Category Archives: Life Education

Business School at Pier 39 San Francisco

What makes money? Is it hard work? Is it the type of work? Or is it how you work? (Hint: it’s how you work) Can you do it too? (Hint: yes) Learn how with three stories of street performers.

We begin with what not to do.

Hard work earns the least money. The street performer I saw make the least money did the hardest thing: he custom built a stage with 7 musical instruments so that he could play all 7 instruments at the same time. Why does this fail to make money? Let’s examine the performance in detail.

In the beginning, he is on a stage on a sidewalk, and no-one is in the audience. As tourists walk by, he runs up to them and personally tries to recruit them to stop walking and stand, wait, watch his show.
Most people reject him. This reaction makes sense because they don’t know who he is, and they don’t know why they should care, and they don’t know how much time they will lose if they stay.
Monkey see, monkey do. If you were walking down a sidewalk and you saw a man approaching people walking by him, and the people trying to ignore and get away from him, you would want to do the same when you get to him too. He is teaching you to ignore him through his failures.
We now reach our first lesson: market in a way that hides your failures. If you need 99 rejections to get one success, don’t let everyone know.

After a few minutes, he gets someone to stay. At this point he tells them to back up away from his platform. He then uses a gallon water bottle to pour a line onto the sidewalk that is 30 ft away from his platform, and he asks that the people who stopped to stand that far away because “more people will come and there won’t be enough space.”
He has an audience of 1 or 2 people, yet he’s telling them to back up 30 ft away from him. This is alienating, isolating, arrogant behavior in light of the fact that he is unproven at this point.

He then gets onto the stage, has some conversation and banter with the audience that is there. The conversation is dull: focused on ‘what are you doing, why are you here, and other facts.’ He then starts putting on the equipment and as he does, he starts telling a story. OK, story is better than facts. But the story has no emotion, no tension, no build up, no mystery. It’s just facts. It’s a history lesson.

Finally, he begins to play. He plays 2 songs that last a total of 3 minutes. Then he’s done. Total time for his performance
6 minutes to get the first audience member
5 minutes to converse and build a crowd
4 minutes to put on the equipment
3 minutes of performance
2 minutes to thank the crowd and ask for money
5 minutes for him to take a break

Here are all the problems with this
It’s a 25 minute show with only 3 minutes of performance.
At the end of the performance, everyone he has entertained will leave, so he retains no social proof. No-one from the last show stays to tell the newcomers how great he is.
He does 2 shows an hour. Earns roughly $15 an hour. And is only collecting money for 4 minutes out of the hour.

Don’t be like him.

Let’s see what kind of street performer makes more money!

Meeting people’s expectations provides a steady income. Literally the next street performer down the sidewalk from the instruments guy is a street magician.

Here are all the things he is doing right:
When I approach, I see a crowd of 50 or more people around. Social proof: if 50 people are willing to stop and watch, it must be good. I’m willing to stop and watch now too.
To find out what people are looking at, I have to invest time to get past the crowd and find a good angle to see the show. Because I’m investing up front, I’m more willing to stay because I want to be right about spending time to see the show.
It’s entertaining from the first second I lay eyes on him, and it stays entertaining the whole time. He never pauses the performance to ask for money. You see the box in front of him, you know what a street performer is, you go up and give money when you want to. He makes at least $60 an hour. His tricks are simple: ball and cup, rings, cards, scarf. Nothing you haven’t seen before. Nothing you couldn’t go out and buy the beginners guide to magic for and learn to do yourself.
He sets clear expectations, he meets your expectations, and he gives you complete freedom throughout. For his socially acceptable magician show that meets expectations, he earns a steady income.

Building suspense, managing the customer’s emotions, and delivering a memorable experience pays the most. This street performer made around $1000 per hour. This street performer talked for 20 minutes, and performed for 10 seconds. This performer asked for money 18 of those 20 minutes. This performer made me feel the best out of all 3 performers I watched. This performer made me feel good. This performer made me feel like I was involved in the performance, and that I was part of something special.
This performer made me feel good giving money. This performer never made giving money the focus of my attention for even a moment. I felt giving money was neither the reason for the performer to be there, nor the reason for me to be there, despite reality being the contrary.
The highest income builds suspense and engages you every moment and keeps your attention and interest while at the same time hustling you to get the most out of you as possible. How? How the heck did this performer work 10 seconds, and then entertain me as I gave money for 18 minutes and then made me feel good about giving money?

