The Engineer’s Dilemma

I spent most of this week writing on what I figured would be this week’s essay, then late last night I thought of this topic. I read and consume a bit of red pill content, because I find it interesting, I like supporting the other content creators in the sphere, I learn from it and like this week I got a bit of inspiration. I consumed 2 major pieces of content this week, I watched Rich Cooper’s speech at last years 21 Convention and I read Alan Roger Currie’s book “Mode One“. I just got to know Rich when we started doing The Red Man Group, and I was not very familiar with Alan, except for a Podcast he did with Donovan [3]  a while back, but I’m glad I took the time to consume their content this week.

Both men have a similar over-arching theme to these pieces of work that is very familiar to me from my work with start-ups. In my experience, entrepreneurs often come in two types, there is the salesman and the engineer. Both groups can make very successful companies, however the problems they face are often quite different. The salesman comes up with an idea for a business and as he prefers doing sales, that’s where he begins. Over a fairly short period of time he may amass a lot of orders, sign quite a few contracts, then when it becomes time to deliver the product he has no idea what to do next. The help that the salesman often needed was structuring up his value chain, handling the administrative work, product development, logistics, production and other parts of the day to day operations.

The engineer type on the other hand comes up with an idea for a product, and he immediately starts work on making a prototype. He often spends a ton of time working out every kink in the product, setting up production, figuring out how to handle his value chain and his logistics. However, he would end up very far into the hole because he never really got around to thinking about who his market is, how to bring the product to market or how to get sales.

The Engineer’s Dilemma

The salesman thinks “I’ll just make sure I got some sales going, and I’ll sort out the boring details later“, the engineer thinks “I’ll just make sure the product is perfect, then I’ll figure out how to get some sales”. Many extremely successful businesses have arisen when you have an engineer and a salesman working closely together, Microsoft where Paul Allen was the engineer,  Bill Gates the salesman, or Apple where Woz was the engineer and Jobs the salesman.

The problems that the salesman entrepreneur experiences are often much easier to solve than the ones experienced by the engineer, because if you go to a bank with a stack of orders and ask for a loan to fill the orders, few banks will say no. The engineer’s problem is that is mind wants a perfect product before every trying to sell it.

The reason why I enjoyed watching Rich’s speech is that he talked about how his scars prevented him from doing a lot of things that he wanted to do, because in his mind their importance was magnified to a large degree. Once he realized that this limitation was self-imposed he was able to do work to move beyond it. Likewise, “Mode One” talks about how most men default to either “Mode Two” communication or “Mode Three” communication as a form of saving their ego based in fear. To be a little crass, a man communicating in “Mode Two” will show a woman his dick but not until he is convinced that she wants to see it, a Man communicating in Mode 3 will not show a woman his dick until she explicitly asks. At their core, both these problems stem from flawed syllogism within one’s own mind that I suspect is largely subconscious:

Major Premise: To get X, [insert] must be Y

Minor Premise: [Insert] not Y

Conclusion: Therefore [Insert] cannot get X

I formulated this syllogism in a neutral form because I think it’s applicable in many areas. The engineer entrepreneur thinks:

Major Premise: To get success [the product] must be perfect

Minor Premise: [The Product] is not perfect

Conclusion: Therefore [the product] cannot get successful

The engineer’s dilemma reminds me of when I was doing some home renovation a while ago, after completing the work, I stood back, looked at what I had built. I saw every single mistake I had made and every single flaw. The moulding was off by a little bit under the ceiling, the nail marks from putting it up were really obvious, where I’d used spackle to cover up the nails there was a slight color difference with the paint, some of the floorboards had moved a little bit after being put in, and a ton of others. A couple of years later, I don’t really notice those flaws anymore.

The major difference between the salesman and the engineer is that they are both avoiding having to do something they dislike, but they also want to avoid different forms of criticism. The salesman wants to avoid being criticized for not getting his product sold, because his identity is tied up in being a salesman. The engineer wants to avoid being criticized for building a bad product, because his identity is tied up in being an engineer. Both of them forget that most people aren’t salesmen or engineers and will not be able to tell the real difference.

This is more pronounced with the engineer, because he sees all the flaws in his product, and engineers have a tendency to be highly detail oriented people who have a mind that always seeks to improve whatever is their focus at a given time. The reason I refer to this as the engineer’s dilemma rather than the entrepreneur’s dilemma, is that there is an upper natural limit to the salesman’s activity, because once you make the sale, you usually get a date when the product has to be delivered. For the engineer, he can tinker for his entire life provided he doesn’t run out of funds and never reach a state of perfection. For every flaw he fixes, he discovers a new one, for every prototype he builds he gains knowledge and experience that shows him a way to make it better.

This is the same case with many men who find The Red Pill, including myself in periods, we get obsessed with some flaw in ourselves, real or perceived, and obsess about it. Over time this flaw magnifies in our mind, and becomes all-consuming, and we think “if I just fix X, all my problems will be over“, but the reality is that the flaw doesn’t really exist anywhere except in our own minds, most other people do not notice it. However, we utilize this perceived flaw as a buffer, in order to avoid doing what we do not want to do [4].

I’m reminded of an old bodybuilding joke, “The first time you set foot in the gym is the last day you ever feel big enough“.

Summary and Conclusions

Despite Rian’s [5] questionable sartorial selections, his assertion that most men just have to stop stepping on their own dick is very sound. Both the engineer and the salesman step on their own dick, but one is half-stepping, the other is tap dancing.

