Who are Rey’s Parents, and is Disney astroturfing to prevent spoilers?

disney astroturfing

“Astroturfing” is when a business poses as normal people on social media to spread their message. What I didn’t expect was that a company would do this to squash a fan theory about “Who are Rey’s parents?”. I think Disney is astroturfing to prevent Star Wars Episode 8 spoilers, and here’s why.

disney astroturfing

Who are Rey’s parents?

I wrote a piece on why Han and Leia are Rey’s parents.

The TL;DR version:

  • Rey speaks Wookie.
  • Rey and Han finish each other’s sentences, just as a child mimics their parents.
  • Story-wise, just as Episode 7 was a plot copy of Episode 4, Episode 8 is going to have a “Luke, I am your father” moment. Except it will be “Rey, I am your brother”.

If you don’t think Episode 7 is a copy of Episode 4, you’re not nearly as smart as you think:

Being around a Wookie, fixing the Hyperdrive in the exact same way as Han Solo, completing Han’s sentences, and being Force Attuned really narrow down the options regarding her parentage. There’s more in the link above, but that’s the gist of it.

Other theories are based in pure speculation:

Luke’s daughter theory

  • “they way he looks at her”
  • “his lightsaber called to her” – The lightsaber theory
  • “the story is about the Skywalker family”

The last one completely forgets that Leia is a Skywalker and that her children are Skywalkers as well. The lightsaber calling to Rey is a copy of the cave scene in Empire Strikes Back, where items/areas with latent Force can cause mini freak-outs in Force Attuned people. So the only “evidence” is Luke looking at Rey. This also doesn’t explain how she knows Wookie or why Rey and Han finish each other’s sentences.

Kenobi’s daughter theory: No evidence, just some people hoping.

Other person we haven’t met yet: I’m sure that halfway through a trilogy we are going to meet some random dude who shows up and pays backdated child support for all those years on Jakku. Basic storytelling rules this theory out.

People have speculated a bunch of nonsense on who Rey’s parents might be. Read “Gizmodo’s 24 most insane theory’s about who Rey’s parents are“.

The main argument against Han and Leia being Rey’s parents is that they “would have to be horrible parents to leave her on the desert world of Jakku”. Anyone who makes this argument hasn’t seen the original Star Wars, in which Luke is dumped on the desert world of Tatooine in similar fashion… or have they seen it and are spreading lies to cover up spoilers?

Why do I think Disney is astroturfing?

The internet fulfills the prophecy of “1,000 monkeys at typewriters for eternity will eventually produce The Bible”. We are those monkeys, shitting out content every day. Every ridiculous theory out there gets play time…

…except the Han and Leia theory.

Almost all of the articles, posts, and Tweets discount this theory. The cover-up is so overt, it’s covert.

I looked at the top 100 Google search results for “Who are Rey’s Parents?”. Some of the articles stated their theory concretely, while others leaned one particular direction. If it was unclear or they didn’t choose a side, I didn’t add it to any total.

Top 100 search results for “Who are Rey’s Parents?”:

  • Luke: 17
  • Obi-Wan: 3
  • Ezra Bridger: 3
  • Jyn Erso: 3
  • Emperor Palpatine: 3
  • Han and Leia: 3
  • Anyone BUT these: 2
  • The Force magically conjured her: 1
  • Shara Bey: 1
  • Mon Mothma: 1
  • Cloned from Luke’s severed hand: 1

You’re probably wondering why these numbers don’t add up to 100. It’s because of two reasons. First, many articles didn’t pick a theory. Second, director J.J. Abrams misspoke at a film festival and said Rey’s parents weren’t in Episode 7. While he’d quickly retract this statement to mean “they weren’t discovered in Episode 7″, a flood of articles were printed and clogged up the results.

Jyn Erso (Rogue One) was named as Rey’s mother before the movie even came out!

Ezra Bridger is a character of Star Wars: Rebels video games, and was named as a potential father on complete speculation.

Emperor Palpatine was listed as Rey’s father for reasons too stupid to mention. Seriously don’t look into it, it will make you dumber.

Flowcharts like this exist, making you think all the options are equally likely. Chewbacca as the father is a possible choice on this flowchart.

So the only couple in Episode 7 capable of having a Force Sensitive child ranks alongside ridiculous nonsense such as being cloned from Luke’s dismembered hand. OK.

Where do you hide a leaf? On the forest floor with a million other leaves.

The biggest perpetrators of the Luke-as-father theory are big media sites. Of the three search results that had Han Solo as the father, only one was a mainstream site (vox.com). They give roughly the same reasoning as I do for Solo parentage. And this article came right after the movie came out. My guess is that too many people were figuring it out too quickly, and Disney felt they had to protect their $5 billion investment in the Star Wars franchise. Articles quickly appeared on big media sites to squash any Han/Leia parentage theories.

One of the most notorious sites for spewing bullshit, HuffingtonPost.com, printed the following:

The only time the Han/Leia parentage is mentioned is #3 on the list of the first article, #1 of which is that Luke and Leia committed incest to make Rey. I don’t think Disney would sign off on their main character of a $5 billion franchise being the product of incest.

The media was drowning out Han/Leia parenting theories in a sea of garbage.

Methinks thou doth protest too much

Every “theory about Rey’s parents” post on Reddit gained traction… except the Han/Leia theory.

The most popular post was a moderately popular one where almost every comment on the post was disagreeing with the Han/Leia theory.

Why would Disney pay people to cover up a fan theory? Because if people already knew “the twist”, it would reduce interest in the following movies!

