Derek Sivers

Interviews → Art of Charm

Why being a good follower might be more important than being a good leader, learning from the best, and the value of experiential learning versus theory.

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Link: http://theartofcharm.com/podcast-episodes/episode-128-derek-sivers/


Jordan:

Welcome to the Art of Charm, I'm Jordan harbinger. The Art of Charm brings together the best coaches in the industry to teach you guys how to a crush in life, love and at work. Imagine having a mix of experienced mentors teaching you their expertise, packing decades of research, testing and tough lessons into a concise curriculum. We've created one of the premier men's lifestyle programs available anywhere, and it's free. This is the show we wish we had a decade ago. This show is about you and we're here to help you become the best man you can be in every area of your life. Make sure to stay up-to-date with everything going on here and get some killer free e-books as well as drills and exercises that'll help you become more charismatic and confident by signing up for the newsletter at theartofcharm.com. If you're new to the show but you want to know more about what we teach here at The Art of Charm listen to the toolbox at theartofcharmpodcast.com/toolbox. That's where you'll get the fundamentals of dating and attraction such as body language, eye contact, vocal tonality, all that stuff that's more important than you might think. We've got bootcamps running every single month here in California, details on theartofcharm.com and looking forward to meeting all of you guys here at The Art of Charm. Enjoy! So we're here with Derek Sivers from sivers.org and actually you're probably more well known for founding CD Baby back in the day.

Derek:

Yeah it's funny, I left... or I sold the company two years ago and when I did I kind of felt like that would be my gravestone, you know, like a child star, like the rest of my life I'll only be known for that thing I did long ago. But I started going to the TED conference over the last few years and spoken at TED four times now and now I find, when I travel, people know me more from the TED conference then they do from CD Baby, so... it's kinda cool.

Jordan:

Yeah, that is cool. I mean TED is a really awesome conference. In fact if you guys out there are listening and you don't know what TED talks are go to... is it ted.org?

Derek:

Ted.com.

Jordan:

Ok, go to ted.com and there's a lot of really amazing talks there from just simply amazing people including, Derek yourself, but there's... I mean, they have a lot of people on there that are just incredible: Arianna Huffington I saw it recently, and all kinds of scientists and is just really really amazing knowledge, it's kind of like... if you like Discovery Channel with The Learning Channel this is your crack. And it's all free and is available, you know, to stream on your podcast device, like your iPhone. You can watch it or you can just download it on iTunes or you can watch it on your TV... it's amazing. But you spoke there as well and what things I like that you spoke about that comes mind first was you... you found this YouTube video of a guy dancing on a hill like, I guess some sort of rave type thing or a music festival and he's dancing by himself and everyone was kind of staring at him. And then something amazing or interesting, right? He basically starts... he's dancing by himself and everyone's just hanging out and, and then in just a couple of minutes everybody else's dancing. He's the guy who starts off the party. And you discussed this this phenomenon where the leader has to really... as opposed to knowing what to do or to be most charismatic, you really just need to kind of have the balls to stand out there and risk being that guy... or he becomes the leader of a movement.

Derek:

Yeah... well, when I saw the video at first people were just kinda forwarding around saying "hey look at this funny dude dancing, and everybody joins in." But after watching it once or twice I realized it was like, everything I had learned about leadership from books like Seth Godin's Tribes or Malcolm Gladwell's Tipping Point, this is like, this is the three minute version of things that they're describing as giant movements that happen over the course of years. It's like this is a metaphor for that start to finish. But what was really interesting is that... I seriously didn't get this until watching it like twenty times, that I thought it was about the leader, I thought it was about that first guy that stood up. And like the stuff you just said a minute ago, like "hey man, he had the balls just to stand up and do it", and I thought it was about that. But after watching it many times, I realized it wasn't really him, meaning he was just a kind of lone nut that had been dancing for an hour. And what's funny is, if you look around YouTube there's other videos of this guy, so he was sitting there dancing for like a whole hour by himself and everybody was just snickering at the guy, right? And it wasn't until one kid had the balls to kind of stand up and join in, and this kid stood up and like, sort of imitating the shirtless dancing guy, and like stood right next to him. And then what was cool is that the shirtless dancing guy totally embraced him, he's like "yeah man, right on, cool!", and he kind of was like, joining him in the dance, and everything... and because that one kid got up to join in, then a second guy got up, it's like "eh screw it man, I'll join in", and then because two guys were standing up then three more jump in. Then five more, then... because these people... you know, then everybody jumps in. So watching this repeatedly I realized... an important lesson is: it was the first follower that made all the difference. That... the shirtless dancing guy was just a lone nut, who was doing his thing. It wasn't until he got his first follower that anything happened. So I realized that the first follower is like an underestimated form of leadership in itself. That the first follower is what transforms a lone nut into a leader.

Jordan:

Sure. Now that makes perfect sense, I mean... it sounds like: sure the first guy out there, the crazy looking guy, that's obviously the trendsetter so to say. But the guy who goes out there and sort of legitimizes what he's doing... it makes it so much easier to be the third, fourth, fifth, sixth guy. It's, I guess almost like a tipping point. It's proof that... ok, maybe this isn't something that's weird and for social outcasts only, this is something that's actually now starting. This is actually... there's momentum gained there.

