Will Storr: "The More Status You Earn, The Better Everything Gets" | E167 | Transcription
Transcription for the video titled "Will Storr: "The More Status You Earn, The Better Everything Gets" | E167".
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You shouldn't raise your children to believe that they can be Beyonce, because the chances are they can't. Will Store is an award-winning author of six critically acclaimed books. His ideas are disruptive, challenging and life-changing, and some of them will make you feel incredibly uncomfortable. People don't like to talk about this stuff. Ninety-nine percent of self-help books never mention genes. They want to promote that idea of "I can be whoever I want to be." But a huge amount of who we are is who we were born as. That myth of you have full control over yourself as a human being, that's the problem. It's not about embracing your flaws. It's about accepting your flaws. Our lives are full of status-pitude. The more status that you earn, the better everything else gets. That was true 10,000 years ago. It's true today. The brain is highly attuned to where we sit in a pecking order. The lower we are down in that pecking order, the more unhealthy we became. If you take two smokers, the one higher up is less like the driver smoking-related disease than the one lower down. That's mental. It matters massively. How do we advance in the status game? That there are kind of three general-tonest status games we can play. First game is a... Without further ado, I'm Stephen Bartlett, and this is the Dirova CEO. I hope nobody's listening, but if you are, then please keep this to yourself. Well, first of all, thank you for being here.
Discussion On Self-Esteem And Social Status
Your early years, how was your self esteem shaped In those years? (01:26)
Take me right back then to your early years, because I think when I was reading through your different books here, throughout them you have glimpses of your own perspective, and it hints back to what I read about your early years. So take me back right back to the start, you know, before the age of, let's say, 12. OK, so, yeah. I was brought up in Samadwales in Kent, middle-class family, very Catholic. It was quite a Victorian, strict, superstitious, religious upbringing, not the happiest upbringing, I have to say. Why? Because my parents were very strict. My father was very strict, especially. And they were very much in the grip of their Catholic belief system, which I just didn't never, like, always baffled me, even as a kid. It's like, what happened? How can you believe this stuff? I went to a Catholic school. So, and I was quite... I was probably a difficult... If you were to ask them, they'd say I was a difficult child, because I was pushing against that all the time. You know, I thought it was crazy. I wasn't very good at authority in rules. So, it was a bad fit, I would say. And I think that's one of the things that's kind of driven my interest into adulthood. My second book, The Heretics, was looking at, why do otherwise smart people believe... end up believing these crazy things? Because my parents are smart people. But, yeah, they believe in heaven, hell, Satan, all that stuff. I think that's how my childhood has informed my interest as an adult. Trying to figure out how that happens. In your book Selfie, you talk a lot about Self-esteem and the role that plays. What was your... Give me the context of how your Self-esteem was shaped in those early years. Well, how it was shaped in those early years, I guess it was poorly, would be the answer. I think because my behaviour was not great, the continual message I would get from teachers and parents was that you're a bad person, you're going to end up in prison, you're going to end up in care. Yeah, so there was very little positive feedback in my childhood, which I think is... That causes damage that you're never going to go over, I believe. Do you think you never get over that damage? Yes, because I think we're all born with a certain kind of personality, with a certain genome, and that's not fate, that doesn't define who you're going to be forever. But it sets you on a certain course, it makes you vulnerable to a certain kind of mindset. And I think a good childhood, a good upbringing can correct that to a certain degree, but a bad one can set it on a negative course. And I'm quite a neurotic person, I'm anxious, I've always worried a lot. So when you take that kind of natural personality type, high neuroticism, and add into that a childhood which kind of reinforces that sense that the world is dangerous, that people are out to get you, all of that stuff, that reality isn't safe. And then what happens is your brain is still being formed really up until you'll be 20s, that it's in your mid-20s when they're going to learn in processes stock. And so it's very hard, and probably I would argue, probably impossible to reverse 18 years of that kind of feedback once it's happened, because those are the years in which your brain is learning how the world works. And so yeah, I don't think it's fixable. That's one of the ongoing conversations or debates or things that I've kind of been cheering over from doing this podcast and listening to people from all walks of life that have achieved amazing things that still have underlying trauma or sort of self-stories that are controlling their life and their behaviour. And I spend a long time talking to people about whether you can ever truly eradicate some of these traumas, the puppet master that's in the back room, controlling your biases and all these things. And my conclusion over the last literally weeks has been that we can diminish the power that our early traumas have over us, but they're always going to be there. And is that where you find yourself, but in terms of your belief, that we can diminish the power of those stories, but they'll always be there? Absolutely. That's exactly right. That's why I believe exactly. We can definitely diminish their power. And I'm 47 now and it still amazes me that you never stop learning. And you never stop learning about yourself. You never stop learning about things you get wrong. And I've got to stop doing that. It's overly simplistic to think of consciousness as this battle between reason and emotion. But there is something like that going on. Our emotionality is usually in charge of what we're thinking and what we're doing. We respond emotionally and that voice in your head doesn't tell a story about what you're feeling. And usually it's to justify that emotion. It's to say, "Yes, you were right to feel like that. You were right to respond to anger and hostility at that person." And then the next day you think, "Oh, maybe it wasn't that." You know, so I think what we're used to is called reason. That reasonable voice in your head actually often isn't reasonable. It's just justifying and validating your initial emotional response, which is, you know, sometimes right, sometimes wrong. So I think what you're doing when you're learning for me anyway is you're learning actually, almost impairing yourself, doing that voice in your head into someone that isn't going to be a harsh judge or on the other extreme someone who's just going to accept and validate and defend everything, every behavior, every thought you have, every mistake you make. You're looking for that balance all the time. And you're looking to spot, I think you're looking to spot those occasions on which you're making the same mistake over and over again. Have you got a harsh judge in your head? Absolutely. Yeah, definitely. Yeah, I have. I'm self-employed. I've been a writer without an employee for 20 years. I think you have to have a harsh judge to get yourself out of bed, to get yourself in front of the computer, to do eight hours plus work a day. So I think it's kind of weird. I think to achieve anything significant, there's got to be a harshness to... I'm just trying to think whether judge is the right word. I've read recently that the ideal parent is kind of firm, but also kind and caring and understanding. And I think that's what... I think that's the ideal parent. I think I've written it. That's the ideal of who should be inside our own heads really. You go have that balance. And I think you can go wrong in either direction. Your book's self-in. Yeah.
Your book selfie, the inspiration (08:55)
What was the... I mean, I love the name. It was very off the time in 2017. It was. Yeah. What was the inspiration behind writing this book? Right. So the book before that was called The Heretics. And The Heretics was, as I said before, it was going to be inspired by this idea of how the smart people end up believing crazy things. And so that was all about when we have these stubborn beliefs that are irrational, or that we don't let go of. So I was hanging out with Holocaust deniers. I was hanging out with creationists, UFO believers, people like this. And then in the promotion for that, I was asked to get in again and again, but people... So what makes people change their minds? You're saying that people can never change their minds. And I didn't have an answer to that question. I'm going to have to bluff through it. So I thought, "That's... I don't understand that." So maybe I should try and find out. So I was a journalist at the time. It's a day job. And so I started interviewing lots of people who changed their minds, like in big dramatic kind of powerful ways. One of those guys was this amazing psychologist called Professor Roy Baumeister. He spent his early professional career in the self-esteem era of the '80s, you know, when... And this is the era I was brought up to when everything was about self-esteem. It was all about the kind of message out there was, "If you want to be successful, just love yourself. You're amazing. You're fantastic. You can do anything that you want." You know, it was Whitney Houston. The greatest love of all is yourself. It was that kind of era. And I remember it from school. I remember like, you know, teacher saying to me, "The problem with you, Will, is you just have low self-esteem." And they used to go to self-esteem, a social vaccine. And if you loved yourself, it would meant that you would be more successful. You'd be happier. You'd have a bit of marriage. You know, in America, they thought the self-esteem was going to self-homelessness, the gang culture. Teenage Parenthood was a big moral panic at the time. They thought it was going to cure that. And he was like, "Well, is it true? Is this actually true?" And so they looked into it and they found actually that there was no evidence that any of this was true. That every study that quoted it as being true just referenced another study. And he went into this breadcrumb trail of studies. They were all just quoting each other and there was no actual evidence any of this is true. And they actually tested to see whether that self-esteem myth was true or not. And it wasn't. It wasn't true. It was originally based on this idea that this observation that school children who did well in exams also had high self-esteem. So they assumed that having high self-esteem made you good at exams. But actually, they had high self-esteem because they'd done good in their exams. It was the other way around. It's got us this obvious image of speech. But that's what they... That was the error they made. Correlation causation, that old chestnut. So he published this study and the initial response was just, you know, it was absolutely torn to pieces. It was either ignored or attacked. But slowly he was proven to be right. And so when I wrote a profile of Balmeister and he was a fascinating guy. And then what I realised was that this idea had not just changed a person, but it changed a culture. Like the whole culture of the West, Britain, America, Canada and lots of Europe. When I was growing up in the 80s and 90s, I was obsessed with this idea and it was just wrong. It was completely wrong. So that was the heart of selfie. It was this idea of how did selfie culture happen? How did it become self-obsessed? And the self-esteem movement was a big part of that story. And it's the kind of central story of the book. Chapter zero, the dying self, was quite difficult to read. Oh, okay. Yeah. I thought it was a very, you know, you explore topics like suicide and your own sort of self-doubt and things like that. And your own suicidal ideation at times. Why did you choose to start the book in that way? I suppose I wanted to start the book there to show, you know, why this matters. You know, where I ended up within the book was this idea that we live, that we are in the West, individualists. Yeah, you know, we see the world as a matter of individual pieces and parts. And we are individually responsible for our fate, we're individually responsible for our success and our failure. And there's lots of good things to say about that. You know, it's an extremely motivating way of organizing your thoughts, organizing your life. You know, I am responsible for me and I will take care of me. But it's also kind of savage, you know, and it means, you know, that kind of Western myth we