Over the last few years the general trend in the USA has stayed the same (so it seems), more separation between the “haves” and the “have nots”. Also a large delta between people’s interests which only cause the separation to widen over time. We took a look at our contacts and none of them sit around vaping marijuana, playing video games and doing hard drugs on a consistent basis. It has been interesting to watch and while we try to avoid dating/culture type posts it’s a good update once a while and this feels like a good day to do so.
General Framework: We continue to keep the same belief. There are really three items that need work for a male: fitness, social skills and money. If you have all three it is rare to see an unhappy person. The explanation is quite simple, if you only have two… something is always “bothering you”. For rich guys it is typically the dating market as they are either out of shape or socially awkward. For the in shape guys on the beach, it is typically their wallets. Lots of people are able to get two of them down and only a select few get all three. We can’t prove this last part, but, we think it is extremely tiring to get good at all three. So once a person gets two down, they try to make them “offset” their weakness in the third. Unfortunately it doesn’t work that way.
As a source of “motivation”, you don’t need to be amazing at all three as you should view your life as a mosaic. It’s better to be worth a couple million, be in shape with great social skills vs. being worth $10M+ but no real social skills or physical fitness. The reason why is that you never know what a person values so if your “product offering” is a mix of all three, your selection group expands. Also. Realizing that you’re not doing well in one of those categories requires self-reflection and awareness, another positive quality. Don’t listen to people who claim that one of them can be ignored, make sure you’re willing to take a step back from what comes easy to you (be it fitness or money or socializing) to focus on fixing the areas where you’re weak.
Current Cultural Issue: We see the same trend occurring, lots of young men/women are graduating with few opportunities. This results in panic attacks, a loss of purpose and a shift to questioning the “life path” everyone was told to go down. Even if you avoid going into debt to get degrees, the *shock* becomes much more apparent as you see Companies constantly looking for ways to cut costs and automate their work flow. This is combined with easy access to drugs and alcohol and constant complaining from adults who were not able to keep up with the times “back in my day everyone was on their own by your age!” It still amazes us to this day that three trigger points really tell you a lot about a person’s future: their college (if they went to a top university or were somehow able to avoid it due to intelligence/skills), their first career/job/business they start and of course the city they live in. If you gave us the answer to the three items listed you’d be able to predict with ~90% accuracy the next 5-10 years (financially). If they choose well in all three, it usually leads to a high quality financial life.
Either way, this leads to the same old issue we’ve seen over the last 5-10 years. The number of people with high paying jobs is small… the pool of people with little debt is even smaller… and the number of people being forced to live with their parents goes up. We don’t see this trend reversing any time soon and the separation between the haves and have nots will likely widen. In short, nothing has changed in terms of the “trends”.
What to Do: As usual this is an actionable based blog and we’re going to make some adjustments right now. The following are trends we’ve noticed from the younger generation (well the successful ones since those are the only ones we’re interested in monitoring). They do the following: 1) they tend to view making money as a game, most complain about it being “hard” but the younger ones view it as a game to improve at versus work, 2) they actually don’t drink much. The only ones who seem to drink are born to rich families and also landed a pretty high paying job. These individuals do spend a lot of time at concerts/raves etc. The ones who don’t have that to fall back on are not really partying a lot, we see them doing a lot more physical activities, 3) on that note, they are in shape since they are not out drinking and partying as much, 4) they already have two sources of income, we know some people who are only 23 with up to five sources of income… It sounds impossible but you’d be surprised at the range of businesses being spun up, 5) almost *all* of them admit to earning extra money while on the job – they are not delusional and realize no one is going to watch over their shoulder 24/7/365 and 6) their social skills are a tad weaker than their peers but you see them improve over the course of year. This one is a trend we picked up over 5 years, as they start out with little confidence and little time to improve. But. In 3 years or so they’ve gotten to standard skills and it seems to be the last item on the priority list – but still takes up the #3 slot in terms of time preference (money and health being the top 2). Simplistically, each person is following a similar path to Efficiency with different angles: some with the exact idea from our book, others with the real estate hook, some going full start-up and others working even harder than we could imagine to maximize their consulting/services revenue. All of these ideas work, none of them are “right” as long as the end-game worked out
What Not to Do: On the opposite side of the spectrum you can see the downward spiral lead to an impossible hole to climb out of: 1) believing that “hard work” can be avoided because they are smart and only need to put in a few hours to succeed. Not realizing that even billionaires worked insane hours in the beginning since it’s the “life tax” associated with success, 2) getting involved in a lot of drug/alcohol binges. Reduces the ability to operate the next day, make its hard to meet the right people and on top of all this if they don’t have the will power to work long hours, they definitely can’t stay off the drugs, 3) not taking advantage of down time, spending this instead on consumption/entertainment, 4) thinking the weekends are always “off days because they deserve them”… when in reality if you put the work in early every day (even weekdays) can become off days when you don’t feel like killing yourself and 5) constantly valuing the comfort zone of old friends. This one is probably a common sign, if their friends are all the same people they knew from college – something has gone terribly wrong (2-3 years after entering work force)
Updated Changes in The Overall Culture
The high level changes haven’t really moved much, what has changed is the way it is reflected in the dating market, social market and preferences. In a rare case we’ll talk about dating since it has been fascinating to watch.
