MAD GENIUS : A MANIFESTO FOR ENTREPRENEURS by RANDY GAGE
What is it about genius that tortures so many who possess it? A Mad Genius if ever there was one, Hunter S. Thompson was asked how he created his unique brand of brilliance. His reply was inspired, if a little unnerving: “I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity to anyone, but they’ve always worked for me.”
I wish I could say the muse for this book was a sudden inspiration of genius, but it was actually germinated in an environment of shame and wretched despair.
Shame because I was lying around my apartment, trying to throw off the aftereffects of a binge relapse with crystal meth—an addiction I had thought was long conquered.
And despair because the euphoria of the high (which gets less euphoric every time) was replaced by the exhaustion, nausea, and depression of the crash.
Among meth addicts, these days are called “suicide Tuesdays” for reasons you can probably imagine. Now if you think that seems like a less-than-opportune environment to foster creative genius, you’re only half right. Because sometimes it is when we are at our lowest state, facing our most difficult challenges, that we pull ourselves together, marshal our resources, and decide that the alternative to hopelessness is actually hope after all.
You’ll find this as a recurring theme in this manifesto: Why no is never the answer, failure isn’t final unless you quit, and how challenges offer the greatest opportunities for innovation and creation.
Obviously this relapse was one more chapter of the twisted hero’s journey my subconscious mind felt necessary to create for myself—to overcome my own insecurities and worthiness issues.
The good news is that I really believe this won’t happen again. Sometimes you just know when you’re done. I felt that way after I took my last drink on my twentieth birthday, and thirty-five years later, have never had the desire for another one. And just as I felt my life worked better without alcohol in it, I now feel that recreational drug use doesn’t enrich my life but destroys it. So I chose life.
But I also had that unnerving pang . . .
Could I still write or would the goddess of creativity abandon me at the altar? Would I still possess the gift to recognize opportunities and build entrepreneurial ventures?
I grew up watching creative geniuses like Joplin, Hendrix, and Morrison blaze brilliantly, then die of overdoses. And I idolized writers like Hemingway, Poe, Kerouac, 0. Henry, and Thompson, who all viewed drugs and alcohol as necessary ingredients for their creative genius—or at least helpful to medicate the issues preventing them from achieving it.
Fortuitously, I read On Writing, the brilliant memoir of the craft from Stephen King, who recounted his ability to face down his own addiction demons and still create. I began to think a look at genius—and how we harness, nurture, and direct it—would make a fascinating book. And even more intriguing, would be an exploration specifically of how the mindset of the entrepreneurial genius works.
The big idea should be the thing that grabs attention, attracts the tribe, or speaks directly to the prospect, but in the context of the benefit to her.
As I was reading up on the links between creativity and mental illness, I found a Wikipedia entry that stated, “Psychotic individuals are said to display a capacity to see the world in a novel and original way, literally, to see things that others cannot.”
Now, entrepreneurs are not psychotic, of course. We simply display a capacity to see the world in a novel and original way, literally, to see things that others cannot. Oh, wait. . .
As entrepreneurs, we’re hardwired to shake things up, live by our own set of rules, and, most importantly, create new things. Our greatest genius comes in the creation
That’s the reason we watched the Steve Jobs product launches with breathless anticipation, we care more about the commercials than the Super Bowl, and we’re almost giddy when we come across a Kickstarter campaign for a sexy new gadget. We’re witnessing genius in action.
I pondered all this while watching Before Night Falls, the magnificent film that was based on the stunning book by Reinaldo Arenas. One genius showcasing the gifts of another. When you’re exposed to a film or book like these, you can’t help but want to create something amazing. Something that makes a difference.
So this manifesto comes to you from one of the lowest points in my life but, I hope, leads us both to reaching something much higher: harnessing your Mad Genius— and sharing it with the world. I hope you’ll join the discussion on social media, using the hashtag #MadGenius.
