There are two basic meanings of success:
1. You-Lose, and
2. I-Win.

You-Lose is the kind of success a boxer enjoys in an Olympic Champion title fight. For him to win the title – be Olympic Champion of the World – and collect the Gold Medal he has to see that the other fighter fails to win. This kind of situation is called, by games theorists, a ‘zero sum’ game and is where success for one player means failure for the other.

Backgammon is also a zero sum game as are Olympic sports and professional sporting competitions like cricket, football, basketball and baseball.

I-Win is more like what happens in life itself. At home (whether in a relationship between lovers or families), or at school, or at work, I can be successful by playing I-Win without anyone having to lose or fail.

– I-Win can happen without my mate having to fail.
– I-Win can happen without my customer having to lose.
– I-Win can happen without my neighbour having to suffer.

That is because in the ‘game of life’ there is always a third party which we will call The Banker.

When there is a banker who always pays out and collects after each encounter, two players can co-operate and laugh all the way to the bank. Mountain-climbing is a non-zero-sum game where I-Win can happen without my partner having to fail, or fall.

Blackjack at the casino is a non-zero-sum game and a novice player can always be spotted because they do not yet understand the difference between playing You-Lose and I-Win with their fellow players, against The Banker.

In a non-zero-sum game there are only consequences.

The Banker always pays and always collects according to how you play the game or, more precisely, according to which strategy you choose.

There are many strategies in the game of life and some succeed more than others but there is only ONE dominant strategy which ALWAYS succeeds in beating any other strategy.

It is The #1 Law of Success and the one we’ll explore in this masterclass.


Here we explore a new zero sum game to mimic life and called The Game. Those who become skilled in this simplest of all games will become skilled in the #1 Law of Success which is more successful in life than any other strategy. In The Game the Banker makes the following payoffs:

NICE/NASTY: Banker Pays WINNER 1 million points.
NASTY/NICE: Banker Fines SUCKER 200,000 points.
NICE/NICE: Banker Pays Both 600,000 points as REWARD
NASTY/NASTY: Banker Fines Both 20,000 points as PUNISHMENT

Game Theory and Personal Relationships

OK. What’s the science behind all of this? The Game has its biological origins in what scientists now call Game Theory.

We see how succeeding in life–survival & making a living–is largely a strategic matter.

Success in life consists of how well we manage the unfolding series of encounters with others. How we manage our personal relationships. It is a pity that so very little attention is given to this on the school curriculum. How much more valuable and useful in life would a subject called ‘Personal Relationships’ be compared with other subjects, most of which information can be found on Wikipedia.

Personal relationship management in Game Theory is based on how we choose our strategy for each face-to-face encounter. In each encounter we can cooperate and be NICE or we can defect and be NASTY. We see examples of those who always play NASTY, others who always use NICE and still others whose strategy is a mix of NICE and NASTY.

We are introduced to the Rules of The Game and also to the risks and rewards of life which are represented by REWARDS and PUNISHMENTS: a series of points paid out or deducted as fines which the Banker always pays out after each encounter or round of the game. We are now ready to play and try out different strategies. With instant feedback from the Banker we soon see that there are always four inevitable outcomes which, in Game Theory, are called: The Winner, The Sucker, The Punishment and The Reward.

The Temptation to Win is one with which we are all familiar. Exemplified so well by Gordon Gecko in the movie Wall Street, this tactic is all about Victory. It’s the I-Win-You-Lose philosophy where for you to win the other loses; you beat the opponent, you conquer the adversary. “Greed is Good” is the motto of this strategy and in the Game it is the strategy where the other played NICE and you played NASTY.

He becomes the Sucker and you become the Winner. Your Temptation to Win has paid off and you collect the Banker’s highest payment, 1 million points. The Skase’s and Bond’s of the eighties were high profile players of the Temptation to Win strategy and the Adlers, Vizards, Pratts and Rineharts may be more recent examples.

The chance of having the biggest possible payout attracts many people to this NICE/NASTY strategy called the Temptation to Win. It seems, intuitively, to be the best strategy and in Game Theory it’s called ALL NASTY or always play NASTY. If life consisted of only one round or one encounter, it would be the one to always use. But life is unfolding. There are many encounters and repeated rounds in the game of life. We see that this iteration of the game, its repetition, soon shows Temptation to be a flawed strategy with only short term gains and much greater long term losses.

