The Fundamental Principles Of Life, Liberty And Property

TWS 1 | 2018 Wrap-Up


Life isn’t perfect, and it’s never going to be. We’re all human beings and we’re fallible. At the same time, we have so much capability, and where we thrive is typically where things are the most disruptive. In this 2018 wrap-up episode, take a look back at the fundamental principles of progress and prosperity, namely, life, liberty, and property that led to why we have experienced so much prosperity in our day and age. Notable guests like Garrett Gunderson, Jaireck Robbins, Peter Gray, Connor Boyack, George Gilder, James Arthur Ray, Angela Duckworth, Jonas Sachs, Mike Cobb have graced the show to add value, share important resources, and help you understand what your goal is. As 2019 kicks off, Patrick’s vision is for you to understand the principles of capitalism and how it relates to you at an individual level so that you can achieve the goals and ambitions that you have. Join us for another year of high-impact discussion about capitalism, not just from Patrick but from other people that are authors, organization presidents, and intellectuals.

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The Fundamental Principles Of Life, Liberty And Property

The 2018 Wrap-Up

We are going to be officially wrapping up the final season of 2018, actually all the three seasons of 2018. Introducing the new season and the theme that we’re going to be using. I think you are going to love it. First off, happy new year to everyone. I hope you guys had an amazing holiday. I wanted to kick everything off with a story. First, I believe that as human beings, we have some incredible things that we’re capable of. At the same time, we have these subconscious habits that rule our lives. It’s the majority of our thinking, the majority of our behavior. If you look at the limitations that we often have that prevents us from getting to the next level, whether it’s in our career, whether it’s in relationships and so forth, it’s because of some preconditioned habit.

This is a funny story about my family. We spent Christmas with my wife’s family. They drove up and they hadn’t had Christmas together in years. Then on the 26th, we went over to Denver where my brother lives and his family. We drove from Salt Lake to Denver and it was a pretty long drive. It was awesome. The kids get along well. We didn’t have any issues or the drama, but on the way back is where we had some drama. My wife for better and for worse got my four-year-old son in the habit of if he had to go to the bathroom on some of these long trips, and we’ve driven him to California before and to Arizona. Instead of stopping every half an hour or an hour, she’ll have him pee in a cup. The condition was that if you have to go to the bathroom typically in a long trip, he would pee in a cup or pee in a bottle and throw it away when we got to our stop. We were coming back from Denver. It was on New Year’s Day and Synthia, my wife, was on the passenger seat and she was sleeping. My two older girls, Hannah and Meghan, were sleeping too. I had my headphones on. I was listening to information about this upcoming 2019 season.

Before I knew it there was this screeching scream that disrupted me. It got everybody awake. What had happened is Jack, my four-year-old, had realized that everyone was asleep, and I was on my earphones and couldn’t hear him. He had to go to the bathroom. His habit was to find a cup. He found a cup and he essentially started peeing in the cup. I had hit a bump and he accidentally dropped the cup and couldn’t stop peeing and peed all over Hannah, my fourteen-year-old. The hysterical screams did not come from Jack. They came from Hannah who unfortunately had her sleep disrupted and Jack was sitting there frozen. It was one of those traumatic events for him most likely that the habit is broken. At the same time, Hannah, obviously I had to pull over and calm her down a little bit because she was pretty hysterical.

We're meant to produce. We're meant to create value for as long as possible, not stopping at some point in the future. Click To Tweet

The Fundamental Principles

Anyway, this is a funny story relating to the principle of habit. The reason why I’m bringing that up is that all of the previous year, the idea was to talk about some of the fundamental principles that led to why we have experienced so much prosperity in our day and age. What we experienced on a daily basis, they were dreams. They weren’t even dreams. It’s something that people 100 years ago couldn’t even conceptualize. If you look at the roots of how that occurs, what principles that progress and prosperity is based on; life, liberty and property, is the reason why I wanted to bring that to the surface so that you would understand those foundational principles. They applied as much to the future as they did to the past. I would say even more so to the future. The idea was, as far as life, liberty and property, is to bring it down to the individual level.

We had guests like Garrett Gunderson was on there. We talked about The Law of Success In Sixteen Lessons which was an instrumental book for me, understanding a lot of these principles and what’s possible for a human being. What would it be possible for me? We had Jairek Robbins on there who is one of the most inspirational guys that I know, younger guys. He has some incredible things to say about what we’re capable of and also what holds us back and practical things that we can do to overcome our limiting beliefs and some of those habits and subconscious behavior that we all have. We talked to Peter Gray who was a BC professor. He specializes in education for children and had a completely different view than the typical view of our education system right now, which has more flaws than we can discuss on multiple podcasts. That was a fascinating discussion with him. We had John Rampton on there, who’s a serial entrepreneur that I know. We had the Founder of UGG boots, Brian Smith.


TWS 1 | 2018 Wrap-Up

Heads I Win, Tails You Lose: A Financial Strategy to Reignite the American Dream

We kick off with liberty, which is the second principle. Life is the first principle. Liberty is the second principle, with Connor Boyack who is the President of the Libertas Institute. The idea of liberty as we framed it in an individual level is the pursuit of financial freedom, the pursuit of freedom as an individual. Not the financial notion of retirement, which is to stop working, to stop producing. This is where a lot of the companies that I spend the majority of my time do is educate people that the typical financial planning model is principally flawed because it’s getting people to defer life until some future date. At that point in time, instead of being dependent on an employer, now you’re dependent on market performance and a financial advisor in Wall Street to help you with your income throughout retirement. It’s one of those things where I’ve seen it to be destructive to what is capable of a human being. If they would realize that the notion of retirement is not in alignment with our human nature. We’re meant to produce. We’re meant to create value for as long as possible, not stopping at some point in the future.

Plus, if you look at longevity and the amazing innovation associated with healthcare, we’re going to be living longer. The idea of saving 5% to 10% of your income for 30 years and then living off of that for 30 years, the math doesn’t make sense. Market performance has shown that it’s not capable of providing the returns that will allow you to do that. We went through the second season and talked into great detail about how to achieve financial freedom. That was around the time where my book was released, which was the first one I’d ever written. It took me a couple of years to do it. It’s Heads I Win, Tails You Lose: A Financial Strategy to Reignite the American Dream. Thank you so much for all those who provided tons of feedback and bought the book. It took a long time but I’m grateful that it came out and did emphasize a lot of the philosophy that you, longtime audience, had been hearing, but put it in a more organized, condensed fashion. That was in the summer.

We finished off the year with interviews with George Gilder who is an investor and an author and is a lot older in age, but his experience shows the cyclical nature of how things work and what is on the horizon. That was a fascinating conversation with George. Then James Arthur Ray, if you guys are familiar with him. He had a fall from grace in a sense a number of years ago and went to prison but is one of the most profound types of speakers on personal development. It was awesome to hear his story and all that he went through during those times and how he got back on track and what he’s focused on now. Then we had Angela Duckworth who’s the author of Grit. She has the second or third most-watched TED Talk of all time, it’s behind Simon Sinek. That was an awesome conversation. She’s a psychologist and has a lot of training in human behavior and how we behave and how we act.

Then we had Jonah Sachs who wrote Winning the Story Wars and he has another book called Unsafe Thinking, which is targeting how disruptive the employment industry is and how people are not taking risks. It’s a fascinating idea. Then finally, Mike Cobb, I’ve known him for a number of years. The coincidence was he had wrote an article talking about John Locke’s life, liberty and property and how that pertained to the real estate investment industry globally. It was fascinating to have a discussion with him, which was the second to last episode of 2018. Then we ended with David Neagle, who is instrumental in creating the personal development space and industry.

Maximize who you are, your human life value assets, which are the assets that are the most valuable to other people. Click To Tweet

It was an awesome season. I benefited personally because I got to talk all the time about these three foundational principles of our well-being, of what we’re all after and the foundational things. If they’re there, if they’re focused on, then essentially they could be maximized whether it’s life, use your best asset, figuring out ways to invest in yourself and be of more value to other people which will bring more money. The best investment you could ever make is to maximize that. The idea is to achieve this profession or career where you’re doing what you love that gets you out of bed in the morning but also is in an environment where it’s conducive to how you operate that gives you that fulfillment and achievement. Most people aren’t focused on that. They’re focused on sacrificing now for the benefit of tomorrow and differing life now. Rationally, it doesn’t make sense if you think about it. Figuring out how to leverage what’s going on in the US now and in the world, where we’re becoming this online society.


There are opportunities to provide value to other people in so many thousands of different respects. Being able to pursue how to maximize who you are, what we consider your human life value assets, which are the assets that are most valuable to other people. They’re different for all human beings. Then also discovering your human life value liabilities, which is the stuff that you’re not good at, that people typically put up with instead of finding others that could provide that service and value better than you. That’s the idea of creating financial statement around who you are, your human life value assets, what you’re best at, your talents, abilities, strengths and your human life value of liabilities, which is the stuff you’re not good at, delegating that and maximizing the assets. That’s going to create this notion of freedom. Then finally property, which is the physical world. I’ve talked about this for years on the show. Putting it into the context of what John Locke talked about. This was during a time where there wasn’t much difference between that time and the zero AD, as we came into this new era. People rode around on horses and buggies and they ate in a very similar fashion, they had similar clothes.

John Locke had discovered right through his mentors and thinking and going to school. He discovered some principles that ultimately influenced the Scottish enlightenment, with David Hume and Adam Smith, which ultimately influenced the creation of the United States in our foundational documents, The Declaration of Independence and The Constitution. Getting into the property helped me identify that when you have the principle, the right of life and celebrating that as well as liberty, your freedoms, that property, the resources of the world can be used and aligned with those two other principles. Let me give you some examples. Back then with John Locke, how he understood property wasn’t just a piece of land. It was the material world. Look at what humankind has created with first understanding their mind and the value of that asset. Then looking at the world around them and using those resources to create value for others.

TWS 1 | 2018 Wrap-Up

2018 Wrap-Up: Capitalism, according to Ayn Rand, is the ideal structure so that humankind can progress at the maximum level possible.


The abundance that we live in right now is hard to fathom if you take a step out of the here and now. We have incredible technology for communication. We have incredible technology to leverage people around the world and their strengths to form a business. You have transportation technology, healthcare, technology, all things that are allowing human beings not to have to be afraid of surviving which has been a fear of society for a long time. We don’t have to even think about that anymore. The idea then and how the world was then and how it is now and associating our progress with all of that was valuable to me because I started to look at the world in a multitude of contexts. How much we’ve benefited from these simple ideas.

Hopefully, you got some value out of it as well. Maybe some of you had gone into reading some of John Locke’s texts. His treatises of government as well as some of the other books by some of those that were revolutionary in the ideas that help spawn the United States formation. I hope you’ve got tons of value out of that. I certainly did, and it’s led into a new theme for this year, which is I believe a taboo word or concept or idea that fits right alongside politics and religion. This is the word, capitalism. That’s going to be our theme for 2019. What it is? What it isn’t? Why it’s so reviled but also so celebrated? The structure of capitalism is the embodiment of what we talked about in 2018. Understanding it from a macro level, a group or a global level, as well as an individual level, is what my goal is.


My vision is for you to understand the principles of capitalism and how profound of a system it is and how it relates to you at an individual level so that you can achieve the goals and ambitions that you have. I always benefit from seeing, not conflict, but when there are very widespread opinions where you have at one end of the spectrum an opinion and then another. Both are very strong but on both sides of the spectrum. This is definitely capitalism. It’s been blamed for all sorts of atrocities, let alone the 2008, 2009 great recession. It’s been blamed for the exploitation of children.

Life isn't perfect; it's never going to be. Click To Tweet

Ayn Rand, who I came to understand in 2005 and 2006, celebrates it as the ideal structure so that humankind can progress at the maximum level possible. Her strong opinions versus the other side of the spectrum are evident in society now. As you guys learn about capitalism, not just from me, but from some of the people who are authors, organization presidents and other intellectuals. They’re going to be guests. You’re going to learn a ton of what it is, what it isn’t and how it relates to not only the macro side of the world but also at an individual level for you specifically. Some of the guests that we have, Yaron Brook from Ayn Rand Institute. We have Lawrence Reed from the Foundation for Economic Education. We have Joel Skousen, Connor is going to be on as well. G. Edward Griffin who wrote The Creature from Jekyll Island is on there. My buddy, Jason Rink, is going to be on there. There are going to be some incredible guests and some incredible dialogue associated with capitalism. You’ll definitely see where I stand as far as the philosophical point of view and what I’m doing about it. Organizations I support, how I analyze investments and how I analyze businesses and opportunities as well as my own business and own investments. It’s going to be beneficial to you too.

I have a bunch of other notes as far as some of the ways in which I view capitalism and view how important it is to me. I’m going to leave that for the season. I’m going to talk about one more thing. If you guys want to start to follow along with this theory. I would recommend that you pick up Ayn Rand’s book which is Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal. Milton Friedman also has an incredible book called Capitalism and Freedom. If you haven’t read Atlas Shrugged, maybe we’ll do a season on that one of these days. That’s a profound book that is very misunderstood as far as what the messages are and aren’t. If you want to pick up some literature and dive into this topic, then I definitely think that those books will give you a good idea of what some of these principles are and how they apply to the modern world.

I’ll leave it at that. If you have any comments, make sure you’re emailing us at Podcast@ParadigmLife.net or Hello@TheWealthStandard.com. We’re going to do something different. We’re going to keep doing these seasons. The seasons are primarily based on philosophy. In 2018, it was life, liberty and property. That’s what we’re going to continue to do this year with the main podcast, but on Fridays, we’re going to do something called Financial Fridays. I’ve been accumulating some interviews that I’ve done with specific financial strategy. We’ll have investment strategy on there. We’ll have specific investments, not typical mainstream investments like a mutual fund or a stock. We’re going to use more of the alternative investments that are out there. There are a number of people that I’ve interviewed and we’re going to play those. We’re going to kick it off with how I look at investment, which is from a hierarchical standpoint as far as tearing the different types of investments and how do you categorize them. That will be the first episode. I have some people I invest with as well as those who have participated in the Cash Flow Wealth Summit, which is a virtual event that we put on every year.

TWS 1 | 2018 Wrap-Up

2018 Wrap-Up: As human beings, we have so much capability, and where we thrive is typically where things are the most disruptive.


That’s going to be on every Friday, fifteen to twenty minutes, sometimes 30 minutes. I tend to want to do some short episodes. I love talking. I love conversations with people, especially stimulating conversations. Sometimes those will bleed over from 15 to 20 to 30 minutes. We’re going to try to keep them shorter, but they’re all focused around practical financial strategy. That’s it. Hopefully, you had a great end to 2018. I hope you’re ready to crash it in 2019. I look at what’s going on with the government shut down. I look at a lot of signals that are showing me that there is major disruption on the horizon. I don’t think what we’ve experienced over the last couple of months with market volatility is anything. I think that’s a blip on the radar. I believe that we’re going to have an incredible five to ten years of disruption from a technology standpoint, from an education standpoint, from a tax standpoint.

