Are You Going to A Personal Development Spaminar?

By Ellesse

Well, I’ve just attended one.

5 months ago, a friend had enthusiastically sent me a mobile text message that she was able to get a big discount off a major Personal Development annual convention and asked if I was interested. As I had never been to one before then (I’m more of an audio & books fan than a seminar lady), I gladly obliged and even asked my sister and her boyfriend along.

But you know what?

After that convention, I realized it wasn’t such an exciting idea after all.

What is a Spaminar?

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not advocating against going to a Personal Development seminar. In fact, I’m absolutely in favour of anyone aspiring to raise their self awareness through such conventions.

You’ll get so pumped up about your future that you can’t wait to take action immediately. You’ll probably be able to find some like minded comrades which may become your potential mastermind members or business contacts. But beware though, you may sometimes feel so confident the speaker on stage is the mentor you’ve been looking for that you’ll gladly surrender anything to secure your success.

Including your credit card.

Some of the speakers invited at the convention I went were such excellent salesmen that people literally “ran”, yes ran to the sales booth to purchase the next time-sensitive offers after their speech. I was such a sucker myself. Fell for an offer to get next year’s convention tickets so that I could get a “complimentary” pass to a 3-day workshop offered by one speaker.

Only when I found out months later that I had to pay material costs to attend the workshop after paying for the non refundable convention tickets, did I realize that I was scammed. My sister’s boyfriend wasn’t spared too. He bought a set of audios from another speaker only to find them dubbed by another person. Can you imagine buying an Anthony Robbin’s audio program to have the speech not delivered by him?

Caveat emptor.

A seminar can be a great trigger to learning some life changing skills but if it’s full of commercial spam, it may well be another spaminar for all you know. Here are some of the tell-tale signs of one :

(1) No Actionable Details

If you come out of a particular convention motivated and full of zest but with little idea as to what you should be doing, it’s a most obvious sign that it’s a spaminar. Such conventions are meant to be sales baits for you to have an idea of what the speakers are doing, often too vague to do anything unless you’re buying into their auxiliary products.

If motivation’s what you’re looking for, it’s probably much more effective and less expensive to buy a motivational audio from Nightingale. You can even play it over and over again! If you don’t want to spend a dime, just borrow the audios from the library.

(2) Too Much Upselling

As you sit through the talk, you feel as if you’re watching one commercial ad after another. You’ll hear such phrases mentioned A LOT of times in their speeches “In order to be ______, like what I’ve mentioned just now, you may want to consider enrolling into our coaching program. And as a special for attending today’s convention, I’m going to offer this never-seen-before promotion blah blah blah…”

I do understand that every speaker has a right to promote their products but if it’s too excessive, it spoils the audience’s experience. For example, as one foreign speaker was doing such promotions during the convention, I saw a lot of people walking out for lunch as he spoke. If there’s too much sales hype, people just know.

(3) Insulted for Not Taking Up the Offer

When that same speaker saw the people scampering away to take their lunch break while he was unraveling his “amazing” offer, the speaker suddenly paused and started backlashing at the people who walked away. Instead of focusing on those who stayed behind to listen to his promotional offer, he chose to redirect his energy at a wrong crowd. If you’re being insulted like that, it’s very likely that your personal development is not his main concern.

Your money is.

(4) The Objective is Profit, Not People

Looking at the huge crowd of people rushing to buy the products, I really saw for myself how personal development and self help can be a multi-million dollar business. And as a businessman, I’m sure the bottom line means a lot to the organizer. But if that becomes an obsession, not only does it show, he will lose sight of what his initial objective is.


While parking their car, my sister and her boyfriend ran into a guy who attended that same convention every year. He said the convention used to be very good but it had became more and more commercialized as the years went. In my opinion, it’s only a matter of time before he decides to stop going to the convention. At all.

(5) Didn’t Lay Down the Terms Explicitly

Any additional charges or fees that requires you to pay later should be clearly mentioned upfront. Otherwise, it’s tantamount to cheating, isn’t it? Sadly, there’s no way of really assessing this unless it’s after the fact. But I’m sure there are legal avenues you can go to if you really want to pursue it further.

How to Prevent Yourself From Embroiling into One?

On hindsight, I admit I should have done my due diligence before deciding to go for the convention. But I’m glad I went. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be able to share my experience with you!

