Summary of Unscripted by MJ DeMarco

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  • Post last modified:October 11, 2023

Chapter 18: Belief #1: The Shortcut Scam: Ordinary Doesn’t Compel Extraordinary

Events (99%) VS Process (1%)

The shortcut scam is the idea that extraordinary wins can be achieved through a shortcut, without doing the hard work that creates extraordinary results.

It’s often seen in advertising. “This pill will help you lose 20kg without any effort within a week!”

This scam comes from our culture which emphasizes events over processes.

We don’t want to exercise and get a diet. We want the results to “hApPeN oVeRnIgHt”.

The truth is that extraordinary events require extraordinary effort, habits, and sacrifice over a long period of time. The secret to shortcuts, as such, is that they don’t exist.

Unscripted people understand process precedes events.

Since you are likely event-driven, you need to become process-driven. Here are nine steps to help you:

1. Intelligent awareness: look at people in the supermarket. Fat people have ice-cream in their carts and fit people have meat and vegetables. In both cases, their situation is the result of an event: eating crap without working out for years and eating healthy while working out for years.

2. Modify expectations and realign the source of difficulty: Extraordinary results demand extraordinary action. That means you need to forget about the idea that you can get rich “quick and easy”. There is no silver bullet, no shortcuts. Excellence cannot be reached with mediocre efforts. Success is actually simple: take the long road, invest, be process-oriented, repeat, and reach your destination.

3. Identify and visualize the change target: if you don’t identify where you want to go, you’ll never reach the destination. Identify and visualize what you want. Be specific.

4. Attach a number to your goal: numbers help you measure your progress. If you want to make some money, know how much. If you want to lose weight, know your desired weight.

5. Identify the daily action target: identify the daily actions, the routine, that will take you to your desired destination. If you want to walk to China, that would be walking 25 km every day towards the East.

6. Identify threats to your daily target: what do you do that slows you down and that you should stop doing? Is it social media, socializing, video games…?

7. Identify the proper battlefields: if you play too many video games, it’s not about resisting the temptation to play. It’s about getting rid of the console. Focus on the right battle.

8. Attack bad habits with inconvenience or pain: if you want to play video games and the Xbox is in the attic, that will make it much more complicated. If you threw it away, it’ll be impossible.

9. Act until echo: act until a feedback loop develops and you can adjust to take better action. Work until you have feedback, and then only decide on the next step. Should you continue, or adjust? A process is like dominos. Get the first one moving and slowly, the others will be moving too.

Chapter 19: Belief #2: The special scam: “I am not good at that”

Fixed (99%) VS Growth (1%)

The special scam is a double-edged belief.

It is the thought that one’s current skills and abilities are enough to reach their goals, or that their skills and abilities are fixed and can’t be extended or improved.

Hard work appears unnecessary because “we are enough”, or hard work appears useless because “we’ll never be enough”.

Both of these excuses serve to avoid hard work, and both testify to the existence of a “fixed mindset”.

People with fixed mindsets don’t evolve. They spend time looking for clues of their own intelligence and convince themselves of it. They never improve in anything.

Were you told you were a genius, a prodigy, a smart kid as a child? Then you probably have a fixed mindset.

Forget about all that now. It’s time to replace this fixed mindset with the idea that progress is first of all possible, but that it is also long and painful. However, it is the only way to change your outcome.

Implementing the Kaizen principle will help you. Kaizen is the idea that you should aim at mastery by making tiny improvements on a daily basis without comparing yourself to anyone. Three points are important here:

  • Mastery: be the best at something you can be.
  • Tiny improvement daily: have you actually worked, or action-faked?
  • No comparison: no need to compare yourself to others, you are your only competitor.

Finally, never praise intelligence, talent, or ability in other people.

Praise efforts, work, process and improvements instead.

Chapter 20: Belief #3: The Consumption Scam: How Much Time Did That Cost?

Consumption (99%) VS Production (1%)

The consumption scam is the belief that consumption has nothing to do with production.

As kids, we get stuff for free, without working for it. This is where the genesis of this belief starts.

Had we lived in nature, we would have realized that nothing is free. Every acquirement of any type of good required work (from hunting to fishing to gathering).

The consumption scam is why people MUST go to work and why many have no choices. Until they began to produce first, and consume second, they won’t be free.

We need to realize that debt = production – consumption. People that get into debt, simply consume more than they produce.

