How to Avoid Doing What You Love

Avoiding your love is a real easy process. Some people manage to do it for decades on end. The reason they avoid it is simple:

They are scared of it. They imagine it will not work out well and believe doing it will lead to pain. Afterwards, their mind will hallucinate reasons why doing this thing is impossible. And removing the reasons that seem to bar their path won’t bring them any closer to action.

If you don’t believe me, try kicking down a few of those reasons. Make their reasons seem irrational, nonsensical. Handle the first one and they will throw a second one at you. As you go on and on, they will become increasingly upset or angry. Like clockwork.

Pain is a natural outcome of something you care about going poorly. It hurts. For those of us who know how to use pain, like jiu jitsu in the mind, that is great news! But this article isn’t about that. It’s about how to avoid that shit all together. So let’s get on to avoiding your love.

  1. Focus on what you have to give up in order to get the thing you’re after. Tell yourself the stuff you have to give up is important. After all, you thought of this stuff. It was your thought, so it must be good.
  2. Visualize a strong negative outcome from whatever action you want to do. Don’t stop to ask, “Could this go a different way?” or, “If this went great, what would that look like?”
  3. When you come across something you fear happening, divert your attention to something else, like celebrity news. Don’t embrace fear as a tool to show you where you can improve. If you had room to improve, that would mean you aren’t the greatest at whatever it is you’re thinking of right now.

I successfully avoided doing something I love for more than a decade. By now I am an expert at avoiding what I love. I could teach a seminar about avoiding it.

By the way, if you want to keep avoiding the things you would love to do, do not read Gorilla Mindset.

The Smart Friend Maneuver

In this post I will explain why it is useful to imagine asking someone smarter than you what to do. The short version of it is that if you believe your smart friend can solve the problem, a solution must exist. Therefore, you too can find the solution. It’s name is The Smart Friend Maneuver, in homage to the person I am stealing from.

I think the long form explanation is worth understanding.

When you study persuasion, one of the first things you accept is that there is an objective reality, but we don’t have access to it. That’s part one.

Part two is imagination. The realm of possibility is completely unknowable. Is something really impossible? We have no way to tell.

As a simple example, the can opener was invented 40 years after the can itself. You know the prerequisites for creating a can opener were around at the same time as the invention of the tin can. But it took half a lifetime to figure out a faster way to open one.

One of the stories we hear over and over again is the importance of belief. There are many possible variables that go into succeeding with ambition. You can mix luck, good choices, hard work, determination, luck, belief, and a few other common variables. It seems like many different combinations are possible. But everyone would agree that belief is an important factor.

This mystery is explained by psychology.

When you believe something, your mind begins to seek out information that supports the belief, and filter out conflicting information. Confirmation bias is part of why this happens. The name of the feature isn’t important though. Note that understanding why it happens is not as important as understanding that it happens. And the effect of belief can be pretty powerful.

Now that you understand the importance of belief, let me tell you a story.

A friend of mine brought me along to walk his new dog. He’s a smart dude, but I sometimes think his imagination is lacking a bit of fun. You’ll see.

One of the first things he pointed out to me is that having a dog is great for starting conversations with attractive women — in that they do it for him, because his dog is cute. I bounced the idea back to him as a non-serious puppy rental service.

For anyone who is unfamiliar with the idea of a thought experiment, I should explain. It’s not serious. You entertain the premise of a thought experiment as a sandbox for possibility. Give the initial variables, and see where your mind takes it. You don’t have to consider any parts of it that don’t contribute to your desired outcome. In my thought experiment, the dog is obviously not harmed by this. That would detract from the fun of thinking about it.

I explained that puppies could be rented out from their owners to go on walks with strangers for a fee. The fee would cover the costs of raising the dog. The renter would have an hour to visit a park and score phone numbers. Simple, with plenty of room to imagine humorous outcomes.

