CHAPTER 4: FINDING THE BEGINNING
I once read a book, I believe it was by the famous writer, Stephen King. Discussing his own career, he said he had submitted 150 stories before his first was accepted. His persistence appealed to me and when I began to write, I vowed to follow his example.
After about 120 submissions, I had received many rejections. There were also many other submissions for which I was eagerly awaiting responses. Then success. Two successes! The only problem was the two judges were like me.
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I have always lived within time, my time, your time. I have no memory or knowledge of any other time. If we are in this time together, maybe we can find our beginning.
My polio, my time of monsters, is significant to me. It could be the beginning of who I am, the beginning of me. You, however, have no such experience. Can we each have our own unique beginning?
Maybe the first time I saw a monster was my beginning. This short episode primed me to think polio was significant.
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For 500 million years, life was simple, single cell, microscopic. Life twiddled its thumbs. However, a classical physicist would realize this was half a billion years from the standpoint of one observer. This observer was the guy sitting among the early life, studying it with his microscope. Another observer, traveling at a high rate of speed, might find this period shorter.
Our classical physicist would have been influenced by the ultimate classical physicist, Albert Einstein. His claim to fame was his theory of relativity, based on a thought experiment and mathematics, that postulated that time passed more slowly for someone traveling near the speed of light than it did for someone who was stationary.
The classical physicist might also have a couple of other thoughts - disturbing thoughts. Who was this observer? Those with a spiritual mind might say "God"! And how important is this observer? Suddenly, science was sounding more like philosophy.
As I have said, as a kid, I liked science because I thought it was digital, orderly. Things were either true or false. There wasn't suppose to be a "maybe".
I didn't think I was weird. I didn't think the world was weird. Now I suspect we are all weird and there are benefits to hiding our weirdness. Our world is also weird, weird to a degree that we find hard to imagine. Understanding this weirdness can, surprisingly, help us be more successful.
When I first learned about particles and waves, I didn't realize they might be a threat to what I most liked about science. I didn't realize they might be a threat to everything I believed.
My physics book stated that everything was either a particle or a wave.
If there was a rigid pole in the middle of a pool of water and you threw a baseball at it, one of three things happened: (1) you miss and the ball hits the water somewhere behind the pole, (2) the ball hits the pole a glancing blow, changing course before hitting the water, or (3) the ball hits the pole directly and bounced back toward you. The ball is a particle.
If you disturb the water (hit it with a paddle), a wave will flow out and flow around the pole. Secondary waves will form and move in a different direction. In the case of water, waves are made of water molecules vibrating or moving in a periodic manner. Many scientists got their jollies developing mathematical equations to describe wave motion. Although it was unclear, at least to me, what was vibrating, it was shown that other waves, including ultraviolet, light, and radio, could be described by the equations. You could recognize a wave and it was not a particle.
And then, in 1927, a dirty Nazi came along and upset my apple cart - not that I am that old, but I read about it later.
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Just after I was born, things happened to me. Pleasant things. Unpleasant things. I do not remember these things, but they could have changed my neurons, my neural networks. This could have been the beginning of me. Different things began you.
Maybe you and I began before we were born. Chemical assaults from our mother's drinking or smoking might have started us on our journey to being us.
Surely, if not later, we each began at the moment of conception. DNA from our father and DNA from our mother randomly combined and there we were – at our beginning.
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Electrons are little subatomic balls of energy (with the emphasis on balls) that scientists had been playing around with since Ben Franklin flew his famous kite. Playing around with means writing math equations to try to describe an electron's behavior as well as doing experiments. By then, experiments had produced an electron gun, that is, a gun that can fire individual electrons. Einstein, and others, tried as hard as they could to write equations saying how the individual electron should behave. And failed.
If electrons are little balls of energy, we should be able to think of them as acting just like the baseballs we just talked about. If we threw these little balls at a pole, sometimes we would hit the pole directly, sometimes we would hit a glancing blow, and sometimes we would miss the pole altogether.
Now, however, we had an electron gun. We should be able to control our little balls. We would not throw each ball (electron) at the pole. We would put it in the gun, aim carefully at the pole, and fire. If we were a good shot, the vast majority of our balls of energy would hit the pole directly and bounce back toward us. All this sounded reasonable, but when the experiment was carried out, the result was utter failure – each electron might hit pole directly or glance off or miss altogether.
Most scientists were very unhappy. Their mathematical equations could not explain these rebellious electrons.
Only the young Nazi named Werner Heisenberg had an explanation. Heisenberg may have been a devout follower of Adolf Hitler and a supporter of his abhorrent beliefs, but he was brilliant. His explanation for the actions of electrons pushed me toward a life in an irrational universe, a dreary place. Since all the King's Horses and all the King's men and all the King's scientists couldn't find another explanation, I stopped thinking about it.
Much later, I was interested in business and selling and felt the internet could streamline many parts of the world of profit and loss. Integrating search engines, marketing research, and elevator speeches was an area worthy of deep discussion. Then, one day, I suddenly realized there was a connection, a connection to the dirty Nazi, and maybe a way to pick up my apple cart.
