Adding with Multipliers

Greetings Everyday Spy,

I never thought that one day I would get a call from the Discovery Channel.

Until I did.

There are a handful of phone calls I will never forget in my life.

  • The call I got from area code (703) in 2007 asking me to travel to Langley, VA for confidential interviews.
  • The day I called my future father-in-law in 2009 to ask his permission to marry his daughter.
  • The April 2019 phone call from the Discovery Channel asking me to be a guest expert on their new show ‘CONTACT.’

All three calls felt surreal; somehow ordinary and extraordinary at the same time. 

And the moment I hung up the phone each time, I shouted out with excitement!

Just like you, the people I care the most about also question my career decisions.

  • My mom was nervous when I told her I was leaving the U.S. Air Force after just being promoted early to Captain.
  • My wife had more than one sleepless night when I told her I wanted us to leave CIA and relocate to Florida to build a family.
  • My career mentor was shocked when I told him I was going to leave corporate America to launch the EverydaySpy brand.

The people who care the most about us want to protect us. They challenge our decisions because they want to see us succeed.

They want us to succeed because they believe success brings happiness.

They believe that success brings security, comfort, and convenience.

And they want us to follow a recipe; the slow, steady process that they believe in.

The problem is that what they believe is a lie.

Success is not an objective. It’s a sales pitch.

A promise that forces you to pay-in but doesn’t pay out.

People are investing their time, money, and health into chasing success:

And the returns on their investment are not what they expected:

  • 4 in 10 American’s overeat and/or eat unhealthy food to cope with work stress.
  • 60% of people use alcohol, cigarettes, or vape devices at work to maintain daily performance.
  • 83% of society admits to using TV, video games, and internet surfing as a mental escape from work.

By definition, success is outside of your control; it relies on outside opinions.

That means you and I don’t get to define our own success. Someone else defines it for us.

A parent; a teacher; a boss.

And they decide according to their own opinion. 

So the world gets trapped into chasing the approval of others. 

  • Giving-up physical health to get ahead at work.
  • Sacrificing emotional needs to win attention in a relationship.
  • Destroying the trust between friends to impress total strangers.

Field operators do not rely on outside opinions to define mission success.

We execute against clear objectives.

We attack and neutralize specific targets; we gain secrets today that were not known yesterday; we protect human lives one by one and hour by hour.

If we miss one objective, we fail. If we accomplish all objectives, its ‘mission complete.’

But ‘mission complete’ is just the minimum. We want more than the minimum.

We want to accomplish more with less.

We want to complete the mission in less time and with fewer losses than planned.

We want to gain intelligence and experience that we can leverage to our advantage in future missions.

We do not try to succeed. We strive to exceed.

And we do it by using ‘force multipliers.’

Force Multiplier:
A capability or factor that
exponentially increases impact against specific objectives.

Force multipliers can be found in mother nature, man-made technology, and everyday human decisions. 

  • A midnight ground assault using night-vision goggles against an opponent with no night-vision capability. 
  • A covert HAHO (High Altitude-High Opening) airdrop deploying operatives trained in advanced tracking and survival skills into an enemy-controlled wilderness area.
  • An independent coffee shop owner partnering with a locally sourced bakery to create a trendy downtown cafe.

Business consultants, self-help gurus, and cookie-cut bloggers preach that success requires ‘incremental improvement.’

And they sell you their solutions the same way, in convenient increments.

For every 10% that you improve, they profit off of you by 50%. By the time you’ve doubled your ‘success,’ they’ve made a 500% margin from you alone. 

And you and your business becomes more reliant on them with each increment.

Because they use marketing as a powerful force multiplier.

  • Their ‘objective’ is to make sales. 
  • Their marketing message is the ‘capability’.
  • Their 500% return on investment is the ‘multiple’.

They did not succeed. They exceeded.

And they left you stuck in the same cycle. Except now you are seeking their approval to determine your success. 

And can you guess what they will say? 

I predict a new book, a new coaching offer, and another 10% improvement!

Elite intelligence, military, and law enforcement units know that incremental improvement is not an effective execution strategy.

The math doesn’t work to your advantage. 

Let me show you why:

  1. Let’s say you work for a $1 million company and earn $30/hour
  2. You work with 10 other employees who all earn the same amount ($30/hour)
  3. You improve your work performance by 10% this year while your peers remain the same.
  4. You make the company grow by $110,000 in revenue.
  5. Assuming the company decides to return all of the new earnings in the form of a company-wide salary raise, you will get a raise to $32.60/hour

Your raise amounts to an 8% improvement in pay even though you demonstrated a 10% improvement. 

