At what point teaching knowledge to others becomes a bad idea?

29 replies
Problem solved, thanks!
#bad #idea #knowledge #point #teaching
  • Profile picture of the author StexM
    Banned
    Very interesting topic!

    You have to analyze your business and see if what you going to do can create competition or collaboration.

    Example.

    Your job is to sell consulting / coaching (sell your knowledge).

    In your coaching, teach others how to sell their own coaching program.

    This creates competition.

    What if instead you teach how to sell YOUR coaching?

    This would create cooperation.

    No matter if someone will do the same, that sells its own coaching.

    Then you probably have 100 to 200 people who will stand by opromotinf on the Web YOUR coaching!

    Think about it!
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  • Profile picture of the author HN
    Banned
    The only solutions I see are not teaching at all, teaching and keeping "the secret sauce" for yourself or teaching all the knowledge after you already jumped into a new niche.

    You can teach either when you have abandoned the method or when teaching and competition has no effect on your business.

    Eg. I don't see how it can hurt me if I teach how to trade stocks. It's unlikely that other traders will buy all the shares of companies that I am interested in and I won't get a chance to invest. And since I trade CFD's I don't even buy real shares.
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    • Profile picture of the author discrat
      Originally Posted by HN View Post

      [B]

      Eg. I don't see how it can hurt me if I teach how to trade stocks. It's unlikely that other traders will buy all the shares of companies that I am interested in and I won't get a chance to invest. And since I trade CFD's I don't even buy real shares.
      As a trader myself ,in this context you mention the OP concerns are NOT really applicable.

      What would be more applicable is that if you taught other Traders how to teach other Traders how to Trade
      ( via E-books, Video Courses, Seminars,Coaching)

      Thats where the competition could hurt you in this realm of IM


      - Robert Andrew
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      • Profile picture of the author Steve B
        Helping and teaching others is always a good idea.

        But that doesn't mean that you have to teach exactly what you're doing in your own business.

        There will generally always be competition in the marketplace. That is a good thing! That is what the free enterprise system is based upon.

        What is critical is how you position your own business. If you create a business based upon unique and creative ideas and content, no one is going to duplicate what you have.

        Rising to the top of the competition is what profitable business does.

        Steve
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      • Profile picture of the author myob
        Teaching really is an extremely powerful marketing strategy for demonstrating one's expertise and establishing credibility. However, the open "secret" is not to divulge the full details. For example, teach others the steps to barbecue a steak to perfection, and recommend products along the way, but never disclose your secret sauce.
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    • Profile picture of the author Tom Addams
      This:
      Originally Posted by HN View Post

      You can teach either when you have abandoned the method or when teaching and competition has no effect on your business.
      And I unfortunately have to disagree with kilgore. Not this:
      Originally Posted by kilgore View Post

      Your question presupposes what I consider to be one of most prevalent myths about online business: that there are "secret" methods or techniques and that these secrets must be guarded.

      But the fact is that all the best marketing techniques are out there for you to see -- you just have too look for them. In fact, you're probably already seeing them, but you're probably just not noticing them.
      Ernest Hemingway penned The Old Man and the Sea and it was subsequently published and made available to the world and a short while later, in 1952, it earned him a Pulitzer. If even an experienced novelist, let alone a new novelist, were to read The Old Man and the Sea, would it instantly enable she or he to write a Pulitzer-caliber novel as well? I think not. Want to know why? The knowledge that often creates something is only apparent when you understand that knowledge yourself.

      Therefore, HN is absolutely accurate in his or her assessment.

      To suggest otherwise would be to suggest we can successfully operate on a subdural haematoma by merely watching a brain surgeon at work, to visit an art exhibition and stand before a Vincent van Gogh and perform the exact same artistic mastery when we return home that evening, to sit through Taxi Driver or Mean Streets or Goodfellas and hope to become the next Scorsese.

      The knowledge that often creates something is only apparent when you understand that knowledge yourself.

