Monthly Archives: February 2010

Use The Force, Luke

The Journey

In two weeks there is going to be a new nine-screen movie theater opening up near my apartment, so I’m pretty excited. One of my favorite things to do on the weekends is to catch a good matinee. Recently there haven’t been too many good movies out, at least in my neck of the woods. Hopefully in a couple weeks they’ll be some decent ones to see. One thing that I’m particularly looking forward to is that because the new theater is opening in an existing mall, there is already a coffee shop underneath the place.

If there’s a decent place to hang out for a couple hours reading in a coffee shop, then heading upstairs to turn off my brain and take in a good movie, I can’t think of too many more enjoyable ways to spend an afternoon. Especially if I happen to be reading a good book, and the movie is one that I’ve been particularly looking forward to.

The history of movies is kind of interesting. It’s been through a lot of iterations, and ups and downs. One thing that I wasn’t aware of until recently is that even during the great depression, the movie industry was booming. For a few dollars, or back then a few cents, you could completely escape the stresses and anxieties of every day life and lose yourself in a story. People tend to have a real desire to be told a story. But not just any story, a story with a particular structure.

If you step back and take a look at the basic structure of most movies, you’ll notice they follow the same pattern, more or less. (Except for movies like Eraserhead and Blue Velvet.) Obviously there has to be some kind of problem that is set up, and a character that we can root for to overcome the problem. The movie is basically us going along for the ride with the character to see how he or she solves the problem. Psychologists tell us that by watching the character overcome problems, we get some kind of vicarious benefit. The Greeks called it catharsis.

There is one particular structure that has always been popular. And when I saw always, I mean for the past several thousand years always. Ten or twenty, or even more thousand years always. This was described beautifully by Joseph Campbell in many of his books.

He traveled and studied mythology from various cultures from various times. And he found they more often than not followed a specific pattern. They usually start out with a regular character, a guy or girl we can identify with. Then something happens, and the main character is called to go on some journey, or voyage, or quest. Sometimes the character agrees, but usually they don’t. Then they are forced to go along. And along their journey, or quest, they meet up with new people, form a team, and they must face some bad guy. Together with their new team, they defeat the bad guy, and return back to their home a much stronger, better and more worldly person. Campbell called this “The Hero’s Journey.”

Likely the most famous here’s journey story is Star Wars, and it’s not secret that George Lucas depended heavily on Campbell in the making of the first trilogy (The first trilogy release, not the first chronological trilogy.) Other popular movies have also followed this basic structure. Spiderman, Harry Potter, Transformers, The Matrix. All involve a normal guy, who was called on a journey, and through the journey was transformed, and either given special powers (Spiderman, The Matrix) or found out hey had special powers all along (Harry Potter, Star Wars, The Wizard of Oz).

At the risk of offending my Christian readers, I suggest that the greatest story ever told, namely that of Jesus of Nazareth follows this same structure exactly. A normal guy, a carpenter, gets called on a mission. He collects a new team (The Twelve Disciples), tries to refuse the hero’s call in the Garden of Gethsemane (Father, let this cup pass me, but If it is Your will, then it shall be done) and finally accepts the challenge. Then when he returns (The Transfiguration) he has special powers. The ultimate special power. He is the Risen Christ, the Son of God; the Creator of all that is, was and will be. The Alpha and the Omega.
As a quick side note, if you are into hypnotic language patterns, Jesus delivers a doozy in the temple. He starts reading from a scroll from the Old Testament (then called something else), and the elders question his authority, as back in those days, you had to be pretty old to that. They ask him what he knows of Abraham, and he says:

“Before Abraham was, I am.”

Which of course alludes to the previous statement by God himself when Moses asks what to say when they ask who sent him:

“I Am Who Am.”

The technical term for what both God and Jesus used would be a temporal shift, but I digress.

The most interesting question is why is that structure so powerful? Why are we so captivated, as moviegoers, when Peter Parker, Neo, Dorothy, Harry, and Luke go through the same Hero’s Journey? Why do we feel so much “rapport” with them when they get called on a journey that they probably feel deep down is the right thing to do, but don’t quite have enough courage to accept the offer?

Because we’ve all gone through the same journey. We’ve all been called, resisted, and due to forces beyond our control, were thrust into a journey that forced us to sink or swim. And we all made it. Every last one of us. What is that journey, you ask?

Being born.

That structure, the hero’s journey is imprinted on every single living human being on a deep, deep unconscious level, as we went through that exact procedure when we came into this world. (Unless you happen to be a clone or an alien).

When we were in the womb, the comfortable, safe womb, we were just like Harry Potter in his Uncles closet, or Dorothy on the farm, or Luke on his farm. Then the birth contractions started. We felt called to a journey that we weren’t quite ready to go on, and we resisted as much as possible. But then when we couldn’t resist any more, life called us forward. Literally kicking and screaming.

The path to life is the Hero’s journey. A journey that repeats itself every time you start a new job, or make a new friend, or enter in a new relationship.

The hero’s journey becomes life itself.

And the hero, is you.


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Success with NLP

Success with NLP

Who Is Steering Your Ship?

Full Speed Ahead

It’s funny the way things work out sometimes. There are all kinds of stories about how some character spends their whole life running away from something only to find it was what they needed all along. They just needed to see it in a fresh light. Or the familiar story of somebody running away from something, where that thing turns out to be their destiny. They weren’t able to face it unless they went through whole journey to escape, which in reality was a journey to give them the experience of understanding what it truly was.

There’s that familiar one about the guy form Egypt who sees a fortuneteller, who tells him me will meet death in exactly on week. So the guy jumps on the next ship to the furthest possible port away from Egypt. Exactly one week later he is wandering through a marketplace, completely confused but happy. Confuse because he has no local currency and can’t understand the local language at all. Happy because he has escaped death. Then he turns the corner, and is shaken out of his daydreams by death himself. Death stares at him in disbelief. The guy finally decides to confront death, and ask him why he is so confused. Death responds that he is surprised to see him, because he has an appointment with him in Egypt in one hour. But unforeseen events took him to this faraway land. He is glad he ran into him, and promptly takes him on the spot.

