Book Review · Breakthrough

Reading another excellent book.

Recommend.  The author shares an almost miraculous story of helping his wife recover from an end-stage diagnosis of Alzheimer’s.  Peter shares his frustration with those tasked to help, and the heartbreaking struggle of watching his wife suffer.  At least three themes that he experienced (and continues to experience) compelled me to keep flipping the pages.


I didn’t know anything about Alzheimer’s until reading this book.  Rather than thinking of it as a disease, Peter points out that it more fittingly qualifies as a set of conditions.  Different persons with Alzheimer’s possess varying amounts within that set, and therefore treatment would mean something different for each patient.  He argues that this leads caregivers to conclude that Alzheimer’s remains incurable. He further argues that such thinking translates into untreatable as if there existed a single magic bullet.


In dealing with the many doctors with whom he found it challenging to work, he asserts that reason should outweigh credentials.  As he says, BS is BS regardless of one’s degrees. Third, the incentives of caregivers (such as that of a rest home) vs. care receivers.  One of the sad observations that Peter makes in the book consists of the poor conditions he encountered in rest homes, both to do with the facilities and the staff.  Given the nature of Alzheimer’s, it proves difficult to understand a patient.  He found that too many times, caregivers would choose to drug his wife into silence rather than try to understand her.


One of the sad observations that Peter makes in the book consists of the poor conditions he encountered in rest homes, both to do with the facilities and the staff.  Given the nature of Alzheimer’s, it proves difficult to understand a patient.  He found that too many times, caregivers would choose to drug his wife into silence rather than try to understand her.


Book Review · The Agency – Build, Grow, Repeat

Reading another excellent.

A story worth reading on developing a digital marketing agency.  302 pages.  Business management, digital marketing.  I think many would readily connect with Luca’s backstory of years of initial struggle before serendipitously discovering his niche in life.

I love how organized Luca wrote the book.  The title itself outlines the contents and leaves the reader with a way of thinking that organizes into success.  Even if one doesn’t intend to create a marketing firm, he can use this as an example of how to write a book.

Like many other bestselling internet marketers, Luca doesn’t go into the tactics or step-by-step instructions on button-pushing.  Technology today moves too fast.  He aims for a more evergreen approach in sharing his strategies and principles leading up to his success.  The following represent three of my biggest takeaways from each section of the book.


Build.  Purpose-driven, flat, and fast.  Within this section of the book, Luca shares a description of the general structure of his agency.  He emphasizes purpose first.  Our previous generations seem to hate getting asked why, but what other question proves more critical?  What other question drives the team during uncertainty?  Luca also shares the importance of flattening hierarchies and decentralization to achieve the speed needed to win in today’s world.


Grow.  Attend networking events, and conduct networking events.  Among the chapters in this part, the mention of leading a networking event triggered a lightbulb moment for me.  As in, “Oh, yeah.  Why didn’t I think of that?”  Call it a house party in today’s world of COVID-19 or hold a virtual get-together.  But you don’t have to wait for someone else to announce an event.


Repeat (or Scale). Avoid weak language.  Well, among the other principles in this section, this one resonated with me as an author.  Too many written systems, as well as correspondence, suffer from fillers – words that don’t further value.  One easy hack to discover the written equivalents of “umm” or “so…” consists of simply asking whether a portion of writing contributes to the intended message.  It seems obvious, but many of us don’t write the way we speak.  In so doing, we swing the metaphorical pendulum too far the other way, into wordiness and trying too hard to sound smart.


Book Review · The Cost of Loyalty

Reading another excellent book.

A must-read for veterans.  288 pages.  Military and leadership.


America as a whole and both major political parties hold its military in high regard.  Yet, we haven’t won a war since World War II, 75 years ago.  Our military’s organization remains stuck in time two centuries ago, hierarchical and slow, in today’s fast and flat world.  Consistent with the primary theme of this book, it values loyalty over integrity.


I had a boss one time who argued that Rule #1 is to do what your boss says.  Blind obedience, of course, begs the question of what one should do when the boss says something incredibly dumb, or even harmful.  A sensible person would argue that one owes a higher loyalty to doing the right thing.  But suppose one lived in a world in which his livelihood depended on loyalty. And what if that world also imposed civil and criminal action against speaking out?  Might not the cost of integrity approach, or even exceed, that of loyalty?


