January 15, 2011


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There are good people in the world. They help for free. Children believe that and so can we. They aren't scammers. There aren't enough of them. Treating people as guilty until proven innocent is an understandable defence mechanism. Yet that mindset has unpleasant side effects.

I encountered cynicism three times this week, once warranted and twice unreasonable. That's because those two times were directed at me. Here's what happened.


Banks have strict compliance requirements that lead to conformity and blandness. That doesn't stop their commissioned employees from making outlandish statements to get clients. Here's an example.

An investment advisor told a large room that he's unique because he cares about your money. (I bet he cares more about his own. Disparaging his colleagues and competitors didn't elevate him. He provided no proof.) He said he had unique strategies we won't find elsewhere. Example: income splitting. (That's vanilla in countries around the planet. As a minimum, other advisors in his branch and the numerous other branches offer the same things. Compliance demands uniformity over creativity.)

There's more. He forgot to bring a door prize but would personally deliver one to the winner's office. I heard snickering. If he's that forgetful, how can you count on him? If he's trying to dupe us with an outdated sales trick, you can't believe him. Bad intent means no trust. We won't get fooled again. Saved by cynicism.


This week, I had two speaking gigs, both abut marketing. The audiences were advisors (insurance and/or investments). Why was I helping potential competitors? That's a way to show gratitude for the help I've received.

I had nothing for them to buy. No books. No coaching. No marketing support. Attendees wouldn't be put on a mailing list, phoned or contacted in any way. I doubted anyone wanted life insurance from me. Normally, that makes more credible but in each audiences, several attendees kept searching for the catch. They felt there had to be one and kept prodding.

What was in it for me? Apart from helping them, I had the opportunity to practice an  updated presentation. Attendees could only pay with their attention, applause and feedback. The majority did.
"There are some people who are willing to help others — for free."


Please don't be cynical. Look for the good instead. We find that which we seek. If you start looking for red BMW convertibles, you'll start seeing them even in winter (though the tops will be up).

Believe until you have proof of deceit. By paying attention, you'll spot tricks faster. You'll also find some genuine people. That's worth the effort.


Podcast Episode 100 (3:37)

direct download | Internet Archive page

PS Leave your wallet at home or be especially wary when you bring it.

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