I really enjoyed this conversation with Anita Edge. We talk about online guru stuff, what kind of teaching really works for people, and how we can all make a form of online teaching and offline teaching that’s more deeply helpful and penetrative to people’s actual lives and results. And what really works there.
When she started talking, she was telling me about a woman named Green Smoothie Girl who started out just teaching kind of “formula” stuff, and now is teaching a much more holistic program, helping people at the _being_ level. And so the recording that follows didn’t capture that aspect of it, just to let you know, that’s where we got started and it takes off from there.
And so enjoy.
Anita Edge: You might have a formula for marketing, but that’s not…. Your life is more than marketing. And what she’s gone into is sort of like how to build a life that supports what it is want to do. And if you think about the like passion economy or whatever. Yeah. A lot of that it’s like the two have to go together. You can’t have do a successful.
The business career that’s separate from you and your life. Really they have to dovetail. They don’t have to be two sides of the same coin, but they have to mesh .
Chris Burbridge: Speaking. Yeah. So speaking of dovetailing, I think that whole idea dovetails with a concept that I think about a lot, which is there are some things that are much easier to teach than other things.
And I always think of that. Sufi, humorous story, Nasrudin’s story, where Nasrudin is looking around under a street lamp at night for his keys. He’s frequently looking for his keys. And then the guy says, where did you lose them all over there in the dark? Why aren’t you looking there?
Because it’s lighter over here. And I just think so a lot of times in life, that’s how it is. So if it’s easy to pack package up a video course and turn everything into five step things, it can be pretty tempting to ignore that’s not really necessarily what people need or that, that was the easy part or that appeals to the part of us that wants life to be easily wrapped up in five step things.
And it’s easy for that quote unquote guru to necessarily perhaps believe that it can be wrapped up in five steps because that will benefit them. Just like the drug companies, right? You could have very well-meaning people in the drug companies and it’s easy to malign people, but certain systems, maybe capitalism or, money system prejudices people towards certain approaches, right? Whether it be selling pharmaceuticals rather than natural herbs or selling easy five step formulas, rather than saying, Hey, you know, a lot of the reason I was so successful, like I’m teaching you this five step course about how to be a influencer, but a lot of the reason I became this person is because I don’t know, I have a natural confidence but I don’t know how to, I don’t know how to teach you to have that natural confidence, or because I went through a lot of suffering and shyness, and there was this big moment that happened in my no I’m missing.
I’m making stories up. I’m just giving example. You mentioned a character, but somebody, oh, I went through this trauma in my early twenties and that caused me to stop being shy. And that’s why I’m able to do this, or over simplifying. But it’s always, and a lot of times those simple step formulas, the last thing they want to tell you.
But you have to love this, because you’re going to be doing this all day for years. You better love it. Yeah. it’s nice that she’s trying to teach a bigger picture. I would say sounds like.
I think. I’ve seen a gazillion of these things of here’s the formula for making a million bucks a year, whatever there’s a gazillion of these.
And they appeal to a lot of people, but I think this, the formula that is guaranteed, you just follow the formula and here you go. It appeals to people who. haven’t figured out they haven’t connected with what resonates for them yet. There they haven’t, You,
Anita Edge: So it’s like it’s as if you got little pieces of. What you’re about. And so you jump at a lifeline because you don’t have enough of it to build your, to build your own raft, which I think fits with what you’re trying to do.
the who are you? It’s like a little red flag when you’re going after formulas.
Chris Burbridge: I’ve always been really interested in what, what really works what’s actually working and what, I don’t want to give anyone to anything that’s taking away their progress. And I think that when you inspire them in a way that gives them false hope, it’s not a good thing.
Anita Edge: Yeah. It’s there are formulas that work, but there’s just, it’s like, there’s more to it. There’s there has to be the mojo with the formula for it to really but people will still grab it a formula with even without the mojo. Lots of times.
Chris Burbridge: Yeah. And I think our whole idea with the audience that we want to create is people that have already been through that several times.
I called them seasoned aspirational entrepreneurs. So they’re still really aspiring, that they’re seasoned. They’ve gone through Joe Bosterson’s 10 Week Formula. Pennerson’s Have It All Now work workshop and inner Circle. just making them up. Just making pretty believable.
Just, yeah, I’m just making them up.
Anita Edge: At first. I’m thinking, oh, I haven’t heard of this one.
