The Todd V Show Episode 22: Winning In A Corrupt System & Owning Your Time

by | Apr 4, 2021 | General, Strategy & Philosophy, Todd V Show


  • How to succeed in a CORRUPT SYSTEM
  • Managing time in a world of DISTRACTIONS


  • 00:00 – Intro
  • 01:10 – Question: “How do I improve in a society with a corrupt system, nepotism, and bigotry?”
  • 01:34 – How to make the BEST out of dire situations
  • 04:05 – It could be WORSE
  • 05:18 – Turn CRISIS to OPPORTUNITY
  • 08:35 – Question: How do you manage time? What are your strategies?
  • 11:18 – Manage your ACTIVITIES, not your TIME 
  • 14:27 – Eliminating TIME-WASTERS


Todd V: No matter how dire your circumstances are, you still have choices. And what your life fundamentally is, in terms of achievements, is the choices you make.

Hey guys, welcome back to the Todd V Show. And with this show, once again, let me remind you that it is the Todd V Show and not necessarily the Todd V Dating Show. We specifically have two questions today that are not dating-related, and we got these from you.

Put out a little message on my Instagram looking for some questions of this nature, life questions, self-help questions, that kind of stuff, and you guys duly delivered. So, thank you for that. By the way, if you do want your questions answered, you can write them in the comments on Instagram or on YouTube. You can also write them to [email protected]

And speaking of Instagram, you may have noticed there have been periods in the past where it’s been very active, periods where it’s been very not active. You can expect it to be active again in the near future. We’ve just curated a lot of new content there. So, if you do want to check out Instagram, Todd V Dating, you can check it out. I believe it’s Todd V Dating. If not, we’ll put it on the screen or in the comments and description exactly what it is. But, I think Todd V Dating is my Instagram name.

So anyway, you can check that out as well. But without too much more preamble, let’s get into the questions.

Today’s first question falls into the realm of what I would call dark and cynical, but here we go. “How do I improve in a society with a corrupt system, nepotism, and bigotry?”

And normally, I would have thought that this was a question coming from communist China, or former Soviet Russia, or something like that. But the way the world’s been going recently worldwide, and even in my own country, who knows where this person’s from?

With respect to this, if you live in a corrupt system, you want to be aware of that. Why? To cover your **** and protect yourself. If you live in a system of corruption, you want to make sure that you are not subject to that corruption as much as humanly possible. So, to that extent, you want to be aware of it and you want to take precautions.

However, when you are thinking about your future and thinking about your possibilities, you don’t want to allow those thoughts of corruption, and negativity, and whatnot to so cloud your judgment or so dampen your spirits that you give up before you get started.

So, the first thing I would say is no matter how bad things seem, they’re never infinitely bad. There is always something you can do to some degree. Even if you do, let’s say, for example, you live in an incredibly corrupt state where the government controls almost everything and you have very little freedom. Even in those places, there are opportunities for growth, or excellence, or little bursts of capitalism and free will. These things can happen. And even in those kinds of places, there are opportunities if you’re clever and smart and plan to maybe get out and put yourself in a better situation somewhere else in the world, somewhere down the road. So, there are always opportunities. There are always choices.

And within this, I think of people in prisons or one great genre that I’ve always been a huge fan of in literature and movies, and stuff like that is actually prison literature, prison movies. Cause I’ve always found it inspiring how people who are reduced to very few choices, at least in these movies, maintain their dignity and maintain their ability and free will to the extent they can. And they still find little bits of meaning, and they still find ways to take whatever control of their life they can. They still remain human and positive amidst situations that are pretty much as bad as you can possibly imagine.

If you’re talking about a situation where the deck stacked against you, prison is the ultimate example of that. So, take a lesson from those. Although, obviously, prison literature may be romanticized. It may not be a reflection of real prison and et cetera, et cetera. But take a little lesson from those, from people in those extremely dire circumstances, which is no matter how dire your circumstances are, you still have choices. And what your life fundamentally is, in terms of achievements, is the choices you make.

So, you want to be thinking about that, which is in your control regardless of the circumstance. And in a sense, if very little is in your control, doing the right thing and doing what is in your control while it may be hard, at least it’s simple. At least there are fewer decisions and fewer choices to make. So, in that sense, it’s a little bit better.

