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I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell With Tucker Max
I am joined by none other than the amazing bestselling author, Tucker Max, who originally became famous for his book, I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell, but has gone on to help people realize their dreams of being an author by creating one of the most successful self-publishing platforms out there. Tucker, thank you so much for taking the time to join us.
It’s my pleasure.
I know you’ve had an interesting story going from author to helping other people publish their own stories. What motivated you to do that? Where did that come from?
It came about by accident, to be honest. I was at an entrepreneur dinner in New York that a friend invited me to. This is a few years ago and this woman asked me what I do. I told her and she’s like, “I’ve always wanted to write a book. People have been asking me for many years to write a book about what I know,” but it’s the same excuse everyone has, “I don’t have any time. I don’t know how to do it,” all that stuff except for her, it was more legit than a lot of people. A lot of people use the excuse. This woman runs a big company and has a family and a husband. She asked me, “You’re a writer. You’ve done fancy writing things. How do I do this? How do I get this book out of my head without having to learn to be a writer and do all this stuff that comes with it?” I looked at her and I was like, “Are you asking me how to write a book without writing?” She laughed and she’s like, “It sounds silly, but I am.”
I started making fun of her. I started giving her the whole snobby elitist writer answer, which is basically lecturing her about how everyone wants to be a star, no one wants to do the hard work. She let me do it for about five minutes and then she’s rolled her eyes at me and said, “Tucker, are you an entrepreneur?” I’m like, “Yes, of course.” She goes, “I’m not so sure about that. This is an entrepreneur dinner. If you are an actual entrepreneur, what you would do is help me solve my problem and not lecture me about hard work.” She was 100% right and totally called me out. I became obsessed with this. How do I get a book out of somebody’s head without them having to learn how to be a writer? She didn’t want ghostwriter. She’s like, “I want this book to be my words and my voice. I don’t want someone to go off and do it for me.”
It took me about three months and I finally realized I’ve been on top of the answer the whole time. People are doing this for 2,000 years. They’re called scribes. It used to be a whole job to listen to people talk and turn that into a book. Long story short, I came up with a process. It worked well and then I’m such a dumb ass. I did it for her and I made up a price because I wanted to do it. I charge way too little if you think about it. She paid it and was super excited about it and then she’s like, “What are you going to charge for other people? I want to refer you to people.” I’m like, “What do you mean other people?” She’s like, “When I refer my friends. This is an amazing process.” I’m like, “Why would you do that? Why would you refer?” She said, “Because they want to do a book too.” I’m like, “I don’t know, whatever.”
I think I made up a price, double what I charged her. I was thinking, “This woman’s crazy. No one’s going to do this,” and then she referred a bunch of people to me. I got a friend of mine who was helping me with some other stuff. I told him what to do and he’s a decent enough writer. I said, “Here’s the exact process I used with Melissa. Do the same thing,” thinking this would be 3 or 4 people. I said, “I’ll split the money with you.” He’s like, “I’ll make some nice money and I won’t do anything, cool.” Long story short, I go on Lewis Howes’ School of Greatness Podcast to talk about something totally different. He brings up he’s dyslexic and I started talking about this. He goes nuts and talks about it for twenty minutes. He referred a bunch of people to me but he’s like, “What’s your company name?” I’m like, “What company?”
I made up this name, we were Scribe now, but at the time it’s called Book in a Box because Zack and I joke that’s what we’re doing, is creating a book in a box for people. He’s like, “That’s such a cool name. Everyone, go work with them.” The next day I get an email from someone who’s like, “How do I hire you?” At this point, I’m freaked out because I know for a fact the podcast is not out the next day. I’m like, “How is this person emailing me?” It turns out it was the producer of Lewis’s podcasts. I tell Zach and he’s like, “I’ve been trying to tell you this for months. This is a business. A lot of people want this.” I’m like, “Yes, I think you might be right.” We put up a landing page. Lewis’s podcast comes out and we sold $250 million worth of packages. That was in August of 2014. The company is called Scribe Media. We’ve published 500 books that are out. We have another 1,000 in process. That’s where we are.
