Welcome to EPISODE 50!!!!!
This is Episode 50 of The Unstoppable CEO™ Podcast, and it’s a biggie…
My guest is Perry Marshall, best selling author of seven books, including: The Ultimate Guide to Google Adwords, The Ultimate Guide to Facebook Ads, 80/20 Sales and Marketing.
But today, Perry and I are diving into his latest book—Evolution 2.0. Perry’s a brilliant marketer, and a disciplined engineer.
This is a fun, deep, and very different interview, that will expand your thinking.
And, there are unusual, seldom understood, parallels between Evolution 2.0 and your business (yes, really). You’ll have to listen to find out.
I hope you enjoy listening as much as I enjoyed being in this conversation with Perry.
Tune-in now to Steve Gordon and Perry Marshall
Perry Marshall | Evolution 2.0
In our episode, I am really excited for two reasons. Number one, this is our 50th episode and I'm really, really grateful for everybody who's come along on the ride over the last year. It has been absolutely fantastic. I'm really, really excited to introduce our 50th guest, Perry Marshall. Most of you will probably know that name. Perry is one of the most expensive and sought-after business consultants. He is endorsed by Forbes, by Inc. Magazine and he's one of the most respected entrepreneurs in the world. His clients seek his ability to integrate engineering, sales, art and psychology. Most recently, he has founded the $5 million Evolution 2.0 Prize with judges from Harvard, Oxford, and MIT. The prize aims to solve the biggest mystery in biology. I'm really excited to be talking about that. Perry, welcome to the Unstoppable CEO.
Thanks for having me on. Just based on our conversation before we started, this is going to be a fun time and I've always believed that everything is connected. Everything is a metaphor for something else and to me, there are no walls between disciplines even though most people compartmentalize to a great degree. This is a very busting out of the compartments conversation. I'm really looking forward to it.
Just to give everybody a little bit of context, I know a lot of people have probably heard of you. You've written a number of books in business and you've recently written a book called Evolution 2.0. Give everybody a little background and context for how you’ve got to this point in your life.
I'm the engineer who got laid off when his wife was three months pregnant with the first child and had to scramble like crazy to try to land on my feet. I ended up in sales and working for this technical sales company. It was brutal. The first couple years was bologna sandwiches and ramen soup and I managed to discover direct marketing and roughly at the same time switched jobs to a slightly different company that had a website and that was in 1997. In so doing, I stumbled into online marketing, which really immediately started working. It started working immediately because I had learned enough from Dan Kennedy newsletters and stuff like that to have some rudimentary sense of how to put a sales pitch in front of a person on the internet back in those very early days when nobody really knew what to do. We grew that company from 200,000 to $4 million in four years and sold it to a public firm for $18 million. I said to myself, "I'm good at this direct marketing stuff. I'm not fantastic. I'm adequately good. I'm fantastic compared to guys that sell industrial controls which in the Land Of The Blind, the man with one eye gets to be king. What if I actually got really good at this?"
I hung out my shingle, started a consulting firm and six months later, Google AdWords came into existence, which I quickly discovered was the coolest thing I'd ever seen in my life. Then fast forward another couple of years and I'm speaking at seminars around the world and I'm selling the world's bestselling book on an internet advertising, which is now known as Ultimate Guide to Google AdWords. I went from Bologna sandwiches and ramen soup to actually being able to pay my bills and not having to move in with my wife's parents, which was a relief. That's who I am and I'm also pretty well-known for a book called 80/20 Sales and Marketing, which is my manifesto on how sales and marketing should be done. The Google book, the Facebook book, if you want to advertise on Google and Facebook, then those books are clearly for you. Really just about anybody who sells or even works for a living I think should read 80/20 Sales and Marketing because it's a real big shortcut to learning how it all works. I wish I'd had that book when I started. It would have saved me at least a year if not two or three.
