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Conversation between

Ed Seykota and [Name]


How to Run a Tribe Meeting


April 18, 2004



Hi !


Thank you for agreeing to have this conversation.  I am recording my end of the conversation so I can transcribe it and post it to the Trading Tribe website.


My intention is to get more and more of the Tribal work out into the open, so people can see how to do it. I am trying various ways to get the work out there - the web site FAQ and the Pollinator pages. I think we might have a discussion about our last Tribe meeting. Maybe some day I can record an actual Tribe meeting although I have some concerns about recording maybe inhibiting some parts of the process. 


My intention in this conversation is to preserve the confidentiality of the members and describe TTP principles in action during the meeting.


The Wife and the Dog


The first thing I recall from the meeting is the person that has an issue with his wife - about how to implement the TTP process in his relationship.


Yes, you are right, he actually comes right after the fellow who does pure physical processing – the one who just gets right into his somatic feelings without any story telling.  We just support the physical appearance of the somatic metaphor - that's about as efficient as TTP gets.  We can tell he makes some progress by his report afterward and that he just looks more relieved and cheerful. 


The fellow with the wife and dog issue is actually the second one.


His issue is how to use TTP in his relationship - their dog runs away from home and his wife is very upset - he tries to tell her it's okay - and to comfort her - she is whining and crying about this for three days - and he is trying to use TTP to get her to quiet down - to get her to stop the whining.  So he is trying to fix the situation and get her to calm down - make her feel better - and he just does not like all the whining.  It’s a new experience for him, as a newlywed, to see this new side of his wife. 


So he is alarmed to get her home - find she has a whole new side - As I recall, we get him around to the point of view where the TTP is not a fix for her - not designed to change other people.  It doesn't work to change other people and if you use it to try to change other people, it just does not work. 


As I recall, you agree to do role-playing with him and you to pretend to be his wife – and, I might add, you do a very serviceable job of whining and complaining and whimpering -  and he tries different modes of dealing with you: one is to try to quiet her down and another is to just be there with her, without leading her into her feelings, to just be there with compassion, to understand her feelings and not try to do anything about changing her – to just be there and let her share her feelings any way she wants. 


There is a real critical distinction in the Tribe meetings.  In Tribe meetings, we get people to feel things – we actively encourage them and we push them forward - to get them into their stuff – and we are all there, expecting to do that.  There's an element of pushing - an element of encouraging and we are all there, hungry for that - and when you do that – you push people a little bit forward, the process becomes therapeutic,


If, on the other hand, you only experience the feeling that the other person presents, without pushing – and if you only just be there with them - then that becomes a good way to conduct a relationship.


You better watch out that in a normal relationship, in your enthusiasm to try to fix the other person, you don't push them forward in the therapeutic mode, because they don't want to go there.  And you can damage the relationship.


So part of what we learn is how to use the process appropriately, in two ways. One way is the lay-back mode, which is really good for relationships - you show compassion and caring - and the other way is therapeutic, where you invite the person into their feelings actively and help them explore them.


The latter really takes an agreement on both sides. 


Yes, that's right – you have to monitor your own reactions if you find yourself trying to fix the other person. 


If you want to fix someone, there is always yourself that is very handy, and fixing yourself is exactly the first place to go. 


Eventually TTP just disappears into the fabric of a relationship.  In a one-on-one relationship, you can go into either mode. You can go into the background, being compassionate - and you can sometimes slip over therapeutic mode.  My experience is you have to get permission before you enter therapeutic mode. If one person tries to use therapeutic mode on another, it’s invasive – it shuts the other person down, and leads to additional conflict.  It’s just more drama.


Usually, the person who is pushing someone else to do the process, Is exactly the one who needs it most.  If you are trying to get someone to do TTP, you can be pretty sure you need it yourself.


TTP flows very naturally and easily – if it doesn’t, it’s not TTP – it’s some drama that is using a replica of TTP as part of the setup.  If there is resistance to TTP, it indicates misapplication.


So he gets the idea, to stop fixing her, and to just be there with her and to not push her and to just be more compassion and to relate to her in feelings mode first, and then in logical mode after the feelings pass.