It’s not just like, “Let’s churn books out,” because it sounds like it. You have 500 books, 1,000 coming. You’ve got every lunch lady on the planet writing a book. These books are monumental. Some of these books have hit mainstream media, thinking specifically like David Goggins.You should spend your time on the thing that you think is really easy for you that everyone else values; that's your calling. Click To Tweet
There were three major memoirs released in 2018: Michelle Obama, David Goggins and Tiffany Haddish. We did two of the three biggest memoirs. I’m talking about both by the press and by sales.
Would you take anybody? Can anybody come up to you and write you a check?
We turned down about 15% to 20% of the people who come to us and want to work with us. I’m a big believer in free speech overall. I’m also a big believer in not platforming people for obvious reasons. I’ve been on the other end of that. Someone has to be pretty awful before we will not take them on content reasons. We’ve had those people. We’ve had this one guy who wanted to do a book. It was a book about why pedophilia is not so bad. I was like, “Sorry, I’m not going to do it.” That was an easy one to say no to. The majority that we won’t take are people who don’t have a book in them.
We have two different processes. One, we interview you and one, you’re writing yourself with our guidance. Neither process works if you don’t know what you’re talking about. Most of our competitors in this space are not writers. They’re just marketers who created a book writing thing and they don’t know how to write books. Their whole thing is, “Write a bestseller in a weekend and be a bestselling author.” They’ll take anyone because they don’t know the difference. We have a real process that produces real books. If you’re just trying to do your book about sales and you don’t know anything about sales, we can’t work with you. It breaks our process.
You’re pulling a real book out of somebody who has to know what they’re doing. You’ve always struck me as somebody who’s got a lot of fingers in a lot of different things, yet whenever I see you nowadays, you pretty much only talk about Scribe. Is this the only thing you work on or are there other secret Tucker Max projects in the background?
I used to write books about myself and my stories. When I was done with that, I experimented and did a ton of things, but my entire life are three things: my family or my wife and kids, my company, Scribe, and the work I do on myself. That’s it.
I know this is a big thing because we’ve spoken about that a few times. You re-invented yourself off the success with your books and the movie that came out. You went on a big overhaul.
I guess. I wouldn’t call it a re-invention. I would call it normal natural evolution, however it’s framed. I’ve spent a lot of time doing a lot of emotional work on myself, especially the last few years have been breathtaking. The differences and the changes, it’s been a lot.
I’m not sure if I ever told you this but I think the readers might care. Did I ever tell you that you are the reason that I ended up getting hired to produce a Discovery Channel TV show for their YouTube channel?
This is the day we met. I’d been hanging out with Harley Morenstein from Epic Meal Time. He’s a great guy. He’s a friend of yours and he’s a friend of mine, but I’d met him once before I met you. Harley was like, “Aren’t you some super social engineer guy?” At the time, I managed to get in at South by Southwest for free. I made a video of how I got past security and everything. Harley’s like, “If you’re so smart, I’ll see you at Tucker Max’s house party.” I was like, “I don’t know Tucker Max.” He goes, “Right, but if you’re smart, you’ll be there.” I was like, “I didn’t even know where he lives.” He goes, “Good luck,” then he left.
I was like, “I’ve got this great opportunity to do some cool stuff with Epic Meal Time, but I’ve got to find out where Tucker Max lives and break into his house party.” I went to downtown Austin where I figured your party would be. I’d narrowed it down to three blocks because it was right by the W, give or take. I was wandering around on the streets. I saw this woman pull up in a car with boxes of beer. I was like, “They’re for Tucker Max’s place, right?” She’s like, “Yes.” I was like, “They sent me down to give you a hand to carry them.” She said, “No problem.”
I ended up carrying the beer up to your party and they let me straight in. I walked in and there’s a whole bunch of people. You’re there and Ryan Deiss was handing out cake pops. He was shoving them and I was like, “Did Ryan buy part of this company or something?” because he’s trying to give people cake pops. It was a pretty crazy experience. I met you and I remember thinking how chill you are. What amazed me is your library. The best thing about it is I’m always giving out books and losing them. Do you take the name of the person who borrows the book?
It depends on the book, but I will.
I was like, “That’s the best.” I remember thinking that’s pure genius at the time. I sat on your balcony and negotiated a deal with the head of TestTube, which was the launch of Discovery Digital. I ended up producing a TV show called Scam School, which was all about social engineering because of the fact that I social engineer my way into your house. I’m sorry for breaking into your house.
