Savages

August 10, 2012 — 45 Comments

I think savagery is underrated. We talk so much about personal development and refinement that what gets lost is that other part of ourselves, the darker, animalistic part. “Inspiration” is so much cleaner and less objectionable that it’s all we want to focus on. I’ve never been one for convention, so I’ll say what needs to be said here. Being savage is a good thing.

Let me be clear, what I’m not talking about are the kind of evil people who inflict harm on others. Or rely on physical intimidation for their success. There is little excuse for that in today’s world. What I’m talking about is a kind of self-directed savagery in a contained setting. When William Hazlitt was talking about the “wild beast resuming its sway within us” he was condemning the mob/tribe mentality, but I think it can also be a positive motivational factor.

I think about savagery when I go out and run–after hours of work, weeks of it in a row–every single day in the Louisiana heat. I enjoy sweating so hard it stings my eyes. I smile if I catch myself teetering a little bit towards the end. I’m not running for exercise, I’m running because there is a part of me that is a little bit savage. And I give it free reign and I benefit from it. There is savagery in juijitsu, which I do 4-5 days a week when I’m not traveling. There’s something savage about getting destroyed round after round and the fact that I keep coming back for more. I suppose I could get better faster by reading and studying but I think it’s better to do it this way. I go to get my ass kicked for a reason, and it doesn’t bother me that I do. I relish it a little bit. And mostly I learn from it.

In 19th century dog fighting, bull dogs weren’t the strongest or most aggressive dogs, but the fat and extra skin around their neck made it harder for other dogs to tear their throat out. Dogs could clamp down on it, but they couldn’t kill. That’s fucking savage. There’s a lesson there.

You don’t have to be the best, you just have to be harder to destroy. You have to be relentless. Indefatigable. Sometimes, to get in the right position, you have to be able to absorb a lot of blows. You’ve got to know you’re taking hits for a reason, and have the tolerance and endurance to bear it. If you can actually enjoy and seek out that process? Well, then you’re a fucking savage. And you’re going to be very successful.

Responding to Peter Shankman

July 23, 2012 — 35 Comments

Some of you may not have seen this because it was buried in a lot of the other more interesting press, but last week I completely blew up the PR/blogging industry by revealing the fatal flaws in HelpAReporterOut.com (HARO). The revelations garnered such an enormous outcry that HARO (and some lazy, entitled people in the journalistic and PR communities) had to respond. Naturally, they decided to strike back at me personally. It doesn’t surprise me that they did this, but that doesn’t mean I am going to tolerate it.

You can check out my reply at the Huffington Post: Honoring a Reporter’s Obligation: Dissecting Peter Shankman’s Hypocrisy

Did I expect people to have a strong reaction to this book? Sure. Did I think that, when faced with my accusations, some in the media would try to blacklist or marginalize me? Of course. But they forgot one thing: I don’t need them to get my message out. I never have. And unlike Shankman, since I am not repressing my hypocrisy–in fact, I have unloaded it–I am able to to look at all this calmly, and rationally and respond appropriately.

I hope you enjoy it. Let the discussion begin.

Welcome to Trust Me, I’m Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator

July 18, 2012 — 36 Comments

Release week for Trust Me, I’m Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator is here. If I am as good as I say I am in the book, you should be hearing, seeing and reading a lot about it.* If you want updates on what’s happening about the book, tour dates for me, and links to articles I’ve written recently, check back to this post going forward. If you’re coming to this site for the first time, the links below should tell you a little bit more about me. Or just read this bio. Hope you stick around and don’t forget to subscribe to my reading recommendations

**If you really want to help me out or haven’t bought the book yet, pick up an extra copy on Barnes and Noble. It’s same price as Amazon and counts better for my NYT list sales**

**There is also special deal for the book on AppSumo this week. You can give it as a gift since it comes with a bunch of extras**

Upcoming Events/Appearances:
7/18: TUNE IN LIVE: Marketing Master Mind Session with Lewis Howes at 8pm EST
7/19: TUNE IN LIVE: Media Mayhem with Allison Hope Weiner at 4pm EST
7/19: Book Launch Party in New York City (hosted by Michael Ellsberg). All are welcome, must rsvp. 9pm est
7/31: Book signing @ Octavia Books in New Orleans
8/15: Book signing @ Book Soup in LA
8/22: Keynote at TNW Latin America in Sao Paulo

Articles I’ve Written:
UnCollege.com: How Dropping Out Can Change Your Life
FourHourWorkWeek.com (Tim Ferriss): The 5 Top-Performing American Apparel Ads, and How They Get PR for Free (NSFW)
Forbes: What is Media Manipulation? A Definition and Explanation
Columbia Journalism Review: Our gullible press, Ryan Holiday explains how the singular pursuit of traffic…
Forbes: How Greenpeace Manipulated the Media Like a Pro: Analyzing the Shell Oil Hoax
Forbes.com: How Your Fake News Gets Made (Two Quick Examples)
[Much more to come this week]