It’s going to be awesome. It’s going to be hurtful for others and painful for others, but I believe that there are going to be some tremendous opportunities that arise because of it. That’s awesome for you. It’s awesome for me because that’s what it’s about. Life isn’t perfect, it’s never going to be perfect. We’re all human beings and we’re fallible. At the same time, we have so much capability. Where we thrive is typically where things are the most disruptive. Thank you for your support. Thank you for allowing me to do this. Feedback is always appreciated as far as questions or things that we can address or other elements to add that you think would be valuable. Make sure you reach out to us. If you haven’t given us a review on iTunes, that helps. It gets the word out. Apple has these algorithms that did help rank and improve the listenership based on the success of the podcast. If you like what you’re hearing, definitely give us a good rating. That would mean a tremendous amount. That’s it. We’ll talk to you next time.

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David Neagle: What It Truly Means To Be Wealthy

TWS 16 | Wealth


Just as we thought we are doing just fine with the bare minimum, life happens. After a near-death experience, David Neagle woke up to the realization that he has to do something with his life and make the most of it. Now, as the best-selling author of The Millions Within and is known as one of the architects of the coaching and personal growth industry itself, he has been impacting people to live their purpose and affect others as well. David shares his perception of the world and his attitude. He also talks about how we express ourselves or deal with negative situations in a productive way as he correlates everything to what we know about being wealthy.

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David Neagle: What It Truly Means To Be Wealthy

TWS 16 | Wealth

The Millions Within: How to Manifest Exactly What You Want and Have an EPIC Life!

It’s quite the honor to have my guest on. His name is David Neagle. He’s the best-selling author of The Millions Within: How to Manifest Exactly What You Want and Have an Epic Life! He has a number of things going on. The book was written a couple of years ago. We’re going to also talk about some of his presence online, the courses that he has and other resources. David, maybe give us an idea of who you are, what your background is and what you’re all about.

I’m from Chicago, Illinois. As a teenager, I was headed in the wrong direction, quit high school at seventeen, got married early, started having children young. Creating all the responsibility that goes with that without any way of being able to fulfill it. I was working two jobs. I was working at a dock six and a half days a week and driving a truck. Right after my son was born in 1989, I had a water-skiing accident. I got separated from a boat and I was sucked through the dam, broke my back. I was only one of two people that ever survived going through that dam up until that time. It was a rough day. That day woke me up to the idea that we don’t know how long we have here. I was playing small. I was not fulfilling my commitments. I didn’t know what it was to be a responsible man, husband, father. My parents split up when I was thirteen. My dad wasn’t around a whole lot. I didn’t have a whole lot of guidance.

That woke me up to the idea that if I was ever going to do something with my life, I need to stop procrastinating and start doing something now. I learned a lot of lessons from that day. As far as the story of where I was and where I’ve come to, that was the main story that changed for me that day, that I need to do something. I didn’t know what to do. I had an idea in my mind that if I’ll let this happen, something was going to break open and my life was going to change in some way, which turned out not to be true. It did cause me to start thinking differently. Once I got back to work and I was okay, I was working so much I was just exhausted. We were living in a bad neighborhood next to a drug dealer. My self-esteem was going down on a consistent basis. I was ashamed of where we were living and that we had to be exposed to that.

On a Tuesday morning in February, I had a complete emotional meltdown in the back of the trailer that I was loading on this dock. I was just praying to God, “Show me a way out. How do I get out of this? What do I need to change?” A little voice in my head said, “Change your gratitude.” I didn’t even know what an attitude was. I began to think about what is an attitude. I picked the person that owned the company that I worked for and I asked myself, “What’s the difference between him and I as far as our attitude? He’s so much further than I am and I would love to be where he is. What is the difference?” I broke it down to three main things that I noticed about myself and him as far as the difference. He must have loved what he did because he started the company in his garage and he was the largest food importer in the country at that time. He treated everybody with total respect. He would very often come through with other business people through the warehouse.

He would always stop and say hello, shake your hand, thank you for working for him, ask how your family was if he had time. He acknowledged people. I figured he also must have done a great job. That’s how he built the business. I wasn’t doing any of those three things. I hated what I did. I was angry internally so I was taking it out on other people. I didn’t hear about the quality of my work. I decided I’m going to change those three things. At that time, I was making $20,000 a year working two jobs, six and a half days a week, all the overtime I could take. I was trying to find a way to get to $40,000. I thought if I get $40,000, that will solve all of my problems. After I changed my attitude and I made this commitment, no matter what, I am going to stick to this. Thirty days later, I tripled my income. I went from $20,000 a year to $62,000 a year.

There were a couple of things out of that that was extremely significant for me. One was I knew that some way somehow, I caused that to happen. I just didn’t know how. Years later, my mentor told me I was an unconscious competent, which is fine until something changes and then you don’t know what to do. I was blown away that this kind of a change could happen this fast with relative ease. It wasn’t like I went back to school. It wasn’t like I was working harder. It was an internal shift in how I was showing up every day. That’s what made the change happen. The other thing was that I was stunned when I realized that the opportunity for that to happen was around me for two years and I couldn’t see it. Later on, I had been reading Think and Grow Rich. In the beginning, he talked about the sly disguises of opportunity. I immediately resonated with that paragraph where he said, “Sometimes opportunity shows up as fortune or temporary defeat or just being unfortunate.”

I thought, “This opportunity was around me for two years and because of my mindset, I couldn’t see it.” That caused me to start studying. I studied for seven years and then I started working with a mentor. From there, I went on to create my own business and became a multimillionaire. Nothing outside of that original attitude change changed all that much. I didn’t go back to school. I didn’t get a degree. I just kept working on myself and applying myself the best that I could at every opportunity that I had. I found out what my purpose was that I’ve wanted to teach other people how to do this. I like working with entrepreneurs, which I still do now. I’ve worked with people all over the world and continue to do so. It is my passion and my joy to wake up other people and lead them to their purpose and the freedom and the expansion of what it is that they’re here to do to affect the people that they’re meant to affect. That’s what gives me the greatest joy of all being able to do that.

How we view things is largely a function of the past. Click To Tweet

The first thing I see is the perception of the world, how we view things is largely a function of the past. Opportunities are probably all around us. It can’t be seen because it’s our past perception unless we start to make changes. That’s a big thing. Napoleon Hill talked a lot about this, which is taking on a mastermind group and essentially an archetype of someone else that represents or an archetype way has characteristics, traits, attributes that are desirable to you and start to act that way. If you act the way you act, you’re just going to get what you’ve always got. It’s the perception. As you wake up every morning, how has that adjusted your perception of the world? When you wake up, how do you view the world?

I view the world as an amazing place. We’re probably at the most amazing time in history. I view the world with an incredible amount of potential that is slightly misguided at the moment. We’re in the midst of a major change. Anytime you see a lot of change occurring, you usually will see a lot of confusion simultaneous to that or parallel to that. That’s what we’re seeing right now. We’re seeing a lot of confusion in values, a lot of confusion in where we’re going as human beings, what’s important to us. I also think that there’s a lot of delusion out there that goes along with it. I’m very optimistic about what we’re doing. One of the things that keeps me optimistic is how many people are showing interest in a positive change for our world and getting involved and working on themselves and trying to make a difference, versus the way that we did it 50 years ago in the ‘60s. We had a great idea back then but I don’t know that we have the emotional tools or the psychological tools to pull it off. We made some progress but people now are starting to show a little bit different and realize, “I’ve got to change me in order to change what is a representation of me, which is the reality that I live in.”

How do you see the correlation of your perception of the world and your attitude?

I can tell you that it is so vastly different from what it was like before I went through that data. I felt very unempowered. I felt very victimized. I felt like I lived in a world where there was nothing that I could do to control my outcome or my destiny. The world that I live in now, just because of the changes that I’ve made personally, is 180 degrees different. The people that I know, that I work with, that I come in contact with are nice, friendly and they want to help. They want to make a difference. That’s not what I used to see before. I saw anger, victimization and entitlement. I know that those things are out there but it’s not part of what my experience is now. I hope I’m answering your question. It’s very different because I changed that.

TWS 16 | Wealth

Think and Grow Rich

This goes to the relationship idea. I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately. I know you’ve spoken alongside Tony Robbins, Bob Proctor and a few others in the personal development world. Something I have learned through just study and education is the idea that having a lot of money doesn’t equate to what people think it does. People are seeking an emotion. They’re seeking a way of feeling about something and proof of that is the people that take their own life even though they have a lot of money. The correlation to attitude and to this is all money and all wealth is an exchange. When you have a lot of money it’s because you’ve affected in one way or another a lot of people. I believe attitude is that connecting piece, which I find fascinating. I never thought about it like this. It’s fascinating to think about how you come across with a perception of like, “We’re the most amazing time in the world or we’re in the shittiest period of history.” You could see it both ways and sympathize with it in a sense. The attitude and how that connects with other people based on that perception is curious. With a person in a perspective of the glass is half empty, you don’t want to be around that person or do business with them. If it’s the other way around, you do.

You’ll hear people talk about what it’s like to go visit different countries. I’ve been to a lot of different countries. I’ve had people say, “The people are rude there. They’re not nice,” and I go and have a completely different experience where the people are warm, friendly, helpful and wonderful. I don’t have that experience. The money part of it, what you’re saying is so dead-on. Every dollar that we spend or that we earn benefits the lives of other people. Money is just a tool. If I’m spending money, I’m contributing to the people that bought or own the companies of the products that I’m buying, which benefits them and their families and their kids. They can send their kids to school. If I’m earning money, I’m building a business which provides jobs and income for people’s families so that they can grow. When I first started off, I didn’t know I was going to have that experience of how much joy I’d get in contributing to the lives of other people in that way. Not just with the products and services that I deliver to the world, but the fact that I provide jobs, I’m doing something that’s meaningful in a very holistic way with everybody that I come in contact with.

There’s a correlation there more than we think. You can do something that’s not meaningful and get money from it. The idea of being wealthy or fulfilled or have that sense of emotion of achievement is because you have both, which is you’ve done something and you feel that. You also have impacted the lives of somebody else because they’ve given you a lot of money.

It’s interesting what people think about money. I remember before I was wealthy, the thought was about what I would do when I was wealthy, what I would spend money on, houses, cars and trips and stuff like that. Then you become wealthy and after you buy things for a little while, it’s not about what you’re going to buy next. You’re not coming from that place. It’s about how you’re going to serve more. For me, that’s what it is. To watch the light go on in somebody’s eyes when you make a difference for them, the psychic income that you get for that far surpasses any financial income that you could. If I wanted to stop working now, I could. I get to get up and do this every day. It’s not something I have to do. The whole attitude behind the fact that I get to get up and make a difference, I make choices in my life that allow me to do that. I get to watch other people have those breakthroughs. That to me is absolutely amazing.

It’s like the accelerator. I was observing a dinner conversation and the net lottery was a huge amount. I was just listening and observing but they were like, “We’re going to be able to do this and do this.” It’s interesting because most people think that way. If you get to that place and you have those things, you realize that it’s an emotion that you’re after, then the acceleration piece is you get to that point. From my perception of those that are wealthy, you’re on a different gear where your drive doesn’t come from having more money. It comes from having more of those feelings, which is serving and helping people.

People want to feel good. One of the problems that we have as a society is that we’re having difficulty keeping up emotionally with how fast everything is changing. The answer that we have to that is drugging people. That causes a major problem because it doesn’t allow them to grow. When we’re seeking those feelings, when we want to feel good, you mentioned about wealthy people taking their own life. I’ve seen that and we’ve also seen some very prominent people commit suicide that you would think to yourself, “They’ve got everything. They’ve got dream careers and they hanged themselves or something.” I did a podcast about Anthony Bourdain after he hung himself because he was one of my heroes. There was no other way for him to get that feeling, whatever it is that was missing in his life. There’s something to be said for finding why you’re here and having the appreciation and the gratitude for that.

If you act the way you act, you're just going to get what you've always got. Click To Tweet

We do an exercise that we do as a company and I also do it with my family. That is every day you have to say three things that you appreciate about yourself and three things that you’re grateful for in your life. The hardest part for adults is to sit around at a dinner table with a bunch of adults and say, “Tell me three things that you appreciate about yourself.” They go blank, they have a hard time with that. If you ask a five-year-old to do it, they’ll be like, “I appreciate my nose. I appreciate my coat.” They come up with things. They have no problem with it whatsoever. It’s almost like it’s taught out of us as we go through life. It’s like waiting for the other ball to drop or whatever that saying is. It’s like there’s always an air of disappointment ready to come into somebody else’s life because they don’t feel they have control over where it’s going.

It’s like you’re selfish or you’re self-centered if you appreciate yourself for something. It’s interesting, it’s like a social stigma. I don’t know what it is. Maybe it’s the school that teaches. It affects a lot of people because I know a lot of people like that, even myself to an extent.

It starts off with the idea that part of our value systems is to put other people first. We’re never taught a healthy balance of putting ourselves first, taking care of ourselves, giving ourselves what it is that we need first and making that okay without being shamed for it. We’re not born with shame and guilt but it is used as a correction tool from the moment we’re born almost and then all through life. Once you pass that on to somebody, we do it ourselves. If my parents shamed and guilted me for my behavior, I don’t need them to continue doing it. I’ll do it for the rest of my life unless I correct that. If I’m doing something that would be outside of what was acceptable for them, I’ll immediately go into shame or guilt and automatically correct my behavior to go back to stay in that pattern. That’s where it has to start to change. Plus, the other thing is this. We’re the only form of life that adjusts our behavior for the appreciation of other forms of life. It happens in nature. The way that we were trained to do that is by limiting the way we can express ourselves.

I’ll do seminars and I’ll ask by a show of hands, “How many of you grew up in a household where it was not okay for you to express your anger?” 90% of the room will raise their hand. We were taught to express ourselves in a way that our parents were comfortable with, but not necessarily based on what we were going through emotionally or how we were feeling. In order to set ourselves free, we have to get back to that baseline of who are we and accepting ourselves for who we are and where we are. Not to say that we can’t get better, but not shaming ourselves for what we haven’t done yet and learning how to express ourselves authentically. Anything that would be considered a negative emotion, like a lot of people, consider anger a negative emotion. I suppose that it is when it’s expressed in a negative way. We’re human beings. When we do have those emotions, how do we express it in a positive way so that we can get it out of our body instead of suppressing it, then at some point blowing up where it does get expressed in a negative way?

We do tend to deal with it. It may seem so subtle on the surface where there’s this little issue and it’s like, “I’m not going to deal with it.” Even though we don’t think that it affects us, it does and it stays. Then the next time something happens, that it’s a little bit more and then a little bit more. That compounds out of control. I’ve thought about a lot of this about how we express ourselves or how we deal with especially negative situations in a productive way. I don’t know if I have the answer to it. I’ve been aware of it and I’ve thought through and I’ve had difficult conversations or had to have difficult conversations. What do I do in order to not subconsciously come across as a jerk?

