Duplicating Failure: The dark truth about ‘modeling’ and "duplication"

“Do or do not. There is no try.”

I posted a rant on Marie Forleo’s blog a few days back. In it, I made mention of the idea that we’re in an industry where we’re being told by the gurus to ‘model’ them. Model other successful people and we’ll see the same results.


Take a look around right now, and a lot of those people that are telling you to model them are suffering. And they’re LYING about it.

Well, not lying, just withholding all the truth and only sharing what makes them look good. There’s another blog post coming about lying later.

It’s not just a guru problem. Direct Sales leadership also oozes with it’s own brand of less-than-honest attitude.

I remember the day I sat in a regional meeting for the top income earner in the company. I was hoping, as most were, to walk away with some great ideas to help move my business forward. I wanted to learn, like the dozens of women in that room, her secrets to success – that had her raking in nearly a half a million dollars a year in less than 4 years’ time.

She stood up there telling everyone to go to vistaprint, get 500 “free” business cards and pass them out to everyone we meet – and do it every month to create new leads for our business.

I could have puked. I almost got up and left. But I stayed, and watched the reaction in the room.

Many of the newbies were frantically taking notes and talking about what a great idea this was.

They were duplicating a lie.

She NEVER built her business this way. And if she tried to do it – especially in this day and age – she’d be run out of town on a rail – or everyone would run screaming for the hills when they saw her approaching.

It was absolutely dishonest and a disservice to the women in that room that were looking for real help from her.

She offered a “duplicatable” failure instead of telling the truth: Direct sales takes effort – you need to practice your demo, even when you have no shows on your calendar. You need to learn your products and how they benefit your customers. You need to be “out there” growing your market beyond your family and friends – or building a website, creating a system that handles SOME of it for you (notice, I said SOME, not all). You need to establish yourself as an expert that your customers look up to – that know like and trust you.

Instead, we continue to hear the “duplication” mantra bellowed from even the direct sales companies themselves.

When a guru, a trusted source of information, tells you to ‘model them and learn from their success’ they darn well better be providing information that works.

And that’s the sticky wicket.

A lot of people “fudge the numbers” to make it LOOK like they’re successful.

Ask the leader that took home a $400,000 commission check just how much she actually PROFITED in a year.

After training materials, travel costs, phone bills, samples, catalogs, and other “tax deductible” overhead for training her team and running her business, you might be surprised to find that she’s only PROFITING by a small margin.

Now it’s still not bad to be profiting $100,000 a year, but if 75% of your income is going back into your business, you’re not being entirely honest when you boast about your $400,000 bonus check.

It happens in so many industries that it makes my stomach turn.

One such guru recently reported that nearly 80% of his launches each year were not successful.

80%?! Now maybe a successful launch to him means that it makes millions of dollars. To me, successful means it did what I set out for it to do. If I wanted to increase my list, it increased my list. If I wanted to make some money, it made some money.

Most small business owners can’t afford to duplicate something that fails 80% of the time! And even if you could afford to, WHY WOULD YOU!?!?

I have a “formula” that I’m sure is not very original:
How much to I need to charge to break even if only 2 or 3 people register?

It’s not glamorous, but it works. The only time I’ve ever had a “failure” is when I ignored that formula and ‘modeled’ someone else. Mind you, I like to do more than just break even (and most often do). This formula, however, ensures that I don’t go broke chasing ideas that could prove unprofitable.

Sometimes, if it ain’t broke you really DON’T need to fix it.

What does this have to do with Yoda? Here’s part two:
Duplication CAN work if you’re actually following a working system fully.

I recently got an email from a client who said that they had “tried” my system and failed.

Upon further investigation, they revealed that they had “tried” everything and nothing worked. So I offered to triage their efforts. The discovery:

hmmm.. less than 100 twitter followers – so that twitter thing doesn’t work, eh?

A TOTAL of three blog posts – all from 5 months ago – so that “blog thing” didn’t work either?

Two articles on – article marketing is a waste, too?

This is why I’m so insistent on people finding an area of expertise that they are passionate about. Onceyou do, you’ll never stop writing, blogging, speaking, thinking, sharing, teachign about it, because it juices you, you WANT to do it. In fact you find it difficult to NOT do it.

When I started, I didn’t do everything (and in truth, my website is in process of a much-needed and long-awaited makeover). I started with a few articles and a website. I grew that website by creating more articles, repurposed that content and continued to grow – THEN I added a blog, social media, etc.

Do one thing. Focus on making it great (not good, great). THEN grow and scale the system as you move forward.

When you take on something new, commit to give it focused attention for a specific amount of time. Keep your head down and keep working until the allotted time is up – then assess the situation.

It’s the reason so many info marketing products end up sitting on a shelf collecting dust – either unopened, or incomplete.

“Well, I read chapter 1 and I didn’t get it, so I just put it away for later.”

“Well, I worked on it for a little while, but it was hard.”

“Well, I never got around to opening it there was just so much there that it looked liek it was going to take forever to get through it all – I just don’t have the time to work on something like that.”

I’m probably a rare bird. Every info product I’ve ever purchased, I’ve consumed. If I plunk down my hard-earned cash, I want to see results. But I have a strategy for staying unemotional.

Here’s my evaluation/decision strategy for all those great looking courses, events, products and training opps that come my way each year:

1. Does this have the potential to help me leapfrog toward my goal this year?
2. How much time is required to implement?
3. Do I have the time to give?
4. What’s the investment?
5. What’s my expected return on investment?

These are 5 of my 10 considerations for investing in a program. Info marketers are GREAT at creating copy to get you emotional about your purchases. You HAVE to take the emotion out of the equation if you want to keep your sanity and your money.

So consider take the whole “modeling” idea with a grain of salt. No doubt there are many methods that will work for you that haven’t even been tried yet – or that WON’T work for someone else, but will work for you. That sounds weird, but I’ve seen it done.

Ultimately, the truth of the matter is that everyone is unique. While concepts can be applied to many situations (which often makes modeling effective), even the Law of Gravity can be repealed in certain ‘zero g’ environments.