How to inform people about what is going on?

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  • Sat, Nov 29, 2008 - 06:32pm



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    Re: How to inform people about what is going on?

Oh i know about the age/credibility issue. And i know i’m not knowlegdeable enough to give a presentation on the crash course by myself yet, but i’ve been able to win over my family and a few relatives. Anyway, as to my specific credibility, i’ve got quite a lot in the community from starting this really big suicide&depression awareness and prevention program. However, that means people have really high expectations for me – although they would come into the room trusting me, i know i have to be able to answer everything well. I’m sure there are a few acronyms out there that would give me a run for my money. But yeah – i’m not planning on solo hosting any public showings anytime soon ūüėõ

¬†And the point you made about¬† NOT providing solutions is very important, in my book. You cannot let people become dependant on you as some economic prophet. In addition to those "dodgy" type answers Krogoth provided, it’s always good to direct people back to Or you can say "i’m not sure how to put this concept succintly, so you can check out this book" and if they don’t want to read a book, you just ask for a couple days to "write it out and explain it in a complex manner." Most of this stuff is extremely complicated, which is what makes the Crash Course so valuable. As long as people realize that, and can respect that there generally aren’t good 10 second sound-byte answers to these questions, you should be alright.

  • Sat, Nov 29, 2008 - 09:21pm



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    Re: How to inform people about what is going on?


In addition to those "dodgy" type answers Krogoth provided, it’s always good to direct people back to



¬†It’s far from "dodgy", It’s proven. I have taught teachers and instructors before on Cisco, Unix, Linux and Solaris¬†technical related issues, and these are some of the most intelligent classes or groups of people you will ever meet technical wise. The will grill you in to the ground. If you give them an "uhhh" or an "I don’t know" your done with. People don’t like paying $200 per hour to learn a technical course or get a certification and have an idiot standing in front of them.

It seems to me that if you direct people back to the website, just show them the website and save yourself a lot of time an anguish. Then they can learn it when they want to. I think Chris and Erik need to decide if they want to just hand out or sell DVD’s or if they want people to educate individuals or groups.

Until then I suggest you stay in a holding pattern.

Oh, and for future reference, when someone is trying to help you that has much more experience than you, it’s best not to describe proven methods over years of work they have used as "dodgy"





  • Sun, Nov 30, 2008 - 02:21am



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    Re: Age and FAQ response

Woah that wasn’t the intent of my post at all. I put dodgy in quotes for a reason. Here’s what I was responding to, you saying:


Most questions you cannot answer can be handled with the answer "I don’t have the data available to answer your question" or "I will need to take your name and get back to you on that" or "I will need to research that with my colleagues, or contact¬†associates with the answer to that". You can start off the presentation with "any questions that I don’t have the answers for, I will make an attempt to get the answers for you"



"dodgy" I only meant those answers that don’t immediately answer the
question – not "sketchy" or "stupid" or "weak" or anything like that. I thought it was rather evident that i was not taking any
issue with your suggestions when i said "In addition to", implying that
my suggestion was on the same level as yours were. I would put my
suggestion of directing people back to the website in that same "dodgy"
category, because it doesn’t actually answer the question immediately,
which is what most people would probably prefer. I didn’t mean "dodgy"
as in sketchy – I meant dodgy as in "this doesn’t actually
answer the question". In regards to those types of answers in general,
whether one calls them "dodgy", "non-responsive", or whatever, they are
definitely very effective, and should be used when necessary.

That’s been the
general essence of this whole thread, that "uhhs", "errs", "well I’m
not sure…", "i don’t really know", "that’s a really good question,
wow", and other similar responses are not only insufficient, but are
often detrimental. As Krogoth put it, they people who hear that will most likely "grill you to the ground".

For further clarification, if that wasn’t sufficient:

i wasn’t calling your suggestions and methods "dodgy". I’m in complete
agreement with everything you’ve said. My point was just to provide an
additional response (the response of showing them the website) that
falls under the same category as your responses. I labeled that general
category "dodgy", which can understandably allow for miscommunication.
The point is that: There are responses to questions that don’t actually answer the question directly, but which are sufficient responses for most people. These "non-responsive" (or dodgy) responses are always preferable to "uhh" or "i don’t know".¬†

I hope you realize that we’re both on the same side, Krogoth ^_^ My apologies for any miscommunication.


  • Sun, Nov 30, 2008 - 07:42pm


    Erik T.

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    Re: How to inform people about what is going on?

