Michael Levine Explains The Tiffany Theory and Why Broken Windows Are a Sign of a Broken Business

Show Notes

PR ExpertMichael Levine shares about his TIffany Theory and why broken windows are a sign of a broken business. Michael has been the PR and branding Expert of Choice for 58 Academy Award winners, 34 Grammy Award winners, and 43 New York Times best-sellers.

    1. Yes, yes, yes and yes! Thrivetime Nation on today’s show we are interviewing the public relations expert of choice for Michael Jackson, Prince, Nike, Pizza Hut, President Clinton, Nancy Kerrigan, Charlton Heston, and countless household names and he is a best-selling author. Michael Levine, welcome onto the Thrivetime Show…how are you sir?!
    2. Michael, for the listeners out there who are not familiar with what it means to be a public relations expert…can you share with us what it looks like to work in the world of PR?
      1. It is gift wrapping. If I gave you a present today, and gave it to you in a Tiffany box that is wrapped beautifully. That gift has a higher perceived value than the same gift in a cardboard box.
      2. We gift wrap our products, people, politicians, and even our toilet paper
      3. We live in a world where there is a link between credibility and visibility.
    3. On a very practical level, what does a PR consultant do for a client like Prince?
      1. I did represent him but I didn’t spend a lot of time with him.
      2. The greater point about greatness is that, us mortals shouldn’t judge geniuses. Geniuses are very different.
      3. There is an eccentricity to them.
      4. We would be unwise to judge geniuses in the same way we judge ourselves.
      5. They have a burning maniacal rage to succeed and excel.
      6. It is deeper and more primal than ambition.
      7. It is like their life depends on it and they will do anything to achieve their goals.
      8. There is a burning maniacal rage, or an obsession, that all successful people have.
      9. I resist people who say “If you want to be successful, you have to work hard”
        1. Hard is subjective. Some people think that working 30 hours per week is hard.
        2. Working hard is like a rocket launch. If you are going to start a business, you have to be prepared, in the first year or two, to expend a massive amount of rocket fuel.
        3. It is a seven day per week deal. Fifty-two week deal.
        4. You have to be willing to expel the rocket fuel in the beginning.
    4. I know that you’ve had a ton of success at this point in your career, but I would love to start off at the bottom and the very beginning of your career. What was your life like growing up and where did you grow up?
    5. Michael, I would love to interview you about your book, Broken Windows, Broken Business – How the Smallest Remedies Reap the Biggest Rewards…what first inspired you to write this book?
      1. August of 1982
        1. James Q. Willson – Wrote the “Broken Windows” Theory
          1. If you see a broken window in a neighborhood that doesn’t get replaced in 72 hours, that gives a signal that the “bad guys” are in charge. Greater crime ensues.
          2. This theory is not very well known. It became more well known when a mayor used it to restore sanity to a city. His name was Roody Juliany in New York.
          3. I dragged this idea into business.
      2. The Theory in Business:
        1. If you go on an airplane and see a coffee stain on the tray, it sends a signal to your brain that… Maybe maintenance isn’t done too well.
        2. I wrote a book 12 years ago that became a big business best seller. It talks about how little details matter a lot.
        3. It is a symbol whether they recognize it or not, of sloppiness.
        4. If you can’t throw away an old box, what else can you do?
        5. You have to walk through your business as the customer does and look for those broken windows.
        6. If you call your own business, mystery shop, and the first thing you hear is “Can you please hold”.
        7. These “Broken Windows” have to be DESTROYED.
  • Michael, Chapter 3 of your book is named, Obsession versus Compulsion…what is this chapter all about at its core?