The Act: 3-5 guys, yelling, making noise, waving their arms and using expressive loud body language to attract attention and raise the energy level, showing excitement, passion, strength. They yell about how wonderful the performance is going to be, and about how lucky we are to be with them at this moment. They talk up everything they do, and they say things like “We want to take it to the next level, to make it even more awesome, even better, but we can only do that if somebody gives us another $100!” We are motivated and inspired and empowered to give money to create a better experience. The person who gives the money isn’t giving the money for their own selfish benefit, nor are they giving the money for the singular benefit of the performers: the person who gives the money gains approval from every single person in the audience for unlocking the ‘next level of entertainment’ for everybody else. The person who gives money is buying approval, appreciation, recognition, importance, value, entertainment, being a part of something, feeling like we’re all in this together, feeling special, being special.
Emotions and feelings that you can’t fake and you can’t get anywhere else with money alone. Where can you go to buy recognition? Where can you buy appreciation? Where can you buy importance? Where can you buy togetherness? And where can you buy these things not just from one person, but from an entire crowd of people?

The final act was extremely short, and extremely uninteresting: one guy jumps over a few people lying on the ground. There weren’t even that many people, and even though you knew they would probably succeed, you also knew there was a chance they might make a mistake, so the suspense and fear and risk of human life made the performance entertaining. As I left, even though I felt like they earned way too much money for 10 seconds of performing, I still felt good because the real performance was the 20 minutes leading up to the performance. I still felt good because the performance wasn’t the focus or the highlight: the audience was the focus, and I was part of the audience, and for 20 minutes I felt important.

Following this line of reasoning: The first performer established themselves as the most important person in the room, and made the least money. The second performer established themselves as important, but down to earth, and so made a reasonable amount of money. The last performer established themselves as the mediator for us the audience to realize that we were the most important people in the room, and for giving us a sense of achievement, self worth, and importance, we paid them everything we had.

The Power to Create

CreateIn times of trouble, in times of need, in times of struggle, it takes something new to change the status quo.  It takes something new to change the situation.  If everything stays the same, then what will happen will happen.  If you want to change what will happen, then you must introduce something new. You must create the change you wish to see in your circumstances.

I think the natural response to despair is to blame.  To blame others, to blame the situation, to blame God.  Overcoming blame is tough. It takes a combination of mental, emotional, and resource healing to gain strength.  It is strength that overcomes blame.  Blame at its core is a call for help.  When someone turns to blame, they are saying they are too weak to move on. And that’s OK. It is OK to be weak.  We are all weak sometimes.  When you hear someone else blaming others, don’t attack the person for choosing blame as a coping mechanism because you’ll only weaken them further. Instead, find ways to support them. Strengthen them.  So that they can become strong. When someone is strong, they might hold someone else responsible, but they won’t get stuck in the past, blaming the person responsible.  When someone is strong, they can assess the situation, and move on.  Strength allows you to overcome blame.

The next natural response to rationalize through logic, morals, culture, etc.  This is a coping mechanism too. It’s called acceptance.  It’s very effective and powerful in allowing you to accept the reality of the situation and move on from it.  From a practical standpoint, acceptance is effective.  It solves the problem by acknowledging it. And it frees you from being trapped in the past so that you can live in the present.  And by living in the present, you can create a brighter future.

I think there is a better way.  A third way.  And that is to create.  When there is a problem, rather than look for a target of blame, rather than look for reasons why to accept the situation, I would want to create solutions to the situation.  Find ways to solve the problem.  Find something out of nothing. Create what you want. What you need.

An example of creation is persuasion and influence.  If you need something from someone else, and you can’t afford it outright, you can respond by blaming, or rationalizing.  Or you can respond by talking, communicating, and persuading and creating within the other person a desire to help you and therefore get what you want.

Another example of creation is negotiating. By having a conversation and understanding the needs and wants of the other party, you can better position yourself to make an advantageous trade.  Google for negotiation resources.

Another example of creation is energy and relationships. If someone else isn’t behaving the way you want, or isn’t responding to you the way you want, use your own energy to create an environment that enables the other to behave the way you want.  If someone is not energetic, you should be energetic to raise their energy levels with your own.  If someone is sad, don’t blame them, don’t accept that they are sad, work to create joy for the both of you.

Creation can do more than just give you what you want. Creation can free you from entitlement and pessimism and despair. Creation says: rather than demand things from the world, create them for yourself.  Demanding is an ineffective method of achieving what you want. It requires power, the power to overcome the power of another person. Any time you try to achieve something through force, you’re wasting the world’s resources because you’re expending power and someone else is expending power against your power.  When you achieve through creation, you save the wasting of energy fighting and transform the energy that would have gone into fighting into energy that goes into cooperation and relationship and community building.  Creation says: rather than think the world will head towards danger, be the reason the world doesn’t head towards danger.  Creation says: rather than think the terrible world you live in is permanent, change that world to be the treasures you seek.

Creation is outside the box thinking.  If a solution existed within the box, then it would have been used. Everyone works with the best options available to them.  If you find that the options available to you are unsatisfactory. Don’t blame. Don’t accept. Create the option you want for yourself.

Stages of Mental Health Deterioration

A few weeks ago I went through a huge range of mental health, so I want to document that experience here for your benefit so that you can use it as a reference for understanding your own mental health, for understanding the mental health of others, and so you know how to use that understanding to help yourself or others.


