Alexander Cortes on Skills For The 21st Century – Modern Wisdom

Watch the interview here

Key Takeaways

  • A quote too good to miss:
    • “If you work for yourself, if you’re a sovereign individual in the sense that you’re self-made, self-paid, and self-employed…you’re very untouchable in a certain sense”
  • The nature of work has changed
    • A job used to be something that you were. Now a job is just something that you do, often times temporarily.
  • Over 80% of Americans are either indifferent or actively unhappy with their jobs
  • The most important skills to cultivate in the 21st century:
    • Rhetoric
    • Logical thinking ability
    • Knowing how to build a website
    • The ability to speak/write well
      • “If you can communicate effectively, whatever environment you’re in, you’re always going to be near the top”
  • Want better focus? – Just stop multitasking
  • On building a personal brand:
    • “If you want to have a really good relationship with your audience and your work, you have to be fully invested in the sense that you want to deliver consistent value, but you need to be detached from it in regards to the outcome it gives you” – Alex
    • “People connect with people, they don’t connect with brands” – Chris

Books Mentioned

Intro

What has Alex been working on lately?

  • “I don’t have any real structure to my day at all”
    • All Alex tries to do every day is to write an email to his list, and tweet quite a bit
  • His latest project – Sovereign University, which he’s working on with Jose Rosado
    • It’s an online learning portal
    • The main goal – teach people how to become sovereign individuals
    • Alex has been working online, for himself, for ~3 years
      • Prior to this, he was a personal trainer (and still is – check out his lifting programs)
      • In a sense, around this time, Alex realized he never again wanted to be in a position where he had to answer to anyone 
        • “I realized that if you work for yourself, if you’re a sovereign individual in the sense that you’re self-made, self-paid, self-employed…you’re very untouchable in a certain sense”

People Are Unhappy at Work

  • Chris recently read a study that mentioned how over 80% of Americans are either indifferent or actively unhappy with their jobs
    • “Society isn’t happy as a whole” – Alex
  • “The nature of work has changed. A job used to be something that you were. Now a job is just something that you do, often times temporarily.”

As an 18-year-old, what skills should you have going into this new age of work?

  • “The big skill that’s been lost in the modern era is the ability to think”
    • That’s what you need most
  • More important skills:
    • Rhetoric
    • Logical thinking ability
    • Ability to speak/write well
      • “If you can communicate effectively, whatever environment you’re in, you’re always going to be near the top”
      • “The people that can talk best are the ones who get ahead”
      • Good communication skills have been lost
        • “Digitization has removed human communication. We’re so used to talking through text now…you get people face to face and you just see how awkward they are.”
  • Other valuable skills:
    • Knowing how to build a website
  • Alex actually thinks society will see a return to apprenticeships in the next 10-20 years
    • People will graduate high school, go work paid internships, and develop skills, and then go back to school for a specific education to augment that
      • If he had a kid now, this is what Alex would be telling him/her to do
      • On the argument that you’ll “find yourself at college” – “No you won’t. You’ll maybe take 2 years of worthless classes in rooms filled with hundreds of people, you’ll switch majors 4 times, and that’s not even getting into the quality of the education which has precipitously declined – that’s kind of a shit show at this point.”

On Focus

  • “I was a terrible student all through high school and college. I did the bare minimum to get by.”
    • How did Alex get by then?- His pristine memory
  • “Focus is just doing one thing at a time. That’s it.”
    • Stop multitasking 
  • A book recommendation from Chris:

Reading

  • Alex has noticed that over the past 2 years, he’s been reading less – but that’s not to say he hasn’t been very productive
    • He says he only read 3 books in 2018 – he’s aiming to read a book per week in 2019
  • What’s Alex been reading? 
  • Alex says he’s fallen in love with reading again, and has even spent days this year reading for 5+ hours

