Kandi, The Good Memory Storage Device

In Robert Cialdini’s Presuasion, the reader learns that an object can act as a permanent, subliminal reminder for a feeling or behavior.

It turns out that as long as an object is in your field of view, it’s still cuing the subconscious associations you have with it. You can check this fairly easily by comparing how well you work with a cellphone in your field of view compared to without.

In the past I’ve played with the idea of parking a gift in someone’s house as a visual persuasion tool. Each time they walk by the gift, they would be persuaded a little bit more.

And then I realized this is exactly what kandi does.

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I recently got back from Group Therapy 250 with Above & Beyond. Some of my friends are pretty big kandi kids (I might be responsible for that). One of them traded me a beautiful pink cuff after I commended her work.

I remember her complimenting my character as she pulled the cuff up on my forearm. I now have it resting on a shelf in my bedroom, next to a dozen other creations I’ve received from good friends. Kandi is colorful and pleasing to look at — that’s why I put it there — but it also feels good to have around.

Hold on though. Why does it feel good?

When you look at a kandi cuff, you are reminded of the good feeling you have from making it or trading it. You are also reminded of the feelings you have from all your other kandi, by association. Each cuff reminds you of all the other memories you have of kandi, subconsciously, every time you look at one. And since it is a big part of rave culture, those associations are built pretty strong.

So my suggestion is that, if you love the rave, you might like to display your kandi somewhere you want to feel good about. Over time, the good feelings from your kandi will become associated with wherever you leave the cuffs.

I also like to make a small note about how I came to own the kandi, if the trade was particularly special. (From a new or old friend, or if I got it under the electric sky — that kind of thing.)

If you wear enough kandi, you know that you can end up with great affection for what are essentially little plastic beads. Only other kandi kids will understand how that feels.

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Festival Chat and Future Pacing

Today I’m going to explain how a common conversation topic influences you to go to more music festivals.

As a long time student of persuasion, I know that influence often hides in plain sight. To me, it’s as visible as the sun on a clear day. Everyone else just sees sky.

I also live in the rave scene. It is a part of my life and I intend to keep it that way. So I know that some form of this question is familiar to anyone with a rave family. And the question is:

“Who do you hope will be on the festival lineup?”

To answer this question, you have to pick one or more DJs to be on a lineup. Until the lineup is released, it can be your dream lineup. This question is your invitation to play.

It’s done subconsciously, but this question actually sends your mind on a search through memories to find an answer. If you’re really paying attention, you might notice a few possible answers go through your head before you pick one. It’ll be a different process for everybody, but if you managed to answer the question, your mind definitely did something.

The persuasion part comes into play when your brain simulates different ways a lineup could play out. You imagine how it would go if this DJ or that DJ played at the event, and if you’re going along with the excitement of the question, you probably imagine a vivid version of the event. In NLP, this is called “future pacing”, which shows your subconscious an idea of how you could act. Effective.

Your experience might be different than mine, but I find the “Who do you want on the lineup?” question makes a great group conversation topic. And when the question comes up in a group chat format, you’ll hear a bunch of answers that you didn’t come up with. Some of them might feel better than your own ideas. Among friends, people tend to like those surprises because your ego doesn’t have much invested in being right about the answer. It’s just for fun.

Together, the excitement of your own ideas plus your friends’ associates with the festival in question. Then you find yourself, later, wanting a ticket.

I bet this topic is more influential than some ad videos.

Trump’s Blue Wall

Since President Trump announced his plan to build the wall, he has been fiercely opposed by my fellow liberals. As a liberal, that confuses me. Allow me to explain my confusion.

One of the biggest political divides in America is how undocumented immigration should be handled. Democrats, who are fair, are generally in favor of letting undocumented immigrants stay and become citizens. Republicans say that the law is the law and there is no way around it.

It had been at a standstill like that for about a decade until Trump introduced his wall idea. I understand that to a Republican, the idea is appealing. They like things big and American. To most of us though, it seems cruel. And as a long time supporter of immigration (I am Canadian, after all, and we are all immigrants here!), I don’t understand why we can’t let in more immigrants from America’s neighbor to the south. Mexicans coming into the United States want better conditions for themselves and their families. That’s fair.