TWS 16 | Wealth

Wealth: The natural progression is that whatever the dysfunction in life is, it’s going to continue to get worse until we have one of those radical wakeup call moments.


Part of it is evaluating how much a person has the ability to accept responsibility for themselves and talking to them based on that level of where they are. If you’re dealing with somebody who is projecting that they’re victims and that they’re entitled. You come like, “No, in order for you to change your life, you’ve got to accept responsibility.” They’re not going to be able to hear you. We have to get back to a place where we were teaching what responsibility is in society and holding people accountable for that. The difficulty that we have is that’s great for kids. A kid’s mind is not programmed yet to blame other people for their actions or where they are in life. When you’re teaching children, all they have to do is make up their minds. That’s the truth. That’s the direction that they’re going to go. They’re relatively okay with that with some guidance. Adults have to change their mind. You have to get them to accept a different idea about how life is based on what the problems are that they’re experiencing and where do they ultimately want to go. The truth of the matter is some people just don’t want to change it.

Also, there are layers upon layers, years upon years that is on top of what the core issue is. It’s typically what’s manifesting those core issues. You’re right, it’s dealing with that. In adults, especially, it’s difficult. Also one thing in relation to what you said, which is this understanding where we put others first before ourselves. The connection that I made years ago and I would say I still have issues with it, which is the best way to take care of others, is to first take care of yourself. If you don’t do that, then you’re going to show up less than what you could for others. You’re hurting others regardless of whether you put them first or not. If you put yourself first, that at least puts you in the optimal position to be of most benefit to others. These are all attitudes. It’s interesting it still seems very counterintuitive to what the overarching universal belief is. I see signs of it changing and adjusting. It’s years, decades and repetition of what’s held as a social belief or an American belief or whatever. It’s going to take a lot of work. It seems from your perspective, I would agree with it that there’s a momentum there.

I was listening to Oprah in an interview one time a couple of years ago. They were talking to her about racism and where we are as a society as far as racism. It was an interesting interview. There was nothing new being said. The question was asked, “What do we do with people that are above 55 years old? They were raised in a different generation with different beliefs. How do we change their minds?” Oprah’s response startled me when I first heard it. She said, “They just have to die.” At first, I thought to myself, “That’s crazy.” Then I was thinking from a realistic perspective, there are some generational beliefs that people are not going to change.

You can tell a person that racism is wrong and it’s ignorant and it’s passed down from one generation. You can bring all the logical argument to someone. If they don’t want to change the belief, they’re not going to change it. They’ll just shut up their mouth but they won’t necessarily change it. That’s what Oprah was trying to say. If you look at other things, it will pass away as those generations of people with beliefs as they transition. New generations of people come up with a more loving mindset or a liberal mindset or however it is that you want to put it. People are becoming more aware of the truth every day. It starts to become more obvious. We’ve pushed the button so far in one direction and there’s too much information that is readily available at everybody’s fingertips. It becomes difficult for the people to try to carry the light from one generation to another to be able to continue to do so.

We’ve been talking about how individuals suppress. Once it’s a group or a collective that’s suppressing something, it’s even stronger. Going to your story and your awakening when you went through that dam, catastrophic events oftentimes disrupt that mindset. Look at 9/11 or you look at the different hurricanes and natural disasters, they tend to bring people together. In those very disruptive environments I would say is where you have this inkling of people are putting aside any differences, political, social and race to help one another. Then a month goes by and it’s back to normal. It’s interesting to see how those types of disrupted events break down those social barriers that are evident.

Every dollar that we spend or that we earn benefits the lives of other people. Click To Tweet

We do a program that’s called Date with Your Darkside. The whole idea behind it is that if you have something in your life that is showing up dysfunctional or a problem that just keeps persisting. My belief is that the universe is always trying to correct us individually, trying to get us back on track with what our purpose is. We don’t readily see all of those signs as we’re going through life. The natural progression is that whatever the dysfunction is, it’s going to continue to get worse until we have one of those radical wakeup call moments, whether it’s the trauma in our own life or we’re seeing it as a society. I’ve told people you don’t have to get to the point where you have a near-death experience to change if you can recognize what the signs are ahead of time. Then unravel or unpack what the patterns and the roles are that you’ve taken on from your parents that are continuing to cause those problems. You can proactively change and then learn the tools and the skill sets that you need in order to literally take your life down a totally different path and have a completely different result.

We’ve been doing that for a long time with people. The results are absolutely astounding that they get from that. For me, it came out of the idea of, “What happened in my life that caused me to change and what have I watched thousands of people do to precipitate change in their life? What caused that? What were the precursors that they experienced that said, “This has got to change now. Something different has to happen.” It doesn’t have to be that somebody dies or gets hurt. It could be something proactive, following something that inspires us, a desire that we have, an inspirational person or book or art or something like that. There are a lot of things in this world that are pointing in the right direction, we just have to wake up to what they are.

What does this have to do with being wealthy? This is a topic of your book and something I think a lot about. Let me first address this notion of awareness. That’s the keyword that you brought up is when these disruptive events happen, you have a new awareness. Your perception has changed. I was having a conversation with somebody and they made an observation about me, which was fascinating. I’m still trying to process it. My parents were both teachers in the same school system that I went to school in. My middle brother and I, we realized early on that we couldn’t get away with anything. The discipline level of normal teacher-student was enhanced because if we did something bad, they went to our parents. It was an extra layer.

You’re always trying to make sure that things look good. Whether it’s the right connection or not, I just found it fascinating that we have all these experiences in the past. It’s everybody. It’s not just me, it’s everyone, where we’ve had certain experiences that we put meaning on and we’ve just continued to grow and enhance whatever that is until it exists now. It’s not like everybody was watching me then. We may have gotten in trouble or whatever. It doesn’t apply or has meaning if you’re aware of and you know how to process it, which is a whole other set of things when you approach the dark side, as you put it with your event. When you show up in life, the value you create to the world is represented in a couple of ways. One of the ways is with wealth, with money which is, “Here’s what you’ve done for the world.” If you don’t have a lot of money, you can be a victim about it and say, “It’s because this didn’t happen or this person is this way, this person is that way.” If you take stewardship and responsibility for it, it’s becoming aware that and then figuring out how to show up different, how to change your attitude and control what you can control. What does any of this have to do with being wealthy or achieving what we define as wealth?

What I believe the way that this is connected is that money itself is very interesting when you take into consideration. If everybody was aware of how to earn whatever amount of money they needed whenever they needed it, which is my definition of wealth. It’s not stacking up money in the bank or in a mattress or whatever. Not that investing or saving is a bad thing. It’s a good thing, but that doesn’t define wealth. Wealth is your ability to bring that resource in. If everybody was aware of how to do that beyond working a job, understanding how money moves and how to bring it into their life then they become uncontrollable. It is one of the ways that society still can control the masses because if they are dependent upon everybody else for the money, then they have to conform to everything that is required in order for them to earn money.

TWS 16 | Wealth

Wealth: Wealth is a mindset; it’s not something that you achieve. It’s not this end result. It’s a way of being.


There are one or two reasons that people look at becoming wealthy. One is so that they don’t ever have to worry about money again, which is a negative viewpoint. That’s built out of fear. The other one is, “I am born to be a success. I have a purpose. It is going to require a lot of money for the fulfillment of that purpose and that purpose is going to benefit a lot of people and money is going to have a role in that.” In our website, we have a free download that’s called You Were Born to be a Success. It starts people off in that direction. It’s like turning the corner for that individual in their life. The key is that if we come from this place of, “I don’t have to worry about money because I’ve mastered my ability to bring finances into my life,” you totally change the direction and the purpose and the capacity for a person to expand their life because they’re no longer fixated on, “I’ve got to spend this much time or trading my time for money, working in a job that I don’t like, which makes people unhappy. Working with people I don’t like.” You should do what you love with people that you love and master being able to bring money in your life so that it’s not an issue. Everybody can do it.

My belief is that everybody on the planet has the same amount of money. They’re just either ignorant to that, meaning that they don’t know that that’s the truth or that they don’t want to change to be able to do the things that are required to bring it in. Earning a lot of money is not difficult. There are homeless people that understand that more than there are people that work that understand that. Homeless people are believably resourceful. There are people that walk around free, they talk about all the reasons why they can’t do something and we have people in prisons that are able to get drugs, pornography, cigarettes, all kinds of contraband and they’re in a 9×11 cell, 23 hours a day. How is it that they’re able to be more resourceful than a person who’s free? It’s the change in your mind that binds you. If you think about it in those comparisons.

You have a person that says, “I can’t do this because I don’t have the money.” The problem is that they don’t have the urgency. If you change the urgency in a person’s life in order to get the money, everything changes. If somebody said to you, “If you don’t come up with $10,000 in the next seven days, your kid will lose his life.” That I guarantee, the person will find $10,000 in seven days. That will be the same person that won’t go out and buy a self-help book because they say that they can’t afford it. Or they’ll be late on their payments because they literally stop with the imagination in their mind or the story in their mind that they can’t do it, it can’t be done or they have toleration as to what’s acceptable and they don’t raise their standards in their lives. But if you change the circumstances, they’re able to do it. They’ll break through whatever barrier that they have in order to make something happen.

The word “can,” what an amazingly controlling word that is, which is totally false. You’re hitting on things that just resonates so well. That’s probably what you meant with the title of your book, The Millions Within. Humankind shares very similar attributes as far as who we are, maybe not the physical environment in which we live but who we are and our ability to create and our ability to think. Going back to what we talked about, which is John Locke who lived in a time where there wasn’t electricity, there wasn’t plumbing, where life was very at a rudimentary level. He saw what a human being could create with the right mindset, with the right environment and so forth. As you alluded to in the beginning, we have more opportunity now than ever. Also, you could see a perspective where people think it’s all going to end. It’s all going to end.

What we’ve been talking about here, wealth to me is a mindset and it’s not something that you achieve. It’s not this end result. It’s a way of being. You don’t have to have a lot of money in the bank to think and believe that way. I believe that true wealth is going to come about by first believing and thinking that way, which will create a specific attitude which will then bring you around the right people and get you away from the wrong people. That right there altogether is that state that people are seeking. It’s not a state that you achieve, it’s a state that you are working on all the time.

There's something to be said for finding why you're here and having the appreciation and the gratitude for that. Click To Tweet

It is a state, it is a way of being. It is how you show up every day. Anybody can do it. It starts with this. If you’re willing to take responsibility for everything that’s in your life, you take your power back, which allows you to change your perception and see what you couldn’t previously see before. All the opportunities, everything that you need is here for everybody. It’s not to pick or choose. You don’t see the worry. You don’t see the fear. You don’t see the dysfunction anywhere in nature unless human beings get involved. Nature just flows with life and intelligence. It knows exactly what to do. Think about a beaver building a dam. They don’t go to building dams school as little beavers. That’s instinctual knowledge that they have. It’s the same with birds building a nest. Those are very intricate things if you’ve ever looked at one up-close. How did they know how to do that? We have the same guidance inside of ourselves. We’ve got to stop following the dysfunctional stories that we’ve been told that are not based on any truth and start following what is true. The truth is you have to study a little bit to get to those things. If you’re willing to do that, you can change your life for the better in a very short period of time.

David, this has been enlightening for me. This has helped me connect a few things. I appreciate that from a personal level. We’ve been talking about all of your elements of this. We brought it together well. Thank you so much for helping us do that. I know you have not just the book but there are a lot of other resources that you have that speak to practical ways of implementing some of what we’ve been talking about. Would you mind speaking about that?

All anybody has to do is go to our website, DavidNeagle.com. There is a free download there called You Were Born To Be A Success. There are also a lot of other resources. Our events are all listed on the website if you want to come to participate with us. You could give one of our coaches a call. That information is on the website and they’ll help you work through any problem that you’re having and help you with what is the next step from there.

Are you active on social media?

Yes, we’re on absolutely everything and always communicating there.

David, we’re going to have to do a follow up to this. Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom and your experiences with us. We appreciate it. I’m sure we’ll touch base and talk soon.

Thanks so much for having me. I appreciate it.

Important Links:

About David Neagle

TWS 16 | Wealth

In September of 1989, what was supposed to be a rare relaxing day with family cruising down the Illinois River in a roomy boat, quickly turned into a nightmare.

David Neagle was pulled deep into the gates of a dam that shredded his flesh, broke his back, and nearly drowned him. No one expected him to survive the accident, and rescue workers even told his family he was already dead. (Entire boats had been sucked into this same dam, without survivors.)

What happened instead is that David, a high-school dropout and dock worker, awakened to the potential previously untapped within him. He made a decision that day to begin the journey responsible for changing his entire life, and now the lives of thousands of others.

David Neagle knows how to help you achieve whatever dream your heart desires – no matter where you’re starting from.

After his brush with death, David began to study his own potential. In the 12 months following his accident – despite being unable to walk for more than a month – he tripled his income. By December of 2000, David had expanded to become an executive corporate manager, a stock investor, and a business owner.

Over the years, David continually sought new mentors with each new level of success he attained. He began to study every great person in history. But it wasn’t until David began studying “The Science of Getting Rich” by Wallace D. Wattles, that he fully understood the transformation he’d undergone. Wattles’ book uncovered the exact change in David’s thinking and in his attitude that had gotten the ball rolling to create his unstoppable success.

Today, David Neagle is the best selling author of The Millions Within and is known as one of the architects of the coaching and personal growth industry itself, having worked alongside other well-known mentors like Bob Proctor, Marianne Morrisey, Tony Robbins and the like for decades.


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Seeing Opportunities For Development with Mike Cobb

TWS 15 | Opportunities For Development


There are so many opportunities in the world. All we need is a discerning eye that knows how to make something out of what we see. Mike Cobb, CEO, and Co-Founder of ECI Development and President of Gran Pacifica, talks about opening doors for development. Sharing his background and uprooting his family living outside of the United States in Nicaragua, he talks about the many opportunities the world has to offer for investors to grow. Mike discusses the emerging markets, most especially in Central America, as well as traveling to developing countries and creating environments where people could have experiences. Taking something and creating a business opportunity out of it, Mike engages us in a teak conversation about how this wood works and what opportunities it offers as far as how it is used.

Listen to the podcast here:

Seeing Opportunities For Development with Mike Cobb

I was fortunate to be in Southern Florida at an incredible event put on by Tony Robbins called Date with Destiny. It’s my third event with Tony and I’m with my wife as well. I’m going to save this experience for another day. We’re going to do a bonus episode with my wife. We have the second to final episode of season three. I hope you had enjoyed 2018. I didn’t plan for this fifteenth episode with my guest, Mike Cobb, but it worked out perfectly. I have known Mike for years. He wrote an article at the beginning of 2018 with the topic of what we’ve been discussing on here, which is by John Locke. It’s, “Life, liberty and the pursuit of property.” I met Mike a few years ago on an investment cruise that we were both speaking at. What a stellar guy. The energy level he has, the knowledge he has, the experiences that he has gone through.