Yes, if you have a desire to fix or change, then you are running your own drama.


TTP is about just experiencing the joy of being with someone - and just enjoying sharing their feelings without any of attachment to where they want to go. 


To engage this process, you just hop on the path with someone - you take a walk with them and they lead or you can even take turns leading. There is just no conflict about where you're going – you just go along on the ride with someone. One essential difference between conventional conversations and a TTP conversation is that in TTP you acknowledge the feelings first and then you get to the logical content after the feelings pass.


So in the case of the dog, he has to acknowledge her sadness - and only then can they can talk about things to do like call the police or put an ad in the paper.


Interestingly enough, as soon as he is finally willing to listen her feelings, which takes about three days, the dog comes home – as if the dog is just another player in the drama. 


The first thing to do is to listen to someone on a feelings level.  And then after the feelings discharge, you have some chance of dealing with the logical part of the problem


If you don't do the feelings first, then any attempts to deal with the logical part fail since Fred commandeers the logical process and uses to further the emotional agenda of making the feelings intensify to the point where you feel them.


This is classic: one person is emotionally upset and the other is trying to fix them logically - and they just get stuck at that point.  John Gray, in his book about Mars and Venus, has it partially right.  Women are usually emotional and men are usually logical. Actually in any pair of people, man-man, man-woman, woman-woman, either party can be the emotional one and the other can be the logical one.  If they don’t handle the feelings first, they just get stuck.


Yes, that’s right, once he sees all this, he notices there is even a deeper issue.  His wife's father runs away, when she is very young.  So the dog running away represents lots of things for her and so this is, of course, a much deeper issue. 


So the dog running away plugs her into some real major stuff – and if he learns to just listen to her, he can, by the very act of being in relationship with her, help her cure the drama about the dog and about her father and about lots of other relating things.


If he tries to fix her, however, it just adds another layer on the onion. 


She has unresolved feelings about her father running away, and in some way she creates the dog running away to bring up the feelings.  She does whatever she has to do - leave the gate open of whatever – and the dog runs away - so she can bring up the feelings about her father.


Now if he does not help her come to terms with her feelings, he’s the next one who gets to run away, to help her get in touch with her feelings.  She is already starting to get him to run away – by whining and doing things he can’t stand.  As he comes to be able to accept her, he learns to handle the whining and see the positive intention of it – so he can stick around and help her mover through her feelings – rather than getting type-cast into a character-actor in her drama.


So this is a good example of how people operate all the time - and what he can do to honor his commitment to the relationship is to just be there and don't react to her crying. He can just be there and get her feelings – and help her get her own feelings.


The Addicted Tribe Member


The next fellow presents difficulties getting tribe going – how to run his Tribe - one fellow who is coming to his Tribe is addicted to substance – and he seems to be a hypochondriac, he says he is afraid he might have a heart attack during the process – and furthermore, another guy in the Tribe just doesn’t like him.


Our Tribe member says “I'm willing to work here tonight on this issue, and my problem is I'm afraid that I may not have the skill level or competence to handle the situation – the situation might be bigger than I can handle - since the guy is an addict and also threatening to have a heart attack.” He says he does not want to do something that would injure the other guy or precipitate a heart attack.  He says, “What I want to do is help this fellow.”  So he wants to help this guy and he is afraid - and so he is stuck and he doesn't know what to do.


So I suggest he might like to get into those feelings of wanting to help the addict – and also into the feelings of nervousness and not being able.  We all encourage him to get to the somatic, body feelings. He indicates his stomach, neck, and face. 


For a while he goes back and forth, tightening these various muscles and feeling what he feels.  After a while the notion of “I’m not ready for this,” comes up.  Now, in his case, and in many cases,  “I’m not ready” is part of his core issues – and it is also now active in the immediate process.  So – and this is a critical part of TTP – When “I’m not ready,” or “I don’t want to do this,” or “I don’t feel like it,” come up, you just process that notion like anything else – you just encourage hot seat to experience it – and it usually disappears as just another part of the process.


