SXSW 2018 Itinerary


Teaching Math


Teaching Math in the 2010’s

A logger cuts down some trees.  Open your Logger Cuts Down Trees app on your iOs or Android device (sorry Windows….losers…worst app store ever…the worst…and no one likes Windows more than me, really, I do…Bill Gates and I are so very close…very, very close…but your app store is a loser) and type “$100” in the sales section and “$80” in the cost section to calculate the needed information or what used to be called “math.”

Then proceed to share the result on Twitter, your location on Foresquare, your status on Facebook, what you think about this on Twitter, and Snapchat a video of you doing this on your device followed by a selfie of your expression before and after you completed the exercise.  A minimum of 3 irrelevent and useless #’s must be used.

If you can’t figure this out, it’s OK, you will pass anyway because I don’t want any trouble from your parents who don’t want to hold you accountable for anything.

Teaching Math Over 50 Years

Teaching Math In the 1950’s

A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100.  His cost of production is 4/5 of the price.  What is his profit?

Teaching Math In the 1970’s

A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100.  His cost of production is 4/5 of the price or $80.  What is his profit?

Teaching Math In the 1980’s

A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100.  His cost of production is $80.  Did he make a profit?  Yes or No.

Teaching Math In the 1990’s

A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100.  His cost of production is $80 and his profit is $20.  Your assignment:  Underline the number 20.

Teaching Math In the 2000’s

A logger cuts down a beautiful forest because he is selfish and inconsiderate and cares nothing for the habitat of animals or the preservation of our woodlands.  He does this so he can make a profit of $20.  What do you think of this way of making a living?

Topic for class participation after answering the question: “How did the birds and squirrels feel as the logger cut down their homes?”  (There are no wrong answers.  Feel free to express your feelings, e.g., anger, anxiety, inadequacy, helplessness, etc.)

Should you require debriefing at the conclusion of the exam there are counselors available to assist you to adjust back into the real world.

Syria…. WTF!?


If you are like me and are struggling to understand Aleppo/Mosul/IS/etc and figure out who or what to root for … I found this excellent. Sorry I could not find the original author.

“In case you don’t know what’s happening in the Middle East:

President Assad (who is bad) is a nasty guy who got so nasty his people rebelled and the Rebels (who are good) started winning (Hurrah!).

But then some of the rebels turned a bit nasty and are now called Islamic State (who are definitely bad!) and some continued to support democracy (who are still good.)

So the Americans (who are questionably good) started bombing Islamic State (who are bad) and giving arms to the Syrian Rebels (who are good) so they could fight Assad (who is still bad) which was good.

By the way, there is a breakaway state in the north run by the Kurds who want to fight IS (which is a good thing) but the Turkish authorities think they are bad, so we have to say they are bad whilst secretly thinking they’re good and giving them guns to fight IS (which is good) but that is another matter.

Getting back to Syria.
So President Putin (who is bad, cos he invaded Crimea and the Ukraine and killed lots of folks including that nice Russian man in London with polonium poisoned sushi) has decided to back Assad (who is still bad) by attacking IS (who are also bad) which is sort of a good thing?

But Putin (still bad) thinks the Syrian Rebels (who are good) are also bad, and so he bombs them too, much to the annoyance of the Americans (who are good) who are busy backing and arming the rebels (who are also good).

Now Iran (who used to be bad, but now they have agreed not to build any nuclear weapons and bomb Israel are now good) are going to provide ground troops to support Assad (still bad) as are the Russians (bad) who now have ground troops and aircraft in Syria.

So a Coalition of Assad (still bad) Putin (extra bad) and the Iranians (good, but in a bad sort of way) are going to attack IS (who are bad) which is a good thing, but also the Syrian Rebels (who are good) which is bad.

Now the British (obviously good, except that nice Mr Corbyn in the corduroy jacket, who is probably bad) and the Americans (also good) cannot attack Assad (still bad) for fear of upsetting Putin (bad) and Iran (good/bad) and now they have to accept that Assad might not be that bad after all compared to IS (who are super bad).

