Randy Gage is certainly no stranger to these pages. We featured him as a lead story in our May/June 2009 issue, talking about the state of the network marketing profession and his outspoken online publication The MLM Revolution: A Manifesto, and again in September/October 2011 in our issue on writing as the new social currency. He is one of the most well-known authors and creators of training materials in the networking world.
What prompted his return this issue is the publication of his latest book, a tour de force that takes its readers on a wild journey into the bizarre, technologically mind-boggling future worthy of a twenty-first-century Hieronymus Bosch—a future, Gage insists, that is very real indeed, and coming to life over the next few years. We talked about his vision of a world with collapsed currencies, cloned armies, and heart surgery by joystick, and what it all means to the future of network marketing.
Fasten your seat belts. It’s going to be a bumpy read. — J.D.M.
You start your book by describing an incident where you meet a couple about to board a plane who have this adorable puppy with them—and then learn that the puppy is literally a clone. What did that experience mean to you?
Meeting that puppy was one of the most shocking, mind-bending things I have experienced in my fifty-three years. They had just picked him up in South Korea, where he had been cloned from the cells of their beloved pet—who had died years earlier. It was completely surreal. Mindboggling.
I would have bet a million dollars that this was just an ordinary puppy. To me, cloning and DNA sequencing was still just a concept, not a manifested reality. In fact, I didn’t fully believe it until we landed at the airport in Miami and all these reporters were at the airport waiting to see this puppy. And the next day, there it was, on the front page of the Miami Herald. That’s when it really sunk in.
I started thinking, “Okay, what else is coming down the road?”
We know at some point they’ll be cloning humans, and then eventually some Third World country will be cloning sex workers, and where does it end? We’ll be debating the moral and ethical dilemmas this presents for decades, and it still won’t put the genie back in the bottle.
It’s going to disrupt families, the workforce, and society. It’s probably the most cataclysmic change that will happen in our lifetime. That doesn’t make it right; it doesn’t make it good; it just is what it is. It’s going to happen.
My first impulse is to want to go to my room, turn out the lights, curl up in a ball and say, “If I just ignore it, it will all go away.” It seems too huge to grapple with. But take us through it: what will the implications look like?
A father and a mother have two kids. One is a good kid and one is a bad kid. Are they going to conceive a third child now, or are they going to say, “Well, let’s clone the good kid.”
Or say they have a boy and a girl, and now the father wants to clone eight more boys because he wants to have the perfect Little League baseball team. What does that do to a marriage? What does that do to those nine kids? What does that do to the family?
In the book I give the example of Jones & Son Hardware. Why would Jones want to hire employees if he can just clone some more sons? And if you’re one of those sons, how do you feel about that? People are going to have to do some serious soul searching. And the psychologists and psychiatrists and family counseling services are going to be very busy.
And, as I say in the book, all these cataclysmic changes are also going to present amazingly lucrative opportunities for those who choose to look at it that way.
Say more about how you see that also creating new opportunities.
New problems always create new opportunities. When something is keeping someone awake at night, there is an opportunity for someone else to become wealthy if they can make that problem go away. If you get a flat tire on your way out to dinner, that’s bad for you, but for the guy who owns the tire store, that’s good. He’s got to send his daughter to college, and the tire he sold you just put him that much closer to the tuition deposit.
Make it go away or somehow shift it into a new perspective.
Some people have been shocked and upset about the section in the book that talks about what’s going to happen when virtual-reality sex actually shows up online. That’s going to be another incredibly disruptive thing, in terms of family, society, culture, ethics, everything.
My friends Hilde and Ørjan Sæle are very passionate about fighting against sex trafficking and slavery that’s happening the world right now. Well, what happens when we have virtual-reality sex and sex worker clones? It’s going to be … what’s another synonym for cataclysmic?
Earth-shattering? Calamitous? Tsunamological?
And here’s the thing: people are shocked about it—but it’s going to happen. This isn’t about whether you like it or not. I’m just reporting the facts here.
I’m just saying, here’s what’s going to happen as this technology develops, so let’s be ready for it and start thinking about how we’re going to deal with it.
Look at contraception, say, or even stem cell research, which both flirt with some of those same issues of the basic life process. They are pretty benign, compared with what you’re talking about, yet they’re both huge controversies. I can’t even imagine what the political dialogue will look like.
We’ve been doing genetic engineering for years with plants and animals. Right now they’re breeding certain types of insects to try to control things in the ecosystem. When you put biogenetic engineering and cloning together, where does that lead? Who’s going to be the first Third-World country that decides to develop a super race and build an army out of it?
