Once again, I asked Nick O’Neill, a past interviewee, to write about one of the big observations he made while listening to Mixergy interviews. Nick is the creator of AllFacebook, a blog that covered all issues pertaining to Facebook including new applications, general news, and analysis about the future of Facebook. You should follow him on Twitter.
Some people would find it hard to argue that picking up sexual partners has nothing to do with business. Even Melvin Cedeno explained to Andrew recently that his study of pickup artists helped little with developing his $30,000 a month business.
However if you listen to Melvin’s interview, you quickly pick up on many of the personality traits he adopted that helped him with building his business. Before I share those personality traits though, I want to share with you a personal story about the studying pickup artists.
How To Get Slapped In The Face
About 8 years ago a friend of mine told me about pickup artists and a book he had been reading called “The Game” (written by Mixergy interviewee Neil Strauss). The book was basically an introduction to the world of pickup artists. However if you read the book, you’d know it was actually much more like the male version of Sex In The City. With salacious scenes and the promise of tactics that would get you into bed with the girl of your dreams, it was a book any single straight-guy would enjoy reading.
I read it and reached back out to my friend who said he wanted to practice the techniques revealed in the book. I was going out to clubs and bars with friends when I was in college so I figured another night at a bar couldn’t hurt! One night we go to a bar in Georgetown (in Washington D.C.) and I follow my friend around who starts trying to use some of the lines from the book. It was a memorable experience.
The vast majority of the girls he approached found him to be incredibly revolting. One girl turned to me and said, “Is this your friend? You should stop hanging out with him.” At one point, my friend literally got smacked in the face by a girl who he had insulted. What was my friend doing wrong? Well, he had read about a technique called “negs”.
It’s a process through which you lower the value of the girl you are talking to. You do this because in theory, she already has greater social value than you. The idea is to be playful and fun by giving her a hard time and putting her on the same level as you. My friend took negs to an extreme though and wound up literally insulting the girls he talked to. It was far from being elegant.
Years later, after trying again and again, he’s far more effective at “the game” and is incredibly effective at picking up women in bars. So what’s the moral of the story? I’ll reveal that in a second! Many of the personality characteristics gleaned from pickup artists can help you succeed at any game, including the game of business. While Melvin Cedeno’s study of “the game”, he told Andrew that it helped him find “the girl of his dreams”, it also helped him build his startup.
So what are the personality characteristics I’m speaking of?
In describing his experience with pickup arts, Melvin said something incredibly important yet simple. He says that in listening to CDs on pickup artists, “I get OCD about things and I listened to a bunch”. In other words, he spent six month of his life obsessed on nothing other than the task at hand (in this case meeting women).
Napoleon Hill, the author of the original self-help book, Think And Grow Rich, has a number of famous quotes, but in one of his books he states “concentrate upon a given desire until that desire becomes a burning obsession”. At that point, all of your energy and all of your efforts will go in to achieving that desire.
Any successful entrepreneur will tell you how obsessed they become about their business. It’s why most people hate hanging out with entrepreneurs. All they want to discuss is their business! You can’t blame them though. They are obsessed!
Persistence Despite Failure
So now we know that successful pickup artists and entrepreneurs both obsess over the things they desire. What other personality traits do these two share? The next most obvious trait that I picked up on is persistence. Let’s be honest. The reason pickup artists are studying the topic in the first place is that they’ve experienced some failure. They’ve been rejected by women yet they successful ones persist and as Melvin did, they find their partner.
Entrepreneurs experience failure on a regular basis! Whether it’s the investor that turns them down, or more importantly the potential customer that rejects them, entrepreneurs persist!
The iterative process through which pickup artists improve their game is impressive. They don’t simply accept failure and move on. They study what went wrong. After a night of going out to the bars and experiencing rejections, many will jump on to online forums and discuss the techniques they used and solicit feedback. They’ll then make adjustments and get out there and try again.
For entrepreneurs, persistence is great, but without having a method for learning from failures and incorporating those lessons into future actions, it can all be for not. This scientific method is the entire foundation of the Lean Startup methodology and the concept of iteration. Compiling lessons from failure prior to moving on helps entrepreneurs continue to improve.
Understanding Your Market
One of the final traits of master pickup artists is that they understand women (or at least as much as they can). In other words, they study their target market. Entrepreneurs cannot succeed without understanding their market either. Just take a look at Andrew’s interview with Ramit Sethi in which he describe the extensive research that goes into developing one of his products. He literally spends months talking with potential customers to get a deep understanding of their psychology.
The end result is copy and other sales techniques that communicate an understanding of the customer. If you don’t understand your target market, good luck selling anything to them!