I have attended many educational events – conferences, workshops, online courses and webinars – for several industries over the past few years. I was for a short time an agent for a network marketing company in financial services: I hold a Series 6 license and am life insurance licensed in ten states. Although I have gained eye-opening insight and understanding, attending these events has also been a very valuable lesson in the strengths and weaknesses of the mindset conditioning that the network marketing and real estate industries in particular use to “hook” reps and students, respectively. I have become very familiar with what I will call “motivational training.”
I believe that this style of training sprouted from the self-help movement of the eighties and early nineties. Susan Powter of ‘Stop the Insanity’ fame comes to mind. Her brand of tough love in encouraging people to change their eating habits to gain control of their lives and health earned millions from books, tickets to speaking engagements and exercise videos. During this time Tony Robbins’ star was also on the rise. He too had lengthy infomercials on how to take control of your life, but his approach was far more “gentle,” for lack of a better word, and holistic. Even though their approaches were very different, in my mind they built the framework for the motivational style of training so popular today. Ms. Powter and Mr. Robbins showed how profitable “motivation” can be.
Today, “gurus” are all over the place. They have learned to combine the tough-love and gentle approaches. They are usually people who have achieved demonstrable success at something and have built a following based on their story of how they accomplished their goals. The point and purpose of motivational training is the up-sell. These events follow very familiar layout that will conclude with an “ask” – buy a book, a course or series of courses or mentorship/coaching. Whether the story of the road to success is entirely true or not, clearly the story in and of itself can prove just as profitable, if not more so, than the work itself.
The following are four common “hooks” you may hear when attending educational industry events.
Hook #1: The Warning
The idea is that they will help you avoid the costly and painful mistakes that they made. This idea is reinforced by the altruistic desire help as many people succeed as possible. I am not doubting anyone’s sincerity. I just believe that we have to be our own teachers. When you have your own experience, including failures, then you are in the best position to know what works best for you, given your unique set of skills, talents and interests. And that is what a person will be able to make the most out of an investment in coaching.
- You can’t do it by yourself
- Mistakes can ruin you
Hook #2: Cost Versus Value
“If you paid $30,000 for coaching that leads you to 3 deals that earn $10,000 each or even 1 deal earning $30,000 and you can build a fortune going forward on the lessons you learned, what did it really cost you?” That would make the service in effect free. However, there is a huge caveat – “if.” If you’re given an action plan; if the coaching is personal; if the coach follows through with what has been promised; if you follow the action plan; if you are able to devote the time and effort necessary. The truth is, only about 5% of the people who attend such workshops will take action and of those few achieve the results they were expecting. For most it will be nothing more than a very large donation to that guru’s bank account.
Cost v. Value
- Hand-hold coaching from an industry expert
- It pays for itself
Hook #3: Impatience
We want to see results fast. Diet companies make a fortune every year on our desire to see results fast, with little effort. Patience requires discipline. Discipline involves consistent long-term implementation of a plan toward a goal. The gurus know how to tap into this tendency in our culture to want to jump ahead and enjoy the evidence of hard work, without actually doing the hard work. And that very well should be expensive.
- Huge profits in 30 or less days
- Be the envy of suckers slaving away for “the man”
Hook #4: Insecurity
Many of us don’t believe we can do great things. Guilt in knowing that we are not living up to our full potential is an extension of that self-perception. Flashes of motivational quotes and inspirational videos are meant to dig into the sore spot and bring home the point that the program, product or service offers a way out. The gurus know this feeling is fleeting. We are very good at settling back into a comfortable, familiar routine. So it is imperative for the speaker to pull on the string of insecurity to compel as many in attendance as possible to pull out the credit card or take out the HELOC or pull cash out of a retirement account to pay handsomely for the promise of finally attaining the success and feeling of accomplishment that so many lack. They also know that there is at least $3trillion sitting in liquid and a little less than liquid accounts in this country.
- Yes, this is great training, but you still won’t make it on your own
- Winners recognize opportunity and take decisive action
Now, there is nothing wrong with seeking help and inspiration. I am not at all against doing the weekend-long workshops on real estate investing or conferences by networking marketing and other companies. But I have also become hyper aware of the emotional and psychological hooks that can be very manipulative and often lead to disappointment down the road.
- Everyone starts at the beginning and there is no substitute for work.
- If the gurus could do the work to get where they are, so can you.
- Don’t let fear of making a mistake cost you. You can only grow from mistakes.
- Don’t worry about “advice” from people who cannot relate to what it’s like to take a chance.
- Take advice and get ideas from people who relate to fighting for a vision.
- Take advice from people who don’t give up.
- Take advice from people who have failed a million times but have the courage to get up and keep going; their failures have provided a treasure trove of wisdom and great ideas!
- Don’t take advice from people who talk nonsense.
- And please do not believe people who are boastful because they are likely embellishing to create envy and false authority.
The truth is that motivation comes from within. Nobody can give it to you. It requires constant self-evaluation to grow in the confidence that you are doing what truly interests you and for which you have the talent. Just because someone else has done tremendously well at something doesn’t mean that you will too, even when you give it 100%. No one thing is for everybody. We were each created for a specific purpose. If we are pursuing something that is not in line with our purpose it could remain an uphill battle. If we are pursuing things that do not engage our best skills and talents it will likely remain a very difficult journey, no matter whose advice we follow.