How To THRIVE In The CHAOS Of Modern Business

Jay Heinrichs is the the author of the New York Times bestseller, Thank You for Arguing: What Aristotle, Lincoln, and Homer Simpson Can Teach Us About the Art of Persuasion.

In this episode of the Salesman Podcast, Jay explains what “chaos” really is and how sales professionals can use it to their advantage.

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Featured on this episode:

Host - Will Barron
Founder of Salesman.org
Guest - Jay Heinrichs
Bestselling Author and Experienced Persuasion and Conflict Consultant.

Resources:

Transcript

Will Barron:

Coming up on today’s episode of the salesman podcast.

 

Jay Heinrichs:

If you ever have your house inspected for its energy efficiency, one of the first things the inspectors will look for is cobwebs. And the reason for that is, spiders set up their webs, where the atmosphere’s chaotic. I was researching this book, going through a whole lot of science, business history, behavioural economics, and the like, and I expected that the greatest opportunities arose from technology either directly or indirectly.

 

Will Barron:

Hello sales nation, my name is Will Barron and I’m the host of the sales man podcast, the world’s most downloaded B2B sales show. On today’s episode, he returns and this is fourth time now, absolute legend, Jay Heinrichs, and we’re discussing how we can pull opportunity out of chaos. We go crazy deep into all kinds of things in this episode, there’s tonnes of value in it. Everything we talk about, including Jay’s books and his consulting services, are available in the show notes for this episode over at salesman.org. And with that said, let’s jump right into it.

 

Will Barron:

Jay, welcome back again to the salesman podcast.

 

Jay Heinrichs:

Thanks, Will.

 

Why Do Humans Think Negatively About Chaos, Disruption, or Change? · [01:28]

 

Will Barron:

I’m glad to have you back on Jay. Okay, so we’re going to touch on why chaos, seemingly the opposite, this is almost counter-intuitive, why chaos can bring business opportunity in a second. And that’ll be the key parts of the episode here, but just to tee things up a little bit, why do you think humans think negatively about chaos? Because clearly, that’s something that we’re going to have to deal with, if we’re going to turn it into opportunity. Why are humans seemingly wired to avoid chaos, disruption, change at all costs?

 

“If you ever have your house inspected for its energy efficiency, one of the first things the inspectors will look for is cobwebs. And the reason for that is, spiders set up their webs where the atmosphere is chaotic.” – Jay Heinrichs · [02:07] 

 

Jay Heinrichs:

I imagine it has something to do with evolution. I’m no biologist, but imagine that time in human history, when we came down from the trees and had to face all those enemies that we had, and that’s where we got our fight or flight instinct. You contrast us with, say spiders, which in some ways are superior beings to us humans. If you ever have your house inspected for its energy efficiency, one of the first things the inspectors will look for is cobwebs. And the reason for that is, spiders set up their webs, where the atmosphere is chaotic, where there are draughts, because that’s where insects fly by confused. And at the same time, you look on the other hand at dragonflies, which biologists will tell you, are the world’s most successful predator. They have a predation success rate, every time they try to attack their prey, of more than 90%, as contrast to say lions, which have a success rate under 20%.

 

Jay Heinrichs:

What did dragonflies do? They’re able to stay in the middle of things, no matter how chaotic they are, because they have this amazing hovering ability. And I hope we can get through this a little bit later, they are able to predict the future, which is also very important in how you deal with chaos. So, if you look at two very successful kinds of creatures, they’re the most successful at dealing with chaos. And so, I hope, I mean, I know we will be talking about chaos, I’ve got a lot of stuff to say about the business opportunities arising from it, not just insects.

 

Will Barron:

For sure. That was the most random, but it fascinates … My background, you may not know this, regular listeners will, my background is in chemistry, science. I actually host a science podcast called Excited Science. And so, I love all these anecdotes, especially when we can kind of tie nature into what we’re doing day-to-day, because … we won’t dive into this topic because it might be a conversation for three hours, five whiskies conversation, further down the line. But I’m convinced a lot of what we do, we add extra human complexity onto the top of it, when we don’t need to, if we followed more like principles of business, of selling, of living, we’d probably be happier human beings on the back of it. Right, okay.

 

How Chaos and Uncertainty Breeds Potential Opportunities · [04:31]

 

Will Barron:

So let’s get into chaos specifically then, less for insects and animals and more for humans. Why is … And for the audience and yourself Jay, I’m trying not to ask a lazy question here, but I want to keep it massively open-ended because I want to see where you go with it because I’m intrigued. Why does chaos lead to potential opportunity for business people, salespeople, and I guess capitalism as well.

