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I announced my book last week and told you a little bit about it. This week I get to show you something even cooler: the book trailer.

The guys at Simplifilm put this together and I think it captures the book perfectly (it’s also the only book trailer I’ve ever liked besides Tim Ferriss’s. I can’t recommend them or their work highly enough.) If you’re curious, the narrator isn’t me, it’s the wonderful Robert Bruce, whose writing is a must-subscribe. I got very lucky that he was willing to do the voice over.

If you haven’t preordered the book yet, hopefully this trailer will convince you. The materials I’m giving away for preorder actually include case studies that show exactly how to do the trading up the chain process in the trailer.

Also, IMPORTANT NOTE: I will be on Chase Jarvis LIVE on Wednesday, June 27th, 11:00am Seattle time (2 pm NYC time or 19:00 London). Definitely tune in.

Here are some quick blurbs on the book:

“Ryan is part Machiavelli, part Ogilvy, and all results. From American Apparel to the quiet campaigns he’s run but not taken credit for, this whiz kid is the secret weapon you’ve never heard of.” —Tim Ferriss, author of the #1 New York Times bestseller The 4-Hour Workweek

“This book will make online media giants, very, very uncomfortable.”—Drew Curtis, founder

“The strategies Ryan created to exploit blogs drove sales of millions of my books and made me an internationally known name. The reason I am standing here while other celebrities were destroyed or became parodies of themselves is because of his insider knowledge.”—Tucker Max, author of the #1 New York Times bestseller I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell

Sloppy and Obnoxious

June 20, 2012 — 20 Comments

Listen to them with their chatter of far off places. Look at them with their luxury cars and expensive clothes. Always talking, talking, talking.

They’d like you to think they’ve got it all worked out, wouldn’t they? Just don’t look past the self-absorption, banality, and their deliberate little place at the center of attention.

Instead, think about what they are so often not: respectful or interesting. When Seneca writes that “slavery resides beneath marble and gold,” he leaves out the other attribute: stupidity. It makes you soft and sloppy and obnoxious. Don’t even get started whether they’re happy (actually do the math on the numbers these guys are throwing around)

We like to say with smug satisfaction “nobody lies on their deathbed and says, ‘I wish I’d worked more.’ Well, nobody really says “I’m SO glad I spent all that time skiing” either. Those things don’t matter either–they aren’t happiness or meaning. And in fact, they may be more dangerous because they feel like they do.

When we are young or inexperienced, we envy these people–or at least a part of us does. We unconsciously think we are supposed to be like them. The idea is to own a Rolex right? And be able to talk about what Abu-Dhabi is like, of course.

Or is it? What if the idea is to actually like yourself and the work you do enough that you don’t feel the subconscious desire to flitter around all the time. What if you don’t talk about yourself or (talk that much period) because you’re thinking about important things? What if the idea is to feel better in simple dress, to have no problem with a coach seat even if you could afford otherwise. The more I think about it, yeah, that’s the idea. That you may suffer less the less insufferable you are.


Well, the time is finally here. I can announce my first book: Trust Me, I’m Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator (website)

I’ve never spoken about what I do for a living on my site, but the book reveals all that. I am a media manipulator for billion dollar brands to #1 New York Times bestselling authors. For the first time, I expose all the secrets of my profession, analyze why it exists and ultimately, what it means for the world in which we live. It’s a book deeply rooted in history and research, along with my first-person experiences. I didn’t want this to be some toothless, condescending book of media criticism. I name names in it, and I show where the bodies are buried—because I put many of them there. Ultimately, it’s not just a book about marketing but about strategy, culture and media.

Its release will be incredibly controversial, as you can see from the early coverage. GalleyCat reported my advance was as high as $500,000. Gawker predicted it would “easily be both the best and the worst book of the year.” Edward Jay Epstein was kind enough to say it should be “required reading for every thinker in America.” Trust me, there will me more of this praise (and hatred) to come.

After more than 3 years of research and a year of writing and editing, I can safely say this is the best work I have done thus far in my life. I hope to share that with you—and any success that might come along with it.

You can buy the book anywhere, including through the following links:
Barnes and Noble

Living Like a Boss

May 14, 2012 — 20 Comments

I know many people who call themselves authors, but they’ve never sold a book. I have, and now I know that it wasn’t that hard. The book took three months. Or maybe they have sold a book, and three years later they’re still writing it even though the topic isn’t a difficult one. Not that they’re Robert Caro struggling with an epic, they enjoy living the life of a writer more than writing, or you know, doing things. I know PhD students years deep into grad school and no closer to graduating. I know people talk about entrepreneurship but they aren’t one. They’re just regular guys. Same goes for “experts” “marketers” and “thinkers.” Mostly posers or dilettantes.

