Transcript: Cracking The Code 06: The future. 19 Jan 2007

Thom wrote his book "Cracking The Code" on the air: This was the sixth week, covering "throwing yourself or others into the future, and taking control of your future".

Cracking The Code 06: Throwing yourself or others into the future, and taking control of your future. 19 Jan 2007

Cracking the COde

Welcome back [to] … the place where progressives fiendishly plot for total world domination, or maybe, you know, some electoral victories, and I want to talk about that. I am writing a book, and to the best of my knowledge this is the first time anybody's tried to write a book on the air. That's what I'm doing right now, as I'm talking to you we're going to transcribe this and it's going to be part of the book. It's coming out from Berrett-Koehler next, well it's 2007 now; this fall. So this book will not be available for six months or nine months, something like that. And it's titled "Cracking the Code: the Art and Science of Political Persuasion" and we are now I think in our fifth week [6th - ed.] of going through this, maybe, well, whatever it is.

And what I want to talk about today is this whole concept of how you can throw people into a future, or how you yourself can project yourself into the future and, in useful and positive ways; take control of that future for yourself. Or, in the political arena, the way that we organize our own futures is used by political marketers, for lack of a better word, to create future associations in the present with political points of view or politicians or candidates that can be either negative or positive.

In other words, this is like a scalpel, you know. A scalpel could be used to heal or to kill. This is simply a tool. It is value neutral, but it's a very powerful tool. And it is used, and it is used frequently; the Dukakis campaign by George Bush senior is probably the most obvious example; the most recent use of it. And that will become apparent to you as we go through this.

But let me just tell you a story that is seemingly unrelated to politics about how I at one point in time used this whole concept of creating a future to change the behavior of somebody that I found frankly offensive.

This was probably ten years ago. I was doing marketing consulting at the time, owned an ad agency in Atlanta and I was spending probably thirty weeks a year, or pieces of them, on the road, doing a lot of traveling. Going into companies and spending a day or two training people. We trained many, many of the largest ad agencies in the United States on strategies of communications and tools of communications.

So anyhow, I'm flying and it was the weekend, it was the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, the day before Thanksgiving which is - and I was trying to get home - which is the busiest travel day of the year. At the time I lived in Atlanta and I was flying back home from somewhere out west on Delta and I was going through the Cincinnati Airport, connecting, and was this massive snowstorm that was slamming the United States from the Rocky Mountains all the way through the Midwest.

And because I flew a lot I had all these, you know, upgrades and coupons and club memberships and all this junk and I was a member of the Delta Airlines Red Carpet Club and so I walked in, and my flight was delayed like five hours, as was everybody's. So I walked into the Red Carpet Club which was slammed with people in itself. I mean, every chair was occupied and I walk in and, you know, showed my card and went in and in the no smoking area - now this is back in the days when they had a smoking area and a no smoking area - in the no smoking area there's a couple of couches and a couple of chairs that kind of made up this little circle around a coffee table, a fairly large one, and there's this big Texas guy, right. I mean, the big belt buckle, the hat, the boots, the whole bit, sitting in the no smoking section with this giant cigar, smoking a cigar, smoking this cigar. Now with his feet, his cowboy boots up on the coffee table and just oblivious to everybody around him.

And the people around him, and I sat down - there was an empty seat opposite him - and I sat down and the people around him were clearly discomforted by the cigar. There was a sign when you come in that says, you know, "No pipe or cigar smoking: cigarette smoking only and only in designated areas". And that designated area was over on the other end of the Red Carpet Club.

And so, you know, I'm sitting there and I'm, you know it's, whatever. I'm sitting there and there's, you know, I wasn't all that horrified by it but I didn't like it but I wasn't going to do anything about until this woman who was sitting a couple of chairs away from him starts coughing pretty badly. And then she says, "Sir, your cigar", she says, "I have asthma, and that smoke is really hurting me; would you please stop". And he looks at her for a minute, takes a puff on his, you know, a pull on the cigar, and blows smoke at her and goes back to, you know, just kind of looking off into space and being Mr. Cool.

