Near as I can tell, the most cash-flow positive way to make money on the Internet seems to be to seduce people with a “can’t fail, easy-as-peasy pie” scheme to make money on the Internet. Of course, only a very small percentage of the people who buy these seminars and take these online courses ever reap the millions promised. Why? Well, the vulnerabilities of our brain and the limitations of our body might have something to do with it.
Anecdotal evidence suggests that those people who make millions on the internet are similar to those people who make millions from multi-level marketing “opportunities.” They are people who have the energy, discipline, drive and focus to be successful in almost any business or enterprise they immerse themselves in. But energy, discipline, drive and focus are functions of a brain that operates in a very specific manner.
Competing With Free
It’s not an accident that even free internet courses like those offered by EdX and Udemy and Coursera have a massive fail-to-complete rate. That means that the vast majority of people who enroll in online offerings don’t have the energy, interest, drive and discipline or the ability to sustain the focus required to complete them. This means several things.
As someone who has taken such courses and who has completed them (and taken several that I did not complete), I have a sense of the brain processes involved. One is that if self-directed study is to be successful, I need to know why I’m doing the studying, and I need to keep reminding myself of that reason(s). Two courses I managed to complete online were Idan Segev’s and Peggy Mason’s courses on brain physiology – something I am deeply interested in and already know a lot about. Now I know even more. Those courses about changing the brain and how it works have changed my brain and how it works. That was my purpose in taking them.
Interestingly, there were two other internet courses about the brain that I enrolled in that I did not complete. The main reason: the teachers. I simply did not resonate with the teaching and presentation style. Peggy Mason and Idan Segev are colorful characters. And they’re passionate, about the brain and about teaching. Their energy and unique personality – their spirit – shines through. It didn’t even matter that Idan is Israeli and half the time I couldn’t understand what he was saying because of his heavy accent. For me, his passion over-rode his accent. These professors did manage to stimulate the pleasure centers in my brain. That circuitry lit up in response to me learning something REALLY INTERESTING in a fun, surprising and enjoyable way.
But of course, now, if I’m going to make millions on the Internet, I’m left with the hard work of actually APPLYING what I’ve learned from Peggy and Idan in compelling and creative ways such that massive numbers of people will be willing and wanting to discount “free” and pay good money for. So far, no good.
The Empowerment Delusion
Another factor that precludes most of us from ever becoming internet millionaires is The Empowerment Delusion: the false belief that feeling empowered, or believing I am empowered, is the same as actually being empowered. It’s something I have been a victim of myself more than a time or two. Part of why The Empowerment Delusion works I suspect, is that beliefs themselves, much like positive thoughts, affect neurotransmitters in the brain associated with Reward Circuitry – with the ventral-tegmental area and the striatum – the brain’s pleasure centers. But while generating feel-good hormones and neurotransmitters may be necessary, it is clearly not sufficient when it comes to the hard work required to actually accomplish something of significance that will generate substantial cash flow.
Take writing a novel as an example of The Empowerment Delusion. Here’s a typical “empowerment pitch”: You Can Write Your Novel in 30 Days. As a young and naïve aspiring novelist, I’ve probably taken a half dozen of these workshops/programs. Initially, my brain generates all kinds of feel-good hormones and neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine. I’ll be off to the races, cranking out pages day after day. Then, about 10 days or two weeks in, the thrill suddenly stalls. Those bewitching brain chemicals no longer work their magic. Writing now becomes … work. It was conveniently never mentioned that this novel-writing gig was going to feel like work! I could actually feel this way by getting a job with a paycheck. And have money coming in, rather than day after day only going out!
If Michaelangelo were alive today, I doubt he would become a grand master by spending untold hours attempting to become an Internet millionaire. I’ll leave you with what he had to say about his own mastery: “If people knew how hard I had to work to gain my mastery, it would not seem so wonderful at all.”