Chris Burbridge: “Penny Pennerson, ooh!. Maybe I should learn about that”. You knows a lot. Yeah. I’ve heard that. You never knew you. Hadn’t heard of Penny Penerson. Wow. Yeah, that’s The One. That was the secret. Anita, that’s the secret. That’s the one that makes everyone rich 97% success rate notice they never talk about the success rate in these things?
Anita Edge: Oh, good point.
Chris Burbridge: Yeah. this is actually something I need to do a specific video or post about, and I even give it a name the other day. I have it listed somewhere, but basically the idea is that there’s. If you were the simple way to say it is if you had a bakery in a little village 200 years ago.
So this could be Kathryn’s bakery cause she likes bakery analogies. So if you have a bakery 200 years ago and you make lousy bread. Or let’s say you make bread that only a third of the people like, you’d go out of business because everyone would tell everyone else. And you only have a limited supply of people, so they need to be buying more bread each individual person.
But on the internet you have an unlimited number of people, essentially. So let’s say Penny Penerson launches her Hundred Day Formula to Absolute Success program. And she launches it and she gets a hundred signups from her big launch, the first big launch. And three people do really well.
They do really well. I guess that’s still pretty impressive. If three people do really well, let’s say one of them does starts to do very well. And another two of them do pretty well. That’s actually not bad, in a way, but of course everyone thinks they’re going to be the one that’s going to do really well.
And, what was it about those people that, that did really well anyway. So she takes the testimonials from those three people. And now she has three glowing testimonials. “I started making $500,000 a year after taking Penny Penerson’s workshop.” And then, yeah, the other person, and now she uses that and more Google ads or something.
Facebook ads to launch the new and improved. Update Your Everything $100 Million Launch Program. And she gets now she gets 200 people to sign up right now, still 3%, six, six people do really well. Okay. So now she’s had 300 students and nine people have done well. It’s nine people are very satisfied, extremely satisfied.
Let’s imagine that another 12% of people were quite satisfied and then all the other people were somewhat disappointed. So then that last big chunk what is that? 19 some, I don’t know. No 85% of people are disappointed. So half of those people feel all guilty.
Oh, it’s my fault. I should’ve tried harder. I didn’t believe I didn’t believe enough. I didn’t believe well. Gee, if everyone just didn’t believe, maybe there’s a problem with the program,right, you know, it depends on how you look at it. So then half of that, 85% feels guilty. The other half just feels pissed off and discouraged.
They both feel discouraged, but Penny Patterson doesn’t care because she already has their money and she can, she can convince herself that the ones who didn’t, who weren’t ready just didn’t believe they weren’t ready. They didn’t believe. Now, and that’s a nasty way to put it. And I think a lot of these people do have really good intentions,it’s easy. It’s easy to do that. It’s too easy because there’s an infinite number of people. From a human biological perspective, we still operate in a lot of ways. It’s as though we’re still living in a small village. We have a tiny, Iwe, can’t not, we that’s we grew, we evolved in small tribes, We go on there and we look at nine people that say what a wonderful time they had and how great it was. And we go, wow, I want to make half a million dollars a year. I’ve got to take Penny Pennerson’s program. I just need to believe, so she could keep going like that building and building and building and building,
With this drop-off that never possible, in a normal world and the physical world, it would be impossible. You could get shut down by the Better Business Bureau or you’re, you would word of mouth would shut you down. but here it’s, I’ve seen it happen. And that’s something I need to write about because so I have one person I know who invested $20,000 in one of these programs. And she was pretty, pretty disappointed and came to realize that she really could have done it herself in a lot of ways. She thinks that teacher has good intentions. But she was so desperate for support, know, it’s it’s not that she didn’t get anything out of it.
It wasn’t a scam or anything, but it also wasn’t quite right for her and they didn’t do all the work they could have done. Right. To make sure it was right for her. It was too easy to say yes, this wonderful program. believe â€” everything’s going to work out. it was too easy for everyone to believe that.
It’s just too easy. And then the other story I know is that person who was. In the pharmaceutical business and they were well-paid pharmaceutical executive, lovely human being beautiful human being, I think just miserable, in the pharmaceutical industry, miserable in that job. Yup. And they invested $10,000 in one of these “inner circle” programs. And this person had never… this person was a newbie, right? This person had never gone through these things before. And you know how it is when you first go into these programs and go, wow, I can have freedom to spend with my family time to smell the roses time to contribute to society.