Finally, he gets through “I don’t want to do this” and into the stuff in the stomach.  And as soon as he feels it, he lightens up and he just lets it go.  And after that he comes to the solution on his own – he doesn’t have to help the fellow at all - his job is simply to conduct the Tribe meeting. 


The way I conduct Tribe meetings – it’s just not part of my job to fix people.  My job is to conduct the meetings and keep people on track with the process.  I cannot afford to care about the outcome - just like with the markets I have to ignore the short-term results and just stick to the system.  Regardless of what the markets do, I can’t afford to worry about the outcome. 


So I just stick with the system of the meeting – if hot seat gets “better,” that’s fine and if he “feels worse,” that's fine too.  I have to keep the Tribe focusing on the idea that whatever hot seat does is fine.  If we start to care about the outcome, we stop supporting hot seat to go wherever he wants to go – so caring about the outcome makes us ineffective.


Our hot seat fellow seems to pick up on that idea as a good way for him to conduct his own Tribe meetings – so to confirm he is in a new place, I ask him “So what if the guy threatens to have a heart attack or what if he does have one.”  He replies, rather matter-of-fact-ly that he is going to have a talk with this Tribe member and determine if he really wants to participate, or not – and if he is really sick – anywhere near having a heat attack or not – or if that is just more of his drama.


He says he is going to screen him and find out if he is coming to Tribe meetings to work, or if he  just wants to play out his drama with the group.  At some point, you have to determine if the participant is really ready for Tribe work.  If his commitment is larger than his resistance, the Tribe can get him through the window.  If his commitment is not that strong, then his agenda becomes to try to use the group as another way to run his drama.


So our Tribe member gets free of having to fix anyone.  There is a big difference here between TTP and “normal therapy” where you are supposed to fix someone – since wanting to fix someone interferes with them proceeding to heal themselves.


So our fellow winds up just determining to lead the Tribe meeting and to let the chips fall where they may – and if the other guy who doesn’t like the addict wants to work on his issue about it, then he can just get his turn on the hot seat, too.


Our fellow is not worrying about outcomes anymore.  By encouraging him to experience his feelings, he gets free from “outcome-it is.”


Another thing want to mention about this fellow is that when he originally starts the work, several months ago, he is really pretty impacted about his feelings in general – cold and abrupt and very full of “I don’t want to do this.”  He is cold towards his wife and kids and he has a wall of resentment and anger between him and other people.  He realizes he wants to be a better example for his kids and this is part of what sustains him to do the work of experiencing the feelings he doesn’t like about himself.


He goes on the hot seat a couple times and makes huge progress in bringing these walls down – and moves toward having an authentic relationship with his children with his wife – and now he looks younger – he looks more cheerful - he looks like he's having fun with his wife and kids. Now he is basically is a different fellow.  I recall how he used to be on the hot seat – he goes a little way into his feelings and then he just switches them off and goes into his “you can’t get to me” smile.  He goes back and forth from feeling to blocking with the smug smile. 


So when we see the smile, we just encourage him to smile more and to block his feelings more.  Pretty soon the blocking smile turns to a kind of self-awareness smile and we are through the barrier.  That is a big breakthrough for him.


Our role in the process is to just support him in doing whatever he does.  This is basic to TTP and this is what works.  We don’t set out to fix anyone – we just keep celebrating just the way they are.


So now we are looking forward to a report from him on how his Tribe is going now. When he first starts out, he has a hard time attracting Tribe members and keeping them on task.  And now, as he is developing himself more and more, he is instinctively turning into a great Tribe leader.


As he is becoming more and more free, more and more alive, people are coming into his Tribe like magic – as if somehow they know something is cooking and they want to get in on it - he is ready and willing to lead.


The New Fellow – Bright and No Feelings


All right, and then we have another fellow, who just joins us for the first time – brand new.  He is wants to come to meet me and maybe talk about the markets.  He is very bright and has a good feeling for how to trade options, and has a pretty good track record as a floor trader –he likes to buy low and sell high and work the spread.  Since the days of $25 dollar daily moves are over, and the days of $10 stocks are here, he can’t work his magic so easily on the floor, and he has the sense to get out while he still has some capital left.


