How does Donald Trump win?

the-world-against-trump

How does Donald Trump win? The media portrays him as a bumbling moron. But he keeps on winning, so there must be something to his success. This isn’t a political post, it’s a human behavior investigation. Please put down your pitchforks. You can still hate him and enjoy reading.

Many people say Donald Trump is lucky rather than talented. But it seems pretty hard to believe that he got incredibly lucky at all these things:

  • becoming a billionaire
  • best selling author several times over
  • have a hit TV show that ran for 15 seasons straight
  • raise a good family
  • overthrow the Republicans/Democrats/Special Interests/Media arrayed against him all at once
the-world-against-trump
Honestly, I just like the goofy over-the-top symbolism of this image. Both sides of the political spectrum can get pretty fervent over their candidates.

Does anyone really believe that someone could be that lucky? Over 40+ years? There are less than 3,000 billionaires in the world at any given time (out of 7 billion people), there are less than 10,000 authors with multiple best sellers, a few hundred TV shows that have lasted over a decade, and he’s the only person to win against the entirety of the main stream media and political machine determined to take him down. It seems unlikely that it’s luck.

Hijacking the media

A study done in March 2016 suggested that Donald Trump received 2 billion dollars in free media. Traditional politicians have to pay, but he gets it free? But the media hates him! How does he do it? Trump actually tells us in his 1987 book, The Art of the Deal.

…if you are a little different, or a little outrageous, or if you do things that are bold or controversial, the press is going to write about you. – Donald Trump, The Art of the Deal (1987)

The media is always hungry for a story. Trump gives them endless things to write about. First he takes the facts. Then he layers on 20% bravado.

The final key to the way I promote is bravado. I play to people’s fantasies. People may not always think big themselves, but they can still get very excited by those who do. That’s why a little hyperbole never hurts. People want to believe that something is the biggest and the greatest and the most spectacular. – DONALD TRUMP, THE ART OF THE DEAL (1987)

Let’s see how this works in practice:

How much is Donald Trump worth?

Warning: NSFW language in the video below.

Donald Trump has said he’s worth $5 billion, $7 billion, and $10 billion. In the same month. That seems weird, right? But he does this all the time and we’re going to see why he does it. His critics will claim that he’s just a pathological liar, but the reality is that Donald Trump needs his critics to spread his message. He uses his critics as his free media machine!

There are 47 million Google results for the search “how much is Donald Trump worth“. I haven’t seen a single article agreeing with his estimate of being worth $10 billion. Not one. And that’s the point! $10 billion is too high on purpose!

Here’s why it works.

No one on the planet cares if he’s worth $5 billion or $10 billion. It’s like arguing who is the better quarterback: Peyton Manning or Tom Brady. While the discussion might keep you and your buddies entertained for 20 minutes, at the end of the day it’s a pointless discussion around two all-time greats. In this case, all anyone remembered after the discussion was that Donald Trump was rich and running for president.

Here’s how powerful that is:

I first heard about Donald Trump from a friend (Democrat) talking about how Trump wasn’t worth $10 billion. At the time I couldn’t even have named a single Republican candidate running. And there were 17 of them. Someone who would never vote Trump was spreading Trump’s message.

Then Alicia and I went to New Zealand and Thailand for Q1 2016. They were talking about Donald Trump’s net worth! Jeb Bush had spent $150 million on his campaign by this point and dropped out before I even knew he was running. Donald Trump had spent nothing and hijacked the MSM to tell the entire world he was running for president. Just by saying “10” instead of a realistic “5”.

His message was spread by the people who either would not or could not vote for him.

If you have talked about, shared, or liked any article talking about how Donald Trump isn’t worth $10 billion: congratulations! You were working for the Trump campaign and you didn’t even know it.

Trump secured the most primary votes in GOP history, against 16 opponents, and was 8th place in total spending.

“Fact Checking”

The media hates Donald Trump with a white hot flame and is quick to point out any of his  inaccuracies. Just like no one cares about $5 billion vs $10 billion, Trump creates mini controversies to get the press to report on what he wants to talk about.

