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No Matter How Epic, This Podcast Will Not Change Your Life

Why do you read news feeds, blogs, magazines and books? More specifically, why do you read new feeds from people like Anthony Robbins or Brendon Bouchard? Why do you read blog posts from Gary Vaynerchuk, Tim Ferris and other self-professed motivational gurus? Why is the bookstore, online or off, literally littered with thousands upon thousands of tomes in the “success literature” space?

Why do people keep buying and reading this stuff, when it pretty much does little to nothing at all?

When I hear about the latest and greatest new motivational type dude (and notice it’s almost always a dude, wonder why there aren’t that many women in this space – maybe they actually feel troubled about the curious mix of bravado and bullshit that you need to have in order to excel at this field) the first things I ask about is results:

  1. How many of their “disciples” actually used their “program” (it’s always a “program”, consisting of audio, video, text, blog, books and other content, stuff that can basically be generated once then reused and rebranded over and over and over) successfully, and are now amazingly stinking rich?
  2. How many of these disciples have spent good money on their program and have not made one iota of change in their lives?

Basically, “show me the money”. The reality is that if any of these modern day messiahs really did have massive amounts of followers who really were super successful, like they claim, then wouldn’t they trumpet that from the rooftops? Of course they would. But the reality of the thing is that while many are sucked in to do the program, very few actually succeed.

There are a number of reasons for this, some valid:

  1. Many people feel that simply going through the program will be enough to make a marked change in their lives. They just do it and hope that someday something will click and their lives will be better. That it doesn’t take any real work or luck, it will just happen. To be fair to the disciples, most of the messiahs do tell their followers to follow their instructions exactly, and some few say that there is work involved, but only a handful attribute their success to luck. (Come to think of it those who are successful and attribute some of their success to luck probably aren’t motivational speakers at all – after all, will a program actually sell if a large part of it is just pure, dumb luck?
  2. The programs themselves are all based on a very old book, The Laws of Success, written back in the 1920s, which remained largely unnoticed until being re-published in 2011. In my opinion, this book is truly the granddaddy of all motivational and success literature. It was the book that Napoleon Hill wrote before “Think and Grow Rich” – that super thin volume sold like crazy but it didn’t contain the whole picture. The whole picture book basically is the root of all of this literature – everything that you see out there is based on The Laws of Success, rebranded, reworked and regurgitated for the audience of today.
  3. Everyone is looking for some secret that these people seemed to have unlocked. And for a mere $997, you too can get the secret, if you just attend our “high-performance” seminar.
  4. And of those who are successful, how many of them are just selling the same “success” crap to other people, either exactly the same, or tweaked for their own?

If there are very few results, then why are people still so attracted to this crap? It’s the magic bullet problem. We are all guilty of it, because at the root of it (and at the root of innovation actually) is the fact that we are all lazy, and we all think that there is a plan to the universe.

When my mom was alive, she used to have problems with her knees. They hurt when she walked, and the only way that she would be able to alleviate the pain temporarily would be to take Tylenol. The pain got worse and she took more, until she probably got to the point where they didn’t really work anymore. In order for her to permanently solve the issues with her knees, she would either need to lose weight, or get a knee replacement. Instead of doing either of those, she kept asking and looking for some kind of cream that she could put on her knees in order to just make the pain go away. The magic bullet.

We are all looking for some shortcut to success. Some way we can “not waste time” – or do what we want when we want to. For some, that’s amassing great wealth, for others, it’s raising just enough to get by, and then using that to glean great experiences. For others, it’s a simple life.

Forget all of those programs and messiahs. There are really only two ways to success and happiness.

  1. Be happy with what you have
  2. Try to get lucky

The “be happy” way is fine for some, but if you ask me, isn’t that just giving up? Isn’t that just saying that you lack ambition? Isn’t that just saying that you can’t make a dent in the universe so don’t even bother? Can you really be happy just coasting through life, like a leaf on a stream, buffeted by events around you? If you think about, this is a bit like the argument between determinism and free-will – do you believe that you can change the world around you, or do you believe that life is predetermined?

Look at the messiahs. Were they happy with the life they had?

But I digress. What I’m trying to say it that the power to change your life does not come from a blog post. It does not come from reading a book. It does not come from reading a news feed or watching a video. It does not come from passive action, reading about how others succeed.

It comes from YOU. You are the only one who can change your life.

If your life is not what you want it to be, no amount of success literature will change that. You can read and watch and listen to this stuff all of your life, but unless you take action, nothing will change.

There are many ways to take action. Some ways are easier than others.

In the little known book, Horse Sense, by Al Ries and Jack Trout, (yes the same people who wrote The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing), they spoke the raw, honest truth about success, ordering it along with the ease of being successful. I’d argue that the reason why this book is little known is that is it truly an honest accounting of what you need to do to succeed, and it’s not the proscribed “work hard” or “follow my program”.

No, it’s a book, with a list, of the “horses” you can ride, in order to succeed. People or things that you can latch onto to help you succeed, with various levels of effort on your part.

Just so you get an idea of how honest this book is, the number one way to become successful is to “marry into money”. Yep. No effort on your part other than wooing someone way above your station in life. Second way: “be born in a wealthy family”. In other words, already have some money behind you.

You think Trump was a self-made man? His Dad gave him $50M to start with. I think most anyone can be successful if you have that kind of backing. Neither Mark Zuckerberg’s, Bill Gates’ nor Steve Jobs family were dirt poor.

That being said, it’s still totally up to you. It might be depressing that there are no shortcuts or plans that specifically just work. It’s just you, working to improve your life, day-in-day out.

My advice: stop spending your hard earned money on this crap. Stop reading their books, their blog posts, their newsfeeds. The only reason these guys are successful is that we keep listening to them and buying their crap. All of this information is available for free on the internet. I can even give you a free copy of The Laws of Success I was telling you about earlier if you like, basically outlining everything that these folks borrowed to build their audiences.

If you are startup, you should learn from them. Use the techniques these people use in order to capture your initial audience (they do a pretty damn good job of it). One of these days I’ll do up a list of the techniques for you. It’s not rocket science to build an audience like that.

This blog post will not change your life. The next book you read, the next Medium post, the next newsfeed item will not suddenly propel you into having tea with Elon Musk. No, if you want to have tea with Elon Musk, you just have to happen to be where he is at the same time, with luck, in a tea room.

Luck is the only consistent thing which will bring you success. Hard work can help, but without luck, you will always be struggling. There is also no such thing as making your own luck.