Derek:

Right. So the practical lesson learned from this, that like, people can use is that we're often told that we all need to be leaders, right? So we all think that we each need to start our own revolution or something. But realize that if everybody is just out there doing their own thing, that's really ineffective. What really makes a revolution happen is finding somebody that you like what they're doing and kind of having the balls to be the first one to stand up and join in, you know? So you may find somebody that you think is brilliant at whatever they're doing, you know, and they just are just standing alone until you kinda have the guts to kinda join in and say: "you know what, man? I really like what you're doing, can you show me how this works and can I help in any way?" It's like, that's where thing really start to happen. Not just one person standing alone doing something. So I thought that really applies to the kind of stuff you talk about, I mean with, I mean who knows where the, kind of, the pickup scene really started or who's gonna take credit for saying, you know, I invented that. But I'm sure at some point it took somebody to kind of say like, "hey man, can you show me that?"

Jordan:

Yeah, I mean it's social dynamics in general, you know, it's... Dale Carnegie is one of the first guys, but sure... he was probably considered kind of a weird dude back in the day. He was this granola eating hippie that thinks you can win friends and influence people by being interested in them, that's silly. I mean I'm sure people... I know people still think like that in a lot of ways as well, so it definitely has to become, like you said, a movement has to be public. You gotta make sure that outsiders don't just see the one crazy guy, you gotta see that there's... there's somebody to emulate as well. Because people don't try to be the next leader, they try to be the next follower when it comes to a movement. I thought that was pretty interesting as well.

Derek:

Actually here is another example, I hadn't thought about this before: neuro-linguistic programming. I think Tony Robbins actually really helped popularize that. Like, when he was out there kind of in the eighties, kind of doing this deep search trying to find all kinds of techniques for success, he ran across... I forget the original guy's name... Band...

Jordan:

Richard Bandler, yeah.

Derek:

Bandler. So, Bandler was kind of a nutter and kind of off doing his thing and it wasn't a popular movement at all and Tony Robbins kind of found this and said "wait a second, this stuff works", and then he's the one who kind of preached it out to millions. So in a way Tony Robbins was kind of a first follower for that kind of thing and then kind of turned... helped popularize it. So there are probably lot's of things going on and... another thing that's cool about TED is you do get kind of a lot of lone nuts up there sharing their work. And then, you know, if you like what somebody's doing you can join in and kind of help... show other people how they can take advantage of this.

Jordan:

Yeah it makes a lot of sense, you're right, there are a lot of ideas being presented at TED, some of which are really popular and interesting and some of which, I'm sure, people lean back and go "...what the hell are you talking about?" I remember one in particular that was a woman who was a game designer and also a PhD. And she talked about how people were playing World of Warcraft and they had something like... that four billion years or a billion years or something had been spent... or maybe that was in hour, a billion hours or something were spent playing World of Warcraft. And people... kids had played more video games... more hours of video games than doing anything else aside of sleeping by the time they're 21. So it's like school... they had played as many hours of video games by the time they got out of college or high school than they had actually going to school. So her argument was: "let's make games that change the world." And, you know, I can imagine what my parents would've said if they've seen that talk, they would've said "there's no such thing, that is impossible, this is ridiculous, this is, you know, a poisonous type of thinking" or whatever. But you know, it's entirely possible that the next idea that we all think is ridiculous and snicker at is actually huge and important and world-changing.

Derek:

Yeah, totally agree, I love that kind of stuff. Just kinda brainstorming with you and thinking about, kind of being public. Just yesterday I was meeting with somebody who said: "I wanna learn from the best, you know, I know a friend who knows somebody that knows Richard Branson. And I wanna learn from him, I wanna learn how to be a businessman from the best." And I was thinking about that afterwards, thinking well... is Richard Branson the best or is he just the one who's put the most effort into publicity? Like, there may be... well I'm sure there are hundreds of incredible business people, entrepreneurs, in... Chicago and Tampa and Berlin and Santiago that you also have a lot to learn from. It's just that they're not as public, it'll take more effort to define them. Sometimes the people you need to learn from are not necessarily the most public ones. Especially the most public ones are probably already swamped in attention from all the other people that are just kind of reaching for the low-hanging fruit on who to learn from.

Jordan:

Sure.

Derek:

And... I like this idea, like with a little extra effort you can find people that are even greater than the ones that are famous for doing something, and you have even more to learn from, and they're less swamped with the world's attention and may be more willing to help. Anyways... just thinking out loud.

Jordan:

No, it makes perfect sense as well. A lot of people think that too, they have that same thinking like "well, I've gotta learn from the number one guy." And it is kind of an interesting thought pattern and I understand why people think that way. On the other hand, if you've never done business before, say if you never played golf before you probably be... not only would it be a bad idea or wasteful to learn from, say, Tiger Woods, but it might actually be detrimental because Tiger Woods might have a tougher time showing you the basics of a golf swing as opposed to showing you some really advanced stuff to advanced players. Whereas somebody who knows how to drive the ball down the range but isn't necessarily good at it might be a much better teacher for those of us that are beginners. And, you know, if a really advanced CEO of a large company or a midrange company would hang out with Richard Branson and be able to ask him questions, he might get a lot of value from that. But if you've never started a business on your own and you're trying to learn from Richard Branson who owns a conglomerate of just massive massive media companies and technology companies, it may be so over your head that it's not even productive at that point. And I really believe that. I mean a lot of guys, they wanna learn from the best of the best of the best on something, but almost... that's almost just ego talking. Or it's an excuse to not take action, 'cause it's like "well if I can't learn from Richard Branson then I'm just not gonna bother, because there's no point in not learning from the best."