However, in most cases, in the current modern world, no matter how bad and corrupt you may think the system you’re living in is, it’s still, in the vast majority of the world, better than it’s been throughout the majority of human history.

If you look at the majority of human history, we’re looking at little bursts of hope and a whole lot of dark ages. We’re looking at the inspiration of ancient Greece, the inspiration of ancient Rome, the inspiration of the Renaissance, and some of the modern era. I would say the United States in the past two hundred years, in general, has been a point of inspiration.

But you’re also looking at basically from the fall of Rome to the Renaissance era of basically dark ages. And, you’re looking at throughout human history up until say, 3000 BC. Pure, rough living, dark ages, tough times. So, as bad as things may seem currently compared to what they could be or compared to what it is in another country, you’re still probably living a much easier, much better life with a lot more opportunity than 99.9% of people who have lived in history had.

So, understanding that, take it with a grain of salt, understand how good you actually have it, and understand that you do have a lot of choices. When you have a ton of choices regarding how you spend your time to try and grow things. So, for example, let’s say you did live in a society where it’s very hard to get a super good job and you don’t have a lot of freedom to do various social activities or whatever.

Well, you do your job, and then in your spare time, you read, you learn, you study. And maybe by studying and learning, you give yourself an opportunity to connect with someone because almost every country has the internet. You connect with someone in another country, they’re inspired, they hire you, they sponsor you, you leave your country. And now, you’re in a better situation.

Things like that can happen if you try and make them happen, especially if you’re consciously trying to make them happen. Even aside from leaving your country, set up a little business, set up a little side business, set up a little side hustle, set up a little something you can do for a little bit of extra money, extra goods to accumulate. And then, you take that money, you can start investing it.

If your country’s bad for investing or your area’s bad for investing, invest it somewhere else. There’s a lot of, again, scope to be global in this world. And you can have your money working in a foreign country where things are more efficient even if you’re not. And in fact, if your country sucks financially, if you are investing and making dollars and denominated in another currency, that is a healthy economy. Well, that’s going to come back even as a bigger return for you. So, in essence, your country being bad is actually helping your investments to be more profitable.

So, every cloud has a silver lining as cheesy as that sounds. And there’s this whole, apparently, it’s a Chinese expression that crisis and opportunity is the same word. I messed that all up. Apparently, allegedly, in Chinese ancient language, crisis and opportunity is the same word. Something like that. Crisis and opportunity are related, okay. So, the point is every crisis is an opportunity. Or, if you’re a Game of Thrones fan, chaos is a ladder.

The point is that there is an opportunity if you look for it. But if you’re looking at the world as bleak and lacking opportunity, you’re going to miss the opportunities that exist, and your life will become proportionately bleaker. So, if you are living in rough circumstances, should you be the modern incarnation of Pollyanna and smile on your face and sing a song and act like everything’s good?

No, you should not. You need to recognize how bad things are when they’re bad. You need to protect yourself and be safe and cover your ass for sure. However, also recognize the opportunities that are created by things being bad.

Most businesses exist by filling a need of some kind. The worst things are, the more needs there are to be filled. Now, that’s not to say that you’re better off in a shitty situation, shitty country, shitty company, whatever, than you would be if you were in a place where things are running smoothly. That’s obviously not the case. When things are running smoothly, it gives more opportunity for everybody.

But the point is, regardless of where you are, you still have choices that you can make. And each and every one of those small choices is going to dictate your success. So, however bad it is, you still have control to make it better. And regardless of how big or small each of those choices can affect your outcome, each and every choice is absolutely as critical. And, your focus and your outlook should be exactly the same in those dire circumstances, in terms of looking for opportunity, believing that your choices matter as they would be in an amazing circumstance.

The next question we have is a little more optimistic. In fact, it’s a very traditional self-help question, I think a good one. I almost didn’t answer it cause it’s just been answered by so many people, so many different ways, but I do think I have a unique take on it. I think I handle this aspect of life a little bit differently than most people or most successful people. So, that may actually mean my answer sucks. And if you feel that’s the case, feel free to ignore it. But this has worked for me and it is unique, so I wanted to answer, I wanted to share my thoughts on it.

Anyway, the question is, “How do you manage time? What are your strategies?”