Now, if you’ve been aspiring to go to a particular self help seminar and just want to make sure you aren’t landing on a spaminar, here’s what you can do:

  1. Check out with People Who’ve Previously Gone For It

    In my opinion, that’s the most effective way. Satisfied customers will have no qualms sharing with you their testimonials and disgruntled ones like me will hold nothing back. And if you’re having a tough time finding such people in your social circle, a good place to go to is personal development online forums such as Steve Pavlina’s Personal Development for Smart People Forums or my friend, Aaron’s Personal Development Partners forum. The forumers come from all over the world so I’m sure you’ll be able to find someone who’s able to provide the right feedback.

  2. Decide based on Your Knowledge Level

    Frankly speaking, some of these spaminars provide a good introduction to Personal Development. My sister who’s not really into such benefited enormously. Vice versa. So, if you’re someone who’s new to personal development and stuff, even such spaminars could well catalyze you to taking the first action.

  3. Look at Who’s Speaking

    . Perhaps you’ve been impressed with their books and previous speeches to know that they’ll definitely provide value in their seminars. Such speakers are like guaranteed spaminar killers.

  4. Find out if It’s A Preview

    . Some organizers are ethical enough to proclaim somewhere that the talk is a prelude to their premium courses. If you attend a preview and come out complaining that the speakers sell too much, well, you can’t really blame them isn’t it? A preview’s supposed to give you highlights to their program, so naturally they’ll tell you all the good things and the special offers.

  5. Spot a Ticket Price Slash Trend

    . A lot of such spaminars’ main focus is not in selling their tickets. Their main business comes from upselling the profitable programs during the seminar itself. So, to attract more of such prospects, they’ll keep slashing their ticket price to make it really irresistible for you not to go. In my opinion, what matters is not really the price. It’s your time. Do you want to even pay $1 to watch commercials?

  6. Search in eBay Auctions or Classifieds for Any Ticket Resales or Transfers

    . Are there a lot of people who’ve already bought tickets to the convention selling theirs off eBay or any classifieds sites? Especially at a loss? Unless it’s due to scheduling issues, there’s something fishy if that happens and it may make sense to reconsider your options.


4 Responses to “Are You Going to A Personal Development Spaminar?”

  1. Brian at 4:47 am

    Great article about the spaminar. I attended T. Harv Ecker’s free convention and witnessed people running to sign-up for his programs. I wasn’t too bothered, however, because he limited the hype to 20 minutes before each break and the rest of the time we got some good information. I was rather amazed at his persuasiveness. It was pretty high pressure. People were parting with huge sums of cash and I had to wonder what the actual tracking was on people who got results for their dollars. I’ve seen the guy who sent me in the last year or so and he doesn’t seem to be in another income bracket yet.

  2. Ellesse at 8:42 am

    Thank you, Brian for sharing your experience. One of the banes of such self help products, be it seminars, audio programs or books, is that people are constantly reading, attending such stuff but only a few of them actually take action. Most constantly seek such stuff because they feel a emotional high just being surrounded by such a positively charged crowd. Participating in such elevates their self worth temporary but more often than not, they’ll usually revert back to their original self after the seminar. It’s not difficult to see why the guy in your example doesn’t have any concrete results to show for attending the seminar.

    It’s sad but without such people, I guess one particular group of people wouldn’t be too happy.

    The money oriented motivational speaker, that is.

  3. Mark McClure at 12:39 pm

    Ellesse – spot on advice about getting a product from Nightingale as a lower cost alternative to the $$ seminar/ coaching programs. “Spaminars” – love that term lol!
    Brian Tracy’s “Psychology of Achievement” was recommended to me by a mentor some years ago. Everything I need to succeed is in that program. His book, Maximum Achievement, is a great written distillation of the same material.
    Regards, Mark

  4. Ellesse at 4:11 am

    Absolutely, Mark. The low costs of delivery (internet based, mp3 downloadable formats) of such programs makes it more cost effective for the consumer. And the fact you can replay it as often as you like helps information retention!

    Sadly, such seminars still have a larger perceived value and people are willing to pay. But most of the time, what they’re paying is not necessary better content, but towards higher sunk costs such as the traveling expenses of getting the speakers there, the rental for the seminar room, the printing costs of the beautiful brochures etc.


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