02 Jun Influencers Can Leave You Broke
People like influencers, gurus, and self-helpers can leave you broke. Even though they may promise you that if you spend money (sometimes money you don’t have) on their programs, you will become rich and famous, ’tisnt always so.
✔️ What is the actual criteria of an “influencer” anyway? The barriers to entry seem pretty low.
✔️ LinkedIn has become a hub of fake pathos, outright lies, self-aggrandizement and humble-brags. I would be leery of anyone who promises to make you millions of dollars solely by using LI.
✔️ Psychopathic manipulators have 0 issues with taking your last dollar. And they will do it if you let them.
✔️ Don’t be blinded by a large number of likes or followers. These interactions can be bought and they can also be bots. (No pun intended.)
Links I discuss in this episode:
Need more? Email me: https://causeyconsultingllc.com/contact-causey/
Transcription by Otter.ai. Please forgive any typos!
Welcome to the Causey Consulting Podcast. You can find his online anytime at CauseyConsultingLLC.com. And now, here’s your host, Sara Causey. Hello, Hello, and thanks for tuning in. So today I want to talk about the cult of influencers, and how sadly, you can fall into one and still be broke, despite their promises, that they can help you become a millionaire or some great social media success story. You can do everything they tell you to do, and still end up broke. Am I going to get hate mail for this episode? Absolutely. I’ve already put my armor on and just accepted that I’m gonna get haters. I’m gonna have people that are mad people that all this influence or save my life changed my life made me bazillions of dollars. And it’s like, okay, but is your success story? If it’s true, no offense, if it even is accurate? Is it the case? For most people, I’m willing to bet that it’s not. Back in December of 2020, when I recorded the episode called, like tactics used in corporate America, and why self help often doesn’t help. There’s a reason why I put those two concepts together. In some circumstances, the self help industry can be a conduit to getting sucked into a cult, people are typically in a vulnerable space, they’re looking for guidance for help for answers. And that unfortunately, leaves an opening in their life. For someone who’s charismatic that says they have all the answers or says they can provide necessary support to just zoom right in and start taking advantage. There’s an article on Forbes, which I will of course, drop a link to titled Why self help books don’t work and how to nevertheless benefit from them. And I want to read a portion of that article now. Because the author breaks it down into three basic components. Bad effect, meaning self help books sometimes give wrong and harmful advice or some type of false hope. Number two, the placebo effect, meaning if they actually work, it’s not because of the advice that’s actually given in the book. But because it’s caused the person to have a placebo effect. Maybe they’re paying attention to something that they didn’t think about before. But it’s not because they’re actually following the advice in the book. And three has no effect, meaning the person read the book, because maybe it was interesting, or they were trying to see if they got anything out of it. They didn’t and so they left it in the dust. The same is true, okay, I can feel some of you getting very skeptical or some daggers starting to come out like I can feel it happening right now, as I’m recording this. The same is true for some of these influencer programs, you get a bad effect, you get a placebo effect, or you get no effect at all, except you’ve been parted from your money, trust and believe. I know of when I speak because I’ve lived it. I’ll have to be necessarily vague here. But the story that I have to tell is an important story. And it’s one that deserves to be told, if I can save somebody out there from spending money they really don’t have on some bullshit influencer, that’s not really going to actually help them. I am happy to put myself up on the chopping block and essentially say, Hey, I made some epic fails. I’ve had some epic screw ups in the business world, I can put my hand in the air and say yeah, I know what it’s like to go splat at the bottom of the Grand Canyon and feel like a complete idiot. feel like you’ve spent so many years of your life building up good credit, building up a nest egg in your savings account being so diligent and so careful, and then WAMP it just all goes straight to hell, in what feels like a very short window of time. And being that type of person who was vulnerable, who was in a very rough and scared space and was taken advantage of by so called gurus and experts who did absolutely nothing to actually help me. If I can save somebody out there who’s listening to this today thinking about driving themselves into debt or making foolish financial decisions. If I can save that person or at least convince you hey, why don’t you sleep on it? Why don’t you talk to a professional financial planner or a professional financial advisor before you make this investment like use your head let let yourself calm down don’t make a rash impulse buy that deep down you know, you can’t afford like, I’m willing to be that person. It means a lot to me truly deep have The existential sigh. So here we go. Back in my first iteration of self employment slash entrepreneurship, I had reached a point where I knew that my business was circling the drain, I had come out of denial enough to at least say like, this is not working, when I watch those episodes of like Bar Rescue or Kitchen Nightmares, and I hear the owner saying, we’ve got two, maybe three months left in us tops, and then we have to close down, we’re gonna have to sell the place, we’re gonna have to do something because