Book Review · List Building Lifestyle

Brian, reading a great book on email marketing

Recommend.  91 pages.  Entrepreneurship and email marketing.  Igor Kheifets, like nearly all of my favorite authors and entrepreneurs, push through the grind for years before finally striking the epiphany (or set of epiphanies) that rapidly precipitated his success.  Rapid, that is, in comparison to the years before.

He hosts a podcast titled “The List Building Lifestyle Show.”  On the show, Igor has interviewed legends in American entrepreneurialism such as Robert Kiyosaki, Russell Brunson, Chris Voss, Anik Singal, and Mark Manson, to name a few.  I’ve read books by all of these men.

In the book, Igor jumps quickly into the meat of his content, adding his personal experiences along the way.  My favorite parts of the book consisted of Igor relating his struggles with such platforms as Facebook, Google, and even within his own niche of email marketing.

My three big takeaways from this book:  (1) marketing success may narrow to just two parts, a great offer, and the right audience; (2) your audience wants to hear about its problems, and not yours; and (3) build your own ladder and climb it.


First, make a great offer to the right audience.  Some writers suggest beginning the entrepreneurial journey with the product – your passion, your unique value.  Others suggest starting with the audience.  Igor subscribes to the latter, and on p. 65, quotes Gary Halbert as saying that the “most profitable habit you can cultivate is to always be on the lookout for hungry markets.”  With the size of the planet, it doesn’t matter where you start, so long as you do.  Although, by beginning with the audience, in a way, you already possess a soft proof of concept.


Second, talk more about your audience’s problems than yours.  Igor brings this up in response to his clients’ questions about what to talk about in their emails.  Emotional connection precedes physical connection, whether that means intimacy or negotiating a deal.  Consistent with advice on allowing for vulnerability and putting “yourself out there,” Igor shares that that does work.  But talking about the other person’s problems works even better on conversion rates.  The market doesn’t care about your hopes, dreams, and struggles – it cares about itself.  Give the audience what belongs to the audience.


Third, build and climb your own ladder.  If you left your job (or intend to) as a way to become your own boss, it follows then that you shouldn’t let platforms like Facebook or Google become your next boss.  When the algorithms inevitably change, expect a slap to your income.  Your email marketing list represents your own ladder, your own platform.

Book Review · The Iceberg Effect

The Iceberg Effect (2020) by Dean Holland

Recommend.  163 pages.  Entrepreneurship, internet marketing, and direct marketing.  Dean Holland began his entrepreneurial journey in the early 2000s.  Today, he collaborates alongside marketing legends such as Russell Brunson, who wrote the foreword.

The book begins with his outward journey of struggling with school and work, wanting more from life, and achieving initial successes and setbacks.  He then delves into the inner journey, citing themes familiar to readers of entrepreneurship and success stories.  He discusses Carol Dweck’s illustration of the growth mindset vs. fixed mindset, Sakichi Toyoda’s “Five Whys,” and Vilfredo Pareto’s “80/20” rule.


My first big takeaway from the book is to put it in writing.  The writing becomes the system of systems.  Two sections in the book leave room for writing.  I think most readers prefer to skip the homework suggested by authors.  However, homework like this takes a life of its own in clarifying goals and their necessary steps.  If one hasn’t already done something similar, it carves a path towards success.


Second, the death of traditional affiliate marketing.  For those new to the model, affiliate marketing means promoting someone else’s product.  The link to Dean’s book here consists of an “affiliate link,” meaning that if you click it and buy the book, I get a small payment as commission.  Dean labels as traditional, the model of promoting one product with nothing further.  This worked well enough in the early 2000s.  Since then, the cost to acquire a one-time customer has increased dramatically.  Therefore, it no longer proves as profitable to promote only one product and nothing further.  This brings us to the Iceberg Effect.