Their motivation behind doing so is an illusion that by focusing on what they like to do, they can put less focus into what they do not want to do. One thing I’ve found in reading the Red Pill reddit is that the major difference between the men who progress and the men who do not is that some men make a decision of “Fuck it, I can’t change it so I’ll work with what I got“, and other men make the choice of “Fuck it, I can’t change it, so what is the point of trying?“. A great example is height, these men create a syllogism like:

Major Premise: To get women, [I] must be 6 ft tall or taller

Minor Premise: [I’m] not over 6 feet

Conclusion: Therefore [I] cannot get women

This is an example of what Rollo has verbalized on the Red Man Group many times, and probably has an essay or two on, which is men preemptively rejecting themselves, rather than face rejection. It’s also why the phrase “Self-improvement is masturbation” was invented, because some men get stuck in this loop of “I just need to fix A“, then they move to “I just need to fix B“, then “I just need to fix C“, and so it goes. Until they die with six pack abs, 100 million in the bank, speaking 12 languages, having visited every country on earth, having obtained 24 advanced degrees, owning 4 houses and 32 cars, gaining a 2400 lb powerlifting total, 3 top placements in bodybuilding contests, having mastered 28 different skillsets, having placed in The World’s Strongest Man twice, and have gotten laid exactly 0 times because the technology wasn’t invented to take them from 5 ft 11 to 6 ft tall.

This is not saying that we shouldn’t always strive to be the best man we can be, but rather that it’s very easy to get stuck in this extremely critical and introspective mode where we create a 487 bullet-point list of why we’re unworthy, where most of those are outside of our control. In essence, it still puts women on a pedestal, in that your internal perception of yourself is below that of any woman. It’s one of those interesting things I notice as more and more men around me are getting married.

Him: 6 ft tall, in shape, advanced degree, professional job, 6 figure salary, on a solid career track.

Her: 5 ft, 250 lbs, no degree, part-time job, barely making ends meet, dead end job.

Him:I don’t get why she would ever marry a bum like me

Her:You’re so lucky I put up with you

All the while I’m sitting there at the open bar, sipping top-shelf scotch and making bets with the bartender on how long the marriage will last.

To summarize the problem, it’s quite simple, the engineer is engaged in a form of solipsism, where he projects his laser-focus onto everyone else and assumes that they will see his product with his eyes, knowledge and ability. This is the same as when a man who is 5 ft 6 decides that this is a dealbreaker for all women out there and thus preemptively rejects himself until some magical new form of surgery shows up to make him taller.

All this stems from comparison, but we compare our own behind the scenes, raw and uncut footage with another person’s carefully crafted and maintained highlight reel.

Sources:

[1] Richard Cooper “Be Better” –  21 Convention

[2] Allan Roger Currie – Mode 1

[3] The Sharpe Reality

[4] The Rational Male – Buffers

[5] Rian Stone

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4 comments on “The Engineer’s Dilemma

  1. >> However, we utilize this perceived flaw as a buffer, in order to avoid doing what we do not want to do

    This was on my mind this morning… I know so many guys in game that get stuck in that “I just have to do this one thing before I talk to girls,” so they never talk to girls.

    I like your Engineer vs the Salesman analogy. I have been using “Scientist” vs Salesman for years.

    Once on a trip, we had a salesman in the driverseat of our car. We came to a fork in the road where none of us had any info. The salesman said, “It’s this way.” And I (being more typically “science-y”) said, “You have no idea if that’s right/wrong… but I’m not arguing with you, let’s try it out.” The salesman laughed.

    When I started my consulting business… I had “Imposteur Syndrome” for the first year or two. I was lucky that I had enough “salesman” in me to move fwd anyway. I would book the deal, then do the work (science-y work), then feel like a fraud as I went to present it… but the clients loved my work. Took me about a year or two to realize the clients couldn’t see the “full potential” so they didn’t know how good/thorough I was, and the truth was… I was better than anyone else they knew. This happened over and over. I no longer feel like an imposteur.

    To bring this back to game… that combination of “be the best you can be” combined with “fuck it, do it anyway,” allows you to get your product (yourself) to market (SMP). Salesmen types will always be better at game… because if you don’t A-S-K you can’t G-E-T. Even low SMV salesmen types will seriously outperform high SMV guys that never approach. Physical escalation is a great example… guys that try, get laid. Those that don’t… don’t.

    It’s a fucked up thing about game that the “instruction manual” concept (that game can be learned) appeals the most to the “engineer” types. So he will go after game, and get stuck studying/improving instead of talking to girls… spending all his time looking for the best “instruction manual,” instead of the best fit between his product (him) and customers (some girl).

    And to loop it all back around to the role of R&D in game… I had enough salesman in me to know that I had to start “cold calling” or I was never going to get laid. Too obvious for me to miss. But that engineer in me knew I had to keep working on the product… it wasn’t either/or, it was both. I did both.

    And now, after 10 years in game… I’m lifting for the first time. It was a thing “I didn’t want to do,” so I did other things (including the approaching). Now, if I want to take my game up a notch (and compensate for my age), lifting has become an unavoidable next step for me.

    So we loop around from selling the product, to improving the product, to selling the “improved product,” etc. And the references experiences from actually dating girls is the best “research” you can do. It’ll help you see flaws in the product that matter (you’ll know from feedback). And then you know what to improve.

    Great topic. Cheers!

    Like

  2. Veneno1 says:

    Thank you for this one. I need to suck it up and start hit on girls again . I have enough muscle, money and time.

    Like

  3. Corey Jacob says:

    Very good article. I see myself doing that. Especially like the bodybuilding quote. I never looked at it that way. Thank you.

    Like

  4. DiamondBack says:

    Great article, but I could not get past the irony of this sentence: “The engineer’s problem is that is mind wants a perfect product before every trying to sell it.” It is definitely NOT a “perfect” sentence.

    My conclusion is either:
    1. You did this on purpose
    or
    2. You are not an engineer.

    Sorry. Asperger’s.

    Like

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