BiggerPockets Podcast 467: #1 NYT Bestselling Author Adam Grant on the Need to “Think Again”

BiggerPockets Podcast 467: #1 NYT Bestselling Author Adam Grant on the Need to “Think Again”

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Everyone wants to be right all the time. We have so many preconceived notions running through our heads at all times, and we always think that we’re the ones standing on the right side of history. What if that train of thought was secretly pushing you to failure, or even death? Adam Grant argues this point in his book Think Again.

Adam hypothesizes that the main reason so many businesses, relationships, and experiments fail is because those in them tend to be locked in on one view. How many times have you been in a fight with your partner where you realize you may be wrong, but also realize it would be worse to back down from your original stance?

This is how businesses like Blockbuster and Blackberry slowly faded away while the likes of Apple and Microsoft flourished. Adam talks through some of the best (and worst) moments in business history when companies thought they were too big to fall. The same goes for political candidates, social movements, and almost any other type of human-to-human interaction. The one way you can be sure you’re coming out with the right conclusion? Think like a scientist! 

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Listen to the Podcast Here

Read the Transcript Here

Brandon:
This is the BiggerPockets Podcast show number 467.

Adam:
I think though there’s another kind of flip-flopping which is called learning which means I changed my mind because I’m in scientist mode, and I came across a better argument or more rigorous evidence where if you don’t flip-flop, you’re being a stubborn idiot, right? And I think we need to praise people who do that kind of rethinking.

Adam:
It’s sometimes hard to tell the difference between them. But my simple place to start is to say, “I expect people to hold pretty firm on their core values, but to be pretty flexible on their plans.”

Intro:
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Brandon:
What’s going on, everyone? It’s Brandon Turner, host of the Bigger Pockets Podcast here with my co-host, Mr. David, the cheerleader, Greene. What’s up, man? How are you doing?

David:
It’s a good day. I closed on a $15-million property today in your old hometown or home state, Minnesota.

Brandon:
Minnesota. Yeah. Did you go see my mom and my dad there?

David:
Yeah. I plan on it, doing a little bit of long distance real estate investing and getting into a new triple net space.

Brandon:
What’d you buy?

David:
I bought a retail center, 16 units, that’s all triple net. It’s my first time getting out of a residential and into the triple net space, and I bought it all myself. I typically don’t do that many partners. So, let’s hope that the world doesn’t come to an end or that area doesn’t burn to the ground, and everything should be good.

Brandon:
What I about what you did is the thing that has always worried me about triple net least, and there’s ways around this. I don’t say you shouldn’t do it because of this. But the thing that’s always worried me is if you have one tenant, like you’re renting to whatever, a Starbucks. And then, Starbucks is like, “You know what? We’re going to close up shop here.” Yes, they have leases and all that. But if you couldn’t get re-rented for a year or two, that would just, as an average person who doesn’t have a lot of money like me, that would have been terrible for all my life.

Brandon:
I always thought it was horrible. But not today. I’m like, “Huh.” I could do that. But what’s even more impressive what you did is you bought a 16-unit retail center triple net. So, it’s just having a multi-family versus single family. If f somebody leaves, you can afford to do it just fine. So, good job, man.

David:
Yeah, and you got to make sure you’re in a good area. That was a big piece of it. It’s a good area. All the tenants were making payments all the way through COVID. In fact, several of them renewed their lease during the COVID period. So, I did everything I could to try to make sure it’s a good buy. And I think in the next couple of months, I’ll be making some videos that sort of highlight how I did the deal, why I did the deal with the tax advantages of are the deal. And if anybody has any questions about it, they can hit me up on Bigger Pockets through the email system or on Instagram, and I’ll connect them with my CPA. And maybe, they can do something similar.

Brandon:
Very cool, man. Well, I appreciate it. Cool stuff. Well, with that said, let’s get on to today’s quick tip. Today’s guest on the show is named Adam Grant. He’s written a lot of good books. But today, we’re specifically talking about one of his books, and it is called Think Again. So, the quick tip is pick up a copy of Think Again. It’s really good. I think it’s super, I mean, super good. But it’s really good for especially real estate investors in a changing economy, in a changing world. We don’t know what next year looks like. So, it’s all about broadening your mind to think bigger, to think differently, to challenge your assumptions and more.

Brandon:
So, that’s today’s quick tip, is pick up a copy of it wherever books are sold. And with that said let’s get on with today’s show. So, today’s guest as I mentioned is Adam Grant. Adam is a best-selling author of books like Originals which is a huge book, New York Times bestseller. I’ve known a book called Give and Take and then Think Again. So, that’s what we’re talking about with today, all about this idea of thinking differently. So, without further ado, I think, we’ll jump into the interview with Adam Grant. All right. Adam Grant, welcome to the Bigger Pockets Podcast, man. It’s an honor to have you here.

Adam:
Hey, honor is all mine. Thanks for having me.

Brandon:
This is a fun show because I feel like I want to start with just those who aren’t watching this on YouTube maybe can’t see this. But I feel like my two guests here are like twin brothers, and I’m the guy who took your guys’s hair and just put it on the bottom of my face. So, this is an honor for that reason as well. So, let’s get into your story a little bit.

Brandon:
First of all, before we get into the book and the stuff you’ve written and the concepts and all that stuff, you as a person, what do you do? I mean you’re an organizational psychologist. Am I saying that correctly?

Adam:
Guilty as charged.

Brandon:
[crosstalk 00:04:26] What does an organizational psychologist do?

Adam:
Okay. I can’t cure your OCD. I’m probably not going to be helpful with organizing your closet either. What I do is I study how to make work not suck. So, I take all the principles of psychology, and I try to figure out how to make jobs more meaningful and motivating, how to make teams more creative and cultures more collaborative.

Brandon:
How did that become your interest, and how did that become the fire in your belly? You’re like, “I’m going to go follow that instead of being a rock star,” because I could see you being a ’90s rock star or something like that. [crosstalk 00:04:57] I could have seen that, but it didn’t go that [crosstalk 00:04:58].

Adam:
Is this is a Billy Corgan reference? Did you just [crosstalk 00:05:00]

Brandon:
No. We could have a band here. Why organizational psychology?

Adam:
I have no rhythm as I found out. When I was in high school and college, I was a diver, and you’re supposed to have a good rhythm on a springboard. And one day, my coach brought a metronome to practice and, after two years, gave up. He said, “You’re humanly incapable of rhythm. You move like Frankenstein. This is not going to work.” And one of the interesting things about diving for me was I was afraid of heights. And the whole sport for me was psychology around motivating myself to try crazy flips and twists and overcome my fears. And that kind of got me hooked on psychology, and I had no idea what I wanted to do with it until part way through college, I signed up for an organizational psych class.

Adam:
And the professor had basically made it his job to study all the jobs he thought were interesting, and it suddenly clicked for me. I don’t have to pick one job. I can think of all the worlds that I wish I got to work in, and I’m going to go and study those for a living. So, yeah, fast forward a couple of decades, I’ve gotten to study creativity at Pixar, trust building with astronauts who are getting ready to go on the space station collaboration with NBA teams. And I feel like I have the coolest job on earth because I got to design it.

Brandon:
That’s cool.

David:
And now, you get to write about it, and we get to live vicariously through you. So, everyone wins.

Adam:
Occasionally.

Brandon:
I also have my notes here that it says, “From magician to junior Olympian springboard diver.” Adam has made a big splash in academia. It’s a great written thing for my producer here. But magician, what’s the backstory of that?

Adam:
Long retired. But in middle school, I was babysitting for some kids down the street, and they never sat still. One day, I noticed that they got into magic tricks, and they actually sat for about an hour. So, I went home. I learned some tricks, and I found that I really enjoyed performing. And the element of surprise was so much fun for me to say, “Okay. Can I set up your expectation that one thing is going to happen and then something else will happen?” And it was actually a great stage for me to practice on as an introvert who was shy learning to get comfortable in the spotlight. And I guess it foreshadowed my future career as a teacher and TED speaker.

Brandon:
I remember the day this is totally unrelated to anything we should be talking about today. But I remember when I was in fourth grade, I made this cardboard table for my family, and I did a big magic show, and I just had little holes in the table that I’d roll a ball across the table. It would disappear. I thought I was going to be a magician. And then, I don’t know. My parents told me I was stupid, and they left. And I was just kidding. Just kidding. It wasn’t that bad. But-

Adam:
Well, I think you made a good choice, Brandon. A good choice. There’s that family guy line that magicians are at the very bottom of the hierarchy of entertainers, only above mimes.

