Why Successful People Don’t Teach Success
Gurus, income experts, and business coaches preach personal success systems.
They claim to know methods that will help you level up your life, dream big, then double those dreams while tripling your income. The methods entail goals, productivity hacks, and advice on “how to start your personal empire.”
Yet most personal development coaches speak at motivational events, often selling more stuff. We know little of their business background, except their version of how they became millionaires. Are they credible teachers on attaining success?
The success gurus rouse followers:
- Man up.
- Work harder than you did yesterday.
- Whatever is in your way, you’re stronger than it.
- Remove all obstacles.
- Fuck normal.
- Awaken the giant.
- The only competition is you.
- Before you find success, erase your old conditioning.
- Positive action feeds positive thoughts.
- Your leadership is your frame.
- Millionaire mindset.
- Billionaire mindset.
- The obstacle is the way.
- Reprogram your brain.
- Tap into your “Operator’s Mindset.”
- Become a path dominator.
- Excuses hold you back, so do better and suck less.
- Hustle, you only live once.
- Money buys happiness.
Rhetoric sounding like a rejected pump-up montage from Fast and Furious 3.
Since you’re here, maybe you’ve heard or stumbled across this advice. Perhaps you attended a Tony Robbins event. Maybe you’re on Jason Capital’s email list where he sells his hardcore copy secrets. Or maybe Tai Lopez chased you around YouTube with “67 Steps To Become a Millionaire.” I’m referring to the guru, expert, coach, or consultant who popped up on your internet browser and promised “how to be a better you,” “how to make more money,” or “how to live your dream life from just your laptop.”
Many experts and gurus who sell “how to live your ultimate life” found financial success. Tony Robbins earned—and still earns—a fortune. But most built their success by selling rehashed advice. And, often, those experts slithered into the guru business after their previous business foundered. Commonly, most experts had some sort of online direct marketing business; they had a meddling sales funnel. One funnel, one offer, became a hit.
A hit often means the funnel grossed, grossed, around a million bucks. Then, for about a year, the offer performed well. Then, around the eighteen-month mark, the offer tanked. If the expert can’t create another hit offer—almost none do—they get stuck. Because they had a hit, their ego can’t be contained. Next, they throw out their old business, take the funnel and marketing tactics they learned, and wriggle into the guru business. Then they profit selling dreams, fast riches, god-like discipline, business consulting, and how to be some kind of warrior. Basically, they traffic insecurities and inferiority complexes. And the content they teach is nothing but rehashed advice.
The rehashed advice traces to Phineas Quimby’s New Thought movement of the mid 1800s. Quimby generally taught people how to manifest a dream life. Quimby, however, tied his manifestation ideas—the think it and it will come—to religion and God. Still, his movement gained rapid popularity because it offered hope. During his era, strict religious movements, like Calvinism, offered harsh living guidelines. Quimby, instead, offered hope. His religious, spiritual holistic ideas were a hit. Naturally, the positive side of Quimby’s ideas were far more appetizing than the strict Calvinism offers. With Quimby’s advice, someone could dream up and then make “living in an idealized heaven” a reality.
After Quimby, a devout New Thought devotee named Napoleon Hill came along. His famed book, Think and Grow Rich, added that someone can affect personal success and wealth via positive thinking. (By the way, Hill—after wildly spending money from book earnings, making terrible business investments, and selling poor Ponzi-like schemes—died flat broke.12) After Hill, Dale Carnegie came on the scene. Carnegie’s book, How to Win Friends and Influence People, is still popular today. Now Carnegie didn’t just offer a book on how to make social impressions; he wrote and taught how positive thinking and discipline can make someone a success. Plenty of people, especially in the sales and motivational speaking world, hail this book. The book does offer decent advice; today, however, the advice, when used, comes across as trying.
After Carnegie, we meet W. Clement Stone, Og Mandino, and Norman Vincent Peale,. These three men came on the scene in the 1930s and stayed all the way through the 1980s. All three were deeply influenced by Napoleon Hill. Clement Stone, in fact, gave Hill a job when Hill was broke and destitute. Mandino, another Stone success story, was a broke, suicidal alcoholic until Stone helped him. Mandino followed in Stone’s path and become a motivational speaker and sales trainer. Peale mirrors Quimby’s devout religious teachings. Peale packed his teachings with positive thinking and self-hypnosis confidence. Similarly, he worked as a pastor for the Marble Collegiate Church in New York. Three U.S. presidents crossed Peale’s path: Donald Trump attended and married his first wife Ivana at Peale’s church; Peale called Richard Nixon a personal friend; and Ronald Reagan awarded Peale the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Although Peale garnered widespread fame, most of his teachings came under the attack. Most teachings proved bust; theological experts questioned Peale’s goals; and mounting evidence shows Peale may have been a con artist.3 Regardless of where you stand on Peale, he ranks amongst the most famous gurus. Where Hill failed, and where these three succeeded, was giving positive thinking a framework. They injected habits, schedules, goal setting, sales methods, and structure beyond Hill’s “just dream it” ideas. From these three, the advice fans out.
When you scan the personal success archives and compare them with today’s advice, nothing’s really changed since those Stone, Mandino, and Peale days. But we find some new ingredients:
- Swearing— Dropping an F-bomb here or there adds edge.
- Works by Stephen Covey—Covey is widely copied by success teachers.
- Ayn Rand—At some events I’ve attended, I’m shocked they didn’t make people pray to Napoleon Hill and Ayn Rand.
- Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki—Most financial advice taught at success events is often swiped from this book.
- Cold Reading—These tactics are used by psychics, astrologists, palm-readers, tarot-card readers, mediums, mentalists, and Tony Robbins.
- Neuro-Linguistic Programming a.k.a. NLP—The scientifically bust Frankenstein child of Hypnosis was created by John Grinder and Richard Bandler. Tony Robbins started as an NLP teacher. Read any book about Cognitive Linguistics—an actual science—and you’ll wonder if the triangle-earth theory or NLP is more idiotic.
- 1980’s Sales Techniques—These include heaps of Zig Ziglar, Tom Hopkins, Robert Cialdini, and Getting to Yes selling.
- FOMO—Pressing hard on Fear of Missing Out, or fear of not living a life resembling a constant highlight reel. This concept plays on people’s insecurities and inferiority complexes.
But where do these success gurus come from? And what makes any of them qualified to teach success?
Gurus narrate how they overcame incredible personal and professional obstacles. They stir audiences with stories of how life set them up for failure and how after discovering secrets, they transform people into millionaires. They claim themselves as renegade business mavericks. They stand on stage or talk on a social media video. They don the now standard designer sneakers, designer jeans, simple shirt, and carefully trimmed five o’clock shadow. While exhibiting expensive clothes and some bling, they tell you that material goods don’t matter. Instead, what matters is mentors and investing in yourself. They profess clichés like, “If a guy like me can make millions, then anyone can!” Or an edgier, “Fuck normal. If you want to succeed, you must break the mold.” Or the most basic guru cliché, “I was down to my last $100 and living in my mom’s basement, but this one secret turned it all around.”
I’m going to take you behind the scenes of most success coaches. I’ll show you where and how most take birth.
The Pre-Expert or Pre-Guru or Pre-Coach stage.
Nine times out of ten, success gurus originated from the direct marketing business model. Their current business, selling success, spins off of their previous direct marketing business.
Let’s birth a guru and see the entire journey.
Twelve years ago, Bill was a fitness trainer. He wanted money, status, and recognition. As a fitness trainer, he wasn’t living his dream life. Bill reads a lot of personal development books and the sorts of business books you find at airport bookstores. His favorites are among the lineup mentioned earlier, but we’ll toss in 2007’s wildly popular The Four-Hour Workweek.
Bill heard about selling fitness info products online and how one could earn millions doing so. As a side project, he created an online business. He bought expensive online courses showing him how to create sales funnels and write marketing copy. He bought courses from:
- Frank Kern
- Dan Kennedy
- Jay Abraham
- Gary Halbert
- Ken McCarthy
Unlike 97% of people, Bill followed through and launched a little online business.4 Bill created and sold a health and fitness eBook for $37. And he also offered a monthly subscription newsletter for $77 per month.
At first, money trickled in. Bill felt bummed. The courses promised secrets for making millions. But he stuck with his online business. After a few months, Bill tried affiliate marketing on a platform called ClickBank. Here, he earned more money.
I’ll cover affiliate marketing in other posts, but here’s the gist in five steps:
Let’s say you bought Bill’s product.
1. You’re now on Bill’s customer list.
Since you’re a new buyer, you have a dollar value placed on your head. Like most affiliate marketers, Bill makes a living by squeezing as many dollars as possible from new customers. Most, if not all, of his business depends on the monetary worth of fresh customers. How fresh? On average, they are about fourteen days young. Bill leverages how much you are worth to other affiliates.
2. Bill sends you emails selling other offers related to the health product you purchased.
He claims the emails are from his friends or leaders or experts or renegades. He may personally know a handful of them. In reality, however, Bill is sending emails from affiliates that make him money. Those affiliates also affiliate market you. They all follow the same formula: Get an affiliate to email the offer. Get people to buy the offer. Hit fresh customers with other offers.
Bill says something like, “What I send you, I carefully check out. I want to help you on your weight loss journey in any way I can. They say those who invest in themselves find the greatest success. I’m sending you valuable content that I believe will help you live the life you deserve.”
Bill must legally say that platitude. While the words sound caring, he linguistically danced around how he stuffed you on a marketing list. Also, those words are common email marketing practice. Again, if you buy from his “friends,” they will say the same things to you.
3. Bill vets the offers he sends you one way—do they make him money? The product doesn’t matter to him. What matters is conversions. As in, if Bill sends offer X, will people buy offer X?
4. Remember how you and other new customers have a monetary worth on your head? Bill leverages that worth and makes kickback deals with certain affiliates.
If he’s smart, Bill uses his first seven-day customer value as his leveraging tool to affiliates. He also personally uses this value number to judge what his new customers are worth to him. Since he runs an affiliate model, his business’s financial health and most of his personal income depend on new customers buying other offers.
On one end, Bill fetches favorable commission deals from other affiliates. He negotiates for 90% or 100% commissions. For example, Bill emails to tell you how his “friend” found a Keto Diet secret that melts fat overnight. You click the link in the email, you watch a video, and you buy the product. The product costs $27. Depending on the deal, Bill profits 90%–100% of the $27.
Why so high? Bill makes a pitch to his affiliates explaining that his customers buy like crazy. To affiliates, that means Bill’s list generates enough new customers to justify a front-end loss. The affiliates then hit you with their email marketing to make money. Again, they sucker and play for a sucker, using the same game as Bill.
Sometimes, Bill works what’s called a CPA deal—cost per acquisition. As in, you buy, and he earns a guaranteed bounty of a certain dollar amount. Big player affiliates almost always offer $100 CPA deals.
Bill’s “friend” who offers a CPA deal is confident they will mint more money off of you than Bill can. How? Bill’s “friend” likely wields stronger sales letters and stronger marketing.
5. The emails Bill sends are often not written by Bill.
The emails were written by a professional. The emails are heavily tested. I don’t mean cute little A/B split-testing; I mean millions of bucks spent. The professional who wrote the emails is using psychological tactics to drive clicks. For instance, in your email inbox, those headlines that say, “Goodbye,” press on fear of missing something. Similarly, the headlines that say, “Where should I ship your book?” press on curiosity; we wonder if we bought something, or if we’re getting something for free.
Some of these tactics are from Nigerian Prince scams and phishing scams.5 The goal is to get clicks. The email’s message—long or short—is written with the intent of making you click. You’ll often find “last chance” themes: this plays on scarcity. You’ll also see emails with a testimonial or claim explaining how other people have found success: this plays on social proof and, for many, the “keeping up with the Joneses” inferiority complex. To Bill, a tested email is like using James Patterson to ghostwrite a 3rd grader’s creative fiction essay assignment. Bill knows certain emails earn cash.
An email list produces profit booty for Bill. And like all affiliate marketers, his business model depends on new customers buying affiliate offers. Around 93% of Bill’s customers are worthless to him after 30 days. The 7% worth anything after 30 days bought his subscription product. In general, and at best, subscribing customers stick around for a month and a half before they cancel.
After following this five-step model for two years, Bill earns enough money to quit his personal training job.
Bill is now a solopreneur. He quit the 9–5 and earns around $30,000 per year, mainly from affiliate marketing. He feels close to making it big, and in the next part, we see where Bill turns the corner.
Bill hasn’t yet reached guru status.
We are picking up our journey with Bill a year after he began selling online fitness products. Bill has just started earning enough income to quit his personal training job. His once side business and now full-time business of selling an eBook and a monthly newsletter earns Bill $30,000 a year. He sells his product through the online platform, Clickbank. He’s still affiliate marketing, which means that similar direct marketing businesses email Bill’s offer to their email lists. If the people on those lists buy, Bill earns a commission, but it’s only a fraction. Bill gives his affiliates 75% of the profits. Nevertheless, those who bought Bill’s offer are now on his email list. He then sends his growing email list offers from other affiliate marketers.