 

“I expected that the greatest opportunities arose from technology, either directly or indirectly. And I actually found that people tend to become fabulously wealthy and found new businesses, economies in fact, grow the fastest during or immediately after the most chaotic times.”  – Jay Heinrichs · [05:07]

 

Jay Heinrichs:

I’m working on my next book, which is about the art of opportunity. And I am a rhetorician, I try to apply the principles of rhetoric, the ancient art of persuasion. And one of the key principles of rhetoric, is something called kairos. And we can get back to that if you’re interested, but kairos has to do with timing and seizing the moment, seizing an opportunity. So, I was researching this book going through a whole lot of science, business history, behavioural economics and the like, and I expected that the greatest opportunities arose from technology, either directly or indirectly. And I actually found that, especially when studying business history and talking to economists, I found that people tend to become fabulously wealthy and found new businesses, economies in fact, grow the fastest during or immediately after the most chaotic times. So, in other words, chaos has to do … you have to think about what chaos is exactly.

 

“The people who can deal with the chaos and the confusion simplify the facts around them and actually act while other people are frightened. Those are the people who tend to be the greatest opportunists.” – Jay Heinrichs · [06:43]

 

Jay Heinrichs:

And here I’m going to get super nerdy on you, because I’m a word guy, that’s what I do for a living. Chaos, the word comes from the Greek, chaos, which comes from a word that means gap. So chaos isn’t just confusion, it’s an opening at the same time, this is the original meaning of the word. And so, chaos has to do, when you think about what chaos is in terms of politics, as both our countries are going through today and what happens with economies when they get chaotic, the rules change, or they go away or they don’t apply or people don’t follow them. And so, chaos is a kind of wild west and where there are no fences. And that’s where the people who can deal with the chaos and the confusion, simplify the facts around them and actually act while other people are frightened. Those are the people who tend to be the greatest opportunists.

 

Why Chaos Isn’t Necessarily a Bad Thing · [07:04]

 

Will Barron:

I love it. Perhaps you can touch on first principles or something like that later on in the show, to kind of tie this together and make it practical. But I think this is fascinating. Have we misconstrued what chaos is then? Because if we frame it up as it’s a gap in our knowledge, or it’s a gap in from one thing finishing to another thing starting, it’s natural to nature, it happens in the universe as a whole. Clearly, if we talk about entropy and things like that, chaos is important. We wouldn’t be here without it. Have we just misaligned? I say, we, maybe I’m talking about myself, maybe people aren’t so bothered about chaos. But have perhaps I misaligned what chaos means and we should see it as opportunity, as opposed to see it is a potential for things to be taken from us.

 

Jay Heinrichs:

Well, I think so. And, and let me get back to rhetoric. Everything goes back to rhetoric as far as I’m concerned. And so, rhetoric was invented by these ancient educators and consultants, who in a nice bit of branding called themselves sophists, meaning the wise ones. And so, one of the things that sophists taught, was that there’s a time to persuade and a time not to persuade, and any sales person knows this, obviously. Holding your fire can be the best thing you do, you know to make a cold call at a particular time and when not to. But even more than that, the sophists believed that there is a certain set of skills and principles that can be applied, that’s the equivalent to shooting an arrow, that’s what they had back then, through a chink in the armour, through an opening. That gets us back to chaos.

 

Jay Heinrichs:

So chaos can be terrible, but one of the things the Sophists taught, was how to reframe every occasion. Can I tell you just a quick story-

 

Will Barron:

Of course you can.

 

Jay Heinrichs:

About this? Because I think it just sums up what the sophists were thinking. Back in the day, many years ago, I was an administrator and I taught at Dartmouth college, an Ivy league university here in America. And I had a student intern named Emily Hill, who did a year abroad in China as a student. While she was there, she was on a bus tour going through the Chinese Himalayas and the bus got caught in a blizzard and it stuck. And so, she was the only person on the bus who spoke Mandarin and she led the entire group to safety. Two weeks later, she decided to take a little break and be a tourist in Nepal, where she was gored by a rhinoceros in Nepal’s Royal Chitwan national park or Royal park.

 

Jay Heinrichs:

So, when she got back, I said to her, “Don’t tell me about what happened to you,” because it was all over the news in the United States. “Tell me how people responded to it, because this has to do with how you deal, how you reframe moments of chaos.” She said, “You know it’s funny you asked that,” because she was from Kansas City, Midwest, very conservative area. And she said, “All her parents’ friends said, “You see what happens when you let her out of the country?” And she said, “All her fellow students at Dartmouth,” all these type A students said, “Wow, I wish I had an experience like that.” And if you look at the two responses to this, one was flight and the other was not fight exactly, but aiming for the gap in and opportunity that they had. And to this day, I imagine she can get any drinks she wants in a bar telling that story.