Brandon:
I did do some miming balloon animals also at a nursing home when I was in high school. So, it’s all good. Let’s go back to you because this is getting weird. Think Again, where did that concept come from? Where did the entire book idea come from? I mean you’ve written some other really good books, Originals, Give and Take, and four million other books and topics and papers. But Think Again, what is the background on that?

Adam:
I mean there’s so many different things that happen that got me interested in this topic. But I guess in a lot of places, I have made bad decisions where I failed to rethink my assumptions in my opinions. And I think an early one was when I got to college, I helped to co-found what has been called Harvard’s first online social network. This was in 1999. Some of my friends and I connected more than an eighth of the entering freshman class online.

Adam:
And then, we showed up in Cambridge, and we said, “All right. We’re all now living in the same town. We don’t need the online social network.” And we walked away. And five years later, Mark Zuckerberg starts Facebook in the house next door. And it never even occurred to me that this was more than a hobby, that it could be a business, that it might be interesting to people who were adults as opposed to college kids. And that was a big failure of rethinking.

Adam:
And then, about a decade later, I was teaching my first class at Wharton, and one of my students pitched me on investing in his eyewear startup, and he said, “I’m going to sell glasses on the internet.” That is never going to work. And today, Warby Parker is a unicorn, and I was very late to that party.

Brandon:
Okay. So, this idea of rethinking, we’re basically talking about challenging our fundamental beliefs that we start with. In fact, I took a quote onto the book here. It says, “This book is an invitation to let go of knowledge and opinions that are no longer serving you well, and to anchor your sense of self and flexibility rather than consistency. If you can master the art of rethinking, I believe, you’ll be better positioned for success at work and happiness in life.” And I thought that was such a good summary of what the entire book is. So, people don’t have to read the book anymore. So, we’re good. Let’s just close up shop now and get out of here.

Brandon:
No. So, I want to start by… I guess, we’ve already started. I want to continue by talking about firefighters for a minute here. The story that you begin the book with is about some firefighters. Can you talk to us about that?

Adam:
Yeah. It’s a classic tragic story about the

Adam:
Mann Gulch fire where there’s this fire that gets out of control. And these elite wildland firefighters, they’re called smokejumpers, literally parachute in to try to put it out. And very quickly, they discover that this is a race for their lives. The fire is basically moving very quickly uphill. And if they don’t start running immediately, they’re not going to survive.

Adam:
And a couple things happen that, I think, are just devastating during that race for their lives. The first one is that the foreman this guy, Wagner Dodge, all of a sudden stops, and he bends over in the grass. And the other firefighters look at him like, “He is insane. What is he doing? We’re running for our lives.” And he actually takes a matchbook out of his pocket and starts to light a match. You’re running from a fire. Why are you starting a fire? Nobody can figure it out. Everybody ignores him.

Adam:
It turns out that he’s improvised. He has completely rethought what a fire is in that situation that instead of saying a fire is a source of danger, he rethinks it as maybe a source of safety. And he builds himself what’s called an escape fire by burning all the grass on the ground. There’s nothing for the major wildfire to burn over. And he essentially lays down in the charred ashes and survives for the next 15 minutes letting the fire burn right over him. So, that’s the first moment of rethinking which is incredible.

Adam:
And if you stop there, rethinking is not something I have the genius to do to improvise in that moment and figure out that you could save your life by lighting a fire as an escape from the bigger fire. That’s just insane. Then, there’s another failure of rethinking which is they get a call to drop their tools. He gives an order to drop their tools. And most of the firefighters don’t. They run carrying 20-pound axes and packs. And later, investigators calculate that dropping their tools could have made the difference between life and death.

Adam:
And for me, it’s such a poignant metaphor because their assumption during their training and their experience is that they use their tools to do their job which is to fight fires and also, sometimes, to save their lives. And now, to rethink your tools as the thing that might kill you, really hard to do. And I think in that story is obviously a failure of people to rethink their basic assumptions. But it’s also a failure of the foreman to get his team to rethink their assumptions, to get them to survive in the escape fire or to drop their tools. Both of those failures happen. And, ultimately, most of the firefighters die. Only the foreman and two who barely managed to outrun the fire make it out alive.

Brandon:
That is a really good metaphor for, yeah, just life in general. We cling to these things so often, like, this is how it’s done or this is how it always has been done. We do a lot of real estate investing. So, we buy a lot of properties. And real estate has been pretty standard I’m going to say. It hasn’t changed a whole lot in the last few hundred years. But the last decade, it’s changed dramatically.

Brandon:
And a lot of things are going differently now. So, that’s why I thought this was so important to bring up is let’s rethink how this stuff is done. So, I want to get into a little bit about the preacher prosecutor politician. And then, there’s one other one in there that we can talk about that I’ll let you kind of introduce those concepts. So, how does that look?

Adam:
Yeah. So, my colleague, Phil Tetlock, discovered that there are these three mindsets that a lot of us get stuck in that can prevent us from thinking again. Preacher mode is basically I’ve found the truth, and I’m trying to spread it. Prosecutor mode is I’m trying to win an argument and prove my case. And if we just stop there, if you’re preaching and prosecuting, you’re not going to rethink what you believe because you’re right, and other people are wrong. They’re the ones who need to change their minds.

Adam:
And then, politician mode is a little bit different. It’s about trying to win the approval of an audience by campaigning and lobbying. And the problem with that one is you might tell people what they want to hear. But odds are you’re not really changing what you think deep down or doing much to convince them to rethink what they believe. I think what’s so interesting about this, to me, is I have never been a preacher. I didn’t go to law school. I can’t stand politics. And yet, I catch myself slipping into these modes.

Adam:
My biggest advice as is prosecutor mode. I feel like when somebody is wrong, I feel like it’s my moral responsibility to correct them. And it doesn’t win anyone over. It actually leads me to lose. But it’s really hard for me to avoid.

Brandon:
Is that where the logic bully, the story of the logic bully comes in?

Adam:
Yeah. Thank you for reminding me. I had a former student who accused me of being a logic bully. And at first, I thought it was a compliment. I’m like, “Yeah. That’s my job as a social scientist to bombard you with facts, and reasons, and data until you change your mind to the correct opinion.” And it was not a compliment. I wasn’t actually listening to her and learning from her and being open-minded. And I also wasn’t giving her a chance to take ownership of some of the ideas I was presenting and really think about, “Well, why might this be true for me or relevant to me?” And, yeah, logic bully is the worst version of my prosecutor mindset.

Brandon:
I think every husband out there has also experienced this idea. I’ll tell my wife just, “This is why. This is why. This is why. Let me give you all the data and the reasons why I’m right.” And then, for some weird reason, it never convinces her. I don’t know.

Adam:
So, strange how that happens to all of us. I have a back and forth now that’s pretty typical especially since Think Again came out where I’ll launch into an argument. And my wife will say, “Logic bully.” I’m like, “I’m doing it again.” I didn’t even know I was doing it. I was so into the ideas and the argument that it never occurred to me that not everyone is excited to have a three and a half hour debate about nothing.

Brandon:
So, what’s the alternative? Preacher, prosecutor, politician, what’s the fourth?

Adam:
Well, I think, a good alternative is to think like a scientist. And when I say that, I don’t mean you should go out and buy a telescope or a microscope. You don’t even have to have a white lab coat although I do think we could use a few more Bill Nyes in the world. But when I say think like a scientist, I mean value humility over pride, and curiosity over conviction. Don’t let your ideas become your identity.

Adam:
Thinking like a scientist means that when you have an opinion, it’s just a hunch. It’s a hypothesis waiting to be tested, and you want to do the experiment or the AB test to figure out whether you’re right or not. And that means you actually have to look for reasons why you might be wrong not just the reasons why you must be right, that you have to listen to ideas that make you think hard not just the ones that make you feel good. And you have to surround yourself with people who challenge your thought process not just the ones who agree with your conclusions.

Brandon:
Well, David, I don’t want to hug the mic the whole time. I know you want to jump in and cover before I move on to-

David:
Sort of ask Adam how do you see some of these philosophies and mindsets applying to entrepreneurs in particular?

Adam:
Okay. So, let’s start with thinking like a scientist. There’s an amazing experiment that was done with Italian entrepreneurs. They’re all pre-revenue, and they take a three to four-month crash course in how to start and run a business. What they don’t know is that half of them have been randomly assigned to a control group. And half of them have been randomly assigned to learn to think like scientists. They don’t get any different information. They’re just told, “Put on the goggles of a scientist and see the world that way.”