I wish I'd had it when I started too. Unfortunately, it took you too long to write it. I got it about ten years into my marketing journey. We have a very similar path. I started actually on an engineering consulting firm before I went into marketing. When I got to the 80/20 book I read it and I'm like, "This was written for me." Thank you very much for personally writing that for me. I appreciate it. You've done an awful lot of very diverse things. As I was listening to you describe going from being that laid off engineer and moving through these other phases, really that process leads right into what I want to talk about. What you went through there very clearly is an evolutionary process. You changed, you developed, you grew and I think that fits perfectly with your latest book Evolution 2.0. I'd love to talk a little bit about that. Can you set the stage for us about what it is and what inspired you to write it?
The word evolution, a lot of times the way that it gets used, it sounds like this impersonal Darwinian grinding away process that you hear about on a PBS Show and then at the end of the show, after some lions eat some gazelles or something, the camera pans back and “The struggle ever goes on as it has for billions of years,” and it's all really detached and cerebral. That is a real mischaracterization of what evolution really is. I wrote the book Evolution 2.0 because I went down this rabbit hole and I became absolutely appalled. I didn't know the subject. I didn't understand it. I need to tell you what happened. What happened was my brother got a seminary degree. My brother and I are both pastors’ kids. Really grew up in Nebraska, a very conservative upbringing. I'm a Christian guy and I go to church and I got my wife and kids and my brother is actually quite a bit more conservative than me. I would always meander around and I would try different things and he was doing the party line men and he goes to seminary and he gets a Master's Degree in Theology and he's getting ready to be a pastor. Then he ends up being a missionary in China. In four years time, he went from missionary in China to almost atheist. We are both very literate and very intellectual and he had all these questions like just this closet full of bones of all these questions just popped open for him and he's just trying to sort through it. He's buried in his questions and he's dragging me into it and I don't know where this is going. It was really pushing a lot of my buttons.
One day, I visited him in China in we're riding in this bus in the back and we get into this argument and I find myself retreating to science because I'm an electrical engineer and I know science really well. I think this was actually a very primal response to a very primal question. This is a big question. Like, "Where did it all come from?" This is not a trivial question. A lot of people like to avoid it but it's there. We came from somewhere, like, "Where did we come from and how did this actually happen? I said to Brent, "Brent, look at the hand at the end of your arm." I said, "I am an engineer. This is an incredible piece of engineering." Nobody's ever disagreed with me when I've said that either. You can drink Dunkin Donuts coffee, chew gum and do your stick shift and flip somebody off all at the same time. It's unbelievable. You don't think this is a random accumulation of accidents, do you? He's like, "Hold on, Perry," and he just pushes right back with this standard Darwin answer that pretty much everybody's heard somewhere along the way. He goes, "You don't need any designers, you just need millions of years and natural selection and accidental mutations and you're going to get a hint."
I listened to that and I'm like, "I really doubt that I'd buy into that story.” However, I'm trying to think ten chess moves ahead in this argument and I'm like, "I don't know how to have this argument really and I don't know that much about it, but I do know that a whole bunch of biologists as far as I can tell would agree with him and not me." I don't have a biology degree. I know from engineering, there are all kinds of crazy things that you would never guess to be true. They actually are true. I thought of very specific things that I knew. I would've never figured that out on my own. I know it's true. I just actually bit my lip and I stopped arguing with him. Inside my head and my heart I said, "I don't know. He might be right. I might be wrong. I'm going to go home and I'm going to figure this out and I'm going to let science decide this for me." The reason I'm going to do that is because we're going round and round in circles about how you read the Bible and a lot of that stuff is really squishy and you can't just change your position so easily and just never get to anything. In engineering, you can't do that.
In science, it's a lot harder to go around in circles. In science, you define something and then you have a starting point. I've built and designed all kinds of equipment stuff and I'm going to use that thinking. I'm going to figure this out like, "Do hands come from random accidents? If they do, I'll figure it out," and I’ll know. There must be a way to know. I went down the rabbit hole. What I found was so much more amazing than I ever expected. It's just almost unbelievable. The short version is that the version that I grew up on of how we got here really butchered the science. I grew up, they taught me that the world is 6,000 years old and all this kind of stuff. No. It's not. It is most emphatically is not. The version they told Brian wasn't true either. Hands are not an accumulation of random accidents. Hands are an accumulation of natural genetic engineering and the fact that every cell in existence has the ability to cut, splice, edit and rearrange its own DNA. The evolution is basically the world's most unbelievable software engineering problem ever and that every problem that Silicon Valley is trying to solve has already been solved in the cell. I believe that we are here as a result of an evolutionary process. The evolutionary process is so much more amazing than anything humans know how to design, it's not even funny.