Trump has said Hillary Clinton has used acid, bleach, and hammers to destroy the 33,000 emails that the FBI wanted for evidence in a criminal investigation. Just like he said 5, 7, and 10, Trump gave three different ways Hillary destroyed evidence. On purpose. But only one could be correct.

Here’s what happened: he got “fact-checked” by the media who thinks they are smarter than him.

Did you catch that? By “fact checking” the specific process, NBC News told the world that Hillary Clinton was guilty of destroying evidence! By purposely being wrong on the details of how she destroyed it, Trump hijacked the media to talk about the crimes Clinton committed.

Here’s another one: Trump claimed ISIS was “founded” by Obama and Clinton. The premise is obviously hyperbole. But the media loves to talk about how Trump is a dummy and they are so smart. So the media spent a week discussing how it was wrong. Here’s the problem: by talking about it, the media reinforced to the country how ISIS didn’t even exist until Syria was destabilized by the Obama and Clinton administration. Not a single person believed that Obama and Clinton literally founded ISIS, but the media made it national news that the largest terror threat to our country happened on Obama and Clinton’s watch. That was the point. Scott Adams has a great article on it.

Tone it down as the media ramps it up.

When everything is quiet, Trump is outrageous. Then the people around him (and the media) get amped up and start saying crazy things. That’s when Trump pulls it back. What happens is that the average person hears all these things about Trump and decides to check into a rally or speech. What do they see? A perfectly normal, if bombastic, person. Not nearly the devil the media portrayed him to be. At that point, the viewer realized the media lied to them (more on this later).

Back in March, the media had gotten so worked up that they were saying Trump was “literally Hitler”. So Trump pulled it back. Viewers didn’t see “literally Hitler”. Viewers were probably disappointed to see a normal person.

Would “literally Hitler” let Jimmy Fallon do this? Of course not. And that was the point of why Trump let Fallon embarrass him on national TV.

The second debate saw Donald return with the energy after showing people he could turn up or turn down his personality at will.

Confirmation Bias

Human brains are wired to see things we want to see. An example of this similar to “glass half-full vs glass half-empty”.

What most people don’t realize is that you can prime someone to see things they wouldn’t normally see. For example, the next time you are driving in your car you will see a yellow car or truck and think of this article. It will just pop into your head. You won’t be trying to look for a yellow vehicle and then remember I said this, but it will happen. You’ve been primed.

Trump says the media are liars. This is priming people’s minds to look for the media lying. And the media has printed many lies about him. Not everything the media has said about him is wrong, of course. But when a person recognizes the media is grossly mis-portraying Trump (“literally Hitler!”), the person remembers Trump saying the media would lie about him. Then the person is more inclined to believe Trump over the media.

Here’s how fast that can affect things: CNN went from #1 to #16 in ratings in the span of a month. People are leaving in droves after they have been primed to spot the lies. Now the people follow the person who helped them spot the lies: Donald Trump.

When Trump said that he could shoot someone and not lose voters, it’s because people have been insulated to ignore whatever the media says about him. The boy cried “wolf” too many times.

Anchoring

Our minds tend to remember something if it’s new.

“Low Energy” Jeb(!) stuck in everyone’s minds because it hadn’t been said before in the political spectrum. And next to Donald’s wild hand gestures, Jeb looked pretty tame. The voters couldn’t picture Jeb standing up for them when the times were tough.

“Build the Wall” was simple, catchy, and repeatable. “Drain the Swamp” is similar. They are new phrases never used before in politics. Trump was running against 16 opponents and needed catchy positions. Does anyone remember a policy by Carly Fiorina or Ted Cruz? I don’t.

Talking past the sale

“We’re going to build a wall, and make Mexico pay for it.”

This is a typical car salesman trick. By talking about the color of the car, the buyer isn’t focusing on whether or not they actually should buy the car. They instead imagine the car as already theirs, which warms them up to the idea of purchasing it.