Here’s a Reddit post that surmised fan theories ruined the TV show Lost.

One comment in particular sums it up:

Writers: “We have a phenomenal idea for the ending of the show! It will make everyone’s heads explode and will blow their tits off!! This ending is going to be pure genius!”
Internet: “Are they [spoilers]?”
Writers: fuck

If the internet spoils the surprise twist of in season 1 of a six season show, that’s a disaster. The post details that the creators then had to steer the show in a different direction to try and not be as obvious. The result was that nearly everyone hated how Lost ended.

Episode 8 comes out on 12/15/17, when we find out if I’m right or wrong.

I actually hope I’m wrong and that Episode 8 isn’t a rehash of The Empire Strikes Back. I hope that Disney put more thought into the movie rather than their astroturfing. But, so far, I have no reason to think that will be the case.

Long Term Travel Lifestyle

long term travel lifestyle

People ask us: What does a long term travel lifestyle look like? After being on the road for 3 years now, I can answer that question.

In general, our days are very fluid. They also vary country to country depending on the customs, accommodations, and activities. But here is an overview of what our life looks like each day.

long term travel lifestyle
Just walking around Annecy, France. Often referred to as “Little Venice” due to the canals through the town.


Let’s start with the good stuff. Each day we try do something fun. It could be something as small as taking a walk, or it could be a big event like an all-day SCUBA dive. And on some days, “fun” is staying inside and playing video games (me) or watching a TV series (Alicia).

We tend to stay in places where fun things are easily accessible. It sucks to travel a hour each way: that’s basically a commute. So we switch locations often because that cuts down on overall travel time.

kayak tour new zealand
Kayaking in New Zealand

Learning how to live

We have to relearn how to live every time we change locations. From simple things like buying food, to transportation, and even how to work the shower. Imagine everything in your day as being completely different, every few weeks. And I mean everything: different bed, different meals, different home, different language, etc.

Sometimes, we even have to relearn pooping.

It can be very mentally draining, so we travel slower than a person would on vacation.


Some cultures have different sleep schedules that basically force us to get in sync. “Siesta” (napping) cultures like Argentina and Spain have schedules that look like this:

  • 9 AM: wake up
  • 10 AM-2 PM: work
  • 2 PM: Lunch
  • 4-5 PM: Nap
  • 5-9 PM: Work
  • 10 PM: Dinner
  • 1 AM: Bedtime

Trying to get lunch at noon or dinner at 6 in these cultures will severely disappoint. Shops and stores close for siesta during the day. Trying to fight against an entire culture is a losing battle, so we take the naps and eat dinner at 10 PM like everyone else.


Gyms don’t really want people who stay for one or two weeks at a time, so we mostly do bodyweight movements and running. Alicia does Jillian Michaels workouts on her Kindle device with a yoga mat found at a random store. I buy a pull-up bar when I can find it in local stores. Between pull-ups, push-ups, and running, that fulfills most basic exercises. It might seem wasteful to use a pull-up bar for a week and then throw it away, consider it an at-home gym for $20.

The best part about travel is the constant walking. It keeps us naturally fit and healthy without even thinking too much about exercise.


picadas buenos aires
Sometimes dinner can be an event, too. Above: eating “picadas” in Buenos Aires. It’s a small meal at 5pm consisting of meats, cheese, and wine. It’s very Argentinian.

We eat what the locals eat. Trying to find an American style breakfast in other countries will generally lead to disappointment. Besides, the local foods are interesting and wonderful.

Eggs and coffee are staples of our diet because they are found everywhere. In some countries (typically South East Asia), getting enough protein can be challenging. But eggs solve that problem and are plentiful and cheap everywhere in the world.

As wonderful as other culture’s food can be, I admit there are times where I crave American food. I binge on the worst fast food when back in the US because it’s impossible to get anywhere else. Even the burgers at McDonald’s are different when traveling because they are from locally sourced beef. Hamburger in the US is typically 20-30% fat, but in other countries it’s 4-10%.

Travel Days

My wife and I travel with backpacks only. When we went around the world in a one year (top 10 and bottom 10 experiences), we stayed in 33 different locations. That’s an average of moving every 5 days! We’re quite experienced at moving around.

And I can say this about Travel Days: they pretty much ruin the entire day. Between checking out, getting to the station/airport, traveling, checking in, getting settled, and finding food, the day is nearly gone. Yes, even for short trips such as moving across town.

While typical vacationers can muster the energy to go sight-seeing (because vacations are less than 2 weeks long), it’s generally better for long term travel not to over-exert yourself like that. Your brain works overtime when you get to a new location because it’s taking in all the new sights, sounds, and smells. It’s mentally taxing to find your way around in the new location. It’s better to get situated and plan a bigger day for the next morning.

Remember, we aren’t on vacation: this is our life. We can’t go at vacation pace every day because we’d drop dead from exhaustion.


Our work life ranges from very little to frantic. In 2016, we took on more work and there were a few months where we locked ourselves to our computers. That killed the south island of New Zealand for us, so we pulled back on the work front. We typically cram work into 1-2 days per week and enjoy a 5 or 6 day weekend. How can we do that? Tip: meetings are a gigantic waste of time and you should do everything in your power to avoid them.

The few meetings we have are typically at odd times because of the time differences. In South East Asia, our meetings are typically after midnight. In Europe, our calls are after 8 PM. The upside to the time differences are that we look amazing because we send emails while everyone back in the US is sleeping! It makes us look very productive. 😉

Would you like long term travel?