I’m going to add one of the variables that are the most unique and certainly the most valuable, which is the understanding of principle and understanding of history, understanding of humankind and our capacity to take this human experience and learn how to take our knowledge and our intellect and our talent and our ability and the material world around us and create an incredible life. You’re going to read some cool stories and you’re going to read about something that you didn’t know about before, which has to do with a very long-term time of investment in the forestry space.

You are in for a treat. My guest is Mike Cobb. Mike is the CEO and Cofounder of ECI Development and President of Gran Pacifica. Mike and I met a couple of years ago on The Real Estate Guys Investors Summit at Sea. We also connected at another event in Bermuda. Mike’s an awesome guy and you’re going to hear a little bit about his background. Mike, welcome to the show. Thanks for joining us.

Thanks, Patrick. It’s nice to be here.

You were passionate about uprooting your family and living abroad outside of the United States over a decade ago. Can you give us a little bit about your background and what led up to that?

I grew up in Western Pennsylvania north of Pittsburgh. I graduated college in ‘86 and unfortunately it was a depressed area of the country. I moved to the DC area. I worked in the computer business for several years on the PC side of things. In ‘94, I went to Belize for my first trip on vacation to have some fun with a buddy of mine, the Cofounder, Joel Nagel. We bought a couple of condos and started to rent them out. What we saw interestingly was that there was no mortgage money for North Americans in Belize generally. The bank up in the States or Canada would not lend money on collateral in Belize and the bank in Belize didn’t want to lend money to foreigners. You had this weird hole in the marketplace. We started a little mortgage company in 1995. I went out to a bunch of my buddies in the computer business, raised some money. Joel went to a bunch of his clients, we put the other couple of million bucks and we started buying mortgage paper all over Ambergris Caye. It was a phenomenal business. The paper was usually two to four years to mature, 12% to 14% interest rates. We were buying for $0.80 on the dollar.

It was a great business. Joel was the deal guy. He’s the money, finance side of things. I’m the more boots on the ground guy. What I did was I ran around and looked at the collateral. I would go and look at these condos and these homes that had been bought a year to four years. What I saw was incredible. You’d walk into a living room and there would be an outlet on the wall. There’d be two outlet strips, one going each direction. With extension cords plugged into the outlet strip running around the edges of the wall so that you’d have power all the way around the living room or a bedroom. They had one outlet in the living room or one in the bedroom. The door handles are at different heights and kitchen countertops too high, too low, whatever it was. We started to put our heads together and we said, “To fix this stuff is almost free.” Put all the door handles at the right height, to get the countertops the right height, put the mirror centered over the sinks, simple stuff.

TWS 15 | Opportunities For Development

Opportunities For Development: The time machine is an imaginative concept. The more technical word is path of progress.


We started the development company in 1998. We bought a small resort in Belize. I moved to Belize with my new wife, Carol. We didn’t have any kids at the time. We lived in Belize for a few months. We turned the property around and then move back to the States. In ‘98, ‘99, I did a lot of work in Panama on a tea plantation. In 2000, we bought a giant piece of property in Nicaragua one hour west of Managua, the capital. I say giant. It was three and a half miles of Pacific beachfront and the property is a mile deep. It’s a 2,500-acre property. In 2002, it was time to get down there. We’d done the initial permitting and master planning. My wife, Carol, my daughter, Amanda, who was two at the time, we literally picked up and left Shepherdstown, West Virginia where we own a home. The same home, we kept it. We moved to Nicaragua for what we thought would be two to three, maximum four years to get a company started. We did. We went down there and we hired architects, engineers, a chief operating officer, accounting people, IT, marketing and the whole thing. We put all the team together.

About three and a half years into it, my wife and I go out to dinner one night. We took a piece of paper. I know you’re a big Tom Hopkins fan. I’m a big Tom Hopkins fan. We took that piece of paper, we drew the line down the middle and we did the old Ben Franklin. Stay in Nicaragua, go back to the US. The list to stay went down the front and onto the back. The list to go back to the States was a third of the way down one side. We ended up staying in Nicaragua another several years by choice. It was an incredible quality of life. The cost of living was silly cheap but the quality of life was higher, which is paradoxical. How can you have a higher quality of life with a lower cost of living? It’s possible in the developing world and we did. We moved back to the States a couple of years ago. One of my daughters, my eldest, Amanda, was fifteen. She got accepted into a ballet program in New York City. Mama bear was like, “We’re not living in Nicaragua with the baby bear in New York City.” We came back to Shepherdstown and we’ve been here for the last couple of years.

Your perspective on what’s going on in emerging markets is intriguing. My wife is from Mexico originally and grew up there. I grew up in the Northeast. The differing perspectives helped me. I had a bigger view of the world and how people live. We see innovation all around us in the US. Oftentimes because of how big the world is, we’re seeing what’s on TV as far as how to determine what type of growth is occurring or what’s going on outside the US. Why don’t you talk briefly about what you saw in emerging markets, specifically the Central America markets? What are you seeing? You raised your kids in Nicaragua. You say that to a normal person they look at you funny, which I’m sure people have looked at you funny in the past. Talk about that and what your experience is versus the stigma that’s out there.

The best concept I can put around this is a time machine. Going to a country like Costa Rica, Panama, Nicaragua, Belize, anywhere in Central America is literally like getting in a time machine. In my presentations, I sometimes will ask this question. I say, “If HG Wells stopped in the middle of this room with this time machine and we could all jump on it. Take one check and go back twenty years. We could all make one investment. How many of us would come back to this moment wealthier?” Everybody puts up their hand or a few people are a little slow and they don’t know. The hindsight’s 20/20. What we see in the developing world, Central America specifically in this case, is we see the time machine concept. That’s the more imaginative word that I use, but the more technical word is the path of progress.

A country like Costa Rica and Panama are pretty far up this curve. Panama because of the Canal and we’ve had US military presence there for 100 years. Costa Rica because many years ago they jumped on the bandwagon of tourism and promoted themselves as a tourist destination. They have moved up this popularity curve, the path of progress curve. Whereas a country like Belize is a little further down and a country like Nicaragua is far down. If folks want this curve, I’ll send it to you and you can forward it onto folks. It’s a pretty powerful visual tool because here’s how I put the countries on it. What I said to myself was, “Where do people from Utah or Midwest America or wherever take their honeymoons?” Pacific Coast to Costa Rica, absolutely. People going to Costa Rica for their honeymoons, there’s a Four Seasons or Westins. It’s fully on. Panama is almost there too. There are lots of people taking their honeymoons in Costa Rica, but not a lot of people taking their honeymoons in Nicaragua.

It is amazing how much the person can create with their minds when they have the freedom. Click To Tweet

I know a lot of your audience is cashflow people. What you’ve got to understand is that where you have popularity, you have cashflow. You have people coming and renting. Where you have less popularity or somewhere in the middle, fewer renters, less cashflow but it’s priced into the marketplace. You get into a country like Nicaragua, it doesn’t cost much. For example, an oceanfront condo on one of the ten best surf breaks in Central America. It’s been on the cover of The Surfer’s Journal, Kelly Slater films there. This is world-class surf break, empty. Oceanfront condo, $129. Will you get the cashflow you would get in Costa Rica? No, you’re not going to get the same average daily rate. You’re not going to get the ADR. You’re not going to get the occupancy rate yet. As Nicaragua climbs the curve, what’s your cost basis? Your cost basis on that’s $129. That same condo in Costa Rica costs you $350. You start to run those numbers. I’m a big fan of diversification. You should have a little bit of both. Plug either place real hard. Get some across that whole spectrum. The path of progress is to be the single most important takeaway at 30,000 feet, time machine. I’ll give your audience the best tip. The first person who puts that Dairy Queen in Nicaragua is going to clean up. We have McDonald’s, Quiznos, Subway, TGI Friday’s, all these chains but there are no Dairy Queen.

Countries or destinations, there’s a brand. In and of itself, it’s a brand. If you think of Costa Rica, something comes to mind. If you think of Nicaragua, something comes to mind. If you think of Guatemala, something comes to mind. If you think of Mexico, something comes to mind. I look at Costa Rica and how beautiful it is and it’s a supply and demand issue. The reason why you can get a beachfront condo there is because there’s only so much beachfront and it also has brand recognition. When you have more people going, which is increasing because of the older population retiring and wanting to travel and go on cruises and so forth, that’s when essentially at some point doesn’t make sense because there’s only so much beachfront.

That’s where you look at similar destinations. Case in point, who knows where Belize is? Most people know where Mexico is. Most people know where Panama is because of the Panama Canal, but where’s Belize? Most people don’t know that, but it’s coming online because it embodies some of the characteristics of some of those popular destinations. There are others, Nicaragua is one. I have some friends that are in Guatemala and they’re doing these pictures of these huge mansions that they’re staying in. How beautiful they are for the cost of a hotel room in Costa Rica. It’s one of those things that Central America specifically, despite its issues which are in the headlines, is coming into its own and appeasing the demand that’s out there for beautiful places to travel to.

Belize was the first place I did business. I still do business there. Belize on that curve is in the sweet spot. It’s not as mature as Panama or Costa Rica. It’s not as unpopular as a country like Nicaragua. It’s in the middle, so it’s got cashflowness now. Southwest started flying in. They’ve opened up some new routes coming from Denver, they’re from Fort Lauderdale now and they’re in from Hobby Houston. WestJet in 2017 opened up from Toronto. They’re opening up from Calgary. You have these discount carrier airlines coming in, bringing the more mainstream tourists to a country like Belize. We’d been working there since 1994. When I moved to Belize with my wife, we lived in this little tiny resort on Ambergris Caye. A few years ago, we bought the property next door. We’ve since signed a franchise agreement with Marriott Corporation and we’re in the development phase. We’ll be into construction Q1 of next year for a Marriott Resort and Residences on Ambergris Caye. The market is ready for it. Years ago, the market would not have been ready for a Marriott-class hotel.

The folks you’ve talked with on your program before, they’re working with the Curio Hilton product there on Ambergris Caye. There’s a Marriott Autograph under construction as well. We’re seeing this interesting transformative moment in time in Belize. I wrote an article on this concept of the timing of that sweet spot of the marketplace and how the market has transformed over the many years since I’ve been working there. It’s neat to watch these things happen over a couple of decades and be a part of that transformation as well. To help folks like your audience to see these opportunities. Understand what these opportunities are and how they might best fit depending on their investment goals are. Some people like cashflow, but they’re willing to take less percentage cashflow but a more certain cashflow. People want to take a little riskier, buying in it cheaper and other people want the sweet spot. Knowing this big picture concept allows people to put themselves in the spot that best fits their investment goals, which is what you’re all about and what we’re all about. It’s all about the client. How can we help the client get what they are looking for in terms of an investment and a return type?

TWS 15 | Opportunities For Development

Opportunities For Development: At the end of the day, what businesses are all about is the client.


This is where I talk to you about the theme that we’ve been using in 2018. It continues to fascinate me because there’s a saying that we’ve used. John Locke was a philosopher in the 1700s, “The pursuit of life, liberty and property,” in which ultimately became part of the Declaration of Independence. Back then, we’re losing in Europe, which is still under the semi-authoritative rule. Talking about how a person can use their mind when they have freedom and essentially develop the property into something that’s valuable to other people. Those such as yourself who see the beauty in these different countries whether it’s Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama or any other beautiful place and figured out ways in which you can create a resort. Create an environment where people could have experiences.

It’s profound and that’s where I look at. You’ve opened the doors and others have opened the doors of development, which has allowed bigger brands to come in. Those bigger brands don’t need to take those types of risks. They essentially look for opportunities to piggyback on the risk that has already been taken. I look at the development of Central America and those beautiful places all year round and how desirable they’re going to be for the growing population of travelers and vacationers. You can make any comments you want in regard to that. I wanted to talk about something that I find fascinating with what you’re doing in regard to teak, which plays into this whole idea and whole theme too of taking something and creating a business opportunity out of it. Maybe speak to the comment I made in regard to the development of these beautiful places in the world then we can get into the teak conversation.

I wrote an article for the National Association of Realtors. I was the Director with the National Association of Realtors and now serve on their Global Business and Alliances Committee. I wrote an article about that whole part of why real estate is an incredibly powerful foundation for the United States. Jefferson tweaked it when he changed it to happiness, but the property was the foundation for that concept and private property specifically that allows people to take and find the highest, best use and then serve clients. I’ve been a student of the development process and I’ve given some presentations on a Semester at Sea about this exact topic. There are a lot of great books out there. One that is powerful and you’re probably familiar with Hernando de Soto, The Mystery Of Capital. It’s a phenomenal read that in my mind encapsulates the development process or the development challenges in Central and South America or the developing world.

Companies like ours come in, we address the risk factor. We bring technology. It’s a mental technology. It’s a process. It’s a system of development, but it’s also a philosophical construct in the sense that we bring the idea that the pie can get bigger. A lot of the developing world is zero-sum or the pie is big. If you get any, I get less. There is no bigger making of the pie. Curio Hilton, the Marriott Autograph, these are my competitors. We understand as North Americans that the McDonald’s on one corner does okay. You stick a Burger King, KFC and a Wendy’s on the other three, all four do better. All the car dealerships are on that same highway somewhere. These are philosophical constructs that we bring. It’s a technology that we bring as foreigners into the developing world and probably as much as our money. Certainly, our money’s important because capital is an issue as Hernando de Soto draws out well in his book.

Capital is important, but intellectual capital is equally vital to the process of progress and development as we would define it in the United States. It’s what gets me up in the morning. This is what motivates me. We want to make money. We’re a company. We’re in business to make money and serve our shareholders and clients, first the client and then our shareholders. At the end of the day, that’s not what gets me out of bed and gets me excited. It’s this ability to come and be transformative to a developing country with both the money and the intellectual capital as well to change how it’s viewed and how things are done.

In business, it is the team that translates an idea, business plan, and concept into reality. Click To Tweet

That’s what Locke meant. He understood this internal drive of humankind to create. Once you have that lens, you can see. I was watching The Jungle Book with my son the other day. Mowgli, what separated him from the animals? It’s his ability to think and come up with solutions. Locke understood that. He also understood the restriction is going to be the environment in which it takes place. Where if you do have a monarchical rule, they’re dictating how you live therefore that part of your drive is going to be suppressed. When there is freedom, when there is an opportunity and then you combine capital with it and property, that’s when there are some amazing things that can be created from it. There are examples of it everywhere.

Going to your business, development of actual real estate property is a feat in and of itself. I don’t think most people understand or value what goes into effective development of something that could take six months, nine months, a year and how all the different parts and things need to be orchestrated. There’s much beauty in how you take something that doesn’t exist and turn into something that does exist or at least exists at a fundamental rudimentary level and then turns it into something that’s a desirable place to go visit and create memories. It’s fascinating to think through. Let’s talk teak. Teak fits into the same idea. When people think of teak, it’s like, “Wood or is that a stain?” Tell us about your passion with teak.