An elevator speech is, by the way, a clear, brief message or “commercial” about you. It communicates who you are, what you're looking for and how you can benefit a company or organization. It's typically about 30 seconds, the time it takes people to ride from the top to the bottom of a building in an elevator.
Heisenberg explained that the reason you could not predict where an electron would go was because you couldn't shoot straight. He said you were not holding the electron gun steady. He believed that when you pointed the gun, there was a slight shaking or palsy in your hand. And he believed that no matter how hard you tried, when you aimed and fired the gun, you couldn't control the palsy. Of course, he said all this in a more scientific way and backed up his view with mathematical equations.
Heisenberg stated that the palsy was a fundamental property of nature that could not be eliminated. You could never tell where a single electron was going. But you could, using his equations, calculate the probability of an electron hitting the pole. If you fired one hundred electrons, you could calculate how many hits you would likely have. The more electrons you fired, the more accurately you could predict the results. You could never, however, predict the path of a specific electron.
Heisenberg was saying that the subatomic world of electrons was based on probability – that nothing could be true or false, but only that things had a high or low probability of being true or false. Reality itself was fuzzy. And, to make matters worse, experiments could be designed that showed that, if this view was true, this strangeness would bled through and be part of the world we saw and admired every day.
Examination of the mathematics involved, if you left out the critical probability stuff, showed that Heisenberg was treating electrons as if they were waves.
For the many who wanted to dismiss Heisenberg's idea, there was a problem. His mathematical equations worked.
Scientist often claim to look at the world rationally and unemotionally. Einstein, however, felt this view of reality, based on probability, was abhorrent. With extreme disdain, he claimed "God does not play dice with the universe" and spent the rest of his life trying to prove Heisenberg wrong. Heisenberg merely said "Don't tell God what to do".
Why did Einstein get so upset? Not just philosophically. What was happening in his neurons? Heisenberg's theory, or rules, or way of looking at things, also bothered me. Again, why did I feel this way on a neurological level? If neurons group together to form neural networks that, in turn, generate worldviews, why did Einstein's worldview and my worldview both hate Heisenberg's idea?
There may be certain "truths" that are valid across all worldviews, areas or values we all find true or appealing, areas of common group-think. These truths are hard to find. It is much easier to find truths that are valid across most, but not all, worldviews. Heisenberg's worldview was very different than the worldviews of most other people. It was different in ways most people considered very important. This kind of worldview conflict generates extreme anger.
Let me say one more thing about Heisenberg. He was basically saying that electrons were waves. And experiments proved that electrons were definitely waves. Unfortunately, other experiments proved that electrons were definitely particles. To Einstein and to me, we were no longer living in a rational world.
Quantum physics has dominated the physical sciences for almost a hundred years and has been the basis of many scientific advances. Anything that contains a computer chip could not exist if it weren't for quantum physics. Quantum physics, and thus all these advances, is based on the work of Werner Heisenberg.
Einstein had started his career when he imagined he was traveling on a beam of light. His reputation was cemented in 1919 when observation of a solar eclipse confirmed a key part of one of his theories, namely that light would be deflected if it passed near a strong gravitational field. In this case, light from a star was observed as it passed near the sun which has strong gravity. The starlight could be seen because the solar eclipse blocked the overwhelming light from the sun. The starlight was deflected by the amount Einstein had forecast.
Light was considered a wave, hence, the name light wave. Before Einstein, the common sense view was that only particles like balls or Newton's apple were affected by gravity. Einstein was looking at light as particles or photons.
With enough mass, there is no limit to how powerful a gravitational field can be. Light could be bent or deflected so much that it would be captured by the field and never escape. This much mass would be, what we call today, a "Black Hole".
I don't have to be a genius to do a thought experiment like Einstein did. I will imagine that I will find a nice quantum physicist and ask him to travel back in time and observe Life during its first 500 million years and then imagine what he might think and say.
You, and you might think, the quantum physicist, may wonder why I am so concerned with this early period when apparently nothing happened for so long. After all, shouldn't I be more interested in when life first crawled onto land? We'd probably be somewhere in Arizona on our imaginary time journey across the country. Or maybe we should look more closely when our observer arrives in eastern California and has to throw down his microscope and run for his life, lest he be stepped on by a dinosaur?
My answer is that I believe in what I call common sense. The development of life is a process - so something must be going on during this time period. First A happens, then B happens, then C, and so on.
My common sense makes me question the renowned biologist who says one possible cause of aging is random mutation of DNA caused by background radiation. The obvious question is why is a dog's DNA so sensitive, while a giant tortoise, with super DNA, may live 200 years?
Based on my common sense, I am a little surprised, no, I am actually shocked when my quantum physicist friend says he'll be glad to travel back 1500 million years and observe life. But first, I need to tell him which universe I want him to visit, am I really sure B happens after A, and exactly what do I mean by "1500 million years ago"?