What I ended up realizing was that both sides, so to speak, were partly right and partly wrong. The real interesting story was never being even told by either side. That way you had was a classic case of political polarization where the same people are all getting drowned out by the zealots on the extremes, which there's a whole chapter about that in my 80/20 Sales and Marketing book. In fact the previous election, Donald Trump versus Hillary Clinton, basically, they're both in my opinion nut jobs. They completely dominated the conversation. Let's say that we could agree that Ben Carson was least the same guy, whether or not you wanted him or his policies, he was at least willing to sit down and have a calm conversation. The calm conversation could not drown out. You couldn't even compete with all the nutty stuff that Donald and Hillary are doing.
This is what has happened to the evolution debate. In the middle, there's a very same, very fascinating thing, but it doesn't lend itself to name-calling and demonization and all this other stuff. I had to write this book because the book had to get written. Somebody has to write this. Somebody has to tell the story and nobody had told a story. This might sound like an outrageous statement, but Evolution 2.0 is the first book in a hundred and 50 years that actually explains how evolution actually works in plain English that regular people can understand. The story has been properly told at a PhD level in other books and some of them are behind me. If you're a mere mortal or if you're in high school or if you just maybe have a college degree and you're somewhat scientifically inclined, but not really, none of those books would have ever explained it to you, but this does. That's Evolution 2.0.
I read the book and it's just fascinating. The way you've laid it out, I think is his masterful for a couple of reasons. One, you include all of the science that you've used as a background. Anybody that wants to go and dig deeper can do that, but you've also laid it out so that a layman can get into it and understand it. Really you have two sides to this whole thing and you've already said, this can be a very divisive topic. That's not the reason I wanted to bring it here to the podcast. I think as I went through the book, it became very clear to me that this missing piece that you're describing in the book has so much power to impact the future of humanity and the planet because there's so much knowledge, wisdom, intelligence in how biology is actually working at a very, very tiny level inside of all of us and in everything. A lot of secrets in there that when we understand how it works, the how it works part can be applied to other systems that we're creating. I think it's really, really powerful. Can you kind of walk everybody through what you've discovered and what's existing in this middle ground that nobody's talking about?
The Darwinists tell you that hands evolved by accidental copying errors of DNA multiplied by millions of creatures and species and millions of years. My brother stated it very succinctly when we argued on that bus. He goes, " Perry, you’ve got 100 million falcons flying around for 100 million years. That's a lot of falcons, Perry." I'm like, "Yeah, that’s a lot of falcons." He goes, "If there's an accidental copying error every now and then, in every now and then, one of those copying errors makes a better eye and then it can hunt better then it cannot hunt the other falcons then you get better falcons." He goes, "You don't need God or anything for that to happen. It just happens automatically." That's like basically the standard explanation and lots of people believe that and they buy into that. I was like, "That makes sense except, " and this is where being an electrical engineer really kicked in. I was like, "How come they never taught me that in engineering school? I took all these classes on how to optimize things. I specialize in communication systems and control systems.” There was never any class that was like, "You make a million copies of the control system, you make mutant error prone copies of some of them and one of them is just bound to be better." It’s like, "This doesn't compute. Where is this? If this exists, I had to be able to figure it out. I'm sure I'll figure it out. Where is it?" If the biologists know something the engineers don't know, then let's have it. Let's bring it into engineering. Maybe I could use it tomorrow. I'm doing all these websites and Google AdWords and I designed it equipment in my spare time. There's probably something they know that I could use.