Third, the iceberg. Successful marketers, whether affiliate marketers, or other types of entrepreneurs, offer a front-end product (the tip of the iceberg), and a back-end.  The back-end represents the value ladder that a repeat customer, or raving fan, ascends.  Dean describes how he structures his funnel or value ladder.  In general, the further along the customer journey, the more intimate the interaction.

Book Review · Traffic Secrets

Here I am sitting by the pool, dodging mosquitoes, and learning stuff.

Traffic Secrets (2020) by Russell Brunson.  Recommend.  330 pages.  Business, entrepreneurship, and marketing.  I just finished reading this, and I couldn’t put it down.  I also read Dotcom Secrets (2015) and Expert Secrets (2017) by Russell Brunson.  I find his writing funny, at times tear-jerking, and most-of-all, easy to understand yet mind-blowing.


One of the biggest takeaways I took from this consisted of finding the right audience, what he calls the Dream 100.  Rather than puzzle over how to drive traffic to you, instead, watch where your audience already congregates.  Within these congregations, there exist the 80/20 of influencers to whom you could reach out, making up your Dream 100.  Of course, this means presenting the right bait (hook or offer) and persisting through plenty of initial rejection.


The second big takeaway, don’t try to do it all yourself – a given, for the entrepreneurially minded already.  In another book, The Million-Dollar One-Person Business (2018) by Elaine Pofeldt, the theme with scaling goes as eliminate, automate, and delegate.  In Traffic Secrets, Russell shares a dichotomy on whether to grow via SEO and brand-building vs. PPC and direct marketing.  Why not both?  How?  Delegate through affiliates.  Let those with talent in those areas do what they do best.


Third, align instead of hacking.  On platforms such as Google, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube, Russell asserts that rather than “hacking,” it works better to know the history and mission of the platform, and then align with it.  Hacking, or attempting to defeat the algorithm to affect ranking, serves the short-term.  The algorithm continually changes; think of the various “Google slaps.”  Give the platform what belongs to the platform. It’ll return the favor.


After I wrote my book, I wondered how to get it into as many of the right hands as possible.  If you’re also an author, I think you’ll enjoy the examples that Russell uses in promoting a book.  Russell gives worksheets that he uses.  These worksheets look amazing.  I plan to outsource via and to get help filling out the sheets for the Dream 100.  I’ll let you know how that goes.

Book Review · One Million Followers

Insightful, rich with experience, and user-friendly – the book, that is

Brendan comes with a long history of success, and it shows in this book. He writes primarily about engineering virality via Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. Brendan even cites “Contagious” (2016), by Wharton School Professor Jonah Berger, which dedicates itself to the nature of viral content.

Without giving too much away, the most significant shift in thinking that I pulled from this book consists of setting the right goals, audience, and metrics. Now, I just need to apply it. The book measures at 242 pages and reads quickly. Recommend.

It became a bestseller!

I published it on 2 Jun. 2020. As of earlier this month, Jul. 2020, it reached bestseller status! It hit No. 1 in eight categories in the U.S., as well as earning No. 1 spots in Australia, Canada, France, and Germany. It ranked in the Top 5 in Italy and Mexico. Celebrate!

I’ve edited the Amazon button in the navigation pane to link to the book’s URL. By the time you read this, it’ll likely no longer sit in the No. 1 position. The rankings fluctuate continuously. Still, it was there.

The bias bias

I’ve become fascinated lately with artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and quantum computing. We use AI to find patterns and predict purchasing behavior, but we also use it everywhere else – predictive policing, assessing risk, making art, and even hiring employees.

AI sometimes creates ridiculous outputs, called AI hallucinations. For example, when asked to show the fewest number of steps between distances, one AI experiment answered by tripping and falling from Point A to Point B. Few steps taken. In another, to produce the safest condition for a factory, the AI chose to shut down the factory.

Sometimes AI misidentifies or fails to identify the desired objects. In one case, a self-driving car likey misinterpreted a moving truck as a billboard when viewed from the side, as opposed to from the front or back as it had typically seen trucks before. This hallucination led the car to crash with the truck.

These hallucinations range from comical to frightening. Think, The Monkey’s Paw. With predictive policing and employee hiring, it seems that algorithms have been producing biased results, weighing results against minorities.