have is that, you know, that you can do anything that you want. Just put your mind to it, you can achieve it, that kind of mindset. But very often we fail. And so if it's true that you're responsible for your success, then it only logically follows that you're also responsible for your failure. And so these individualistic ideas accelerated in the 1980s. And that's because of a variety of things. It was the self esteem movement partly. But the self esteem movement became successful because we, because of the Thatcher, Reagan, revolutionism argument, neoliberalism, that we changed the economies of the West. We changed the game. You know, before the 1980s, we were much more collective, it was much more, you know, socialist, even in America. The top rate of tax was 90%, you know, it's extraordinary. And then the economy started going wrong in the 70s. So the neoliberal revolution happened and the idea, the central idea that, you know, Reagan and Thatcher pursued was we're going to increase competition wherever we can. So with Jesus Social Safety Net, privatized everything, just everyone's got to be competitive. And it changed who we are. When you change the rules of the game of life, you change the people who play that game, which is what my latest book is about, really. And so we became more competitive as a people. And what psychologists find is a major study that found that since, you know, the onset of neoliberalism, levels of perfectionism have increased massively in the UK, in America, and in Canada. And perfectionism is implicated in suicidal ideation, in eating disorders, in steroid abuse, and, you know, and self harm, and so on and so on and so on. So that's why I wanted to begin the book there, to show why this matters. You know, it isn't just a kind of abstract academic exploration of the self, you know, I wanted to begin with, this is how it affects people. If perfectionism can be quite an insidious issue in Western cultures where we're getting more individualistic, what is a better approach do you think to take for what is a better message to share with society in the world about that? I think, you know, I like the idea of, you know, I think the idea that I kind of develop is in selfie, partly it's about self acceptance rather than self love. I think self love is that, you know, I used to be a massive, and a big brother when a big brother was on. And there was always a thing in Big Brother where somebody would behave completely obnoxiously, they'd be like rude, aggressive, just deeply unpleasant. And they would always defend themselves in the same way they go, "I'm just being me, that's just me, and if you don't like me, you know." And I think that's the self-esteem movement talking. It's like, "I'm going to be my authentic self, and if you can't handle that, that's on you." And I think that's wrong, you know, we're a social animal. We have evolved to exist cooperatively. And I think when individualism, I think there's a lot to say in its defence, but when it goes too far, that's where it becomes. It becomes, that kind of screw you mindset. So I think self acceptance is different than self love. Self acceptance is I'm a flawed, broken animal, you know, as we all are. And, you know, I looked like what we were talking about earlier on, it's about being that harsh but loving parent rather than that, rather than being your own defence lawyer, you know, being that kind of harsh but loving parent. And being accepted, you know, having this acceptance that you are a flawed and limited animal, like, you know, you shouldn't raise your children to believe that they can be Beyonce if they want to be Beyonce, because the chances are they can't. And she's like an extraordinarily talented and driven individual. She's the one in a billion, you know. So, you know, I think that's an unhealthy message to, by which to raise our children and also, you know, talk to ourselves. And it's much more about understanding our strengths, our flaws, and kind of finding the right games to play, find out that little corner of the world in which we can feel of value. I think that's what we should be trying to do. Had your parents told you that you were Beyonce and had those schools told you that you were Beyonce? Would you have been happy, as you think?
Would you have been happier if you were told you could succeed? (17:49)
Um... I mean, I was sometimes told that I could succeed at school, but I just wasn't applying myself in such a waste. I can't be pleased. Yeah. But you saw a weird school thing. I mean, I have to say, I think I went to a really bad school. It was a comprehensive school. You know, you hear these stories about teachers that inspire you. You know, it wasn't for this teacher. I never had that teacher. They were all just really bored and resentful. But going to class, there was one teacher who was just opening his folder. Where were we? He'd read his folder for about 15 minutes, and that would be the history lesson. You know, and that was the school I went to. It was miserable. And I always wanted to be a writer. And I was always in trouble. I was always this sort of problem student. And I had this English teacher who was quite an high school, Mr. Lanaway. And I thought, "You know, I'm going to start writing short stories in my spare time, and I'm going to give them to my English teacher." It's still where I've gotten my look, and I've written this thing. And so I gave him a couple. And I think I gave him number three, you know, after a third weekend, thinking that he was... Oh, in my head, he was thinking, "Oh, Will's... William has found this thing that he's actually applying himself to. How amazing." And he said to me, "You know, this is all just extra work for me, don't you?" And that is how he scolded me for giving him extra work to do. So I stopped writing those short stories. And I just think if I'd have actually been encouraged to be... I was never encouraged to be a writer by my school, or I wrote a school magazine, and that course made all kinds of trouble as well. So I never actually had any encouragement. And I do kind of think if I was actually encouraged to be a writer, I would have probably got there sooner and probably been a better writer today. Well, on that point of Beyonce, though, it seems to me that if someone had turned around to you and said, "You are a Beyonce, and you can do anything. You could be an amazing writer." It seems to me that actually might have helped. Yes, yes, but that's what I mean about identifying your strengths. Like I think for me writing was a strength, but nobody ever... And if that was identified, and if somebody said to me, "God, you should carry on writing these..." Literally, if one person, one adult said to me, these short stories, they're real promises you carry on writing these, it would have blown my mind. I'd have definitely carried on, but I just stopped. I just stopped. So yeah, but that's what I mean. I think the mistake is somebody in the research for self with this Harvard psychologist, Brian Little said it's the myth of unlimited control, that myth of... You have full control over yourself as a human being, and that means that you can do anything. That's the problem. That's the problem. But actually, I think what you should do is identify what is this person passionate about? What are they actually good at? And if somebody saw promising me as a journalist or a writer, then that's what they should have encouraged me in. But it was actually just a battle. In the chapter of the Good Self, in that book, chapter 4, you talk about the different forces that are controlling our behavior.
Am I actually making decisions? (20:57)
And it made me think that I've also had this ongoing thought about how control of my life. Over what the forces are that are actually controlling my life, because we tend to believe, obviously, as we would, from this first person view that I'm making my decisions. But when I... This sounds quite... I don't care. I'm going to say it. When I reflect on the stories I've heard from men regarding their behavior before they've ejaculated, and after they've ejaculated, it is pretty... I actually said this in like podcast number 4, when no one was actually listening, and it was just me and under the stairs in Manchester, I said, "The change that I saw in my behavior or how I felt before and after ejaculation is extreme." And I watched Rogen talk about this. He described it as being, "Before ejaculation at the back of the bus, and you're just fucking being swung around." He said, "It's foggy, there's papers everywhere." And then he says, "Post ejaculation, it's like you zoom forward onto the wheel of the bus and go, "Oh, fuck, what's going on there?" And you get back control. And just this... For me, that was one of the clearest signs that my decision-making is not as intentional as I thought it was. And you talk about that kind of thing a little bit in that chapter. You talk about a study where men are asked a variety of different questions while they're masturbating. Can you share that study and also what you learned from it about the way that we make our decisions? Well, I haven't read about that study for a good five years now, but I think it was something about... They were asked to see us the questions about... Were they asked to do us the questions about what they would do in certain... Yeah, it's like the sexual preferences. So it's like, would you be attracted to an animal? Would you be a... That's it. Yeah. I think before they'd masturbated their answers were much more extreme in the direction of, yes, I would have sex with an animal. Yes, I would pressure somebody into having sex than they would after masturbation. And I think most men can read that study and go, "You can relate a little bit to..." Not that I'm saying that most men would have sex with an animal, obviously. But how are thinking is different? And I love studies like that because I feel like it... When we feel a different way, we do almost become a different person. Like I'm writing in selfie about when I'm trying to lose weight again. And on Monday morning, I'm absolutely resolute. It's like, I'm going to keep my calories down. I'm going to exercise every day. I am a machine. I'm a stoic. I'm athletic. That's who I am. But by Friday evening, I'm just like, "I'm going to get a... I need to have some chips." And it's not just that you feel a different way. It's almost that you've become a different person, but which I mean you have a different personality. You're much more loose and happy and good to be around on Friday than you're on Monday, but you're like that. But you have a different value system. On Monday, I value this set of things. I value discipline and order and structure. And on Friday evening, I value fun and laughter and pleasure. So it is that we almost, I think, pre and post ejaculation. We want to become a different person. Monday morning versus Friday night, we become different people. So I think that we're so fluid in who we are depending on how we're feeling. We don't want to be, though. No. It's not how we think of ourselves. We think of ourselves as a certain kind of person. As a certain boxed in set of values and behaviours. I think there's probably somewhere above 50% of people listening that can relate to that Monday issue. If, you know, on Monday I am a Greek god and I am disciplined and I am everything I'll become. Everything I want to be on by next week. And then something happens. How does... I would be remiss if I didn't ask. What can you tell us about how to stop or how to maintain or be consistent as our Monday selves? Is there anything you've learned about the psychology there that might help us to be our Monday selves come Friday? So in selfie I write about how important it is to change our environment rather than change ourselves. And the kind of story that I tell is, I call it the lizard and the iceberg where, if you take a lizard from the desert and pop it on an iceberg, it's going to be a very unhappy lizard. If you put it back in the desert, it's going to be happy and thriving and wonderful. And nothing has changed in the lizard. It's the environment that's changed. And I think part of being an individualist is that we look into ourselves to our behaviour to explain the causes of our behaviour. But actually, you know, so much of our behaviour is controlled by what's going on around us, by our environment. And the reason we feel Friday on Fridays is because it's Friday and that has the cultural resonance. That's Friday night. Yeah, I think it's Friday. And we've done five days of work so we feel different. So I think a lot of it is about changing our environment. There is a lot to say about if you take yourself to the gym, you've changed your environment. If you can certainly, with things like weight loss, it's a lesson that I never seem to learn, but do not have that stuff in the house. Oh my God, amen. Because it would guarantee that you will eat it. It's a drug. And so I think maintain your environment to maintain yourself. I think that's one of the key takeaways that I've learned. How to stay alive in the age of perfectionism.
