Jeff Walker: Disingenuous Damage Control

On October 13 of the year 2010, Jeff Walker published a blog post titled Injecting Poison into Your Brain. Given the timing of the post (just 9 days after Salty Droid published his most popular post ever, Syndicate Shit Storm), it was clearly an effort to marginalize and deflect the criticisms leveled by Salty Droid and his readers.

Originally, I wasn’t planning to address the post — even though I found it to be quite manipulative. But then I changed my mind when I saw a couple hundred uncritical comments and a few different blogs encouraging people to go read Jeff’s post. Therefore, I feel it necessary to bring some perspective to what I see as a mostly one-sided, unbalanced discussion.

Let’s get started:

Jeff’s “damage control” post begins by describing an ordinary continental breakfast in an ordinary hotel where families are watching the morning news. He writes:

On the “news” show they kept showing a “news story” about a robbery of a convenience store… and the story featured a video clip from a security camera — the video showed a thug holding a gun to the terrified clerk’s head while he screamed that he was going to pull the trigger.

It was a horrible video. It literally made me sick to my stomach.

Keep in mind, security camera footage is usually low-resolution; movements are jerky, details are hard to make out. Also keep in mind that your average security camera only records images — no sound at all.

So, let me ask you a question:

When was the last time you were walking through a hotel lobby, saw a grainy and soundless clip of a guy robbing a convenience store, and then “literally got sick to your stomach.” Methinks Jeff Walker has a very weak constitution… or he’s embellishing the story to manipulate you.

Poison In, Poison Out?

Jeff Walker writes, “If you put poison into your brain, you’re going to get a bunch of poison coming out of your brain.”

Of course, this is just a rehash of the old “garbage in, garbage out” theory. Works for computers, but not so much when we’re talking about the human brain.

Your brain is not a simple computer that unquestioningly runs whatever programs are fed into it. It’s a complex organ that can process, filter, and analyze information in nanoseconds. It also has the ability to identify and reject “garbage.”

Perfect example: I used to work in a snowboard shop. My co-workers cursed constantly. If Jeff’s theory is correct, I should’ve been cussing like a roofer within days. But I wasn’t. I worked there three years. Never adopted their language. Still haven’t adopted it to this day.

So poison in, poison out? It’s an overly simplistic theory, and a weak one at that.

For a more accurate view of how the brain operates, I prefer Brian Tracy’s observation: “You become what you think about most of the time.”

How you react to input has a much greater bearing on your life than the mere content of what you’re exposed to.

Cult Tactics 101

Jeff advocates drastic measures if friends or family don’t fully support what you’re doing:

Always protect your confidence. If people are tearing you down, then you need to avoid them. This can be tough if it’s your family, but you need to set boundaries. You need to create distance. And if your friends are tearing you down, it’s time to find some new friends.

I am mostly in agreement with the idea of limiting negativity in your life. I agree it’s good to focus on the positive, to see the good in bad situations. I also agree that you shouldn’t pay much attention to naysayers — the types of people who casually dismiss your efforts by saying “that’ll never work.”

But I wouldn’t go so far as to say you need to cut yourself off from friends and family. As Salty Droid points out on his blog:

And thus did Jeff Walker illustrate the chilling tendency of “Internet Marketing” “Gurus” to cross freely into the oh so murky water of cult tactics.

Cults — including some popular religions and network marketing organizations — will give you similar advice about “negative” friends and family members. They know that the fewer dissenting voices you have in your life, the more easily manipulated you will be. And the more easily manipulated you are, the greater access they will have to your mind — and your wallet.

My advice: Keep your friends and family close.

And if a friend, family member, or even an acquaintance says, “It won’t work because…” — and then offers a valid reason — it’s time to pay attention. As I shared in my story about how I lost $30,000 on a dumb business opportunity, it is sometimes to your advantage to heed the so-called “dream stealers.”

Sycophants Only, Please

Jeff seems to believe the secret to business success is surrounding yourself with sycophants. That way you get a positive one-sided view of everything you do. How convenient!

Personally, I believe it’s important to always examine both sides of any argument. If I hold a view of intelligent design… and my opponent holds a view of random mutation (evolution)… then I better have a thorough understanding of the arguments for/against evolution. In fact, it would be foolish to try to enter any kind of discussion if I don’t understand my opponent’s position.

But Jeff believes that by examining contrary opinions that you are somehow injecting poison into your brain.

Hmmm… I thought that was just being well-educated.

Only Idiots Don’t Buy from Jeff Walker

Of all the points Jeff makes in his blog post, this is the one that angers me the most:

If you’re getting attacked by critics (who usually have no experience or are abject failures), then the best answer is usually to ignore them. Don’t visit the places they hang out. It’s that simple. In general, the people listening to them are not your clients or prospects.

It’s almost like an intelligence test. The people who are stupid enough to listen to the bile and hatred are not intelligent enough to be your clients.

Read that last paragraph again… it’s important.

There are at least two things going on here:

1. Jeff is using an ad hominem attack to dismiss legitimate criticism. Instead of addressing the criticism directly, he calls it “bile” and “hatred.” There is nothing I dislike more than lazy ad hominem judo. Anybody can do that.

Customer: “Jeff, I’ve been a little bit concerned about what seems like blanket endorsements of all of your buddies and all your buddies’ products.”

Jeff: “You’re just a jealous hater! I feel sick to my stomach…”

2. Even worse, Jeff indirectly says that if you don’t buy from him, you’re stupid!

Or, said another way, if you’re going to approach a sales pitch with skepticism and actually examine both sides of the (sales) argument, you must be an idiot and therefore do not qualify to be Jeff’s customer.

All of which raises a question I’ve been pondering for a few weeks now: Since I bought the original Product Launch Formula course… and… the Product Launch Manager Training… and… I read opposing viewpoints in an effort to be well-educated… what does that make me?

(I’ve personally spent about $4,000 with Jeff. I also read Salty Droid’s blog as well as other blogs that aim to protect consumers. Am I an outlier or just one of many examples that shatters Jeff’s logic?)

Clearly, Jeff must have been confused when he wrote his blog post. It’s not only strangers and outsiders who are reading Salty Droid’s blog, many of them are Jeff’s own customers — real people… who’ve spent real money… with him!

The bottom line: Jeff’s “poison post” was really just disingenuous damage control and a backwards attempt at flattery to get you to buy more of his stuff. Did it work? Judge for yourself.

-Ryan M. Healy

P.S. Do you think Jeff will still feature me on ProductLaunchManager.com as he promised in his sales letter? After all, I did pay for it. (After nearly a year of waiting, the directory was finally made available to his customers in early November 2010.)

P.P.S. As I’ve said before, I like the product launch model and have run some product launches myself. They work. This post isn’t a criticism of product launches or Jeff as a person; it is a criticism of Jeff’s blog post.

Ryan M. Healy

Ryan Healy is a financial copywriter and the author of Speed Writing for Nonfiction Writers. Since 2002, he has worked with scores of clients, including Agora Financial, Lombardi Publishing, and Contrarian Profits. He writes a popular blog about copywriting, advertising, and business growth, has been featured in publications like Feed Front magazine, and has been published on sites like WordStream.com, SmallBizClub.com, and MarketingForSuccess.com.

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