That One Book
Every now and then, a book comes along that really speaks to you and holds its value through the ages. The first such book for me was Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. Rand’s poetic verse justified a higher morality of mind and spirit that was free from conventional judgement. For a young nerd, Objectivism validated my self worth and laid the seed for going on strike from aerospace by becoming a blogger. Who is John Galt anyway?
As I aged and the tides of change refined the shorelines of my spirit, I found my second foundation book – The Game by Neil Strauss. It was about a decade ago. I was recently divorced and fascinated by the process of picking up women when this book found me. The age old advice of “be yourself” doesn’t always work when you’re both a nerd and a hick. I am a physicist so give me a formula and I can replicate it to the nth degree. The Game was just that. A playbook for pick up artists (PUA) wrapped in a fascinating first person story.
It turns out a reasonably competent writer with a decent job can do just fine in online dating and pretty soon, my dance card was filled. Skirting around the depths of my depravity, I will say this. If you date enough women, you will meet someone who will sweep you off your feet. That person, for me, was Jenn. I lent The Game away to a friend in need and moved on to my new reality.
Fast forward to the present and our preparations for TBEX…… Jenn has been giving me pointers on socialization and basically not being a dork. Listen more. Talk Less. After a local San Diego meetup, we realized it was high time for a cram session to get ready for TBEX Huntsville.
I kept equating meeting brands and bloggers to PUA lingo, the only coherent set of socialization I have learned in my life besides the scientific method and technical peer reviews which, frankly, don’t work well with the general public. Jenn agreed and actually purchased a copy of The Game off of Amazon for my TBEX review. The parallels are so clear and apparent, I feel it is worthwhile to share. Besides, I am too busy doing my TBEX cramming to write another article this week.
The Pivotal Moment
The Game opens describing Neil’s early love life, which sounded surprisingly familiar. He had a few awkward encounters but never understood women. Very soon, his life history and mine diverge. I met a crazy woman who, for all her faults, busted me free from the confines of Ohio and set me on my current trajectory. Neil’s turning point was when he became a New York Times reporter.
It wasn’t road tours with Marilyn Manson or Motley Crew that changed him. It was an assignment to interview Mystery, the most renowned PUA of the time. Mystery broke down his methods to a specific set of rules that anybody could apply. Suddenly, the language of human interaction could be understood in the left hemisphere of the brain
Possessing all Five Six Characteristics of the Alpha Male
The Mystery Method called for all aspiring PUA’s to become alpha males. One of his early PUA lessons was how to possess the five characteristics of an alpha male. After all, it was alpha males who enjoyed the spoils of the hunt first. He called out six characteristics of alpha males in his excitement and general ADD personality:
- Sense of humor
- Connecting with people
- Being seen as the social center of the room
I am sure that the first five characteristics could lead to the sixth but I don’t think I will have the oomph to pull this one off by TBEX. The first five will have to do for me.
Basic PUA Tactics
During Neil’s first weekend with Mystery, he learned even more of PUA theory and even took it for a test ride. The thirteen steps to “the approach” look something like this:
- Smile when you enter a room
- Recite a memorized opener
- The opener should open the group, not just the target
- Neg the target
- Convey personality to the entire group so you become the center of attention
- Neg the target again
- Ask the group, “So, how does everyone know each other?”
- If the target is available, begin your approach
- Isolate the target from the group
- Go to the next level of conversations
- Ask for more personal information (one indicator of interest (IOI))
- Stop talking (if she continues it’s a second IOI)
- Kiss Close
Neg and Neg again? For those not fluent in the language of PUA here is Mysteries’ definition of negging–
Negs are intended to be false-disqualifiers and are intended to lower the target’s comparative value to the seducer. Specifically, they are not meant to sound like insults – instead, they’re meant to resemble the comments of a person who does not view the target as having high value.