So Assad (bad) is now probably good, being better than IS (but let’s face it, drinking your own wee is better than IS so no real choice there) and since Putin and Iran are also fighting IS that may now make them Good. America (still Good) will find it hard to arm a group of rebels being attacked by the Russians for fear of upsetting Mr Putin (now good) and that nice mad Ayatollah in Iran (also Good) and so they may be forced to say that the Rebels are now Bad, or at the very least abandon them to their fate. This will lead most of them to flee to Turkey and on to Europe or join IS (still the only constantly bad group).

Sunni Muslims will also see the lack of action by Britain and America in support of their Sunni rebel brothers as something of a betrayal (mmm…. might have a point.) and hence we will be seen as Bad.

So now we have America (now bad) and Britain (also bad) providing limited support to Sunni Rebels (bad) many of whom are looking to IS (Good/bad) for support against Assad (now good) who, along with Iran (also Good) and Putin (also, now, unbelievably, Good) are attempting to retake the country Assad used to run before all this started?”

So, now that you fully understand everything, are all your questions answered?

The “Friend Zone” You Want to Be In


I am extremely fortunate to work with a good friend of mine, Rachel Burnett. We met randomly in DC at a house party and found we had a similar interest in politics and people in general. About two years later, she was looking for something where she could stretch her skills and work for herself, and she ended up taking a position with us.

Rachel has distinguished herself as one of the best salespeople out of all the agents we work with around the country. In her first full year, she finished as the #1 female producer in the entire country.

She wrote this post earlier this week and I thought it worth sharing to all of you who are looking to up your sales game. See what parts of this you can take and use today to improve your business:


I was reading an article the other day where they cited a CBS News / New York Times poll that asked people this, “What percent of people in general are trustworthy?” The consensus was around 30%. I can’t say I was shocked, even though I consider that a pretty low number.

But then they asked another question with a couple word changes. “What percent of people that you know​ are trustworthy?” In that case the number jumped from 30% to a whopping 70%.
That’s a huge difference. And from what I’ve experienced in both my career and even life itself, is that you’re more likely to trust someone you know (or feel you know) than not. I just didn’t realize how BIG of a difference that made.

I’m a numbers girl. My background is in politics, and through the romantic ideals and empty promises, getting people elected comes down to numbers. Sales is no different. But the numbers can easily drop if you’re considered unlikable and untrustworthy. As the poll stated, you go from the from the 70% bracket to the 30%. That’s quite a fall.

Here are four rapport building tips to help you get in and stay in the “friend zone.” Likewise building trust and therefore building sales.

Be genuine ­ ​

As your parent’s used tell you, ​“just be yourself.” Don’t try to be anything you are not. Even though we often use scripts when we present our products, remember to relax, smile, and keep a positive attitude. Smile, give a firm handshake, make eye contact, and engage. Anything other than genuine comes across as contrived and will box you out of the “friend zone.”

Show interest ­​

This may be shocker, but believe it or not, people are mostly self-­focused. Ok, yes I was being
sarcastic. The most important thing you can do is: ask questions. Beyond their medical background. Ask about their interests, their family. Look for similar things you have in common and talk about it. This also makes the job more fun, and looky there, you might have made a new friend.

Don’t seem too needy

We can all sense when it’s there…desperation. Desperation lingers like the universes
cheap cologne. When it comes to relationship building, you cannot force rapport. Show interest, but don’t act subservient, overly friendly, or too pushy or you will only turn the other person off. Be yourself, show genuine interest and leave it at that. Remember to keep calm and don’t rush through your presentation.

Time is on your side ­ ​

What I notice is ​new salespeople are sometimes overly sensitive to the time of a potential
buyer. They either dive right in with no ice breaking conversation, or they spend too much time chit chatting, and in both instances the sale doesn’t go well. Your job is to find the middle ground. Take control of the conversation. Don’t rush, but also don’t drag on and bore your prospect to death.

Remember, being in the “friend zone” in sales is a good place to be. It allows you to develop an open dialogue with your prospect, while likewise cultivating a relationship built on trust. And trust = big sales numbers.

Life Happens


People ask me all the time – “What do you do for work?”