His questions confuse me. I wanted to pretend I had an observer on the scene when Life began. Instead, I will have to pretend to pretend I have an observer there. When I first heard of quantum physics, I thought it was gibberish. Maybe my quantum physicist friend has given me permission to talk gibberish too.
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I read somewhere that life experiences can directly affect our genes. The revolutionary idea was that the life experiences did not have to be ours. Research has shown that our genes (and thus who we are) could be affected by the experiences of our mother, grandmother and beyond. It looks like we may find that we began even before we were conceived.
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Why did Einstein get so upset with Heisenberg? Heisenberg challenged part of Einstein's worldview. As a great scientist, Einstein felt he could prove Heisenberg wrong. But his understanding of reality was not deep enough so he spent the rest of his life on a fruitless quest.
I also disliked Heisenberg's worldview, but I was not a scientist. I could not prove him wrong, so I found other ways to squander my time. Only after many years, only after I decided to document my deep thoughts, did I revisited the branch of science I hated.
About the same time that Einstein was fighting with Heisenberg, an American Astronomer named Edwin Hubble discovered that our galaxy was not the only galaxy in the universe. Eventually, billions of galaxies would be discovered. Once again, science had made man seem less significant. Instead of being a small creature living on a grain of sand circling a slightly larger grain of sand among a billion or so grains of sand that made up our galaxy, we were now told our galaxy itself was a grain of sand among billions. What a downer.
Hubble also discovered that the Universe, now made up of all of the galaxies, was expanding. The galaxies were moving apart. This fact made Einstein feel really bad.
Einstein was upset because some of the equations he had developed to support his famous theories had implied (to a mathematician, they fairly shouted) that the Universe was expanding. Einstein, however, was stuck in the old way of thinking, namely, the stars and heavens are constant, static. So he changed the equations to wipe out this revolutionary implication. Changing the equations was, he would later say, "the biggest mistake of my life".
Maybe we can never keep an open mind, but if Albert Einstein had not been influenced by conventional wisdom, Hubble's observations would have been, just like the solar eclipse we talked about earlier, an example of how brilliant Einstein was.
Quantum physics has freed me to ask stupid questions. An imaginary, time traveling biologist studying early life should ask if and when DNA moved into the nucleus. It was a dumb question because we know DNA evolved before it moved into the nucleus. It was a dumb question until the quantum physicist asked if we really knew what “before” meant. Someone should have asked Einstein why he thought the heavens were static.
What is a stupid question? The trite answer may be “there are no stupid questions”. A better answer is it is a question that ignores conventional wisdom, something that everyone accepts as true. When we question conventional wisdom, we can sometime ask very valuable stupid questions.
Quantum physics has also freed me from sticking to a particular timeline - after all, at a quantum level we can have lots of discussions about what time really is. So I want to talk about modern things, like quarks and other fundamental particles, and on a slightly higher level, electrons. But I reserve the right to go back later several decades or several billion years if the need arises. Or, to even ask “what does 'go back' mean?”.
Now for a stupid question: Do you think a man is more complex than an electron? This stupid question occurred to me in the second third of my life when I was studying business and the ins and outs of marketing research.
I had learned, for example, that if you worked in the financial services industry, you would be subject to some of the most extensive and detailed regulations imaginable. The government and the industry demanded that you meet certain standards of conduct and knowledge. If you practiced without the required certifications, you could be subject to legal action. Without certifications, the public might view you as a charlatan. Being a sales professional in this field without the required certifications is like being a major league baseball player taking the field without a glove.
If you spend extensive time and money qualifying as a professional in the financial services industry, you want people in general and your prospects in particular, to know about all of your qualifications. And, you have a giant, multi-billion dollar industry that supports you in this effort. This support includes multiple, continuous ad campaigns. For the internet, which is relatively new, websites, emails, social networking, and other "modern" tactics are used to help you. All of these tactics were standardized and sterilized, the justification being to "protect the public". Individual creative marketing is impossible.
This was bad enough, but then I realized that the marketing experts, to find prospects, were treating people the same way Heisenberg had treated electrons.
One thing that may be true across all worldviews is a desire to be liked, admired, or respected. It is hard to see how any other view would contribute to survival. This is not to say that the frustration of this desire might not lead to something horrible. Stupid Questions: Does survival of the fittest apply to electrons? What do electrons desire?
Part of my worldview is a desire to be liked, admired, and respected. People said those who understood calculus were smart. I found it fairly understandable, studied it more, and got better at it. People didn't have as much respect for statistics. I initially found it confusing, ignored it, and didn't get better at it.
Statistics is, at least to me, the study of groups where there is limited knowledge about the individual members that make up the groups. Marketing experts may use statistics to assert that 75% of people over 65 hate computers. Heisenberg may use an advanced form of statistics to say 35% of electrons will hit the pole in the pool.
Scientists, unlike marketing experts, are working at the forefront of science, at the edge of knowledge. But scientists, even quantum physicists, are still human beings. If they looked at nature, or we could say reality, as an adversary, they would do well to remember the famous saying "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me". Shame on all scientists.