Adam:
So, your company strategy, just a theory. When you talk to customers, great way to develop specific hypotheses. And then, when you launch your product or your service, that’s just an experiment to test your hypotheses. Over the next year, the entrepreneurs who are randomly assigned to think like scientists on average bring in more than 40 times the revenue of the control group, staggering effect.

David:
When I read that, I thought it was a misprint in your book. It was $300 and then 12,000. And I went back and re-read it and then, re-read it again, and I’m like, “Is he meeting 300 a month and then 12,000 a year?” It’s shocking.

Adam:
It was. I mean it’s one of the biggest effects I’ve ever seen. And the major reason why thinking like a scientist was powerful is the entrepreneurs were more than twice as likely to pivot that in the control group, when your product or service launch bombs, you fall into this trap that’s called escalation of commitment to a losing course of action where you double down on your failing strategy like, “I got to prove to myself and everybody else that this was a good choice.”

Adam:
When you think like a scientist, you look at the results, and you say, “Hmm, maybe I should rethink my strategy. Maybe, my theory was wrong. Maybe, I was in the wrong market, and I should look for better product market fit.” And you become much more flexible, and that allows you to then adjust and try something that might have a better shot of working.

David:
So, Adam, what are some things in your life if you don’t mind sharing where you feel like you caught yourself doubling down on a losing course of action, and you were able to catch yourself and write that shit?

Adam:
I usually catch myself after it’s done, and I’m looking for a story to tell on a podcast episode or in class. A time where I’ve caught it, let’s see, oh, I actually have one. I didn’t catch it on my own but with the help of somebody knowledgeable. So, let’s see. We’ll go back to when I was writing my first book. I got introduced to a couple agents. I picked this amazing literary agent, Richard Pine. And Richard said, “Okay. Put together a book proposal.” And I got so excited while I was writing the proposal that I accidentally wrote the book.

Adam:
I was supposed to write a proposal over the summer. And end of the summer, I had over a hundred thousand words. I sent it to Richard, and he said, “I don’t even know if your academic colleagues would read this. This is boring. It’s not going to work. Start over.” And I threw out about a 100, 2000 words. I salvaged maybe a thousand of them, and I rewrote the book from scratch. And the great advice Richard gave me was, he said, “Write like you teach, not like you write research papers.” And the voice completely changed. There were many more stories. It was much more relatable to people’s lives, and it ended up becoming my first book.

Adam:
And the reason now that I get to share my ideas with an audience that’s not just in a business school, and I think it would have been really easy to double down in that situation and say, “You know what? I already wrote a hundred thousand words. It’s a long book. I covered a lot of ground. I put a lot of energy into it. I should just go forward with this.” And I could not be more thrilled that I didn’t.

David:
Yeah. We see that with people that buy a stock, and it goes down, and they just keep throwing good money after bad or making a bad relationship and then trying to salvage it. What would you say motivates human beings when all the facts are telling them, “This is bad. We need to cut the anchor to just keep on going with it.”

Adam:
Well, a lot of people explain in terms of economics that it’s all about sunk costs. But the most powerful forces are actually emotional. It essentially boils down to ego, image, and regret. So, ego is I don’t want to look in the mirror and admit that I failed. Image is I don’t want everybody else to think that I’m a failure. And then, regret is if I pull the plug too soon, I’ll always wonder what might have been.

Adam:
And I think maybe compounding that problem is hustle culture where if you take grit too far, you think you’re never supposed to quit at anything, and that means that you’re always going to assume that pulling the plug is actually a failure of persistence as opposed to saying, “Actually, that’s just good judgment.” It’s having the wisdom to know when to grit versus when to quit.

David:
That’s so good. I made a video actually about that and what I talked about-

Adam:
Wait what? Tell me more.

David:
Yeah. I use an analogy of if you’re trying to get to the top of a mountain, and you take the wrong path to continue going down that path and say, “I’m not stopping is literally working the opposite of your goal that actually quitting and going back the other direction is progress.” And it’s sort of maybe rethinking would be a good way to put it, that just putting one foot in front of the other is not all that it takes. You actually have to look at the map and make sure you’re going in the right direction. Is that sort of what you’re getting at?

Adam:
Not only sort of what I’m getting at. I literally just gave a new TED Talk about this exact topic which includes a story about how I got stranded at the summit of a volcano because I was so attached to the goal of getting to the top that I failed to realize the ultimate objective was to make it back down.

David:
I’m particularly susceptible to this because I tend to compare myself to other people, and I always want to be faster than everyone else. So, sometimes I end up going faster than everybody else in the wrong direction and the people who move slower and turned back, and went the right way actually beat me to the punch. If you don’t mind, would you mind sharing some of the way that these insights that you’re talking about had an effect on two huge cell phone companies, BlackBerry and Apple?

Adam:
I can try. But the BlackBerry story, it hurts to this day. I was such a BlackBerry fan. I still miss the keyboard. I will never type as fast on an iPhone. But I finally had to abandon it. So, the short version of the story is you have this incredibly brilliant electrical engineer, Mike Lazaridis, who essentially reimagines the way we all communicate and takes a two-way pager and turns it into a smartphone. And all of a sudden, we’re all able to send emails on the go.

Adam:
And then, he falls in love with his baby and refuses to rethink it. Brilliant at thinking, not so comfortable with rethinking. So, one of the critical moments is people start to make a case that they should have a working internet browser. No, you know what? Everybody’s really happy with the email features. Then, there’s a whole discussion about whether there should be a touch screen. No, people love the keyboard, and he’s focusing on the taste of millions of users in business and government who are big fans overlooking that there’s an untapped market of billions of consumers who might want a touchscreen for home entertainment.

Adam:
And then, the idea of putting a computer in your pocket, no, we don’t need to do that either when he figures out that Apple’s starting to do that. And then, BlackBerry goes from being a, what, 70 or $80 billion company at its peak with a good half of the market share in North America to just obliterated in the span of a few years. They never even built a second product. Can you imagine having $70 billion at your valuation and saying, “We’re just going to keep making different versions of the BlackBerry.”

David:
Well, blockbuster did that. I mean that’s low-hanging fruit to go after them the same concept of rethinking. You’ve got me thinking here Adam. With the way that sort of technology is impacting the world, the world’s always changed. Okay. This isn’t new. We could go back a hundred years and find examples of people that we thought better than others. My impression is that this is becoming more important than it was in the past because things are changing faster at a faster rate than they used to. Would you agree with that?

Adam:
Yeah. I think that’s exactly right although I’m open to rethinking it if you have some data to suggest otherwise. But yeah, I mean knowledge seems to be increasing at an accelerating rate. Change seems to be happening faster. We’ve all watched digital disruption, touch industries that we thought were completely immune to it. And I think Paul Graham has a great way of capturing it. He says, “Look. Some of the time, it’s not that you were wrong originally. It’s that you are an expert for a world that doesn’t exist anymore.”

Adam:
And I think expertise is becoming obsolete faster than it ever used to. That, obviously, opens doors for all kinds of interesting opportunities. But the Apple version of the story, I think, is very different from the one that many people tell. So, I was interested in Apple’s rethinking process as a contrast to what we saw at RIM with BlackBerry, and I sought out a whole bunch of people who had worked closely with Steve Jobs from Ed Catmull, Pixar co-founder and long-time CEO to a lot of the engineers and designers who had helped to make the iPhone Tony Fadell.

Adam:
And I learned that for a long time, Steve Jobs was completely resistant to making a phone. He hated phones. He hated the cell phone carriers and the relationships they managed. He hated the fact that the technology was clunky and the products weren’t elegant. Sometimes he would get so frustrated he would chuck his phone at the wall and smash it because he thought it was just such a piece of garbage. And yet, he knew he needed one. And it was a whole team of engineers and designers who spent over six months trying to sort of break down his resistance and convince him to rethink his conviction that Apple shouldn’t become a phone company.

Adam:
And of all the tactics they used, I thought the most interesting one was they finally said, “Hey, Steve. I hear that Microsoft is working on a tablet, and I know these smartphones and tablet, they’re for the pocket protector crowd. But how cool would it be if we design one of those?” And all of a sudden, his competitive juices got flowing, and he started thinking about the Apple elegant version of a tablet or a cell phone. And then, they convinced him that Apple wasn’t going to become a phone company. They were just going to take the Mac and add a little bit of a calling feature on the side.

Adam:
And then, he was all in. And I think the interesting story there is that, yeah, the myth is that Steve Jobs created a reality distortion field that led everyone else to think different. The reality is that Apple’s renaissance came because he surrounded himself with a group of people who knew how to get him to think again.

David:
The irony in this is that we call it a phone. But I probably use it for the phone feature less than everything else that nothing ever does.