    1. You are sending signals to your customers all of the time.
    2. If you go to a restaurant in Los Angeles, you have a valet. If the parking attendant is a hired company, the problem is that the customer doesn’t see the difference between the attendant and the restaurant. If that attendant is rude for any reason, it creates a negative feeling around the dining experience. If the manager says “Oh, they are another company” You have to have a frictionless experience. If you want to win, you have to have radical hospitality.
  1. Michael, Chapter 5 of your book is titled Expectation versus Reality…educate about what you mean by this…?
    1. Every person and customer urnes to feel valuable, special, and important.
    2. The expectation everyone has is “Please make me feel important”
    3. If we automate everything, we create friction and unhappiness.
    4. People 50 years ago wanted to feel valuable and important and they still do today.
    5. At the Ritz Carlton, every employee carries a little pledge card that says “We are ladies and gentlemen, serving ladies and gentlemen.”
    6. No successful people use shortcuts. Too many people are out looking for shortcuts.
    7. You, Clay, have been in a war against shortcuts.
    8. If you want shortcuts, go get a minimum wage job.
    9. Mystery shopping
      1. 3 tiers:
        1. Mystery shopping company
        2. Family mystery shopping
        3. You mystery shopping
      2. Recruit 50% of angry customers as mystery shoppers
      3. Once you found the problems. Get rid of them. Don’t ask questions and don’t get advice. Take care of it now.
  2. If there is a 27-year-old person living a life of mediocrity, what would you tell them?
    1. I would say… If that person, at 27, asked me that. I would tell them that their odds of a breakthrough are massively lower than if they were 18 or 20. If you have found yourself at 27 and haven’t figured it out. I wished I found you sooner.
    2. If I don’t hear a level of desperation, I become more convinced that they aren’t ready. If they are casual at all, they are not ready. They should have a pain of a throbbing toothache.
      1. “Son, I think I can under the immature lure of free stuff. Who wouldn’t want free things? Especially kids! The definition of maturity of a young person is when they realise that DisneyLand isn’t free.”
      2. I understand that young people are very seduced by this con game of free things. It is part of the useful romantic thinking but it is immature. There is no free.
  3. Michael, Chapter 10 of your book is titled Doing It Right…what is this chapter all about?
  4. Michael, in Chapter 15 of your book you decided to name this chapter, What a Difference a Pianist Makes…break this down for us?
  5. When did you first figure out what you wanted to do professionally?
  6. When did you first feel like you were truly beginning to gain traction with your career?
  7. I know that you are an entrepreneur who has experienced massive success and super low points…walk us through the highest and high and the lowest low of your career?
  8. What are a few of the daily habits that you believe have allowed you to achieve success?
  9. What mentor has made the biggest impact on your career thus far?
  10. What has been the biggest adversity that you’ve had to fight through during your career?
  11. What advice would you give the younger version of yourself?
  12. We find that most successful entrepreneurs tend to have idiosyncrasies that are actually their superpowers…what idiosyncrasy do you have?
  13. What is a message or principle that you wish you could teach everyone?
  14. What is a principle or concept that you teach people most that VERY FEW people actually ever apply
Business Coach | Ask Clay & Z Anything

Audio Transcription

Michael Levine Thrivetime Show

Dr Z on today’s show, we are interviewing a man who is intense. He is perhaps one of the top publicists, uh, PR experts of his time. He’s a New York times bestselling author himself. He’s represented 58 Academy award winners, 34 Grammy award winners, 43 New York times bestsellers, Z. How would you describe this interview with Michael Levine intents? And I love the way you get him all fired up. I mean, he gets you get him. He’s like poking the bear on today’s show. He breaks down the Tiffany theory and white broken windows are a sign of a broken business. All this and more on today’s interview with Michael Levine, the great one in the world of PR. They, I think all those years you put on a helmet. Yes. Strap, make sure no arms outside the ride and where your safety belt at all times. Here we go. Here we go.

Some shows don’t need a celebrity in the writer to introduce a show. This show dies to may eight kids, Koch created by two different women, 13 multimillion dollar businesses. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome

to the thrive time show.

[inaudible] yes, yes, yes. And yes.

Jersey. It’s not often that we have a, a guest on the show who’s represented 58 Academy award winners at last told. Wow. Last check, 34 Grammy award winners, 43 New York times bestselling authors and the likes of Barbara Streisand, George Carlin, Michael Jackson, uh, the late great prints, president Ronald Reagan, George H, w Bush, president Clinton. This guy has been featured on Forbes, Fox news, the New York times the USA today. Wow. XE Michael Levine blows my mind every time. Michael Levine, welcome onto the thrive time show. How are you sir?

Thank you friend. And, and you, uh, have achieved that level of greatness, I believe with, uh, this podcast that you have turned into really a national, uh, force. It’s, it’s really maybe international. It’s really exceptional what you’ve done. I’ve watched you build it and it’s quite something.

Well, thank you. So we’re having a hard time penetrating North Korea other than right. We’re having a hard time. The penetration is tough and it’s, you know, that’s one country that we’re just having a hard time getting in into. So, but we had a guy who was the basketball player, a does Rodman, yo, we try to have him smuggle son. But that didn’t work out so well. It turns out that the North Koreans are struggling with the concept of capitalism right now going to tell Michael in this capitalistic country we live in, there’s a lot of PR people, a lot of public relations, people trying, ah, have success in the field of public relations. And a lot of entrepreneurs listening that really don’t know what public relations is. Could you share what public relations is all about and, and what that means to be a public relations expert?

Well, using an analogy that I created some years back, I w which I think works, um, uh, as a definition, I would, I would use the analogy or do use the analogy of gift wrapping. And so if I gave you, if, if, if I gave you a present today

and I gave it to you in a box,

maybe a Tiffany box, and it was wrapped beautifully in your mind, that gift would have a higher perceived value than if I gave you the exact same gift in a box unwrapped or unwrapped with the less prestigious label. Now that’s true. Not because you are psychological fool, but it’s true because we live in a culture in which we gift wrap everything. And so we gift her up our politicians.

Yes we can. You’re fired. I can hear you. The rest of the wild hairs. You


people who are not these buildings down will hear all of us soon.



drop everything. And so we gift wrap our politicians and our corporate heads or movie and TV stars and even our toilet paper. And um, and so, uh, there we are. Gift wrapping is what I believe to be the best operational definition of what public relations is. And so if you have a, a product, a person, uh, a service and you want to give it value, one of the best ways you can do that is by gift. Wrapping it in a, um, in an important public relations message. Get your story out. And we’re living in a world for better or worse, um, in which the is an umbilical link between credibility and visibility.