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Can we find our beginnings by finding when our species began? The answer is complex, but “No”. Multiple gene mutations must occur and spread throughout a population of reproducing individuals before that group of individuals becomes a separate species (cannot mate with other species). There is not a specific time an individual becomes a new species.
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Scientists have consistently insisted that now, today, this moment, is special. It is especially ironic that the quantum physicists do this while much of their work is designed to prove the opposite.
In ancient times, the stars in the heavens were unknowable lights. We knew almost nothing about any individual star and what we did know was probably wrong. Any one star was identical to all the other stars. We could never know any more than we knew on this ancient day about stars. If Heisenberg had been around, he might have applied his statistical methods to say that 52% of the stars were in the sky two hours before sunrise and that 48% of the stars were in the sky two hours after sunset.
Then we learned about stars and thought NOW WE HAVE THE KEY TO UNDERSTANDING REALITY.
A little over a hundred years ago, we didn't understand some things about time. We thought we understood, but we did not. When Einstein explained things, we were amazed and thought NOW WE HAVE THE KEY TO UNDERSTANDING REALITY.
Now that we understood time, we could - wait, I didn't say that.
Einstein didn't tell us what time is. For that, we need our hero, the quantum physicist. He arrived on the scene almost a hundred years ago in the person of Werner Heisenberg and used his powerful statistical tools to tell us something about time. Except he didn't do this. He couldn't find a "group of time" to analyze. So he turned his attention to groups of electrons and made some revolutionary discoveries. And so we thought NOW WE HAVE THE KEY TO UNDERSTANDING REALITY.
Today's quantum physicist can help design computer chips that would be impossible without a quantum view of reality. He will tell you that you can't predict the motion of an individual electron fired from an electron gun, you can only predict how a large group of electrons will behave. The individual electrons are simple, unknowable forever, each identical to all the others.
And so, Scientists have once again thought NOW WE HAVE THE KEY TO UNDERSTANDING REALITY.
Maybe, scientists are dumber than marketing experts.
The advent of the Internet has made possible dynamic, customized, revolutionary advertising campaigns that drive customers to individual sales professionals. Unfortunately, many of these ambitious professionals have been convinced that industry policies and standards keep them from using their creativity to succeed.
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Can I say I began half a billion years ago when life began? Things happened. Things happened to both of us. Today, we are us. Different things happened to others. Today, they may be snakes or oak trees.
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Is it profitable to compare professions? The problems and challenges of different professions can be remarkably similar. A financial planner, for example, works in a highly regulated industry. I was in an almost completely unregulated industry. If someone asks a financial planner what you does, he may answer "I help people plan their retirement". I might have responded to the same question "I help people rank high on search engines".
Yet, both of us, may use an “elevator speech”.
For an elevator speech, the primary concern should not be what is in the speech - many experts and common sense can tell you what you might include. "Will It Work?" is what is really important. Is there a high probability of making the sale? If it doesn't work, can the elevator speech be improved? If not, can you do something completely different in your 30 second elevator ride?
Reality is complex. It may be beyond our comprehension for eons.
Life is also complex, but not nearly as complex as reality. We have the tools, now, to understand life at a much deeper level. This understanding will have as great an impact on the biological sciences in the the next century as quantum based science has had on the physical sciences. The first step in proving we can understand life is the "discovery" that EARLY LIFE CELLS, IN FACT ALL CELLS, ARE NOT SMALL, THEY ARE GIGANTIC.
Let me repeat: ALL LIVING CELLS ARE GIGANTIC.
When I wrote the above, I thought it was an exciting and revolutionary thought. That is why I repeated, capitalized, and underlined it. Now I think I was wrong. In the jello-like reality in which we exist, all living cells and everything else is neither large nor small. But more about this later.
In our universe, all living cells are gigantic and the methods used to theorize this could be very useful to the proper expert. I need to find this expert, point a gun at his head, and demand he read this book. Just kidding. I am weird, not psychopathic.
Before we consider the tools we have to understand life, let us take a closer look at time itself. Time plays a part in cells being huge, our elevator speeches, and just about everything else. We find time very hard to understand. Maybe this means that time must have a significant relationship to reality, which we also find hard to comprehend. However, we do not know the true extent of the relationship. We could learn all about time and still not advance our understanding of reality.
If you consider time and the elevator speech, you may ask “Is 30 seconds a long time or a short time?”. The answer is YES.
Even before the internet, experts recognized that you only had about seven seconds to make a good first impression. You should think seriously about what you want to say initially - if it is too "standard", you will be tuned out and it won't matter what you say later.
The most important part of the elevator speech is how you can benefit a company or organization, or more specifically, the person you are talking with. The most effective way to make a good first impression and to maintain interest during your 30 second elevator ride is to ask about the other person, his problems, and what he does. He will do most of the talking and your 30 seconds will seem very short. The problem is you will have very little time to discuss why you are uniquely qualified to help him and to understand and address objections he will surely have.