I was reading this interesting book on biology the other day. (The Meme Machine, by Susan Blackmore) .Not really biology, it was all about meme’s and how meme’s spread. The particular chapter, however, was talking about recent discoveries in brain chemistry and activity. They have figured out a way to light up different areas of the brain, to see which areas are active during which thinking processes. In many cases, people make choices before we are consciously aware of them.

They’ll hook somebody up to one of these machines, and tell them to press a button when they see a ping-pong ball coming at them. They have identified the area of the brain that “lights up” when we are consciously aware of things going on around us. At least consciously aware of people throwing ping pong balls at us. They have also identified the brain areas that light up when our automatic muscles respond to the approaching ping-pong ball. Certain bits of adrenalin is sent to certain muscles that would move in case the ping pong ball needed to be deflected. They’ve tried it with several different angles, and from a biomechanical analysis, can determine before hand, which muscles would be primed with energy for motion, and sure enough, these are the muscles that primed by the brain when the ping-pong ball is thrown.

The interesting thing is that our conscious minds are the last to find out what is going on. The ping-pong ball gets thrown, our reality detection system (eyes, ears, etc) register the ping-pong ball as coming, and the brain automatically primes our muscles to respond. Only after our mind/body system has been prepared for the “intruder” into our personal space, is our consciousness pulled into the loop. Only then do we start to give meaning to events. After the fact.

They’ve even done more complicated studies, where it’s not a simple ping-pong ball. Where there is a range of choices to make, based on the physical incident. And many times, our conscious minds don’t get to take part in the decision making process. Our conscious minds are only made aware of the fact after the quick decision has been made, and then we come up with a bunch of stories and rationalizations about what is going on.

The purpose of this particular chapter was to question the whole idea of choice, and free will. Every choice we make is based on choices we made before, and those are based on choices we made before that. If at the most fundamental level, our conscious minds are only made aware of certain events after the fact, how in the world are we to believe that we are cruising through life as conscious, sentient beings making rational choices about how to live our lives?

It’s like our conscious brains are the captains of gigantic ocean liners whose course has been set long ago by unknown agents, and we find ourselves at the wheel, and delude ourselves into thinking we are actually steering the boat.

There is a fairly popular idea among Christians to “Let go, Let God.” Meaning that the good Lord knows what He’s doing, and when we try and force the issue, we just make it more complicated. When we simply “Let go,” and let God chart our course, life will be much easier, or at least we will fulfill God’s plan with much less resistance.

This works great if you are a devout Christian, but what about the Atheists among us? What happens if you take that same argument, to “Let Go,” who is doing the steering then? Is our mind/body system really smart enough, knowledgeable enough, and experienced enough to get us to where we want to go, assuming we really know where we’re going?

There’s the analogy that we really do steer the ship, it’s just that it takes a long time to change course. And when you do set your course, you’d better make certain that it’s really where you want to go. If you are trying to steer a giant ship around the ocean willy nilly, you’ll only frustrate yourself, and make the passengers sea sick.

One of the things that can happen when growing up in modern society is our course gets pretty much set for us, and it can be terribly hard to change it halfway through. It seems like a good enough idea to go through school, get a decent degree, get a job, find a mate and start a family. Those of you that have made drastic career changes halfway through adulthood know that it can be met with resistance by those around you, and even by yourself. Many are essentially dissuaded from making drastic changes, some for better, some for worse.

But if you are heading for a crash, I think it is better to change course much sooner than later. I’m pretty sure the captain of the Titanic wish he would have seen those icebergs much sooner than they did.

The beauty of having a mind/body system that works so well on auto pilot, once you choose a decent course, and make sure it’s the right path, you just have to input the coordinates, figure out the actions, and get to work. Everything after that is automatic. Just keep plugging away, knowing that you’ll get there eventually. So long as you double-check every once in a while to make sure you’re heading in the right direction, you can be fairly certain you’ll arrive.

To choose your own goals and pursue them with relentless determination, click below:

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Eyes On The Prize


Once I had this friend of mine that came in to stay with me from out of town. I never really understood this guy, as he had quite a bit of money, but whenever the traveled, he would stay at friends’ houses. You’d think a guy like that could afford hotels. I know that I much prefer staying at hotels than with friends, but that’s just me. You never know when you are going to get yelled at for raiding the fridge in the middle of the night. At least at a hotel, you know the price of everything on the inside.

The reason this guy was in town was that he was at this inventor’s convention. It was a convention for people that were struggling with getting their inventions the patent stage and into the production stage. Most people think that getting a patent is a great milestone, but it’s not really that complicated. All you have to do is prove that it’s a new idea, and you were the one that thought of it. It depends on the country, but usually showing something written down in a notebook is sufficient to show originality of an idea.

And the kind of originality is pretty staggering, and not in the way you’d expect. If all bicycles happen to be made with a certain metal in the chain, and you come up with an idea for a new chain with a unique metal, then that is enough to warrant a patent. I used to work for this biomedical engineering company, and the smallest changes in plastic molded parts that warranted their own patent was mind-boggling. Before, I though that getting a patent was some kind of genius level milestone. But if you can change the angle slightly on a barbed connector for medical tubing and get a patent for it, there can’t be much to it.

Some companies use patents strictly for marketing purposes. They get as many patents as they can, useless as they may be, just so they can use them in their marketing literature. Product X has seventeen patented parts that you won’t find anyplace else.

There’s even companies that have a business model of creating ideas, and filing patents for simple household items, and then doing nothing except to wait for another company to independently come up with the idea, and start selling the product. Then the original company simply has to show that it was there idea, sue them, and forever collect a percentage of the profits.

