February 2019 Q&A

Submit your questions in the comments, on any subject, and I will be glad to answer them in the next Q & A.

This month’s questions:

• How to invest when money is tight?
• Can men and women be friends?
• What is the best way to stand out?
• How to overcome difficult times?
• Opinion on police body cameras?
• How to focus when others are more successful
• Will sheepdogs ever run the country again?
• How to remain grounded in success?
• What about the man who cops tazzed in his nuts?

(Read text below or watch video)

Before I get to the questions, I have a couple of quick announcements. My book “Success” hit number one best seller in two Amazon categories: Sports psychology and martial arts.

Thank you to everybody who’s been posting about it, sharing, and all the other great things you guys have done to support that book. I’m very grateful for that.

I’m heading to Orlando March 2nd to promote the book during an event with Ricardo Liborio. It’s the first Jiu-Jitsu, credited college course program so he’s having an intercollegiate event revolve around Jiu-Jitsu, the culture, a tournament, a seminar, and lots of amazing people are going to be there. If you happen to be around Orlando March 2nd, stop by and say hello.

Where do you begin investing when money is tight?

This is one of the most frequently asked questions I ever get, or some version of it. I’ve been coaching people with their personal finances for over ten years and I’ve had clients who are struggling earning 60 thousand dollars a year, and I have multi-millionaire clients.

They’re all the same in that no matter how much money people make, they pretty much spend all that they have, and a little bit more. Some people are more disciplined than that, but it’s very typical, especially for northern Americans, to spend all their income, and sometimes a little more.

With questions like, how do I invest when I don’t really have extra to invest, I try not to focus on the actual tactics, like should I invest in real estate? Should I invest in mutual funds? Instead it’s more of a behavioral thing.

Modify the behavior to change the money habits so that as income grows, you don’t spend more, but instead you make decisions that align with what you want to do with your money.

Here’s the short answer to the question. No matter how much money you make, you have to pay yourself first. That’s an old tale that’s been told many times, but it has to actually happen, and it has to be done outside of self-discipline, outside of your will power. It must be done on auto pilot.

There’s a reason the government takes out our taxes before you receive your paycheck if you’re employed. They want to make sure the government gets paid before you receive anything. You have to set up the same kind of discipline system for yourself, so you don’t have to think about it.  It must be automatic.

No matter how much money you make, if you want to save more money, you must set up an account with an automatic deduction that comes out of your check and deposits that money into that account.

It doesn’t matter what the account is, preferably it’s very difficult to access, meaning no check books, no debit cards, no connection to your Venmo accounts, or anything like that. It’s an account that is very difficult to access and money automatically comes out.

If you are literally broke—you’ve got credit card debt and you’re unable to pay your bills—set it to a dollar a month or a dollar per paycheck. Once you can figure out that you can survive on a dollar a month savings, or a dollar a check, then you double it, then five dollars, ten dollars, etc.

If you’re making a million dollars a year then you can obviously do more than a dollar, but you need to push yourself, and you keep pushing until you create that new habit of saving.

That’s the first investment and it doesn’t need to be in anything fancy like the stock market. It just needs to be somewhere that it’s not easily accessible and is on autopilot.

You need to create a nice little cushion of money, preferably 10–20% of a year’s income as an emergency fund. That way if something bad happens, like your transmission blows out or you get sick and can’t work, you have some cash and you’re not dependent on credit cards.

That applies to everyone at all income levels. Create a system that’s bullet proof so you can’t screw it up and don’t go spending it when you get those urges that we all have. Taking away the self-discipline aspect of it and your money habits will change.

Can men and women be friends?

I’m going to piss off a lot of people with this, but the answer is unequivocally no. People love to debate me on this—that’s fair and it’s fun.

Men and women cannot be friends and here’s why. Men are predators who chase women all the time. That’s the reality of it.

What is the definition of a friend?

Of course, I have friends that are female, particularly my friends’ wives, but it’s a very different relationship than my real friends.

I get to be myself around my real friends. I don’t have to change and modify my behavior, so if you ladies haven’t been around a bunch of guys when they’re being guys, they’re pretty much obnoxious pigs. The moment a lady walks in, men change their behavior and they’re no longer being the person they really are. They go into courtship mode and they start behaving in a way that women can tolerate.

I have a feeling, ladies, that you do the same thing. You probably talk a certain way, and then when a man is present, you probably change your behavior too. If you’re changing your behavior to be around somebody, is that really a friendship? I say no.