Then you go on the other side and the creationists are saying, "Evolution is a hoax and there aren't that many intermediate forms and the fossil record doesn't look like what Darwin said it would," which is true. It's all a big hoax and you need an act of creation to do all this stuff. I really quickly figured out what that universe is in6,000 years old. You can see stars that are billion light years away. That just erases that right there. What's the truth? I really floundered around for a while, but I eventually discovered two things. This is two of the biggest epiphanies I've ever had in my life. The first one was I was taking Brent’s falcon thing. "Accidental copying, that's a mutation. Are you sure you can get a better eye out of that? That doesn't make sense to me." I started studying DNA and how does DNA copying work? One day, I was jolted with this sense of recognition. I'm reading this biology thing and I'm like, " I've seen this before. I know exactly what this is," which totally surprised me. I didn't see this coming in. What it was, was I wrote an Ethernet book in 2002 and it was a with the world's largest society of process control engineers. It's how the ones and zeroes go back and forth across the wire because I used to live in that world. In 2017, the Third Edition of that book came out.
What I suddenly realized was almost everything that's true of the Ethernet is also true of DNA and genes and chromosomes. It's all digital data. It all obeys the same set of rules. It has the same conceptual elements. When you're talking on your cell phone and you're going down the expressway and there's engine noise and there's bridges and, and the signal was bouncing all over the place, there's all this error correction so that the call doesn't get dropped. Guess what? When cells copy and make other cells, all the same kinds of systems that ensure that your cell phone call doesn't get dropped makes sure that the DNA strand gets copied correctly. That was huge. I was like, "I know this. I wrote it. I wrote an Ethernet book for crying out loud. I totally get this stuff." All of a sudden, I knew where to start. That means, "Therefore it takes me to here, I need to learn about this, I need this. I got this whole list of things in the Ethernet book. I have to figure out what the biology equivalent is. I bet you I'm going to find this," and I did. It was amazing to find all this stuff. I'm like, "None of this ever happens by accident ever. It's impossible. It's not just unlikely, it's impossible." I could have stopped there and most people have. I know lots of people, they got that far and they stopped and they said, "It's all designed. God’s behind this. Evolution is not true. Now, I can go on." I didn't stop because I had seen a bunch of other reasons to strongly suspect that an evolutionary path was still valid. I said, "I think there's still something missing and I haven't found it yet." I actually held these two things intention for about two years. It was like, "I know all this communication stuff. I wrote an Ethernet book, but none of this happens by accident. It looks very designed actually. On the other hand, it absolutely looks like whales evolved from a mammal that walked on the earth and had four legs because whales have these shrunken down legs in the back of their body. The bones are there. You can go see them in the museum. I'm like, "What is it that I'm missing?" Then came the second epiphany. This was about two years later. I'm proud of myself for just holding those intention because I so badly wanted to just shortcut to a quick answer and put this behind me.
You're dealing with too big of a question. There's no shortcut.
Everybody wants to shortcut it and you can't. Even the stuff I know now or think I know now, there's so much more. I've only scratched the surface and I know this. Somebody sent me a paper by the scientists from the University of Chicago and he was telling this story. I got to tell you this story because it's just remarkable. This lady named Barbara McClintock was studying corn plants in the 1940s and this lady was really, really smart. She was incredibly sharp and she was hitting corn DNA with x-rays to break the DNA. She was trained to basically genetically hack the plant and see what would happen. She had this idea of what was going to happen. She said, "What if I try this?" She tried this and the plant just totally threw her a curve ball. She's like, "What just happened?"
Just so everybody's clear, what she's doing in that experiment you're describing in the book, she's trying to create these genetic mutations?
Yes. Like Brent was talking about with the falcons.
Just random genetic mutations just to see what would happen.
The conception at the time was that this genetic material just randomly mixes around and occasionally creates an evolutionary event and this is how you get new species and everything. This is what they thought happened and this is what most people still think happens, but she actually figured out what happens. I'll give you an analogy. What she did would be like if I took a 350-page novel and I ripped out page 186 and then I said, "Steve, here. I'm going to give you a week if you want, read this thing from cover-to-cover and reconstruct as best you can the missing page." If you're a really good writer, you could do that. Some would do better job than others, but a good writer could make that mistake go away. By taking other sentences, other paragraphs, other concepts from the book and sticking them together. This is what Barbara’s corn plant did. It actually went to other genes and other chromosomes and started copying. It's like, "I'm going to take a little bit of this to get a little bit of this. I'm going to fill in my missing page of genetic material and let's go." The plant went from being unable to reproduce because of its damaged DNA to now once again able to reproduce and it's done something completely new that's never happened in the history of corn plants because that damage was completely unique in the history of corn plants. What she had done was she'd been the first person to observe an evolutionary event and then figure out genetically literally gene-by-gene what had happened. The plant had intelligently mutated.