And so - sorry, distracted here - and so she, after a minute or two, she gets up and she goes over to the counter and says to the woman who's running the Red Carpet Club, you know, has a conversation with her. And a few minutes later the woman, who has this long line of people who are like trying to change their flights and things and what not, she comes over to this guy, the woman who runs the Red Carpet Club, and says, with a packet of cigarettes in her hand, and says, "Sir, I've got a packet of cigarettes for you and if you could please move over to the smoking section; we don't allow cigar smoking and you can't smoke here in the non-smoking section".

And he kind of stares her down for a minute and takes another puff on his cigar and blows it in her direction and he says, "Call a cop, lady". And she stands there for a minute or 2 just, you know, kind of shocked, and then looks around and looks back at this long line of people and, I mean, the airport's a madhouse and decides, obviously, this is not a fight worth having and just turns around and goes back to her work. And he goes back to being Mr. smug.

And the people around him, now, I mean, everybody's glaring at this guy. And I'd just come in on this flight from the West Coast and gotten bumped up to first class and I'd had probably a glass or two of wine more than I should have and so I leaned across the table, I leaned forward and said to this guy, "I'll bet you know something that I've always wondered about". And I said it, you know, I tried to say it in a friendly way. And he looks at me like "Huh?" and I said, "I'll bet you know, there's something I have wondered about, I have wondered ever since I was in high school, and in fact, I'll bet most people wonder about it, and I'll bet you know the answer; I'll bet you could tell me the answer".

And in fact, now this is the future pacing part. I said, "In fact, I'll bet that not only do you know the answer but pretty much everywhere you go, people know that you know the answer. All they have to do is take one look at you and they know that you know the answer. You know, walking down the street, in the future, people take a look at you and know that you know the answer."

And so he looks at me and he says - so now I've got him, right, got him hooked - he says, "OK, what's the question?" And I said, "Well, you know, we all learn, I mean everybody learned, you learn it in high school, you know, psychology, you know, 101, we all learn, everybody knows this, I mean, everybody who, you know, sees you walking down the street". And I threw another future metaphor in there of some sort, like 'anybody who sees you walking down the street or sees you in a restaurant; folks sitting here the Red Carpet Club'.

"They all know that back in the 1890s Sigmund Freud said, 'the larger the cigar, the smaller the penis'. And so I'm just wondering, is it true?" And he takes his cigar out of his mouth and looks at it and looks at me. And I'm now leaning back in my chair, because I'm getting from his body language that he's trying to decide whether or not he's going to punch me. And then he just stands up and walks out of the Red Carpet Club, just stands up and walks out the door, cigar in his hand.

And the room bursts into applause. And I'm, you know, wiping the sweat off my forehead but I not only wanted to zing him with that but I was sufficiently PO'd with this guy that I wanted to make sure that any time in the future he pulled out a cigar, he started looking around at all the people around him and hallucinating, imagining that they were all wondering whether or not he had a small penis.

Now that's not probably the most moral or best example of how to use this technology, and I confess right up front, but I'll deconstruct it for you and tell you how it's done right after this break.


And after the break at the bottom of the hour I will take your calls, if you have questions or thoughts on this topic, and particularly questions. If there's anything I'm not making clear about this. But first of all, with regard to the whole cigar story and this poor guy in the Red Carpet Club or, yeah the Red Carpet Club, or was it called the Crown Room? Yeah, Delta's Airline's is the Crown Room; it's Red Carpet Club is the United one.

In any case, my rationalization, for what it's worth, and I guess we all have to have them, is that I was doing something good for his health if I could cause him to quit smoking cigars, I don't know. Ah me. So, anyhow, here's the steps, basically, is you create an imagination of the future. You project yourself, if you want to do this to your self, or you project the other person into that imagined future. And then you can define or modify that future.

So, for example, if you have a presidential candidate, you want to get people imagining that person as president. For example, when Dennis Kucinich was on the program about an hour ago just now, he said, "When I'm president of the United States". Now, that's a great way of causing people to imagine what the country must be, would be like with Dennis Kucinich as president of the United States. It is pushing us into the future and then he lists how it's going to be different, then he's bringing us along.

