“Hey! Fitness companies don’t share the REAL secret to weight loss, but I’ll give you the inside scoop!”

“Do you want the secret to put $1000s more in your pocket each week???”

“In just five minutes, I’ll show YOU how to sell ANYTHING to ANYONE!”

How familiar are these sounding to you? I’d bet if you’ve spent more than 10 minutes online the answer is “VERY”!  (Maybe I’m exaggerating… but not by much.) Content marketing is everywhere and the whole idea is to give away free content – but these days, the marketing gurus have mastered the art of talking up the “free 5-minute life changer”. For about 30 minutes, you’ll hear all about how their big secret is the thing that can break the industry, and they want to share the FULL program with you (not just the free tidbit they teased you with). It seems like they never actually give you anything but an Oscar-winning performance marketing the heck out of what they’re selling, all in the hopes that you’ll skip the freebee and plunge right into a big purchase or subscription.

It makes me mad as a hornet. Even when it involves direct marketing – say a targeted advertisement to my own business to help me with my marketing.  The idea that someone else is holding some fantastic secret or that all you have to do is sign up for their exclusive program and you can become an overnight success – this simply appeals to our base nature and the hope that we can actually get something for almost nothing.  It’s the idea that we can buy canned success… and that even though it’s being marketed to everyone else online too, it’s still super-exclusive and will instantly put us ahead of the game.  It’s been used to sell everything from workout routines and diets, to corporate performance improvement programs. It’s in play today and yes, it still works. And to me… IT’S ABSOLUTELY NUTS!

You wanna know how you get to success? HARD WORK! No. Really. That’s it.  Hard work and lots of it, with a little more hard work sprinkled on top for flavor. Yes there’s going to be some strategy and planning – but that “lucky break”? It happened after years of – HARD WORK.  The amazing body on the 50-year-old? Yep, hard work. I could go on and on with examples, but my point? Just – don’t fall prey to the trap that there is some super-special secret recipe that will instantly transform… whatever it is you’re struggling with into instant success. If there was such a thing, it would be locked away in a monastery, on the top of an almost inaccessible mountain in Tibet, and the only person allowed to know it and keep breathing is required to dedicate their lives to that monastery and keeping that secret.

To be clear… you might need help or training or coaching to move to the next level of whatever you’re doing. That’s ok, legit coaching or training programs exist and are highly useful – but you simply are NOT gonna get what you need out of a “one-size-fits-all” box of “super-secrets” from an hour with an online guru. Whatever other shortcuts are out there for push-button success – forget ‘em! They’re NOT real!

I’ll put it another way – if the person or organization selling this amazing thing can’t talk to you in plain English and at least describe the basic content of what they will be giving you in a short (5-15 minute) discussion without making everything sound like some big mystery and without talking about how you just need to pay for the subscription or the first session before they can be clear with you – then LEAVE. Seriously. Yes, I offer training, coaching, and consulting – and I expect reasonable compensation for these services. But I do not make a big secret about what I do. Quite the opposite, actually… I try to be as transparent as possible, and explain what I teach and why I think I add value to the equation.  If that’s not right for someone – then I want to point them to what IS right for them, not try to sell them something that they don’t need!

In summary – If a person or product comes across as a “big secret” to getting better results or whatever – but you can’t get a straight answer from the person or website about what it is and/or how it works – just walk away. Success doesn’t come from a box, bottle, book or video.  Some of those may help, and may legit raise your game by a measurable level… but they still aren’t a magic push-button to instant record-shattering success.

Hey – I get that this may seem harsh or you’re struggling to buy it… the concept of “success from a bottle” is something that has been around for decades.  It’s where the term “snake oil salesman” comes from.  But seriously – read up on how long the Beatles worked as a club band before they got a recording contract… here’s an excerpt: “Their work schedule was grueling, and they never had a day off. The group worked from 8 pm to 2 am on weeknights, from 7 pm to 3 am on Saturdays, and from 5 pm to 1:30 am on Sundays.” Read more about it here: .

One more…

Denzel Washington.

I got to where I am by working hard, not by partying with the right people, not compromising myself in anyway or cutting any kind of deals, just by working hard… sawing wood as I like to call it, I’m a 20-year-old overnight sensation.


To avoid the “big secret” trap: (as a consumer…)

  • Watch out for any claims of a something that is a secret that will also:
    • Earn you lots of $$$
    • Get you instant success – of any kind
    • Seems too good to be true
  • Be cautious of anyone offering you or your business a service but are elusive about how they will achieve results.
  • Don’t accept vague or nebulous promises about improvement, especially if you are required to “buy in” or pay a substantial amount before seeing any details about the product or specifically how it will help you.
  • Be skeptical of claims that “this works for anyone or everyone. (In all honesty – people who coach and consult often get amazing results – but not because of a secret, or trick… or some other gimmick. They get results because they spend time understanding YOU and YOUR problems and tailoring a solution that works for YOU!)
  • Don’t trust claims that there’s “no effort” on your part – anyone who says you can make big improvements without work is at best making a gross exaggeration.
  • Before you spend any of your hard-earned $$$ on a product or service claiming to make improvements for you, ask for references, or qualifications, or both and always KNOW what you are buying
  • Ask for guarantees or warrantees in writing – these should be specific. Expect there to be a caveat or statement that clearly defines your responsibilities or your part of making the thing work
  • Look online for reviews, references, or feedback – check the Better Business Bureau as well.
  • Be cautious of claims that an offer “expires soon” or is for a “limited time only” – this may be legit, or it may just be an attempt to create (in you) a sense of urgency
  • Be clear and honest up front about what you want or expect out of the arrangement and ask if there is any guarantee of results – or ask what is guaranteed. Make every effort to know what the deliverable is that you are being sold and if you need it

(and if you’re the one selling or marketing…)

  • Go through the recipe above and:
    • Make sure you are NOT claiming or offering anything that you yourself would be uncomfortable with as a consumer
    • Ask yourself if there are any points you can prepare for ahead of time, like:
      • References
      • Reviews
      • Qualifications
      • Having good, clear, easy-to-understand explanations of what you offer and how it will help someone or their business
    • Mentally prepare for potential negative reactions
      • Be ready to ignore negative responses on your advertising
      • Don’t respond to negativity with negativity
      • If someone points out a flaw or oversight – correct it and respond
    • Remind yourself (frequently) that you’re doing this the right way, and that there is NO shortcut
      • Resist the temptation to sensationalize what you’re offering with over-the-top claims
      • Be honest to a fault
      • If you decide to offer free content (and you should) then make that free content accessible and easy to get – don’t bury it behind a 30-minute string-along advertisement! (See my rant *Give It Away*)

*Is there a topic that you’d like me to address in Rants n Recipes? Send me a note at