Permission-seeking is such a tragedy.
So much human potential gets wasted because of it. When I went down the rabbit hole of blockchain technology years ago, I came across the word “permissionless.”
I instantly fell in love.
The word permissionless describes my life. It’s the one thing I’ve accidentally focused on without realizing it. Since this discovery it has shaped my entire life.
I quit my job, got married, had a kid, made money online, published a few eBooks, and built a digital writing career — all thanks to this philosophy. The reason you’ve never heard the phrase permissionless economy is because I invented it (google says so — joking).
Let me explain the permissionless economy so you can do the same.
The traditional economy that limits your potential
In the normal economy you’re surrounded by walled gardens. The fences surrounding opportunities you want to pursue aren’t easy to climb.
There are moats around businesses too. The water is full of angry alligators ready to bite your genitalia off.
Gatekeepers mind Iron gates at the front of opportunities. If you get past the gate you might make it to the throne room of dreams one day. But it rarely happens.
The permissionless economy destroys these traditional barriers.
No more job ads
In the normal economy you apply for opportunities through job ads. You hope to be chosen. You jump through circus hoops.
You take days off work to do multiple rounds of interviews. You do mock presentations. You meet with people who you aren’t going to work with. And then at the end of the process if you’re not chosen, you’re ghosted like a piece of trash.
In the permissionless economy there’s no application. You build in public and your work becomes a magnet for opportunities. The work gets shared on social media in a humble fashion.
No skills are required at the start
In the traditional economy you need connections or a college degree to say you’re qualified for the job and memorized everything word for word.
In the permissionless economy if you’re starting from scratch there’s an easy way to gain experience. Give yourself a job working for the people who have the skills or opportunities you need.
The best bit is you don’t ask because that takes more time for the person who can help you. Instead, you become their permissionless apprentice by proactively finding opportunities to add value.
Want to add value to me? Edit my work you can publicly find online and send it to me. Want to add value to a Youtuber? Edit their videos and chop them up in a new way. Want to help a startup founder? Create a different product offering and hand it over to them for free.
This permissionless apprentice approach runs on creativity, not permission or privilege.
The value you add creates proof-of-work (another blockchain phrase). When there’s proof of competence you don’t have to ask anyone for permission.
No more bosses
The traditional economy is based on bosses. People with fake power, (rightly or wrongly) control your destiny, time, and calendar.
They decide whether you eat. They can cut the drug of a salary off in 6 — seconds while drinking a cappuccino.
In the permissionless economy your risk is spread. There is no one boss or one saving grace. You work with multiple people and businesses at the same time. Instead of one employer, you sell the same skills to multiple people or businesses.
One doesn’t like your perfume after a month, smell ya later.
In the permissionless economy you are the boss. The system runs on personal responsibility. There’s no one to lame-blame except yourself.
No asking gatekeepers
You don’t ask anyone for anything. You just do.
You put work out into the world. You send DMs that say “built this, only reply if you like it.” The incentives are whacko too.
No transactions only relationships
The modern economy is rigged.
The incentives are all based around us doing things in return for a reward (like dogs). That’s why networking feels so off.
You go to an event to meet people with the sole purpose of edging your way into theirs, or their company’s pants to get their wallet. It feels dirty. If a transaction happens, great. Then you move on to the next one.
The permissionless economy is built on communities. People gather around in group chats based on interests. Incentives don’t plague the group and so one-night stand behavior doesn’t exist.
The community then drives a purpose and many of the associated ideas can make money online.
But the business that happens is relational, not transactional. You don’t buy a product or service because you have to. You do it because you’re part of a community and when you spend money it fulfills a need, grows the community, and furthers a purpose you care about.
Instead of greedy shareholders looking for maximum profit, everyone in the community has skin in the game.
No more publications
The content engine of the traditional economy has publications. There are editors. If you want to contribute to the public conversation and get heard, then you’ve gotta kiss some editor ass.
If your opinion goes against the consensus you have almost zero chance of being heard.
In the permissionless economy there are no editors. Everyone says whatever the f*ck they want. There are no naughty labels of ‘misinformation’ either.
Ideas are discussed so that they can progress or die of natural causes.
No cold emails
No “will you be my free mentor?” No mass emails to cyberspace that no one reads. No spam. No low-quality content aka ads.
Instead of sending cold emails hoping for lottery opportunities, you put in the work to earn your proof-of-work badge.
No more college degrees
Degrees take years to get and leave you in a lifetime of debt.
Access to information is no longer limited. Memorizing information isn’t a dog and pony show skill anymore.
It’s called google. All the information. For free. On-demand.
The permissionless economy is built on a foundation of online education that can be acquired for a few hundred bucks. It’s about rapid learning that has the ability to keep up with the exponential age we live in (not the industrial or information age that died).
How to get started in the permissionless economy
Sounds glorious, doesn’t it. Here’s how to get started…
Stop asking for permission
Just stop. You can do or be whatever you want. Write your own damn permission slip by believing in yourself and having the patience to see opportunities through.
Start publishing content
In the Permissionless economy we’re all content creators by default.
If you’ve written an email or text message, you’re a writer. If you’ve ever held an iPhone camera, you’re a movie director. If you’ve ever taken a photo, you’re a photographer.
If you’ve ever given a business presentation, you’re a strategist. If you’ve ever written an article, you’re qualified to write a book. If you’ve ever created a PowerPoint deck, you’re a multi-skilled content creator.
Find your favorite social media platform and start publishing. Put your ideas out into the world so they can bring home the opportunity bacon.
Join badass communities
Discord, Circle, and Slack should be your new gods. Worship them. Find interesting groups to join and start conversations. Find people who want to do the same things as you. Then begin collaborating.
Send direct messages to start conversations
You don’t have to ask for permission when you send killer DMs.
Focus on starting conversations. Be informal and send messages like you speak. Do your research beforehand so the person knows you’re not a lazy ass trying to win the opportunity lottery. And use these killer phrases in your message:
- “Saw you just did X. Nice one.”
- “Feel free to ignore this if you’re busy”
- “I have nothing to sell you”
- “Zero requirement to reciprocate”
Your response rate will quadruple with these sentences. Use them.
Do work for free to get a testimonial
Use the testimonial as credibility to do the same work again but for money.
Charge high prices
The permissionless economy online is unlimited.
You have access to billions of people so you only need less than a hundred people to earn a living. So once you get some small traction, raise prices to eliminate difficult people to deal with.
Automate the heck out of everything
Start with Zapier which can automate all sorts of daily tasks.
Then go down the Web3 rabbit hole to see how code can automate decisions, contracts, and hand-off points.
You don’t just want to ask for permission less. You want everyone you encounter to not have to seek your permission all the time either.
The permissionless economy is the greatest opportunity I have ever seen to make money online. It’s as much a philosophy as it is a way of working.
Rather than worry about fairness or privilege, the permissionless economy is built on proactive badassery and proof-of-work.
Make the shift to the permissionless economy if you’re tired of being told what to do, and what you can and can’t do.