guest blog: Grandmother, What Big Teeth You Have – The Dark Side of New Age Prosperity Marketing

by Rachael Pruitt

Where was my street-wise inner child when I needed her?

Perhaps you’re a little like me: a dreamer, not particularly great with money.  A little insecure about the big-wide-world, no matter that your hair has started to turn grey. Perhaps you too are determined to live the dream of the new life that calls to you.  A life that matters, that allows you to succeed both financially & spiritually.  A life that allows you to be of service, yet to be creative, joyful, and rich—all at the same time.

Heady stuff for an old hippie, a social service type who writes novels until midnight & slurps coffee on a blurry-eyed 6 am commute.

Sound a little like you?

This year is it, I decided. No more spiritual starvation.  The stars were whispering at me to go for it, the planets were in alignment.  I knew if I didn’t at least try to “manifest” my own consulting & teaching business now–this very moment–a crucial chance would have passed me by. A chance that might never come again.

So, primed, ready-to-take-action, I plunged into the thundering waters of New Age telesummits like a deranged surfer.  I knew I needed help—I’d never run my own business before.

Where better to look than among those who shared my idealistic, change-the-world-for-the-better values?

Suddenly my surfer persona morphed into a small town girl in a 1940s musical seeing the lights of Broadway for the first time.  Pushing sign-up button after sign-up button, I encountered marques after marques. Lights flashing, glitzy and marvelous, the various telesummit promotors all but puddled neon in a romantic flashing puddle at my feet.

“You too can turn your dreams into a SIX FIGURE BUSINESS, BECOME A SEX GODDESS, AND SERVE THE WORLD AT THE SAME TIME!!!!”   they shouted.

“DON’T LET FEAR & TREMBLING BLOCK YOUR SUCCES.”  they warned.

“WHY YOUR CLIENTS WILL THANK YOU FOR  OVERCHARGING THEM:

PUT THE  NEW ABUNDANCE PARADYM TO WORK FOR YOUR SUCCESS” ,   they chortled, winking as if we shared a private joke.

Now, six months later & several hundred dollars lighter, I wince when I look back over old emails and witness what a trusting little starry-eyed duckling I was.

I am writing this blog first as a cautionary tale to others like me—and this includes anyone who has ever dreamed big and turned to someone else to help them make the fairy dust sparkle at noon as well as in the depths of a private oh-so-silent night.

Secondly, I’m also writing to acknowledge the true visionaries among us. Yes, they do exist: those rare wisdom-keepers whose calm, non-hysterical voices are currently all but drowned-out in the influx of high-ticket life coaches and frenetic so-called miracle-workers who essentially prey on our human vulnerabilities, yearnings, and fears to make lots—and lots and lots–of money delivering New Age clichés and not much else.

I do not perceive myself as a victim, but I am legitimately angry at opportunists who masquerade as healers and have pirated the terminology of idealistic thinkers and visionaries strictly for their own gain.  I also believe it is our responsibility as seekers, to be more skeptical about whom we give our money to.  Yet, for some reason–and I suspect I am not alone in this—the fact that an individual appears under the guise of a New Age telesummit/Spiritual Entrepreneur heading, makes me more likely to trust them.

Embarrassed as I am to admit it, I spent more time and energy investigating the ingredients of my groceries than I did on the qualifications and references of someone I was entrusting my life’s dreams to.  Even after I thought I had learned my lesson, and investigated a second individual more thoroughly, it still took an email foul-up and a potential coach’s short temper to expose a particularly nasty shadow lurking just beneath a polished oh-so-radiant surface.  Fortunately, no contracts had yet been signed.

If It’s Glitzy but Smells Fishy, Don’t Go There

So, here are some guidelines I’ve developed to help separate sincere and talented healers (yes, indeed, they do exist!) from the predators:

•     Everybody needs to make a living—legitimate coaches and teachers as well. This is a given.  Yet is the coach or teacher you are considering seemingly incapable of giving you a straight answer when you request a bottom line financial quote?

Do you hear statements like:

A) “Your decision to work with me shouldn’t be based on the money it will cost.  That’s your old ‘scarcity-thinking’ talking.” (I almost fell for that one.  But isn’t it just a little deceptive to be preaching abundance-consciousness on one hand and not be proudly trumpeting your fees on the other?!)  Or the classic:

B) “Think about what it’s costing you to not sign up for my program.”

These are both ancient sales techniques—reel the fish in with lots of promises before you sock it to them with the actual cost.  And—of course—the actual cost is astronomical.

•    Is there an implied “threat”? For example: “If you don’t work with me, you will continue to be a total screw-up.” or “If you can’t get past your “blocks to abundance” now, you never will.