Bill makes money from commission deals like the one he offers affiliates or from a guaranteed bounty placed on each buyer’s head, like $100 per person CPA (Cost Per Acquisition). If you remember, Bill has bought into the Four-Hour Workweek, Tim Ferriss world. He’s buying courses from Frank Kern, Dan Kennedy, Jay Abraham, Tony Robbins, Gary Halbert, and Ken McCarthy. The popular courses teach readers how to make money online by writing converting copy, building sales funnels, and employing various self-help methods. Remember, the courses promise secrets and shortcuts to making millions of dollars.
Back to Bill…
As we saw, Bill didn’t blow past the money he earned as a personal trainer; he didn’t print money like the online courses promised. We saw how it took him time to earn enough money to quit his day job. But Bill deserves kudos. Barely anyone starting an online business makes it as far as he did.
During the next few years, Bill learns sales copy, sales funnels, email marketing, joins masterminds, and attends marketing events like Traffic and Conversion.6 As Bill develops his direct marketing skills, he also develops online direct marketing means. In particular, where we meet Bill, the previously uncharted affiliate email marketing territory has been discovered as a profit mine.
Before 2011, people still read their emails. In certain niches, someone like Bill could send an offer to his list and make $75,000—in one day. At that time, email affiliate marketing was like the movie Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, where Butch and Sundance went to Bolivia to rob banks because the money was easy. Email inboxes weren’t as crowded as they are now, so it was much easier to get clicks that sent people directly to a sales letter.
But Bill doesn’t have the list size to make $75,000 in a day just yet. He’d need one of at least 75,000 customers. He is, however, making decent money. After five years of chipping away, Bill’s earning $80,000 a year. Again, Bill deserves kudos. Getting here takes immense work.
Bill decides that he’s going to try, for his first time, a Video Sales Letter. This means that, basically, he will write a sales letter, put the text onto PowerPoint slides, and read the text aloud. The viewer will watch the slides and read the text while Bill narrates. He’s trying this because the Video Sales Letter concept went viral in the male dating market. (The market, to be blunt, sold men secrets on how to get laid. The niche exploded after Neil Strauss’s best-selling book, The Game, in 2005. The on-the-rise marketer Frank Kern partnered with Strauss to create, sell, and capitalize on the now wildly popular seduction niche. And it’s here where Frank Kern gained most of his expert credibility, or at least he capitalized on his success. Frank created an offer, leveraging Neil’s name, called The Annihilation Method.7 Frank combined his talent, his partnering with Neil Strauss, with timing and luck to create an offer grossing over one million dollars—a breakthrough gross amount in direct marketing at that time. Frank then immediately modeled the sales letter, its funnel, and the product, and turned it into his Mass Control marketing course—a wildly popular marketing course. Bill bought and loves Mass Control.8)
He is unsure if his offer will be a hit. At this point, like most online marketers, Bill does little if anything to make a good product. He follows the lessons taught in the courses, events, and masterminds: create the offer first, then make the product; sell them what they want and then give them what they need.
These products are almost always created from basic Google searches. You then take those basic findings and make them into an eBook. Or, if you have higher standards, go into a bookstore and find a popular selling book on the topic. Swipe the basics and use that as the product. In the world of weight loss, Google healthy recipes, copy the recipes, put them into a PDF form, and voila, you’ve got a health offer. Add basic bodyweight calisthenic workouts, and you’ve got your entire program. Bill’s sticking to that formula. And he’s doing the first step: create the offer, then create the product. He’s focused on his new female fat-loss offer, The Slim Switch.
The offer starts off with Bill telling a story about his obese sister and how her dark fat nearly killed her on a plane. She was flying to Disney World with her son when she suddenly collapsed, gasping for breath and writhing in pain. Bill’s sister had tried everything to lose weight, but nothing worked. Not even the doctor’s advice —who also warned her how her dark fat would suddenly strike her dead—helped. Bill, the loving, adoring, and caring brother, didn’t get it. He had helped millions of men lose weight, but nothing worked for his morbidly and could-suddenly-be-struck-dead-by-dark-fat sister. And when the dark fat nearly killed her on a plane in front of her child, something from the overhead compartment fell out and hit Bill on the head: a bottle of a rare herb he was researching.
Yet, by chance, this mystical herb happens to be found in everyday junk foods. Desperate, seeing his sister writhing and gagging, Bill made his sister eat the herb. It saved her life. But weirdly, in one month, she lost 98 lbs. Then Bill, our curious Bill, experimented more. He showed his sister a weird morning exercise trick that takes only ten seconds. You do it lying down. The trick is shown to flip on a woman’s fat-melting switch through an odd metabolism loophole that the government doesn’t want you to know about.
Bill’s sister used the trick and then ate whatever she wanted. And now . . . she’s a slim, envy-inducing, skinny, petite, and shapely one-hundred and one pounds. She not only lost four hundred and thirty-four pounds in a year, but she also turned back the clock on her age and saved her marriage, which subsequently blossomed into a fairytale romance. Best of all, she’s now a better mother, makes more money, and is living a life she knew she always deserved.
Bill, you should know, is an only child. Although he fabricated the story, he doesn’t consider that he lied. That fact that he lied flies over his head. And as much as I glibly badgered you with the above story, that’s a common copy formula. In my experience, some people in online marketing have no qualms about fabricating bullshit.
Bill, however, falls into another common camp. He has disconnected from the product because he sees himself as an entrepreneur. He’s bought into the ideas professed by insipid business books, how hustle and making money is the sole goal, that he now sees funnels and conversions as his business. He believes conversions and profits are what makes him valuable; he completely misses how he outright lies to customers. He’s bought deep into the idea: sell them what they want then give them what they need.
The sales letter is just a tool, a conversion tool serving a means to his desired income ends. And, again, those income ends, to Bill, determine his value. As in, if he makes one million dollars, he somehow provides more value to the world. This sales letter can finally be the stepping-stone for Bill to become a millionaire. He doesn’t think he’s doing anything wrong. He outright believes he’s like Steve Jobs creating an empire.
Bill launches the offer.
He does a standard product launch. He emails affiliates, they send it to their lists, and the offer does well. Bill is part of what’s called a health syndicate. These are all affiliate marketers in the health niche. They try to help each other out with launches. Traditionally, they used to help each other out by scheduling launches. They tried to make it so one person could launch at one specific time and the rest send for that particular launch with the goal that they can all profit from said launch. Lately though, that practice has subsided. The market got hip to it and tired of it. Now, affiliate marketers email profitable offers as much as they can. In Bill’s syndicate, a few send his new offer to their lists, and it cranks. Inside of a week, the word is out: Bill has a monster offer.
Bill goes from earning $80,000 per year to making that in one month. But most of that money isn’t made from the sales letter. Bill only gets 15%, or $12,000, of the sales letter—the monster offer. What the sales letter does is send thousands of “fresh” customers to Bill’s email list. Bill hammers his email list with top affiliate offers, where he earns 75% commission deals, or those $100 CPA deals I mentioned. And that’s how he makes up the rest of the $68,000 dollars. Still, an offer producing that much money, on average, means around 1,000 new customers per week. Bill’s hit offer deserves marketing respect.
Bill can’t believe it. Others inside the health niche call him an overnight success. Bill believes he is an overnight success. Affiliates clamor to send Bill’s offer to their list. Bill makes a few backdoor deals with other affiliates and goes for blood with his list.
Bill finally achieved financial success. He nets around $600,000 a year. In the health space, this means he does ok. He’s not at the top of the health game—but he does ok. Bill now believes he’s a guy who understands business. He starts thinking what a swell guy he is. He likes the newfound success and thinks the money will never stop.
Bill humblebrags about his success.
If we rewind a bit, before Bill hit a homerun, he paid hefty fees to join masterminds and attend events like Traffic and Conversion.
Let’s unpack a mastermind and see how they work in Bill’s world. A mastermind, at its root basics, is much like a Meetup group or a social club. A group of people who share similar interests meet and discuss those interests. Then we have paid masterminds. Here you pay a certain amount to join and discuss ideas.
In Bill’s world, paid masterminds are hip and serve as status symbols. This mastermind version traces back to Napoleon Hill. As I mentioned, Napoleon Hill’s famous book, Think and Grow Rich, is like a Bible in online marketing. Hill claimed that powerful men like Andrew Carnegie, Theodore Roosevelt, Thomas Edison, Charles Schwab, Alexander Graham Bell, and John Rockefeller hosted meetings with each other, or other successful men, and shared ideas. Hill said these men told him the power of these meetings and how those meetings subconsciously seeded ideas. And those ideas then sprouted into money and successful ventures.
Hill further claimed that these powerful men owe most of their success to those secret mastermind meetings. In reality, as evidence reveals, Hill never interviewed any of those men. He made up the claims. I’m sure Carnegie met other powerful magnates, likely over a dram of scotch at an exclusive social club. Hill may have heard about meetings, or perhaps he romantically idealized a group of powerful men chatting business—something completely ordinary and that any working person does, magnate or not.
Regardless, the mastermind idea is adored in Bill’s online marketing world. Like I said, they become a status symbol. Some masterminds cost $5,000 to join, some are $75,000, and some, even more. The basic framework: pay the fee. You’ll meet, generally, four times per year. The group is anywhere from twelve to twenty people. You get a vague warning that only the secrets can be shared within the group. Many promote what’s called a Hotseat. While I doubt the Hotseat idea is anything new, most direct marketers link the concept to a legendary copywriter, Gary Halbert. The idea: you get an hour on the clock, and you discuss your business problems. Then others grill you, help you, or give ideas. You then go out and apply those ideas. Some masterminds are hosted in exotic locations or five-star hotels and often end up as a night of partying and gossiping. They are often hosted by a famed guru or successful marketer. Bill, like the mastermind sales page that sold him, believes the best investment is in yourself. He figured, why not take that advice to the max and get ideas from like-minded hustlers? His new offer gives him some income that he quickly spends on joining some sexy masterminds. And he wears them like a diamond studded Rolex. He joins one costing $25,000, another for $15,000, and another for $18,000.
Bill loves the masterminds, especially now that his health offer is doing great. Bill tells anyone within earshot how outside ideas from like-minded hustlers made him a success.
Before you try understanding that platitude-logic, here’s another reality about paid masterminds and why people like Bill love them: paid masterminds, while great in concept, are mainly bragfests. They repeatedly involve one-upping, status posturing, joining as a status symbol, and universally, mental masturbation. The ideas discussed, if you could use them, would take months to implement. But most of the ideas are likely not suited to your business. Moreover, most of the ideas are based on possible future profits, and not what’s happening in your business now. And the advice is often pilfered from slavish business books or other masterminds. And, last, usually the advice spews from people who like hearing themselves talk; most brag advice hoping to impress the others sitting in the room. At best a paid mastermind delivers a placebo effect; at most you pay a lot of money to party and to be “busy.”
Bill’s mastermind and boasting fuels his unquestioned self-belief: He is now a savvy business maven.
For one year, Bill’s offer does great.
But, right around twelve months, the sales spiral downward. After sixteen months, his offer fizzles. He is frustrated that his offer died. The $80,000 per month plummeted to $5,000 per month and is still dwindling.
He’s further frustrated because he feels he missed out on some serious big-league money and big-league bragging rights. The bragging rights? An offer that converts cold traffic. Cold traffic refers to customers who’ve never seen or heard of the brand. For instance, when you scroll to the bottom of an article on a site like Huffington Post, you’ll see ads. Those ads use clickbait style headlines: Weird Veggie Burns Fat. You click on that link, and it takes you to a sales letter or sales funnel. If your ad can convert here, or generate enough front-end leads, you quickly scale sales and sales dollars.
In Bill’s world, a converting cold traffic offer not only cranks profits, but it also bestows massive bragging rights. Why? Converting cold traffic is like succeeding at a college sport and then crushing it in the pros. It also shows business acuity: cold traffic requires negotiation, knowing your numbers like calculus professor, and understanding traffic like an economist.
But those facts are lost on Bill. Bill is fueled more by positive thinking. He doesn’t realize cold traffic is a mix of copy, economics, business trends, and shrewd negotiation Bill, again, is like a successful college football player who can’t cut it in the pros. This puzzles Bill, because he believes that with enough hustle and determination, he can make the pros. But he doesn’t. He misses the fact that he lacks the talent, experience, and game intelligence. When Bill does run his ads on cold traffic, he takes an utter financial bath (a truth he tells no one). He doesn’t understand the numbers. He thought his conversion rate from affiliates would travel, but that and his “Zig Ziglar” selling methods fall flat against media buyers—who are cutthroat negotiators. Despite his hustle mentality, Bill stops trying cold traffic and brushes it off with the common cliché said in his circles: “The customers aren’t nearly as good as those on my list,” even though Bill is churning through his customers at an alarming rate (another reality he is blind to). Bill, still, is bummed because he knows and is aware how much money cold traffic can deliver and what status it would give him.