Where slowlaners would tend to decrease consumption, fastlaners tend to increase production. It is quite simple.

If you want to live well, you need to produce well.

This mindset shift is powerful. It is going from looking at what you can take, to looking at what you can give.

Here are other initiatives to take to help you operate the mindset shift.

  • Don’t follow the herd, lead it.
  • Don’t take the road already travelled, pave new paths.
  • Don’t buy a franchise, franchise your company and sell it.
  • Don’t rent, rent out.
  • Don’t borrow money, lend it.
  • Don’t buy the brand, sell it.
  • Don’t get hired, hire.
  • Don’t buy on Black Friday, sell.
  • Don’t buy the latest trend. Sell it.
  • Don’t buy stocks. Sell them.

When you shift your mind from consumption to production, you will:

  • Look at ads not for what you can buy, but for how it was designed.
  • Look at shops not for what you can buy, but for what types of items are sold.
  • Look at companies not for what they can do for you, but for what you can do for them.
  • Look at other people not for what they can give you, but for what you can give them.

Chapter 21: Belief #4: The Money Scam: I Can Get Rich by Wanting to Get Rich

Money (99%) VS Value (1%)

The money scam consists of going after money instead of going after value.

People doing this are called money-chasers. They change jobs often to get higher salaries, buy infomercials get-rich-quick schemes, etc.

In the end, they rarely succeed to get money because they do not understand its nature.

So what is money?

Money is a means of exchange where agreed perceived value is stored. However, perceived value and actual value (also called extrinsic value and intrinsic value) don’t always match.

Let’s take Da Vinci’s painting Salvator Mundi.

Leonardo da Vinci, Salvator Mundi, c.1500, oil on walnut, 45.4 × 65.6 cm.jpg
Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvatore Mundi. Wikipedia.

Saudi Arabia bought it for $450 million. That’s the extrinsic value. It is what the buyer thinks the painting is worth.

The intrinsic value – the actual value – can be measured by looking at the price of the material to make the painting. A bit of woods, color, and a canvas, or about $20 give or take.

So what does this story tell us?

It tells us that money cannot be chased. It can only be attracted.

It is by creating something other people will perceive has value, that you will be able to exchange it for money.

Money = perceived value.

To go further, your net worth = how much value you have created for others.

So, how do you attract money?

Stop using the word money. Replace it with “value-vouchers”.

Then, you need to build a bridge so that the value-vouchers can start pouring. You do so with four building blocks:

  • Create value (product/service)
  • Communicate that value to another party that has their own estimates of that value.
  • Get a mutual agreement for the exchange of value
  • Deliver value and receive the value-vouchers

-> congratulations, you made money.

Chapter 22: Belief #5: The Poverty Scam: I Am Poor Because You Are Rich

Selfish (99%) VS Selfless (1%)

The poverty scam is a belief that value creation is a zero-sum game.

It isn’t.

He who produces value (and gets money for it) does not prevent anyone else from also providing value and getting money for it.

As such, poor people aren’t rich because rich people are rich. Poor people aren’t rich because they are not delivering much value.

Now, whatever you’re selling absolutely needs to be something that has both actual and perceived value. Selling something with no actual value is a scam, and you can’t succeed as an entrepreneur if you scam people.

The truth about money in the economy is that it is spent on stuff people like to buy.

-> Jeff Bezos isn’t rich because he is evil, he is rich because he provided services that people buy.

If that person who you are buying from wasn’t selling something valuable to you, you wouldn’t be buying it.

Polarizer: the fiduciary principle

Next time you go to a cafe, or wait for the bus, take a moment to observe your environment.

You are probably staying at Starbucks developed by Howard Schulz, or waiting under a bus stop made by JCDecaux.

You will probably check Facebook invented by Mark Zuckerberg, or search for an answer to an important question on Google invented by Larry Page and Sergei Brin, all of this from your iPhone invented by Steve Jobs.

You need to realize that if all of those (now) rich people hadn’t taken huge risks to launch their business and invent new things…we would still be living in the stone age.

Everything that is widely used today was first and foremost invented by someone who, as a result of providing value, became subsequently rich.

As such, it’s not anger you should feel towards these people. It’s gratitude.

If you also want to be rich, you need to do what these people have done. You need to embrace the willingness to “selflessly serve the selfish”.