I don’t think men and women can be friends and here’s the other reason. If you really enjoy the company of the opposite sex, regardless of what they look like, I think you’re going to become attracted to that person, and then it’s no longer a friendship because you start changing who you are because you go into courtship mode and become somebody else. If you have a relationship with somebody else, having that kind of friendship on the side usually leads to problems. At least that’s been my experience.

Every time this comes up, 95% of men agree that men and women can’t be friends, but 95% of women think they can be friends with men, because they don’t want to admit that all these “friends” are trying to hook up with them. Particularly younger girls who have lots of guy friends who are just guys waiting for a weak moment to try to hook up with you.

What is the best way to approach manufacturers, distributors to sell on Amazon without taking inventory?

This question relates to everyone, even those not selling online, so give me a chance to explain.

Another way to phrase this question is to ask, how do I reach people and get recognized to form a relationship with someone who does not know me. If you’re trying to get noticed by someone, it’s the same as if you’re trying to get a job interview, a new customer, or if you’re trying to date somebody.

The key to connecting with these people is to not do what everyone else is doing.

I would assume most manufacturers and distributors are getting hit up by email like crazy. Whatever everyone else is doing, you have to do the complete opposite. Here’s an example: If a guy is trying to meet a girl, the worst thing he could do is go into a bar and offer to buy her a drink because there’s about ten guys in there for every one girl, and they’re all doing the same thing. That’s the absolute worst way to do it. Instead you have to come with a completely different approach in a very different place, maybe at the grocery store or something.

If I were trying to reach these manufacturers and the distributors, I would hit them where there not being hit and that would be something like direct mail or a visit to their office, and I’d hit them with something unusual that stands out.

I would become some sort of stalker online to these distributors and I would try to find an individual that works there who is responsible for what you need and sometimes this takes a bit of work. I would try to find out about them as an individual and find a way to connect with them by finding some sort of common bond.

If you have military background, that’s a common bond for a lot of people. For me, Jiu-Jitsu gets me into a lot of doors because we speak the same language. Find some sort of mutual connection and then send them something of value that would help them notice you. Maybe send a book or something unique.

Something that will get you on their radar from a very different level than all the other people that are reaching them. If I were trying to get a job, I would never submit an application and a resume to an employer. I would find some back door, some friends, some mutual friends, some sort of connection, to get on the decision maker’s radar to try to get that person one-on-one.

Send a pizza. It’ll definitely stand out and anyone sending food always get noticed and appreciated, right? You can’t go wrong with food.

How to overcome difficult times?

This is a very good question, but a very hard one to answer.  My answer originates from two different sources. One, a book by Victor Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning. It’s a fantastic book. Every human should read that book. Second from Tony Robbins.

Victor Frankl was a holocaust survivor and he went through a bunch of terrible events that I don’t think any of us could ever measure up to, in terms of hard times. His family was murdered, but he survived and has gone onto live a prosperous life.

For him, it was not just finding the positive, but finding meaning in everything, even the negative, because having something to work towards was essential. You really have to read the book for it all to make sense, but that book helped me a lot. When I go through a hard time, to whatever degree it is, I can always compare it to Victor Frankl and that holocaust. My issues weren’t that bad and probably most of yours are not, either. So that’s very helpful.

The second thing came from Tony Robbins. I had heard this for years but I kind of rolled my eyes about it until I went to a couple of his events and experienced it firsthand. Tony talks about how we all think that events that occur drive our emotions, but really, we decide how to feel, and then we experience those emotions afterwards.

Here’s what I mean. Something happens in our life … let’s say somebody breaks up with you. Most of us have been through that kind of pain. There are two ways of interpreting a breaking up. You can say, “This is terrible. I’m sad, I’m depressed.” And then what happens is we act depressed. We behave in a depressed way.

Some people could be excited. “I’m free, now I get to party and have a good time.”

It’s not the event that makes the situation hard. It’s how we choose to interpret it and the stories that we tell ourselves around that.

That’s easy to explain in theory, but very hard to put into practice. What I learned from the Tony Robbins stories was that when you’re telling yourself this story, you choose to behave in a depressed way. Instead you have to fake it until you make it, like behave in a happy way, which usually requires movement—physical movement.