How our genes control us (27:02)
How does one stay alive? One of the interesting things in that chapter was you kind of debunk this idea that alcoholism, for example, and a lot of these things that I've spoken to guests about on this podcast that they've suffered with don't necessarily stem from having a unhappy childhood. I've got a friend that is very public about the fact that he became an alcoholic. And I guess I believed it was because of traumatic early events. I tended to believe that that was the case, but you debunked that quite clearly. And kind of assert that personality is the causal factor in most of our predispositions. Yeah, I think one of the things that I've learned, well, certainly from research in that book, was just the incredible power of personality and the incredible power of our genes. People don't like to talk about this stuff because they feel it's disempowering. So whenever you read a self-help book, most of them, 99% of self-help books, never mention genes because it's unhelpful. They want to promote that idea of 100% self-control, I can be who everyone to be. But genes are so important. And as I said, it's not that they dictate who we are or you're born with a kind of blueprint and that's all you ever going to be. But you are born with a certain kind of genome, with a certain level of likely neuroticism, openness to experience, extraversion, agreeableness, how kind of happy or kind of angry or competitive you are, and so on. And so you're born kind of with a certain prevailing wind, and then your childhood experiences mostly will do the rest of that wiring up. So by the time you're in your kind of 20s, you're kind of who you are, like not 100% because still traumatic experiences can break you to pieces, you know, you know, lots of things can change, but you're kind of who you are. As I said, people don't like that idea because it really goes against our individualist kind of credo or you can be beyond say if you want to be. But it is nevertheless true that a huge amount of who we are is just who we were born as. You know, and I've got that addictive personality, I was an alcoholic, I had to give up drinking and I was 26 because I lost control of how much I was drinking and I still struggle with kind of, you know, sugar now. I've swapped booze for sugar, it's my problematic behavior, which is much easier to manage. So I get it. But yeah, it's not, I think part of the fact that we're these storytelling animals, I think since 70s, since it's probably, well even the 60s, we've had this kind of therapy culture which wants to go archeological digging in our pasts for the causes of our, all of our problems. And, you know, I think there is a certain amount of truth to that stuff. Like I'm sure our childhoods affect us. But we tend to blame everything on our childhoods, everything on our parents. And I think alcoholism is one of those things that is mostly genetic. You know, you've either got that problem with addiction or you don't. Can it be accelerated by trauma though? Because, you know, when I speak to psychologists, they often talk about it being a form of escapism in many ways. And other drugs and, you know, other self-medications being a form of like trying to escape pain or trauma. Definitely. Yeah. I think how to think about it is that it's, you could have a vulnerability to it. Yeah. And that's the genetic component. And if something bad happens to you, then you're much more likely to kind of fall into that. Dresses someone else who doesn't. Who doesn't. Yeah, exactly. Okay. Yeah. On that point of storytelling, you mentioned storytelling there in our narrative.
Story telling (30:56)
Your book in 2019 was about storytelling. Having worked in marketing was very compelled to read this book for the... Probably, you know, we talked before we start recording that a lot of people will see a book about, with the word "storytelling" on the front of it, and think that they can use it from a marketing capacitor or in a business sense. What have you learned about how people can tell great stories in the context of business and marketing? Yeah. Well, so quite a lot. I teach business storytelling at Section 4, which is an American EdTech organization. So I do a course there in the science of storytelling for business. And we are storytelling animals. We think in story. We, you know, narrative is basically, you know, how we experience ourselves and life. And so, as I say in that course, if you're not communicating with story as a marketer, you're not communicating. You know, logic and facts and data and statistics, that's not the language of the brain. The language of the brain is the beginning, middle and end, a character overcoming obstacles. I think a lot of the stuff we've been talking about is important, especially the idea that people think with their feelings. You know, it's feelings first, story second. The story justifies the feelings. And so if you want to tell persuasive stories, you need to first understand exactly who you're communicating with. And you need to understand how they feel about the world, how they feel about themselves, how they feel about, you know, justice and what their values are. And so that means understanding them kind of tribally, what groups do they belong to? Who are their heroes? Who are their villains? What motivates them? What demotivates them? So before you can sort of write the story, you need to figure out how they feel about the world. So a bad story then would be one that was, because, you know, I thought about this a lot. And my previous business was very successful in storytelling. So my first company, Social Chain, it's going to be a very big business, maybe a thousand employees worldwide. We started out as a marketing agency, never had a sales team, because we focused on telling stories. Those stories were told on social media and on stage by me. So when I would go up on stage and talk about our agency to try and win business from Napole, or Coca-Cola, whoever it was, I would actually start by talking about my relationship with my mother. And that would be the first sentences out of my mouth when I walked on stage. If there was a thousand people or fifteen thousand people there, it would be about my mother. And through that story about my mother and my upbringing and my battles and all those things, eventually you'd learn about our business and what we do and about the great work we do. And that was the preface of it. And that meant we never needed a sales team. I've always believed that if I'd walked on stage and started with a case study, I would have had to have a sales team at Social Chain, not going on doors. And I think this is one of the biggest mistakes businesses make. When they pitch, when they speak on stage, when they post on social media, I think they have a, they believe that the listener wants big numbers. And to how many views they got for their clients, and it just doesn't seem to be consistent with reality. No, it's not. I mean, so what you're doing when you're going into what your mother is, you're connecting emotionally. So people are wanting, they're on your side immediately and you're making them feel good. You're making them feel things emotionally. The kind of framework that I use for business storytelling is that, you know, essentially people's brains process reality in the same way. And that's the, you know, so they're the hero of their story. You're not the hero standing on the stage. The company that's selling to you isn't the hero. They're the hero of their own story. They are, you know, they've got goals that are trying to pursue. We will have, you know, which are the plots of our lives. The audience. Yeah, the audience, the person you're selling to. And then there's a brilliant story analyst called Christopher Booker who wrote this amazing book called The Seven Basic Plots. And he writes about archetypal characters in storytelling that equals light figures. And so the light figure is the example he uses are the three ghosts in Christmas Carol, the Charles Dickens Scrooge story. So Scrooge is the hero of that story. But the three ghosts come in to show him Christmas past, Christmas present, Christmas future. They help him get what he needs, which is to become a better, more selfless, more generous, more loving, giving person. So they arrive in his story to kind of show him the way to help him get what he needs. And so that's what I argue. That's the appropriate position for most companies and organizations and these is not to be the hero because your audience feels like they're the hero. You're the light figure. You're there to help them get what they want. So when you go straight in with his or my awards, here's what this person said about me. Here's some statistics and stuff. You're not a light figure. You're presenting as the hero. What people really want to know is how can you help me get what I want? And that's the story that you have to tell. What kind of example can you give me to really make that make me understand that in a real practical sense? Is there a brand you've seen do this really well? Is there an example of a... I mean, my brain went to Nike for some reason. Yeah. Well, that's... Oh, Nike's a really interesting example. So obviously one of the things that Nike has done recently is it's done that ad campaign around Colin Kaepernick, which is controversial, but did them... I think they're something up to like 6% after that ad campaign. And that's a really good example of an organization who is behaving as a light figure. So that Colin Kaepernick, I can paint, has nothing to do with shoes. What they're not doing is going, our shoes will make you run 8% faster. We've got these sprung soles. We've got these amazing laces that won't trip you up, whatever. They're their stats list. It's not in theirs. It's purely... They're telling a story. They've figured out that their client base are mostly believing this set of beliefs around the world. And those are goals. People who... The target audience that they're appealing to, want to achieve this kind of racial social justice, and that's important to them. So what Nike are basically saying is, we are light figures in this story. We are on the side of the Colin Kaepernick's of the people who are kneeling. We believe that black lives matter. And so they're presenting as a light figure. And if you think about it, Rachni, it's kind of crazy. Why would a shoe company have this political thing? But it's because of the storytelling, because they're presenting as a light figure who was engaged in this particular mission in the world. And in order to join the mission, you buy the Nike shoes and it worked. It worked really well. One of the archetypal examples that I talk about that I love is that there was an ad that was broadcast in the 60s by Volkswagen. And it was the first kind of modern advert. It was the first advert that you would look at and recognize as the kind of advertising that we do today. So before this Volkswagen ad, all ads were just stats lists. Here's this amazing tire, and this will get you 0 to 60 and whatever. And then this Volkswagen did this amazing ad where it was black and white, because it was still in the days of black and white. And it just showed this guy, it was all snowing, a big blizzard outside, and this guy gets in his car, he turns it, he's like, you know, just before dawn. He turns in his ignition, drives his car through the blizzard, the blizzard, the blizzard. Opens his huge shed doors, and then he hear this big engine start up and out drives his snow plow. And it's, how does the guy who drives the snow plow get to the snow plow? And it's just Volkswagen. And that's a really simple, really effective story. And it's showing Volkswagen as this light figure, we are helping the hero achieve what he wants. And you know, I don't believe that the Volkswagen was particularly good at driving through blizzards. I don't believe that. And there's certainly weren't making any factual claim in the sense that we are better than Land Rover and whatever, whatever, whatever, doing this because of this stat. It was as simple as that, and it revolutionized marketing. It changed everything because they'd figured out that kind of light figure form of storytelling. And are they saying that the Volkswagen enables you to be the hero that makes the story? Exactly. And Nike are saying that the Nike shoe, associated with Colin Kaepernick, enables you to be the social activist hero. Hero, exactly. Colin Kaepernick was. Yeah, exactly. Yeah. Fascinating. I was going to change a few things about my, if you have my companies, I think, basis of that. Yeah, I think in the course of business, we all forget that emotion is the most important thing. I'm thinking about all the newsletters that my companies have been writing. I've got various companies. And the newsletters they write and the videos we make and how sometimes we think that facts and figures and information is what the viewer is looking for in their lives. But the most compelling way to draw them in, to whatever we're doing, whether it's a newsletter or a tweet or whatever, is by putting emotion first and really... Yeah. ...what the emotion of the content is. Yeah, yeah, exactly. And with the Nike example, I mean, we live in, since the Global Financial Crisis, we live in heightened political times. And so, you know, and people are always tribal. And so, you know, one of the big things that successful kind of persuaders do is to make those tribal appeals. And, you know, sometimes it works with Colin Kaepernick, like with the Gillette Fraser campaign, it didn't work. Because you're kind of essentially attacking your target audience. So that was, you know, less successful. I think there was a terrible Pepsi ad with Kevin Jenner. Oh, God, I was thinking about that. Where they were kind of basically... Yeah, where we were just making this... Well, it put a super rich, beautiful model white woman as the hero against social injustice. And drinking this sugary drink is going to help. Yeah, you know. It's just all off of you. So I think organizations are sensing that partly how we can be a light figure these days is by presenting as people who are assisting in these political goals that have become very important to people, especially young people. And some people are getting it right. Some people are getting it wrong. There's a real science to it, though, isn't there? Yeah. More we've spoken. I've realized how there is a science to it when you understand the roles and also the audience. The roles of the characters in your content or your piece. And also where the... It's really about where the audience sees themselves, you know what you say. Yeah. And how they feel represented. As you probably know, Verdefone are one of our amazing sponsors on this podcast. If you're a small business owner listening right now, this tip is for you. The only constant in business, as you'll probably know if you run a business, is change. Your business, your team and your company culture need to be designed to embrace and welcome change. When the world changes without you, change resistant businesses and teams often get left behind. And that's why I've partnered with Verdefone Business and their V-HUB to help small businesses access the knowledge they need to embed that philosophy into their companies, a philosophy of change. The V-HUB has completely free resources, tips, insights and expert one-on-one V-HUB digital advisors to chat with you so you can stay at the very forefront of change. Search V-HUB by Verdefone now. Your 2021 book, The Status Game.