 

Jay Heinrichs:

That’s what the sophists were talking about. How you frame a situation, when something’s chaotic, it can seem awful. War, the political turmoil in this country, the pandemic, all that sort of thing. We can simply say, “You see what happens when we step outside our house.” On the other hand, some people are going to be absolutely richer than God coming out of this pandemic and all the confusion.

 

Can Humans Predict What Happens After Chaos And Take Advantage of The Opportunities? · [11:26]

 

Will Barron:

So can we … we might go out to the dragonfly here for a second. Can we guess, can we use [inaudible 00:11:35] if there’s a scale or there’s a principle to predict what’s happening during chaos or predict what’s going to happen on the other side to take advantage of it? Is there any science or even anecdotes of how we can leverage this as a tool? Once we’ve got our mindset right that we should, perhaps not all the time, maybe some of the time, we should run into chaos as opposed to running away from it.

 

“You need to be looking at two things, what do people need and how urgently do they need it? And that tends to happen most during times of chaos.” – Jay Heinrichs · [12:40] 

 

Jay Heinrichs:

So, here’s … After talking to all kinds of experts over the past few years, and trying to come up with a set of rules or guidelines or best practises for dealing with chaos. I came up with what every good business book writers should do, which is an acronym. And I call it SAFEH, which is you first need to be able to spot an opportunity. And the best way to an, an opportunity, is through what rhetoricians call exigence. And I’m summarising what economists have talked about, but I define this as, exigence is an urgent need. You need to be looking at two things, what do people need and how urgently do they need it? And that tends to happen most during times of chaos. So spotting an opportunity, that’s the S you need to be able to analyse the opportunity.

 

Jay Heinrichs:

And one way to do that is by … And this takes some skill, obviously, to be able to compress the data. And I actually interviewed people who have been involved in data compression of music, including the people who came up with the MP3. They are able to see what doesn’t belong in the information. And I spent a lot of time studying how Dwight Eisenhower planned D-Day, he was taking just this confusion of information and opinion. And he had to boil it down into the moment to invade France with the allies. That’s analysing, that’s A, so we’ve got the S in the A. Thirdly, you need to know whether you actually fit that occasion. And again, I decided to apply a rhetorical principle called [tow pro pond 00:13:52], which is the art of actually fitting into an occasion. Do you suit this opportunity, which is really important.

 

Jay Heinrichs:

And for that, you need to be able to conduct a really good audience analysis to see if you fit into that, among other things as well. E is extend, you need to be able to bring about an opportunity potentially, and then extend it when it comes about. The ancient Greeks actually thought this idea of seizing an occasion at a particular moment, was so important they actually had a God for it. The God was called Kairos, and Kairos was this beautiful young man with winged feet and the most fashionable curly Greek hair in front. But he was entirely bald in back, because Kairos ages quickly, he runs by, and the moment is gone. One of the things you need to be able to do in order to seize an opportunity, is to perform a kind of like catalysis, which is by either increasing the confusion or sort of building a fence around it.

 

“We tend to focus too much on the past, and we tend to define the present too much in terms of what’s good and bad, rather than just what we understand of the moment.” – Jay Heinrichs · [15:53] 

 

Jay Heinrichs:

And so, I went through business history to see who did what and fencing was by far the best way to do it. Inventing roles, where there weren’t any rules, principles were no principles, and so on. And then finally, beyond all that, S-A-F-E, SAFE, I thought I had to add an H, which is in order for any of this really to work, you have to come up with sort of a habit of mind to be open to opportunities when they arise. So, it’s not a matter so much of predicting it, it’s more a matter of envisioning the future during the most chaotic times. And that’s what dragonflies do, but at the same time, we can do that by getting rid of some bad habits. One is, we tend to focus too much on the past, and we tend to define the present too much, in terms of what’s good and bad, rather than just what we understand of the moment.