Derek:

Right.

Jordan:

And a lot of that is an excuse process. 'Cause really, if you've never founded a business you might as well start Googling or go on LegalZoom and look at those little silly intro articles they have about starting up your business, because at least that's a step you haven't taken yet.

Derek:

Yeah, yeah.

Jordan:

So... I really agree with that and I see that mentality a lot among guys who wanna learn to be better with people as well. "Well if I can't work with you directly, then I don't wanna do it." And it's like, well you can but I'm gonna charge you more and it's actually not gonna be as productive as just sitting in a classroom with all the other new guys, you know?

Derek:

Yeah. Exactly. And then there's just the... I call this like the grad school problem, where people just... they don't wanna leave school, you know, and somebody is saying "oh I got my master’s in something, but I'm thinking of going back and getting a second master's or doctorate..." and it's like "oh come on! Get out into the world!"

Jordan:

Yeah. Do something!

Derek:

You gotta leave your little Ivy campus at some point, you're actually doing yourself a disservice by staying in school. By throwing yourself out there into the world you learn so much more than just kind of sticking in theoretical land and... I know that's just, you know, like a huge lesson with the kind of stuff that you do too.

Jordan:

Oh yeah! Experiential learning is where it's at. I mean, I went to law school and I can tell you that if you were simply be a paralegal in a law firm you would learn a lot more about litigation or law in general than you would going to the best law school in the world. Guaranteed.

Derek:

Hmm interesting...

Jordan:

Same thing with a doctor, I would imagine, if you were to learn, in undergrad all those prerequisites for medical school: chemistry, biology, all that stuff, you spend one summer assisting a doctor or working in a hospital and you will learn a lot more about suturing wounds and stopping bleeding and talking to people about what kind of weird crap is going on with their body. Guaranteed! Experience teaches you much more than theory any day.

Derek:

I just thought when I was 21 years old I moved to New York City and I got a job at Warner Brothers Music, and they had me set up a little tiny recording studio. I was actually working in the music publishing division which is more about, you know, the copyrights. But we set up a little recording studio just for the sake of the writers that were signed to the publishing company when they were coming to town, they could use it to record demos. And I was the guy in charge of the studio. And, the funny thing, it was just like this deep crash course that I... all of a sudden I was the engineer and songwriters were coming in, going "ok, give me more of this, give me more of that, now I need this, now compress that, now give me this kind of sound, no, come on, like that!", and it was just this, this high adrenaline, quick you have to do it right now, figure out how to make it sound good kind of thing. And then... but I had just graduated from music school, right? So, in music school you choose your path, you know, you can either major in performance, like, you know actually... your fingers on the fretboard, or you can major in composition, which is a lot of writing... or you can major in music production. And music production was the most expensive major, you had to pay a lot more tuition and fees than a regular major, because it involved hands-on with lots of million dollar studio equipment. So I had friends that spent, you know, a lifetime of debt majoring in music production at Berklee College of Music for four years... and, I swear I got more experience in just like one year of actually running a real studio, even if it was a small studio, than like four years of theoretical... I hadn't thought about the comparison 'til you just said it. Yeah, in a way that was like my version of being a paralegal instead of law school, it's like... I was actually out there doing it, where, you know... anyway.

Jordan:

Well, it's an interesting theory as well... or an interesting point as well, 'cause a lot of guys will learn theory, theory, theory. They'll learn... And there's a lot of scientific studies on attraction and how attraction works and how people relate to each other and how people connect with each other. And here at The Art of Charm we often find ourselves kind of laughing when these studies come out, 'cause they'll say something like: "Body language is suddenly this huge factor and why people's first impression of you and... women are more attracted to a guy who's standing upright in this way... and projects confidence in that way..." It's like ok congratulations, science, it only cost you, you know, ten million dollars to do this study and now you're one tenth of of one percent closer to knowing on an academic level what we teach our students here on our workshops every single day, and what we teach in our programs. And, granted, they've proven it scientifically, but it's like: ok, fine, you've got a paper and a study that shows that that's true. But I would've told you that that's true, you know, years ago, if you'd taken a class from me. And you could've tested it, found out that it was in your experience, or you could've tested it and found out that it wasn't, but you certainly don't need a scientific study to do it. And then, then I always... I'm always having these sort of day dreams where I meet those scientists in real life and they don't practice anything that they... They've got bad body language and crappy eye contact and they're mumbling, you know, it's like oh man... Even if you've got the study you don't necessarily know how to embrace the skills.

