Since 2011, the nonprofit think-tank Libertas has been gaining traction in lobbying for liberty and pushing gainful legislation in Utah and other states. For its President, Connor Boyack, a big part of that success comes from a clever approach that sways even the politicians who are most resistant to new ideas. Connor is a prominent free market and civil liberty advocate who has authored over a dozen books in that space, including The Tuttle Twins Series. Having been on the show with Patrick Donohoe before, Connor explains why knowledge of the law isn’t enough to make someone an effective lobbyist. He then provides some examples of how lobbyists can use clever ideas borrowed from marketing and psychology to sway lawmakers into making decisions that ultimately benefit society as a whole.
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Lobbying For Liberty: How To Use Psychology To Sway Lawmakers Towards Impactful Change With Connor Boyack
I wanted to start off by saying how grateful I am for a platform such as this to be able to express myself and my thoughts. I make this statement because I know that this opportunity is not available everywhere. For whatever reason, I felt grateful this episode. Also, I extend that gratitude to you in hopes that there’s some practical value you’re finding in this show. I had in a sense a bit of a roller coaster of emotions. There was an event that I attended and I’d like to use some of those experiences as a way to set some context for the interview with Connor Boyack.
These experiences led to an amplification of my intrigue and drive to understand Connor’s core motivations and core driving and also, what he’s been able to discover in getting his ideas across to people in two challenging arenas. Number one, with the political arena. Connor is the President of Libertas, which is a nonprofit think tank that creates legislation. It lobbies on Capitol Hill here in Utah, and it’s extended now to dozens of states where they are using some of the legislation that Libertas creates and has been gaining traction. It’s impressive.
Connor has also been able to sell millions of books in a space that is challenging, which is the free market philosophy, civil liberty philosophy and economics philosophy. He’s been by far, in my opinion, one of the most successful in influencing those that may seem at first, which is most adults, resistant to new ideas. This intrigue led me to want to understand Connor’s psychology because there are two forms of psychology that prevent us from getting to the next level and gaining what we believe we are capable of or even though we don’t believe what we’re capable of.
The psychology of ourselves is understanding our own psychology, those limitations that hold us back and then it’s the understanding of others’ psychology of whom we do business with. This extends to investments because investments, in essence, are a business. Understanding how to influence people especially ourselves and then extending out to others is important because there is a lot of societal influence. There are ideas that are being communicated. They’re not thought through. They are taken at face value and associated with the person speaking them and their positioning, title and degree of influence already acquired.
At the same time, when beliefs and ideas are understood without question and analysis, that can get dangerous. With that being said, Connor is an incredible man and father. He’s the President of Libertas Institute. He’s the author of over a dozen books, including The Tuttle Twins series. I hope you guys enjoy this interview. Connor is an amazing man. Please visit his website, Libertas.org and TuttleTwins.com. He’ll mention some of those resources on the show. Here’s my interview with Connor Boyack.
Let’s get down to brass tacks. Connor, I remember seeing you at FreedomFest. It was 2011 or 2012. You were doing a debate and I was like, “He’s getting pummeled.” The guy that you were debating with was a jackass. You were logical, calm and stoic about the way you responded and how you backed up claims that I was like, “That guy is going somewhere.”
It’s been a while.The best way to teach something is to learn it. Click To Tweet
Look at you now.
That was the year that I started Libertas on paper. In 2011, I filed the articles and we didn’t fully launch for about a year. It’s been about that long.
A lot has transpired since then. We’ve done a couple of interviews. We’ve talked about The Tuttle Twins and what Libertas is doing. I want to step back and I want to identify some of the drive behind that, what’s creating the momentum. I want to speak to where society is with the way in which decisions are being made with the social narratives and how they’re changing and your perspective on that. The reason why I brought up FreedomFest is that it was a divisive environment. I’m not sure if that’s just natural to you or if it’s something that you learned how to do overtime but you approached the situation in a respectful, logical way and you won my respect.
I’m not sure about the rest of the audience but it seemed that way, given my memory. That’s where I wanted to start. There’s a cool saying about how wisdom begets stoicism. Stoicism doesn’t beget wisdom. Where would you associate your knowledge and subsequently, the wisdom that you’ve gained? How that allows you to be inspired by something that comes across oftentimes as divisive but do it in a way that makes a big impact on people’s mind being able to ask questions and want to pursue truth?
