Thursday, February 11, 2010

Sorry for the long-time, no-write, kids.

I've actually tried writing a few posts in the past week since Dan Harris of ABC News interviewed Joe Vitale. I was hoping to analyze what may have happened during that interview, but I think if you read Mr. Fire's blog post about it, you can read between the lines. Darn those mainstream media reporters! Always asking questions!

If you follow me on Twitter, you probably got the jist of what I think about the interview and Joe Vitale's comments about the interview.

But my experience yesterday got me thinking enough to start writing again. Here's the backstory.

Two days ago, Pat O'Bryan re-tweeted a comment by Mark Joyner on Twitter. In it he comments:
Being a vocal critic is a great way to get recognized ... but what's more important? Recognition? Or not being an asshole?
I, of course, had to ask if the families of the victims of James Ray's sweatlodge were assholes for being vocal critics. See, I think criticism, and being vocal, have a very important place in this world, and I think that attacking critics for their criticism without dealing with the criticism directly serves absolutely no one.

What transpired was a polite, nice conversation between me, Cosmic Connie, and Mark Joyner. I was impressed with how he handled talking to a critic. This is about the extent of my experience with him, so I won't comment on him or his products/services further. Though if he can pull off what he's trying to do with Construct Zero, I applaud him.

What happened later was even more surprising. I asked Mark if he had ever seen Hoshun, the blind, magic Russian wish dolly. Mark responded that he didn't believe in such things. Within hours, Pat O'Bryan had updated his Russian wish dolly web site with a left-brained western look at Hoshun that balanced out the magical marketing crap rather nicely.

See, now on Cosmic Connie's blog, Pat had actually posted a similar explanation of Hoshun, an explanation you'd never get by reading the magical genie copywriting on the wish dolly site. As you can imagine, the magical promises made in the copywriting was something that even Pat and Joe's friends had taken issue with. To say that Hoshun was unpopular with friends and foe alike was an understatement.

Yet, in sheer and utter defiance of criticism from any source, the site remained up, the product remained for sale, and there were no changes to how the magical genie was marketed.

But when Mark Joyner says he doesn't believe in such things, it all changes. That's all that changed yesterday... that Mark Joyner (perhaps hearing of Hoshun for the first time) says something, and something rather minor at that.

Interesting dynamic, no?

So, I had to wonder. Maybe Mark Joyner has some magical genie powers himself? And we didn't have to paint eyes on him either! Hey, maybe we can start selling jpg printouts of Mark Joyner for $40 a pop that people can put up on their refrigerators to change their whole world!

Now, it is rather apparent that dishing out even the kindest criticism to misguided internet marketers is not Mark Joyner's cup of tea. But the exchange illustrated a few points.

The Level of Respect
When someone that one of the Wimberley mafia respects says something, the Wimberley mafia take action. There seems to be a disconnect between the respect afforded someone like Mark Joyner and their customers. So of course, I have to ask, what would happen if Joe Vitale or Pat O'Bryan treated their customers the same way they'd treat someone they respected, like Joyner? Would that change their business practices?

Would Joe Vitale charge Mark Joyner $5,000 to ride in his Rolls Royce and go to dinner at the Vitale Cigar Bar? I seem to recall that Mark visited with Joe and his merry band of Siglo marketers not too long ago. I don't know if Mark paid them $5,000 to be in the same room with Joe, but I doubt it.

For those who might argue that Joe is an experienced business man and so is Mark and blah blah they have knowledge others don't, I might have to wonder. I don't know enough about Mark to know whether or not his billable rate is fair or not, but because Joe is deceptive in his marketing (see previous posts of mine for evidence and further opinion), I doubt he is worth the thousands per hour he says he is.

But then again, even Richard Branson sells his presence for $40,000 according to a commenter on the Salty Droid's post about Tellman Knudson. Who knows who is worth what. That's not really my point.

My point is that I see a level of respect towards Mark Joyner that is not afforded the average wish dolly customer. And I think that if Joe Vitale, Pat O'Bryan, and the rest of them respected their customers as much as they do Mark Joyner, not only would I have nothing to snark about, but their entire business would change.

Probably for the better. It might even change their entire lives! Total life transformation, right there, guys! And I'm not charging you hundreds a month to hear it! Get congruent: get your marketing lined up with some integrity and your beliefs, respect your customers, and your entire life will change!

Joe said somewhere that he says "I love you" when he's writing or talking to people. I don't see love when you're trying to sell someone something that is "magical" that will change their entire life, as he did with the awakened millionaire continuity crap.