Stage 1. I felt so bad that I started hallucinating. In the shadows of the night I’d see faces staring back at me when I know there’s nothing there. But because my mental health is weak, then the part of my brain that separates fantasy from reality got blurred.

Stage 2. Then as I regained sanity, I could sense that I was unwell, but I couldn’t tell what was unwell. This is the stage where so many problems exist that no one problem can stand out as a singular one to work on. The problems that are critical that simultaneously exist are: sleep deprivation, emotional vulnerability and emptiness, malnourishment.  Unresolved trauma. Unresolved pain. Unresolved many things.  Lack of motivation. But the key point is: Lack of belief in a brighter future. I don’t think taking steps to improve my condition will eventually pay off, so that’s why I don’t take any steps at all.  I do NOT believe in a brighter future.

Stage 3. Then as I regain hope that there does exist a brighter future, I begin taking steps to get to that brighter future.  Then this stage is where I’m actively trying to make good decisions, but I’m too emotionally damaged to not give in to my emotions and make bad decisions due to sadness/loneliness/depression/etc. I’ll reach out to bad sources of feeling better that keep me stuck in a bad place rather than say sleep early, eat well, exercise, socialize, etc.

Stage 4. Then as I successfully take a step forward in sleeping properly, I regain some sense of control and decision making ability and I start making my bed every morning. I also start watching videos about self help and how to improve.  The process is beginning to take shape and become a habit for me: a habit to improve my situation.

Stage 5. Then I start organizing my life. I start keeping a schedule. I start setting goals for the day, tasks, and then completing maybe one of them.   I might complete 4-5 tasks a week, which is an extreme improvement from 0 tasks due to 0 belief in a brighter future and 0 motivation to take any step towards improving my situation.

Stage 6. As the steps forward and the task progress continues over weeks and weeks, I begin having the self worth and self confidence to face the world and reach out to friends to socialize.  To take walks and get the valuable exposure to nature/weather/sun/out doors/fresh air/new experiences/contact with other humans/etc.


Let’s revisit each stage now and see what you could do to help someone else if they were in that stage.

Stage 1 is they are hallucinating. Google how to calm someone down without saying “calm down.”  Be there with them, reach out to them heart to heart and pull them from the darkness that is a world where nightmares and reality have merged and they don’t know what’s stable ground to stand on anymore. Be that rock for them and remind them of the truths of the world.  Gently.  Again, google how to give feedback in a non-threatening way. (Non-Violent Communication Book).  Often just being there and shutting up is good enough.

Stage 2. They are sane, but they have 0 motivation to improve themselves.  In this stage DO NOT TELL THEM TO GO DO STUFF.  Or at least not directly.  Here you have to use persuasion and leadership.  Find a way to make them want to do so themselves, rather than have the motivation come from you.  Develop an intrinsic motivation within them. How? My method is to understand their situation: what do they think about the world that results in them concluding that there is no brighter future? Diagnose their world view and perspective by LISTENING TO UNDERSTAND and NOT to criticize.  Once you understand their point of view and make them feel heard, then you have earned their trust. ONLY THEN can you ask for their PERMISSION to guide them to a better way. This may take days and many sessions but you must go at their speed and be patient.

Stage 3. They have decided to improve their life and they are now on their way and they run into roadblocks with willpower or knowledge or habits or anything at all.  You want to be a supporter. again, NO criticism. Come with understanding, emotional depth of understanding, support, encouragement, and help. Check in OFTEN with them, daily if possible, to see their condition, NON JUDGMENTALLY, and then guide them. Give them the strength to do the right thing by helping them do it. They are very weak at this stage and will struggle without your constant support.

Stage 4. Start complimenting them on what they’ve accomplished, and constantly remind them of what they have accomplished. They are in this world where there’s so much work left to be done. Don’t be the person who makes that stress and pressure worse by piling on more demands and expectations. Give them the strength to face the work by appreciating the work they’ve already completed.

Stage 5. Start inviting them to events to meet in person and socialize or have fun or hang out.  Start feeding them some sense of a life as a normal person. No longer treat them as some kind of special case, but still check in frequently and offer and give help and support, just do so without this “I’m a care taker and you’re disabled” approach. It’s more a “we’re equals, and I’m gonna help you” attitude now.

Stage 6. Continue Stage 5 for another 6-12 months.  Be extra sensitive and don’t start treating them normally until many months after they start appearing to be normal. They will be acting normal, but inside they are still weak. So if you criticize them like you would criticize someone who hasn’t just come through trauma, you will re-injure them and make their condition worse. Just like if you’ve just had surgery, you’re going to “recover” in a few days/weeks, but you won’t REALLY recover for many months.  Emotional recovery is the same. Sure the scar has healed and the stitches are gone, but re-injury is going to be very easy and that wound is very weak so don’t disturb it again for some time. Give it time to be strong once more.


To find out when more life education writing is released, subscribe on the side! Follow on Twitter, on Facebook, on Google+, on Tumblr.