After twenty months, Bill’s offer trickles money. Less than one thousand dollars a month.
Bill is shocked.
As smart as he fancies himself to be, he thought the money would never stop. He wants to get back on top. To do so, he follows standard advice. He turns to his masterminds. There, people brag about theories that will help Bill improve his sales letter. He tries the advice out. The advice works yet only for a month. The offer flounders. Bill decides to test tactics he learned at Traffic and Conversion. He tries sending emails at 6 a.m. instead of 7 a.m. He tries creating complex email sequences based on clicks, opens, opens but no clicks, clicks but didn’t buy, and so on. He tries the popular “make the sales page look ugly” lesson. He changes the color of the buy buttons. He changes the color on the page. He gets his sales copy critiqued by respected copywriters and then tests their recommendations. Some advice works, but most wears off after a few weeks. Then Bill’s offer nosedives.
What Bill fails to understand—like most people selling info products—is that he turned his business into what I call a “Scratch Ticket Business Model.”
Let me unpack what I mean by Scratch Ticket Business Model. Playing scratch tickets requires very little skill. You buy a scratch ticket, scratch the boxes with a dime or quarter, and see if you win or lose. Most scratch tickets don’t pay out a ton of money; only a handful pay out a big cash prize. Often, the biggest cash prizes are not like a standard lottery ticket that pays in the millions. If a standard lottery ticket winner were smart, the winner could get a budget and live off of the dividends comfortably for the rest of their life. Yet most lottery winners take the cash in full and end up broke inside of two years.
Anyway, scratch tickets offer small, rare wins. The big wins often don’t create enough sustainable cash. So, you go back to playing again. Playing scratch tickets is extremely short term. If you’re depending on scratch tickets for income, you must pay and play a lot to increase your chances, chances which never increase. Some people think there is a skill to scratch tickets. They ignore basic economics, basic critical thinking, and lean toward odd superstitions. For our sake though, Bill does gain some skill. He knows copy, he knows marketing funnels, and he knows conversions. So, it’d be like gaining a little advantage on a scratch ticket. That advantage might be like having one or two boxes open, which gives a little more probability that you may win.
Similarly, stronger copy gives you a better chance at making sales than weak copy. But winning ads or funnels isn’t always a guarantee. Similarly, if you’re product isn’t strong enough, most people aren’t going to come back. Plus, if you’re like Bill, and you immediately send your customers to a similar offer, your cash is short-lived. That customer is gone. You churn through your customers. Since you send customers elsewhere, and the product lacks strength, you must keep converting new people.
To increase your chances, you must spend more on your marketing; you must buy more scratch tickets. So you keep playing and playing. The money that comes in is short-lived and must go right back into playing. You keep investing, buying scratch tickets, and playing the odds that your ad will work. But you keep ignoring how it costs five times as much on average to acquire new customers than it does to keep existing customers. Sure, you can say your email list is your customer list, but in affiliate marketing, as of 2018, customers who are fourteen days or older are nearly worthless.
Bill sends his customers other offers hoping to extract as much money as he can. Like scratch tickets, he keeps paying to get fast bucks, then those dollars are in turn spent again on more tickets. Every once in a while, you get a big hit, but another big hit is still unlikely. The focus is on immediate short-term dollars. Get profits fast. Spend again to get more fast profits. You keep playing scratch tickets—you invest in your ad. You scratch the ticket, and you hope the ad works. Then you immediately scratch more tickets and hope you make fast bucks. Maybe you get lucky once or twice, but if you’re still sending customers to other offers, they are gone. You don’t have a quality product to stand on; you don’t have a business to stand on. You just keep playing scratch tickets, hoping for that next big hit.
Instead of creating a long runway based on selling and teaching solid health information, Bill went after fast bucks. His sales letters, the ones he thinks are cool, use tactics resembling those of a 1970’s used car salesman. They play hard on scarcity tactics: the car won’t be here tomorrow at this price. Press on vanity: this car suits you, you’ll be the talk of the town. And the pandering brain-dead attempts at “Yes Ladders.” A Yes Ladder: you try to get the person to make small agreements: I see you’re looking at cars here on the lot today, right? The idea is that you get them saying yes enough, and they can’t refuse to buy.
Bill targeted people wanting quick fixes because most online copywriting courses claim that people want quick fixes; most online copywriting courses that sell “how to make money online”—like the courses Bill bought—sell to people wanting quick fixes. But quick fix customers keep chasing other quick fixes—which means they leave. In other words, Bill used quick fixes to get rich while targeting people who wanted quick fixes.
Does that sound like a sustainable business model?
Bill’s model also depends on affiliates, and he needs a hit sales letter to make money. He never thought about improving customer experience, research and development, or customer results.
What about Bill’s email list? A highly coveted asset for any business, right?
An email list, however, is only an asset to a business providing real value. Affiliate marketing lists depend solely on fresh customers, and most affiliate marketers miss the fact that customers turn worthless to them after fourteen days. This means that Bill has to find new customers on a regular basis to keep his business alive. But generating new customers depends entirely on commanding a hit offer. To stay profitable, Bill’s business demands winning offer after winning offer.
Writing a hit offer is tough. It’s like beating the house at Vegas. Bill won a big scratch ticket. Sure, some skill was involved, but scratch tickets are chance. For most top—and I mean TOP copywriters—one hit offer out of every ten is an incredible feat. By hit offer, I mean one grossing seven to eight figures or more in a year. Also keep in mind that most offers generating that kind of income are fueled by deep advertising budgets. How deep? At least six to seven figures per month. If the offer isn’t backed by that budget and it makes seven figures, that’s luck. Like the kind of luck it’d take blindfolding yourself and crushing a homerun off of a 101-mph fastball. But Bill thinks he knows business. He believes he’ll create one hit offer after another.
Bill starts a new offer from scratch. He’s convinced it’ll be mega awesome. The offer launches… and FLOPS worse than Fast and Furious 3.
Bill creates another offer. The new offer performs just okay, like winning a smaller scratch ticket for a few grand.
Bill is stuck.
He made it, once. People looked up to him. He combined hustle, talent, and skill and had a big offer. Now, his new offers do very little. He isn’t making nearly as much income as he did with Slim Switch. He can’t afford the penthouse suites in Las Vegas. He is also nervous about paying the mortgage on his massive new house; a house he bought as an investment in himself.
He looks for answers, so he turns to his roots—he goes back to marketing conferences like Traffic and Conversion, Yanik Silver’s Underground, Clickfunnels, and more. Each promise to teach you top marketing tactics. Traffic and Conversion, run by Ryan Deiss and Perry Belcher, throw a heap of tactics and motivational speeches at you. The tactics taught are the ones that Digital Marketer, a company owned by Deiss, use. They then show you what worked for them and what didn’t. What Bill and many other attendees miss is how these events are often pure cattle calls. They show you tactics, but if you want more tactics, go to the back of the room, and get sold something.
Those who do race to the back of the room to get sold are often viewed as “Hustlers.” For those scrambling to get the early bird sign-up discount, it’s like buying a shiny new Rolex in front of a lot of vain people—it’s status posturing. The “guest speakers” who teach their tactics are, again, selling from the stage. What’s even more painfully odd is that thousands of “Bills” go to Traffic and Conversion.
Most of the affiliate offers Bill sends to, and those affiliates who send to him, all use the exact same methods. Then those methods run dry, and they go back to the feet of Ryan Deiss and Perry Belcher and get more methods. If they want to “level up,” they can join Ryan’s mastermind or other masterminds sold at the event. And often, you get more half-baked plans. Also, other events leech onto the bigger events. There’ll be “exclusive parties” or someone saying they got a spot at a nightclub. This is supposed to be for “networking,” but it’s more like rush week.
Bill attends the name dropping, status boasting parties surrounding Traffic and Conversion. Parties like the Internet Marketing Party.9 At these events, he hears how the health niche is suffering. He is worried. He also notices how he lost the star status he enjoyed before. That he does not like.
Bill attends Russell Brunson’s ClickFunnel event.10 Russell speaks on stage and shows—for the umpteenth time—the Expert Funnel. Russell shows—for the umpteenth time—the income numbers making everyone horny. What numbers? Numbers explaining how you can have ten customers—or followers or a tribe or a cult or whatever hip word is tossed out—each pay you $25,000 a month. People see the numbers as science, but the figures are completely made up. The fictional numbers show how one person is willing to pay you one million smackaroos.
Why pay you so much? This is often a vague answer that ego fills in, or Russell shrewdly fuels your ego. Fueled with tidbits like “people will pay you for your passion, your experience.” Or “people pay you for your valuable content.” Or “you made money selling health, or whatever, but you can now show people how to make money online.” And yes, there are paying customers, but those paying customers tend to be those tied to or lurching around Bill’s online marketing world. Barely anyone commands a one million dollar product, with the exception of Tony Robbins or Gary Vaynerchuk. If someone is paying Tony or Gary that amount, it’s a vanity buy. You can work a deal with Russell, but it’s like a reverse Venture Capital deal. You pay Russell a ton, he uses his resources to scale your sales, then he takes large percentage of gross profit.
In an Expert Funnel, on average, the person leaves their current niche and then sells “how to make money online.” You turn yourself into the person who hosts masterminds and hires a marketing agency to write a book for you. You sell “how to make money online courses” and courses about discipline or positive thinking. This means that instead of selling thousands of $37 eBooks, you can sell “high-ticket” events for thousands of bucks. And therefore, the theory claims again, find someone willing to pay you one million dollars. Or at the least, find thousands of “high-ticket” paying customers adding up to one million dollars.
Bill likes this. Remember, Bill fancies himself a cutting-edge entrepreneur.
Bill then goes to his next mastermind. He announces, “I’m going into the guru business.” A common mastermind announcement. He means he’s going to run an Expert Funnel. Briefly, the Expert Funnel works just like Bill’s health funnel. But instead of health, Bill now leeches onto business. The products are higher priced. The $37 eBook becomes a $197 eBook selling “how to write copy” or “habits of millionaires.” Bill initially created health products from Google searches or going into a bookstore; he now creates business products in the same exact way.
Bill takes ideas from the people I mentioned in the first post or popular generic business books with titles like Overdeliver. Or he heard how Toyota uses Kaizen, so he says Kaizen. If he sells consulting—something he’s never done to an actual business—he’ll take most of the ideas he learned from a Frank Kern course. He morphs these into a product, but he believes the ideas are novel. He might create a higher priced $997 physical product: the eBook sent in a binder with some DVDs or online access to Bill teaching something. Then, from there, he can sell a mastermind group or one-on one-coaching that he calls consulting.
He may even hire a publishing agency like LionCrest, and they’ll ghostwrite, promote and give guidance on his book (this is extremely common now). They’ll even work a few tricks that barely allow Bill to claim, “My book is a best seller.” Bill’s book is just like others who use this plan, a book jammed with generic clichés and platitudes taken from popular people like Jocko Willnick or Ray Dalio’s Platitudes… I mean Principles. Anyway, Bill is stoked to move into the guru business. The masterminds praise Bill’s move from health to becoming a guru.
Bill hears the basic suggestions from the mastermind:
- Write a book—hire a ghostwriter who writes a motivational-themed book loosely tied to your business. Or hire an agency to do it.
- Get some speaking lessons—learn how to speak and sell from the stage.
- Host a mastermind—just like the group Bill is in, he can sell his mastermind. People can pay to meet Bill four times and learn from him and other like-minded hustlers.
- Teach success—work as an income coach, marketing coach, or lifestyle coach.
- Buy your credentials—buy credentials, or even buy your way onto a “best-selling” book list.*
* You can use companies like Speak at Dubai or Speak at Harvard. You don’t speak, you just pay thousands to get some highlight reels and ways to legally say you spoke in Dubai or Harvard. Or you get plugged on a Fox News Station in a small market, say, a small town in Indiana. In reality, it’s like saying you got into Yale—but Lori Loughlin and Richard Singer helped you.
Bill creates his Expert Funnel. He does the basics. He hires a small marketing and publishing agency to ghostwrite a book. He sells an expensive course teaching discipline and funnels. He offers a membership course where he teaches copy. He sells a mastermind. He sells a few small events—A Day with Bill. There you can pay Bill $5,000, plus your flight and hotel, and fly in to hear Bill talk goals, manifestation, and discipline. There Bill sells you his mastermind. Bill isn’t yet ready for big events; he must first learn to speak and sell from the stage.
Bill is fired up after his masterminds. He disdainfully sees his health business as dead. He further sees his customers—the ones he burned anyways—as not like him. They aren’t hustlers; they aren’t “valuable people” because they don’t earn millions of dollars. Bill loves seeing himself as the next Jeff Bezos. He can’t wait to coach people like him, not the dregs who struggle losing weight—this is how Bill now thinks. He doubles down on himself and starts setting up his Expert Funnel on ClickFunnels.
