Dr. Jordan Peterson On Business Performance | Be Better Off Show | People In Business
So, without further ado, I'd like to welcome you, Dr. Peterson. What the hell do you think you're going to do with the few hours you have as a manager that's going to help people whose whole lives are messed up, straightened themselves out? A psychopath is a parasitical predator.
They'll use you for their own purposes and they'll do everything they can to make what's yours theirs. You do not want those people in your organisation. Hi. My name's Brett Kelly.
The founder and CEO of Kelly Partners chartered accountants. Last Sunday on the 4 December we had the extraordinary opportunity to host Dr. Jordan B. Peterson in Sydney with just 20 guests and ask him specifically focused questions about his experience with driving business performance.
Dr. Peterson is a clinical psychologist, the author of the two largest selling nonfiction books in the world in the last two years selling more than 8 million copies. He's a sought after podcast guest because of his wide ranging deep intellect and his learnedness in general. Together with his clinical experience, he's become a worldwide phenomenon through his Joe Rogan appearances that have garnered more than 50 million views. And here in Australia, across five sold out shows to thousands of people, he's made an impact encouraging people to better themselves and to commit to lifelong learning. Now, for me, that's been my own journey of meeting amazing people and just being inspired by their drive, by their commitment to invest in themselves, to become the best that they can be, to make a difference to other people.
In this episode, as a business owner and as clients of Kelly Partners who view this, you'll see some real insights from one of the world's great minds into how you can improve your own businesses performance. I think it's a very unique interview. For that reason, Dr. Peterson shares that he's now generating $2 million a month out of his business and reinvesting to take his message to the world in the past as an academic at Harvard who was paid about $140,000 a year. So there's a business story at Kelly Partners. We want to make private business owners better off and that means healthier, wealthier and wiser.
And I think your time in this episode with Dr. Peterson will certainly make you wiser. It certainly, in my view, has helped me grow, learn and develop. We're very fortunate to have Dr. Jordan Peterson with us today.
So it's going to be a wonderful, wonderful event. The key thing was, before we do bring Dr. Peterson and Brett up to the stage, I'd like to invite Audrey and Siya to come up, please.
Who would like to go first? Hello everybody. And today, Siya and I are going to be reading Dr. Peterson's twelve rules for life and antidote for chaos Rule One: Stand up straight with your shoulders back. Rule Two: Treat yourself like someone you are responsible for helping. Rule Three: make friends with people who want the best for you. Rule Four: Compare yourself to who you were yesterday, not to who someone else is today.
Rule Five: Do not let your children do anything that makes you dislike them. Rule Six: Set your house in perfect order before you criticise the world. Rule Seven: Pursue what is meaningful, not what is expedient Rule Eight: Tell the truth.
Or at least don't lie. Rule Nine: Assume that the person that you're listening to might know something you don't. Rule Ten: Be precise in your speech Rule Eleven: Do not bother children when they are skateboarding Rule Twelve: Pet a cat when you encounter one on the street. And this is Dr Peterson's other book called Beyond Order with Twelve More Rules of Force. Thank you.
A little bit about Dr. Peterson. Jordan B. Peterson is A Professor of Psychology at the University of Toronto.
Raised in the frigid wastelands of northern Alberta, he has flown a hammerhead role in a carbon fibre stunt plane and built a kawago ceremonial big house on the upper floor of his Toronto home. After being invited into and named by that Canadian First Nation, he has taught mythology to lawyers, doctors and business people, consulted to the UN Secretary General, helped his clinical clients manage depression, obsessive compulsive disorder and anxiety, and lectured extensively in North America and Europe with his students and colleagues. Dr. Peterson has published over 100 scientific
papers and his book Maps of the of Meeting Revolutionise the Psychology of Religion. Formerly a professor at Harvard University, he was nominated for his prestigious Levinson Teaching prize. Without further ado, I'd like to bring to the stage Brett Kelly. And Dr Jordan Peterson.
I've given you the great seat in front of the bridge. Ladies and gentlemen, it's a huge honour to have Dr peterson here with us today, and we have 45 minutes to seek his wisdom. And so, without further ado, I'd like to welcome you, Dr. Peterson. Thank you. Thank you all for coming, by the way, on this beautiful day. Good to see you all.
Hopefully we'll have fun and learn something, perhaps all of us. Terrific. Now, I hope we've got you on the most magnificent Sydney Day, in the most beautiful room with the most beautiful guests. Without further ado, I'd like to start at the beginning, which is always a good place to start. I look through your website and we've extensively reviewed all of your material for many years now. And I'd like to start with just a light warm up question.
Why do we exist? I think optimally, we exist to have something like a playful adventure. And I use those two terms. I have specific reasons for using those terms. Now, it's easy to think that we while to think that our existence is pointless, that's one conclusion.
Another is to think that the antidote to pointlessness is something like an impulse of hedonism. Neither of those propositions prove to be of much merit. To be nihilistic and hopeless means that you're anxious and unable to experience any enthusiasm or joy.
And that seems like a bad solution. And to fall prey to the temptations of hedonic pleasure means that you'll end up using other people instrumentally and that you'll betray yourself. So that seems like a pretty counterproductive way of going about things. You could imagine perhaps instead that what you want is security. But I would say, in some real sense, that's what you want if you're a well tended infant and that if someone merely provided you with all the security that you could tolerate, you would, as Dostoyevsky pointed out, you'd go mad just to break the security so that something interesting could happen. And so I think instead we're built for adventure, right? We're built for an optimal challenge.
