General Badassery Episode 32

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So let's talk a little more about brains, or more accurately about triune brain theory. This is an old, and now discredited, notion that your brain is actually a holdover from the animal kingdom - that you have a reptilian brain, a mammalian brain, and a primate brain.

I do happen to have a set of animal metaphors which I went over in the newsletter this week, and among them are a lizard (reptilian!) and a dog (mammalian!) and a monkey (primate!) - so it's easy, especially given my issues with Maslow last week/earlier today, to think I'm just tacking some stuff onto the ends of the triune brain theory.

This is not, however, my intention. The concept of the animal metaphors in my system isn't to say "these parts of your brain are the parts you had when you were a monkey/dog/lizard" because human beings didn't evolve from dogs and lizards and that's dumb.

The only thing I'm saying with my animal metaphors is "here's an easy way to remember what each part of the brain kind of resembles." It's just a mnemonic device; it doesn't mean that an actual lizard has what I call a lizard brain.

This cascades across most of the stuff I teach, honestly. It's still just a bunch of BULL, but I'm certainly not trying to throw SHIT at you with it. The point is to indoctrinate you into the secret language of my cult, and whoa did I just say that out loud?

Well, it matters, you know. Any tribe of people needs a secret language; a series of terms that represent their values and ideals in a way that people outside the group won't understand.

The idea is that when you talk about secret inner circle stuff for your tribe and your cult members, people on the outside - that "them" part from "us and them" - have no damn clue what you're talking about and can't participate in the conversation.

Unless, of course, they join the cult and learn the language and get their initial analysis. The Church of Scientology uses the Oxford Capacity Analysis Test for this; it gives you results that you can't figure out, and you need a representative of the church to explain it to you, so you have to invest an hour in this test and then physically go to a church so a cult officer can manipulate you into thinking joining this cult is a Good Idea.

Whether you like that particular cult or not, it's a pretty good mechanism for getting people to join. Most successful cults do something similar.

That's why I go out of my way to make catchy little secret names for everything. SLOT Machines. The Legion of Badass. The Black Stallion method. DISCO products. SWIFT communities.

The entire purpose is to draw you in further so you'll be able to understand the conversation, and in that process to get enough of your attention that your brain's natural desire to have made good decisions will kick in.

And then you'll want to believe that you believe this stuff. So you'll pretend that you do.

Where a lot of people mess that up is by having dumb crap that doesn't even sound like it could be true. Like you get deep enough into some cults and there's this weird belief about the end of the world and the forfeiture of all your personal possessions (to the cult!) or something.

A successful cult builds on a foundation that sounds plausible to the initial applicant, and requires very little cognitive friction to accept. I mean, you know there are needs people have, and that they can be organised hierarchically. And you know that the brain has different parts that do different things.

So feeding into what you already know makes those things sound perfectly natural and normal, and you get the idea that you should join up and hang out with us because we're cool and smart and fun.

And then the insular, crappy kind of cult that just wants to lock you up and exploit you will eventually tell you a bunch of weird crap nobody will believe, so other people reject you and you have to only interact with other cult members.

So, you know, watch out for that. Some cults are positive and productive; that's the kind I'm building here, but there are other cults which can also be positive and productive.

The ones that are neither will ultimately get around to saying you need to believe a bunch of weird shit that nobody in their right mind takes seriously, which is your cue to get the hell out of it.

I'm no exception, either. Watch carefully. If you see me pushing some crazy bullshit, holy crap, the cheese fell off my cracker and you need to GTFO.

General Badassery Episode 31

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Talking about the basic human needs naturally carries some implications, and one of the more interesting ones is this.

If you want to fill your own needs in a particular category, you need to be around people who have that need filled.

It's related to that "smartest person in the room" thing that people talk about: if you're the smartest person in the room, you're in the wrong room.

Which basically means that if you can't work on the next need for some reason - like there's nobody to help you, and you actually need help - you can't meet that need.

And that carries on into this thing that a lot of people miss.

If you have time, money, and energy to spend on meeting further needs... but you can't meet them, because you are not in a position where they can be met... most people drop down to Consumption. The most basic of needs.

So you have someone who is trying to get a job, because their Survival and Safety are taken care of by welfare and food stamps. Now they want a job, so they can be in a position of Strength.

But in order to get a job, they need a car. And the car will cost them not only $500 to buy (getting some piece of shit off Craigslist), but they'll need insurance. They look at the $300 they've got left this month, and they can't get either one of those things.

So they go buy an iPhone.

