Inadequacy & the Chance to Change

People pay a lot of money for the chance to change. Often they pay for a chance to place the blame on another party because they were unwilling to change (ie: that diet program didn't work). A large part of the reason why so many prescription drugs are popular is because drug sales pitches convince us that we can change without actually changing, though that is rarely the case. Typically the side effects are just suppressed or played down.

In much the same way that people think a drug will make things better, we are constantly pushed value systems which make us think things like:

  • I am too fat. If I weighed 20 pounds less I would be happier.

  • I am too poor. If I just had more money everything would work out.
  • I am too lonely. If I just had someone that loved me maybe life would make sense.
  • I am too shy. If I just had more confidence and talked to more people I could figure life out.

Part of the reason self help programs from people who suffered from the same problem work so well is that they are easy to identify with. The more people believe you felt their struggle or pain the more they will believe that you can help them get past it.

A large part of the reasons that many of these programs never lead to happiness is that they solve symptoms instead of problems. Many of them focus on what not to do, instead of what you should do. Inadequacy is just part of being human, but many companies create products or services which claim cure us of the flaws of being. When we buy into these systems, we are not just buying into the product / program / service, but we are buying into the pot of gold at the other end of the rainbow. The belief that things can be different and better, and the sense of relief that brings. Wherever there is a real or manufactured sense of inadequacy there is a large targeted market.

People trying to change social classes and win approval of established members of their community are also likely to pick up the domain specific language and symbols better because they will feel that learning it is an important sign of sophistication. If you can create things which people new to your industry would consider vital (rules, standards, regulations, ethical guidelines, etc.) naive people will push them until they realize the purpose of them. For example, at one point in time I was sucker enough to proudly display someone else's code of ethics on my site until I realized that all it showed was that I was a sucker ignorant to marketing and my market.

What do you do that makes people feel validated in their quest to change or be validated? How easy is it to identify with your position and spread your way of thinking? Do your customers outgrow that feeling? What do you do next?

If your business model solves problems but is financially inferior to business models that solve symptoms how do you get past that?

What are the most radically worldview changing or inspirational things you have ever done?

Published: October 17, 2006 by Aaron Wall in marketing


October 19, 2006 - 9:40am

I believe that if you want things to change, it's you who first have to change.

When i was younger, i was horribly overweight (check out how plump i looked during my university years in Iowa, in the media video at

At that point, i didn't feel that anything was wrong, until after i came back to Asia for a holiday, and boy, was i huge, at about 140 pounds on my 5 feet 3 frame....

I then came up with a plan, that required me to take responsibility of my weight, ranging from having diet programs with my room mate and moved out of the dormitory, to an off campus apartment. My cooking was horrible, and therefore, i ate less (compared to the unlimited servings available in the university cafetaria). I looked my best when i was 100 pounds.

Now, i'm above this weight of course (older age, slower metabolism...), and you can see it at travel pages.

I might not be at my best looking weight, but i feel happy and healthy knowing that i'm not as FAT as i used to be....

October 19, 2006 - 9:09pm

Thought for the day:

Ten years from now, no one may remember the car you drove, the job you had, or even the words you spoke, but they will always remember the way you made them feel

October 17, 2006 - 10:35am


The most worldview changing and inpiration thing I have done was to volunteer for to years as a missionary for my church. During those two years I met hundreds of people from all walks of life. It helped me to be more understanding and compassionate towards people of all backgrounds even people with radically different beliefs than me. It also helped me realize that there are a lot of people out there who sincerly want to make positive changes in thier lives, but they just need a good reason and some support.

Since our church holds very high standards (no fornicating, smoking, drugs, pay 10% tithing, and even no coffee) I was very often surprised to see how willing people who wanted to become members of our church were to do everything that was required. I heard a lot of people say they always wanted to be a "good" person, but they never really had a reason to, they never really had any guidance. I was also amazed at how much of a difference positive changes made in peoples lives. I remeber meeting people who seemed depressed all the time when we first met them, but that seemed like the happiest people in the world a few months later because of the changes they had made.

What I learned can apply to the business world. If your product is really going to help someone don't be afraid to ask a lot from your customers. If your product truly is superior to anything else on the market people will be willing to pay a premium for it. One good example is your SEO Book. There are hundreds of eBooks out there but your is worth what it costs, and I truly believe it is the best book on SEO out there.

October 17, 2006 - 8:11pm

well i'd have to say creating The Campaign to Liberate Freedom. some of the contributions to the site so far have just blown me away, offering their own reflections on the nature of freedom. just creating the space for people to think about and explore freedom is inspirational for me. i suppose i'm then actively creating a forum that in turn inspires me, and hopefully others. if that's not a positive feedback loop i'm not sure what is...

