The Reverse

Another spam email hits your inbox:

Dear [Name],

We shall be shipping Gold to you.

You will earn 10% of any gold you distributes.

Your move: delete fast. Junk email is dangerous, you know it’s a bogus offer, and you’ve got far more important things to do. And what idiot replies to spam email? Yet you’ve probably had that delicious urge to reply, just to see what might unfold.

Well, so did UK comedian James Veitch. He promptly replied to the con artist, which ending up changing his life… for the better.

Veitch has since tracked and cataloged these exchanges, in turn rocketing his own career into the stratosphere. His hilarious TED talk has been viewed over three million times and his new book, Dot Con, is a breakaway success. Recently, he even teamed up with Mashable to create Scamalot, a regular web series where he details his harassment of the harassers.

Veitch’s stunt is more than great comedy. His technique – which I call The Reverse – could dramatically change your own business and daily life. The concept is to try the polar opposite of conventional wisdom. Take your instinctive move, flip it upside down, and see if you can uncover a better result.

What if once a day, you did the exact opposite of what you were supposed to, or what you usually do?

  • What if in a meeting you share that crazy idea instead of repress it?
  • What if you send an email to that person you admire and have been dying to chat with?
  • What if, when you pick up your takeout, you grab an extra meal for the homeless man you just passed?
  • What if you contact that mentorship program to explore how you can contribute?
  • What if you take a new route to work?
  • What if you pen that blog post you’ve been too scared to write?
  • What if you took a completely unorthodox approach to your next big sales presentation?

Even if your meeting contribution isn’t the next big thing for your company or you don’t land a record deal by trying karaoke, progress still unfolds. While the things around you may or may not change, you will. If you start taking small risks and challenging yourself regularly, there’s just no way you’ll stay the same.

Little adventures can lead to big things.

Science says seeking novelty may even make you smarter. Behavioral therapist Andrea Kuszewski concludes that new experiences can trigger dopamine and increase neural plasticity. So if the idea of raising your hand in a meeting makes you feel queasy, use that increased brainpower as motivation. The more little risks you take, the easier it becomes.

Starting today, try pulling a daily reverse. By doing the opposite of what you’re expected to do, you’re bound to uncover new possibilities.

And when you do, I may even split the proceeds of this Nigerian gold deal with you.