There is one answer to that question. The answer is people. The answer is your team. The team is what translates an idea, business plan, and concept into reality. It’s all about the people and we’re fortunate to have an incredibly powerful, sophisticated and dedicated team on the ECI company. Teak is cool because I didn’t know anything about it. Back in 1998, we read an article by Kathy Peddicord. She wrote an article about teak as a reforestation product. Both Vietnam and Panama had a reforestation program. There were a group of six guys. We all got together and said, “Let’s throw in some money. Let’s do this teak thing.” We flew over to Vietnam for several days. This was ‘98. This is early Vietnam changing. What we realized was it was way too far. The timezone was exactly twelve hours or whatever opposite East Coast. It would’ve been a real nightmare to manage.

We also went down to Panama and we saw that the reforestation center programs there were pretty strong as well. Being the boots on the ground guy, it was my job to go and begin to figure this out. The other guys all had jobs. Joel was a lawyer, I’m boots on the ground guy so, “Go figure it out.” This is the long before Google, ‘98. I live about an hour and a half west of Washington DC. I live in the Shenandoah Valley. Back then, I did a couple with that many years in the middle of Nicaragua. I went down to the Library of Congress and I got a bunch of books on teak. What I found was teak has been raised in the plantation by the British starting a few hundred years ago in India, what was then Burma, Myanmar now, Indonesia. These books that I was referencing were incredible because they had a few hundred years of statistical record keeping of soil conditions, weather, rainfall, altitudes, on and on. I got smart enough to be able to go to Panama and interview forestry companies about taking on our project. Helping us find a piece of property and then managing. I knew I scratched the first layer of the onion, but I needed to at least understand if somebody was blowing smoke at me on their answers to some of my questions.

TWS 15 | Opportunities For Development

The Mystery of Capital: Why Capitalism Triumphs in the West and Fails Everywhere Else

The company we ultimately selected is a company called Geoforestal. One of the principal reasons is they answered all the questions. They’ve been in business well. They were the company that grew the seedlings that most of the other forestry companies in Panama used to plant plantations. They were getting into the management side of things. We took a little chance on them, but they’d been in the nursery business for a long time and the genetics side of the teak. We hired them and we bought 100-acre cattle pasture. It was grass and brush and we cleared it. The forest company planted some number of teak trees and sat back for the last many years. The forestry company manages it. They thin it, they take care of it. This would have been ‘99. The trees went in the ground in July and August of 1999.

I’m in the Rotary Club. I live across the street from the Bavarian Inn. It’s right on the Potomac River. They have the Rotary meeting there every Tuesday morning. I’d slip across the street at 7:00 and eat breakfast until 7:30. The bell rings. You have your Rotary meeting. From 7:00 to 7:30, there’ll be a table of eight or ten folks and like, “Mike, you missed the meeting last week. Where were you?” I said, “I was down in Panama.” They said, “What are you doing in Panama?” I said, “We bought this farm. We’re going to plant these teak trees and in 25 years we’re going to cut them down and we’re going to make a lot of money.” The heads would shake and they’re like, “Your crazy, Cobb. What are you doing? Panama? 25 years?” The answer I got finally after a couple of weeks of hearing this nonsense around the tables was like, “In many years, I’m going to either need this money and be glad I did this or in many years I’m not going to need the money and I’m going to be glad I did this.”

Many years later, I’m glad I did this. Our trees are big around. They’re fourteen to eighteen-inch diameter and they’re 60, 70-feet tall. Our trees are average. They’re doing what they’re supposed to do. They’re growing. In a few more years, we’re going to harvest them and make a ton of money and we’re going to replant. In fact, I’ve got a guy headed down there to look for a new property. We’re going to pick up another 250 acres and plant another plantation in Panama. We’re doing the same thing in Nicaragua. We’ve planted about 60 acres of our Gran Pacifica property. We’ve surveyed off another 45 to plant this year. We’re continuing to plant teak because teak is one of those incredible investments.

You’re a Kiyosaki fan. I’m a Kiyosaki fan and the rental and the cashflow and that stuff are important. When we think about cashflow periods, most of us think about maybe it’s every two weeks we get a paycheck. Every month we get a rent check from somebody if we’re doing the Kiyosaki cashflow thing or we have stocks and bonds and we’re not a day trader. Maybe we’re moving in and out of those annually or every rate. Our periods tend to be a couple of weeks to maybe a couple of years. The thing about teak that I love and it’s not something you would do a lot of your money with. A small piece of your assets goes into what I call the 25-year cap flow period.

There’s nothing in the middle. They grow and you cut them down. You create this huge asset. You cut them down, you plant them again. In 25 years, you come down for the next generation. One of the tabs on your website is legacy. Teak specifically for us because we liked the region of Central America and teak grows exceptionally well in those latitudes of about ten to twelve degrees. Panama sits at 9.86, it’s right there at ten. Perfect rainfall, perfect soils, it works well. I have stocks and bonds. I have a 401(k) and I’ve got other investments. I’ve got properties at that two-week cashflow, one-month, two-year cashflow. We all need that in our lives.

Someday when I die, if I died now, my kids would be fourteen and eighteen. Hopefully, they wouldn’t go sell off all my stocks and buy Ferraris and Lamborghinis. I won’t be around. I don’t know what they’ll do. The nice thing about teak is even in a few more years, they’ll be twenty and 24. They’ll be more mature. Even if my two daughters had blown the money on Lamborghinis or whatever it was they bought, it gets replanted. In 25 more years when they’re in their 50s, they’re going to get another harvest to proceed and presumably they’d be a lot more mature and be able to steward that money better then. It gets cut down, it gets replanted and maybe the next ones for their kids. It’s a powerful generational wealth stewardship tool precisely because it’s not liquid. Everyone’s always, “Liquidity.” It’s important. I get it like most of your portfolio. If you can take 5% or 10% of your portfolio and lock it up and make it illiquid, I personally believe you are doing future generations an incredible favor. You’re locking it up and keeping it out of the hands of late teen, early twenty-year-old kids.

Sometimes we’ll classify these types of assets as perennial assets, which are assets that ultimately last forever. Sometimes it doesn’t appease the short-term intrigue people have with regards to investment. It doesn’t mean that they’re not valuable. In a sense, they’re even more valuable. What it does is it plants this one investment that will have consistent dividends which will require probably little to no increase in operational expenses, barring inflation and cost of living increases. It’s not to say that’s an asset that’s boring. When you compare it to a lot of the investment that has been made over the last many years, which is mostly in real estate and markets where there is good rent to value ratios, that’s where you have a lot of opportunity for short-term gain, but yet they’re not perennial assets.

The example I gave to you is if you buy fifteen homes in Columbus, it’s going to outperform a teak investment in the short-term. 25 years from now, I’m not sure how valuable those homes in Columbus will be without massive amounts of operational costs and improving expenses. The idea is it’s a different type of investment. This is more of a legacy perennial type of investment, whether it’s a farmland or timber or another mineral type of investments. There are lots of opportunities there. What I found fascinating is you’re intrigue getting into the research at the Library of Congress into the nature of teak and why it’s desirable. If something takes that long to harvest, that’s an asset that you are not going to have much competition in because of how long it’s going to take to play out. Talk about how teak works and what that opportunity is as far as how it’s used, what the demand is and so forth.

That is one of the things. If all of a sudden in 2019 or the year after teak becomes even more in demand, you can’t rush out and make it. You had to have planted them many years ago. It takes foresight and it takes the ability to understand that these products should. It’s a future event. We all understand the investment concept of a future event. Who knows? Nobody can predict the future. The nice thing about teak with a 350-year track record, it’s been in the plantation, it’s been in demand for a few hundred years. Teak has increased in value by about 5.50% a year on average for 100 years. It’s got its ups and downs, it’s a commodity. It moves up and down. 5.50% per year growth in the value of teak, we’re talking about the growth of the tree. We’re talking about lumber sold as lumber, 5.50% a year. You have the actual growth of the trees. The kinds of IRRs when you run those numbers are double digit.

It’s 10% to 12% IRRs over 25 years. You’re talking about compounding over 25 years at that rate. It’s huge and the easy numbers. $50,000 turns into a little over $1 million round number things. The idea is that it doesn’t take much to get in now, but the legacy you leave for the kids, grandkids in 25 years are significant. Teak is a unique wood in the sense that it’s impervious to rot, fungus, molds. It’s a hardwood and it has high oil content. In fact, for centuries they used teak for dominant wood in the oil industry because it didn’t spark. It had some curious industrial uses. We’re most familiar with it with boats. The chairs on the Titanic as well as the decks were all teak wood. Teak furniture weathers well, it holds up to the environment. Teak is an incredibly long-lasting product that has a centuries-old track record of being in demand for its natural properties for the most part.

My parents live on Cape Cod but my uncle has been there forever. He bought this Grand Banks, which are these old iconic trawlers. The majority of the value is in the wood and it’s all teak.

Teak is exceptionally valuable.

Are there other ways in which people can follow you or learn more about you?

ECIDevelopment.com. Info@ECIDevelopment.com or MCobb@ECIDevelopment.com will find its way to me. That’s our property website. If you’re interested in that popularity chart, it’s part of our Consumer Resource Guide. We publish a consumer resource guide. It’s not a sales document and it’s got the fifteen questions that every property buyer should ask when they buy property overseas. Questions that we as North Americans wouldn’t necessarily think to ask. If any of your folks are thinking about a property overseas, this Consumer Resource Guide is great. Send an email to Info@ECIDevelopment.com and write Consumer Resource Guide or something in the subject line. If they’re interested in the teak, write teak in the subject line and we’ll send something out about that. They’re separate businesses, but that’s probably the easiest one-word answer to be able to get to me. I would love to provide some articles as well. It’s good stuff for folks if they want to dig a little deeper.

Mike, thanks so much for your passion and for sharing it with us. It’s been an awesome conversation.

Thanks for having me and I’m glad we got locked in there. That was fantastic.

It was fun. Take care, Mike.

Important Links:

About Mike Cobb

TWS 15 | Opportunities For Development

In 1996, Michael K. Cobb and his business partner formed a company, Exotic Caye International, to provide loans to North Americans purchasing properties in Belize, Honduras, Costa Rica, and throughout the region. With a strong focus on consumer need, Mr. Cobb accurately predicted the growing demand for high quality, residential product for North American “baby boomer” retirees in the region. He led the group into real estate development and created a holding company called ECI Development for several properties, including a resort on Ambergris Caye, Belize. Michael speaks at dozens of international conferences annually about offshore real estate finance, development, and ownership. He was a consultant to The Oxford Club, hosted a weekly radio program, contributes regularly to overseas publications, sits on the board of several international companies, gives counsel to various real estate projects throughout Central America, and serves on the Board of Directors and the President’s Advisory Group for the National Association of Realtors.


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Jeff Kreisler on Dollars, Sense And Behavioral Economics

TWS 14 | Behavioral Economics


It has been said that the predominant thing people think daily is money. Our financial well-being has fully occupied our lives that it dictates what we do and what we think. Getting down into the science of that is lawyer turned author, speaker, pundit, comedian and advocate for behavioral science, Jeff Kreisler. Jeff shows his expertise as he talks about economics, money, and behavior in general. He shares his own journey that led him to explore how economics is a measurement of human behavior. Moving forward, Jeff talks about his book co-written by Daniel Ariely, Dollars and Sense: How We Misthink Money and How to Spend Smarter, ultimately putting forward the importance not in the pursuit of money but the end result in our lifestyle.

Listen to the podcast here:

Jeff Kreisler on Dollars, Sense And Behavioral Economics

What makes humans tick? Why do we look at the world rationally and expect perfection, and then behave irrationally and settle with our own imperfection? There is a whole field of economics known as behavioral economics, which is relatively new and studies the often-missing variables and economic models which is human behavior. Thank you for joining me on the final season of 2018 where we are discussing the Principle of Property. I have an awesome guest, but it’s been a wild ride. It’s been an awesome 2018. I’ve been a huge fan of Daniel Ariely. Daniel Ariely is a behavioral economist and he has some incredibly entertaining videos on YouTube. If you want a good date night movie, his documentary which is called (Dis)Honesty, which is modeled after his book, Predictably Irrational. Both the book and the documentary are some of my favorites. Daniel Ariely coauthored a book with my guest and the book is Dollars and Sense: How We Misthink Money and How to Spend Smarter. My guest is Jeff Kreisler and he is entertaining and full of humor. It’s going to be a great interview. I look forward to hearing your feedback. Thanks again for all your support of the show and our seasons for 2018. We have some cool plans for 2019. Here is the interview with my guest, Jeff Kreisler.

TWS 14 | Behavioral Economics

Dollars and Sense: How We Misthink Money and How to Spend Smarter

It’s my honor and privilege to have Jeff Kreisler on the show. We are going to be talking about a book that he wrote and about the behavior in general economics and money. Jeff is a Princeton alumnus. He studied economics and law there. He also wrote the book, Get Rich Cheating. He also is a coauthor of Dollars and Sense with Daniel Ariely. He is the Editor-In-Chief for PeopleScience.com. If that resume was enough, he also can add to it that he is a standup comedian and contributor to some news networks CNN, Fox News and MSNBC is a few of them. Jeff, that’s a long list of accolades. Thank you for taking the time.

Thanks for having me.

In doing some research and understanding the background of your book and your background in general, I find it intriguing that you have such a unique background. Someone who gets into law and economics, but also has a sense of humor isn’t something you often find. It might be good for you to tell us a little bit about your background and what your formal education background is. How you got into writing books, speaking and standup comedy. Why don’t you give us an idea of your background, if you wouldn’t mind?

I went to Princeton and I studied Economics, Politics and also Russian Studies there. I love studying and I decided to go to law school because I wanted to be Thurgood Marshall or Thomas Jefferson. As any lawyers who are reading may know, that’s not the direct career path that one takes. I chose the “traditional path” of becoming a comedian. I will admit to my privilege that I had gone to Princeton and had a law degree from Virginia Law School. It’s a great law school and I passed the California Bar, so I had a safety net of my own that allowed me to take the risks to become a comedian.

I was in San Francisco. I did political comedy. I had some success there. I won some awards. I made a little hay with it. As I was struggling to pay the bills and everything, someone approached me and said, “Do you want to write a column for Jim Cramer’s TheStreet.com about financial news and business news? A weekly humor column?” I said, “No.” He said, “It pays.” I said, “Yes.” I learned to dive into that world. Through that, I got an opportunity. It was a relatively popular site and a popular column. A publisher approached me to see if I had some book ideas. I then proposed this Get Rich Cheating book, which came out in 2009.

It was a satire. Initially, it was focused on financial crime. 2009 was a great time to talk about Enron and WorldCom and all that. I ended up going through HarperCollins and we expanded it to include steroids, election fraud, and show business. It was a fake how to book, Stephen Colbert meets Jim Cramer meets Tony Robbins. I had some success with that. That got me my first broader media attention. As far as my own career path, Dan Ariely got a copy of it. Dan is one of the leaders in this field of behavioral economics. Our audience might have heard of Richard Thaler in 2017, he won the Nobel Prize in Economics. He’s a peer of Dan’s. Dan invited me to lecture at his class at Duke University where he’s teaching graduate business.