After his mastermind in Tulum, Mexico, he flies home and immediately gets cranking on his next move. That’s where we’ll meet Bill next.
Bill is spinning off into the guru business.
The guru business? Think Tim Ferriss, Tony Robbins, or Lewis Howes. Bill’s spinning off from his online health information product business; the business where he sold an eBook and then affiliate marketed his list. If you remember, Bill had a hit offer; then the offer foundered. We find him now shifting gears and entering the guru business. Again, this is a common path for many people who sell success. Let’s see where Bill’s at.
Just like when he began in the health niche, he first struggles with the Expert Funnel. He expected he’d print money; instead the offer costs him money.
Bill’s new guru venture sells mindset. He names the program Billionaire Mindset. He writes a book called Uncompromising. Well, the ghostwriter did. The book content? Much of the same the ingredients I mentioned previously: Og Mandino, Stephen Covey, and Napoleon Hill—sprinkled with a few Steve Jobs quotes.
Bill also changes his entire social media feed. He posts motivational quotes, videos, and pictures of himself on Instagram. He executes basic self-branding tactics, like using hashtags with the hope of gaining followers. His posts feature standard guru themed clichés: hustle, determination, facing a personal “challenge,” morning routines, and pictures of him with other hustlers.
Let’s unmask an Expert Funnel.
Bill, likely, hired a company to help ghostwrite his book. Certain Publishing Agencies offer what’s called a “Book in a Box.” The agency employees a number of ghostwriters who will either write the book for the author, or if the guru writes it, they hold the guru’s hand. You, me, anyone can reach out to an agency and pick a package. Here are a few such agencies:
- Advantage Publishing. They hook you up with Forbes Magazine.
- Lioncrest Publishing. They provide hookups to The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times.
- BenBella Publishing/Scribe Publishing. You get self-publishing legend Tucker Max’s far reach. Tucker wrote and self-published I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell. He opened the door to self-publishing and bucked the massive publishing agency.11
But you don’t just pay for someone to help you write a book. The book is either used as a PR puff piece or a marketing tool for someone like Bill. Let’s look at how Bill uses this style of publishing service.
When Bill buys a book package, the publishing agency doesn’t work like a traditional agency like Penguin. As in—you won’t get rejected. The agency, more or less, aims to boost the guru’s credibility. Or in reality, create a guru from thin air.
Here’s how it’s done.
Bill hires the publishing agency. Bill picks the package where someone ghostwrites the book for him. The ghostwriter slaps together Bill’s motivational message throughout the book. The book also markets Bill’s other courses or masterminds. The ghostwriter follows a blueprint formula using the publishing agency’s template for motivational books. Basically, the book is a mash-up of trite advice (from former gurus) and trending health tips — like “wake up at 4 a.m., “use meditation” or “follow the Keto Diet.”
Since Bill paid for a premium package, the agency will acquire popular testimonials for the cover. For example, Bill may have Ryan Holiday, Tim Ferriss or Lewis Howes tout the book.
Bill really wants credibility; in fact he requires it. Why? Since Bill affiliate marketed and his health product was shoddy, Google Metrics knows Bill really isn’t a health expert. They know that he basically runs a funnel, which means that he never delivered great health advice. Bill just marketed stuff. Google, rightly so, downgrades people who just use funnels or affiliate marketing. Even credit card companies, like MasterCard, penalize info-marketers like Bill. Why? Their marketing practices are shoddy, and their products are often utter shit.
Bill is hip to his bad rating. He must climb out of that hole. Here’s the thing: Google likes authors. Authors check boxes with Google Metrics. Furthermore, Google boosts that score when the book is sold on Amazon. If that book not only has quips from popular authors but also five-star reviews, Google really likes that. Google likes it even better when that book is a best-seller somewhere. While Amazon cracked down a bit with agencies hacking the best-seller list, you can still buy it.
The agency knows all this; Bill knows all this. He learned it at a mastermind. He talked to one of these agencies at an Internet Marketing event. Unlike an author hoping to get published, these agencies sell the “expert.” They’ll call it “Expert in a Box or Coaching Practice in a Box.”
Next, the agency will do its best to cheat all the metrics and get a best seller. They practically guarantee it. They do this so Bill can market “best-selling author” and later put on the cover “used by 150,000 people” or something to that effect. Bill uses the best-seller label to get on shows, boost sales at events, and up his credibility.
One simple trick the agency and Bill use involves getting five-star reviews. This trick is used to get around Amazon laws and gain credibility both with Google and marketing. Amazon tries to stop this practice, but just like police try to stop pickpockets, the pickpockets evolve their method.
On Bill’s end, he sends a survey to his email list asking who is interested in success. Those who raise their hand saying “yes” get put onto a new list. Bill then mentions his new book to that list, yet with one condition. Bill offers a free bonus to people who buy the book on Amazon and then give the book a five-star review. Bill also asks people in his mastermind and other close affiliates to write reviews. Bill may go as far as hiring people to write the reviews. They buy the book, and Bill pays them back. Soon you see a book with 105 perfect reviews. Think of it: not even a great like Robert Caro garners such perfect reviews.
On the agency’s end, they may quietly hire people to review Bill’s book. Lately, this tactic is used less because if caught, Amazon permanently bans the agency. Instead, they often lean more on Bill for the reviews. Bill hits his email list. Bill also works affiliate deals with other gurus. They send Bill’s book offering the same deal, get it, give a five-star review, and get a free bonus (what’s not disclosed is the affiliate – the person pushing Bill’s book — earns a CPA commission).
I cover this more in-depth in other posts, but here are a few questions you can ask to determine if a success book is written in this style:
- Does the book lack an index?
- Does it show perfect Amazon reviews?
- Does it offer bonus content?
- The biggest tell: has the guru ever sold the book for free (plus shipping)?
And there you have Bill’s book: Uncompromising.
Let’s complete the funnel.
Bill sells a high-ticket course.
The cost is $997. Often all you get is a binder filled with the same clichéd advice as Bill’s book: set goals, wake up at 4 a.m., eat healthy, hit your goals, eliminate toxic friends, etc. Again, this is nothing new, and it’s nothing Warren Buffet ever followed.
A binder? Yep. Why a binder? When Bill sends a physical product, he follows this dogmatic advice: Send a big item in the mail. Just a simple plastic binder? Yep. The bigger it is, the more likely the customer thinks the course delivers high value. Where does this advice originate?
Where does this advice originate? In a mastermind. Someone in the mastermind will say, “What sells for nine bucks at a bookstore can be put in a binder and sell for $997.”
Bill creates the binder, Billionaire Mindset. He sells it to the list.
But . . . not many people on Bill’s list buy Billionaire Mindset.
Bill is bummed. He goes to the next mastermind. He hears that the term “billionaire” is not as believable. But people like the name Uncompromising.
Bill repackages the offer. He hires a top writer who crafts a better sales funnel.
Let’s pause for a moment.
Success gurus spin wild tales of success. They stand on stage and deliver stirring tales of how they attained success. On social media, they deliver videos speaking about how they earned their millions.
Many gurus narrate how they conquered obstacles—how they overcame parents, anxiety, introversion, social conditioning, being an outcast in school, business failures, 9–5 jobs, people not believing in them—all that stuff. The stuff a professional like me creates.
How? A pro swipes the Hero’s Journey blueprint and then forces, stretches, and mashes an expert’s background into the journey steps.
Here’s how top copywriters create Bill.
The Hero’s Journey tells a story structure we all love. Joseph Campbell made it known and famous. Movies like Star Wars, books like Harry Potter, and even comedies like Anchorman follow the Hero’s Journey steps.
Let’s take Bill and mash him into the Hero’s Journey. Here’s a common template copywriters follow:
- Target Audience = Create A Meaningful Emotional Effect
- Incite curiosity. Use a pattern interrupt. In short, add something startling or shocking that incites curiosity.
- Example A. You’re watching the show Shark Tank; someone comes out dressed in a costume and then rips the costume off. This is an attempt at inciting curiosity.
- Example B. Creator of Wake Up Warrior, Garrett White, stands quietly on stage for about a minute. He says no words, he looks around, he lets a blanket of silence cover the room and then he begins. Since most speakers walk on stage speaking, Garrett raises tension by disrupting standard expectations. This disruption incites curiosity.
- Example C. Tony Robbins’s team pumps the crowd before he gets on stage. This is an old P.T. Barnum trick. Tony’s team rouses the crowd and heightens emotions; nervous people join in because others are doing it. Tony is raising tension in the room—this opens people up to his message.
- Example D. “Hi. My name is Josh, and this is a Goldfish. And this Goldfish will get you laid.” Those words opened a video sales letter selling the Tao of Badass. Tao of Badass, for a short period, was a top-selling dating eBook online. Other variations like that opening exist exist. Current versions use conspiracy theories or those odd-looking pictures and headlines you see at the bottom of a Huffington Post article.
The tactic, whichever way you do it, tries to seed suggestibility, seed a willingness to buy, in the target market.
2. Subject Matter = Balance
Create a setting, find common core values, and match them to the target audience.
Find the language used by the target audience.
- Research demographics and similar psychological challenges these people face. For example, maybe the audience complains about money, not losing weight, hating working for someone else, etc.
- Take the research and map out a Hero’s Journey related to the audience.
- Aim to trigger, “Hey that sounds like me!” But toss in one twist—make the guru’s previous situation a real nightmare. Do this to overcome objections like “this teaching looks too challenging.”
- Look at the most self-critical person and craft stories that don’t allow them to say, “This won’t work for me.”
- Create a saga about how the expert lived a nightmare. If they didn’t live a nightmare—and most haven’t because most come from upper middle class or wealthy families—spin something like “anxiety” or “not being popular at school” into sounding like the expert faced something worse than cancer, AIDS, and torture.
- Create a saga about how the expert lived a nightmare. If they didn’t live a nightmare—and most haven’t because most come from upper middle class or wealthy families—spin something like “anxiety” or “not being popular at school” into sounding like the expert faced something worse than cancer, AIDS, and torture.
3. Inciting Incident = Imbalance
Throw the guru’s life into hell.
Use cold reading tactics and exaggerate how bad it got.
- A common point: make it sound like everyone told the expert they would fail.
4. Object of Desire = Unfulfilled Need
Tap into the common story: when someone’s life gets knocked off balance, human nature grabs the steering wheel and attempts to regain control. A new object of desire pops up. Basically, we all inevitably face loss in life. We lose jobs, breakups happen, unwieldy spending habits create enormous debt. Often, depending where we are in our life, both in maturity and self-awareness, we handle this knock from balance in various ways. When we’re younger, for instance, we handle a breakup by immediately going on the rebound; we date the polar opposite from our last partner, and sometimes we slide into a titillating yet terrible relationship. We do this because we quickly try to gain control of our love life. What often manifests from this attempt at control, we end up in other tricky situations. We might go bankrupt and then try some get-rich quick schemes, which only worsen our financial situation. We constantly clutch at frayed strings, and we never hang on.12
Create or fabricate getting fired, going bankrupt, spouse leaving, and mash the expert’s life into it.
5. First Action = Tactical Choice
Throw the expert into a series of choices. Pour salt on human wounds.
Use three distinct subtext ingredients: (1) common objections, (2) common choices, and (3) common experiences. Find all three using your market research.
- Any common objections you learned: toss them into the story.
- Any common choices the target market makes or may make: toss that into the story.
6. The First Reaction = The Violation of Expectation
Explain how the guru reached a goal, but something unexpected destroyed the goal.
Show the audience that what they believe will work for them will likely fail.
- If you don’t have any evidence or data, spin a conspiracy story or use stretch numbers.
- Make sure the guru sounds relatable here.
7.The Crisis of Choice = Insight
Make it look like the guru is about to give up.
- Exhaust all choices but throw in a final twist: an odd stumble into luck, one last shot at something crazy despite others telling them not too, or an “A-ha!” moment.
- Make it look like the guru had an instant turnaround because he discovered a strange or renegade secret.
- For example, here’s common one found in email marketing: I was down to my last $100 and living in my mom’s basement, but this one secret turned it all around.
8. Climactic Reaction = Closure
Answer all questions.
- Show how the guru saves their targeted audience from bad decisions using success shortcuts. Most sales letters get cloudy here. Often, the copywriter will begin hammering the page or video with testimonials or wild-eyed hyperbole. The testimonials are often coached, coaxed, or sometimes made up. For instance, some copywriters will ask other copywriters to write a testimonial. Other times, you see other “experts” – generally other marketers inside the same niche – boast about the products merits; the expert just merely ok’d their picture being used and likely got an affiliate deal. In the weight-loss niche, many marketers plagiarize – except for a few word changes – testimonials from Weight Watchers. The sure sign, the testimonial will say how the person used a common solution, and nothing worked, but then after using this offer, their life changed. In other words what you see (what they spin) lightly holds onto the truth—and frequently not. This story is nothing new. Many swipe bits from other gurus, almost like a comedian steals jokes. The saddest fact is that some experts delude themselves into believing their fairytale actually happened.