All Winners eventually become Suckers and Suckers always suck. The reason for this is because ‘what goes around comes around’ and ‘those who live by the sword die by the sword’. If you are NASTY to me in this round, then you can be sure that I will be NASTY to you in the next round. This is how the Temptation strategy, which seemed so attractive in Round I, always becomes a problem to the Winner in later rounds when revenge is sweet and the other side gets their ‘payback time’.

In Game Theory, the sure knowledge that there will always be ‘payback time’ in future rounds of the game is called The Shadow of the Future.

This Future Shadow is the key to the game. Only those who understand this inevitable cybernetic feedback feature of the game can have access to the most successful strategy of all which we call the #1 Law of Success.

The problem with the Temptation strategy is that its short term upside is soon diminished by the long term downside. This is why obsessed Winners eventually become losers.

The Sucker is the biggest loser of all in the Game. You become a Sucker when you play NICE and the other plays NASTY. You get ‘caught with your pants down’ and you’re ‘a sitting duck’. The Banker saves his biggest fine for the Sucker, a hefty 200,000 and it’s called the Sucker’s Payoff.

Yet, there are those who actually play a strategy called ALL NICE or ‘Always play NICE’. These Suckers always suck. They actually reward Temptation. They make it intelligent behaviour for the other to always play NASTY and collect their 1 million prize. In Darwinian evolution, Suckers are altruistic and help other members of the species to pass on their genes to the next generation always at their own expense. In biology, Suckers always suck, they die a Darwinian death.

In a sense, all Suckers are blind. That is, they are blind to consequences. They cannot see the Shadow of the Future. They fail to understand the impact of payback time. The greedy Sucker who gives her savings to the Get-Rich-Quick-Merchant is blind to the consequences. The Bloody Idiot (portrayed so effectively in TAC ads) who drinks then drives is a blind Sucker. The smoker who heeds the Marlboro man but not the Cancer Society is a blind Sucker. Blind Suckers who stay blind always end up losers.

This is a fatal disease. Most Righteous Suckers die. They may die in battle or are put to death at the whim of their victorious Winners. They are conquered and crushed by their opponent. Many Righteous Suckers are suffering from PTV, the Plato Truth Virus. I have written in depth about PTV in Software for Your Brain.

PTV causes the host brain to believe that they are ‘uniquely right’, that they have a certain and absolute ‘truth’. Righteous Suckers have usually contracted PTV through any religious or political movement which claims to be the ‘True Religion’ or the ‘Right Majority’. They also are blind to the Shadow of the Future. Some become martyrs, others become dictators. All end up dead. Suckers always suck.

We have all been Sad Suckers and hopefully we learn from the experience. The Sad Sucker played NICE and was tricked. The Sad Sucker played NICE on the understanding that the other was going to play NICE too. He was wrong. She was sucked in. Each reader will have his or her own bitter memories of childhood abandonment, broken trust, emotional betrayal. The young draftee who returns from Vietnam to find no welcoming parade, no grateful public is a Sad Sucker. The faithful wife who trusts her unfaithful husband is a Sad Sucker.

Children are often Suckers because they are so vulnerable and trusting. Whether they trust the pedophile who offers “to take them to mummy” yet is their mortal enemy or their older sister who always takes the bigger slice of cake, children are often suckers.

The important point about the Sad Sucker is to learn from the experience. Children grow up and become players in the Game of Life. They can then choose whatever strategy they wish. They don’t have to remain Sad Suckers and fortunately, most don’t.

The Game always punishes winners. Whatever the outcome of today’s round there will always be future rounds to play and that’s where the Winners get punished. Because the game of life is unfolding it is a cybernetic or feedback loop.