I’m not sure most people would like our lifestyle. While it works very well for us, most people enjoy traditional things such as a home and local community. We have to relearn how to live our life every time we change locations, from food to shopping to transportation.

For us, it’s perfect. We just got into Italy yesterday, and now we are going to walk around Rome. It’s not a vacation, it’s our life.

Do the Opposite of Normal

normal spongebob

To get an uncommon life, do uncommon things. Do the opposite of normal.

I have no idea what the future will bring. Heck, I don’t know what the hell I’m doing now. But everything turns out pretty well for me because I possess what’s scarce. My secret is to find what everyone is doing (easy), and then do the reverse. Collect scarcity by doing the opposite.

“If every instinct you have is wrong, then the opposite would have to be right.”
Jerry to George, Seinfeld

The method of doing the opposite works because if everyone is doing something, it’s abundant. If it can be obtained anywhere, it’s cheap. Rarity makes something valuable. Gold is rare, as are doctors. And that makes both of those things expensive and desirable.

Become expensive and desirable.

I kept getting fired. That’s how I first learned the strategy of doing the opposite. All of the normal decisions had gone really badly for me. Since I was unemployed, where was there to go but up? If you would rather be in a different place than you’re at right now, why not try something new? New decisions will lead you to new places.

I turn down free money. A company scammed us, so I left them over a dozen bad reviews online. The owner of the company offered $2,500 as a way to bribe us to take the reviews down, because the rest of their reviews were great. We told him to stop harassing us.

Normal people take the money. But Alicia and I enforce standards on the world, not the other way around. Steve Jobs was notorious for having a “reality distortion field”. He imposed his will on everything around him. I’m not Steve Jobs, but every time I push back on the world, the world moves. (And I’m always surprised when it does.)

We sold our house. Normal people keep upgrading their home, aka “spreading their roots”. We dumped our house. Not having a house allows us to be anywhere in the world at any time. It allows us to have zero debt and save money. Oddly enough, traveling around the world is cheaper than living in the US.

No house = permanent vacation + save money + and no damn yard work

People told me that being a professional gambler was a mistake.

My mother cried when I told her I was going to play poker professionally. Everyone assumed I was dealing drugs or living off the government. But I was a pro for 2.5 years, paying for our destination wedding to Aruba, my wife’s engagement ring, and her BMW.

It’s not normal to give up a stable career like programming for professional gambling. But I did.

I had no idea at the time, but the math and psychology books I read during my gambling stint paid off when I went into marketing. In a way that I could never have seen, being a poker pro opened the door to much larger things. It improved my skills as well as my mental toughness. Both have proved more valuable than sitting in a dark corner office writing code.

I stopped letting fear stop me. There’s a lot of scary stuff in the world, and it’s very normal to feel afraid. But fear is useless.

Fear stops 90% of people from living the life they want. That means I only have to compete against 10% of the population. I eliminated 90% of my competition just by learning to ignore that whiny voice in my head. It takes effort, but it’s doable.

We work less than we could. Normal people wear overwork as a badge of honor. Alicia and I keep turning down work even though we could make more money. This keeps us fresh instead of burnt out. We don’t miss deadlines or expectations from having too much to do. We enjoy Monday through Friday instead of dreading it because our workload isn’t overloaded.

I value time over money. Normal people don’t waste items, they store them until those items become useful. I give items away to the Goodwill or throw them away to save the time of storing them. There were some things I’ve purchased more than once because I kept giving them away.

But not having possessions saves so much time. No spring cleaning. No cleaning the house because there’s nothing to make a mess in the first place. Laundry takes little time because we only have two backpacks worth of clothes.

When we visit our parents, there’s always more at their houses to be cleaned, organized, and fixed. We help out because it reminds us of all the time we save by not having it at all.

I don’t value money. Normal people are protective of their money. I make bad decisions like smashing my car with a tank. The car could have been sold for a few thousand dollars. I paid a few thousand dollars to destroy it instead.

I see money as infinite, even when I didn’t have much of it. You can always make more. With that attitude, I don’t have stress over money like most people do. Less stress means more energy for more productive pursuits, like making money. It’s an upward spiral.

I’m writing a book. That’s a bad idea on paper because out of the 300,000 books written per year, only 200 of them become hits. That’s 0.00006%. The lottery offers better odds. But the book can be more than selling copies. At a minimum, it will be a good conversation piece. It’s something I can check off my bucket list and feel proud of accomplishing, no matter the outcome. And there is the chance that the notoriety can lead to something greater.

Normal people don’t spend a ton of time without potential reward.

I have no idea what the result of the book will be. There’s a 90% chance it’s nothing more than a funny story. All I know is that few people do it, and doing the opposite hasn’t let me down.

I have no idea what I’m doing nor do I pretend to be able to see the future.

But I do know that every time I do the opposite of normal, it works out. Maybe give it a try: trying new things isn’t normal.

Duolingo will replace US foreign language teachers


Duolingo will replace US foreign language teachers in the US. And those teachers deserve to be replaced. Correction: those teachers deserve to be fired, put on a rocket, and shot into the sun.

Foreign language class in the US looks like this:

The students show up for the new year, and struggle. The teacher scraps the lesson plan because the class is performing poorly. The teacher sticks with the basics for the entire year. At the end of the year, the teacher passes the class even though they didn’t get through nearly what they should have. The students enroll in the next level even though their knowledge is crap.

Repeat the above for 6 years, and you get my joke of a foreign language education. Every year we learned the absolute basics of the language and nothing else. Every year the teacher was somehow shocked that we knew nothing, but still passed everyone on to the next level.