As a persuader, I recognize that my friend was primed with “care-for-the-dog” type thoughts and feelings, so it was natural that he told me, “That won’t work because…”. I replied by asking if he could come up with some ways in which it could work. He was stumped.

Any persuasion student will recognize this as cognitive dissonance. His mind had picked its side. It literally barred him from imagining the alternatives. I took this as an opportunity to experiment further and said, “What if Elon Musk had proposed this idea? Would you believe it could work then?”

He immediately agreed it could work if Elon Musk had proposed it. Citing Musk’s track record, of course the idea could be fine tuned. Suddenly, the idea was possible. I believe that if I had asked, he would have then been able to come up with scenarios in which the puppy-rental worked.

I then pivoted to talking about Neuralink, which is Elon Musk’s most ambitious project yet. Neuralink intends to enable two way communication between the human brain and a strong AI. No more keyboard and mouse. Just a computer that understands your imagination, and sends signals back to respond. I can’t get more specific than that, because Musk’s team hasn’t invented the specifics yet. But they will.

I closed my explanation of Neuralink by saying, “If I had proposed this idea, you’d say it would never work. But because Elon Musk came up with the idea, it seems possible.”

He replied, “Well, of course. He has a great track record.”

It would be easy to overhear this conversation and miss the sink hole sized opportunity for understanding. Luckily you have me.

We agreed earlier that belief is a crucial part of making an idea work. If you don’t believe in an idea, you will give up on it years or even days before inspiration hits you. And for a truly ambitious project, inspiration needs to hit you over and over again.

My argument is that belief is necessary for your mind to even accept the possibility of solutions existing for your problem. Propose an idea that is too ambitious for your ego to handle, and your body must immediately deflect the task of working on it.

This applies in a similar fashion to ideas that come from other people. A person who lacks credibility can say the exact same words as someone who is fully credible and get an entirely different result. I mean, my buddy wasn’t exactly using a control group when he said, “Yes, I believe it because Musk said it, and not you,” but I assert that this works anecdotally.

At this point, I was going to end the story. But something happened on my drive home. The idea rubbed together in my head with a new idea, and I had a flash of insight.

I was wondering if it would be possible to undo the damage recorded music brought on musicians. I didn’t look this up, but “musician” used to be a career before the gramophone came along and ruined everything. Now we are left with a “winner take all” effect. 99.9% of musicians who ever pick up an instrument will never make a penny from their work.

My initial conclusion? Impossible. It seems dubious that I could figure out a way to uninvent the .mp3. The solution would have to involve a new technology or social change that brought back music as a common career. That’s far beyond my capabilities right now (or so I believe).

But I do have a smart friend who I believe is capable of creating a solution. For a second, I entertained the thought of asking them to think about it for a few days and get back to me. And then it hit me.

I believed that my smart friend could invent a solution. Therefore, there must be a solution waiting to be discovered. I even came up with a (bad) solution while I was typing this out. Suddenly, the realm of possibility has a crack forming. I can see something on the other side.

I call this The Smart Friend Maneuver because this individual gave me explicit permission to consider them my “smart friend”. So far, he hasn’t let me down.

If you need help using the Smart Friend Maneuver, you can always ask me.

The Artist and Energy: A Note for Vancouver Producers

In Los Angeles, or the Netherlands, or the UK, a music producer can pursue music by quitting his day job and taking any work he can find. The three figure payouts here and there keeps him fed until his skills and reputation have enough momentum to break through into a tour schedule or better paying ghost production gigs. Along the way he picks up management, marketing buzz, and social media presence. A musician wakes up as his true self for the first time.

This is a story that we are familiar with. It’s how KSHMR and Cash Cash made it from nothing to the festival lineup, and probably hundreds more I haven’t heard of. The cities I listed probably isn’t comprehensive. But they certainly have more energy than Vancouver. Let me explain using Los Angeles as the example.

