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Demand, Rejection, & Strange Loops

By: Michael Blankenship |

“If you do not change direction you may end up where you are heading.”

— Lao Tzu

Greetings from LA and Oahu!

This week we’ve got a new section called “From The Tribe” where we’ll pose a new question every week — reply to the email with your answer and we’ll include our favorite responses in next week’s email!

Our challenge is for you to use the “80/20 rule” to figure out what’s most important (and impactful) for you to be working on right now. 

We’re also talking about dealing with rejection, determining demand (for a product or service), how to make accomplishing any goal easy (with one simple question), and — lest we spend one week without getting too philosophical — the implications (and probable reality) of consciousness (courtesy of Douglas Hofstadter).


From The Tribe

What’s a difficult experience that you overcame? And what was one lesson you learned through the recovery process?

Reply with your answer and we’ll include our favorite responses in next week’s newsletter!


Rejection — being told “no”, facing criticism, getting cold-shouldered, and so forth — is a painful and uncomfortable part of life. Sometimes, being unaccepted or ostracized paralyzes us — it stops us in our tracks and halts progress. 

As painful as it might be, though, rejection is also very common.

So what should we do?

Aristotle famously penned, “There is only one way to avoid criticism: do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing.”

Of course, nothingness isn’t the answer. 

Instead, recognize that rejection is normal — and the more ambitious you are, the more rejection you’ll face. 

Just consider some of these facts about now-famous people and the rejection they endured…

  • J.K. Rowling was rejected by about 12 publishers. 
  • Stephen King’s first novel was rejected 30 times. 
  • Lady Gaga was dropped just 3 months after signing her first record label.
  • Walt Disney was fried by a local newspaper for “lacking imagination and having no good ideas.”
  • Vincent Van Gogh only sold one painting during his lifetime. 

Everyone faces rejection. 

And the more ambition you have, the more resilient you’ll need to become. 

So keep in mind that rejection is mostly meaningless, advice is only sometimes valid, and other people’s opinions are entirely their own. 


Supply and demand is the lifeblood of a capitalist society — the market wants, entrepreneurs provide. 

But how do you know if your business idea — specifically, the product or service — has any merit? Do people actually want what you’re going to offer? 

Here’s a great article from Shopify about determining market demand either locally or online. 

Thanks to technology, most of their advice can be undertaken from the comfort of your sofa. 

Easier, Easier

When thinking about accomplishing our goals — build that business, lose that weight, write that book, etc. — it’s sometimes overwhelming to consider what we think it’ll take to get there… such as 16-hour workdays, a big change in diet, or hundreds of rejections. 

But what if it didn’t have to be so difficult? 

Tim Ferriss, the author, podcastor, and blogger, is famous for saying a lot of useful stuff. And one question he encourages people to ask themselves about their goals is this: If this was easy, what would it look like?

Rather than assume that the road ahead is going to be difficult and unthinkingly usher a difficult reality into existence… Why not flip the script? 

Why not ask ourselves what success would look like if it was easy? And thus usher in an easier reality for accomplishing our goals.

To use our three examples from earlier, would it mean outsourcing the most time-consuming work, walking for 30 minutes per day, or writing a bit every evening? 

It’s worth thinking about. 

And it’s worth repeating in a slightly different (perhaps more helpful?) manner: if what you’re trying to accomplish was easy, what would you be working on right now? 

Strange Loops

“What do we mean when we say ‘I’? To each human being, this ‘I’ is the realest thing in the world. But how can such a mysterious abstraction be real? Is our ‘I’ merely a convenient fiction? Does an ‘I’ exert genuine power over the particles in our brain, or is it helplessly pushed around by the all-powerful laws of physics?”

That’s part of the book blurb to Douglas Hofstadter’s 2007 book, I am a Strange Loop, where the infamous philosopher muses about the “little miracles of self-reference” that he believes gives rise to human consciousness: like “a mirror mirroring a mirror”.

It’s an excellent book and one well-worth reading if you’re interested in such things (even if you’ve already read his classic, Gödel, Escher, Bach). 

Here’s an excerpt to get your mind whirring…

 “For us conscious, self-aware, ‘I’-driven humans, it is almost impossible to imagine moving down, down, down to the neuronal level of our brains, and slowing down, down, down so that we can see (or at least can imagine) each and every chemical squirting in each and every synaptic cleft — a gigantic shift in perspective that would seem to instantly drain brain activity of all symbolic quality. No meanings would remain down there, no sticky semantic juice — just astronomical numbers of meaningless, inanimate molecules, squirting meaninglessly away, all the livelong, lifeless day. 

Your typical human brain, being blissfully ignorant of its minute physical components and their arcanely mathematizable mode of microscopic functioning, and thriving instead at the infinitely remote level of soap operas, spring sales, super skivaganzas, SUV’s, SAT’s, SOB’s, Santa Claus, splashtacular scrubs specials, snorkels, snowballs, sex scandals (and let’s not forget sleazeballs), makes up as plausible a story as it can about it’s own nature, in which the starring role, rather than being played by the cerebral cortex, the hippocampus, the amygdala, the cerebellum, or any other weirdly named and gooey physical structure, is played instead by an anatomically invisible, murky thing called an ‘I’, aided and abetted by other shadowy players known as ‘ideas’, ‘thoughts’, ‘memories’, ‘beliefs’, ‘hopes’, ‘fears’, ‘intentions’, ‘desires’, ‘love’, ‘hate’, ‘rivalry’, ‘jealousy’, ‘empathy’, ‘honesty’, and on and on — and in the soft, ethereal, neurology-free world of these players, your typical human brain perceives its very own ‘I’ as a pusher and a mover, never entertaining for a moment the idea that its star player might merely be a useful shorthand standing for a myriad of infinitesimal entities and the invisible chemical transactions taking place among them, by the billions — nay, the millions of billions — every single second.”

This Week’s Photo

Brook Mitchell / Getty

“A surfer rides a large wave at Clovelly in Sydney, Australia, on September 7, 2021.” via The Atlantic

This Week’s Riddle

Here’s this week’s riddle — the answer is at the bottom of the email!

What can fill a room but takes up no space?

Extra Stuff

Here are some other awesome articles that caught our attention this week…

This Week’s Challenge

The “80/20” rule is an oft-touted (and surprisingly accurate) anecdote about input and output — it states that just 20% of work produces 80% of results and 80% of work produces only 20% of results. Take something as simple as doing laundry; throwing clothes in the washer and then the dryer is going to get you 80% of the way there — organizing, folding, ironing, hanging, and buying a certain kind of soap are the small things that produce the final 20% of results (sometimes, these are entirely unnecessary). What’s most important, then, is to focus on… well, what’s most important — the 20% of work that produces the 80% of results. This week, we’re challenging you to answer the following questions about an area in your life where you’re trying to improve…

  • What’s the 20% of work that you need to be most focussed on? 
  • What’s the 80% of work that’s producing minimal results and might be worth ignoring for now? 

Until next week, 

Mike & Alec

Riddle Answer: Light

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