For instance, Jason Capital constantly mutates his why college was pointless story.13 In a recent version, he says that by age 20, he had been to four colleges in four years and still didn’t find success. I guess that means that Jason started college at age sixteen. That story goes against his previous marketing stories. And the current version differs from when he sold an online basketball training program under his real name, Alex Maroko.1415 Why the change? Jason’s smart. He’s using a renegade whiz kid story that his audience finds badass. He’s connecting with people, primarily men, who desire power, respect, wealth, and status. He knows his audience. He’s targeting his audience with a carefully matched story they like.
Now you understand the role that copywriters play in an expert funnel.
Back to Bill.
Let’s fast-forward two years.
Bill has found his guru groove by selling from the stage. He is now a success coach. He posts platitudes on Instagram where people respond “100!” He sells “how you can make riches online.” He sells high-ticket masterminds. Bill’s business model follows the same steps he used with his health product, but he uses additional funnel steps and sells higher priced items. Furthermore, he has shifted into a more profitable market—a market willing to buy “how to get their pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.”
Bill grosses a hair over a million dollars a year and nets close to $700,000. Due to his pretax gross and pre-paying out his employees and affiliate bills, Bill boasts he’s a self-made millionaire. Remember, Bill makes his money online by selling “how to make money online.”
Let’s recap Bill’s journey:
- He got into Online Direct Marketing by selling cheap eBooks.
- He made most of his money with email affiliate marketing.
- He cracks one hit offer after a few years of scraping away; it’s not a grand slam offer—just a third inning home run in the third game of the season.
- His hit offer performs well for about a year.
- His offer starts failing.
- He tries writing other offers, but his next best offer hits a double.
- He wants out of health, and he can’t go any further because he’s not a bonafide health expert. As in, he’s not a trained biologist or nutritionist. At best, he is a certified trainer.
- He ties his character, self-esteem, and personal identity to recognized external success.
- He shifts from health to the guru business.
- He uses the Expert Funnel, which, as I hope you now see, possesses minor differences from his health funnel.
In sum and as I referred to earlier, Bill jumped into the Scratch Ticket Business Model. This model corners a big portion of online marketing. We saw how the model worked for Bill; you need a hit add and people constantly buying. The products are suboptimal, and only 3% of the people ever use the product. The model doesn’t depend on customer results; it depends on customers buying everything under the sun.
Bill chained his method for earning money to hit sales letters and affiliate deals. But he switched to the guru model. This must be better, right? Bill is shortsighted. Most expert funnels work the same way as his previous health funnel. Only, expert funnels provide more stability based on higher priced items.
Since Bill found talent selling from the stage, he’ll sample better income stability. Yet he must keep selling success. He must continue speaking and selling his products from stages. Eventually, this model, like his hit ad, burns out. Why? People and customers tire of hearing the same platitudes over and over. Many also spend a ton of money, don’t get anywhere despite the guarantees, and move on. Also, Bill’s “guest speakers” often sell their version of “how to get your pot of gold.” When someone buys one of their programs, guru Groundhog Day cycles once again:
- Sell motivational books for free (plus shipping).
- Teach high-cost courses about how to be successful.
- Host a high-ticket event.
- Sell an expensive mastermind at the event.
- Feature guest speakers who also pitch success.
- Sell one-on-one coaching to “those who consider themselves serious entrepreneurs.”
And once those followers leave and follow another guru into their Groundhog Day, Bill likely never sees them again. Once this happens, he transitions into high-end consulting like Frank Kern or Joe Polish. Or he’ll sell big networking party events—basically people pay thousands of dollars to party with other online marketers, most of whom, by this time, you would already know.
Next, we’ll unpack the lessons you learn from one of those events, or from someone like Bill.
Remember, we watched our self-proclaimed influencer, life-coach, success coach, income coach hustling coach, biz wiz Bill find mild success by teaching fellow passion-chasers how to quit the 9–5, exit the rat race, and become an entrepreneur.
We saw how Bill sells his “make money online” scheme. We watched him fall from a self-proclaimed fitness expert into dire financial straits and then slither back to “success” by entering the guru business. We peeled back the curtain behind how most motivational or self-proclaimed gurus sell their secrets and become “success experts.”
But what do Bill or any success guru tangibly teach? What about the lessons?
Bookshelves, online ads, “influencers,” “entrepreneurs,” “coffee with” groups, “riding in cars with” groups, podcasts, TEDx talks, and countless other mediums offer a massive buffet of level-up-your-life-lessons. We can pick Tony Robbins, Lewis Howes, or a mash-up of business, discipline, health, or even a hip Ayahuasca journey with entrepreneurs. We can fork over not just hundreds, not just thousands, not just hundreds of thousands, but in some instances, millions of dollars on “mentors.” Some mentors boast that they spent hundreds of thousands on coaching and wear that claim as a badge of honor. They then sell you the same vogue cliché saying they believe “the best investment is in yourself” or the now hip: Do. The. Work.
Ok, but what is “the work”? In other words, what are the lessons behind the huge paywalls? What is behind the advice people spend those small to large fortunes on? In some instances, people pay Tony Robbins $85,000 for a one-year membership to his Platinum Group, which costs $37,926 more than a year of tuition at Harvard University. Certain thought-leaders say college is a waste of time and money because it’s too expensive, and you don’t learn anything. Then they sell you on their mastermind—after you likely have already spent a few thousand bucks with the guru on courses, newsletters, and one-day events that on average can cost anywhere from $15,000 to over $50,000 or more. So yes, you can pay a guru around $37,926 more than a year at Harvard. You meet that guru around four times per year in a room with other people and share “secrets.” Jeff Bezos chose Princeton; Bill chose masterminds. Bill sells his mastermind and also teaches people that college is a waste of time and then quotes his idol, Jeff Bezos. Oh, and Bill boldly teaches you to emulate Jeff Bezos. What exactly are the lessons? What makes the guru even qualified to teach the lessons and charge more than many elite college tuitions? I think the answer lies not in the lessons, but rather the emotional ingredients packed into certain gurus.
Like Bill, most gurus who sell success, or pots of gold, originated from Direct Marketing Models. Most of them tasted mild success using that model. Now they find their current success in selling the same pots of gold they desired.
Let’s look at how gurus define success. They use standard guruese to define success.
- Success is what you make of it.
- Financial freedom.
- Dominating your life.
- Obsession is the key to excellence.
- Shoot for $10 million not $1 million.
- Develop multiple streams of income.
- Do what others won’t, and you’ll have what others don’t.
- Business is about solving people’s problems for a profit.
- Average is the enemy.
- Suffer for the outcome.
- The only competition is you.
The sayings motivate, but they’re just sayings. I find nothing wrong with using a maxim to deliver pep to the day. But as far as finding professional and personal success, I’m not seeing concrete answers.
Most gurus define success as a mindset that levels up your life so that you dominate your way to success using income making secrets while also inspiring others. Again, this definition is completely abstract. When you unpack their definition, you see a self-absorbed mindset chasing down external outcomes at all costs. And the vague mindset harmonizes with narratives about being an entrepreneur warrior. But what are they conquering exactly?
The guru yardstick that measures success isn’t innate character; rather it’s financial rewards. And then those financial rewards reap external rewards. The rewards entail status, recognition, and wealth. The wealth amount is never defined, yet it’s always in the millions.
You also find personal mirages comprised of power, perfect love life, respect, influence, and autonomy tied to these rewards. For instance, certain gurus will post certain commonly used phrases:
- I’m going to tell you some cold truth that you might not like. It’s impossible to be unhappy when you’re rich.
- Money buys you happiness, freedom, and autonomy.
- The people around you lie to you by telling you to save or go to college. But college puts you into debt to get a piece of worthless paper. Smart people go into debt to buy speed and scale their businesses.16
- Smart people invest in themselves for the greatest ROI.
- You can’t have a seven-figure income on a five-figure lifestyle.17
- Rich people don’t watch the news. Rich people make the news.
And then a guru links, while not explicitly claiming, how that wealth then creates other popular outcomes many want, like finding stronger relationships or an incredible sex-life, owning more freedom, having a bigger house, traveling more, or having more friends. Basically, the gurus project their wants—often abstract and subjective—into what they believe enormous wealth bestows. And the mirage depends entirely on valorizing a personal narrative about making millions.
As you see, it’s circular logic. Even as I try to unpack their definition of success, it’s confusing. Yes, the maxims and words sound great in a speech. But when you try getting concrete definitions, you end up with holding nothing. Anyone can say, “Develop multiple income streams.” Anyone can say, “Suffer for the outcome.” The only concrete thing you hear are gurus imposing their abstract beliefs of success. And their beliefs are always tied to being rich and being recognized.
All that chasing, all that hustle boasting, all that discipline pandering—is just compensating. Gurus and many of their believers are chasing mirages because of their own deep-rooted insecurities and inferiority complexes. As in, someone like Bill felt inferior about something, and now he wants to feel superior.
People who sell success and those who attend the events are pursuing superiority to compensate for insecurities. Look at the lessons:
- Superior at making money.
- Superior in lifestyle—like health, wellness, and discipline.
- Superior in autonomy.
- Superior at being an entrepreneur.
The fact is, fueling your desires for superiority leads to becoming unhappy, depressed, and ruinously materialistic.18 If you truly want to be free, you can’t place that freedom on outcomes commanding the authority of your success.19
Across the globe, empirical evidence shows that earning $75,000 a year—without big debts hanging over your head—is where people peak for financial happiness. As in, income only has a positive effect on your happiness until you reach $75,000 per year. After that, it tails off, and making $90,000 or $90,000,000,000 will not make you any happier.20
You might think I’m telling you to stop driving toward success, but I’m not. Often, a person defines happiness as a sense of personal and professional fulfillment.21 Professionally, this means mastering a skill which proves useful to your job. But that’s the thing—mastering a skill. A craftsman’s approach fuels purpose and meaning. Granted, people may not knowingly take a craftsman’s approach. Yet one’s dedicated discipline in shaping their talents and skills creates either a top-notch philosopher or a venture capitalist billionaire on Wall Street.
Let’s look at how Wall Street billionaires apply the craftsman’s approach since success gurus love quoting them. Wall Street billionaires do not obtain success on straight hustle, copywriting skills, or any of the skills taught by Tony Robbins or Grant Cardone. Instead, most were college standouts in a unique degree, like a specific math degree. Sure, they may have lustful drives to become billionaires, yet they earn their money on the back of their methodically sharpened skill. And this success is found in a 9–5 job—the same 9–5 job that countless success experts implore you to quit.
Success gurus claim that they’ll show you how to be superior in your world and make more money. And this superior ability means you’ll be happy. Success Coach Bedros Keuiliain says that money buys you happiness.22
And people like Keuiliain or Lewis Howes proclaim that they know secrets to quickly securing promised mirages. In most cases, this is a mirage the gurus themselves never found. Certainly, some gurus earned money elsewhere or run a decent business—like Bedros Keuiliain’s Fit Body Bootcamp Franchises which earned a self-reported eight-million dollars in revenue in 2018.23 Yet they still lack the business talent, expertise, strategy, and skill set to come anywhere close to what something like the founders of Halo Top Ice Cream or investment wiz Chris Sacca have accomplished.2425 Why? Because those “disruptor” CEOs, or Venture Capitalists, are working on their own businesses.
A Chris Sacca, Peter Thiel, or even someone who runs a decent retail shop found success without needing “guarded secrets.”26
They capitalized on their own skills and learned through experience, boring routine, setbacks, pure luck, and fortunate timing. They continue to seek both understanding and strategy for their business. As in, they never attended masterminds. They never bought a hyped-up marketing course. They also never bought into the idea that you must constantly be scaling your business at all costs. Instead, successful business owners of any variety—from farmers to car makers to ice cream makers—focus on making an unbeatable product, service, or experience. It’s not to say highly successful people stop learning. They are often hyper-disciplined students. But they don’t study at the feet of gurus; they lean toward well written books—often not business ones—or from leading intellectuals like Nassim Taleb or Tyler Cowen.27 And they aren’t seeking happiness either.
In contrast, gurus merely hype that they can teach you secrets to becoming like Chris Sacca and then promise how your newfound success will make you happy. But the happiness that gurus sell depends on uber success and raising your status. How you raise your status—the methods, mindset, and discipline that secures your success—becomes a status symbol in itself—a status symbol which gurus boast about. They post quotes featuring fortune cookie wisdom like “wake up early.” And, then, from fortune cookie wisdom, they hype their claims how they started seven or eight figure businesses; however, they never say much beyond the fortune cookie wisdom and the claims. They hype their personal discipline routines while looking down their nose as they talk about the habits of “average” people. They seed the idea that you too, in order to prove your success, should boast about your discipline, your money, your success, and your newfound status.
