought and

the way he operated at different parts

in his little life and I think a lot of

people do that I just don’t think they

do that to the extreme with which he did

it so to give you an idea you know my

dad was born in a very small town and he

lived it he lived in Barberton Ohio and

that’s where he grew up and he was a guy

who you know according to my grandmother

was always walked out of the house with

a pocketful of vegetables and a bunch of

books to read this he always had his

head in books I think that was his

escape instead oh I think that you know

a lot of the stuff when I tell you kind

of led up to him being a master of

persuasion things and these aren’t

things that I really shared very much

before with I’m giving sort of an

exclusive well because I get given

everybody the same old answer about how

he picked me to start you know mentoring

so so much but the one of the so that

was one thing that was going on and I

found that I that I learned a lot of

stuff about my father in retrospect that

I think you know that I don’t think he

really recognized about himself there’s

two things and mainly in particular one

is I find that most people having a

relationship with money and it’s based

on emotions and you know what they what

they are attachment to it when they feel

like when they’re growing up so like you

ever wonder why somebody’s got three

billion dollars yet they still keep

working really hard and you know they

don’t take time off and it’s because

they for the most part I’m not saying

this is everybody I don’t believe in

absolutes but for the most part what

they were is kind of emotionally scarred

about money about being poor when they

were kids you know they remember these

issues and so they swear to themselves

if I’m never gonna be poor again you

know and or they or they have a

different you know my dad had a very

unique relationship with money which was

he loved to make it but he also loved to

blow it it was really strange he did and

I think when he was growing up what he

did what it had nothing to do with the

money I think well I think a very first

thing that happened with him was my dad

wasn’t an ugly person at all but he

wasn’t you know he wasn’t classically

handsome you know what I’m saying he

wasn’t you know he wasn’t gonna show ya

what just wasn’t gonna be discovered at

Schwab’s pharmacy and thrown into the

movies all of a sudden you know and he

had glasses and back then when you had

glasses especially thick coke bottle

type glasses you know it was a you know

it was more of a killer but he also

didn’t have money you know his parents

you know they were they were working

very working-class but they weren’t they

weren’t vacationing in Paris or anything

like that and I think the and he was

very smart and he was very well-read and

I think what he learned to do was hone

his skills of persuasion because that

was his power you know people get their

power from being cute or to get their

power from being you know having wealth

or being popular with stuff like that I

think he got his power from learning to

be a really persuasive guy and being

pretty intelligent and so I think that

led later on you know in the story of

his life to becoming a great copy yeah

then the next phase of his life is he

wanted to get out of his small town so

he went and joined the military as most

men did in mid small Midwestern towns

who you know had no chances really going

to college isn’t what’s gonna be paid

for and stuff so he became a military

policeman and on a base in Germany after

World War two and so he went and joined

that not realizing I guess well maybe he

didn’t do it at the time but he just was

not built for the military you know

Perry how it wasn’t a guy to really take

orders from stuff like that and I think

that yeah well the funny thing is I

think there’s I think that’s where he

learned to be learned to hustle I mean

he talks about hustling pool sometimes

when he was younger than that in between

you know you know late teens and going

into the military but he would you know

that’s he did little things like loan

sharking and he would he was not really

built for the military in fact he told

me this is also something else I think

it’s an exclusive he told me he said you

know there was this one guy who was his

sergeant was in charge of going around

and talking to these guys and getting

them to re-up to re-enlist in the

military and you know they got some you

know they were incentivized to do this

but he did they didn’t even bother

asking just they just knew he was you

know he was not a fit and was not going

to stay or anything like that so now he

comes back to Ohio after that and he had

married his first wife in in in Germany

cut came back to Ohio where he had sent

it while he was finishing his stint he

had sent first wife back and they had

three children together and then what

and was you know he was just right now

he’s just a typical guy he’s you know

he’d be cooped falls into sales he does

a lot of doggy bows was the people who

they were the people who sold you

postage machine and they worked with so

that was kind of critical in making this

jump from working in face-to-face sales

into working to remote-control sales via

direct mail and he got ahold of these

guides called the Direct Mail guides and

he just instantly knew what he wanted to

do the rest of his life and he said he

wanted to go into direct into into

marketing this all happened right around

into an argument with his boss it was

like the day before I was born before

wearing or about wearing orange socks to

wear and I had that really pissed them

off and my dad sitting there talking to

my mom and he said you know by this time

he had divorced his first wife and he’d

marry my mother and they had already had

my Kevin and he turned to her and he

said you know I just you know I life

doesn’t get better than this I just hate

it I don’t want to do it and she goes