Unlike US teachers, Duolingo doesn’t let you progress until you actually know the material. Shocking!

If I sound mad, it’s because I am

Alicia and I took a 4-day Spanish course in Buenos Aires. I learned more in that 4 days than I did in 6 years. In 20 hours of class, we covered more subject material than my schools did in 6 years. My classmates and I spent hundreds of hours for nothing.

Wait, it wasn’t for nothing. It was for thousands of dollars because I was in private high school and private college. That’s much worse.

Foreign language teachers in the US have wasted the time of generation after generation. It’s institutionalized failure. Teachers keep passing students instead of failing them because not having a second language isn’t a big detriment in the US. There’s no accountability. So generation after generation keeps failing their way through the system.

Language myths

Myth: “It’s a good thing Timmy learned [Medicine] when he was young, because that’s the best time to learn it!”

There’s no other subject out there that uses age as a crutch. Doctors don’t need to learn their profession when they’re young. Ditto airline pilots.

Computer programmers learn other languages far past childhood age. If you don’t think programming languages qualify, do me a favor and view the source of this webpage. Complicated stuff, isn’t it? Reading and understanding your average JavaScript function is a ton more complicated than saying “I will eat a cookie”. And yet, after 6 years of Spanish I can’t even say “I will eat a cookie”. We didn’t get that far.

Myth: “Martha wouldn’t have passed [History] without that immersion program.”

Kids learn math without immersion. They learn complicated algebra and calculus while the foreign language classes are struggling to say “I will eat a cookie”. See how stupid that is? Why do we continue to accept this?

People who have foreign language proficiency usually participate in immersion programs, often by studying abroad. Studies show that classrooms suck:

  • “The formal classroom students made no significant gains”
  • “The summer immersion students made significant oral gains…”
  • “The study abroad made significant gains, but less than the immersion”

If immersion is the only way, fine. Then don’t waste time with non-immersion classes. But I don’t think immersion is the only way. I think the classroom is broken.

Myth: Language is different/special

People learn new languages all the time! Listen to any professionals talk to each other and try to understand what they’re saying:

Programmer: “The data layer to the CMS threw an exception in a concurrent thread. It’s a race condition.”

Poker player: “I merged my range when I bet two-thirds pot with Irish position on a monotone board with top set.”

Do you know all of the above words? Yes.

Do you know what those sentences mean? Not even remotely. Just like I don’t know the language of your job.

My parents are a doctor and a nurse. I’ve been listening to them talk about the hospital and patients since I was a kid. I translate what my parents are saying to other people, even though everyone speaks English. Because professional jargon is a different language with its own rules, words, and syntax.

Let’s stop practicing failure

Throwing more money at a broken system isn’t the answer. My class sizes were never larger than 25 (usually ~20 in high school and ~15 in college). These schools cost $15K/year for high school and $40K/year for college. Money wasn’t the issue.

I’m OK with the performance of my other teachers. I’ve used algebra, calculus, statistics, and geometry over the years to solve problems. It’s not a memory issue since I can recall other information taught to me decades ago.

Today I had to take a proficiency test for the Spanish classes Alicia and I are taking. 50 questions. I filled out the first two and handed in the rest of the questions blank. My professors didn’t teach us infinitives, past participles, or future tenses in 6 years of Spanish. It was the same ser/estar/gustar verbs in the present tense, every year.

Depriving generations of education has to stop.

I think Duolingo, or something like it, could be a better way forward. Anything is better than what we have right now. Accountability would work as well, but schools haven’t been accountable so there’s no reason to think they’d start.

Duolingo effectiveness study: “The study estimated that a person with no knowledge of Spanish would need between 26 and 49 hours (or 34 hours on average) to cover the material for the first college semester of Spanish.”

The study shows that an app on your smartphone is more effective than college. Oh, and it’s free. And it takes way less time.

So we should gather all the foreign language teachers in the US, put them on a rocket, and shoot them into the sun while we actually learn something using our phones.

How Much Should Your Business Charge?


A common question in entrepreneur circles is:how much should your business charge for it’s service or product?

I’ll give you three stories. Two of them involve Audi, and that’s not an accident.

Alicia got into the Audi A4

The A4 was her dream car that she wanted after college. Her previous car was a Volkswagen Jetta whose lease was coming to and end. This was our first test drive and she was excited…

…until she looked down at the door handle. It was the same as her Jetta. And the dashboard was the same as the Jetta. The entire interior of the Audi A4 was the same as a car costing $20K less! Sure the car had more horsepower and looked sleeker. But Alicia couldn’t shake the feeling that the car was just a re-branded Volkswagen Jetta. Her dreams of an Audi A4 were crushed.

So we looked at other luxury vehicles and were disappointed. Lexus’s were re-branded Toyota’s. The Porsche Cayenne was a re-branded Volkswagen Touareg. It was down to Land Rover and BMW because those were the only brands that didn’t obviously share parts with cars tens of thousands of dollars less. She went with a BMW x5.

We knew that we were paying an up-charge for the brand. We were paying for exclusivity. A brand can charge disproportionately more for exclusivity, but they do have to give more in return. The A4 didn’t give enough.

Audi Quattro Club at Excel Energy Center


Rinkside tickets cost $450+ for a Minnesota Wild game. Tickets for row 3, literally a few feet back from the rink, cost $150. The viewing experience is actually worse rinkside than 10 rows up. The refs and plexiglass posts block the action. The jumbotron is hard to see because it’s right above you. How can they justify the charge?