All these responses imply that this individual is the only one who can help you, that you, yourself are clueless—and—of course–that time is of the essence, it is ticking away as we speak.

Again, these are old sales chestnuts: 1) the indispensible item 2) limited time offers 3) appealing to someone’s sense of need or desperation.

Every one of these are also fear-based strategies, that should, by rights, have no place on a New Age telesummit.  But, of course, in reality they are more prevalent than hornets in August.

•    Piggy-backing on this category is the specific implication that you are not capable of doing any of this by yourself.  Thus, you must hire and work with this individual or you will continue to waste away in a self-imposed prison of befuddlement and poverty.

Ironic again, as healthy self-esteem is supposed to be a cornerstone of the new potential movement.  One would think—naively–that personal disempowerment is not an optimum condition.  But it does help sales.

Additional Note: A final component of this disempowering “you really need me or you will continue to be a miserable life form barely existing on the planet” approach is the patronizing sigh.  Even if you cannot hear it, it exists in the tenor of emails or the tone of a telephone voice: “Well, if you really think you can do it on your own—“
(Translation: “I’m here for you if you are willing to cough up a few more thousand dollars. Otherwise you’ll be a total failure.  What a shame….”)

•    Last, but not least: Carefully investigate websites and references. This is still no guarantee that your potential spiritual mentor is totally legitimate—but if references and website links (especially online article links and personal contact information for references) are non-existent or inaccessible, proceed with extreme care.  No matter how nice or charming an individual is, if they can’t cough up legitimate references or if their website harbors only fluff and non-existent background links, be wary.

Also, be skeptical of anyone who asks you for an immediate down payment, before you have even had time to think about their “package”—let alone process your decision based on real information.

The Good Stuff

All this said, it has been my pleasure to connect with some 1) amazing visionaries 2) coaches who truly do make your life richer 3) money and spiritual experts who really do offer unique, practical, and inspiring insights.  These women and men have enriched my life and inspired my heart.

But, as with all things, don’t just take my word for it.  Investigate for yourself.

Nor is this list exhaustive.  There are lots of good folks out there–the trick is finding them amidst the “prosperity hysteria”.

One key thing the leaders mentioned below share is that they do not charge an arm, leg, head, and/or reproductive organs to connect with them.  A few of the following coaches are expensive, however, they continually offer freebies, books, CDs, video presentations and other low-cost materials available from their websites that allow you to utilize their techniques without spending thousands of dollars.

A second common thread I’ve found true with all of the following people is that they do not believe you are a nitwit. Far from implying or insisting that you are useless without them, these leaders simply offer techniques which allow you to trust yourself & to explore Spirit in a straightforward, non-frenzied way.

Visionaries and Life Coaches:

•    Michael Beckwith and the Agape Community.  Dr. Beckwith’s online community is based in real-world California.  He not only is one of the most inspiring speakers I have ever heard, his community is actively making a lot of people’s lives better.  Check it out.

•    Mary A. Hall’s Abundance Alive website.  For a small monthly fee, Mary offers fantastic coaching & counseling opportunities.  Her goodies are too numerous to list.  See for yourself.

•    Cheryl Richardson.  A personal coach with true integrity and pizazz, Cheryl deserves all the accolades she receives as one of the best international coaches available.  She appears regularly on Hay House radio and is a prolific author with a great website & free newsletter.

•    Lisa Michaels.  Lisa’s coaching process, “Natural Rhythms”, is wonderful; a spiritually unique approach.  She combines it with Shamanic Astrology, giving the people she coaches even more bang for their buck. Her website is chockful of goodies and a wonderful newsletter.

Spiritual & Prosperity Divas

All three of the following women stand out to me as creative groundbreakers, thinkers, and writers who are not just following a sales script.  They also know how to make this spiritual growth stuff “fun” through humor, dance, mythic work, and engaging personalities.  Any time I have ever spent with them either in person or with their materials has been priceless.

•    Morgana Rae.  Morgana is very open about charging big bucks if you can afford her as a personal coach.  However, she is very gracious about deliberately offering much of what she has put together in a low-cost workbook and/or CDs.  This lady is clever, committed, sweet, and down-to-earth with a unique approach to breaking through money issues.

•    Colette Baron-Reid. Colette is an intuitive counselor and coach, a prolific author, and has designed two beautiful decks of oracle cards.  Although her individual readings are indeed pricey, many of her workshops are comparatively inexpensive and her new book The Map is brilliant.

•    Sonia Choquette. Sonia is also an intuitive counselor who describes herself as a “catalyst”.  Again, her individual readings are expensive, but she offers several low-cost workshops a year and her books and CDs—especially Your Heart’s Desire and Ask Your Guides– are wonderful resources.

