Introduction by Lex:
The Corporate Prison Experiment
“All of us, at some time or other, need help. Whether we’re giving or receiving help, each one of us has something valuable to bring to this world. That’s one of the things that connects us as neighbors—in our own way, each one of us is a giver and a receiver.”
Nothing has ever perplexed me more than human behavior; including my own, as an engineer, artist, and inventor. It’s 2013 and I had just made a job change. After more than 10 years in energy and R&D, I was moving into product management for a manufacturing company. One of the first things the new company did was send me to a sales school. My expectations of the experience beforehand was that it would be a sort of excitement-pumping chest beating exercise that would be a bit of a game and then back to life.
To my pleasant surprise, the school was more about the deeper functioning of human behavior in a very data-driven scientific way. Fresh out of the 3-day class I was called to meet with a new customer and sold a $70,000 new product by following the guidance of the school. My only previous sales experience was in selling snacks for the Boy Scouts. Behavioral Science is an incredible field, and I became thoroughly hooked by it. I started to digest more books on the subject and gain deeper insight into the mystery of human behavior.
As my studies of behavior progressed, I began to implement new behavioral tools and run various behavioral experiments on my coworkers. Through my first hand research, I discovered how ideas and changes could be implemented in a covert manner, and then positive change would happen. The covertness of the implementation is, in fact, crucial to the successful outcome. An unfortunate side effect of this is no one recognizes your work and your only reward as a W2 is personal satisfaction or maybe a modest increase in stock price.
The common structure of a company is fundamentally flawed in many ways. But the most significant flaw is the massive opportunity missed every day, by not optimizing the human resources system. With over 80 billion neurons, a human being is a walking supercomputer that only requires 100 watts to run.
Human being = Supercomputer
Of the many beliefs about human behavior, there are two thematic beliefs that largely govern the output of the machine.
Belief A: I am, and that’s what I am. (Fixed model)
Belief B: I am, and I’m constantly evolving. (Growth model)
These two ideas are in essence: software. Software that runs on the same computer; a human can run either one or both programs simultaneously.
Belief A in commonly apparent language:
“I’m bad with money.”
“I’m not smart like that.”
“I’m not allowed.”
Belief B in commonly apparent language:
“I’m a work in progress.”
“I’m capable of learning anything.”
“I can achieve anything.”
Both groups of statements say something about the software running on the computer. If you have ever participated in a basic programming tutorial, then you would have likely written the “Hello World” program. “Hello World” is a basic program where the text is put in and the message is generated the moment the program loads. 100% of all human behavior is a program. Language, theological beliefs, hygiene, diet, exercise, values, morals, dreams, even our reality itself is a program.
Humans have evolved in two ways: genetic evolution, and psychogenic evolution. If genetics is the hardware, then psychogenesis is most definitely the software. Updating software on a human system is not something that can be done quickly within the base biological system. Behavior is encoded in the nerve tissue in the brain and all of our nerves extending through the entire body. Fundamental behavior develops in the first 12 years of human life. The nervous system has gone through 99% of its configuration, and that’s where a lot of systems rest.
In my current small town of residence– 90% of the school teachers are from the same town. The economy of the area is sluggish and stagnant. This is because the behavior of the town is caught in a feedback loop. Children are being programmed by other computers that have been operating in limiting and narrow conditions. The world here seems very small and restrictive to the residents. Furthermore, the majority of the residents of the area participate in a philosophical system that involves a Belief A (fixed) model. It’s a doubling down of stagnation. The poor economic performance of the area is no surprise, given this issue.
Across the United States from me there is an organization that for more than 50 years has rehabilitated people from a fixed psychological model, to one of growth. With an incredibly high success rate, The Delancey Street Foundation has proven that the behavioral outcome of anyone is capable of change. It takes a minimum of 4 years and 3 crucial factors to achieve: control over the physical environment, social environment, and personal motivations. The people that attend Delancey are fully immersed in the program, and that is what it takes to change human behavior.
Not very far away from Delancey is one of the largest populations of Venture Capitalists in the country. Venture Capital (VC) is a system of investing in new and emerging enterprises. Apple, Microsoft, Google, and thousands more all accelerated into fame from the fuel provided by venture capital.