      - Tom
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      • Profile picture of the author kilgore
        Originally Posted by Tom Addams View Post

        Ernest Hemingway penned The Old Man and the Sea and it was subsequently published and made available to the world and a short while later, in 1952, it earned him a Pulitzer. If even an experienced novelist, let alone a new novelist, were to read The Old Man and the Sea, would it instantly enable she or he to write a Pulitzer-caliber novel as well? I think not. Want to know why? The knowledge that often creates something is only apparent when you understand that knowledge yourself.
        Do you really think that it was some sort of knowledge that enabled Hemingway to pen that masterpiece? Some sort of secret that Hemingway had that enabled him to write that book, but that others didn't have? I just don't believe it. Even if you had shadowed Hemingway all through his education, who took every single writing class that he took from kindergarden to university, even then you would never have been able to write the Old Man and the Sea.

        But you might be able to write your own novel.

        My point is not that education isn't important. It's not that you can't teach anything about business worth learning. That's not true at all. Hemingway no doubt learned vocabulary and grammar, and he learned the art of crafting stories and plots. All very worthwhile -- in fact, without that, he would not have been able to write the Old Man and the Sea either.

        No, my point is that (1) all of that knowledge wasn't enough by itself and (2) none of that knowledge is secret. Lots and lots of people take courses in writing from great instructors at great institutions. They read books on story arcs. They embellish their vocabularies by reading great books. But despite the fact that this writing knowledge is freely passed, few become great novelists. Knowing how to tell a great story is one thing. Being able to do so is something else entirely.

        It's the same with business. You can take courses on anything from software to SEO to social media. But it's not like you'll learn anything "secret" from then. After all, we're not alchemists, and we aren't hoarding information for our guilds. But even so, just because you aren't learning secrets doesn't mean you're not learning something valuable. When I wanted to learn about Chef (a computer system), I bought a book on it. There were no secrets divulged; there was nothing in it that 1 million other people didn't already know; there really wasn't anything in the book that I couldn't have learned online with a bit of effort. But at the price I paid it was still well worth it. It was well written, had plenty of good examples I could follow and understand, and thus it saved me a lot of time.

        In other words, what the writer did wasn't to pass on some arcane secret knowledge, but rather he simply provided value to his customer, me. And that's the not-so-secret secret to business success.
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        • Profile picture of the author Tom Addams
          Originally Posted by kilgore View Post

          Do you really think that it was some sort of knowledge that enabled Hemingway to pen that masterpiece? Some sort of secret that Hemingway had that enabled him to write that book, but that others didn't have? I just don't believe it. Even if you had shadowed Hemingway all through his education, who took every single writing class that he took from kindergarden to university, even then you would never have been able to write the Old Man and the Sea.

          But you might be able to write your own novel.

          My point is not that education isn't important. It's not that you can't teach anything about business worth learning. That's not true at all. Hemingway no doubt learned vocabulary and grammar, and he learned the art of crafting stories and plots. All very worthwhile -- in fact, without that, he would not have been able to write the Old Man and the Sea either.

          No, my point is that (1) all of that knowledge wasn't enough by itself and (2) none of that knowledge is secret. Lots and lots of people take courses in writing from great instructors at great institutions. They read books on story arcs. They embellish their vocabularies by reading great books. But despite the fact that this writing knowledge is freely passed, few become great novelists. Knowing how to tell a great story is one thing. Being able to do so is something else entirely.

          It's the same with business. You can take courses on anything from software to SEO to social media. But it's not like you'll learn anything "secret" from then. After all, we're not alchemists, and we aren't hoarding information for our guilds. But even so, just because you aren't learning secrets doesn't mean you're not learning something valuable. When I wanted to learn about Chef (a computer system), I bought a book on it. There were no secrets divulged; there was nothing in it that 1 million other people didn't already know; there really wasn't anything in the book that I couldn't have learned online with a bit of effort. But at the price I paid it was still well worth it. It was well written, had plenty of good examples I could follow and understand, and thus it saved me a lot of time.

          In other words, what the writer did wasn't to pass on some arcane secret knowledge, but rather he simply provided value to his customer, me. And that's the not-so-secret secret to business success.
          Originally Posted by kilgore View Post

          Just saw this. Perhaps we're more in agreement that we thought!
          Where we agree: that there is, wired into the brain of a lucky few, a portion of knowledge that is indefinable and unquantifiable and undetectable, not only to others but to the owners of such knowledge, making any endeavour to share it rather a non-starter. Film students have for years analyzed and reanalyzed the Shower Scene in Psycho and I dare say none of them will be considered the new Hitchcock any time soon. Likewise, Shakespeare, whose works have been torturing English literature students for decades, can rest easy in his "muddy death." The new Shakespeare has yet to arrive. (He never will.) Simon Cowell might call it the "X Factor." Whatever name you give it, this is what it amounts to: you can give two people the same knowledge and the same life experiences and yet one will pick up a paintbrush and bring the world to its knees, and the other will watch Monty Python reruns and chew a Mars bar.