If you really grasp what I'm saying here, it's just mind-blowing. It's like software that rewrites itself. Your computer software on your computer does not do that. If one of those files gets wiped out, it's gone. Her colleagues thought she was crazy. That plant did not do what you just said it did. They wouldn't accept it. She went underground with her research for twenty years, but she kept doing it. Nobody would listen to her. She won the Nobel prize in 1983. She has her picture on a US postage stamp now. In my opinion, she is probably one of the five greatest biologists who's ever lived. One of the reasons I wrote Evolution 2.0 is because what Barbara discovered is really just the tip of the iceberg of how evolution actually works. It is an active process. It's not just this passive accidental thing where crap happens and then better things just emerge. That's the impression that the secular people always give you. No. Evolution is an active, intentional process.
In Evolution 2.0, I call it the Swiss Army Knife. There's a whole series of tools that organisms use to adapt to their environment, to edit their DNA, to merge together, to form a merger, a cooperative, symbiotic relationships, merger acquisitions. It’s just amazing. What I find is that entrepreneurs and CEOs, even if they don't have a science background, when they read my book, they relate to it because what the book is saying is every entrepreneur, every CEO, every business leader, every sales manager, every marketing manager, anybody who's in a leadership position in a company, everybody knows gun to your head. You have to make it. It's got to be better this year than it was last year or you're dead. You're on a death march. Make it better. The car has got to be faster, the electronics got to be smaller, the software has got to be more beautiful, the movie's got to be better. The TV shows got to be better, the podcast got to be better. You don't even know how to do it. You just know you have to. I already made it the best I know how. Make it better because if you don't, somebody else will.
That competition is always going on. How do you evolve? You don't evolve by accident. There might be serendipities and there might be lucky breaks, you are playing mind over matter all the time. Really, if you run a business, you understand evolution way better than you ever probably thought you did. Evolution 2.0is not really a business book, but if you're a business person and you know that mindset, you will see business everywhere in that book. You'll see it in how cells cooperate and merge and do these amazing things. Did you know that cell-for-cell, 90% of your body is symbiotic bacteria and only 10% of are stem cells. Your intestines are full of bacteria that help you digest your food and your skin is full of bacteria that protect you from hostile bacteria. If you kill them all with an antibiotic, somebody gets a yeast infection. That's because you've killed your friendly bacteria. Termites can digest wood only because the bacteria in their intestines can digest wood, the termites can't. It's the symbiotic bacteria. In business, almost every quantum leap that you ever see in business is a symbiotic merger of two completely different things to make something new. Uber, if we'd take taxis and we mix it with cell phone app, which used to not have anything to do with each other, you create this completely new different business that never existed before, that completely transforms the world. All of the major steps in evolution are either symbiotic or hybrid mergers because evolution does take leaps.
This was something that Darwin could never figure out. He's like, "Why does the fossil record jumped from here to here to here without very many intermediate forms?" It's because of merger acquisitions. We see the same thing with technology. We see the same thing in business. We could go to the history of the cassette player, the Sony Walkman or the iPod or the iPhone and it's all symbiotic mergers. What if we take a telephone network and we merge it with the internet and we put a screen on it? How about an app store? That was an old idea, too. It existed in Linux a long time before Apple was ever doing it and they took those, they stir fried all that together and you have the iPhone, which is the most successful product ever in technology history? We can learn a lot from evolution, like a lot, a lot. I find that biological evolution is a great way to pull myself out of my business space and my business assumptions, go into another world. How would a cell solve this problem? It's already been solved two billion years ago. How did they do it? I really do apply this in business. I get paid a few thousand dollars an hour to do consultations. A lot of times, I'm switching on the biology side of my brain to solve a business problem.