Now, that was kind of a dumb decision, because if they just held onto that money they'd have $600 next month. If they could just think long-term and save the money, they'd be able to get the car and the insurance in a month or two.

Trouble is, that's farther up the chain. That's something you can do from a position of Strength, but when all you have is Safety and Survival, it doesn't feel like something you can do.

On the other side of Strength, it looks like they made a stupid decision, and they did. But it's the only decision that made any sense on their side of the line.

Some of us have never been on the other side of the line. I've been back and forth several times, so I know the difference in how you think and how you act on either side.

I know, because I've done it. I've spent the $300 I had towards a $750 rent payment because "I can't pay the rent" is the same whether you're $450 short or you just plain don't have anything.

The thing to remember is that in most cases, the decisions you see people making aren't always the decisions you would make, but you also don't know all the factors that went into the decision. And in most cases, those people are making their decisions better than you could.

General Badassery Episode 30

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So today I'm talking about systems and goals.

I'm a systems guy, so that's where I lean anyway. But there are a lot of people talking about goals, so let's kind of harp on why goals are honestly kind of stupid.

The common expression, as I've used in the podcast earlier, is "a goal is a dream with a date on it."

With no plan for how to get from where you are to that goal, however, the goal is still pretty worthless.

The big issues with goals come down to how they're focused on nouns instead of verbs. They're about having and getting things.

Systems are about action. They're about doing. And I generally find it preferable to do things than to have things - honestly, if I have something, it's because there's something I can do with it.

I don't really need to have a thing just to have it. Anything with no value beyond its existence seems worthless to me. And that's a value judgment, not like an immutable law of the universe, so maybe you don't agree... and that's fine.

But I still value systems over goals. Primarily because while goals can only be repeated, systems can be modified.

Your goal to have a Hawaiian vacation, once accomplished, has very little application beyond having another Hawaiian vacation because you've been there and done that.

But a system for planning and taking Hawaiian vacations can be repurposed into planning and taking... Australian vacations. Or African vacations.

Any vacation at all, really, you just have to change the destination and add in a little complexity for international travel.

A system can be optimised. A system can be simplifed. (I cover those in the newsletter this week.) A system can be repeated and tested and improved.

A goal is just like, a thing. You might get a system to fall out of a goal, if you pay attention to how it worked and how you got there. But when you try to apply that system again, how much of it is really repeatable?

You didn't construct it with the aim of being able to repeat it. You just wrote down what produced a Hawaiian vacation the first time. You may not be able to do the same things.

Designing a system with the aim of repeating it, in my book, makes a whole hell of a lot more sense than just setting a goal and chasing after it. Even if you set and reach deadlines.

Of course, your mileage may vary on this front.

General Badassery Episode 29

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This week's podcast is all about the BULL SHIT LIFE we all lead.

The basic idea is pretty simple: if you do nothing, you'll end up with a BULL SHIT LIFE, because that's what gets handed to you by default. It's the same thing with most stuff; if you just do nothing, you end up with complete garbage because that's what you get for doing nothing.

But there's an insidious little trap there, which is that you can't just do anything. You have to deliberately select things that are going to get you somewhere, and if they're not getting you where you want to go, you have to do something else.

Tony Robbins likes to say "are you willing to do what you need to do to get where you want to go?" - and that's a great place to start. The real question is what you need to do.

Most of us aren't really born knowing that, so we have to learn - bit by bit - where it is that we want to go, before we can even begin to worry about what we need to do. And once you know the destination, you can chart a course in a series of steps.

Then comes the big question: are you willing to do that?

I did that with MLM. I knew where I wanted to go with it; I wanted those big cheques with huge dollar amounts on them. And I knew what I needed to do - I've gone over that before, in Facebook posts, and it comes down to selling training to build a successful downline of high-performers that follow you from one program to another while you play hopscotch with the latest and greatest offerings.

But I wasn't willing to do that, because it's what I call an "arms race" - you're always looking for the next step, and you never get to sit down and relax. You always have to watch your downline for the top performers, and watch the industry for the next Big Thing, and drag the top people from one to the next to the next. Forever.

That's basically my idea of hell in business form.

I found a similar thing with CPA marketing, and with affiliate marketing, and that's why I don't do those. It's not the kind of business I want to be in.

They're still perfectly good businesses to be in, I just don't want to do that. Any more than I wanted to be in SEO, which is an arms race with competition: the search engines actively want everything you do not to work.

I didn't want to bet against Google and Bing, especially since a bunch of my Microsoft friends worked on Bing (as did I) and I didn't want them to become the enemy.