I guess it’s because I’m a fun-loving guy and I try to squeeze the most out of my time on this planet. I haven’t converted to Hinduism (yet), so I’m pretty sure I only get one trip – I’m trying to make it count.


When I post pictures of all the trips I take, I’ll invariably get one or two comments like “Wow, I wish I had a job like yours” or “Do you ever work?”

It always makes me chuckle, because what I do for work isn’t really that glamorous.

I sell Critical Illness Insurance. And I look for people who are great at sales or love working with people and give them an opportunity to work for themselves doing the same thing.

But what exactly is this type of insurance? And do people really need it?

I came across this article today on and thought it was absolutely worth sharing. Check it out and tell me if you think it strikes a chord with you.

Source: Critical Illness Insurance—What You Need to Know | Life Happens

When we hear the word insurance, most of us tend to think of things like car or health insurance. Critical illness insurance most likely isn’t one of the types of insurance that comes to mind.

It makes sense—we often don’t want to think about the scarier health-related risks in life—especially not critical illness. Unfortunately this inclination to turn away also often leaves us vulnerable and unprotected should we be diagnosed with a critical illness.

The reality is by the time we reach retirement age, one out of every four of us will be out of work due to illness or injury for longer than our accrued paid time off allows.

What Counts as a Critical Illness?

Illnesses can happen to any of us, at any time. They might be simple like a cold, or one of the several critical illnesses that affect Americans.

The three major critical illnesses are:

  • Cancer
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke

Other critical illnesses can include:

  • Blindness
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Organ transplants
  • Kidney failure
  • Paralysis
  • Heart valve replacement

According to The American Association for Critical Illness Insurance, statistics show annually:

  • Some 1.4 million Americans are diagnosed with cancer.
  • Every 40 seconds someone in the U.S. has a stroke; 600,000 people will experience their first stroke.
  • Every 34 seconds, an American will suffer a heart attack; 785,000 will have a new coronary attack.
  • 1.5 million Americans will declare bankruptcy this year; 60% are due to medical bills (up 50% over six years).

These numbers are alarming and that’s why protecting your income with disability and/or critical illness insurance is so important. Naturally, when we’re unfamiliar with certain types of insurance, many questions come to mind:

  • Why do I need critical insurance?
  • If I already have disability insurance should I get critical illness insurance as well?
  • Which one is the best option?

Differences Between Critical Illness Insurance and Disability Insurance

Critical illness insurance pays you a lump-sum cash amount if you are diagnosed with any one of the critical illnesses covered by your policy, even if you make a full recovery. Disability insurance on the other hand pays you a regular payout when you’re ill or hurt and can’t work. It protects your income from the very real possibility you’ll become disabled for a period of time during your career, whether due to injury or illness.

There are several differences between critical illness and disability insurance.

Income protection: Critical illness insurance is meant to provide you a source of income to pay for your health costs if you are diagnosed with a critical illness, while disability insurance is meant to pay a portion of your income in the event that you cannot work.

Frequency of payment: Critical illness insurance generally provides you a lump sum payment as specified in the policy while disability insurance pays you a monthly benefit, usually a percentage of what you earned before becoming disabled.

Qualification of benefits: Critical illness benefits depend on the diagnosis of one of the policy-listed illnesses, while disability insurance benefits rely on your inability to work.

Tax implications: Critical illness gives you a lump sum tax-free cash payout, while disability coverage is calculated as a percentage of your after-tax income and is paid for a certain amount of time.

Requirement of proof of loss: Critical illness insurance generally doesn’t require any ongoing proof of loss of income, and is not affected by any other income you make, while disability insurance requires ongoing proof of loss of income. Disability insurance payments can stop when you go back to work and start earning income.

Which Critical Illness Policy Is Right For You?
Each critical illness policy has specific terms and conditions, which must be reviewed very carefully. Make sure you understand which types of illnesses are considered critical and will qualify for payment.

