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November 08, 2007

How I Might Go About Persuading Somebody I’ve Never Met to Give Me Money to Invest in Soybean Futures Even Though I Know Nothing About Soybean Futures Nor Investing

Hi. Is Mr. Cranston there?

For the sake of this hypothetical story, I am going to refer to my potential investor as “Mr. Cranston.” I believe that it’s important to use the honorific when trying to persuade somebody to invest in soybean futures.

Hello, Mr. Cranston. My name is Michael and I was wondering if I could have a moment of your time.

Notice how while I refer to him as Mr. Cranston, I call myself “Michael,” which accomplishes two things: 1. It gives him the illusion of control and 2. I don’t give him a last name, which he can then trace if things go bad.

Mr. Cranston, I just have one quick question, and then I’ll let you get back to your day – do you have as much money as you would like?

This is a trick question. NOBODY has as much money as they would like. When cross-examining witnesses, lawyers are taught to never ask a question to which they do not know the answer. In this case, I’m pretty confident Mr. Cranston’s response will be a resounding “no!”

Also, I have no intention of “letting him get back to his day,” but by telling him I have “one quick question,” I’m reinforcing the idea that he is in control. Not true. I’m in control.

That’s what I was afraid of. Did you know that over 90% of the American public is in the same position as you, unsure of whether or not they have enough money just to survive?

Now I’m pushing the “fear button.” He didn’t say he was afraid for his survival. He just said he’d like more money. But I’m transferring that “desire” into a “fear.” Very important.

The fact is, in today’s turbulent world, you can almost never have enough money, am I right? (Chuckle)

Carrot and stick. The “fear button” I just pressed was the stick. The chuckle is the carrot. The chuckle is my way of letting him know, “It’s not so bad. I’m here to offer you a way out.”

When I first started investing, I was bewildered by my options. Stocks, bonds, derivatives, options, T bills, index funds., REITs. The list goes on and on. Mr. Cranston, of all the investment tools I just mentioned, which one do you think has had the highest rate of return over the last thirty five years?

I’m doing several things at once here. First of all, I’m letting him know I’m an “expert, ” both by implying that I’ve been doing this a long time and by throwing out a bunch of investment terms. The truth is, as I said before, I don’t know anything about investing.

The other thing I’m doing is putting myself in his shoes. I’m empathizing. This is important. I’m subliminally saying, “You and I are alike, Mr. Cranston. We both feel bewildered by investing.” The difference between us is that I’ve been through this and I have a solution.

The third thing I’m doing is setting him up for the kill. I’ve rattled off a list of investment options, and no doubt he is wondering which one I am going to recommend. Boy is he going to be surprised with the answer I’m about to provide.

For the sake of this hypothetical scenario, let’s pretend he answered “stocks.”

Stocks? Good guess, Mr. Cranston, but wrong. The truth is, the answer is “none of the above.” That’s right, Mr. Cranston. Over the last thirty five years, the investment that has consistently returned the greatest amount of equity to its investors is futures. I’m sure you know what futures are, Mr. Cranston.

Now I’ve got him on the hook. Can I reel him in? We’ll see. I’ve just introduced an entirely new topic to the conversation. By doing it this way, I’ve swept away all of his other investment options all at once. I’ve narrowed the focus to “futures.” And I’ve given him credit for knowing what they are when I know he doesn’t know. Hell, I don’t even know. As for the statistic that futures have returned the greatest amount of equity over the last thirty five years? I made it up. But it sounds plausible enough.

Futures, as you know, are simply of way of investing in which you try to determine whether or not the price of something is going to go up or down in the future using the information you have at hand. For example, some people invest in oil futures, which I’m sure you’ve heard of. Or beef. Corn. Just about anything. These are called “commodities.” But there’s one commodity that has outperformed all the others over the last ten years. Do you want to guess what it is?

I’m keeping it fun. Light.

Soybeans, Mr. Cranston. Soybeans.

Repeat for emphasis.

Why soybeans? That’s a great question.

Say “that’s a great question” whether he asked it or not.

Because the soybean is a miracle crop. Do you know that there are over a thousand different applications for the soybeans? Everything from food to clothing to plastics? Anything you can think of can be made out of a soybean.

Making this up.