Now, the other side will do the same; the old Willie Horton ads where, you know, they showed pictures of Willie Horton and then they showed pictures of Michael Dukakis. And it was basically, you know, 'imagine Michael Dukakis as president, Willie Horton's going to be knocking on your door, do you want a murderer and a rapist', and ultimately, you know, the racist pitch, 'a black guy coming after you?' was the subtext of the message that the Bushies were pushing out, tragically successfully.

Now, to use this for self motivation, here's a really simple technique that for you as an activist or, you know, in the political world, this is a very simple straightforward way to do it, and you can do this in any dimension of your life, frankly.

Imagine a line on the floor, five, ten feet long, and at one point is 'present' and at another point is, say, five years out in the future. Step into the present. Notice, you know, everything around you. Look out at the future point on the line and imagine yourself standing there. And just imagine, you know, "OK, I see myself standing out there and it's five years from now and here's what I'm doing and here's, you know, what it looks like".

Then stop forward, slowly across, you know, down that line until you get to that point in the future and turn around and look back at your self in the present. And first of all, check out that future. How does it feel? What are you wearing? What are you seeing? What are you feeling? And is this the future that you want? Is this the world that you want? And if it is, cool. If it's not, modify it, right then and there in the future. Then turn around, or not turn around, then walk back into the present. Walk back down the line to the present point and turn around and look back at the future.

And it's real important that to finish this, you must imagine yourself out in the future again. This is called a disassociated visualization. If, where you see yourself, if you see the future as if you are in it you will feel like it has already happened and you won't be motivated. On the other hand, if you see yourself in the future, you are disassociated from it; it's not as if it has already happened. It won't feel like it's the present or the past. It will feel like it's the future and you will be motivated to move towards it.

And then you stand in that present point and you look down at the floor at that ten foot line after that future point and notice all the steps along that line that you have to go through to get that future. "Oh, I've got to do this, and then I've got to do this, and then I've got to do this, and then I accomplish that". This is the core of virtually all strategic internal motivations strategies. Most people develop them unconsciously. This is the conscious way to do it.


When you're, by the way, when you're, one other point I wanted to add before I go to your phone calls, is when you're talking with others about politics, here's probably the most powerful part of the whole thing that, everything that I just shared with you. And it's really metted?

to what I just did. And that is that story is the most powerful tool for communication. The way that we know we are in the world is a set of stories that we hold about who we are; stories that we learn through our childhood, stories that we learn our place in country, story, you know, it's all about story.

And if you want to communicate a message to somebody, the most powerful and effective way to do it is to wrap it in a story, because the story will be the hook that their brain will hang on to. People will remember the story for a long, long time and with the story is the information that's embedded in it. And so, if you want them to carry information, you embed it in a story; really simple. And that's why, when you're trying to talk politics, for example, it's best to put things in story terms and future and real terms.

For example, do we want to, in the United States, see a country - and they can be negative or positive, by the way - here's a negative on. Do we want to, in the United States, be living in a country where when you walk out the front door there are begging children standing there, covered with sores and scabs and their hands out, asking for food?

Now, I have lived and worked in countries where that's the reality. And that's the economic policies that that this administration, that 26 years of Conservative economics are moving us in the direction of; doing away with the middle class and producing the working poor. We've got 13 million people in the United States who literally do not know where they're going to get their next meal from.

So, you make the picture, you ask the question, and if possible, there's two other dimensions to this. One is using the word 'you'; embedding the word 'you', and the other is the use of negatives, and if we have enough time this afternoon I'll get to it. Otherwise, we'll get to it next week.

First though, Barry in Bellingham, Washington. Hey Barry, welcome to the program. Thanks for calling.

[Barry]: Hi. It's an honor to talk to you. I enjoy your show tremendously.

[Thom]: Thank you Barry.

[Barry]: And I really love that anecdote you just told about this cigar-smoking Texan, you know, who was defying everybody.

