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Sunday, November 25th, 2012

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6:20p
To thrive in chaos ...
I'm rather surprised that I hadn't heard of Randy Gage before now, as a note on the cover of this points out that he is an “author of 8 international bestsellers”, although I must admit, on checking out his site, I hadn't heard of any of those either (they seem to primarily be “prosperity” and network-marketing books, not a genre that I had delved into much). I had, however, seen Scott Stratten absolutely raving about Gage's new Risky is the New Safe: The Rules Have Changed on-line, and decided to check it out (requesting a review copy from the good folks at Wiley). It turns out that Scott is one of Randy's “mastermind group”, and his Unmarketing is on the “required reading” list here, so there's some backstory involved there, I suppose.

Risky is the New Safe is something of a dystopian vision. So much is changing, nothing is the way it's been before, but this pushes past those realities to project scenarios of animals, clones, and virtual reality taking over roles that humans have held … and how one might meet those challenges. Gage paints a very dire future for things as we know it, but then says:

Every challenge creates a corresponding opportunity. Some of the greatest wealth was created during the Great Depression – just as many fortunes are created in every recession.
When everyone is zigging, you want to be zagging.
At the exact moment you're reading this sentence, you're living in the greatest time in human history. There has never been a better time to be alive. The speed and scope of changes taking place in the world (…) today offer unprecedented opportunities for living a life of prosperity.
This is somewhat the thesis of the book … how to move ahead when everything is falling apart around you. Change is coming both faster than one would think, and more all-encompassing. As a parent of teens, I certainly noticed:

If you're a parent who wants to help your 14-year-old son or daughter plan for the future, you're about to tackle a difficult feat. Because the best jobs of 2018 haven't even been invented yet. But we do know one thing for sure: Taking the safe path won't get you there.
Now, again, I don't know much about Gage, but I think it's fair to suggest that he's an Objectivist, as he both quotes Ayn Rand in the book, and his “Required Reading for Risk Takers” list includes 3 of her titles out of the 12 books featured. I bring this up because a lot of what he talks about here, in terms of global situations and trends, is sure to rub the “hopey-changey” folks the wrong way … for example:

“A Line Has Been Crossed” – In many places around the globe, we have crossed over a line that spells ominous trouble for the future.
The people who are receiving government assistance now outnumber the people who are producing and paying into the kitty. Government entitlement programs have run amok. And once you provide an entitlement for someone, they begin to see it as their right. …
“Governments Have Become the New Ponzi Schemes” – They're the ultimate pyramid money games. If you practiced the same accounting practices your government does, you would be put in prison. …
Governments – even the well-meaning ones – are inherently corrupt and mismanaged. They never create prosperity – they squander or obstruct it. At best they can facilitate an environment that allows free enterprise to prosper – and only free enterprise can create true prosperity.
Needless to say, most of what Gage advocates involves keeping government as far away from your business as possible!

OK, so things are going to hell in a handbasket … what can we do about it? Well, Gage talks about “the new religion of ideas”, how ideas are the currency of the future, and how current education fails in not teaching students how to think, and how those who have Curiosity, Discipline, Discernment, and Contrarianism, will be the best equipped to succeed. Gage presents what he sees as the trends in marketing, in branding (which he interestingly notes: “A brand is really a meme-plex – a collection of related memes, aka mind viruses”) and folks who are doing this right from Viper cars to Jimmy Buffet, and in commerce – ranging from Network Marketing (Gage made much of his fortune in MLM) to Virtual Worlds.

About two-thirds of the way through, Risky is the New Safe turns somewhat “philosophical”, looking at what common elements people who have been wildly successful have exhibited, including heaping helpings of ego and selfishness … where he leans heavily on both Ayn Rand and Napoleon Hill (and, oddly enough, throws in a quote from Mother Teresa: “To be able to give, you must have.”). Setting this up, he notes:

To really step into your true potential and do something epic, you must lose the perception that ego is about vanity or self-love. Instead, understand the real ego is simply the part of your mind that controls consciousness.
Gage discusses how this applies to various examples from history, and ways one might be looking to build success in the current volatile world situation. One key piece he includes is:

As a general rule, successful people work harder than others. They simply work more hours. But they also do something else: They manage what they do during those hours better than most. … They practice self-discipline, keeping themselves focused on productive activities. They do this by making choices, which sometimes means making sacrifices.
Now, I'll admit, on certain points, Gage is “preaching to the choir” in my case, and much of what he goes into in the “Selfishness Is the New Altruism” chapter ring far truer to me than they might to most. A prime example of this is:

If you tell me your highest good is serving others or even serving God, I think you've lost the plot. In my experience those running around trying to save the world are usually the most messed up people you'll ever meet. Their lives are usually driven by avoidance behavior so they don't have to deal with their own issues. They run around looking for drama, so they don't have time to face their own drama. To the casual observer they look like altruistic saints, but those who know better recognize them for the judgmental, insecure, drama-magnets they really are. … Get yourself in a position of strength and you'll be amazed how much good you can do.
He later notes that for individuals who have reached a point of enlightened self-interest “mediocrity is a sin”. The book ends with a few general outlines for what needs to be done: find opportunities opened up by the new challenges, and find ways to leverage these, develop a “new and different level of thinking”, which goes beyond contrarianism and into being able to recognize patterns in events and trends, and doing the inner work to move from “poverty consciousness” and into “prosperity consciousness”.

Risky Is the New Safe has only been out a month at this point, so it should certainly be available at your local brick-and-mortar book vendors … but the on-line big boys are featuring it for a bit more than a third off the cover price. This is an awesome book, and I've been suggesting it to a lot of my friends and family, but it's not “one for everybody” since those clinging to the old world ways will want to stick their fingers in their ears and go ”la-la-la”, and those who think that Big Government (with associated enablers) is their friend will probably bust a blood vessel in seeing their particular sacred cows gored so convincingly. But, hey, I liked it!


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