So, the interesting thing regarding me in time is that I and time don’t have a very close relationship. I rarely know what day of the week it is. I’ve had times when I don’t know how old I am. Like, I literally don’t know that my birthday has passed or it hasn’t been a significant enough event in my life for me to have noticed or cared.

When in middle school, we were asked to keep day planners. I hated it. It was more work to do. A couple of little scribbles in my day planner, and remember to do that during the day than any long math assignment or long paper I had to write. I could not bring myself to do it because it felt so stupid and so pointless. In hindsight, I do kind of wish at times I was more organized and I wished that it was a lesson I had learned at times.

But anyway, I never really did learn that. And yet, I’ve managed to be, by most standards, pretty successful in a lot of things in life. I’ve succeeded in sports. I’ve succeeded as a poker player. I have succeeded as an investor. I’ve succeeded in this current business and a few other ventures. Overall, I’ve done pretty well. I’ve done well romantically, et cetera. So, I’ve lived a way better than average life in spite of having, you would say, poor organizational skills and poor sort of time-related scheduling organizational type skills.

So, how have I done it? Well, one thing I will say, and this I was actually going to say at kind of the end of this answer but I’m just gonna say it upfront because it occurs to me, is that at a certain level of success, you can hire people to be organized for you. So, I do have someone who manages my calendar. I do have a calendar set up to do reminders, et cetera. And, you can definitely get a person to do this for not very much. You can get a virtual assistant to handle this off-shore for pretty cheap if you’re in a first-world country. And you can even set up automated stuff with your computer where you said it once, and then it will help you over, and over, and over again. So, you can automate a lot of this stuff, so you don’t have to be on top of it. And that can definitely work.

However, that’s not the main answer I would give. My main answer to time management doesn’t have to do with time management organization. In fact, when you say the word ‘time management’ to me, I think to myself, “Time is not manageable.” Time is passing at one second per second throughout your entire life, and it’s just going to keep passing and keep ticking away no matter what you do. So, it’s the one thing that’s least manageable of anything in life.

The thing that you can manage or control is your activity. So, I don’t look at time management. I look at activity management. I look at achievement management if you will. And so, what I try and do is I try and do things that matter to me. I try and do things that I find significance in, and try and do things that I find purpose in. And if I do that, I find that I am, by default, managing my time well. Because it’s not so much how much you get done that matters. It’s how much that matters you get done.

And so, if you spend all of the time that you’re working on things that matter, even if you get less in total done, you’re going to get more that matters done than someone who’s spending a lot of time on trivial tasks and busying themselves for the sake of being busy.

I think there are a lot of people that are very focused on being busy for the sake of being busy. They’re very focused on trying to feel productive and trying to be doing something at all times, and they end up doing a lot of trivial, meaningless things instead of a lot of really important things.

But I try not to do that. And so, by doing things I’m passionate about, by doing things I deeply enjoy, and I don’t mean superficially enjoy the way you enjoy an ice cream cone. I mean, deeply enjoy the way you enjoy accomplishing something and looking back with pride and self-esteem created by the event. That’s the kind of thing that I’m going for in my activities and what I’m trying to achieve in life.

And so, a good metric I have for myself is at the end of the day or the end of the week or the end of the month, whatever time period you choose, and this should be true of all time periods ideally, I want to look back and feel I lived it well. That’s it. That’s my goal. My goal is, at the end of the day, to be able to look back and be like, “I lived today well.” Or, at the end of the month, “I did a good month.” “I did a good month,” that’s not even grammatically correct, I don’t think. But, that’s how I think of it. “I did a good month.” “I did a good year.” “I did a good day.” I made good things happen.”

And sometimes, that means focusing super, super hard on your business to the point that it’s brutal, and you’re falling asleep with your computer on your lap for days on end because that’s what’s required. That’s not sustainable and that’s not how you should be doing things, but at certain times, we have deadlines, that’s what it means.

Other times, it means taking some time, and going out, and making social connections, and meeting new people that are going to be valuable additions to your life or valuable learning experiences for you. I.e., doing cold approach, for example. Or, i.e., going on dates and learning how to date.