On the other hand, you can try to dominate the conversation, but still come across as friendly and competent. You may try to get some quick, personal information on the fly and then weave it into an interesting seven second opening. You can then try to maintain interest in what you have to offer for the rest of the ride. If you are a natural salesman, you may be able to easily do this and 30 seconds will pass quickly. For most of us, the time will drag by, and yet, later, we will feel we didn't have nearly enough time to explain ourselves.
If you use the power of the modern technology, you can fundamentally change how an elevator speech is defined.
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Can I say I began half a billion years ago when life began? Modern quantum physicists have proved that two subatomic particles can be entangled so that changing one can change the other instantly, even if the other is on the other side of the universe. Maybe life on the other side of the universe can influence life here. Maybe life on the other side of the universe “told” life to start here. Maybe I began when that life started.
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Since your elevator speech is primarily about the effective use of your time, let us briefly consider how modern science views time.
I once read a definition of time, possibly written by a quantum physicist: "Time is what keeps everything from happening at once". Many find this funny as they can't imagine everything happening at once. Also, "at once" means "at the same time" and you really shouldn't use time as part of your definition of time.
Quantum physicists thought longer and harder about this. What if time didn't exist? Maybe reality is just what the ubiquitous observer sees as he travels across a "Just Is" landscape. To see and feel the reality 10 years from now, the observer must wait 10 years. The observer can only sense one of these sub-realities at a time, but they both exist and have equal validity. Quantum physicists would call these two sub-realities separate universes and say we live in a multiverse which is made up of an infinite number of universes.
Quantum physics has spawned millions of thoughts, many in the form of questions. These thoughts are gibberish. Interesting gibberish, but gibberish. And this gibberish may tell us a lot about reality.
If quantum physicists can talk gibberish, I can too. My gibberish is a little different. I am looking for every day phenomenons to support my gibberish. It would be hard for an observer in our universe to imagine everything happening “at the same time”. None of us has ever experienced this. So I ask, “Is there a place where it may take forever for everything to happen or where everything can happen at once?”.
It may be difficult or impossible to prove a negative. Stating that we can never understand reality is a negative assertion. You may think I'm doing exactly the same thing I'm condemning scientists for doing, namely, accepting conventional wisdom until some unexpected breakthrough changes everything.
A scientist today trying to understand reality is like a little boy, in his backyard digging a hole and hoping to reach China. The Scientist may pick up a few facts as he struggles – but a few shovelfuls of knowledge is insignificant when you look at how far he has to go.
The boy will make little progress, even with a breakthrough like his father helping with powerful earth moving equipment.
Today's foremost scientists are in worse shape. Entangled in their conventional views of time and, perhaps gravity, they each hop around on a vast landscape, occasionally shouting to each other, as they try, with a pick in one hand and a spade in the other, to loosen and shovel up the first inch of knowledge on their journey to China.
Humanity may not exist long enough to understand reality.
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There is a hidden assumption that the purpose of an elevator speech is to get an appointment which may eventually lead to more meetings and finally a formal agreement. The internet, however, can be used to redefine the purpose of the elevator speech – so that you use your time much more effectively.
To give one, simple example:
You could develop several websites, each similar (for example, each showing your certifications) and each dynamic – each capable of interacting with prospects. The cost of developing several similar websites is not much grater than the cost of one. You could then customize each to address the likely views, needs, and possible objections of different prospects you are likely to meet in an elevator or any other situation where your time is limited. By carefully and extensively thinking about your prospects, each website can be developed to show why you are uniquely qualified to help each particular prospect. For each website, you will need corresponding business cards.
In the elevator, you can now encourage your prospect to talk as much as possible. He will appreciate this and you will gain valuable information. Before parting, you can give him the appropriate business card and encourage him to visit the site. There are techniques to improve the likelihood he will do as you ask. Finally, you should promise him a call back to discuss a meeting.
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Werner Heisenberg used his fancy Dan equations to study electrons. Why couldn't he find "groups of time" to study? Let me propose a "thought experiment" that might explain this.
We start with an ant, a very smart ant, on a blade of grass in your backyard. This ant has a very powerful telescope, designed for her multi-faceted eye.
It is early morning, before dawn. The ant has had a good night's sleep before crawling onto the blade.
I am not adding this good night's sleep part just to be cute. As a kid, I had an ant farm, a narrow box with glass sides so you could watch ants tunneling, taking care of their young, feeding the queen, and doing other things that ants do. I learned a lot about ants. For example, I observed a group of ants whose job was to dig a new tunnel. They were very active for a long time. I saw one ant hold a root back so the others could dig passed it. Smart. Then the group stopped moving for a long time. The only reasonable explanation I could think of was they were sleeping.
Later, I would read about sleep and its importance to human mental health. There was no discussion of the mental health of ants.
My imaginary ant is designed to show the difficulty of understanding reality, but it also supports a deeper understanding of life.