the only cash on hand or the only credit that we have access to is going to carry us for maybe two to three months, and then we’re done. If we don’t have a massive rapid turnaround, this place is going under, I have real compassion for that. Because I’ve lived it. I know what it’s like to look at the balance sheets and look at your personal finances and say I can’t, I have no more access to money, no more access to credit, there’s, there’s nothing else that I can do to keep this place afloat. And, you know, hashtag real talk, maybe it doesn’t need to stay afloat. Maybe it’s circling the drain, because it needs to get flushed down the toilet. It’s just not working. So I’ve gotten involved with a program. And, you know, as an introvert, you’ve heard me talk about this numerous times. I am not big on group thing. And I am not big on like group coaching, or these group mastermind sessions. I know some people swear by them. And I feel like if you’re in one, and it’s working for you, like you’re legit being helped by it, you’re getting good advice from it, don’t stop on my account, you’ve got to do what works for you. I can only speak to my own personal experience, which is I never really liked them. And I never really got anything meaningful out of them. Maybe that’s just me as a crusty old introvert, I don’t know. But it really was not my bag. Nevertheless, because I was vulnerable. And the business was circling the drain, I got sucked into one of those mastermind type programs go to be necessarily vague, I will not name any names will not tell you anything about what the group is called, or anything of that nature. But suffice it to say it was one of those business oriented mastermind groups where if you were struggling in your business, or you had hit a plateau of some kind, and you were trying to move forward, you could join this mastermind for a price of course, it’s not free, and get expert advice. And as again, as I mentioned before, you know, there were times when group sessions would just turn into a stitch and bitch, it would be people really kvetching and moaning and groaning about problems, but nobody ever really getting to a solution. It was more of like an afternoon gripe session, which, to me is not very helpful. I mean, yes, of course, it feels good to blow off steam. But you can do that with your best friend for free or with your spouse, you don’t, you don’t have to pay big bucks to be part of a mastermind a quote unquote mastermind to do that. Like, you know, if I’m in a program like that, I want answers, dammit, I want somebody to be able to steer me in the right direction. So it was very thirsty for guidance. And I thought that the people involved in this program would be able to give it to me. And I remember, you know, one of the reasons why I am so passionate about exposing cult like tactics that are used in corporate America or cult, like tactics that are just used in the business world in general, is because I know how dangerous it can be to get sucked into that kind of situation. And I also know sadly, how many charlatans there are out there who are more than willing to exploit somebody, when they’re down. When they really don’t have money to spend, they really shouldn’t be putting themselves further into debt. These charlatans do not give a shit, they don’t care, they want your money. They are greedy, and they are salivating for that cash. And there are lines of thought out there. Where salesmen are taught like if somebody wants it bad enough, they will find a way. So don’t feel bad about taking their last dime, don’t feel bad about making them put $5,000 on a credit card when that’s the last effing thing that they need to be doing. Like take that money, get that money. If it’s important to them, they will figure out a way to make it work. And so it kind of I think also dovetails into hustle culture, toxic hustle culture, like it doesn’t matter if you need to drink espresso and Red Bull constantly to stay awake like you better maximize every effing hour of your day, in order to hustle, get on that grind. The same kind of icky gross energy that’s around just take somebody’s money. It does not matter what kind of financial condition they’re in. It does not matter if you feel like you’re exploiting them. You need to just get that cash. So there was an individual who was kind of like a moderator or curator in this mastermind group and he was also really the main One that was in charge of like business development and sales for this group as well, I’ll just call him John Doe, not his real name, obviously. And John was from that same school of thought, you know, if you are really motivated, if you really want to keep your business from going down the tubes, then you’ll find a way. And even though I had a lot of mixed emotions about it, and my sort of better angels, were saying, they’re like, Dude, don’t do this. I was desperate. I was scared, I did not underline it, bold, type it not, I did not want to go back to corporate America. And one of the reasons why I went into such a deep, dark night of the soul, existential depression, after I did go back to corporate America was because I didn’t want to be there. I have never felt like I was really cut out to just sit in a cubicle and obey somebody else. Like, that’s just not what I feel like my life is about. And I’m not ragging on anybody listening to this, who does like to go and sit in a cubicle and be told what to do. Like, that’s your prerogative, and we’re all different. I myself just was not built for that. And it never really made me happy. So when I had to go back to that kind of lifestyle, and that kind of work style, out of financial necessity to avoid a full tilt bankruptcy, it bankrupted me emotionally. That is, for damn sure. I’ve got this guy on the phone with me, John Doe telling me