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The Trump Economic Bump

    True story: Yesterday I was talking to a friend who invested in Gilead stock right before Hillary Clinton started giving speeches about forcing companies in that space to lower their prices. The stock dropped and my friend lost money. He blames Clinton.

    Over the summer this same fellow sold off his entire stock portfolio to avoid the risk of a Trump win followed by what he assumed would be a catastrophic market downturn. If Clinton won, he figured he could buy back in at about the same prices. But Trump won, stocks zoomed higher, and my friend lost out on the rally. Hillary Clinton cost him money for the second time this year.

    But don’t feel bad for my friend. He reports that since the election his phone has been ringing off the hook with new job offers. He’s a residential contractor. Apparently the country got optimistic right after the election. Normally this would be his slow period. He’s swamped with work.

    I love a happy ending.

How to Break an Illusion

    Anti-Trump protesters believe they are fighting the good fight to stop a racist, homophobic, sexist monster. But about half of the country – the half that I’m in – is in a different movie. In our movie, we selected a new president and half of the country is in cognitive dissonance over it. Assuming the protesters are the ones experiencing the illusion, and not us, how can we release them from their zombie-like existence so they will stop blocking traffic?

    I’ll tell you the general approach.

    The main thing you have to do is violate the frame. Clinton framed Trump as a monster, and now protesters are locked into that illusion. If Trump does things that can be construed as monster-like, the illusion is strengthened. But every time he violates that framing, the illusion gets a crack. If it cracks enough, it breaks.

    For example, half the country thought Trump was going to eliminate every good thing about Obamacare. But recently the public learned that Trump wants to keep the most popular provisions and just “fix” the rest of it. That violates the monster frame. But it isn’t enough by itself. You need more violations.

    Picking Reince Priebus for Chief of Staff was a good step because it makes Trump seem presidential and flexible. That’s another violation of the monster frame. But a small one.

    Unfortunately, picking Steve Bannon as chief strategist adds confirmation bias to the monster illusion because Clinton’s team polluted Bannon’s brand during the election. Bannon adds confirmation bias to the monster illusion.  I assume Bannon is a great strategist or else Trump wouldn’t risk keeping him. 

    Yesterday on Sixty Minutes Trump said gay marriage was already settled by the Supreme Court, and Trump is okay with that. That’s a crack in the illusion that Trump is anti-LGBTQ. But not enough. And Trump’s selection of Pence to run the transition team supports the monster theory because Pence has some anti-gay history that needs fixing.

    The obvious next move for the Master Persuader involves asking Pence to “evolve” to Trump’s positions on all LGBTQ matters. Everyone expects a VP to pretend to be a full supporter of the President’s policies. That gives cover for Pence to update his LGBTQ views because…

    – Religious conservatives will dismiss it as mere politics, believing Pence privately holds views that match their own.

    – Anti-Trumpers will see a major violation of the monster frame.

    – I will explain it all later as Trump doing “pacing and leading” to bring the Republican Party toward the center where it is strongest. Because that’s what is happening. 

    Trump has lots of other ways to crack the monster framing in the coming months. He can say more about his “New Deal” ideas for helping African-Americans. He could flip a foreign leader from a critic to a friend. He could come up with some ideas on lowering college costs. He could say more about his plan NOT to deport undocumented citizens who have obeyed the law since coming to this country.

    He has lots of levers. Expect him to push one lever after another until the monster framing cracks. By summer the story will be that he’s the most flexible and centrist president in our history.

    It is worth noting that Trump and Clinton had very different unframing challenges. If Clinton had won, her job would have been to convince the public she isn’t crooked. But you can’t do that simply by doing some honest things in public. We expect that even crooked people do honest things when watched. Clinton literally had no path to remove her “crooked” label.

    But Trump has a more solvable framing problem. Clinton’s team labelled him a racist, homophobic, sexist. Trump can violate that frame enough times to break it over time. But it will take a lot of cracks. You’ve already seen several. Expect more to come.

    If I were in Trump’s place I would look for a bigly frame violation and soon. The public is already primed for him to “moderate” away from his campaign promises. This is the time to do it.