You talked about these large jumps in the evolutionary timeline. When I read that, I thought, "We're going through one of those right now in business." Everybody likes to talk about this magical D word, disruption. That's just an example of the conditions being ripe in a lot of different places for people to make this jump and Uber is a good example of that. This isn't the first time we've seen it in business. It happened throughout the last century but then if you look at all of our economic big jumps, they really all follow that pattern where somebody combined a couple of different ideas, which really is what this is. It's intelligent plus design where humans are applying intelligence, designing something new and making this leap. As I was going through it, first of all from a spiritual and just a personal context, a fascinating read, but as I was going through it, I kept thinking, "That's what's happening in this industry." That’s one of the reasons I was really excited to talk about this. I know you do a lot of interviews on 80/20 and it's a powerful book, but I think it's almost a subset of what is in Evolution 2.0. Evolution 2.0is a much broader look at this and it’s fascinating to see how these things change. If you go get the book and you read it, I think it's going to give you a new perspective to look at the problems that come up in your business.
I've used this over and over and over again and my customers use it. In the Evolution 2.0 book, we have this concept called the Army Knife, which is all these little things that cells do. I took that. I moved into advertising and we created a system called the Swiss Army Knife System for Google and Facebook ads and people use it. They use it to jam together ideas that they would have never really thought to connect to each other because the hardest problem in internet advertising or in technology or business period, it's the problem of novelty. How do I come up with something new that nobody's ever seen before that's also great? That’s not just like duck-billed platypus. There's a lot of those out there. They fail. You need a system for thinking of how to do it. You can't normally just count on like, "I hope it comes to me in the shower tomorrow morning." It may not come to you in the shower. You need a method. It really is powerful and my assertion is that all evolution is fundamentally the same. We could talk about cells or zebras or Sony Walkmans or iPhones or jazz or politics or literature and it all operates on the same universal set of principles.
I believe that if we can teach people that universal set of principles, we can get a new renaissance. We can get another one. We had one 500 years ago. It's time for another one. It’s long overdue, but you have to have a system for thinking about it. You have to have a system that doesn't attempt to subdivide the world into these little compartments. It actually has to connect everything together. I think the creationists have subdivided the world into there's religion and there's science and they're in conflict with each other. You're just supposed to believe the religious version. The atheist basically does the same thing. They have this war between faith and science. I want to end the war between faith and science. There is nothing about evolution that pushes you away from God. If I was to summarize Evolution 2.0in two sentences, it's Darwinists under estimate nature and creationists underestimate God. God is way bigger than either of those camps ever imagined God to be. I'll give you an example of what I mean by that. Steve, back in the day did you ever use DOS?
The old Microsoft operating system. I did too. I want you to imagine that DOS came out in 1981 and after that, Bill Gates never touched it. No programmers in Redmond, Washington ever touched it and I want you to imagine that by its inherent adaptive capabilities, DOS developed to Windows Desktop and it developed an internet connection and it developed Microsoft Word and developed Excel and it developed antivirus, and then all the machines started updating each other's virus definitions every day. I want you to imagine that all that happened adaptively and automatically and that we got to the Windows that we have now without employees in Redmond, Washington. If that was what DOS did, would you be impressed? You'd be like, "Where did that come from? Who wrote that code?" This is how people of faith should perceive evolution. It's the software that rewrites itself. If Microsoft knew what one bacterium knows, they're stock would go up 10x, maybe a 100x. Microsoft does not know what Win bacterium knows. There's a famous YouTube video. It's less than a year old and it was done at Harvard. It’s really fascinating. They took this glass thing and they put bacteria in it and they put antibiotics in it. Then they did time-lapsed photography for two weeks. It's in these sections. You start in one section, it had all these bacteria in basically a giant Petri dish and then they put antibiotics in it. It killed almost all the bacteria, dead, but there were a few that they rearrange their DNA and they did all these recalculations and they figured out how to resist the antibiotics.