The seats around the rink are exclusive. The players crash into the boards, flexing the glass and knocking off drinks and phones placed on the ledge. The seats are leather with the Audi logo stitched into them, further differentiating them from normal seats. You also get the benefit of banging your hands against plexiglass in celebration. Who knew that people would pay triple to hit inanimate objects?

The final benefit is the Audi Quattro club. There’s free food, beer, and wine in this club. Of course it’s not exactly “free” because no one could possibly drink enough 50 cent light beer to get their money back. The point is the exclusivity. Even the name “club” insinuates that some people belong and some people don’t.

Getting to the club is oddly difficult because it’s not well-marked. On purpose. Club members have to go through the back corridors of the arena where most people are not allowed to go. On the way to the club you pass by the press lounge and player entrance. The arena itself is beautiful and clean. The back tunnels to get to the club are ugly and not meant to be seen by “normal” customers. Club members are “different”.

The Audi club, just like Audi cars, is a brand that allow people to pay more simply to signal to other people that they are different. I think the Audi Quattro club gave enough value for the price.

The best salesman I’ve ever seen

The prospective client asked “How much does it cost?”. The salesperson replied: “What does your budget look like for this quarter?”. The client responded with a number. The salesperson told the client that he was in luck: the product cost exactly that amount! How lucky!

Over the years I’d see this salesperson sell the same software product for $500 and $50,000. He was also the owner of the company and was very successful.

This same salesperson took clients golfing and out to lunch and dinner. Because it made the clients feel important. These clients would spend hundreds of thousands of dollars per year with with the salesperson. The lunches and golf trips cost a few thousand dollars and yielded a 100x return.

I’ve worked at another small company that charged every company the same amount for their software. They didn’t allow clients to pay for the opportunity to feel special. They didn’t take clients out for lunch. The company struggled and ultimately stopped selling software.

Maybe you think that it’s unethical to sell the same thing at different prices. But that software had different value to different companies. A company with 5 users wasn’t going to pay a lot because they couldn’t get much value from the software. A company with a dozen worldwide offices and tens of thousands of users would get a ton of value from the software. Why should both companies pay the same price?

People pay for an Audi car because they want the appearance of luxury. People pay for rinkside tickets for the exclusivity. Businesses pay the amounts something is “worth” to them.

People will give you a lot of money so that they can feel special. But you have to let them.

Other people will want the best value without the emotional niceties. Offer clients and customers this option too, just like Volkswagen is the cheaper Audi and the rink has cheaper seats with excellent views.

Your pricing strategy should be fluid

Pricing client to client is time consuming at the beginning, but a real time saver overall. If a client is trying to haggle on price, remove features. If a client wants more features, raise the price. All parties should be happy with the price and features.

There are clients that want a lot of touch and face-time. Those clients pay more because that’s time consuming to you. But it’s worth it to them to have more meetings. I’ve had clients be unhappy because while performance was strong, they really wanted that high-touch, constant meetings and face-time experience.

There are other clients that just want the work done with the least amount of hassle possible. Those clients can pay less. This benefits both provider and client because meetings are a disproportionate time suck.

Every client is different, so every price should be different

Figure out of your client or customer is an Audi or Volkswagen person, and give them that. Offer a no-frills value package for your money conscious consumer and a luxury package for those willing to pay for the best. A luxury client won’t be happy without special options and a value client won’t be happy paying for luxuries!

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that everyone paying the same price is “fair”. Pricing middle-ground will make everyone unhappy. Luxury customers will look down on your product because it’s not exclusive enough. Value customers will think your product is overpriced. And you’ll be broke because no one is buying.

Reverse Culture Shock


Returning home after a long travel yields reverse culture shock: your own culture will feel odd and unnatural. I originally dismissed reverse culture shock as made up nonsense for digital nomads to talk about. Then I went through it. It’s real.


I gained THIRTY POUNDS in the three months since being back in the United States from our around the world trip. Holy hell. The food in the US is loaded with sugar. Even Subway is guilty of this: there are 5 grams of sugar in a serving of their Turkey. Go look it up on their site. In their turkey is “dextrose”, a type of added sugar. Why is sugar in something that isn’t even supposed to be sweet? Because food in the US is meant to be addictive. Sugar gives a sugar high (and crash) which allows addiction to form.

We weren’t eating healthy while traveling around the world. Eating out every meal and drinking all the local alcohol. The wine was so good in Argentina we had a bottle every day for a month. Good thing we left or we would have died of alcohol poisoning. But with the ridiculous amount of sugar in the food in the states, maybe it was healthier to stay in Argentina.


The people back home were exactly the same as when I left. I felt like I had learned and grown more in a year than I did in the previous 10 years. It was jarring to see that everyone else was still in the same spot. I don’t mean this in a derogatory way as I’m sure people who have had large life events felt the same about me at one time or another. It was weird to see the rest of the world basically frozen in time.

Alicia and I meet doctors, lawyers, and other traditionally successful people when we travel. When they hear our situation, they pause for a moment. The wheels turn. They inevitably reply: “I’m in the wrong profession.”. I’ve heard that statement dozens of times. Because the traditionally successful people pour in tons of hours per week to get all the trappings of success. And some moron like me lives their vacation permanently. Going home and watching everyone fight rush hour traffic reinforces the idea: WTF are people doing with their lives? So much is possible.

Pace of life

Being back home is boring. Boring as fuck. I spend the days trying to figure out how to fill the time. Everyone else has a day job and no free time so it’s a lot of time at home. I guess I’ll try and make more money? Meh, we have more money than we need.