There’s one thing I want to clear up before we head forward. The wall might leave Mexico better than they found it. Despite what Trump says, Mexico actually sends America really great people. The Republicans themselves are the party of family values, so they would agree with Democrats here: Anyone who wants a better life for their family must be pretty good. And undocumented immigrants want exactly that. So leaving entry into America wide-open actually deprives Mexico of some great citizens. The wall would be doing them a favor.

Which brings me to my point.

It is common knowledge that among the non-racists in America, we universally want to help each other. When we imagine undocumented Americans, we know many are struggling with empty plates at dinner time despite their incredible hard work. And many are incredibly proud of their country’s accomplishments, regardless of where they are from. Which is why I am surprised that, when Trump tries to push a highly visible and labor-intensive achievement at America, around half of you jump back in horror.

Liberals are actually doing it all wrong. We should be supporting Trump’s wall.

It is no secret that the wall would be costly. Regardless of whether it covers the whole border or not, it will require lots of labor to build. Trump will have to create jobs all over the country to work on it. Many of those jobs will go to undocumented Americans here from Mexico. That will actually help everyone feed their families. And every American who works on the project will get to look back with pride at their work. Especially anyone from Mexico, because building the wall will tear away one of the GOP’s winning election issues.

The GOP turns entire parts of political maps red because border security polls well for them. So putting up the wall would actually end one of the GOP’s winning issues in the polls, namely illegal immigration. The DNC would have the upper hand in a dozen states afterwards, especially if Democrat politicians pushed for the wall. It would be like reaching into Trump’s poker hand and taking all of his best cards. Imagine the look on his face.

But there’s an even better move to make here.

Before DNC politicians openly support the wall, they should use one of Trump’s own tactics against him. Namely, they should ask for a very big trade, and then negotiate down to the thing they really wanted. It could start with an offer to help him secure partial financing for the wall in if he gave amnesty to all Dreamers and — here’s the part where it gets really good — accelerated paths to citizenship for immigrants from Mexico and Canada.

This move is actually entirely up for grabs by the DNC. Everyone knows that people with big egos think they can’t be fooled. It would bruise their self-image. And because Donald Trump thinks he is the best con man, he won’t think to check for a con coming his way. In his head, it will look like they are playing right into his tiny hands. But the Democrats will get to make their voters happy and help the country too. Here’s how.

Trump will need financing to make the wall work. The Democrats can make that happen for him, but there’s no way Trump will give amnesty to all Dreamers. His base won’t go for it and he would lose support of too many racists. But there’s an angle. Almost every reasonable person agrees that an undocumented citizen who commits felonies deserves jail time. That’s a fair trade in society. Unfortunately, jailing criminals costs a lot of money. So the Democrats can counter-offer, keeping the Dreamers who have been in the country a long time without committing any crimes, in exchange for Mexico… wait for it… jailing their own criminals.

This exchange allows Trump’s tell his base he is keeping his promise of “making Mexico pay for the wall” by having them jail criminals. It won’t cover the entire cost, but nobody said it had to come from one place.

Then there’s the accelerated path to citizenship. But it can’t look like it’s special treatment for Mexicans. That would be racist and neither the liberals on the left or the racists on the right would go for it. So the Democrats can package it as a friendly “neighbors” agreement with Mexico and Canada.

But there might still be opposition from Trump and his giant orange ego. The racists in his base won’t like the idea of letting in more Mexican immigrants either. So Trump can tell his base about the proposal, and then look big and tough for them by negotiating away five or ten years off the end of the agreement in exchange for more wall money.

Trump and his racist Republicans will think they’re ending undocumented immigration with their wall. But they’re mostly too dumb to know, anyone who wants to can continue to get over the barrier. In exchange, anyone who want to take the legal route to citizenship will get through faster than before, and safer. That’s good for everyone.

Kid Rock’s Senate Speech

If you told me two years ago that a rock star would replace Elizabeth Warren as Senator of Michigan, I would have laughed at you. After today, I’m not so sure.

Jack Posobiec posted a tweet of Kid Rock’s first speech of his campaign early this morning. I knew as soon from the first frame that nobody would forget this speech. I’ll tell you why after we talk a little bit about Kid Rock’s talent stack.