It was an apartment and it was a fairly open party. It’s no big deal. What’s funny is that one party, I have had at least twenty people tell me stories about something in their life that happened revolving around that party. This is at least the fifteenth or I think the twentieth person that’s told me something about that. It’s the weirdest thing. It’s not like I’ve never had people to my house before. I don’t know what it was about that night.
This emanates from your life, the way that you live this unique life or I call it the best life of yourself. Few people are willing to do that, to take the chance and do the thing. That’s one of the things I respect about you. I love that you’re not afraid to speak the truth and call people out, go out there and do the thing and try to be the best version of yourself.
I was at lunch with Roy Williams and his wife. Pennie asked me, “What’s your superpower?” She didn’t know anything about me at all. I looked at her and I’m like, “That’s a question people get all the time. I don’t know if I’ve ever gotten it.” I was stuck for a second, then I’m like, “If I had to pick one thing it would be, I’m not afraid to speak my truth.” She looked at me like no one had ever said that to her before. She was like, “That’s amazing.” It’s exactly what you said. I think that is the thing. Speak and live with me are almost the same thing. People compliment me for that a lot and it’s funny. Do you know the saying, “The thing that you think is easy for you that everyone else values, that’s when you should spend your time on?” That’s your calling. Whenever someone says that to me, I’m always a little bit confused because I’m like, “How could you be any other way?” I couldn’t be any other way.Life is not easy to do, but it's simple to understand if you let it be. Click To Tweet
I do love that about you. There was a moment that happened. There was no way I was doing this show without talking about Santa Claus. For anyone reading, in case you’re wondering, I and Tucker are friends on Facebook and I made a post. I’ve got this four-year-old and he has this genetic condition where he can’t generate the stress hormone cortisol. It creates this unique personality type where he’s alert and he’s not scared of saying anything. We were talking about things that aren’t real. We’re talking about monsters and zombies and stuff. I was like, “That’s not real.” I said, “Superheroes aren’t real.” He gave me this little look like, “Superheroes aren’t real, dad?” I was like, “No, I said the wrong thing,” but whatever. I’m going with it. He’s like, “Explain ghosts.” I was like, “Ghosts aren’t real.” He goes, “Why do Ghostbusters exist then?” I’m like, “They’re not real either.”
He goes, “Santa Claus is real, right dad?” I had this moment. I’d always said if my kids ever challenged me on Santa Claus, I’m going to say, “You’re right, Santa Claus isn’t real.” I had this with my nine-year-old and confronts me. We’re like, “The truth is we’re all Santa Claus and your job is to be Santa Claus in somebody else’s life, buy gifts for them.” It’s like this whole big thing. There’s this movement of people in line that are doing it, but I couldn’t say it to my four-year-old. I’m looking at my four-year-old and I broke his heart about superheroes. I was like, “Santa Claus is real.” I made this post online and quite rightly, Tucker was like, “Why didn’t you tell him the truth?”
I did not call you out. That is not true. I told you what I’d do with my child. Everything else you read into, there was no castigation of you. There was no judgment of you. I didn’t tell you what to do. I didn’t tell you what you should do. I didn’t even imply it. I told you what I did and I gave you the rationale about why I do it.
This is what I love about you because it is that one truth. You’re right. You didn’t, but it definitely got me thinking. I’ve been thinking about it ever since. I believe I’m pretty good at being out there and be like, “This is who I am.” When it came down to it, at 10:00 PM when my kids were in bed, I completely crumbled. I have been thinking about it a lot since then. It does illustrate how honest and true you are to that core. You had this great comment that you put underneath it, which is like, “When you’re with your kids, why would you ever lie to them about anything?”
Here’s the thing most people miss about life. It’s not easy to do, but it’s simple to understand if you let it be. This is a perfect example. Who would ever argue with the idea that you should never lie to your kids? If I stood in front of a crowd and said, “Who agrees with the saying you should never lie to your kids?” every single person would raise their hand. If I said, “Who among you told your kid the truth about Santa Claus the first time they asked?” no one’s hand would go up. It’s simple to understand, but it’s not easy for most people to live because then they go into all the other things. This is why I’m able to speak my truth when most people feel like they can’t. It’s because I stopped there.
