What is audacity and how can you use audacity to get what you want out of life?
The dictionary definition of audacity should draw you in: “Audacity is an insolent form of boldness, especially when imprudent or unconventional. It implies a degree of impudence, but also fearlessness and intrepid daring.”
Audacity was the guiding principle of one of the patron saints of Danger & Play – General George S. Patton. I live my life by the leadership principles of General George S. Patton (Amazon).
Be audacious in all of your actions.
Hello, this is Mike from DangerAndPlay.com and today we’re going to talk about how you can use audacity to get what you want out of life.
Before we do, let’s have a word from our sponsor, which is kind of a joke.
We don’t have a sponsor yet because I don’t take outside advertisers. But next to me is a product that may or may not come to fruition but I figured I’ll tell you guys about it because it comports with the theme of audacity.
Right now there is no over-the-counter nootropic that’s actually worth a damn, all of the nootropics or noots (as people call them) they are filled with what is called pixie dust. If you’ve ever watched the documentary about anabolic steroids and supplements industry called Bigger, Faster, Stronger then you’ll know the term pixie dust, if you haven’t go ahead and watch it.
Pixie dust means you throw in a bunch of little stuff into a formulation, you throw in stuff that actually works and has been studied scientifically, but you don’t throw in an effective dose. And then you sell a product, that’s all the nootropics.
This nootropic has several grams, not milligrams. Go pick out your favorite nootropic, I don’t want to bash the one I know a lot of you guys use because I actually respect the person who founded that company, but read the ingredients, it’s measured in milligrams. A real nootropic, at least if you want what I want which is something on the level of Modafinil, we have something on the level of Modafinil.
It has GRAMS of stuff. We even have different formulations. I’m going to call it…I don’t know what I’m going to call it yet, tell me what you guys think: Danger & Play nootropics. And we’ll have two different lines, one line is the danger line and that’s the one that increases focus and alertness and there’s even a pre-workout line (and we don’t rely on caffeine or anything like that). And then the second line would be called play. And that is where you can play with 5-HTP, serotonin and other feel good chemicals in your body.
I don’t know if we’re going to get it to market and that’s because, to do a nootropic right you have to use a lot of raw materials and it’s expensive. It might be too expensive to sell. But anyway, we are working on it, it’s really cool. It might not go anywhere and if it doesn’t it’s because it’s too expensive. I won’t sell a product that isn’t amazing and that I would actually buy and that’s audacity, so let’s talk a little bit about audacity.
Audacity came up in the context of a reader question, and I believe it was Freedom and Fulfilment who said “You know you’re just a kid from a small town and you were nobody. Your parents were on welfare. You wore filthy dirty clothes, didn’t have anything. How is it that you’ve been to Sheryl Sandberg’s house and met Gerry Spence and met all these people?”
And the answer is I read this book in college called Patton on Leadership and because of that, General George S. Patton is the closest thing to a patron saint that we would have at Danger & Play.
If you’re not Catholic you might not know what a patron saint is but you’ll maybe see people sometimes wear these silver medallions and it’ll say “Saint Christopher protect us,” right?
Well the patron saint for me and Danger & Play would be Aleksandr Karelin and General Patton. When I look up, I’m like WOW. Yeah, Arnold Schwarzenegger is cool, Tony Robbins is cool, but these Patton and Karelin are next level. And these are people who, if there were gods among men, then they would be true gods among men.
And they both were audacious. And I read this book called Patton on Leadership and there was a chapter called Audacity: On Managing the Impossible and the quote was “Audacity Audacity Always Audacity.” And Patton would say that. Apparently it came from some other Prussian thinker earlier on.
And you just think, what is audacity? How can you use audacity to your advantage?
Audacity to me means you are standing up and you’re being counted and I’ll give you an example of this. How did I meet Gerry Spence? It was 2000, 2001 I was in law school and I was in the library watching tapes on how to do a cross-examination. If you are a lawyer you’ve probably heard of Irving Younger. This is actually the VHS days. I saw these VHS tapes and thought they were cool and I then I saw that Gerry Spence had a series, they were $400. I asked the law library (again, audacity) would they order them. They said no. OK then, I’m going to ask Gerry Spence. I’m going to track down Gerry Spence.