Without even watching the speech, I know Kid Rock has an impressive talent for reading crowds. As a professional musician, Kid Rock has been reading crowds for years. Even as an inexperienced DJ, I can keep track of where the energy of a crowd has been, and anticipate how a crowd will react to changes in energy. I assume that a musician with over 20 years of experience on a stage, standing in front of masses of people, knows how to read a crowd’s energy. And more importantly, he can probably move it up and down like a thermostat. He can warm them up or chill them out when he wants to.

Kid Rock also has a great, expressive voice. He knows how to sing and speaks with charisma. He can drive a lot more feeling through his words than a regular political candidate could ever dream of. And you’ll hear that his speech is actually musical. It rhymes.

Another thing that Kid Rock has going for him is his brand. People are used to seeing him as an American’s American. And because Kid Rock is generally likeable, most people already have good feelings about him, even if they don’t listen to his music.

The stage itself is a reflection of Kid Rock’s performance experience. Bright red and blue lighting, with American flags on either side of him — and another draped over his neck. No one else does this. It’s memorable and comment-worthy. People who sees the video will react, remember, and even share it.

He walks up to the microphone with American music playing, in front of an American background, and shouts hello, drawing in crowd engagement. I’ll assess what he says in a moment. For now, try to watch the video without him grabbing your whole attention. It’s tough.

This attention-grabbing factor will be pulling for him throughout the race. As long as he keeps doing things, people will talk about the “Kid Rock senate run”. And as they talk about it, it will start to seem plausible, and then likely. His biggest problem close to the election might even be that his supporters assume he will win, and then stay home.

After greeting the crowd, Rock goes straight into his stance on healthcare. But pay attention to the words he uses. It’s everyday language. Simple. Everyone can relate. And notice how he gives the Democrat voters who are listening a moment to get on his side.

“What’s going on in the world today? It seems the government wants to give everyone health insurance, but wants us all to pay. And to be very frank, I really don’t have a problem with that [pause] since God has blessed me, and made my pockets fat.”

In this case, the way he says it is more important than what he said. Listen to the speech. It sounds like he really means it. He leaves enough time for a liberal voter to imagine that he is on your side before continuing on to the part about God. The God part doesn’t match most liberals experiences, but the part about fat pockets does, since they believe the rich should pay more.

Then Kid Rock goes on to agree with Republican voters really hard:

“But redistribution of wealth seems more like their plan. And I don’t believe that you should save, sacrifice, do things by the book, and then have to take care of some deadbeat milkin’ the system motherfuckin’ man.”

His swearing ensures you’ll remember it because it is unexpected. He speaks with emphasis. And you can probably tell while listening, the speech actually rhymes. That makes it more enjoyable to listen to, and harder to forget. It’s as if he’s saying, “The soundbyte ends here.”

Then on family issues, Kid Rock goes after irresponsible mothers and absent fathers with a musical bent, calling them the dads “gangster wannabes”. He ends it by slamming his fists to a guitar riff. That’s candy for conversation. People will spread their reviews. This begins his campaign with a head start, stirring up good feelings and trust among his potential voters early on.

He begins his next issue by gently places the flag over the podium, addressing the appearance of racial divide in America. This pre-empts his opposition attempting to label him a racist. His first move is to denounce sitting for the national anthem, but he pivots immediately to saying, “You don’t have to remind me. Black lives matter.” He actually goes through the whole list of disavowals that the media could ask him to make, but with stronger language (and a guitar riff). That actually makes him a leader among the non-racists.

Kid Rock finishes the speech by appealing to everyone to share blame and close the divide. The final image is the silhouette of people lifting their arms up with American flags.

At the end, the viewer might not have words for what they watched, but I think “Michigan’s next senator” would be a pretty good description.

Forest Fires Near The Gorge

In a little more than a week, thousands of Above & Beyond fans will descend on The Gorge Amphitheater in Washington. It’s a beautiful venue surrounded by miles of desert on every side, with a grassy hill overlooking a lake. A dream location for ABGT250.

But there’s a problem.

