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Screwproof
Doing deals that won't f*ck-up
By Andrew Keith Walker

NB: This excerpt from Screwproof: doing deals that won’t f*ck up is distributed free for personal
use, but may not be reproduced in whole or part without the copyright owners permission. © Andrew
Keith Walker 2013-2014 andrewkeithwalker@gmail.com

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Disclaimer
(in case you feel like suing me)
This book contains language and imagery that some people might find offensive, including
swearing, coarse language and sexual metaphors. Any similarities in the text to real people or
companies is purely coincidental, all names and descriptions have been changed to protect the
identities of any third parties. Any and all opinions expressed are entirely my own unless labelled
otherwise. Nothing in this eBook should be treated as advice, it’s purely educational and intended to
help readers reach their own conclusions, it is not a set of instructions for how to conduct your life.
Basically if you’re offended, think I’m talking about you, expressing an expert opinion in a professional capacity or have any liability for things that happen to you after reading this book, I’m not and it’s
not my fault. Enjoy ;)

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For Lulu, who helps me do everything

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Chapter 1
Read this first, preferably before you buy the
book...

Nobody ever really gets screwed, we make bad choices because they feel the same as good
choices, in the same way a kitten and a big rat feel similar with your eyes closed.

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Screwproofing yourself is the way I describe being analytical about the decisions we make
when we negotiate something, be it for business or pleasure. It’s a simple fix for the most
common relationship problem we encounter, namely, getting screwed by someone else. It
fixes the problem simply, by reducing the chances of getting screwed. It’s easy to do as well,
because the truth is, we only ever screw ourselves.
You see, our brains play tricks on us. Often, we don’t have an objective view of what we
are offering, what the other person is offering and how fair the exchange we’re agreeing to
actually is. Sometimes, what looks to be a fair offer isn’t. Sometimes, what you offer is too
much, and when you give too much, you feel screwed. This book can teach you how to fix
that objectivity problem fairly, without being mean, rude or a hard nosed bastard about it.
And avoid getting screwed in the process.
It starts with understanding your brain. Your brain is a very complicated thing. You
think that your rational mind, the bit that does the thinking, the bit that is reading these
words right now, is in charge... but it’s not.
How you feel about what you’re reading is controlled by a different part of your brain.
You may agree or disagree, but those rational arguments are often your rational mind
making up reasons to explain how your emotional brain and physical brain are feeling.
When you ignore that internal interaction inside your head, between your rational mind
and the emotional and physical parts of your brain, it makes you vulnerable to being
screwed.

To explain the way you make decisions, let’s compare your brain with the brakes on a
car.
When you press the brake pedal in a car, the pedal doesn’t actually slow the car down,
the brake callipers on the brake disc do that. It’s a system of many parts, linked by cables
and hydraulic fluid and mechanical stuff, usually with a computer monitoring the process
to ensure the wheel doesn't lock-up and skid. Now, in decision making, consider your
rational mind like your foot on the brake pedal, the rest of your brain is the other parts of
the braking system. Let’s call it your decision making system.
Okay, now here’s the problem: Unlike in the brakes in a car, your decision making
system works in two directions. Compared with the braking system in a car, this two-way
operation would be the equivalent of the brake callipers and brake disc controlling when
you press down on the brake pedal, which would be crazy. In decision making, your
emotional and physical brains do precisely that. When your physical brain is making your
body tense, it makes your emotional brain feel anxious and makes your thoughts more

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Screwproof Sample Chapters

aggressive or defensive. When your physical brain makes you relaxed, you feel happier and
think more positively. In both scenarios, the rest of the decision making system in your
brain affects what you think, and how you behave, but you don’t notice it happening.
It’s why we have the expression "lose your temper". How can you lose your temper? That
implies your temper has a mind of its own and can do things for itself once you've lost it. A
more accurate description would be to "loose your temper". The phrase "lose your temper" is a
warning that your unconscious, emotional brain can overwhelm your reason when it’s let
loose, unchecked by your rational mind. It can make you do things you’ll regret when
you’ve calmed down a bit and regained control of your temper. It’s precisely that kind of
process, just toned down a bit, that causes you to make bad decisions in life and business.
How you feel is always part thinking, part physical, part emotional. Change one, change
them all.
The truth is you’re not really in control of what you think, any more than you are in
control of when you feel horny or cold. Your thoughts, like your body, react to external
conditions, like a teenager who can’t help getting a hard-on when he sees a woman in a
bikini. This is why we get scared by horror movies or cry at sad stories. If our thoughts
didn’t work like that, we wouldn’t find TV, movies, books or music any more interesting
than looking out of the window or listening to the traffic.
Something else in your brain, something processing emotional and physical feelings,
makes those things interesting to your rational mind.
These non-analytical parts of your brain (a mixture of chemicals, neurones and synaptic
pathways) respond to music and movies, which subsequently makes you think up rational
reasons to explain why you like them, but the truth is, liking them isn't really rational at all.
It’s the same reason why some people like bungee jumping and others hate it. It’s not
rational, it’s mostly physical and emotional - but the way you experience this in your
rational mind is by inventing logical reasons to explain your feelings. They might be
accurate, e.g.
"I don’t like bungee jumping because of the way my body processes adrenaline, which is an
unpleasant sensation for my body, even though other people might find it pleasurable."
or they might be totally wrong, e.g.
"I don’t like bungee jumping because my rope will break and I’ll fall to my death in front of a
crowd of cheering extreme sports dudes who will stick it on YouTube and everyone in the world will
think I’m a dick for all eternity."