He is basically curious – he says he moves himself and his family to Reno to be closer to me – although he never calls me – he keeps asking people if they know me and he finally finds another Tribe member – who invites him to a Tribe meeting.  I find my reputation is a lot more formidable and intimidating than I am. I guess if I were really that fierce, I would scare myself.


So that's how he sets it all up to meet me and that’s how it works out - how he does it.  On his first check in, he just goes on and on and on: story, story, logic, logic, logic.  He goes on for about 15 minutes without showing any emotion or feelings. 


I let this go on for a while and then I say, “Look, what we do here is we express our feelings - and there is nothing in what you are saying that indicates any feelings.”


Despite my telling him that we do feelings, not logic – despite my telling him that several times, he just keeps on with story, story, story.   He is not un-cooperative and he is seems willing and sincere – he just has no idea what I am talking about. 


So everybody starts ganging up on him – and we start encouraging him to just do more storytelling and to avoid his feelings at all cost.  He is also talking about everything happening in the past. So we encourage him to stay in the past and avoid the now.  We also keep asking, alternatively, “what are you feeling right now.”


Someone says to try to locate just one little feeling he is feeling now.  At that, his hand moves a little and starts to make a fist and he reports feeling a little tension in his hands.  Everybody just about explodes at that, with encouragement and approval – and everybody chimes in and says “that’s it – you got it, good job” and he gets it about what we are doing – that is a big breakthrough.  It’s kind of like Helen Keller getting the idea about what a word is, about there being a word for “water” when her mentor holds her hand under a faucet and drums the word onto her hand.


One minute he is a fellow who lives in logic about the past – and the next, he is into what he is feeling right now. That is a huge step.


He also integrates what he remembers from other seeing others do their own work in the room. He thinks about his own kids, and he makes an important connection – he reports that his younger child is very emotionally expressive and his older child is no longer emotionally expressive.


One really good connection he makes is to connect his child's behavior to his own behavior – as he is the example, and his kid is turning out like him – and he realizes this is a big problem and he wants to do something about it.  At that point, he’s in.  He commits to the work.


He is also able to connect his wife's behavior – she is very passive – with his own - he is a very assertive guy and he is able to see that the relationships he has with people around him are his own creation.


So these are huge breakthroughs – he cares deeply about his wife and kids and he wants to be a better father and husband – and now he sees there is something he can do about it – this is huge.  He has very little idea of how to get from point A to point B – still he gets and idea that there is a process here and that it can deliver something important for him.


So, the next thing logical people tend to do with this insight is to return home and try to fix the wife.  And that seems to be part of how it works.  He is stumbling along the path, like we all do. 


His wife is very shy and doesn't have many friends and she wants to have more friends – so he is now exploring the difference between trying to advise her and trying to help get friends for her – and just being with her and pacing her sadness.  The later is the effective route - as it gets at her core issues about keeping people away – and as he tests these various ways to deal with her more and more, he likely comes around to using the latter, listening approach, more and more.


He is very intelligent and very motivated and so I’d bet he uses his resources to stay with the process.  Also, his devotion to his wife and kids is a big plus.


As the process continues, he gets into more and more body feelings and tensions – this is all new territory for him.  He clenches his fist every time he reports having a confrontation with his wife's parents. 


Every time he shows any somatic signs, like clenching his fist, wincing, grimacing, we all cheer him on. He says over and over that every time he thinks about wife's parents, and how they treat her, he gets really angry.


He has a big issue about how his wife relates to her parents.  It seems to me that he and his wife’s parents have a lot in common; both dominate her. That might be one of the “chemical” factors that attracts him and his wife to each other.  He dominates and she is passive.


So when he doesn’t like what he sees in how her parents treat her – which is how he treats her –he is just dis-owning his own behavior and mapping it onto her parents


This is the way he judges his own behavior as being wrong.  So he's got some work to do in this area – when he can come to accept and celebrate his own feelings around dominating and being passive, he can gain freedom for himself, and begin to relate to his wife and kids in a much more authentic and intimate way.  This is a big step, and may be a while off for him.  After all, he is just learning what feelings are and what feeling things in the now is all about.