Why does status matter? (42:46)
This is the book that when I was reading through all of my notes, I have by far the most amount of notes on. Right. Because maybe it's just, you know, the way I'm compelled, whatever, but it was really, really fascinating and felt very relevant. Status is a topic. Why does status matter? And what is status for people that don't understand the word? Okay, so it matters massively and the reason I wanted to write that book is because people just don't re-talk about it very much. Even though our lives are full of status, people just don't talk about it very much. Status or status? Well, Americans say status, but it tends to say status, but it's both, yeah, it's both. So I think one of the kind of reasons people tend to not like this subject is that when I, when I'm reading through all of my notes, is that when I sort of make the argument that we're all motivated by status pursuit, they're kind of, they think I'm saying we all want to be rich. We all want to be famous. And that's not what I'm saying at all. What I'm saying is that we all want to feel of value. So we evolved as these, you know, tribal animals. And to be successful in the tribe means two things. You've got to be good at connecting with other people. So being accepted and for an intimate sense of belongingness with other people. So that's belongingness, that's connection. That's not stated. That's something else. But once we're in a group, in a tribe, we want to rise within it. We want to feel like we are of value to other people. And so back in the days when our brains were evolving, in the, you know, when we were living in the tribes, the more status that you earned, the more and better food you'd get, the safer your sleeping sites, the safer your children would be, the greater your access to your choice of mates. So, I mean, as we all know, survival and reproduction are the basic, most fundamental drives we have as living things. And status, when you rise in status, your chances of survival and reproduction just go up and up and up. So when we're in the tribes, you know, people would try and get status in the tribes. And the more status you got, the better everything else became. And so that was true 10,000 years ago. It's true today. That is still true today. The more status that you earn, the better everything else gets. So it's this huge, huge component of human behavior. But it's subconscious. So we don't like to think about it sometimes. We like to deny it even though we all love to feel of value. And we are all very, very sensitive to any indication that somebody considers us to be of lesser value. You know, you said at the start of that that when you introduce this topic, people will have kind of an allergic reaction because they think they think you mean, and it goes back to what we were saying about your audience receiving that message in a bad way because of where it frames them. It frames them as being kind of narcissistic and selfish. And, you know, and those are nobody wants to admit that they are selfish. Or they are, you know, they're concerned with status. They don't want to admit it. It's true. But no one wants to say it. I'll say it. It's just the way that we are. And then you went on to say that, you know, people don't like to admit they want to be famous. But I tend to believe that a lot of people do want to be famous. And in that book you talk about children in particular when they're asked what they want to be when they're older. It's quite pretty alarming, right? Yeah. I mean, that's, I mean, that's, again, an indicator of the rise in individualism that that's the more and more kids in the West since the 70s have been saying, one of you are rich, one of you are famous. But there are all kinds of status games that we can play. And I think the, I think the, one of the important things to understand about status games is that the brain is so obsessed with status. It assigns kind of status points to, it can suck to anything. So for some people, for lots of people, the accrual of money, that's their status game. That's how they're measuring their status, how much money I've got. But for other people, it can be how simply I live. You know, I know someone who is a lovely guy, but he considers himself to be sort of not materialistic. And he's very much in the wellness space. And he was telling me last year that he's, you know, he takes his kids to their private school. But at the school gates, you know, he's got this beaten up old car that he's had since he was a student. And he's got masking tape around the, the wing mirror. And he was talking, I know all the other parents have got these big Mercedes and Audi's and BMW's. But I've just got this thing. And I think he was trying to express the fact that he just didn't care. He just didn't care about his status. But for me, he did care. That car was every bit as much of a status symbol for him as the, you know, the brand new Mercedes four-wheel drive's worth for the other parents. He was just that he was playing a different status game in his game. Having a crap car is a high status thing. The same as the aristocracy in Britain. So, you know, if you're, if you remember the British aristocracy, you'll look down your nose at people who have a brand new Japanese Lexus or whatever. They drive up beaten up Landrovers. And so, so, so it all depends what game you're playing. Different games use different things to symbolize status. And so that's how that game works. Lots of people play the fame game. Lots of people play the money game. But other people don't. You know, if you were hanging around with Gandhi in India, you wouldn't be playing the money game. You would have got more status for living the more simply your life became the more status in that group you would earn. It's so true. I've played all those games in my life and still playing many of them. I'm not here to lie. So that's just what it is. And I think really interesting me on that as well is one of the status games I was playing when I was a little bit, well, I say insecure, but clearly I'm still insecure if I'm still playing status games status games now. Was how much designer stuff can I buy and champagne? Can I buy nightclubs? I played that game between 18 and 24. Yeah. And then when I actually got money, when I actually was successful, I actually saw Louis Vuitton as a. Lower status thing. So I just started wearing all black and gold rid of all of my designer stuff. Because I now think that I. Yeah, it's a different game. Yeah. It's a different game. I'm playing now. And so now I have an allergic reaction to anything designer because to me, yeah, it's weird. I think it's low status. I think in my head is less. No, it's true. And in the book, I write about this hilarious study where they figured out because in the luxury goods game, the bigger the logo, the lower the status. Yes. And I figured out that I forget the exact measurements, but a certain amount of logo space, you know, like half an inch smaller meant, you know, $500 more on the price. And the most expensive designer stuff has a logo on the inside. There's no logo on the outside. And so, and what that kind of speaks to is that, again, the whole world isn't one status game. There are kind of almost infinite status games. And we're not particularly, we're not that interested in what people outside our games think of us. It's much more about what people are playing the games with us, think of us. And so, you know, my wife is the former editor of L Magazine. So, you know, so, you know, that fashion luxury world, you know, people signal to each other, I will see a handbag and it will just be invisible to me what that handbag means, what the meaning of that handbag is. But the person, the owner of that handbag won't get the first fuck what I think of at a handbag. They're interested in what, you know, that woman over there who knows about the handbag knows. And they'll know about the quality of the stitching, by a tiny little detail on the corner of that bag that that is a really good bag. And that's what matters because that's the game. They're playing a game with that person. They're not playing the game with me, so they don't care what I think. It's so, you know, I have this very unproven thought that just came to mind when you're saying about the size of the logo. That when you're at the very, when it comes to luxury goods, at the very bottom of the status ladder, you want the biggest fucking logo possible. And you want it all over the corner. And as you think about certain, like, you know, people, you know, where they are in that, in that status thing, they will have, they will wear a tracksuit of that logo. And then as you rise financially or in status, the logos you say get smaller and then it disappears. So if you look at billionaires, they're not wearing... Jeff Bezos is not wearing a glue-ton tracksuit or a beverage. Yeah, he's all playing with the billionaires. It's all very plain. They have the yacht. They're playing that game. How many feet is the yacht? But super interesting. It makes me wonder, do we actually really care about these things? Do we actually really... We spend our lives telling ourselves that we want that Birkenbag? We really genuinely love the Lamborghini. But do we actually like the Lamborghini? Do we just like what it's signaling about us? Well, I don't want to over... I almost over-promised the story. Like, I think there's a danger where you can say, "Well, the Lamborghini is 100% status. There's nothing else." I think that's not quite fair on Lamborghini. They're amazing machines. And I've never driven a Lamborghini, but I'm sure it's a fantastic experience. You know, I've driven sports cars a couple of times and it's been amazing. So it's not just status. It's incredible to have a camera that's an amazing photograph. So you are getting something extra for your money, but mostly I think what you're getting is status. That's really mostly what you're getting. And it's worth it. I don't want to forge that trap of being condescending to status. It is a fundamental human need that we feel of value. And if we're playing a high-level status game with lots of Lamborghini owners, it's really, really hard to feel of value in that group. So you've got to work really hard. So that's why a brand new Lamborghini for somebody playing that game will feel as good as a dirt bike to somebody playing a game over there. Like, one might cost multiples more than the other, but it will feel just as good because they're worried about, they're only really concerned about what the other people in there, their game of thinking. So yeah, we do care. And it's a good thing because the book does talk a lot about the negatives of status pursuit, but it also talks a lot about the positives of status pursuit. I mean, civilization, technology, that's what you get when people want to pursue status. When someone wants to become the best technologist, the best vaccine designer, the best charity, we want to save the most lives. That's humans at their best. And that's also status pursuit, but it's good. It's positive. What is the toxic downside of being addicted to status, though? And my sub question to that is there is insecurity and sort of a lack of self-worth, a predictor of being addicted to status games? Being human is a predictor of being addicted to status games. We're all addicted to status games. Do you not think people that were bullied and that were low status in childhood in some context, are those that then seek status most as adults? Maybe, but again, I do think that personality comes a lot into play. Like anything, some people are more interested in the status than other people. Elon Musk is obviously incredibly interested in his own relative status, and that's a big driver for him. Jeff Bezos, Beyonce, these people are very highly attuned to the status game, and that's what pushes them, pushes them, pushes them to work harder than I will ever work. I don't necessarily think it's about low self-worth. It's probably to do with genetic things like extroversion, agreeableness, which is a personality component. If you're low in agreeableness, your competitive is that kind of type A personality. There's definitely a genetic component to it. There's also, class comes into it. People on the lower socioeconomic groups have much less access to status games. If you're a poor guy raised in the housing state in Stockwell, and you're only available status games to you, Tesco's Bakery, and this