In Los Angeles, there are musicians trying to make it everywhere. But the energy we need to start a career is also more concentrated. There are dozens of major music labels (both mainstream and dance). There are thousands and thousands of other musicians to work with. Living in California gives you access to every festival and nightlife promoter in America, not just the west coast. So the resistance to getting your first gigs is smaller; you have a greater number of shots at hitting a mark.

You are probably thinking that the Internet happened twenty years ago, and the rules are not the same. I agree. It’s easier to get your name out there with social media and other attention-grabbing tools. But the competition increased there too. Cities exist on a more local level. Build momentum locally as a catalyst to your Internet presence.

Music spreads by the same rules as a meme. When you want to launch a career, you need people to notice your initial work. That’s easier in a place with more energy. The first people to hear about you might like your stuff enough to share it with ten people, one, or none.

It is a game of rinsing your luck over and over. You build your raw talent with repetitions in the studio. Produce, produce, produce. But you can be as great as you want in the studio and still have no career if there’s no one out there to hear it.

In Vancouver, we have a handful of nightclubs, music promoters, and perhaps one big music label (Monstercat). If I lived in Los Angeles, I could network my ass off and have more potential clients than I’d know what to do with, regardless of my skill level. In Vancouver, face to face networking opportunities are relatively scarce. Monstercat might be attracting international attention, but it doesn’t benefit the rest of us in Vancouver unless you go to them for help.

Instead, what if the energy came to us?

I recently heard of a concept called Team Supreme, down in Los Angeles. The jist is that musicians get together every week or two to jam, share ideas, and perform for an audience. To me, it’s a new idea. I’ve seen similar stuff but never like this.

The idea of Team Supreme has enormous potential. This is just a starter idea. I’m sure someone reading this has another idea they’ll think of later. For now consider all the things a group like Team Supreme would have access to by bringing the energy to them:

  • Humans trade favors. When you know a buddy needs help finding a label for his new weird house track, he has only one set of ears to find a good fit. In a tribe of thirty people, there would be thirty pairs. Simplified, every artist’s opportunity for success increases when another member is added.
  • Different people have different talents. I have no idea how to make a professional looking video. But I do know what to film to attract attention like a magnet, what to say, and where to post it. Suppose one of the musicians in our new squad had those talents as well. (We could always hire someone.)
  • A group of people can become noteworthy more easily than one person. Dance music has room for new ideas. The good ones grab attention, which benefits everyone involved. All we need to do is try out different ideas until something sticks.

Before AirBnB was invented, nobody knew there was a 30 billion dollar company to be made out of rooms people weren’t using. The potential was sitting there the whole time.


Producer Groupthink

I am writing this post for a select few people. If I tagged you or somehow directed your attention here, the post is for you. Music music music. Follow along.

Until a few weeks ago, I thought doing job-related work outside of work hours was bullshit. Doing work-related tasks outside of work hours for free wasn’t just stepping in it. That was wading through it knee deep.

If I was anyone else, I probably wouldn’t have noticed this belief slipping away. But it has. I just sat down to study work material for twenty minutes completely by choice (actually I was jiu jitsuing nervousness away).

In part my beliefs are changing because of groupthink.

It is subtle, but everyone in my company has a desire to succeed. The ambitions aren’t spoken, but I presume everyone else has an image of a better future burned into their mind. Everyone has their own ambition reinforced when they feel like their peer is trying about as hard as they are, or harder.

We all behave within a certain subset of human behaviors. We show up, we fuel ourselves with positive feelings, and we do a good job. In short, we try.

I’d like to bring the power of groupthink to music producers. I’m certain most of us who haven’t “made it” yet fall into two categories. Either…

A) You produce, but if you tried, you could produce a lot more, and you sometimes feel down about your work or your odds of success.

B) You put a lot of time towards producing, and usually have positive feelings about it, but you’d appreciate having a source of motivation outside of yourself.