Chapter 23: Belief #6: The Luck Scam: You Don’t play; You Don’t Win

Luck (99%) VS Probability (1%)

The luck scam is the belief that one’s fortune (or not) in life is dependent on luck.

This is ridiculous. Nothing comes for free.

The author of the book failed several times before building his company that made him millions.

What got him there is that he never stopped, and kept on acting until it worked.

Killing the luck idea

Take a coin, bet the side it will land on, and flip.

Did you win? Do you suddenly call yourself lucky?

Did you lose? Do you suddenly call yourself unlucky?

Now, let’s imagine that if you call the coin correctly, you earn $10 million.

Suddenly, you’d call yourself lucky if you won. And yet, the odds to win (50/50) didn’t change.

Now let’s say you got 10 shots at launching the coin to call it correctly and earn the $10 million.

Well, in essence, this is exactly what entrepreneurship is.

It is repeating again and again until you get to win.

So if you hope to win, you gotta play the game long enough.

Richard Wiseman, a psychologist, has studied luck and lucky people extensively. His conclusion is that luck can be influenced. While unlucky people don’t know that their behavior yields misery, lucky people do know.

He suggests three habits to adopt to be luckier.

  1. Intuition: people that follow their gut are luckier than people who don’t.
  2. Routine: if you stay on your path, you decrease the chances to find a lucky strike. Talk to a variety of people, do a variety of things, expose yourself to a variety of situations.
  3. Be positive and thankful.

Chapter 24: Belief #7: The Frugality Scam: Live Poor; Die Rich

Defense (99%) VS Offense (1%)

It is difficult to free fools from the chains they revere.

The frugality scam is the belief that excessive expense reduction will someday make you rich.

This is what the slowlane get-rich gurus advertise. “Invest $100 per week and become a millionaire in 50 years”.

Yeah. Anyone heard about a thing called “inflation”?

These techniques don’t work because they are merely about defense, about spending less.

No one talks about producing more.

So the question is, can you get rich young?

Yes. Open the newspaper, you’ll see plenty of people that get rich quickly.

Get-rich-quick is possible. Get-rich-easy isn’t.

In-between quick and easy, most people will choose easy – as a result, they are not rich.

Those that got rich quick have two critical characteristics in common:

  1. A strong offense underscored by controllable unlimited leverage (CUL, aka, a scalable company). This means your income has a high ceiling or no ceiling at all.
  2. A detachment of intrinsic value (trading time for money) in lieu of a business system. This is the idea that as long as your income is attached to time, even if you’re making $1000/hour, you will never be rich. You need to disintegrate this value and find a way to make money when you’re sleeping.

Chapter 25: Belief #8: The Compound Interest Scam: Wall Street Will Not Make You Rich

Wealth (99%) VS Income (1%)

We have four problems with Wall Street.

First, Wall Street is not going to make you rich. It is making the people who manage your money rich.

Second, while you often hear about rare winners in the stock market, you never hear about the losers. Those that lost their life savings in scams, bankruptcy, mismanagement, and more.

Third, the stock market isn’t linear. Crashes happen. But that’s not something the financial gurus will tell you.

Finally, the last scam of Wall Street is time. It is in a way, one of these other “live poor, die rich” tricks. No one ever made $50 million in 10 years by investing an $80k salary on the stock market.

So why is compound interest so bad?

It is because of the fiscal TRIcycle:

  • Time: compound-interest gurus speak of the period of 50 years or over. As such, it’s not buy and hold, but buy and die.
  • Reality: no one knows which company will thrive, and which will die. Therefore, the “if you had invested $1000 into Apple in 1999, how much would it be worth?” is dumb. The folks writing this seem to have forgotten that Apple was an inch close to bankruptcy at some point, and only survived because Bill Gates was rich enough to let it.
    Furthermore, the famous graph of stock growth used to show you how much “your money could be worth in 50 years” usually assumes unrealistic growth rates, like 8%, or up to 12% yearly, which isn’t risk-free (2008, anyone?) The risk-free rate is in fact, 0,03% (was in 2018, when the book was written. Today’s rates are negative). Yikes!
  • Inflation: if your money grows by 5% every year with 3% of inflation rate, that leaves you with 2% of real growth.

So, when do you use Wall Street, and how?

We’ll cover this in detail later on. For now, just realize that Wall Street isn’t worth it when you own $1000. It’s better to spend this money on Facebook ads for your product.