Then they took the survivors and then they put them in the next section. In the next section, the antibiotic was ten times stronger. It killed almost all of them. This is like survivor. This is like a reality show. Ten times the antibiotic, killed almost all of them, a few of them figured out how to resist the antibiotics then they start growing and then they went to the next one and it keeps going and going until, I forget if it was 1,000 or a million times the concentration of antibiotic. I think it was a million. By the end of the two weeks, the progeny of the winners of the winners of the winners of the winners had all figured out how to combat the antibiotics. You can look this up and find it on YouTube or we'll send you a link. You can show it on the show notes. It's really cool. This does not happen by accident. This happens on purpose. This is the bacteria trying to figure out how to resist the antibiotic. This is the war in your immune system every day. This is what's going on when you wake up at 2:00 in the morning, your throat is sore and you can feel a sinus infection coming on. Your body and those bacteria are in an arms race. Now, what if Microsoft knew how to do that?
The problems that we're facing right now, we have a billion people on the planet when about maybe a thousand years ago or somewhere in that bulk, within the last 1,000 years, we’re about to have nine billion. We have exponentially expanding problems in the world and exponentially expanding opportunities in the world. I believe that our thinking models aren't quite up to par, which is the reason you're seeing a lot of the things that we're seeing in the world happen right now. I feel like what you've uncovered in a lot of the research that has been done that you've found in being able to piece together, gives us a new way to look at things. It gives us an opportunity to look at things a little bit differently. I want to just go back to something you just said. You talked about the bacteria and you said that the ones that survived were desperately trying to figure out how do we combat this? The skeptic who's listening to this is going to say, "How do you know that they were trying to figure that out and they didn't just get lucky?"
It's because those has been studied in great detail and what happens when you put bacteria under stress is their mutation rate goes up 100,000 times and what they do is they start coding sequences in their DNA, they start moving them around. They also start exchanging them with other bacteria. In a limited sense, there is some walk. It's just like a business scrambling to meet payroll. It's the same thing. It’s like, “Let's try having a sale. Let's try putting a sign outside. Let's try sending out an email. Let's try a social media thing, let's try a publicity stunt. There's a rumor that Fred Smith who started FedEx met payroll by going to Vegas one weekend and coming back with the money. Let's go to Vegas. Maybe that will work." Anybody that's owned a business has gone through this. The only part that's lucky is that you don't know which one of those things is actually going to work. I would never claim that these bacteria know in advance what's going to work, but they know what to try.
They see new changing adverse conditions or maybe new opportunistic set of conditions in the environment.
Like new food. If I could digest that food, we would be really great shape.
They say, "Let's see if we can figure out how to deal with this," and they start changing things. It’s like what we would do as complete creatures, exactly what we do every day which brings me to another connection between 80/20 and all of this. I've read a lot about 80/20 before I came across your book. I don't remember how far into your book you talked about it, but you talked about the fractal nature of 80/20. I have one of those, “Should I have a V8?” moments because I hadn't seen that yet. The minute that I saw it I was like, "Of course." I really encourage people to get the book because you'll see this. All the way from a cellular level, at the DNA level, the changing in decision-making really which is what is happening there is very, very similar and just a micro version of what happens at the larger level, at a human level or at an organizational level or at a national level or at a global level. That's what I saw as I went through it.
You are astute. Not everybody picks up on that, but yes, evolution is fractal. There's evolution at the single-cell level. There's evolution of a single system in your body, like the immune system or your nervous system. There's evolution of the whole organism. There's evolution at the population level. Most of this stuff has been dumb-down to just pure ridiculousness. The fact is, is that there are evolutionary progresses being made at every level of analysis. The world is profoundly sophisticated and profoundly intentional in ways that we can't really imagine. Until we accept that, we're going to be really stuck. I think the next big revolution in science is going to be when the purposefulness of nature is fully accepted. In biology, it has been verboten to admit that biological organisms are purposeful and evolved purposefully. It's been just completely banned from the field.