There are only two explanations for this: (1) You’re asking the wrong question of the computer. It’s only giving you what you asked for. (2) You have a bias bias, or a preference that the result confirm your interpretation of social equality.

If you’ve asked the best question you reasonably could, then the results are whatever they are. If you care about the truth, then you’ll follow reason and evidence in whatever direction reason and evidence take you.

Remember that it’s a machine. It doesn’t feel. It doesn’t experience meaningful human connection. The GIGO rule applies. Garbage in, garbage out. If what’s going out makes no sense, then maybe we should look at what’s going in. The solution is to ask a better question.

Schrödinger’s Cat, Magical Thinking, Equivocation, and Agrumentum ad Ignorantiam

I’m a huge fan of research into quantum computing, artificial intelligence, and machine learning. I don’t know much about these topics beyond the basics, but I find it worth understanding. We’ll probably see exponential growth in wealth as a result of automating the process of automating itself – meta-automation.

On quantum mechanics (the study of particles smaller than atoms), many seem to use the observation problem (Schrödinger’s Cat) as a springboard into concluding, “Therefore, magic.” Maybe. I think I understand it better now.

The observation problem

The problem (question) traces back to the question of whether light is a wave or a particle. I’ll skip the long history. Light seems like both particle and wave, and that’s confusing. It also seems like the very act of observing photons (individual packets of light) affects the result. Until we observe, the photon is both a wave and a particle. And that’s the question. Why does observation affect the result?

The illustration of Schrödinger’s Cat goes further to highlight the confusion. Suppose that Schrödinger creates a box that contains his cat at the receiving ending of a gun’s barrel such that the gun has already fired depending on whether a given photon is a wave or particle. Is the cat dead or alive? Until we open the box (until we observe), the cat is both dead and alive.

Schrödinger’s Probability Equation, for which he received a Nobel Prize, demonstrates that we know probabilistically (as opposed to deterministically), at best, the position of a particle. Until we observe, the particle is quite reasonably everywhere at once.

As it relates to magical thinking, the supernatural or the paranormal, it seems like the nature of the universe exhibits subjectivity. That the mere act of looking (observing), and therefore thinking, directly changes our external reality.

I’d agree that thinking does change our external reality – through very quantifiable steps such that thinking leads to doing, and that doing something about one’s situation changes our external reality.

The magical part, bending reality like The Matrix with just thinking alone, I believe comes from at least two errors in reasoning: equivocation, and argumentum ad ignorantiam (appeal to ignorance).


Great white sharks are man-eaters. No woman is a man. Therefore, women may safely swim alongside great white sharks without protective equipment.

Stale food is better than nothing. Nothing is better than fresh food. Therefore, stale food is better than fresh food.

In the first paragraph after the heading. The meaning of man changed from “human being” to “male.” In the second, the meaning of nothing changed from “starving” to… “nothing.”

The same error in reasoning happens when using the word observation as opposed to measurement. Observation implies looking, and therefore the presence of someone looking. Measurement means physical interaction.

It’s not the presence of the observer and his act of observing that affects the behavior of the photon, it’s the physical interaction of measurement that breaks down the wave probability.

Argumentum ad ignoratiam

We don’t know; therefore, we do know. Is this valid? If and only if we’ve tried all reasonable possibilities.

Let’s say that on a train are Alex, the Butler, Charles, David, Eric, no other passengers, and no possibility of other passengers entering or exiting the train during its movement from Destination 1 to Destination 2. It appears that Alex has been murdered between destinations. We don’t know who did it. Therefore, nobody did it.

Given only that information (everything before, “Therefore…”), we could just as well conclude that therefore the Butler did it, that any of the other passengers did it, that a combination of them did, that all of the other passengers did, that Alex committed suicide or that Alex died of natural causes. Without exhausting all other reasonable possibilities, we know only that we do not know.

Or as the saying goes, absence of evidence doesn’t mean evidence of absence (or evidence of anything else).

The same type of magical thinking extends to quantum mechanics. We don’t know the underlying fundamental nature of the universe. Therefore, we know it’s magic.

It might very well be magic (whatever that means). But could we say that we know it?

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