Now this wouldn’t work today because you get thousands of emails if you’re somebody like Gerry Spence. But I said, “I’m going to ask Gerry Spence if I could get a deal on these tapes or what I can do.” I went to his law firm website and of course they didn’t have his email address on there because he was a big celebrity then. I don’t know if he’s a big celebrity now. Tell me guys, have you heard of Gerry Spence? If not, you should.
I said, “I’m going to get this guy’s email address.” So I saw that there were a bunch of contact forms for the associates of the firm, but not for Gerry. So I clicked view page source, every email address followed a pattern: it was first initial middle initial at [Gerry Spence’s law firm].com
It was Gerry L Spence I believe, so I said “I’m going to send an email to gls at Gerry Spence’s law firm dot com and I bet you that’s his email address.” So I sent him an email I said “Gerry Spence I admire you, you’re one of the reasons I went to law school. I’ve read all your books and I want to get a head start on how to be a trial lawyer and how to cross-examine people and I see that you have these tapes. My law library won’t buy them, the tapes are $400. I can’t afford $400. What do you think?”
And he emailed me back. And I was like “Whoa Gerry Spence emailed me back.” And he said, thank you for your email Michael, I’m forwarding this to my assistant, she will get in touch.”
So then his assistant emails me, “Yeah, our hard cost on these are $80. So we’ll send you the tapes and you send us $20/month does that work?” And I’m like “Whoa does that work? Are you kidding me? Yeah! Of course that works. How amazing is this?”
How awesome is that right? And if you think about it, that was kind of an audacious move on my part right? Who am I to just email Gerry Spence? I’m nobody. I’m just some random kid in a law school from some small town. And who am I to track him down and basically stalk the guy? That’s who I am.
Audacity is like this: “Who do you think you are?”
That’s what I want people to say. “Who does Mike think he is?” Right here, that’s who I think I am. That’s who you’re looking at. That’s how I think of audacity: I’m going to make these bold and audacious moves. And then I did more than that.
He gave a seminar at the Association of Trial Lawyers of America, the New York meeting of the stars. And he was going to be the keynote speaker. And I said, “I have to meet Gerry Spence.” Well how do I, some kid who doesn’t have any money, afford to travel from California to New York to buy a plane ticket or hotel, but I said “I’m gonna see Gerry Spence, how am I going to do it?”
The association of Trial Lawyers of America like every other sort of public interest organization want a presence on the law school because they want to get you into their funnel right away. They want you ATLA right way. Well there was no ATLA chapter. So you know what? I said “I’m going to start an ATLA chapter.” Started an ATLA chapter, send out an announcement through my Law School’s newsletter, met a guy (lifelong friend to this day), great friend. He’s made a lot of money with another friend I met in law school that I put in touch. And they are just killing it. And I put a thing in the newsletter that said, “Hey I want to start ATLA, who wants to start ATLA with me?”
BOOM. He started it with me. Well now what? I start this private club and because of that I get school funds. And a friend of mine was running for student body association president or student bar association president and I said, “Well I’m going to help this person get elected.”
So I help that person get elected. So I’m now chapter president of a club and I helped a friend get elected, so then I went to SBA and they have all these discretionary funds and I said “Hey you know what, there’s this thing going on in New York. You know one of the things is we are at a great law school, but we’re still a little bit under the radar and I’m a respectable guy (or at least I was at the time right?) I’m going to fly out to New York to this thing, would you guys maybe buy my plane ticket and maybe give me like $500 for a hotel?”
“Hey, of course!”
So next thing you know, I’m flying out to New York where Gerry Spence is going to be, because why? I’m audacious man. I’m going to do it, right? I’m going to do it. I don’t like talking about myself but I realize that I have to because what I tell you men to do, this is all stuff I’ve been doing. And this is stuff I still do. So I’m going to go to New York and I’m going to meet Gerry Spence. End of discussion. I found a way. I gotta find a way. Think like no one else thinks. That’s audacity. You’re going to do it.
Read Patton on Leadership, study General Patton.
He just rampaged through Europe. Destroyed everybody. He would have destroyed Russia. We wouldn’t have had a cold war if it had been for Patton. And of course they killed him, because people don’t always like the audacious. Our own government killed him, but that’s another story.