The Level of Discourse
I actually had a decent back-and-forth with Joyner. Yes, Mark Joyner TALKED to a critic. And I didn't bite him. Actually, I walked away from the conversation (actually RAN as I was late for a meeting) thinking highly of him in terms of how he can relate to a critic.

Let's compare that with how I've been treated by the gang in Wimberley. Or how Connie has been treated. They've attacked, ignored, mocked, and ignored some more. Yes, maybe if we IGNORE the problem it will go away, right?

Which method of handling a critic was more effective? I think that's the lesson for everyone (including me).

Effecting Change
Despite opinions to the contrary, my goal in writing anything is to effect change. I would like others to think more critically and not get wrapped up in the hype-notic* copywriting where they throw their money away on garbage so Mr. Fire can buy fake Siglo cigars and pretend he's important. I would like Mr. Fire to stop being Mr. Fire and Joe Vitale to be more congruent with his words and actions and act with the integrity he purports to have.

We got a LITTLE change yesterday. Minor. It seemed to come from the combined pressure of a critic pointing out incongruency and awareness by someone respected. How can we harness that kind of power and influence to effect change elsewhere?

Some say that we can't FORCE people to act ethically. I agree. But can we encourage them to? How so? How do I encourage someone to do something when they think I am scum (because I am not Mark Joyner). And even if I did reveal my identity, I wouldn't have the respect from any of the Wimber-lies... I'm ranked down with "customers."

These are the questions I have.

I am encouraged to see some change. And I am glad to have had the conversation with Mark that shifted things... not only in Pat, but in myself as well.

* With a nod to Ron Kaye, brilliant mind behind "hype-notic."


  1. Hey, BBF, glad you’re back.

    I too had read that post by Pat about the Sigloids’ meeting with Mark Joyner. I noticed that post was dated December 23, a couple of weeks after Pat published his rant about critics, and about a week after said post was “sanitized." One thing that stuck out for me in the later post was this: "Conversation [between Joyner & Sigloids] ranged from critics to critical analysis, Buddhism, Randism, Capitalism, to super-ninja moves and all points in between."

    Evidently they didn't get around to actually discussing more civilized and sane ways to deal with critics during that ten-hour or so confab. It apparently took our engaging Mark directly on Twitter yesterday to bring the matter out in the open. I too was impressed with the way Mark handled it. (Heck, it even made me want to read his books.)

    Actually, I’ve never really had an issue with Mark anyway. I’m not terribly familiar with his work but I’ve read some of his writings and he seems to be pretty sensible. I don’t see him going around marketing magical toys, anyway. (Sure, the “Simpleology” stuff is kinda gimmicky, but it’s a good gimmick, it’s great branding and, more importantly to me, it seems devoid of woo.)

    And speaking of woo, I too think the timing of Pat’s left-brain/Western-mind addition to the Hoshun marketing page is interesting. While it does provide a somewhat overdue explanation for rationalists and therefore adds some balance, it seems to me that the “magical” stuff is still the big hook. But I quibble. As Pat said, he learned from that marketing mistake.

    I think the most important points you made in this post had to do with respect, or lack thereof, for one's critics as well as one's customers. Some of the Wimberley gang need to get over that whole condescending "his/her eyes widened when I revealed my big secret" mindset. It’s really getting old, and it seems to betray an attitude towards clients that puts me in mind of the “people are meat” attitude discussed recently on Salty Droid’s blog. Other members of the Wimberley Mafia, perhaps, need to get over the conviction that everyone but them is an idiot.

    As for me, I have my own stuff I need to get over, and I’m working on it (but not too diligently at this point :-))

    Maybe, just maybe, your post will help all of us.

  2. BBF, I wouldn't hold my breath in expectation of a major shift in attitude toward customers if I were you. It has long been obvious that the primary - perhaps sole - driving forces behind these guys is 1) the desire to increase and sustain their cash flow, and 2) to foster sufficient adulation as to compensate for their own obviously bruised egos.

    We've seen first-hand how these folks define integrity. Addressing a challenge (or even a reasonable question) with arrogant dismissiveness and passive-aggressive put downs is a pretty clear statement of fear, compounded by the awareness that offering valid responses would effectively disprove the BS they're trying to push.

    Joe's "blessings" and Pat's frequent threats to "expose" his critics' deep dark secrets are both pathetic (and equally laughable) attempts to silence not only their critics, but anyone who honestly seeks truth. The only reasonable assumption is that the truth is what they fear most. Why? Because sugar-coated BS sells more readily than does truth. And selling is what it's all about to them. Given the choice between actually helping people improve their lives and deceiving them in order to acquire the next coveted toy, we've seen their preference too many times.