That’s a deep question. Let me give some thought to how I want to approach that. As I think back to that memory and try and draw from it something that would be relevant now, as I reflect on where I was at in life at that time. I feel like one of the challenges a lot of people have nowadays is a lack of confidence in their understanding of the way the world works and what is happening. People are quick to draw an opinion often on little fact or bias or what they heard on the mainstream or whatever. People are quick to assert things, defend arguments online and state their opinion but if you peel back that superficial layer, there’s a lot of uncertainty and confusion about what they believe, what is going on in the world and the things that they’re even debating about.
I feel like for a lot of people that I’ve interacted with, even in the decades since that leads to a paralysis of sorts where people don’t want to get involved. They don’t want to speak out. They don’t want to try and make a difference or go to their city council meeting or write a letter to the editor or whatever it is because of that paralysis of feeling like they’re not an expert. They don’t quite understand. They don’t have all the facts. You asked so here’s your answer. For me, at the time and in the years prior, I was such a voracious reader. You may remember, I used to be a web developer and, on the side, I started reading and learning a lot of this stuff.
I felt like I had accumulated so much knowledge that I had a degree of certainty in my beliefs. That’s not to say I am correct in all things but it at least enabled me to have confidence about the positions that I was taking. It’s funny that you say that I had this more rational approach and I could back it up because I was going through my own transformation at that time, which was a struggle for me. That same year, I was starting Libertas Institute. I got our board chairman, John Pestana, and at the time I was a machine gun warrior on Facebook. It’s like, “You’re wrong. Here are all these facts.”
You had Connor’s Conundrums before that.
We had the blog and I would tell everyone why they were wrong. It was the comic, maybe you’ve seen this, of a guy hunched over his computer and it’s dark and the computer screen is glowing in front of his face. His wife is opening the door in the back and says, “Come to bed.” The caption reads, “Not now. Someone’s wrong on the internet. I’m going to resolve this problem.” That’s where I was in life because I was perhaps overconfident in what I believe and felt motivated to go and correct people’s misunderstanding.
It was John, as we started Libertas, who’s like, “We’ve got to moderate this a bit because I’m seeing that you’re harming some relationships that could do some good if we had a more collaborative approach.” It’s funny to me that you say that about FreedomFest because I was still going through that phase that I hadn’t quite learned then. It came the following year. That gentleman that you refer to who we were butting heads with, I had been butting heads with for a number of years. Maybe it was that tolerance I had accrued where it’s like, “You’re going to say what you’re going to say. I know not to react to you because you’re just trying to get a rise out of me.” Why is that relevant to anyone here that we’re talking to? I feel like it boils down to an obligation to seek understanding and try and get to the bottom of things.
Peel back those superficial layers about what’s being said and find that deeper understanding that’s going to give us confidence in our beliefs, not in assertive, cocky like, “I’m right. You’re wrong. I know all the things and you can never learn it.” Nothing like that but putting in the effort to learning and not just relying on other people to do the thinking for you and then tell you what to think, which I feel is what a lot of people do nowadays. They’ve delegated that responsibility of education and listen to what they’re told and what the experts say.
They are doing it at a subconscious level where the education system has conditioned people to understand facts and not understand truths per se. I also look at how reward happens in that same space and it even carries to the workplace where people are rewarded for specific things, which reinforces the behavior that governs those things. I look at school and you’re graded based on your individual knowledge and failure. Being wrong is bad and you’re punished for that. That superficial layer that you refer to where a person understands facts, ideas and talking points, it’s the layer between that and the actual truth behind it is getting thicker it seems.
It’s interesting because what you’re saying prompted a memory of mine where I cheated a lot in school. Sorry to all the teachers out there. Incentives matter and to your point about the superficial and everything else, as I remember school, it was not about what I wanted to know, what it meant for me and what it empowered me to do in my life and my curiosities. It was, “Here’s the information you have to learn. You have to get a good grade to move on to the next step.” For me it was like, “If that’s the whole goal, I’m going to figure out a shortcut to get there.”