So we book small trips out of the country before we leave long-term again, just to burn time. Mexico and Curacao for diving. Might as well run a half marathon in California at Disneyland. Let’s go visit our parents in both Minnesota and Florida. I hear we can go SCUBA diving in Epcot Center. Heck, let’s go to Las Vegas and gamble because why not?


Wake up. Work is done before noon. Work out. Take a nap. Play some video games. Is this how people live? Holy fuck kill me.

It took Alicia two weeks being back home before she agreed we should sell the house and get the hell out.

Being a digital nomad comes with a cost

I didn’t know that when I left on our round the world trip that I was burning bridges with my past life. I actually thought that I could just pick up where I left off. But when we got “home”, it was immediately obvious that we were different. We no longer fit in our previous life.  And there was no going back.

What no one tells you about running your own business


Here is what no one tells you about running your own business.

Always on the clock

Alicia and I were recently celebrating our 7th wedding anniversary in Curacao. On the day of our anniversary we held a client call. Because when you own a business, there are no days off. Every day blends between work and not-work.

Entrepreneurship is like chewing glass while staring into the abyss. The abyss fades, but the chewing glass never does. – Elon Musk

Clients won’t pay on time

Regular people have to pay their bills monthly. Clients will pay their bills whenever they damn well feel like it. That could be this month. That could be 6 months from now. Imagine not getting paid for 6 months. This is standard for businesses.

You can be fired at will

While normal employees can be fired at will as well, there are still laws that dictate the employee must be warned beforehand and given a chance to change. Your clients do not have these laws restricting their foot up your ass.

Even good things that happen can get you fired, like having your client contact be promoted. When the new contact comes in, they might just bring in a new company to work with and kick your company out.

You’ll get used to the feeling of being near-fired every week. Or you’ll not have a business anymore.


There is a stupid amount of paperwork to file every year. Forms with the government, IRS, and clients will eat up free time and energy. It never goes away and there’s no one else to do it.

15% additional income tax

Did you know that self-employment also comes with an additional 15% income tax on top of everything you already pay?

Starting a business is already one of the harder endeavors. That’s why so few people do it. Now take all the stress, long hours, and uncertainty and pay the government 15 cents more on every dollar you make.

Tax laws

Before you start a business, you’ll know next to nothing about taxes. After starting a business, you’ll quickly be an expert. You’ll know what percentage of your home is deductible, what purchasable items are deductible, and what tax breaks to take advantage of.

Yes there are a lot of deductions, but they are to help offset the ridiculous 15% self employment income tax increase. The end result is that you’ll still pay more in taxes than the average person. And in addition, it’s a lot more work.

The buck stops here

The average employee gets to say “it’s not my job!”. As the owner, everything is your job. You’re now a marketer + engineer + designer + customer service + HR + manager.

It’s not only 6x the responsibility, it’s 6x the blame.

Eat what you kill

Paul Graham calls it “default alive or default dead”. If new customers or clients are constantly coming in through the door, your business is default alive. If not, your business is doomed at some point in time.


One client fired you + Other client hasn’t paid $30K invoice + Other client numbers look terrible this quarter = oh god I fainted.

Few Mentors

People will no longer be able to relate to your problems. No shoulders to cry on. No sage advice given.

Other people get paid every two weeks like clockwork. You haven’t been paid in months.

Other people clock out and forget about work until Monday. You’re in a hotel in Mexico on your supposed vacation taking care of an emergency.

Other people complain about a co-workers drama. You’re wondering how you’ll survive this month.

No road map

There’s no instruction book. The only qualified people to teach how to succeed are busy with their own businesses.

How do you know you’re doing well? You stay in business for another month. How do you know you’re doing poorly? You’re out of business.

The only constant is change

The world is changing so fast that what was true a year ago is no longer true today (yet another reason college is a scam). Over the next few years, the taxi and trucking industry will cease to exist due to self-driving cars. The hotel industry is facing heavy competition from Airbnb. Neither travel nor real estate agents saw the writing on the wall when the internet ravaged their industries. Cable companies see dwindling subscription numbers as the public chooses Netflix and Hulu. Manufacturing is forever-gone due to advances in robotics and 3D printing.

On top of all the headaches of owning a business, you also have to change your business with the times or die.

Is starting a business right for you?

For me, it 100% was worth it. I enjoy the challenge and the ambiguity. Most people don’t.

The rewards are off the charts better than a typical office job. But that’s only if you succeed. Most people don’t. That’s why new businesses are being started at a 40-year low. It’s a hard road.

Lies Society Tells Us


Every society has lies that everyone agrees are true. They look at other cultures and think “that’s so weird!” without recognizing their own ridiculous views.

During the Salem Witch Trials, people burned women to death because of perceived sorcery. If you think society is so enlightened now, realize that people’s lives have been ruined if they dare to think outside the norm:

Here are some of the odd beliefs held today or relatively recently. Try telling these things to other people, and they might hunt you down like a Salem Witch too. Groupthink is strong.

We’ll start slow, and work our way up. I’m not trying to be a bastard by pointing these out. I’m trying to help. Many of these corrections can help you lose weight, save money, and live happier.

Lie: Smoking is healthy

There was once upon a time where smoking was seen as a healthy thing for adults to do. Science even backed it up… until people realized that the “science” was paid for by tobacco companies. Then the real evidence showed that smoking cuts ~8 years off of a person’s life.