          Where our agreement diverges: the chap watching Monty Python reruns can bring the world to its knees by studying the work of his classmate. The difference between the two people goes beyond innate ability - where one might have a strong facility for painting and the other merely a bit of a knack - and into the indefinable, the unquantifiable, the undetectable. That special cerebral wiring that births Mozart one minute and Gaga the next; The Beatles, then Take That; Stephen King, then Stephenie Meyer. In a very practical sense, and back from my flights of fancy and landing feet firmly in the current IM landscape, this can all be understood by use of a modern day example: before even an experienced marketer can duplicate the success of Facebook.com, he must first understand how that success came about, what went into Facebook.com, not merely the site itself but everything, and elevated it beyond the norm. Fox Mulder would say, and he would agree with you, Kilgore, "The truth is out there." I, as you already know, would disagree. Instead, I would say much of the truth is out there. The implication being: not all of it is available. And how can I be so certain? Simple. Who among us will give birth to the next Facebook? I know it won't be me. I'm good, but not that good.

          But how about secrets that can be taught? Here we talk not of unknown and infinitely complex cerebral wiring that separates Milton from Meyer, but secrets gathered that are, in contrast, definable, quantifiable, and detectable. It would, in one sense, be a misnomer to suggest such secrets are in fact secrets at all, since knowledge of them might be in existence beyond the teacher in question, scattered throughout books or the heads of others or indeed many other locations. It depends, however, on your understanding and usage of the word secret. The Knights Templars are, for instance, in possession of various secrets, and millions of other similar examples can be given. A secret is defined as "something that is kept or meant to be kept unknown or unseen by others." When I was 10 my friend Daniel and I shared a secret. Toby would arrive for breakfast each morning at least an hour before anyone else because he was lactose intolerant, and, Lord knows why he didn't have goat's milk instead, poured water on his Corn Flakes. I asked him why he didn't eat with everyone else. "They'd only poke fun," he said. It was a secret, not a particularly exciting one granted, known only to myself, Daniel, and Toby. A secret though.

          I see a few marketers in the vicinity who likely hold their fair share of secrets. Not a one of us is a Hemingway or a da Vinci or a van Gogh, but we have our secrets, and not all are indefinable, and not all are jealously guarded. Some of our secrets have been worked out at 2 a.m while our family are fast asleep, some of them we paid to acquire, some were found either by chance or hard work (often hard work). When you break those secrets down into categories they number two. The first kind are secrets that are known only to a few; the second, somewhat more rare, are known only to the owner. A great many tiresome marketers in our industry manipulate the masses by promising secrets. "Learn the Secret to my Amazing PASSIVE INCOME Machine!" And whilst this practice undoubtedly makes us all seem about as trustworthy as your typical used car salesmen, logic, if you apply it, does diminish the negative impact. The logic being: if those two categories of secrets did not exist, then the IM playing field would be level, and if everyone worked just as hard, everyone would have the same results.

          Unfortunately, hard work will only get you so far.

          They say "It's not what you know, it's who you know." When it comes to IM, this is what I say:

          It's what you know.


          - Tom
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  • Profile picture of the author Platt
    Originally Posted by Sgt Kraut View Post

    Hi,
    Basically, I gave away some money making methods on my blog and before that I had 10-20 competitors, now more than 300, growing every day. It has become very, very hard to make money this way. Not only for me but also for all others who just started this. I feel that I destroyed the whole method by teaching it to others. I made some money through teaching my knowledge, of course, but when considering the future this was actually a bad financial decision.
    Ever considered a Premium membership section for your blog instead of giving away these methods for free? You can't do anything about the fact that you get more competitors. Whatever you do, there'll be competitors.

    You basically made your own competitors, when you clearly didn't want to, by giving your methods away for free. Most people on the forums share their methods because they know it'll always work with 1-1000 competitors.

