June 26, 2017

The Influence Trap: How Scumbags are Giving the Appearance of Value

The carrot isn’t real.

dont fall for these manipulative techiques


Years ago, while I was still practicing accounting as a CPA, I worked for a firm who had a managing partner who happened to be a big Tony Robbins fan. As a result, I had the opportunity to attend one of Tony’s one day sessions at a small concert hall type venue, where about 5000 people were in attendance.

At the time, I had no professional grade knowledge of the art of persuasion, in that I my experience to that point was in public accounting.

Even so, it didn’t take me long to realize that I was witnessing a master manipulator who was indeed hypnotizing his minions.

What set it off for me?

Tony told a story.

Now, his story was sequenced in such a way that made it appear that he was just telling a story. To the average minion, there was a moral to the story. The moral was meant to inform the minion how successful people get successful.

To me however, a person who was not then, nor is now, a Tony Robbins minion, the story represented something far more sinister. It was a clear manipulation tactic, a form of mass hypnosis, a fable that was meant to govern how you thought of Tony vs how the story would make you better at what you do.

The story was simply a recollection Tony had about working with a real estate agent from Century 21. With music, perfectly placed pauses, a massively powerful stage presence, super large hand, a very strange tendancy to severly hammer his own chest and story telling skills rivaled by the likes of Bill Cosby (before he was accused of rape), Tony proceeded to walk us through his experience with this real estate agent.

What Tony wanted us to think was that he was using the story to highlight the difference between a good sales person, and a bad sales person. And sadly, most people bought it hook line and sinker. Goes to show you the level of intelligence, or critical thinking skills his audience has. Anyway…

For me? All I got out of the story was the following:

  • Tony Robbins was so successful, he could afford to buy a $5 Million dollar home that he only used once.
  • Tony Robbins was to be admired not for what he said, but how he said it, if you in fact wanted to manipulate the mob.
  • Nothing that Tony Robbins had to say couldn’t be purchased from a $10 investment in “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill.

Yet, at the break, the minions in the audience were almost climbing over each other to get to the lobby and spend thousands on Tony’s books and CD’s.


Master Manipulation

Manipulation is nothing more than the power to influence someone to do something. When it is manipulation, it ceases to be positive, in my view, because it is no longer encouraging someone on honest terms. Manipulation is influence by literally, playing with the biases of the people being manipulated.

People believed Tony was so awesome that he could buy a house for $5 Million, and never use it. He must be so awesome that his books and CD’s will help me be able to buy a house for $5 Million, and never use it.

This is the power of influence used against you as a manipulation.


A few years back, a friend encourage me to read Robert Cialdini’s, “Influence:The Psychology of Persuasion”. So I did. I encourage you to read it too. Here is what you will learn if you do.

We are all susceptible to the following 6 forces that make us feel something is valuable, when in fact, it may actually not be. Robert refers to these things as the “weapons of influence.”


This is when someone gives you something, you take it, and then feel overwhelmed by the need to give them something back. Robert uses the example of a taste test on the local food store. Once you take that bite size piece of food, you are more likely to actually buy the food.


This is when you are stuck in a rut, unable to make a change, because you are hard wired to not only place a high value on consistency, but also see high value in those who demonstrate committed and consistent behavior.

Social Proof

This is you being a buffalo, and likely following the herd off the cliff. Buffalo can only see 2 feet in front of them. As a result, they look to the herd to navigate the plains, even when that herd is charging to certain death.

Many ways to make something look like a sure thing. One of my favorites, as was deployed by Mr. Robbins, is the “Im so rich, I don’t need your money” con.


You apparently like to be liked. So the easiest way to get you to like me is to simply like you first.


People in suits, people with massive Twitter followings, people who seem to demonstrate that they know something you don’t, will lead you around like a puppy, as you cannot resist the temptation to defer to someone you believe has more authority than you.


This is when you love something that is in short supply, and are willing to pay for something because you believe it is in short supply. This one is my favorite, because it shows up more often than not in the business I am in, and often looks like this.


The image above is a screenshot of a real life email I got from some dude named Josh Turner who claims to have solved the worlds problems as it pertains to business development.

Laughably, shortly after the limited seat, and also limited one time only, webinar was run, I received another email suggesting that by the grace of Josh’s heavenly disposition, and his desire to serve the needs of his audience, he opened another session.

What does all this mean to you?

Absolutely nothing, unless you want to stop playing games with people who rely on this type of shit to give you the impression that they have anything of value to offer you.

If however you would like to stop letting people manipulate you into handing over your hard earned cash, pay close attention to the following list of examples of how people are basically robbing you blind.

Be on the Look Out for These Cons

There are a million ways people steal your money by pretending to be something of worth to you. Here are a few of my favorites that, sadly, people in my industry use to cheat you out of a good investment.

“I Don’t Need the Money”

This is when the con artist insists that he or she is not doing what they do because they need your money. No, they are in it to help you because they made their millions already. Now, because they love you so much, they are doing the work of their god, in bringing their wealth generating secrets to your wallet.

The real secret is that their secret is being a fraud, stealing but disguised as consulting.

“Limited Time Only Webinar”

Diamonds are scarce, or so they tell me. Vintage baseball cards are scarce. Certain types of sports cars are scarce. Food, in some countries, is scarce. Seating for some live events is scarce.

You know what isn’t scarce. A webinar. There is no such thing as a “one-time-only” webinar provided by a half-assed consultant trying to steal your money. That seminar will be offered over and over again, you can rest assured.

“Sign Now or the Deal is Going Away”

This is the biggest, if not one of the biggest, scams going. Very few sales organizations have the luxury of not giving you the same deal tomorrow that they offered you today. Two of my favorite scenarios in this area are:

  • Big conference pressure sales
  • End of quarter pressure sales

Neither of the vendors selling this way will ever deny you the discount they just offered you. In rare cases, you will encounter a sales organization that truly doesn’t need your money, but that is rare.

More importantly, particularly in the case of signing up for anything at a conference, they are using your own commitment to your own actions against you. They know that the vast majority of people will honor a small commitment made under duress to make a large commitment down the road.

“I Can Teach You How to…”

No they can’t. And don’t believe they can. Most people achieved certain levels of success due to a unique set of skills or set of circumstances. Many have achieved success by using this type of bull shit manipulation.

Now, you might be thinking, “Vin, are you not a consultant?”

Yes, yes I am.

But I don’t have any secrets, and, I make it clear, that while I use principles and processes to help business grow, I am NOT selling a one-size-fits all fantasy dream trip to billionaire land.

So, if you see anyone, and I mean anyone, offering you something that starts with, “Let me show you what I did…” or “The secrets to how I made…” or “I struggled just like you, and now I am driving a Ferrari…”…

Run away. These people are a waste of your time, and an even bigger waste of your money.


There are no secrets to sound business development. There are principles, and ways to do things, but none of it is mysterious.

Good business has a risk component, as well as a know how component, as well as an execution component. Within each there are people who can help you by using good processes and techniques.

None of the good consultants I know use cheap influence techniques to steal your money. They are just smart, and want to help. And, they do want to make money doing it. And that, quite frankly, is a good thing.

The value you gain from any interaction with a consultant of any kind is going to be derived from a realistic analysis of where you are, where you would like to go and how they can get you there. There is nothing scarce about their knowledge, nothing contrived, nothing manipulative.

They just know things you don’t, and want you to pay them for their help.

Anything else is smoke and mirrors, and no longer within my personal realm of tolerance.


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