Fun fact: smokers and obese cost the health care system LESS because they die so much earlier and suddenly.

Lie: Fruit Juice, Sports Drinks are healthy

Orange juice is experiencing a significant decline as people realize it’s nothing more than sugar water. Fruit juice of all kinds is just empty calories: just like soda pop. Drinking calories is strongly correlated with the obesity epidemic in the US.

Sports drinks are just sugar water too. “Electrolyte” is just a fancy word for sodium.

Lie: The United States is a Democracy

No I’m not talking about some conspiracy theory, I’m talking about the basic definitions of words. Did you know that the word “democracy” isn’t in the constitution? The US is a Republic: we elect officials to act on our behalf. A democracy would be if the public personally voted on every issue. Just like “literally” now means “figuratively”, the definition of the word “democracy” seems to have been lost.

Lie: Home Ownership is an Investment

Houses have not gained any value over inflation in the past 100 years. There is simply no way to prove mathematically that your personal home makes money. The people telling you that they are good investments are the same people selling the house/loan to you.

Lie: Having sex with a virgin cures HIV/AIDS

Some college friends did a study-abroad in Africa. They said it was a very common belief there that having sex with a virgin would cure the disease. Very sad.

Lie: Cardio is how you lose weight

You lose weight in the kitchen, you get fit in the gym.

An hour on the treadmill burns 500 calories. That’s the same amount calories in a Starbucks latte that takes 5 minutes to consume. You can’t outrun a bad diet.

Lie: 220 lbs for a 6 foot tall male is normal

Look at the pictures of me on the site. I’m 185 lbs, 6 feet tall. Wherever I go outside the US, I’m the fattest guy there. The US is so big that our idea of what’s “normal” is warped.

220 lbs at 6 feet tall is obese on the BMI scale.

Lie: Insurance helps

Go back and look at how much money you’ve spent in home/health/car/other insurance over the years. It’s a lot.

Now go back and add up all the money you’ve received from it. It’s… a lot less.

I think I got a few hundred dollars off some dentist visits. But I’ve paid tens of thousands of dollars. To get nothing. People use insurance these days as a cash-flow smoother because they can’t afford a $500 surprise payment. But for that protection, they pay several hundred dollars more per month. For nothing.

When you make a claim, first you have to pay the deductible before insurance pays anything. Then your insurance goes up because you’re now high risk.

How to save money without feeling broke gives some advice on how to handle insurance.

Lie: Cellphones/Food Chemicals/Cleaning Chemicals cause cancer

Simple proof of why these are nonsense: 20-30 year-olds aren’t getting cancer despite using these products for decades. If the additives in food really caused cancer, then we’d see a big jump in young people getting it. But we don’t. It’s still [generally] people over 50 and with a family history of it that get cancer.

Between 2003 and 2012 overall cancer incidence rates continued to decrease among men and remain stable among women.”

While incidence rates of cancer among children have gone up, it’s statistically insignificant: 16 cases for every 100,000 children in 1985 vs 18 cases per 100,000 people in 2012. Assuming an overestimate of 100 million children in the US, 200 extra incidents of child cancer exist per year (with an 80% survival rate).

Lie: Steroids are a miracle drug to becoming fit

People think you can get these bodies by magic if you take steroids, and it’s ridiculous. Steroids allow you to work out longer and recover faster (so you can work out even more!). Becoming that lean to see the muscle striations takes extreme care in eating habits. Getting bodybuilder physiques requires insane dedication.

Lie: College is necessary to succeed

College is a scam. Don’t be mad about this, I’m just the messenger. And I fell for it too, if that makes you feel better.

Most college degrees are useless. Colleges have saddled a generation with debt that will follow them for decades, and gave nothing in return. There are more ways to make money than ever before.

Lie: Rich don’t pay taxes

The top 1% pay almost 50% of all income tax while the bottom 60% of wage earners are expected to pay 2% of all income tax.

Alicia and I are taxed at 47% of every dollar we earn. We cut checks to the government that are more than people make in a year. Refund check? What’s that?

CEO’s especially are underpaid.

Lie: Teachers are underpaid

From the bureau of labor statistics:

  • Engineering professions: $83,000/year
  • Teaching professions: $53,000/9 months, $70,000/year
  • Health Care practioners: $77,000/year
  • Computer and Mathematical operations: $86,000/year
  • Business and Financial operations: $73,000/year
  • Sales: $39,000/year
  • Personal Care: $26,000/year
  • Protective Services: $44,000/year

Prorated to a yearly salary, teachers are among the highest paid professionals in the country, right there with Doctors, Engineers, and Programmers.

Before the teachers among you can scream “teachers work more than that!”, I’ll remind you that every other profession works unpaid overtime as well. My dad says that in the hospital ER, they hire the interns that have to be told when to leave work or they wouldn’t. I lived in the office for a month to complete a project.

Lie: 2008 Financial Crisis was all Wall Street’s fault

The fault is 50/50 with Wall Street and the American people. Wall Street collapsed because people didn’t pay back their loans. Was Wall Street guilty of giving people loans that shouldn’t have gotten them? Absolutely! But the people took on loans they couldn’t possibly afford.

ARM Loans and interest-only loans never made sense in the past 10 years which have seen historically low interest rates. If the interest rate is at historic lows (and it was, and is), then you have to lock in because there was nowhere to go but up! It’s an amazingly simple concept that people failed to grasp. And it destroyed people’s lives, and the economy.