Michael, you’re during your career, you’ve, you’ve covered so much ground work, there’s so many big people. And, and, and before we get into the broken windows, uh, as being a sign of a broken business, I really would like to ask you about on a practical level, when you’re working with an artist like a Prince or Michael Jackson. I mean, these are XE, these are huge names, huge. I know some of these, some of the clients you’ve worked with are no longer with us. Um, and I know you also have this very, uh, like almost a fiduciary duty to not share any of the specific details of those interactions. But could you share with us what it’s like to, in the presence of the man in purple prints?

Well, I think that, um, first of all, I, I don’t want to imply that, uh, though I represented Prince, uh, for a period of time, uh, that I spent a vast amount of time with him. I did not, uh, many other clients I did, but he was one I did not mysterious kind of elusive guy in certain ways. But, uh, the point here, I think the greater point about greatness and what I’ve learned about it is that we mere mortals cannot or shouldn’t judge geniuses within the same way that we judge mere mortals. They are playing a different game of life. They are often very eccentric as we know, right? If we think about, um, um, the greats, we often find that there is an X centricity to them.

Oh, Jesus, who is exceptional, is having a conversation with ordinary and exceptional and ordinary always have a conflict. Anytime exceptional people dwell in the midst of ordinary thinking people, they’re always going to be conflicts.

And, uh, and I’ve discovered that throughout my life. In my career that they’re often quite eccentric. Um, and so we can, we would be unwise, I believe, to judge geniuses in the same way we judge. Um, mere mortals.

The definition of genius is an exceptional intellectual or creative power or other natural ability, a person who is exceptionally intelligent or creative either generally or in some particular respect. So when you’re working with somebody who is a, uh, a genius, um, or somebody who is a, uh, a true expert at their craft, um, maybe someone you spent more time with, can you share about that deep? Uh, you shared this by the way, last year at your, at the thrive time show conference and you, you just, you, you talked about this deep maniacal rage or, or will to when they have this just deep viral just on not going to lose that

I cold rage

to succeed, to create, to Excel. It’s not merely an ambition. Um, it’s something deeper, more primal, more intense. It’s, uh, it’s almost as if their life depended upon it. And so we, we can imagine, I think reasonable people can understand that when your life depends on something you’ll do just about anything to achieve that particular goal. Right. And so the, the one quote, one of the qualities I have noticed present in all super successful people is this, this burning maniacal rage, this obsession, if you will. And I think it’s a, it’s an interesting observation, at least I hope it is

Z. I, I totally relate to this. I remember starting my first company DJ connection and people would say, how many hours did you, did you work on it? All of them. All of them. When you started your optometry clinic, people would say, how many days a week did you work to grow? All of them. You, you get it.

And that’s why I resent or resist, I should say, I resist. You know, people making subjective statements like a, well, if you want to be successful, you gotta work hard. Well, I would encourage against a statement like that because hard is subjective. I know people in America that think working 30 hours a week is working hard.

Take you Bernie Sanders. Oh, most all of the wealth and much of the income is going to the top 1%. Bernie. It’s because they wake up at 3:00 AM and they work hard when the rest of the world is sleeping. This show is created for people who want to become the top 1%,

not hard. Um, the kind of, uh, particularly in the beginning, think about a rocket launch. We’re, we’re just here now on the anniversary of the moon. Uh, a successful landing of a man on the moon 50 years ago, well, 80, 90% of that rocket fuel was really expelled at the launch, right? A rocket launch. When you launch a rocket to the moon, you use a tremendous amount of rocket fuel in the beginning. And so if you’re going to start a business of any type, right, you better be prepared in the first year or two to expend a massive amount of rocket fuel. And that means as you well know, clay, not a five day week, not a six day week. It’s a seven day a week.

If you want to become super successful, well guess what everybody else does as well. But if you are going to achieve super success, you must understand that I have never interviewed a billionaire or a millionaire who’s been able to achieve massive success by working 40 hour work week. You’re going to have to embrace the idea that you’re going to have to outwork the competition

and you don’t get two weeks off for Christmas and you don’t get a week off for Easter. And it’s just, it’s unrealistic. And so no wonder so many businesses, you know, what the odds of a business succeeding over the first year, 18 months, very poor. Well, there’s a number of reasons for that, but one of them is you’re not willing to expel the, the expend the rocket fuel necessary to launch the rocket.

Dr Z, dr Z, we’re going to get in now to this, uh, concept of the broken windows are a sign of a broken business. Now, Michael shares share with us about the book and what first inspired you to write a book about this subject?

Well. Um, first of all, let’s go way, way, way, way back to August of 1982 in which a brilliant criminologist named James Q. Wilson wrote a theory of criminology called broken windows theory, the broken windows theory of criminology written back by UCLA professor in 1982, uh, a brilliant criminologist who’s no longer with us. He wrote a, a, a theory that said that if you go into a neighborhood and you see a broken window or graffiti and the authorities don’t quickly repair it, maybe 72 hours, it sends a psychic signals to the, the residents, the visitors, the shoppers, that the bad guys are in charge and greater, uh, crime. More serious crime ensues naturally. And so if you go into a neighborhood and there’s a broken window or graffiti and the authorities don’t repair it quickly, um, for whatever reason, it sends a signal to the community that the bad guys were in charge.