It would seem that there is more to it than simply building a better mousetrap and waiting for he world to beat a path to your door. I suppose if the world you happened to live in was infested with disease carrying mice that ate your eyeballs while you slept, and your particular idea for a mousetrap would guarantee a mouse free house with little cost, then maybe you might have something. But when you come up with a patent for the new design for that little plastic thing that goes on the end of your shoelaces, then you’ve got some marketing work ahead of you.

Which was basically the gist of the seminar my freeloading friend was going to. It was primarily for people that came up with patents that they thought were marketable enough to invest some time and money in, but hadn’t picked up any kind of corporate sponsorship. Even if you come up with the greatest idea since sliced bread, you’ve still got to figure out a way to market it and manufacture it on a large scale.

If you have a product that is very similar to other products, and it is an improved version, like a bicycle tire that will never go flat, then it may be a little easier to sell. All you’d need to do is create some fliers, mass mail them to bike shops, bicycle manufacturers, etc, and hope they buy enough of your product to make it worthwhile. If you can get enough pre orders to pay for your production, so much the better.

But if you come up with a new environmentally friendly way to cook bacon, you’ve got your work cut out for you.

My friend has been doing this for quite a while, and he does pretty well. He has about twenty patents, three of which were picked up by large manufacturers. Two of them he got paid a nice lump sum, and the other one he got a really good deal where he gets a certain percentage of every sale. This of course gives him plenty of motivation to keep thinking and trying to figure out how to come up with new ideas.

He said that the hardest part is the time when he has an idea, that he is sure will eventually make money, but he’s been working on it for a while, and poured in a significant amount of time and money, and hasn’t seen anything yet for his efforts. He said that all three of his big money makers were like this. He had a great idea, asked a few of his friends, and asked a few people in the particular industry he was targeting, and they all enthusiastically agreed that he had a winner. But each one took more than a year of effort, and lot of time, money, and many, many rejections.

But he said that once he gets one that works, and a company either buys it outright, or pays him per sale, it’s all worth it. He said that is the biggest cause for failure among all the other inventors he meets at these conventions. They all have great ideas, but they give up way to easily, and way to quickly. If they would only try a few more weeks, or even days, they might get a break that would make all the difference. But he said that most people still believe in that old mousetrap myth. They think just because they have an idea, somehow the population at large should get some telepathic message from the gods, and each send them a dollar or something. They don’t understand that coming up with a good idea is not good enough. You’ve got to come up with a good idea, and then convince everybody else that it’s a good idea.

I asked him how he was able to push through those early days when all he had was an idea, and no money, and he said it was his imagination that pulled him through. He would imagine himself in the future, already successful, and looking back on his tough startup times with fondness. He created a vision of the future, and focused on it above all else, and never let anything distract him.

Maybe that’s why he likes staying at his friends’ houses instead of hotels, because it keeps him grounded or something. Because he is as creative and energetic as ever. Every time he visits, he talks about his new ideas as if they are his first one, and he is as hungry as ever. You would never know by this guys clothes that he’s worth several million dollars, but I guess that’s what it takes to keep pushing ahead.

To choose your own goals and pursue them with relentless determination, click below:

Success with NLP

Success with NLP

The Road, The Inn, And The Flowers Along The Way

Will That Be Cash Or Charge?

So the other day I was down at the gardening shop. It’s a pretty new shop, and they have some nice displays out in front, so I’d been meaning to go in and check it out. I pass by it a couple of times a week on my way over to that other place that I normally go to for those things that I need. The interesting thing about my desire to go into the gardening shop is that I don’t have a garden, nor do I have any plans of creating a garden in the future. Of course, you don’t have to have a garden per se to find items of interest in a gardening shop.

You can have a simple lawn, and I’m sure they sell plant food for all of your household plant needs. But I don’t have any plants, any lawn, and the only organic material in my possession is the mold that is growing on that hunk of cheese that I forgot I had. That of course, doesn’t require any gardening tools or supplies, only a trash can that has been lined with a sturdy trash bag to keep the trash juice from leaking all over my kitchen floor.

But the thing about this new gardening shop is that have it the front set up that really draws your attention. And not just gardening enthusiasts, I’ve seen lots of people that don’t look like the gardening stopping to have a gander. Something about the colors, or the way the things are arranged. It’s like it is a mixture of being aesthetically pleasing, yet inviting at the same time. For example, if you look at a nice flower, it’s usually enough just to look at it. Sometimes you might want to lean over and have sniff, but usually looking is enough.

But they way they designed the front of this combines that desire to look and admire you get from a natural flower, along with something else. Something I can’t quite describe. Like when you see something, and this catches your eye, and you feel yourself just a little bit curious. Maybe not curious enough to come inside right now, but somehow this stays in your mind, so that later on today when you are off doing things, you’ll remember this and wonder what it was that made this so interesting.

And even if you do forget, when you stop by here every day, you’ll remember that sense of interest that you had, and each time it becomes a little stronger, until you find yourself making a conscious decision to really come inside and look around, just to satisfy that vague curiosity.

When I went inside, there was really nothing other than what I expected. They had the normal stuff, arranged where you would expect. The fertilizer was over there, and the pots and hardware were around there. The registers, of course, were all up front, and they had several people walking around helping out people that seemed to be lost, or seemed to have a question, but were too shy to ask.

And they did have all of those knick-knack things they place strategically, those things you usually buy on a whim. This in and of itself surprised me, as you would think that people that went to a gardening store are there for a specific purpose, to buy something specific, and aren’t prone to wander around with their shopping cart, throwing various things in that look good. Of course there I was, not having any garden to speak of (if you don’t count my cheese) wandering around with one of those hand held baskets. You never know what tools you might find that can be used for something other than what they were intended for.