In his television interview with The View, Neil Strauss explains that some men will demonstrate disinterest by passively ignoring a woman; but since she doesn’t notice him, she won’t know that he is disinterested. Therefore the purpose of the neg is to actively demonstrate disinterest by disqualifying one’s self as a suitor (“It’s too bad I’m gay or you’d be so my type”), or by falsely disqualifying the target (“Do you know why you and I will never get along…?”).
According to the method, a proper neg never makes the target feel insulted or degraded, but rather questions whether the man approaching her has fallen under her spell. Women of particular beauty often tend to assume males approaching them are interested in them solely as a result of their looks, and negs attempt to neutralize that assumption by demonstrating that the man is not (yet) interested in her, despite her beauty. A successful neg will make the target feel self-conscious and attempt to regain control of the situation by qualifying herself.
Perhaps all of these steps are not appropriate for TBEX. I am one for old fashion business decorum, but there is an underlying pattern for the approach that makes sense. Now that you know what a neg is, can you guess what the Kiss Close is?
Timing is Everything
The Mystery Method is filled with all kinds of timing gates to keep socialization normal. In my nerd world, this is probably my biggest weakness. I am bad at reading social cues and always out of sync with the room. In roughly chronological order, here are the cues PUAs look for:
- Three second rule: The point of the 3 second rule is to encourage you to approach women fast enough to keep your internal voice from talking you out of it and to avoid hesitation
- Solid opening lines
- 10 minutes of small talk
- Three indicators of interest to phase shift: This could be asking to change locations or asking for a contact
- Seven hour rule. It takes seven hours of combined interaction to for a woman to, well you know… Turns out this is true for building trust in almost any relationship with any goal
Some time after you have three IOI’s and before seven hours you might try the Kiss Close. It goes something like this. You ask – Do you want me to kiss you? There are three possible answers. No, yes or say nothing. A no gives you another chance for a neg – “I wasn’t asking to kiss you. I thought you wanted to kiss me”. Yes or no answer is the same – you kiss them.
Again, I hope the only person I kiss at TBEX is Jenn, and I would be real careful before I break out a neg but somehow, it seems better to ask for a kiss instead of simply moving in and I am sure there is a parallel there to networking game. It may be as simple as asking for the business card/ asking permission to contact in the future.
The Rise of Style
The Game is more than a pickup manual. It’s a story of personal transformation. The nerdy and shy Neil Strauss had met the larger than life Mystery. I think Neil is a bit self effacing in his book. He was a writer from the Bahamas and quickly became Mystery’s wingman, so there was probably more to his natural game than he lets on. After a whirlwind tour of Eastern Europe and other PUA workshops, Neil and Mystery settled into opening a quasi permanent PUA school in LA – Project Hollywood. They rented Dean Martin’s old house in Hollywood Hills and then the game was afoot. Neil was becoming his alter ego– Style.
Style was living the American Dream. He was embedded in La La land, picking up women every night, schmoozing with celebrities like Tom Cruise and Courtney Love and helping men get out of their own way. The PUA theory he was teaching seems to tie directly into, not only what I want to do at TBEX but who I want to be. Here are some of PUA terms from the glossary of The Game that I want to put into my TBEX toolbox (yes, the book has a glossary). For the sake of this piece and networking in general, you can easily replace “Woman” in these definitions with “Brands” or “Bloggers” and game theory immediately applies.
- AMOG [Alpha Male of the Group] – Nuf said
- Calibrate – to read the verbal and nonverbal responses of a person or group and accurately deduce what they are thinking or feeling at that moment.
- Crash and Burn – to be directly, and often rudely, rejected or turned away by a women or group one has just approached.
- DHV [Demonstrate Higher Value] – a routine in which the pickup artist displays a skill or an attribute that raises his worth or appeal in the estimation of a woman or group
- Elicit Values – to draw out, through conversation, what is important to a person, usually with the intention of reaching a deep inner desire that motivates them.
- Flake – an occurrence in which a woman cancels or does not sup up to a planned meeting.