In the book Status Anxiety, Alain de Botton states, “The notion of a status symbol, a costly material object that confers respect upon its owner, rests upon the widespread and not improbable idea that the acquisition of the most expensive goods must inevitably demand the greatest of all qualities of character.”28 This translates directly to gurus. Gurus proffer that respect comes from success, and success means you’re an inherently better person. Therefore you’re superior to others. This sounds snobby, but it taps into primal emotions and insecurities. Gurus conjure self-aggrandizing fantasies: wealth, being an entrepreneur, autonomy, relationships, and endless streams of money. They teach you to identify with an Operators Mindset—or whatever guruese they use. They preach discipline, obsession, balance, suffering for the outcome, and dreaming big then doubling those dreams. Just join their tribe, and they’ll show you the keys to the kingdom.
But do they truly know how you, I, or anyone can become successful?
First, let’s unpack some simple science. Despite rousing quotes and phrases stating that anyone can attain any dream, you’re born with genetically innate traits. If twins are separated at birth and raised in two different environments, they will still possess similar personalities. When they meet later in life, they’ll both possess similar dispositions, they may be introverted or extroverted, vote for the same political parties, be great at math or poor at it, like the same kinds of music, etc.29 Research shows that what you’ll likely be good or poor at is somewhat inherent. Our personality is also set. Now, most personality typing, especially Myers Briggs, is shoddy pseudoscience—DISC being the worst offender. I won’t ramble on, but most personality typing uses the same cold reading you’ll find in horoscopes. But one personality test does have some decent scientific backing: The Big Five. The Big Five or OCEAN, as it’s commonly called, shows personality traits and how those traits manifest general behaviors. Now, like any personality test, it’s highly subjective, and it’s a theory. But Ocean is not bad. The results somewhat replicate, and it delivers a decent guideline. Here is the trait guideline:
You have a baseline for each trait, and you may be stronger with some than others. For instance, you might be somewhat introverted or extremely introverted. Despite owning a strong trait, in certain situations you may slide toward the other side. For example, an extremely introverted person may charm a room of people in some situations and look like an extrovert. Whereas an extreme extrovert might clam up in various situations, making them look like an introvert. How you move on the scale depends on our genetic traits. It depends on how you were raised in the first few years of life and what kinds of friends you had past the age of five. And last, it depends on your skills and talents and where you feel confident. While you undoubtedly can grow and flourish, you grow and flourish inside certain parameters depending on genes, skills, and talents. And that’s a good thing.
Your disposition—your innate nature—ties into your strengths. For instance, Lebron James is an outlier athlete. He’s built for basketball. Whereas someone like Adele embodies outlier genetic gifts for singing. Adele may love basketball, yet she likely would have not dominated the WNBA. Likewise, James may be able to carry a note, but he likely would never wow people with his singing talents. You possess innate strengths and weaknesses, and your genetic disposition suits itself to certain skills better than others. When you train and shape your skills, you attain mastery.
You may struggle to digest the fact that you possess some inherent talents and not others. You may feel pigeonholed into roles without any say. You want to think that with enough hard work—with ten thousand hours and a few secret hacks—you can obtain success. I’m sorry, but in some areas, you can’t. Whereas in other areas, you’ll thrive.
Many digest this science poorly. Many see it as futile or toxic and slip into a victim mentality of “I’ll never be good at anything.” It’s here that some people often point at success stories like the ones gurus spin. This is called survivor bias.30 It means that you crave success. You point to a few stories of how people succeeded, while ruinously failing to acknowledge the failures.
Sounds futile, I know. But seeing it as pointless means you need to take stock of what success means to you. If you need massive success, why? And is that success self-serving—are you the star player? And if so, why? Approval? Attracting the opposite sex? Wanting to be stinking rich? Does your search for wealth or a perfect partner define you? These are fantasies that fuel anxiety and futile thinking.
One, it’s easy to believe you must attain wild heights. The wild heights, however, are more like playing air guitar, and the air crowd is going nuts. It’s fun to think about, but it’s a fantasy. Two, these fantasies shade your current skill sets, and you automatically think you’re stuck in your life. Instead of building career capital—the skills that shape your flourishing—you distract yourself by drinking the Kool-Aid of how you can achieve anything. You chase childish whims.
Success coaches distract you by suggesting that you hack your way through knowledge. You can’t. Like the Stoic Philosopher Epictetus explains, you learn the alphabet one way.31 You can write “John” as “4ghuya)8,” but it doesn’t pan out. You can’t secure professional expertise on individual whims. Getting good requires experience.
Success coaches persuade you away from crafting what may be your best talents.
And they manipulate you away from reality. Instead, gurus sell a system, a shortcut for success. They, too, ignore personal nature and ask you to identify as something else. For example, Craig Ballantyne says introversion held him back for 25 years.32 He implies that successful people aren’t introverts. Craig misses how icons he admires—like Warren Buffet and many world leaders—are introverts. Craig sees introversion as toxically taxing his goals. But what he’s teaching fuels anxiety.
Success coaches insist that something, some idea, holds you back. Some outside world, some internal belief, or something your parents said—something holds you back, making you think something is wrong with you. Sure, plenty of things are wrong; no one is perfect. But you think that wrong holds you back and keeps you average.
When Craig says that “identifying as an introvert held him back,” he is referring to a long-dated stereotype that introverts are socially awkward. And he poses that if you are introverted, you must identify as something else to attain success. He implies something is wrong with you, which further seeds anxiety. He also falls into poor circular logic: don’t identify as something but identify as something else. Craig is doing what other gurus do: projecting their underlying personal insecurities.
Gurus compare themselves to others. They pound messages about leveling up, which implies climbing levels, which means they naturally see certain others as better than them. Gurus project not only a marketing message but also a Band-Aid to cover their insecurities. Gurus project what they crave to be seen as while fearing being seen any differently.
This is similar to the belief that celebrities have their lives together. The celebs enjoy fantastic sex, a perfect love life, a cleaner house, and say all the right things. Gurus sell the same concept, but instead of a celeb, it’s an entrepreneur. Gurus believe and teach that someone with more money experiences a better life, and therefore is a better person. And gurus chase that fantasy by selling that fantasy. But it’s just that—a fantasy. The guru mantras fuel insecurities about someone being better. In other words, the mantras compensate shortcomings like a guy compensates for his “size issues” by buying an expensive car or massive truck.
And therein lies the danger with many gurus—they teach you to compare yourself to others. Often their own comparisons are based on their unchecked insecurities. Again, they believe monetary success and external outcomes will fix their issues. Just like many people think earning more money, becoming an entrepreneur, fixes unchecked issues. Gurus capitalize on this insecurity by selling potential.
Anyone capable of thinking wonders if they live up to their potential. Everyone knows they’re never 100% perfect with their habits. Everyone thinks they can do better. You sometimes think that lack of perfection stops you from making more money. You think your introversion holds you back. You think extroversion makes you too scattered. Your fantasies project an ideal life—a life of being healthy, hustling, and owning a warrior mindset.
You project teenage dreams that being a blazing hot entrepreneur solves insecurities. You’ll dream about living as a better you; you’ll be in a perfect relationship; you’ll command respect and admiration.
For many, business hustle implies how someone is different, dare I say, better than most. What is business hustle? Business hustle paints stories that involve a mystical entrepreneur who is following a perfect schedule, fueled by on-tap motivation, and summoning unbeatable money earning secrets. This busyness is a personal badge showing worth, status, drive, and not being average. The entrepreneur suffers like a warrior for an outcome, and people know it. The entrepreneur reaches a summit and finally sits at the cool kids table.
Ryder Carroll, creator of Bullet Journal, points out that “efforts are always fueled by some promise.33 What exactly do you expect in exchange for your blood, sweat, and tears? What is the goal behind all of our goals? For most of us, it’s to be happy, and therein lies the problem.” Ryder reveals troubling flaws with success experts. The experts tie happiness to business success. More troubling, they tie happiness and self-worth to the financial rewards created by vague markers of success.
For instance, when you listen to success coaches speak on stage, they love making comparison stories. They tell you how they saw successful people and felt left out. But now—using the secrets they are selling—they have joined the success country club. Worse, gurus cheapen lessons about emulating qualities of certain people. Instead of learning lessons from the blueprint Jeff Bezos followed, gurus cherry pick and rationalize “Just Do It” quotes and then point at financial rewards and how those rewards equal a better life. Undoubtedly, Bezos offers valuable business lessons, but you know nothing of Bezos character or happiness.
Do the trappings of success make someone better? Does making less money than your neighbor make you less virtuous? By most success coaches’ yardsticks, Jeff Bezos is the perfect human being. He’s better than anyone. Why? He’s the richest man. And arguably, no one on earth is more successful in business than Jeff Bezos.
But what if you’re born into money? Does an heir or heiress to the Walton family, make them automatically better than Tony Robbins? Well, according to success coaches, this would be the case. How? Certain heirs and heiresses earn vastly more income than success gurus could ever fathom making and not just from inheritance but professional roles. Does that mean the success gurus are less ambitious than members of the Walton family?
I’m being facetious, but I’m pointing out the pitfalls on the comparison mentality. Why? Because when a professional copywriter gets to work, they draw out everything I just mentioned in this post. They draw out irrational fears and idealistic dreams and press the buttons. Selling a quick mindset shift is a lot easier than selling practical virtue ethics.
I’m not anti-making money. But focusing on the money—focusing on living an idealistic entrepreneur fantasy—distracts you from getting good at your craft. It’s blind ambition. And ambition is tying your well-being to what other people say or do. Is that freedom?34
A professional copywriter would pour acid on the insecurities I mentioned. A professional writer—in this market—paints dreams of power, respect, and recognition, all while showing how others are doing it, and you’re left behind. Then at an event, mastermind or in a course, most gurus repeat the marketing copy in the lessons they teach. They give you vogue phrases, a bit of split-testing advice, some scheduling advice, some copy advice, some marketing metrics—while they are blind to the fact that many marketing metrics like segmenting and conversion metrics actually mislead or financially wreck a business35 — and then slap on more motivational platitudes. They get that out of the way and then often sell you into another group. What’s the only lesson you’ll actually learn? You’ll learn how someone can keep selling themselves to others.
Success coaches were persuaded by the same message they now teach. They are just like their audience. And there’s nothing wrong with that. The one limited factor: gurus find success by clinging to a financially limited business model. They must keep selling from the stage. They must keep a funnel going. They aren’t creating new Amazons. They aren’t inventing life-saving technologies. They don’t create, they follow. And they want you to follow. They hang on the sleeve of Expert Funnel templates, selling higher ticket items, hopefully increasing revenue that keeps a self-serving business model afloat. And, they sell you the same model as your way to command an empire.
Now we turn to the tactics— if you can even call them that—that you and the guru’s tribe learn. We uncover the “guarded secrets” to making money. But we’ll look into how those guarded secrets made some people go broke, how many are swiped from widely available areas, and how those tactics are dated, harmful, and best to avoid.
As we have followed Bill’s journey, we’ve seen that success coaches promise shortcuts and surefire steps to enormous wealth, an incredible life, and fame and accolades.
They promise to turn you into a business maven—a maven guided by an envy-inducing routine, clear thinking, and decisiveness.
In reality, they sell a shortcut to an abstract and idealized vision of success. A vision fantasizing a successful entrepreneur’s personal and professional life. In reality, the vision often projects the guru’s own insecurities and inferiority complexes. But the gurus offer a plan, secrets, steps, and keys to success.
What do you get?
What about the advice?
As we learned, success coaches often originate from Online Direct Marketing. And again, they found moderate success using a tactic based business model. A model that depends on hit ads and affiliates. The model requires luck, slick ads, and kickback deals. Then, like always, the ads die. The guru struggles to find another hit hook; it’s here where they shift into the guru business model using the Expert Funnel.
Let’s look at what gurus teach—what it is people actually pay for. We return to Bill. Bill now hosts events and masterminds and guest speaks on stages.
You buy Bill’s course—Uncompromising Success. The course comes in a binder and teaches basic productivity habits. The course also contains many feel good phrases about success. You like the course but feel that a live event will take you to the next business level.
Let’s breakdown an event.
On average, events with 25 people or more cost between $2,500–$15,000. Some cost beyond $50,000.
What do they teach? Once you get past all the self-congratulating:
- Surface level productivity methods.
- Goal setting.
- Funnel building.
- Straight hustle.
- Turning ideas into millions.
- Bragging about how they did it this way.
