When People Think You’re Crazy

The first thing I did where I was aware that people thought I was crazy was to buy a school bus with my friends. In retrospect it probably wasn’t the first time people thought I was crazy, just the first time it was so obvious that I couldn’t ignore it. I was somewhat oblivious back then, so a lot got by me.

People really thought I was nuts when I started gambling. I suppose I sort of encouraged it as a prank, but there was a very real consensus at school that I had become a problem gambler.

Not everyone thought I was crazy when I dropped out of school, but many people did.

Again, almost everyone thought I was crazy when moved to LA with a few weeks notice to learn pickup. Same when I sold everything to travel the world with a tiny backpack, when I bought the island, when moved to Vegas, when I go on cruises, and who knows what else.

While a lot of the actions I take on a daily basis strike people as normal and reasonable, I’d wager that the majority of people would classify most of my major life decisions as crazy.

There’s good crazy and bad crazy, but I’m not sure the distinction matters all that much. At the end of the day being someone that others consider strange puts you in a certain position.

To be honest, I hadn’t thought much about this before. I’ve been a weird one for so long that I don’t have much perspective on what it’s like to be normal. But one of my coaching clients went from a normal job to being a semi-nomadic entrepreneur and he commented about the weight of being perceived by others as a weirdo.

I remember how I felt when people thought I was weird for buying the school bus. No one thought it was the dumbest idea they’d ever heard, but no one thought it was the smartest either. They just thought it was weird. Not good or bad, just other.

Through the bus and the countless other crazy things I’ve done, I found that whether people ultimately think better or worse of me for doing the thing is almost entirely based on how I portray it. The action matters little, the presentation matters a lot.

At first I was terrible at explaining why I’d gone into pickup. People were outright angry at me for doing so. But as I learned to frame it better (and discovered more about what it actually was), most people would perceive it as a good thing.

The magic formula seems to be two parts:

1. I can have a lot of confidence that something is right for me, but not that it’s right for everyone. People feel uncomfortable when they think that me doing X means that I think they are wrong for doing Y.

2. I treat weird things I do as experiments. None of them redefine me as a totally different person than the person they once knew, but are just things I’m trying out.

When I present things I do in accordance to those two rules, people are generally supportive. Me doing weird things isn’t a threat to their own identity or to our relationship.

I think you also have to take those raised-eyebrow glances as compliments. I always do. When someone things I’m doing something outlandish, that’s an indication to me that I’m on the right track. It’s obviously not the only indication or the most important one, but it certainly doesn’t deter me.

I feel that way because I’ve built a track record of doing weird things and having them work out. That makes it very easy for me. In the beginning, especially the first weird thing you do, it’s very easy to have doubts. It would be unusual not to have some doubts.

But as soon as you do one weird thing and it works, you can instantly recategorize comments or looks received from other people as indications that you were on the right track, not the wrong one. And when you follow up with more weird things that work (or at least aren’t as disastrous as you imagine those people believe they are), that confidence can grow.

In spirit with rule #1 of the magic formula, I don’t think that everyone needs to be weird like me. I can’t imagine living life any other way, but we all have different genes, traits, experiences, resources, and goals.

If you are drawn to doing crazy things, though, do your best to have other people’s reactions affect you positively or not at all. Even if we all lived to be 1000, life would be too short to be dictated by other people.


Photo is Stockholm at daybreak… it was so cold there last week that I left early! But I did see an amazing Chen Man exhibit at Fotografiska first. Wow.

Tomorrow is my Superhuman 1 event. Can’t wait to get rolling!






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