[Thom]: He was like out of central casting. I mean, this guy, he was so into his, well, don't get me started.

[Barry]: Yeah, anyway, as you were talking about this guy it just flashed on me that Bush is just like this guy on a large scale.

[Thom]: Yes.

[Barry]: Here he is, defying the American public who voted in a Democratic -controlled Congress and defying Congress, you know, in our desire to bring our troops back from Iraq and end this mess over there. You know, just sort of shoving his hand in everybody's face.

[Thom]: I remember seeing a bumper sticker that said, "Quick, somebody get G. W. Bush a BJ so we can impeach him" and I think that there's actually another level of truth to that and that is, you know, without getting too psycho-babbly or woo-woo, and that is that maybe what we're seeing here is George's feelings of incompetence and impotence throughout his life being acted out as the big bully war maker.

[Barry]: Yes.

[Thom]: Napoleon, people talk about that being the case with Napoleon and other dictators in history, warmongers in history, that they had a background that kind of led them to that and you wonder about it. So.

[Barry]: Yeah, well, I was thinking along those lines. I was thinking maybe somebody should approach him and ask him about the size of his penis.

[Thom]: Yeah, well, I doubt, they would end up in Guantanamo, that's the problem, see. And that's how he would demonstrate it. I mean, that's the thing, the whole thing, this gets back to testosterone is most dangerous drug in the world. Barry, thank you for the call. Jean in San Francisco, hey Jean.

[Jean]: Well, hi, Thom. What you guys was just talking about made me remember that our governator Arnold Schwarzenegger here in California has erected a tent to smoke, at the Capitol building in Sacramento, his cigars, because he's an avid cigar smoker and it's illegal of course on the grounds, but he has erected this tent anyway. But what I'm talking about…

[Thom]: Interesting use of language, there, Jean.

[Jean]: Oops. I'm excited about your new book taking shape here before my very ears.

[Thom]: Me too!

[Jean]: I get so disgusted every time I remember that so many valuable psychological discoveries are kept nearly like proprietary information for the advertising and marketing industry, the government, the psychological profession, and these should be things that people know, people can use to communicate and better their lives, like you're suggesting with your, this book.

[Thom]: Well thank you, Jean. Yeah, and that's what I'm trying to do.

[Jean]: And what I wanted to ask was can you include a chapter, because I think a great example of this is the story of Freud's nephew, and I was wondering if you could include a chapter on Freud's nephew who came to the U.S. and applied many of Freud's findings to advertising and then to the manufacture of propaganda.

[Thom]: He was the guy who was the consultant to Woodrow Wilson's campaign if I'm remembering correctly, or are we talking about a different person?

[Jean]: Well, he's definitely the one

[Thom]: This is in 1916, 1917, who helped Wilson come up with the whole concept of public relations in order to sell World War One to the American people?

[Jean]: I can't verify that but I definitely know he's the one who sold cigarettes to the American public by having women smoke cigarettes in parades during the twenties.

[Thom]: Interesting, interesting. Jean, I'll…

[Jean]: So, I'll call you back with his name.

[Thom]: Interesting. Jean, I'll have to do a little homework on that; it's interesting. When I was in London giving a speech on Attention Deficit Disorder back ten years ago when one of my first books came out and one of Freud's grandchildren was in the audience and we had an interesting conversation afterwards about whether Freud himself had ADD. But that's a whole 'nother topic. Jean, thank you for the call.

[Jean]: Yes, you know, hello?

[Thom]: Yes.

[Jean]: I want your book to bring all these wonderful l things to free people and empower people and right now these psychological techniques are used to manipulate people.

[Thom]: That's wonderful. Yeah. Well, that's my goal, is to put all this stuff right out there where anybody can read it, and it also provides people with a certain level insulation from it. Jean, thank you for the call. Rob in Bellingham, Washington. Hey, Rob.

[Rob]: Yeah, hi Thom. Thanks for taking my call. I love your show and I'm really happy you're doing this thing.

[Thom]: Thank you.