What do I know I’m supposed to do? It’s X, then I’m going to do X and that’s it. For me, it’s so simple. I love my son. I dedicate my life to this kid. How could I ever justify myself lying to him? There’s plenty of times where I’m going to frame the truth in a certain way that’s age-appropriate. That’s a whole different thing. There’s no framing Santa Claus is real versus Santa Claus doesn’t exist. I had this conversation with him a few months ago. I’ve always told him Santa Claus didn’t exist. Because no one else had told him differently, he accepted it. I was driving to school and he said, “Dad, a lot of kids in my school say Santa Claus is real. Why did they say that?” I said, “Bishop, here’s the deal. They’ve been told that by their parents and their parents are lying to them.”
He looked at me like he couldn’t even conceive that. He’s like, “Why would they lie to him?” We started going through the whole thing. I explained they were lied to by their parents, then they were convinced. They told them this is a thing. He’s like, “Why?” I went through the whole thing of social control of most people are not doing this on purpose. The point of this or the effect of this is that people think there is this beast or this all-knowing person that is looking at them and judging them. It is a form of an external locus of control for guilt. I explained it in four-year-old terms and he totally got it. I talked to him very clearly and very plainly about it, then I called it back. I said, “Bishop, do you remember when I told you your mommy and daddy would never lie to you?” He said, “Yes.” I said, “There you go. Those parents have not made that promise to their kids, but they’ll learn.” From there, he knows he can always trust us because I tell him we’re going to tell him the truth and then I tell him the hard truth.
It was fascinating to me because my nine-year-old had never questioned it until he was nine. It was easy to tell him. It’s the sequence of it because I have broken his heart about a whole bunch of things. Explaining superheroes weren’t real crushed him. I didn’t have it in me to do it, but you’re right. I’ve been thinking about it ever since. I’ve been like, “I wish I had.”
You’re not done. You can have that conversation with them anytime you feel like.
I’m going to 100%. I love this element about the truth about you. I want to go back in time. Because of you, I can now never rent a car the same way again. It was all because of a story where you told about getting maximum insurance on a car, the walkaway insurance. Do you remember that?
Yes, I was there for that.
I thought it’d be better if you tell a mini-version of the story. My question for you is, did that come about because of this idea of completely telling the truth? In essence, that is how it is sold as insurance. The truth is you can walk away and they don’t expect anybody to actually utilize that.
I was having a conversation at lunch about why I’m not going to send my kids to public school. It has nothing to do with getting a better education because most private schools are as much of crap of education. The public school teaches kids to be sheep, to obey. I don’t obey. That’s not my thing. It’s served me very well in my life and I’m not going to ask my children to do anything different. If they want to obey, they have that choice, but I’m not going to put them in prison and tell them to sit down and obey for eight hours. Most people do all day. They went to school. That’s what they ate lunch. That’s what their parents did. That’s who they are. No problem. I’m just not going to do it.
Maximum insurance for a rental car is called walkaway insurance. I was at a bachelor party with my friends. When I rent the car, I go to the front desk and I’m like, “I want full insurance, but let me get this very clear. No matter what happens, no matter whose fault it is, I don’t have to pay for anything, right?” She said, “Yes, that’s right. Everything’s fully covered.” I said, “Even if I come back and give you a smoking, steaming pile of metal that used to be the car, are we good?” She’s like, “Yes, we’re good.” My friends and I destroyed the car. It was comical and the whole story’s in the book. I come back two days later and I give her the keys. I’m like, “I’ll see you, guys.” She goes outside and looks at the car. She comes running, screaming and yelling about the car. I’m like, “Hold on, I bought walkaway insurance, right?” She’s like, “Yes.” I’m like, “It’s not walkaway insurance if I can’t just walk away,” then I just walked away. She was so stunned. I don’t know if she was angry or didn’t know what to do. I got on the plane and I never heard about it again.
At least we know that walk away insurance truly is walkaway insurance.
It was from this company when I bought it. They may have changed it since, but I didn’t have to pay for anything.
I want to ask you a few psychological hacks, but before we get to it, if somebody is interested in Scribe and they want to learn more about what you do, what’s the best way for them to go about reaching out to you and learning more?