There are many ways of analyzing venture capital investment strategies, but all VCs are betting ultimately on one thing, human behavior. The behavior of the humans in the company, and the behavior of the humans that are, and could become that company’s customers.
Products and technology are all results of human behavior. Human behavior is the only thing that venture capitalists truly invest in.
Delancey’s program updates human behavior programming at a success rate of over 90%. Whereas venture capital investments are successful 10-30% of the time. Looking at these two figures side-by-side has driven me into a deeper fascination of the possibilities of human behavioral outcomes. Thus, has begun what has been one of the most difficult and rewarding projects of my life. The quest to answer the question: can an institution incorporating the models of Delancey and Venture Capital combine to create a billion-dollar company in which the product is human behavior change.
The Corporate Prison Experiment was named after a notorious, and disturbing experiment known as the Stanford Prison Experiment. The Stanford Prison Experiment was a behavioral systems experiment. Behavioral systems are all around us in every part of our lives. In the Stanford Prison Experiment, participants were placed in a prison setting with a set of basic rules to measure the outcome of the project. The result was that violence quickly broke out among the participants and the experiment was terminated early before anyone was seriously injured. Other notable behavioral system experiments such as the Milgram experiment, also have demonstrated the intense power of the behavioral system.
The Myth of Education
A person doesn’t just get taught by another; instead, they take the inputs of their environment, integrate the stimulus from the many inputs of the nervous system and then teach themselves. All masters of their craft have taken charge of their own development, and push their own knowledge boundaries even further. Within each of us lay a deeply-seated curiosity about our world. Look into the eyes of an infant, watching, observing, integrating, reacting… The nervous system is constantly taking in new inputs and modeling reality from those inputs. The reality of one’s world is created by the mind, and we live in a reality manifested from our view point.
A mistaken, yet predominant belief about educating others–is the belief that one should be given a great deal of instruction before experiencing reality. Experience is the greatest teacher, and the classroom is a great place to experience the classroom environment. However, the classroom environment is not entirely where actual learning happens. When I separated from the Navy, and joined Bloom Energy, I was taken aback by the incredible lack of knowledge about practical engineering of the more junior engineers who had attended a 4-year university.
As a Naval Atomic Plant Operator, I had attended Adm. Hymen Rickover’s legendary training program. USN Atomic Power School is an 18-month program that for decades has taken high school graduates and taught them the essential skills for operating fleet reactors. Graduates are usually on-station in their fleet assignment, operating a billion-dollar nuclear reactor, before they reach legal drinking age. Naval Power School is a 3-part program:
Phase 1: Practical trade skill– mechanical or electrical.
Phase 2: Atomic system operating theory and principles.
Phase 3: Hands on training on a live atomic power reactor.
As an incredibly distractible classroom learner, I struggled through the first 2 phases, scoring highest on the laboratory portions. Phase 3 was different, during phase 3 one is placed in-charge of their own education and must demonstrate their knowledge to the instructors. I finished weeks ahead of schedule, I would have finished sooner but I “mouthed-off” to the school master and my final exam was delayed as punishment. For one of my powerschool friends the exact opposite was true. They had aced the classroom portion, but in the third phase they almost washed out of the program entirely and took several additional weeks to qualify. Like many, my friend was a master of the classroom environment. But integrating that knowledge to the real world had been a challenge.
College is a great place for the adept survivors of the classroom environment. Many classroom survivors rarely “learn” the information that the instructors are teaching. In most cases, the classroom survivors either memorize, without learning the information, so they can regurgitate it readily, choose to learn just enough to regurgitate, or worse, resort to actual cheating. In only the rare exceptions, they might receive the information and then self-learn with self application experience. An example too often seen: one member of the Corporate Prison Experiment was an adept cheater. Riley was exceptional about keeping up her appearance, and was wrapping up a BS Degree in Biochemistry. It took me less than 30 days to determine Riley didn’t know the first thing about chemistry. Riley had actually confided to another member that she had cheated her way through college. Riley has that BS Degree alright, and her parents paid top dollar for it. Unfortunately, real world applications will be troublesome for her.
It’s not until one is pursuing an advanced degree through college that most actual learning happens via the standard education system. A Masters or PhD means that the person actually has to commit to learn more on their own and submit proof or thesis. No personal work=no advanced degree. So why are hundreds of millions of dollars spent on BS college degrees every year?
