Do you think you are too smart to fall for a scam? Think again.
All over the web, self-proclaimed gurus are telling you lie after blatant lie in order to get your money and pump their ego. Chances are you have fallen for some of their tactics. Here are a few of them for your consideration.
Gurus love to preach that you’ll have no limitations if you buy their products. Their “proven” strategies will either 1) catapult you past anything in your way or 2) give you unlimited power.
Outside of the trance induced state their marketing materials tend to foster, it is easy for any sane person to understand that nobody has unlimited power and no person can give special powers to another. Yet, the claim is made all the time – no limits, beyond all boundaries, you can have everything you want, achieve unlimited wealth and abundance, etc…and other lies.
As you soon as you lock your intention upon that, bang! You’ve got a Mercedes. And that’s how it works.
-James Arthur Ray
Selling secrets is an age-old tactic used by hustlers and scam artists. Of course, if there were any secrets to easy wealth and unlimited happiness, then it would still be hard to believe that some self-proclaimed guru got access to them for the purpose of selling them online. Secrets miraculously preserved through the ages! Secrets that only the XYZ exclusive super-duper group of superheroes know!
In my field, Neuro Linguistic Programming, NLP secrets are sold all the time. Having been an NLP trainer for over 20 years, I happen to know that there are no NLP secrets, never were, and never will be. There are only communication skills that aren’t mainstream but are pretty darn useful. Who wants to do communication skills training that is just pretty darn useful? Luckily, mature people who want to learn something new and expect to pay a fair price for the education. It’s the naive ones who get scammed into purchasing “secrets that can only be found through this website” (on the other side of the PayPal button). Don’t fall for secrets. There aren’t any.
This is one of the sneakiest tactics introduced by the father of American public relations, the original spin doctor, Edward Bernays. In 1913 Bernays was hired by the actor Richard Bennet to protect a play that supported sex education against police interference. Bernays set up a front group called the Medical Review of Reviews Sociological Fund (officially concerned with fighting venereal disease) for the purpose of endorsing the play. The point here is, if you don’t have a credible endorsement, just create an official-sounding group and endorse yourself. This little tactic has really caught on and served many a self-proclaimed guru over the years.
The infamous twist the knife tactic goes like this: find a person who is struggling and feeling bad, then make him feel even worse. Then, when he is in this horrible, helpless state, tell him that it may never end. When you offer a quick and easy solution that has clearly “worked for others who were suffering just like you” the poor schmuck will take the bait. Tony Robbins calls it the Dickens method. It is aggressive, wildly manipulative, and it really works, unfortunately.
We all have different gifts and talents. This diversity is part of what makes life interesting. It allows us to appreciate each other. It fosters interdependence. No one has a talent for everything and no one can succeed at whatever they try. Ask me to become an electrical engineer or a physicist or a calculus teacher and watch me fail. I am OK with this. I accept these limitations. I consider knowing my limitations as part of being a self-aware adult. Fortunately, I possess talents that I enjoy and can make a living with, among other things. All good.
Yet, the gurus who have something to sell claim that anyone can succeed at their whiz-bang-program-for-a-mere-ton-of-money if he is willing to put forth a little effort. Lies. Ask any guru to show any credible evidence of the large scale success of their minions. They avoid this question like the plague. They can offer some specific examples of students who succeeded, which are often prefabricated stories, but they can’t offer evidence.
The evidence looks like this:
Over an adult’s working life, high school graduates can expect, on average, to earn $1.2 million; those with a bachelor’s degree, $2.1 million; and people with a master’s degree, $2.5 million. Persons with doctoral degrees earn an average of $3.4 million during their working life, while those with professional degrees do best at $4.4 million (U.S. Census Bureau).
We know how much people will spend to “touch the hem” of a guru (this is a common way of putting it among guru marketing teams). Just how people benefit financially, emotionally, and spiritually is an unknown. Of course, it is up to the self-proclaimed guru to prove it. He can’t. That’s why he needs to be a very persuasive marketer to survive.
The hallmark of a self-proclaimed guru is out-of-this-world-pricing. This is the desired end result for the guru, what it’s all about. This is why they need to use the above lies, to build perceived (translated: fake) value. How would you like to pay $10,000 for a weekend personal development course? Forget it, unless you are going to get something really incredible, right? The value has to be there or you won’t part with your hard-earned cash (or credit).
The problem is, no information, skills, or education at any personal development weekend could possibly be worth ten grand (not including travel, accommodations, taxes, and, of course, the up-sell products you will need to really pull things off). So, they artificially inflate the importance, urgency, and grandeur of the event. Amazingly, it works! Don’t fall for it. Anything you can learn from a guru for 10K, you can learn from a $20 book or from an honest person for a few hundred bucks.
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