Woo Woo and Proud

•    Patrica Cota Robles:  This lady makes me see angels.

•    Doreen Virtue: This lady invites me to tea parties with them—and she even knows a few fairies to invite as well.

•    Kelly Hampton: This lady channels Archangel Michael—and I am convinced that it is him indeed. (Did you know he has a sense of humor?) Readings and healings with this dynamic duo are also very reasonably priced given the quality of what they offer.

•    Jennifer McLean’s telesummits.  Even though I personally don’t “resonate” with everyone Jennifer invites, the vast majority of her interviewees are truly the cream of the New Age crop and not to be missed.

And, of course, uncategorized—free and fun—our host, Tad Hargrave!

Conclusion

Namaste, reader.  Like me, perhaps you are sometimes weary of seeking and building a life of meaning in a chaotic and seemingly superficial world. I wish you all a truly healing, abundant, generous, and transformative life. Your happiness is well-worth the effort: as is mine.  May all your dreams come true—with or without telesummits!

 

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About Tad

  • Justice Marshall

    LOL – Great piece of writing. Funny, informative and true. It’s become apparent to me that so-called law of attraction coaches programs etc are often way out of integrity – implying benefits (or making outright promises) that they simply can’t deliver. Be grateful you’re only a few hundred dollars lighter.

  • Tad – This is VERY refreshing to read! I like how honest you are about your own actions, what you found, and then how you turned this all positive by recommending specific people that went above and beyond. Thanks!
    -Dan

  • LeighC

    I love that more people are starting to speak out about ‘New Age’ tactics and the underlying energy around some of the people involved in this movement.
    There are so many people who have been brainwashed by The Secret. Brainwashed into thinking that the Law of Attraction is the only Law at work on this planet. Brainwashed into thinking that if abundance hasn’t come their way it’s due to not reciting enough mantras, changing their beliefs, or pushing themselves far enough.
    James Arthur Ray (one of the ‘stars’ of The Secret), now found guilty of negligent homicide, may be spending up to 11 years in jail for the sweatlodge debacle that caused the deaths of 3 people who took part in a $10,000 Spiritual Warrior workshop.
    Deception is everywhere, but so is Truth.

  • Right “on the money” sister! Whatever happened to “do what
    you love and the money will follow”? How many “six figure” telesummits I’ve
    been invited to lately as if that equates with success and making a difference?
     I’ve been wondering lately if the game
    is just to create another game to enrol folks in with that elusive golden carat?
    I have a friend who adamantly refuses to sign up for anything with “pointing
    red arrows” which eliminates most of these offers… With a background in both
    sales and spirituality I find it interesting to see the proliferation of  people I’ve never heard of hawking their wares
    in angel guise?  Cookie cutter formula:
    Free teleclass/evening, $495/bring a friend weekend but what you really want is
    the $10,000+ personal coaching package to teach you to do the same thing. And why our email boxes overfloweth… 

    Having an abundant lifestyle does NOT always mean
    dollars. On the way to Ascension you often lose or give up everything. (Try selling THAT?)Think Eckhart
    Tolle or Bryon Katie – or Jesus for that matter. Think they had a marketing
    gimmick other than being real and having an authentic message to share? The
    rest followed…

     

  • Leia Gamache

    Tad, I love this fresh and honest approach. I often have seen clients who have been “taken”, not just by shiny promises from not-so-ethical life coaches, but also from higher priced counselors and psychologists.

  • I got here by accident…glad I did =) You made me laugh with your post, I couldn’t relate more to the anger you felt with the opportunists who masquerade as healers. Your rawness rocks!

  • andrea. those words you read were written by Rachael Pruitt. who might just be writing a comment or two here soon.

  • leia – can you tell me more about what you’ve seen?

  • tammie. so good to hear from you! yes. i’m participating in a ‘six figure’ telesummit and . . . it seems like good people and . . . i would name it differently myself. and yes the whole success (as defined by making big money and having a big list) = making a difference is such bullshit. MLK’s mom did juuuuust fine for the world, you know? not convinced that her starting a seminar company would have been better for the civil rights movement.

    and yeah – try selling ‘be torn apart by your spiritual path and lose it all!’ agreed. tolle and byron katie are the real deal. years of work without being famous and THEN getting discovered.

    loving you!

