Biz Tips from Psychopaths


Nestled in the center of Seattle Washington is Green Lake, a picturesque and popular site for locals and vacationers. In 1970, one group of vacationers was a sweet couple with a 3-year-old little boy whose natural curiosity led him away from his parents and toward the lake unbeknownst to them. Within seconds this little boy fell into the waters and would have drowned if it wasn’t for a dark-haired handsome college student who jumped into the lake without hesitation and saved the little boy.  

This charismatic young man, a true hero, would go on a murderous rampage 4 years later. Before his execution, he confessed to killing 30 women; although authorities suspect the actual number is 100. They also believe that he had already killed by the time he saved the little boy on that fateful day. At his execution, prison guards stated that the only time they ever saw fear in him was when he walked into the death chamber and saw the electric chair waiting for him.

A true psychopathic serial killer named…Ted Bundy.

Just the word PSYCHOPATH conjures up images of serial killers like Ted Bundy, the Zodiac Killer, BTK, and Norman Bates from Bates Motel. However, many NORMAL individuals who would never kill another human being have psychopathic tendencies.

Listen to this quote from one of the world’s top neurosurgeons:

"In the operating theatre I am reborn: as a cold, heartless machine, totally at one with scalpel, drill and saw. Emotion is entropy and seriously bad for business. I’ve hunted it down to extinction over the years."

Psychopathy is measured on a spectrum scale meaning some have a measure of psychopathy but are able to function like everyone else in society. Dr. Keven Dutton, describes psychopaths as possessing a distinct subset of personality characteristics such as ruthlessness, fearlessness, self-confidence, focus, coolness under pressure, mental toughness, charm, charisma and a zero-calorie conscience.

Psychopaths are attracted to the following careers:

1. CEO

Not all psychopaths are in prison - some are in the boardroom.
— Robert D. Hare

2. Lawyer

3. Media (Television/Radio)

4. Salesperson

5. Surgeon

6. Journalist

7. Police officer

8. Clergy person

9. Chef

10. Civil servant

You will not find psychopaths working as nurses or teachers unless they have some nefarious purpose (like the serial killer nurse Charles Cullen, also called the ANGEL OF DEATH, suspected of killing 300 people) because they lack emotions and the ability to identify with others or what we call empathy.

But there are some things we can learn from psychopaths:

1. Cool under pressure (that’s due to that whole “no emotion or empathy thing). When Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin arrive at the moon, they were surprised at how rugged the terrain was. In fact, it was so rugged, they couldn’t find anywhere to land. With mere minutes left of fuel, Neil told Buzz to start counting down at 10 seconds. Sure enough, at the 10 second mark, Buzz started…10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5… And the rest is history.

But here’s what’s interesting. Buzz’s respirations, pulse, and blood pressure showed definite stress while Neil’s pulse actually slowed down revealing he was calmer. Research has revealed that when psychopaths smell fear, they actually calm down and enter into a zone of increased focus and calculation. Non-psychopaths feed off others’ fear and get scared themselves when they smell it. You don’t want a brain surgeon getting nervous while inside your skull. 

Pretend and real are all real to a psychopath.
— Lorraine Toussaint

2. Extreme focus. Once a psychopath focuses on a goal, he is relentless until he completes it. All else disappears. While this might be obsessive for psychopaths, it’s a good trait for non-psychopaths to develop. When you’re focused on a task, you enter into “the zone” where you get 80% done using only 20% effort If that zone is interrupted by anything, it can take an hour to recover your focus. Sometimes longer. 

3. Live in the present. Again, you can see how this trait could cause problems if one never learns from the past. Our past experiences can be used to help us grow as individuals. But too many are bound by their past and unable to live in the present missing all the opportunities and moments that add flavor and zest to life. 

4. Mental toughness. Any entrepreneur knows that mental toughness is a must! Obstacles are the name of the game. Rejection is normal. Solving problems is required. Psychopaths have a mental toughness that serves them well whether escaping prison like Ted Bundy (twice) or having your windows idea stolen by a competitor and going on to develop the iPhone and iPad like Steve Jobs did. 

5. Persuasive. This trait is what serves the psychopath well in his career of choice: CEO, Salesperson, Clergy, murderer. Psychopaths are able to charm the socks off most. I mean Ted Bundy persuaded some of his female victims to help him to his vehicle sporting a fake arm cast…at night. Persuasion is the number 1 skill needed by salespeople, realtors, and CEO’s. Note I said, “Skill.” It can be learned. On the surface, psychopaths are very charming, likable, and a lot of fun. Spend too much time with them, you might see the shallowness, arrogance, and lack of empathy. But you’ll still like them.

So how could Ted Bundy save a child when he was a psychopathic serial killer? Well, it’s a tad complicated. Researchers have discovered two types of empathy: hot or cold. 

The late philosopher, Philippa Foot, suggested the following conundrum:

A railway trolley is hurtling down a track. In its path are five people who are trapped on the line and cannot escape. Fortunately, you can flip a switch that will divert the trolley down a fork in the track away from the five people—but at a price. There is another person trapped down that fork, and the trolley will kill him or her instead. Should you hit the switch?

Most of us would probably flip the switch even though unpleasant to save 5 and only kill one. But let’s take this conundrum a bit further, proposed by philosopher Judith Jarvis Thomson:

As before, a railway trolley is speeding out of control down a track toward five people. But this time you are standing behind a very large stranger on a footbridge above the tracks. The only way to save the five people is to heave the stranger over. He will fall to a certain death. But his considerable girth will block the trolley, saving five lives. Question: Should you push him?

In both scenarios, 1 dies and 5 are saved, but in the second scenario, you have to PERSONALLY kill a man of “considerable girth” to save the 5. This is where many diverge. Most people’s empathy is hot meaning when the situation is no longer “hitting a switch” but actually harming another person, most just can’t do it. A psychopath would happily through the man over the bridge to save the 5. It’s called cold empathy, a steely reasoning that psychopaths possess. 

The death of a little boy drowning didn’t serve any purpose for Ted Bundy. No pleasure in that death. Senseless. I guarantee you, though, he felt no emotion or empathy in saving the toddler. It was simply a calculated decision and it made him a hero.

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Sherri Wilson