When I write about "average people" or "average Americans", I often get flack about it. Some people call me elitist. Occasionally I get called something worse. Then there are the comments about how if everyone did something that I suggest, it wouldn't work anymore, or that the average person isn't exactly the same as me, so he may not be able to do everything I can do. All this boils down to a pretty good topic for a post.
Who exactly am I talking about when I talk about average people? The best way to define my usage of the term would be to say that I'm talking about people who live lives of defaults. They go with the flow and conform to society's expectations of them. That doesn't mean that they're all exactly the same-- there's enough chaos in the world to make everyone completely unique. But although the expressions of their principles are unique, the actual principles are pretty much the same. They do what's easiest. They may have big dreams, but they have low goals. They work as hard as they have to. They don't make independent decisions.
That's not to say that they ALWAYS fit exactly into this mold, only that they usually do. And there's a bell curve, of course, with some people being dead average, some people being mostly average, and then way out on the fringes there are weirdos like myself, and probably even weirder people than me.
Why do I rant about average people so much? It's not because I hate them or think poorly of them-- it's actually because I believe that they're capable of much more and would have better lives if they made the effort. Mostly I think it's a shame that so many people are plodding down this worn trail when there's lots of undiscovered wilderness to explore. I have some contempt for their actions, but not for them as people.
I have a friend named Carl. We get along well, but sometimes he grates on me. He does really weird things that he insists are definitely the best, and he won't stop talking about them until he switches to the next weird thing. For example, he went through a phase where he ate nothing but bananas. Tons of bananas. We went on a cruise and he actually ate so many bananas that the ship ran out on day five of fourteen. Think about how many bananas that must be. Now he eats butter. We went hiking, and for a meal he brought a pound of butter covered in cocoa powder, which he tried to eat with a spoon.
Anyway, one day we were joking around and I said something like, "You know... the only reason I hang out with you is because normal people are so boring. You're what I'm left with." It was a joke, but there's some truth to it, actually. I think that coming up with independent ideas and then actually trying them out is far too rare in our society. Even when someone's trying out loopy diets like Carl's, I still have to give them credit for actually thinking and doing (and of course he has ideas that I like, too).
So when people ask me (rhetorically) what would happen if everyone did the same thing as me, I think they're missing the point. A while back I wrote something called The Hustler's MBA, which was an alternative to a college education. It cost way less, was designed to make the student earn money, and taught practical skills. One such practical skill was learning poker. "Aha!" cried the haters, "But if EVERYONE tried to play poker, it wouldn't work anymore!"
I agree. When everyone does the same thing, it pretty much NEVER works. You know, like College. College was great until everyone did it and thus diluted it value.
When I was eighteen or so, back when I was a genius and knew it, I thought that I had the answers for everyone. Now I think if I have any principle that works for everyone, it's only that they should consider their own circumstances and make their own choices. So what would happen if everyone did my Hustler's MBA and played poker? Well, people would decide that they couldn't make money playing poker and would figure out something else. I think that would be a great outcome.
Right now people are all doing the same thing: going to college, having a tough time getting work, taking a crappy job, and being miserable. At least with my program they'd learn to be independent and would be likely to make their lives better.
When I talk about average people, I actually mean people who make average choices. I think that in terms of natural abilities, being average is totally fine. I'm probably about average, or maybe even worse when you consider everything. I mean, I have no athletic aptitude whatsoever. I'm a procrastinator by nature. I'm bad at being empathetic. I get distracted easily. I'm stubborn. I have a bunch of good traits, too, of course. Just like everyone else, I have a mix of good qualities and bad qualities. In that way I'm average.
One thing I DO give myself a lot of credit for is doing the best with what I've got. And that's something that anyone can do-- it's just a matter of making your own decisions so that you can leverage your strengths and work on you weakness to do the best you can.
When you take society's standards at face value and don't think for yourself, it's very difficult to be anything BUT average. Take me, for example. I was a very poor student, dropping out of school with a 2.0 GPA. I got fired from the one real job I had, and my boss was my friend. My natural instincts with girls were pathetic. I grew up as such a nerd and was such a picky eater that I'm not very physically strong. Maybe that's why I was pushed towards being independent and coming up with my own path-- it was my only choice.
The reason I get so riled about about average people isn't because I hate them-- it's because I love them. It's because I love seeing people go from average to excellent in their own unique way. People who really think independently and chart out their own courses inspire me.
Even within the most average of average, if you spend enough time with them, you'll see that spark of something more-- that desire to break out of the mold and be who they have the potential to be. I rant and rave about them because I don't know how else to spur people to action. I do it to give encouragement to those who have already decided to be something more than average, and to push the average to listen that voice within that wants them to start living proactively.