Wow! What a fantastic thread. Thanks for starting it, Jon.

About this thread and who’s reading it

First regarding the comments about whether "we" (meaning Chris, myself and the rest of the staff) are paying attention, the answer is that we try our best, but some days or weeks are more challenging than others. I feel that part of my job is to be aware of threads like this one, and make certain they get the attention they deserve. I’m a little embarassed to admit this, but the DVD project has been so consuming that I wasn’t even aware of this thread until Lucas brought it to my attention this morning.Thanks Lucas!

Chris does read almost everything (I don’t think he sleeps), but I don’t mind telling you that I have been very outspoken in asking him not to repsond to everything personally. Most site visitors read the blog posts, but don’t read the comments or forums. We need to keep Chris’ efforts focused on where they do the most good for the most people. I hope you’ll all understand why this is necessary.

Even for something like this topic, we’re working to get our team to the point where we can respond effectively without pulling Chris’ attention away from the Economy, Energy and the Environment, where his vision and insight is clearly in a class of its own. Please accept my apologies for not noticing this thread sooner. Promoting the message and supporting the community’s desire to help promote the message is my job, and I really do take it seriously.

Some immediate suggestions

I’ve spent a fair amount of time and effort myself promoting this message, so let me offer a few insights from my own experience:

First, I find that it’s far more effective to put people into "ask mode" rather than pushing information at them. If you come across as trying to sell them something or "promote a cause", they tend to tune out. Everybody has been solicited too many times by everyone from the NRA to religious groups, and they tend to be defensive. Instead, I try to get them to ask me to tell them about the crash course.

The standard ice-breaker question in our culture is "So, what do you do?", referring to your occupation. I always answer something like this:


I do investment management work but what I’m really passionate about it a volunteer project I’ve been working on. I’ve felt for a long time like I wanted to contribute something to the world. I care about causes like Global Warming, but I really don’t have the background to do anything about them myself. But I recently learned about this guy who’s on something of a crusade to educate the general population about how the economy really works, and how it’s interconnected to energy and the environment. He’s absolutely brilliant and it really feels great to be helping out by volunteering some of my time for a cause I believe in. So what do you do?


Notice how I end by asking them about themselves, and I do not push any more information on them about the Crash Course. Inevitably, they will ask me to tell them more about the Crash Course. This is a key skill of salesmanship. People on the defensive don’t accept anything you tell them. People who are asking for information do. Think like Huck Finn in Tom Sawyer getting the other kids to beg him to let them paint the fence for him.

My next suggestion is to keep in mind that most people are selfish and care primarily about what’s in it for them. If you can draw on your own experience and articulate some way that your life has been improved by this education on the 3 E’s, you’ll inspire others (through their greed) to want in on the deal. For example, whenever I’m speaking to anyone I think is involved in financial markets, I pull out the heavy amunition:


As I private investor I’m only up a little over 8% year-to-date as of Oct. 31, 2008. While that pales in contrast to my 23% overall return in 2007, it’s a hell of a lot better that most other private investors I know, most of whom are still stuck in the mentality of "looking for a bottom", rather than really coming to understand the root cause of this financial crisis. The Crash Course gave me a huge amount of insight I never would have had otherwise.


Anybody who makes their living in financial markets is instantly engaged, but that’s only a small part of the general population. My point is, you have to find something that’s real and meaningful to you in your life, and make the other person feel that they could get some personal gain from investing 3 1/2 hours of their life watching the Crash Course.

My strongest bit of advice is to feel the person out for their interests, then direct them to start by watching a chapter that will have some WIFM factor for them (WIFM=What’s In It For Me). So if I get the sense someone is contemplating buying or selling a home, I always direct them to Ch. 15 (Bubbles) because they will get some education that directly affects their decision. If they seem interested in the Environment, I tell them to watch Ch 17 and 18 first.

Let’s face it: As fantastic as the Crash Course is, it was designed to withstand academic scrutiny and therefore starts with foundational concepts that don’t have a whole lot of direct payoff for people [the unfortunate majority] who only care if there is something of immediate value in it for them. People who seek to feed their brains for the sake of bettering themselves without requiring an immediate payoff are increasingly rare. I ususally say something like:


You know, the whole Crash Course is absolutely amazing stuff, but I gotta tell you, the first few chapters are designed to explain some foundational concepts that can seem boring if you don’t yet see how they fit into the overall big picture. So since you mentioned you were considering buying a house, I suggest you start by checking out Chapter 15, which explains what really caused this housing bubble, and what we can expect next. It’ll only take 15 minutes of your time to watch, and I think that once you’ve seen it, you’ll agree that it’s very much worth your time to invest 3 1/2 hours of your life watching the whole thing.