He uses body posture, tonal inflection, manipulation, and other methods to dominate people.  There is just no way to have him “fix” these things – since there is nothing at all wrong with these traits – these are valuable skills.  As he comes to experience his judgments about his wife’s parents, and then about himself, he can gain freedom, and find positive intentions for all his traits.


He may come around to being able to experience his own need to control others – which may relate to feelings about fear of survival.  This may be a while off for him.  By hanging out with the Tribe, and seeing others press forward with their own issues, and by receiving encouragement from others to keep on the path, I think he’s going to get through it. 


He has tremendous resources in his native intelligence and in his deep caring for his wife and kids and these things are helping him to get through to the other side. For now, he can hold the process as doing something for the benefit of his wife and kids - and that might sustain him enough to get into the work enough to start doing it for himself. 


This also points out how hopeless it is to try and do TTP on your own.  It just does not work.  I call it the DIM process for Do It Myself.  There is no way you can do it yourself – you have a lifetime of not doing it yourself – and you know all the ways to protect yourself from doing it.  Without the support and encouragement of other Tribe members, you cannot hope to get through the major stuff.  You can, of course, process the small feelings pretty well, and come to use your feelings as part of your emotional control panel.  You just cannot convert the major feelings by yourself.


That also shows one of the limitations of conventional therapy.  The therapist does not do his own work in front of you – so the relationship is pretty one-sided.  You don’t get the inspiration of seeing him deal with his own tough issues.  And then, the therapist basically encourages you to talk, talk, talk and you just stay in your head.  Now this certainly has a place and can be very valuable – it just does not help very much with getting you to experience your feelings – so the advice and insights you get with conventional therapy can just give you new and innovative ways to implement your standard dramas.


One very good sign for our fellow is that he has a good heart and he can refer to his feelings for his family to give him strength.  At this point, he has no idea what's in store for him.  One thing about this work is that people just don’t know what’s in store for them.  Then they make all this improvement - and then all the work and TTP kind of disappear into the way they conduct their lives. 


If they want to continue the work, they just keep associating with a Tribe – or they start one of their own.  I encourage people to start their own Tribes – particularly people who come long distances to the Incline Village Tribe.  We have regular attendance from people from the middle of the US, from Canada and from California.  We have occasional visitors from Europe.


Continuing association with a Tribe keeps returning you to the values – it’s a way to keep refreshing – to keep it alive.  If you don’t keep your participation going, you tend to drift back into drama and you start to lose your edge.  I know it works that way for me and I see it in others all the time.


Another thing to point out is that – say in the case of the fellow with the wife and dog situation – it’s a natural tendency to try to pick the top of the market.  People tend to let the feelings run on for a while and then they do whatever they can to get the other person to shut down and turn it off. Trend following and TTP both run on the principle that you just let the move run on and on and on, and you don’t try to pick the top.


He would only let his wife's feelings about the dog run to certain amount and then he would  shrug his shoulders or roll his eyes or make some logical suggestion to shut her down.


The real challenge with TTP and with trend following is to just let the move go all the way to the end – then you know you have the whole thing.  


That's a real challenge when you're in a closely invested relationship – or when you understand the “fundamentals” of a market.  You just have trouble letting the move consummate on its own.


Typically, in a “dysfunctional” family, the person who goes into therapy is the “designated” patient.  Everything is OK as long as the patient does not improve.  As soon as he improves, he starts to upset the family dynamics so the family gangs up on him to make sure he fails to change.


One of the main “problems” with TTP is that is actually works, so people do change and improve rapidly.  Part of the skill in implementing TTP is to remember that as you improve, you do not subject other people to your changes – you do not try to fix them or change them. Your friends and family can tolerate your changing yourself, as long as you don’t make it too obvious. 


Corporations sometimes hire a consultant to help them with “cultural” issues. This is similar to retaining a therapist to treat a dysfunctional family.  Typically, the unwritten contract is that the consultant has to talk a good game, but not actually require anyone to change – since everyone has a big investment in the current political structure and everyone is afraid of what might happen if the organization were to actually gain freedom and aliveness. 