There are many rounds of the game and each player has multiple encounters. There’s always a payback whether you call it karma or feedback or revenge or reprisal or reciprocation or retaliation. This brings us to the best strategy of all:


Tit-for-tat means payback. The Dutch call it ‘dit vor dat’ and the French ‘tant pout tant’. Caesar called it ‘quid pro quo’. To Shylock it was a ‘pound of flesh’ and the Hebrews called it ‘an eye for an eye’. In the Game it is NASTY/NASTY. If you play NASTY then I’ll play NASTY, too. The Banker calls this The Punishment and both players are fined an inconvenient 20,000. But, wait a moment, how can this be the #1 Law of Success? Surely not! It seems very wrong and counter-intuitive.

In both the Game and in real life this is the best strategy of all yet it is one which has a very poor reputation because it is so widely misunderstood. tit4tat is usually considered childish at best and uncharitable, even heartless, at worst. Yet it is the fairest strategy of all and, as it turns out, the most successful strategy in life and, therefore, the only one which qualifies as the #1 Law of Success.

In Game Theory, t4t or the tit4tat strategy is also called the NICE Strategy and has two basic rules:
1 Always play NICE first, then
2 Always match the other’s play thereafter.

In other words, you start by playing NICE then whatever move the other plays, you match it. If he plays NASTY then so do you. If she plays NICE, you play NICE. You never cheat and you never waver.

There are several outcomes for those who use this strategy. Obviously, you always punish Winners. Whenever a Winner plays NASTY you ALWAYS play NASTY, you ALWAYS punish NASTY with matching NASTY. That’s what is meant by ‘an eye for a eye’ but there’s more to Tit-for-Tat than just returning NASTY with NASTY. Tit-for-Tat also means you ALWAYS return NICE with NICE!

This always leads to NICE/NICE. The Winner soon realises that to play NASTY will immediately produce the same retaliation so that he is virtually playing NASTY on himself. To win the 1 million, he has to achieve NASTY/NICE and he now understands that, in Tit-for-Tat, he never can. In Tit-for-Tat there are only two possible outcomes, NASTY/NASTY, the Punishment which will cost him 20,000 every time. Or, NICE/NICE.

This paradox is the nut of the masterclass and takes a little getting used to. The members must fully come to grips with this insight: that tit4tat or an eye for an eye always ends up leading to NICE/NICE.

It is hard for the Western mind to grasp simply because we have been taught that ‘turn the other cheek’ is the better strategy. It isn’t. Turn the other cheek always leads to NICE/NASTY because if one is always going to be NICE then the other is rewarded more for being NASTY than for being NICE.

NICE/NICE is called The Reward in Game theory. NICE/NICE is when both players play NICE and the Banker pays out his second highest payment of 600,000 to each player. It’s not a million but it’s a very nice reward. Only tit4tat/t4t can produce this outcome. If the players are intelligent and are not Suckers who are blind to the Shadow of the Future then there is nothing to stop them playing NICE/NICE in every round of the game and picking up their Reward of 600,000 points every time. This is the I-Win-You-Win philosophy and ALWAYS scores the highest points. t4t is the ultimate strategy and those that ALWAYS play t4t, or NICE/NICE, will ALWAYS be successful in life. Win/Win is the #1 Law of Success.

Tit-for-Tat is how you reward a nice guy. When he or she plays NICE you always play NICE. You NEVER play NASTY. You NEVER yield to the Temptation to Win the million. You build trust and you ALWAYS both succeed.

In selling, the traditional American model, which I have called oldsell is the Temptation strategy. Close the sale and win! Contrast this with the newsell model which is based on the relationship of trust built up by the NICE/NICE strategy. The Chinese use this model (Confucian) and have been much more successful at selling for a much longer period of time than Americans.


This masterclass offers participants a unique strategy called t4t. t4t is the #1 Law of Success. t4t is a counter-intuitive but very powerful strategy to help you to succeed in the unfolding Game of Life. Whenever you decide to use the tit4tat strategy you:

Always REWARD NICE tit4tat – (NICE/NICE)


Always avoid the TEMPTATION to WIN – (NICE/NASTY)

Always avoid the SUCKER’S PAYOFF- (NASTY/NICE).

(These notes are from The Advanced Strategy Masterclass

with Dr Michael Hewitt-Gleeson © 2012).