It's partly why we like to play, because in play you find an optimal challenge. It's almost like the definition of play. And so if you can organise yourself and the world optimally, then you have adventure and maybe you have the adventure of your life.
And if you can do that brilliantly, then you can do it in a spirit of play and then that's what you need and want. Yeah, that seems to be about right for that. Now, you've been married to Tammy, I think, for more than 30 years, and you've got a son and a daughter, Mikayla and Julian.
How did you find Tammy? And what has been the role of your marriage and your family in making you the person you are today? Well, Tammy was a childhood friend of mine. I moved to my family moved to this small town in northern Alberta in 1968. I think maybe 1970. I was eight years old.
We moved from another small town and she lived across the street from me, and we became friends when we were children and we spent quite a bit of time playing together. We spent less time together. When we hit adolescence, girls mature faster and so that made a difference.
But I stayed in contact with her when I was a young adult, especially around Christmas. She moved to Montreal, a long ways away from Alberta, where I was. We'd been friends since we were little kids. And I knew when I was very young that I wanted to marry her.
Like, I knew that when I was eight. I think I told my dad that, and I think she knew that too, and, you know, fought against it, but I prevailed in the end. The role? Well, I don't think there isn't anything that's been more important in my life, I wouldn't say, than my marriage and my kids. Both of those for sure. I had a great career.
I still have a great career, but I suppose the pinnacle in some sense of my academic career was the time I spent teaching at Harvard. That was great. I liked to be at the University of Toronto too, but Harvard was a better institution. The students at both places were good, but Harvard was definitely a superior institution.
And I really liked being in New England. It was really challenging and a privilege to be there as well. But I spent all the time pretty much that I wasn't working with my kids, and I loved being with my kids. For me, that was still the case with my kids.
I would rather be with them than anyone else, really. And that was certainly true when they were little. I mean, why wouldn't you want to be with little kids? They're ridiculously fun. If you provide them with a modicum of direction and discipline, then they're more entertaining to be around than anyone else.
So why wouldn't you want to do that? And Tammy is a very good mother and got along with our kids very well and was a good partner in disciplined play with the kids. And so we had a very good time with our kids. And it got rough eventually because my daughter became extremely ill for like, two decades.
It was brutal, but we got through that, amazingly enough, and learned a lot doing that, too, at some real cost, but and then my marriage I'm fortunate in my marriage. I really loved my wife a lot more now, I think, even than before, which is quite something because I loved her quite a bit to begin with, and I can really trust her. We swore when we first got married that well, one of the things I suggested to her was that we were going to found our relationship on truth, period, because I'd learned a fair bit by the time I got married.
And I said, we're not going to lie to each other. That's the deal here, and so come what may. And she really has lived up to that and done her best to be honest in her actions and her speech. And that's a great advantage to have someone around that you can trust, especially when the going gets rough and everything's uncertain. Man if you have uncertainty in your relationship when the tide rises and the wind blows, you're really going to be in trouble because you're already in trouble. And to have that uncertainty in your relationship, that might just be more trouble than you can stand when the go and gets real rough.
That was certainly the case when my daughter was so ill, and then my wife got very ill, and so did I. And if our relationship hadn't been solid, neither of us, I don't think any of us, none of the three of us would have lived, I don't think. And it would have been a pretty brutal death, too.
So it's really something to have that foundation in place, and I've been fortunate to have that. And that's partly the grace of God, that that you're fortunate enough to find someone that you're really attracted to first, because that doesn't happen to everybody. And then often the attraction isn't necessarily returned.
So you need that, too. And then for that to also make itself manifest in a reliable manner. That's pretty damn fortunate if you can manage all three of those things. And I've been very fortunate in that regard. And my wife is one of the things that characterises her.
She's always up for an adventure and that's a good thing because our life is very complicated and has taken a lot of extremely unexpected turns. I mean, that's the case for people's lives in general, but it's been particularly the case for us in the last six years. But she's done everything necessary to make the transformations necessary to adjust to the new circumstances and I think she's done that brilliantly. So it's been very helpful.
So do you think that I've heard you speak a lot about truth being the foundation of your relationship. What do you mean about that? And when you had this sort of free speech situation with the university, did it help to know that your wife shared this this sort of oh, definitely, commitment to trial? Well, yeah. I mean, she was just last night at the talk I did in Sydney she was joking about this because when when I sort of rose to notoriety, let's say when I publicly objected to a law that had been passed in Canada that made pronoun usage the new pronoun doctrine mandatory. And I thought, well, I'll call you what you want to be called. Likely assuming I don't think you're being manipulative beyond belief. But I'm not going to do it if the government tells me I have to.
It's like, sorry, you don't get control over my tongue. I don't care what your moral claim is, compassion or whatever it is. And I came down I remember this quite clearly. We all knew I had started to play with YouTube at this point.
This was back in 2016, and I didn't know what YouTube was and neither did anyone else. But the fact that you could put video online that was universally accessible and that was permanent struck me as a revolution, like a printing press. Like revolution. Right. Because now all of a sudden, the spoken word and video was as permanent as books.