- Fluff – to make mundane small talk, typically between two people who have just met; common subjects include where one live, what one does for work and general interests and hobbies.
- Frame – the context within which a person, thing, event, or environment is perceived.
- Group Theory – The idea that women are usually accompanied by friends, and to meet her a man must simultaneously win the approval of her friends while actively demonstrating a lack of interest in her.
- Hook Point – the moment in a pickup when a woman (or a group) decides that she enjoys the company of a man who has recently approached her.
- IOI [indicator of interest] – a sign a woman gives a man that indirectly reveals she is attracted to or interested in him.
- Manage Expectations – to let a woman know before sleeping with her roughly how committed a relationship one intends to have with her. Model – to observe and imitate the behavior of another person, typically someone who possesses a trait or skill one wishes to acquire
- Number (card) Close – to obtain a correct phone number from a woman.
- One-itis – an obsession with a girl whom one is not dating.
- Opener – a statement, question, or story used to initiate a conversation with a stranger or group of strangers.
- Pawn – to approach and talk to one group of people in order to meet a woman or group adjacent to it.
- Peacock – to dress in loud clothing or with flashy accouterments in order to get attention from women.
- Routine – a story, scripted conversation demonstration of skill, or other piece of prepared material intended to initiate, maintain or advance an interaction with a woman or her group.
- SOI [Show of Interest] – a direct comment intended to let a woman know that one is attracted to or impressed with her.
- Stale – an occurrence in which the phone number of a woman is no longer an effective means of making plans with her, usually because too much time has lapsed between interactions and the woman has lost interest.
- Sub-communication – an impression, message, or effect created by a person’s mannerisms, dress, or general presence; an indirect, nonverbal form of communication generally perceived better by women than men.
- Target – the woman in a group whom the pickup artist desires and s running game on.
- Time Constraint – to tell a woman or a group of people that it is necessary to leave them soon.
- Yes-Ladder – a persuasion technique in which a person is asked a series of basic questions designed to elicit positive answers, increasing the likelihood that the person will also respond in the affirmative to a final, open ended question.
SEO, RSD and the Fall of Project Hollywood
It wasn’t always sugar drops and roses in the house where pickup dreams are born. Surprisingly, (or maybe not so much so) the crazies started to literally come out of the closet. The house was filled to capacity and Real Social Dynamics (RSD) branch of the PUA community was housing their students in the unused closet space.
The de facto head of the household RSD group called himself Tyler Durden a la Fight Club. Neil describes Tyler Durden this way – “Human interaction to him (Tyler) was a program. Behavior was determined by frames and congruence and state and validation and other big-chunk psychological principles.” Tyler formed his concepts of RSD by social deconstruction, that is, breaking down social interaction to its core components and studying their effect.
The RSD approach feels very familiar to my personal endeavors, no matter how much I try to be nature. Not just with women, but every social situation. Eventually, people come up to me and tell me I’m weird. I can’t even deny it. I usually just ask them how long it took them to figure it so I can score my faking skills. More often than not, they said they knew it right away, but I’d like to think I’m better than that.
RSD and social deconstruction feel like I’m bringing in too much heat for day to day communications and TBEX. I am trying hard to get out of my head and out of my own way when go out in public. However, they seem like the perfect tools for SEO research. Market research on link traffic, keywords and social shares feels exactly like social deconstruction, only with a set of SEO tools to help you out. Perhaps this is why SEO research feels so natural to me and definitely a subject for a future post.
Filling Project Hollywood with a rabid bunch of PUA’s was an unsustainable paradigm for Neil. The group dynamics ebbed and flowed (but more ebbed) and, perhaps just as important, the drug of picking up women was starting to wear off.
The final pages of The Game include this gem of parting wisdom, “We were all searching outside ourselves for our missing pieces, and we were all looking in the wrong direction. Instead of finding ourselves, we’d lost our sense of self. Mystery didn’t have the answers. A blonde 10 in a two-set at the Standard (another PUA from Project Hollywood) didn’t have the answers. The answers were to be found within, To win the game was to leave it.”