So I’m going to go to New York, I’m going to meet Gerry Spence. And what do I do? I go out there, I’m just sort of walking around and I’m in the lunch like “Oh my god.” Meeting Gerry Spence is like meeting my hero. I always remember when I met him, chills goosebumps my face is flushed red and so I just walked up, I was probably a little sheepish but still I made the audacious move. I know that this guy is important and that’s I’m a nobody but I’m just going to go up and introduce myself to him.
So I go up and I say “It’s absolutely my honor,” and he kind of looked at me like “Well who do you think you are?” Because that’s what they look at when you’re audacious, “Who do you think you are?”
I said, “You know Gerry, you are absolutely a hero of mine. I’m so proud to meet you and thank you so much for helping me with those VHS tapes. I really appreciate it.”
And he’s like “Oh, well thank you.” And I said, “Hey can I have my picture taken with you?” And he’s like whoa you’re just asking for everything what more do you want? I was kind of taken aback because he has such a presence that I didn’t know he was joking and then he laughed and said “Get over here,” and gave me a big hug. If you want to learn charisma, study Gerry Spence.
So I meet him, I get my picture taken with him. So I’m a nobody, I know Gerry Spence. So next thing you know like a year later I went to a, Gerry Spence would have the big trial lawyer’s college thing, which you had to be a lawyer with like, I don’t know, 50 trials to get in. And then he had these little regional seminars and I said I’m going to go to a regional seminar. Sure enough I did. So how did I do it? Audacity. I just always found a way.
Another example of audacity, I was working at this Asbestos law firm. I’m kind of embarrassed now, but I was young and naïve at the time so don’t judge me too harshly. But I was working in an Asbestos law firm and I was a law clerk so that would have been before my third year of law school. So I’m like 24 or 25. There was going to be this legislation passed about Asbestos reform which we do absolutely need and if the legislation passed the law firm would basically shut down. Everybody was afraid. There’s fear everywhere. And people didn’t know what to do. So I sent an email to everyone, this is audacious. People were like, “What?” I said, “I interned at a U.S. senator’s office in college [which is true]. I know from experience that they have certain measurement that every phone call they view as the equivalent of 200 voters. Every letter they count is like 1,000 voters.”
So I sent this email talking about here’s how they view things, here’s what you can do. Don’t just send a big letter signed by 50 people at the same time. Don’t let them know that you work for this law firm. Just send a letter from your own letterhead and I sent it. Boom reply all.
And I was working in my little tube rat station or whatever and people were like “Who is this?” Whispers right? Because people don’t like to stand out. Well what happened? So Senator John Edwards, he was a big deal. So next thing you know, I’m at my boss’s house because he noticed me, right? Because the big guys are always going to notice and respect the audacity. The little people, the flunkies, the peons, they are the ones that want to cut you down. The big guys they respect the audacity.
Next thing you know, I’m at his house. It was in a place like Napa [California], but it was near Novato. And he lives in an orchard. The guy lives in freaking wine vineyard. I’m at his house, I’m meeting John Edwards, people are talking about me, blah blah blah, right?
Always always always audacious.
A friend of mine, I met because I read his columns, this is back, if you’re a law student, in something called LexisNexis. And LexisNexis allows you to search everything. This is before Google. It’s better than Google because you can search basically any newspaper that was ever written, any old story. I was searching around for Gerry Spence and I saw this guy had written about Gerry Spence. And I thought, “Well, I want to meet this guy.” So I just started sending the guy emails. And when you send a busy person like that emails, this was as email was becoming more popular, you are going to get one or two word responses and you can’t take it personally.
I would just say, “Hey I read your column, it’s amazing blah blah blah,” three paragraphs and he would say “Thanks for writing in.” I realize now, because I get a lot of emails, that he wasn’t being dismissive. At the time, you are younger and you want to engage right? You respect these people they are your heroes. And you want to engage but you only have so many hours in the day right? I’m not even huge and sometimes I just don’t have the time to answer all my emails.
I really wish I could.
That’s why I do these podcasts and other things, and that way it’s like I’m answering the emails eventually but I’m doing it in a way that everybody can kind of grow together with. I would email him and email him and it was one word sentences. Finally it was like Christmas Break and he said “Hey I’m working on a death penalty appeal in the Supreme Court, I can’t pay you but would you want to help me?”