Interviews:
TechCrunch: Keen On…Ryan Holiday: Confessions of a Media Manipulator
Huffington Post: Ryan Holiday, Author Of ‘Trust Me, I’m Lying’, Wants To Break The Media
BlogcastFM: Confessions of a Media Manipulation with Ryan Holiday
BloggingHeads.TV: Diavlog with Drew Curtis of Fark.com
Media Mayhem with Allison Hope Weiner: What Makes a Story Go Viral with Marketing Strategist Ryan Holiday
Chase Jarvis Live: 90 minute mastermind interview with me
CTV: Me discussing the future of music and Alex Day
Tribal Author: Book Marketing Breakout: Ryan Holiday’s Trust Me, I’m Lying
Rise to the Top: Exclusive 90 min interview with me
Daily Dot: Media manipulator Ryan Holiday finally comes clean
Communication Lab: 1hr podcast with me on writing, media manipulation and news
BoingBoing: Gweek Podcast (really good)

Recent Press:
New York Post: PR exec tells all about manipulating the media — and spreading lies online
Forbes: How This Guy Lied His Way Into MSNBC, ABC News, The New York Times and More
Daily Dot: Exclusive excerpt: “Trust Me, I’m Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator”
Austinist: Tucker Max’s Publicist Is Really Good At His Job
BoingBoing: Man Punks Journalists
FastCompany: “Media Manipulator” Ryan Holiday Proves His Point By Getting This Story Published

Poynter: NY Times, CBS, others fix stories that featured fake expert Ryan Holiday
BoingBoing: Book trailer: Trust Me, I’m Lying
MediaBistro: 24-Year-Old Marketing Director Lands Major Book Deal
DIY Themes: How A Reformed Media Manipulator Uses The Web To Generate Sales
Silicon Bayou News: Book Review: Ryan Holiday’s Tell-All on Manipulating the Media

For those of you new to me and my writing altogether, here are some of my most popular posts:
The Narrative Fallacy (also see The Soundtrack of Your Life Delusion and The Second Act Fallacy)
Advice to a Young Man Hoping to Go Somewhere
Schemes and Scams
Read to Lead: How to Digest Books Above Your “Level”
Contemptuous Expressions
A False Sense
Stoicism 101: A Practical Guide for Entrepreneurs
The Experimental Life: An Introduction to Michel de Montaigne
Is This Who You Want to Be?
The Dress Suit Bribe

*This blog has never focused much on my work (writing instead about philosophy, life and strategy) and I’ve only talked a little bit about my book here. I plan to keep it that way, so don’t worry. However, with the publicity for the book and all the press planned for this week there is going to be a rush of new readers.

The Swarm Strategy (How to Learn About Anything)

July 8, 2012 — 26 Comments

Someone asked me recently about my reading habits and how I decide what I want to read. In the past, I’ve liked to use the rabbit hole analogy: falling down the endless hole of a subject, person or place. In my “read to lead” strategy, I talk about doing this by finding your next book to read inside the text or works cited of the book you’re currently reading. But I’ve tweaked my habits lately and it wasn’t until I had this conversation that I noticed.

I don’t fall down a hole, I swarm. Take the American Civil War, which I’ve recently been reading about. After a few years of scattered books on the topic, in early in 2012 I swarmed the topic. I detailed part of what I read on it in my last Reading List Newsletter.

The Civil War: My Obsession
I’ve been so deep [into the] Civil War that I lost track of all the books. Of course it started last year when I read Sherman by BH Liddell Hart. I came to admire Sherman so deeply that I read two more books about him: his amazing Memoirs and a big old book from 1933, Sherman: Fighting Prophet. From there I went on to Grant’s Memoirs, which are incredibly readable and deeply moving. After that, I read both of Robert Penn Warren’s quick books (mostly on the cultural significance and character of the war):Jefferson Davis Gets His Citizenship Back and The Legacy of the Civil War. I was briefly curious about Nathan Bedford Forrest but a read of That Devil Forrest and his shocking Wikipedia page make it clear to me that the guy is the definition of a psychopath. I also read large parts of Shelby Foote’s epic The Civil War: A Narrative (mostly the Vicksburg campaign and Sherman’s march) as well as parts of The American Civil War by John Keegan. Finally, I read the biographies of a bunch of Southern/Civil War writers in Patriotic Gore by Edmund Wilson, which helped me understand and contextualize what I’d already read from the people listed above. I don’t know if you guys need to follow me so deeply down this hole, but I strongly recommend at least exploring it. It’s totally changed how I see so much of history. I think I can say with confidence now that I “understand” the Civil War, and that feels good.