It’s common knowledge that supermarkets are carefully designed to get people to buy all kinds of things that they had planned on. Even if they go in there with a list, they’d have to wander around the whole store looking for everything, and in the process pass by carefully designed displays to grab their attention and their money.

It seems that a lot of marketing is designed to take advantage of the simple fact that most people wander through life without a solid plan. If you went to the store to buy eggs, and only eggs, and you only brought enough cash to buy eggs, then you’d likely buy only eggs. Now I’m not sure if not having a solid plan is a result of not taking the time to create goals and objectives, or just that it’s entirely possible to go through life and enjoy the experience without really worrying about where you’re going. I’m sure a strong case can be made either way.

On the one hand, if you don’t know where you’re going, you’re never going to get there, failing to plan is planning to fail, but on the other hand, according to the old Spanish proverb, the road is better than the Inn.

I suppose you could combine the two. Have a specific goal, and also have a goal of enjoying the path as much as possible. With unlimited time and resources, this can be easy. If you were rich, it wouldn’t be a problem to fill up your shopping cart with all kinds of exotic snack foods every time you went shopping, but most of us aren’t rich. At least not yet.

There has to be some kind of balance between time, money, resources, and the maximum amount of fun and results we can get out of life. I’m not sure if buying a whole basketful of gardening stuff that I didn’t even know existed, let alone realized I needed is going to get me any closer to that, whatever it is.

But it sure is fun to buy stuff.

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Success with NLP

See The Ball… Be The Ball…

Cinderella Story

Once there were these two guys playing golf. They had been friends for a long time, and always got together at least twice a month to play around. Neither of them were any good, they both never shot under a hundred, but that didn’t bother them. They just enjoyed hitting the balls around and enjoying the open space and the fresh air. Both of them lived in a particularly densely crowded area of a big city, so it felt good to get away from time to time, if only for a few hours, to forget about the troubles of everyday life.

Because there were only two of them, they were always put with another couple. Usually a couple of friends, but more often than not an older married couple. Both of their jobs were flexible, not your normal nine to five, so they usually played midweek. Which put them with retired people most of the time. And as such, retired people tended to have the same stories to tell. Old teachers, businessmen, a doctor here and there. Once in a while they’d get stuck with a couple of chatty housewives that did nothing but complain about their husbands and their horrible kids.

But not today. Today they were paired with a couple of very strange businessmen. At first they had them pegged as foreigners, but they couldn’t quite place their accent. Middle Eastern, European, they wondered for the first couple of holes. And neither of these players were very forthcoming with what they actually did for a living. They only introduced themselves by their first names, and that they were business partners. They didn’t seem shifty of suspicious, so it was difficult to press the matter. They figured they’d just engage in normal, everyday pleasant conversation, and the two mysterious businessmen would share whatever information they felt comfortable sharing.

But by the time they got to the back nine, their curiosity got the better of them, so they figured they’d try and obliquely, or not so obliquely get as much information as they could. Otherwise they’d go mad trying to figure out who what these two increasingly interesting characters were.

“So how long you too been in business together?”
“Oh, long time. From the start.”

Hmm. That wasn’t any help.

“Are you around here on vacation, or….” He let it trail off. Sometimes that worked.
“Yea, that’s kind of hard to describe. We’re here for a little bit of both I guess.”


“So, what, uh, line of business are you in? If, uh, you don’t mind me asking.”
“Oh, no, not at all. It’s just that it’s a very new business, and we are starting to feel things out.”
“But you two have been together, since…”
“Since the start. We’ve had many businesses together. Some successful, some not. This one is big. This one may change everything.”
“Oh, you don’t say?”
“Yea, that’s why this is so important.”


The group ahead had jus finished, and had returned the pin.
The stranger teed up. He looked at his partner.

“Should we tell them?” he asked.
His partner paused, smiled, and nodded his head.

He turned to the two friends.

“Watch this.” He commanded, and turned to address his ball. He had a nine iron. They were on a par three, 189 yards from the regular tees.

Just before swinging, he turned to the two friends one more time.

“If you mention this to anyone, of course we’ll deny it. But nobody will believe you.” He smiled, his mysterious friend was laughing.

“It’s gonna hit top left, bounce twice, and then roll back in a left arc, picking up speed as it does. When it begins to slow, it will hit the pin, and fall into the hole.”

The way he said it was like he was describing a videotape that he’d seen hundreds of times. He turned back, addressed the ball, and took a very awkward looking swing.

The ball hit top left, bounced twice, and then rolled back in a left arc. It picked up speed, and then began to slow. Just as it began to slow, it hit the pin dead center, and fell into the hole. A hole in one.

The two friends were stunned. Speechless. The mysterious partner was laughing uncontrollably.

“Sorry, sorry,” he said. It was the first time he’d spoken after the introductions.

“But the look on you’re faces are priceless.” He composed himself.
“Really, I apologize, I didn’t mean to laugh like that.”

The two friends were dumbfounded.

The mysterious and recently apologetic friend approached the green, and repeated the exact same shot.

“So, how did you…” he trailed off.

“So you’re in the golf business? You’re gonna corner the market in golf, is that it? But if everybody can do that, won’t it ruin the competition.”

“That’s the secret.” Said the mysterious friend.
“Even if we give you the exact details on how to do what we just did, very few people will be able to repeat this, despite how simple it is.”

“But, how did you do that?” asked one of the friends. The two strangers exchanged looks, and check to see that nobody was waiting. The group behind them were just teeing off on the previous hole. Then they explained everything, in detail, to the two friends.

“You see?” they asked, when they had finished.

“You don’t need any special equipment, all you need is up here, and that simple procedure we just explained. ”

“But it’s so simple, why doesn’t everybody just…” then it hit him. He smiled, and nodded his head slowly.

“Oh, ok. I got it. Here, let me try.”