And that's something, man, especially because more people can watch and listen and can read and maybe ten times as many, like way more people. So I thought, Well, I don't know what this is, but it looks significant. And so I had already put a lot of my lectures online by the time I made the political videos, I probably had 150 hours of lectures online and there was a growing audience for that. And I attracted the interest of a local TV station by that point, kind of.
Do you have a public television station in Australia? Is it ABC? Yeah, yeah. And so that's like the that's the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. It's like the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation that's sort of like PBS. There is a local branch of that in Canada variant called TV Ontario and it basically served an area of about 8 million people. And they had filmed one of my courses and made a made a 13 part series out of that, which was kind of out of the ordinary. And so I had started to grow a bit of an online audience.
But I came down when a bunch of things happened at the same time that the government passed this bill. And then the university was implementing diversity inclusivity and equity training that was mandatory for its staff. And I was having none of that. And so I came down, I was obitchy about this, and I said to my wife and my son, I said, there's something wrong here. I need to say something about this.
I thought I might make YouTube video. What do you think? And I think my wife said, go ahead. What's the worst that can happen? So I made 310 minutes videos and it just created an explosion. We were just swamped by press. By the next day, there were literally reporters lined up down the street. It was very strange because I didn't really expect that.
I was experimenting. I thought, Well, I don't like this law. There's never been a law in English common law history that required the citizens of a democratic country with an English common law tradition to state something involuntarily. There are restrictions on hate speech, although I don't agree with most of those, by the way.
Those are laws saying what you can't say. There had never been a law mandating what you had to say. And in fact, in 1942, the American Supreme Court stated bluntly that no such law is allowed to exist. And so I thought, I don't know what's up with you people, but you're crossing the line here. And so I made that case. I also pointed out I believe in the same video, certainly when I was testifying before the Senate, because I knew this was going to happen, I thought, okay, so now all of a sudden people can just switch their gender by whim and they can impose that requirement on other people.
It's like, okay, first of all, no. And second, don't you think you're going to confuse young people, especially with those who are already really confused? Because you imagine there's kind of a hierarchy of confusion, like there is of poverty. And there's a lot of confused people out there, way more confused people than non confused people.
And some of those confused people are so confused, they're barely surviving. And then if you just confuse them a little bit more, you just tip them into catastrophe. And I said that, said, you're going to take confused young women because they're the ones that are most susceptible to this, and you're going to devastate them for every trans person you hypothetically save.
And there'll be damn few of those. You're going to destroy 1000 kids. It's like, no, no, we're just doing this all out of compassion.
It's like you don't know what you're doing. I knew the literature on psychogenic epidemics, there have been psychogenic epidemics have been tracked back 300 years and the most likely participants in a psychogenic epidemic are young women. It's always been the case cutting, bulimia, anorexia hysteria back in Freud's time.
There's endless examples of this and whole populations can fall prey to it. That the whole of North America fell prey to a psychogenic epidemic in the when women started putting children when families started putting their children in daycare on Moss, there was a collective delusion about Satanic child sacrifice going on in daycares. And that was a scandal for like four years. And there was never any evidence that any of that was occurring, by the way. And but these things happened repeatedly.
And I thought, anyways, I said, you know, that I was going to do this. And my wife said, go ahead. You know, you, you have, you're always talking nuts about it. If you have something to say, say it. So I did. And so knowing when the maelstrom came, how did your wife react? Well, she played it day by day and tried to do what does she say the next right thing.
It's very chaotic when that sort of thing happens and you shrink your time frame and you try to put 1ft in front of the other the right way and to be careful. And we've been doing that ever since. So the two books, where do they come from? Did they come out of this time? Had they been running? No, no, not really.
You put them on quora. But yeah, the the first book I wrote, masters Meaning. It's a very dense book and I didn't really write that for an audience. No, I wrote that book to figure something out. So it was a sustained exercise in thought and it took me about 15 years to write it. I wrote about 3 hours a day.
And, and I was trying to I was really trying to understand the relationship between belief and emotional regulation. And I was curious what was driving me in part was the observation that people become extremely defensive about their beliefs. So obviously beliefs play a role in emotional regulation because if you challenge someone's beliefs, you disregulate them emotionally. And so that's a real mystery. Like, what is it about belief that regulates emotion? And why are people so hell bent on maintaining that emotion that they will? Well, they'll tie themselves in knots to serve their own beliefs, but they'll also do atrocious things to maintain the primacy of their ideology.
Let's say the worst things you can possibly imagine and likely things far worse than you would ever want to imagine. And so for me, that was the deepest mystery of the 20th century, right? The mystery of Nazi Germany, let's say the mystery of Stalinist Soviet unionists, like, what the hell is going on there? And so I spent a lot of time thinking that through, like obsessively, really, for a decade and a half more than that. And then I lectured about it for 20 years, trying to take the more complex ideas that I had been working through and make them communicable.
And then an agent contacted me before I sort of exploded onto the public scene and suggested that I write something that was more accessible. And I had played around on this website called Quora. And Quora is a website where anybody can ask any question and anyone can answer.
And then people vote up both the questions and the answers. And I answered about 50 questions on Quora and one of them was disproportionately attended to, typical predo distribution. Most of my answers didn't get much tension at all.
Zero, let's say. A few got quite a lot, and one got a tremendous amount. It was one of the most popular questions and answers that had ever been put on Quora.