A good friend of mine, Denis Noble just published a paper and it took quite a political fight to get this paper to publication. It's in the Journal of Biology, which is a major journal in the name of the paper is called, Is the Watchmaker Blind or Does She Have One Eye? It's a reference to Richard Dawkins book The Blind Watchmaker, which asserts that all the evolutionary steps are blind and purposeless. They're not. He documents it in the paper. It goes to your question, the skeptic, "That's just luck." He shows that it's not luck. He shows that organisms are actively using cognition to make changes that are relevant to the context of whatever is going on. It's really brilliant and it's very well-documented. I think what you're going to see happening in the next twenty years, you're going to see a whole complete shift in going from seeing nature as bottom up and just plain molecules to man to seeing nature as systems within systems within systems where there's top-down causality. There's bottom up causality at every level of interaction. We have to learn to think this way.
You'll find that the best artists, the best engineers, the best musicians, the best business managers, they all think that way already. Whether they have language for it or not, but really everybody's got to go to our higher level of thinking. I think our whole society is going through a birthing process right now and we're seeing huge birthing pains. We've got the compartmentalization of social media and the echo chambers and the polarization and the Charleston, West Virginia. We're seeing all these conflicts going on. It's because we have to go to a higher level of consciousness and if we don't, we're in trouble and the outcome is not determined. We could all collapse into the abyss or we could make the leap, but we're not going to be able to stay where we are. I absolutely guarantee you that. We're not going to stay where we are.
Perry, this has been an absolutely fascinating. I've enjoyed the conversation. I hope everybody else's enjoyed eavesdropping on our conversation. You've launched something called the Evolution 2.0 Prize. We’d love for you to share a little bit about that and then tell people where they can find out more about what you're doing in business and add on this topic.
You've been talking back to me during this interview about how important it is like we have to figure out how this actually works. We have to understand this. We can't just shrug it off as an accident. We also can't just say, "There was a miracle guide to this." That's it. There's nothing else we can understand. Neither one of those positions is scientific. I totally in God, but that's like an end point. That's not the whole explanation. It's our job as curious human beings to figure out how it all works. I decided that the deepest, most fundamental question in this whole issue is, "Where does code come from? How do you get a code without designing one?" If you could answer that question, most of the other questions will actually fall in place. I put together a $5 million technology prize and if somebody can solve this, then my private equity group which is called Natural Code LLC, we went to patent it and buy the patent from you and make you a partner in our effort, which probably will make us all a very large sum of money. Probably the $5 million would just be a good start. I put together a prize. It's called the Evolution 2.0 Prize. If you get a NaturalCode.org, you can see all the details. I have the leading physiologists from Oxford on my judging panel. I have the leading geneticists from Harvard and MIT also in my judging panel. We have some very wealthy investors who would really love to solve this and love to own the technology because I think it would be a giant, giant breakthrough in artificial intelligence. You can go to NaturalCode.org and you can read about it and maybe you or your teenager or somebody you know can figure this thing out. I think it's absolutely central to this whole question of how the world works.
It's been fascinating. For those who want to find out more about what you're doing in business, where should they go?
The business side, go to PerryMarshall.com. In the evolution side, you can get three free chapters of Evolution 2.0 at CosmicFingerprints.com. Evolution 2.0, it's in Audible. It's in paperback. It's hard cover. It’s in Kindle. However, you like to consume a book, it's all on Amazon. You'll never see the hand at the end of your arm the same way again after you read this book. If you're a little bit extra aware, you'll see business in biology and you'll see biology in business for the rest of your life and it'll be just a new way of seeing the world and that's always valuable.
Perry, thanks so much for investing some time with me. This has been a lot of fun.
Thank you. It’s really great to be on. Thanks for paying so much attention when you read the book. Not everybody has that level of awareness, but clearly you did and I salute you for that. Thank you.
It was a great learning opportunity. I always welcome that. Thanks.
Mentioned in the show
- Perry Marshall
- $5 million Evolution 2.0 Prize
- Evolution 2.0
- Ultimate Guide to Google AdWords
- 80/20 Sales and Marketing
- Third Edition of Ethernet book
- YouTube video study done at Harvard
- Is the Watchmaker Blind or Does She Have One Eye?
- The Blind Watchmaker
- Enjoy this podcast? Leave us a review on iTunes.