Even though you’re sad, depressed, going through a hard time, it’s really tempting to just sit in bed and mope and be depressed. That’s what we all tend to want to do. Eat some chips or Ben & Jerry’s Phish Food or whatever. But you have to force yourself to physically move your body in a way that you do when you’re happy by changing your posture, exercise, and physical activity.

That’s half of it. The other half is changing the narrative in your head. When things are bad, it’s easy to sit there and dwell on the negative and keep telling yourself this negative story, which we all do. I do it too. Then you spiral out of control.

You need to override that unconscious negative thought with conscious positive thought. And the easiest way to do that, I’ve found, is to focus on positive ideas. Literally, think of all the things you are grateful for, as silly as all this stuff sounds, it really does work when you sit there and you say, “I’m grateful for this and I’m grateful for that. I’m grateful for the flowers outside in my garden. I’m grateful that I have this computer and that I get to talk with you again.”

When you consciously focus on the things you’re grateful for, conscious positive self-talk will override unconscious negative self-talk. I heard this for years, but I didn’t buy into it until I went to these events and was kind of forced to try it.

Every night before bed, I have my son tell me three things he’s grateful for and I tell him three things I’m grateful for. It’s a cool exercise. He doesn’t really care too much, because he thinks it’s kind of silly. He’ll say, “I’m grateful for my arms, I’m grateful for my legs, and I’m grateful for my pillow.” But it’s an exercise I’m trying to condition him to do and it’s a good little ritual.

What is your stance on police body cameras? 

I have two opposing views on the body cameras. Contrary to what a lot of people would believe, most every cop I know is happy to have the body cameras. Nine out of ten times, the cameras will show that the police didn’t do anything wrong, or if they did make a mistake, it was not a malicious mistake. The cameras are a good thing.

Having been a cop, I know that when a camera is present, I dot my I’s and cross my T’s a little bit more. You’re a little bit better behaved when there is a camera. Not that you’d be badly behaved without it, but you might not say cuss words or something like that. So cameras are good for most people. Most cops want them. I think they are good for society and they will vindicate cops of most of the false allegations.

But here’s the flip side to the cameras.

The camera unfairly paints a picture of the story through the lens of the camera. The story needs to be told from the witness’s point of view, the victim’s point of view, and the officer’s point of view. The officer’s subjective point of view is really important, and the public doesn’t seem to understand this.

When the camera is recording, it’s showing one angle and that’s not necessarily the same angle the officer is looking. The officer may be looking at something different than the camera, or the officer is looking at the same thing as the camera is, but he doesn’t see what the camera does.

The camera affords the viewer, who is who is sitting at home watching, the ability to watch it repeatedly with replay, without stress, without fear, without adrenaline. Just because someone sees something in the video, that doesn’t mean that the officer sees it or that he has the capacity to make the same decision that somebody can make while watching it safely behind a TV screen.

There are two sides to this camera thing. It’s good, but it often paints an unfair picture that requires a lot of educating of the audience. Obviously, the media and the majority of the public doesn’t really care about being educated. They just want to jump to their first conclusions.

Overall, I’m for the cameras and I think most people in law enforcement are, but it requires more complex analysis than simply watching the video and then making a decision.

How to remain focused when others are more successful? 

She is asking a Jiu-Jitsu question, but it relates to everybody because, in case you don’t do Jiu-Jitsu, if you’re fighting with somebody and they happen to be beating you, it’s very hard to stay focused, to stay positive, and to mentally stay in the fight.

How does this relate to the rest of you?

It’s easy in life to feel beaten down when other people around you are doing better. When you get discouraged, you lose momentum, and then you get upset, and it becomes hard to continue. If you’re a little overweight and you go to the gym to get in shape, it’s hard to stay motivated when you see a bunch of hot looking people around you, because in that moment you can’t compete with those people

Jiu-Jitsu has taught me how to deal with this in life. Jiu-Jitsu is a fight between one person and another. We’re literally fighting to see who can strangle or break each other’s bones.

The mistake I’ve made in the past, and I think most people make, is that I’m not fighting the other person. I’m really fighting who I was the day before. It doesn’t matter if I get beat, choked, or submitted by another person, as long as I’ve grown from the day before.

I’m using that other person as a tool for me to grow as an individual, not as a tool to measure myself against.

It’s very important in real life to do the same thing. If I’m trying to compete with my peers at work, my neighbors, with a bigger house or what have you, it’s easy to get discouraged because we’re competing in two different games.