 

“When something happens that seems frightening or confusing, people who don’t have this trait of openness or liberality will say, “Whoa, this is bad or fearful.” People who have a liberal attitude or an open attitude will say, “That’s interesting.” That’s the difference. And entrepreneurs deal with information this way. Information does not make them fear, it makes them feel more curious. .” – Jay Heinrichs · [16:28] 

 

Jay Heinrichs:

And one of the things I found is that, the people, that most successful entrepreneurs, and this really surprised me, tend to score very high in what psychologists call openness. I used the term liberality, which means, when something happens that seems frightening or confusing, people who don’t have this trait of openness or liberality, will say, “Whoa, this is bad or fearful.” People who have a liberal attitude or an open attitude will say, “That’s interesting.” That’s the difference. And time and again, entrepreneurs deal with information this way. The information does not make them fear, it makes them feel more curious. So that’s S-A-F-E-H.

 

Will Barron:

Jay-

 

Jay Heinrichs:

Terrible acronym.

 

Jay Explains How He’s Able to Creatively Research and Teach About Chaos · [17:39]

 

Will Barron:

It’s not the first acronym. I’m sure another letter would make it make more sense to you, you’re the master at kind of pulling these together. I’ve got to say it mate, I had to shut up then and just listen, because there was so … I’ve got a bunch of notes here, which we’ll run through in a second, but one thing that stands out, because I want to get into survivor bias, whatever this is, just look, whether people do this routinely. I want to touch on that with regards to the second, but slightly side note, and I’ll drag it back into the conversation that we’ve been on the track of. Do you have a process or is this something that comes natural, where you have the ability to talking about chaos, talking about insects, the Greeks, different gods, all these different things, your book talks about the Simpsons, cats, all different ways to … Clearly, it’s an amazing way to teach and to train and clearly you’ve got that background in teaching as well.

 

Will Barron:

Do you do this naturally, being able to pull from different sources to use anecdotes, quotes and different things, or do you consciously do this? Because I feel like, even just a sales presentation, if we could pull three or four different things out of the hat like you seem to do, with all these different subjects, it would make a sales presentation 10 times more exciting in its own right.

 

Jay Heinrichs:

Well, one of the things, in a way, my agent criticises me for this, because they’re just too much. “This is so … you’re confusing us.” I’ll tell you, before I answer your question Will, I have to tell you another personal story, because this is what occasioned this book in the first place. I’ve been thinking for years, about one of the biggest blown opportunities on my part, that kept me from being a billionaire. I’m laughing, but it’s almost literally true.

 

Will Barron:

Crying inside.

 

Jay Heinrichs:

I could have helped ruin the world and become fabulously rich. Back in the year 2000, this dates me, but I have to do it. I was working as vice-president of content for what was called a dot com back in the day, this is during the dot com era. Where I worked for a company and had helped found this company that pulled together some 2000 radio stations. We thought we had solved the problem of the internet, which is how do you get people on it? How do you attract people to your particular dot com? And if you remember the pets.com sock puppet, I mean, these companies were spending millions of dollars in advertising, in places like the Super Bowl, in order to attract people to our websites. We thought we had solved this problem, in that we would create free websites for radio stations, we templated the websites around particular musical genres. And in return for which, the radio station would have to run these spots on the radio, attracting them to websites, where we would sell them cool new stuff, like the film less digital camera.

 

Jay Heinrichs:

Well, and we would also make money through banner advertising and things like that, the stuff that existed at the time. Well, my job was to give people a reason to come to those websites. I quickly realised when I looked through all our audience data, was that what our audience wanted was the most local kind of information. I had a staff of maybe eight people, there’s no way we could have produced local information for these 2000 people, particularly, and they didn’t want just local information. They wanted local information about their music, whether it was hip hop on the one hand or country on the other. I sat staring miserably out of my office window for weeks and weeks, months and months, thinking, “I know there’s an answer to this. I can’t figure out what it is.” Now, at the time, the internet was the wild west, there were really no rules, it was every website for itself kind of thing. Nobody knew what worked and what didn’t. So this was chaos, the definition of chaos.

 

Jay Heinrichs:

Well, our 9/11 came along, we lost our funding, I was unemployed soon after. A year later, a Canadian programmer invented Friendster, and soon after that, you had Myspace, and after that, eventually Facebook and all the rest. And that was the answer. I probably still have the dent in my forehead from smacking it, when I realised that the answer to the content was not to create it, but to allow users to create it. So, that was an opportunity in the middle of chaos and I failed to see it. If I had seen it, we had a whole great team of top programmers. If I had gone to them and convinced them that this was the way to go, we could actually have taken off better than Friendster, much better than Myspace. Why hadn’t I thought of it? What was I lacking? What skills was I lacking? And that’s why I did this book. So my natural way of doing this, is to just ask the universe, look at every possible source of information that would solve this particular problem. Why didn’t I invent social media?