Wall Street is worth it when you own $10 million. A mere yearly 2% on $10 million is $16 000+ per month. No more, no less.

THAT is when Wall Street becomes interesting.

Chapter 26: The Biases: Your Brain’s Delusions

Remember the TUNEF framework.

Tunef biases
The TUNEF Framework.
  1. The FTE, which we talked about.
  2. 3 Bs: Beliefs and the 8 beliefs scams, Biases and Bullsh*ts
  3. MP: Meaning and Purpose: the Why: the core driver
  4. FE: Fastlane Entrepreneurship: growing a fastlane business with the CENTS framework
  5. Kinetic Execution: Act, Assess, Adjust
  6. The Four disciplines: comparative immunity; purposed savings; measured elevation; consequential thought.

In the battle for success, your real enemy is yourself – or more accurately, your brain.

Your brain is the lazy machine full of biases (mental shortcuts) that are wired to keep you as the failure that you are.

You will face seven biases in the pursuit of entrepreneurship.

To change them, you need to bring awareness.

1. Change Adversity: refusing change is refusing success

Your brain doesn’t like change, uncertainty, or risk because it is costly in energy. Design changes, for example, take time to adapt.

However, if you want to succeed, you are going to have to make efforts, change and adapt. Change must precede change. If your current actions aren’t making you rich, you need to change them. The first threat to change is that it’s difficult to practice.

The second threat to change is how you react to it. If everyone starts selling online and you don’t because you don’t like change and miss the trend, you will go bankrupt.

Change can keep you poor or make you rich.

2. Righteousness: why you’d rather be right than rich

It is the partner of change adversity: you’d rather be right and poor than wrong and rich. It’s a bias.

In fact, it’s been proven that your convictions are reinforced in light of contrary evidence of their suitability.

As a result, you don’t change, you don’t act, and you stay poor.

3. Antithetical Apathy: the advice you need is the one you don’t want to follow

If your goal is to be financially free, you need to align your beliefs with that goal. If you don’t, you will lie to yourself or sabotage your own efforts.

It means that you need to abandon the idea that rich people are evil. If you believe this while trying to get rich, then your subconscious will be met with two beliefs diametrically opposed. This is what antithetical apathy is. It causes stress and sabotage.

People that fear success (as I do) usually have antithetical beliefs, where they think that succeeding has a price – usually the one of being a morally reprehensible person.

4. Semmelwashing

Semmelwashing doesn’t come from you – but from others.

It is when you state a fact or truth so extraordinary and threatening to the status quo that your peers bury you for it. The semmelwashing is what you feel when everyone is against you – even though you are right.

Eg: “becoming a millionaire is possible”.

5. Podium Popping

Podium popping is the application of cherry-picked individual strategies from individuals that have succeeded.

“12 reasons why Jeff Bezos succeeded”.

“Warren Buffett says these 7 things made him rich”.

It is copying, instead of inventing, without considering the context. As such, you think that by appropriating yourself the story of someone else, you can succeed as they did.

6. Survival Spotlightning

It is when you focus on winners of rarely successful paths thinking that because they made it, it’s possible.

Eg” Uncle Jerry made millions betting on horses, so now, I will also bet on horses.”

You focus on the winner and don’t see that behind him, there are millions of losers.

7. Momentum Paralysis

When you make a decision and stick to it because of FOMO.

Eg: waiting for the bus which is not coming, staying in a bad relationship, committing to watching a movie that in all likelihood, will suck.

The principle behind this bias is the sunk cost fallacy. It is the belief that because you already have invested so much, you cannot cut your losses.

This is wrong. In accounting, sunk costs aren’t taken into account because they change nothing. Once it’s sunk, it is sunk.

Chapter 27: Bullsh*t

There are three types of bullsh*ts:

  • BS 1.0: crutches: excuses explaining failure and circumstances. It’s usually driven by “the narrative bias”, the story you tell yourself about who you are. For example, you may think that only assholes date girls, and if a girl wants to date you, you will say no because “you are a nice guy”.
  • BS 2.0: clichés: reassuring thoughts and slogans that keep us stuck where we are.
    • Fat makes you fat: “oh, these cookies are fat-free! If I eat them, I will not be fat!”
    • Good things come to those who wait: “one day, it will be my turn”.
    • Better safe than sorry: “building businesses is dangerous”.
    • Money doesn’t buy happiness: “I am probably happier than billionaires, so…”.
  • BS 3.0: cults: communities and people telling you what you want to hear. Often, these people got rich selling material they themselves did not apply.