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Screwproof Sample Chapters

Your thoughts are not, whatever you believe, emanating from logical, objective
deductions.  Your rational mind can trick you.  It’s basically making stuff up.  It’s called
“confirmation bias” meaning our rational minds don’t always analyse things our emotional or
physical brains feel are good choices.  What this means for our rational decision making
abilities is, simply put, our unconscious desire to be right means we look for arguments that
support the choices we want to make, more than we look for arguments that contradict our
preferred choices.  It’s the mechanics of seeing the world as we want it to be, not objectively
how it is.  It is driven, emotionally, by our attraction to predictability in an unpredictable
world, to know our future and feel ready for what’s just around the corner.  Confirmation
bias is the decision making equivalent of seeing the world through rose-coloured glasses.
In this context, an argument is a logical process, i.e a + b = c or a conditional process,
i.e. if condition a and condition b are met, then event c will occur.  This kind of thinking is flawed,
because in most circumstances a + b could equal lots of other letters, depending on a whole
range of factors.  The result c is an assumption which ignores the universal phenomenon of
cascading consequences.  It’s like this - you may well own a fast car and be an amazing
driver, but if the road you take is closed by an accident, you’ll arrive late for your big
meeting, which means in turn, you’ll miss out on the deal of a lifetime and, therefore, that
million pound loan to buy your new yacht was a bad idea because you can’t afford the
repayments.  In hindsight, you should have taken steps to reduce the chance of a random
traffic accident from affecting the outcome of your plans, or to put it another way, a + b = oh
fuck, I didn’t expect that to happen.
Everybody has a confirmation bias.  This book addresses your confirmation bias with a
simple thinking tool called the 5 simple rules.  It’s a framework of rational checks and
balances to ensure that your decision making system doesn’t trick you into doing something that feels like a good idea, but isn’t.  That’s all.

There’s something else you need to know about this book
If you’re looking for an easy way to succeed, make money, get laid or be a big success,
here’s the truth: you never could buy a book for that. This book isn’t about getting what you
want... it’s about not getting what you don’t want. You might call it a book about getting what
you need, or getting what’s good for you, but if you’re looking for a book that has got a quick
fix for being awesome, you’re reading the wrong book. If you want to know how to be
awesome watch The Matrix and learn Kung Fu (make sure it’s the first Matrix movie, the
other two are a bit "meh")
In fact, seeing yourself as a winner at life or business is an inherently childish, if not

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Screwproof Sample Chapters

destructive, aspiration. Life isn’t a game, or if it is, you only ever win it by dying, which
makes it riskier than Russian Roulette as far as games go. You’ll find life starts to work
better if you view it as a process.
Getting what you want isn’t actually good for you in life or business. It’s like eating
chocolate and pizza all day. You might want it, but it’s bad for you. What you want selfishly
doesn’t really matter until you’re stranded, alone, on a desert island. Don’t misunderstand
your place in the world:
You are part of an ecosystem.
You co-operate with others to survive.
You never own anything worth having without sharing it with someone else.
The reason why there’s been decades of business gurus selling a crock of utter shit
about winning and life coaches encouraging you to "fulfill your dreams" is down to the fact
the You vs. The World schtick is a very easy metaphor for selling lifestyle advice. It’s part of
a dumbing down process that views the real world, which is a complex ecosystem, as a
comic book world of heroes and villains, victims and perps, good and evil.
Your life isn’t really like that, nor is your work. What you actually do each day is
negotiate transactions between the individuals within your little patch of ecosystem. It’s
never a battle for what you want, quite the reverse, it’s a collective effort to achieve shared
goals that everyone wants. You want to eat, they want to eat, you co-operate to eat. Who
does the actual food shopping and how the costs get divided between you is a typical
negotiation that takes place every day. That’s real life. That’s business.
This book addresses the most common malfunction in our daily negotiations. We call it
"getting screwed" but it’s really just a question of lacking insight into the things you’ve
agreed to do. The term "getting screwed" comes from the ludicrous notion that men trick
women into sex. It’s like this:
1. Men pretend to want relationships when they’re horny, which, apparently, is all the time.
2. Women, who apparently don’t get horny, use sex as an incentive to force men into
relationships.
3. Somehow, the men trick women into unwittingly having sex or the women trick the men into
getting married.
This is, as we all know, bullshit. Women don’t go out to bars because they’re selling sex
in return for getting married. Men seldom go to the time and expense of executing an