And you can pretty much bank on car jackings rapes, murders quickly and suing because it, that is the, the progress of the broken windows theory of criminology. So all I did, um, and this theory, by the way, this theory of criminology is not very well known except within the law enforcement arena, was very well known in law enforcement but not very well known amongst consumers. And um, uh, it became much better known when a mayor of a major American city used it effectively to restore sanity to a terribly, terribly broken and dilapidated city. And that mayor, his name was Rudy Giuliani and that city was New York. And it just so happened that I had been born in New York. And so I watched, uh, mayor Giuliani used the broken windows theory to, uh, restore New York to sanity after a period of time in which Derek was really, really in trouble. And I wondered about this theory of criminology if it could be used in business. And so what I did is I took it, I dragged it into business and I found that in exactly the same way that the broken window theory works. And in a criminology, it’s so too, it works in business. And so if you go on an airplane, for example,

see a coffee Dane

tray in front of you, the tray that pulls down and there’s an uncleaned coffee, um, staying on the tray, it sends a psychic signal to your brain. That may be the maintenance of the engines isn’t being done too well. If you go into a restaurant and the bathrooms are filthy, it sends a psychic signal to your brain that just perhaps the kitchen isn’t too clean. And so I wrote a book 12 years ago that became, um, I guess fortunately for me, a a big business bestseller and it has been a best seller for all 12 of these years, still remains internationally. So, and it just talks about little details matter a lot. And, uh, of course I think the message is more important than ever because we’re living in a culture in which people are not paying attention to the details, particularly the human relation details. We’re trying to automate everything. And, and uh, so I think the broken windows series very, very, very important for a business owners.

Z. I would like for you to talk about a theory. You know, I don’t know that you’ve ever written a book about it or really pinned a title, but I would call this the and thrown away box theory. Now we’re going to edit the show. So Z if you, and you’re a man who you are careful with your language, but should you feel the need to set and the way and the way, uh, Michael that cats love boxes. Dr Z hates boxes. So when a box gets shipped to one of his businesses and the thing that the contents of the boxes are taken out of the box and the boxes are left somewhere, XE within viewable air in the Buble area, in the back room, wherever, fill my blood pressure, my Z, all that sense. And see why do you hate boxes that are not thrown away after the contents have been purposely putting the right place?

Why do you hate it when boxes are not thrown away? And that when people just kind of take, they use the box, they almost live out of the box. You know, it’s kind of like a, I don’t know, it’s a broken window when when people walk down the hallway and they see a, an open box bothers you. It bothers me because that the good should be put where they need to be put in the boxes and be taken, taken out. So it’s just, it’s lazy, it’s sloppy. It’s, it’s the, it’s exactly what it is, is a token window.

Yeah, I agree. I would agree with the doctor. I think he’s totally right. And I think it is a symbol to people whether they recognize it or not, of laziness, of sloppiness of carelessness, and it sends a signal to human beings that I think is powerful, which is if they can’t throw away a blue box, what else can they not do? And so I would say that what he is describing is totally consistent with the broken windows theory.

Absolutely. And as a business owner, you really have to go in with a set of eyes every day and look around your business from the start to the beginning, not the back. Don’t go in the back door like you always do your little private office entrance, you’ve got to go in the front door and actually walk through it with a new set of eyes because you’re looking for those broken windows. Right, Michael? I mean that is a, that’s a beautiful analogy and a great picture. [inaudible] owner. Yeah,

you should be. If you want to succeed and if you want your business to be around in three to five years, you better be doing it and you better be doing it in all kinds of ways. Don’t just do it when the steps around. I mean, one of the things that, you know, I would encourage somebody like perhaps a dentist to do it or a doctor is call your office. Just go out and call your


eight 10 12 rings. You know, commonly, you know, I’m of a certain age that I’ve been calling doctor’s offices all my life and you used to call a doctor’s office and it would maybe be picked up in two rings, three rings today, common, common, 1210 eight 15 rings. And very commonly after the 10, 12, 15 rings, the first thing you hear is not hello. Can you please hold correct. So this is not a way, if you’re calling your dentist, your, your lawyer, your, your, uh, you know, any, uh, skilled for your CPA and you have to wait 1214 rings to get them off. Get somebody to pick up the phone and the first thing you hear is, can you please hold? It’s not good. And I think that inspecting yourself, holding yourself to a high standard and declaring war, if you will, you will. You need, these are not problems that need to be handled. These are problems that need to be obliterated. They need to be destroyed. You can’t handle certain problems. You have to destroy them.

You don’t, uh, Z I in this book, but you would love, by the way, in the book, there’s a lot of great chapters here. But Michael, I wanna I want to kind of tee it up. I’ll put, I’ll put the ball on the tee and I’m gonna let you, uh, unleash your inner tiger woods here. Okay. So chapter three of your book is titled obsession versus compulsion. What is this chapter all about at its core?