Burying bs:

  1. Socrative questioning: question yourself and your biases. Call yourself out.
  2. The cancer corollary: let’s imagine you had cancer and someone comes up with the cure for $5000. Would you buy the cure even if that person represented everything you hate the most? Yes. When you have something people want, people don’t care about your credentials or whatever else. This is the ultimate equation of money: do you have something I want and if so, how much will that cost me?
  3. Identity cataclysms: action is driven by identity. If you want to stop smoking, you’ll be more likely to do so by labeling yourself a non-smoker, instead of “a smoker trying to quit”. Similarly, it is time to label yourself as an entrepreneur and ACT as such.

Chapter 28: Meaning and Purpose: The Unstoppable Will to Win

Remember the TUNEF framework.

Tunef biases 1
The TUNEF Framework
  1. The FTE
  2. 3 Bs: Beliefs and the 8 beliefs scams, Biases and Bullsh*ts
  3. MP: Meaning and Purpose: the Why: the core driver
  4. FE: Fastlane Entrepreneurship: growing a fastlane business with the CENTS framework
  5. Kinetic Execution: Act, Assess, Adjust
  6. The Four disciplines: comparative immunity; purposed savings; measured elevation; consequential thought.

Extraordinary results demand extraordinary commitment. Commitment starts the process principle. Habits become lifestyle and lifestyle brings results.

Eg: When everyone sleeps, the athlete practices.

Where does this commitment come from?

From meaning and purpose, the core reason why you are acting the way you do even when the task at hand seems impossible.

While the three B’s we discussed above were to inspire you to start, meaning and purpose inspire you to finish.

The why is what fuels you to go through the desert of desertion. The desert of desertion is that period when the entire world seems to be trying to stop you.

The why is the camel that gets you through your desert.

image 47
Your why enables you to go through the desert of desertion.

Chapter 29: Bad Life Advice

“Do what you love” and “follow your passion” are the worst mainstream advice one can give someone else.

DWYL has several problems.

First, it does not take into account economics or customer demands. It’s not what you love that you should be making, but what your customers love.

Second, DWYL is often uttered by the few successful that actually made it by doing what they loved. But don’t forget that while there is one winner of X Factor’s DWYL, there are 200 000 losers. No one ever speaks about them.

Third, no one cares that you love what you are doing if it’s not delivering value. When you go to a restaurant and the food tastes like crap, do you care that the chef is doing what he loves? No, you want good food, period.

Fourth, doing what you love will destroy that which you love. It is called the overjustification effect. You love driving? Then go drive cabs, and you will see you will soon hate it.

When you are offered an incentive to do something, you will never do it again if that incentive isn’t there.

So if you shouldn’t do what you love, what should you do?

You should love the value you create!!!

That’s right. You will get much more “pleasure” doing something you don’t really enjoy but that others value, than the opposite.

It is when people say “I love what you do” that you actually start loving what you do too.

Your why compels you to take action which drives feedback. When the feedback is positive, this fuels your passion.

Real love comes when other people value what you build.

Chapter 30: Finding your Purpose

If you’re unsure of your meaning and purpose, you don’t have one.

The only way to find it is to go out and start doing things.

Find a problem in your life, and fix it.

If you have none, find a problem someone has, and sell them the solution. Sometimes, purpose can be as insignificant as the pleasure to deliver value.

It’s called the value challenge. Go out and make someone smile.

Pay attention to how you feel. It’s usually very addictive. The author calls it the “entrepreneurial heroine”.

The Happiness Secret

The secret to happiness isn’t money, women, or unlimited travel.

It’s freedom. It’s autonomy. It’s owning yourself and your destiny.

Owning yourself starts with taking responsibility for yourself and your circumstances.

It is about having an internal locus of control and not an external one. The locus of control is the feeling of empowerment you have to control things around you.

You need to understand that if the weather sucks where you live, you can move to another place. If the taxes suck, you can move. If your skills suck, you can learn. If you’re too fat, you can lose weight.

If you don’t believe that you have control over your life and act this way, you will never take any initiative and achieve autonomy.

No one needs to give you autonomy. It’s there for your taking.

As extraordinary as it seems, control is actually within your reach.

You just need to choose it.

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