If your diagnosed illness is not included on the policy list, your claim may be denied by the insurance company. Also, be aware of the survival period of your policy. Critical illness policies typically have a survival period or waiting period, This is a period of time which specifies how long you must wait after you’ve received your medical diagnosis to collect the lump sum benefit from the insurance company. This period can vary from one policy to another.

Be sure to ask all your questions before buying a critical illness policy. This is where an insurance agent can be a valuable resource. They can help you understand the language in your policy, explain the specific terms and conditions, and guide your decision around which critical insurance policy is right for you.

Source: Critical Illness Insurance—What You Need to Know | Life Happens

Sales Guys, Take a Cue from The Donald


Adam Honig has a great post on Trump’s style and how you (as a salesperson) can borrow a couple of tips to close more deals.

Let me say unequivocally that I’m definitely NOT a Trump supporter nor will I be voting for him – even for dogcatcher. But there’s still something to be learned from his disruptive antics that every legendary sales guy/gal needs to recognize on his or her road to glory.

Source: Sales Guys, Take a Cue from The Donald

The Donald’s Art of Persuasion


Scott Adams, the creator of Dilbert has a fantastic post about the persuasive skills of The Donald. I’ve been watching his “campaign” with fascination the past few weeks – and especially extracting elements of his style that would be helpful in a sales or negotiation context (since that’s what this blog is about). 

Scott nails so many good points and I’ve included some of them here. You can read the whole post at the link below. Here’s what he says:

“Like many of you, I have been entertained by the unstoppable clown car that is Donald Trump. On the surface, and several layers deep as well, Trump appears to be a narcissistic blow-hard with inadequate credentials to lead a country. 

The only problem with my analysis is that there is an eerie consistency to his success so far. Is there a method to it? Is there some sort of system at work under the hood?Probably yes. Allow me to describe some of the hypnosis and persuasion methods Mr. Trump has employed on you. (Most of you know I am a trained hypnotist and this topic is a hobby of mine.)

For starters, Trump literally wrote the book on negotiating, called The Art of the Deal. So we know he is familiar with the finer points of persuasion. For our purposes today, persuasion, hypnosis, and negotiating all share a common set of tools, so I will conflate them. 

Would Trump use his negotiation and persuasion skills in the campaign? Of course he would. And we expect him to do just that. 

But where is the smoking gun of his persuasion? Where is his technique laid out for us to see.


As I said in my How to Fail book, if you are not familiar with the dozens of methods of persuasion that are science-tested, there’s a good chance someone is using those techniques against you.

For example, when Trump says he is worth $10 billion, which causes his critics to say he is worth far less (but still billions) he is making all of us “think past the sale.” The sale he wants to make is “Remember that Donald Trump is a successful business person managing a vast empire mostly of his own making.” The exact amount of his wealth is irrelevant. 

When a car salesperson trained in persuasion asks if you prefer the red Honda Civic or the Blue one, that is a trick called making you “think past the sale” and the idea is to make you engage on the question of color as if you have already decided to buy the car. That is Persuasion 101 and I have seen no one in the media point it out when Trump does it.

The $10 billion estimate Trump uses for his own net worth is also an “anchor” in your mind. That’s another classic negotiation/persuasion method. I remember the $10 billion estimate because it is big and round and a bit outrageous. And he keeps repeating it because repetition is persuasion too. 

I don’t remember the smaller estimates of Trump’s wealth that critics provided. But I certainly remember the $10 billion estimate from Trump himself. Thanks to this disparity in my memory, my mind automatically floats toward Trump’s anchor of $10 billion being my reality. That is classic persuasion. And I would be amazed if any of this is an accident. Remember, Trump literally wrote the book on this stuff.

You might be concerned that exaggerating ones net worth is like lying, and the public will not like a liar. But keep in mind that Trump’s value proposition is that he will “Make America Great.” In other words, he wants to bring the same sort of persuasion to the question of America’s reputation in the world. That concept sounds appealing to me. The nation needs good brand management, whether you think Trump is the right person or not. (Obviously we need good execution as well, not just brand illusion. But a strong brand gives you better leverage for getting what you want. It is all connected.)