You’ll find this manifesto divided into three sections: Book One is a look at how we got to where we are now. How the convergence of bad premises, negative memes, and herd thinking infected our consciousness and allowed us to accept mediocrity.
Book Two explores some of the earth-shattering, cataclysmic developments we will be facing in the upcoming decade. We’ll peek around the corner, predict the future, recognize the inherent challenges in that future—which will reveal to us the greatest opportunities. And finally, Book Three is a chaotic collection of mind-bending, thought-provoking ideas to force you to think about what you think about. Read whatever section you need at the point you need it. But know that there is one constant in all three sections: the real-world truth about how you have to think to become a successful entrepreneur.
Inspirational business book authors may claim to play different tunes, but most of them are singing the same song of ever-growing success. The case studies all seem to follow the same template: A couple college kids with nothing but empty beer cans and pizza boxes littering their dorm rooms have a big idea. They drop out of school, set up shop, and become an overnight viral sensation. They get to choose from a swarm of VC investors who desperately want to throw money at them, ignore calls from Zuckerberg, float an IPO, become billionaires, and grace the cover of Wired.
Some of the readers who buy those books must wonder what they’re doing wrong. In the real world of business, though, there are both breathtaking breakthroughs and soul-wrenching failures. It’s a world with fears and doubts, sweating to make payroll, scrambling to raise money, struggling to stand out. I’m here to tell you that getting on top and staying on top is never a sure thing. But if you’re willing to do the work and pay the price—success is attainable. It’s never easy, but it’s worth it.
San Diego, California
MAD LOVE FOR MAD GENIUS
- The MYSTERIOUS PEOPLE and the SECRET SYSTEM THAT RUNS THE WORLD
- CREATING ART
- SEE THE INTANGIBLE
- DECIDE WHERE TO RESIDE
- THE PRICE YOU PAY
- WHO PICKED SALT AND PEPPER?
- THE MYSTERIOUS PEOPLE IN CHARGE OF THE SECRET SYSTEM THAT RUNS THE WORLD
- THE WAYS WE THINK
- THE LIE OF PROOF
- THE MIND OF THE ENTREPRENEURIAL ARTIST
- The History of the Future
- BIG DATA TURNABOUT
- HOW SOCIAL MEDIA CHANGES THE GAME
- BUSTING UP BRANDING
- WHAT’S NEXT?
- The Age of the Entrepreneur
- WHY DOES GRANDMA CUT THE ENDS OFF THE HAM BEFORE SHE PUTS IT IN THE OVEN?
- NURTURING YOUR MAD GENIUS
- THE PROBLEM WITH PROBLEM SOLVING
- THE REALITY OF MIRACLES
- MOVING FROM BEHIND TO BEYOND
- WHOLE- BRAIN SYNCHRONICITY
- THE CREATIVITY TRIAD
- FIGHTING THE DISEASE OF BIG
- THE CURIOUS THING ABOUT CURIOSITY
- CURIOUS, NOT FURIOUS
- DON’T BUY INTO THE CONVENTIONAL BELIEFS OVERTHROW THE GOVERNMENT!
- BE LIKE WATER
- TAP INTO THE POWER OF THE MASTERMIND GET WET!
- NURTURING YOUR INNER ARTIST
- CREATIVITY FROM LOGIC FAIL MORE BE “THE ONE”
- CHANGE YOUR THOUGHT PATTERNS
- TAKE A SABBATICAL
- GET OUT OF BED EARLIER
- READ THE FEARSOME FOURSOME
- SCHEDULE THINKING TIME
- PLAY THE “WHAT IF” GAME
- MAKE LOVE WITH THE LIGHTS ON GO BACK TO SCHOOL GET YOUR JERSEY
- HAVE AT LEAST ONE PERSON WHO WILL CALL YOU ON YOUR SHIT
- BREAK OUT THE SIMPLE STICK
- BE BALLSY
- MIND MAPPING
- THE SCAMPER TECHNIQUE
- START BEHAVING LIKE A CHILD!
- BREAK THE RULES
- STOP SETTLING