I don’t mean people who try to be cool or anything like that, but people who give themselves credit for accomplishments that haven’t happened yet. It’s not that they aren’t working on their book or start-up or whatever. They are. They just can’t close the deal. They aren’t in control of their own lives.

You know who doesn’t go around calling themselves “The Boss?” Bosses. Why? Because real authority is implicit, not explicit. The same goes for superlatives and occupation titles. You leave those for the people who follow you, who buy your work, who write about you, who introduce you. These meaningless words mean something to some people because it helps them definer their relationship to the world. That’s the wrong way to do it. You, the writer, don’t relate to the world as a writer—you relate to the world as you. The world relates to you and your writing. For [writer], plug in entrepreneur, expert, student, athlete or whatever. The leader is the leader because he leads.

Live a life of standards, not descriptors. Wake up each morning and live like a boss.

This isn’t just a power tactic, though it is a good one. It is a life tactic. It’s how you prevent yourself from becoming a clueless asshole (or a delusional never-been). From thinking that things that don’t matter, matter. It’s so easy on the internet to present an idealized version of yourself, and in the process, forget which is the real and which is the fake. It’s easier to cede control than have control. Don’t fake it until you make it. Shut up until you make it. And then when you make it, you’ll be so used to being that way that you still won’t feel all that inclined to talk about it.

One of Ambrose Bierce’s best stories about the Civil War is “Parker Adderson, Philosopher.” In it, a Union spy is caught behind Confederate lines at night. He is taken to the Confederate general who questions him. In their interview, the soldier shows his wit and disdain for death (and fear), which intriques the general. The conversation is marked by one theme, the condemned soldier outsmarting the general’s compassionate but stern regard for the seriousness of the sentence he is obligated to hand down.

“Good God man! do you mean to go to your death with nothing but jokes upon your lips? Do you know that this is a serious matter?

“How can I know that? I have never been dead in all my life. I have heard that death is a serious matter, but never from any of those who have experienced it.”

The general quietly listens, considers the man’s points but still finds them terrifying.

“Death is horrible!”

“It was horrible to our savage ancestors because they had not enough intelligence to dissociate the idea of consciousness from the idea of the physical forms in which it is manifested–as even a lower order of intelligence, that of the monkey, for example, may be unable to imagine a house without inhabitants and seeing a ruined hut fancies a suffering occupent.”

Just then the stormy weather outside abates, and the general orders that the sentence be imposed that night, by firing squad, rather than waiting for the gallows to be built in the morning. The solider, unprepared for this turn of events, breaks down. “But General, I beg–I implore you, I am to hang!…Spies are hanged; I have rights under military law!” It’s no use. So he struggles, grabs an unguarded knife, and mortally wounds the general before being led away.

At the end the soldier meets his death whimpering before the firing squad, begging to be spared. The general, dying a few hours later, dies solemnly, saying only “I suppose this must be death.”

I like this story because of the twist. As you read it, you mark down the wise words of the soldier–finding them perfect reminders about the smallness of life and an example for how to think about death. The words may as well have come from Cato or Socrates. Parker Adderson truly is, as the title states, a philosopher.

Only like most “philosophers” he soon let’s us down when it comes to practice. He may not have been a coward in the face of grave threats–and that’s admirable and rare–but when those threats become realities his edifice crumbled. At the same time, the General, who was honest with the solider about not wanting to die and urged him to make things right before his sentence was imposed, was, when he himself faced with the same sentence, clearheaded and calm.

Behind laconic wit lies one of two things: compensatory horseshit or profound confidence and bravery. It is important to know which. Remember, all the preparation and philosophy and clever sayings in the world are no guarantee strength under duress. In fact, it may foreshadow the opposite. Why? Because they lead us to think it will not be so hard. That armed with logic or facts, we will not be afraid and regress. And this is true for things a lot less terrifying than death. (We feel proud and smart telling kids “it get’s better,” but how do you handle bullies in your adult life? Your heart races, you get flustered, you feel like quitting your job and running away.)

It’s important to remember that the Spartans, (the Lacedaemonians who the laconic style is named after) hated philosophers. They hated how easily they could say one thing and do another. To them, quips weren’t quips. They meant something. It was the expression of years of training, tradition and obligation. They were efficient, not condescending. Words were never a substitute for action. It was never about making a rhetorical point. For every Spartan whose rejoinder was passed down through history, there were a thousand more who simply performed, making even less of a show than the general in the story.

We must keep that in mind as we do our reading and make our way. That the real show is never the words–no matter how impressive or true or clever they are–and it’s no shame to be mocked and laughed at by those who are skilled at wordplay, so long as you best them when it comes time to face your own test.