  • Rachael

    Hi everyone!  I’m so glad what I wrote resonated with so many of you &  I thank you all for taking the time to respond.  I’ve truly learned the hard way not to trust everyone waving a “hire me to help you manifest” flag! And if this blog can help us laugh, encourage us to share experiences, and not feel there’s something wrong with “us” if we’re 1) not making millions and/or 2) get taken in by New Age hypocrites–then I will gratefully have succeeded! 
             Thank you all for sharing your own feedback & insights–if anyone else wants to “riff” on this topic–go for it!  I do believe it’s really important to practice discernment–and may the force be with us all!
           And thank you, Tad, for opening up this forum!

  • Brilliant article, Rachael – thank you! :)

  • Thanks!  I love how you lay out what to look for (and what they’re REALLY saying!).  I’m in the Empowerment Business (Coaching! yay!) and this was also great to reflect on how I market myself, and the kinds of implicit messages I’m sending.  Great food for thought.

  • Jaiem

    Thank you so much for your delightful coverage of this.  It’s a cyber rat-race in the online “alternative” community, and I’ve shared many of your experiences (though I’ll be checking out a few of your recommendations, and thanks)

  • DrAmi

    I’m glad to know that you only spent hundreds of dollars with some of these New Age shysters. Your article was spot-on regarding the techniques they use. One woman that I studied with, whose name is Rose Cole, has a program called The Powerful Women Powwow / High Priestess training. She charges $10,000 to “transform your business” and teach you how to stop being a “slave girl” and become a highly paid Goddess, so you can employ other slave girls to do the things that you don’t like to do. Not only did this former Ford model fail to deliver on her promises, none of her content was original. Everything was based on the Law of Attraction, so if you failed to “attract” success, it was your fault, not hers. (What a great way to evade responsibility.) Recently, I happened across her sales page and learned that she is now charging $25,000 for the same useless drivel. While I understand the importance of focusing on what you want, it is just one brick in the foundation of building a business that delivers value. I am so embarrassed that I fell for this. My business is down 70% since I first encountered her, so clearly, I was doing much better on my own. Watch out for coaches who promise the moon and charge accordingly. Sadly, a large majority of these coaches are women. They’re masters at tricking other women into parting with their hard-earned dollars in exchange for something that isn’t real.

  • Maryannfry

    Very well done. Never surrender your discerning power..does that sound like a line from the movie? Seriously, nice job. 

  • Moonstruck730

    Thank you Thank You for this wonderful Blog.  Reading this was like reliving my own personal experience within this world.  I too am an Intuitive Counselor and it can be a very challenging place to be considering all the crap that is out there in this world. To be honest, I feel like I can’t even associate myself with the people and new age propaganda that is being spilled out into the world because of the reasons you stated above.  Then to top it all off, when you are out with other so called Intuitives they are so stuck in what I call the “God Complex” if you give a point of view that is different to what they have been taught, they are pretty much out for your blood.  Then they use words and new age philosophies to back up their mighty egos to keep them in the right.  Such a mess in which I really want to stay out of.   
    Also I wanted to bring another concept up to light, and maybe you can shed some insight with this for me.  
    For me I pretty much have been doing the work in order to get to the place that I am at within the Spiritual Community.  I am still human, and I do have my human moments to say the least.  When I do come to those crossroads within my life, I feel so alone and isolated.  There really isn’t any resources or attainable people to talk or share with.  Its not like I can just call up Wayne Dyer and say hey!  So what happens to people like us who has done the work and are at a place where you just need to be and talk with people that are on the same spiritual wavelength without having to book a $500 appointment with the ones that helped you get there.

    I know some like the isolation, but for me and my personality I love conversation and human interaction.  Because of who I am and what I do people don’t look at me as a person.  They either  are trying to put me on a pedestal as this all knowing guru and want to worship me, or they are trying to control and manipulate me and what I can do.  I guess I just would love to sit down with some really evolved beings that are in body in this time space and have a cup of tea or joe and not be asked to read for them.  Just share experience, get some advice on how to live in this world with the knowledge and tools that have been acquired, and have a good laugh…..any thoughts?

  • Pleasure to read your article Tad. Been there, done that too.
    I don’t subscribe to Law of Attraction…my vibe is Resonance…can’t be faked, is made available only through effortless and if you don’t catch the vibe, well, you’ll never know you missed it. Keep trusting your gut. You’re going to do just fine :)

  •  I LOVE it, Rachel. I love your “If It’s Glitzy but Smells Fishy, Don’t Go There” guidelines. Spot on. Also like the line “Is there an implied “threat”? For example: “If you don’t work with me, you will continue to be a total screw-up.” or “If you can’t get past your “blocks to abundance” now, you never will.” That line reminds me so much of a story I tell in the chapter on “Persuasion” in my book “The 7 Graces of Marketing.” I soooo hear ya, sista!