Loyalties run deep, you know.

But the whole thing about those industries is that everyone feeds you a load of BULL, where this is the best way for you to build your business, and if you don't do that you will be a dork and not make any money.

What I did like was the training model, where I would study the hell out of things and figure out how they worked... then sell training on them.

And I didn't want them to be things that would go out of date or need constant updates, or we're back to the arms race again.

So I concentrated on people and culture and economics, because those things don't change much. That got me out of the "keep up with the field" race where everything had to be checked and rechecked over and over again in case someone else changed things on me.

Now I just study deeper and deeper stuff, and make better and better training. I iterate actoss my products, and make sure they have the best information I know, but I don't need to do that constantly because the information in them is always good and will stay that way.

There are lots of things like that. How to play guitar. How to sing. How to get rid of an accent. How to speak in public. How to write well. How to persuade. How to interact with people. How to get dates. How to get laid. These things don't change. What they are today is what they'll be in fifty years.

That's a major key to getting out of the BULL SHIT LIFE - figuring out what life is not going to be bullshit, and going after it.

I cover that in more detail in this week's newsletter, which goes out to customers of the SLOT Machines report. It's $10 to start and then $20 a month after that. If you're a subscriber, you probably already have it in your inbox.

General Badassery Episode 28

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Okay, so let's talk about economics some more.

And there was much rejoicing. (Yayyyy)

Specificallly, how money is intellectual property.

Now, as mentioned briefly in the podcast, United States currency is a fiat currency, which is to say that it's not backed by any physical commodity. So let's talk a little more about how money backed by a physical commodity works.

Imagine that you have fifty tonnes of gold and each tonne of it is worth $16 million. (Sixteen ounces times two thousand pounds times five hundred dollars an ounce. I pulled this out of my arse to make the math easy.) That means you have $800 million. Now you can print eight hundred million one-dollar bills and everything is fine.

But now what?

If you want to print more money, you have to get more gold. But there is only so much gold in the world, so sooner or later there simply isn't any more to get.

Now think of an employee who makes $25 an hour. Every day that employee comes to work, she works eight hours and you owe her $200.

But she has not created any more gold by coming to work., She can't. The amount of gold is finite - much more so than your employee's ability to come to work.

This creates what we call a deflationary currency. There's only $800 million. Everyone using that currency has to share that $800 million. When it's gone, it's gone. Which means the price of labour - indeed, of everything - constantly goes down.

If you do the math, a single full-time employee works 2,000 hours annually. At $25 an hour, that's $50,000. A thousand of those are $50 million. And in sixteen years, that's the whole $800 million.

That's a thousand jobs for sixteen years and then there's no more money. What seemed like an astronomical amount of money to start with is now gone. And we have over a hundred million people in the United States workforce - for a total of five trillion dollars annually, at an average $25 an hour.

It should be pretty easy to see that something is very wrong here, and we can't sustain a society on that. There's just not enough money. The GDP of the United States is almost eighteen trillion dollars, at this writing.

That's what we produce. But it's not gold. And if we could only exchange it via certificates for gold, we'd run out of gold.

There are two ways to resolve this. First, you can print more currency, like another $800 million. Now each dollar is worth half as much gold. Nobody likes this, because where your $50,000 used to entitle you to a hundred ounces of gold, it now entitles you to only fifty ounces. The price of gold doubles.

And this is why, on the gold standard, gold was always a safe investment: its price could only go up. Currency could suddenly become less valuable, but gold would only become more valuable.

So we switched from the gold standard to a fiat currency. And the difference is this.

Your dollar is still exchangeable for a dollar's worth of SOME commodity. But it could be anything. It doesn't have to be gold. It could be silver. Or corn. Or pork bellies. Or anything at all.

This opened the way for currency to be backed by renewable resources, so currency itself became renewable. So long as the government continued to generate and retain assets of any sort, it could continue generating and distributing money.

This took us one step farther from the mining-based economy and into the manufacturing economy. Services and refinement started to matter. An ounce of gold could be made into more valuable jewelry, and hence generate money.

It didn't stop there. A pound of steel could be made into gears, a pound of copper into pipes, a block of marble into a statue. And because the commodity was not fixed, all of these could now back currency.

And then we made the next, massive change... which altered everything forever. Digital information. You could already take a book and print it on paper, increasing the value on the paper. But with digital information... thanks to copyright... that book didn't need the paper anymore.