Because people believe that they are going to be able to earn the most money in life with the 4 year degree and are afraid that if they don’t, they’ll be poor. College is one of the few institutions I’m aware of that treats their customers like an employee. Similar to other institutions such as utilities: water, power, petroleum, and data services. You need the utilities, so they hold the cards. Because so many people believe that they need college, a university has no need to compete for customers. Whether you actually learn or not, is not of their primary concern as long as your tuition or loans come through.
The belief culture in university is so strong that $1.75 trillion dollars in student debt is sitting on the books in the United States alone. Considering that all information has been a commodity since about 2005, this is a massive bubble. One can now go into their smart phone when motivated and discover just about how to do anything. Why would a person pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for information that is literally free online? Belief is a powerful cognitive distortion. Belief defies all logic and higher reasoning. Still today in the world, one can get tortured and murdered for belief-defying logic.
Systems of belief have created classroom survivors out of millions of humans. If my life is on the line, I’m going to say anything to save myself. Children will not survive well without mature humans, and so often learn through the “do as I say, or earn a beating or a huge pile of shame” tactic. As those children grow into adults, they are armed with the automatic behavior to do as they are told or else. Many develop a pathological cognitive distortion regarding the idea of trust which becomes either “I can completely trust you, or I cannot trust you at all”. When you expect someone to cognitively violate themselves, you can be sure you won’t be able to trust what they say. Trust then becomes a series of dials relative to the subject matter for each individual. I trust a physicist to do physics and a plumber to do plumbing. If the plumber can’t plumb, they likely can still be trusted to breathe, defecate, and drive a car.
As children, my siblings and I learned to say whatever we would need to say, to get off the hook. We obviously didn’t believe any of it, that was not a requirement. This is such an incredibly common occurrence that as an employer, one cannot expect their employees to believe whatever beliefs they are pushing, and vice versa. The human mind is the ultimate temple of the owner, and with that, one’s own true interpretations are their own. I very much doubt I will be networking my brain once the technology is available. A person’s mind is the only true privacy that one has in this life, and I’ll be damned if I give that up!
You can have my body, but you can’t have my soul.
At Bloom Energy, I worked my buns off for the excitement, growth, and the possibility of a healthy payday. Quite frankly, Fuel Cells are a joke of an energy solution. Bloom Cells run on fossil fuel, you know that thing that humanity is phasing out? Natural gas extraction, especially fracking, is terrible for the environment, and the production, consumption and distribution of natural gas leads to more than 69 billion cubic feet of natural gas leaked into the atmosphere annually in the United States. A fuel cell is barely as efficient as a natural gas cogeneration plant, even a little less.
Atomic energy is the future, it’s a mathematical inevitability, I knew that at Bloom, I know that today. Maybe the reader now knows that too, but believe whatever you’d like. Truth is practically irrelevant to the human animal and our beliefs.
Just as I never believed in Bloom Energy’s product, one cannot expect their employees to actually believe in their product or mission. A person gets a job to fulfill specific needs of theirs. For me, the need was to do something exciting, fun, challenging, and to gain financial security. As the years passed at Bloom the things that had previously met my needs, faded. Rising costs of living in California outpaced my salary.
The newness of the experience wore off, and with it, the excitement. The challenge of the company changed from creative excitement and positive change, to more and more to do with politics and corporate structure; items which I had no power to engage in. All that was left was the fun, which was fading before my eyes. Without belief in the mission and product of the company, there were no longer sufficient reasons for me to want to stay. While I was already looking for a change, Swagelok reached out to recruit me, and I immediately dropped the mic at Bloom. Thus, attempting to change my environment and belief system.
This led me to analyzing the psychogenesis of western civilization, where a clear pattern of layered masked behavior arises. A child under 8 years cannot survive without an older person to support them. Deep down the fundamental nervous system is aware of this danger. The awareness of this danger makes children have an insatiable appetite for the company of others. The tribe is near assurance of a child’s physical security, so they will adapt to that tribe’s belief system for survival. For example, if a kid has to attend religious services or face being ostracized, they will learn to speak the language of that theology. Sadly, sometimes this carries over even when the child grows into an adult, in which in some theological communities, children and adults can both be involuntarily ostracized or even executed if they do not follow the program. The “thou shall not kill” rule only applies to those following the belief system, outside of it–kill away.