Well, I mean maybe it’s about a bunch of things, but one is if you, you are sending signals as a business owner, you’re sending signals to your customers all the bloody time, whether you recognize it or not. So for example, let’s imagine in Los Angeles where I live, you go to a restaurant very frequently, you have a valet parking person and there isn’t much parking here in LA. So that’s common. Not as common in other parts of the country, but it is, and I’m in LA now, if the parking attendant, the parking attendant for the restaurant is usually what’s called a concession. Usually the restaurant has hired a company to park the cars, right? Right. But the problem is that the customer doesn’t delineate the difference between the parking attendant and the restaurant staff. Right. They think the experience of going to a restaurant begins with the parking attendant.

And if he’s rude or cold or or unkind or unwelcoming for any reason, right? Often because he may not speak the language. Then it creates a feeling around the dinner. The dining experience is negative. Now, if you go in and you tell the manager of the restaurant about that and the restaurant manager says, well, that parking attendant doesn’t work for us. He’s a concession. That some point. That’s a bad answer because the experiences is the same. You have to have an obsession with what Jeff Bezos from Amazon calls frictionless experience and radical. Notice the use of the word radical hospitality. If you want to win today, one of the guiding, uh, elements that is so necessary is radical hospitality and a war against friction. And if you don’t do that, uh, you are going to find yourself as many business owners have as a, uh, as a, um, casualty if Amazon, because, uh, Amazon has created a very frictionless experience.

Now in chapter five of your book, you talked about expectation versus reality. Educate us about what you mean by this and then I’ll let Zee interrogate you about it.

Yeah, I think that, look, every person, every customer yearns to feel valuable, special, important, right? The expectation bar of every human being is, please make me feel important. Right? And if in our increasingly automated age, right, we don’t do that, then we create friction and unhappiness because human nature, you know, the technology has changed the world greatly, but it hasn’t changed human nature. Now people 50 years ago wanted to feel valuable and important and today they want to feel valuable and important and a lot of modern life has been a war, making them feel unvaluable and an unimportant

Z. I uh, I love having guys like Michael on the show. I love, I love having guys like Wolfgang puck on the show. I love having John Maxwell. I love that when people who are the best at what they do.

Wolfgang puck, by the way, I know Wolf King, puck and Wolfgang puck is, you know, may be America’s most successful restaurant tour chef. He understands in a very, very, very primal way the concept of radical hospitality. It begins right at the front desk that maitre D, it may be the S if the chef is the most important person in a restaurant, who’s the second most important? Could be the maitre D could well be the made for D. and so Wolfgang puck is a great example, a shining example of radical hospitality.

See I, I want to list off because I want to put Michael in this category and I want to let you interrogate him and think about this. Um, the best one of the best hotel chains you can think of is Ritz Carlton. We’ve had the founder of that company or Horst Schulze. You think about Walt Disney world deep to Tom.

Can I, can I just mention something about Ritz Carlton? Um, I am told I, I’m not a Ritz Carlton employee, right? But I am told that every Ritz Carlton employee carries in their uniform a little card, a little pledge car and the chords says, I’ve never seen one of these cards, but I’ve been told about, been mentioned and mentioned to me. We are ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen.

There it is. There you good.

That interesting. We are ladies and gentlemen serving ladies in general.

It’s the expectation you guys had. You guys had this expectation level. The Wolfgang puck has this expectation that with John Maxwell, the top leadership expert, he has a certain expectation of us, golden head of the top 40 music industry right now. Certain expectation, Ritz Carlton, certain expectations. See, we’ve got the founder, the owner of the Houston rockets will be on our show. Certain expectation level, Craig Groeschel top pastor in America,

patient level isn’t among any of them, right? Mediocrity.

That’s what I’m saying. So you’re not, you don’t put up with

shortcuts to many Americans own businesses, right? Too many Americans in every area of life are looking for shortcuts. And I think that one of the things that I most respect about you, clay, and your show and your whole way of being in the world is that you have been at the forefront of a, a, uh, counter culture that has been a war against shortcuts. There are no shortcuts. You had jackass and you shouldn’t be looking for one or several or, or you shouldn’t be in business. If you want to shortcut, go work at some minimum wage job, which by the way, is a dignified way of earning a living if you choose. There’s nothing wrong with working at a minimum wage job. I think many people who work in minimum wage jobs are providing a very honorable service, but if you don’t yearn to stay for the rest of your life in a minimum wage job, even though there’s no, there’s plenty of dignity in doing that, then you can you, you have to stop looking for shortcuts.

Z, I just got, I just got both of you guys warmed up now. I give you the Mike Z. Well, you know what we, we teach in our, you know, the thrive nation. When you tell me that they’re listening, we talk about mystery shopping. You’re your, you know, competition. And I think more importantly, you need to mystery shop your own fricking business. Yes, of course. Yes.

But you got to mystery shop. I think mystery shopping is great. I would sit, I would invite it to be done in three tiers. Because when you hire a mystery shopping company, right? You’re relying on the mystery shopping company. If you ask friends and family to mystery shop, you’re relying on friends and family. If you mystery shop, you’re relying on you. I personally recommend all three approaches. I think it’s so vital that you mystery shop yourself and your competition, but yourself, that you do it on three tiers. Hire a company and here’s a great opportunity. Every customer’s ever complained. If you could recruit 50% of every customer’s ever complained about a product or service that you produced and recruit them to be a mystery shop or for you, you’d be, you’d be in great shape.

