Hey again, Fellow Stucknaut! Get cozy for this one. It's a longer blog. Embarrassing story time, yay!
Desperation can bring us to scary places. My own desperation got me to somewhere scary I wanted to share with you. Maybe you can relate.
This is how my desperation started...
In Octoberish of 2022, my wife and I ran face first into some major financial concerns as our careers made unexpected deviations from the path we charted. I won't go into it in detail, but basically, the life we planned on living the next couple of years simply wasn't going to happen. And if it did, it would come at the expense of our mental and physical health. It wasn't a sacrifice we were willing to make to ensure comfort.
So we made some big career changes, resulting in a cut of our combined annual income of over half. Our cozy life was turned upside down literally overnight and now everything was in the air.
To say I was stressed is an understatement. There was a week or so where I didn't really eat all that much. I knew I should, but I just wasn't all that hungry. I mean, I did eat. Just not like I usually do. I lost like 10 pounds.
Was I in a defensive state? Uhhhh yeah. Yeah, I was. Some flight, but honestly, mostly fight. Not aggressive and uncontrolled. More motivated and pointed. There was a problem and I could solve it. I would make it happen.
My mind was a singular focus - how to keep my family of four afloat through financial turmoil.
And my mind had a singular answer - use my business to make more money.
The problem was I had almost no idea how to do that. Not very well, at least. I have historically been terrible at selling my courses lol. I know they're amazing courses and provide exactly what I intended for the participants - getting unstuck.
But the courses being amazing doesn't mean s*** in the world of entrepreneurship if you don't know how to sell them.
Somewhere during the first weekish of us making this big decision together, I started getting desperate. My motivated fight energy turned into something else... This is when I decided it was time to buy a course myself. Perfect timing!
What kind of course was I searching for? A course on how to sell courses, of course!
I went to YouTube and searched for who was selling what. I know these business types like to give out free info and then make an offer so I listened to a few. And I got exactly what I expected - skeevy, slimy salespeople. Yuck.
But then one person - who I will keep anonymous because they threatened to come after me with their millions of dollars (I'll explain later) - felt like she was speaking directly to me. She understood my pain. She knew exactly what I needed. And wouldn't you know it - she had the answer too!
The price of her course wasn't mentioned. But I scheduled a chat with her to see if I was a good fit for her program.
Then I spoke with one of her people during the phone call. Seemed a likable fellow. He made small talk at the beginning, asked where I was from. He wasn't overly aggressive with me, but he obviously was sending me through what seemed like a scripted sequence of talking points. Even the opening chit chat felt scripted.
I was aware of this... but looked the other way. "I suppose it's just normal in the world of business. They have the skills I don't - so who am I to question it? Do I want help or not?"
He asked me a few questions about my business and my motivation level. And apparently it all checked out because he proclaimed that he thought I would be a good fit for their program. Hazza!
Still no mention on the price of the course. "It's probably like ten grand or something. Crap, I can't afford this. But I also can't do this on my own! I need what they have and I'm going to suck it up. Something in my life has to change; I am going to make this work so my family can have a better life. I don't want to lose my house or sell all my stuff or take the kids out of their extracurricular activities that are so healthy for them both emotionally and socially!" (Remember - story follows state.)
So I asked him how much it costs.
He said very cooly and calmly, with a wave of his hand like it was nothing - "$8,600." I know for some, that is nothing. And good for them. But it's definitely something for me. A lot of something.
"Yeah, I don't have that."
"How much do you have?" he asked.
That felt a bit forward. But I answered him. And he assured me that the payments could be broken up into 4 installments for a total of $9,000.
"But what if I'm not able to pay that? I won't be taking money out of my family's account. This would come from my business account." I asked, "What happens if I'm not able to make the payments?"
He assured me - once I'm in the program, I'd be making money like so many other people before me. "Yeah, that makes sense. And damnit, I'm betting on myself here. I'm not going to let anything get in my way!"
He also tossed in this - "I mean, how hard is it really to come up with the money? You could pull from your family's account, you could borrow from somebody or even put it on your credit card."
That was all a big red flag for me. And I ignored it. Why? Because I was desperate. Because they had what I needed. And I was in enough dysregulated fight energy to plow through anything in my way and take any kind of reassurance that was being thrown my way.
"F*** it, let's do it," I told myself.
And that's how I put down a couple grand and committed to seven more.
So Justin, are you rich beyond measure now? Was the course amazing?
