Game of Cults: The Role of People and Perception in Your Career Growth

I want to begin today’s article by saying there’s nothing new.

Most of the ideas I’m sharing are from other people. The bulk of my strategies around gamification come from Actionable Gaming by Yu-kai Chou.

Since the beginning, I’ve been citing the research of others and basing the ideas of community-based marketing on the analysis of others and psychological systems like the Human Givens Approach and Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

Nothing new, just organized in a new way.

I don’t want to give anyone the wrong impression that I’m some genius who has come up with all these ideas.

Most of the work is from others; I learn by researching, thinking through what I find, and sharing my analysis and applications with you.

I share this to highlight two points.

Throughout this series, many intelligent people have helped us along the way. If I haven’t given them proper credit and citation, it doesn’t change my admiration for their work or the recognition they deserve. I apologize for those omissions.

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We will now be connecting this all together into a game system and community-based marketing model.

Going forward, I’ll show you how the pieces come together. To prepare you for this, I will take the rest of this article and the next one to discuss who we are versus what we want to be so that we can learn.

Who we are

We are products of our environment.

There is a lot to unpack from those six words.

Before I apply this to our work on the brand, identity, and community, let me tell you about a recent conversation I had with my boys.

We were talking about choices. They are seventeen and will soon be making choices that have a massive impact on them and others.

To date, they have been more impacted by choices Suze and I make. Their parents have—unconsciously or consciously—decided where they live, go to school, what they eat and believe.

They are aware of the indoctrination but are also prisoners of it.

But that’s all about to change. As they move forward, take risks like moving to another country or building new friend groups, those decisions will alter the course of events not only for them but for future generations.

The status quo is temporary and, more and more, will be changed as they take control of their own lives.

The same is true for you.

Don’t let the status quo trap you.

Your environment is more than just where we live.

It is what you read, how you talk to yourself, the people you connect with, and the community you build.


Where you live has a significant impact on how you think. In the most drastic changes, the language may change from that of your native language, and, well, we’ve already talked about how language influences your perceptions.


If you read, that takes you into an elite group of people that are continuously educating themselves. Many don’t. By the way, when I say “read,” I also mean listen. For some, the advent of audiobooks has made it possible to increase their information input.

What you read shapes your ideas, and the act unconsciously signals that you are growing.


What you say to yourself matters most. Start here and work on becoming your own best cheerleader. Positive thoughts and optimism are essential to get you through rough patches in your start-up. It’s when times are demanding that you show your mettle. Anyone can be cheerful when riding the wave of a boom, but what is your internal monologue when the industry is in a down cycle?


Who do you spend most of your time with? Who is your mentor? Who are your peers that you talk to regularly?

The people we surround ourselves with lift us up or pull us down.

People sitting in a park

You are looking to succeed in a winner-take-all market. Sure, you’re learning how that market works, but it doesn’t change the fact that this market is unpredictable and inequitable.

To compete in this market, you need people around you that get you and encourage you, not question you.

The community you build

I share this to get you thinking about the various inputs that influence your author career, but it also applies to your brand cult.

What type of people are you cultivating?

If your underlying tone is to sell more books, then people will be transactional because you’re treating them like a transaction.

In Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, esteem/status is above community and belonging. Therefore, make your community about being a better place to be—a place where you can be your best and allow others to do the same.

Think about how other brands play on esteem. Do you buy Dior for utility or esteem?

One more thing…

Take stock of your environment. Are there those you need to let go of to make room for others?

What are you reading, thinking, and doing with your time? Are you making the choices a profitable author seeking to be at the top of their game makes?

Read: Building a Robust Learning System to Supercharge Your Business