Z, I’m back to you, my friend undercover boss. I hear that show. The concept of it is so powerful. You know, because you, it helps you find all those broken windows in your business, right, Michael? Yep. And then once you find them, you have to be just aggressive and radical and fixing them. I wanna I wouldn’t bring this up.

Call radical more than aggressive

that radical. You guys are both radical.

Yeah. You have to. You have to kill them with the same, you have to go after them with the same intensity that the Navy seals when after bin Lauden

come on. Go on.

Go shading. There’s no, well, maybe [inaudible]

I’d like to discuss this. Could you step outside? No, no, no, no, no. It’s, it’s a war and once

is going to win and one side’s gonna lose and too frequently the side of shortcuts is winning in today’s world.

Now, Michael, I’m good. I’m gonna ask you to refrain from answering as I, as I irritate you second by second and then zeal pile on and we’re going to tee up the question twice. It’s going to be a gradual irritation. Okay? I’m just going to throw out different names, certain trends. Let it just happen until you kinda want up me. Here we go. Here we go. Here we go. This will be fights overtly casual. It’s an attitude of 10 minutes late. It’s an idea of living with your parents until you’re 30 it’s an idea of Bernie Sanders. It’s an idea of lowering standards. It’s an idea of being consistently inconsistent. It’s about focusing on how we feel instead of getting things done. Z, it’s this attitude of meeting mediocrity. Do what you needed to do, but you gave it your best shot and now someone like that sitting with you now [inaudible] they’re 26 their parents are out of money.

They can’t support them anymore. They got kicked out of their house. They’re sitting right in front of their 26 or 27 years old. They just turned 27 Z. They’re meeting Michael Levine at the Starbucks and they’ve got their baseball hat on, turned around backwards. They have a shirt on that says, okay, awesome. It says, awesome. Hashtag awesome. Hashtag awesome. Yeah, and they’re going bra, bruh. I just don’t understand why I’m not having super success pro. If they actually asked you that question and they were being sincere and they wanted you to straighten them out, what would you say to that person? Michael Levine?

Well, first of all, I have to be honest with you and answering that. I would tell you that the cha, if I got that person at age 27, I would say that the odds of the potential odds for a breakthrough or 27 are massively lower than say 18 or 20. If you’ve gotten yourself to a place of distress and you still haven’t figured it out by 27, it’s not impossible to turn it around, but it’s damn hard. Uh, so I guess rule number one is, son, if I’m talking to a 27 year old son, I wish I had gotten you 10 years ago and, and you wish if, if turning your life around were important to you, you wish I had gotten to 10 years ago, because the reality is by 27, it’s, it’s awesome. And if you cross 30, it’s over

immediately. It’s just, it’s just too late. Absolutely a miracle. The second thing I would say

to a 27 year old in a Starbucks is if I don’t hear from this nice person, a level of desperation, almost begging, right? Um, then I become even more convinced that the person is not ready if they’re asking me a question with very casual inquiry, right. As opposed to a pain that would be synonymous to a massive throbbing to fake, then I would say to the, the nice person, you’re probably not ready.

What if he stands up? What did he stands up straight? He, what have you seen? He sits up straight now. Okay. He says, I’m, I’m sir. Um, you’re, you’re connecting to the end. He’s taking notes now. Okay. So all of a sudden you get that energy. You sense this person is actually waking up nowadays. In the end you said, Hey, can you turn your hand around please? Could you show some respect here? He turns around and a hat and a hat says Bernie Sanders.

I’d say, son, I think I can understand. I can understand Stan,

the, the frankly, the immature allure of free stuff. I get it. Who by the way, who wouldn’t want free things? Right? And particularly young kid kids. I mean, kids, remember, any parent knows that a child, when you take a child to Disneyland first 10, 12, 14 years of life, who pays for the Disneyland ticket? Well, the parents do. The kids don’t pay. And so the definition of maturity for a young person may be, it may be the day in which they recognize that Disneyland is not free.

Mm Hmm.

Right? The day in which they go to the entrance of Disneyland. And the gentleman at the front, a man or woman at the front desk says, that’ll be $108 and mommy and daddy don’t pay. So I understand that young people, uh, college students are very, very seduced by

T man worth more than a billion dollars. Peter teal, who is one of the venture capitalists behind Facebook, he was actually the first venture capitalist behind Facebook has this to say about formal education.

And if the tuition is four times as much, which is roughly what they’ve risen since 1980 adjusted for inflation, um, you’d, uh, you’d end up with a very different, uh, different set of questions. We now have, you know, one point $3 trillion of student debt. It was, it was only 300 billion in 2000. It’s gone up by something like a factor of four in nominal dollars in, in 15 years. Um, and uh, and then, and so I think at that level we have to ask far more critical questions about, um, you know, is the education worth the debt that people are assuming? And it’s a, it’s a very pernicious, a form of debt because, uh, um, under a president, uh, Bush 43, they, we wrote the bankruptcy laws so you can never get out of student debt, even if you go personally bankrupt. Um, and you pay off your student debt for the rest of your life.