Derek:

You know it's funny, I... there's two books out there that I highly recommend: one is called Talent is Overrated and the other is called The Talent Code. Both very similar, similar subject. One key thing they talk about is the importance of making mistakes for learning. And they show this great study and... see sometimes I think these little academic studies are fun for things like this, because you can kind of build upon them, metaphorically, and think of how they apply. So it went like this: they had a paper full of facts, that... and they brought a hundred people in to learn these facts. So, half the group got to study this page of facts four separate times in four separate sessions, and then they were quizzed a week later. The other half of the group got to study the paper only once, but then they were quizzed on it three separate times afterwards. And after each quiz they were showed where they made mistakes. So then both groups were brought back a week later to see how much they retained. and the group that studied it only once but was quizzed three times remembered 50% more than the group that actually got to study it four times. And the whole idea was that, when you are encountering some kind of problem or situation, and you actually make a mistake, you get a little burned, you remember that so much more than if you were just studying in safety. So I think this is kind of... to me the extrapolation of the idea of like, why you need to get out of grad school and go out into the world. You need to make mistakes, you need to get burned... you need to get your ass kicked a bit because that's the way you really learn. Just staying in the safe environment of the land of theory you don't really learn, as well... well you learn 50% less than you do by just going out and making mistakes and getting your ass kicked. And I... this applies to entrepreneurs, you know, like... I meet a lot of people in business school that are learning about entrepreneurship and they stay within safe confines of business school and they read all these books and they learned a lot about entrepreneurship. But you learn so much more by just throwing yourself out there and screwing up and...

Jordan:

That's for sure, I can vouch for that. I mean, when you... you're an entrepreneur as well and you founded a music company that sold quite a few CDs and music tracks in your day and you sold it, like we discussed earlier. Now, you... I know, I as an entrepreneur have learned so much just from hard knocks and going "oh, this is supposed to work and it totally didn't..." and... what's funny is you talked to other entrepreneurs and they go "yeah, that never worked for us either, this doesn't work for us either." But yet, this is... some of this stuff is the, sort of quintessential knowledge that you would learn in a business... academic business environment from people who've never run a business. "Oh, you just advertize, that generates leads, and those leads buy things", and it's like ok, well I don't know where you learned that, but you can advertize all you want, and unless you're actually really testing the heck out of this, you're throwing money down the drain. And a lot of people think: "well big companies advertize everywhere, they have Super Bowl ads... and that must be converting, there must be ROI on that." And that's not necessarily true, a lot of that is just, sort of, to put it crudely, it's like dick-measuring for a brand, to have a Super Bowl commercial, or to have billboards on the side of the highway in a major metropolitan area.

Derek:

Yeah, absolutely.

Jordan:

Hey guys I wanna take a quick break for a second here. You've heard me talk a lot about taking you to the next level in life, at work and in your relationships. And you've also thought to yourself: "yeah, I do wanna up my game, I wanna become a better man, a better boyfriend or a husband, a better person in general." And my guess is that you've been thinking about this for a long time, am I right? Well, I'm here to tell you this: stop thinking! Your chance is now. Do you really need more time, more information, more plans for the future or do you wanna become that guy today? Because the truth is this: you can be the guy who sits around and thinks about becoming better, or you can be the guy that decides that today is the day that he's gonna become awesome and take action in that direction. And I want that for you. Why? 'Cause you already got what it takes. The potential is there, even if you don't know it yet. Join me and thousands of guys who've taken action in their lives at theartofcharm.com. All right let's get back to the show. When you founded CD Baby... can you maybe, I know I'm putting you on the spot here, are there a few really really big lessons that you maybe could take away from that that you could share with our audience?

Derek:

Oh hell yeah! Lot's. Let's see... Well the counter-intuitive stuff is that... I have this big theory that, that you shouldn't pursue business. If you are starting a business because you want to start a business, that's the wrong reason. And if you're starting a business because you want money... don't do anything for the money. And don't start a business because you want to start a business. The only reason you should be doing it is, kind of answering people's call for help. Meaning like, when there's people that need help with something and they want you to help them do it and when you, kind of, tell them, you know... say you get this feeling that the world needs something, and you start presenting it to people. If people say something like: "huh... that sounds like a pretty good idea", then don't do it. Only if they say: "holy fucking shit! Oh my god! I need that! Are you really going to do that? Oh my god that would be amazing! Can I pay you right now? Holy... that would be so awesome, I need that right now, in fact here's my credit card. Please, can I be the first to do it?" Then you know you're on to something. And the thing is, if it's any... if you get any less of a response than that, don't do it. Because we all know these facts that 90% of businesses fail, right? And I think it's because... or it's more like just, knowing this in advance, that 90% of businesses fail... just... don't even do the stuff that people aren't freaking out over. If people aren't freaking out over your idea, then... keep working on the idea. There's a great... Warren Buffett gave advice to a graduating class, I think he gave some kind of speech at USC Business School or something, and he said... imagine... one of my best bits of investment advice for everybody is to imagine you got a little punch card, kind of like the... you know, when you go to the ice cream store and they give you that little card with ten hole punches in it... at least, I go the ice cream store... anyway. He said imagine you've got a little punch card like that, with only ten holes, and in your entire lifetime, you're only allowed to make ten investments... if you know that in advance, you'll be very careful, you'll say no to almost everything, until you really see a sure winner, an absolute home run. You know, you could tell that the ball is coming right into your strike zone, whatever... you know you can hit it out of the park, then you swing. He said but... say no to everything else, and just go for ten home runs. And I thought that was beautiful, he said that's what his Berkshire Hathaway, his investment process is is that they just say no to almost everything. And only when they see that something is an absolute home run, and absolutely worth doing, then they just knock it out of the park and they throw everything into it entirely and make it a big huge investment. They don't dabble. And I think for young entrepreneurs there's something to that, like... to just... it's almost this idea of reluctant growth and... now I'm talking about me again, like, when I started CD Baby I was actually... I was making a full time living as a musician, I mean, I was living the musician's dream! I was making... last time I had a job was 1992. I mean, actually like a job with a boss, you know? So for ten years I was making my full time living touring, playing on people's records, producing people's records, whatever it takes... I was making a full time living as a professional musician in New York City. I even bought a house with the money I made touring. It's like, this was it, I was living the dream, right? So when all my friends started to ask if I could sell their CD for them it was just because I had built this little thing for myself to sell my CD. And then friends started saying "oh wow, could you sell my CD through that thing?" The first few times I just did it as a favor, then pretty soon like friends of friends were calling saying "hey man, my friend Dave said you can sell my CDs, is that true?" I said "yeah, no problem." But then it's like, five people a day started calling, I was like "wow, I think I'm... started a business. But I didn't want to! I didn't want something to distract me from the musician's life I was living, you know? I already was living my dream, I did not want something to pull me away from this. And, I swear, I think that part of the success of CD Baby was that I was so reluctant. And even as I had clearly started a company it was right at the beginning of the dot-com boom, so over the next three years, everybody was trying to throw money at me. Just all these investors would constantly call and I would just say "no, no no no no" and they would say... Every now and then I'd play with them, they'd say "we wanna invest in your company, why don't you take some financing?" and I'd say "for what?" and they'd say "so you can grow your business." I'd say "I don't wanna grow my business", they'd say "what do you mean?", I'd say "I want my business to be smaller... not bigger" I was making a living making music, I don't want something to distract me. I will only grow if I absolutely have to, meaning, if my musician clients are requiring me to grow then I'll grow. But I'll never pursue it. Don't pursue growth. Let the world... you know, just answer the world's call. Does that make sense?

Jordan:

Yeah, it absolutely does. And it's really good to hear to. Because it really parallels how our company started as well. We started as a podcast, AJ and I, in his friend's basement. And we were just recording this because, well, frankly we were too lazy to start a blog. And also because we thought it would be a really cool chronicle for us to have, or sort of us learning and developing. So we made it public and people were like "this stuff is really really helping me learn, because you guys are making all these mistakes and you're going out there and you're giving me the courage to do the same." But I feel like I'm sharing knowledge with you on how I'm growing in this area and it's really a huge relief to sort of... So we were kind of like Dancing Guy, but we didn't really know it. And then we started to get guys saying "hey listen, I'm gonna be in your area, let's hang out", so we'd go and hang out. And the guy would say "listen, I'm gonna buy you dinner or drinks, it's the least I can do, 'cause you guys have helped me so much." So we started to regularly get that. And then we had guys saying "listen, I wanna come and stay with you guys for like a month and learn from you." And we're like "well cool, but we don't really know you so you have to like, kind of cover your own way", and the guy would say "how's... how about four or five grand, will that do it?" We're like "ok, that will do it, not a problem." So we had guys coming to pay us rent, and then eventually we had guys saying "hey listen, I live in Denmark, or, you know, Africa... can I talk to you guys on Skype, I have a bunch of questions?" And originally we were cool with that, just short... short little sessions, but then it got to the point we had to charge for our time. And then we suddenly had a coaching business. And we had demand, and we were unable to fill it all, so we hired other coaches. And then, you know, it just grew so fast, but not because we were marketing it, but because people wanted to buy things from us.

Derek:

I love that! See, it's like, that's when you know you're on to something. I think one of my biggest bits of advice for young entrepreneurs is that, like, listen to Jordan's story, listen to my story and it's like, that's how it feels when you know you're really on to something. And if you're not getting that kind of response and feedback yet, don't be discouraged, it just means that, like, it's still a creative challenge, then just keep creatively tweaking what you've got... what your plans are. And then wait until you get this kind of response from people. I love that. One last little comparison is that when I sold CD Baby I had all of these pent-up ideas, you know, ten years of talking with musicians and hearing what their troubles were. So when I sold CD Baby, on my website I kind of announced my next six projects. I was like "here's my next... six services to help musicians." I announced them all at once. And the funny thing was noticing that, like, five of the six people would say "ah yeah, that sounds pretty cool, you know, let me know if that happens, that's... that's a good idea." And then one of the six, people were like "oh my god, really? You're going to do that? That would be amazing! I need that! Can I sign up first please?" And it's like... so I ended up just letting go of the other five, I just kind of quietly removed them from my site and my plans, and I'm just working only on that one. And, you know it's like, that's... I advise people to kind of go for that kind of quantity. Come up with many ideas, and don't get too attached to any one idea. Just wait to see how people... put them out there and then only do the one that people are freaking out over.