How powerful is this? It took Obama 6 years to convince the country to pass Obamacare. It took a month or two to convince the country that a wall would be built if Trump is president.

If you think this would never work on a world leader, well, you’re wrong. Former Mexican President Vicente Fox spoke about how “Mexico wouldn’t pay for that fucking wall“. Even funnier, a month later Fox apologized to Trump and said there would be a compromise on the wall. The current Mexican president suggested Mexico might even build it themselves.

Reframing

Reframing is adding new information to make people look at old information differently.

As Trump says in Art of the Deal:

When a reporter asks why I build only for the rich, I note that the rich aren’t the only ones who benefit from my buildings. I explain that I put thousands of people to work who might otherwise be collecting unemployment, and that I add to the city’s tax base every time I build a new project.

The story changed from “Trump only builds for the elite” to “Trump employs thousands of people”. That’s reframing, and Donald does it all the time to deflect criticism.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RxBYii5qQJs

“Make America Great Again” is pretty hard to twist into a negative. People have tried saying America was never great, but no one believes that.

On the other hand, the Clinton campaign has changed their slogan around quite a few times because the Trump campaign kept blowing them up. Finally they settled on “I’m with Her”. At his next rally, Trump said: “I’m with you“. This makes “I’m with Her” look self-serving in comparison.

You can still hate Trump if you want

He’s loud, outrageous, and has offended more people than I can list in this space. Maybe you hate his policies. Maybe you don’t like these techniques. But I don’t think he is simply “lucky”. And he’s certainly no buffoon.

If you underestimated him, don’t worry. So did everyone else in the video below.

(Like this post? You’d love my book Meme Magic: How Stupid Pictures of Badly Drawn Frogs Influenced the 2016 Election)

CEO’s are dangerously underpaid

wolf-of-wall-street

I read that some CEO’s get 500 times more than the lowest paid employee. That’s outrageous! CEO compensation should be 10,000 times more than the lowest paid employee. CEO’s are dangerously underpaid.

wolf-of-wall-street
The image of CEO’s as evil scammers is everywhere. Above: The Wolf of Wall Street.

Skills

I lead a pretty good life. Travel all over the world, stockpile of money, limitless options to what I can do. Right now, I can do ~50 different jobs that make 6 figures per year, without additional training. I know several dozen different programming languages/frameworks, multiple advertising channels, professional gambling, and normal things like sales.

And CEO’s have me beat by a mile.

Some CEO’s have a broad range of top-tier skills, while others are the top 0.1% in their field. Elon Musk is known for doing an engineers job for them if he’s unsatisfied with the work (and then fires the employee). Steve Jobs was involved with almost every facet of designing the Mac, right down to the typography.

90% of new businesses fail because the owner has to do everything at the beginning: accounting, marketing, HR, development, IT, etc. The learning curve is really high. But the average employee will always say things like “That’s not my job”. A CEO doesn’t have that luxury. They have to do 7 jobs at once. And that’s why they get paid like it.

Network

An Uber driver asked my opinion on college. College [itself] is a scam, but there’s one redeeming factor: networking. It was worth a lot to my career that I was surrounded by people who would later go on to work for companies scattered around the country. Getting jobs and clients from your network is a very real thing. Was paying six figures for a network worth it? Doubtful, but it’s certainly a bonus.

Even if a CEO isn’t right for the job, their network alone can be worth it to the company. Tesla and SpaceX recruit the top talent out of colleges because it’s cool to work for Elon Musk. Mark Zuckerberg could bring limitless value to a company just by introducing them to government officials around the world. Kanye West and his wife can bring worldwide legitimacy to a brand just by Tweeting about it.

A normal person might ask a friend of theirs to help them move.

Risk

The average person refuses to quit the job they hate. So they work 40 years in a terrible career, self-medicating with drugs. That’s how much normal people avoid risk. Most people throw away their entire lives rather than try something new.

The average person is scared to ask that guy or girl out on a date for fear of being embarrassed for 30 seconds. Embarrassment isn’t even real. It’s a tiny chemical reaction in your brain. You can’t even prove that your embarrassment exists. But it stops people from doing anything remotely interesting with their lives.