[Rob]: Breaking the code. I think language is really important and what I want to talk about is language of environmentalism. I think we've created a language for talking about nature that's kind of neglecting all these principles that you've been talking about. For instance, if we call nature the environment, we categorize it into something that people really can't picture and it becomes a political category rather than a personal reference.

[Thom]: Well, the biggest mistake there is not the use of the word 'environment', it's the use of the word 'the'. It's the objectification. Instead, we should call it our environment and that causes people to put themselves in the picture.

[Rob]: What about just calling it nature?

[Thom]: Well, nature can be objectified. That's nature out there. In fact, that's one of the sins or ills or problems or whatever of modern civilization, is that we have separated ourselves from nature. We live in boxes, we drive in boxes; we very rarely experience nature as something that we're part of. So, if we, I would argue that it's better to say 'our environment' because environment has a double meaning. Right now, my environment is a radio studio; I am surrounded by it. I am also breathing the air in this studio. You know, I'm experiencing the light in this studio. That's my environment. But there's also the larger environment outside which is, as you correctly described, Rob, you know, nature, the natural environment. And so, if we can cause people to think that the damage that they do to nature is impinging on their environment directly; in other words, if there is a smokestack down the street, some of that bad air is getting here into this studio, to the extent that we can cause people to have that association, that makes 'our environment' an even more powerful positive association.

[Rob]: Well, I hear what you're saying, but I think we can go one step further and just realize that when we use the term 'environment', even if we say, 'our environment', we're still objectifying by another degree something that is more readily understood just as nature.

[Thom]: Yeah, well again, I don't disagree, but I would point out again that nature is an objectification as well.

[Rob]: Well, to some degree, yeah.

[Thom]: Yeah, I mean, that's the problem with language and that's why you always want to try and bring people into it. And that's why I think the preposition is more important, the use of a preposition instead of an article that are holding your breath. Bringing, you know, our environment, the nature in which we live, see, that's the problem. Then trying to use nature starts to get kind of clunky. So I would encourage people in stead of saying 'the' environment, just start saying 'our' environment. Anyway Rob, thank you very much for your call. It's an interesting conversation and thought-provoking. We will continue. I'll take more of your calls right after the break.


Lauren, our call screener, who I just mentioned and thanked, says a caller says Freud's nephew was Edward Bernays and he was on a committee to sell World War One to the U.S. people. That's what I thought; that was my recollection. And then another caller, an English teacher, says 'our' is not a preposition, it is a possessive pronoun. You're right. Thank you very much. My, you are invoking the memory of my mother, the, well not the memory, she's still alive, but the English major would have gotten me on that right away. Anyhow, Number Twelve in Santa Fe, New Mexico, hey Number Twelve.

[Number Twelve]: How are you doing? I've got to admit, I'm a bit rusty, I haven't done this in a couple of years so I'm not really up to speed yet but I appreciate you being back in my area here.

[Thom]: Well, thank you.

[Number Twelve]: Anyhow, I want to talk about demagoguery and specifically linguistics when it comes to gun control; one of my pet issues. And you were, I think, out of the market when the assault weapons ban, the quote "assault weapons ban" expired in 2004. And it's the one thing that I will personally thank President Bush for. I can't stand everything else he's done, but he let that piece of celebrated garbage expire and I really thank him for it, and I think if that thing ever comes back again, it will be the Democrats shooting themselves in the feet again because you are going to have a whole bunch of people who are conservative, like, you know, your gun show types, who are sick of George Bush but they will vote Republican just to vote against gun control. And I think they need to give up their hate rhetoric because it's these same people who are out there moaning and complaining about how their freedoms are being taken away and they turn right around and say well, we need to get rid of the second amendment.