gang over here, I know what I'm joining. It's changed the way that I see some of those issues that we are programmed to crave connection and status, and we will find connection and status wherever we can. I think that explains when people are joining gangs, it's not because they're naughty, it's not because they're bad people. It's because they're just doing what they're designed to do when they're in an environment where there aren't many status games to play. There's just not a lot of options. It's interesting because when I think of some of my friends that I believe in my own ill-informed observation or addicted to status, the ones that are really addicted to status, the ones that are really pursuing it, are actually pursuing at the cost of connection. What I mean by that is my richest, most successful friend that I have that lives in a massive mansion in the middle of nowhere because that's the place that he could buy the biggest house and has all the sports cars is also the loneliest. That's a really good observation. Status and connection, they're separate things. We crave by nature, both of them. People tend to be happier when they're more connected. Status is a separate thing. I think that's right. I think that's absolutely correct. Some people's dials are set. I consider myself somebody who is relatively high in need for status, which is why I ended up writing books for a living. But I'm relatively low in need to put a connection. I don't really have much of a social life. I don't really want one. I'm not bothered particularly. Everybody's dials are set in different ways. Some people have relatively low need for status and they're relatively high need for connection. They're surrounded by friends and they're probably happier than I am. I'm sure they're happier than I am. Is there instances where we can be too consumed with status and that can cause us to have adverse personal consequences?
Can we be to consumed by status? (57:20)
Yeah, I suppose... Okay, so in the book I write that there are three general types of status games that we can play. The first game is the dominance game. The dominance game we share with animals. We've been playing dominance games for millions of years. They are what they sound like. They're about aggression. But also the threat of aggression. Bullying, that kind of thing. Whenever we force somebody to attend to us in status, that's dominance. There's success games, which is, I think, the best of human nature, competence. When you're thinking about how do we become a valued member of our tribe, back in the days of our brains were evolving, we could be the best honey finder, the best storyteller, the best hunter, the best finder of tubers. That's how you're a value to your tribe, competence. We've been good at something. There's also virtue. We can play virtue games. In the tribe, that means that you know the rules of the tribe. You enforce the rules of the tribe. You know the rituals. You believe in the spiritual stories. So, virtue isn't just about being selfless and kind and loving to your tribal members. It's also about being an enforcer. There's no such thing as a pure game. That's the other thing to point out. You can see a boxing match as a dominance game. It's pretty clearly a dominance game. But it's also got a virtue element to it. There's some rules in boxing. You can't just go and kick them in the groin. You know, like, there has to be some virtue in there too. So, you call that a dominance virtue game. And I think the worst games, I think the games that are most destructive are what I call virtue dominance games. So, a virtue dominance game is one in which I'm raising status by enforcing rule, but by following rules and knowing the moral rules, the dominance component is I'm going to force you to do it. So, you know, that's what you see on social media a lot. There's cancer culture mobs. People are attacking each other for believing the wrong things. That's a virtue dominance game. At the very worst, a virtue dominance game, you know, in the book I write about the rise of the Nazis. I write about the final chapter which kind of brings the whole thing together is the story of the rise of the communist and the Soviet Union from the perspective of status. And, you know, that's also a virtue dominance game. They're not interested in competence, in success. They're interested in, you're going to believe this. And if you don't, we're going to punish you. Yeah, that's a lot of that going on at the moment. There's a lot of that going on at the moment. And I think a lot of it is because, you know, trying to be kind of openhearted about it. I write about this in selfie and I wrote in the status game is that since the financial crisis, life has got harder, especially for young people. Success, you know, like it's hard to get on the property ladder. People are leaving university with student debt. There's massive under employment for graduates. We've got what they call elite overproduction producing too many smart educated people for the roles to fit in. You know, we're now entering a new recession apparently. So, so, so life is much harder for millennials and gen's ends and it was for boomers and gen X's. So success games are harder to play. So what you're saying is online, people get status wherever they can. So they start playing virtue games instead. One of the alarming things you talk about in this book is that status. Did I say that right? Yeah. Yeah, that's the English word. I need to do that. You're not American. And that will harm my status. That will attack me in the comment section. This idea that status games actually have an impact on our health and mortality that we will die younger if we have lower status. What evidence have you got?
We live longer with higher status (01:01:02)
Have you got or found to support this idea? Well, there's lots of evidence. There's a big, a lot of it comes from this guy called Dr. Michael Marmer, who is just did this incredible set of work, which he calls the White Hall studies. So obviously White Hall is the bureaucracy that kind of runs that kind of takes the order, you know, the civil service that kind of works with the government. So it's enormous organizations, highly stratified. And so Marmer looked at kind of health outcomes for people on different levels of that kind of hierarchy, that status game, and found that the lower you went down that status game, the worst health outcomes became. So the obvious thing is, oh, that's just because if you're being paid less, you maybe can't afford the personal trainer, you know, you're eating worse. But that wasn't the case at all. Literally one rung down below the very top. So still a very wealthy, successful, high status people had worse health outcomes than the person at the very top. So it really did seem like the brain is highly attuned to where we sit in a pecking order, and the lower we are down in that pecking order, the more unhealthy we became. Another set of scientists looked at this in a laboratory, so took a bunch of monkeys who obviously like us very hierarchical with a status games. And they deliberately felt it's a terrible experiment. It's very awful, but it deliberately fed them a terrible diet of like fast food, like chocolate and crisps. So they ended up having a high level of atherosclerotic plaque, which is, you know, they were getting clogged up basically, and they were vulnerable to heart problems and so on. And they found that it was the same, that the lower you went down the monkey pecking order, the more likely the monkeys were to die of these heart-related diseases because of their bad diets and the ones at the top. And then importantly, they conspired to change the hierarchy of the group. I don't know how they did it, but they changed them, but they took out the top monkey. They changed the hierarchy of the group. And they found that the health outcomes changed in lockstep with the change in hierarchy. So if a monkey went up, they became less likely to die. And so then you might ask, "What? This is crazy. Why is this?" And so the closest answer that scientists have come is a whole field called social genomics. It's a new field. And social genomics is all about how does our social world affect the function of our genes? So, you know, we're social animals. Our brains are constantly monitoring how we're doing in the world. What are our levels of connection? What are our levels of status? We have this status detection system that's constantly monitoring our level of health. And so the idea is that when the brain registers that we are dropping in status or we're not too high in status, it prepares our cells. It changes the way our genes work and the actions of our cells change in such a way that it kind of prepares us for kind of trouble. So, inflammation goes up. Antivile response goes down. So the body changes in such a way that we become more ill. There's a really narrative in there which some might deduce from hearing all of that, which is that your level of success relates to your health. And I'm going to say it in a really gruesome way, which is the more successful you are, the longer you live. Obviously, there's loads of factors in the way. If you're eating burgers and smoking and doing classic drugs, that's going to probably be a stronger, sort of determinant in your outcomes. But generally speaking, if two people are eating the exact same thing, if they're living the exact same lifestyle in terms of what they're consuming and the way that they're living, and the only variable is their level of success in a status game, then they will be... They're less likely to die if they're higher up. That's true. Quite alarming. As you said, there's so many confounds. Life is much more complicated than that. There's always other things that is true that people smoke and don't smoke and so on. But what Marmot finds is that if you take two smokers, the one higher up is less likely to die of a smoking-related disease than the one lowdown. In the status. In the status game. Yeah. Interesting. One of the other things that I wrote down reading that book was workers at the bottom of the office hierarchy have at ages 40 to 64, four times the risk of death of their, I guess, administrators means managers at the top of the hierarchy. Yeah. That's from the whole study. Yeah, that's part of what Dr. Marker mentioned. That's mental. Yeah, it's crazy. So they're really significant. It's not marginal. It'll be marginal from one layer to the next when you actually look at the whole game. It's very significant. The difference is the health outcomes from the top and bottom. It's absolutely mental. I've never really considered that idea before that status is playing such a significant role in my biological situation. The same is true for connection. So when we're lonely, the same thing happens. The lonely we are. When we lack status, the same thing, we have that are. Information goes up and if our response goes down, which is bad for us in the long term. And it's the same with the social genomics people say it's the same with loneliness, which is why loneliness is bad for health too. The other thing that I found particularly interesting was that when we lose our status, the consequences of that can be pretty morbid. Yeah. And that suicide is often the result of people losing status and the speed in which they lose their status. Yeah. Yeah. So this is why I never believed that Jeffrey Epstein, conspiracy theory, is a very important thing. Conspiracy theory is I think he did kill himself because he's just a huge drop in status. It just makes him incredibly vulnerable to suicidal thought and ideation. So yes, it's not just drops in status, especially sudden drops in status, makes us very vulnerable. And also I found it was interesting the research says it's also being left behind. So if we stay still and everybody around us accelerates, that also makes us vulnerable to potentially, you know, anxiety. Depression and potentially suicidal ideation. That in particular is quite an alarming thought that if you're in a group of five friends, best friends, and four of the best friends do really, really well professionally in their careers, whatever, just because of the context in which you're existing, you might become depressed because you're four friends as well. And this in some respects might explain jealousy. Of course it does. Yeah. I mean, you know, we've evolved to want to feel our value, but unfortunately being of value is kind of relative. Like