Dating: Applications are still being used by guys who have their money straight. Naturally this forces them to bat below their “class” since they are a crutch for people with weak social skills. We have no doubt that the comment section will be filled with “it’s the same!” but we haven’t seen it and have yet to find someone who uses apps that dates “up”. The old saying is still true, you never trust a guy who cannot date up as it’s a sign for lacking at least one (if not two) of the three items you need to live a fulfilling life.
The other fun thing we’ve noticed is that *some* women have actually caught on to this whole cultural trend. For all the complaining we’ve seen about women on the internet, a lot of them have actually exited the constant hook up culture in a few sparse areas. You can tell who these women are as they are dating men who are around 5 years or so older than them (sometimes more of course) but from what we’ve seen, girls who are dating up have intelligently filtered out the constant hook up culture. To be clear here, the hook up culture is still the VAST majority. All we’re saying is that we’ve seen pockets actually figure this whole thing out an realize that they are not getting anything out of it. Generally, they are on the much more attractive side. So to emphasize, career focused women and hook up culture women are still extremely prevalent… We’ve just noticed a slight change which has actually expanded the pool of decent women (no one should be taking a previous drug and party addict seriously)
The last thing we’ve noticed is that the pool of younger adult men has become weaker. This is due to the continuing trend of lower high paying jobs and more competition. Many of them are being forced to live at home as well (reduces where they can afford to go out). The “recession generation” those that graduated in the 2005-2008 time frame are generally split apart. So there is a large gap here at this point and they are between 32-37 years old or so (we’re adding some wiggle room). If someone is living a good life and they are between these rough ranges they likely survived some terrible economic situations and really were better than most. On the flip side. The guys who got clobbered by the bad economic times are still playing catch up.
Social Market: Not sure how to phrase this but in terms of the “social market” you see a lot of people who simply gave up on life in general. What we mean by this is that the competition has gone up to get over the “snowball effect” and every year it just gets harder. So in the social market you can quickly figure out where a person is (socio-economically) by their views on hard work. If someone is in their mid-20s and downplays long hours… chances of crossing them off the list is high. If someone is in their mid-20s and agrees it plays a massive part then they haven’t given up on getting over the hump financially.
The social market or “social tells” have become so obvious that it hurts. You can almost figure out to the T who someone listens to on Twitter, YouTube, Instagram etc just by their comments. It has gotten to a point where we hear comments and know exactly what tweet/article they are referring to. And. They try to pass it off as original thought even though you are 100% certain it’s just a quote from someone else. Maybe this has always happened and we weren’t as aware. But. It happens almost every single day now. Someone will make a “smart comment” and you sit back and say (in your head of course) “that’s directly from someone else”… smile, nod, agree and move on.
Original thought consolidates which also consolidates the social market. The number of people with original thoughts is on the decline so these people are naturally drawn to one another. In order to recognize original thought, you have to be well read and read between the lines (this person is just someone who memorizes vs. this person is creating new connections). Over time the people who are actually making new observations all end up meeting one another down the line.
Preferences: This has probably been the most interesting change over the past ~5 years. Preferences have changed quite a bit. Definitely a bigger focus on being physically attractive as a stand-out trait for men as most are out of shape. Definitely a bigger focus on travel. Definitely a bigger focus on “experiences”. While one thing has stayed constant: if a girl can’t experience something it doesn’t exist to her (like the millionaire who eats lentils and rice). The typical person in their 20s is now more interested in the trip to France vs. the expensive handbag. Now if you become rich all these material items come back again since there is nothing to do (boredom, a topic we could cover but really only addresses the rich)
How to Benefit Off These Trends: There are several ways to improve your life to generally benefit. You can actually reduce your housing costs without a significant impact to your social life if you are willing to spend more on making your life an “experience”. You can avoid hearing the same thing over and over again by becoming well-read and avoiding people with unoriginal thoughts. You can also look for social tells to quickly filter out people who gave up on the process: 1) asking about effort and reward – to young people – delayed gratification etc. 2) asking about their views on earning money – if it’s “fun” or “annoying” is another big tell, 3) seeing what type of people they hang out with – if it’s the same people from 5-10 years ago it’s usually a horrible sign and 4) the classic tell on if they believe rich people are happy or sad… people who think rich people are unhappy have given up on getting rich and are looking for excuses to never make it.
Fun Predictions: 1) we will see continued dispersion between rich and poor, regular theme we have had, 2) in 5-10 years the dating market will actually swing away from hooking up as the generation above them passes down information that it did not work and was detrimental and 3) decline in young population in expensive cities, increasing status signal.
That’s a short summary. Also. We will have a Q&A on Sunday and will actually open it up to social questions for once since we took a lot of notes down on new trends we’ve noticed.