Returning to our ant, we see a building in the distance. The building is due east of the ant. Slightly above the building is the moon, showing a slender crescent in the still dark, morning sky. Looking through her telescope, the ant can see a box on the roof of the building. She can barely make out electrons in the box. The building is a mile from the ant, 5,280 human feet away. I don't know how far that is in ant feet.
Suppose there is another box. This box is on the moon. Inside this moon box are small particles of time, each particle simple and identical to all other particles of time. We can call these particles timelets. They cannot be broken into smaller pieces, but they can, like electrons, be put in a box. Unfortunately for the ant, and maybe for Heisenberg, the box may be beyond detection with present technology.
To understand how timelets are beyond the technology of the ant's powerful telescope, remember that the ant with her telescope can see the box that is on the roof of the building and barely make out the electrons within. If, however, she moves her telescope slightly, the ant can also see the moon. The moon, however, is 240,000 times as far away as is the building. The box on the moon is much too small to be seen from the earth and this is even more true for the tiny timelets within the box. The ant can never see the timelets and draw any conclusions about them.
If we believe that science today has about as much understanding of time as our imaginary ant, we might think that better time management is impossible. But just like Heisenberg used quantum principles to study groups of electrons and ultimately support our modern world, we can use the internet to make a “quantum leap” in our abilities to compete.
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Did I began when I started to think? What do we mean when we say we think?
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One major subject in marketing has always been prospect objections. A prospect always has objections to what is being sold and reasons not to buy. Much has been written about how to handle and overcome objections.
The first step in overcoming objections is to recognize true objections. This is not as easy as it seems, but the internet can make it easier.
The usual expert advice is to ask your prospect for his view about the weaknesses in your proposal. The hidden assumption is you will be given an honest answer that reveals the most pressing valid concern. Based on this concern, you should rephrase the objection so that your prospect knows you understand and sympathize. You can then reassure with facts why the objection is not valid.
But what if the hidden assumption is not true?
Before the internet, personal communications was much more limited - examples include face to face, telephone, postcard. You could also talk at people with radio and TV ads. Face to face was considered the gold standard: you could read people's reactions to you and instantly respond. In Face to face, one on one, you could not be easily ignored.
Today, we have a multitude of ways to communicate with people, but face to face is still considered the gold standard. Emails, websites, and other staples of the web are usually seen as support for initial prospect contact or as an easy way to provide details before formal agreement is reached.
There are cracks in this paradigm. Many today trade stocks without the help of stock brokers. If a sales professional wants to be the beneficiary, not the victim, of the internet, he needs to think long and hard about face to face. Is it still the gold standard it once was?
Is ffce to Face necessary to overcome objections? I don't believe it is, OR, even if it is, with the proper use of the internet, you can address the phony, not well thought out, or misleading objections online; leaving only serious objections. Then, a face to face meeting might be needed to address these objections, and, perhaps, another meeting to define specific needs. The significant point is that both the length of time and number of meetings needed will be drastically reduced!
To use the internet to overcome objections, you must first understand what these objections are, or at least, what they are likely to be. There are several sources of this information.
If you use the internet to support your elevator speech or other networking situations, you will have personally met your prospect and will have had the opportunity for follow up questions by phone.
If your future customer asks either you or himself "Do I need this", he is really saying "I don't need this and don't want to spend any money, so go away so I can get back to thinking about more pleasant things" or "I don't know if I need this or not and don't really care, I just don't want to be sold anything".
For this and many other objections, the true statement is "I don't want to be sold anything". Few of us want to be sold, yet we also don't want to be rude. Thus we often fib about our true feelings.
When you think about this, you realize online is often better than face to face. When you are face to face, both you and your prospect are trying to impress each other. Often emotions overpower logic and reason.
Your prospect may object to what you offer by saying he needs something similar, but not quite the same. Both of you may think this is a positive - that the matter is open to negotiation, that we are moving toward a win/win solution.
The danger is you are being moved from a position where you can argue you are uniquely qualified to a position where you are one of many qualified vendors. Ultimately, you will wind up, after spending a lot of time, in a bidding situation where low price has an excessive influence.
If your prospect already knows why you are "uniquely qualified" and he is subconsciously giving this some weight because it is "on the web" (he has looked at a web page you designed specifically for him), you are in a position to claim that what he is asking for is exactly what you were saying you are uniquely qualified to do. You can thank him for pointing out the problem so you can make corrections and clarifications to your “promotional material” so others won't be mislead!
The candidate for your services may ask himself if you are competent or even have the strong objection "I think this guy is dumb and not trustworthy". If someone just doesn't like you (an emotional reaction), you can't exploit the internet to change his mind.
But maybe all is not lost.
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When did I began? If something from the other side of our universe can affect my beginning, maybe something about where everything happens at once can define who we both are. Do we see inklings of this in our everyday world? Maybe just the fact that when we look inward, we can always find something smaller; when we look outward, we can always find something larger. We will have to think longer and harder about this.
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We are all fighting being stereotyped all the time. People have to make judgments about many things including people - including you. They may not like you because of your gender. They may not like you because of your age. They may not like you because of your race. They may not like you because of your voice or accent. I could go on forever.