CEO’s try new things all the time. And when it doesn’t work out, they get dragged through the mud after being unceremoniously fired. And then the CEO gets up, dusts themselves off, and gets immediately rehired because 99% of people hate taking risks and doing new things is what it takes to succeed.

Perseverance

The gym is filled in January and empty by March. All of the “New Year’s Resolution” people fail before they even get started.

The average working career is 40+ years. Why not spend 5-10 of them trying new things to make sure the other 30 years are stellar? Very few people are willing to commit several years to something that might not work out. But here’s what happens: the time passes anyway and these people who never tried are in the exact same spot.

Amazon.com has never been profitable. Yes they do a lot of business volume, but the profit the company makes is put back into the company. They are on a 20 year timeline to profitability.

Elon Musk wants to go to Mars. His companies Tesla and SolarCity, which won’t have made a profit in their first 10 years of existence, are merely stepping stones to exploring space. It’ll take another 20 years to get colonies on Mars.

Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter and Square, works 16 hour days. 8 hours at Twitter and then 8 hours at Square. Neither company is profitable or looks to be profitable in the future. He’s been doing this for 10+ years.

CEO’s have 10, 20, and 30 year plans where they devote their entire lives to the cause. The average person can’t use a treadmill a few times a week for a couple months.

“What would you do with a million dollars?”

If you answered “two chicks at the same time” or “invest and live off the interest” then you will never be rich by your own efforts. The people that have money are constantly working, improving, and pushing themselves. We lived in one of the richest areas of Minnesota (Lake Minnetonka), and the lights on all the houses were dark at night. Those expensive lake shore properties rarely threw parties or saw the boats get used. Because the owners of those million dollar homes were always working.

It’s popular to hate on CEO’s

The world is better than it has ever been in human history, by any metric: health, wealth, or peace. CEO’s like Elon Musk are solving the energy problem by converting cars and homes to solar. CEO’s like Bill Gates are curing Polio and Malaria. CEO’s like Steve Jobs gave the average person with a smartphone more computing power in the palm of their hand than the entire world had in 1980.

Do you really think these people are underpaid?

Fear Isn’t Useful

inside-out-fear

Fear isn’t useful in modern society. It helped our ancestors survive tiger attacks and that’s why we have it. Non-fearful people got eaten. But now tigers are in the zoo, and we are afraid of ghosts.

inside-out-fear
That little purple guy is an asshole. Kick him out of the group. (Inside Out, Pixar, Disney Pictures)

What is fear?

Fear is a tiny chemical reaction in your brain. It’s gone in a few seconds. You can’t even prove your fear is real. No one can touch it, see it, or hear it. To other people, your fear is literally imaginary.

Yet this thing that doesn’t even exist stops people from living the lives they want.

I can destroy your fear from across the internet

Think of the thing you fear the most. It could be death of you or a loved one, embarrassment, not living up to your potential, whatever. Concentrate on it for a moment and feel it.

Got it? Feel the fear?

Now spend 2 minutes here and come back.

Your fear is gone. Sure you can summon that fear again by concentrating on it, but why would you do that? Any time you feel the triggers of fear, steer your brain to something else. Wallowing in your fear doesn’t help anything.

How to solve your fear: plan for the worst case scenario

Our brains like to fantasize about what COULD happen. But reality is actually quite boring. If we plan for the worst case scenario, we can stop our brains from creating horror movies in our minds.

Example: Ask that guy/girl out on a date.

Our brain starts the horror movie:

  • I’ll get turned down
  • He/she will laugh at me
  • He/she will laugh at me with all their friends and co-workers
  • He/she will tell my boss and I’ll get fired
  • I’ll be depressed forever
  • Can’t get a job because of depression
  • Cats, lots of cats to comfort sorrows
  • Die

Here’s what will actually happen if you get turned down: small chemical reaction in the brain makes you blush and feel like a dumbshit for 2 minutes and a few future conversions with this person will be slightly awkward. The End.