I assert that I know how to produce motivating feelings in a group of people, and link the motivation to the regular music activities you do at home. I was suspicious I could do it for a while, but the same techniques were used at my workplace. So I know. The result might be subtle for some, but others would find their net output goes up drastically.

The plan’s tl;dr is tribal bonding, commitments, imagination exercises, and some group chants (“Hoorah”). It works.

The long version is that when you have a group of people who you like, you have access to people who want you to succeed. (I can design the culture that way. Easy.) You might not realize it, but disappointing your friends might hurt even more than disappointing yourself. These friends can hold you accountable to your own progress. And it’s surprisingly easy to get your imagination fired up when you have other people doing the exercise beside you. Sometimes imagination is used as a demotivator — to bring your mood down. I can show you how to use it to fire you up. As for the group chants, I’ll get back to that.

I personally feel like the motivation alone would make regular attendance worthwhile for other producers, musicians, DJs, etc. It would create other opportunities for us as we expand. I have things up my sleeve, but use your imagination for now.

Lastly, forget the chants if you’re reading this at home. If you love this idea, stop and pump your fist in the air for me right now.

Then share the post with a friend. Thanks.

Mirrors and Sheeple

You’ve probably seen a video on YouTube showing how people follow each other’s social cues. In the video, a hidden camera show hires a bunch of actors to sit in a doctor’s office and stand whenever a beep sound is played. One unwitting participant walks into the scene and begins to follow along with the other participants without understanding why. She’s just following what everyone else is doing.

This video goes along with the common “sheeple” idea that travels around. We have this idea reinforced by friends commenting on it in casual conversation, school teachers, and dweeb researchers alike.

Today I will do my best to stomp out that way of thinking and replace it with a new way to look at us humans.

First, the video.

This experiment relies on a human feature that allows us to communicate using body language and voice tone. In more subtle ways, your body feels inclined to return a smile, look where other people look, and even elevate your heartrate . It’s sometimes called “mirroring”.

Feeling like a “sheeple” attaches a sort of helpless feeling to your humanity. It doesn’t help you enjoy life or function as a member of society. You feel guilty about conforming whenever you notice that you did it “just because everyone else is doing it”. Some rebel against this feeling and try to stand out in unproductive ways. Which is why I am going to suggest a new way to look at cues.

You don’t have to believe this. I am only suggesting you try it next time you notice someone mirroring another person in any way.

Call it mirroring, like I do, and consider the beautiful things it adds to your identity as a human.

Suppose you travel to your favorite foreign city, but you don’t know the language yet. Smile at somebody, and they will mirror you by smiling back. Your words won’t matter.

If you drive a car, you’ve probably clued into an incoming emergency vehicle way before you heard it because you saw other drivers start to pull over. That’s the same feature that causes mirroring, and it saves lives.

The same feature allows you to intuit a person’s inner needs. When someone needs assistance but doesn’t vocalize it, you can often tell by their body language and save them the embarrassment of asking.

In the future, you can begin to notice the positive ways mirroring effects our world. Some of the individual parts are definitely bad. But the overall effect is a functioning society.

Kayzo’s Facebook Persuasion Game

Today I received a message from Kayzo’s Facebook account. I want to highlight how well the message’s persuasion is crafted.

For those of you who do not know of Kayzo, he is a music producer and DJ who has had a successful few years in dance music. I doubt he will slow down anytime soon. His music is great, but any artist who succeeds also has great marketing. I’ll dig into a piece of that here.

First, it’s unusual to receive a Facebook message from a well known artist. Even if you know it’s bullshit sent by a bot, everyone harbors a small hope that the artist sent the message themselves. So when the notification pops up on your phone, that’s exciting.

Kayzo’s direct-mail advertising is immediately different from other artists’. The usual format is:

“Hey! My new track is now available. Check it out here and let me know what you think! [link]”

That’s standard, and boring. I even avoid clicking those messages when it’s from an artist I like. Now look what Kayzo’s message said:

“Hey Roland. i dropped something new. do you wanna check it out?” and then a “YES!” button below the message.