Adam:
That is so true especially now in Zoom world. When was the last time you had an actual phone call?

David:
Well, and when was last time you got a phone call it didn’t piss you off?

Brandon:
Why are you calling me right now? I’m trying to use my phone. That’s every single time what I think.

Adam:
That is so true. This actually might force me to rethink something. I’ve been thinking a lot about what a what friendship is, and I decided that a real friend is somebody that can call you without a scheduled time. And now, maybe not. I don’t want to hear from somebody when I’m not expecting them. Don’t call me. Please, schedule it.

Brandon:
Yeah. I don’t know. Yeah. I mean David, if you called me, I would still be like, “Why is David calling me?” David’s my best friend, and I’m, “I don’t know, man. Why are you calling me?” So, yeah it’s fascinating that’s the way that’s changed. So, maybe it’s a good transition then is to go and do Steve jobs had people that had to convince him of this, and I know a large chunk of Think Again is about getting other people to think differently whether it’s negotiation, we’re in real estate. So, negotiations are life. So much what we do is trying to get other people on board whether it’s, “Hey, you should put money in my real estate deal or hey you should sell me your property or whatever.” So, how do we convince other people to rethink their thoughts? What would be found there?

Adam:
Well, I think the mistake I’ve always made in logic bully mode is just to give as many reasons as possible. And I guess my assumption has been that if I could give you 14 reasons to change your mind, that’s better than three. And then, I came across a bunch of data showing the exact opposite. There’s a study of expert negotiators comparing them to less effective negotiators showing that one of the things the experts do differently is they actually give fewer reasons to back up a proposal. Typically, only two or three at most.

Adam:
And I’m tempted to give you at least nine reasons why too many reasons is a bad idea. But I think there are two that really matter here. I’m trying to practice what I teach here. First reason too many reasons is bad is you end up raising the person’s awareness that you’re trying to influence them, and they’re like, “Whoa. I don’t want to be manipulated. Let me put their guard up.”

Adam:
And the second is that you dilute your argument that if somebody does not want to say yes or they don’t want to open their mind to your point of view, if you give them eight reasons, they’ll just pick the least compelling one and throw out the whole case whereas if you just lead with your one or two strongest, it’s a little bit harder for them to find an excuse to say no.

Adam:
And then, what I’ve started doing now is just coming in and saying, “Look, here’s the reason that, I think, this is a compelling idea. What do you think of this? What do you see as the pros of my argument and the cons of my argument?” And then, I actually get to learn something from their reaction. And then, I can pick from my basket of reasons the one that might actually be relevant to their values and interests.

David:
Caused them to realize on their own that their argument might not be as strong as what they thought it was when they have to defend it. And I think that’s such a key point of what you’re saying, Adam, because it’s always tempting to try to use our own force to overcome the resistance of the person that sees it the situation different than we do.

David:
But then, like you said, they just look for a chink in our armor. They focus on the chink. They ignore the rest of the armor. But when they’re the ones who have to explain why they think you’re wrong or how their solution would work. They become aware of their own flaws which may be stronger than yours. Do you want to expand on that a little bit like what you’ve learned and what you talk about in the book?

Adam:
Yeah, David. I think it’s such an important point, and it’s something that I was never taught to do even after working as a negotiator and teaching negotiations. The turning point for me was I met an entrepreneur named Rufus Griscom and Rufus had done something that I’d never seen in startup pitches. He actually included a slide in his pitch deck when he was pitching one of his companies that said, “Here are the three reasons you should not invest.”

Adam:
And that first year, he went to Sand Hill Road. He brought in over $3 million dollars in venture capital funding. And then, two years later, he goes to sell his company, and he includes a slide that says, “Here are the five reasons you should not buy his company.” It ends up getting acquired for US $40 million, not bad, right? So, what’s going on here?

Adam:
Well, part of it is a marketing gimmick, he’s sort of intriguing people with something different. He’s getting their attention. He’s signaling that he’s a non-conformist. But when he gives reasons not to invest and not to buy, he makes it harder for his audience to come up with their own objections. And the harder they have to work to find flaws in his company, the less flawed they think his company is.

Adam:
And so I think it’s obvious just to think about the negotiation applications this. But one of my favorites is just to say, “You know what? I’ve got this this proposal. Let me just tell you here’s what I see as the upsides and the downsides of it, and would love to hear what you think of those.” And then, the other person is often in a problem-solving mode to say “Well, let me see if I can get the good without the bad.” And now, we’re starting to work toward common ground.

David:
It’s almost like you’re getting them. When you when you come at it with this is the problem or this is what’s not good about it, I’ll give you a really good example. I buy a lot of mobile home parks like just trailer parks.

Brandon:
As one does, yes. I also do that for fun.

David:
And so, I buy these. And people, I raise a lot of money for them, and people put money with my company. We buy them. But initially whenever I talk to anybody mobile home parks, the first thing you got is all the reasons why it’s a bad idea. And then, I can fight them back on it, “Well, no. This is why it’s really good.” They’re like, “Well, what about this problem and what if they lose their job, hits the bottom of the economy?” But if I start with that stuff, yeah, the big problem with mobile home parks is not this thing, it immediately puts them into well like, “Yeah. Problem-solving mode. I’m going to solve this guy’s…” Actually, it’s probably not that big of a deal because of this, and they start fighting for me instead of against me.

Brandon:
You know what I love about that is you’re giving them an opportunity to look smart. Normally, when you go in with this pitch, they show their genius by poking holes in your plan. If you’ve already found the holes, then the only way they can show off is to close it.

David:
That’s so good. And Brandon, you do that naturally very well, by the way do it.

Brandon:
Okay, guys.

David:
You’re like a wizard. You can just make people think that they’re smarter than they really are. And frequently, I can say that I am your lab mouse [crosstalk 00:33:45].

Brandon:
No. It’s disarming though. People don’t expect it. And I think at the end of the da, people are going to find the flaws in your plan. You might as well get the credit for having the foresight to spot them and the integrity to acknowledge them.

David:
We have to talk about this on my real estate team all the time, all the time because so much of people making decisions to buy a house or sell a house or whatever is psychology-based. Everything is that, and it’s tempting to want to tell the person, “Here’s why you should do this,” and the first thing that makes them think is you just want a commission. You’re just telling me this now they have to find all the reasons why they shouldn’t listen to what you’re saying.

David:
And what we’re frequently trying to do is to get them to tell us what they want. And then, we actually poke holes in what they’re saying. And that’s exactly what you’re saying. And then, they defend it. And through that process, that’s where the person realizes, “Oh, that is really the house that I want. That is the one.” I hear my own words, and you’re actually helping bring it out of them. So, it’s a way of serving people is what I found is helping them get to the core of what they’re actually feeling.

Adam:
You just described the secret sauce of every great real estate agent I’ve ever worked with. That’s exactly it.

Brandon:
That’s what makes David a good agent. Dave is one of the… He’s a humble guy. But he’s one of the biggest best real estate agents in the country, and he kills it, and it’s not because, and I’ve always said this about you, David. Actually, we’ve about you with other people. It’s not because David’s good at being a real estate agent like filling out paperwork and listing a house [crosstalk 00:35:03]

Adam:
Well, that’s a backhanded compliment. He’s not a good agent. But he’s a good agent in any way.

Brandon:
No. [crosstalk 00:35:09] just because of that. No. I will get in a car with David, and we’ll be driving together somewhere, and he’ll take a call with a client. And the way he communicates to these clients, I will pull the car over and grab my phone and record him because it’s so good what he’s… The psychology that goes into what he does because he never fights. David, you never argue with them. You never fight them on their thoughts. You just maneuver them, and you get them fighting against you. I don’t know you. It’s like magic. I don’t know. Maybe that’s because you were a cop at one point.

David:
Well, Adam’s basically explaining it. What I love about Adam’s book and Adam’s philosophies is you’re taking what the person does naturally well and explaining to the world this is how it works. And I feel like people in Adam’s position are actually more important to humanity than just a Michael Jordan where nobody else in the world could be a Michael Jordan. You asked Tiger Woods, “How do you putt like that?” He doesn’t know. He just does it. But Adam breaks it down so that we can all become better.

Adam:
Well, I appreciate that. But I have to push back because, one, if there’s no MJ or Tiger, then, I have nothing to study and learn from and explain. And two, I think you just said that my contribution to the world is giving you language for things you already know. Maybe, your contribution to this book. You’re also a pretty good diver, and you have an amazing head of hair. Yeah, and I hear your magician game is on fleek. So, I wouldn’t say that’s your only contribution to the world.