This is crazy. I remember I had a belt buckle with a little bit of space in between where I created a little tiny paper where I wrote super tiny. I slipped it in my belt buckle and no one was going to look down there. That’d be awkward. It’s math formulas and stuff like that. Anyways, I cheated because school maybe incentivizes people to pump and dump. In other words, we call it cramming. “You got to cram. You got to memorize all this stuff. You got to take the test,” and then you dump it because it’s like, “I achieved this arbitrary test score.” I feel like nowadays, what type of precedents does that set where people in their lives are accustomed to learning as a task and not learning for self-fulfillment and personal achievement and growth? We see some of the byproducts of that now.
The reason why I bring all that up is that this layer is governed in a sense by the fear of being wrong and the desire to be right. It goes to that reinforcement. The reason why I’m going all over the place here is that Libertas has its mission and drive, and it’s made a massive difference. You found an angle into teaching and there are others that have found it as well like Tom Woods in a sense and Ron Paul, where’s an angle in which you create a narrative or an environment where somebody can discover the truth. Writing is a place but you found it in children’s books and The Tuttle Twins have been wildly successful. You sold more than one million books in 2020 alone. What have you discovered about this new, different dynamic of the environment? Children are the target audience in a sense but adults have started to discover truths about whether it’s the economy or politics or monetary policy.
This is a great question and a fun one for me because most of your readers will know from past interviews that Tuttle Twins are these children’s books that teach the ideas of a free society. When we started, we were making children’s books. We wanted to teach kids and that’s what we did and aimed to do but we realized that we had this secondary audience that we never planned for and it was the parents. Easily, a majority of these parents might consider themselves freedom-minded or conservative or they like free markets or whatever. That’s the superficial beginning and end of their understanding of these ideas.
Easily, a majority of our audience gets messages from these parents that are like, “I learned more in these books than I remember learning in school,” which is an indictment of the robust, heavily taxpayer-funded education that we’ve all had. What’s interesting and you may know this, psychological studies bear this out, is that the best way to learn something is to teach it to someone else. What’s interesting here is when you place parents in the mindset of being the educational providers for their children, which a lot of parents outsource and delegate to other people especially the schools.
To the extent that parents recognize that it’s their responsibility to teach their kids about free-market ideas, property rights and entrepreneurship because the schools are not doing it. If anything, they’re teaching opposite ideas. We placed parents in the role with The Tuttle Twins books to say, “This is up to you and we’re here to help. Here are these books. Here are these discussion questions. Here’s this curriculum.” It places parents in this mindset of realizing that they need to learn, too.Politicians respond to narratives, not facts. Click To Tweet
By no means, this isn’t master-planned or whatever. The accidental genius of The Tuttle Twins was because it’s in this simplified fun format, the barriers are low for parents. It’s not like handing them economics in one lesson like, “This was written 70 years ago. Here you go. Good luck trying to get through it.” Our English is a little dumbed down these days. Few parents are going to get through that. Here’s this fully illustrated fun story creating a shared bonding, reading opportunity between parent and child, which they’re naturally seeking anyways.
Added bonus, they can learn these amazing ideas at a level enough where the parent is not putting walls up and being like, “I don’t want to learn?” Almost sinisterly, we’re getting the parents to learn a lot of these ideas as well in a way that they value and welcome because they’re able to teach their children and that’s their primary value. They might feel like, “I got a job. Life is good. I don’t need to know these things,” but they want their children to know them especially with the way the world is going and how crazy socialism is.
When you give those parents those opportunities, they don’t realize in many cases that they are learning as well and it’s creating value for them. Let’s say they’re at the grocery store with the kids and the child is like, “Why are there eighteen kinds of potato chips?” “Remember, in The Tuttle Twins book, we talked about the division of labor.” Because the parents are learning as well, it gives them a common language. Imagine if this was just a school program. We’ve tried and we do a little bit of school stuff, too. Now, we’re mostly direct to consumer, direct to family.
Initially, it was like, “Let’s get into the schools.” The challenge there is that we would reach these students through their teachers. “Here’s your Tuttle Twins book and here’s these lessons and activities and whatever. Let’s learn about free markets.” They go home and there’s no fluency in the home. The siblings and the parents don’t know so the kid just pumps and dump again. By going directly to the family and having parents and children learning together, you get that self-reinforcement. In informal experiences like at the grocery store and running errands, you hear some politician on the radio and they’re like, “That’s central planning.” Suddenly, there’s a common language for the family to reinforce these ideas together.