This is great persuasion. The question at the end gets your curiosity. The track’s name isn’t even mentioned. You have one way to find out, which is committing a big, bold “YES!” By giving you only one choice, and a positive one, you get a peek into a reality where you are super, super excited about this track. Would you love to read more of this blog? YES!

Then when you click “YES!”, it actually pastes it in chat. At which point you are prompted with this message:

“Whistle Wars finally is out and on Spotify! Check it out and add to your playlists!” [Spotify link]

Now I didn’t click the link. I just waited because I was busy watching a Periscope. But that didn’t matter, apparently, because Kayzo sent me another message right after asking me what I think of it.

The genius is that I was only given two options.

“Like it?” or “Love it?”

In either case, they use commitment and consistency to funnel me into liking the track. If I like the experience enough to click a button, I’m set. Note that the word “Like” can point to anything from Kayzo to his music. The result is the same.

I did eventually click “Like it?” and received an automatic “Thanks for your feedback” response. But because it was interactive, Kayzo has me locked in to liking his music a little bit more.

There was some room for improvement by the way. “I like it!” or “I love it!” would have been more affirmative than the question formats I was presented with. But that’s ok. It still works.

Perfect Presuasion By My Mother

My mother surprised me today with some high caliber presuasion. She has definitely read Dr Robert Cialdini’s “Presuasion,” but I still didn’t expect it. Here’s what she did.

In Presuasion, Cialdini quantifies an enormous lesson in human behavior: The moment before influences the moment after greatly, greatly.

It is the kind of knowledge many of us recognize at one point or another. If you have someone laughing, that is a much better time to make a request than if they are angry at you. But that’s just an extremely obvious example. Cialdini goes much further down the rabbit hole.

As I got home from work, charged up but hungry from a long day of sales, my mother asked me:

“Do you want to eat a mexican casserole tonight?”

While she often makes dinner, she rarely makes that dish. And it’s an awesome recipe. “Mexican casserole,” which is ground beef, beans and cheese baked in the oven. It’s everything I want. I gave an enthusiastic yes. And then she surprised me.

“Do you want to make it yourself?”

I didn’t even hesitate. I went in on it. Yes, even though I have to be asleep in two hours, and learning new recipes is hard, I do want to make that dish. Thankfully, it’s an easy dish. I knew that at the time. This will be important later.

Now only fellow readers of Adams can fully appreciate this. But I’ll do my best to explain.

Past attempts to learn a new recipe are typically nonstarters. I buy the ingredients and it sits there in the fridge until the greens start to wilt. It’s hard to get the motivation to make good food when you have bad but accessible alternatives. But this casserole recipe has a huge payoff, and I might have even commented aloud how simple the recipe is. On top of the spoken comment, my mother also bookmarked the recipe for me with a big orange marker.

The consistency principle states that someone who takes a small step towards a larger action will be less resistant to the idea in the future. So I was already committed towards this idea weeks ago. (If you ask me, the commitment principle qualifies as presuasion, even though it’s from the previous book.)

My mother’s real genius is the timing of it. She might be unaware of this, but many salesmen experience a thing called a “sales high”. You get charged up with energy from having enough people say yes, earning you a commission. It’s a flood of reward in your brain, which charges you up.

In my experience, the charge lasts for an hour or two afterwards. Just enough time for me to get in the door hungry and motivated to say yes to a request that requires a lot of energy. Presuasion gold.

As an extra shoutout, she also took the time to “Grease the path” as @jhreha would say. When you want someone to pick up a new habit, you “grease the path” for them by removing obstacles to their initial success. My mom did this for me by choosing an easy recipe (it’s four ingredients) and placing them together on the countertop. I couldn’t refuse.

I still can’t tell if she did it on purpose.