I’m not sure any of you noticed, but the sky was swarming with humper flies this weekend. As James Joyce would have put it, “humper flies were general across Texas”. As I slaved in the driveway crafting new bamboo treads for my staircase, endless multitudes of humper fly pairs drifted about me in their droves, stuck together at the rear, gloating that they alone were free to copulate in broad daylight, while I had work to do. The teeming masses threatened to infiltrate my eyes and lungs along with the sawdust I was making, which did little to endear them to me. I took the occasional swipe at the slow-moving dyads out of spite, and gleefully watched them become separated, mid-reverie, and crawl about stupidly on the concrete in their broken euphoria.
A good marketer knows how to nudge. Nudging works on everyone, but it’s especially effective on millennials whose brains are trained to filter the more obvious tactics that work on impressionable baby boomers. Let me explain. When a millennial sees “75% off” they know you just quadrupled the price and slapped a SALE sticker on there, but a baby boomer gets a little dopamine kick and starts musing on all the money they’re about to save on something they weren’t even planning on buying thirty seconds ago.
When I first started getting rich, Dun & Bradstreet, the commercial data peddlers, got wind of my upward trajectory, and sold my contact information to a whole bunch of people. Those people were boiler room callers, telemarketers with six and seven-figure salaries, who utilize high-pressure sales tactics to separate you from tens of thousands of your dollars in the name of “exciting investment opportunities”, ranging from stocks to oil wells to B movies. To see what kind of yahoos have been calling me, watch this little clip from The Boiler Room.
I was headed home on the freeway this afternoon. It’s the time of year when the days are getting longer, so lately it’s felt like I’ve been leaving work earlier every day. This put me in a good mood. As I descended the off-ramp to the feeder, I barely noticed a large, pale top-heavy man with a round face, dressed like he worked at the AT&T store, standing on the right edge of the feeder some paces from a Chevy HHR. He was gesticulating wildly with his arm, so naturally, I assumed he needed some help and wasn’t getting any. I and all my fellow commuters were heading west, directly into the sun–maybe obscured visibility was why nobody else was stopping.
Every so often, less than once in a generation, an innovation comes along that is so revolutionary that it catalyzes a titanic shift in the way humans live and interact. In spite of the disruption they cause, these innovations have traditionally been given some pretty sedate names: fire, bow and arrow, the arch, the steam engine, the airplane, the semiconductor. One of the greatest leaps forward in the history of mankind deserved to be called “the Gutenberg-this-will-change-the-world-as-we-know-it-forever press”, but those were simpler times.