This stuff was nothing but fantasy and futuristic sci-fi a few years ago. All of a sudden, it’s all a very real possibility in the very near future.
And we’re not talking about fifty or a hundred years from now. Richard Branson is going to be putting tourists in space next year. There’s a hotel in the South Pacific right now that offers a room on the ocean floor. Most of your readers who are reading these words will be able to vacation on the moon or buy a home on the ocean floor in their lifetime. And cloning of human beings will happen during their lifetime.
As terrifying as a lot of this sounds, as you point out, the bigger the challenge, the bigger the opportunity.
That’s really what the book is about. It’s not a gloom and doom book. I believe we’re living in the greatest time in human history. There has never been more opportunity than what’s available right here, right now.
So let’s talk economics. What is the old economic model, and why is it broken? And what does the new economic world look like?
The Keynesian economic model so prevalent today has run amok.
Socialism is one of those things that sounds good and looks good on paper but just doesn’t work out here in the real world. The Keynesian model says, “Hey, we can borrow our way out of this, the government can finance everything, we’ve just got to tax the rich people a little more and that will provide enough to solve everyone’s problems.” And that model is broken.
As I say in the book, I believe the Euro will collapse within the next two years.
It’s actually looking pretty shaky right now. [Our interview was conducted in late August—Ed.]
It’s funny, I wrote in my blog about four months ago that this was coming, and from the responses I got, you would have thought that I was drowning puppies in front of little children. [Laughs] Now my fear is that the Euro is going to collapse before the book comes out!
[Laughs] You were too conservative!
The Euro is a failed model, which the book goes into in some detail. At some point the countries who have done a better job at managing their resources are going to say, “Wait a minute. You want me to raise taxes and reduce benefits for my population so I can give more money to these other countries, because they promised their people that they could retire at age forty-seven—and my people have to work until they’re sixty-seven?”
Pretty soon their leaders won’t be able to get re-elected. We already saw that happen in France. I love Paris; it’s an amazing city, and I go there a lot. But the last few years you couldn’t even visit there, because the whole place is on strike. The Metro’s on strike, the airport’s on strike, the garbage workers are on strike.
Why? Because the previous French government finally said, “Okay, we know you were promised this retirement money and these pensions, but the fact is, the money’s been spent already and you’re not getting it, so get used to it.”
So the people went on strike, voted out the old government, and voted in a new Socialist government!
So, yeah, the Euro is doomed. All this is going to disrupt the dollar, the pound, the Yen, and it’s going to make precious metals skyrocket. So there will be people who make a fortune with gold and platinum and silver. And then, when the Google boys start mining asteroids and it becomes cheaper to bring gold and silver and platinum back to Earth than it is to take it out of the Earth, the market will go down again.
The point is this: when everyone is zigging, you want to be zagging.
The Buffett Law: Be greedy when others are fearful, and fearful when others are greedy.
Some of the greatest fortunes in our time were created during the Great Depression. Fortunes are created during every recession. Every time there is a challenge or a problem, the person who can solve that problem has the opportunity to create wealth.
You say, “Retail is dead.” Why is that?
Two things are causing the death of retail: online marketing and network marketing.
In the United States, retail today operates on the same model as it did 230 years ago. When products were created in the Old World, they came across the Atlantic on a boat, landed in East coast ports, like New York and Boston, were transported by stage coach across the country, and finally sold in a general store.
Well, the boats have switched to planes, and the stage coaches switched to trains, which have switched to eighteen-wheelers, and general stores turned into department stores, which turned into megamalls—but the basic model hasn’t changed a bit.
Is it any wonder that Home Depot was in bankruptcy and that Macy’s in bankruptcy? All these retail chains are in collapse because they’re trying to operate on a model from 230 years ago. In fact, they’ve made it more bloated and inefficient, by adding all these layers of wholesalers and rack jobbers and warehousers.
On the other hand, look at this elegant model of network marketing: a company manufactures a product and sends it directly to their distributors, who in many cases are the end consumer. Or they’re conversationally marketing it to their friends, neighbors, acquaintances, and sphere of influence, through Facebook and other social media.
Traditional retail is not literally dead—but it’s hastening its own irrelevance.
Is that pretty much a global phenomenon?
It is, but there are differences.
In the last five years, I’ve done a lot of work in Latvia, Lithuania, Slovenia, Croatia, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Russia, Kazakhstan, the Ukraine. Free enterprise is exploding in these formerly socialist countries. There’s a very real potential for a new world order here, because they are devouring opportunities for free enterprise, while in the West, people are getting lazy.