To get to The Gorge, many people will have to drive through the smoke from forest fires. The forested mountains between Seattle and the Gorge have forest fires all over. Both both major highways used to travel from Vancouver or Seattle to the festival grounds have a fire near them — both north and south. And while I don’t know how to get there from the east, I do know that Idaho isn’t looking good.

However, there is good news. While fires can spread across desert terrain, The Gorge has 40 miles of farmland to the east and south. It’s fine from that direction. And to the west of the Gorge is Ellensburg, which appears to have widespread irrigation for farmland. It’s probably not burning down anytime soon.

Another clue that the Gorge itself will be fine is what isn’t on this map (same link as before). If you zoom in on Washington, you’ll notice that there are fires in the mountains to the west, and fires in central Idaho — and also a big blank area in the middle, without any fires.

You can imagine that if there is an area that large without fires, it’s because that area is generally unfriendly to fires. And the Gorge is part of that area. So it seems like the Gorge will be safe.

It looks to me like the issue will mostly be with getting there, so plan your routes ahead of time. US Highway 2 and the I-90 are my usual routes from Vancouver to the Gorge (they are both near fires, but it’s less likely that both will have problems). They both work from Seattle too. I don’t know what people coming from the south or east would do, but plan accordingly.

Now keep in mind, I’m a dude with a couple maps, so take what I say with a grain of salt. Pay attention to news updates a few days before Group Therapy to find out if there are any travel problems because of the fires. But remember that two weeks is a lot of time. They’ll probably be well under control by then.

Some maps I found helpful:

http://www.idahofireinfo.com/p/maps.html
https://gacc.nifc.gov/nwcc/information/firemap.aspx

See you at ABGT!

Parsing Persuasion, I

This is my attempt at parsing the first ten minutes or so of the Waking Up podcast with Harris and Adams.

I have learned persuasion through Adams’s recommended material and observation of the man himself for over two years now. This is another exercise in learning persuasion.

I won’t try to differentiate between beginner and advanced stuff. It mostly looks the same to me.

Analysis:

“Thanks for having me,” is actually under appreciated. Adams sets the table with a friendly tone.

A few minutes in, after Harris has dissed journalistic ethics, Adams then says: “Yeah, I agree.” This gets himself on Harris’s side early. Pacing, pacing. Harris also mentions “gotcha” questions and other unethical maneuvers. Adams continues on to say, “I wouldn’t worry about me because like you, I’ve done a few of these.” Highlighting similarities.

Ok, now the real stuff Let’s see what Adams packs into a 294 word piece of dialogue.

Adams: Well I should tell your listeners [1] first of all that I have a background as a trained hypnotist, and [2] I’ve been studying the field of persuasion all of my adult life as part of my job, [3] its part of what a writer does, its part of what a cartoonist needs.

[1] Introducing himself as a trained hypnotist is an attention grabber. You don’t hear people say that at any other point in most people’s realities, and never with the specific word order as he does. The clause also segues into another credibility-builder, [2], and opens up curiosity in the listener’s mind in [3]. Together, there’s nothing about what Adams says here that sounds bland. Every single person listening has their head prompted for a new perspective. (I do think [3] might just be Adams explaining things. I don’t know if it’s too important for persuasion. Someone tell me if I’m wrong.)

Adams: So, when I saw Trump enter the race, I noticed fairly quickly that he had the strongest set of persuasion skills I’ve ever seen.

After establishing his credibility and unique perspective, Adams begins to show us the story of President Trump. And he does it by pitching a directional exaggeration from here to Mars. Well, maybe it’s not that much of an exaggeration. Anyway, the point is that the phrase feels awe inspiring. You can’t hear it in the transcript, but he also says it that way, with emphasis. Your rational brain will try to argue with the point, and meanwhile, you’ll be focusing on “Trump ~= persuasion.”

Adams: He has what I call [1] a skill stack, a complementary set of skills that, if you looked at any one of those skills you’d say, [2] “well that’s good, that’s better than most people, but that’s not any world class particular special skill.” [3] But when you put them together, they’re insanely effective. You know, as we can see, because he’s president. [4] He made it against all odds.