October 17, 2006 - 9:03pm

The most inspiring thing I've ever done? Getting into SEO, without a doubt. Never before have I had a chance to reach so many people and have the potential to make a huge difference in the world.

Yeah I work a 9-5 job (more like 10:30-x) but the skills I learn here can be used to help my friends, family, worthy causes or other people who deserve online visibility. I'm basically providing these people with a voice, people who would not have one otherwise.

October 18, 2006 - 12:18am

I completely disagree. What a shallow post. I took a hair regrowing drug and guess what... I got my hair back!

October 18, 2006 - 1:49am

What a shallow comment. Someone I know took an anti acne drug and guess what.... they lost their hair!

October 18, 2006 - 3:15am

You're right, Aaron, it IS a shallow post. Why would someone want to get their hair back? To look good. We have been socialized to believe that bald men (or at least most bald men) are old and unattractive, and they'll never get the girl. So basically, you took a hair regrowing drug so that you wouldn't be seen as unattractive, so you wouldn't be lonely.

Want to really change your life? Have a baby. (I would say get married, since that changed my life first, but these days it's harder to get married than it is to have a baby. I am in no way condoning extramarital sex.)

My appearance? My income? My friends? I just want my SLEEP. Sleep medication commericals make me cry. I hope spammers don't start targeting those drugs. I may succumb.

October 18, 2006 - 4:46am

Just because someone you know took an anti-acne drug and lost their hair as a result does not prove anything.

My point is that not every drug has side effects- and many drugs do work great.

I know a friend of mine who has acne- and they took an anti-acne drug, and guess what... their acne was cured without any side effects.

What a shallow comeback!

October 18, 2006 - 4:49am

Hi Ken
Did you decide that today was going to be the day you were going to be an asshole? Or is it an unplanned event?

October 18, 2006 - 4:57am

Jordan- why would you assume that I am lonely? Plenty of men take hair regrowth drugs because they want their hair back... not because they are lonely. Having your hair back is a great feeling.

Men don't only take a hair regrowth drug to look young or get married (which I already am for 13 happy years), they take it to look good AND to feel good.

Besides... it my scalp was freezing in the winter time when I was bold.


October 18, 2006 - 5:05am

I am not being an asswhole!
I am being truthful.

Why avoid my argument when you were defeated.
Isn't that a cowardly move on your part?

I thought Aaron Wall had guts???

Wait... No... perhaps the only reason why he got that excellent reputation is because people would post praise on Aaron Wall's block for his pagerank.

Wow... pagerank 7 very impressive!

I am upset because you keep dimming out my links... and I keep leaving relevant comments.

It is a complete waste of my time and yours.
Why pick on me???

October 18, 2006 - 5:07am

May I add that it is even the more so disgusting when Aaron Wall picks on his own "paying" SeoBook customers... who have made him the rich man that he is.

October 18, 2006 - 5:12am

And what I even more so hate is how Aaron Wall is backed up by every argument by his pagerank diggers... I mean "spammers"

Aaron Wall... have you ever noticed that this is true?
Do you agree with me?
How can you not... when you know DARN WELL that it IS!!!

October 18, 2006 - 5:17am


Dude - no one's picking on YOU. You're the guy who came in and started telling Aaron that his post was "shallow". Then in your last post you said that he was "disgusting" for picking on his paying customers. That's just weird man.

October 18, 2006 - 5:19am

Randy... you miss my point. Aaron Wall understands it.

Yes... he understands it DAMN WELL!!!

October 18, 2006 - 5:21am

Hey jackass,
I keep removing your links because you keep linking to domain lander pages. If you add noise to my website I don't have time for you. If you would like a refund you can have one. Just shoot me an email with your payment information.

I would hope that most of my readers were smart enough to realize that nofollow links don't pass PageRank, but I guess you didn't read my book too closely.

Drugs without side effects do not need the ad budget spent on some of the major drugs. I didn't say that all drugs were bad, either. I had no idea how sensitive you are about your hair. Sorry about that.

October 18, 2006 - 6:13am

Dude, all the piss in here is starting to stink. Can we move on to the next post please?

October 18, 2006 - 7:06am

Beautiful post. I am trying to quit smoking right now and I've come to the conclusion that if I could quit smoking without quiting smoking I'd have this whole thing licked with ease!

The most radically worldview changing thing I've done is to raise my son. Business wise, I've done wedding videos for the past couple of years and I put amazing levels of heart and soul into making them touch the couple in ways they could not have imagined and giving them something that if viewed from the proper perspective can be a profound marital aid.

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