This article is a series of show notes / personal reflections on the podcast. In this article, I will…
- break down the episode
- give insight as to what I learned from listening to Tai Lopez
- attempt to discover if Tai Lopez is a fraud or a brilliant entrepreneur
- give personal insight to the conversation
Let’s get started.
Note – There was a lot of information in this episode and the conversation meandered a lot between subject matters. I tried my best to articulate the info in a concise manner, but you should listen to the episode to get the full context.
Tai Lopez vs. Silicon Valley
Shaan opens the podcast and goes straight into addressing the friction that exists between Tai and the Silicon Valley communities. When Shaan mentioned that Tai Lopez was coming on his podcast, the reaction on Twitter was polarizing.
Do you always get this kind of polarizing reaction?
“What bothers most people is displays of things. Silicon Valley is full of people who want to accumulate wealth. It’s a place that doesn’t want to admit that they’re more like me than they think.” – TL
Tai address the “get rich quick” schemes
The two courses that he has had the most success with are “67 steps” and “Social Media Marketing Agency” courses. He defends both of these courses by reflecting on the hundreds of testimonials he’s received and puts his products against a college education which costs 6 figures and provides less value.
Tai finishes this with an insightful quote from one of his mentors, which is meant to address the visceral reaction of his products from Silicon Valley.
“Men have always been bothered by conspicuous status of other men.” – Dr. David Buss
What Year Were You Born?
Sam directly asks Tai about his age. Tai dodges the question and goes down a rabbit hole.
“I’m not young and I’m not old and I’ve been an adventure seeker my whole life.” – TL
Tai immediately redirects the conversation and names some facts about his passions.
- He has a love for cars.
- He loves to travel.
- As soon as he got out of the city, he felt connected to farming.
“People want to pigeon hole you. They wanna be like ‘that’s the lambo guy.’ I’m like ‘what about the farm with horses guy?'” – TL
Is There a Fair Criticism of You?
Shaan asks Tai to address some of the criticisms against him. Tai does not shy away and is willing to argue the side against him.
The endgame – “If you show a Lombhorgini to people, people will think that it is the endgame.” – TL
Manipulation – “I see the angle, because all good marketing is manipulative.” – TL
Tai mentions Apple as the largest corporation in history. It’s built with child labor in Asia and is ruthless in its profiteering. Tai can argue against himself but can also point out counterpoints in everyone.
I think this was a missed opportunity for Tai to become more human. Instead of addressing the criticisms against himself, he goes on the offensive and brings down other people as if to subliminally say “I’m not as bad as that guy.”
The positive side of showing off materialism
Tai points out some of the benefits highlighting the “reward mechanisms” of materialism. For instance, his ads and marketing material have gotten teens to read books and absorb motivational material and build businesses that are “important to the world.”
“I think it’s important to make people read. I think it’s important to save the environment. – TL
How Big Is Your Empire?
Sam asks another direct question about the scale of Tai’s empire. Tai rants in various directions about his business structure. This section was full of gems, but also full of ambiguity. I had a hard time keeping track of the points Tai was trying to make.
- Tai talks about purchasing Pier 1 Imports
- They talk about REV
- Tai talks about the 5 major American brands he purchased at undervalued prices
- Tai talks about the structure of his deals
- Tai talks about his preference to raise debt rounds in his investment pool
- Tai talks about his attempt to buy American Apparel
- He argues for brand acquisition being a massive attribute to wealth generation as opposed to real estate or venture
- He argues Silicon Valley is overrated: this part was very engaging as Shaan argued that Silicon Valley is for “builders.”
How Did You Make Your First Million?
It wasn’t until about 50 minutes into the episode that I really started enjoying the substance of what Tai Lopez was bringing to the MFM audience. Everything up to this point was addressing some of the sensationalism behind his content and the “magical essence” Tai Lopez can bring to his deals.
At this point in the conversation, I felt like I was finally learning some new skills or some new insight that could make me a better marketer and entrepreneur.
Some key insights…
Tai gets a dose of inspiration from reading Tony Robbins
When you succeed you party, but when you fail, you ponder, and all greatness comes from pondering. – Tony Robbins
Tai started to branch and experiment
His original audience didn’t see him as a materialistic salesman, but rather an insightful high-level business person. He made his first million through multiple streams of passive income. Tai was making passive income from life insurance leads that he was flipping at a cheap CPA with Google Adwords, through a dating site that he purchased a stake in, from nightclubs, and from commercial real estate.
The education products took off around 2015 when he started experimenting with YouTube ads.
Tai does not shy away from charging money for education.
“If you bring value, charge money.” – TL
What Would 22 Year Old Tai Do?
He would start a service based business.