Most people deny they have these biases, even to themselves. If you even hint they may feel one of these viewpoints, their automatic, instantaneous response is "I'm not like that!".
Even the word "stereotype" has a negative connotation - that it is an attempt to assign you unfairly to a "bad" group.
We all stereotype. In fact, we all have to stereotype. We have limited time. We don't have time to do an in-depth, exhaustive background check and analysis of every person we meet. So we make judgments on characteristics that are often petty and unimportant.
Your first internet connection with someone can have many causes. You may have sent them an email (hopefully somewhat personalized) with a link to a website. They may visit your website after seeing one of your expensive TV ads. They may have found a link after visiting your LinkedIn Profile. They may have found you from a search engine inquiry. Or you may have given them a business card after a brief meeting at a networking function.
If someone has already met you and you feel there were "bad vibes", it may be hard to improve the situation. But it may be an opportunity to prove to others in the near future that you are unique.
Suppose you work for a company that sells gold. We've all seen the ads listing reasons to buy gold now - great hedge against inflation and bad monetary policies, looked at long term the price has been significantly rising for many years, great time to buy based on recent (short term) price drop, etc. The point is all of your competitors will be saying "buy now".
If you feel the price of gold may drop in the near future, you can tell the "bad vibe" guy by email that, although you shouldn't try to time the market, if it were your money you would wait a few months to buy. Or you could put this opinion on your website.
If, in six months the price is lower, you have proof that you are not like all the other experts, always saying "Now is the time to buy". If the price is higher, and anyone notices, you did say you shouldn't try to time the market.
Another situation is you make an internet connection with someone who has never met you personally. In this case, there are almost an infinite number of ways to creatively market your products or services. You can increase your chances of making a good first impression. You can increase your chances of guessing the most likely objections and being able to overcome them in a non-threatening way.
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If I began when local life or life on the other side of the universe began to think, we might ask if words are necessary for thought.
If I see a lion in a zoo, I may think the words “I see a lion”. If I see a lion on the street, I will not waste time thinking any words, but will decide quickly to either freeze or flee – using a wordless thought process that might save my life.
Words, or even images, are not necessary for intelligence. A man blind from birth cannot think about the word “see” the same as I do, yet I don't doubt that he is intelligent.
Can we prove that we are more intelligent than my imaginary smart ant or a real ant that we might find in our backyard?
All non human life is, by our standards, handicapped. They are too big or too small. They can't talk so we can understand. They don't live long enough to learn what we know. They can't read or write about what they learn for the benefit of future generations. Yet some seem to show love and happiness. Even microscopic animals sometime avoid larger microscopic predators – apparently exhibiting fear. Can we say we would be any smarter than any particular creature if we had its handicaps?
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I used to see a commercial for a company named Tin Man Roofing that specialized in metal roofing. It included a video of a spokesman, the owner, who was a kindly looking older man. He also appeared on their website.
Later, I mentioned this to a roofer I know. He claimed he knew the owner and had no idea who the kindly spokesman was.
I don't know if the spokesman was the owner or not. I do know that on the internet the law of the jungle seems to apply. You can't be sure what you see is true. Maybe many people believe not in "all's fair in love and war", but in "all's fair in love, war, and business". It does bother me that many individuals, small businesses, and giant conglomerates believe their actions are OK and even admirable; but if you do the same thing, you are corrupt, unethical, and generally a bad human being.
Maybe the real owner of Tin Man is a young woman who does excellent work. If she believes many of her prospects think older males are better roofers, is she so bad if she fights this unfair prejudice by hiding the ownership of the company?
I have a strong belief in fairness, but it is a slippery concept. When I designed websites, what is right or wrong played a part. I had no problem embracing my client's ethics - unless he went beyond the pale.
Often in face to face meetings, you will hear "Let me think about it". Often this occurs right after you have addressed the question "How much does it Cost?".
You need to translate each of these questions into the real thought process (objection) of your prospect and then handle it appropriately. "Let me think about it" could mean "You haven't convinced me so I want you out of here so I can ignore your phone calls in the future". Or it could mean "I like what you say and am excited about it. But I have learned I make a better decision when I think about it after my emotions have cooled down".
Some typical expert advice about this situation includes (1) show understanding "I can see why you wouldn't want to make a decision without due consideration", (2) show more consideration "we all know how important 'due diligence' is before any decision", (3) transition "before I go, I would like to make sure I was clear about one major benefit", (4) statement of NEW benefit, and (5) trial close (carrot and stick) "If we agree that we have covered all the bases, I'd love to have you as a client - I can make a limited time offer if we can finalize this today".
As far as it goes, there is nothing wrong with this advice. If you are an exceptional sales professional, you will enjoy this dynamic give and take with your prospect. You will naturally recognize a "just want to get rid of you" person, and will convert him to a "serious consideration" person. Then you can work your way to one or more trial closings. You will be successful more often than not. The important thing internet marketing can do for you is expose your wonderful personality to vastly more, qualified prospects.