TWS 14 | Behavioral Economics

Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions

He didn’t introduce me as a comedian but as someone with unique wealth building ideas. It was a light bulb moment for me because I did this satirical lecture. I went and I told these graduate business students at a top business school, “You should cheat cost-benefit analysis. No one’s getting caught. There’s no cost and the benefits are millions of dollars.” There was always a healthy portion of the class, a quarter to a third of them that said, “That makes sense.” For me, it was a light bulb moment because these weren’t bad people. It was money clouds are our visions sometimes. My informal research understanding was that money makes us do irrational crazy things. Through this, I discovered Dan’s work in the field who wrote Predictably Irrational that some of them may have heard of and all of his peers.

We worked together on small projects then came out with this book that came in 2017 called Dollars and Sense. It’s about the psychology of money, the way we misthink money and the psychological biases and cues that lead even the most intelligent or the most informed about finances we make mistakes. As that publication was approaching, I wanted to build on the momentum that I had working with Dan and the fact that I became a believer in the power of these behavioral sciences. There weren’t silver bullets, but there was certainly a new tool in our toolbox to solve a lot of problems.

I got the opportunity to run PeopleScience. PeopleScience is a platform where we discuss behavioral science and the future of applying it to everything from personal finance to organizational design, employee engagement and loyalty habits. We get professors and researchers talking to practitioners and people in business, and those that do know and it’s accessible. The reason why I was brought on is to bring them, whether it’s humor or that ability to speak in a way that’s not academic jargon. That’s been my obsession and talking about what I’ve learned and what the great lessons are in behavioral science. In addition, I still do comedy. I’m a traditional comedy but that’s woven together into this piece of where I’m at.

Paul Krugman is probably the most notable economist who comes from Princeton.

Alan Blinder was my Econ 101. He used to be on the Fed. Ben Bernanke, I didn’t get his class but he was teaching there at the time. He was the Fed Chair and Alan Blinder was an advisor to Obama.

There is a cultural drive to have the value in your whole life be measured by financial worth and value. Click To Tweet

The thing that helped me understand how important human behavior is was there’s this guy that wrote for the Economic Policy Journal. He wrote an article and this was years ago. The point of the article is that you have a lot of these economic models that are principle-based, are math-based. It’s the rational measurement of irrational behavior, which is human behavior. You’re trying to essentially govern people rationally when they don’t behave rationally ever. You come from that school of thought. What was it that flipped the switch for you? Where you started to make connections that even economics is known as the dismal science but the economics is just measurements of human behavior. Where did that light bulb come on?

The short answer is it was probably around being exposed to Dan Ariely’s work and his peers. The longer answer is that I had the same instinct as you that behavioral economics was not an offering when I was in college or law school. It only emerged in the last decade or so. Even then it’s still emerging. For me when I studied traditional economics, even though I got good grades and I understood it and I could explain it, it didn’t click with me. The basis of traditional economics is if I’m in a supermarket and the milk is $0.20 cheaper at the supermarket next door, I’m going to go next door. No, I’m not. I’m a lazy human. I don’t want to be bothered. It’s not a number-based decision, it’s an emotional-based decision.

That was something I knew and felt but never necessarily articulated. I discovered behavioral economics, which is essentially not ignoring traditional economics but marrying that to human psychology. It’s about our decision-making processes and finding a balance between what we say we’ll do. We say we’ll go for that $0.20, but then what do we do? What is our decision at that moment and when emotions play into it? A great example of the difference between the traditional model and the model is anecdotal. Almost universally I’ll go to a big investment firm and they talk about their best performers, the people that advise high wealth individuals how to spend their money.

The employees who tell others how to invest their money, a large number of those employees are terrible at managing their own money. To me, it says they know what to do but at the moment they get caught off guard by emotions and needs and it makes sense. I can tell Joe X, “Here’s how you plan for your kids’ college and your retirement,” but then what I’m thinking about, “That’s my kid. That’s my future.” It feels different and we do things differently. It shows how you have to have that emotional part of it, which is unsettling to those that want things to be an easy answer. Economics can provide an easy checkbox answer, but that’s not how we live.

Writing a book, even though it was satirical in nature during the financial crisis, everything you said in that book had truth to it even though there was a humorous spin. You look at what occurred there. What were some of the things you learned during that period of time? It sounded like that occurred before meeting Daniel Ariely. Pick up on some things there were you saw like, “Why would this person do that?” What are some of the things you saw as you were preparing to write the book? What were some of the things that enlightened you at that point?

Life is not about the pursuit of how you measure with money but of the lifestyle you live that impacts others. Click To Tweet

There was a lot and it’s stuff that still reflects in our society. On the one end, there was this cultural drive to have value in your whole life be measured by financial worth and value. Money is measurable. You can look at your salary and see a number, whereas you can’t look at happiness, meaning and purpose and put a number to it. It’s understandable. The discussion of whether American culture breeds that more than others, it’s a longer conversation. The point is it was there. At the same time, people’s ability to reach these standards wasn’t always being met. It drove people to want to try to find shortcuts.

On the one hand, there is that broadly cultural thing that why would people want to cheat? The psychology of cheaters themselves, whether they’re Bernie Madoff, Alex Rodriguez, Lance Armstrong, any number of other CEOs or people in Hollywood. Look at someone like Harvey Weinstein who maybe didn’t financially cheat, but this mentality of, “I get away with something. I don’t get caught, and then I’m going to get away with more.” That mentality of abandoning an ethical or moral core and pursuing this bottom line and power dynamic was exposed to me in a way that I didn’t expect. All of us have cheated a little bit. We fudged a number here and there, but it takes a certain special someone to go above whatever that 2% or 3% jumps are to make it all their life.

I want to get into Daniel Ariely and your experience with him. I’ve probably watched that (Dis)Honesty documentary a bunch of times. We understand that we’re irrational and emotional. Yet, we look at the world sometimes through a lens of perfection like, “This is what a person should do. This is how they should be. This is what they should have done in this situation.” The question that more applied to the Dollars and Sense book is what was your perspective on money personally, going into that first book? You’ve been writing for the Jim Cramer blog, but writing the first book. How did it start to shift and then get into the story with Daniel Ariely? How has your perspective shifted with the experience with him helping you write the book?

I would certainly say my own view of money and my own behaviors around money have changed dramatically, probably the most in the process of writing the book about the psychology of money. I’m becoming aware of my own biases and mistakes and I certainly still make mistakes. I’m not even sure if this has to do with as much of what I’ve worked on or as much as maturation, is understanding where money rates on the importance and how you value things. After Princeton Law School, I was offered these big corporate law firm jobs. I was at 24, 25-year-old. People were like, “Here’s a bunch of money. Your life is set if you want to be a corporate partner.” I turned it down because whether they call it privilege or stupidity, that was not important to me. I don’t think I ever understood why. The more that I looked at the way the money impacted people and made people skewed in their priorities, the more I realized that maybe there was some instinctive core to what I decided. It’s a little maybe more psychology, lie on the couch and talk about your mother.

I certainly had my own relationship with money involved through seeing how people acted immorally and unethically with it. When I worked on Dan’s book and I saw all these studies about the mistakes we make. The way that we fall for sale prices, the way those brand names affect us, the way that the descriptions of things and the setting of things impact our value. This concept or the pain of paying, which is how when we pay for something, it stimulates the same region of our brain as physical pain. That should make us stop and think if it’s a good decision. Instead of feeling that pain, what we do is numb it with credit cards and AutoPay and E-ZPass and Apple Pay. How all this financial technology that helps make spending easier makes spending less thoughtful. The same idea can be used to make retirement savings easier and less thoughtful, which can be positive. It provided me with a new perspective on the way that I was earning, spending and saving my own income as well as seeing what was happening and what was developing around me.

Ariely talks about this a lot in his other books, which is more of the pursuit of not the monetary side of it but more of the end result or the lifestyle, the meaning behind it like your family or a sense of stability for your family or your family in this situation. Being able to do this and this as the flagship as opposed to the money itself. Is that an accurate statement as far as one of the themes of the book?

That is something that we bring up towards the end as a big picture of you. The book isn’t advising you to not worry about money. It’s advising you to understand how you think about money so that you can identify what your own failings and biases are and then try to address those. Try to create systems and everything. Both Dan and I have in our own way an appreciation for the stuff that doesn’t involve money, that involves experiences. What’s fascinating about the work I’ve done at PeopleScience is that on the book I didn’t delve into that too deeply. There are some books about happiness that we referenced. At PeopleScience, I’ve looked more in this field about nonmonetary rewards. Essentially, it’s always been in this sense of engagement and motivation in employees, but all these studies showing that cash bonuses are not as effective as giving non-monetary bonuses. As far as making people motivated, feel fulfilled, have a purpose and connect it to their work.

A $10,000 bonus is not as effective as a $7,000 all-expense paid trip to Hawaii for that employee’s family. If you think about this, there’s plenty of reason to think from both perspectives. The company saves money, that’s the bottom line but the employee gets this unique experience. They get to anticipate the trip and then reminisce about the trip and enjoy the trip. It’s all this wealth of value to them in addition to making them feel like, “My company values me more than the check does.” In the book, there is a little comment we have at the end about like, “It’s not about money. You shout other things of value,” but since then I’ve learned that there are ways that people are measuring this and trying to think about how we can use it to impact our lives. Not everybody can be rich. If you can’t be rich in money, how can you be rich in life?

If people have financial stress, it affects their work. Click To Tweet

Ultimately, if you were to get people to be open and authentic about it, they would describe those whether it’s experiences or trips or things with their family. Those are what they’re after, not necessarily the money. What are you seeing as, maybe not at an individual level but at any level, how people are taking what they’re learning from the book and applying that? Individual-level, business group level, how has it impacted people?

In a few ways. One, I get my own sense of value and reward when I hear from people both I know and don’t know. They’ll reach out and mention a particular chapter and the book is divided. The chapters each address an individual bias or principle the way that we make a money mistake. People respond and say, “That story connected with me.” Sometimes jokingly, personally we have a story about people that fall for sale prices and that is the one that most people reach out. Others do other ones are like, “That’s me. I recognize myself in that story.” That’s rewarding to me because what ends up happening is this isn’t a book that gives that Suze Orman type like, “Put 10% here. Put 3% here.” It shows you what you’re doing. What I’ve found is these individuals start seeing their own mistakes and maybe they still buy those sale items. Our hope is that gradually they start to change their behavior or if they realize it’s a big problem, they design ways of checking themselves.

It’s had the result on an individual level of people recognizing their own mistakes and maybe they didn’t see. That slowly but surely is helping them change those behaviors and recognize them as mistakes. On an organizational level, I’ve spoken to a bunch of organizations of all different sorts and it’s been likewise rewarding. Companies don’t often realize the impact of financial stress on their employees. Anybody reading this, if you have stress, whether you are arguing with your spouse or you’re worried about money or where do your kids go to school, whatever it is affects your work. You can’t think about it. If people have financial stress, it affects their work.

The book and the talks that I give and somebody’s advice that’s in there can help alleviate that stress and at least alleviate the uncertainty, which is often the biggest cause of these mistakes we make. It’s like, “We don’t know what to do. We don’t know how to value our retirement. We don’t know how to value a shirt at JCPenney’s. We don’t know how to value medicine or homes.” It seemed these decisions are hard. If we can provide some tools to not provide the answers, but at least help that difficulty it’d be a little easier, that has an immense potential to impact not just those people who are making that decision, but their family, their friends, their community, and their workplace. It’s been great to see that on an organizational level, people recognizing the value in that too.

The predominant thing people think about daily is money. There are studies out there that show that. It comes down to what is the underlying anxiety and fear? You have a much bigger perspective that sounds like what generally is happening with people, especially in the US when it comes to livelihood. It seems the more technology we have, the less it’s doing for people. Money was a primary concern many years ago. It’s still the primary concern now. Those concerns, those anxieties are irrational. Do you see a shift one way or the other in the general consensus that people have in regard to their financial well-being and what to do about it?

TWS 14 | Behavioral Economics

Behavioral Economics: Living longer past retirement is valid and important to recognize.


I definitely think that the attitudes towards money are changing. There’s a cultural shift and I won’t speculate on what’s the driving force. From people not working at a company for their whole career anymore, people go for seven years as the itch, to Millennials not valuing buying homes as much as they used to and owning property. To people still feeling the waves of that financial collapse in 2008 and 2009. People are looking at the accumulation of wealth as being less of a life goal. People are starting to appreciate experiences a little bit more. When I say people, I understand I’m segmenting. There are still a lot of people who live in a scarcity mindset and who are struggling to survive. To them, their psychology of money is different. They have different needs. The idea of trading off a $10,000 bonus for a $7,000 Hawaiian vacation is not in that world.

Even they face the same psychological barriers and biases. I have spoken to some groups that serve lower-income people. In their own way, these communities have already recognized these problems and try to find ways to solve them because they have to, to survive. They can’t overspend as much as people that have more income and more wealth can. That distinction aside, and I want to make that clear. I recognize that difference. It has been shifting some. I don’t know what the source is whether it’s reality TV or Trump presidency or what. The value on wealth for its own sake has diminished. That could be wishful thinking, but there’s some truth in that.

I look at over the 100 years or so we’ve delegated lots of responsibilities to the government in regard to our well-being. I would assume comes an ominous problem or challenge of Social Security or an aging generation that has insufficient resources. You as an economist looking towards the future, do you look at the demographic shifts that are occurring? Do you see some challenges that may not be evident now, but most likely coming in the future? You can speculate at the same time. If you have a lack of resources and you’re old, you’re going to want as much help as possible. If that group is powerful, then they’re going to influence policy-making and then that sets off a course of events that could even be worse. How do you look at the social demographic shifts and how it relates to what are some of the challenges people will ultimately have? How will that impact society?

We can’t change human nature, but we can understand human nature and then create systems so that we get to a better outcome. Click To Tweet

The idea that our demographic shift and growing an older population that’s living longer, therefore living longer past retirement is valid and important to recognize. For my own self and my own work, I tend to bring that back to the individual and the fact that we individually don’t plan for retirement as a basic. We don’t plan for the future. We don’t save. I don’t have the numbers handy, but there was one number American savings rate. People would have to work until they’re 82 to afford retirement and the average life expectancy is 78. We’re in the negative. It’s a matter of we don’t individually connect to our future selves. Part of the reason why there’s no self-control is because we’re not connected to like, “30-year-old Jeff doesn’t know or care about 70-year-old Jeff,” or figures, “A 30-year-old Jeff’s not going to worry about it, but 50-year-old Jeff will take care of it, and 50-year-old Jeff doesn’t either. 50-year-old’s like 60-year-old Jeff.” We don’t connect. There are certain tools out there to try to make us connect or there are cultural ways of addressing that if we choose.