See? Reality is so fucking boring. That’s why your brain tries to liven it up with make-believe of how your life will be destroyed forever because you think someone is attractive.

But what about the upside? What if that person said Yes and you spend the rest of your life with them? Alicia turned me down the first time I asked her out. I would have missed out on my life partner because of a tiny chemical imbalance in my head.

What are you missing out on because of something that doesn’t even exist?

Inside Out memory balls
Here, Joy is looking at all of the thousands of chemical reactions that happened THAT DAY. Chemical imbalances happen when you eat, sleep, talk with someone, or actually do anything. And one of these little things is stopping you? (Inside Out, Pixar, Disney Pictures)

Here’s another one where you quit your job to pursue another job/career/company.

The horror movie starts in your head:

  • New job doesn’t work out
  • Never find employment again
  • Spouse leaves you
  • Children disown you
  • Heroin addiction
  • Cats, lots of cats to comfort sorrows
  • Die

The boring reality of the situation is that if the new job fails, maybe you’ll have to move in with your parents for a few months while things get sorted out. There’s literally billions of jobs out there and you need ONE. But our brains prefer to dream up ridiculous nonsense.

And consider the upside: what if things work out and your dreams come true? Our brains frequently leave out this part.

Baby steps

Another way to kill fear is to expose yourself to it. Slowly.

I had really bad social anxiety when I was a teen and early 20’s. Like I would wait to walk 50 feet to the bathroom until the hall was empty because making eye contact with people in the hall was too much for me. A few years later, I’d be able to meet people anytime, anywhere. There were a few steps in between.

I started small. I’d walk around the Mall of America making eye contact with women. At work I’d speak up in small groups to get practice speaking in front of an audience. When I first started, I’d blush so hard I could feel the heat radiating from my face. But every time got easier because my mind couldn’t keep making up horror movies. There was too much evidence that everything would turn out fine and my mind was overreacting. The blushing stopped. The fear went away.

Do something tiny every day to whittle away at your fears.

On the other side of fear lies everything you want in life

What you’ll eventually come to realize is that fear is a spice. Roller coasters wouldn’t be fun if they didn’t feel dangerous. Some of the best memories you have right now are when you felt the fear and did it anyway.

Now I chase fear, risk, and pain because I know fear is an indicator of where the good stuff is. We got rid of our house, rental property, and stable lives. Do I know what is going to happen in the next few years? Not even remotely… and that’s why it’s fun.

Fear kept early humans alive from tiger attacks. But today’s tigers are Paper Tigers. It’s an ancient Chinese saying that implies something is scary on the surface, but in reality is completely harmless.

College is a scam, and Kanye West figured it out first

kanye-west

With record unemployment, skyrocketing tuition, and stagnating wages, America has finally learned that college is a scam. But if you were paying attention, Kanye West called it out first back in 2004 with his debut album: College Dropout.

kanye-west

“The name of my album is called The College Dropout,” [Kanye] said of his debut. “All that’s saying is make your own decisions. Don’t let society tell you, ’This is what you have to do.’”
– Interview with MTV

Tuition went crazy high

Everyone believed that you needed college to get a good job. So the government started giving out huge amounts of money for college… with a catch: you could never get rid of that college debt by bankruptcy. So colleges knew they had what people thought was necessary, billions of dollars from the government, and the students had to pay it back no matter what. So colleges jacked up the price. Prices rose 300-400% over ten years.

What were people going to do? NOT go to college? All the successful people before them had gone to college. But people didn’t realize yet that the internet changed everything (more on this in a moment).

