The Scam of the Hustle

Walk Away from Advice If They Mention These Three Things

Photo by Andreas Klassen on Unsplash

Online, anyone can be a guru.

With the rise of podcasts, YouTube channels, and online writing platforms…anyone can give advice.

There are shallow barriers to entry so that anyone can be a maverick. Instagram, YoutTube, and every version of online learning platform allow anyone to be “a star.”

We all want to be recognized to be famous. The market demanded notoriety, and it delivered. With Facebook, anyone can be noticed. Instagram turned local wannabe models into go-go dancers with millions of followers on OnlyFans.

But, before you go and start spewing hate where it doesn’t belong, remember that you, yes, you young hustler, have been played too.

Perhaps you wanted to start an online company or crush your goals. Maybe you wanted to write a novel or produce content. Either way, odds are someone, somewhere made a low-quality video or added that looked sincere and sold you on “Entrepreneurship.”

Suddenly, starting a business wasn’t about creativity or ingenuity; it was about marketing and hustling. It was all so easy. Make a few simple changes in your life, and boom: billionaire.

In this market, the consumer loses out. Low-cost barriers, high return on investment, produces countless wannabe Gary V’s and a ton of bad content.

Rather than getting genuine good advice, we get garbage, repetitive trash. “Read more books,” says one savior. “Fake it till you make it,” says another spiritual advisor.

How many more times is someone going to rehash the secret and tell the same story about writing yourself a check for services rendered? How many will more people rent luxury cars and pretend to be a jet-setting millionaire when all they are is a modern-day snake-oil salesman?

This entire huckster genre is a microcosm of the internet as a whole: you are the product.

Make Decisions Quickly

The people who succeed are the people willing to fail more than others. The only way to build experience is to fail more often. Therefore, the faster we fail, the faster we succeed, right?

The problem with this is it is short-minded thinking.

In the short run, it’s a matter of how hard you can sell. How hard can you market and get people to impulse buy? What can you do to create an emotion and make a person react to that emotion?

Want to be smarter? Healthier? Wealthier? Then buy this book. Buy this course. Listen to me, and no one else.

It’s the same as gurus. But better advice has never been said, when you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him.

Caution is a tool for a reason. We know we must be aware of danger, of crooks, of get rich quick schemes, but in the modern world of marketing, those ideas have been taken to a whole new level.

People pray on our insecurities. In drama, a writer has to create visceral experiences. We may be able to handle lofty ideas like time travel or philosophy, but there has to be an emotional hook.

Gurus know this as well, and if they can hook into an emotion, they will. Even if the impulse is a good one, like wanting to create a business to provide for your family, or owning a home, to them, it’s just another entry point.

In the long run, it’s about how much value you create. Someone who cheats on a test may make an A, but they didn’t learn the material.

Fix Your Mindset

Hucksters like to take real science and only show you the part that pertains to them. Psychological terms get thrown around, and buzz words are created. Phrases like “limiting beliefs” are used, and they sound proficient and professional.

Turn on any YouTube motivation video or listen to the sharks from the late 80s and early 90s, and it’s never about creating genuine value; it’s about changing your mindset.

The money-making niche is a dangerous one. Often, the people swimming in those waters are sharks. They’re the Gordon Gekkos of the world, but they have no value themselves. They’re narcissists and egotists who want that music video lifestyle, and they truly believe a sucker is born every minute.

These people, this business, do not care about the people they are “helping.” They care about turning you into a purchase.

The problem is not a bad product or service; the problem is you. But how do they know that? They don’t know your life or your circumstances. All they know is that this is a chord they hit like a pop-country song.

When it comes to business, it’s about solving problems, or as I like to think about it, “Looking for duct tape.”

Movies, plays, games, all the content we consume is fixing a problem. It could be as simple as boredom or grandiose as education, but it is still solving an issue. Likewise, the most significant companies out there, from Amazon to Apple, focused on solving problems.

What can be better in this world? How can I apply my skills to solve those issues?

No mindset involved. It’s not about thinking about limiting beliefs; it’s about putting your skills to work on the issues plaguing the world right now.

Invest in Yourself

This is great advice, except when it isn’t. In the world of the conman, this is nothing more than a marketing funnel. As long as you invest in yourself, you will always be willing to buy more expensive products.

Every pyramid scheme in existence uses this. Sell out products, and you will be rich. Not rich yet? Buy this class. Still not working? Hire a mentor. Still broke? Try this retreat. Remember, you have to invest in yourself first.

Again and again, it repeats like Scientology having more and more levels of ascendence behind financial barriers. You can’t win if you don’t take the risk, right? Insert Wayne Gretzky quote or Michael Jordan, and naturally, it’s all about you and being willing to take a risk.

If you fail, it’s not the system. It’s you. You didn’t believe it. You didn’t invest enough. You didn’t try hard enough. Therefore, you should buy the next thing. Then the next. And the next.

Conclusion

This is not to say that these things have no validity. They do; however, when someone throws them at you, they’re just telling you what you want to hear.

If you have no experience in making a movie, from writing a script and understanding the concepts of drama, to creating a storyboard and a shotlist as well as hiring a crew, casting actors, and all the other modalities of making a movie and someone was to say, “You can shoot a movie in three days if you just believe in yourself,” then you know they’re full of it.

Yes, having confidence is an invaluable soft skill, but it doesn’t replace real hard work and understanding. As my football coach used to say, “Hard work breeds confidence.”

If you want to be an entrepreneur, it’s about creating value. If you want to be a great writer, it’s not about scamming your audience into buying more of your books; it’s about giving more than you take.

When we look at starting businesses, writing books, auditioning, teaching, whatever the course may be, it’s not about hacking the system. It’s about creating value.

Think of it another way. Remember Suicide Squad? For months, the film was surrounded by bad press, and people leaving the project left and right. But, Warner Brothers hired a top-notch trailer team, and suddenly the movie was good again…

Except, it wasn’t. The content was awful. But Box Office numbers are about sales. They’re about butts in seats opening weekend. They don’t care about the movie’s quality. They care about how many people pay for a ticket.

Yet, once word got out how bad this DC film was, it was over. The film created no value. There are loads of reasons why that happened, but this isn’t about DC’s failures in the film world.

The point is, when we make something, anything, from coffee to content, we must always focus on the quality.

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Brock Vickers

Brock Vickers

I am an actor and writer who loves creating content and telling stories.