well, you know, where there’s a will there’s a way you’re gonna come up with this money. You know, could you borrow it from a friend? Could you go to the bank? Do you have any more credit cards, I mean, he was just very like Sharky, and not not compassionate at all. And I had, at that time, a high interest credit card that I had not touched, because it was basically like loan sharking, the interest rate on that damn card was insane. And I thought, Okay, this is either going to be the thing that turns my business around, I’m either going to really get some strategies and some important information out of this mastermind that just turns it around, it’s going to turn fast, or it’s going it’s going to go down the toilet, one or the other. So I will go ahead and utilize this high interest credit card. And I will put this program on there in the hope and the prayer that this is going to work out. This is going to be that magic bullet that finally solves my problems. And spoiler alert, it wasn’t. So I was left with this debt on this credit card from hell, it took me forever, it felt like to pay it off, even though it wasn’t like, I’m not going to say exactly how much it was for this program, again, because I just want to keep it vague. But, you know, it was enough that it took me a long time to get it paid off. And it every time that I would make the payment on that I would just feel acidic about it, you know, just have this like, an angry feeling. You know, well, I angry at myself, obviously, because I did it to myself. I’m very big on caveat mTOR. And I have more of a libertarian attitude about things. And I think some people do, some people really, they will do something in the moment. And then later on, they go back and they want society to bail them out for it. And I’m like, No, I’m an adult. You know, I could have slammed the phone down in that guy’s ear. I could have, you know, I could have told him to eff off like, but I didn’t you know, I have my own free will decided to buy that mastermind program and get involved in it and put it on a high interest credit card. And that was my bad I shouldn’t have done that. Now we can certainly debate the point. Yeah, but wasn’t that guy an exploitative piece of shit? Yeah, of course he was. Yes, of course, he was, of course that has been in The Dark Knight Rises enough cars? Yeah, of course he was. And that’s one of the reasons why I’m on the airwaves today, warning you. Not all that glitters is gold. And some of these so called influencers on social media or the so called mastermind groups are not going to yield you anything resembling a positive result. Now they’ll stick their hand down and take your money, but you may not get any actionable good information that you can use to turn around your business. In this particular situation, it really hit home for me that I had made a big mistake and that I was not going to really benefit from what was going on. When it became clearer and clearer that John Doe was really utilizing his place in this group for ego adulation and self promotion and self adulation. He had become obsessed with trying to get more and more likes on social media. And he also really became obsessed with trying to go viral. Somewhere anywhere YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram LinkedIn just somewhere anywhere I want to go viral. I want everybody to notice me I and I thought like Dude, I’m not here for that. I paid money. I don’t even have on a high loan Sharky credit card interest rate from hell. Like I pay I need to be here. And I feel like I have every right as a consumer to be selfish and say, Okay, I didn’t sign up to help you go viral. I didn’t sign up to pad your ego, I signed up to get help. And I feel like I’m not getting any help. And it was so maddening. And in particular, John was at that, at that point in time, I don’t know about now. But at that point in time, he was like, obsessed with Gary Vee. And I know that just by recording this episode and saying, you know, some of these influencers are full of crap, and they’ll just happily take your money and not do anything else for you. I already know I’m gonna get hate mail for that. I know that by saying I don’t get the appeal of Gary Vee. I’ll get hate mail for that too. But it is what it is. I don’t understand. People that look at Gary Vee through eyes of worship, like I just don’t get it. I know that we all have particular people that are meaningful to us and that we feel like I’ve had a good positive influence on our life in some way. Like some of these people that become obsessed with Gary Vee, I just don’t get it. Like, I really don’t get it. And thankfully, I’m not the only one or like the lone person out on the island that’s like that guy. Why? There’s an article I will drop a link to on Chantel glennville site called fuck you Gary Vaynerchuk pretty much says it all, doesn’t it? But she has her list of reasons why? One of them is working harder isn’t always the answer. That is completely true. As I’ve said many times before, you can do all of the right things. You can you can dot every I cross every T have good credit, excellent credit have money and savings have done all the right things so that you feel confident your parachute is going to open when you jump off the cliff and then it just doesn’t. So working harder and hustling and trying to stay up 18 hours a day and just work work work around. That doesn’t always cut it. You can be busy on mindless bullshit activities that will put no revenue in your pocket at all. Working harder is indeed not always the answer. She also writes that the damage you do could last for years because in one of Gary V’s videos, he talks about how like from age 22 to age 30 he just worked constantly and never did anything fun. And it’s like wow, I guess we’re all supposed to worship that