The actual degrees are useless

This nigga graduated at the top our class.  I went to Cheesecake, he was a motherfucking waiter there.
– School Spirit

A liberal arts, humanities, or gender studies degree qualifies you for a job at Starbucks. Ask the barista what their degree is in, and it’s almost never Computer Science or Engineering. Colleges are pretending like all degrees are equally valuable. Art degree graduates only make 29% more than high school diploma holders while engineering grads make 138% of what high school grads do.

is-phony-major
But everyone knew liberal arts degrees were useless. Here’s a quip from the Simpsons in 2000 that shows society wasn’t totally in the dark about terrible majors:
Dr. Hibbert:  Your playing days are over, my friend. But, you can always fall back on your degree in…
[reads chart]
Dr. Hibbert: communications? Oh, dear Lord!
Anton Lubchenko: I know! Is phony major. Lubchenko learn nothing. Nothing!
[cries]
No one cares about your college experience

Not a single person cares about your college experience after you get a “real job”. Even in our language, we refer to life after college as the “real world” because we all know college is nonsense.

As Kanye puts it:

after all the partying and crazing,
And don’t forget about that drug habit you picked up at school being around your peers!

– School Spirit (skit 1)

I’m 37. If I ever mentioned what I learned in college to a prospective client or employer, they’d rightly laugh me out of the room. No employer wants to hear about where you lost your virginity.

And it’s not just because that was 15 years ago either. I could talk about a programming project I had at my first programming job to illustrate how experienced I was.

Colleges love to sell the idea that you need even MORE college to succeed

You pick up all those books that you’re gonna read and not remember
And you keep it rolling man
You get that associates degree, okay?
Then you get your bachelor’s degree
Then you get your masters
Then you get your masters, masters
Then you get your doctrine
– School Spirit (Skit 2)

“But you need college to make money!”

  • Bill Gates, Founder of Microsoft: Dropped out of college
  • Mark Zuckerberg, Founder of Facebook: Dropped out of college
  • Steve Jobs, Found of Apple: Dropped out of college
  • Jack Dorsey, Founder of Twitter: Dropped out of college
  • Mark Cuban, Owner of Dallas Mavericks: Never went to college
  • Daymond John, CEO of FUBU: Never went to college
  • Evan Spiegel, CEO/co-founder of Snapchat: Dropped out of college
  • Kanye West: Dropped out of college

Sure some people went to college and succeeded. See if you can spot the trend:

  • Peter Thiel, Co-founder of PayPal: B.A. Philosophy
  • Elon Musk, Founder of Tesla: B.S. Physics
  • Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Founders of Google: B.S. Computer Science
  • Jeff Bezos, Founder of Amazon: B.S. Computer Science and Electrical Engineering
  • Brian Acton, Co-founder of WhatsApp: B.S. Computer Science
  • Pierre Omidyar, Founder of eBay: B.S. Computer Science

That’s right, our economy is run by college dropouts and computer nerds.

STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) degrees are the only kind of degrees that are useful. For all the rest, read a book.

I’m going to get super smart, so I, too, can die without money.
But I’ll be the smartest dead guy! When I’m dead, know what’s gonna keep me warm? That’s right, those degrees
– Lil’ Jimmy (Skit)

So how do you fix college?

The easiest way to fix college: let people declare bankruptcy. Tuition will come back down and the worst colleges will die off. And this solution is literally free to the country and takes 5 minutes for a vote in Congress. But it won’t happen because the dirty politicians got paid to implement these rules in the first place.

That leaves us, the people, with only one option: stop going to college unless it’s for a STEM degree. Your general education is available on the internet for a tiny fraction of the price. You can do anything because of the internet. Even get paid for drinking beer.

As Kanye says, you just have to pick up leave behind what is broken. And don’t look back.

Now let’s go, take them back to the plan.
Me and my Momma hopped in that U-haul van.  Any pessimists I ain’t talk to them, plus I ain’t have no phone in my apart-a-ment.
– Touch the Sky

And if your alma mater has the brass balls to call you and beg for money, lay into those fuckers. Colleges cheated an entire generation out of their future. And Kanye West knew it first.

Want to Get Paid for Drinking Beer?

drinking-beer

Yes you can get paid for drinking beer. Don’t believe me? It wouldn’t be the most ridiculous way people make money. Not even close. Let’s look at a tiny portion of the ways people make money before I tell you how.