Tai talks about how the best opportunities for regular people are to create simple service-based businesses. His obvious example is a social media marketing agency.
From there, you should position into a product-based business – TL
- Small urban farms (CSA delivered to people)
- Construction businesses
- Boring businesses
- Life insurance
My favorite part in this line of conversation was when Tai encouraged his 22-year-old self to build something that lasts and not worry too much about “exiting.” Build a service business that can stand the test of time and continues to profit.
For the last 8 years, I’ve owned and operated a very successful SEO agency that yields high quarterly distributions. However, I do find myself feeling inadequate because an agency isn’t sexy in the same way that a SaaS startup is.
But who cares? Tai definitely appeals to the regular guys like myself. I felt reassured that a service business is a great place to start and a great way to learn the fundamentals of business building.
“I would tell my 22 year old self to look to the Titans.” – TL
“Respect the seasons of life.” -TL
Tai says when you’re young, you should get active and get sweaty. Grind in your 20’s, build in your 30’s, profit in your 40’s, mentor in your 50’s so you can hand it off in your 60’s.
“My superpower is persuasion.” -TL
Tai makes the statement that “persuasion is his superpower.” It’s true.
Persuasion is a superpower. Negotiation is a superpower. If there is one avenue in which I could most relate to Tai Lopez, it was his passion and his appreciation for the art of directing a conversation to bend reality to his will.
Everything that was talked about in this episode, is somehow related to Tai’s ability to persuade an audience to pay attention to him, to persuade a businessman to sell him a business at a low price or even persuade a rival into seeing reality from his worldview.
Could it be that Tai’s magical ability to purchase these massive brands (such as Pier 1 Imports) at such low prices is a result of his persuasive ability?
The Numbers Don’t Add Up
If there was a place in which I wish Sam and Shaan pressed Tai Lopez more, it would be to get to the bottom of the numbers behind his Pier 1 acquisition deal.
Shaan tried to get the details behind it, but the numbers still don’t add up.
If Pier 1 is doing $70 million in monthly revenue, how is it possible for Tai Lopez to acquire the entire company for $31 million dollars?
Again, Tai displayed his ability to control the context of a conversation by bouncing between subjects such as bankruptcy laws, the pandemic, and knowing how to be at the right place at the right time.
But very little factual information was given.
This could have been a golden opportunity for Tai to flex his true entrepreneurship muscles and for Sam and Shaan to pull some cold hard facts out of the conversation.
Ultimately, Tai summarizes his magical deal in one sentence.
“The one time there’s a free lunch is when something is inefficient and no one sees it yet.” – TL
In the past, I admit I have felt disdain towards people selling info products. We all know the story.
“This guy got rich by selling courses that teach people how to build a business that sells courses so they can build a business by selling courses to teach people how to build a business selling courses.”
It’s like a new age pyramid scheme.
Over the years, I’ve realized in myself that it was probably jealousy more than it was disdain. Are there ways to hack the system with get rich quick schemes? Of course. But fundamentally, even get rich quick products require a great user experience and high-level marketing insight to execute effectively.
It took me some time to come to terms with that. With that said, I think most people who have such a visceral reaction towards Tai Lopez need to come to terms with that insecurity inside themselves as well.
Personally, I don’t think Tai Lopez has hurt anyone. If anything, he has helped people. Does that mean he’s completely innocent of creating fake profiles or using marketing techniques that are frowned upon? No. I don’t have any evidence and so everything I would say is speculation.
If we dig deeper, I’m 100% certain we would find some shady marketing tactics behind some of Tai Lopez’s success. But in regards to his info products, his success comes down to one key concept.
Why would people want to buy courses from him?
Because we want what he has.
Tai understands that deep down, status plays a huge motivating factor in purchase decisions and if you want to gain the attention of young men who want status, the best way to do that is by showing off luxury cars.
With all that said, there is one more important question that we all need to ask ourselves.
Why we do we care about Tai Lopez so much?
You have to see the irony behind what’s happening here. This entire interview, the controversy, and the buzz on Twitter, is falling right into Tai Lopez’s hands.
Tai is intelligent and I get the feeling that all his vagueness, his meandering, and his intellectual curiosity are very intentional. I think he is very purposeful in creating his brand and his image.
Sam and Shaan did as well as they could have. They tried their best to ask the tough questions, but ultimately, Tai is a master at directing the conversation and I don’t think there was a way to get a straight answer from him. But I appreciate Sam and Shaan’s willingness to listen, to be objective, and to go into the conversation with an open mind. Kudos to them.
Love him or hate him, every single one of us is thinking to ourselves “how does Tai Lopez do it?”
You’ll have to buy his course to find out.