if everybody is equally valued, then nobody's valued to what I mean. We're on the same level. So it's that I think that's where it can become quite damaging. And that's where life can become quite exhausting, especially in this kind of highly competitive neoliberal world that we live in, where everybody is pushing, pushing, pushing to succeed, pushing to succeed. You know, it's true, you know, we hate it when our friends become successful parts of us always going to because it kind of devalues what, you know, what we have, you know, it's just an unfortunate byproduct of the status game. You talk about how we look up to people who are like us. Yeah. But we also seem to be more jealous of people that are like us. Yeah. Because they are the clearest evidence of our inadequacy. Yeah. That was a really sort of kind of knotty paradox for me to get my head around when I was writing the book. And the closest solution I could come to it was, so when you look at how human social groups work, there's a really amazing researcher in America called Joseph Henrich, who studies this stuff and has written about a couple of books about this. And he talks about how we learn. And so, so in those, again, those groups in which we evolve, which we've sort of looked to to figure out why we are like we are. What you'll find is that is that when you were growing up, you know, young people look, they identify high status people from which to learn. And those high status people are going to be like them in some way. They're going to be the same gender, and they're going to have the same kind of interests and, you know, that kind of thing. So, this mechanism switches on, which is copy, flatter conforms. So you start copying their behavior, because the brain goes, well, this person's high status. I want to become high status. So say if I want to become high status, because I've got to do everything they're doing, so if I do everything they're doing, you know, it'll work. So it switches on. And then we've got the flatter process, which is I need access to this person. I want to be around this person to be able to learn everything that they're doing. And you do that with flatter is a good way of doing that. It's like, you know, you're amazing. I love this great book. What a great podcast. You're amazing businesses. And then, you know, so we'll let people in who treat us that way and conform. You do what you do, what you're told, you behave. And so, you know, you can think about that when you think about celebrities, you know, like I remember when I was seven or eight years old. I was obsessed with this guy called this guy Nick Kershaw. And I remember singing on TV AM and he was crossing his legs in a certain way with his ankle on his knee and his leg sticking out. And I just found myself sitting at school with the same words, Nick Kershaw. You know, so it's like my copy flatter conform mechanism is switched on. So I think that's how kind of fame works. I think it's that we see people who feel like a piece of us, but a highly successful piece of us. Like that person's like me, but amazing. And so these very ancient evolved mechanisms switch on. Even though we're probably never going to meet that person, they just switch on. And so, you know, you'll notice that people read the same books as their idols. They dress the same way as their idols. They might even, you know, I find, I mean, I'm embarrassed about it, but I think it's probably very common when they're in the world. I think it's probably very common when I've watched a stand up comedy special and I've loved it, I'll find myself talking like that comic the next day and like using their inflections a bit. It's just kind of weird, you know, or laughing like them, you know. So generally speaking, we're quite envious creatures. We don't like high status people. But there's a very narrow class of people that we identify with. And those are the people that feel like super successful versions of us. Like we relate to them, we identify with them. And that's when that very evolved ancient mechanism switch on, which I call in the book, copy, flatic and form. Yeah, so much what you've described as well as explains influence marketing and why it's so effective. Why, you know, if you look up to someone, they can sell you anything. Absolutely. That's what the whole industry is based on.
Our pursuit of status is greater and our pursuit for money (01:12:09)
The other point that you talk about in the book around the role that status is playing, which really alarmed me and made me ponder quite a lot, was about how our pursuit for status is more important than our pursuit for money when we've kind of addressed the money topic. And how, you know, many employees would rather accept a higher status job than a pay rise. Yeah, a different job title. Yeah. That's pretty alarming. Yeah, it's, well, it is, but it's not that surprising when you think about the evolution of the brain. We haven't evolved to crave money because money hasn't been around long enough. We've evolved to crave status and money is just one way that we can measure status. But there are loads of other ways we can measure status. So it doesn't, you know, it doesn't have to be money based, you know, and as you said, there was quite a major study. I think it was 15,000 people in the UK that they surveyed and found that most would accept a different, a high status job title over a modest pay rise. Yeah. So instead of, you know, I got Jack's side over there. He's the producer, director of this podcast. So Jack, what's your job title right now? Do I say director slash producer? Okay. So if I change Jack's job title to CEO of the podcast versus giving him 1000 pound pay rise, he'd probably take the CEO of the podcast. Yeah. Yeah. But he's also smart thinking because, because, you know, when we're judging other people's status, it isn't just how much money they have. In fact, the money's often invisible. The title says a lot. So if you were to, you know, make Jack's, you know, he's my podcast CEO. He's more likely than to go on and get a better job somewhere else, higher status, more money because of that bumping status. So it's actually the instinct is correct. It's a smarter move to take the title than the grand. So I can reduce the salary by heart. No, I think that's the thing. I think we're so sensitive to reductions in status that is there will never fly. That's interesting. You talk about the cues as well within status games that we kind of look for. What are those four cues?
The part social cues play in the status game (01:14:13)
Yeah, this is again, Joseph Henry's work where he looks at the, you know, how do we identify the people that we want to copy of flatkin form. So there are various cues. One of them is with the common success cues. So in the hunter-gatherer trial, who might be a hunter has a big necklace of teeth, one tooth, every creature that he's killed. You know, so that's why we have jewelry these days because it's a success cue. And it's amazing when you read about the detail because the brain is some neuroscientists call it as a status detection system. So we are constantly all of the time monitoring our environment for status cues and, you know, playing that game. And so we're constantly monitoring other people's body language. We can measure someone's relative status versus, you know, submissive versus dominant in 43 milliseconds. That's how quick when we see somebody, we measure how dominant or submissive they are in terms of status. So that's how quick it is. So we're looking at things like successful interruptions in conversation. The more successful interruptions you make, the higher status you are. Like we've all been in situations, maybe you're not for a while, where you're trying to get a word in edge while. And everyone's just like, maybe in a family situation. And you just think, "Oh, fuck it." I have to say it's Morgan on the podcast, so I can get fucking word in edge ways for him. But that's actually a perfectly valid point. You've seasoned yourself as higher status than you. And so both of your games subconsciously were playing a status game. So that's another way. We're also measuring another cue is how other people are attending to that person. So if we notice lots of people are attending to a person, we will automatically assume they're worth attending to. So what's interesting, Joseph Henry writes is that these effects were designed to work in small groups of people. Because that's how we evolved in very small tribes. They weren't evolved to operate in a global environment of modern media and the internet. So you get these feedback loops where lots of people are looking at one person. So more and more people start looking at that person, then they get reported in the press, and then more people start looking at them. They call it the Paris Hilton effect, because I think when they figured out what was going on, Paris Hilton was the big, "Why is she famous person?" But you might as well just call it the Kardashian effect, or whoever the latest person is, that happens to be really famous and no one can quite work out why. It's because it's a feedback loop. Lots of people start looking at that one person. Everyone just piles in, because the brains are receiving. They must be high status. It must be worth attending to if everyone's attending to them. People attend to them, and then you've also talked about how their health outcomes would be better potentially as well. So should success cues go up? Success cues go up. It sounds like a wonderful life to live. So should we all start pursuing status? Well, again, I'd say we already are. But I think another way that all these researchers made me understand the world a lot better is that when we look at very high status people, really rich, wealthy, successful people, half our brain is just jealous because I'm lucky then. And we imagine that this brilliant life and it's so happy and everything's wonderful. But with the other half of our brains, we know that's not true, because when you meet very rich and successful people, they're often not happy. Yeah, exactly. It's suicide. It's alcoholism. It's workaholism. They're not happy. The marriages don't last. It's made sense of that to me. And it's such a quite a nice understanding that there isn't this hierarchy of happiness, whether the richer you are, the happier you are, because we're all playing individual status games. So those people playing high-level status games, the millionaires, the billionaires, the Elon Musk's, they're competing with the people immediately around them. They're competing, Elon Musk is competing with Jeff Bezos and Tim Cook. So they're no happier than the people at school who are competing to be the best, I would say no happier, that's in general, I mean, I don't know. But the higher you go, the harder that game becomes. So that's taken away a lot of that, "Oh, I wish I was this, I wish I was that." Yes, I'd love a yacht. But still, I'm not naive anymore to how difficult and punishing that life can be at the very top, because you're not competing with me anymore or the people down there or even above me, you're competing with people. They're competing with the people who they're playing against. And they're all highly successful, highly motivated, incredible individuals. It's become really interesting, this whole space race. Yeah. Richard Branson, Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk. Exactly. You go, "Really? You all really care about playing with chips?" Exactly. But the other thing to say about that is, and this is again, I have changed. I mean, I'm a lefty, I've always been a lefty. But this book has really opened my mind to the idea that actually we do benefit from these people, not just in the obvious ways. They hire a lot of people. People get meaning and purpose from their jobs. People get to live a life and pay their mortgage from their jobs. They pay taxes that keeps the countries running. They're doing all that. But also with the space race, they're competing because they're playing a status game. That's obvious. But science and technology benefits from that too. I mean, I don't, you know, they will no doubt be a number of innovations that are hugely useful to humanity, that come as a result of this space race or races like it amongst these highly motivated top-level players. Chapter 29 of this book, you talk about how we can advance in the status game, status game, fact that again, and the seven rules of the status game.