He approached the tee, hit with a wedge, and his ball hit just the front lip of the green, and dribbled about halfway toward the cup, stopping within a few feet.

“Not bad for a first try.”

The friend nodded. Smiling, his mind spinning with the possibilities of what he’d just learned.


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Quickly And Effortlessly Overcome Objections

Oh Yea? Says You!

So the other day I was having an argument with a friend of mine. Not really an argument, although it could have easily turned into one if either one of us had a hugely vested interested in our opinions, which we both agreed were merely opinions. We’d argued/discusses several issues at length enough times to know that pretty much either issue we choose, it’s fairly easy to shoot holes in each others arguments, and we almost always end up agreeing to disagree.

One of the things we do sometimes is to play devils advocate one each other, if that’s even the right term. We pick an issue, an issue that we disagree on, and which is highly controversial, such as gun control, or abortion, or animal rights, and argue the opposite that we normally would.

I actually met this guy several years ago in a sales seminar, and that was one of the ways they taught us to overcome objections, was to put yourself in the customers shoes, and come up with as many objections as possible. The seminar itself was based on the overcoming objections part of the sales process. One of the things we learned was that the best way to overcome an objection is to not only defeat it, but to bring it up before the other person even thinks about it. In technical terms this is called “pre framing” as opposed to “re framing.” When you reframe something, you take an already stated objection, and try to twist it around so it’s not such a big objection. The problem with this is that many times, by the time the person has formulated the though well enough to present a coherent objection, they’ve usually been thinking about it for a while, and it’s pretty well entrenched in their mind.

So a great way to get rid of objections is to simply reframe them before they come up, or preframe them. That way when the client starts to formulate the thought that would have otherwise turned into an objection, instead they’ll think what you want them to think.

Here’s a great example that I witnessed in real time, several years ago. While you may object to the content of my example, the structure of how the particular objection in question was handled before it came up was particularly elegant. I was eating dinner at a restaurant with a group of guys. One of the guys, who was around 40 years old at the time, liked the younger ladies. He wouldn’t date anyone older than mid twenties. (If you find this distasteful, please press on. The example lies in the structure, not the content.)

At the time of this incident, the TV show ER was really popular, and starred George Clooney, who was the latest heartthrob. I believe at the time Clooney was late thirties. So my friend was flirting with this young waitress. I don’t think he intended to actually follow throw, he was just practicing his “game,” so to speak.

They were flirting back and forth, with eye contact, and conversations that lasted jut a tad bit longer than your normal waitress/customer interaction. He asked what she did when she wasn’t waitressing. She mentioned that she was in nursing school. He smiled and said, “Oh, you want to be like on ER, right?” And she blushed, as it was obvious that she liked that show, and at least entertained the idea of being a glamorous nurse like on TV.

So my friend, noticed a golden opportunity to preframe the “how old are you” question, that younger girls sometimes ask seemingly older guys. While she was still smiling about the thought of being a nurse “like” on ER, my friend says:

“Me and George Clooney have the same birthday.”

Now if she fantasized at all about being a nurse on ER, she surely fantasized, at least a little bit, about George Clooney. And my friend put himself in that same category in her mind. If he decided to pursue this girl (he didn’t,) and the age question ever began to arise in her mind, she would remember him having the same age as George Clooney, and of course she wouldn’t have a problem with George Clooney, so the age question was deflected and dismantled before it ever came up.

When I asked him later on how he was able to think in the moment like that, and preframe a pretty powerful objection right there on the spot, in real time, he told me it was simply through practice. He had dated quite few younger girls, and they would inevitably come up with the same questions. So what he did was to write out all the questions he got over and over, on some business size cards. And everyday, while he was taking the train to work, he would flip through the cards, look at the questions, and think of the best way to answer them that would respect the questioner, and also put himself in the best possible light.

He said that after he did that for a while, he began to see the questions coming long before they were ever actually expressed verbally, and easily preframe them. After a while, they never, ever came up again, and he enjoyed much more success (take that however you will) with his pursuit of dating younger girls.

In that sales seminar I went to, they taught us the same thing. To make a list of all the objections you get on a regular basis, and figure out the best way to answer so that you’re not disregarding or disrespecting your client, but you’re also putting your product or your service in the best possible light.

If you take the time to actually write down the objections you get the most, and practice going over some possible answers, you’ll find that they begin to come up more and more, and you’ll even be preframing them conversationally without even realizing it. To the untrained eye, they will seem to have magically disappeared.

Another thing we learned at the seminar was a way to increase mental flexibility and open mindedness. And that was through purposely arguing a point that you don’t believe in, with a willing partner. Take an issue, like some of the ones I’ve listed above, find a willing partner, and choose opposite sides that you’d normally take, and let the battle begin.

Use all your skills of persuasion and sales to convince the other person, while resisting their argument (which is the way you really feel). Do this few times and you’ll never look at the same old issues again.


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What To Do About Self Manipulation

Eviction Party

“Get! The! Fuck! Out!”
“Wait, what?”
“Don’t make me say it again! Get Out! Now!”
He picked up a baseball bat and came after me; I wasn’t sure why he was so angry. I’d been saying the same things to him for the past several years, pretty much this guy’s whole life. Most of the time he just took it, without doing anything. Other times it had the effect I’d intended. To manipulate him into action.

But not today.

I turned to walk out, pretty sure he wasn’t serious. Until I heard things start to break. First a lamp, then he flung the clay ashtray that he’d made at summer camp at me, barely missing my head. Then I felt the air whoosh by the back of my head as his baseball bat barely missed smashing my skull in like that one time we threw a two day old pumpkin off the top of the library at school. Those were good times. This wasn’t. I knew I had to get out of there.


“If you come back, I’ll kill you.” It wasn’t a threat, or a warning, merely a statement of factual cause and effect. If it rains, I’ll get wet. If the Dodgers lose, I’ll be sad. If you come back, I’ll kill you.

