Every woman who has used Craigslist knows that it is a veritable jungle of unexpected penises. In other words, if you’ve ever posted a nice, g-rated “women seeking men” post, you will immediately and inexplicably have 50-80 pictures of men’s penises in your inbox.
After this happened to a number of my friends, I started thinking.
Not just about how horrible men are at online dating, but how to use this to my advantage.
Introducing The Craigslist Penis Effect
The Craigslist Penis Effect describes situations where everyone else is so horrible that, by being even half-decent, you can dominate everyone else and win.
These moron men on Craigslist would be better served writing 5 half-decent responses, testing to see which got the best response, and then sending it out instead of a picture of their generally mediocre manhood. I did exactly that for my friend on JDate and ended up getting very good at introducing girls to him. (Jewish women, beware of my Ashkenazi skills.)
Let’s take some examples where everyone else is so terrible that you can dominate by being even somewhat competent.
- Negotiations. Most people are awful negotiators (especially for jobs and especially in America). That’s because nobody teaches us how to negotiate — indeed, we’re actively taught that it’s “weird” and “awkward” to negotiate. By contrast, I find it “weird” to lose $10,000 because you didn’t take 5 hours to practice your negotiating pitch beforehand, like my friend Rachel did. By simply starting a negotiation, you stand out from 80% of other applicants.
- Writing effective emails. Most people send out dozens of emails per day. Yet when was the last time they studied the best emailers to learn techniques to (1) get busy people to respond to them, (2) cut down on back-and-forth emails, and (3) get what they wanted via email? (I’m working on a product with 50 email scripts you can use today. Newsletter subscribers get first crack.)
- Conferences. Most conferences are boring and bad. But so are most conference go-ers, who don’t do their homework beforehand, eat with their co-worker, and miss the prime benefits of networking. (The book Never Eat Alone has a magical chapter on how to be a master networker at conferences.)
- Exercise. Go for a 30-minute run every day and you’ll be in better shape than 90% of adult Americans. Stop debating minutiae about health and get off your ass.
- Holding onto expensive purchases for years (even decades). We love to buy expensive things like houses and cars, then turn around and sell them 5 years later. This is literally one of the most poisonous financial decisions you can make: Not only do you incur huge transaction costs, but you condition yourself to think that buying and selling expensive goods every few years is normal. Instead, if you can use the Tripod of Stability to make major purchases, you can spend that money on things that you love — rather than transaction fees.
- Earning money online. As Erica Douglass recently said, “If you earn $1 online, you’re doing better than 90% of people.”
There are thousands of other examples: Writing winning scholarship applications that secure over $100,000 in funding. Or creating blog posts that drive hundreds of thousands of views. Or simply learning about the basics of social psychology for every day use.
The examples go back to my post about Big Wins, including why trying to save money on lattes is pointless for many people.
As you can see, many Big Wins are actually easily within reach — if you choose the right targets and differentiate yourself from others. While you’ll have a few areas of life where you’ll have to go up against formidable competition, many other areas of life are wide open.
For those, don’t waste your time competing with lame Craigslist penis guys in a race to mediocrity. Instead, think about areas where your competition is mediocre (where everyone is doing the same thing, and doing it poorly) and carefully test multiple strategies to dominate. The Craigslist Penis Effect is a guide to standing out from others when being even half-competent can get you superb results. There are literally thousands of these opportunities.
See me in San Francisco: I’ll be speaking at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco this Monday, 8/24. Considering the background — they frequently host Presidents, military leaders, authors, and scientists — I probably won’t be mentioning the Craigslist Penis Effect. Event details.