No, I'm not. And no, it wasn't.
Not for me, at least. I absolutely hated it. I went in with all guns blazing though. I gave it an honest shot.
But oh wow was I a terrible fit for that course. It's a good fit for the person that wants to sell sell sell. And then sleep and sell some more in their sleep. The person that wants to spend 8 hours a day in DMs, like one of the lesson modules recommended. The person that wants to script their conversations with the "avatars" that would schedule calls with them. I feel gross just writing this to you, Fellow Stucknaut.
After 4 days in the course, I messaged one of the teams leads with an email titled, "I'm not a good fit for [course]." And I proceeded in that email to grovel for my money back and to be cut loose from the agreement. I took full responsibility for my decision and begged for them to do me a favor. We had a contract that I was obliged to, but wow did I regret it. "It's entirely on me. I made the decision to commit to being here and pay you the money. And I still will if I am unable to leave the program with a refund. But I am hoping you would be willing to refund me the money that I put in and let me out of our agreement." Something like that.
Being in the course was eating away at my stomach. Intense anxiety and embarrassment. And regret too. And feeling stupid. And... just, lots of stuff.
A refund and a threat
The lead I emailed set up a phone call with me to discuss this more and try to talk me into staying. I explained why I wasn't a good fit for the course like five different ways. "I'm sure the course is great and I see people in the group that are getting results. I just don't want to be a part of it. It's not the type of culture I am looking to be a part of and the course design makes no sense to me." (I may not know how to sell, but I can design a course with the best of them. They know how to sell, but their course design is atrocious.)
She struggled to understand how I could be wanting to back out, said they don't give refunds, but she would get back to me.
The anxiety of being in this course and committing myself financially to something that I didn't believe in was still eating away at my stomach.
Later that day, I got an email that explained they had no obligation to, but would allow me out of the contract minus "administrative fees" of like $400. Yes! I was out!
The email also was very clear that I was not to share their information with anyone else. Not a problem!
And it was clear that if I did - including telling anyone that I got a refund - that they could take legal action against me. "Yikes, getting a refund is that hush hush?" I thought to myself. Seems odd that someone with a "millionaire mindset" and an "abundance mindset" would clutch onto their money so tightly, but I'm not a millionaire and I don't have that mindset, so what do I know?
But whatever, I was out and I feel they did me a favor. Onward!
I found something that was perfect for me
And he was right in front of me the whole time. I don't know why I didn't think of him sooner, especially in my moment of desperation.
It was Pat Flynn. I don't expect you to know about Pat. If you're in the business world, then you have probably heard of him. I had been listening to his podcast for maybe a year or so. My son and I watched him and his son on his Pokemon card channel. I was well aware of his business credentials, his story and his offerings.
Why didn't I think of Pat when I needed it?! How frustrating.
But that's where I turned and it's been amazing.
So now you're making a ton of money, right, Justin?!
Nope. Not at all. Er, not yet. I'm sure I'll get there.
In the meantime, what I am getting is connection with other individuals that are like me. People trying to build their businesses and figuring it out from the bottom up. I'm also getting great education from Pat, including on this email stuff.
And I am re-learning the importance of making connections with my audience. Who that audience is. And how to provide for them as well as I possibly can.
Here's a few rapid-fire lessons I learned that I want to pass onto you.
Desperation is okay, desperate decision-making may not be.
You might have what you need right in front of you.
Plan ahead for things in life, lay foundations and build from there.
One last thing - intent matters a lot
Look, the practices in the first course in and of themselves aren't bad. I've actually been using basic things like giving away free content and then offering my courses. Heck, I gave away all my Polyvagal Theory knowledge on the podcast... twice! Episodes 1-9 and then 101-109 go over the entirety of the Theory for traumatized people or for therapists. And I have the Polyvagal Intro page too.
And now I offer people a chance to schedule a short chat with me before they purchase a course, an idea I got from that awful course I was in.
I think the intent is what matters.
When someone schedules a chat with me, my goal is not to sell them my course. It's not. My goal is to make 100% sure that they have the clarity they need to make that decision themselves. I don't ask them for payment. I don't pressure them to use their family's money or put it on their credit card.
I'm there for them to answer whatever question or concern they have in as much brutal honesty as possible.
You're still here!?
Wow, that means a lot to me! Do I have a secret gift for you? No. Just my appreciation. I'm glad you've spent some of your day here with me through this blog.