- How to get around new internet laws because they broke the old ones. (For instance, Google shut them down because Google found the claims fraudulent. The before and after pictures were stolen from, say, Weight Watchers, and, frequently, the quoted sources in the sales letters were either made up or so wildly out of context that the quoted person was notified and ordered a cease and desist on the sales letter. In another example, Amazon discovered that the expert was goosing five-star reviews, thus Amazon booted the fabricating expert off its marketplace. Then Amazon created a better algorithm that recognizes real authors with real content, real products, and real reviews. The marketer now aims to get around those new rules and algorithms. These conversations—how to get around new laws—are frequent in masterminds.)
- Vague ideas about creating content. (Generally speaking, they give advice like “lock yourself into a hotel room for two weeks and make it.” They don’t do this—they use a team. But they read that JK Rowling did it once, and it sounds like a slick thing to teach for a few grand.)
If everything on that list were taught at an event, it would be a rare content rich event. Most events teach abstract copy advice and sermonize—often moralize—motivational talks. And many events are what’s called a “cattle call.” This means they put asses in the seats for $2,500 bucks and then each speaker sells their products from the stage. Each speaker comes on stage gives a sales pitch, some words of motivation, and that’s all you get. The reality? You pay a few grand to hear and watch sales pitches. It’d be like paying a car salesman $5,000 to spend a weekend selling you a car you already plan to buy.
Remember the affiliate marketing I mentioned in the previous post? At events, instead of emails, similar backdoor affiliate deals were made. Here’s how. Let’s say Bill’s event features Bedros Keuilian and Tai Lopez. Bedros and Tai sell their programs. Each earns an affiliate deal for what you buy. Each then hope you attend their event, buy their shit, and buy more shit from their guest speakers.
Some gurus will do a Pay to Play—as in, a guest speaker pays to speak on stage and hopes to sell his shit. Guests on Tim Ferriss’s podcast all paid big money to be a guest on the podcast; it’s a veiled promotion, Tim got paid, and likely because Tim commands a massive and eager audience, people will buy whatever that guest sells. Each guest pays the hefty fee in hopes that Tim’s massive reach boosts whatever they sell.
Ok, I’m getting off track.
You attend Bill’s event: loud music, highlight reels, and people cheering and screaming. “Edgier” speakers say things like, “Fuck normal!” and “Your mindset holds you back.” They then show you ways to make millions.
Let’s remove the hackneyed hype and unveil one average plan you’d learn at an event like this.
One common plan is modeled on the way that the guru found mediocre success—like Bill selling weight loss—before he switched into selling success. Remember the plan Bill struggled with for five or six years before he stumbled upon that one hit sales letter?
- Find a market or niche and sell something you’re “passionate about.”
- Create an eBook or course and sell it for $37.
- Create a monthly course and sell it for $77 per month.
- Grow your email list and market that list.
- Voila, a sales funnel.
Today, many success experts love teaching “secret” Agora copywriting methods. In reality, it’s no secret. Agora’s method is widely available inside online marketing. We’ll come back to Agora in a moment.
Ok, you leave the event armed with funnel building, Agora copy secrets, mindset tips, and secrets to become a millionaire inside nine months. Now, let’s look at what it takes to be a success—a millionaire using that plan.
Bill tells us to shoot for $10 million and not one million. Let’s see how we do that using this common system sold at events.
You buy an account on the funnel building tool ClickFunnels. It costs $297 a month.36 You create content. Creating the content is not as easy as it sounds. But you create a diet tips lifestyle thing. You make PowerPoint videos and ramble out advice. You heard the advice doesn’t matter as much; what people buy is you. You also heard that perfectionism kills businesses, and you remember that Bill quoted Steve Jobs. Wait? Wasn’t Jobs a perfectionist? Never mind. You “man up” and create content.
You then create a sales letter. You use the unbeatable copy secrets Bill taught. You write a video sales letter. You follow the secret Agora formula. Bill said “Agora, the billion and a half dollar company” countless times while teaching you the secrets. Bill said it so often, like many gurus do, that if you drank a shot each time he said it, you’d be piss drunk in 20 minutes and after 30 minutes would require a stomach pumping.
Agora is a massive direct marketing publishing agency in Baltimore. Agora is a marketing behemoth, but they basically sell cheap products to old people who are scared of dying. They gross, as you by now guessed, over a billion dollars annually. Many success coaches love teaching the “Agora Copy Formula.”
Agora employs dozens of junior copywriters who write copy all day, every day. And a number of copywriters are assigned to specific projects. Now, Agora hires the writers using the same methods as cold-calling centers or an auto dealership needing bodies for a big sale. The process: place ads everywhere and say “yes” to everyone who shows up. Give those people a formula to follow and throw them to the wolves.37 After a few days and after hiring 20 people, one or two will stick around. Repeat the cycle.
Agora then teaches their copy formula while indoctrinating the writers with the Agora culture. The culture message: vast wealth, success, and entrepreneurial spirit.
Those writers then sit in one of the Agora office’s, often at the headquarters located in Baltimore, Maryland, and hammer out copy. Some writers are remote but still contracted by Agora. Each writer follows the Agora formula:
- Ridiculous Hook—like “Klebsi Plague Kills Republicans!”
- Crazy story—like the one I showed earlier.
- Conspiracy claims.
- More conspiracy claims—usually “The End of America” or “Death” or “Obama Spies Inside the Trump Team.”
No, sadly, I’m not making this up. A famous Agora copywriter at the Ryan Deiss War Room Mastermind brags of how he scares old Republicans into buying stuff.38 He uses headlines like:
- “Crazy solution government or industry doesn’t want you to know.”
- “Buy crazy solution government or industry doesn’t want you to know.”
“Solution” is usually just a cheap monthly newsletter that often sells more Agora products.
Junior writers, like monkeys, furiously write all day following that formula. A top writer oversees what they write, often providing direction and occasionally writing the offers. That offer is also vetted constantly by other copy chiefs and Agora marketing experts.
After the team of people create the offer, it’s sent to design. Each Agora letter generally costs around $15,000—$40,000 in production. All the colors, the voice over talent, etc.—everything is geared to sell.
Then Agora tests that offer.
Bill left something out.
Here’s something Bill kept secret or just doesn’t realize. Agora, undoubtedly, is the undisputed copy king. But that copy, that massive profit cranking sales letter, was written by a large team. A team of pros with a few all-stars in the mix. By all-stars, I mean guys with over twenty years of experience and countless hit offers under their direction. Behind each offer stands a successful professional baseball team-like staff: analytics, star players, and solid farm system.
Here’s why I’m saying all of this.
Agora’s batting average for offers that either break even or make money is likely around 0.089 for every ten “at bats.” And those offers require many tweaks to become a hit. Furthermore, each offer tested uses millions of dollars of an ad budget. Agora quickly knows if an offer works or doesn’t. When it doesn’t, the team goes back to the board and tweaks the flopped offer. If the flopped offer doesn’t go anywhere after maybe twenty versions, Agora scraps both product and idea and starts all over.
But you followed the formula. You followed the secret formula used by Agora that produces a billion dollars in gross sales. A formula that Google and Facebook permanently banned. A formula that the Federal Trade Commission is eyeing closely. A copy formula requiring a team of writers, marketing experts, and an entire high-powered legal team prepped to defend free speech rights. Oh, and the formula mainly targets conservative men over the age of 68. Sound like a reasonable marketing plan?
Still, you followed through. You dominated your path; you overcame the toxic mindset. You learned “don’t shoot for one million, shoot for $10 million!”
Reality throws more obstacles your way.
The payment processor—the cart—you picked on ClickFunnels says “no.” Also, your “free plus shipping” offer is not approved by MasterCard since MasterCard deemed those offers untrustworthy. Why? The payment processor you used—like Stripe of PayPal—studied your offer. Because the offer doesn’t tick any boxes that deem it “showing value” and since it looks fishy because of the sales letter, they passed. You then bounce around seeking a cart and payment processor that will say “yes.”
ClickBank says “yes” to almost anything. You get on ClickBank.39
You edit your sales letter to get compliant. Compliancy, being compliant, is a loose term. ClickBank, I believe, is well intentioned with their compliancy department. They employ a team who researches the offers, and they try to make those offers real. But top businesses on ClickBank can bend their ClickBank rep to push the offer right pass compliancy. And since ClickBank manages thousands of offers, they can’t dissect an ad.
For instance, one of the top-selling offers on ClickBank was an offer called Fat Diminisher by Wesley Virgin.40 In it, Wesley narrates how a soldier, Marine Gunnery Sergeant Kyle Cooper discovered an incredible fat melting secret. This offer generated tens of millions of dollars. But let’s look at the compliance. Wesley states he was in the military, and if I recall, in one version of the sales letter, Wesley befriends Sergeant Cooper.
But Sergeant Cooper isn’t real. Let’s dissect the name. Actor Bradley Cooper, in the acclaimed movie, American Sniper, played United States hero and the most famous United States sniper in history, Chris Kyle. Wesley used that fact and created “Kyle Cooper.” Yes, it’s that on the nose, Bradley Cooper + Chris Kyle = Kyle Cooper. A simple reality ClickBank ignored. Wesley patronizes people even more by creating an actual picture of Kyle Cooper. He found a stock photo (here) and added hair. (See updated here). Wesley further flaunts the rules and says Kyle Cooper teaches a class in a park. No one thought to check on this, and as you may guess, the class doesn’t exist. ClickBank missed all these simple facts, simple facts that maybe required less than five minutes to discover. I’ll leave it to your judgment regarding the fat loss claims veracity.
I admit, I created a dating offer around five years ago. I made up the name of the author and fabricated the story. ClickBank compliance checked the offer, a completely bullshit offer, and it passed. Everything in the offer was fabricated. The story—everything. And it became a successful dating offer. I’m not proud I did it. I can’t normalize my behavior and say, “That’s how everyone was doing it.” What I did was wrong, idiotic, and fraudulent. But here’s the thing: other ClickBank vendors helped get my offer approved, and they knew my offer’s backstory. Why? For one, they made good money with it before Stripe, rightfully so, outlawed my offer.
Now, you’re on ClickBank. They approve your offer without checking your research regarding diet.
Next, you create email campaigns.
The copy, the email IPs, mark it “spam-like.” Your offer doesn’t tick any box confirming that you, your company, your product, and your message aligns with the way that most people use the internet. Meaning, people don’t open the email, head to your YouTube channel, go to your eCommerce site, order your products, listen to your podcast, read your blog, or pre-order your book on Amazon.
Now, you could have worked on your blog, built a widget, or created a Vlog. That path is called Do It Yourself—DIY. This model builds off a long runway. A runway melding your experience and developing it through various channels. You likely didn’t hear about this model, and Bill likely has no idea it exists. And the DIY model isn’t advertised via countless adjectives—richer, smarter, faster!
Bill possibly showed hacks for those platforms, like Instagram. A popular product gurus sell are Instagram stories. But Google got hip to the hacks. As in, they know you didn’t build followings organically. You’re not like, say, Mark Manson. Mark spent ten years blogging and writing articles. Mark offered courses but never affiliate marketed. He wrote a real book which became a best-seller. Mark works with a real publishing agency, not a pure marketing agency. Mark’s book doesn’t offer “free bonus content!” or blatant sales tricks on the cover. The same goes for someone like James Clear, Ramit Sethi, or creator of You Need a Budget, Jesse Mecham. These are experts Google knows offer actual value. It’s not to say you can’t offer good value, but Bill’s methods, like all guru’s methods, drown substance.
Email IPs change their “check boxes” constantly. Why? The model that success gurus use often causes complaints. And Google and email IPs know that the products gurus sell and the methods they use provides little value and often uses barely ethical tactics. Basically, the model is just selling and selling and selling and selling.
After begging and pleading, an email host allows you on.
Finally, you put the site up and go live.
It’s done. Time to kick back and watch the money pour in, right? Soon you’ll be living on an island surrounded by babes or hunky dudes.
Ok, now what?
Find your market? At least, that’s the advice.
Ah, some affiliates or places to send it. Or some media buying, right?
People say, “Get good at cold traffic.” I’m sorry, but top people hire a full time media-buying expert. Media buying and cold traffic require years of experience. What is media buying? Basically, online traffic brokers deal in cold traffic. These people buy online advertising spots and big email drops like those ads you see at the bottom of a newspaper article—a media buyer purchased that slot.
Media buyers like good ads because if an ad makes money, they will cut a deal with the marketer, and run ads to that site. Media buying entails cutthroat negotiation. And a good media buyer needs to understand your business model; they don’t concern themselves with the conversion numbers the guru teaches at marketing events.
Different offers, different traffic sources, and different day one-dollar mechanisms mean different ad spends. Media buying takes time and hard knocks to get average at it. Newbies, or the eager entrepreneur like Bill, almost always get slaughtered when trying to attempt media buying. They get slaughtered because they deal with a real business, and media buying costs big bucks. Also big media buyers rarely ever teach what they do. Most are constantly tracking numbers behind the scenes.