YES – this is incremental improvement. 

NO – this is not an effective return on investment.

And this example assumes the company returns all new revenue back to its employees, which is actually impossible. After taxes and mandatory withholding, the more realistic result is that nobody would see a raise in salary at all… a 0% return on your 10% improvement.

Elite operators believe in ‘exponential improvement’ rather than ‘incremental improvement.’

Instead of improving by 10%, we seek to improve by a factor of 10x. 

In other words, we want to improve by ten-times our previous capability.

To increase effectiveness exponentially – by multiples instead of addition – you must use a force multiplier.

I used force multipliers to go from rural Pennsylvania, to CIA Headquarters, to Prime-time television this week.

I want you to reap the benefits of exponential improvement, too.


Here is how:

  • The Unknown Advantage

Realizing that anonymity is an advantage is a powerful force multiplier.

Everyone is competing for attention. And like any other resource, attention is limited. Basic economics teaches us that where competition is the most fierce, the returns are lowest.

The benefit of dog-eat-dog is that all the dogs are busy fighting each other. 

They are too busy to notice anything else in the yard. That’s good news for cats, mailmen, and burglars.

Nobody knows you exist until you start competing for attention. And as soon as you jump into the fight, everyone sees you as a threat. Instead, embrace anonymity and let yourself blend into the background at school, at work, and everywhere in between.

Anonymity gives you space to focus your resources on learning and maximizing your individual performance. 

While you have the same skills and resources as everyone else, they are investing their effort in destructive competition. You are investing yours in productive growth.

By the time anyone notices you’ve become a threat, your knowledge, network, and influence is beyond their reach. Your capabilities and resources have multiplied.



  • Experience that Brings Value

99% of people misunderstand the value of ‘experience.’

If you don’t believe me, take a few minutes to browse LinkedIn. Don’t worry, I’ll wait here till you get back…

It’s almost comical to see multiple versions of the same statement:

  • “I am an experienced professional…”
  • “I have xx years of experience in….”
  • “My unparalleled experience as a….”

Aspiring professionals mistake the word ‘experience’ for the word ‘expertise.’ 

Whether part of the iGeneration or Baby Boomer class, people are trying to highlight that they are experts. They believe that expertise is in demand. That the more time they spend building ‘experience,’ the more valuable they become.

They are wrong.

  • If expertise was important, there wouldn’t be a spike in unemployment at age 45.
  • If ‘years of experience’ was valuable, there wouldn’t be a 47% drop in callback rates for job applicants over the age of 55.
  • If employers wanted experts, there wouldn’t be a 12% drop in average annual salary for employees approaching retirement age.

The kind of experience that brings exponential value is diversity of experience.

Experts are only good at one thing. And everyone from employers to investors knows that when you are only good at one thing, you are bad at everything else. 

Individuals with a diverse set of skills bring innovative ideas that combine talents.

Don’t waste your time and effort trying to build expertise. Instead, apply the experience you’ve gained in new and innovative ways.

  • Rather than spend years mastering ‘mixology’ in New York, tend bar on 3 different continents and create your own set of fusion cocktails.
  • Instead of investing a decade managing enterprise IT implementations, join a non-profit and streamline legacy IT systems to increase program effectiveness.
  • Stop teaching the same 9th grade science class and take a job as a sous-chef where you can apply that chemistry in real life.   

And watch as your value multiplies.


  • Prove Instead of Promote

The age of performance reviews, dating apps, and social media has trained us to self-promote.

And even as we tweet, swipe left, and snap to promote ourselves, we demand social proof from others.

The final and most powerful force multiplier for achieving your objectives is to prove your value instead of promoting yourself.

If you capitalize on ‘The Unknown Advantage’ and build ‘Experience that Brings Value,’ you will separate yourself from your peers. You’ll have knowledge that others are lacking and a diversity of experience you can use to innovate new solutions. 

The final step is to execute and deliver on what you are capable of.

Fight the urge to tell people what you can do and focus on just doing it instead.

  • Without being asked.
  • Without seeking praise.
  • Without tearing others down.

Proof is as powerful as it gets. And when you prove what you can do, you won’t have to promote yourself.

Because others won’t stop talking about you. 

And your influence will multiply. 

Godspeed, #EverydaySpy

Author: Andrew Bustamante, Founder of www.EverydaySpy.com. Andrew is a former covert CIA Intelligence officer, decorated US Air Force Combat Veteran, and respected Fortune 500 senior advisor. Learn more from Andrew on his Podcast (The Everyday Espionage Podcast) and by following @EverydaySpy on your favorite social media platform.

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