    In summary, you can’t prove you are honest by NOT stealing something in public. But you can prove you are not a monster by saving a kitten from a tree in public. Monsters never do that sort of thing. This idea is so true that it became the title of the best book ever written about movie script writing: Save the Cat

    Watch for Trump to save some kittens – as many as necessary – until you can’t hold in your mind the frame that he’s a monster. Enjoy the show. The Master Persuader is just getting started.

    You might like reading my book because kittens are so cute.

    And you might love my startup’s new app for geostreaming your location to a friend as you approach your meeting spot. Here are links:

    WhenHub app for Apple: http://apple.co/2eLL3Oh

    WhenHub app for Android: http://bit.ly/2fIb6L7

While You Were Looking in the Wrong Direction

    I’ve written a few times that Clinton deserves credit for breaking the glass ceiling for the highest office, at least in our minds, and that’s where it matters most. In 2016, no thinking person believes gender is a job requirement for president. That isn’t even a thing anymore. And Clinton did that for the country. You have to respect that.

    However, it is also true that Clinton tarnished women’s “brand” during the course of the election, with an assist from her opponents. You can respect much of what Clinton accomplished, but in the end she was an imperfect role model at best.

    Meanwhile, over at the Trump campaign, we watched the best hirer-firer of our time replace Lewandowski with Manafort before replacing Manafort with Conway. Each campaign manager was right for a respective phase of the campaign. Lewandowski was the street-fighter that got Trump attention during a crowded primary. Manafort was the well-connected operator who could guide him through the Republican convention and the nomination.

    But Conway took it home, against heavy odds. Her work was – as we can clearly see – insanely good.

    Trump succeeded in large part because of three brilliant, super-tough, ultra-effective women: KellyAnne Conway, Katrina Pierson, and Ivanka Trump

    If you cried on election day because it was a bad day for women, perhaps you were looking in the wrong direction. 

    You might like my book because other people do.

The De-Hitlerization of Your Brain

    The election is over and Trump supporters are trying to mind their own business, as usual. Meanwhile, Clinton’s supporters are on the streets to protest people who act the way they are acting. How did things get this crazy?

    Well, most of it has to do with Clinton’s persuasion experts and supporters framing Trump and his supporters as the next coming of Hitler. Here’s a fresh example.

    With this kind of messaging you should not be surprised to see crowds attacking Trump supporters. The attackers feel they have the moral authority to do so. Here’s a fresh example where a group of Clinton supporters repeatedly beat an older Trump supporter on camera. The scary part is that they appear to be proud of it, as though it is morally justified.

    My observation of the anti-Trump protests is that it mostly involves young people. This is their first fake-Hitler scare. They don’t realize that Reagan was compared to Hitler, both Bush presidents were compared to Hitler, and Romney was compared to Hitler. I assume lots of European and other leaders have also been compared to Hitler. You might want to point that out to any young person who thinks this is the first time we’ve seen this.

    I’ll also work on a de-hypnosis system. This one isn’t easy because fear is the top form of persuasion and you can’t out-fear a Hitler fear. If I were president I would try to break the spell by doing something so out-of-the-box that observers can’t hold this new information in their head and still hold the Hitler frame. For example…

    Imagine Trump proposing reparations for slavery. That’s as out-of-box as you can get. And imagine that reparations take the form of a special tax on the top 1% of the wealthy to fund free college for any African-American students (including adults returning for trade school or college) for the next 25 years. 

    I’m in the top 1%, but I wouldn’t mind a tax that had such a positive long-term impact on the country. It seems like I would get my money back from that sort of investment. 

    I think you could only pass this sort of law if you wrapped it into a plan to give everyone some sort of student loan relief or free college in the future. But some group has to go first in any plan.

    You can argue about whether this is a good plan or a bad one. I can see both sides. But in the context of persuasion, it would go a long way toward breaking the hypnosis spell that imagines Trump is the next Hitler. You can’t be Hitler and also in favor of reparations for slavery. People won’t be able to hold the two competing thoughts in their head, and they will default to the one that is in the headlines.