 

How You Handle Chaos Will Determine Your Chances of Failure or Success · [23:00]

 

Will Barron:

Okay. So, you’ve given us a good starting point here of, I’ll put it mildly as I can, kind of somewhat of a failure story, right? As I’m being kind of polite. And we’ve all had them, I’ve had massive failures as well. So, is failure the default when people do run into chaos or are the people who can go into chaos or come out of a success and then go into a chaos and come out of a success, can people do this regularly, or do we look at people who go into [inaudible 00:23:35] success once, as these heroes, as these individuals who are incredibly intelligent, who can work out all these variables. And the reality is, that it’s just survivor bias, that a thousand people run and one of them, is just going to happen upon the correct answer.

 

Jay Heinrichs:

Yeah, that’s a great question, and it’s one that I don’t have the expertise to answer entirely. I can only look at this anecdotally, and you look at the people who are consistently successful, who come back again and again, now they have their failures like everybody else, but they tend to add on. They actually succeed from their failures, they take their failures as information, and move on from there. I’m more interested actually, in how they deal with chaotic situations and find opportunities within. And if you look at the people who have been wildly successful at this, you can’t help but think of someone like a Bill Gates, who back in the earliest moment of stardom as an opportunist, he was able to see what IBM could not see, which was that the value in computers was not in the hardware. And now, he took the most confusing kind of time and he had the sort of vision to project into the future to see, what the potential of this technology might be.

 

Jay Heinrichs:

So, this was at a time when people were still believing that computers, the best use of computers would be as terminals. So IBM was thinking, “Okay, maybe we’ll have a personal computer, but on the other hand, that personal computer will be something that will be used by accountants and business types or whatever, it’d be very expensive and we’ll make the very best machines.” That’s how they saw these, as like adding machines, essentially. Bill Gates saw something else, and he wasn’t the person who came up with this idea, he was the person who understood how important that idea was. Which was that, the operating system was the chief value of a computer.

 

Jay Heinrichs:

Now, if you look at other people outside of tech, you can see that again. I mean, one of the first true millionaires in American history was John Jacob Astor, a German immigrant who, when he was on the ship coming over to America, met a fur trader. And at the time, beavers were huge. They were-

 

Will Barron:

That whole … We’ll just call it that as a clip on it on its own, just that one line there.

 

Jay Heinrichs:

Yeah, add a little sex do this whole podcast. The Canadian economy was based on it, that’s why there’s still a beaver in their coat of arms. But so Astor thought, “Well, this is interesting, wonder how I do this.” And he moved to New York, established a trade, where he himself tanned the hides or whatever you do cured the fur of these beavers. Well, pretty soon the war of 1812 ends, this is how long ago this was. So, Britain in the United States made a treaty that settled the boundary between the two countries, throwing the frontier into complete chaos because the Hudson Bay Company, which was founded by Britons went out of business, essentially, south of that border. All these Native Americans had been trading with the British and with the French, and now all of a sudden complete chaos. Astor understood what an opportunity this was, and it was chaos that resulted from the absence of law.

 

Jay Heinrichs:

And a lot of opportunists throughout history, take a look when law or rules, regulations or literal fences break down. And they seize that opportunity. So, he ended up hiring a bunch of agents, who either spoke French or spoke some Native American language, and he sent them out on commission, so he didn’t have to spend any of his own investment because he didn’t have any money to start with. And ended up being wildly successful for about a decade. He then used that money, at a time when there was a big economic depression that devastated New York City. And so, he moved away from the fur trade, which by then was already getting more competition. And he invested the money he had made into real estate in New York and became even more fabulously wealthy. He repeated this throughout his life. He was able to see, it was as if he had this habit of mind, that when things went south, literally or figuratively, when things look really bad to everybody else, he immediately looked at what the gap was and he filled it.

 

Is Chaos Predictable? · [29:06] 

 

Will Barron:

I’ve got two questions, and I’m conscious of time here, because both of these could go into a four hour conversation. So I’ll ask them both and I’ll try and reign as both in if we get too deep into these. But the first one is, we think of chaos as being unpredictable, but over a long enough period, is chaos predictable in itself? And what I mean by that, the most obvious example is, ups and downs in the stock market. Every seven to 10 years, there’s big ups and downs and small ups and downs, but they are somewhat cyclical, right? They come in and we can somewhat predict them. Now, unfortunately the average person tends to lose out in them and people who are more sophisticated, tend to clean up and take capital from people who are less invested in it or people who are after a short, quick book, as opposed to thinking about the longterm. But Jay, is something as crazy and random as chaos, can it be predictable?