In Australia for instance, I was once offered a job in Australia and they gave me a salary. On top of that was the automatic retirement savings. Let’s say it was $100,000 salary plus $12,000 into retirement. It wasn’t like it’s set up here, which is $100,000 and then we’ll take out $12,000 if you so choose. It would have been automatic on top. That’s framing and the fact that it becomes the default. If you can’t change the individual’s perspective, which I don’t believe we can change human nature. We can understand human nature and then create systems so that we get to a better outcome. That was a cultural and societal decision to do that. Is that the best approach? Is that the only approach? I don’t think so. Americans would have a hard time accepting mandatory retirement savings. That’s not in our nature to like that. Nonetheless, somewhere in the middle there in this particular issue is a solution that recognizes that if left to our own devices, we’re not going to save for our future. If forced to save for our future, we’re going to revolt.

As I was going through your book and learning more about you and exposure to Daniel Ariely. Being aware of your own behavior is one thing, being aware of others’ behavior is another. There are some common themes that are evident through your books but also history. I look at the future and there’s a tremendous opportunity because there are these ominous challenges we get. There are huge opportunities if you understand how people are going to react and behave in certain circumstances. Have an idea at least so that you can position whether it’s a business or a technology or some service that would help in those circumstances. As I look at PeopleScience, it’s understanding people value to figure out ways to provide value to people. Provide some service that’s going to help them.

TWS 14 | Behavioral Economics

Behavioral Economics: Left to our own devices, most people develop that sense of apathy that leave them not doing anything.


I would agree with the caveat in the way you described it makes it sound a lot easier than it is in practice. This I bring up because it is one of the challenges facing the field is there are people that think, I’m not saying this is what you’re expressing, but people think it’s off the rack solutions. In order to apply this stuff, it’s common and text-driven. It’s a certain designed nudge that works. Let’s say even specific works for Toyota dealers that nudge probably won’t work for high-end BMW dealers. It’s these little tweaks and yes to the point that if you understand human behavior and you understand the context, you can find a solution. It’s going to provide value to all the stakeholders, but the process isn’t as easy as snapping your fingers. The process still requires that experimentation and the deep understanding of both the science, the industry and the field. There’s great promise in there. It’s hard work but yes, the potential outcome and potential impact are great.

The general awareness of people is increasing because our interconnectivity has magnified. People’s tastes are going to change. Tendencies and preferences are going to change over time. There are many variables, but ultimately if you understand more of how people operate. It gives you an opportunity to provide value in those circumstances. I’m curious, fascinated by your inner working with Daniel Ariely, having direct access, writing a book with him, picking his brain. I’m assuming there’s probably conflict in some of the stuff you wanted to write about and what he had said was incorrect or had another opinion about. Could you describe your experience with Daniel Ariely and what you’ve learned from him that was in the book, but maybe some other context as well?

The biggest problem with working with Dan Ariely was that he was not a problem at all. He’s great and giving and kind. The writing process took a long time because we had conversations. He gave me a bunch of research and a bunch of ideas. He gave it to me and said, “Go write this. Give a pass and then we’ll go through it.” In some ways, I probably would’ve worked better if he was a lot meaner and didn’t put it all. When I wrote the book about cheating, I essentially created this field of cheating and therefore became the leading thinker in it. My writing process involves me puffing myself up and being like, “I’m the greatest. What I say is personal.” I could write with confidence.

When I was writing about a field where I knew there were experts who knew ten billion times more than me and I was writing with one of them, it became hard to write that confidence. The biggest problem with writing the book was my own confidence in getting the ball rolling as a creative person. I tongue in cheek say that’s Dan’s fault because he believed in me. Once I got over that hump, we didn’t have a lot of conflicts. Moving things around, what’s emphasized, I relied on him to make sure that what I was saying about the science was accurate. That was his decision too. There was one joke that he nixed that I’m glad he nixed because I knew we shouldn’t do it anyway.

We went through four different formats of the book. At one point it was like, “Let’s write half the book as a story of a family, then go back and analyze it.” I wrote one version. I didn’t get too far but I wrote enough of it that was awesome but never held together. Basically, the book was going to be a conversation between God and the devil. On the one hand, God is the good side and the devil is the temptation and it affects our decision making. There was no way I was going to make this work, but it was a great try. Working with Dan was great both in leading up to it and in the process. Next to the word mensch in the dictionary should be his picture. He’s smart.

The more we're aware of our tendencies in how we behave, the more we're going to help each other. Click To Tweet

We’ve all had moments of extreme lucidity and clarity where anything that comes to us, we know how to respond. We can speak clearly and distinctively. We can go on a five-minute tangent and pull it back to where we were. We had those moments. Dan seems to always be like that. It is incredibly impressive. He has a fascinating life story that your audience should check out, how he came into this. In short, he was burned over a lot of his body and then he observed the way that his nurses treated his wounds. He’s a fascinating guy and it’s been great working with him. We’ve done a few things since then and it’s been a pleasure.

What I’m picking up on, he tells the story in Predictably Irrational about his burns. I love hearing him speak. There’s so much you can detect by the way you feel about what he says, his personality and what he’s talking about. It sounds like you went in with a high bar and an environment where you wanted to write accurate but also write something that he puts his stamp on. Sometimes that environment elevates our performance or what we’re able to do as far as output is concerned. We’ve had a lot of putting yourself in an environment that forces you to expand.

Left to our own devices, most people have that sense of apathy so that they won’t do anything, but if they’re put in a situation where they’re forced to do it and either perform or not. I look at how fascinating, how amazing the understanding of human behavior, how people think, what they’re thinking about and what drives them is becoming more evident. Now you have a lot of empirical science around it as far as being able to measure the stimulus and responses. He does tons of those different experiments or case studies. In the end, money is still the predominant issue that people are having whether it’s worse, whether it’s breaking up relationships, business failure. It comes down to how people are thinking, how they’re behaving. This science is powerful and kudos to you for taking on Editor-In-Chief of PeopleScience. The more we’re aware of each other and our tendencies in how we behave, the more we’re going to help each other. I’ll leave you with the final word on what you’re doing as far as PeopleScience is concerned. What are you up to next? What’s motivating now? What is the mission and so forth?

I would certainly invite everyone to check out PeopleScience, a newsletter if you want to get bothered once every couple of weeks. It’s a place where I’m trying to make this stuff accessible and help people think about how it applies to their lives, their work, and their organizations. I don’t know the answers and even the academics recognize that their highly refined research doesn’t apply to everything. It is a powerful tool. It’s not the only tool we should use to affect change in our lives, society and work, but it’s an effective one. To understand how people are and how we make decisions. Our emotion plays into many things, even when we deny it. Financial advisors, there should just be numbers but there’s emotion there. That’s okay. That’s good. That’s what makes us beautiful creatures and not machines. The more we recognize that, the better we’ll be. My standard line is, I don’t think we can change human nature but we can understand human nature so that we can make our environment, society and systems work for us instead of work against us.

Jeff, you’re doing great work. Thank you so much. Thanks for writing your books. Go to PeopleScience.com, JeffKreisler.com. If you’re doing some comedic stuff, I’m sure you post stuff on social media. Jeff, it was awesome to have you on. Thank you so much for your time and best of luck with everything.

Thank you so much.

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About Jeff Kreisler

TWS 14 | Behavioral Economics

Jeff Kreisler is just a typical Princeton educated lawyer turned author, speaker, pundit, comedian and advocate for behavioral science. He uses humor & research to understand, explain and change the world.

Winner of the Bill Hicks Spirit Award for Thought Provoking Comedy, he runs PeopleScience.com, writes for TV, politicians & CEOs, shares witty insight on CNN, FoxNews, MSNBC & SiriusXM and tours most of this planet.

Jeff specializes in politics, money and other human encounters.


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Achieving Social Change Through Positive Digital Media with Jonah Sachs

TWS 13 | Digital Media


A lot of change and influence can be made through business because that’s where the majority of people spend the majority of their time. Author, speaker, and viral marketing pioneer Jonah Sachs uses digital media and books to bring about the ideals or the values of social change such as equity, empowerment, responsibility, transparency, and advocacy. Jonah is the co-founder of Free Range Studios which created the short flash animation critical of factory farming and industrial agricultural practice that has been translated into more than 30 languages and watched more than 30 million people. He is also the New York Times bestselling author of Winning the Story Wars and Unsafe Thinking. Jonah talks about those values and what he’s advocating and trying to shift.

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Achieving Social Change Through Positive Digital Media with Jonah Sachs

Simon Sinek has referred to business as the infinite game where the objective is not the market cap or income or the number of positions on the Fortune 500 list. The objective is to keep playing. I’m intrigued by how rapidly business is evolving. How a business is capitalized and has changed the workplace and culture, operational cycles, benefits and compensation and marketing. My guest is going to speak to all of these points that I’ve mentioned. His name is Jonah Sachs. He is the bestselling author of Winning the Story Wars, which was written in 2012 and a fascinating book especially in regards to marketing and his new book which is called Unsafe Thinking.

My guest is the Cofounder of Free Range Studios, which created The Meatrix, a short flash animation critical of factory farming and industrial agricultural practices. It has been translated into more than 30 languages and watched by more than 30 million people. He’s also the New York Times bestselling author of Winning the Story Wars: Why Those Who Tell – and Live – the Best Stories Will Rule the Future. He also has a book out, which I’m excited to talk about called Unsafe Thinking: How to be Nimble and Bold When You Need it Most. Jonah Sachs, welcome to The Wealth Standard podcast. Thanks for joining us.

Thank you so much for having me. It’s great to be here.

You’ve written these books. They have very incredible concepts and you explain it in a very meaningful and easy way. When you’re writing, who are you writing for? Who are you most wanting to impact and influence?

As the world changes more and more quickly, a lot of our basic safety needs start to become unmet. Click To Tweet

I found myself halfway through my career beginning to write business books and it was never what I expected to do. I was an artist, a creative trying to go out and change the world. In that business space, as I dipped into it, I realized that there was so much that business and people working in business could influence, but they were still very much human beings. My books in some ways are this weird mixture of self-help accessing those parts of your creativity you always knew you had but didn’t know how to release but in that work in business context. My first book about storytelling, Winning the Story Wars, is both a manual for how to do better marketing but also a bit of a spiritual journey into the great myths and stories that drive us and a call for higher level human values. My second book, Unsafe Thinking, is how to unlock creativity in your organization so your teams get more productive but also how to confront your own fears, your own stuck points and just become a better learner, a better human being. I’m not sure if it’s too weird combination but that’s what I’m attracted to.

Especially in this day and age, the progress and the evolution of a business in general is fascinating to observe. There is a lot of change and influence that can be made through business. That’s where the majority of people spend the majority of their time. You hit on something that I was curious about. I’ve read this on your website or on your bio. It states that you use digital media, book media too, to bring about the ideals or the values of social change. You list equity, empowerment, responsibility, transparency and advocacy as those ideals or values. Could you speak to that and talk about maybe some examples or specifically about those values, what you’re advocating and what you’re trying to shift?

TWS 13 | Digital Media

Winning the Story Wars: Why Those Who Tell – and Live – the Best Stories Will Rule the Future

I started my business in 1999 when I was 23 years old. That was a time where the internet was starting to give people the opportunity to communicate entirely differently. We don’t even think about it anymore because we’re so used to it. At that time, we were all living in a world where television would tell you what to think and what to do. You would watch advertising and you’d sit there waiting for your show to start and you’d have no way of responding or talking back. What came about in that broadcast era was what I call inadequacy marketing. We’re going to tell you that you smell bad, you’re not smart enough, you’re not good enough. Basically, you stink. Without our product, which is the hero of the stories we tell, you’re not going to live your best life. People would sit there and be like, “I’m not that cool. Maybe if I buy the right car, the right shirt or whatever, I’ll be acceptable.” That was the engineer. That was the idea of communications.

I came of age where I started noticing people were sending around emails about things that they most cared about. Those emails were starting to go viral. Friends were passing along. “My mom has cancer. I’m getting passionate about cancer research. Will you help me?” You’re advertising in a way, this peer-to-peer, passing these ideas along. I started to notice that the ideas that tended to stick in that medium were different. They weren’t about how weak and lame and stupid our friends are. They were telling people, “I love you. You can be great. You have a bigger part to play.” I call that beginning of empowerment marketing. You don’t tell someone how weak they are, you tell them how strong they can be through a relationship with you.

I came to find out later that all our great myths and stories, Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey is based on ordinary people making extraordinary change. When we get a chance to share the ideas that we want, we often try to lift each other up and reach for higher human values. There’s some psychology and science behind this. That was my clue that in some ways, messages that connect to our deepest passions and who we are as humans have this natural advantage in this new media world. Social media has again degraded the conversation in many ways that I didn’t predict, but I do think that business now is no longer succeeding by making people feel insecure and inadequate. It succeeds when it makes people reach for their higher values more often.

Maybe to expand on a few of those points, where do you see the inequity? In what areas do you see the inequity associated with society? I agree with a lot of what you’re saying. There’s fear associated with the human experience. Fear has been used in a number of different contexts, whether it’s the workplace or the education system. Where do you see the biggest opportunity to create that balance or the creation of equity as opposed to inequity?

Cognitive diversity within companies is what creates creativity. Click To Tweet

What’s happened over the last 150 years, not just in the last ten years which were things that are accelerating is in many ways we’ve become mechanized. Human beings have been put into factories. We’ve been put in schools that are teaching us how to bend, then go work in factories. We’re being commoditized in a sense and our own creativity and sense of multifaceted identities have been crushed down to, “How do you make enough money to feed your family and get by?” In many ways, life has gotten better for many people. We can meet our material needs to some degree, although now we’re seeing a lot of people are struggling to do that in our society. We’re having trouble feeling like our communities, we are part of something larger. That loss of meaning, it never gets completely lost because we’re always talking about it. It’s become a huge issue in our society. People are talking about protecting jobs from going overseas, but these are factory jobs that are already dehumanizing. How do we find ways to recapture our creative full sense of self where work and contribution to our community and community institutions are all strong?

The internet and digital media promised in some ways that we would reignite our sense of agency. Now we see how so many of these tools are sucking more life out of local communities. More money is just going to Silicon Valley and people are feeling less empowered even though they’ve got plenty of time to be on Facebook. Even their own data is now being commoditized by somebody else. I feel like we do live in this world where there are a few winners and a lot of people who are just asking, “Where do I fit?” Whether they’re doing okay or not well at all. I did this thing called The Story of Stuff, this video series that’s very popular and viral. I was telling people shopping is not the point of life and that our consumer society is, in many ways, not bringing us happiness and it’s ruining the planet. That resonated. People shared it at huge levels. I try to rehumanize our economy I suppose. It’s a big question but there’s equity everywhere but we have the opportunity to heal some of them because we’re so connected now as a society.