And if you haven’t paid it off by the time you’re 65, they garnish your social, social security to pay off your student student loans. And so, um, so I think, uh, it’s sort of incumbent on us to ask some very tough questions about, um, how well, um, how well education is actually working because it has, has taken on, um, on these, these, uh, these very different, uh, roles because of the enormous costs that are being, uh, being attached to it. Um, the way that I’ve, um, the way I, uh, the economic, uh, sort of description on is often what kind of a good is education? Is it an investment? So you’re going to college as an investment into a future or is it a consumption good where it’s like a four year party. Um, and so, um, and ladies are, these are two very different kinds of things.

And often when I started my critique of colleges, I thought it was sort of a weird superposition of an investment, good and a consumption good, which is why people were confused. So they thought they were investing, but they’re really consuming. Um, but now come to think that, um, it’s actually, um, a combination of two things that are much crazier than those two. Even, it’s on the one hand, it’s um, um, the main reason people go to college is actually as an insurance product where, um, people go to college because they’re scared of falling through the very big cracks in our society. And so even if, um, even if it’s not a great investment, it’s still important to buy insurance. That’s why parents save up so much money to send their kids to college. And then why kids take out so much in, in, in, uh, in student debt,

this con game of free stuff. I get it. I, you know, it’s part of the, the youthful, uh, uh, romantic fantasy thinking, but it’s utterly and completely immature and, and idiotic. There is no free. Now, certainly you shouldn’t get much past 15 or 16 to know that hopefully your parents have drilled that into society. You’d like to think that society has drilled that into your head by 15 or 16. If you’re floating around between 18 and 22 in college, listening to some very well educated jackass college professor trying to get you hooked on the crack pipe of free stuff and you haven’t figured out that that’s a bad plan. It’s a bad plan. One because it doesn’t work. It’s a bad plan because it doesn’t exist, right? And so, but what happens to people is they go through college, usually educated by people who have a very, very, very radical, um,

a liberal view of the world, right? People that can’t, capitalism typically teach capitalism. They don’t, right? They, they hate, they hate the very, it’s, it’s as if you’re go, if when you go to college today, it says if you’re, you’re paying money sometimes 40, $50,000 a year. And imagine if you paid 15 $50,000

a year to go to a school and the professor said, you see that traffic light up there, son or young lady, that green means stop and that red means go stupid. How stupid would you be to pay $50,000 a year? To hear the green means stop and red means go. I mean, a bright ten-year-old would say, mom, that’s ridiculous. Green means go, not stop. Right? And yet, college students are being educated in America today with rules of life that are equally stupid too. Red means go and green means stop it. At least a stupid, maybe stupid or and so this free stuff, this free free. See who’s gonna pay for, you know, you hear it all the time. It’s just a bunch of hustlers, politician, hustlers trying to get you hooked for purposes of their own and grand dies moment or success votes they’re trying to buy votes with, with, with fake money, with monopoly money.

Well, we all grew up netting loving, bright enough to figure this out. You really are a jackass. I grew up loving Robinhood. Jackass. But you’re jacket. No. Okay. Now we have a guy on the shirt I wanted to bring on here.

Bad plan for you. See, you are going to be damaged by it. If you start believing this crap, bill Gates isn’t going to be damaged, right? Mark Zuckerberg’s not going to be damaged. You are going to be damaged.

I’m gonna. I have a guy,

Bernie Sanders isn’t going to be damaged. Elizabeth Warren’s that couldn’t be damaged. AOC isn’t gonna be damaged.

Hey, Oh, see, RD is damaged. I call you out. AOC is damaged. She’s brain damaged. Well, listen, her mind does not work. She’s ridiculous. She may, I may

well believe it. I, I don’t try to judge people’s motives and I do believe that many people who, who have certain views raise powerful questions. These are powerful and fair questions that are being raised, but the answers have free, free, free, free college. Free healthcare. By the way, Oh, by the way, clay, drZ , two weeks ago, I saw something on television that was the single most stunning thing I ever saw in my life other than Lee Harvey Oswald being assessed unaided on live television. Now, I was nine years old when I saw, I saw Lee Harvey Oswald get assassinated on a live television. Most astonishing thing ever saw in my life until about weeks ago, three weeks ago at a debate, there were 10 men and women at a democratic debate, right? This is not a political statement. This is just a fact and the 10 men and women, including a vice president Biden, who as far as I know was a good man. 10 men and women were asked, raise your hand high please. If you are in favor of free healthcare for illegal aliens, all 10 raise their hands 10 out of 10 and

they’re not aware of how to do it.

Some, there was applause in the audience. I literally couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t

wait. Listen, you’re not going to believe this. You’re not gonna believe this. We have a guy on the show, believe it or not. Hey, I got him right here and inside the studio. He’s a 20 year old man. 21 year old, 21 year old man. He just turned 21 he is a married man, Z married man, 21 years old. He saves Andrew, what percentage of your income do you and your wife save? 50% 50% of their income. His wife manages one of the, she manages all three elephant in the room, men’s grooming lounge stores. He started off working with me at what age? 17 and you get to work what time every day because the challenge is to beat your boss to work. What time do you get to work every day? Three 55 three 55 every morning this crazy guy get a M or PA.