And it was a list of 42 rules. Some kid had asked, do you have any guidelines for how a young person might live a successful life? And so I wrote down these 42 rules pretty quickly, and that took off. And so when this agent contacted me, I thought, well, we already have a market test here. For some reason, this list of rules attracted people's attention. And so maybe it's because in a world that celebrates hedonistic freedom, it's time for some rules. Who knows? And so I talked over with her the possibility of, first of all, I thought I might write something short about all 42.
But then when I started really delving into it, it turned out that what I was writing, per rule, was longer. And so then I picked a subset of twelve that had some narrative coherence. There was sort of an implicit story across all twelve rules. And then that happened to dovetail with this explosive attention that my political stance took. And so all of that just aggregated. So given your background as a clinical psychologist and most of our clients are in business, what can we learn from your research around building businesses, around clarity of mission, clarity of values, how to find people that are aligned to those ideas, how to get the best out of people? How do you think about that? I did a lot of business consulting.
So for about 15 years, my colleagues and I at Harvard and at McGill developed a set of screening tools to help people hire better employees. And the reason we did that for two reasons. There was a paper published in 1992 showing how much economic impact, even a slight improvement in hiring accuracy produced.
And so imagine this is how business works. This is worth knowing these things. So first of all, the square root of the number of the people that you employ will do half the work. So if you have ten employees, three of them do half the work. But if you have 10,000 employees, 100 of them do half the work.
And that's a stable law across all enterprises that require creative production. It doesn't really matter where you look, you get the same pattern. So, for example, five classical composers composed 95% of the classical repertoire. Then if you look at their music, of those five composers, 5% of their music is what's played 95% of the time.
That's true. It's like a tiny proportion of authors dominate the bestseller lists. A tiny number of recording artists sell all the records. A tiny number of planets have all the mass.
A tiny number of rivers have all the water. This is something built into the structure of reality itself deeply. And what that implies on the business front is that if you can tilt your hiring so that it's more accurate, so that you hire a few more of those hyper productive people, the return on investment is overwhelming.
And there are formulas that now enable the calculation of return on investment per increment of hiring accuracy. That was all worked out in the had been working at McGill. We built batteries of cognitive tests that tested technically prefrontal cortical ability, which is something like long term strategic abstract capacity.
We built a battery to assess that. We were studying aggressive kids. We were trying to see if they had decrements in abstract cognition.
But once we built the tests, I thought, well, we could computerise those. We could try to use them to assess normative performance. So we assessed performance of university students at Harvard and University of Toronto, and then business people, both employees, line workers and managerial staff, to see if we could predict their performance. And we can predict it quite accurately with the neuropsych test and with personality tests. So the best predictor for managerial competence, by the way, on the personality front, is the trait conscientiousness. And if you use a valid test of conscientiousness, it can help you hire more suitable managerial candidates.
If you want to hire creative people, you have to use a different personality test, use test that assesses openness. And so if you're after entrepreneurial ability, you look at a different trait. But those are the kind of two broad categories you're looking at on the on the employment front.
You're going to have your managers and your administrators, and they need to be conscientious, and you're going to have your creative types, entrepreneurial types, and they need to be high in openness, and they are not the same people. And you likely need more of the conscientious types than of the creative types. But zero creative types is a bad idea because the conscientious people can march down the same path effectively, but they're not any good at pivoting, and so they can't adapt well to transformation. And creative people, by definition, are the people who are at the forefront of adaptation to transformation. Anyways, we put together this battery of tests, and I had these formulas laid out to show how valuable they were economically.
And then we went on the road, my partners and I, for like ten years, talking to mostly middle managers across the United States trying to sell these tests and that just went nowhere. And I learned a bunch of reasons why. There was a whole bunch of reasons why it wasn't obvious at all that corporations wanted to hire better people. You might think, well, of course they do.
It's like, don't be so sure. So and then we also found out frequently corporations were organised so that the people who were hiring were only punished if they spent money and not rewarded if they hired better people because the rewards would actually go to other portions of the corporation. They'd get punished on the expense side and they wouldn't get rewarded on the productivity side. So that just killed us stone dead because we were asking the middle managers, will you take a risk on this new test? Be punished for your audacity and taking a risk? Be punished because you're increasing the cost of employee evaluation even though it was trivial, and not be rewarded for producing an incremental productivity. So that just didn't work. There was a bunch of other reasons it didn't work as well but we kept being asked, is there anything we can do? You say we should hire better employees.
It's like, yes you should. Is there anything we can do with the employees we already have who aren't performing very well? And my answer to that for a long time was what the hell do you think you're going to do with the few hours you have as a manager that's going to help people whose whole lives are messed up straighten themselves out? There isn't a hope in hell you can do that. You can barely do that if you're a clinician and you have the dedicated time for it and the people want to change.
So probably you're just not. And there's a great manager short of what rule of thumb, spend all your time with your most productive people. It's exactly the opposite of what most managers do because they're so consumed by the small minority of problematic troublemakers that they spend all their time on.
That it's. That's exactly the opposite of what you should do. And you can tell that by what Elon Musk just did to Twitter.
It's like just fire three quarters of the people. Nothing happened. The company just worked more efficiently and he's very good at that sort of thing and it sounds heartless and there's an element of heartlessness to it.