I could take, I could have a four hour work week I could, I could sit on the beach. I could sail around the world with my kids. and all of those things are wonderful. I don’t mean to put any of them down, but it’s you just get this incredible pie in the sky, excitement that is incredibly motivating.
And this person ended up investing $10,000 and then they came to the teacher and after a while, and they said, this just isn’t working for me. I’m not, this is not, I don’t know what it was. This was not what I thought it was. Or this was not… it’s not working. I’d like a refund and the teacher said, oh, I’m so disappointed in you.
I’m so disappointed in you. I really believed in you. And now it’s almost like you’re not believing enough in this magic, now she was believing in the magic and the magic worked for her, the magic of the pyramid magic or whatever works for her. So then she has every reason to believe in the magic.
And so he just left jaded and discouraged and never tried to do anything again.
Anita Edge: Wow.
Chris Burbridge: Yep. Never tried to do anything again.
Anita Edge: I’ve seen some of them where, particularly the gurus that have been around the block a little bit, some of them will upfront say 80% of you will not do the steps and you must do the steps.
So there’s the issue of why don’t people do the steps. In other words, it’s not necessary for some of them, the steps are valid and it’s not just believe it’s, there’s Between like, they’re not ready to do this steps or they, their idea might be fuzzy for instance. you can’t make it concrete yet.
Or in other words, the guru doesn’t take the time that accepts at face value. 20%, only 20% of people ever go through the steps and the rest won’t get much out of it. And that’s just the way it is. it’s statistics. It’s, a really great coaching program or course the founder of it would be going okay, we we’ve achieved something here, it’s time to debug, why is the percentage so low?
And the debugging is not, there might be a belief thing here, or it might be there’s just that first step or some of the steps are too steep. They can’t take them yet. They maybe they don’t have the foundation in their concept or something. and I do think using the relating it to the food is medicine type industry.
I think there’s a passion. There’s like a shared passion that helps the communication. And also the shared, some of that shared passion is the shared importance of you’re sick. You can cure yourself or you can be energetic, happy, productive, your body can thrive this type of thing.
And you could say there’s a genuine belief in it, but it comes also, it’s not just belief. It is years of working on yourself and also with other people where you see, wait a minute if I really put these steps in a hundred percent where I don’t do something 50% anymore, I do it a hundred percent.
Wow. We get a, an exponential product here. but, so I think some of it is in that industry, what I see is such clarity,. Where people have seen miracles and they think the future of the planet kind of depends on this, so I’ve just been through too many guru programs where yeah, the formula’s good, and you it works and, oh, I just can’t find the right product.
I did this one. It’s pretty good. My heart’s not it’s it should be, I have trouble working on this more than three hours a day. It just, I get fried, my heart’s not in it enough to keep me going, so the problem is. You could say, you don’t do the work and an X percentage won’t do the work.
And that’s true but why aren’t they doing the work and what does it take anyway? that’s true. Yeah.
Chris Burbridge: No, absolutely. And then just one other thing to add to this, which is. You can adopt an idea, which is, I don’t think is necessarily a bad idea, which is that people are going to take your class at different levels at different points.
And if it works for them at different points that’s okay. that’s another dimension to add to this. So I did Seth Godin’s Bootstrapper workshop. And it was great. And it’s he just has some videos in front of each module and then there’s some Zoom coaching calls you can join.
But the bulk of the thing is doing assignments in community, supporting each other and getting supported. So it’s a community of practice, right? He’s designed something that’s much, much better. In a lot of ways. considering the scale of what it is and the price it’s excellent. It’s great. I didn’t go out and build a bootstrap business.
I learned a lot of things about what a bootstrap business is. I know that those things shaped my ideas and my thinking. I’d like to go out and build the bootstrap business someday, And it helped me and I got a lot out of it. And I also learned a lot about how. Teaching works, which was one of the reasons I really wanted to take it, to find out how he did it, what he was doing.
So I got a lot out of it and I’m very happy and I didn’t make a bootstrapper business, or I could easily imagine another type of person who really wants to start a business, but they weren’t really ready. So their idea was a little funny The first time they went through they went from zero to 15 miles an hour and then they could go through again and then do more.