Oh wow. So this guy, Andrew, you’re on the show. You are an anomaly. You are a Michael Levine kind of guy. I know. He would love you. I know he would not. I seriously know he would love you. What questions do you have for the great one? The leader of the PR industry, Michael Levine. What questions do you have for him? Absolutely. Um, so you were talking about going through your store and physically walking through and looking for the broken windows and seeing what’s wrong and fixing it. Here we go. Um, what are some like practical ways, like how, like what is an example of like walking through the store? What are you looking for and how do you fix it? Like do you have any examples that you could walk through? Yeah,

sure. I mean, you want to look for very, very innocuous things like paint chips, right? Isn’t that interesting. You looked through a store and you say, my goodness, when was this? Look at, look at everything. Look at it with eyes. You’re looking, go into the bathroom. Is there, is there, is there a faucet that’s broken? A paint chip, a, an area that needs to be painted by? Goodness gracious. If you’re inviting people into your business, your store, and there’s a spot on the carpet by goodness gracious, that’s a broken window friend. You have to be mindful of everything because all of these things are sending psychic signals to your brain, to your customer’s brain about how you live your life. You conduct yourself. It’s, these are very, very, very important things and they’re not being paid attention to, which is why so many businesses are failing.

Andrew, a final, final question you get to ask Michael Levine, the great one, the man who has represented Michael Jackson, president Clinton, president Bush, uh, pizza hut, Nike companies. We nosy. Andrew, you’ve got the final question. Absolutely. No matter what you askZ , he one up you with the secret. Final question and we’ll let Michael get back to me an awesome. Out there and, and a California. Got it. Um, so you had mentioned that that peak age S uh, most people should have or do have a breakthrough is around 18 to 2121 around that age,

I would like to sing that you have a modestly good view of the way the world works by age 18. If you’re going into college, you should have a modestly good view. You should be able to know that when a politician says, Oh, I believe in free college, you should know that’s for sure

because there is no free. Somebody’s got to pay for it. There is no free.

If you don’t know that by 18, I’m concerned. If you don’t know it by 22, I’m scared. If you don’t know

by 27 a pet for five each, it should

be so fundamental to who you are. Um, it’s just, it’s like, it should be as fundamental to you is that gravity exists. I mean, what, it just [inaudible]

it blows, it blows and blows your mind. It blows your mind. Michael. So what do you do personally when someone walks up to you and says, green light means stop and red light means,

Oh, I, I, yeah, I mean, I don’t try to convert.

I personally am not in the business of trying to convert too many people that don’t want to be converted. If you want to believe in and stupid stuff,

um, that’s your prerogative, right? To read a belief

[inaudible] in there too. As my PR manager said, listen, I want to convince [inaudible] of America that if Cortez hired you to be here, that the PR person, if someone hired you and paid you copious amounts of dollars to become involved in this, well how would you do that? What, what would you, what would you do? What would you say? Is there anything?

Well, my, my principle message is in the, in the broken windows theory is that little details matter and there’s no shortcut through the firewalk. You cannot find what looking out for broken windows requires extra time. Requires getting to your business early, staying late, working nights, working weekends. It’s not easy, but who the hell ever told you was supposed to be, which idiots sold you on a plan that said that owning a business was supposed to be Z. It’s not supposed to be easy. It’s supposed to be challenging. It’s also supposed to be fulfilling and profitable, but it’s not supposed to be easy. And so, um, there it is. So it is and SoCo. So thank you for letting me share some of my ideas with your, uh, hopefully interested audience.

Michael Levine. I thank you so much for being on this show today. Um, if you’re a socialist or a communist, I’m sorry that you’re wrong and, but uh, I’ll hopefully you’ll find a different podcast. The book is called broken windows. Broken business have the smallest remedies reap the biggest rewards. His name is Michael Levine. It’s L. E. V. I. N. E. throughout his career he has represented some of the biggest names, including 34 Grammy award winners, 43 New York times bestsellers, 58 Academy award winners. Check out his book on Amazon are everywhere that great books are sold. Michael Levine, thank you so much.

Thank you brother. I’ll talk to you both soon and I look forward to coming to visit you for your great event. That I think is in, if I’m correct, is in December,

December. That’s right. December Michael of Eaton.

Really? It’s a really exceptional event. Uh, I must, I was very, very excited to be in a room with a couple of hundred people who are not, uh, buying into the nonsense of our time. So it’s a pretty, pretty, uh, pretty exceptional event.

Well, have a great day, my friend, and enjoy that California weather that you, I know you pay for it with your taxes. Take care, Michael. See, I don’t think this show needs an exclamation point, but we like to end each and every show with a boom. Or are you prepared to bring the boom? Yes sir. Andrew, are you prepared to bring the boats? So ready? Here we go without any further. I do three, two, one. Boom.


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