Without any solid cold traffic connections, you need to commit at least $10,000 or more a month to buying ads. And if you don’t know terms like “above the fold,” “below the fold,” or “impressions,” you’ll get stuffed into some odd page. Meaning, no one sees your offer. Also, a new ad requires at least $10,000 in spending to see if it will work. Similarly, you have to be ok with that $10,000 being just a test, because often that $10,000 will completely vanish. Albeit, you may make one or two sales, and that isn’t because your offer stinks, you might just not yet know what traffic source may work for your ad; and after a few tests and big spends you may see that your offer flops—a common occurrence.
What you didn’t learn is that writing for affiliate offers versus writing for cold traffic is like playing two different sports. Sure, some crossover, but the approach and what works on either is different. You show up in basketball gear and get tossed onto the ice against the Boston Bruins.
But, you’re not told that. You’ll have no idea about returns, demographically tailoring various conversions, or even who to talk to.
To be blunt, trying media buying for the first time is like walking into Harvard’s Math 55 class. Arguably, it is the most difficult math class in the world. You walk in all hyped up from motivation, but you barely grasp basic addition and subtraction. Only with media buying, you’re playing with real dollars and savvy negotiators. And you need to know your business model, the numbers, and how you earn backend income inside and out.
Oh, and since you’re a first timer, you’ll get hit up for $20,000. A $20,000 burned if you’re not sure how to negotiate where and how the ad should run. Also, if the offer didn’t work, good luck trying the next time. Some people teach the media buying secrets taught at events. But, like I mentioned, most top media buyers aren’t teaching. They are too busy running ads for their clients, and some have non-disclosures.
The media buying courses, like how to make money with Facebook ads, are often wild-eyed dreams. In my experience, not one top media buyer ever created a course. Most success gurus got into teaching success because they flopped media buying. Also, their previous offers in their previous niches were tanking. Successful people don’t teach success; they’re too busy with their business.
Ok, so now what do you do?
You turn to affiliate marketing. The shortest short-term business model ever invented.
You reach out to a few people you met at the event. And I’m stretching here because event connections rarely pan out. But let’s say you met a few people and stayed in touch.
Out of the 25 attending, only one other guy got as far as you did. Everyone else got confused and overwhelmed. But that one guy—he’s pumped to mail your offer to his list of three people. He sends your offer to his list of three.
Here’s how the offer goes: one person buys, his mom thinks you two should be friends, and the other person unsubscribes. Hey! A 33% conversion rate and a $9.00 earning per click—amazeballs! Right? You email some people on ClickBank. No one knows you. Most never get back. Some ask you for your conversion numbers. You say 33%. They then ask how big the list was, and you reply. They don’t.
A few kinder people test it. They send your offer to a list of old customers, customers 30 days or older, meaning, burnt leads. Yes again, customers 30 days young on an affiliate list are already done and gone. Your offer, like any offer sent to a burnt list, safeguards you from making money.
Here are a few needs – needs for the plan you were sold at the success event, those surefire steps to creating a hit offer — you were not told at the success event. You’ll need:
- At least $200,000 on hand for media buying.
- A damn good media buyer.
- At least one analytics person.
- A fresh customer email list size of at least 80,000 people. By fresh, I mean when following this model, all customers on an email list are worthless after day 30. Like I said, gone and vanished. Most affiliate marketers scrub—get rid of—people 30 days or older. What matters, are customers 14 days or younger (to top guys, 7 days or younger). Many email marketers scrub people after 14 days.
- A well-functioning tech team, Google Analytics team, and the ability to pay for slick production.
- $15,000–$30,000 cash on hand for a sales letter production cost. They say you can do it on the cheap. Yes. They started out from the cheap. But their first top performing sales letter came after years of multiple attempts, money trickling, and spending to get it right. Sure, you can get lucky—but that luck depends on knowing how to write incredible copy. A skill that takes years.
- CPA model versus commission.
- Email drops.
- A monthly media buying plan.
- -To know that a successful $30 product requires at least $15,000 in testing.
- To know how to dissect the stats of a slow performing sales letter and where to test it.
If none of that makes sense, or if you’re unaware how difficult it is to reach that level—how many years it takes and even the sheer luck involved—the plan won’t hold up. But that’s the plan you were given. In fact, likely the person, the guru or expert who sold you that plan, they couldn’t even do it. They sell you the plan they dream about, but have never quite, and possibly never will, attain.
For instance, guru Jason Capital sells success, and he sells a surefire copywriting course that promises to turn you into a money printing machine. He says, “I am a true Copy Badass, the kind of marketer who can make millions literally on-command. The skill of copywriting gave me that power. I can do it for you too.” This he says in his Copy Badass Masterclass.41 But I looked up the offer on ClickBank. The offer looks to be a complete flop.
See the “Grav.” That means gravity. That number shows the relative measure of how many affiliates have successfully promoted that product.42 A higher number means higher conversions. For instance, the top offer right now, Cinderella Solution, commands a 382.16 gravity rating.43
The Initial Sale means the average dollar amount from a single sale that affiliates earn when they send to that offer. As in, if the affiliate knows they will send 1,000 people the sales page and 100 people will likely convert, they can do a rough estimate of how much they will earn. Jason has earned zero; affiliates have earned zero from this offer.
Granted, this offer may be on another platform like Software Projects, but generally, offers that perform well elsewhere in similar affiliate platforms perform well on ClickBank. Jason proffers surefire secrets, but despite his claims, this surefire ad hasn’t generated any significant revenue. In fact, it hasn’t registered any income. The offer failed. And Jason uses—and teaches—the same secrets you used with your offer.
Did you fail?
No. You succeeded in one way; most people barely make it to where you did. But here’s a kick in the face—it would have been wiser to look elsewhere.
You are currently where Bill started twelve years ago. But you paid—including the event—easily $10,000 or more than when Bill started. Bill sold you a business model enslaved by hit ads and needing affiliates. A model currently dwindling in profits. A model where Bill wasn’t so successful either.
Bill’s current success relies on selling from the stage. He panders to people’s insecurities about being a “top performer,” and he gets them to join his mastermind. Eventually, Bill will tire, and move into “high-end consulting.” He’ll make ok money, but he’ll never make the same kind of money as a successful author or someone employed by Goldman Sachs, Google, or even Tony Robbins.
You can make it. You can make money. It’ll take a while. You need to get passable at copy, which will take time. You need to get copy to a point where it converts a bit. But if you follow Bill’s path, you trap yourself inside a business model that’s like trying to repeatedly earn income from scratch lottery tickets.
Don’t believe it?
If you go to ClickBank and look at the first page of the Affiliate Marketplace, it displays some offers producing seven figures of gross. Most of those businesses currently live high on the hog. But in five years, 97% of those businesses will be out of business or barely hanging on. If they hang on, the income will be at a fraction. By a fraction, maybe a few hundred bucks trickling in each month. Only one offer in the last seven years has stayed on the front page: Ted’s Woodworking. There is no Ted. Ted’s Woodworking is a Russian media buying company who understands how to target conservative American men. They update the offer constantly.
Whereas other top offers will stay on the front page for two years at best. And that’s rare. For an offer to stay on top like that, it requires media buying and making a bunch of deals with media buyers. I’ve been behind four top offers on all of ClickBank—each grossing seven to eight figures.
And the companies?
One guy went from living in a penthouse at the Ritz Carlton to currently living in his younger sister’s basement outside of Flint, Michigan. Another guy, after making a few million a year, moved back into his parent’s house—a doublewide in Florida.
I also worked with a talented yet personally abusive marketer. We created one of the biggest offers ever on ClickBank. We also created perhaps the top selling internet yoga program. After the ads tired—I left him because of the way he verbally abused people around him in fits of rage—it took nearly two years of benign offers to crack the top page again. (As of this writing, that offer already fell off the top page.) And this guy is one of the best direct marketers on the planet. He’s a grand slam hitter. His new ad may pull in eight figures like the old one, but it too, will tire. And after another few years the cycle will start again. Oh and that person comes from one of the wealthiest families in Canada—meaning he can handle the down cycles. He possesses enough cash to thrive on cold traffic. He possesses enough wealth to kick back and stop what he’s doing.
Why do those businesses flop? The products are utter shit. On a rare chance the product is good, no one notices because they get hammered with sleaze ball marketing or sleaze ball affiliate marketing. Either way, shit product or not, the product can’t carry the weight. The business depends entirely on ads and the email marketing.
How do people go broke so fast?
When you start spending millions of dollars on media and the ad tires, your personal account dries up fast. Then, when you think you can create another hit offer and you don’t hit it or have Agora like funds, you go back to being a hundredaire in just weeks. Similarly, in my experience, these businesses lack a basic economic and financial model and basic and viable business fundamentals. For instance, few, if any, have a basic Income and Expense Report. I bet if you asked many online gurus what that basic report is, they’d look at you like you have five heads and speak Latin—I know because I asked that question, and I got that look. But you will hear a common answer delivered with conviction and a straight face, “That’s 9–5 corporate stuff; we expect to be a ten or eleven figure company by next year.”
What’s more? Of the bigger companies who used this model with some success, 90% will be out of business inside of seven years. Why? They don’t have the products; they just market ideas, cheap supplements, and they basically sell smoke and mirrors. Eventually, they dwindle and die.
Success gurus are smart in one way—they get out of their dying business and sell success. Yet they too will be changing that model into a consultant model that follows the same blueprint. The model sells self-exceptionalism and how to fuel self-exceptionalism. The model builds from insecurities about being recognized, seen, and respected. It then teaches you how to build an empire by pandering to insecurities about not being recognized, seen, and respected. As far as the business economics, yes, fast riches are possible, but maintaining those riches is less possible. The model burdens you with affiliates and hit ads. A model where you become the person spamming an inbox.
Does this model seem like a smart bet for your future?
- https://paleofuture.gizmodo.com/the-untold-story-of-napoleon-hill-the-greatest-self-he-1789385645 ↩
- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Napoleon_Hill#Controversies ↩
- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norman_Vincent_Peale#Criticism_and_controversy ↩
- https://microconf.com/videos ↩
- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Advance-fee_scam ↩
- https://trafficandconversionsummit.com/ ↩
- https://swiped.co/file/annihilation-launch-letter/ ↩
- http://masscontrolsite.com/indexLIVE.html ↩
- https://internetmarketingparty.com/ ↩
- https://funnelhackinglive.com/fhl-2020-live ↩
- https://scribewriting.com/ ↩
- Robert Mckee and Thomas Gerace, Storynomics (Hachette Book Group, 2018), 67. ↩
- https://www.instagram.com/p/BsRwSMTgPGm/ ↩
- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xXsOgr_nYtE&t=3s ↩
- http://howtojumphigherpro.com/the-truth-about-quickness-2-0-review ↩
- https://bedroskeuilian.com/empire/ ↩
- https://www.instagram.com/realcraigballantyne/ ↩
- https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/sapient-nature/201506/why-pursuit-superiority-lowers-happiness-and-success ↩
- Epictetus, translated by A.A. Long, How To Be Free (Princeton University Press, 2018). ↩
- Emrys Westacott, The Wisdom of Frugality: Why Less Is More – More or Less (Princeton University Press, 2016), 222. ↩
- A.C. Grayling, The Choice of Hercules: Pleasure, Duty and the Good Life in the 21st Century (Weidenfield & Nicholson, 2007). ↩
- https://www.instagram.com/p/BsOWe_YgIqT/ ↩
- https://www.inc.com/profile/fit-body-boot-camp ↩
- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halo_Top_Creamery ↩
- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chris_Sacca ↩
- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Thiel ↩
- https://medium.com/conversations-with-tyler ↩
- Alain de Botton, Status Anxiety (Penguin Books, 2015), 197. ↩
- Steven Pinker, How The Mind Works (W.W. Norton & Company Ltd, 2009). ↩
- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Survivorship_bias#In_highly_competitive_careers ↩
- Epictetus, translated by A.A. Long, How To Be Free (Princeton University Press, 2018 ↩
- https://thriveglobal.com/stories/how-to-use-the-operator-mindset-to-eradicate-your-b-s-beliefs-and-transform-your-identity/ ↩
- Ryder Carrol, The Bullet Journal Method (Penguin, 2018). ↩
- Marcus Aurelius, Meditations (The Modern Library, Translated by Gregory Hays 2002), 6.51. ↩
- https://hbr.org/2019/09/dont-let-metrics-undermine-your-business ↩
- https://www.clickfunnels.com/ ↩
- https://talent-14west.icims.com/jobs/2725/junior-copywriter/job ↩
- https://www.warroommastermind.com/about/ (This was mentioned to me by a top Agora Copywriter who wished to remain unnamed.) ↩
- https://support.clickbank.com/hc/en-us/articles/220199588-Product-Guidelines ↩
- http://fatdiminisher.com/ ↩
- http://www.copybadass.com/fe/ ↩
- https://support.ClickBank.com/hc/en-us/articles/220365847#stats ↩
- https://accounts.ClickBank.com/mkplSearchResult.htm?dores=true&includeKeywords= ↩