Brandon:
Well, I will try to reflect on that and see if it leads me to anything interesting. But I do think there’s a little bit of a trap that I worry about when we start to unpack some of these principles. Sometimes, if they come naturally to you thinking about them too much can take you out of autopilot, and you don’t actually apply them as smoothly as you would have, and it’s the same thing in sports. I don’t know.

Brandon:
A lot of people experience this playing tennis. You’re told to switch your grip on your serve. And all of a sudden, you’re aware of all your emotions, and you can’t quite hit the ball in anymore, and you have to take some speed off of it, and you have to take a step backward in order to go two steps forward. And I always worry that somebody’s going to… They’re going to understand the psychology of a principle that’s worked for them. They’re going to start thinking about it too much. Then, they overthink it. And then, they decide it’s not going to work for them anymore as opposed to saying, “All right. How do I take that understanding of it to tweak it and make it a little bit better and know that I might run a few experiments initially that don’t work before I find the sweet spot?”

David:
Brandon, do you feel that’s the thing that you struggle with in your life because you’re amazing at marketing, and you never stop readjusting and re-tweaking what you’re working on when it comes to that.

Brandon:
David’s like everyone’s cheerleader too. This is great. We all need a David in our life. It just makes me feel really good about myself I guess constantly. My initial thought there was you said tennis. I think, racquetball. When I play racquetball, I have to relax my mind to the point that I’m not thinking about what it is because then I can go and hit do them. It’s like running down a hill. You ever run down a hill when you’re hiking and your foot is hitting rock to rock to rock, again, a good spot, right? You’re not falling. But as soon as you’re thinking about where’s my foot going, you start falling over because you overthink it. You have to relax your focus to be able to do that. So, yeah, all the time. It’s why when David says something like, “Brandon, you’re really good at marketing. Tell us your marketing skills,” I’m like, “I don’t know what I’m doing. You can’t ask me that question.”

Brandon:
All right. I want to apply this to a real world situation and get a little bit controversial right now. We’re going to piss out some people here right now. Vaccines, let’s call it COVID vaccine. I did a survey on my Instagram the other day, and I said, “Are you going to take the vaccine this year. In 2021, are you going to go get the vaccine?” 48% of people said, “No.” And 52% said, “Yes.” And now, maybe my audience is not perfectly aligned to the US world. But I think it’s probably pretty close.

Brandon:
I think there’s a lot of people who will not take the vaccine because there’s a computer chip being put into it by Bill Gates who’s going to put us into the Facebook or something. I don’t know what the theory is. Now, whether or not the vaccine right or wrong, how does this apply like this concept of giving other people to get on board? They say we need 70% or whatever it is to get the vaccine to get herd immunity. And if we’re not going to get that, how do you… I don’t want to say. This sounds bad to say how do you convince your family and friends to go get a vaccine, right? I don’t want to go that route. But how does this play into this entire concept of the vaccine? How does this showcase what you teach?

Adam:
What I want people to do is make informed decisions right, and I worry right now especially there are a lot of fears out there that just don’t track with at least what I understand to be the scientific evidence. So, what I want to do is open people’s minds to reevaluating, to rethinking. And my favorite way to have that conversation comes out of what counseling psychologists call motivational interviewing which is the premise is incredibly simple that it’s very hard to force somebody to change. You’re much better off helping them find their own motivation to change.

Adam:
And so, Brandon, the first thing I would do differently is I would shift that poll that you ran and instead of asking, “Are you going to get the vaccine this year,” I would say, “What are the odds that you get the vaccine this year?” I don’t want you to commit to a yes or no. I want you to recognize your own ambivalence. Very few people will say 0%. I tried this with a friend who’s extremely opposed to vaccines, his children has told me many times I will never let someone inject something into my body. The first time I ever had what, I think, was a reasonable open-minded conversation with him was when I said, “What is your lifetime probability of getting a COVID vaccine?” And he said, “It’s pretty low.”

Adam:
And I was shocked. I said, “What do you mean it’s not zero?” Of course, it’s going to be zero, and he said, “Well, you don’t know what will change in the future.” He said, “If COVID had a 100% fatality rate and a 10X transmission rate, I might as well roll the dice or if I’m worried about the long-term risks of it which at that time we had less evidence about than we do now,” he said, “Maybe, when I’m 85 years old, I’m not worried about that anymore.”

Adam:
And all of a sudden, what I realized was he was committing to being open-minded. And I think that’s what motivational interviewing is about, asking people about their own reasons to stay the course and their own reasons to change and then showing humility and curiosity. I don’t know what’s going to change your mind. But I would just be eager to understand what it is that might shift you.

Adam:
So, my next question for him was, “Well, okay. How is it?” And he finally said, “I don’t know. Maybe, half a percent, a percent at most.” I said, “What conditions would change that? What would lead you to raise your probability?” And then, he started spelling out what would need to happen to convince him that the benefits of a vaccine would outweigh the costs. And all of a sudden, we’re having a rational evidence-based conversation. And then, we can start to track the data. And if one of those conditions changes, he might actually consider it.

Adam:
Now, did I change his mind that day? No. Did I have a better discussion with him than I’ve ever had in the past” Yeah. And I think that’s probably where I would start.

David:
That’s really good.

Brandon:
I had a conversation actually with an older, like, a much older friend of mine who is a woman in her almost 70s, and she was saying how the vaccine is so dangerous, and she’s not going to take it. Again, I understand the fear that goes into that. But I wanted to go into it. And I guess I really did. I started with the logic bully. I’m like, “Let’s go through the math here. Let me tell you the math. You are overweight and have a lot of health problems. If you get COVID, you have a 3% chance of dying.” I think I said those exact words to her. I’m like, “If you get the vaccine, you have a much less than 2% chance of dying.” It didn’t even faze like nothing like no faze at all for this woman. And I’m like, “Why?” And it’s because of that approach of I just went in there with logic.

Adam:
Yeah. I mean you’re preaching it at her. You’re prosecuting her fears, and that puts people on the defensive which is the same thing that I’ve done for years. And it’s a completely different conversation if you come in and say, “There is a lot of confusing information out there. I know we don’t have any kind of government mandate. Everybody has the freedom to make up their own minds. I’m really just trying to figure out what’s driving people’s decisions on this. I would love to understand what information you have, what you know, and what questions you have.”

Adam:
And then, at some point in the conversation, you could say, “I’ve been doing a lot of reading on this. I’d love to weigh in if you’re comfortable with some of the things that I’ve heard. And I think some of them are maybe consistent with your fears. There are some unknowns still given that mRNA has not been around for decades. And some of them might actually help to calm some of your fears or even eliminate them. Are you interested in having that conversation?”

Adam:
And I think the thing that I forget when I failed to do that just like you, Brandon, is people generally don’t listen until they feel heard. I’m like, “You are misinformed. I want to make sure I fix that.” Nope, I really need to understand where you’re coming from. And even just why are you so afraid and why are you afraid of vaccines but not afraid of COVID. The more I understand about that, the more I can again speak to your values and your motivations.

David:
Well, I think what you’re describing is the scientist mindset wants to understand. It doesn’t want to change. Scientists, at least good scientists, don’t go into a situation and say, “I’m going to find a bunch of data that’s going to support a hypothesis that I’ve already decided on.” They look at the data and let that make their decision. And when we’ve already made up our mind that person is wrong, we’re trying to pick the data and what they say and use it against them as opposed to the unbiased scientist that walks in and says, “Well, let me understand without trying to change this other person.”

Brandon:
David, I think that’s spot on. And I think this is this is exactly what’s been useful for me and talking to people who disagree with me on all kinds of charge issues, is I’ve tried to ask myself what would a scientist do in this situation. So, let’s say you encounter somebody who has vastly different political views or somebody who’s believing in some conspiracy theories. The first thing that I try to think is, “What an interesting specimen. This is so strange.” This person is almost an alien. I cannot believe that someone else thinks this way.

Brandon:
And what that does is it makes me curious. It makes me excited to find out more. And then, I’m there to interview them, to try to understand them. And, of course, if I discover that they’re interested in my perspective or they want my help, that might open the door. But it’s also just learning for me to say, “All right, next time I talk to somebody with views that are different from mine, maybe I’ll pick up something in this conversation that will help me be a little bit more convincing.”

Adam:
The times that I’ve done that well, 80% of the time, I found that what we’re arguing over or disagreeing on, we don’t even have the same definition of. And it’s not even a real disagreement. This comes up a lot of the time with debt. Should you pay off your debt or should you borrow money to grow your wealth? In our world, this is a big one. Almost every time I’ve been disagreeing with somebody, what I think of, when I think of debt is borrowing money at a low rate that will earn you money at a higher rate relatively safely with a million different escape plans or exit strategies.

