7 min read

Sunday Six: Prison Letters, Creative Dopamine & Professional Life Enjoyment

Hey Friend 👋

Yesterday my sweet Hailey turned 8 years old.

She’s the one who made me a dad at the age twenty-two, 8 years ago.

We celebrated her just the way she wanted to be celebrated…

→ Doughnuts for breakfast
→ Playing with toys and dolls
→ Longhorns for dinner (Butter rolls…)
→ Shopping at Target alone with her mama

It was a day just for Hailey.

She felt so special, not just because the entire day was for her, but because we didn’t want anything from her.

  • We didn’t ask her to change the boy's diapers.
  • We didn’t ask her to clean up her mess after herself.
  • We didn’t even ask her to clean up her destroyed room.

One of the greatest joys of relationships is the ones you want more for than from.

If my time with Hailey was to see how I could get her to do more for me than how much I wanted for her to win, that wouldn’t be a relationship — that would be leverage.

This is easy to realize when we’re thinking about our kids or spouse, but the same applies to our friends and co-workers.

For the majority of my twenties, leaders all around me were encouraging me to connect with people for leverage's sake — networking, if you will.

After years of doing that and still feeling lonely and isolated, I came to a short conclusion:

Real friends are better than leveraged relationships.

For you my friend — I encourage you to text or help one person today for the sake of nothing other than just being a good human, a good friend.

Let’s build real relationships, not manufactured leverage.

Happy Birthday Hailey, dad loves you.

Sunday Six

The Boron Letters by Gary C. Halbert


Gary Halbert was the highest-paid copywriter ever to live. His legendary copywriting generated over $1B in sales through Direct Mail alone.

Crazy, right?

The Boron Letters is a book full of letters he wrote from prison to his son, Bond Halbert. (He went to prison for a short period for tax evasion — he used his time incarcerated to write a book)

His topics in this book range from health to copywriting to making money.

Here are a few of my favorite quotes from the book already:

“Our schools teach people how to work within businesses, but never how to start a business. Doesn’t that tell you something about the system?"
“If someone doesn’t add to my life enjoyment, I cut them right out of my life for good. No point in spending time with negative people.”
“Self-reliance is the real motive of great businessmen, not money.”

Link to book here → The Boron Letters

Persuasion Versus Teaching

"If they wrote it to make money, don't read it.” - Naval Ravikant

Gary Halbert wrote The Boron Letters to teach his son Bond Halbert how to stay healthy, learn copywriting, and make money.

Marcus Aurelius wrote Meditations as a personal journal to himself. It was a self-reflection to become more aware of how he could live his life better.

Dale Carnegie wrote How to Win Friends and Influence People as an instruction manual for the next generation to thrive in life and business.

The Boron Letters were written in 1984.

Meditations was written in 171 AD.

How To Win Friends and Influence People was written in 1936.

These books were all written to teach you, not persuade you.

Post 2007, publishing books became radically associated as a business opportunity rather than a human advancement opportunity.

Most books in the last two decades were written not to teach you, but to persuade you.

Persuade you with their ideas so that way you can move up in their business funnel to buy their next product and spend thousands of dollars.

A great example of this is Building a StoryBrand by Donald Miller.

Incredible knowledge laid out into an incredible framework that leads to you providing your email for additional worksheets where then you’ll be invited to do a StoryBrand workshop for thousands of dollars.

Here’s what I am not saying: books that do this are BAD.

StoryBrand is a incredible book that I recommend all the time to many people just getting into marketing.

But if you’re tired of being sold to all the time (which is the rising fatigue of our generation…) then focus on books that teach you, not persuade you. And this is generally books prior to 2007.

Becoming a Professional Life Enjoyer

I was on the phone with a friend of mine a couple of weeks ago.

She was talking about making a big life change resigning from her current career that has status, security, and stability all over it — to move to the beach. She was second-guessing herself… of course.

“Am I making the right decision? Is this stupid?”

And I told her about a concept from my friend Eddy Quan on X (formerly Twitter). Eddy lives his life philosophy of being a Professional Life Enjoyer.