It’s not always how brutal the task is that is how big of an achievement it is. It’s how much purposeful got done. And again, I’m speaking grammatically wrong here because I could have said how many purposeful things, but that wouldn’t be right. How much purposeful stuff wouldn’t make it right. It’s how much purposeful. How much purposefulness was created or was done by your day? And that’s why I say, “I did a good day.” Not, “I had a good day.” Or, “I lived a good day,” “I did a good day.”

So, that’s what I want to do. I want to look back on that day, I want to look back on that week, that month, and I want to look back on it with self-esteem. I want to look back at it, proud of how I lived it and what I did. And so, a big part of it is picking things that you’re passionate about.

The other big part is getting rid of time wasters. And, what is a time-waster? Now, I treat time-wasters differently than a lot of people would. A lot of things that some people think would be time-wasters, I actually don’t think are time-wasters at all. I’ve spent probably cumulatively years of my life playing games of various kinds, whether it be chess, or poker, or pool billiards, or various games of strategy. I’m a huge fan of monopoly, for example. I spent tons and tons of time in my life playing these various games.

And you could call that trivial because none of that has direct… Well, poker did. And soccer, maybe a little bit did. Many of those games have never directly paid me. So, from a financial-economic perspective, they were a waste of time. But, did I learn from them? Yes. Did I grow from the competition? Yes. Was I mentally engaged in making myself mentally stronger and developing models for the world and models for success? Yes. And, was I passionate about it and engrossed in it at the time? Yes.

So, in that sense, that actually was relatively productive. However, in excess, those things would not be productive. So, for example, if I had an important thing that, maybe I’m doing a launch for work or we’re launching a new program. It’s very important. It’s critical, et cetera. And instead of doing the launch, I spend my day playing blitz chess. That is not a day I’m going to look back at and be proud of. I’m absolutely not.

However, on the flip side, if during my day-to-day, I’ve been spending half an hour a day working on my chess game, trying to improve. And then, I go play a tournament and get a better result than I ever have at chess at a time when I had the free time to do it, and it wasn’t negatively affecting my business, and I learned some lessons. I learned about how to improve it as a skill. And I learned some lessons about discipline. I learned some lessons about focus. I learned some lessons about delivering at the moment when the chips are down. And I learned some lessons about being calm under pressure, et cetera. And, I also achieved something. I did better than I ever have before.

I would be happy with that aspect of my day. So, if you ask yourself, “Is playing chess a good use of my time or a bad use of my time?” The answer is, “Yes, it’s both.” If it’s done in the right way that is congruent with me living a life I’m proud of, then it’s very much good use of my time. If it’s done excessively or as procrastination or as an excuse to avoid more important, more meaningful things at that moment, then it’s been a net negative. And if it’s done obsessively and it’s not something that has a potential end in it, then it’s probably not the best choice.

There are some elements of balance there, but it’s all very subjective. It’s all very subjective. It’s all very much based on your own values. It’s based on how you envision a good life being, how you would like to see your life lived. And then, being really honest with yourself and looking back as you look forward if that makes sense. As you look forward to how you’re going to live today, imagine yourself at the end of the day, looking back at it and say, “Is this action, is this thing that I’m doing going to make me prouder of the way I lived today?” “Am I going to be happy looking back at the end of the day that I did this thing?” Or, at the very least, “Am I going to be okay with it?” But ideally, “Am I going to be happy with it?”

If that’s the case, it’s probably, at least, not a terrible use of your time. But, do be very cautious of your big time wasters. And definitely notice if there are things that are continual big time wasters. And, how do you know they’re time-wasters? One is, yes, the amount of time they’re taking up. But the other is how many days do they contribute to you feeling a little bit less self-esteem about how you live that day?

If you, day, after day, after day, are feeling worse about yourself because you did this one particular activity and it took an hour of your day or two hours of your day, every single day. Well, in that case, that’s probably an activity to eliminate. Do I manage time? No, not really. Cause I’m really bad with time. I’m really awful with time. But what I am good with is purpose, and ambition, and drive, and self-esteem. And so, I use those things to manage my life.

And I don’t really worry about time because I know that if I’m spending significant fractions of my time on purposeful things and because I’m doing purposeful things and because I’m mentally engaged in them, I am very focused and I lose track of time and get immersed in what I’m doing. If I do that often enough, experience has shown me, that I will get overall good results and the time will kind of work.