How do we advance in the ‘status game’? (01:20:08)
How do we advance in the status game? And what do you mean by advance? Do you mean win? No, because you can't win. I mean, that's the thing. I think the brain has this story that we live by where stories can take happy endings. And the happy ending is if I achieve this, then I'm going to be happy. And it's weird because we know that's not true when we've lived a bit of life because, you know, we still kind of believe it. If I get this, if this next book sells 100,000, then I'll be happy. And it's like, I know that's not true. But so you don't ever win it. That's an illusion. That's the storytelling brain, you know, just giving you a bit of a lie to keep you motivated. I think there are various ways that you can succeed in the status game. You know, some kind of quite practical. I think one of the most practical is that it's this amazing revelation that status is more valuable than money to most people. And it's free. Like we have status to give and... You can save money as I've just shown you. You can get call in the CEO and you can get him half. I believe... I wish I'd known this earlier. But we have loads of opportunities in our lives to give the status to our employees, to the people around us. And we often don't. And so I think that... And that feeds back in a kind of real, politic-y, kind of slightly cynical way. Because if we are generous with status, people are going to want to be around us and they're going to want to work with us. And someone that status will wash back. So I think, you know, don't treat status as if it's a limited resource. In the business context, I think there's a really... It's not in that final section, but one of the other sort of light bulb moments for me in the business context. What's this difference between competition and rivalry? So when you first think about competition and rivalry in business, you think that's the same thing. But it's not. So competition is bad and rivalry is good. So when I'm talking about competition, I'm talking about a corporate structure like Enron. So that's the example used in the book. So Enron famously had their rank in yank system where the top, I think it was 15% got promoted. I think they were judged at least twice a year. Everybody in the company got judged. The top 15% got promoted. The bottom got fired. And the middle were just fucking terrified. So that's competition. So competition is a sense of all against all. You go into work and it's a fucking war. And you've got to grab. And I think that's when you end up with extremely toxic and ultimately potentially corrupt. Corporate culture is because status is very hard to come by. And so that's what you want to avoid. And it's thought that a very moderate amount of competition is quite good to motivate people, but it very quickly goes wrong. The alternative to that is rivalry. Now rivalry is healthy and a massive motivator. And rather than being all against all, rivalry is one against one. So that's one individual against one individual or one group, one team against another team, or one organization against another organization. And rivalry is characterized by having the status competition that's characterized by lots of near misses and skirmishes. So you can think about Apple and Microsoft had a period where there were great rivals. And that rivalry kind of pushed them on. And in the book I tell the story of the true origin story of the iPhone, which is quite amazing. And it begins when Steve Jobs, as his wife was friends with somebody from Microsoft, and she would have regular parties, barbecues. And so this Microsoft executive, this unnamed Microsoft executive, would come to the barbecue and be bragging to Steve Jobs. And one day he was bragging to Steve Jobs saying, "We've solved computing. It's over for you guys. We've figured it out. We've got these tablets with these styluses. They've got to change everything." And then the next day, the Monday, Steve Jobs comes into work furious because his rival, Microsoft, is dragging their faces and saying, "We've solved computing." And he says, "Let's show these fucking pricks how it's really done. It's not done with stars. It's done with fingers. That's how it's done." And that became the iPhone. Well, that became the iPhone. Well, first it was the iPad, but they released the iPhone and then it re-emerges the iPad. And as Scott Forstall, who was the guy that told that story, said it was very bad for Microsoft that Steve Jobs ever met that guy. And that's the true origin story of the iPhone. This device that's changed the world is status and rivalry. This guy from Microsoft and rubbing Steve Jobs face in a barbecue. So that's healthy. That's good. Well, not because of Microsoft, but that's what you want to be in a corporate sense, in an organizational sense. You want to be encouraging rivalry and not competition. Interesting. I've always tried to make sense of my love of rivalry. And I've always wondered if it was a toxic flaw in me, or because it seems to be such an unbelievable motivator. I'm so competitive when I'm hesitant to say that word, but I'm always looking for a rival. Even, you know, I have 10 friends. We're in a fitness competition. And every month we hand out these fake awards. There's gold, silver and bronze. And four days out, I won gold last month. And then four days out from this month, my friend, good friend and mine, managing director of one of my companies, Oliver Jonshev, he starts talking shit to me. And I was so happy he did because I realized that in those last four days of the month, I was going to work out three hours, four hours a day to beat him. And it's almost, I reflected on what I saw in Michael Jordan's documentary, where Michael Jordan, it would seem like look for rivalries. He would so much so that he would make them up. And when they went and asked the other person if it had happened, they'd go, no, that didn't happen. But Michael Jordan had created a rivalry in his head to motivate himself. There's actually a clip on YouTube called It Became Personal with For Me, which is just a compilation of Michael Jordan repeatedly saying a story that might not have or might have happened. And then saying it became, that's when it became personal with me. And then it shows him slam dunking on that personal, winning another title, whatever. This constant search for rivalry is a motivator. That's fascinating. That's exactly right. Yeah, that's fascinating. And so that description you say of somebody who's highlighted as a constant looking for rivalries, I think that's correct. And I also think it's a mistake to think, is it healthy or like is it toxic? Is it a good thing or a bad thing? I think one of the things I try not to do my books is to categorize what's good and what's bad. It just is. Because in real life reality, it's usually a trade off, most things are trade offs. And so yes, in lots of sense, if you're playing your success games, it will be, it's a good thing. It's a massive motivator. What's with Steve Jobs? What's with Michael Jordan? It sounds like it is for you. But that doesn't mean it's a hundred percent good thing. If you start losing, that's going to become a source of a lot of misery for you. So I think we often make mistakes when we try to figure out whether something's good or bad, because I think the reality is that most things are trade offs. You're completely right. It is a trade off. And working out for three, four hours a day was not a good idea. Yeah. It was a significant cost to that with my relationship, with my sleep, with my productivity. So it is a trade off. And I guess it all depends what your objective ultimately is. You've written a number of books now, many, many books, more books than I think I'll ever write in my life, because I think I struggle to write books.
Thoughts On Happiness
What ingredients create happiness for you? (01:27:39)
And you find yourself in a place in life now where you're 47. It was difficult to find your age online. I had to go back to an article where you said you were 38 and do the math. So I was wondering if you were 47. But what else are you in search of in your life personally? I've asked this question in maybe the last 10 episodes to my guests. But if your overall happiness was a recipe consisting of a set of ingredients, what are you looking for personally now in your life to fulfill that happiness recipe? That's a very good question. So I think that one of the things I've done recently is I've not started yet, but I've, he's going to be happening this month. I've been going to start volunteering to a charity because I feel like, as I've already spoken about, one of the things I don't have is much connection. Like I've got a great marriage, but you're outside the marriage. I don't really see people that much. And I feel like because I don't have children, I don't actually do anything for anyone else. So it's going to be, I felt like I was becoming quite a selfish life. Everything was just about either, well, part of my dogs, so I'm obsessed with. I don't do anything for anything else. So I figure that's a bit of a hole in my life. So that's why I'm going to start volunteering. I've got me interviewed by this charity, but assuming that goes well. I think that's a hole. And I do want to sort out the connections side of things. Like I've started having semi-regular meetups with some old school friends recently, which has just been an absolute joy to see these people after so long. And I kind of, in my head, started telling this story that it was me that had failed on my exams and was a total disaster. But it was amazing to see that. There were lots of, that's a lawyer and there's also successful people. We all failed our exams. It was just a really bad school. But we all kind of succeeded regardless of that. So that's been really fun. And I've had to kind of, yeah. So I think it's moving the dial on connection. That's what I'm missing. We have to become more and more intentional about that connection, I think. I feel like men probably more so. Definitely, yeah. You know, it's one of the things I've said to my five friends is I've said to them, you know, as we get older, when it's a birthday or when there's a wedding, make sure we all go because it's going to become increasingly, there's going to become increasingly more excuses as to why we shouldn't go. We can't go. We live further apart. We have families. Yeah. And you really, I feel like as a man, you really have to fight for that connection as you age. Yeah. I mean, I kind of really do believe that there are basic biological differences between the genders. On average, you have to say, generally speaking, it was huge overlaps, of course. We're more alike than we are different. I think on the average, I think, you know, men and women are, you know, there are differences. And I do think that one of them is how we manifest socially. I think, you know, women are much better instinctively at the group, you know, whether that's politically or in a friendship context. There just seems to be, men just seem to have an instinct for going it alone. Yeah. And women seem to have an instinct for the group. Going it together. Going it together. That's lovely way of putting it. Yeah. And I think that you're right. I think men especially have to fight against that. I think that's why the suicides are just so much worse for men. And as the suicide expert, I spoke to for self-esteem, said, the solution isn't that men should be, you know, should be more like women. Because you can't change biology. But I think you're right. I think, especially with the social connection, we have to push ourselves a bit harder. And I always notice with the social stuff, it just seems to always happen where when you've got a social appointment coming up, you think, "Oh, what did I say yesterday at that fall?" But then that's like 100% of the time you think, "Oh, I don't want to go." But then when you go, you go, "Oh, I've had a great time. This is amazing. I should do this more often." And that's also 100% of the time. It's so weird that we seem so, like men especially seem to be so bad at predicting how much we're going to enjoy a social occasion. On that point with the suicide expert, you know, because much of the narrative I do here regarding male suicide is that we just need to talk more. And we're often, with that argument, often comes the sub point that if you look at how women are opening, communicate with their social circle, with their, you know, their friends, and they say, "I'm feeling this. I'm going through this blah, blah, blah, blah." Men don't do that, so men need to do more of that. Yeah. What did you learn from your conversations with that suicide expert? Well, his view, and mine too, is that I don't think, like, sure, talking helps. But just saying to men you should be more like women is