Every day, Eddy wakes up and does the things he absolutely loves. He writes a few sales emails, works on his courses, posts some content on X then spends the rest of the day reading books by the pool and eating watermelon.

This is how Eddy loves to enjoy his life.

Maybe this sounds miserable to you, but the concept isn’t to steal Eddy’s day but Eddy’s philosophy for life.

Michael Jordan, for example, was also a Professional Life Enjoyer. Putting in 12-hour days of training to be the best basketball player alive was his form of Professional Life Enjoyment.

Steve Jobs running Apple, Pixar and NEXT was his idea of putting a dent in the universe and being a Professional Life Enjoyer.

Here’s the thing → I agree with Eddy. Everybody could and should be a Professional Life Enjoyer.

Whether that’s running your dream company or shooting a few emails while you spend the rest of the day at the beach.

Your job is to steal this concept and find out where in your life you’re lacking Professional Life Enjoyment.

Because that's where you sustain and grow in the long haul.

Clear AND Clever

In my book, Meaningful Marketing (opening for pre-order next week!), I talk about a concept Clear over Clever. It’s not a novel concept, but it is a powerful one.

Most people talk and communicate in vague concepts they would consider clever, but they lack clarity.

Clarity is foundational to communication.

This past week, I came across a tweet from my friend @getpaidwriting who wrote this:

‘Clear not clever’ leads to boring writing.

Why write “She was fat."

When you can write “She made an elephant look slim."

Paint a picture thats clear AND clever.

I LOVE this spin on a concept that has been beat to hell and back (clear over clever), even by me.

Because clarity sometimes lacks one thing… emotion.

And what is communication, writing, or marketing if you can’t make them FEEL something?

Not Every Voice Around You Should Be At The Same Volume

“The opinion of 10,000 men is of no value if none of them knows anything about the subject” - Marcus Aurelius

Think of your life like a music fader board. The further you put the pegs up, the louder that one instrument or track becomes.

Mixing audio is a masterful sequence of having the ability to know what to turn down and what to turn up.

Marcus Aurelius is what I would consider a masterful DJ of life voices. He knew whose voice to turn up in his life and whose voice to turn down and for what seasons.

Because not every voice in your life should be turned all the way up.

If you turn up everything on a music fader board, it wouldn’t sound like music at all — it would just be noise.

That’s life.

Turn every voice up, take all their advice, and your life becomes noise… a mess.

Marcus guides us to think in terms of expertise…

  • Don’t take parenting advice from people who aren’t parents
  • Don’t take career advice from miserable employees
  • Don’t take money advice from broke people
  • Don’t take life advice from unhappy people

It sounds obvious but we as humans are terrible at curating the things we always stick in our heads.

Be like DJ Marcus… turn the wrong voices down and the right voices up.

The NuPhy Keyboard

Today, I am typing this wonderful Sunday Six out on a NuPhy mechanical keyboard.

My favorite thing? The clickity-clack.

I LOVE a keyboard with a solid clickity clack… for two simple reasons:

  1. It feels nostalgic.
  2. It is literally the sound of progress.

Writing is magical because you can sit down in front of a blank screen and 30 minutes later have 500 words written.

Click.
Clack.
Click.
Clack.

I’m obsessed with things that increase the endorphins in creativity itself. Like real dopamine replacing cheap dopamine.

It’s the opposite of getting 10,000 likes on a post you published online. (That’s cheap dopamine that comes from the satisfaction of being perceived well online)

That’s cool and it feels good but I want my dopamine to be tied to the process, not the outcome.

Because I can’t control the outcome… what happens if my post only gets 5 likes today? My dopamine is gone and I’m sad. (I’m exaggerating but not really)

The dopamine comes from the work.

Hitting publish. Creating the work itself...

Click.
Clack.
Click.
Clack.

This idea isn’t about the keyboard.

The keyboard is the medium that reveals the process loud and clear (literally)

This concept is to help you see — where are you attaching your dopamine of creativity?


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P.S. – A couple of weeks ago, I released The Deep Focus Planner. It's my personal Notion templates for organizing my day, week and month. Simplified and automated just for you. Check it out if you haven't. (It's free, by the way)