If you want to write a book, we’re the best company. Our services are by far the best. We also have what we call Scribe Book School. If you can’t afford us, which is fine. Everything we do, we have full info courses for free. What most companies sell for $2,000, we give away better things for free. If you can’t afford us, go to ScribeBookSchool.com. If you can, go to ScribeWriting.com.This universe and this reality is a testing ground, a proving ground for our souls. Click To Tweet
What is a simple psychological hack you can give to somebody to help them be more successful or get their minds right for their business? The biggest one that comes up is people that know they need to do something, but they don’t do it.
If you do this, it’s going to spin you out, but if you stay with it, it’ll get you through. Let’s say I’m not doing anything I need to do to lose weight. Ask yourself one question and really honestly answer it. What am I getting from not doing it? That’s where you got to dig in. If I’m 100 pounds overweight and I say I want to lose weight, but I’m not doing things to lose weight or I do it and then sabotage myself. The point is whatever the cycle is, if I’m not losing weight, the conversation I need to have with myself is what am I getting from staying this way? Because clearly what I’m getting is worth more than this desire I have.
It’s like the taste of eating donuts.
It’s not. It’s way deeper than that, because you can get sugar-free stuff. It’s not going to make you fat. Let’s take weight loss because it’s a good one. For most people, being fat is a way to hide. That’s what fat is in America. Being overweight in America means you’ve given up. It means you’re invisible. That’s why you see many women who’ve been victims of sexual assaults or stuff like that. They’ll put on a huge amount of weight. It’s an unconscious psychological defense because they’re like, “If I’m huge, then I’m not attractive anymore and I’m not going to be victimized.” It’s a way to be invisible.
For guys, it’s different but it’s usually a form of, “I’m too ashamed of myself. I don’t think I can do anything. If I’m fat, I have an excuse. It’s okay that I’m not good at stuff because I’m invisible anyway.” It’s a way of hiding. You usually need someone to be a mirror for you. I’m not talking about you’re procrastinating for a couple of days. If you are not making wholesale changes that you swear you want to make, that you know you need to make, the question that will unlock it if you’re willing, to be honest with yourself is what am I getting by staying this way?
Because they are more motivated to get what they’re getting than to get the thing that they say they want.
It’s always unconscious. It’s never obvious, never in a million years.
If somebody’s struggling to work out what that thing is, is there a way they can find it?
Therapy can work. The thing that’s unlocked me so much over the last several months has been MDMA therapy and Psilocybin therapy. They have been the most game-changing thing. It’s probably the most important thing I’ve ever done in my life. I did four years of serious and intense psychoanalysis, which is a form of talk therapy. It’s four years, four days a week. It helped me a lot, but all it did was give me a map of my mind. I didn’t change a whole lot and solve a whole lot because to make real change, you’ve got to feel the emotions behind stuff. I wasn’t feeling anything from that. What plant medicines have done is unlocked that. I’ve felt my feelings. All the hidden, pushed down, repressed, painful stuff that I don’t want to feel, I’ve felt and it has totally unlocked my life. I can’t say enough about it.
I know a number of different people that have done various forms of that from Ayahuasca through to MDMA therapy. It always seems to go exactly the same way that you did, with the exception of two cases. I know two that did it and they ended up giving up their business, convincing themselves that they didn’t want to do anything, going on vacation for two years and then trying to claw their way back into the business they were in before. I can only assume that maybe they did it because it was only two. Everybody else loved it. I can only assume that they started self-medicating or did some alternate version. Almost everybody I’ve heard had a similar experience except these two. I was curious if you had any insight into what is that because both of them had super successful businesses, one of them walked in one day and was like, “Everyone gets a pay raise and I’m out.” That was it.
Without knowing anything about the details. This is speculation, but my guess is they were on track of something and they weren’t willing to follow it all the way through. They did whatever medicine they did. I wrote two pieces about this. You can Google Tucker Max MDMA and the Tucker Max Lotus Flower and they’ll come up. The MDMA piece is about my first two MDMA sessions and the Lotus Flower piece is about this strategy that I recommend people take. I think you should start with MDMA, then do mushrooms or LSD, then do Ayahuasca. A lot of people start with Ayahuasca, which is a major mistake because most people cannot handle it at all. They probably started with a very strong plant medicine like Ayahuasca or a huge high-dose LSD or mushroom session or something. What they realize is they hate everything about their life or they hate their business. They gave it away and just dropped it.