well why don’t you do what you want to

do and follow dream and he’s like well

you know I guess will you support stand

by me when you you know when you do this

and she said sure so then they started

doing G started following his dream of

being in direct mail he started reading

all of the books I’m you know running

test mailings and making offers and

stuff like and they would even some I

remember they tell me story that they’re

sitting in the dark because they’d used

the electric money for the electricity

bill on postage to do a test mail so

that’s another insight into my father my

father was an all in kind of guy if it

weren’t for my mother would be wouldn’t

have had any stability growing up and

anyway so that then he’s you know

testing and making issue problems and he

comes and he stumbles upon a

breakthrough edits go on for an hour

explain why all the things that made

this a breakthrough because he it wasn’t

just one but he ended up writing what

turned out to be one of the most widely

mailed sales letters in history selling

coats-of-arms people’s family histories

and reports and stuff and then you know

that’s how you report and then they

would sell you a fancy you know that you


fancy report that you could frame and

then they would sell you coat of arms

and other heraldic items and then he

goes from being you know an average you

know I’m gonna lower middle class guy to

being like the richest guy in town and I

remember all maybe touch yeah I was

gonna say maybe touch on that because we

when I found out about your father it

was because I had purchased a product

which he had written a sales letter for

according to what I know anyways and I

can still remember being the feeling of

waiting for that package to come and

reading the sales material you know

which to me at the time as a 19 year old

was just like here’s what its gonna

contain and I was reading the bullets

and stuff which I didn’t even know we’re

called bullets then and I say man this

is gonna be so cool you know the one

thing not to do when you step into a gym

or whatever and I thought it was your

father years later probably a good ten

years later maybe close to 10 years I

was like that guy must know something

because I could still to this day even

talking right now feel the anticipation

of that package arriving and what it was

gonna contain and so maybe you know I

did the research and your father of

course I heard about the coat of arms

letter and then purchasing you know a

floor and then a whole building and all

this stuff to catch to go through the

checks that were coming in so I’m eager

to hear from your perspective sort of

what that particular period was like and

how crazy it was I was hectic you know

my dad’s ego kind of exploded but my dad

had this epiphany which was he needs to

stop listening to everybody because the

way that that worked is you know he was

going through and trying all these

things and you’ll hear people talk about

gun to the head marketing is afraid a

lot of people don’t understand that was

my father is the one who kind of even

coined the phrase for that because what

he did was he sat down after getting no

results and he said you know okay Gary

imagine somebody’s got a gun to your

head and he’s gonna pull that trigger if

you don’t make this work what would you

do differently and so he started great

that’s when he started breaking the

rules of Direct Mail he said okay I

wouldn’t rail it bulk-rate because that

tells everybody it’s just a piece of

junk now and I would use an actual

honest-to-god stamp and I wouldn’t you

know I’m not gonna put in teaser copy

other than maybe first class or personal

on it and he started making these


based on his own thinking and it worked

and because of that my dad learned to

never do things the way that other

people did it again and it was

everything in his life like the George

Costanza school of living yeah you know

all of a sudden he’d give his children

unique names back when nobody did that

now if now everybody’s misspelling and

name to make your name unique on purpose

and doing all that when I was growing up

I was the only kid with a unique name

that you couldn’t translate into

something else you know people would

come over from Russia and then they

would say okay I got an American I said

no all the sudden they become apps right

I was the only one who had this

completely unique name that nobody could

you know I mean there was no nickname

for it anyway but it was everything

everything he did and thought he thought

about doing his own way or you know

doing it in a different way and many

times he would experiment and things

would get all fubar sometimes it would

all work but he started you know that

changed the way that he thought about

everything because he’s now got massive

success lots of money and he got it by

not listening or giving the crap what

anybody else thought and he continued

with that for the rest of his life and

so he was a fully committed guy and then

what he would do is you know he ended up

with having like no respect for money

and the fact that he never took money

and invested it and you know would buy

properties and he always felt that you

know if you don’t spend it somebody’s

gonna come and take it away from you

anyway and so one of the things that he

would do and I really didn’t realize

this till later in life is he blew all

of this money on purpose because the

biggest rush my dad got wasn’t from

writing good copy or making something

that would work and build the business

it was from being almost dead broke to

making a huge winner that’s what he

would really do all the time it was like

a gambler you know doesn’t just you know

doesn’t feel excited because they got

one blackjack hand a gambler feels

excited when they’re really down and

then they come back big okay that’s

where the that’s where all the

endorphins and everything started