Formal politics is about the most politically invested system you can find – it is pure politics – and you might notice that people in politics typically avoid any demonstration of real feelings – they are masters at avoiding real communication – and anyone who comes off sincere and speaks from the heart gets kicked out of the system.


You might notice that Alan Greenspan comes from a history of fiercely defending the free market system and clear thinking and clear communication – then he gets into government and starts supporting programs like bailing out Long Term Capital – and making speeches that no one can possibly understand.  Now, he is looking forward to re-joining the private sector and his speeches are getting clearer and more direct again. 


So if you want to apply active TTP in your relationship, you have to have a deep agreement from all parties to do the work, from the start. If you try to implement TTP in a culture that doesn’t want it, you just become an instant pariah.  It’s OK for one person to do TTP-light – just be compassionate and caring. To implement active-TTP – in which you encourage each other to get the feelings out in the open – you must first obtain real agreement and commitment.


Some Other Thoughts on the Process


Implementing TTP can seem like a slow process - something you can't work overnight. People have a lot at stake in their dysfunctions being the way they are – you can’t hope to change them overnight – the dysfunction is in the very fabric of the organization or relationship.


The best you can do is to stay with the principles in your own behavior: be respectful, don’t force people into their feelings, just accept them the way they are, use SVO-p in your language and do not demand it of others.  As people ask more and more about the work, they may request for you to up the ante, to help them keep the bar high for themselves.  At that point, you can slide into active TTP.


Some clues you can use are – if you are complaining about somebody else, you know you have the issue yourself. 


Well, Easan, I think we are doing a pretty good job of getting the flavor of a Tribe meeting and using TTP into a document so people can get a flavor of it by reading a document.  Mostly TTP spreads by direct personal example – by Tribe meetings and workshops.


This is about as good as it gets, as an example of reporting, after the fact, about our experiences of a tribe meeting.  I think maybe next time around, I can just keep the microphone on during an actual Tribe meeting and record the actual transactions – as long as this doesn’t interfere with the meeting, it can perhaps convey an even more intimate sense of what goes on in Tribe meetings.


I notice that after the fact, when I try to write down my experience, I miss things and the writing seems dull and dry.  I think I am much better, going live, such as in this conversation with you.  TTP is a very live and immediate experience, so I think that the only way to properly convey it, is to stay exactly in the now about it.


I tend to recall saying cool things in Tribe meetings and I recall saying “boy, I wish I had that on tape.”  I just don’t recall exactly what I say or even the exact nature of the situation.  I just kind of make it up in the now and it just keeps disappearing as I go.  It just goes away, like anything else that I experience in the ever-evolving moment of now.


So this conversation with you helps me re-create the moments of now – I don’t seem to have much luck trying to remember what happens – I just tend to go off into theory and start lecturing and miss the spontaneity and aliveness of an actual Tribe meeting.


Here’s an example of intention. In part of my preparation for writing my book, I order some how-to books from Amazon on how to write a book.  So I am waiting around for these books to arrive so I can read them and go about this book writing thing intelligently.  And the books don’t arrive.  Then they send me a notice that the books are on back-order and it may be some time before they can get them. 


So I figure this curious result must be part of my drama about putting off the writing - and so I just commit to starting anyway, without benefit of knowing how to do it right – just go ahead and do it anyway – no more drama about holding back and waiting for Amazon - so I call you up and ask if you are willing to have a dialog with me on the phone, so I can record my part of it – and you agree to do it.


Within a few hours of making that commitment, I get an email from Amazon, saying the books are on the way.  This kind of thing just happens all the time.  Goethe says that once you commit, the world tends to conspire to help you along.  There is, in my opinion, some unseen force of the Under-Fred network in play here.


So my next task it to transcribe this conversation and put it up on the Pollinator page – just a conversation between you and me – the people we mention are to remain strictly anonymous, and we all seem to have the same issues in one form or another.


I think this conversation can give people a good flavor of what goes on in a Tribe meeting – and how we implement TTP.


So, how about I transcribe this and send my transcription to you and we can edit it from there.