Tucker Max is an asshole. He says it right on his book, I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell. It’s a collection of stories of Tucker being a bastard in every way possible. It became a best seller.

drinking-beer
This wouldn’t even rank in the top 100 most ridiculous ways of getting paid.

Jackass is a movie where they kick each other in the balls and drink horse semen. It started as a group of skateboarders screwing around, daring each other to do stupid things, and laughing at each other’s physical pain. They recorded the idiocy on video and it would later be picked up and broadcast.

Grumpy Cat is just a house cat with a sad looking face on him. The owners created video of this cat and posted in on YouTube. They made so much money that they quit their jobs. The goddamn cat has an agent.

EL James, creator of 50 Shades of Grey, started out by writing erotic Twilight fan fiction. Fantasizing about Edward lead her to a net worth of $90 million.

@TweetofGod is a Twitter account that was made into a Broadway play.

@ShitMyDadSays is a Twitter account that was made into a book and a short-run TV show starring William Shatner.

Fashion Instagram bloggers are people that Alicia worked with while at Target. They’d pick out clothes in the store, go to the dressing room, try them on, take selfies, and post them in Instagram. And not even buy the clothes! These people make 6 figures and are flown to fashion shows around the world.

Video games are an endless ecosystem. Pick any popular game and there will be streamers, fan websites, strategy websites, coaching, professional players, and mod creators. When that video game goes stale, move your audience to next game of the year.

Bloggers of all types make their living online. Mommy blogs, DIY blogs, Investing blogs, Travel blogs, and I even heard that some sites on the internet are about sex. Pick your interest and I guarantee there’s an audience out there no matter how ridiculous you think it is. Like underwater basket weaving.

I spent 2.5 years as a professional online poker player. It paid for Alicia’s wedding ring, her BMW x5, and our destination wedding to Aruba with a $1,000 subsidy to each of the groomsman/bridesmaids.

Don’t like poker? Why not try sports betting? Heck, there are even professionals playing fantasy sports.

If you like socially acceptable gambling and not being treated like a heroine-addicted-child molesting-reject, think of becoming a day trader. Yes the stock market is gambling. Take it from me, a former professional gambler.

The Starters are a TV show on the NBA channel who started as a simple podcast. They did the podcast daily for years, eventually getting paid for their work by websites. And later, the NBA itself.

Jenna Marbles creates girly videos on YouTube and makes millions per year. Topics include makeup, boys, and “OMG” stories.

PewDiePie plays video games and uploads them to YouTube. He’s the most watched YouTuber. In 2014 he made 8 million dollars.

Ken M is a professional online troll. He goes to comment sections of websites and tries to trick people into stupid arguments for his enjoyment. This started his writing career and now in addition to writing for Comedy Central and other websites, he was named one of the 30 most influential people on the internet by TIME magazine.

Andy Samburg and his Lonely Island crew started out on YouTube. He’s since gone to SNL, starred in movies, and has a TV show called Brooklyn Nine-Nine.

Justin Bieber made his debut on YouTube and a producer clicked on his video by accident.

E-Books have broken the rules of traditional publishing. It’s easy to release a title on Amazon or other online book sites with minimal effort.

Etsy is a way to make arts and crafts without having to worry about the hassle of setting up a website.

StichFix is a company that gives fashion advice for people. Think you have an eye for fashion? Become a consultant and work from home!

Mythbusters were just a group of guys that liked blowing things up.

Vine NBA parody guy makes short videos mimicking professional NBA players. These 15 second videos pull in 6 figures.

Rick Steves put out TV shows on public access for years before taking off as the travel authority online.

Reaction Videos are simple video blogs where the user is commenting or ranting on a particular phenomenon. Yes people make a living at this.

Online stores are just that. Selling things. Go to Shopify and set one up for yourself. Like selling offensive T-shirts few people will have the guts/stupidity to wear in public? That exists.

SEM/SEO/Social Marketing are skills that are desperately in need by companies, but you can’t go to college for them. Learn about them online and then try them for yourself.

A British teen makes tens of thousands of dollars helping Chinese parents name their babies.