Jordan:

Absolutely! Yeah, I think it's, it's good, 'cause a lot of people don't really... whenever I come up with business ideas it seems like there's a few where people are like "eh that's a pretty good idea." But you know you're on to something when people go like "wait, wait, what are you talking about? Where can I get that? Oh, that doesn't exist yet? Holy cow... do you have a patent on that idea? Do you know how to start it?" You know they're starting to ask those questions, like "if I steal this, am I gonna get in trouble?" and you're like, ok... If people are asking you, you know, how to get away with taking your idea or helping you with your idea or even just doing your idea if you won't... now you know, yeah, you're absolutely on to, on to something positive there. Which is great. You know, speaking of getting things done, you actually had an interesting point about how a lot of people talk about what they wanna do and that actually sort of short circuits a lot of getting things done in the first place. It's counter-intuitive because people say: set goals, tell people about 'em so they can support you, so that you're accountable and it's good networking to throw all your ideas out there all the time because people will come back to you with help and connections and there's this, you know... The Secret is out there, the law of attraction, shouldn't you be... shouldn't your intentions... especially in California... shouldn't your intentions be known, and the goal should be visualized and you should put it out there to the universe and all this stuff. And you said: actually, in a very...there's an avalanche of knowledge that's not new that stems from the '30s of all... you know, speaking of not new, ancient history here, that people who talk about their goals and their intentions are far less likely to actually get it done.

Derek:

Yeah. It surprised me too. I was reading, I subscribed to Psychological Science journal, this kind of academic journal that's ridiculously expensive, but I just love their articles... especially because they're so non... polished for mainstream, they're just purely academia. But I think it's fascinating, kind of like digging in fine things like that. So this isn't my idea, and this isn't like my theory, it's just that actual tests done repeatedly since 1933 have shown that when somebody announces their goal, and to be clear it's a goal that's kind of tied in with their identity, so it's identity goals like : I am going to lose weight, I am going to learn Chinese, I am going to run a marathon. Identity goals, when you tell somebody your goal and they acknowledge it, it becomes in the mind... what they call a social reality in the brain. So we've all heard this before about how athletes and musicians often can kind of close their eyes and do a perfect performance in their mind without actually lifting a finger, right? And rehearsing something repeatedly in your mind can lead to better performance, right? Because it's almost like... your mind has a couple different ways of receiving input. One way is if you're actually moving your arms and hands and fingers and doing something, it's still just sending little synaptic sparks back to your brain, right? But just imagining it also sends those little synaptic sparks into your brain. So it's... just imagining it is kind of as if it's real, right? So they found that this social acknowledgement when you tell somebody "I'm gonna run a marathon, I'm gonna lose 50 pounds" and your friends say "wow that's great, congratulations, that's so cool" they've actually just... in your mind it feels as if it's already happened, you know? It's like that social reality was like a perfect performance of it. And now that you've felt some of the satisfaction you're less likely to follow through, because ideally you would feel no satisfaction until you had actually done the hard work necessary, I mean, it's hard to lose 50 pounds, you know? It's hard to run a marathon. Ideally you should feel no satisfaction until you've done the hard work necessary. But just by telling others and having them acknowledge it your brain is kind of tricked a bit into feeling like it's already happened, and you go "eh I'll take the day off, I'll run tomorrow, I'll just have a donut, it's just one donut", you know.

Jordan:

Interesting!

Derek:

Because in your mind you've already felt the satisfaction. So yeah it was really counter-intuitive. But I think, what's funny is, even though I've done three different talks at TED, this is the one that got the most comments on their site, because it's so counter-intuitive. But on the other hand, a lot of people when you tell them this, they think about it for a bit and they go "oh my god, you're right!" Like there have been so many times in my life that I've told everybody I know that I'm gonna do something, and it felt good just telling them I'm going to do it. And then I ended up not doing it. It's like, well you already felt the satisfaction just in telling people. And, so, ok you mentioned California. Dude I'm so glad you mentioned you mentioned Cal... so I'm born in Berkeley, California. I lived on the beach in Santa Monica for six years, well really just up until a couple months ago. And, all right, so I'm a California guy. And the funny thing to me about LA though, is that LA in particular... or maybe we should say Hollywood in particular, but let's just say LA, everybody talks in future tense! It's always like "hey I'm gonna be meeting with this guy and we'll be working on this thing, yeah we're gonna be putting together this project... yeah this guy says we're gonna, you know, he's gonna get involved in this...he's gonna work on something-something, we're gonna be putting together..." and everybody talks in future tense all the time. When I first moved there I felt just like wearing a T-shirt that just says "tell me when it happens." Like, "really, are you able to speak in present tense?" Like...

Jordan:

Well they don't because present tense is "I'm working at Denny's." End of story.

Derek:

It feels good! It feels good to be talking about what you're going to do: "I'm gonna do this, I'm gonna be working on that..." It feels good. And then you got this little self-image of your brain, like "yeah man, I'm living in LA, I got a lot going on. Things are falling into place for me. Listen to all these things that I'm talking about that are going to happen." It feels good to a say it, but, you know, feeling that satisfaction makes you less likely to confront the present reality.