There’s something I heard one time and it was an overview of a book by this guy named David Deutsch. He wrote The Beginning of Infinity amongst other books. He made a comment and what it did is it separated information from knowledge. He said that we have equations that say you can time travel and go back in time but we don’t live in an environment where that information works or is relevant. That’s where I look at. The information is taught in schools or reads in a book. It’s not real in a person’s life unless there’s practical application, it works and it benefits them first and foremost. We’re wired right to look after ourselves first. I’m going to pivot a little bit because we live in an environment, a society where there still is a lot of divisiveness and competing against narrative and it’s at that superficial level.
Few instances, at least the ones that I’m seeing, where somebody steps back and questions their beliefs and assumptions. This could be a total tangent. When a person is wrong in something that they believe, what it does is it trickles down into all the other things they ever said and did and puts those in jeopardy. I don’t want to go down that tangent. My point is when you start to seek truth, you have to confront being wrong. That’s why the environment of a children’s book or teaching within the family or teaching period or explaining something helps it become more real and then the actual physical circumstances of life where it’s practical makes it even more real.
Every year, you have a forum or a luncheon where you do a debrief of your experience at the Utah legislative session. You talked about some of the wins you’re having and some of the difference that you’re making but you made a comment that I still think about and maybe it wasn’t you. It was Catherine or it was someone else. They said that the intentions of lawmakers are typically genuine but yet, how they understand things is where the flaw is where sometimes that understanding is narrative, not fact. Narrative or speaking point, not truth.
This is where I want to get to how have you been able to take your understanding of the law, your understanding of why laws are created especially with COVID and a slew of measures were taken with little questioning. What have you started to understand about how our society is working in relation to the laws that are being created and why is it necessary the truth is understood? We’re going down this path where it may not work out the best for people in the long run. Even though on the surface, it may seem like, “That’s going to be an awesome thing.”
I feel like the answer to the question doesn’t have to do with the question. Here’s what I mean by that. It’s much less about the law than it is about incentives, political pressures and appearances. It’s not like elected officials get together in a robust debate and they’re advancing legal arguments, making these amendments and debating the merits of the wording and the substance of the law. Far more often, elected officials are responding to the narrative. They don’t want to appear weak. They want to appear like they’re a problem solver and they know what they’re talking about.
They want to look smart to their constituents. They want to be able to go back to their district and say, “I stood up for you,” whatever that means. “Farmers, I got you a subsidy. Single moms, I got you a tax write-off.” They want to be able to go back and say they did something, good or bad. They have these incentives in the political system that encouraged them to do or to not do certain things then they have pressures on any given issue. It might be responding to a number of stakeholders.
I’ll use an example. When we work on criminal justice policies, often we’ll have the ACLU and the criminal defense attorneys on the same side but who’s on the other side? It is all the taxpayer-funded law enforcement institutions. That’s the police chiefs, sheriffs, attorney general, the cities and all these groups that are being paid for by our taxpayer dollars to fund lobbyists to lobby against what we believe is the just, true and moral position.
Lawmakers are in the middle of that and they’re facing these pressures like a vise from different sides. It becomes this question of, “Can we pressure them more? Who has more leverage? How do we get them to listen to us than someone else?” To answer your question, I feel like I have to say that it’s far more about tactics and strategy game theory almost than it is about the merits of the law, which sucks as an idea person. I want to get up on my soapbox and say, “Let’s talk about philosophy, political science, economics and history. Here are the facts. Here’s the rational argument.”
Honestly, you use that and you get looked at by a loon. People are like, “Mr. Constitution.” It’s like Mike Lee at their wave in his pocket constitution and half of Congress is looking at him like, “Whatever.” I hate it. It’s the system though. If you have a marketing background, I feel like you’re going to be a far better lobbyist than someone who understands the law. You don’t have to be an attorney to be a lobbyist for liberty as we like to call ourselves or a lobbyist for anyone else. You got to understand how humans act, how you can get them to nudge in a certain direction and how you can help an organization.