    So if you really want to pass your knowledge but don't want to make too much competition, then sell your knowledge instead. Since you're getting so much competitors daily they clearly read your blog and are interested in it. Put a price on your knowledge and they'll buy it since your free methods worked just fine as well.
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    • Profile picture of the author Sgt Kraut
      Problem solved, thanks!
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  • Profile picture of the author 24INVEST
    I have thought about this too for a long long time, I mean, if I would sell my strategies on forex, stocks and commodities. I would make less money in business. It was already hard enough in my opinion to have a good management team that now knows my strategies. I mean, they are now working for me but maybe they will be my biggest competitors in 10 years from now.
    So for that reason, I keep my team small and qualified. I can trust those who are working for me.
    And we limit to 150 investment spots to keep it profitable.

    However, what happens when we reach the 150 investment spots. Well thats something to think about to, because there will still be people who come knocking on our doors to get our rare interest rates. As an answer to this thread, I have come up with the following:

    You need to make enough money from your own strategy before even thinking about publishing it or selling it. When you start selling or publishing your strategy or methods in business. You'll make money, obviously. Use that money to evolve, re-invest in your own business to keep being one or two steps ahead from everybody else. If you don't, there is little to no future in your business.

    If you look from a different perspective in business, you'll see that all successful "guru's" are doing this too.
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  • Profile picture of the author Jonathan S
    If you teach knowledge to others where you did not practice such knowledge yourself or have zero experience about it, something like do as I say not as I do then that's a bad idea.
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  • Profile picture of the author kilgore
    Your question presupposes what I consider to be one of most prevalent myths about online business: that there are "secret" methods or techniques and that these secrets must be guarded.

    But the fact is that all the best marketing techniques are out there for you to see -- you just have too look for them. In fact, you're probably already seeing them, but you're probably just not noticing them.

    Wanna learn the secret to building an amazing sales page? Check out Amazon.com or Apple.com and see how a team with almost limitless expertise, talent and resources does it.

    Wanna learn how to write great copy for your emails? Sign up for a bunch of email lists from some other top companies and see what they do.

    Wanna learn how to do social media marketing? Find some really engaging Facebook or Twitter pages and subscribe.

    It's really that easy -- marketing is, after all, a public activity, not something you can do in a secret lab.

    I'm not saying that businesses don't have any secret knowledge at all. But generally, that sort of knowledge is tactical knowledge that their competitors will eventually learn too -- but the companies guard their secrets temporarily just because timing is so important.

    For instance, everyone knows that Apple was going to release a new iPhone, but they didn't know exactly what the features would be. And Apple rightly kept those a secret so that their competitors wouldn't be able to match their feature set or their price. But they also know that in a year their competitors will match their feature set and their price -- so they had better have yet another iPhone in the works if they are going to continue to stay on top.

    The point is, you can have secrets. And you can use secrets. But if you rely on secrets, you're going to fail -- because all secrets eventually get out whether you teach them or not.

    Real businesses simply deliver value to their customers better than the competition can. They don't rely on Google glitches or special formulas. They're better, faster, cheaper or have a unique brand. There's really no secret to it.
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  • Profile picture of the author Brent Stangel
    I teach people EXACTLY what I do. All the "secrets" and "tricks."

    Why??

    Because I only make money when they make money, so I have a vested interest in making sure they do. Why would I hold anything back?
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    • Profile picture of the author Tom Addams
      This, too:
      Originally Posted by Brent Stangel View Post

      . . . I only make money when they make money, so I have a vested interest in making sure they do. Why would I hold anything back?
      In the information supply trade - whether you're a WSO creator telling people how to grow an email list or a novelist like Stephen King telling people why they should never walk too close to water drains in the road or a filmmaker like Quentin Tarantino telling us to avoid gunning down a bride on her wedding day - the suppliers who offer the best bang for your buck are the very same suppliers with the most bucks of their own. Knowledge is power. But giving knowledge is also power.

      One of the reasons I temporarily coach is not to earn a coaching fee, since the time I spend coaching could be put to more profitable use in the short-term when compared to the small fees I charge, but to leverage student success stories into selling the products I have planned for the future. The MMO (make money online) industry is rife with buyer skepticism. Success, in black and white, goes a long way to diminishing healthy skepticism. Turn out a success story, sell more eBooks. Direct Reservoir Dogs, get to direct Pulp Fiction.