And that could be a good thing. It’s not necessarily a bad thing not everyone is going to be instantly doing the full result
Anita Edge: And another thing like these patterns and these products and people not doing. I never hear the guru say, okay, step three is where the rubber meets the road.
Step three is where you’ve got to hunker down and work your ass off. This step three is going to take you 750 hours minimum. Nobody says that they give you the formula and it all sounds quick and easy and nobody even addresses. How much time should this take or where what’s the hardest step or where do obstacles pop up?
They don’t tell you this.
Chris Burbridge: So this actually, I think that this also engenders, I’m going to use several big words at once. I think this engenders, a sense of perfectionistic grandiosity. And so this perfectionistic grandiosity, I had a realization this week of how I still had more of this perfectionistic grandiosity to let go of, and it’s the same Horatio Alger American spirit that does keep people moving in a direction and wanting to create new things.
But it’s also unrealistic it’s not grounded in reality, and it can also make you think that if you’re not creating this, like, success, , then there’s something wrong. If you’re building your community five people at a time, are getting three people to your webinar and five people to your workshop after a few months, then they’re a failure or something, but you’re not a failure.
It’s great. That’s where it should be.
Anita Edge: Some of this like formula, there are lots of formulas in. SEO And Kathryn and I are working with some clients and I’m like, okay, here’s my strategy. And then I find myself like four days later off in the weeds where I’ve chewed up 20 hours on this strategy that I thought might take me three or four.
And it’s damn, this isn’t panning out. But and then I also go through, I better not tell Kathryn she she’s look, you got to get paid for the work you’re doing. You don’t want to go off and chew up a bunch of hours where you’re not getting paid for that. But it’s one of these, like in SEO.
Yeah. I don’t hear anybody say when you’re doing the keyword research or here’s what’s chewing me up a lot: backlinks. So back like stuff and I’m researching and I’m going, holy shit. I’m not finding places where I can actually get a backlink . You know what I mean? That this type of stuff you go, I thought this would be quick.
It’s similar in that people give you the formula. The formula is accurate, but no time estimates on how much labor. And then you go through this on your own and you’re like, at what point… you don’t know where to cut your losses. You don’t know if you’re almost if you’re about to hit pay dirt, or if if you’re barking up the wrong tree.
And I think that this is true of a lot of things like the analogy is like panning for gold. You don’t know if the vein is just one more inch beyond
So it’s an interesting metaphor because I saw a documentary about the gold rush and these people, the gold rush created a different culture in California.
People who had been like, I don’t know, a pharmacist in the 1800 mid-1800’s in Pennsylvania or something, they had this one solid career. They would never leave. And they just steadily growing slightly and then they would get out here and they would just have failure after failure.
And you can see how it translated into the Silicon valley attitude towards failure. So they would fail and they’d say, oh, you never know, got to keep going. Hoping for that, that pot of gold the old vein, of gold.
Then if you look at like the. Gold rush is a great example. The people who really made their fortunes on it for the most part were those who sold to the miners, not the miners themselves.
Levi’s you know, or mining tools or the railroad system made a lot out of miners.
And that’s true in many industries many fields throughout history and also internet stuff. Often, it’s the people who said,the software as a service tools that’s why that skyrocketed so much the whole boom in the internet and the model for that cheap platform ongoing. It’s a similar type of thing .
Chris Burbridge: So if there’s any pattern in there, it would be, doing the sexiest thing’s not necessarily the most lucrative thing. A lot of times doing a thing that people aren’t thinking of can be better seeing opportunity.
if you think about these gold miners it was like everyone doing exactly the same thing, with zero skill practically involved, you could learn the skills and then you were basically just like this mass labor force. And so it was like a crowd crowdsourcing, the way to get the gold out of the rock.
Anita Edge: And they’re all trying to find the same
Chris Burbridge: Motherload. Yep. But just coming back to the question of, if 80% of the people are getting a bad result from your training, whose fault is that right? Or there, I think there’s a lot of ways to look at it because I think in a sense you could say. People want to, they want the easy answer. So I think in a certain way, it is people’s fault on some level is that they so desperately want the easy answer that they’ll they want to be told that it’s easy. But as a provider, I think that’s why Seth Godin he didn’t actually take him that long to start to revolutionize the whole business in a way by just creating something that was more of a community of practice, because he understood that it’s not about the knowledge it’s about as much as it is about the practice and putting it into practice.