rushing well unfortunately for your

children because we were on this

rollercoaster ride I mean we would go

from being the richest people in town to

seeing my dad scrounge for change in the

in the cushions to look you know get gas

to put gas in the car to be back on top

and rich again

six months to being you know to blowing

it all I mean in no I mean he really

knew how to blow money and have nothing

to show for it

it was amazing my favorite example is he

but one time he bought in nineteen or I

think you know it’s like a

twenty-something foot houseboat and he

bought it from some astronaut for like I

don’t know like 11 to 19 grand I forget

the exact amount I remember I was

cutting the check for it but he bought

this houseboat and then I added it up

he ended up would make changes and say

you know what that would pull that out

put in linoleum I don’t like the

linoleum a put in wood and he would hire

people to paint it and people would

painted it like $60 an hour because they

were just both mechanics right and he

spent a quarter of a million dollars

refurbishing that stupid boat several

times and it’s sank twice I think you

know from fresh water line the filled

with fresh water and the boat would the

boat went down in the dock that was it

he would pick up and move all the time

my dad we moved yeah under at one time

this is another example of all in I

called him one time I was here in LA and

I said hey what you doing he says Oh or

actually I think he called me and I said

what are you doing he says oh I’m down

in Florida and I go oh what are you

doing down there he said I moved I said

white he told me he’d moved he said you

want to come down and we’re gonna take a

trip down the keys you want to come down

and go scuba diving how’re your lessons

and I said okay and I went down there

and then we took her tripped out of the

keys and on a whim we met up with his

uncle Jack my grandfather’s brother and

he managed properties down the piste and

we found this great little place that

had a little house and a dock right on

the Gulf of Mexico we moved to the keys

and then even in the key he’d go keep s

the back city marathon and we were down

there for like five years and then I

came back to LA to I went back to finish

school to do other things with you know

my life and then he would just go back

and forth between the keys in Miami all

the time you know I mean moving not like

you know I’m gonna keep the place here

and keep a place there he just say you

know I would need to be you know Miami

sucks and hustle and bustle and you go

down to the keys and then keys you’d be

like oh man everybody’s really you know

it’s slow down here pace and nobody’s

you know

this isn’t my kind of people and

everything they go back to Miami you

know I mean he just go back to him for

he’s never really happy that way but so

you know it was rocky it was a rocky up

and down the thing but the great thing

is is I learned to take benefit from the

way that my mom lived and thought in the

way that my dad did and the way that my

father did was you know he taught me to

not accept everybody standard answers

for things just because people say you

can’t do it or it’s never been done

doesn’t mean it can’t be done and he

taught me to experiment and the one

thing that all of this really did show

me and teach me is that you know the

quality of your life is based on how you

spend it and how we are and how you

spend your life and how you think you do

need enough money to you know see your

children aren’t in need of medical

attention food you do not need you know

after a certain amount of money you just

swap the stress for you know how to you

know how to invest this without having

to pay a lot of taxes on it and not let

a lot of people know what you’ve got

because you know if you’re gonna be

kidnapped and robbed I mean you know if

we were the targets of a home invasion

robbery and later on with my own success

I was targeted um but fortunately for me

through all the things that my dad went

through I was able to learn from his

mistakes and hold off you know

repeating and he you know it’s cuz he

taught me I give him credit for it but I

give him credit for the reason that I

didn’t have to go do a stint in boron I

give him credit for the reason that

people you know didn’t I didn’t you know

get to be a home invasion robbery

because you know I had learned from what

he had done and I’d learned you know

learn from his mistakes as well as from

his his wins and you know so for the

most part I’m I’m a guy who you know

figures out what I would I like and what

I want to do you know I get invited to

speak in places all the time and for the

most part I don’t enjoy it so I don’t do

it you know and I did do it a lot and I

you know even spoke sometimes when I was

with my father at conferences and stuff

you know he’d be throw me under the bus

to say you know I gotta go the bathroom

go up there and give my a pal beep I’ll

speech I know a lot of my father’s

speeches you know by heart but you know

I figured out you know the

it’s about how I want to spend and live

my life and looking at the more

longer-term overall picture and you know

understanding that I’m gonna change you

know right now I’m at this stage where I

love spending time with my children and

everything but well my kids children are

teenagers they’re gonna be like you know

whatever dad and they’re not gonna want

to hang out with me nearly as much and

so you know that’s the time where I plan

on traveling more absolutely but you

know the thing is most people you know

they think oh you know why my kid he’s

gonna always love and you know want to

spend time with me

I see life as this progress or this

journey and you know try to learn to

have fun at the beginning in the middle

and at the end of the trip sounds like

that’s something you’ve taken from your

father as well because he didn’t never

seem to be a dull moment but he was