The problem is if you stop there, I’ve seen people start and have amazing revelations that will 100% upend their entire life. They’ll go 20% of the way and then stop. You can’t do that. It’s like if you’re trying to go grocery shopping and driving a mile to Whole Foods. If it’s four miles away, it isn’t going to get you anything. It’s the same thing. If one session is enough, that’s cool. For most people, one’s not enough. You’ve got to do multiple sessions and more important than the sessions, you’ve got to integrate. Meaning you’ve got to do all of the work to deal with everything that comes up. Think of it like in the session, all of these issues are going to be popped up and then you’ve got to do a lot of therapy afterwards to think and feel your way through those issues to understand what they mean and understand how they apply to your life.
I’ve seen this happen where someone will do a session and they will realize they have a horrible family who treated them like crap. They’ll try and bring this up with their family and their family will freak out because that’s what abusers, manipulators, narcissists and gaslighters do. They fight that and then they’ll stop. They’ll be like, “I guess it wasn’t true.” They’ll stir up all these things and then try and walk it back. That doesn’t work. If you’re not willing to go all the way, I wouldn’t recommend starting the journey for real.
That’s absolutely huge and what you’re saying resonates because that is exactly what happened with both these people, then they tried to crawl their way back into the business they had before.
They hated it and they have to tell themselves a whole story about why they’re going back to something they hated. What they have to do is keep going. When you’re going through hell, keep going. Don’t stop. That’s the worst thing you can do. Don’t try and go backwards because then you’re stepping back through hell again.
This is from somebody who wrote all about hell. Let’s be real.
I did a very intense mushroom session. I’m on psychedelics. I’m not trying to tell you this is a double-blind, placebo-tested, scientifically-validated information. This is the thing I came up on mushrooms, so take it for what it is. One of the things that came up is that we’re already in hell. Not hell the way you think of hell as fire and brimstone because that place doesn’t exist. All this universe and this reality is a testing ground or a proving ground for our souls. It’s exactly what the Buddhists say. You get a bunch of lives to refine yourself and evolve to a higher level. If you don’t, you get recycled. If you do, then you move on to a different level plane of existence. I’m not the first person to come up with this. This is in the Tibetan book of the dead. All kinds of other people said this.
One of my mentors did an Ayahuasca session and told me the same story, but I know that he didn’t read anything about Buddhism or Tibetan books of the dead. He told me the same story. This is what happened to him.
Do you know how sometimes you experience something as 100% true but you’re like, “I can’t prove this to anyone else?” That’s exactly what I feel about this. It felt to me and I experienced it as 100% true and I know Buddhism pretty well. I did it in college. I knew the Tibetan book of the dead and I’m like, “This is just kooky things.” This is an interesting metaphor in the story and all this stuff. The idea that it connected to reality didn’t occur to me, then I did 8.5 grams of mushrooms and I’m like, “This is true. Everything they said is exactly right. It made total sense.” I can’t take you there. I can’t prove it to you. It sounds crazy. If you think I’m crazy, I don’t blame you. If you’d said this to me a few months ago. I’d be like, “You got to stop doing drugs.”
Thank you so much for the insight and for sharing this. There you have it. This is Tucker Max. I strongly recommend you go and check out his book writing stuff and just him in general. Tucker, I appreciate you. You’re a great guy. Thank you so much for taking the time to join us.
Thanks, Adam, for having me.
- I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell
- Scribe Media
- Epic Meal Time
- Scribe Book School
- School of Greatness Podcast
About Tucker Max
Tucker Max is the co-founder of Scribe Media, a company that helps you write, publish, and market your book. He’s written four New York Times Best Sellers (three that hit #1), which have sold over 4.5 million copies worldwide.
He’s credited with being the originator of the literary genre, “fratire,” and is only the fourth writer (along with Malcolm Gladwell, Brene Brown and Michael Lewis) to have three books on the New York Times Nonfiction Best Seller List at one time.
He was nominated to the Time Magazine 100 Most Influential List in 2009. He received his BA from the University of Chicago in 1998, and his JD from Duke Law School in 2001. He currently lives in Austin, Texas, with his wife Veronica and three children.