We’ve talked before about how we got medical marijuana done in Utah and one of the groups that we had to fight was my own church. How difficult that was. At the end of the day, they wanted to save face. They didn’t want to look like they lost so we had to structure a deal where it looked like it was a win-win. Even though we got almost everything but we wanted them to save face because we wanted them to be able to come out together and take down their opposition. Otherwise, human behavior and incentives would have dug in their heels and felt like, “They’re not going to give us a little bit of a win or compromise. We got to fight to the end.” If you know how to play chess well, a good strategist and you know marketing then you can move the needle far more than someone who has a law degree or something like that.
Especially if you’re able to anticipate their moves.
It is that strategic decision like, “We want to pass this law or we want to get this law repealed. Who’s going to fight us? What are their talking points going to be? How can we rebut those talking points? How can we assert the moral high ground from the outset to shift?” Are you familiar with the term the Overton window? Have you heard about this? Joe Overton was a fellow think tanker out in Michigan and he created this concept where there’s a spectrum of ideas within which there’s a narrower range of opportunities that are within the realm of political possibility. In other words, if you want to pass a law, as long as it’s within this box, it makes sense. If it’s out here as an outlier, it’s never going to happen. To get to that point, if this is where justice is or truth or whatever, you’ve got to shift the Overton window so that the public and the legislature that’s feeling those pressures feel like that’s within the realm of political possibility.
It becomes this question not of individual policies and their merits. When we had to try and decriminalize polygamy, we were in the New Yorker and they did this big, long article about the fight for polygamy freedom or whatever, which is truly a Utah issue. Welcome to Utah, everyone. No one else would have an issue like this but Utah’s a weird history in that regard. Here you go again like, “That’s a weird issue.” How do you shift the Overton window? By reframing the issue. Not as like, “Polygamy is freedom.” That’s how we started at the beginning, not having a good strategy.
We realized, “There’s an opportunity here.” I’ll continue using this example since I brought it up. Not that it matters other than pointing out the example to answer this question. The way we achieved success on that issue is we reframed the debate to say, “By keeping polygamy a felony, you’re pushing everyone into the shadows because they don’t want their children taken away. They don’t want their licenses, jobs and guns to be taken away so now they’re hiding it. They’re going to keep doing it because they want to and it’s part of their religious practice for these small little offshoot groups.If you have a marketing background, you’re going to be a far better lobbyist than someone who understands the law. Click To Tweet
They’re going to keep doing it but now you’re going to push them into the shadows where abusers can take advantage of them because those abusers know that they’re not going to go to the cops. If they’re inviting the government in and calling the cops, their brother, uncle and everyone else is going to get ratted on and maybe turned into a felon and take into prison, etc. There are all these real examples in the past of abuse and in the presence of abuse that we’ve collected, shared and said, “This law is guilty for all of this abuse to happen.” Everyone was like, “I don’t want to contribute.”
You’ve got to make them look good. This was always Ron Paul’s problem I felt. Hallowed be his name. I don’t want to say anything too bad about Dr. Paul but one of the challenges was he was called Dr. No. People don’t like saying no to things. People want to say yes to stuff especially if you’re a politician. You’ve got to find a way to say, “What can we say yes to? How can we look like we’re achieving success and doing good and doing right by people?” I had to learn this too. Early in Libertas when we got started, it was always like, “That’s a bad law. You shouldn’t do that.”
We went nowhere. We spout it off our opinion. We’ve had to learn, “Strategy comes from giving good solutions that are within that Overton window that makes sense, possible and let the other people that we may not agree with feel like they are still protecting their turf or doing something good. That’s where we’ve been able to achieve a lot of success because of the psychological, marketing and strategic types of thinking and less about, “I’m a student of the law.” It doesn’t matter as much.
I still remember one of the debates that Ron Paul did where they were asking, “If you’re going to go home from the debate and you’re going to spend the weekend, what are you going to do at night?” Everyone’s like, “I’m going to watch the football game.” “I’m going to go hang out with my family.” He was like, “I’m going to go read economics books.”
Who does that? Dr. Paul.