Jordan:

Yeah that definitely makes sense, I mean, once you start yappin' about what you're gonna do, like you wrote in your in blog, it give you that sense of... a premature sense of completeness. And that becomes really dangerous, especially... I see that, living in Hollywood now as well, is that you're so much less motivated to do it if you go like "ok, well my plan is in place..." and a lot of guys do that with, with the social dynamics and the dating stuff as well, they're like "you know what, I'm gonna, I'm gonna start going out there more, I'm gonna start putting myself out there more and I'm gonna start talking to more people. Thanks for your help!" and I'm like whoa, whoa, whoa I didn't help you with anything. In fact, I'd be remiss if I didn't tell you that you telling me that you're gonna put yourself out there more is just you saying... stating something to make yourself feel better. But you've been... you know, you looked back five minutes ago in the same conversation with that same person they were talking about how for the last five years or for the last eight years they haven't gone out and haven't done anything, they haven't been putting themselves out there... and it's like "what makes you think that just saying that you're gonna put yourself out there is gonna change eight years of, like, loneliness and solitude, or eight months of loneliness and solitude?" It's not gonna change anything. In fact, all it sort of put a band-aid on that same bullet wound and, and then you get off the phone with me and not take action, and then we have the same conversation again in six months.

Derek:

Hmmm.

Jordan:

And it's sad because it... really all that talking about action is, it becomes a substitute for action instead of actually motivating.

Derek:

Yeah... Now there is, there is one way that if you feel the need to talk about something you wanna tell your friends, it's important to just state it in a way that gives you no satisfaction. So if you want to run a marathon you, you don't say "hey guess what! I'm gonna run a marathon!" Instead you say "I wanna run a marathon, so kick my ass if I don't, ok?" Like, you can just... make sure you state it in a way that nobody's saying congratulations. Avoid congratulations, how's that for a mission?

Jordan:

Sure. Right, it's like "I'm going back to school", "wow that's awesome!" and then you're in school and you're like "this sucks, I'm done, I want out of here. The fun part was when I was telling everybody I was enrolling in school and they were so proud of me, and now that I have to do the work, this is terrible, I'm done." So... Yeah I can absolutely see that. And I wanna shift gears actually, pretty radically as well, 'cause I read something on your blog today... I know we're just jumping around but that's just 'cause you have such a diverse and interesting perspective on a lot of things, I hope you don't mind.

Derek:

Thanks! Yeah, sure.

Jordan:

All right let's take a quick time-out for a sec. Some people think the Art of Charm bootcamps and programs are just about picking up girls, and honestly there's some of that. One week with us and you'll be rockin' out in that department. I promise. But as a guy I know how important it is to be awesome and well rounded, and not just awesome with girls. Awesome at work, awesome at home, awesome with your friends and family, guys really need to step it up everywhere. And that's why we call our company The Art of Charm. That special something that gets you results wherever you go. And trust me: the results are real. Every day I get new emails and calls from the guys who decided to take out bootcamp. And what I hear is simply amazing. Just weeks after graduating, they land a promotion, they form a new wolf pack, start a new business, or even found a partner. They have a new life, and it's not an accident. Find out why at theartofcharm.com. All right let's get back to the good stuff. I read an article on your blog today that's called "Persistence is polite" and I thought this is really interesting, especially from a business standpoint, because you wrote "as teenagers we painfully learn that if you call someone and they don't call you back, they're just not into you and if you keep calling you must be a total loser. But in the business world it's the opposite: persistence is polite and if you don't keep calling, then you're the loser." And you gave a really great example and it's perfect because there's been a lot of people in my industry as well or in the media industry who will call and they'll leave a message and they wanna work on something. But they don't realize that I get 700 voicemails or emails a day, or communications of some type and then when you don't get back to them they get really pissed off. And that in actuality is ruder than calling, emailing, writing, Facebooking, showing up at my doorstep, that's not the rude part, 'cause then at least it got through. And I kinda wanna get your perspective on that, because you give a really interesting example as well.

Derek:

Thanks. Two different stories about this. I met with a top publicist in New York City, once. And this is mid 90's, but it still applies. But the reason I have to say it's mid 90's because it was still about... everybody was still mailing physical packages. And, so, I kind of asked how she was dealing with this onslaught of everybody wanting to work with her. And she said: "ok, here's how it works. By our front door we have a huge box, like a big... like the size of refrigerator. Every package that comes in the door gets thrown into that box. And then we ignore it. And then when somebody calls and they say 'hi, I'm calling to see if you got my package, what did you think?', then and only then do we pull it out of the first box, we go find it in the first box and then we throw it into a second box, and we continue to ignore it. Then when the person calls a second time and they say 'hi, I'm calling to see if you got my package, I really wanna work with you', we'll say 'have you called before?' and they say 'yeah, I called last time' and they say 'ok, we'll get back to you.' And now they know to find it in the second box." And then they pull it out of the second box and they said... and she said: "when we're really busy we have a third box we throw it in. Ordinarily though, after the second box it gets put onto somebody's desk, but we still don't open it, we wait for the person to call a third time. And only those who call and follow up three times... we say 'have you called before?' and they say 'yeah, this is my third call', then we open up their package and check it out." She's... "because the truth is, we're so busy, we don't wanna work with anybody that doesn't care enough to persistently call three times. There's so many people that just shotgun out there... CDs out to everybody in the music industry. We don't wanna work with them, in fact we don't ever wanna speak with them for one second. We'll only work with people that care enough to follow up three times." So I thought that was brilliant, you know, so many people don't understand that perspective when they're out there kind of pursuing their career, they don't know what it's like to be on the receiving end. And how persistence is actually admired. So... kinda more similar to the example you just used is... when I was kind of in the heat of the middle of running things at CD Baby, and I was completely swamped... you know, I'd often have so many emails and things to do and stuff going on that I'd often get people who... some people would contact me once. And then, if I didn't get back to them they'd give up and never try again. And then, you know, years later I'd find out that they think I'm an asshole or something. Then... but then there's another type that will send me an email saying "hey please give me a call", and then if I don't, they'll call and leave a voicemail with me saying "hey, I need to talk to you", and I still don't, and then they email me again, saying "hey please give me a call..." The truth is I actually did really wanna talk to that person, and I so appreciate that they kind of... patiently persisted and reminded me. In a way it's like that's what's considerate... being persistent is considerate, it's polite. Where just giving up on somebody and calling them an asshole for life because they didn't get right back to you is actually rude, so... Yeah, one of these... another counter-intuitive business lesson.