Science Daily Feb. 19, 2013 — Would you prefer $120 today or $154 in one year? Your answer may depend on how powerful you feel, according to new research in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

Many people tend to forego the larger reward and opt for the $120 now, a phenomenon known as temporal discounting. But research conducted by Priyanka Joshi and Nathanael Fast of the University of Southern California Marshall School of Business suggests that people who feel powerful are more likely to wait for the bigger reward, in part because they feel a stronger connection with their future selves.

••• Click through to this interesting article …


In fifty years, if not much sooner, half of the roughly 4,500 colleges and universities now operating in the United States will have ceased to exist. The technology driving this change is already at work, and nothing can stop it.

The future looks like this: Access to college-level education will be free for everyone; the residential college campus will become largely obsolete; tens of thousands of professors will lose their jobs; the bachelor’s degree will become increasingly irrelevant; and ten years from now Harvard will enroll ten million students.

••• Click through to the original article …



Sometimes it’s useful to take an idea to its extremes and see where you arrive at. With MOOCs you arrive at a truly wonderful place, filled with exciting possibilities for humankind.

MOOCs Explained

MOOCs are free courses, taught online to a large number of students at the same time. This is the bleeding edge of education. Think tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of students all taking the same course at the same time. MOOCs have been predicted for quite some time with the visionary architect Buckminster Fuller predicting large scale educational technology back in 1961.

If you’re not familiar with MOOCs (massive open online courses) then I encourage you to spend some time looking at the course sites listed at the end of this post. Be warned that you’ll probably find at least one course that you want to enroll in straight away!

••• Click through to the original article …



In 2013, everyone is talking about MOOCs. School of Thinking has been offering and teaching its early version of MOOCs–training hundreds of thousands of students in over 50 countries at a time pro bono publico–since its online establishment in 1995. Our classes were massive. They were open access. They were online. Our training motto was We teach thinking as a skill. Anyone. Anywhere. Anytime.

At that time, most universities and centres of higher learning were offering traditional campus classes and tutorials with qualified professors for groups of around 100 students at a time. SOT changed this model.

The problem with the ancient campus model is that it is not scalable. SOT employed our XIO strategy and started online classes (in those days we called them virtual classes) of ten times the offline number. Thousands! And more.

Previously we even did a printed class in a Readers Digest magazine broadcast of 7 SOT lessons which went to a massive audience of 68 million. As that was in 1983 this audience was not yet socially wired. There was no charge for the lessons.The lessons were free (except for the cost of the magazine). Thought experiment: Imagine what might have happened if this massive RD class could have been online.

At SOT we also developed the first MOOL–massive open online lesson–and you can see an example of a MOOL by clicking here. Note the number of COMMENTS at the end of the lesson.




Since it’s foundation in New York in 1979, School of Thinking has disseminated over a half a billion thinking lessons worldwide. It is not only pro bono publico but also the first and oldest school on the internet and went online in 1995. Today, SOT lessons are still open access and exported, from Australia, to members in more than 51 countries … 24/7/365.


• How does the School of Thinking model work?

The School of Thinking is free. In every sense of the word. Not only are there no fees for the training we provide but SOT also has an all-inclusive, swinging-door, opt-in/opt-out membership policy. Members come and go as they please. Anyone. Anywhere. Anytime. In 1995 SOT became the first online school on the internet. Our viral training strategy has always been train-the-trainer.  We are the longest-running program in the world and have been training Thinking Instructors continuously since 1980.

• With whom is SOT affiliated?

SOT is free. It is an independent school. And so are the Thinking Instructors. SOT is not beholden to sponsors, government grants nor to fundraisers. We do not have to meet shareholders expectations. There is no cardinal, no censor, no imprimatur to tell us what we can say and what we cannot say. We use Wikipedia as our primary hyperlink resource for trainee due diligence and independent research.
We also use the feedback of our virtual campus to inform our daily publishing effort. As a primary resource for our members SOT provides the coursebook, the lessons and training and the certificate for those who successfully complete the training and we list them on our Roll of Instructors. After that, Thinking Instructors are on their own and free to think for themselves, to experiment and to operate as they please.

As you would expect, SOT is neither traditional nor authoritative and does not seek to dictate a sets of rules for members to follow. The model is darwinian. It is is laissez-faire.