We don’t need to go on that tangent. This is why I’m posing these points and this is what it means for you, readers, in regards to what’s going on in society. We’ve had this massive stimulus bill passed and we’ve had some sweeping legislation as a result of COVID. Elizabeth Warren is starting to push forward some tax legislation that audits business disruption based on some funding for the IRS, 10x the funding or something like that. The reason why I’m bringing this up is when we hear things on the surface especially from a political sphere, most people take that at its word, at what is said and few people question it.
When they do question it especially for those that understand the principle behind it, it goes back to this idea of trying to push forward what you think is right by making other people wrong. The reason why I was going to The Tuttle Twins then going to the success of Libertas who’s been able to bring forth legislative ideas to either help refine law or to remove the law that infringed on personal liberties. The way in which it was done has been successful. Looking at those who understand what’s going on and also those who want to be able to capitalize on the environment. They don’t realize that what is coming forth in these different legislations and laws is creating a precedent that is not going to end well because it’s been tried before.
When you are able to solve a person’s problems when they are fully capable of solving them themselves, you’re preventing them from learning a lesson. You’re preventing them from feeling rewarded by reliance on themselves, being able to figure out their life and being able to accomplish something especially in the face of hardship. You’re removing that. Now you have set a precedent where you’re helping all these people. Some of which need desperate help and a lot of which don’t need help. What you’re doing is you’re rewarding behavior and creating more reinforcement to their future behaviors and expectations from the government.
Same thing with business. As you’re introducing some tax legislation and those ideas, on the surface, it’s like, “We should tax the rich because the wealth gap is wide and it’s not fair.” On the surface, there are compelling arguments of people but at the same time, what’s being brought forth has many unintended consequences and we know based on history what the consequences are. The idea is this is here and I look at whether it’s entrepreneurs or investors or those who believe in certain principles and truths and want those to be understood by others. You have to use a different set of tactics and behaviors. It’s confronting it head-on is no longer the way to get something achieved in an easy way.
You got to recognize the Elizabeth Warrens of the world don’t care about the unintended consequences. I dispute the idea that they’re all unintended. We call them unintended consequences but I feel like sometimes, they’re okay with those consequences. They anticipate them. They get it. They’re not brain dead. Therefore, there’s some intentionality there. “$15 minimum wage sounds good. It’ll keep getting me reelected. It may cause a whole bunch of teenagers to lose their jobs but we’ll just do another stimulus or I’ll do the Teenager Employment Act. It’ll give us more work to do and more problems to solve.”
I feel like sometimes, it’s unintentional and that’s the challenge. You can talk economics all day with Elizabeth Warren or with AOC or whatever. You can have all the rationalities, studies, statistics and everything else. That’s not going to change anyone’s mind. They’ve bought into this narrative. They are emotionally attached and we’ve cultivated a dependency mentality where people are increasingly looking to the government for the problem. We’ve skewed the incentives. People are not feeling the consequences of their own decisions. They’re being bailed out non-stop.
They’re being told, “We’re from the government. We’re here to help,” which Ronald Reagan called the nine most terrifying words in the English language. Even the Mitt Romneys of the world are saying, “We’re here from the government. We’re here to help,” which is ironic. It’s funny to think what Ronald Reagan would be saying now. That’s the challenge we face. We can sit down and try to talk smart with all these people and give them all the data in the world. It’s not going to move them. It’s the narrative, message and emotion and that’s hard to combat.
Let’s end with a couple of things. I know we’re well into the interview and there are some good nuggets here. What would you say is behind your driving force? What’s driving you? Why do you get up in the morning? What are you trying to accomplish with Libertas? What do you see that others may not see? We see the actions but we don’t see the motivations.
I feel like I’ve been blessed with a certain set of skills that allows me to be effective. I sound like Liam Neeson right there. I’m good at what I do. I’m in an area of life, an industry and a role that allows me to be effective. Here’s why I bring that up. Not to sound arrogant, although I probably often do. The reason why I bring that up is that the biggest complaint I hear from people who like you and I care deeply about these ideas and probably many of your readers have said this, “I’m just one person. What can I do? I don’t know how to get involved. I don’t know where to start. I can’t make a difference. I’m going to go about my life.” Many people burn out, don’t even try, don’t even start and don’t know where to go.