And what did you think of Trump’s famous “Rosie O’Donnell” quip at the first debate when asked about his comments on women? The interviewer’s questions were intended to paint Trump forever as a sexist pig. But Trump quickly and cleverly set the “anchor” as Rosie O’Donnell, a name he could be sure was not popular with his core Republican crowd. And then he casually admitted, without hesitation, that he was sure he had said other bad things about other people as well.

Now do you see how the anchor works? If the idea of “Trump insults women” had been allowed to pair in your mind with the nice women you know and love, you would hate Trump. That jerk is insulting my sister, my mother, and my wife! But Trump never let that happen. At the first moment (and you have to admit he thinks fast) he inserted the Rosie O’Donnell anchor and owned the conversation from that point on. Now he’s not the sexist who sometimes insults women; he’s the straight-talker who won’t hesitate to insult someone who has it coming (in his view).

But it gets better. You probably cringed when Trump kept saying his appearance gave FOX its biggest audience rating. That seemed totally off point for a politician, right? But see what happened.

Apparently FOX chief Roger Ailes called Trump and made peace. And by that I mean Trump owns FOX for the rest of the campaign because his willingness to appear on their network will determine their financial fate. BAM, Trump owns FOX and paid no money for it. See how this works? That’s what a strong brand gives you.

You probably also cringed when you heard Trump say Mexico was sending us their rapists and bad people. But if you have read this far, you now recognize that intentional exaggeration as an anchor, and a standard method of persuasion. 

Trump also said he thinks Mexico should pay for the fence, which made most people scoff. But if your neighbor’s pit bull keeps escaping and eating your rosebushes, you tell the neighbor to pay for his own fence or you will shoot his dog next time you see it. Telling a neighbor to build his own wall for your benefit is not crazy talk. And I actually think Trump could pull it off. 

On a recent TV interview, the host (I forget who) tried to label Trump a “whiner.” But instead of denying the label, Trump embraced it and said was the best whiner of all time, and the country needs just that. That’s a psychological trick I call “taking the high ground” and I wrote about it in a recent blog post. The low ground in this case is the unimportant question of whether “whiner” is a fair label for Trump. But Trump cleverly took the high ground, embraced the label, and used it to set an anchor in your mind that he is the loudest voice for change. That’s some clown genius for you. 

Update: When Trump raised his hand at the debate as the only person who would not pledge to back the eventual Republican candidate, he sent a message to the party that the only way they can win is by nominating him. And people like to win. It is in their nature. And they sure don’t want to see a Clinton presidency.

Update 2: And what about Trump’s habit of bluster and self-complimenting? Every time he opens his mouth he is saying something about the Trump brand being fabulous or amazing or great. The rational part of your brain thinks this guy is an obnoxious, exaggerating braggart. But the subconscious parts of your brain (the parts that make most of your decisions) only remember that something about that guy was fabulous, amazing and great.

If you’re keeping score, in the past month Trump has bitch-slapped the entire Republican Party, redefined our expectations of politics, focused the national discussion on immigration, proposed the only new idea for handling ISIS, and taken functional control of FOX News. And I don’t think he put much effort into it. Imagine what he could do if he gave up golf.

As far as I can tell, Trump’s “crazy talk” is always in the correct direction for a skilled persuader. When Trump sets an “anchor” in your mind, it is never random. And it seems to work every time.

Now that Trump owns FOX, and I see how well his anchor trick works with the public, I’m going to predict he will be our next president. I think he will move to the center on social issues (already happening) and win against Clinton in a tight election.

I also saw some Internet chatter about the idea of picking Mark Cuban as Vice Presidential running mate. If that happens, Republicans win. And I think they like to win. There is no way Trump picks some desiccated Governor from an important state as his running mate. I think Cuban is a realistic possibility.

I don’t mean this post to look like support for a Trump presidency. I’m more interested in his methods. I’m not smart enough to know who would do the best job as president. There are a lot of capable people in the game.

Update: Now that you have read my explanation of Trump’s three-dimensional chess, read this article and chuckle at how he is operating on an entirely different level from the TV host, Chuck Todd, and even the author of the article I’m linking to. It is literally hilarious.

Read the original post HERE.