TWS 13 | Digital Media

Unsafe Thinking: How to be Nimble and Bold When You Need It Most

A few years ago, I remember reading a lot about the Hierarchy of Needs by Maslow. It’s deep because I started to see how individuals were driven and motivated. 150 years ago, people didn’t have time in the day to think about how they were going to impact the world because they’re wanting to feed their families. That’s pretty much it. There wasn’t much time for anything else. I know you talked a lot about safety in Unsafe Thinking but safety is that next rung. It’s relationships after that and then self-esteem and self-actualization. As society is progressing, it’s fascinating to look at what technology has been able to do, which is to make the physiological needs a lot more efficient to an extent as well as safety. This is relative as compared to 100 years ago or so. Then I looked at the idea of relationships and people seeking those and then seeking meaning in their work and relevance in the world.

It gives me a chuckle looking at social media and what people are trying to obtain as far as their needs are concerned as it relates to what they post or what they say or how they respond. I look at the phase of society that we’re in right now. It’s becoming almost a cliché like, “Be the person that you pretend to be on social media,” or some meme like that. I look at your book and it’s fascinating because essentially in a sense, it’s one of those paths to get from a fear-based ego driven mindset to discovering meaning. Whether it’s in your work or the influence you have on society and the impact that you make in your community. How did you get to this mindset as far as understanding these ideals or principles and then writing about them in an incredible way?

I hadn’t thought of this before you mentioned Maslow’s Hierarchy in this question but in some ways, what’s happened to our society is we have found all these ways to meet our physiological needs, to meet some of our basic safety needs. As the world changes more and more quickly, a lot of our basic safety needs start to become unmet because we get so stressed out. The world is changing so fast we feel suddenly not stable anymore. That shuts down our creativity. I had never thought of it before along Maslow’s Hierarchy, which I wrote about my first book but it’s true. If you feel safe and secure, you’re going to be able to go out and be creative. Creative is a higher level of Maslow’s Hierarchy than just basic safety. What I write about in Unsafe Thinking is what tends to happen when we confront a changing world is we feel anxiety. That’s just natural. It’s part of the human response. If you try to not to feel anxiety, you’re going to feel more of it. It’s called experiential avoidance and you talk yourself into not feeling things, you feel stronger. If you feel anxiety and when we do, there are all these processes in the brain that cause us to shut down our creative capacities.

We do this partly because anxiety back on the savanna, a mental lion was jumping out at you. Someone’s going to kill you. You don’t sit down and whiteboard a bunch of ideas. You just run away. You do the most obvious thing to do. We’re programmed under conditions of anxiety to shut down new thinking, but when the world is changing faster and faster, it’s the new thinking we most need. That’s what I call the safe thinking cycle. We get nervous, we say we’ve got to do something different but then we’d go to work and we do the exact same thing and we wonder why and say, “Tomorrow, I’ll do something different.” Now, it’s even more urgent so we have the less likelihood of doing anything different the next day. It turns out the way out of that cycle is not to try to avoid situations that cause anxiety. It just makes us smaller and smaller. We have to reframe anxiety as fuel for creativity. When we say, “Nothing I’ve ever done before that was creative happened without me feeling incredibly anxious, without moving into spaces that scared me. That’s where my creative edge is out of my comfort zone there.” There’s good science about how we can talk to ourselves about seeking and moving towards anxiety rather than finding ways to avoid it, to unlock creativity.

We live in a time where it's considered traitorous to even think on your own, and that's too bad. Click To Tweet

I learned this myself because I built this company around experimentation and fun, wacky cartoons and ideas. As I became more and more of an expert and people came to me saying, “Can you repeat what you did in the past? Can you get me some of that viral activity?” I became less experimental and exploratory and I scaled my company from 2 to 40 people. I started making all these rules and processes. I started getting less and less creative and less and less happy as I started achieving those goals that I thought would make me happy. I tried so hard to change myself, but I was so stuck in that safe thinking cycle that I couldn’t. I had to go out and read a ton of science and talk to 100 people who I admired. It was only in doing that that I started to understand my own brain enough to learn how to start making a change. I turned that into a book.

Was there a gradual process as you were interviewing people and talking to people or were there a handful that totally smacked you in the head and made you have those types of epiphany moments?

A lot of times we think that the big questions are unfathomable and there is no answer to. If you start to ask the right people, you find that the people have thought about this before and they have answers. One of the first people that opened my eyes, and it didn’t happen until the conversation was over, was Steve Kerr, the coach of the Golden State Warriors. He told me this amazing story. When I told him this idea of Unsafe Thinking, I was like, “How do we get out of our patterns? How do we take risks? How do we change ourselves when we need it most?” He laughed at me and he was like, “It’s all about getting safe.” I was like, “I’m going to have to hang up the phone because you’re not going to support my thesis here.” He told me this story and then came back around to help me out. He told me this story about how when he first came up in the league, he was skinny. He wasn’t very tall. He’s a great three-point shooter, but he felt like he was an imposter. He didn’t belong in the league.

TWS 13 | Digital Media

Digital Media: If you don’t sit down with your enemies and get face to face with them, you’re not going to find those solutions.


When he got the ball at a big moment, he would pass but it would always be to Scottie Pippen or Michael Jordan. No one ever thought, “Why are you passing the ball?” He just went and pass it and he’d get away with hiding. One time when Michael Jordan had the flu in game six of the finals, it might have been against the Jazz, he couldn’t pass, he put up the shot and ended the series. He realized how much time he had been wasting feeling like he didn’t belong. He said, “When I became a coach, I realized I had to help my guys first feel that they belong before we could go out and take any risks at all. I did two things. I made a space where there was the locker room and another space which was the arena. In the locker room, I made it completely safe for them to be themselves, to feel like they belong, to feel like they could take risks so that when they went on the court in the arena, they could get truly unsafe and play this whole new brand of basketball.”

There’s a lot of science that then flowed out of this about psychological safety and if you want a creative company, you need to have not too many rules and too many processes. First, you have to make sure that your people feel safe and if they don’t, they’ll never take the big risks. That was a complete counterintuitive shift for me where I was thinking, “How do you unburden yourself and just go crazy?” It’s about making sure that everyone feels that comfort and protection. In Maslow’s Hierarchy, get those basic needs met and your company is going to flower. There’s a lot of stuff you can do to make that happen. Changing incentive structures, celebrating rulebreakers, incentivizing productive failures and good questions rather than getting the right answers. All these things I talk about in the book about how do you unleash that creativity and your company?

I look at an environment of a business mainly from personal experience. The environment does dictate how people manage anxiety and deal with anxiety or manage fear or take risks to become creative or to be creative. This is more on a micro scale as far as business is concerned. Going back to what we were talking about in the beginning, how are you seeing maybe this mindset or paradigm that people have affecting more of macro things? The country is in a very divisive position mostly in a political sense, but do you see an impact in society on a macro level based on companies that are championing some of these ideals?

The more that you spend time in your area of expertise, the slower you learn. Click To Tweet

I looked quite a bit of how companies overcome and how they can create new communities within the companies that get far more creative. I don’t yet know that those experiments are now bleeding out into making a more productive society. I talked in the book about some social change makers who have managed to do exactly that and then inspire companies, the other way around. For instance, I tell the story of Jeffrey Brown who was a minister in Boston and how the most murders in Boston happen in his neighborhood. He wanted to build this church, but no one comes to church because it was so dangerous. He wanted to work with the at-risk youth. He had this idea that there are enemies out there, the gang members were killing everyone. As a Christian minister, he hated them. He wants to find these at-risk youth and protect them but none of the at-risk youth would come to him.

One day a kid died outside of his church in the middle of the night and he realized he wasn’t even there to do anything because he was never at the church at night. He’s never on the streets at night. He walked around the streets one night and he met his enemies, the gang members and he started talking to them, a harrowing moment for him. They knew exactly what was needed to stop the violence and Brown connected them to the police. He connected them to the mayor and they did this thing called the Boston Miracle. They collaborated on solutions which brought murders in Boston down 66% and started scaling across the nation. What Brown told me was, “If you don’t sit down with your enemies and get face-to-face with them, you’re not going to find those solutions.” In companies, that’s true too. Cognitive diversity within companies is what creates creativity. A lot of companies had been hiring for cultural fit, finding people that we get along with who are like us, who share our values. That means you wind up with these very narrow solutions. We’re learning to tolerate people that we don’t particularly like who challenge us, who don’t share our values which is very important. It’s that face-to-face interaction and that grit that allows us to express ourselves to others who don’t agree with us that unleashes our creative abilities.

I looked at some science that said if you go and read news sites to open your mind that doesn’t agree with your political point of view, it’s called the backlash effect. You’re going to be even more entrenched in your original view because you’re going to come up with all these ideas why this is a conspiracy and it’s not true and all this stuff. If you sit down with somebody and have lunch who doesn’t agree with you, you’re not going to convince each other and change each other’s minds but you’re both going to get smarter. I love that idea and I feel like to this political question, if you can have some friends on the other side of the aisle and have goodwill conversations with them, without that fear that one of you is going to win and one of you is going to lose, it expands your mental capacities and your ability to create great messages and great products.

TWS 13 | Digital Media

Digital Media: The idea is not to try to radically reform ourselves all at once, but to try to take baby steps toward a more flexible mindset.


I see it and maybe I have a tainted view of things, but I do see a lot of companies that are acclimating to this newer environment where it’s not a 30-year, 40-year career. There is a transient type of employee-base trying to discover meaningful work. At the same time, the environments of companies are adjusting just at a sheer competition. Still looking at the political environment, people are not sitting down and having conversations where the barrier of fear of being wrong is a steel wall. I look at certain signs of whether it’s authors like you, influencers like you, Simon Sinek is in that camp as well and there are a lot of podcasts talking about it, a lot of media talking about.

It’s exciting to me because nothing good comes from being afraid of being wrong and defending a position just out of fear and not out of wanting to understand. I love the message and it’s one of those messages whether it’s for business or for pursuing a career as an individual. That’s the grassroots idea behind it. Hopefully, the momentum continues because we need some help. There’s just so much crap going on in society and the younger generation, I would say under 45 years old, is grasping some of these things even though we have some major challenges. Do you see the same thing or are you still seeing some rift?

It would be crazy to say that there are no rifts. They’re out there. I do think that you’re right. There’s an interest in understanding ourselves and that’s maybe a little bit new. You mentioned podcasting and this idea that people are now interested in tuning into long-form thinking and interested in brain science and books like business books that are coming out that teach us how our minds were popularized under the deeper science. I do think there’s a hunger for it. One of the pieces of advice I got from one of the people I interviewed, a psychological researcher said, “The most important thing is that we think about how we’re thinking.” Bringing that mindfulness to look at your own brain and being like, “How did I get to this idea and how do I generally think? Might I try some different ways of thinking?” That brings me hope.

When you humble yourself and do something that you're truly bad at, you get all kinds of creative benefits. Click To Tweet

I do think that younger people still have that opportunity to reprogram or to question some of their foundations whereas older people, especially if they’re feeling insecure and stressed out and being left behind, maybe are less likely to want to look at those underpinnings. Whether the left is right or the right is right or you’re believing your political beliefs, if you’re not stepping back at least and questioning where they come from and where could you be wrong, I think you are missing the opportunity. That doesn’t make you a traitor to your tribe just to have those questions, but we live in a time where it’s considered traitorous to even think on your own and that’s too bad.

I do see signs that there’s acceptance of others. It’s definitely an uphill battle because of how ingrained society has become. A lot of what we mentioned, whether it’s cool or whether it’s the workforce or especially during the industrial era of how people were trained as far as being workers and being told what to do and not thinking for themselves. This is humanity and most people are seeking meaning. They are seeking fundamental ideals. It’s the influence of their societal surroundings that’s very difficult to create new neural pathways. There is a lot of focus on it from what I’m seeing and you’re a part of it. How can people follow you to learn more about what your mission is, learn more about what you’re up to and also get the book?

They can find me at JonahSachs.com or @JonahSachs on Twitter. My books are available wherever you shop for books online. Please check them out.

Any final thoughts or words regarding our topics of conversation?

I often get asked in interesting conversation at a high philosophical level which I personally enjoy is, “What can I do tomorrow? How can I unlock my creativity or play with this or test this out?” People want to know how do you just taste it? A couple of pieces of advice I could give if you’re thinking along those lines is one, go out and do something that you’re bad at. The more that you spend time in your area of expertise, the slower you become to learn. If you think of yourself as an expert, you’re more likely to be wrong in most situations. When you humble yourself and do something that you’re truly bad at, you get all kinds of creative benefits. If you can carve out an hour a week to do things that you’re terrible at, that might jog some new creative capacities we talked about.

Go out and find someone who doesn’t agree with you, spend a little time and take them out to lunch. It can be powerful and generative. I would just say back to that point and anxiety is the next time you’re feeling anxiety and nervousness, most of our automatic reactions are to find a way to take that anxiety away to get around it. I would just say notice it, mean it. Maybe even talk about it with your team and then see that as a chance to move forward it. What would it mean to go deeper into it as opposed to find an automatic way around it? If you try any of those things and they work for you, then you can start to pick up on other ones. I believe that the idea is not to try to radically reform ourselves all at once, but to try to take baby steps toward more flexible mindsets.

There are these signals that we all have, the responses to certain circumstances. Fear and anxiety are one of the more powerful emotions and influences, but they’re contextualized as a bad thing. In your book, you talk about them. The context is a signal that there’s an amazing learning opportunity. I look at the most painful situations I’ve ever been in that had been my most profound moments that helped me and changed me the most. If that context is reframed, then it’s one of the most powerful things that can help a person as far as their growth is concerned.

We all spend a ton of time trying to avoid those moments that you’re talking about. Luckily, we can avoid them all because that’s what gives us these growth opportunities. If we took that energy we use trying to avoid those moments and sought them out just a little bit more, not the easiest way to live, but it is the most growth-oriented.

Jonah, thank you so much for your time.

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About Jonah Sachs

TWS 13 | Digital Media

Jonah Sachs is an author, speaker, and viral marketing pioneer. His new approaches to digital media have been critical in bringing the ideals of social change — such as equity, empowerment, responsibility, and transparency — to the forefront of business and popular culture.

Jonah helped to create some of the world’s first, and still most heralded, digital social change campaign. As co-founder of Free Range Studios, his work on Amnesty International’s blood diamonds viral film was seen by 20 million people and was delivered by to every member of Congress, helping drive the passage of the Clean Diamond Act.

He later helped to create “The Story of Stuff,” which, viewed by over 60 million people, marked a turning point in the fight to educate the public about the environmental and social impact of consumer goods. Jonah went onto to lead groundbreaking campaigns for Greenpeace, Human Rights Campaigns and the ACLU, as well as major brands including Microsoft and Patagonia.

Jonah’s work and opinions have been featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN, FOX News, Sundance Film Festival, NPR. Sachs also pens a column for Fast Company, which named him one of today’s 50 most influential social innovators.

He is the author of “Winning the Story Wars” and “Unsafe Thinking: How To Be Nimble And Bold When You Need It Most.”

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