So it’s a harder problem to solve at scale. That’s one of the things we’ve been talking about is that the things we want to build may not scale to tens of thousands of members. We don’t care. We don’t care as long as it’s enough to give us a good living. And do valuable things and spread valuable ideas.
Then we’re happy with that.
Anita Edge: So I want to say something more about this. I’ve never talked about this before with anybody. all these gurus and you never hear anybody give you. Time prediction. they might say this is a 12 week program and here’s what you do each week, but there’s never okay, this one will take a lot of work and this one you should get, you should only have to spend two hours on it and get a result or whatever.
But I think that some of that might be that it, you gotta be careful cause there could be a legalized, liability. You have to be careful about how you present something and word it where it’s not promising results of some sort, but I am thinking, most of them give you nothin’, in the way of an expectation of how much you should put into it.
And where the areas that you expect to put a lot into it and it’s worth it. Most of them Just stay away from it. Totally. You can I think they, they like the ethical thing that makes a course much better. Is you go, here’s the tough parts of it. And you can spend a lot of time, but you can’t give actual estimates.
Chris Burbridge: But because of legal reasons, That’s good. Yeah. here’s the thing. I saw it, I just saw it. I think part of what this is about is that: people need other people more than they want to admit that they need other people; that when you take one of these courses, it’s the community and camaraderie and co inspiration that’s a large part of what you’re paying for. Not necessarily so much as much the material is good and people will pay tons of money for this camaraderie. They’ll pay $20,000 in some cases for, a feeling that they know which direction to go. And because people aren’t completely aware of how much the community mattered to them, the class ends.
They’re all excited. Now I’m going to do this. It doesn’t cross their mind that maybe you’re now you’re not going to do this because that feeling is going to wear off, buddy. Because if you don’t have any, people to check in with and be accountable to guess what you might find that you completely lose the thread of this and three weeks, and you don’t even remember what you were doing.
And that’s why I feel we need community of practice. It’s far more valuable than people know that it is a lot of times. I think we have such an independent streak. And of course, the thing I want to do is I want to empower the people to be independent together independent together. Yeah.
Anita Edge: Interesting. Did you make up that term community of practice?
Chris Burbridge: Oh, no. That’s been around, I don’t know where it started. I think it’s been circulating more in I’ve certainly I heard it a few years ago, but yeah, the idea that the community. Is a lot about people getting stuff done together,their own stuff.
But together with support and it’s not, oh, you’ll learn these special magic tricks behind the gates of our special community and those special magic trick, super extra formulas are going to be the difference that makes your life better. No, actually the big part you’re paying for and supporting, being supported by.
Chris Burbridge: Is a nurtured, curated community that works together, maybe creates cohorts and maybe little sprints or projects and that’s this incredibly valuable,
Anita Edge: Right
Chris Burbridge: Yeah.
Anita Edge: I’m thinking of like a lab or a music studio where you get cross-pollination.
Chris Burbridge: Yeah. Yeah. And we’re thinking about how we can we, I just started a book.
The business of Belonging . It’s a new book was just came out this year. Yeah. By so community managers actually have their own community. Now, an association called CMX. It’s also a conference. And so the whole business is becoming much more.
what are community managers?
Anita Edge: How is that defined?
they like to make sure that they’re not just defined as a forum moderator. That’s the thing I learned the other day.
Anita Edge: Primarily social media communities.
Chris Burbridge: No. These are…
Anita Edge: you’re talking about a business community with an.
I’m not clear.
Chris Burbridge: Oh, could be a free community, could be online.
I think they were thinking much more online. Although you could have offline gatherings and events and things. It’s a safe space where. You’re with like-minded people and not just the whole internet. And you can be, it’s usually being supported and maybe there’s so many different things that could be, but if you’ve ever been in a all volunteer mastermind group, you may have noticed that unless one person steps up, it usually tends to disintegrate a little bit, right?
Because, so you start to realize that when community stuff really thrives, it’s when there’s actually someone who’s outside of the community or doing some more extra work. curating it, and keeping it moving and helping match people together, or making little assignments or keeping it alive.
That’s community manager would do,
Anita Edge: Right.
Chris Burbridge: Yeah. Yeah. so that’s where we’re going. And just looking at the balance between community of practice, and then of course you, then you do get these infusions of inspiration and maybe little sprints through training, little training modules or programs or things like that.
Yeah. But fine. It, those two things are the yin and yang right. Of progress.