So what happened all of a sudden? He’d never exhibited any behavior whatsoever that indicated he was the slightest bit angry at me, despite my crafty manipulations to get him to do exactly what I wanted him to.

Most people aren’t aware of how easily you can manipulate people. You just go to know what buttons to push. Which ones feel good. The one’s that they are desperate to have pushed by others, but spend a lifetime without experiencing it. And the ones they are terrified of having pushed, and spend their whole lives cowering in fear of somebody uncovering their horrible secret.

It’s an art form, actually. You don’t really ever have to actually push their buttons. You don’t even have to pretend you are about to push them, like the amateurs do. All you have to do is to allude to having the knowledge, and the will to push them. That is where the skill lies. In alluding to pushing them with the complete and honest capacity to have no idea what they are talking about should you get called on it. To act and communicate in such a way as to have several different interpretations, one of which is that there buttons are going to get pushed.

That way you can leave it to them to imagine what might happen, and be manipulated by their own fearful hallucinations and worst-case scenario interpretations of what you mean. Kind of like in baseball, where you throw an inside out curveball, which looks like an outside in curveball. The only intention of a pitch like that is to confuse the batter into leaning into the pitch. It’s one thing to throw a fastball at a batter. Everybody knows what’s up. That’s why both benches always clear, and there’s always a fight. Clear and obvious aggression.

But an inside out curveball that you trick him into leaning into, is not only aggressive, but it’s aggressive with covert intentions. The worst kind. The kind you’d have to have a lot of chutzpah to retaliate against. Because any retaliation would be met with plausible deniability.

“What? You think I did that on purpose? I would never do that! What kind of person do you think I am?”

That is the secret to pure manipulation. The tone of voice, the presupposed meaning of your sentence.

“Oh, you’re wearing that tonight.”

That way you can get somebody to change their whole outfit, or feel self conscious about it without even coming up with a reason.

“What, what’s wrong with it?”
“Nothing, its..fine..I guess.”

A few short words can elicit a lifetime of shame and embarrassment, and make most people question their own decision. Since most people are motivated by fear, you almost never have to seduce the other way. Most everybody can easily be corralled their whole lives by the thought of their worse fears coming true.

Which is why when I got chased away with a baseball bat, I knew the jig was up. Because, you see, how I have nowhere to go. Since I’m not really a person.

I’m just a voice in that guys head.

Was a voice in that guys head.

Sometimes his second grade teacher, sometimes his mom, a couple of times his boy scout leader, once some pretty lady that worked in the ice cream shop downtown that yelled at him for spilling ice cream on the recently mopped floor. Being a voice in somebody’s head gives you great access to horrible memories, and you can pretend to be many different voices. You almost never get caught, and you always can trick your host into doing, or not doing, whatever you want.

Except the rare occasion, when you get caught. Most of the time when you get caught you are only questioned, sometimes argued with. But rarely threatened with a baseball bat.

Now that I’m out on the street without a host, I will probably die soon. We can’t switch heads. Once the jig is up, it’s up. When we’re gone, we’re gone. Does he have any idea how he will survive without me? I was only protecting him, after all. Protecting him from making foolish mistakes. Protecting him from embarrassing himself in front of his friends. Protecting him from doing something that he’d regret.

I’m starting to feel faint. Maybe I’ll sit down for a spell. Maybe he’ll come to his senses.

Wait, where am I?


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Visualize Yourself To Victory

How To Change The Playing Field In Your Favor

I remember once, a long time ago, way back when I was in Junior High school, I was playing golf with a couple of friends after school. There was one hole that I always had trouble with. The first 80 yards or so, you had to hit your ball over part of a lake. The part of the lake that you had to hit over ended on the left edge of where the fairway would be, and to the right it only got bigger. Being a habitual slicer, I usually sliced off to the right, and into the water.

In order to get over the water hazard, I only had to hit a normal shot. My normal shot didn’t start to fade until about fifty to a hundred yards or so, which gave me enough distance to get over the water if I could ever hit a normal shot. My problem was that on that particular hole, I never hit a normal shot. My drive was rarely more then ten yards or so off the ground and sliced a lot earlier and more pronounced than normal, sending my ball straight into the large area of the lake.

From a pure physics standpoint this is easy to understand. If you flinch even slightly in the direction of lifting your head to see where the ball went, you’ll hit the ball just a little bit higher than normal, giving you less height, and in my case, more slice, as I twisted the club head just a little bit more than I normally would have.

The funny thing is that I lifted my head because I was unconsciously worried about slicing into the lake. And because I lifted my head, I sliced into the lake. My unconscious actions, (e.g. lifting my head up and turning the club head more than normal,) which were based on my fears, actually caused my fears to come true, rather than preventing them.

From a structural standpoint, it went like this: I had this fear about an outcome based on a planned action. My anxiety going into the action changed the action slightly, and became the direct cause of my fears coming true.

In this particular case, it was one off shot, so to speak. I hit it in the water; walked about halfway up the fairway, about even where my ball went into the lake (next to all my other balls) dropped a ball, took a penalty and went on my way. This was a one-time event, which in the end only increased my score by two. The rest of the course was wide and open, so I could slice all over the place and be OK.

Naturally, every time I teed up on that particular hole, I remembered all the other slices into he water, which of course increased my anxiety, and made it much more likely to repeat the error. But only being a golf game, and only being in Junior high school, I figured that was normal. Until my friend shared with me a powerful secret that I still use today, and you can to, to break out whatever rut you happened to be in.

This problem, often called a self fulfilling prophecy, can present itself in many ways, and the feedback loop can be much more debilitating that a couple of strokes on an afternoon golf game.