    In the meantime, if you are trying to dehypnotize a frightened friend who fears a Trump presidency, remind them that every Republican leader has been compared to Hitler. Also remind them that Hitler didn’t have social media to keep him in check. Today we know what happens on every street corner everywhere. (Case in point, the video I linked above.) The public is watching. Everything.

    And I can promise any Clinton supporter that if the government ever shut down social media, Trump supporters would be on the street with you. And probably in front of you.

    For now, Trump supporters are playing it smart and staying semi-hidden. That’s the right play. Let’s see if tensions subside on their own. So far the demonstrations have been peaceful. 

    You might enjoy my book because people demonstrate.

I Answer Your Questions About Predicting President Trump

    Did the United States Just Elect a Monster?

    No. Clinton’s team of cognitive scientists and professional persuaders did a terrific job of framing Trump as scary. The illusion will wear off – albeit slowly – as you observe Trump going about the job of President and taking it seriously. You can expect him to adjust his tone and language going forward. You can expect foreign leaders to say they can work with him. You can expect him to focus on unifying an exhausted and nervous country. And you can expect him to succeed in doing so. (He’s persuasive.) Watch as Trump turns to healing. You’re going to be surprised how well he does it. But give it time.

    I’ll be doing my persuasive best to help our new president unify the country. I’m not a monster either – just a little bit deplorable when the situation calls for it. And I would ask other Trump supporters to step up and be useful as well. If you helped elect Trump, you have a responsibility to calm the nerves of Clinton supporters who also have their country’s best interests in mind. Let’s all be worthy of our decisions.

    How did you know this would play out like a movie?

    About a year ago I started telling you in this blog that the Trump journey to the presidency would play out like a great movie script. And it did. Movies generally have three acts:

    Act 1: The hero’s life abruptly changes.

    Act 2: The hero encounters and solves one problem after another, in an entertaining fashion.

    Act 3: The hero faces a seemingly insurmountable problem.

    Finale: Against all odds, the hero succeeds.

    The audience can’t always tell when the third act has arrived because all of the hero’s problems seem big until solved. I thought we reached the Third Act in Trump’s campaign about five different times since May. In retrospect, the real Third Act happened on election night when Trump was behind in nearly every poll. THAT is an insurmountable problem.

    Then Trump won anyway. Like a movie. 

    How did I predict it would turn out so movie-perfect? I saw the following situation developing:

    1. The social bullying coming from Clinton’s supporters guaranteed that lots of Trump supporters were in hiding. That created the potential for a surprise result, so long as the race was close.

    2. Trump’s powers of persuasion are better than I have ever seen from a living human. That made it likely that the election would be close. And people generally vote for their party’s candidate, so that too promised a close election.

    3. The mainstream media backed Clinton. That created a situation in which she was likely to be ahead at some point near the end of the election cycle.

    4. The business model of the news industry guarantees lots of “scandals” on a regular schedule. Small things get inflated to big things, and I assumed there would be plenty of them. Trump has the skill to overcome medium-sized scandals and bumps in the road. That’s all you need for an entertaining Second Act.

    5. Once I framed this election as a movie script, it primed you to see events that way. Our brains are movie-trained to recognize the three-act form. That’s why all movies use it. 

    6. Act One happened when Trump announced he was running. Act Two developed during the primaries and continued to the general election when Trump overcame one medium-sized problem after another. Act Three was defined by the Access Hollywood tape and Trump subsequently falling behind in the polls all the way to Election Day. The Finale was our collective discovery that Trump was right about the polls undercounting his support. It turns out he was Keyser Söze all along – and by that I mean smarter than you thought.

    And that’s your movie. 

    I ask Trump supporters not to gloat too much. Be good to your fellow citizens. Be inclusive. Be useful. The country needs you at your best.

    You might like my book because the election was like a movie.

The Last Confirmation Bias Test of This Election

    Last year in this blog I told you that Trump would change more than politics. I said he would forever change how you view reality. I’ll prove that to you today with a fun experiment.