 

“I think the stock market shows really good evidence that chaos is unpredictable.” – Jay Heinrichs · [29:54] 

 

Jay Heinrichs:

I can only tell you what I found out from the research I’ve done so far, if you look specifically at the stock market. I think the stock market shows really good evidence, that chaos is unpredictable. I mean, if you look at it, if you look at managers, investment managers, they almost always perform, I mean you know this, perform behind the average of the stock market itself. And so, one of the things about chaos is that almost by definition, it’s unpredictable. Now, there’s some things you can tell when there are changes in administration in a particular country, particularly the United States where it’s every four years like a drum beat, then yes, you can probably predict that there will be some elements of chaos. You can see trends and trends can lead to chaos, especially if they’re chaotic trends. So, you see the breakdown in trust in both our countries, in the three traditional sources of information and this is a growing kind of chaos, so we can predict that it’s going to get worse.

 

“When you get that lack of trust in information, that creates chaos which can also create all kinds of opportunities for people who want to make a lot of money or just ruin the world.” – Jay Heinrichs · [31:22] 

 

Jay Heinrichs:

If you look at people’s faith in science, it’s really been breaking down over the past 20 years. You look at faith in journalism, traditional journalism, it’s almost entirely gone. And if you look in faith of our chief source of data, and that’s government, faith in government has broken down as well. This means that as long as that faith isn’t there, that trust, when you get that lack of trust in information that creates chaos, which can also create all kinds of opportunities, for people who want to make a lot of money or just ruin the world.

 

Jay Explains How Having the Right Perspective Can Make Chaos Seem Less Threatening · [31:42]

 

Will Barron:

And let me ask you same question in a different way. If we have enough of something, does something that might seem chaotic in the … what I’m asking is, with the right perspective, can chaos seem less chaotic? For example, if you look at atoms in a reaction, the bumping of atoms bouncing around and the [inaudible 00:32:00] of the reaction that needs to be reached before things react, new elements, new compounds to be made. If you looked at individual compounds, bouncing around, it’s incredibly chaotic, it’s almost unpredictable. But then if you scale out and I mix orange juice with some water, it’s very predictable, the way that they’re going to mix. So is chaos from … and this might be a mindset thing as opposed to sort of impractically we could do some key SaaS sales, but come some of this, if we pull back far enough, can some of this become predictable from that perspective?

 

Jay Heinrichs:

Ah, you just said something really critical here. First of all, I’m going to have to interview some chemists for this book.

 

Will Barron:

And I’ll give you this. No I don’t, but I don’t know how much you know about electrons within a molecule. So, when we draw them on a screen, typically you’d see the protons/neutrons in the centre and you’d see electrons kind of a blob floating around outside. Well, that’s not how they exist. So you may know this, so don’t feel like I’m trying to be condescending, cater for the audience. What really happens is, there’s a cloud of probability that the electron may be there, it might not be there. And it’s only when we observe the electron that we see where it is in time. Now, some of the probability, there’s a high probability that within this code, there’s some probability that the electron isn’t within this code and we have no idea, there’s only theory as to where this electron goes.

 

Will Barron:

So, this might be something interesting for you to look at from a chemistry perspective or a physics perspective. When you get this small and this nuanced, it’s completely chaotic, again, until we observe it. But then, when we scale all the way out, I know a mug is there, because I can hold it, and this is clearly made of electrons, protons, and neutrons.

 

Jay Heinrichs:

The critical thing that you’re talking about here, it seems to me is, that you’re making a brilliant analogy of perspective. And perspective from a rhetorical standpoint, remember I said, “Everything goes back to rhetoric.” Has to do with framing, and framing when you think about what a brilliant word framing is, framing has to do with setting a frame, behind a particular issue where you focus on some aspect of an issue and you deliberately ignore another aspect. And you can do that in your analogy, by getting closer, backing away. This is where it’s really important in determining your own personal situation. If it’s a sales situation or business opportunity or whatever, to understand what’s relevant and what’s not.

 

“Now, the same thing applies for any kind of economic chaos or political chaos or chaos within your own life for that matter, the question is how you’re going to frame it. And the important thing about framing is not only what you include, people tend to focus on that alone, but what you exclude as well.” – Jay Heinrichs · [34:56] 

 

Jay Heinrichs:

So, if you say it in terms of electrons, in terms of our daily life, electrons are only relevant if we’re an electrical engineer or someone simply interested in electrons. In terms of your coffee mug, that’s irrelevant information, good to know, but irrelevant for your ability to drink coffee. Now, same thing applies for any kind of economic chaos or political chaos or chaos within your own life for that matter, the question is how you’re going to frame it. And the important thing about framing is not only what you include, people tend to focus on that alone, but what you exclude as well. I mean, we couldn’t have MP3s, we couldn’t have music on our iPhones, if a bunch of brilliant people hadn’t decided what was irrelevant in the data that you’re going to hear with music.