Even though the extreme involuntary execution is a practice that had been discontinued in many cultures and countries; it was readily practiced at a much more common occurrence for thousands of years. As a result, a very violent model to program human behavior has developed. Do not take lightly: violence is the supreme authority from which all other authority is derived. Ask any government, or parent. Due to the use of violence against children, either physically or psychologically, that has been programmed into the psyche–children have now learned to survive by playing along.
Hence, our mass hysteria; millions upon millions of human beings that are living their lives by playing along. A system that implements “get with the program” or be faced with permanent deletion, and/or possibly even deletion of one’s family. It’s disgusting and a horrible waste.
One of the most fascinating psychological phenomena I have experienced was when the activation of fully-automated sleeper behaviors for parenting, turned on when I became a parent. Children learn how to parent from their childhood experiences, and culturally speaking, the grandparents are happy to stand over the parent’s shoulder and “coach”. In the infamous Milgram experiment, participants were instructed to administer an electric shock to a test subject for making errors in a task they were performing.
The “shocks” were not actually real, and the “test subject” was a paid actor. The participants in the experiment would administer “punishment” for errors made by the “test subject” and despite their screams of agony, pleading to stop, even feigns of death, they would continue to administer the shocks for errors. Over 60% of the participants in the Milgram Experiment administered “fatal” shocks to the test subject with only modest resistance. Shockingly, if a coach stood by the participant and gave encouragement, that number would shoot up to over 90% compliance.
I encourage you to take a moment, to absorb the results of that experiment. That 90% of human beings will commit extreme acts of violence against another, when coached. From millennia of violently enforced psychogenesis, we are all wearing the psychological scars of the past. We all have some violent “coaching” weaved into our psyches from our violent history. Human children will test boundaries as a mechanism for learning. So, when that child violates a parent’s boundaries, the parent’s own learned psychosis is triggered, and the result is often physical or emotional violence, or the threats of it. The children then learn by example, which leads to passing the violence onto their children.
As a physical survival defense, humans will learn to “go along with it” to protect against possible violence. Thus, we become incredibly adept liars to protect our physical security, and this behavior becomes an automated part of one’s behavior. When getting a job, a person usually enters the situation with a “you may have my body, but not my soul” behavior.
When my daughter was two, my partner and I were briefly living with my parents while we transitioned from one house to the other. Being in the home of an origin environment, in itself, is a precursor for the use of default behavioral programs. One day, my daughter made a big mess in the garage while playing and I mistakenly told her to clean it up. A two-year-old is practically incapable of cleaning a mess without help, especially this mess.
Much to my shame and regret, under the influence of my original programming, I spanked my daughter for the first time for failing to clean up the mess. The psychological activation of that behavior feels like a bad dream. Later that day, I was picking up my daughter to put her in the bath and she placed her hand over her bottom and cried, “please don’t hurt me!” I broke down into tears. I haven’t spanked her since.
Human behavior is so profoundly influenced by the behavioral systems in which a person exists that it’s almost laughable that the idea and value of free will is widespread. The Corporate Prison Experiment has been a multi-year journey of a human behavior trial and error project. The product we have developed is the manufacturing process for emotionally balanced never-say-die entrepreneurs; and their lead time is around 208 weeks.
The goal of the Corporate Prison Experiment is to build an institution that:
Takes in humans running a Fixed mindset software and reprogram them with a Growth mindset program.
Teach them the skills necessary to build companies.
Provide them with the necessary financial backing to accelerate the company that they must build in order to graduate.
This the new economic system for the information age.
Introduction by V:
An excerpt from Sexuality & Obedience: Releasing Your Soul:
“We are told what to believe from the beginning. The master plan of our existence has already been decided. Who we are “destined” to be–is insignificant. That question is instead answered by the village. Society. Human survival is to be dependent on the social group.
Society has the ultimate control on public requirements. Acceptance. Acceptance is coveted by all classes. All castes.
What do I have to do to fit in?
Whose dick do I suck, whose shoes do I shine?
Who do I pay off?