I felt this way when I met Jenn (who is also coincidentally a blonde). I was ready to leave the game and start looking inward. Maybe not too far inward since we knew even then that we were going to travel the world, but I was ready to have a best friend and confidant to explore with. I was ready to experience all of reality instead of just the carnal and social pleasures. Maybe, just maybe I can take a few of my old tools with me. Maybe I can channel my inner Style at TBEX but if you see me acting strange, be nice. I’m just a nerd and a hick after all. Just give me the honest answer on how long I was able to fool you 😉
What parts of The Game am I packing in my networking arsenal for TBEX? The book chapters summarize how to use the skill that the glossary puts out.
- Select a Target: Use the three second rule so I don’t talk myself out of meeting all the power bloggers and big brands in person.
- Approach and Open: Game theory says we should look for an opening. Maybe use group theory to embed ourselves near a target. Maybe we look to use a previously established relationship as a pawn to open up the set.Once we are near the target we’ll need solid opening lines or an opener, in business this is called the elevator speech. Per UC Davis – “An elevator speech is a clear, brief message or “commercial” about you. It communicates who you are, what you’re looking for and how you can benefit a company or organization. It’s typically about 30 seconds, the time it takes people to ride from the top to the bottom of a building in an elevator.” We will need to calibrate to find out about the social pace of TBEX. Are we expected to have 10 minutes of small talk where we pitch fluff and try to elicit three IOI before we phase shift? I honestly don’t know but I would start with base game theory and adapt. At a minimum, we just upgraded our business cards to Moo with 50 different photos on them so we can peacock a little.
- Demonstrate Value: Time to DHV with our routine. Before TBEX we are building a press kit for exactly this reason. The Wikipedia definition is “A press kit, often referred to as a media kit in business environments, is a pre-packaged set of promotional materials that provide information about a person, company, organization or cause and which is distributed to members of the media for promotional use.” I’ll be better off using Jenn as my wingman to read the sub-communication since, I am probably somewhere on the spectrum.
- Disarm the Obstacles: This is where we elicit values from our target. What are their needs / wants and what can we do to meet these needs. We will need to do a lot of framing to match our product to elicit values to overcome the obvious obstacle of low numbers.
- Isolate the Target: Are we in a location where we can actually make a deal? If not, we should create a time constraint and number close. The last thing we would want is to crash and burn because we didn’t calibrate.
- Create an Emotional Connection: We are now looking to fulfil the seven hour rule. Maybe it will not take the full seven hours in business but, between emails and negotiations and logistics it will come close. Another way to look at this is even if you get a link exchange, retweet or press trip, if you don’t follow up and get to seven hours, you will not have made that all important emotional connection.
Extract to a Seduction Location
- Pump Buying Temperature: Go ahead and build a yes-ladder. Drop SOI and continue to elicit values. Most off all, calibrate, calibrate, calibrate so you know when you reach the hook point.
Make a Physical Connection
- Blast Last Minute Resistance: Close the dang deal. Don’t be a flake.
- Manage Expectation: Why do you manage expectations? It keeps that all important emotional connection you worked to create going after the deal. You make sure that everybody knows what you are going to deliver and you make sure you deliver it. You keep in touch so your new friend / contact doesn’t go stale. You also need to manage your own personal expectations. If you do crash and burn, don’t give up and fall into one-itis. There is another brand / blogger waiting around the bend.
Thus completes my remedial socialization training for TBEX. I can be an AMOG and not a wallflower (more of a mantra than a statement of fact). At least I have refreshed basic PUA tactics and timing. I just need to gather my game pieces and get ready to play. Jenn says that most normal people don’t think this hard about socialization but I have been to any number of business training seminars that teach these specific skills. In my honest opinion, none of them were as entertaining as The Game.