How to Get Rich Selling Dopamine

by Charles Lyell on October 21, 2012

“When dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but with creatures of emotion, creatures bristling with prejudice, and motivated by pride and vanity.”  -  Dale Carnegie

What do Pablo Escobar, Rupert Murdoch, Rush Limbaugh, Sheldon Adelson, Pat Robertson, Kim Kardashian, Steve Jobs, and Jon Stewart have in common?

They’re all drug lords who’ve amassed impressive fortunes supplying a powerful neurotransmitter that’s manufactured in our primitive brains.

Pablo Escobar is probably the only one of the group who knew he was a drug dealer. Escobar distributed cocaine, a substance that triggers the same dopamine that Murdoch triggers with gossip, Limbaugh triggers with vitriol, Adelson triggers with casinos, Robertson triggers with conviction, Kardashian triggers with inanity, Jobs triggers with gadgets, and Stewart triggers with humor.

There is only one addiction and it’s to dopamine. Contrary to popular belief, dopamine isn’t a reward or pleasure drug, dopamine is all about expectation.

As these eight hugely successful drug dealers demonstrate, the secret to raking in mega bucks is to deliver the expectation of rewards, because that’s what triggers the dopamine that keeps customers coming back (for more dopamine).

If you’re interested in striking it rich in the dopamine biz, there are a few things you should know about the highly addictive brain chemical.

“Every year people buy millions of quarter inch drill bits. And yet, nobody wants to own a quarter inch drill bit. What they all want are quarter inch holes.”  – Zig Ziglar

As Mr. Ziglar points out, the key to business success is to understand what your customers really want, even when they don’t know what they want. 

Recent discoveries have confirmed that, like all drug addicts, customers really want dopamine. That includes the millions of buyers driven to purchase quarter-inch drill bits by dopamine-inducing expectations of ending up with quarter-inch holes.

In the 1960s, the founder of Domino’s Pizza discovered that he wasn’t in the pizza business, he was in a delivery business that catered to customers who didn’t care if the pizza tasted like the box it came in. In other words, Domino’s Pizza succeeded because there are more than enough speed lovers, as opposed to pizza lovers, who find the pleasurable expectation of inhaling unhealthy quantities of salt, fats, sugars, and caffeine ASAP much more appealing than the annoying and dopamine depleting  expectation of waiting.

Once you feel you understand how the dopamine-inducing expectations (responsible for the drive to get rich) work, pick one or more popular dopamine triggers. The list includes, but is not limited to, convenience, speed, food, clothing, shelter, sex, safety, power, acceptance, peer approval, attention, esteem, status, gambling, religion, games, sports, entertainment, art, health, wealth, legal and illegal drugs.

To increase your chances of success, look for products that combine several dopamine triggers and offer multiple dopamine hits. Sheldon Adelson does it by providing titillating expectations of culinary treats, entertainment, and financial jackpots. Steve Jobs did it by mixing the dopamine-triggering expectations of convenient, user-friendly tools with instant peer approval and status.

It is important to note that the more moral, conscious, honest, and humane the entrepreneur, the fewer the number of roads to financial success. Conversely, as Escobar, Murdoch, Limbaugh, and Robertson show, the more addicted an addict/pusher is (to money, power, peer approval, attention, and/or status), the greater the options and the better the chances of success.

Addict/pushers benefit from the symptoms exhibited by all addicts, including self-deception, denial, the ability to lie, cheat, steal, corrupt, a steadfast ruthlessness to continue addictive behaviors, and a willingness to collude with other drug dealers in order to silence, attack, and forcefully eliminate any threats to their success.

  • On a more uplifting note, one way to foster positive change is to create and market products that offer healthy, non-polluting, non-fattening, stress-reducing, dopamine-inducing expectations.
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