Jordan:

Yeah, it's really interesting. Especially because I know a lot of young guys out there like "well, I don't wanna be that annoying guy, 'cause then he'll think I'm annoying?" And it's like "dude, if you're not that annoying guy, he doesn't know you exist."

Derek:

Very well put! Yes!

Jordan:

And so you either... you lose only... you lose the first way for sure but, an annoying guy... I mean you have to do a lot to really annoy somebody who's a busy entrepreneur, because we don't even notice that you've called three times, you just have to try your luck three times. And by the third time usually we're like "oh, shoot, I'm sorry, I had you on my to-call list, but now you caught me and I'm in a cab so I have fifteen minutes to talk to you. And when I get back to my office with a to-do note is... that says to call you I won't have any time." So you're really better off just playing the odds and trying to call me as many times as you can, until I say I'm not interested. Until you hear that, keep trying, keep pecking.

Derek:

And you know what? Now is actually is probably a fine time for me to mention that... one of the things I love about being kind of... now that I sold my company and I'm starting a new one is that... I've set a new, kind of, definition for myself of what it means to be busy. To me like, I spent many many years being completely swamped and busy. And I felt always a little out of control of my life. And now I just made a point of arranging things so that I never want to consider myself busy. Like once I'm busy that means it's time for me to get somebody to help me with some stuff or set some more boundaries or whatever. Because I think when you're busy you actually miss a lot of opportunities in life. So, it's funny, people often when they do call or email me they start out saying "oh hey I'm sure you're totally busy", and I would just say "no no no, I'm not busy", and they're like "...really?" And I know it's just almost like this ego thing, like you talked before about the Super Bowl ads, like, people almost need to let everybody know how incredibly busy they are. And I'm like, you know what? That, that's insecurity talking. It's like, no I'm actually in control of my time. I manage my time so that I'm just doing only what I really wanna do. And I've got a great assistant who manages the onslaught of the world and just handles most of it, and just... I only do the stuff I really wanna do. And... so anyway this is a good time to say that if any of your listeners have made it all the way to this point in the podcast, that... seriously feel free to contact me on my sivers.org website. There's a link there that, I think, says "write me" or "contact" or something... yeah. I'm seriously wide open, I really love hearing from all kinds of different people, I get all kinds of fun emails from an entrepreneur in Italy or whatever... some musician in Shanghai and... it's just a blast, kind of meeting all kinds of people from random places, so... If anybody made it all the way through this and you feel like contacting me, feel free to.

Jordan:

Well, thanks, much appreciated. I know a lot of guys who listen to these shows and they love, the love the more off-topic sort of businessy-related shows that we do. And you know, I was surprised at how easy it was to reach you too, because I always heard you were such an asshole from all those guys who sent you those emails.

Derek:

Nice move!

Jordan:

Derek, it's been... it's truly been a pleasure and I hope that when you slide back to California from, where is it? Singapore?

Derek:

Living in Singapore now. Love it!

Jordan:

So when you come back to visit, we'll grab a beer, I owe you one.

Derek:

That'd be awesome. Thanks Jordan!

Jordan:

Cheers man! All right show feedback and guest suggestions. We rely on you guys to help keep our finger on the pulse. So if you know someone who's a good fit for the show, let us know at [email protected] Bootcamp details for out live programs, also at theartofcharm.com and that's where you're gonna find links to us on Twitter, Facebook and other social media as well. If you're listening to this but you're not subscribed on iTunes or Stitcher or something like that then that needs to change. Getting our shows delivered free to your phone or computer is the best way to make sure you don't miss a thing. You can do that by going to iTunes and searching for The Art of Charm podcast, or by going to theartofcharm.com/itunes and clicking "subscribe". That's really it. And you guys can help us: subscribe on iTunes and give us a five star rating, write something nice and we will love you forever. Just go to iTunes.com/theartofcharm and they'll take you right there. When you write us a review it not only makes us feel proud, but it helps keep us up in the ranks so that other people who can use this information can find the show more easily to get the credible advice that they need. It's also the best way to support the show other than purchasing products and training from us. So tell your friends, because the greatest compliment you can give us is a referral to someone else, either in person or shared on the web. Now have a great week! Go out there and get social, and leave everything better than you found it.