Social Media and Stimulation Overload

  • “It’s training you to think on such a superficial level, and you see that with how people communicate with each other”
  • All headlines and articles are written in emotional soundbites aimed to get your attention and fire up your emotions
  • “We’re not built to have this level of stimulus go through us…not at all” – Chris
    • Chris recalls reading an article stating that “the amount of stimulus a typical human encounters in a single day, is equivalent to the level of stimulus our Paleolithic ancestors would have experienced in a month”
  • Alex recently read an article on millennial burnout:
    • The writer said something along the lines of – “Millennials deal with this environment of such overwhelming stimulation. There are so many things grabbing our attention and every task takes another piece of it.”
      • And then at the same time, people are experiencing the socioeconomic pressure of just trying to survive and pay their bills
      • Alex comments:
        • “And then doing simple things like having to call someone back or respond to an email….is it laziness or is it that you simply cannot do another thing.”
          • “We are so driven now towards efficiency – everything has to be optimized and fast in speed. We do all that, but does it make our lives better in the sense that we actually get more done? Or are we actually just experiencing ‘death by 1,000 cuts.'”
          • Chris adds:
            • It’s kind of like RAM in a computer – we’re overloading the RAM

Chris’ Morning Routine

  • Chris calls his morning routine “beautiful” – it’s his favorite part of the day
    • If he can go to bed by 10 PM, he’ll wake up ~6 AM
    • Then he’ll have a smoothie, meditate, read, journal, and do some yoga
    • “If I could choose a day, I’d have an entire day that’s a morning routine”

Thoughts on Personal Brands

  • “Because we are in such a search for truth and authenticity, and we no longer trust institutions, the news, or the government/authority figures…we’re looking for individuals that we can have be our digital friends, and thus trust”
  • Alex noticed a while back that the best personal brands in the fitness industry/those that had the healthiest relationships with their audience and the social media platforms they used:
    • Didn’t obsess over productivity/the value they delivered
    • Tried to be consistent with what they presented
    • Everything not in alignment with their brand/what they were working on – they didn’t worry about
    • They had the mindset – “I’m just going to show my personality the way it is. Whether you connect with it or not, that’s on you.”
  • Alex summarizes:
    • “If you want to have a really good relationship with your audience and your work, you have to be fully invested in the sense that you want to deliver consistent value, but you need to be detached from it in regards to the outcome it gives you”
  • How does knowing this affect the way Alex uses Twitter?
    • If he has an idea he shares it?
    • But if he’s in a humorous mood – he’ll post whatever he feels like
  • Chris adds:
    • “People connect with people, they don’t connect with brands”
  • “On certain metalevel, at the highest levels of any industry, the people that are most successful are the ones that have that kind of power personality”
  • It’s important to distinguish – “Are you a person with a brand that has coalesced around you, or are you a contrived brand and you’re just trying to be personable through that brand”
    • The former will work
    • The latter – people will eventually discover you’re full of shit
      • Chris gives an example of someone in this category – Tai Lopez
        • People like him – you just get the sensation that they don’t care that you as a person are following them
        • These types of people are just out to sell you something

Fyre Festival

  • Check out the Netflix documentary and the Hulu documentary on it
    • The Hulu documentary gets more into Billy McFarland, the festival co-founder (the other co-founder was rapper Ja Rule)
  • The festival idea came about to promote the “Fyre App” which would allow you to book talent/singers/artists directly 
    • As a club promoter – Chris said it’s a nightmare trying to book talent, so there was certainly a need for something like this
  • Alex calls it “predatory capitalism”
    • “It was this peak apathy of millennial narcissism and the desire for beauty and wanting to be known and be where the action is”
    • “The marketing for it was so brilliant. The use of the models was the biggest thing. What did it take to make their marketing campaign a success? – They got the 20 most beautiful women in the world with the biggest followings and had them post about the festival on social media. People just wanted proximity to these beautiful women….these beautiful women that every women wanted to be and every man wished he could have.”
  • Chris adds:
    • “It takes a very special level of boneheadedness and single-mindedness to even believe that you can create a festival on an island.”
      • Look at Ultra Music Festival – it’s a logistical nightmare
        • And the Fyre Festival guys wanted to do it on an island..with no biowaste disposal, no running water, no air conditioning – “I can’t work out if it’s a love of the idea that drew them through the obstacles or an ignorance of the obstacles”

Hard Work to Leveraged Work

  • “We live in a culture where we worship work”
    • Alex thinks this originated after the Great Depression, where in order to survive, you HAD to work
      • Right there was the inception of hustle and grind culture
      • People raised with this mindset instilled that in their kids
        • This resulted in a prosperity era in the ’60s-’90s where if you put in the hours at your job, you would get something in return, and the more you worked the higher you would rise
          • But then with the era of technology (the late ’90s and 2000s, you could be working harder and harder to stay in the same place (aka The Red Queen effect)
            • It is now all about the leverage of your work

These notes were edited by RoRoPa Editing Services

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