This example applies to someone interested in buying a home. Based on the person, I usually send them to Ch. 10, 12, 13, 15, 17, or 18 first. In my opinion, being candid and honest and preparing them up-front for the fact that the Crash Course is more like a college lecture than a TV show is helpful. Let’s face it, the CC isn’t all that eye-catching or attention grabbing to the typical American attention span, so some expectation setting helps in my experience.

My last suggestion is to remember that people forget. They will probably tell you (quite sincerely) that they intend to watch the CC on your advice, then they’ll forget about it. Things you can do to overcome this include:

  • Invite them to a CC showing at your home or another location. A personal invitation is much different psychologically than a suggestion to look at a web site.
  • Give them something tangible. The DVD will be best, and it’ll be available very soon (we expect to start taking online orders tomorrow). Meanwhile, I actually walk around carrying little messages like this printed on business card stock:

    People will say they can "remember", but they never do. You can print these on your own printer using Avery business card stock for pennies.
  • Follow up with them next time you see them, and ask if they enjoyed it. You can guilt people into watching it this way. A dirty trick, perhaps, but I don’t feel bad about doing it.

The long-term vision

We need to be much better at supporting the community of people who want to help promote this message. We’re doing our best, and your continuing suggestions are always welcome. Until we have grant money to really build an organization, all we can do is rely on threads like this and the efforts of the community to contribute promotional ideas and resources.

What I envision for the future is a sort of activist’s kit that includes:

  • A supply of both DVDs and cards similar to the one above
  • A T-shirt that says "Ask me how you can learn about the Economy, Energy, and the Environment". I’m already planning another design contest to ask the graphic artists in the community to come up with a really enticing design.
  • A handbook of suggestions and advice for how to help promote the message. Much of the content of this thread and more packaged into a how-to manual of sorts
  • A FAQ (as suggested earlier in this thread) to help address questions

But that’s still only the beginning. I also envision local meet-up groups where we invite people interested in promoting the message to attend an in-person event where they can meet like-minded folks in their areas to share ideas. This sort of promotional volunteerism is much more fun when you’re doing it with other passionate people.

We’re doing our best to make all these ideas happen, and Lucas Altic has been doing a fantastic job of spear-heading the volunteer brigade. But the truth is we are doing this on a shoestring, and can only accomplish so much. What we really need is a grant of a couple million dollars. With a real budget, I could hire a staff and make all these things happen. Until that happens, though, we’ll continue to the best we can using volunteer staff.

Your continued community discussion in threads like this one is one of the most important assets we have right now.

A personal note about participating in adult activities as a 17-yr old

Futuo, I can’t tell you how impressed I am by your maturity and enthusiasm. Let’s face it, most folks your age are obsessed with the latest pop culture thing going on, and are generally oblivious to serious threats to our long-term prosperity. You obviouly have an unusual sense of responsibility and comprehension of what’s important. The big picture here is that my generation is living beyond its means on borrowed money, and leaving the tab for your generation to pay off through what is certain to be a decreased standard of living for your generation and those to come. You guys shouldn’t tolerate that from "us"!

The people who most need to hear and react to this message are the people in your generation, but when Chris does live seminars, most of the people who show up are over 50! You have an ability the rest of us don’t share: You can be taken seriously by people in your own age group, who we most urgently need to motivate. I’m over 40, which means that in the eyes of most teens, I might as well be 400 and from a different planet. I only found out last week what those colored bracelets mean! (Wow, high school has changed!). So I think one of the most important things you can do is to help us get through to your generation.

I started my first software company at the age of 15, and by the time I was 17 I found myself in some of the most awkward situations. I would take clients (yes, really) out "for drinks", which is a standard business thing. I intentionally wore a beard at the age of 17 to try to look older than I really was. But then I’d get carded by the waitress! Talk about embarassing.

What I found over time was that the best strategy is to just be confident in what you have to say. Say it with confidence and conviction, but always be respectful of your elders. The notion of "a kid" participating in adult conversations is threatening and intimidating to most adults. Especially if they are unsure of their own knowledge of the subject matter. Think in terms of not putting them in a situation that triggers their insecurities. Try not to be too much of an expert yourself, but instead tell people you learned about this really cool subject matter from a very accomplished Ph.D. who did an online video course all about it. They may feel inclined to watch it just to explain to you why you’re all wrong. Try not to take offense at that. You got them to watch it… You won by achieving your objective, and they’re none the wiser.