But anyways, I went back to the drawing board. I kept thinking, well these companies, I'm trying to sell this screening tool and that's going nowhere, but they keep saying we need an intervention for the people who aren't doing well. And I thought, well, that's what the market is pointing to. So I went back with my colleagues. And we scoured the literature to find out if we could produce an intervention that was cheap, scalable required, no infrastructure required, no employees on our part that did no harm and that had documented effectiveness and we found a conjunction of two literatures that enabled us to move forward on that. So I built this programme with my colleagues.
The most relevant part of it is a programme called Future Authoring most relevant to people who are business oriented. And what it does is there's a literature on goal setting that was developed in the business schools. And it's an empirically robust literature and shows that if you get people to write out their goals, they become more productive. And there's another literature on the clinical side that shows that if you get people to write about uncertainty and that could be uncertainty about their future, that they become less anxious and more physically healthy.
And so we just brought those literatures together and I built this programme called Future Authoring that helps people write out a vision for their life. And so I'll just go through it very quickly. It asks you to imagine yourself five years down the road.
So this is the deal. You can have what you need and want, but you have to specify it. And so how do you start specifying that? It's like well, just don't get too obsessive about it to begin with, just ask yourself imagine yourself in five years you get to have what you need and want imagine you're being sensible about it and you're treating yourself properly what could your life look like if you could have it? Write it down, don't edit, don't second guess, don't get perfectionistic, just get it down, then reverse it. If you let your bad habits get out of control, just exactly what sort of hell could you find yourself in in five years? And everybody has some sense of that and so you can write that down now you've got something to aim at and something to run away from and that's maximally motivated. Then we say, well, take your positive vision, let's differentiate it here's.
Seven domains. What do you want an intimate relationship? What do you want on the family front? What do you want in relationship to your friends? What do you need and want with regard to your job or your career? How are you going to take care of yourself mentally and physically? Do you have a plan for your education? And we've added another one recently do you have some plans for responsible civic engagement? And then again, same thing. If you could have what you wanted, what would it be like? Can you lay out a bit of a strategy for that? Like an incremental strategy? Can you identify obstacles and pathways forward? And can you have some sense of how you'd keep yourself on track? And so that's the exercise.
You can do it in about 90 minutes. It's probably better if you do it across a couple of days for a bit of time every day and sleep in between, but you can do it in 90 minutes and you can do it badly. And I've done this with executive MBA programmes, but we tested it in three different universities.
We raised the student's grade point averages 35%, which is killer increase, we dropped the dropout rate by 50%, especially among young men, especially among young men who weren't doing well. Especially among minority young men who weren't doing well. So that was fun.
And so that's online. Now you might ask yourself if you're a business owner, say you wanted to maximise the productivity of your employees and increase their stability. You might say, well, there's two things you could do. You could have them think through and write out how they would be better employees or you could have them think through and write out how they could have a better life.
And there is experimental evidence matching those two approaches against each other. And it's quite clear that if you get people to develop a vision for their life, they become more productive and quite a lot more productive. And so you might imagine what you're doing is you're aligning your interests. So somebody who is working for you that's going to be productive needs to know why the hell are they working for you? And if the answer is they have no vision for their own life, they don't have any reason to work for you because they don't have any reason to do anything.
And so they need a reason for doing what they're doing and that would be this vision of what their life could be and then they need to see how their job serves that vision. And if that's the case, then their interests are aligned with your interests and then you don't even have to supervise them. And that's the sort of business partnership you want too, right? You want a business partnership with someone who you don't have to keep in line, you want to know that they're doing it for their reasons and you're doing it for your reasons.
But those dovetail and then you've got a productive collaborative partnership and this programme future authoring, it's dirt cheap, it's $15, like it's free and it certainly won't hurt anyone to do it. Which is also you don't want to produce an intervention that might have negative consequences. We have overwhelming empirical data that it works. Plus there's a huge research literature on goal setting that suggests the same thing. It's like have your employees do it. And I would say set aside some time, have them do it in the morning and say look guys, just spend 2 hours, do this programme, do it badly, no one reads it, it's completely private, it's not reviewed.
Would you do it up front? Would you do it during recruitment? Would you do it once people come on board? I don't think it really matters. I don't see any reason not to have people do it. When you're onboarding them, when you're recruiting them and you say, well, it's part of personal development, that's such a shallow phrase, though, in some sense.
It's like, how the hell do you expect your employees to be motivated if they have no purpose in their life? That's not going to work. They need to know why they're doing what they're doing. And even if the job you've given them is extremely difficult, painstaking requires a lot of discipline, a lot of attention. If they know why they're doing it, well, then they're going to be on board. It was so cool to see. The best study we did was at this place called Mohawk College.
It's a trade school. And as I said, the programme had the biggest effect on young men, but minority young men, but it also had the biggest effect on the young men who did the worst at school and who had the least coherent vision of why they were in college. So all they didn't do was to come up with the purpose they actually generated and they were half as likely to quit school. And then the staggering thing was, it's so appalling. We did this programme at this Mohawk College and then we worked with them for ten months to integrate the system with their systems.
We shouldn't have never done that because it was already simple to use, but it was a university and they're impossible, so so we worked for ten months with them and then they just scrapped it. It's like and I thought we dropped your dropout rate 50% for $15. What the hell is wrong with you? And the answer is, we don't really care if our students stay in school. We care that they pay their tuition and we're not rewarded for their performance.