You didn't have to grow and chop and process trees to put a book into someone's hands anymore. You could distribute it as a digital file. And the actual cost of doing so dropped to near-zero.

But the value of the information in the book stayed the same. As did the information in a song, or in a poem, or in a painting. We all became publishers. The internet made this possible.

And with more and more value inherent in the digital realm, free of physical constraints - renewable or otherwise - the economy was unbound. And the owners of copyrights profited outrageously.

The overwhelmingly vast majority of value in the American economy is not in commodities or manufacturing. It now rests almost exclusively with intellectual property - software, media, art.

The implications of this are explored more fully in the $10 SLOT Machines report and accompanying $20 monthly newsletter. You can subscribe here. I recommend you do, even if the sales copy is kind of shit.


General Badassery Episode 27

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Okay, so here's the thing about making your work into a game.

There are about five major things you have to kind of integrate into your life, and the first one is that as you go through your day to day business, you should automatically turn your experiences into information. Like when you go to the grocery store, you should see things that are related - or could relate - to whatever it is you do.

The next thing you have to develop is some sort of process where that information turns into content that can be read by others. Sitting in your head, it's no good to anyone. You need to share it.

Once you've developed and shared that content, the next thing you need s a method of turning that content into products. Collect it, categorise it, bundle it into neat little packages.

Next you need to work out how to turn products into money, which is simple enough on the face of it - you just ask for it. Just sell it to people.

And finally, you need a way to turn that money into more. Not necessarily more money, but more something you can drop into the machine again. You can use it to support a new experience, or to have some older information turned into new content, or to have someone else go through your content and make products.

Find a way to roll some of the profits back into your efforts, so the machine feeds itself.

When you get ths running well, and admittedly I have still got my struggles making all this happen, your life turns into yourr work and you just go through your day watching the cool shit you want to do... just naturally fall out of your day to day life.

It's a hell of a dream. And I'm doing pretty good on the first half of it.

General Badassery Episode 26

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Further notes on complexity...

A lot of things that seem complicated are not, because if you have a problem, chances are someone else has had that same problem and solved it.

It doesn't matter how hard it is to write an email autoresponder and run a server to host it, because dozens of people will do that for you at $20 a month.

Even if you want to run your own server for some reason, you can buy software to do it for a couple hundred bucks. (Sendy is $60. I'm not sure how good it is though.) So the complexity is still reduced.

A lot of people get "not invented here"(NIH) syndrome for no good reason. They want the reputation of doing everything themselves from scratch because...


Because they're dumb, I guess?

Don Lapre - the "tiny classified ads" guy - taught me a tremendously important lesson in that course.

Never do anything yourself when someone else will do it for five bucks an hour. 

That extends to all kinds of other things: why would I invest a year and a half of my life building membership software, when I can just go buy that software from someone who already wrote it?

I can understand that if it's not what i need. I find that a lot - I want a given feature, but nothing has it. But it's much easier to build that functionality as a plugin than it is to construct the whole thing from scratch.

So when you're putting stuff together to run your business, look to what other people have done and how they did it before you start from scratch. It saves a lot of time and money.


General Badassery Episode 25

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So here's a little more of me musing about value.

There's a subtle connection between value - as in what a thing is worth - and values, as in what is important to you.

People say frequently that they would never pay more than $10 for an e-book, when they're thinking about a Kindle version of the latest pop fiction. But then they'll go out and buy a $50 information product without a second thought.

When you ask them why, they'll say "well, that's different, because it's an investment in my business." What they're actually saying is that their values place business above entertainment - they won't spend $50 to be entertained, but they'll spend it to improve their business, and the fact that it's an e-book doesn't matter.

What dictates the value isn't the format of the information, but the moral values of the customer. Ask someone whether they'd spend $300 on a CD, they'll say no. But billions of people buy $300 software... if not more... on a CD.

Perception is reality.

Similarly, plenty of people just pirate music and movies and software and games, because their values tell them something along the lines of "it's digital, it should be free."

Their value perception is driven not by the difficulty of producing the content, but the difficulty of acquiring it.

All you have to do is copy a file! That takes like, thirty seconds! So if that file costs $50, that's... $6,000 an hour! Nobody deserves that! And besides, making $6,000 an hour surely means you can afford to give a few away for free.

There are three values involved which can line up well... or badly. There's the perceived value of you producing the information, the perceived value of having the information delivered, and the perceived value of getting the results it provides.

Match these values up, and your price point can be easily justified. And the key to increasing them is to engage the specific emotional values the customer puts on them - producing that response at each step, to reinforce it.