[Thom]: Yeah, and the flip side of that, and you make a good point, Number Twelve, and thank you for making it, and the flip side of that is the guy who called yesterday and said, "Well, I'm not committing any crimes; I don't care what the government does, they can listen in on anything I do". And so, what I should have said, or could have said to him at the time was, "Great! Why don't we just start registering all your guns? Yeah, if you've got a gun you've got to register it" and this was the ex military guy, right. So, anyhow, yeah, good point. Richard in Seattle. And the whole thing of calling what is and what is not an assault weapon, you know, all that kind of thing. Yes, there's a huge amount of framing around the language of "gun control" in quotes and of "assault weapons" in quotes. Richard in Seattle. Hey, Richard.

[Richard]: Hi Thom. I just want to say once again you've convinced me you're the smartest tack in the Air America box. I've followed neurolinguistic programming probably for seems like a couple of decades now when I first ran into Bandler and Grindler. And you never hear it talked about as your caller, a couple of callers ago, said. These are tools that everybody should have access to.

[Thom]: Yeah, I agree, and I first started studying this stuff in 1978 when I was the executive director of a residential treatment facility for severely emotionally disturbed kids and the first psychologist that I hired was using it. And then over the years got trained in it, ended up being trained as a trainer, Richard Bandler was my trainer.

[Richard]: Really.

[Thom]: And wrote the foreword to one of my books, yeah.

[Richard]: I guess they're really curious characters. I would have loved to have met them.

[Thom]: Oh, yeah.

[Richard]: But I just want to, most of the NLP books are really very academic, very hard to dig into for the average reader and since you're talking about NLP, I thought you might mention a couple of titles, like "Frogs into Princes" you probably know.

[Thom]: Yeah, and "The Structure of Magic", the two original books, yeah.

[Richard]: And then the other one, I think it's by Bandler, is "Using Your Brain--For a Change".

[Thom]: Yes, and there's another one that I think the Andreas's wrote, "Use your Brain and Keep the Change", no, "Change Your Mind-And Keep the Change".

[Richard]: Yeah, something like that.

[Thom]: All these cute little double entendres. There's also "Core Transformation" by Connirae and Stephen Andreas, a brilliant book.

[Richard]: Well, and there's "Structure of Magic" and a lot of other really good ones, but a lot of them start really getting more academic for the therapist, and that's why I mentioned like Frogs into Princes" is a great example because just about anybody can pick that one up and access some of the fundamental tools of neurolinguistic programming right there.

[Thom]: Although you do need to read it a little slowly, but yeah, good point. Richard, thank you.

[Richard]: Yeah, but I just like to read everything slowly.

[Thom]: There you go. Thanks a lot for the call, I appreciate it. Good talking with you. Bill in, is it Beaumont, Illinois?

[Bill]: Yeah, hi Thom, how are you doing?

[Thom]: Hey Bill, I'm great, but I'll get better. What's up?

[Bill]: Well, I'm the guy that called in about Bernays.

[Thom]: Oh, OK.

[Bill]: And anyway, also, Hitler, I don't know if he wrote this in "Mein Kampf" or not but he said that if he had as good a propaganda as the Allies did World War One, or if Germany did, then Germany would have won that war.

[Thom]: Oh yes, and that's why one of the very first things that Hitler did was hook up with Goebbels and get that thing going; you're absolutely right. Propaganda was huge in the war. Alex in Scotts… Thank you for pointing that out. Alex in Scottsdale, Arizona, we're just about out of time, Alex, half a minute or so.

[Bill]: Well, you know, I'm just looking at what's employed in the psychological warfare they're using on surge, new surge and new way, and forward again.

[Thom]: Yes.

[Bill]: It's the same thing over and over.

[Thom]: Well, this whole thing, you're going to hear a lot of lot of language. Next week, when Bush dies his State of the Union address, you're going to hear a lot of lot of language about the future and you're going to also hear an absolute conflation, a merging together, of the occupation in Iraq and 9/11 and the so-called war on terror. He is not going to talk about the war on Iraq as a separate thing or the occupation of Iraq as a separate thing; he's going to talk about it as the war on terror in an attempt to deliberately and further confuse Americans.

[Bill]: Well you know… the number of bodies that are being…

[Thom]: Yeah, Alex, I'm sorry, your cell phone is breaking up there, but point well taken.

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