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Screwproof Sample Chapters

elaborate fraud for fifteen minutes of sex, callously breaking the hearts of poor, frail women
as they do (what a ludicrously male chauvinist notion!) What really happens is much
simpler and it’s a great example of negotiating your way to a shared goal.
1. People go out.
2. They all want sex
3. They spend time together, get drunk and fuck.
That’s all it is. There may be poor choices made on both sides of that equation, but the
basic picture is a shared goal everyone can relate to. Waking up sober and realising you’ve
made a mistake is just another example of a negotiating malfunction that may be summed
up with the dancing metaphor, "it takes two to tango".
Life and business, the whole of human society, is no different from the oceans or
forests, fields and mountains. It’s a big, complex machine that balances competition and
co-operation to function. Make no mistake about it, you are programmed to compete and
co-operate. It’s hard wired into you as you eat, sleep and fuck your way from birth to death.
No-one ever drops out, rises to the top or swims in the opposite direction for more than a
blink of an eye as far as the ecosystem is concerned.
You can’t change that, and why would you? It’s a good thing. It’s how you’re here,
because our ancient forbears, if they didn’t do it that way, wound up getting eaten by wild
animals, starving or didn’t raise a family to keep their DNA in circulation. You don’t have
to change the way you live to get better at getting what you need out of life, you just need to
negotiate better. Make better choices, learn how to recognise your emotional brain
meddling with your rational mind, and you will avoid getting screwed.
Now, go screwproof yourself... (and if you haven’t yet, buy this book).

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Thanks to...
(the people who helped)

Bill Pope - for his editor’s eye and general awesomeness

Proof readers:
Jeremy Banx
John Kernan
Baldwin Berges
David Angell

Sage-like wisdom:
John Grace
Bryn McNeill
Charlie Giguere

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About the Author
Andrew Keith Walker was born in 1971, and grew-up in a seaside town on the south
coast of England. After being told that he could either work in a hotel, an insurance
company or a bank by his careers teacher, he attended Edinburgh University to do a degree
in Politics - which his teachers and many of the people he grew up with thought was proof
that Andrew was basically an ungrateful socialist troublemaker (people thought like that in
the 1980s). He graduated with an MA (Hons) and realised he didn’t want a job, so he took a
part time nightshift job at The Scotsman newspaper and was a stand-up comic on the
Edinburgh comedy scene.
In 1995, his mother suggested he get a job working on the internet because "It’s for people
who can’t decide what they want to do with their lives and don’t like fitting in". She was right
(thanks Mum - AKW). Andrew started a post-graduate MSc in Multimedia Technology where
he ignored the boring coursework and made games for web pages, but couldn’t complete it
because he had a row with his MSc tutor who refused to mark his dissertation proposal on
internet games because "The internet is just for academics, nobody will ever play games on it,
you've been watching too much Star Trek". Fortunately, his tutor was wrong about the internet
and Andrew walked out and got a job, that same day, making internet games at Cyberia, the
UK’s first chain of internet cafés. His tutor was right about the fact Andrew watched
too much Star Trek, however.
Since then Andrew has done many jobs as a graphic designer, copywriter and web
developer in the grim world of advertising and marketing agencies. In 1998 he started his
own successful creative agency (Thin Martian), more recently he’s been MD of a data
mining start-up (Semetric / MusicMetric), been a partner in a social media product
placement company (Social Placement) and co-founded social media news feed company
Tweetminster.
He was the first person to interview a UK political party leader on Twitter, the first
person to interview a serving UK Prime Minister on Twitter, he’s written and created ad
campaigns, designed logos, developed data powered news products, built websites, helped
set-up the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP), helped the BBC monitor
elections, been the social media rent-a-pundit on the TV and Radio news, written articles
and features in newspapers and magazines and is a regular speaker on the changing worlds
of technology, business and culture at conferences around the world.
His greatest achievement is generally proving that your parents and teachers really
don’t have a fucking clue what they’re talking about when they assume, because you wear
dungarees covered in political slogan badges at the age of eighteen and smoke a bit of weed

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Screwproof Sample Chapters

down the beach with your buddies, you’re basically somewhere between Shaggy off Scooby
Doo and Carlos the Jackal.
He’s closed deals with big brands (like Evilcorp, Hewlett Packard, Nokia, Vodafone, and
Xbox); public institutions (like The Commonwealth and the UK Parliament); charities (like
the NSPCC and Oxfam); publishers and media organisations (Nastycorp, The Independent,
The Guardian, BBC, BSkyB); angel investors, venture capitalists and start-ups... his view of
deals and the complex social interactions that come with them comes from experience of
success and, in all fairness, screwing plenty of stuff up along the way. He has to his credit
award winning projects, industry firsts and also been laughed out of people’s offices for
having wacky ideas that would never work, until they either worked... or didn't.
Andrew now lives in rural Suffolk, with his wife and children, a hamster, a chicken, a
couple of fish tanks and a cat called Rusty that isn’t his but comes to visit all the time. He
tweets under the name of @killdozer and writes, publishes and podcasts about life,
business and thinking tools at ManVsBrain.com
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© Andrew Keith Walker
Published by Andrew Keith Walker
www.ManVsBrain.com
ISBN 978-0-9928365-0-4

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