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The Number #1 Skill You Need To Learn To Get The Most Out of Life (or continue manipulating)

The most important skill you need to thrive in work, life, and business was not taught in schools.

You have to learn it now.

My friends and I were in the parking lot of Jewel-osco, a grocery store in Chicago, back in 2005. Sparks flew as the train passed overhead while we entered the store on the corner of Roosevelt.

It was a random night back in college. We had played FIFA, done whatever it is college kids do, and decided to go for a quick grocery run.

In the fluorescent store, my hands glazed over a few items, freely picking and dropping things back. We ended up with just 3 or 4 items.

We hopped back in the vehicle. I started the car, drove out the parking lot, and turned the corner. The street got darker as I got to a red light.

My laughter soon turned sour as I noticed a vehicle across the street.

“Oh Lord, it’s the police” I thought.

They flashed their lights into the vehicle. The traffic light turned green. I started driving. The police made a u-turn.

“Oh shit, they’re following us.” I told my friends. Their siren went off. 

Blue light.
Red light.
Blue light. 

I made two turns and stopped.

“How are you doing, officer?” I asked as the tall CPD officer towered over my window in his light blue attire.

“Let me see your license and registration,” he said.

“Here you go” I handed it over.

He walked back to the car to do the routine check. His partner stayed behind to keep an eye on us.

I looked through the rearview mirror. My friend in the back asked “what’s taking so long?” He turned around to check.

“Put your hands where I can see them,” the officer yelled. She had already drawn her gun.

“Hands up, I said. Hands…UP” she yelled again.

“Wooh wooh wooh” All three of us yelled as we put our hands in the air.

She held out her gun pointed towards the vehicle until her partner came back, handed me my license and said: “I’m going let you off with a warning. The reason we stopped you was because your lights weren’t on”


A simple light out was about to be a real LIGHTS OUT.

It would have been just another day on the south side.

A gun is very influential. It gets people to do what you want them to do.

How do you influence people? What’s your weapon of choice?

Master Manipulators!

You can’t achieve anything in the world in isolation.

We are more connected than ever, yet a lot of people still feel isolated.

Happiness increases and suffering decreases when you feel connected to people. When you fuel your personal growth to contribute to the whole.

But most of us don’t learn how to influence people in mutually beneficial ways. We want to garner influence but have learned from the wrong people and systems. We learned in authoritative systems how to make demands to get our way.

Attention is the most valuable asset you have. 

Attention is wherever your conscious energy goes while you are awake. So if you want to get people to give you their most prized attention, you have to find a way to influence it.

When people offer you their attention, together you can help you start a business, run for office, start a charity, get your kids into the car.

The most ethical way to influence this attention is with persuasion.

Either you learn how to persuade people or you’d have to become a master manipulator. Choose wisely.

The Persuasive Path

To persuade is human.

We built strong social networks through reciprocity – give and take. Everytime you help me achieve something and I help you do the same, we’re building our trust tissue. 

We’re persuading one another, saying “I’m here for you.”

The more you learn how to persuade people, the sooner you’ll live a more enjoyable life.

It will help you build cohesive teams, reduce suffering, and work with people you want to be around.

Here are 3 things to consider

1. No one is an island

Anything worth achieving is done with people.

The concept of the self-made person is a myth. A magical story that has allured a lot of us. I loved those stories. The rags to riches poetry of my favorite hip hop albums. Like BIG said: “It was all a dream….”

But the reality is, no one really makes it on their own.

In Scott Belksy’s book, Making Ideas Happen.

He mentioned three types of people: dreamers, doers, and incrementalists.

  • Dreamers dream big, but struggle to execute.
  • Doers take action, but fail to see the big picture.
  • Incrementalists can dream and do, but they become so exhausted doing both that they’d hardly scale out of their local community.

Dreamers need doers.
Doers need dreamers.
Incrementalists need both (at different times).

Find out who you are and find complementary partners.

2. ATM: Cashing in on manipulation

I learned about manipulation at a very young age.

It came in the form of a gun.

Growing up in the 90s in Nigeria, we were deep in military coups, riots, and dictatorships. The soldiers roamed the streets with impunity. They shouted out orders to get their way.

“Park your car”
“Get out of the car”
“Stop right there”

If you dared resist, they pulled out their AK47.

Years later, across the Atlantic, I watched a documentary on Netflix called “Power.” It explored the history of policing in America. One of the documentarians said the police use the “ATM” protocol to rule.


I ask you first, then I tell you, and if all fails I’ll make you do it.

The gun is the ultimate manipulator. When you’re in an oppressive regime you learn very quickly that there are those with authority and those that don’t have it.

Before you know it, you learn how to weaponize everything.

Information about somebody: weapon
Another person’s insecurity: weapon
Cultural hierarchy: weapon
Guilt tripping: weapon
Obligations: weapon

The master manipulator has an arsenal of weapons ready to make you submit to their needs.

Whenever someone is trying to get you to do something and they aren’t curious enough to understand what you need, there’s a good chance that manipulation is at play.

Choose the other option.

3. Persuasion starts with curiosity (then empathy)

Sales is a spiritual experience.

Most people think of salespeople as sleazy, always trying to get one over you. And a lot are. But we are all salespeople, trying to sell an idea, an event, a dinner invitation.

The most effective sales people are curious and empathetic.

They want to understand the needs of the person they are talking to because you can only persuade through dialogue.


Manipulation is: I want to get one over you.
Persuasion is: let’s get what we want together.

The reason most people don’t want to “persuade” is because it’s actually work. You have to take time to understand, digest, and actually care about the other person.

You need patience to persuade.

When you persuade, both parties win.

Remember, if there’s no dialogue, there’s no persuasion.

4. The persuasive pen

Part of the practice of writing is the patient art of persuasion.

The better you get at ordering your thoughts and communicating them, the better you get at persuading people to read line after line.

A simple persuasive framework is the PAS:

  • Problem: You state the problem the other person is experiencing (you need curiosity to understand this).
  • Agitate: You explain that problem in a way that the person is experiencing it (you need empathy to do this)
  • Solution: You present a solution that can help the person overcome their problem.

Let’s try it out.

Perhaps your friends in your community have complained about eating alone.

Problem: Tired of eating alone on a Thursday night?

Agitate: Long days at work don’t allow you to plan with friends? Your family is all the way on the other side of town?

Solution: Come to the weekly summer barbeque at the park…..

Now, this all has to be true to be effective. And the only way you can get it close to true is by understanding the needs of the person you want to persuade.

You have to be curious and actually care.

The thin line….

There is a thin line between persuasion and manipulation.

Some of the persuasive frameworks (including the one I shared above) have been used by corporations to manipulate people at scale to buy things they don’t need.

The main gauge to know whether you’re persuading or manipulating is to answer this question: who’s suffering am I reducing here?

If the answer is both: then you’re persuading.
If the answer is mine alone: then you might be manipulating.

Persuasion is better because it reduces collective suffering and that’s meaningful.

Yours truly,

Who is Nifemi?

Hey I’m Nifemi of NapoRepublic

I help busy people fit in a creative practice to bring to bring order to their reality and help them live a more meaningful life through writing and reflection.

Sculpt your story

Know thyself, build a second brain, and unleash your creativity with writing. All in one journaling, note-taking, and dots-connection method that fits into your busy life.