I get an annoying amount of email from people asking me how to gamble like I used to. The truth is that what I used to do isn't profitable anymore. It was a right time, right place sort of scenario. Although I'm not a professional gambler anymore, I have been spending time studying and improving at poker (I'm a break-even or slightly profitable player), and I have friends who are pros. There are surely several different paths you can take to make a living gambling; this is the one that I'm aware of and is feasible for someone of above average intelligence.
Despite offering a rough guide to making money gambling, I don't necessarily recommend that you do so. I gambled professionally for seven years. During that time I made a lot of money and enjoyed my life. One morning I woke up and all of my money was gone. The story behind that is complicated, but the gist is that "they caught on". The strongest emotion I felt was a sense of relief. Gambling is fun, but it's not "big". It doesn't contribute in a meaningful way or leave you with a body of work.
Most casino games have a house advantage ranging from 2-5%, assuming "perfect play". That means that if you play perfectly, you can expect to lose, on average, about 2-5% of the action you put through a machine. Perfect play for slot machines is simply to bet the maximum amount of coins (the jackpot is skewed heavily in favor of maximum coins). For blackjack you need to memorize what to do for every combination of player hands vs. dealer hands, specific to each set of rules (hit on soft 17, resplitting aces, etc).
First, Just finished hearing this amazing podcast about how to get rich by the fantastic guys at tropicalmba, one of the few blogs I really think constantly delivers quality content. The fantastic thing about this podcast is how you can plainly see how powerful the mindset is of the people who get rich. Michael talks about sending snail mail to rich people until he finally got a meeting, selling unboxed macs, repacking them and selling them again, not diversifying and instead focusing (something I've talked a lot about myself). Some of the things they go in depth about other than mindset is extremely powerful, specifically the way power works, how to work around or with money and how to do things with purpose and focus. Its really crazy to hear these people talk about the issues and how they look at the system and how people are stuck in 9 to 5s or sucking up all day.
At the same time though its weird to see form these people's perspectives, cause to some degree, they have already made it. Its hard to relate to them and their concepts of works when they already have a stable base, an audience, and can presumably just continue writing, making podcast, and otherwise just kind of going with the flow and make a steady income. A lot of the work is also paved out for them because they have the right habits and frameworks down. They know how to hire and manage someone relatively easily. They know how to market a product and determine what is relevant. But most importantly, they already have the relationships, connections and networks in place. The vast amount of interdependence and reciprocity that is abundant in their lives makes it so that when they need help, expertise or some other sort of leverage they can presumably find it quickly and cheaply. Its pretty amazing what can get done when you get the right person to make a call for you.
I've been juggling between some new areas, mainly Poker, Finance, and Programming, with some Entrepreneurship or internet Marketing on the side.
I really like Poker and Finance. What I have been doing so far to make money has to do a lot with odds and returns so naturally I find Finance and Poker to be a bigger extension of that. For one, Poker is a vast game, with many variations, and tons of angles. Unfortunately though, online poker is basically impossible to be good at unless one truly grinds it out. For one, a lot of players have specific software and are taking precise, calculated decisions such that it makes the average player significantly better than what you would encounter in real life. Supposedly its getting better, since a bunch of new sites have popped up that are U.S. friendly, but according to tons of sources, ever since Black Friday, online poker has been extremely tough. Regardless I really want to learn poker. A lot of people make money playing it live, its a fun and complex game that really drills in discipline, and it just seems like a good side skill to have. At the moment I'm following Tynan's suggestion, reading winning low limit hold em, and am using a program called Poker Genuis, which is pretty much a better version of the turbo texas hold em Tynan recommends, where you can also play tons of hands an hour.
Next, and possibly the thing I am currently most passionate about at the moment is Finance. Finance is so incredibly deep and varied its crazy. I honestly don't think there is any other field where humans have gone to such extremes to come up with literally every conceivable strategy, not even war. There is all sorts of strategies ranging from developing complex financial models, based of complex algorithms, with simulations to people who just say buy things as they go up and sell them as they go down (trend trading). Its pretty crazy, and everyone seems to have made money doing something. Some argue that Value trading and long-term trading is good, with the use of some technical indicators to dictate when to get in and out and have made substantial returns. some day-trade penny stocks and profit substantially as well. Regardless I don't think its a coincidence that a lot of rich people have gotten rich off stocks, securities, or investing in one way or another. Not only have a lot of people gotten rich off them, but they have stayed rich cause of them. At the same time, I still strongly believe the best investment is your own ideas. It doesn't matter if you want to make a living day-trading or just want to chuck in a small amount of money or maybe you just want to know what the fuss is about, learning some Finance is definitely worth your while. Currently I'm just binge reading tons on books, already finished reading some value-focused books (neatest little guide to stock market investing and Wall street mba) and am gonna change it up by reading some on technical analysis and charting.