      Is the "secret sauce" held back? Not in my case. And I'll tell you why - the very best secret sauce cannot be given. I could spend the next 10 years being mentored by Tarantino and still would never make my own Pulp Fiction. Stephen King could devote a similar decade to me, yet would I turn out a Carrie? or a Christine? or an It? Not likely. Real secret sauce is not only a secret to others; it's also a secret to the owners. Could Tarantino explain how the wiring in his brain gives birth to Pulp instead of Desperado? Or could King explain why he birthed The Stand and not Twilight? To some extent, both of them could. To some extent.

      But:

      Real secret sauce is not only a secret to others; it's also a secret to the owners.

      - Tom
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      • Profile picture of the author kilgore
        Originally Posted by Tom Addams View Post

        Real secret sauce is not only a secret to others; it's also a secret to the owners.
        Just saw this. Perhaps we're more in agreement that we thought!
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  • Profile picture of the author Sarevok
    One of the best strategies is to know which tactics you may give away for the best benefit to others, while generating the most prestige, yet simultaneously not leaving you bereft of the bread on your table.

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  • Profile picture of the author webmarketer
    I am just wondering about what you gave away. Was it considered so exclusive and unique? Had you kept the info yourself, you wouldn't have had competitors?

    Was it possible that others taught it too?


    Originally Posted by Sgt Kraut View Post

    Hi,

    I've been thinking a lot about the effects of teaching knowledge to others lately. Basically, I gave away some money making methods on my blog and before that I had 10-20 competitors, now more than 300, growing every day. It has become very, very hard to make money this way. Not only for me but also for all others who just started this. I feel that I destroyed the whole method by teaching it to others. I made some money through teaching my knowledge, of course, but when considering the future this was actually a bad financial decision.

    I see similar stuff here on WF, e.g. a successful WSO creator selling a course with personal coaching on how to create WSOs. Isn't this damaging for him in the long run? Maybe the students pick different niches but you can't really know. In the worst case you just created hundreds of new competitors flooding the market with their products.

    The only solutions I see are not teaching at all, teaching and keeping "the secret sauce" for yourself or teaching all the knowledge after you already jumped into a new niche.

    What do you think about that topic?
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    • Profile picture of the author Sgt Kraut
      Problem solved, thanks!
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      • Profile picture of the author webmarketer
        If the info was so exclusive that its dissemination eventually negated its efficacy then your positivist view of human nature did the opposite. I think there are limits you should impose on yourself when it comes to intellectual altruism. At least, prohibit yourself from letting anyone else benefit until you have used the method sufficiently and milked it off--for your own.

        Take the case of WSOs sold here at the WF. Either these WSOs are useless, ripoffs or effective--but, in the latter case--the author has profited off the system already. Competition does not pose a threat to him because he is already way ahead of the pack of "me-toos".

        Originally Posted by Sgt Kraut View Post

        Yes, very complex and unique. The basic description of the method is 5k words long. Of course I knew that I would be getting new competitors. I just thought that I'd be getting a few dozen new competitors, of whom some will pick different niches than me, and I'd be making $70 once + 5% lifetime share of their earnings. A nice 100% passive income stream. I had no idea that there would be hundreds of competitors, making the method almost unusable for everyone.



        Yes, others started teaching it too - but only because I created demand for it. A few weeks ago I even stumbled over a book on Amazon describing it. Almost a copy and paste from what I initially wrote.
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  • Profile picture of the author Raydal
    It all depends on WHAT you are teaching and how wide the market is. If you
    teach and create competition for yourself then you are trading short-term gain
    for longtime loss. But ig what you teach cause you to get more students and
    make more money, then teach away.

    My very first online info product was a traffic getting method I discovered
    by accident and I had to make a decision about sharing or keeping for
    myself. I knew there was no way that anyone would discover this because
    I did so by sheer accident--it didn't make sense. I decided to share and
    it made me a lot of money--even if a million other people used this method
    (now obsolete) I know they couldn't affect my results. So you have to
    extrapolate and make decisions accordingly.