 

Can Machine Learning and AI Be Used In Eliminating and Predicting Chaos? · [35:42] 

 

Will Barron:

I won’t go down this route because I want to ask you about how we can communicate some of this in a second, because that’s going to be real practical for the audience. But I’m just going to throw it out there, and then I’m going to quickly shift to communication. Is it possible that humans just can’t zoom far enough, out enough, often enough, to see what the predictability in chaos. And what I mean by that is, could machine learning/AI, could that take away a lot of the magic of what we see as chaos, when you can get so much data that a human couldn’t possibly process without cognitive biases, without opinions and without social pressures. Could AI and machine learning look at some of this chaos and say, “That isn’t really chaos when you look at it in the big picture.”

 

Jay Heinrichs:

Well, that’s really interesting and it’s something that I’ve been looking into. The ability of AI, the uncanny ability of AI, to see patterns that we don’t see, and this brings me back to the dragonfly. I’ve been waiting for this opportunity. So, the most amazing thing about a dragonfly, is that it literally sees the future. So, it sees a kind of data pattern that AI itself sees, so that when a dragonfly is pursuing prey, it literally does not see where the prey is at any particular moment, it sees where the prey will be. There’s this brilliant sort of vector analysis that goes on in the dragonfly’s ganglia and its optic nerves, which allow it to and not allow it, it limits it only to seeing where that prey is most likely to be, with a success rate of some 96 to 98%. It’s able to see where the … not where the bug is, but where it will be.

 

“Garbage in garbage out applies to any kind of AI. Someone will have to have the perspective to understand how to allow that machine to learn what patterns are and how to predict them.” – Jay Heinrichs · [38:02] 

 

Jay Heinrichs:

AI is capable of doing that. The problem of course, lies in the fact that most of what we would ask AI to do in terms of finding patterns within chaotic situations, aren’t bugs, they’re somewhat more complex than the vector, a vector analysis of a gnat or mosquito. So, garbage in garbage out applies to any kind of AI. Someone will have to have the perspective to understand how to allow that machine to learn what patterns are and how to predict them. And it’s interesting, in some ways, AI is doing a brilliant job. In medicine, for example, AI is already superior to most diagnosticians. On the other hand, asking AI to predict the stock market, that’s a whole different kettle of chaotic fish.

 

How The Rise of AI and Machine Learning Can Influence the Stock Market · [38:38]

 

Will Barron:

Sure. And if it ever would get to the point where it could predict the stock market, the stock market would then no longer function, it’d be broken in an instant. Right?

 

Jay Heinrichs:

Well, that’s a really interesting question, because again, I would apply the principles of Kairos to that kind of situation and think, “Okay, what if it does?” If the stock market becomes absolutely predictable and the people who have the access to the AI basically own the stock market and everything on it, does that necessarily mean that investments stop or will they find a different path? And this is where you think hierarchically is, the rhetoricians would say, where you think, “Okay, is there a gap in this somehow? What’s missing?” If somebody’s looking for an investment, are they going to look for that kind of investment, or are they going to look for risk?

 

“One of the most important things about learning about chaos and how it works and how it doesn’t is to know the difference between risk and uncertainty.” – Jay Heinrichs · [39:31]

 

Jay Heinrichs:

Now, one of the most important things about learning about chaos and how it works and how it doesn’t, is to know the difference between risk and uncertainty. And as you know, economists talk about this all the time. And one role of government, for example, when it works well economically, is to reduce the amount of uncertainty in business investments. So for example, if you look at outer space, the fact that we’ll be mining asteroids someday. Right now, that’s a pretty uncertain investment and no amount of AI will be able to predict exactly what’s going to happen, because we haven’t invented the stuff to do this. Now, at some point, though, we’re going to establish a point in time where now it’s calculable risk, where you can use AI to determine what the percentage of risk is. I mean, if you look at doing a Monte Carlo analysis of your own investments, that’s risk, you know that you don’t have a hundred percent certainty, it’s more like if you invested properly 80 to 85%, uncertainty seems reasonable. There’s a 15% chance you’re going to lose your shirt. So that’s risk, and it’s a question of whether you’re willing to take it. That’s a decision that you can make.