I feel like I’m in a position where I can do something about it. As a result, I get many messages. Our organization does have people saying, “Help me.” Here’s why I bring all this up. Every day, I get messages from people who need help and I’d say about 1/3 of them are absolute sob stories. Back when we’re doing medical marijuana, those stories were heart-wrenching and then more so meeting those people face-to-face and seeing the injustice of government. It wasn’t these abstract ideas that some lawmakers are tinkering around with and then they go back to their lives. This is real and this impacts people’s lives.
If you raise the $15 minimum wage and all these companies automate these jobs, that causes real-world problems for people trying to get a start in life and getting a leg up. This impacts real people. There’s this deluge of messages to us of people sharing their problems so that motivates me. It’s what gets me up in the morning. I can’t help all those people. I can’t do everything but for at least some of them, I can do something. I’ve done this long enough, for more than a decade now, where I’ve seen the impact that my team has had on people’s lives.
It’s not theoretical. It’s not in the abstract out there like, “Maybe we help someone.” I’ve been with people who have melted down in front of me about what our work means to them. Anyone in my position would feel deeply motivated. Anyone who’s done service knows how this feels. If you go help the little old lady cross the street or anything like that, you feel good about yourself. You get that oxytocin kicking in. You feel good and you want to do it more. With The Tuttle Twins, there are these parents reaching out. I feel like I’m on good drugs where it’s like, “I want to keep doing more of this.” I want to share the drugs with other people. Other people need to feel these things, too because there’s a lot of problems and increasingly so with all the mess that’s going on.
If you’re in an area of life where you can do something about it, even for that one person, maybe there’s an organization in your area, it has nothing to do with politics and economics. People are struggling and they need jobs. It’s working at the soup kitchen or donating to the food shelter or food pantry or whatever. It is going to collectively take more of us trying to solve problems and helping people out and showing them that the government is not the solution to the problem. It’s private associations, voluntary charity and humanity coming together and not the state through taxation. It’s good to be on good drugs and a lot more people need that experience too.Some of us can do more than others, but everyone can do something good that adds to the aggregate. Click To Tweet
A couple of things and I’d love your thoughts on this. If you look at the natural drives of human beings, it has been studied and iterated on for hundreds of years. Maslow created an interesting construct as far as describing it in the hierarchy or the sequence of things starting with physical well-being and then going into safety relationships. If you look at the safety component and the physiology, that’s where the government has been proven to be effective, protecting the rights and the safety of individuals. Going beyond that is when you get into relationships and going beyond that, you get into self-esteem and then self-actualization.
I look at starting with self-esteem, people need to experience where they’re relevant in the world. Sometimes, people get it from selling or getting a good job or getting an A in school. Those are reinforcing chemicals that are happening in your body. Preventing that is harmful. Oftentimes, when somebody has achieved self-esteem, it’s because they solve a problem themselves. They go through a hard time and they are the resource that was used to overcome. Robbing a person of that prevents them from getting to this self-actualized phase where people seek to make a difference.
I know most people on the show are in those two arenas. They’re trying to achieve, be independent and make a difference and then getting into that self-actualized phase as well. There are principles behind this that sometimes, we gloss over. This has been something that you can look back on in history, books and stories and see evidence of all this. If we look at the role of government and you look at the role of laws, people have wanted the easy way out. They’re seeking the easy way out instead of having to experience what humans are meant to experience.
It’s an interesting time whether it’s technology or government involvement where people don’t have to do much to be alive. There are sustenance levels that continue to come down to an extent. We have amazing technologies that allow for entertainment that kings are nowhere near the degree of entertainment where we have nowadays. Having a good time, having fun, being able to get together and the conveniences of life. My point in bringing all this up is we’re getting closer to this point where people are going to want to seek meaning.
They’re trying to seek meaning in their life whether it’s the financial accomplishments that they’re a part of or whether it’s them making a difference. I look at where government resides and the mix of things is there trying to facilitate that without people having to take responsibility for themselves and that’s a slippery slope. It’s something that we all should be paying attention to. We may not think we can make a difference. We may not be able to affect millions of people unless you’re Connor Boyack or someone that has a popular podcast.
You can affect a neighbor, impact a neighbor, and do and make a difference with a stranger at the coffee shop. Never write off the experiences you have on a daily basis and your ability to impact and influence the life of somebody else. I heard a story with a professional speaker. There was a Thank You card he got from a reputable person and it changed his life. It probably took 60 seconds to write that Thank You card but it changed that person’s life.