    -Ray Edwards
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  • Profile picture of the author Tom Addams
    Kilgore, I feel I should say: I hope you won't take my disagreement as a show of unkindness or a sign of disrespect. I hammered home my opinion quite strongly above, and singled you out in the process, but only out of intellectual interest. The main forum has been terribly dull for days and this thread is literally the first opportunity I feel I've had to engage in a fun discussion. I quite often feel some Warriors do deserve a certain degree of "hammering home" from yours truly, but only to keep the spread of their lousy information in check and thereby prevent it from infecting the newbies. You are a different matter entirely. You're one of the people I tune in to, look out for in threads, respect. On this occasion our opinions just differ. It had to happen eventually!

    - Tom
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    • Profile picture of the author kilgore
      Originally Posted by Tom Addams View Post

      Kilgore, I feel I should say: I hope you won't take my disagreement as a show of unkindness or a sign of disrespect. I hammered home my opinion quite strongly above, and singled you out in the process, but only out of intellectual interest. The main forum has been terribly dull for days and this thread is literally the first opportunity I feel I've had to engage in a fun discussion. I quite often feel some Warriors do deserve a certain degree of "hammering home" from yours truly, but only to keep the spread of their lousy information in check and thereby prevent it from infecting the newbies. You are a different matter entirely. You're one of the people I tune in to, look out for in threads, respect. On this occasion our opinions just differ. It had to happen eventually!

      - Tom
      First, at the risk of making this a love-fest (when this is supposed to be a heated argument!), I'll just say I respect you and your posts as well. As for the disagreement, the truth is I love it. If everyone always agreed with me here, I'd never learn anything, have no reason to question my own thoughts and my own assumptions. And though I tend to hammer home my opinions strongly too, I do so largely to (hopefully) get an equally hammered home reaction, even if -- or perhaps especially if -- it's one that disagrees. So thanks!

      All that said, while I do see your point and do concede that everyone does have a few secrets that they guard, I'm definitely not convinced!

      At least for me, most of my "secrets" aren't really that important. In fact, the reason why I use a pseudonym and don't advertise my site is not because I'm worried about people here trying to copy my site and steal my business, but because I don't want my customers finding me here and thinking all I'm concerned with the money aspects of my business (which isn't true at all!)

      My guess is I could write a guide to how we built our site, how we came up with the the idea, how we implemented it, how we marketed it. I could answer any and all questions that anyone might have, and still few, if any, people could do what we did. Partly, I happen to work with an amazingly talented team (especially my co-founding partner). But partly we were just lucky to be in the right place at the right time.

      I'd like to think that I know something that nobody else does. I'd like to think that I have some secret knowledge that would turn my next and all future endevors to gold. But it's just not true. We certainly have knowledge -- and we're always striving to know more. But knowledge isn't going to make or break us -- just as it's not Coca-Cola's secret formula that makes that soft drink the most popular one in the world. For Coke, it's mostly about branding and marketing. In fact, I'd argue that keeping Coke's formula secret has a lot more to do with branding than any fear of being copied.

      Perhaps though, we'll just have to agree to disagree on this one, something I find I eventually do with most people I respect.
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      • Profile picture of the author myob
        To summarize all of the above exemplified windy prolix in one sentence; the real secret sauce is an illusory transparency rendered by sycophantic posturing, punctilious obfuscation, and semantic circumlocution which explicitly occludes the perception of withholding any secrets.

        "The real secrets are not the ones I tell".
        - Mason Cooley (American aphorist)
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      • Profile picture of the author Tom Addams
        Originally Posted by kilgore View Post

        Perhaps though, we'll just have to agree to disagree on this one, something I find I eventually do with most people I respect.
        Thanks for the super reply, kilgore - intelligent, funny, insightful, all the ingredients in fact that I enjoy in many of your posts elsewhere on the lunatic asylum that is WF. Anyway - and indeed! - I agree that we should agree to disagree, haha. You're a terrific sparring partner, I must say. It reminds me of when Alexa was around. The moment I click the quote button to disagree, with both you now and Alexa in the past, I usually think something along the lines of "Go ahead, Tom. Just make sure you can bring your A-Game." 2 coffees later and a doughnut (or 5) - blammo - I dive in.

        Cheers - Tom
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  • Profile picture of the author mialove
    If you will analyze the WSO section , you will see that most of the stuff is very "general".
    No secrets, just general ideas that posted over and over again.
    No one share the secret souse, and many of those products creators don't even have the expiriance.

    There is no way, someone who makes 5 figures a month, will share his exclusive method in a cheap WSO.
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