Brandon:
That’s not what most of your clients think.

Adam:
That’s exactly right. They’re thinking 18% credit card debt.

Brandon:
I’m in the hole forever.

Adam:
[crosstalk 00:46:39] Yeah, for a long time just saying HELOC equaled irresponsible choice to buy a boat and a Corvette that will cause you to lose your house. What I was saying you should get a HELOC, and they were, “I will never get a HELOC,” we would get in these big arguments, and I’m like, “Oh, this person’s so dumb.” I never stopped to think about if I thought what they thought, I’d be saying the same thing back to me that would be really dumb. And there’s so many hot button issues in America that if we sat down with both sides and said, “What does this term mean to you,” it would be wildly different. And yet, we’re still arguing over that term.

Brandon:
Oh, that would be so helpful. It’s funny. I just did an episode of my work-life podcast on the idea that when we face a conflict, we try to rush into a solution. And what we forget to do is actually agree on what the problem is we’re trying to solve. I just applied this morning. It was a chance to practice one of these principles, and I had a disagreement with my team. And we started immediately talking about the solutions. I’m like, “Wait. We haven’t even talked about what the problem is.” And whether we’re aligned on the definition of it and what I love about that is, oftentimes, we realize we’ve just had different definitions of the same term like you were saying, David, or we’ve just failed to realize that we haven’t even practiced any consensus building or alignment.

Brandon:
And the process of agreeing on what the problem is actually gets us in the mode of saying, “All right. We do have some common ground here. We can work from some common facts.” And one example of this that I see all the time is when people say, “That’s unfair.” I’m sure you see it all the time with offers on houses. I run into a lot with compensation. And especially if a team has a success, how do we share the proceeds?

Brandon:
And one person says, “It’s unfair.” And they think the other person is being unjust, like, “Wait, there are at least three definitions of fairness. There’s equality where everybody gets the same amount. There’s equity where everybody gets what they earned. And then, there’s need where the most disadvantaged person gets whatever is going to put them in a decent position.” And, oftentimes, one person thinks they’re being fair because they’re doing equity. And another person’s like, “Wait. That’s not equality.” What if we actually defined what fairness meant?

David:
Such a good point. Jinx David Greene. I think, I said it slightly before you. Your internet delay is I should [crosstalk 00:48:53].

Adam:
I don’t think you can know that.

Brandon:
Yeah. I don’t think you can know that. I think you should rethink that. Did you guys do when your [crosstalk 00:48:58] was jinx you owe me a Coke or was jinx like you punched somebody in the arm or you can’t talk [crosstalk 00:49:04].

David:
It depends on your definition of jinx, Brandon. There’s many definitions of that [crosstalk 00:49:08].

Adam:
So many. We had bottle jinx. Yeah, you had to be silent.

Brandon:
Yeah. Mine was you couldn’t talk until somebody said your name. That was our jinx. And then, later on in life, it was like, “Jinx, you owe me a Coke.” And I’m a like, “Moron over there.”

David:
But how many little kids get in arguments about the right way to play the jinx game? I mean this is a good example of what we do as grown-ups. It’s the same thing.

Adam:
That’s why I always prefer rock, paper, scissors. There’s only one set of rules.

Brandon:
Next question I want to talk about real quick. And again, we’re staying on the kind of controversial side of things. But I think it’s fascinating is flip-flopping when it comes to politicians, when it comes to, I mean, Dr. Fauci. How many times have people pulled out that clip of him saying, “You don’t need to wear a mask.” And I was like, “You got to wear 12 masks.” And people love to jump on people rethinking. Yet, we seem to be okay with ourselves flip-flopping on opinions. The things I think today are very different than I thought. I just think millionaires were just like if you were a millionaire, you were a horrible person.

Brandon:
But today, I think, millionaires are all right, I mean many of them. So, how does this play into this idea of flip-flopping or changing one’s opinion? Is that okay? What has your research found on that?

Adam:
Well, I think it depends on why you’re changing your mind. If you’re doing it in politician mindset because you’re trying to play to your base or to get somebody’s buy-in or approval, then we should accuse you of hypocrisy and of violating your principles. I think though there’s another kind of flip-flopping which is called learning which means I changed my mind because I’m in scientist mode. And I came across a better argument or more rigorous evidence where if you don’t flip flop, you’re being a stubborn idiot.

Adam:
And I think we need to praise people who do that kind of rethinking. It’s sometimes hard to tell the difference between them. But I guess my simple place to start is to say, “I expect people to hold pretty firm on their core values,” but to be pretty flexible on their plans. And the political version of that is be true to your principles but flexible on your policies. It cracks me up. If it weren’t so sad, I would actually find this funny.

Adam:
I don’t even know where to start. But the number of times that I’ve seen politicians feet held to the fire for, “But wait, the policy that you ran on is now not being implemented.” Well, what if you found out that policy was not going to serve the goals that got you excited about in the first place?”

David:
Yeah, 100%.

Adam:
I mean let’s take Lincoln as an example of this. If Lincoln were president today, he would be accused of massive flip-flopping because coming into the White House, he did not plan to abolish slavery. He was convinced that it would tear the union apart permanently. How lucky are we that he changed his mind? And he wasn’t changing his principles. He was always interested in ending this horrendous institution. He just thought the cost was too high.

Adam:
And luckily, he was willing to shift his policy in order to make that change. And I think most of us would agree that Lincoln was our greatest president. If he could change his mind, the rest of us can too.

Brandon:
That’s really good. And to take this back to business or even real estate specifically, you might have a plan like, “This is what my company is going to do, or we’re going to buy…” I’m going to buy mobile home parks. That was my thing, and I broadcasted it to the world. And millions of people know I’m buying mobile home parks. That’s what I do. I buy trailer parks. Well, now, I’m like, “I can’t buy quite enough of them. I think there’s other good investments out there as well.”

Brandon:
So, now, we’re looking at we’re doing some self-storage this year. We’re doing some multi [inaudible 00:52:45]. And people are, “Oh, you’re changing your opinion. You’re changing your belief.” I’m like, “No. Nothing’s wrong with what I had before. But I’m adding on more because the economy has changed. The world changed a little bit.” But that’s making me more nimble, I think. I think I’ll be more successful because I’m adding these things on. And so, just anything.

Brandon:
If the value is I want financial independence or I want to not have to work for the man for the next 80 years of my life and retire on social security, that’s the value. The policy can change throughout life.

Adam:
You know the real estate world much better than I do. But I see this in every industry. This is an escalation of commitment problem. You have a strategy. You’re like, “Well, the strategy that made sense for your US launch may not apply to China.” And then, the strategy that made sense six years ago may not be relevant today. I just think about this in personal life too that if you could rewind the clock, if you grew up in the 1700s, imagine all the ridiculous opinions you would have. There are going to be people 100 years from now who look at us that way.

Adam:
And so, we might want to be a little bit more humble about the things we’re sure are true and right.

Brandon:
One thing that drives me crazy, and this brings back what we talked about a minute ago, is that you can get data to back up anything that you wanted to say too. I can pull out studies right now that show you why, I don’t know, whatever, masks work and why masks don’t work. And I can show you data that supports my claim all day long. So, how do we deal in a world that there’s so much data out there to support anything? How do we handle that and how do we stay humble and get humility that things could change in that world?

Adam:
Well, scientists actually have a good set of rules around how to do this. We agree on the methods before we look at the results. And I’ve done this. If we want to go back to the vaccine debate for a second, one of the things I’ve done that’s been extremely productive with some of my friends who are fearful of them is to say, “Like talk through what a well-designed rigorous study would look like.” So, obviously it needs to be a double-blind randomized controlled trial. Okay. You’re worried about pharma maybe leading to biases or manipulation of data. Let’s get an independent team of scientists who have tenure. Like start to talk through how we could mitigate against all the factors that you’re afraid of.”

Adam:
And then, once we agree on the design, you have to believe what the experiment shows because you’ve already decided that you would trust what comes out of it. So I think that’s something we could do in a lot of parts of life. You have to agree on the standards of logic or on the standards of evidence before you know what the outcome is.

Adam:
And one of the other things I might recommend, this comes from the world of Superorecasters, so, I think you guys are familiar with this. But I think these people are so interesting. They compete in tournaments to try to predict future events who’s going to win the next World Cup or the next presidential election. And one of the things that the typical forecasters do is they imagine what the future is going to look like. And then, they formulate a prediction and a strategy around that.