SOT does not offer to provide or manage affiliate programs or online community fora. Thinking Instructors are free to use the SOT tools within their own networks to start, train and lead their own independent groups with families, businesses, schools and communities and according to their own levels of energy and initiative. SOT’s simple and robust design has proved to be a very successful model for long-term survival and with a less-inhibiting, faster and much wider spread of influence.

• How do SOT members stay involved?

Since 1980 we’ve published weekly SOT newsletters as a regular resource. We keep members and instructors supplied with a steady flow of hyperlinked information, research, resources and ideas. Instructors can repeat the training at anytime and also direct their students to SOT for online training 24/7. We have three levels of training. There are SOT members and Instructors in over 50 countries since 1980. They are operating in boardrooms and on the shop floor. They work in universities and classrooms. They are parents, friends, professionals and adolescents. There are now new cohorts of SOT Instructors in China, Italy and Brazil.

• If SOT is independent then who funds SOT?

The SOT Model was created by Dr Michael Hewitt-Gleeson in 1979 and its design has been continuously evolved since then and privately funded by him with proceeds from his publishing, lecturing and consulting activities to business, government and academic institutions. We have maintained our independence for over 30 years and have been able to survive the rapidly changing environment during this time by using this simple but robust train-the-trainer darwinian viral replication model. We will soon evolve into the next 30-year phase, possibly with an IPO and a non-for-profit foundation. We are designing some different options to solve the longevity problem. Stay tuned!  


The School of Thinking is the only school in the world that utilises the hyperlink to accelerate the teaching of metacognition. It is the largest neuroplastic program in the world for:

  • teaching “thinking skills” and
  • teaching “teaching thinking skills”.

Edward de Bono, when first seeing the SOT model for the dissemination and teaching of thinking skills, described it as “brilliant”.


In 2011, more than one million thinking lessons were exported online from Melbourne, Australia to SOT members in the following 46 countries: Australia, United States, United Kingdom, India, Canada, New Zealand, China, Malaysia, Netherlands, Germany, Philippines, Spain, South Africa, Singapore, Ireland, Sweden, Japan, Belgium, Uganda, France, Mexico, Nigeria, Finland, Israel, Korea, Republic of, Norway, Czech Republic, Italy, The Vatican, Egypt, Brazil, Europe, Austria, New Caledonia, United Arab Emirates, Romania, Hungary, Dominican Republic, Cambodia, Luxembourg, Thailand, Macedonia, Cameroon, Azerbaijan, Qatar and The Bahamas.

30 years ago I had an idea. That idea was to start a Learn-To-Think Project to train 300,000 ‘teachers of thinking’ around the world. I shared this idea with Edward de Bono who suggested we call this project the Edward de Bono School of Thinking and so we kicked it off in New York in 1979.

This project was so successful that it has led to the largest program in the world for the teaching of thinking skills in families, classrooms and boardrooms.

Even in China they are now training ‘teachers of thinking’ because they are beginning to realise that China’s greatest asset may be the potential brainpower of its families.

In business in the 80s, CEOs like Jack Welch of GE were among the first to see the value of innovation which could come from the brainpower of GE’s knowledge-workers. Since then, other companies like Apple and Google have followed suit and developed employee brainpower to deliver extra value to their shareholders.

Over the years, this Learn-To-Think Project has published an evolving range of cognitive technologies including CoRT thinking skills, School of Thinking caps, universal brain software (cvs2bvs), English Thinking and the XIO memeplex.

In 1995 I put the School of Thinking (SOT) on the internet. This was the first school on the internet. It was also the first school ever to use hypertexttext with hyperlinks – as a teaching tool. We believe hypertext is one of the cleverest learning tools of the www era.

SOT began to send out millions of pro bono thinking lessons by email to students in over 50 countries worldwide and it still does this every day. Today we charge a modest fee. These brain technologies have reached over 100 million people worldwide since 1979.

In those first days the ethos of the internet was “Information wants to be free!” and SOT became the world’s first pro bono school for teaching thinking to anyone, anywhere and at anytime. As Sir Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the WWW puts it, “The spirit of the internet was not one of patents and royalties but of academic openness”. In 1997 SOT won the coveted ‘Top 5% of the Web Award’.