My only criticism of this expert advice is that it almost self evident for the exceptional sales professional. He either naturally understood it at an early age, or found it easy to learn and apply.
For the rest of us, this is not true. We need proper internet marketing to mitigate our salesmanship weaknesses.
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If you believe in cause and effect (almost everyone does), you can get into interesting and funny discussions involving elephants, tortoises, and God.
Stephen Hawking related the following in his 1988 book "A Brief History of Time" (from Wikipedia):
A well-known scientist (some say it was Bertrand Russell) once gave a public lecture on astronomy. He described how the earth orbits around the sun and how the sun, in turn, orbits around the center of a vast collection of stars called our galaxy. At the end of the lecture, a little old lady at the back of the room got up and said: "What you have told us is rubbish. The world is really a flat plate supported on the back of a giant tortoise." The scientist gave a superior smile before replying, "What is the tortoise standing on?" "You're very clever, young man, very clever," said the old lady. "But it's turtles all the way down!".
This story may highlight the greatest obstacle we face when we try to understand reality. It seems like we can always ask what is the last turtle standing on. We need to solve what I call the "Turtle Problem".
Wikipedia goes on to report:Hawking's suggested connection to Russell may be due to Russell's 1927 lecture "Why I Am Not a Christian". In it, while discounting the "First Cause" argument intended to be a proof of God's existence, Russell comments:
"If everything must have a cause, then God must have a cause. If there can be anything without a cause, it may just as well be the world as God, so that there cannot be any validity in that argument. It is exactly of the same nature as the Hindu's view, that the world rested upon an elephant and the elephant rested upon a tortoise; and when they said, 'How about the tortoise?' the Indian said, 'Suppose we change the subject.'".
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Usually a prospect will not ask, but will be thinking, "Can I do this myself for free?". In terms of an objection, this is "I don't need you, I will do it myself.".
Your common sense will tell you when this objection will not come up. For example, if you are a brain surgeon, you don't have to think "long and hard" about this objection.
On the other hand, for many of us, this is an objection we will face. Let me list a few examples:
(1) Suppose you train people to be effective public speakers. You may encounter the thought "I can buy a book and practice in front of a mirror".
(2) If you design websites, your prospect will have heard many "We can build your website for free" ads.
(3) If you are a Human Resources Expert who preaches the importance of "due diligence" in employee hiring, you may have to overcome this thought about you - "This guy is smart, but so am I. I'll just pick his brain, maybe read a book, then I can handle it myself".
(4) If you are a Copywriter, some think they can "find a competitor's best ad and use that after modifying to avoid plagiarism".
(5) If you are a search engine optimization expert, many think they can do as well as you if they make a few social media posts and view a video or two produced by Google.
(6) If you are a graphic artist, your prospect may be thinking "I'll find a logo I like on the web and then change it using a free graphic design program".
One reason the “I will do it myself for free” objection is hard to recognize, and thus overcome, is we have all spent a great deal of time becoming experts. We know the hours we've spent, the certificates we've earned, the mistakes we've made and learned from, and the special situations we now know how to address. To your prospect what you do often looks easy.
This is one of many reasons it is hard to design your own effective website. It is hard to put yourself in the mind of your prospect, recognizing and countering the misconceptions people have about your business. Strange as it seems, an outsider with limited knowledge about your business can often do a better job of designing your websites than can someone who knows your business well.
If you want to overcome this kind of objection, I would suggest a starting point. It is only a starting point because, my business, like yours, was more complex than most people would think.
I suggest that you write a one page synopsis to be posted to your website, included in emails, or otherwise shared with your prospects. This synopsis should describe why the prospect needs you. Emphasize why he can't do it himself - don't tell him he's too dumb (joke). Include your certifications, background, "you always put your clients first" and other boiler plate things - if only because people have learned to expect them. But don't expect drastic results from this. Do put a lot of thought into and emphasis on how your training, background, personality, world view, philosophy, whatever, makes you better qualified to serve your prospect than anyone else.
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When did I began? If my beginning is tied to or affected by a timeless place, a place with no cause and effect, a place where there is no “bottom turtle”, do I have a beginning?
Should I abandon the search for my beginning? Before I do, there is one bit of conventional wisdom that I have been blindingly accepting. Maybe questioning this wisdom can help.
Our science assumes that life started a long time ago and after many eons developed intelligence, understanding, and self-awareness. Some scientists even believe that only humans are capable of thought – every other animal is completely controlled by instinct. This view seems to be contrary to many observations we can make everyday.
Maybe intelligence started when life started. Maybe life started in a place where “when” is meaningless. Then I can never say when I began, but I can explore this strange place.
If there is a place with no time, maybe there are other places with times that are not our time – different times for different places. Maybe our entire universe is just our little bubble of time.
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Leaders need followers. What is a leader without followers?
Your leaders need you, yet only have time for their closest aides. Do you really think a leader would even read a message from you, much less take part in a long meeting to discuss your ideas, concerns, and values? Only if he is a leader of a very small group.