Suppose you are a single guy, and you see a girl you like. You walk up to her, introduce yourself, and she blows you off. Happens all the time right? Only next time you walk up to a girl, you remember the last one that blew you off, and it makes our approach less effective. You are nervous, can’t hold eye contact, and basically come across as kind of creepy. This makes you get rejected even more harshly, which in turns makes approaching another girl too scary to even contemplate. You have effectively locked yourself into a vicious circle of defeat, by using your worst possible past in order to hallucinate a likely outcome. The likely outcome terrifies you so much; it cripples your behavior, and virtually guarantees itself.

Another example. You go ask your boss for a raise. He turns you down. You become depressed, and your motivation to work hard decreases slightly, which in turn decreases your productivity a little bit. Next time you ask for a raise, your boss is even less likely to give you one, based on your productivity. If you get locked into this horrible tailspin, you may very well find yourself on the list of people who are expendable when budget cuts are mentioned.

One of the insidious things about these self-defeating cycles is that it is incredibly easy to blame others for your predicament. The guy who is approaching girls can blame women for being stuck up and not having the ability to see his true worth. Maybe they think he’s too short, or doesn’t make enough money. This can lead to a belief that all women are shallow and materialistic

The guy who never gets a raise can blame his boss, the economy, his coworkers for talking about him when he’s not around, and so on.

As difficult as it sounds, only when you take responsibility for your lot in life do you have a shot at bootstrapping yourself up and out of any vicious cycle of defeat you may find yourself in. Even though that often times others are culpable, some bosses do play favorites, and many people, both men and women, are shallow and materialistic, that doesn’t help you a bit. You can’t change the world, but you can change how you interpret it and react to it. That is completely in your control.

So one day, just as I was teeing up, my friend, says “Hey wait, before you hit, just close your eyes and pretend there is nothing but a huge patch of green grass in front of you.” I tried it, and it worked. I don’t think I ever hit another ball in the water after that.

The funny thing is that he didn’t tell me to visualize my ball bouncing on the other side of the lake, like most sports psychologists would have you do, or visualize how I’d feel when I hit it over the water. The advice my friend told me was to imagine the playing field, the course, was physically different than it really was. By imagining a different playing field, my actions changed automatically.

It’s so easy to argue until we’re blue in the face that “the playing field isn’t equal” and that others have advantages and opportunities that we don’t have. But what if you could simply hallucinate a more helpful playing field, and allow your actions to naturally respond to your hallucination?

What if before approaching some cute girl in a bookstore, instead of going through the difficult procedure of imagining a positive outcome, and planning his various openers, he simply imagined that all girls were irresistibly attracted to his type? There’s no rule that says your imaginations have to be true or accurate, only that they lead to behaviors that get you what you want.

And what if the guy in the office imagined he was the boss’s nephew, or that he’d pulled him out of a burning care a week earlier, or something else as ludicrous? Sure, it’s completely false, but what if it works?

Something to think about next time you’re gearing up to imagine yourself into a positive outcome.


To quickly and easily develop strategies to catapult you ahead of your competition in all areas of your life, click on the link below:

Success with NLP

Success with NLP

Relentless Expansion

Should You Learn To Fight?

Recently I’ve been hearing a lot of talk about colonizing other planets. Well, maybe not so much as hearing as I’ve been reading many articles on the Internet about the subject. You know how that goes, you find something online, you find this pretty interesting, and you read more and more about this, and click around on the links, and pretty soon you find that you suddenly have developed an interest in this topic that you only maybe were vaguely aware of before now.

When I think back, I think it was all started by something I saw on TV, some crime drama involving some guys that were on this privately owned space ship that offered millionaires the chance to go into orbit for a few days. One of the characters mentioned that this is the golden age when it comes to space entrepreneurial ship. Whether that’s actually true obviously remains to be seen. But it doesn’t take much imagination to see the correlation with Europeans setting out across vast unknown bodies of water search of new lands hundreds of years ago to setting out across space to set up colonies on other planets.

Of course, then there’s that recent movie that is a fairly thin metaphor of what to do when you meet up with people already living in the new area that you’d like to colonize. Human strategies have ranged from killing them, joining them, assimilating them, and pitting them against one another.

Probably the most useful strategy, and resulted in the spread of the most culture, at least according to some historians, is Alexander of Macedonia, or Alexander the Great as he is commonly referred to. He lead a coalition of Greek forces across Persia, and to this date is the second greatest conqueror of all time, if you measure how great a conqueror is by the amount of land they took over. In the number one position is Genghis Khan. An interesting side not is that Genghis Khan was a peasant who’s parents were murdered by a rival chieftain, and yet he rose to become the greatest conqueror in human history, while Alexander was born into a royal family, and inherited his kingdom, which already had quite a bit of support from the various Greek city states when his father was murdered. So you don’t need to be born with a silver spoon in your mouth if you want to conquer the world.

But while Genghis Khan swept through land with fury and terror, and slaughtered everything in his path, Alexander took a more diplomatic approach. Much of the land he conquered, he didn’t even have to fight for. The Persian Empire at that time had undergone quite a bit of upheaval, and they were spread far and thin. Many times Alexander and his troops would ride into a city, and the city government would simply switch their alliance from Persia to Alexander.

But one thing that Alexander did that helped spread Greek culture throughout the world was to encouraged his men, at least the single ones, to take brides from the new cultures. Often times he would pick up fresh soldiers from the cities, and many of his soldiers would stay and build new lives. Of course, this wasn’t always the case. When Babylon fell to Alexander’s troops, he gave them free reign over the city. They raped, plundered, murdered and burned the city to the ground, as was fairly common practice back in those days. (And unfortunately today as well in many places).