and don’t get it. three on our list is you might not be around to see the payoff. And that’s so true. And it’s I’ve talked about this before when it pertains to golden parachutes, like when I talked about the people that were like bleeding through their pants and not not able to get up and go to the bathroom on those tick tock meetings. Like if you croak before you get to your so called golden parachute was it worth it? If you give yourself a chronic health condition because you worked yourself almost to death? Is it worth it? Hell no. Hell no. Yeah, okay. And she also writes in the article success, happiness and life like it’s not all about money and it’s certainly not all about trying to work you know, 18 hour days because some guy online told you that you needed to hustle all the time. I so I don’t get the appeal of Gary Vee sorry I don’t. And this guy becoming obsessed with Gary Vee just only further drove a wedge in between what he was trying to accomplish and what I was trying to accomplish in you know, like saving my freakin business. Later on down the road John became obsessed with Che robot them after she became some kind of to do on LinkedIn. Sorry, no offense, that’s another person I don’t get the appeal of. I don’t like any kind of like hustle culture, like rise and grind get up off your ass. I overcame the odds so you can and you’re a dumbass piece of crap if you don’t. It’s not for me. Sorry. Alex, Mel Taylor wrote an article which I will also drop a link to called LinkedIn is a toxic capitalist meme generator, work capitalism, propaganda and the myth of meritocracy. And he mentioned che, specifically I want to read from his article now, LinkedIn stated mission is to make working professionals more productive and successful. With over 750 million members. That narrow goal translates into a platform where people are unsurprisingly centered on either getting a job or highlighting their jobs successes. It’s Facebook for job hunters and capitalists. I’m going to break in long enough to say absolutely. I saw a poll on LinkedIn recently about what kind of content people most liked to engage with an inspirational posts and photos was number one on the poll. I think educational content was somewhere near the absolute bottom and I thought ah, doesn’t that doesn’t that just say at all? I’ll continue to read he’d most go there to share their new positions, promotions and hustles leaving all the messy complications of life at the door. Social media has always been an authentic all platforms encourage people to curate a persona, along certain aesthetic and political lines. But the values promoted on LinkedIn are fucking toxic. They are all about glorifying the grind. And he quotes now from che robot I’m saying eight years ago today I had $4 in my bank account creator che robot them posted to viral success and 2021. And then she responds keep going with a fist. LinkedIn is a place where for the most part, the terrors of our system are massaged away, so that viewers can instead consume advice on working harder, faster, better and more smartly. To participate and be successful on this platform. You have to find a way to fit your problems into the marketplace or be deemed a bad worker and quote, and it made me think of this documentary that I watched not long ago on YouTube called The Rise and Fall of Rachel Hollis and you can find it on not the good girls channel. I’ll drop a link to it of course in the write up for this podcast episode, and I’m gonna be honest with you never even heard of Rachel Hollis. Apparently she was some big to do at some point in time and wrote a book called something like wash your face or girl girl go wash your face. I don’t know. I’m not hip on that kind of stuff, I guess. But in watching the documentary, it was like, Ah, okay, now I understand why somebody wanted to create a documentary to just skewer this woman. In this documentary, the author shows a video that I guess was like from Instagram or Tiktok, some some type of social media, where Rachel is on a tear about a pin on Pinterest. Sometimes it’s okay, if all you did today was brief. Apparently, she took some kind of real personal umbrage to that pin, and was like, Nah, that’s not okay. And then she goes off on a rant about with you, when you were a kid, you believed in Santa Claus, but then you got over that. And so you need to get over this idea that it’s okay just to breathe. And I’m like, Where the hell do you get off? Like, people situations are different? Are you really going to sit there and tell somebody that just had chemotherapy to deal with their cancer? Like, it’s not okay, if all you did today was brief fuck off lady. I’m sorry, I tried to keep this you know G or PG. Most of the time I’m this episode’s going to necessarily go explicit, because I just get so tired of that type of mentality that you put her be on the hustle every day? No, no, no, you don’t have to hustle every single day or every single hour. There are times in life, when shit is going to happen. You don’t feel well or your kid is sick, or one of your animals get sick, you have to take the dog to the vet, things are going to happen, you’re not going to be able to be at peak performance and optimum level all the time. If you work out regularly, then you know that from your workouts, you’re going to have days where like, Man, my back is just not with it. Today, I’m going to have to do some modifiers or my knees are killing me. It doesn’t mean that you just go lay on the couch and eat a bag of potato chips. It just means that you take them on a fire it means that you do something to work around your injuries or your problems. But my God, I think we all have had days in life where we just got the absolute crap kicked out of us by circumstances. And you know, it felt like okay, the the the greatest thing