It's like, yeah, no kidding you're not. No university has picked it up. We have three published papers in good journals and I've publicised it a lot. We haven't been able to get a single institution, higher education institution to use it. Even the institutions we did the research ads, like, so how often, guys fair. Enough, dr Peterson, how often should if you do the Future programme with your people, should they review it annually? Six months? Not too often, because once you make a plan, you should go and implement it and then learn, because otherwise you're just second guessing yourself all the time.
What I would say, really is lay out your plan, implement it. And once you've implemented it and learned like, it's either going to be successful or it's going to fail. And you'll know why, but run it. And then once you've run it, maybe you've succeeded in all your goals, well, then it'd be time to do it again.
And there's some rules of thumb for that, too, because you might say, well, let's say you're pursuing something and you change your mind well that's a problem right? Because are you running away or are you flexible? And that's a very difficult distinction to make because you might be changing your mind because you're too lazy and useless to pursue your goal or it might be wise to make a change. And so you got to ask well how do you protect yourself against your own foolishness? And one rule and I use this with my clients is you can change your strategy but the next thing you do has to be at least as difficult or more so that you know you're not just taking the easy way out. And so that's kind of a good rule of thumb here too. Stick with your damn plan while I need to change it.
Like okay but don't take a shortcut right? Don't entice yourself into taking a shortcut. And you might say well how do I know my plan is good? It's like well you don't and it isn't. You're not going to make a perfect plan. It's going to be full of mistakes but you don't know what the mistakes are. But the thing is if you implement the plan you will know what the mistakes are.
Exactly. And then the next plan you make will be better. And you see this with successful entrepreneurs right? Because most entrepreneurs who are successful have failed cataclysmically a number of times but they don't quit and they've learned and the failure actually teaches them. It's not abstract of failure anymore. Like when we were outselling these selection tests we eventually partnered with a company in California that created 5000 businesses with these tests.
So we had a spectacular success in one domain but overall the whole process was based on assumptions that weren't true. I thought for example that I could go talk to middle managers using statistical evidence on the economic level and that that would work as a sales tactic. Like that was 100% wrong. That isn't how middle managers make purchasing decisions. They're not capable generally of analysing a statistical argument. They make business arrangements based on personal relationship almost entirely.
And so I had no idea that that was the case because in universities you know universities have their problems but academics who are credible do analyse each other's ideas technically kind of like engineers do. That is now middle managers and corporations work not not even a little bit. So I was out of my league in anthropologically and so I failed to make that enterprise a success.
Although we we had this success in California, but it got us to the next stage, which was we produced another programme that actually addressed what the market was requiring, which turned out to be remediation for less optimally performing employees say. And we tried also selling that to corporations that didn't work very well either. And so we just sold it to individuals and that's worked like fine we thousands of people use it.
I don't know how many we sold hundreds of thousands now. And that's really nice, because people write us and say, I did. Your future offering programme really changed my life. It's like, good, great, hooray. So you could use it in a business context? Oh, definitely. Can I ask you, you've written about the impact of introducing into a team a low performing person and how devastating that can be.
Can you explain to our audience more on your thinking around that? Well, in this California enterprise, this gentleman name is Adeo Resi. He ran an early stage tech incubator. It was the world's earliest stage tech incubator.
He was deeply involved in the Silicon Valley community and was interested in venture capital. He actually produced a website that produced a big scandal when he first produced it, which allowed those who had had contact with early stage investors to rank order their experience and to rate the early stage tech investors. And that caused quite a scandal. In any case, he became interested in the earliest stage of investment. So you imagine the first round is something like friends and family, let's say, and then maybe you bring in an angel investor.
There's kind of a hierarchy of investment. He was interested in helping people at the earliest stage of the development of their entrepreneurial ideas, even before friends and family. So he started these schools all over the world, 130 of them, to bring people together in groups of 50 who had jobs but who were entrepreneurially oriented, to walk them through the process of developing a detailed business plan and a marketing plan and to get their business on a productive footing. And then he used my tests to screen for those with an entrepreneurial temperament. And so for managerial skill, you want intelligence and conscientiousness for entrepreneurial skill, you want intelligence and openness, which is the creativity trait.
And open people are people who, if you give them an idea, it'll spark a bunch of other ideas. They have a low threshold for the co activation of ideas and it's a biological predisposition that creative impulse and entrepreneurs are. That's the pool they're drawn from. But what happened to Dale was that we were pretty good at predicting who would be successful, but now and then, too often, he'd get a group of 50 people together and there'd be one or two or three people who were toxic, who were troublemakers, and they just demolished the whole enterprise. And so then he came back to us and he said, I'm spending all my time with these troublemakers.
Can you help? And I thought, I don't know if we can identify people who are trouble psychometrically. But we developed two scales. One was a narcissism scale, very tricky one, because we force you to describe yourself in two narcissistic ways and they both look pretty bad, but one is way worse than the other, although you don't know that. And so then we sum across your responses and see how often you've picked the truly toxic alternative and then if you're in the top 5% of people who've done that, we suggest that you're, like, put on the sideline. And I also made a questionnaire that aggregated the symptoms of personality disorder derived from the Psychiatric Diagnostic Manual, the DSM.