Sure, come on dude. When you’re in law school this is the kind of stuff you salivate for right. So I was working with him and then next thing you know I met this big time personal injury lawyer, out in L.A., again because I wrote him a letter. The column my friend wrote said “Hey this guy is my best friend and he has this thing where if you tell lawyer jokes he’ll just turn around and leave the room.”
And a DEA agent came in and gave a talk at these things called continuing legal education seminars. Because as a lawyer you have to continue your education, you go to these seminars and the guy says, “Oh I’m in a room full of lawyers, oh I mean liars.” So this guy, who’s a friend of mine got up, turned his back and walked out. So I wrote a letter to the guy and said “I read about this and I just think that’s cool. Wow.” And I attached my résumé so then I get an email from his assistant saying “Come on in. Talk to us.” So I went in, I met him and it was a weird meeting because he asked me a question I wasn’t prepared to answer and he goes “So, what do you want from me?”
I said, “Uh, I don’t know.” And I didn’t necessarily want anything from him, I didn’t necessarily want to work for him, I don’t know what I wanted at the time. A lot of times you write to these people and you don’t know what you want and people who are powerful or rich, they expect you to want something from them. So that’s something to be prepared to answer. We just talked and I said, “To be honest I don’t even know.”
He said, “OK if you ever want to work for me you have to read this book called The Winning Brief by Bryan Garner.” I read the winning brief and a lot of people say “Oh you’re a good writer, blah blah blah.”
To the extent that I’m a good writer it’s because I read all of Bryan Garner’s works. I’ve read a lot of book son writing. There are a lot of grammatical errors, I know, in my posts and that’s a function of time. I know when I’m making the mistakes but man writing takes a long time I’m not going to spend two hours editing everything.
So then that got me growth. What did I want from him? Well I didn’t even know but he told me to read this book and that book sent me on a whole different journey of my life where now I’m reading, writing, and really trying to be a craftsman. Not a craftsman, an artist. I would say right now what I do is art. It isn’t just stringing a couple sentences together. There’s style, there’s a voice. When you read this, you know that I wrote it. Well that just started because this big time lawyer, who I was nobody to, said “Hey man if you ever want to work for me you better read this book.”
That’s because of audacity. I just got up. Stood up. And I reached out to him.
So I had little important encounters with important people all the time and that was because of my audacity.
Even now I’m audacious and I’ll give you another example. I’m in this, I guess you could call it a networking group and I’m basically bottom of the barrel there. If you’ve ever heard of Hands Across America. You younger guys haven’t. Go Google Hands Across America. It’s absolutely amazing. He’s a member. The guy who gave Steve Jobs his first job is there. This guy, he invented the video game. I’m nobody, right? Which I like. A lot of the problems I’m having, I’m having more and more trouble finding things to read where it’s like, that feeds my soul.
I view what I do as I’m feeding your souls and you’re feeding my soul and everybody is feeding each other’s souls, you know? The higher you get and the higher your soul gets the higher in the mountain you have to climb
So I’m like, I just need to be at the bottom of another mountain, where I’m just a nobody you know? So I just joined this group and man I’m nobody in this group. But I’m still audacious. There’s a point in the group where they say, “Does anybody have any announcements?”
And guys are always pitching their businesses. So I raised my hand. “What’s your announcement? Stand up.”
“I run this website, one man operation, I do everything, last month I had X page views. Best month ever.” So a lot of people were like wow. I haven’t released my traffic yet, but when I do a lot of people are going to be surprised. And I said, OK cool. So next thing you know, at the end of it, a guy comes up to me, an older guy that would have never have talked to me and he’s the founder of the L.A. Weekly. If I had emailed that guy asking for a meeting, he never would have talked to me. This is a very important person. And he’s like, “How do you get so many page views? Here I have this other site I’m trying to build up; it’s a site about drug addiction.”
So the next thing you know, he’s showing me the mobile version of his site, I’m showing him my mobile version of my site. We’re talking about thumbnails and headlines, and then he said “Well, you know the new thing is, you gotta put the thumbnail on the image. That actually gets more views and more clicks than the headline next to the images.”
“I say, yeah I know, but I can’t do it with my current theme.” And then we start talking about A/b testing things, and it’s just crazy right? This guy never would have noticed me. A couple weeks later I was at a meeting and the guy who founded the Quest Bars stood up and gave a little talk. I wrote about that at DangerAndPlay.com and a couple of people are like “Where do I get them?” And a couple of people are jibber-jabbering and I say, yeah I’ve had one or two a week and everybody was trying to talk over me so I just stood up.