Amazon has professional book reviewers. They wrote so many reviews that companies pay them to read and review their books.

Web comics flourish without the traditional newspapers. Can’t draw? No problem. Not funny but you can draw? Sure.

EatWith is a site for hosting people in your home and cooking for them. Like your own private restaurant.

Take a few years off and teach English in foreign countries. Easy job in exotic locations.

Airbnb lets you rent out empty rooms [you weren’t using anyway] to travelers.

Tripadvisor tours are great ways to give a service in your town. Wine tours, pub crawls, walking tours, fishing tours, historical tours, boat tours, whatever.

Upwork/eLance are freelancer sites to sell your services to people.

Copy writing has become fashionable with digital nomads.

Subscription boxes are small packages that arrive every month in the mail with a new thing to try. There are shaving clubs, wine boxes, candy, BarkBoxes for your dog, and more.

Mike Cernovich has become a media personality with nothing more than a website and Twitter.

Fiverr is a place for people to do their ridiculous skills for others at a low cost of $5. Are you an attractive woman who will record a 5 second video for someone? Great, you just made $5 for doing practically nothing. And you can include a $50 add-on where you will blow a kiss to the viewer. Or blow up a balloon with a message on it that explodes.

Mr Moustache found out how anyone can retire at 30, just by using math.

Buzzfeed is a $100 million dollar company that spews “listicles”. You know, the Top 6 Ways Peanut Butter Will Cause Your Death? That crap.

Programmers will always have jobs, so learn for free at CodeAcademy.com. Gain experience by building stuff and submitting bug fixes to open source projects.

OK, so people make money in all kinds of ways

Here’s something you probably didn’t catch: the above costs almost nothing to start. The device you’re using to read this probably has a camera on it and is connected to the internet. That’s all you need to start on one of the above.

So I hope you can see that almost anything is possible.

What else is required?

Persistence
Courage
Delusion

It will probably take a long time to show results for your effort. The downside is that to become world class at something, you need to spend 10,000 hours on it. That’s a lot of time. The upside is that many skills are transferable and you probably have put a lot of time towards your activity anyway. For example, all that time I wasted debating people on forums over video games drastically helped my writing. As did time spent writing memos in my office job. All the time I spent writing on this blog, Reddit, Twitter, or Facebook also helps my email communication to clients. All the activities I choose to do improves my skill at writing. I suspect you have a talent or hobby that you’ve kept for awhile and are similarly good at. Start there.

Gaining a following will take more time than you’d like. There’s no simple or single route to success other than keeping at it and trying new ways to get your message out there. Sorry. The best advice I can give here it to read Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook by Gary Vaynerchuk. Most people try to close the sale (right hooks) with everything they do and forget that providing value to people (jabs) is actually the more important part.

Next up, courage. People will look at you differently for breaking tradition. They may even look down on you. Others will tell you that you “have” to do this and “have” to do that. You don’t. Take advice from people whose life you want to imitate, or from people who have direct success at what you want to achieve. Have the courage to take risks. You will lose friends as you succeed. It’s a cost few people talk about, but it’s there.

Get good at being delusional. The most successful people I know, meet, and read about all have a positivity force-field which blocks all reason. To these people, success is right around the corner at all times. They know that putting in the effort will get them there.

This post was inspired by someone on Reddit who lamented: “Follow your passion? No one will pay me to drink beer!”.

I disagree.

Craft breweries and pubs are growing like weeds. Become a beer expert (read: get drunk). Know everything about how it’s made and the different styles. Create a beer tour that goes around to different pubs and breweries. Make a simple webpage and put reviews from friends and family on Tripadvisor to start. Pay $10 per week for AdWords advertising and start a Facebook page. Start a subscription box with beer that you curated. Sell beer T-shirts and accessories. Make a YouTube channel all about beer. MAKE STUFF.

When I walk into a liquor store, I am overwhelmed with choices. Hundreds of beers that I’ve never had before. So you might be thinking that no one will pay you to drink beer, but I’m saying that’s exactly what we need right now.