I can say about today is that I survived it. It’s over with and tomorrow’s a new day and a new opportunity. If you scroll down and read some of the comments that are on the YouTube video, they’re spot on. Someone named Ernie writes, I loathe that we all have the same 24 hours thing because no we don’t. Beyonce has a nanny a cook, a trainer and assistant and army of people to make her have all the time she wants. I have my own Cook, trainer, driver, Nanny assistant and everything else. So I’m going to go with I have way less time than her and quote, Yeah, hello. There’s also a person named Molly Burke who writes as a content creator and longtime motivational speaker her message has always rubbed me the wrong way. Seeing that clip about that sometimes if all you can do is breathe Pinterest post. Wow. As a disabled woman who has also struggled with severe mental illness, this just screamed. I’m privileged. I’ve accomplished a lot in life despite my challenges, but hell, sometimes I still wake up and all I can do that day is breathe and that’s okay. Damn, and quote. So after reading that, I’m going to go back and read one of the paragraphs from Alex Mel Taylor’s article that I read to you before, and just see if you can feel it a bit harder now. Social media has always been an authentic, all platforms encourage people to curate a persona along certain aesthetic and political lines. But the values promoted on LinkedIn are fucking toxic. They are all about glorifying the grind. Eight years ago today, I had $4 in my bank account creator, Shay robot and posted to viral success and 2021 Keep going fist bump, and quote, kind of sounds similar to what we were just talking about, doesn’t it? Some of these gurus have in person retreats that cost 1000s upon 1000s of dollars, or some of them will have in person conferences where you have the opportunity to sit in a crowded auditorium and listen to them. And then maybe you might get to go down front and in front of the microphone and ask one question for them to answer if you’re lucky, again for hundreds or maybe even 1000s of dollars. One of the things that I have noticed is that there are some people that go from coach to coach to coach or guru to guru to Guru, influencer, influencer and influencer conference to conference to conference. I mean, they seem to have a never ending supply of either money or credit to put towards these retreats and conferences, but nothing ever really changes. They’re always looking for the next Guru, the next coach the next influencer. And if you find yourself in that cycle, I really do think is worth talking to a professional and a psychiatrist, a counselor or a therapist to get out of that endless cycle of wanting some guru to save you or wanting somebody to give you a magical answer. Because there are these people out there that they promise they’re going to blow you up on social media, or they promise they’ve got some great answer for you. And when you get in, you realize it’s just a bunch of hot air, or a bunch of nonsense, or it could even just be basic common sensical things that you could have Googled for free. You don’t have to pay 1000s of dollars and get on an airplane to go listen to somebody in person. So one thing I want to say is always Caveat emptor, let the buyer beware. Do your own research. Do your own due diligence. Trust your gut instinct. If something sounds too good to be true, and deep down, you feel like that person is selling you a line of bullshit. Listen, listen, don’t be afraid to ask good questions and to do some fact checking because there are plenty of people out there who will exploit you. If you allow them to, they don’t have any compunction about it at all. You can’t sit back and say, Well, I would never do that I’m a compassionate giving empathetic human being I would never kick somebody while they’re down. I would never take somebody’s last dollar. That’s because you’re not a psychopath or a sociopath. You know, I’ve heard Dr. Phil talk before about people being trusting because they’re not psychopaths or sociopaths, they had no idea that somebody was going to come up and put a gun in their ribs and mug them, they had no idea that some con artists was going to come and take their last dollar, because they’re just not wired to think that way. So if something sounds too good to be true, or you feel like you’re gonna put yourself into a massive amount of debt, and you might never pay it off, in order to go to some guru or influencers conference, I want you to really step back and ask yourself if it’s worth it, like, what is the level of confidence that you have? That it’s going to work out? It’s going to be the thing. Are there any reviews? Is there any data? Is there any any studies that could potentially help you make the decision. And as I’ve said many times before, please seek out professional guidance, whether it’s a counselor, a therapist, a professional financial planner, a professional financial advisor, be so careful about spending money that you don’t actually have been there, done that. And the amount of damage control and cleanup that you have to do afterward is staggering. But just because somebody goes online, and they say they’re an influencer, and they may have 1000s of followers, that doesn’t even mean anything, either. You would look at all the stuff that’s going on right now in the market with Elon Musk and Twitter. And this revelation that maybe even half of the users on the platform are freaking fake bots. I mean, just because somebody has all these followers, it doesn’t even necessarily mean they’re real people. Not everything that glitters is gold. We hope you enjoyed today’s episode. If you haven’t already, please take a quick second to subscribe to this podcast and share it with your friends. Thanks for tuning in. We’ll see you next time.