For example, if my primary mission in life is to have time available to raise my son, and I’m comparing my income to somebody who doesn’t prioritize their son, I’m always going to be losing because the other person is playing a game of income and I’m playing a game of parenthood.

I cannot allow myself to get discouraged by that. I have to realize that I’m playing a different game and to compete to the best I can within the game I’m playing. I can only compare myself to who I was yesterday. As long as I’m growing as an individual, it’s completely irrelevant what everyone else around me is doing.

Will sheep dogs ever run the country again?

I interpret that question to mean, will the good guys be good guys again and will the bad guys be bad guys again?

In society today, criminals are put up on pedestals and celebrated. Yet the people who are enforcing the law and trying to protect the rest of us from criminals, are labeled as criminals.

It seems bass ackwards.

For those of you who don’t know the analogy, I highly recommend you read David Grossman’s essay about the sheepdogs. It’s a pretty old essay, but it’s fantastic. It was popular when I was on the SWAT team and in military circles. The analogy of the sheep, wolves, and the sheep dog goes like this:

The sheep represent the masses in society—80% of the population. They’re peaceful people going about their business and doing their thing. They won’t harm anybody. Nothing is wrong with them, they are great people and they’re who run society.

Then there are the wolves who represent the criminals—about 10% of the society who prey upon the sheep. The sheep are unable to defend themselves against the wolves.

The role of the sheepdog is to protect the sheep from the wolves. The sheepdogs are like cops and the military who protect the masses from the wolves. The thing about the wolves and the sheepdog, is they both have the same capacity for violence.

The sheepdog is capable of violent terror just as is the criminal. That makes the sheep uncomfortable, which is why the public is often uneasy about police officers and the things that they must do to keep the public safe from the wolves.

But the difference between the sheepdog and the wolf, even though the wolf and the sheepdog have an equal capacity for violence, a sheepdog will only use violence to protect the sheep from the wolves. The sheepdog could never hurt the sheep. They’re there to protect them. It’s a different moral code.

Now back to the original question, Will we come back to a time in society where the sheepdog are the good guys and they are respected, admired, and appreciated, and the wolves are treated as criminals instead of being celebrated like they currently are?

All of that was the buildup to disappointing answer. I don’t know, but I’ve often heard that the pendulum swings in both directions. Right now, the pendulum is clearly going to an extreme in one direction where morals are going out the window.

Maybe every generation says that it seems like we’re going to Hell in a hand basket, but I feel like the Trump election, whether you like him or not, suggested that the pendulum went too far one direction and now it’s slightly turning back the other.

Who knows? Obviously somewhere in the middle is better than the two extremes. But it might require things to get a lot worse before they get here better.

If this direction of socialism takes hold, which it seems like it might because we have enough stupid young people being indoctrinated in college and by the media, we could lean towards a very heavily socialist country. Our recollection of history seems very short. It’s an interesting question and I’d love to hear other people’s thoughts on that.

How do I remain grounded while being successful?

I appreciate the compliment that I’m grounded. I think I’m humble because I always put myself in the position of a student. If I’m a student in something, that means I’m always at the bottom.

I don’t like doing the same thing over and over. I don’t pick one thing and just try to master that. I want to keep learning and growing. If I’m continually a student, that means I have a long way to go. I never lose sight of that and I never lose sight of where I’ve come from which was a shitty place.

Can you provide your thoughts on the video where an officer appeared to use the taser on a man’s groin?

When I do expert witness testimony, I get paid thousands of dollars to review these videos and to give my opinion on them. The reason I charge so much is because I spend so much time and how many years of training and experience it required for me to understand all the nuances.

You can’t just watch a four-minute video that’s been edited because the story is much more complex. It requires considerable analysis of all the witness statements, the police report, and the police officer’s statements. It takes a lot because looking at the video does not tell the whole story.

I’d like to review my thoughts on that video for you, but I’m reluctant to give too much of an opinion with limited information because I don’t want to do a disservice to either the cop or the suspect.

I will tell you this in general. I think 100% of the time if the people cooperated, nothing negative would happen, but that doesn’t justify excessive force.

As a society, we should put more pressure on people to cooperate with law enforcement rather than blaming law enforcement for not making perfect actions when the people act like idiots when the police are stopping them.

Having said that, I think that cops lack sufficient skill and training in hands on fighting. Most don’t do Jiu-Jitsu, so they become overly dependent on the taser when other tactics might be more appropriate. I’ll leave it at that for now and maybe I’ll do more of a breakdown on that one later.

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