Did you know that our own Air Force is experimenting with airplanes that fly on soybean oil?

I have no idea if this is true. Probably not.

It’s true, Mr. Cranston. We simply can’t grow enough soybeans to keep up with demand. What happens to price when demand can’t be met?

Any idiot knows the answer to this question.

That’s right, Mr. Cranston, the price goes up. In fact, the price of soybeans has been rising steadily for the last ten years.

Made it up.

Which is why I am inviting a select number of investors to join me in a fantastic opportunity.

Make it sound exclusive.

For ten thousand dollars, I am authorized to invite you to join this very select soybean futures fund.

I’ve just mentioned a monetary figure. This is where you either get your little fishy or he wiggles away.

Historically this fund has produced returns of thirty, forty, fifty percent per year. The ten thousand dollars you invest today could easily be worth over a hundred thousand dollars three years from now.

Wow!

In fact, that’s how I got involved in this business. I was just like you when I invested in this fund seven years ago. Things went so well, I actually retired for a little while. I tell you what, I got so bored, I decided to come back to work. Not because I needed the money. But because I wanted to give something back.

I want him to know this worked for me. And it could work for him too.

As I said, I don’t work for commission.

I didn’t say that.

I’m here to help people discover soybean futures. As the population explodes and the earth continues to warm, the value of this crop is only going to continue to rise.

Keep pushing the “fear button.” I’ve thrown in a fear of global warming. If he hesitates I might throw in "fear of extraterrestrial invasion."

Now Mr. Cranston, I have a lot of other people I want to help today, so what do you think?

I’ve just pushed the clock. Either shit or get off the pot. That’s what I’m saying here. Give him about ten seconds to make up his mind.

Mr. Cranston, I’ve got another call coming in from an investor. I should probably get it if you’re not interested.

Keep pressing. What’s his answer going to be?

That’s great, Mr. Cranston. (calling off) Janice, tell him I’ll call him back.

Who’s Janice? I don’t know anybody named Janice.

That’s great, Mr. Cranston, just great, and I speak from experience when I say, this might be the best financial decision you ever made.

Reassure. You don’t want any “buyer’s remorse” to kick in.

No need to thank me, sir. I’m just happy to give something back. Yes sir, if you want to invest more money, that can be arranged. Let me just check with my supervisor. 

Pretend to tap keyboard. Pretend to check something.

Good news, Mr. Cranston. I’ve just been authorized to let you invest as much as you’d like with us, up to half a million dollars.

By putting a cap on it, I'm letting him know that this is "for real." After all, if it were a scam, I'd let him invest whatever he wants, right? But I know he doesn't have half a million.

No, sir. We only take cash. Tell you what – just to expedite the process, why don’t I meet you at the Laundromat to pick up the cash? 

The Laundromat is a good, neutral location. He’ll feel safe there.

Yes sir. Just put the money in “Dryer #3.” Then leave. I’ll be watching. And after I see that it’s in the dryer, I’ll come and pick it up.

Specific instructions are always helpful. This puts them at ease. The more rules they have to follow the easier it is.

It does sound like a funny way to transfer money, doesn’t it, Mr. Cranston, but that’s how it’s traditionally done when investing in commodities futures.

That’s because I don’t want you to see my face, sir. Because I have acne, sir. It’s a courtesy.

I have flawless skin, but again, I’m trying to keep him at ease.

Great. I’ll see you there. And if you don’t show up, just keep in mind that I know where you live (chucking). Just kidding.

Carrot and stick. Push the “fear button,” (stick) then chuckle (carrot).

--End of scenario

It's just that easy.


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Therese

Susanna and I will give you pretty much anything, if you turn up wearing Drakkar Noir.

Reen

Why you manipulative, seductive, calculating, Spawn of Satan!

Nicely played.

And you really do have that flawless skin thing going on. Keep those pores tiny - it elicits trust.

Camille

You're becoming so domestic these days...frozen entrees, scented candles, telemarketing,anal, Harlequin-like fantasies,dealing with crappy customer service reps...keep 'em coming. Most of us can soooo relate!

Zane

I hope Cranston remembers which dryer number to put the money into. How disappointing it would be if he screwed it up and then you thought him an idiot.

Susanna

You do have a way with carrot dangling.

Jei

Golden!

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