There are moments that happen to us every single day where we can bring our best selves to life. We can come and we can make a difference whether we believe it or not. That’s what people seek in the end. Whether the government is involved in all of our lives, you can still do that but at the same time, humanity has a purpose, in my opinion and in my experience. We’re here to experience certain things and when those things and experiences are prevented from happening, it has negative consequences,
I like that you brought up the impact that one person can have. You never know what that’s going to be, which is the hard challenge. It’s always this calculation of like, “Is this worth my time? Should I do this? It’s only one person.” I’ve had the good fortune of having a good relationship with Ron Paul in the past few years. One time, we were chatting and he says, “Connor, as I was winding down my presidential campaign, a lot of people were saying, ‘What should I do? What’s the next step to continue this on?’” Dr. Paul told me, “I would tell everyone who asked, ‘I have no clue. I don’t know what your skills are and what opportunities you have.’”
He never got any laws changed. He didn’t have any success by that measure. I’ve told him this several times that I would not be doing at all what I’m doing without Ron Paul. The introduction to him woke me up to free-market economics, American history and all this stuff that sent me down the path. Maybe I would have found some other way but I credit him with everything, for being that person teaching these ideas and waking me up. He throws it back at me, “Connor, if you would have asked me like, ‘What should I do, Dr. Paul?’ I never would have thought of starting a think tank or writing children’s books and yet, there you are doing all this good.’”
The good that Ron Paul did, at least in my role and he can claim credit for influencing certainly a lot of other people as well, is that he extended his legacy and his impact. It’s something that I honestly think about often. I’m writing all these books and all these kids are reading them. Who’s the future Ron Paul or Thomas Jefferson or whatever? My efforts would not have gotten onto their life’s path that they needed and we’re uniquely suited to get on. Some of us have larger soapboxes than others. Some of us can do more than others but everyone can do something and it can be even just your neighbor, starting a little book club or doing monthly service projects. Do good. That adds up in the aggregate. Who cares about the aggregate? It matters to the person that you do it to. We need a lot more of it and then you get to enjoy the good drugs that your brain gives you so enjoy that.
Tuttle Twins has impacted a lot of people. In the last interview we did, there are a lot of readers who bought books. You continue to come out with more. You have the famous Harmon Brothers, marketing videographers who are doing some things with The Tuttle Twins brand, which is exciting. How can people connect with you, connect with the news that’s going on in that regard? The point in that is if you see an opportunity to gift a book for the holiday or a birthday or someone that you care about, these are things that have made a difference. How many millions did you sell in 2020 and how many in total?
It’s 1.3 million in 2020, which was more than all previous years combined. 2020 was a big year of growth for us so now we’re over two million in total. It’s crazy. We’ve got books for teens and for toddlers. We’ve got a curriculum and we’re doing a cartoon. TuttleTwins.com is where you can find everything. We’re on all the social media platforms where we post updates and some of the behind-the-scenes stuff as well. You can find us there. If you want to look up our think tank, Libertas Institute, it’s Libertas.org. We’d love to have everyone’s support and keep talking to people. I appreciate you having me on to share the good word.
Libertas is also nonprofit, so you accept donations.
We work in Utah but now we’re scaling our work to other states as well because we’ve had a lot of good success and we don’t want to be greedy and selfish and keep it here in Utah. Whatever state you’re in, we’d love to be talking to folks about how we can help.
Let’s do a show some other time about some of the legislation you guys have been able to bring forward and also, other states being able to leverage that and bring that to their specific state. Thanks for the conversation. Best of luck. I’ll have you on again next time.
Thanks. See you.
About Connor Boyack
Connor Boyack is founder and president of Libertas Institute, a free-market think tank in Utah.
Named one of Utah’s most politically influential people by The Salt Lake Tribune, Connor’s leadership has led to dozens of legislative victories spanning a wide range of areas such as privacy, government transparency, property rights, drug policy, education, personal freedom, and more.
A public speaker and author of 21 books, Connor is best known for The Tuttle Twins books, a children’s series introducing young readers to economic, political, and civic principles.
Connor lives near Salt Lake City, Utah, with his wife and two homeschooled children.
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