This sentence injects Adams’s “talent stack” idea, [1], into the conversation. Most people never hear skill acquisition described this way, so it’s new. Another hit of attention grabbing novelty. But it presupposes that Trump has skills, which is hard to hold in your head alongside the idea of him as a buffoon. Note Adams doesn’t say which skills. That’s harder to disagree with, and it allows the listener to fill in the blanks themselves. Then [2] is all pacing. Most people would agree, Trump is not the top 1% of any particular skill. So Adams has the audience with him when he pivots and says, in [3], “But when you put them together, they’re insanely effective, you know, as we can see, because he’s president.” Adams then finishes the “lead” he introduced by tying it back to a widely agreeable statement, “[Trump] made it against all odds.”

“Trump made it against all odds,” is actually a real beauty. On the left, people can hear this and agree that its unbelievable that Trump is president. On the right, people can hear it and agree that Trump had to elbow, shoulder and shove his way through hundreds of obstacles.

Adams: And, my view on the politics of it is that [1] my political preferences didn’t align with either side in the election. [2] I consider myself an ultra-liberal on social stuff, [3] meaning that even liberals don’t recognize me, because I’m more liberal than liberals. [4] I can give you some examples to fill that in if you want.

Here in [1] Adams positions himself in political neutrality. It’s a subtle way of making himself seem unbiased. He proceeds to pace “liberals” and Democrats with [2], leaving them scratching their heads as to how, exactly, someone can “out-liberal” a liberal. It’s another “exaggerate really hard in one direction” maneuver. As a potentially unintended side effect, it also gives listeners the impression that they could be more liberal if they tried. He goes on to say in [3] that liberals won’t recognize him as a liberal, pre-empting accusations of him being a Republican. If they call him a Trump supporter now, he will just say, “I said you wouldn’t recognize my liberal views.” My favorite part is [4] because it moves the attention off whether his political views really would be left of the left and and onto, “What examples would he give us?”

Adams: And then on the big stuff, you know, the international stuff, the “how do you beat ISIS?” and, whats the best thing to do with north korea? My view is that none of us really know the answer to that. Because we don’t have the information the government would have, and we don’t have the full context that they would have. SO generally I don’t have a firm position on the big international stuff, and on the smaller local stuff, the domestic stuff, I am in favor of people doing whatever they want as long as it doesn’t effect me.

Here Adams slips in a bit of intellectual humility that sounds very reasonable. I doubt many people even disagree with this when he says it, unless he’s already triggered them into disagreement.

Now a larger picture of what he’s done. Adams builds a lot of premises in on top of each other, which means you have to disagree or show that many parts are false before the frame falls apart. This will sound like reason, but I promise, it isn’t that.

We have the idea that Adams recognizes part of reality that we don’t. Hypnotist, persuasion. That allows him the early recognition of Trump as the strongest persuader he’s ever seen. He has a bunch of different skills — but the listener will figure out which ones on their own, after the frame has been set. The election results seem to (now retroactively) confirm this anyways. And because Adams was saying this a year and a bit before the election, it’s consistent and seems more credible. Lastly, there’s the identity play. Adams is on your side!

How to deal with procrastination

When you imagine starting a project, you often imagine doing the work for THE WHOLE PROJECT. No wonder your body doesn’t want to move in that direction.
 
Story time.
 
A friend offered to write a short book’s worth of material about a podcast we listened to IF I would transcribe it. It’s two hours long.
 
No surprise, I didn’t want to do it. Not even twenty minutes of it. So he said to me…
 
“Roland, how about we do a sample to see if we even want this? You write five minutes, I’ll write five minutes.”
“DAMN IT! Stop negotiating with me! You’re too good at it!”
 
I agreed.
 
So I sat down and started writing. Twenty minutes and about 4,000 words later, I’d done 4x what I initially intended to do.
 
So whatever you’re avoiding, you know it’s important, or else your first attempt at avoiding it would’ve been final.
 
It wasn’t final. You’re still avoiding it, and part of you is still trying to get you to start.
 
So make a new proposal. Negotiate. Ask yourself if you’re willing to set aside ONLY five minutes to work on it. Do a MINIMUM amount of work, only enough to say “Ok, I did some.”
 
Once you get over that initial hump, you’ll find out what REALITY is like. And reality is usually better than you imagine it will be.