    At the end of this post I will give you a link to a very short video clip showing Hillary Clinton getting off her jet and into her car. Trump supporters will say she looks like she is drunk, or unsteady for some other health-related reason. And they will say it is obvious. Now try showing the clip to a Clinton supporter and watch how they see nothing wrong with the way she is walking.

    Who is right? 

    The answer is that you have no way to know. Personally, I can see it both ways, depending on what frame of mind I’m in. When people on Twitter say she looks drunk, and I look at the clip immediately after they prime me, she indeed looks drunk. When my Clinton-supporting friend says he sees nothing unusual about her walking, suddenly it looks fine to me too. 

    Most of my readers today are probably Trump supporters, so you are likely to see Clinton’s walk as unsteady. Send the clip to your Clinton-supporting friend and see how much your perceptions differ on this. You’ll be amazed.

    There might be an objective reality in our world. But our brains didn’t evolve to be able to see it. Our brains only evolved to do the job of keeping us alive so we could procreate. That means the reality you see – the movie in your head – can be totally different from mine, and almost certainly is. Yet we can both get by in this world.

    Last year, when many observers were saying Trump was a stupid, under-informed clown, I was saying he was a Master Persuader. Pundits said he ignored facts because he didn’t know them or because he was a liar. I said he ignored facts because facts are useless for persuasion. Trump could learn lots of facts if he wanted to do so. But he knew it was a waste of time. These are two totally different views of reality. And yet they did not conflict. Clinton supporters still see the stupid, under-informed clown and I still see the Master Persuader. We live in totally different movies and yet we can still interact with each other, still eat and drink, still procreate when necessary.

    Reality isn’t what you thought it was a year ago. Your movie isn’t my movie. But the good news is that you have the power to rewrite the coming scenes of your movie. And those scenes can be anything that isn’t ruled out by your own observations. 

    Now watch this Clinton video and notice how Clinton’s walk matches your expectations, no matter what your expectations are. That’s confirmation bias. And it is the most important thing you will ever learn.

    In related news, the movie playing in my head included a scene last year in which I told my friends I predicted I would reach 100,000 Twitter followers by election day. I was starting out at around 15,000 followers. Here’s my screenshot from last night. Right on schedule.

    You might enjoy reading my book because either you vote or you don’t.

Thank You for The Best Year Ever

    Election Day is upon us and I wanted to take a moment to thank everyone who has been reading this blog, following me on Twitter, or tuning in to my coffee talks on Periscope. This has been the most fun I have ever had in one year. Hands down.

    We made friends online, and in person. We learned a lot. We laughed a lot. And we fought hard for what we thought was right for the country.  It really doesn’t get better than this.

    The news tells us that there have been polling irregularities in past elections, but not enough to influence a presidential election. The alleged exceptions are Kennedy Vs. Nixon, Bush Vs. Gore, and at least one Obama election. Those elections might have been decided by vote-rigging – say some people – although we can’t know for sure.

    But something is different this year. This year we don’t have an election between two candidates that offer roughly the same outcome. This time we have a swamp-draining outsider looking to institute term limits. And this outsider has been successfully branded by his opponent as the second-coming of Hitler. In this case, a rigged election is largely assured. Because, as I have taught you, shenanigans always  happen when you have the following situation:

    1. Huge upside gain from cheating.

    2. Opportunity

    3. Low odds of getting caught, or low cost of getting caught.

    That’s our situation today. And while I claim no knowledge of how our voting system aggregates the votes from each precinct, I know software is involved at a number of steps. And that means a handful of people have the power to flip a bit and change the count, probably without being discovered. And those people are under the impression that rigging the election might be the only way to keep the next Hitler out of office. They have moral cover to cheat in this election. 

    If you had a chance to kill Hitler – even if you knew you might die in the attempt – wouldn’t you do it to save the world? I would. If I knew I could save millions of people I would certainly risk my life to kill Hitler.

    And if I were a software engineer, I would certainly write some software to do it. That’s an easy decision if you think you are saving the world from Hitler. 

    But I’ll ask Trump supporters to stay cool on election day even if they suspect shenanigans. Wait for exit polls. Let the truth trickle out. If there is one thing we know in the age of hot mics and Wikileaks and Project Veritas, the truth will find us. It might take its time, so be patient.