 

“Chaos comes in where you have to be able to eliminate extraneous information and understand when to take action. Because one advantage of uncertainty versus risk is you’re going to get very little competition and very few rules setting you back.” – Jay Heinsrichs · [40:51] 

 

Jay Heinrichs:

Uncertainty is really different. And this is where chaos comes in, where you have to be able to eliminate extraneous information and understand when to take action. Because one advantage of uncertainty versus risk is, very few … you’re going to get very little competition and very few rules setting you back.

 

How to Present Opportunities to a Customer Who Only Sees Chaos in Your Propositions · [41:42] 

 

Will Barron:

I love this. I’ve got one final question. And I’m just going to tee up this question with the point here that I know you’re not going to be able to answer it in the time we got left, because on the hour I have to shoot because for the audience and yourself Jay, I’ve got to put a piano in a van. So I’ve kind of … I’m conscious of time that you’re sharing with us, I’ve got to do this job as well. So with that said, I’m framing it up, that this is probably another hour long conversation to perhaps have in the future. How do we go about communicating what we see as a risk, not something that’s completely … not that something’s … the uncertainties incalculable, how do we communicate a risk with a potential customer where all they see is chaos, but we see opportunity for them. Let’s pull it back to sales and what salespeople can pull from this. How do we communicate that with them?

 

Jay Heinrichs:

Well, there is a principle of persuasion called [enargia 00:42:18]. I throw out Greek words because it makes me seem so knowledgeable. Enargia is the skill of making people, I call it the special effects of persuasion. It’s the skill of making people believe that they’re already standing in the middle of the future. So, if you see an empty lot, that God forbid is, is where a building used to be that was destroyed by a hurricane. Other people are going to be thinking of recovery, one person’s going to be looking for investors to build another building there and buy the lot and build something cooler than what stood before. In order to do that, that person needs to be able to convince investors that, that building exists already, and has to do it in the most vivid way. And so, that kind of storytelling, advanced storytelling, is really critical for this.

 

Jay Heinrichs:

I think about this in terms of whether I would have invented social media. I would have had to convince these developers to do it and I’m not a developer myself, how would I have done it? I think I would have had to describe the future really vividly.

 

Parting Thoughts: Jay’s Books, Website and His Persuasive Marketing Consulting · [43:45]

 

Will Barron:

Perfect. And I guess to even more practicality on this, if we can use any kind of computer to design, if it’s a physical product, perhaps you could mock things up, we can put together documents, we can make it visual. And I love this idea of storytelling, and that’s probably a conversation for a future episode when you come back on the show, Jay. So with that mate, I want you to tell us about the books and I want you to tell us a little bit about the persuasive marketing consulting that you do as well.

 

Jay Heinrichs:

Well, as far as the books, the book that has sold the best is called Thank You for Arguing, What Aristotle, Lincoln and Homer Simpson can teach us about the art of persuasion. It’s based on the ancient tools of rhetoric, but with modern principles and storytelling. I also have this book that I wrote, that’s kind of an easier introduction. I mean, people get PhDs in the art of rhetoric. So, I thought it would be kind of fun to do a book called How to Argue With a Cat, and it’s illustrated by an art director I met in London, who worked for Ogilvy UK as an art director, and she illustrated the book. So it’s a fun, quick introduction to the art. And if you’re still interested, then you buy the other book.

 

Jay Heinrichs:

Most of my income comes from persuasion market consulting, which has to do with working with audiences that aren’t doing what they’re supposed to be doing. I work with a large healthcare company in the United States, to come up with a protocol for paediatricians to talk young parents into vaccinating their children. Very important right now, vacs, how do you persuade people to be vaccinated is something I work really hard on. I also deal with audiences that really ought to buy something for their own good and are failing to do that. I work with fundraisers a lot, on how to raise money for places like Harvard university, one of my clients. Where people wonder why they should give money to one of the richest institutions in the world. And this sort of thing applies these principles that many of which we talked about today.

 

Will Barron:

Perfect. And where can we find that work that you do? And how can we get in touch with you?

 

Jay Heinrichs:

You just go to my name.com, [email protected] That’s my email. Jayheinrichs.com is the website.

 

Will Barron:

Well, I’ll link to all of that, in fact, in the show notes for this episode over at salesman.org. And we like Jay, genuinely really enjoyed the conversation made really enjoy you and your energy and your personality and effort that you bring to this. And I want to thank you again for joining us on the salesman podcast.

 

Jay Heinrichs:

You are so good, let’s do this again.

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