Show Notes: Your Mind Is Not For Rent

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Mark Twain is an embodiment of what we were:  SKEPTICAL.  Because we had confidence to question.

We Need A Root Cause Analysis!!

What has happened to our culture where we had the confidence to solve our own problems and recognized the snake oil salesman?

Today we have so many experts from ALL sides who grab our attention, demand our attention.  Yet it creates a dependency.

Mark Twain was the Rush Limbaugh of His Age, Perhaps Better

Have you noticed that as deference to expertise has grown, that our sense of satire has changed and diminished.  For the most part when you turn on the media, you have the snide remarks of the elitists such as Bill Maher, Lawrence ODonnell who assume the role of gadfly yet represent authority.  Often they are attacking common sense and independent thinking in favor of the collective vision of government.  Bill Maher’s famous statement “I’m in favor of whatever keeps the highways running” is not a cheer for people thinking independently, it calls for ORDER.  Sure, it’s couched in Hollywood, I’m smarter-than-you terms, but beneath the sarcasm is implied that highways are kept running by a well ordered society, experts.

Mark Twain embodied the spirit of American, and a healthy disdain for self important people. 

“In Boston, they ask, how much does he know? In New York, how much is he worth? In Philadelphia, who were his parents?”.

What does that say about those regions?  It lays the claim “You favor pedigree over ability” at the feet of the east coast elite.

Twain had so many pithy kernels of wisdom that shattered the foundation of many pompous expert.  This is very different from most pundits who offer “It’s the dippsie-do switch-a-roo folks” on a daily basis.  Rage porn is not wisdom, cute phrases are no substitute for a bit sly thinking.

“Either leave them laughing or wondering what the hell you meant”

Are we so swayed by personality, or are we so impressed with things that we don’t understand that we assume everyone else understood and we haven’t?.  Crowds can be primed by mere words then decisions are made without thinking.  Even more so in our age of graphs, maths, and fancy phrases.

Twain On Experts

“The best swordsman in the world doesn’t need to fear the second best swordsman in the world; no, the person for him to be afraid of is some ignorant antagonist who has never had a sword in his hand before; he doesn’t do the thing he ought to do, and so the expert isn’t prepared for him; he does the thing he ought not to do; and often it catches the expert out and ends him on the spot“

Tom Sawyer Out of Left Field

One of the best scenes that summarizes how Twain felt about people putting on airs is when Tom decides to win the contest for reciting Bible verses by buying his way in.  Sunday school students would get tickets for reciting verses, so Tom decided to buy up the winning number.

That Sunday the Sunday school had a visiting dignitary, Judge Thatcher.  So all the adults decided to impress the authority figure, and their egos took over.


In order to impress the Judge even more, Mr Alexander, the Sunday school teacher, wants a spectacle and makes a big mistake.


I also found out that PWC was flying people in from Chicago for automotive data warehouse gigs, at $300-400 an hour.  I know the data warehouse group, and many of them were out of college, and frankly, weren’t worth $120 an hour.  But the game was flying in a prophet from afar.  This was in 2000 right before the automotive downturn in late 2001.  Before that impacted me I found a job at a wonderful firm where I had a 13 year run.  That’s forever in software / IT careers.  But the PWC office in Southfield closed in 2002.  

Beating Them At their Own Game

But you can beat them at their own game, using a statistical principle.  I’m not a great math guy, but when I learned Pareto’s general observation of distribution in wages, sports scores, sales, and saw it actually work, I knew I had a weapon against the “process people” who wanted to boss me around with graphs and charts all day long.  God, those types of annoying.  And they hate opposition, and I love to be hated by them.

Pareto’s Principle is simple:  10% percent of your activity yields 90% of the results desired.  Some call it the 90/10 rule, some call it the 80/20 rule.  It’s true in sales, sports, and team productivity in many scenarios.  It boils down to 1% of your team who really generates half the productive activities.  Think about professional sports, very few score the most points.  They also, as a consequence, make the biggest contribution and earn the majority of the money.  It also means your best salesman should remain selling, and not leading.  You would be removing your best player for what they are good at.

But it gets better.  Remember only 10% of the active team produces your results.  So apply it to all the experts you see abound on social media, at your town halls and city commissions.  Do they fall into that 10% of being a true expert?  What’s the likelihood?  Pretty slim.  Remind them of that.  Because according to statistics, which they profess to love, they.  Don’t.  Measure.  Up.

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