    And thank you again for the most fun I have ever had in one year. This was truly special. I will miss it a lot.

    Now it’s time to make history. Have fun and stay safe tomorrow.

    If you plan to meet a friend for voting, try my start-up’s free app (WhenHub) to geostream your location to your friend or family member as you approach your meeting spot. Here are the links to download the free app:

    WhenHub app for Apple

    WhenHub app for Android

I Don’t Want a Government Job

    My current tax rate is about half of my income when you add up all of the various taxes. I don’t have many deductions. Clinton proposes an estate tax that would take about half of what is left. In effect, Clinton wants my tax rate to be around 75% for every dollar I earn today.

    That level of taxation would make me feel like a government employee. The vast majority of my time and energy would go toward making money that politicians would decide how to spend. That doesn’t feel like a rewarding life. If Clinton wins, I would think hard about retiring early and becoming a user of resources instead of a creator of resources. Because I don’t want a government job.

    A Trump presidency, on the the other hand, makes me want to do something useful for the country that is good for me too. That’s a big part of why I have been blogging about Trump’s persuasion skills. I want voters to have a clear view of their options. If voters choose Clinton, I can live with that for six months until Kaine takes over. But I wouldn’t feel good about myself if I didn’t at least try to help people see the Trump option for what it is – an opportunity to “drain the swamp” as he says.

    By the way, Clinton supporters can stop telling me about Trump’s flaws. I am aware of them. Both of the leading candidates are flawed. You don’t get to pick the unflawed option. But you do get to pick more of the same versus something probably different. That’s a rich choice, and we should be grateful to both candidates for what they have done to give us that choice.

    Ironically, we have the two “worst” candidates of all time, according to their favorability ratings. But those two worst candidates have given us two of the best (clearest) choices we have ever had as a country. Thomas Jefferson and the other founders did a good job. Their system allowed us to do just about everything wrong and still end up with two clear choices that make perfect sense.

    Sure, both candidates are flawed, but both have the capability to deliver on their main propositions. Clinton probably can give you a third term of Obama(ish) and Trump probably can drain at least some of the swamp. If you step back from the negativity of the election for a moment, you can be grateful that our Republic served up these two options. That’s how it is supposed to work.

    On election day, should Trump win as I predict, I ask for Trump supporters to stay cool when the predictable riots erupt. And keep in mind that if you vote for Trump, you own it. If you aren’t helping him get it right after he wins, you haven’t done enough. Trump is a group-participation president by design. He is directly asking for voters’ help in “draining the swamp.” In the short run, the best way to help Trump is by avoiding trouble on election day and by reassuring Clinton voters that you have always been on their side as Americans. Then act that way.

    The fight ends Tuesday. After that, let’s try to be useful. No matter what happens.

    You might like my book because it is almost Tuesday.

Vote with a Friend (for safety)

    The odds of mischief and violence on election day this year are alarmingly high. For your safety, I recommend that you don’t wear any Trump-related hats or clothing. That’s just asking for trouble. 

    You might also want to meet a friend or family member near your voting place so you can vote together, just to feel safer. To make it easy to meet up with a friend, I recommend using my start-up’s new app: WhenHub. (It’s free.)

    WhenHub is like the Uber app but without an Uber car. Any two or more people can temporarily geostream their locations to a map on the app to make it easier to find each other on the way to a meeting. It works for any combination of iPhone and Android users.

    Here are the links to download the free app:

    WhenHub app for Apple

    WhenHub app for Android

    The WhenHub app is a tiny part of what is coming soon from WhenHub. I’ll tell you later how it is part of a larger cloud platform. The larger part is still in beta. 

    The WhenHub app’s advantages over its competition in this space will grow as we integrate it with the larger platform later. But for now it’s a perfect standalone app for geostreaming your location on the way to a meeting point with family, friends, or co-workers. I use it several times a day and can’t imagine a world without it. It saves all of the “Where are you?” texting when one of you is driving.

    I hope you like it. And stay safe on Tuesday.