We did the same thing there. We found the worst markers of personality pathology, the the most bad and the least bad, and we forced people to choose between them. So again, if I had to have you describe yourself in two unflattering ways, which would you pick? Like, one of these is really bad, the other just looks bad. It's still not great, but it's not as bad as the alternative.
And we were able to cut down the proportion of troublemakers enough so it wasn't taking up all his time. And that's something to know too. Like one person, boy, who's the wrong person? We know more about people who are real trouble. There's a lot of new research coming out. You can look this up if you want, on the dark tetrad.
It's a constellation of personality traits, psychopathic. So a psychopath is a parasitical predator, so they'll use you for their own purposes and they'll do everything they can to make what's yours theirs. So machiavellian so machiavellian people are manipulators and so they're always when they're communicating with you, their goal is to get what they can and use their language for that purpose.
And so those are the sort of people, if you're negotiating with them in business, they'll conceive it as a victory if they get one over on you. And like, if you have any sense, if you're negotiating with someone in a business relationship, you don't try to win everything, you try to establish a reciprocal relationship so that you can trust each other or otherwise, even if you do win, I really got one over on him. It's like, yeah, well, he'll probably return the favour at some point in the not too distant future when you're a little bit sleepier than you should be. So that's just not a good idea. So the machiavellians are manipulators. The narcissists are people who kick down and kiss up.
That's a good way of thinking about it, right? They take all the credit when something goes wrong and they distribute all the blame when there's a problem and they want all the glory and they want to do none of the work. And that's narcissist. And then there's the sadistic element. So machiavellian, psychopathic narcissistic and sadistic. And sadistic people take positive delight in causing other people misery.
And there's a lot of that behaviour online. So one of the things that's really emerged lately, there's a research domain about this that's emerging, is that the really toxic players online are dark tetrad types. And the problem with online behaviour is there's no constraint on it, right? So most of these people in the real world situation are boxed in because people just won't put up with it, but online, there's no inhibition, so they just have free rein.
It's a really bad problem anyways. You do not want those people. You do not want those people in your organisation. And if you're agreeable so you can ask yourself, like, are you compassionate? Are you empathetic? Do you give people the benefit of the doubt? Are you willing to put other people's interests before your own? You might say, I'm like that. That's definitely me. It's like, fair enough.
There can be some utility in that. You're a kind person, but you are definitely a sitting duck for someone who's psychopathic. And you might think, well, there are no people like that. It's like, don't fool yourself if you don't think there are people like that.
That's just because you haven't had the misfortune of being tangled up with someone like that. Can you screen for that on the way in? Can you screen? We've been able to potentially employees on. The way in on those doctrines. Yeah, that's a developing body of work. But we used very conservative criteria.
Like, for us to reject a candidate, they had to be at the 95th percentile for, let's say, personality pathology. So you'd be the most psychopathic of 20 people, and that wasn't enough to scream you out, that was just one warning. And so we were pretty conservative. But just a few people like that.
Oh, man, you get someone like that tangled up next to you, especially if they're willing to destroy their own lives to burn you down. And there are lots of people like that. You're in such trouble now, that's important. For a business, to make sure that for the sake of our own team members, that we don't bring people into a business like that. Do you think businesses take that seriously enough, the well being of their it's.
Hard to take it seriously enough because it's relatively rare. Right. So the idea that you might have that you can trust most people, it's like, yeah, that's true, and it's good that you can trust most people, and there's a courageous element to that in trust, but it's not completely true. Right. You have to keep your eyes open and yeah, it's the death of many companies to get a few people like that, get the wrong people and get tangled up.
So just take up all your time. There's a great quote that you shared that said that you had worked out how to monetize social justice warrior activists. I thought more of your businesses as the business of ideas and found it refreshing that there is obviously an audience for substantive ideas. Yeah, well, I said that on the Joe Rogan podcast. Well, it was a joke, because partly what happened was that once I became notorious, there were a lot of protests and then I was inclined to make the protest public.
And all that did was bring people to the website where they were watching my lectures. And that worked for me rather than against me. Well, so the most classic example of that, I suppose, was when I first released these political videos, the university came after me and they were definitely plotting to fire me. They sent me two warning letters.
You know how HR does that? Three letters and you're out, basically. And I read those letters on my YouTube channel, which was quite fun. And I actually sent one of the letters back to my department chair because it wasn't written very well and it was inaccurate.
And so I said to her I kind of liked her, I said, look, if you're going to give me this letter, you guys are going to look like fools if you aren't careful about it. Here's a bunch of mistakes. Maybe you can think about correcting it, but they didn't. So I just read it online.
And then there was a free speech protest, and then there were against me, and then there was a counter protest that was pro free speech that the students set up, and they asked me to speak. So I went to speak about and a bunch of psychopathic activists showed up and and I say that very precisely. So a number of them were female. They weren't necessarily psychopathic, but there were men who were accompanying them and they were not the sort of people you wanted to be around. So in the activist world, on the radical left side, there's a lot of females and there's a lot of predatory males who are in there to be the allies with the girls.
And they are not the sort of people that you want your daughters associated with, let's say, or anywhere near you. And number of them showed up that day and they were doing things like blasting white noise at deafening levels and unhooking the amplifiers and just being provocative, you might say. And on the way back into the office, I was shanghai by a group of very noisy trans activists, and they were accusing me of having Nazis at my protest.
