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The illusion of knowledge

Stephen Hawking once said: “The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge.”

I spend a huge amount of time reading, learning, watching, reflecting and studying. 

The more I learn, the more I notice how little I know. 

That’s not a bad thing. 

It’s a reminder to never stop learning. 

I’ve been traveling for the past few weeks. Hawaii, Utah, California, Mexico and England. Here are some of the things that I have learned. 

1. Do the opposite

Sidney Frank designed the Grey Goose vodka bottle to be extra tall, so bars and restaurants would have to put it on the top shelf.

Grey Goose positioned their brand as a symbol of luxury with very high pricing. Literally a top shelf brand. Interesting, of course, because vodka is known for being clear, odorless, and flavorless!

A magnum of Grey Goose sells for around $800. It is one of the most popular vodkas among the rich and famous. 

In 2004, he sold the brand to Bacardi for $2B. 

In a world where there are thousands of coaches you won’t stand out by being more like all the other coaches. Your singular mission is to go weird, not wide.

2. Filter for mindset 

Manoj Bhargava designed the 5 Hour Energy bottle to be extra small, around 2 ounces, so supermarkets and garages would put them near the checkout.

He noticed that the big energy drink brands, like Red Bull and Monster, were majorly targeting teenage boys. So they aimed at exhausted adults—from truckers and traders, to tired employees and hungover students.

In 2020, sales were over $180 million. Manoj Bhargava’s net worth is now $1.5 Billion. 

Most coaches have a filter around demographics. I work with women in their forties… I work with fathers who are business owners… I work with leaders who are scaling their business from 5 million dollars to 10 million…

It’s far more powerful to filter for a psychographic. To filter by the mindset of your dream clients

3. Keep going 

Esther Wojcicki has also been a teacher for 36 years, helping build a world-famous media arts program at Palo Alto High School. 

In an interview about her book, How to Raise Successful People, she said, “I wanted my kids to be as independent and as informed as possible. That’s protection for life.”

Esther definitely knows something about raising successful children. She has 3 daughters. 

Susan was involved in the founding of Google and is now the CEO of YouTube. Janet is an associate professor of pediatrics at UC San Francisco, with a background in anthropology and epidemiology. Anne is the co-founder and CEO of the personal genomics company 23andMe. 

According to Esther, you are successful when you:

  1. Believe in your dreams
  2. Have the support to go after your dreams
  3. Feel pretty good about yourself

Elon Musk was once asked what words of encouragement he had for a new entrepreneur. He replied immediately, “If you need words of encouragement don’t become an entrepreneur.”

I love paradoxes and Elon and Esther are both correct. 

If you want to be successful, you need to dream big, you need to be relentless and you need a powerful community of support. But you’d better be ready to keep going—without complaint—on the days when times are hard and the support is lacking. 

4. Questions beat answers

Danah Zohar is an author and speaker on physics, philosophy, complexity and management. In her book Spiritual Intelligence, she wrote, The twentieth-century Jewish mystic Rabbi Abraham Heschel said, “We are closer to God when we are asking questions than when we think we have the answers.”

This is why you can (and should) coach clients who are smarter, wealthier and more successful than you

You don’t need to answer your clients’ questions. You need to give them better questions to live into.

5. You need a coach

In the novel Spark, by John Twelve Hawks, there’s a beautiful passage that sums up the need for support, to help you see the unconscious way you see your world: 

“…most conscious thought is simply an attempt to claim ‘authorship’ for a choice that has already been made… The physiologist Benjamin Libet showed that our unconscious brain is the initiator of certain acts about a half second before our conscious mind realizes what is going on. Additional research has confirmed Libet’s conclusions. These experiments suggest the possibility that our thoughts are just an ongoing attempt to explain what we’ve already decided.”

Over the past two years, I have had support and coaching from five people—an expert on business, an expert on entrepreneurship, an expert on intuition, an expert on relationships and an expert on the body.

You can only take a client as deep as you are willing to go yourself.

6. Power isn’t a pose

Kasia Urbaniak has a unique perspective on power. For nearly 20 years, she worked as professional dominatrix, at the same time as studying to be a Taoist nun, in one of the oldest female-led monasteries in China.

In her book, Unbound: A Woman’s Guide to Power, she wrote:

“…power isn’t a mood, an outfit, a moment, or a pose. It is the ability to access your deepest desires, express them fully, and use them to influence other people and the world at large.

Ultimately, it means being able to move another person—staying curious in the face of someone else’s entrenched resistance, and staying with your desire until they change their minds.”

As someone who has spent much of his life feeling powerless, I found this an incredible book. I have already purchased a copy for every member of 4PC. 

As Kasia explains, “There is a set of mechanics, invisible to most of us, but consistent in every conversation, whether high stakes or low. These mechanics determine who has control—who leads, who follows, what is under discussion, and where the conversation will go next.” 

I have been studying those mechanics in different ways for almost 30 years. Unbound took my thinking to the next level.

What have you learned in the past 90 days?

Love. Rich 

PS. Whenever you’re ready – here are 3 ways you can drastically increase your income and impact as a world-class coach… 

  1. Rich Litvin’s 1:1 Coaching Playbook: Learn my top 10 proven tools for coaching elite clients in this live training. Over 100 people joined me for our first live call – and all calls are recorded, so it’s not too late to join me…
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