Another interesting strategy is the divide and conquer strategy. This was used particularly effectively by the Catholic Church during the colonization of South America and part of Asia in the 1500’s and 1600’s. First they would send the priests, who would convert as many people as possible, including the leaders. Of course, not everybody would convert, and would stick to the old “pagan” religion. Including in some that converted, and some that didn’t would of course be those involved in government. Once there was sufficient division in the ruling classes, then the solders would come, their jobs having been made much easier by the priests that preceded them.

This was attempted in Japan during the same time period, but all the Christians were expelled, or executed before they could finish their plan.

Anytime you want to expand influence into a new area, there is going to be resistance, and there are always several different strategies to take to best overcome the resistance. Brute force, cooperation, or subversion, it depends the desired outcome, and what an appropriate level of risk you’re willing to take, and what skills you possess and how they could best be used. I doubt Alexander or Genghis Khan could have gotten very far by sending in priests. I also doubt that the Spanish Conquistadors would have done well with Alexander’s or Genghis Khan’s fighting strategies, as they required open fields, and many men galloping furiously on thousands of horses. That strategy doesn’t work well in the jungle.

One interesting, and some say natural, application to all these battle, warfare, and conquering strategies is in business. Classic books on warfare, like Sun Tzu’s “The Art Of War,” And Miyomoto Musashi’s “The Book Of Five Rings” are usually found in the business section of the bookstore.

The huge success of the British Empire was largely do it’s effective application of these strategies of warfare to business. One could argue that English is the second most spoken language in the world today, behind only Mandarin, is due to the effective application of timeless warfare strategies to business purposes.

If you own a business today, whether it is a twenty-year-old brick and mortar shop, or an online start up that you are doing in your spare time, it might help to keep some of these ancient warfare strategies in mind.

Because I guarantee you, whatever it is you are trying to sell to your customers, there’s several other people fighting for their attention, and would be pleased as punch to get their business instead of you.


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What’s The Real Reason Behind Conflict?

Two Guys Walk Into A Bar…

I was hanging out with a friend of mine in a sports bar one afternoon. It was Sunday, and there were a couple good games on, so we figured we’d kick back there for a while. Both of us were too lazy to make the proper preparations (meaning clean up enough) to watch the games at either of our houses. And also, and more importantly, the sports bar had several different TV’s, and so we could watch several games at once, even though we were only interested in two of them.

The only problem was that there was a gap between games for about an hour. Not really long enough to go to a different bar, but long enough to be concerned about drinking ourselves silly out of boredom so early in the day. One game finished around 1 PM, and the other didn’t start until around 2 or so. So there were, in between games wondering how to kill the time. I don’t know about you, but I can’t sit there with a drink in front of me for very long without drinking it. Even if it’s only soda or water, if somebody keeps filling it, I’ll keep drinking it. So I had to be particularly careful not to get too sloshed before the second game started. We had taken the train there, so neither of us were concerned about driving, but it kind of ruins your afternoon when you come home trashed at 4 in the afternoon. Any productivity you may have enjoyed in the evening is gone.

We noticed a group of people sitting a few tables over that for some reason didn’t seem particularly interested in the game. They didn’t cheer or exclaim during any of the spectacular plays that had happened earlier, and they didn’t seem to have any concern one way or the other when either team scored. So we focused our concentration on them to keep ourselves entertained.

They were all men, as were most of the patrons that day. They weren’t wearing suits or anything, so they weren’t businessmen in town for a sales meeting or something. But they seemed to be quite animated about something. Finally, one of them noticed us paying a little too close attention to them. He got up and made his way over to our table. I was a little concerned, when I realized if somehow they took our attention the wrong way, we may be in trouble, as there were only two of us, and four of them.

I remember once I took this course in political science. I think the professor wished he were teaching history, as we didn’t spend too much time talking about politics, but more time talking about the history behind the politics. The professor had this rather interesting view of human nature. The textbook would go on and on about different political viewpoints, and certain government bodies among countries, which honestly I find incredibly boring. I suppose the professor did as well as he would always get really animated when he started talking about things like human nature, and how different factors along with human history lead inevitably to various political systems.

Although he was a professor at a public university, and was required to keep his political and religious leanings out of the course material, I suspect he was a strong believer in capitalism, and a devout atheist. He always talked in terms of competition, survival of the fittest and the law of the jungle. His theory was that all politics, and all political maneuvering is purely the law of the jungle in action. Any efforts to present any public policy is really a means to an ends, which in his opinion, was always more power to the politician in question. His theory was that all political systems were merely a collection of strategies to amass more power to those already in power.

He believed that pure capitalism, on a level playing field, was the best way to make sure that certain groups of people didn’t secure power and then make it impossible for others to do so through the creation of draconian laws. He based this on the theory of escalation within a closed society. Whenever one group amasses enough power, they can put in to play systems, which will keep others from amassing power. This is the most stable when there are two separate groups wielding power, and the power will naturally oscillate back and forth. In the creation of a society, or in the early days, each group will slowly grab more power by escalating its dominance in the face of its adversaries. And the adversaries will respond by escalating their dominance.

It’s a bit complicated, but there is a mathematical model that describes it in terms of driving elements of a function in a closed system. There is a kind of symbiotic relationship between elements, that is one gets power from the others weakness, but if the other disappeared completely then so would the original groups power.

According to this professor, this explains why many countries in today’s modern world seem to be at odds, but really depend on each other for their respective survival. If the stronger would completely obliterate the weaker country, then they would lose a lot of their reason for existence. I’m not sure I understand the mechanisms behind all this, but when this particular professor described, it sounded really logical.

When the big guy from the group of four reached our table, he asked us if we would like to join them. Although it seemed a little weird, a group of four guys who weren’t outwardly interested in sports asking two guys who were at a sports bar to join them, we said what the heck.

It turned out they were seminary students who were at this big conference at the convention center downtown. It was a weeklong conference, and seeing at it was Sunday, they had the day off.

I’ll leave the strange, but interesting discussion that followed for another post.

And now for something completely different:


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Success with NLP