First of all, it wasn't my bloody protest. And second, there aren't Nazis in Canada. That's just not a thing. There aren't white supremacists and there aren't Nazis. There's no history of that. It's just not a reality.
Like, maybe there's one person or two somewhere who thinks that it would be cool to be a Nazi, but as far as it being a social phenomenon, that's actually a threat. It's preposterous. Anyways, they were accusing me of having Nazis at my I thought the bit. That was missed was that the Gutenberg Bible was very controversial at the time, printing a Bible and giving a copy to everyone. You've made these comments about how YouTube makes video available to everyone.
What I see you've done across patreon and podcasting, business speaking, your seminars you deal with Shapiro, et cetera, is a whole new business model, effectively for an academic. Well, with this protest. They filmed it and then put it on everywhere and they thought, Well, I was done because they had protested me and filmed it and it got millions of views and all the commentary was negative in relationship to the protesters, like 99.9% of it. But that was an example of monetizing the social justice warriors. It's just like they came after me and I just I didn't publicise that they did that themselves, but that happened continually and that's why I made the joke.
But then I have an entrepreneurial twist. And when I made these programmes that I described, the testing programmes, my colleagues and I had rules for entrepreneurial engagement. We wanted to make psychological interventions that were scientifically validated, that were easy to use, that were dirt cheap, that were scalable, that produced no harm and that required no bureaucratic overhead, that produced documentable good.
So those were our principles and then we abided by them. And then I built other technologies on the same principles and all the YouTube videos and so forth followed that pattern. Now, I'd also learned by that time that it's a good habit of mental hygiene, let's say, to run your enterprises on the profit basis because it requires discipline. First of all, you have to produce something that people want.
Well, why is that a problem? They want it and you have to pay attention to what they want. That seems like a good discipline. And second, you have to run your enterprise efficiently enough so that you run a profit and that stops you from wasting your time and everyone else's time. And so I ran everything I did at a profit. We thought about producing the Future Authoring programme for free and the personality tests that I've developed, which are available online, by the way. But I talked with my colleagues who are very wise people and we learned very early on that free was definitely the wrong price.
Now, it was hard to figure out what the right price was, although I think we seem to have got it right because a lot of people buy the programmes and we can run at a profit and expand and grow, which also is also something that profit allows, right? If you're doing something useful and you make a profit more of it, how is that not a good deal? One of the things that everybody who's capitalistically oriented needs to understand is it's really about time to stop being apologetic about this. It's like this is not only not a fault being a greedy capitalist, it's actually a virtue. First of all, it's not easy to run an enterprise profitably with multiple people.
That's very difficult. And then why, again, is that not just a positive good? You're providing people what they want, they're purchasing it voluntarily, you're doing it efficiently and you're doing it in a way that employs people and can scale. Like, where's the oppression there? There's none. In fact, it's the exact opposite.
It's doing exactly the opposite of what the critics claim. And it's really sad in my estimation that those with a capitalist orientation aren't on the offensive about this. It's like we're not exploiting, you don't have to buy what we produce, it's being offered, it's a voluntary game and I'm competing with other people who could hypothetically provide it at a lower cost and more efficiently and I'm not conspiring to put them out of business by crookedry. There's nothing about this game that isn't straight.
And so we take these criticisms from the left that because you're successful, you're exploitative predators. Now that doesn't mean there aren't people operating in the financial arena who are using manipulation and deceit to get ahead because you have the narcissistic types that I already talked about and they game the system. But the fact that a small minority of players game the system doesn't mean that the typical small business owner, for example, is a crook. It's like quite the contrary to run like a plumbing business successfully. First of all you have to be a good plumber and that's not that easy. And second, you have to run an honest business because who the hell is going to hire you a second time if you're a crook? And it's not like word isn't going to get around just like that.
So it would be really good for people on the entrepreneurial and capitalist front to stop being apologetic about it. The other thing too, the data is in. It's absolutely clear we've lifted more people out of poverty in the world as a proportion of the population than in the last 15 years than we have in the entire sum total of human history. And the only reason for that is because the idiot communists got wiped out in the late eighty s and stopped interfering with economies around the world, allowing them to struggle forward on a quasi capitalist basis and all of a sudden we virtually eradicated poverty in 15 years. And that's all a consequence of the operation of the free market system.
So if you're a friend of the poor then especially the absolutely poor rather than the relatively poor, then it's absolutely crystal clear that there's no faster pathway to prosperity than through something approximating a free market system. Even the bloody Chinese Communist Party figured that out and they're about as impossible to teach as anybody you could ever imagine. Even they got the idea eventually and look what happens. Like in no time flat Chinese people become twice as rich every seven years. That's their current rate of economic development. Given what's happening now, it doesn't look like they're going to be able to sustain that but for a few generations that was their doubling rate.
It's a miracle and a great thing. And that's all obviously because they lifted some of the constraints off their people. So sex, politics and religion used to be taboos. Today money, I think. Is the last taboo and there's a lot of envy around. I heard you describe a few years back the sort of money you're making, but you didn't share how much you got paid when you were at Harvard as a professor or Toronto as a professor.
What do they pay? When I was at Harvard, I barely made enough money to live in New England. I mean, my wife an