To give a complete picture of what I’ve consumed on the topic though, I would need to add: All 10 hours of Ken Burn’s documentary Civil War. A trip to Vicksburg (twice) and Natchez. At least 50 long form articles on the Time’s Disunion blog. Nearly everything in The Atlantic’s Civil War commemorative issue, countless Wikipedia pages and other random articles I saved in Instapaper. I read all of Ambrose Bierce’s fiction about the Civil War, along with many stories he wrote after and purchased and flipped through two biographies about him. I read a great, popular non-fiction book about Lincoln’s assassination and the hunt for Jefferson Davis. I had long conversations about the war with anyone who would listen. I even bought a beautiful painting of Sherman, which I hung on my wall.

I’m not going to call myself a Civil War buff because that’s stupid. This isn’t an idle pastime. I think you can see from list that I had a clear plan of attack. I was deep diving into a subject and surrounding it from all angles. I didn’t want to simply understand it from books, I needed to see parts of it in person, here is through the indirect perspectives of biographies and literature and I needed to digest it with the help of people smarter than me. When I have picked the carcass clean enough–taken the lessons I can and will use from my learning–I leave, relquishing the pedantic details for the buzzards behind me. Then move on to the next kill.

In the last year or so I’ve done this with a couple other subjects and authors to varying degree, such as Raymond Chandler or the city of Los Angeles. The idea being that if I really, really want to learn about something, casually pursuing one book to another. No, you must set upon it consequentially, concurrently and comprehensibly. Nothing works in learning quite like total immersion. Immersion allows you to make connections. It allows you to challenge the authors you’re reading (or let one author challenge another and then stick with the victor)

So there you have it: the swarm strategy. It’s simple. Find a topic it. Forget the rabbit hole and instead win by utterly overwhelming force. And then of course, it’s time for the final and most important step: moving on. After devouring one subject completely, be sure to find another.

Take Little Steps

June 27, 2012 — 37 Comments

I can’t think of that much I WANT to do but haven’t. The reason is simple: I generally do what I want, close to when I decided I wanted it

I have a friend who is not like this.”I’m thinking about traveling to China,” he’ll say. Knowing him, I always respond: “Dude, you will never go to China.” His reply is beautifully the same every time: “I could totally go to China [or whatever he's dreaming about that day]” You could, but you don’t. He never does.

I think it, I assign it. I assign it, I do it. He thinks it. And leaves it at that. As though figuring out how much it will cost, committing to saving up the money and then later, booking the trip is some insurmountable task. Of course he could do all those things, but that was never really the choke point.

This is why exercise is such a good metaphor and lesson. If you want to be able to run 10 miles, what to do about it is fairly simple: Start by running one mile. (which itself requires only putting one foot in front of the other). Then slowly run more until you can. In any sport, the path is the same. No matter how small or big the goal: You must commit and then start.

I don’t tell myself I’d like to go for run today. No, I’m going to run. And not just today but nearly everyday. The same goes for everything else I have ever decided to do or wanted to do, from my book deal on down.

I’m not going to claim that these things are easy by any stretch. But they are simple. And when I compare myself to other people I noticed that we both say the things we want to do or like to have. Check back in, they never seem to be any closer to that thing. I am, and I’ve moved on to the next one.

Trust me, I’m not possessed by some insatiable ambition. I haven’t known what I want since I was 4 years old and focused on everything I had on it. No, I just start. And I don’t waste time thinking about what it’d be nice to have–I’d rather just get it and see for myself. Before every show, the comedian Kevin Hart reminds his staff: “Everyone wants to be famous, nobody wants to do the work” and then they hit the stage and get to work.

I gloss over the big things because I know that’s not the issue. Otherwise the same attitude wouldn’t manifest itself in the tinniest and most banal parts of our lives: “Oh I heard that book was good and I’m thinking about buying it.” Do you know how many books I heard were good but don’t own? Like zero. It’s a book–just make the investment. You definitely won’t read it if you don’t own it. And what does it fucking matter in the end if you turn out to be wrong? It doesn’t.

People don’t get this because, partly, they don’t really want the things they say they want. They want to be the person who has certain things rather than actually do it. But even some of that comes from ignorance: these people don’t know how to do things, they don’t know how straight forward it is. Figure out what you want to do and then break it down from there. Take little steps. Then you are there. And the beauty of it all is that the risks are rarely very high. You decide not to go to China? Now you have a pile of money to spend on something else. Not so horrible is it?

NOTE: I’m going to be on Chase Jarvis Live today (June 27th) at 11am PST. Tune in and ask questions. Would love to hear from you all.