clearly and yeah true but he never

prepared for the next phase right that’s

the that’s the only downside I would say

about what even the way that he behaved

is he never prepared for the next phase

do you think now when he passed away I

learned a lot about business cuz I was

lucky enough to meet somebody and we’ll

actually talk a little bit about this in

a little bit because there may be a

connection with your father to this but

from a guy named Arthur Jones who had

started the Nautilus exercise equipment

company who was out of Florida now he

told me and I think it bore out that he

never wanted to leave any money to his

kids whatsoever because he thought it

would destroy his kids if they were just

handed money so I don’t know if your

father had a similar you know similar

reservations about you know leaving

somebody rich who didn’t acquire through

their own means or or whatever you know

what I mean I mean does he have any

hang-ups in that regard or would say

anything in that regard well the only

thing he ever said one time we were

cruising in a car I remember this and

they said well are you gonna fill out

your will and everything he goes no I’m

gonna laugh at watching you know your

your siblings and everybody fight over

everything and he said I’m not gonna

give anybody a profit motive to kill you

know for me for me to die so that was

the I mean that was really it was that

quick it was that cheap it said but he

had once told me he says you know I

never ever

worried about you and I said why is that

and he said because you always get your


he goes you know and I did indeed took

some good credit for that he’s like you

know if you want something it doesn’t

make any difference what it is you get

it and you get it from people if you

need something from people or you get

you know you’ve never failed to get your

thing so he was never worried about me

me or any of us being able to get what

we want and the funny thing was is when

he when he listed up and so-and-so is

going to do this and so it says gonna do

this and so it’s gonna do this he was

wrong he got everybody’s got everybody’s

role incorrect when it went he actually

did pass away but the but you know and

I’d said to him you wanted to go but let

me get this straight now Siri she wanted

so-and-so to get this so and so to get

this so-and-so to get this and so forth

and he goes yeah he said yeah but he

never left oh he didn’t he didn’t leave

even official will but it was funny

because everybody knew you know if you

know if you could be with my father for

you couldn’t be with my father more than

a day without hearing from me you know I

mean because he about me because we we

were that close people talk about their

you know being close with their parents

and everybody loves their parents sure

but I knew absolutely everything about

my dad and he knew everything about me

and nothing was left unsaid in fact it’s

funny because when people get mad at me

they try and send me some hate mail and

it’s always like your father would not

be proud Baba like this and it’s

hysterical because it’s like yeah you

who didn’t who never knew him and he

would be very forget the newsletter

where he talks about how I’m the wisest

person he ever knew it’s like somebody

trying to attack you with a nerve right

it’s it’s it’s more humorous now they’ve

still got you no ill-will toward it’s

just that they don’t realize that

they’ve chosen a weapon that just will

not work and they also you know some

things that they don’t realize now I

don’t I let a few people know this but

you know it’s because it’s it you have

to understand I don’t need to explain

this after you understand what an

immense level of respect and credit I

give my father but the truth is you know

he the the most

he ever took home was from a business

that we built together and that was

based on my idea nice yeah and a lot of

people don’t know that because I you

know I don’t you know the thing is when

you were you know Frank Sinatra’s kid

you never you don’t even bother trying

to explain or sing one of his classics

or anything like that because these

people well you know they don’t they

don’t want that you know people read the

the boron letters and like you know I

just imagined he was my father

they basically you know and you don’t

want to take that away from him and it’s

not fair and it’s it’s not kind and it’s

not in any way whatsoever and I don’t

take anything away from my father and so

you have to know that like when he first

passed away everybody came to me and

said you know can we interview and ask

you questions about your dad I said the

same thing it’s at the beginning of this

which is sure I mean I love talking

about my dad we can make this a hundred

percent of them my dad then after a

little while they realized oh wow you

know because I’d answer a question and

explained something like well you really

know what you’re talking about and so

eventually the interview started getting

to be about 50/50 you know about my dad

two years this this particular one is

the longest interview I’ve given about

my father in a few years because they

end up going well how did you do this or

how did you do that because well my dad

taught me to do was tinkering spearmint

and try and create new things and you

know you could write you know my dad

when he wrote an ad if it broke even

other people would go and make a

business off that and he knew how to do

that too he they would break even then

take the names that they got and back in

them and that’s where the profit came my

dad if he broke even would take the ad

and rip it up throw it away and go

strike do something else he didn’t he

never played it’s like playing baseball

he never shot for singles and doubles

that none of that counted to him he

either wanted to strike out or hit a

homer no it was the rush yeah yeah and

he became the home homerun King but so

many of the ads that broke even and so