Who’s needs take precedence over mine?
When do I smile, when do I cower?
What to do, to hold one’s power?
We are shaped into the culture that we are born within.
However, this conditioning is an imperfect system. It tends to go array. Bullshit habits and automatic behaviors, once hard-wired unto our brains, are subject to neuroscience for change. Emotional intelligence is on the rise. Patriarchal systems, blind nationalism, and core human infrastructures are being questioned. Almost as much as God. The power struggles between belief systems are real.
The quest: is to not be defined by what you know, who you are, and how you express that; not what you have, who you know or what expressions you copy and repeat for approval. Our Freedom, constrained by the world we have been dropped into–is no longer acceptable. The newest generations under constant popular scrutiny. The “Millennials” taking the lead stage with their “DILLIGAF” personas and disrespect to traditions as they wade through the trauma and shame games they inherited and attempt to overcome. Let’s review our “humble” beginnings…”
When my partner and I discussed the complexity of how fucked up we all are, we were perplexed in how to solve the problem. We knew education was a key factor.
We had been exposed to Maria Montessori’s techniques and Jane Nelsen’s Positive Discipline, the Vital Smarts Group and their crucial conversations, crucial accountability, Influencer and Change Anything behavior books. We even dived into Bradshaw’s On the Family, and books by Brene Brown about shame and imperfection. We thought we had a grasp. Education; education for yourselves, educate early, educate the young–acknowledge emotions, genuine connection with others…
We took these books and these great tools and jumped into the blind crevasse of “change the world” mentality. We can not only change ourselves and others for the better–we can use this strategy to help us all rise above poverty. To all rise above the financial and shitty belief constraints of the current economic model of working for the man until you are finally free, but too old to enjoy life. So, let’s create this experiment that allows anyone to break “free from the Matrix” and allows anyone the chance to change, to think and make money for themselves; to live for themselves. We hear you Viktor Frankl, we will find our meaning, and help others find theirs as well. We’ll use that development and search for meaning, while simultaneously solving an economic travesty. We can turn this into a business experiment that allows us to have resources with people, but also develop those people into resources for themselves. Fucking Brilliant. The Corporate Prison Experiment.
Alas, this rabbit hole went dark and twisted, as it does, when one jumps in. We had no fucking clue the layers, we had only scratched the first few surfaces, hurting just enough that it feels real. “Playing the game” that we created, we “thought” we were making positive change. Even the gut signs that said “hey, there’s something else, look further” we ignored or put aside. Alas, there is always that final layer lurking, controlling. The “core memory” layer that due to the belief system we are currently in, gets buried; deep. Silently running the entire show while your “higher enlightened” self has been convinced it doesn’t exist. From this hidden layer, despite our best efforts of understanding it all–chaos ensued.
Heartaches, heartbreaks, actual murders, physical threats, financial threats, ex-con con artists, professional embezzlers, shady characters, and a few true actual saints; fucktons of failure, small successes, euphoric highs, and dark lows, moves across the country, the acquiring AND losing of millions of dollars and the questioning of our very souls. That final nugget, that final layer, came only clear as this book was finding its way to a page. The climax, the bomb, the ultimate explosion of your life, the travesty, finally occurred–to put it all together. Through the darkest of suffering, did we finally see the final layer. Did we finally see trauma for what it truly is? The true significance of your childhood beginnings and the social group you are born into. We ALL contain a spectrum of trauma. And that first layer, that first trauma: CONTROLS it all. Until, you finally see it, process it and set it free–only then can you truly begin your journey of who the fuck you truly are. Trauma and significant life events are not “things to get over”– they are the layers you work through, to be you. A “Master” of Tai Chi never “masters” tai chi–but is instead, a lifelong learner and student of tai chi.
Our work is a cautionary tale of the lessons learned by going all in. Our journey and continuing dive into the human experience experiment is what we are sharing. Psychogenesis is book one of our “PsychoBible” collection of books. The information is too great to contain or restrict. We are living and committing to this scary roller coaster for you, for humanity, and for ourselves. It will get dark, it will get scary. However, I firmly believe–one can never fully have the lightest of lights, without experiencing the darkest of darks. Fear is your friend. Find your dark, so that your true light will be salvation, your true freedom.