You’ll have plenty of experiences where people just plain aren’t willing to "take a kid seriously". Always remember what you are experiencing is their insecurity, not a realistic reflection on yourself. The more you can take it in stride and not become defensive, the sooner people will start to take you more seriously. It’ll be an uphill battle – I wish I could be more encouraging but I know this from experience. They key is to know that no matter what, you can’t come across as thinking you know more than your elders, even when you obviously really do. If you try to prove you’re right, you look like an obnoxious kid. If you just be polite and let a few astute older folk observe that about you, you’ll be a hero before you know it.

I hope this helps. We really appreciate your contribution and I hope we’ll soon figure out how to inspire more people in your age group to care about this cause. You’re the generation who should be most concerned by all this!

Erik Townsend
Business Manager



  • Mon, Dec 01, 2008 - 10:03pm

    steve b

    steve b

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    Re: How to inform people about what is going on?

I know exactly were you are coming from, my friend has taken note of what i told him and is taking his own action but both his and my wife think were both mad and come Christmas all will be back to normal, what a shock they are in for when those millions of credit card bills start to roll in and people can’t pay them. Then there are all the companies who have been forced to cut costs to compete with the competition in the retail sector, come January when they stop selling products this will be the straw that breaks the camels back, all that debt, all those getting made redundant who will join all the others who can’t pay the Christmas bill’s which put even more pressure on companies to cut costs which forces more out of business. And so the cycle goes on, down and down.


I use the term exponential growth and the football pitch scenario to get my message across, along with the changes Nixon brought in and how things have been spiraling ever upwards since. another favourite is the "Creation of money" and fractional banking, this is a good starting point.


My personal feeling is this is going to spiral into a major depression not recession, we all know how they make up the GDP and how they "adjust it" if they told the truth we would have been in recession long ago, so when will we hit the bottom of the pit, not mid to late 2009 like out glorious PM says, i recon between five and seven years time, if we are lucky.


Keep spreading the word everyone, it’s an uphill battle but one thats worth the fight.¬†



  • Mon, Dec 08, 2008 - 07:19pm

    steve b

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    Re: How to inform people about what is going on?


[quote]I sometimes come on to strong and make people nervous, scared or depressed.[/quote] Welcome to my world, the trouble is everyone has had i so easy, most don’t have a clue how money is created or how it can be wiped out at the drop of a hat. what i get often is i get told,,, ha ha my money is invested in ISAS’s and so on and so they are guaranteed so i can’t lose out can i,,, but it’s only a piece of paper at the end of the day which can be torn up.

No it is a tough job getting the word out, i think we are in the ridiculing phase of things, don’t forget what was in the lessons, ideas which seam mad are often ridiculed before being accepted as the truth, one day the non believers will sit up and say, heck, those guys were right, the monetary system has collapsed.


sorry for babbling on mate 


  • Mon, Dec 08, 2008 - 08:43pm


    Mike Pilat

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    Re: How to inform people about what is going on?

Hi everyone:

I am 23 and have presented 2 hours of the crash course to an office of engineers and drafters. The response was very good and there was a strong desire to learn more. I think most people accept the signficance of the problems we face, but most do not understand them or understand what potential solutions are available. That said the professional, unbiased, and factual manner of the Crash Course stands alone as its own best advertisement. I think after 3 minutes most people were "hooked."

Erik mentioned local meetup groups and I think this is an excellent way to spread the word. The site is an effective tool for organizing grass roots groups, though there may be other ways. Potentially, the meetups could be organized directly on this site, though putting them on the Meetup site would give a little more visibility to a wider audience.

I believe the DVD is absolutely critical to success. It can be difficult to convince people to go to the site on their own or to watch the modules with you. But I believe that sticking a DVD in their hand will make them much more likely to jump in, since they can watch it with others from the comfort of their couch. I would anticipate a great increase in hits for this site following the start of the DVD campaign.

I’ve found it helpful to mostly let the Crash Course stand on its own to keep people interested. After they watch it, they suddenly seem filled with interest and their apathy is cured. The hardest part is getting them to the point of watching it, but I think we’ve already had some great ideas to that end.

Keep up the good work, everyone!


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