Adam:
Superforecasters, they imagine seven or eight possible futures. And then, they choose the strategy that has the best chance of working in several of them which means it’s more robust. And then, they say, “All right. I might be wrong about a bunch of these.” And they make a list of conditions that would change their mind. And by listing those conditions up front, they’re holding themselves accountable and staying honest.

Brandon:
Is this why everybody… Everybody is a strong word. But pretty much everybody was wrong about Donald Trump back in 2016. Everybody, I feel like, had Hillary for that thing. And good or bad, I’m not trying to get political with that. But it was shocking how many people were wrong on that. Is that because they all looked at what they wanted, and they were bringing that bias into it?

Adam:
I think that’s a lot of it. I think that people generally, they’re motivated… Well, I guess I would say yeah. No. I think that’s right. I think that motivation generally drives thinking more than the reverse. What you want to be true affects how you think. Much more than you’re thinking drives what you want to be true. And I think a lot of people didn’t want Donald Trump to win.

Adam:
I think a lot of people also anchored on the past and said, “Well, here are the factors that normally are critical to winning an election.” And he’s breaking a lot of the rules. And I wrote about this incredible Superforecaster and Think Again. Jean-Pierre Beugoms who’s he’s not even in the world of polling or politics, he’s a military historian and yet he predicted the rise of Trump giving him more than 50% of odds of winning the Republican nomination when Nate Silver had him at 6% and most people thought he was a joke. He’s the world’s most accurate election forecaster.

Adam:
And what Jean-Pierre does is he makes a tentative prediction. And then, he makes a list of conditions that would change his mind. And then, he rigorously assesses whether those conditions have been met. I had such an interesting conversation with him after the book went to press where I said, “All right. Let’s predict the results of the 2020 US presidential election.” And he said, “I can’t do it for two reasons. Number one, it’s way too soon.” I was talking to him in the, I think, it was the summer of 2019. And he said, “This is just way too early to know.”

Adam:
And he said, “Secondly, I don’t want to make a prediction because I’m afraid I’ll become attached to it.” And that stands in the way of good forecasting. And I nudged him a little bit and twisted his arm, and he said, “All right. Based on the following factors, I think Biden has the best shot.” Under the following circumstances, I would change my opinion. That night, he emails me, and he says, “I regret making any kind of prediction. I think it might be Elizabeth Warren, and here’s why.” But here’s what would shift me back. A couple of months later, he was betting on Bernie Sanders. And then, he changed back to Biden and ended up getting the prediction.

Adam:
And that is the hallmark of being a superforecaster more than anything else, more than their intelligence, more than their grit. What distinguishes them from their peers is they change their minds about twice as often. They rethink more frequently. And that seems a good habit to be in.

Brandon:
Really good stuff, man. Well, we don’t want to take up all your time today. So, we want to get you out of here in a few. But let’s go to our last segment of the show. It time for our (singing) The Famous Four is part of the show where we ask the same four questions to every guest every week. So, we’re going to throw them at you right now.

Brandon:
Adam, number one, is there a habit or a trait in your life that you’re trying to develop trying to improve trying to work on, something that you’re personally trying to improve upon?

Adam:
Yeah. There are a lot of things I’m trying to improve upon. Is this supposed to be a lightning round?

Brandon:
It could be, doesn’t have to be. [crosstalk 00:59:13] how much time you got.

Adam:
That was a yes, I think.

Brandon:
No. I got all day. I’m on vacation. So, I got all day.

Adam:
I’ll tell you. Actually, one thing that I’m trying to work on which is incredibly difficult for me, extraordinarily difficult, is to be comfortable with ignorance. I grew up as a kid who, I guess, I either got liked or gained status by knowing things and having answers. And I’m trying to get more comfortable knowing what I don’t know. So, in the book, I started making an ignorance list of all the things I’m clueless about. I know nothing about chemistry, and food, and fashion, and financial markets as a way of putting it out there to say, “Look, I am going to force myself to be comfortable admitting things I don’t know.”

Adam:
And I’m still working on those moments when… Do you remember that episode of Friends where everybody’s talking about something and Joey has no idea what’s going on? But he just kind of nods and smiles to fit in. I’m working on not being that guy. But actually saying, “I have no idea what you’re talking about right now. I am completely, completely an idiot on this topic. Could you please teach me something?”

Brandon:
There’s book, The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss. He says in their alignment it was kind of almost not throw away line. But it wasn’t a major part of the book. People don’t talk about it. But it made such a huge impact on my life, and he said that, and I don’t remember if it’s about him or his parents or something like that. But they make it a goal in their life to never say, “Yeah, I understand,” until they truly understand. So, if they have to dig in over and over because you talk to somebody, they’re trying to explain it to you, and after the second time you asked them, you still don’t get it. You say you get it just to move on the conversation. But he made… just keep digging in like, “No. I still don’t understand it. Make it simple for me, and it made a profound impact on me because I know I’m a people pleaser. I just want to pretend I know it and move on. So, they don’t think I’m an idiot.

Adam:
That’s the curse of agreeableness. Tim is a great role model for this. The first conversation I ever had with him, he was asking me about productivity like, “You’ve spent your whole career studying this. You’re one of the most productive people on earth. Why are you asking me about it?” And he said, “Because I want to find out if there’s something that I don’t know.” And it’s only after hearing about your data and your approach that I’ll discover whether you know something that I don’t. No, no, I really want to know a couple of things that you know during this conversation. Please.

Brandon:
So, good. All right, David.

David:
Next question, what’s your favorite business book?

Adam:
Actually not a big fan of business books. I love idea books. I think that, too often, business books are written in a niche way to solve a specific problem or give practgical advice. The books that I love most are the ones that make me think differently or rethink things that I thought I knew. And yeah, I think they sometimes get branded as business books. But I don’t know if I’d call them them. One that I love is the Culture Code by Dan Coyle. I think Dan did a better job than anything I’ve ever read capturing the magic of great groups.

Brandon:
I think I actually just bought that one on Amazon randomly. Somebody recommended it to me.

Adam:
I highly, highly recommend.

David:
All right. What about some of your hobbies?

Adam:
I would say these days my hobbies are… I haven’t played ultimate frisbee in a while. But I used to play a weekly game. I love playing Anagram, Scrabble and Words With Friends. Another favorite hobby is trying to think of how to best capture this. I don’t know if it counts as a hobby. You can decide if it does or not. I have an ongoing Mario Kart online game with people across the world, friends and family that I don’t get to see enough. And it’s become one of my favorite things to do with my kids. Is that a hobby?

Brandon:
What do you mean? You’re all on like, what, Nintendo something?

Adam:
Yeah. We’re all racing on Nintendo Switch. We’re doing Battle Mode. It’s so fun to have… We have people in Michigan and people in Germany, and it feels like we’re all connected, especially during lockdown. It was kind of my escape from COVID.

Brandon:
Is this good? I haven’t played Mario Kart since the Nintendo 64 days which was that was my favorite game. The Battle Mode on N64 was amazing for that. But is it just as good?

Adam:
Battle Mode is not as good as it was on 64 and Super Nintendo. I think the racing is even better.

Brandon:
Let check it out.

David:
Mario Kart is one of those video games that they made perfectly that anyone can play it. So, if you suck at video games, you can play it. And if you’re really good at video games, you’ll still like it. They were able to get every single demographic into that.

Brandon:
That’s so true. It’s the opposite of playing a game like Golden Eye.

Adam:
Or Call of Duty or something where if you’re not a hardcore person, you’re not going to get into it.

Brandon:
Yeah. The barriers to entry are too high in some of those.

Adam:
Yup. You couldn’t get in.

Brandon:
All right. My last question of the day. What do you think separates, and I know there’s a million things, and we could spend hours on this question. But if you had to boil it down successful entrepreneurs, thought leaders, business owners, having looked at that, successful people, what sets them apart from those who give up on their dreams or they never get started on them?

Adam:
Probably the biggest difference between successful entrepreneurs and people who fail at entrepreneurship or people who don’t go for it at all is it’s not that they’re not afraid of failing. They’re just even more afraid of failing to try. And that fear just propels. I mean you guys have seen this throughout your careers. I have met so many people who have achieved extraordinary things in different fields and been curious about how did you feel comfortable taking the risk.

Adam:
I remember talking to Sara Blakely about starting Spanx when she knew nothing about fashion or retail or even entrepreneurship or Reid Hoffman. How in the world did you know you were ready to start LinkedIn? And both of them said, “We didn’t. We had confidence in ourselves and as learners.” And I think what I took away from that conversation was when they ran the regret test, yeah, they’d regret failing. But they’d have much bigger if they failed to try at all.

