#42 Playing Up. Commandment 1

You know that game "fuck, kill, marry" where you're given three names and have to decide which one you'd sleep with, which one you'd marry, and which one you would let die?

I've been deep diving into all of the content I've made over the past five years. Every. Single. Piece. And asking:

  • Is this worth making into a legit, super-powerful product?

  • Is this worth refilming, rewriting, etc?

    • If so is it worth resharing?

  • And if not, I'm getting rid of it.

Better free stuff. More products. Better products.

It will take some time, like all things worth doing. For the last couple of days, I have been going through The Letter; my retired $ 97-a-month direct mail newsletter.

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One of my favorite Letter issues was in December 2020.

In late November I got an unexpected call from Dr. Jeff Spencer. I spent the next few weeks doing a lot of introspection, digging into data, and re-visiting the stuff I consider core material. The Letter had a section called:

"Playing Up"

Marketing, Selling, and Serving the Top 10%

Your biggest risk is playing down. You cannot get there faster by spending too much time with people below your cognitive ability. That is and will always be your red kryptonite”
Dr. Jeff Spencer

It’s recently been brought to my attention that I have been sabotaging my own growth. It hasn’t been intentional. But that's also what anyone would say when confronted with a realization like this.

Dr. Jeff Spencer is my cornerman. He is one of my best friends in the world and he's the guy watching my blindspots. He's the kinda guy that the top performers in the world pay a quarter of a million dollars or more to have on speed dial. The kind of guy that, when he calls to tell you something, you drop what you’re doing and listen.

He called me one Sunday morning and said:

“I have something to say to you, and I need to say it right now. I can see a risk that nobody else will be able to see. If they can see, they won't tell you. Your biggest risk is playing down. You cannot rush to the goal by talking to people below your cognitive ability. That is and will always be your red kryptonite”

Gut punch. But necessary.

To stay true to my “Inception" Business Model (training video attached to this month's Letter):

I must continue to "play up". I've never been afraid or intimidated by it, but it's uncomfortable and counterintuitive. So I have to build models or "commandments" to ensure that I don't slip into what is comfortable. I’m going to share some of that model with you right here.

The 6 “Playing Up” Commandments

Commandment 1: Stop Watering the Weeds.

This is a concept I borrowed from Dan Nicholson. He says: If what you want is a beautiful garden, you have to rip the weeds out at the root. Otherwise, as you’re watering your garden you’re also watering the weeds. To me, it's also a reminder not to grow the things you don't want. If you don't like your business, stop growing it. If you don't like your relationships, stop trying to maintain or strengthen them.

Another way to think of it: “Take Your Foot Off The Brake”. Don't push harder on the gas pedal until you have taken your foot off the brakes.

Whichever metaphor you prefer the point is the same. Stop doing stuff that gets you further away from what you want.

Example: Imagine that you have an opportunity to speak in front of 100,000 business owners. Your business coach might tell you not to say things like:

"It depends, that's preference based"


"I'm not going tell you anything you don't already know"


"This strategy won't work for everyone"

...Because if you do, you will lose 90% of the room. They don't want to hear "It depends"

Months later he might come and ask you something like "How do you keep getting the top 10%?"

I know this might happen because it happens to me a couple of times a year.

My answer?

"I accept the tradeoff. I get the top 10% because I am willing to lose the 90%"

Want to attract the best in the world? Here's how I think about it:

1. Dunning Kruger Effect: a cognitive bias in which people with low ability at a task overestimate their ability- and vis-versa. Competent people doubt their ability and have low confidence. Incompetent people have a high level of confidence in their abilities.

Skilled people are often unaware of how talented they are relative to everyone else. They start to believe that what the masses are doing might be a better route for them. There is a gap between what they know to be true and what everyone else is doing or saying. This gap creates uncertainty and an internal dialogue. A version of:

"Is something wrong with me?"

We have to answer that question for them.

The best way to think about how to do that, I found in Diffusion of Innovation, 5th Edition by Everett Rodgers:

2. Diffusion of Innovation states that information decreases uncertainty. Innovation, on the other hand, increases it. That means a statement can increase uncertainty for one individual, and decrease it for another.

What is information to one may be innovation to another. ie. What creates certainty in one person can create uncertainty in another. The mass market gets certainty from "safety" - what other people are doing. Competent people get certainty from competence - they understand what's actually going on.

Because they see the masses doing something different, highly competent people often have to be reminded that they are not broken.

To remind them of this, we must make a sacrifice.

Since they are competent, dynamic statements like "it depends" or "we will have to wait and see the data" will be informative to them. The same statements will be innovative for less competent people; they tend to be more dogmatic.

The things that give competent people certainty to move forward are the things that create uncertainty for everyone else and vis versa.

How To Attract The Top 10%:
One way to do it, at least.

1. Identify what the mass market is doing

Example: "There is only one way to make money. High ticket sales and phone calls"

2. Identify WHY highly competent people don't feel comfortable or aligned with it.

Example: "I feel like there has to be another way to make more money without doing something I hate or that seems sketchy"

3. Validate Their Belief

Example: "Yes, there are. You're one of the best doctors in the world, do you believe there is only one way to do anything? It depends, right? You would have to do a diagnostic and account for their personality, lifestyle, and level of compliance, right? So only an amateur doc would come out saying there is only one way for everyone to do anything, right? And... most patience probably prefer that doctor because they have a higher level of certainty, right? Well, in this case, you are the patient."

This validates what they already know; there is never only one way to do something. Yes, you will probably repel the 90%.

If you're not willing to repel the 90% then you have no business working with the 10%.

Inception moment:

You can use your reaction to this email to self-diagnose and segment yourself. This cuts both ways. If you want to attract the mass market, every time you speak to the top 10% you are watering the weeds.

If you want to attract the top 10%, every time you put out a message for the mass market on mass-market platforms, you’re watering the weeds.

If you find yourself triggered by me saying "it depends", this message is not for you. If you find a little relief in hearing there is more than one way to get what you want, it is for you.


Note 1: There are a few people that speak to the mass market and lay down a really strong "b message" for the top 10%. That takes an incredible amount of skill.

Note 2: There is nothing wrong with selling to the mass market. It can be extremely profitable and rewarding. It depends on your personality and what you are trying to accomplish.

Note 3: The second commandment of playing up is: "Never Sell Effort" I'll probably post it here in the next few days but the frame is simple: "Do you want me to work hard for you or do you want to win?" At the highest level, salaries are determined by results, not by effort.

If you don't go back through your old stuff frequently if strongly suggest that you give it a try. Especially if you're like me and make all of your content for yourself, based on your own experience.

It's like reading your own journal. Which is also something I think more people should do.



PS. When I do make stuff available again, it will likely go to Bumpers buyers first. You can get your free copy and a bunch of bonus videos at FreeBumpersbook.com

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