Lie: mutual funds or picking stocks are good investments

Warren Buffet has a bet since 2008 that a simple index fund (like the Vanguard Index) will always beat a managed fund or stock picking. The reason is because a managed fund has management fees to take out. Picking stocks doesn’t work because the average investor is woefully under-informed compared to the competition. If you think you can compete picking individual stocks, remember that Congress can legally do insider trades. The system is rigged against the individual.

No mutual fund has ever beaten the market over a 10 year period. Ever. Two thirds of mutual funds won’t beat the market in any given year. Go look at your retirement account and realize with horror how much money you’ve been throwing away.

Lie: Macs are better than PCs

Apple computers run on PC hardware using a free Linux operating system. Apple developed none of it. They just slapped their logo on the box. It’s all marketing. To get that Apple logo and a computer that will run a tiny fraction of all available programs, you have to pay a 30%+ up-charge.

Apple computers are a weird religion.


I’m sure there’s more lies that society told me that I still believe. It’s hard to figure out because these lies have been told to us since birth. And people get emotionally attached to the lies. The lies become part of who we are as a person. Once someone starts saying things like “I’m a Ford guy” or “I’m a [political party]”, they emotionally attach themselves to that position. Then it becomes a heated debate void of all logic on silly topics like “Ford vs Chevy”, “Paleo vs Atkins”, or anything sports.

Let go of emotional attachment to the lies. Just be you.

How did the media get the 2016 election so wrong? Easy, they lied to us


How did the media get the 2016 presidential election so wrong? Easy. They lied to us.

The most common trick the media pulled in 2016 was to over-sample registered Democrats to create a story. Democrats will tend to vote for Clinton and Republicans will tend to vote Trump. By asking more people that will likely vote for Clinton their preference, you will get a poll showing her winning.

The US population is 29% registered Republican, 33% registered Democrat, and 38% Independent (according to 2012 post election data). But when you look at the polling methodology, the polls will have 45% Democrat, 25% Republican, and 30% Independent. Of course Clinton looks like she’s ahead in those polls! But they don’t reflect real life turnout, as seen by the results of the election.


Here’s a user that takes polling data directly from reuters.com and draws conclusions.

Click for Large

What does the graph say in simple English?

The red and blue lines track Trump and Clinton, respectively.

The green line is the percent difference between the number of Democrats and Republicans. The higher the green line is, the more Democrats they put in the poll to make Clinton’s numbers go up. As the green line goes, so does the blue line.

So why does the green line rise and dip? Why wouldn’t the pollsters keep the polls the same to be factually accurate? Because the media wanted to construct stories about Clinton or Trump rising or falling in the polls!

Democratic Convention “bump”

On the far left of the graph, we can see the green line is at 0. This means the polls are roughly reflecting reality of equal parts Democrat and Republican. Look and see that Trump was winning when the polls weren’t skewed. Trump was ahead the entire time!

The Democratic National Convention was held from 7-25 to 7-28. Look what the pollsters did: they started wildly oversampling Democratic voters to make it look like Hillary was pulling away.

The opinion of the general population didn’t change. The pollsters just started asking more Democrats who they’d vote for. Because they wanted to create a story about Clinton winning.

First Presidential Debate: 9-26-16

Again, the oversampling stops right before the debate because the media wants to create a story where Clinton scored a resounding debate win over Trump.

Pollsters pulled their polls or didn’t show their polls when Trump was far ahead

Reuters had a poll up on election day showing Trump up by 6 points (his soon-to-be margin of victory). They pulled down not only that day, but all days back to November 1st. Why 11/1? Because that was the last day Clinton was winning in their polls.

RealClearPolitics.com simply refused to update their polls if Trump was winning. So there were months-old polls still up by election day. And these months-old polls showed Clinton winning.

2012 vs 2016 Primary Turnout

Presidential primary turnout is a great indicator of general election turnout. It has been an accurate predictor of the past several elections.

Republican turnout was up 62%. Democrat turnout was down 21%. And yet every pollster still thought that grossly oversampling Democrats was a good idea.

TheGatewayPundit.com corrected for increased Republican enthusiasm in the polls and found Trump easily winning. The truth was always right in front of us, but the pollsters hid it.

Two weeks before the election, the polls mysteriously went from +12 Clinton to +2 Clinton

ABC News:

From a 50-38 percent Clinton lead over Donald Trump […] it’s a 47-45 percent contest in the latest results.


This was several days before FBI Director Comey re-opened the felony case against Clinton, so it couldn’t be that. In a week of zero new news, Clinton bizarrely collapsed in the polls. This isn’t possible.

It was pollsters trying to salvage their post-election reputation because they knew Trump would win. They all unskewed the polls because they saw the writing on the wall. If Trump won with a +2 Clinton lead and a margin of error of +-3, then the pollsters could claim it was just chance and that their methods correctly accounted for it. But Trump winning after showing all the polls +12 for Clinton would destroy their professional credibility.

Why did the media do this?

They are bought and paid for. Here is the Clinton campaign asking for poll over-samples to use in released WikiLeaks emails. WikiLeaks has a perfect 10 year reputation for only releasing verified true material.

The following links are a tiny sample of how the Clinton campaign was working closely with the media, telling the media what to report,

The only thing @NateSilver538 and @FiveThirtyEight got right about Trump all election season

Check the date of this tweet.

Newspaper endorsements for Trump: 1
Newspaper endorsements for Clinton: 41

Newspapers were in on the take too.

The same people that rigged the polls were the same people disparaging Donald Trump 

The media already lied to us about the polls. We all saw the election.

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

How does Donald Trump win?


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
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.


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 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.


“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)