I sometimes get the impression that network marketing is more on fire in just about every other part of the world but here.
Because here we take it for granted. You grew up with it, so it’s not a big deal. But if you grew up in Macedonia, where for forty years you had a yoke over you, and now you get the opportunity to open up something like a network marketing business or home-based business or do some other kind of entrepreneurial thing, man, you’d jump at it.
You see the same thing with universities, there and in Asia: they’re preparing people more for the real world than our education system in the West does.
If you’re a parent right now and you’re trying to prepare your fourteen-year-old kid for the future, you can’t—because the best jobs of 2020 haven’t even been invented yet.
But you can make some good assumptions. Flash Foresight, the book you coauthored with Dan Burrus, is brilliant at this, the way it looks at cyclical trends versus linear trends and soft trends versus hard trends. With those kinds of tools, you can foresee the future without a crystal ball.
The U.S. educational model is based on exploiting student athletes, building big campuses, chasing after endowments—a lot of physical structure. But the future is online learning. If you put your fourteen-year-old through twelve years of college to become a heart surgeon, she’s going to be at a disadvantage, because in the future heart transplant surgery is going to be done with a joystick, with the patient on the other side of the glass in the operating room or 4,000 miles away.
In 2019, the best heart surgeon is going to be the kid who today is good at playing Angry Birds.
There is also a lot of material in your book that reads like it was written a hundred years ago. “Harness your ego with self-discipline.” Who writes that anymore?
What I really wanted to do with this book is to write Think and Grow Rich, 2013 edition. Seventy-five years ago, when Think and Grow Rich came out, it was a shocking book. Napoleon Hill talked about “faith visualization” and “auto-suggestion,” all kinds of strange things. He had a chapter in there called “the mystery of sex transmutation”! I mean, seventy-five years ago, you did not talk about that stuff.
So here’s what he did. He got people in the front door by saying, “Here, I’m going to show you how Ford, Wanamaker, Carnegie, and Edison all made their money.” And then, by the time you were into the back of the book, he was talking about the real character issues that allow you to become the kind of person who creates success and prosperity.
I modeled what Napoleon Hill did. I’m getting people in the front door by saying, “Here’s what Mark Cuban and Mark Zuckerberg think; here’s what Steve Jobs and Richard Branson did. Here’s how these maverick entrepreneurs think and act differently than broke people think and act.”
And once you’re in the back of the book, we’re talking about how to channel the ego for success.
You also write about network marketing.
I believe we are about to enter the golden era of network marketing.
It’s like a perfect storm. We’re going to have millions of jobs eliminated, because of government malfeasance, currency collapse, and technology. We’re going to continue to see retail and traditional marketing break down. We’ll see ten, fifteen, twenty million people a month looking for work or having to retrain, like that heart surgeon who suddenly finds his skills are obsolete because he can’t use a joystick.
The whole landscape is changing. And there will be a point in the next few years when the entire profession of network marketing is going to go into an exponential growth curve, with several million people a month joining network marketing and direct selling companies.
We’ve all seen how individual companies hit their momentum phase. At some point within the next few years, the profession as a whole is going to hit that phase.
And you’re not saying, “If we do things in a certain way, that will to happen.” You’re saying, “That’s going to happen, period.”
Yes, and I believe it will help all network marketing companies, because a rising tide raises all the ships. However, there are a few qualifications here.
Number one, your ship has to be in the water. If your boat is parked at dry dock, the rising tide isn’t going to touch it.
And number two, your ship has to be seaworthy. Younger, smaller, more nimble companies will probably benefit more than some of the older, bigger ones, because they are more innovative and can make change faster. When this onslaught happens, people who are still saying “Here’s what you do: invite people over to dinner and just when they’re expecting you to bring out the carrot cake you wheel out the white board and start drawing circles” are not going to get the biggest bounce from all this.
I’m not saying there will never be meetings anymore. It’s just that the companies who are good at such innovations as social media and online video, companies who embrace change, are going to benefit more from this surge of growth than companies who don’t.
In Flash Foresight we have this principle called “both/and,” which says that when a new technology comes along it doesn’t necessarily supplant the old. The old and new exist side by side. And the winners are the ones who learn how to integrate them.
Exactly. There will always be a place for conventions, rallies, and in-person events. But the center of gravity is shifting toward online media. You’ll see leaders in the network marketing profession doing a lot more webcasts and streaming Internet presentations. And those who get that will fare better.