28 February 2012

Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, B, A

Konami Code


There was once a man who wanted to be a great musician. His friends told him it was never going to happen. They said in order to succeed in the music business, it doesn’t matter if you’re talented because you need to know the right people, and he didn’t know anyone. Instead of getting dejected, this man had an epiphany. “You mean to say that all I need to do in order to become a famous musician is befriend five or ten people? Ha! That’s no problem.” He went on to become a famous musician.

One of my friends has big muscles, and is very successful with women. My friends and I used to tease him that it wasn’t fair because his muscles were like a cheat code. This idea of a cheat code stuck with us, and we began to notice that many people had cheat codes that they used to be successful where other people weren’t. Eventually we realized that the most successful people we knew used cheat codes all the time.

For the purpose of this blog post, I’ll define a cheat code as a strategy that is 10X more effective than the strategy that most people would pursue in the same situation.

Very importantly, a cheat code needs to be 100% ethical. For numerous reasons, lying, cheating, stealing and being a dishonest and unethical character is a bad way to live your life. Also, if you use these perfectly ethical cheat codes, you can get exactly what you wanted anyways.

Here are just a few examples of cheat codes that are 10X more effective than the strategies that most people use.

Finding a Job

If you’re waiting for job postings to send off your resume, then you’re not using the cheat code. The cheat code to finding a job is to get someone to recommend you for positions.

Imagine you’re trying to hire someone for an important job. Who would you rather hire: a random person out of the thousands of resumes you received each of which looks the same, or the person your trusted friend recommended to you?

Another great cheat code to finding a job is to create a job for yourself. Go find a company you really like, figure out how you can do something amazing for them, and then present them with the amazing plan which they can hire you to go implement.

Anytime you apply to a job with a resume, the only way you have a chance at getting it is if every single one of the other candidates for the position didn’t use the cheat code.


Most people think that networking means going to conferences and exchanging business cards with strangers that you will likely never speak to again.

One of the best cheat codes when it comes to networking is starting a blog about your industry. In addition to general thoughtful articles, find the most prestigious people in your field and interview them on your blog. You will make connections with the most prestigious people in your field at a much deeper level than randomly meeting them at a conference. This benefit also accrues to anyone who organizes an event or conference for their industry.

Learning Programming

Learning to code is one of the best cheat codes I can recommend for life. My uncle is a doctor and built the software that he runs his medical office on. For the past 20 years he has seen more patients with half the support staff of a traditional doctor’s office. All that profit went straight to his pockets.

In many jobs, an employee who knows how to program can be orders of magnitude more effective than employees who can’t code. In my last job I was hired after the guy before me, who didn’t know how to code, got promoted. One of my main tasks was to take certain quarterly reports from the SEC website and compile the information into a report for management. The person before me took about three weeks each quarter to put together this report. I did that once, and then I wrote a computer program to automate the whole process for me. Now, instead of taking three weeks, the whole process took about two hours. The end product was also far superior to the original, because I was able to automate lots of additional analysis that took too long when all the work was done manually. My company was used to paying 12 weeks of salary per year for a job that I was able to automate till it took less than a day.

Foundational Cheat Codes

There are some cheat codes that are more like personality traits and less like specific strategies. For the purpose of this article, I’m calling these foundational cheat codes, because they set the foundation for everything else you want to accomplish. When you look at successful people, an overwhelmingly large percentage have many of these traits.

Constant self improvement

When you are focused on constant self improvement, there’s no limit to what you can accomplish. “I can be whatever I want” will lead to much better results than “I am who I am.”

Great Work Ethic

One might assume that having a great work ethic means that a person can do 25% or 50% more than someone with a poor work ethic. Based on my experience, the difference is closer to 500% than to 50%. There’s a famous saying that if you want something done, ask the busiest person in the room. Having a great work ethic is a foundational cheat code that makes everything else you do in life much easier.

Being Dependable

Doing what you say you are going to do is one of the hardest things in the world. Those who do it reap enormous benefits. You get an amazing reputation, and as much responsibility as you want.


These are just a few examples of cheat codes. There are countless cheat codes that people use every day in order to get results that are vastly superior to the results we would expect. When you find someone who is incredibly successful, watch them closely and try to figure out their cheat codes.

The most important thing to realize about cheat codes is that you can develop them for yourself, if you work at it. They aren’t anything that people can’t do, but they’re things that people won’t put the effort into doing. My friend wasn’t born with muscles, he goes to the gym and puts in the effort. Industry leaders weren’t born with a popular blog, they put the work in to developing one. If you put in the effort to identify and develop cheat codes, they will pay dividends for the rest of your life.

The cheat code is part of the game. The cheat code lets you side step the rules that everyone else is playing by, and allows you to play by your own set of rules. This is a much better way to accomplish the things you want.