The Finance Castle Rotating Header Image

The Difference Between Motivational Blogs and Snake Oil

I’ll be the first to admit, I like reading inspirational blogs. Despite not having very much debt (looking at you student loan) and having an ok handle on my finances (new tax situation aside) I still love reading Get Rich Slowly. J.D. is, without question, very thorough, detailed and has an enjoyable writing style to read. The information contained within may sometimes be dry, but it is presented well and in an educational manner.

Other blogs, however, like Ittybiz and the Art of Nonconformity, serve an entirely different purpose. They are short on details but big on grandiose. Chris and Naomi both are out to let us know we can live life how we want, when we want it. On the surface, the message is absolutely important. Many people out there are unhappy, stuck, grinding through life with little sense of direction or purpose other than feeding their kids and making rent/mortgage payments. They want an out, and blogs like this are happy to tell them that there is one. When I read J.D’s review on Chris’s new book, aptly named The Art of Nonconformity, my impressions were confirmed when it sounded like the book is a really long post on his blog. Big on ideas, short on details. I have a hard time deciding if that’s a good thing.

On one hand, it is always good to spread the idea that people have influence over their own life. Breaking out of traditional molds and doing your own thing can and should be encouraged, and I think Chris goes a long way in accomplishing that. On the other, however, we have comments like this one from J.D’s Blog:

According to your review, Chris offers us these truths:

“You don’t have to live your life the way other people expect you to.” (Wow, I’m shocked by his brilliance)

“No one else can be responsible for your success or well-being but you.” (Be still, my heart)

“You are a grown up. As long as your actions aren’t directly preventing others from pursuing their dreams, you have the right (and responsibility!) to pursue your own dreams.” (Thanks for letting me know I’m a grown-up.)

Does anyone seriously believe this is new, original, or even helpful? Maybe others are blinded by his brilliance, I find his style pompous and condescending. It might be less irritating if he were addressing 12-year-old’s. I’ll pass on the book and the blog, thanks.

While blunt, the commenter still has a valid point. At some point, we are inspired, motivated, and rip roaring ready to go do….what? That’s the ultimate question, and something that can’t be universally applied to anyone. Chris and Naomi can talk about hitting the ground running, busting your ass, going for what you want, but they can’t tell you what you want. Often times their blog posts are a really long way of saying “Hey, you can do it,” without defining what “it” is. Most people are beyond the point of motivation. They know what they want, they just don’t know how to get there. They want to be self employed, creative, making their own way, breaking away from conformity. They just don’t know how to get from point A to point B.

Have we been mislead? Are these blogs more akin to snake oil and than a product with real value? Both Ittybiz and The Art of Nonconformity make their living telling people to get motivated, but do they go far enough in showing the way? Having purchased one of Chris’s products myself, I can say: Maybe. Perhaps these blogs and the products that accompany them do inspire people to start their own businesses, quit their 9-5 jobs, and accomplish their dreams.  If that’s the case, I’d love to hear from you! Until then, I’ll keep on reading Itty Biz, AONC, and of course Get Rich Slowly. I just have the most faith in the latter.

Comments are closed.