not that helpful. And what we need to do is figure out what are men like and start trying to develop solutions that are specifically designed for men. I just think saying to men that you should learn to cry. I haven't cried for years. You know, it's just not fair on men. It's not smart. There needs to be more work done in how can we actually help men in a male-friendly way. You know, I think that's the way to go. What are men like? Well, men like. Because you know, you said we have to figure out what men are like and then cater to their unmet needs. I'm guessing in a way that kind of they can relate to. What is that? Well, again, you've got to be very careful by not generalizing. There's a huge right in what men are like. You know, but just sort of underlying the fact that we're talking sort of generally speaking here. My sense is that as I said before, women are much better in your great words at going together. Whereas men tend to be more buying, they didn't go it alone. And like everything, that's a trade-off. And the negatives are that we are less good at talking to other people and sharing our kind of burden. I think that I've got no scientific evidence to back this up. But my impression is that that male identity often is focused more around success, personal success. So I think that's why you see lots of male suicide in middle age. Because in middle age, men and sartis and their bodies, their careers might grind to a halt. Their relationships with their children might start going wrong. They might get divorced and divorced. You know, yeah, it's not good. So I think that that's where men particularly might get into trouble. When men feel like I'm not a success, I'm not looking after my family. I'm failing in my job. It's that sense of being a failure. Yeah, I think that's very, very hard for men. The suicide ideation you describe in selfie, was that linked to those reasons? Yeah, I think it's connection and status for me. I mean, the last time we had happened really badly was when I moved back from... I lived in Australia for four years and did quite well in Australia as a freelance journalist. I came back with nothing, no job, because I was a freelancer. And so, yeah, and then for a while, I just thought I was going to have to start doing day shifts, you know, in magazines. Like it was bad. I just felt like I'd... everything had gone wrong. And so I think that was very much connected to status. I mean, I'm very bad because in the book, I recommend playing lots of games, playing multiple games. The science is pretty clear that the more status gains people play in their life, the more sources of status they have, the more groups they belong to, the more stable their personality they're happy that they tend to be. And as I said earlier on, I just tend to do writing. That's kind of what I do. That's partly the selfish reasons for the volunteering. I want to have another source of status to protect myself against the inevitable... getting older thing. When we realise that status gains are like a comparative thing. So, you know, being a journalist, if there's a journalist, that's the editor and is doing amazingly well, then you're underneath, and then there's somebody at the very bottom of the ladder. The person at the bottom of the ladder is going to be lower status just by measure of comparison. So does that mean that in some regard, in the society we live in, that is based on status, there will always be someone at the bottom that is feeling that way, because just by measure of comparison, there's going to be someone else who is making them feel inadequate or low status. Yeah, there's always going to be a hierarchy. You can't remove the hierarchy from the human... it's how we process reality. I mean, when you go into any subtle situation, if you introduce to five strangers, you know, you have a conversation and within minutes, you're starting getting a sense of who's up there, who's down there, and it'll be body language, who's got the jobs, who's got the clothes. You know, your brain's just calculating. You can't stop it. It's going to happen. And you can't stop it, because everybody else is doing it to you too. You know, that's something that other people give to us as well, is that our sense of status. We sense it from other people. So there will always be people at the bottom in inverted commas, but there are a few things to say about that. That sounds grim, but there are a few things to say about that. The first thing is that, again, we all play individual little games. So it isn't as though the cleaner in the office feels like they're competing with Michelle Obama, because if they did, they would just throw in stuff out the window. That's not how life works. That cleaner is comparing themselves to the other people in their life, people they work with, their families, their cousins. So they're not feeling horrific because they're not the king of Thailand. So that's not how it's working. Life isn't that brutal. Two, we have amazing imaginations. We're very good at buffing ourselves up and finding ways of seeing a value. And I think in a healthy organization, as I say in the book, you can go to a meeting as the lowest status member of the organization in that formal status game, make a fantastic contribution and leave it like the king of the world, like the best person in the room. And if that's a healthy organization, that's how you'll be made to feel too. You'll be like, "Oh, it's brilliant. It's amazing." So even within those kind of formal games that we play in life, we can still have an encounter, an experience in which we actually feel hugely of value. So there's also that to say. And also, life is a never-ending game. As long as we're not suffering from depression, we're a mentally healthy person. We're a little bit optimistic. We're backing ourselves a bit. That's what people are like. I feel like I'm going to -- I have the capacity to achieve X, Y, and Z. So yes, there will always be people at the bottom, but A, they're probably not going to stay there for very long because the game's so fluid. And B, that doesn't mean that they're condemned to a life of constant misery and torture. And as you said earlier, they might also play for a Sunday league team and be top of the league and captain of that team. Or they could be religious. Religion is a status game. And that's a virtue game. And as often a healthy virtue game, in a religious game, I've got to follow the Ten Commandments and go to the church and do whatever I've got to do. And then I've become a high status Christian or whatever. And that's a big journey I've got. I used to be very angry and hostile about religion because of my background. But now I see that religion, although it's not for me, it's hugely valuable to people because it gives them a status game to play. And meaning and purpose? I was the same. I was religious up until I was 18. Very religious household. And I rejected it quite passionately for many years until I stopped caring about it. So do what you like. I don't care. Exactly. Which is a funny arc we kind of go through where it's like the aggression against it and then the acceptance of it. We have a closing tradition on this podcast where the previous guest asks the next guest a question.
The Final Question
The last guest question (01:40:28)
Okay. Right. In the diary. So I get to read it now. Jack keeps the diary until this point. The question left for you is, when it all gets too dark, what helps you find the light? When it all gets too dark, what helps you find the light? I mean creation. I mean, that really is true. If I'm feeling depressed, I've got this. It's a bit cheesy. I've got this little saying I say to myself on the head, which is the only way out is art. And so if I want to feel good, I'll go and do some work, do some writing. And if I'm proud of it, it'll sort of pull me out of it. So that's kind of what helps me see the light, my art. And how does that relate to the status game book, status game? Massively because I feel good about myself. You know, if I, this is my game writing and if I feel like I've written something good, I feel like there's hope. And it kind of gives you a psychological status boost. Absolutely. Yeah. Because we, you know, we have this imaginary audience in our heads, but we're not just being judged by other people. We're being judged by ourselves. So, so, so yeah, I think that's hugely important. Well, thank you. Incredibly illuminating. And it's given me a tremendous amount of food for thought. You know, when we do this podcast, I'm always selfishly looking for ways that I can make changes to my life or understand the decisions I'm making so that I can make decisions more in line with my values or more in line with where I want to go. And I think you're this book in particular, the status game, I pause every time I say it because I'm scared to get the status game. The status game. This book in particular, the status game, is, is one of those that isn't tremendously illuminating because it explains so much. It's almost like it's turning a light on in a huge room that I didn't even know was there. And really revealing to me what what the forces are that are controlling much of my decision making for better or for worse. It's not to say that I will abandon a band trying to abandon those forces because I don't actually believe I can. I think that's who I am. But being more conscious about them, which I think is exactly what this book allows you to do as they relate to your relationships, your personal life, your business, is I think something that we can all benefit from. So thank you for writing such an amazing book. And thank you for writing all of these amazing books. But this one in particular is my favorite, the status game, came out last year. Just down over back two weeks ago. On paperback two weeks ago, and I've had a lot of people specifically because you've had a few conversations with some friends of mine really raving about this book. So I highly recommend everybody checks it out of all these books. I love them all. But this one in particular is my favorite. I can't be more excited to see what you write next. Fantastic. Thank you for your honesty as well. Not everybody is so willing to be so open and honest. And I think there's something so important because it's human and it's truthful about the way you're willing to be honest about your own struggles in your life and the things that you're searching for. It is a relates to connection and those things. That is, we're all going through the same battles and hearing that from you as well. I think is particularly important. So thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. You're amazing question, Steve. And I have already good time. Thank you. I had a few words to say about one of my sponsors on this podcast. Crafted are brands that sell really meaningful, affordable, men's jewelry. And I've been a crafted customer I think for about three years now. The piece of jewelry I wear the most, I want to introduce you to the pieces and why I wear them, is this sand timer, unsurprisingly. And the thing for me about sand timer is it's probably the most clear reminder that our time here on Earth is finite. When you live in such a way where you can literally see your time pouring away and you realize that it is scarce and that we're not all here forever, you start to make better decisions. You stop worrying about pettiness and trivialities that consume our lives. I always have this crafted sand timer around my neck as a reminder of that. And this is why I wanted Crafted to sponsor this podcast because I can use their meaningful jewelry every episode to deliver a meaningful message. My girlfriend came upstairs yesterday when I was having a shower and she said to me that she tried the heel protein shake, which lives on my fridge over there. And she said it's amazing. Low calories, you get your 20 odd grams of protein, you get your 26 vitamins and minerals and it's nutritionally complete. In the protein space there's lots of things but it's hard to find something that is nice, especially when consumed just with water. And that is nutritionally complete and that has about 100 calories in total while also giving you your 20 grams of protein. If you haven't tried the heel protein product, do give it a try. The salted caramel one, if you put some ice cubes in it and you put it in a blender and you try it, it's as good as pretty much any milkshake on the market, just mixed with water. It's been a game changer for me because I'm trying to drop my calorie intake and I'm trying to be a little bit more healthy with my diet. So this is where heel fits in my life. Thank you heel for making a product that I actually like. The salted caramel is my favorite. I've got the banana one here, which is where my girlfriend likes but for me, salted caramel is the one.