Because that’s what you do right?
If everybody’s talking over each other and sitting down, stand up. Stand up like a man. “Who does this guy think he is?” This is who he is. I’m going to stand up. So I stood up and I just said, “Hey man, I love your bars. They are amazing, I eat 1or 2 a day.” And then I turned to address the whole audience when you talk you know? Based on the theater seating, you don’t just want to do a laser beam at the one guy you want to turn and make sure you are talking to everybody to include them.
I said “I eat one or two a day. Quest Bars are amazing. They don’t spike your blood sugar. What this man has is amazing. Thank you so much. You’re a visionary.”
And then I sat down.
Now what did that get me? Is the guy going to say something blah blah blah? No, it isn’t about what it gets me. It got me noticed, right? Now people notice me. Sure when you are audacious, people are going to look at you a little weird. Or maybe not like you.
But here’s what you men have to understand:
You don’t need everybody to like you.
I don’t need a single woman to read Danger & Play. I don’t need 95% of men to read Danger & Play. If 1% of the men in the world with internet access read Danger & Play, it would be too much of a monster site for me to handle I wouldn’t even know how to handle the traffic. So I’m audacious even at Danger & Play people say, “I can’t believe you said that or I can’t believe you wrote that.”
That’s how you want people to think of you: “I can’t believe he said that. It’s bracing. Who is this guy?” It’s General Patton man. It’s Aleksandr Karelin. It’s, you’re audacious, you’re bold. You stand up and be counted. People notice you and again, you don’t need everybody to like you. 99% of the people can hate me. 1% can love. That’s all I need, the 1%. I mean, look at you guys listening in you know?
We’re growing together like crazy. The comments are amazing. People want a forum so they can talk to each other. A bunch of people have met, made great connections at the meet-ups we’ve been having. This is baby. We haven’t even taken things full-blast. I’m just a one-man guy on a shoestring operation. I do all my own web design. I do all my back-end stuff, I edit all my podcasts. Right now I’m doing a podcast; I’m not in a studio. I’m in my living room. I’m on a Snowball. I’m not paying anybody for anything other than the podcast transcriptions.
And look at how much we’re growing right? Because we have audacity. Audacity means I do this damn podcast right?
“Who is this guy to do a podcast?”
“Who is this guy to take on these big names?”
“Who is this guy to call anyone out?”
So there you go.
How do you meet people? How do you live your life? How do you get what you want out of life?
Read about General Patton. Go get that book, Patton on Leadership.
Go on YouTube and type in, “Patton speech,” and it’s with George C. Scott standing in front of the big American flag.
If you just listen to that, you can’t not be inspired.
Go look at the Aleksandr Karelin, I think it’s called the Karelin lift, just pick up 300 pound guys and just flip them over his shoulder and slam them onto the ground. It was actually his special lift.
And speaking of audacity, the Olympic committee had to change the rules and rig it so that he wouldn’t win the gold medal in his final game. He didn’t lose a match or have a point scored against him for 11 years. Because of his audacity.
So they changed the rules. So there’s a dark side to audacity. People might try to kill you. George Patton? Murdered. Aleksandr Karelin? The rules were changed, rigged so that he couldn’t win that final gold medal. Me? There are people coming after me but you know what?
Come at me.
I don’t care.
I love it.
This is when I l feel alive.
I feel alive when the barbarians are just coming at me and attacking.
If you think about 300 and the Spartans. Even though there were a thousand or whatever. Read Gates of Fire. THAT’S, that’s audacity. There’s a whole army coming at you, and you just stand one by one next to your brother and you just say “Come at me.”
That’s audacity right there.
So that’s how I want you to start thinking about life.
I know I use the term aggression and dominance and everything else, but when it comes right down to it, I only live by one word.
That one word is audacity.
So before we go, let’s look at the actual definition of it because I think it’s such a cool definition. This is on wikiquote:
“Audacity is an insolent form of boldness, especially when imprudent or unconventional. It implies a degree of impudence, but also fearlessness and intrepid daring.”
How awesome is that?
Isn’t that what you want to be?
Until next time, this is Mike from DangerAndPlay.com