Cult Members Don't Know They're In a Cult...

And Fish Don't Know They're Wet

Last year, I asked a question on my Facebook profile:

How do you convince someone they’re in a cult?”

An impossible question?

I have curated over 4,000 contacts on Facebook, many of whom are classmates from USAFA and alumni from there, as well as West Point, Annapolis, and the Coast Guard Academy.

Many are Navy SEALs due to my seven years of participating in the Tampa Bay Frogman Swim each January. (See, “Ever Panicked on a 3.5-mile Swim?”)

Wes Schaeffer Tampa Bay Frogman Swim

My big butt floundering in after the 3.5-mile Tampa Bay Frogman Swim in 2015.

Many have been through interrogation training, as well as how to resist interrogation. (Some have been interrogated.)

Hundreds of them have been guests on The Sales Podcast since 2011 and include successful entrepreneurs…PhDs…MBAs…professional athletes…TV personalities…millionaires…several ex-cons…and a couple have escaped actual cults.

So, these are not dumb people.

Additionally, my profile is set to Public. Hence, friends of friends and even strangers who are feeling froggy can hop in and participate in the shenanigans, which often result in hundreds of comments from a segment of society that is better educated, more thoughtful, and more experienced than your average bear in our troubled nation.

I tell you all of this to help explain why I was and remain a bit saddened by the answer, which was…

“You cannot convince someone they’re in a cult.”

That’s right.

The consensus was that people who are in a cult cannot be convinced they are in a cult.

“Ahhh, Wes, you feeling okay? It’s Friday…you’re a sales dude…Is this a cry for help? Do you think you’re in a cult? Click your mouse twice if you need me to call the authorities or your wife or your mommy.”

Bear with me. Believe it or not, there’s a point to my story, which, in and of itself, is an important point, which maybe I’ll address next week. Now, where was I…?

According to, [kuhlt] is a noun:

  • a particular system of religious worship, especially with reference to its rites and ceremonies. (We’ve known of religious cults for centuries, but secularists have created their own business/government/hedonist worship today.)

  • an instance of great veneration of a person, ideal, or thing, especially as manifested by a body of admirers: the physical fitness cult. (Gym bros, internet bros, bros in their private jets, MAGA followers, LGBTQ+ allies, Instagram/OnlyFans/TikTok/YouTube followers, beauty pageant contestants, worship of athletes, singers, actors, etc.)

  • the object of such devotion. (Watch players kiss trophies in the NHL, MBA, and the U.S. Open this weekend.)

  • any system for treating human sickness that originated by a person usually claiming to have sole insight into the nature of disease, and that employs methods regarded as unorthodox or unscientific. (Fauci saying, “Attacks on me, quite frankly, are attacks on science.”)

Sure, I picked a lot of easy and obvious examples, but I’m trying to make a point.

Cults and cult followers and cult adherents are everywhere. (Here’s my favorite of The Cult.)

You are likely part of a cult and don’t even know it.

And so are your best prospects.

And, hopefully, so are your best customers.

And maybe “cult” is a strong word.

But maybe not.

Look at vegan and CrossFit and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Harley Davidson fanatics.

How do you know a vegan CrossFitter when they walk into a bar? Oh, they’ll tell you within the first 30 seconds of meeting them.”

Old joke—insert the hobby you love to hate and tell it this weekend

Look at golf and carnivore dieters and Southwest Airlines fanatics.

Look at Mac users (I read Cult of Mac) and Android users and Ford vs. Chevy drivers.

Cults/cliques/groups/tribes are everywhere.

They’re literally called groups on Facebook and LinkedIn.

Seth Godin wrote “Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us” in 2008.

We are social creatures by our nature. This is why “social proof” is such a prominent part of “Influence,” written by Robert Cialdini in 1984, 40 years ago!

Why does this matter to salespeople, sales managers, business owners, and entrepreneurs?

It matters because our prospects, our customers, our staff, our peers, our bosses—everyone we encounter—think they are right.

They think they do not have a problem that you can solve, which is why they aren’t calling you.

That’s why you have to contact them…to clear their cobwebs…to challenge their stinkin’ thinkin’…to give them new data points…to ask questions they cannot answer.



This takes time.

A Ford driver needs two or five or ten issues to happen back-to-back before he’ll consider a Chevy.

I’ve used iPhones for my family of nine since they came out in 2007. They’d have to catch fire and burn my house down before I’d consider switching to Android.

Most people have to experience a health scare, i.e., a heart attack, a panic attack, a nervous breakdown, or an embarrassment/frustration, i.e., they need a belt extender on a flight or they have to wear an ugly dress or suit to a formal event because of their size before they join AND ATTEND a gym, hire a fitness trainer, stop drinking alcohol, and start eating better.

This is why you have to implement a multi-media, multi-step outreach and follow-up system to educate, agitate, and resuscitate your prospects over days, weeks, months, and even years because we can’t convince someone they are in a cult or overweight or using the wrong technology or driving the wrong truck.

It’s hard to do in this noisy, fake, cultish world.

But it can be done.

It should be done.

It’s the only way to grow with consistency, integrity, and resiliency.

Persistent progress produces predictable profits.

Market like you mean it. Now go sell something.

The Business Fixer Stuff


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