Adam:
I think there’s one other thing that I might say is a little different which is I think they define success differently too. It’s not just about achieving their goals. It’s about living their values. I think we should all have a clear hierarchy of values, and I don’t know that we want to rethink it every day. But reflecting and revisiting maybe every year could be healthy. So, I did this recently. And I came out with generosity, excellence, integrity, freedom and learning. And now, instead of saying, “Did I hit my goals for how much I wanted to write this week,” what I’m much more likely to do is ask, “Did I spend this week aligned with those values?” And I think it makes it a lot easier to say no to things that are not going to have impact and a lot easier to focus on things that really matter to me.

Brandon:
That’s so good. I had a buddy. His name is Jefferson Bethke. He always says, “Rather than setting goals for what you want to have, why not set goals for who you want to be?” And I always thought, “I love that quote of, yeah, do I want to be a more giving person. Do I want to be more generous?” So, awesome, man. Well, thank you for joining us. This has been phenomenal. I love it. I’ll let David ask the last question. But I really, really appreciate having you here and the book’s amazing. So, I’ll just talk about that as well in a minute.

David:
I hope you don’t rethink that. But I do want to ask before we go. Having read the book, what’s something I should rethink?

Adam:
That’s a good question.

Brandon:
If you want to think about it while David’s asking his question.

Adam:
I’m going to think about it, yeah. Go ahead.

David:
That’s a very generous of you there, Adam. Last question of the day is where can people find out more about you.

Adam:
Oh, that’s kind of you to ask. Possible sign of a giver rather than a taker. Where can you find out more? I guess adamgrant.net. I put all my articles and videos up there, podcasts. I do a granted newsletter where I share a bunch of my favorite ideas on work in psychology a couple of times a month. And I love the fact that there are all these people in the world who are curious about what makes us tick and who really want to get better and do that using evidence. And so, I just feel really fortunate to be in a position where I get to share some of those ideas and that knowledge.

Brandon:
All right. I’m going to answer the question.

Adam:
All right. You’re putting me on the spot here. I’m going to go-

Brandon:
I’m going to hold you accountable.

Adam:
Now, I don’t know you really well. So, I’ll say that you maybe are already doing this in your personal life. You kind of wrote this. But I’m going to go with the, I think, you should rethink careers, and I’m going to say rethinking careers as being as important as they are and real estate investing being more important. That’s what I’m going to go with.

Brandon:
So, wait tell me more.

Adam:
[crosstalk 01:07:57] answer. I think a lot of people, a lot of writers, and thought leaders talk a lot about careers and work, and that kind of stuff. And I think we live in an entire world that’s a little bit weird, and that most of us are like, “We don’t really want to work that much in our life. We want to get out of it. We want to spend significantly more time with family and friends.” And so, I would say again, I think, rethinking is the wrong word here because again, I don’t know if you think that way or not. But that’s what I encourage you to think toward is how do I work significantly less, pump out just as much good content, but don’t want to lose your content. But spend more time with family, friends and-

Brandon:
Wow, that’s so interesting.

Adam:
What do you think [crosstalk 01:08:35].

Brandon:
I think you’re onto something really important there. A long time ago when, I think, I was pretty early in the org psych field, my sister told me. She said, “Not everyone has to have a calling in their job.” It’s okay to just have a job or work that you like but is not the center of your identity. Big rethinking moment for me. I totally agree with you, Brandon. Even though I study work for a living, I don’t think it should define us.

Brandon:
I just I happen to have a job that I find so interesting and also think is useful in various ways in the world. And so, when I end up working a lot, it’s because I’m drawn to it, not because I feel obligated or pressured to do it. But I think I need to take this more seriously because I still find myself over committing a lot. And if I made work a little bit less central to who I am, I would probably be better at setting those boundaries. So, what advice do you have for me about how to do that? I know part of it is become a real estate investor. But go on.

Adam:
No. I don’t. And by the way, you can always tell you’re interviewing a podcaster because they turn it around, and they podcast question you.

Brandon:
You know what? I bit my tongue so many times in this conversation because I knew you weren’t going to let me do it for the whole thing.

Adam:
No. Those are good shows though. Those are good shows. Advice for you, man. And by the way, just to support that, people oftentimes tell me, I think, too much about money and I think too much about work and real estate and success and being a millionaire, and I’m, “I really don’t care that much about it. It just happens to be the line of work that fascinates me.” So, I’m right on there with you. I think it’s easy to judge a person based on the work that they put out, the books that they write, and they’re like, “Oh, that’s all they must do, is think about that.”

Adam:
But, man, I don’t know. I would say the advice for you and everyone else is the phrase we use a lot around here is follow the fire. And for whatever reason, it’s this thing will spark in you. You’re like, “Oh, man. Trailer park sounds super interesting.” That’s a weird thing that I just leaned into. So, as you go through life, you’re like, “You know what? I think it would be fun to take six months off and do a mini-retirement Tim Ferriss style.” You’re like, “I’m going to lean into that.” So, lean into those little sparks because we’re all weird people, and we’re all wired weirdly. And everyone’s got a different spark. So, lean into it.

Brandon:
I love that. It makes me wonder about the micro version of that. I was just talking with Ricardo Semler who had this crazy experiment at Semco in Brazil where among many things he did that I never thought would ever happen in a workplace, he gave people the chance to just give up 10% of their salary to buy back a day a week at work, and he said, “Well, we’ll treat this as an early retirement. You get a retirement day every week and go do the thing that you want to do when you’re retired. But you’re probably going to be too old to do.” And people have loved it. Why don’t we do that? I’d love to have a four-day work week in any team I work with. And I think most of us could be as productive and probably happier too in four focus days than five unproductive ones.

Adam:
I’d be curious. Was that a study he did? What percentage of people, and if he hasn’t, we should do this study. But what percentage people in the world would say, “Yes, I would make that trade 10% for a day a week.”

Brandon:
That’s a great question. I don’t know. I know he gave the opportunity to, they have, what, 19,000 employees across a bunch of countries. I know a lot of people took him up on it, and they were thinking it was going to be people in their 40s and 50s, 20s and 30s primarily.

Adam:
Yeah. There’s a cultural shift that happened. To go back to that question I bet you 99% of our audience would 100% take. I mean 99% of them would say in a heartbeat, “Yes, I would take that 10% job for an extra day.” Maybe not 99%. A lot of them.

Brandon:
Well, you have a whole audience of people who are running organizations of various sizes, right?

Adam:
Yeah.

Brandon:
Go run that experiment. Think like a scientist and say, “All right. What’s the worst that will happen?” People are going to… They’re going to find that it didn’t work for them or it didn’t work for you. And then, you’ll say, “All right. We learned something.”

Adam:
Good stuff, man.

David:
What I love about this is it forces people to rethink if you should measure your productivity in hours spent at work or tasks that were completed or progress that was made because you made a great point, Adam. I think the majority of people can get more work done in four focus days than five days where they’re just punching the clock and saying, “Well, I’m here. I’m at work. So, that’s all that matters.”

Adam:
So, true. I mean anybody who thinks that we could measure your performance or your productivity in terms of time, no. It’s supposed to be the value that you create.

David:
That’s exactly right, and that’s something, I think, that as the world is adjusting, the people that are catching up to that and getting ahead of it quicker, the entrepreneurs that are recognizing that they can get more done if they focus on it are the ones who are thriving, and that really if you think about where that concept came from, it was the industrial revolution. I need you to stand here at an assembly line for this long and eight hours because I can put that into a 24-hour period of time very evenly. Stay here and put a widget together, and we’re still sort of operating under that, might sit down.

David:
I think, Brandon, that’s probably what you were getting at when you were saying rethink the career. It’s the this is the lane that you have to stay in to do this thing as opposed to sort of stepping back and seeing the big picture. And Adam, also I just want to highlight, that was a remarkably fast process that you just took Brandon’s suggestion, practically applied it to how it would work in your life. Everybody listening, if we could all think as fast as Adam [crosstalk 01:13:47] doing a lot better.

Adam:
I’ll just be happy if people rethink a little faster.

David:
All right. Well, thank you, man. This has been fantastic. Really, really good show.

Adam:
Thank you. Enjoyed it.

David:
This is David Greene for Brandon Text But Don’t Call Turner, signing off.

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In This Episode We Cover:

  • The preacher, prosecutor, and politician mindsets 
  • Valuing humility over pride and stopping your ideas from becoming your identity 
  • How ego, image, and regret play into the way we act
  • Blackberry vs Apple and how Steve Jobs made the right decision 
  • Why you should give people FEWER reasons to back up a proposal
  • Why “super forecasters” will never let a bias persuade them
  • And So Much More!

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