forth went and lied dormant or nothing

was done with them and he would even say

you know you give this to a guy like

Eric who was a good you know good with

money and management you know he’d make

a million dollars off of this but I you

know you know that’s you know my dad was

not about building businesses neither am

i he was about tinkering and you know

patting himself on the back and then

getting bored and finding something else

out to tinker

right you know and what he would do is

you know a lot of it was like problem

solved like with you know in the new

book that I that I just recently put out

and well I was sitting in there thinking

well let me go back and you know my

first goal when I put out the first book

which was the boring letters now my dad

had already put out the boring

letters in fact there’s digital copy

online for free you can go to the Gary

Halbert common read but what I did was

update the book right and put it out so

that it’s available in Kindle and print

format and stuff like that and it became

wildly successful in fact it was a

surprise to me considering you know the

day and age where everybody likes

something for free and what happened was

I didn’t just put that out and makes you

know that wasn’t the book the success of

that book isn’t based on me what is

though is I got Amazon to actually sell

it for me because when I did this

everybody won like well I want to be a

number one bestseller I’m like well

that’s it that’s easy it’s a small niche

you know we can do that and what else do

you want from this and I said you know I

went to Amazon to sell it for me and so

I went through all of these different

kind of I did these different

promotional strategies somebody seen or

gotten glimpse of but other things I did

that was the first one to see you and I

would and I built a list and I’m gonna

cut to the short I mean I could give you

a long list of things on how to become a

how to get Amazon to help sell your

stuff for you but the first thing I did

was think you know there’s an algorithm

that they determine what book that they

want to put next to another book and

what book they want to sell especially

the physical print book because back

then this was before prime was really

big and what would happened is you would

see you would go to buy a print book and

he realized that if he spent just 20

more dollars or whatever you would get

the shipping free right and the shipping

cost were about the same as the book so

it’s it was like why not choose another

book to buy exactly so I said to myself

one of these one of these people really

want to make that decision because it’s

an algorithm but the algorithm is

written by people human being made the

decision that this is what they wanted

this suit and so what I did was I went

and ice

you know I said they’re probably gonna

see it stay number one for a while so I

set up my promotions so that it would

sell and then it’s instead of being

everything time for a big mad rush I

would just let it go until you hit

number one then I would ease off the

promoting and then when it slipped it


I would add some more promotion or

release some or make another

announcement somewhere or give another

incentive for people to buy it and I

would go back and forth and do that so I

would say okay now we’re gonna do a

webinar and if you send in and show me a

copy of your book and then I would have

them give me advertising and I would say

okay if you want in on this next webinar

you have to hold up a copy of the Boren

letters I don’t care what copy it is and

the reason the reason for that is if

you’re into marketing and you’re on

Facebook or Twitter or whatever you have

other friends who are into marketing –

yep and so when they wake up and see

three of their friends with these big

grins on their face a showing up they’re

showing up a bug they said they said go

what’s that book that social proof and

the social clout there is really insane

right and so what I do and so they would

buy it and so what a lot of people did

realize is I was building a list I was

building a list of people and then what

I did was I got you know so Amazon sees

if there’s a lot of organic reviews they

see that this has stayed number one for

a while it’s not a cheap book I never

sold mine for a dollar I know it’s a lot

easier to see because the Amazon ranks

you on number of books downloaded not

sales may not dollar about dollar amount

okay so your number if you’re a number

one best seller you you know in a small

niche you sold you know a certain number

of books but somebody who just you know

got a bunch of people to download it for

can kind of beat you if they have a good

sized list and they’re doing that but I

kept it number one added at the prep the

prime price that they want right which

was $9.99 any case um because I’m

because you know what if you’re gonna

say people who bought this also bought

this book it’s not gonna usually be a

in the me in the short term but not in

the long term and so then what I did was

I told everybody to buy somebody else’s

book and that immediately tied it to it

now this fist it was John Carlton’s book

because John had released his book about

a week after I had released mine okay

and I told everybody to go buy his book

and a bunch of people did and so Amazon

saw that you know people who bought this

watch this and they connected it all

together yeah well John John Carlton

calls me and he says how’d you get

people to how did you get Amazon to send

an email to my book buyer selling your

book I didn’t even know they did this

you know I was just put it trying to get

my book into that people yeah and I said

really and then this is what good

marketing is about that my dad taught me

which most people miss it’s

experimenting and when you hit something

right you try and see if you can

replicate the results of doing that

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