Last week, I told you how I hired a ‘social media and internet marketing expert’ whose first name is Sabrina, in what would turn out to be the worst (most expensive) business decision of my adult life. I told you what I hired her to do, what I committed in terms of dollars, and that we had a specific plan and specific objectives for the campaign I had in mind. I told you that she agreed to implement this plan using her ‘world class’ team of experts. I told you that I wanted to believe, and that Sabrina leveraged this feeling in me. Yes, she talked a great game (and no doubt still does.) Told me that there are smart and sticky ways of getting people connected to you online, and that she had figured them out. She and I would be profit partners in building an online business.
In retrospect, it seems to me that this woman could sell ice to eskimos, as long as she didn’t need to deliver any ice after she closed the sale. (And in spite of how bad Ifeel about who she is and how she completely violated the trust I placed in her, I will always appreciate her formidable persuasive communication skills.)
In fact, Sabrina’s business went belly up while she was supposedly working on my campaigns, and she concealed this information from me, using my money to pay other creditors instead of keeping her promises to me. At the urging of my wife, I quit sending her my money, although I said I would resume as soon as we hit even a few of our benchmarks. And when she and her business partner decided to part company (in part out of her partner’s expressed concern that they might be sued by me and others) Sabrina asked me as a personal appeal if I would agree to letting her partner off the hook, and gave me her word of honor that she, Sabrina, would make good on all her promises. And I, wanting still to believe in S as a good person, foolishly, agreed. A year later, Sabrina still hadn’t kept her promises and commitments to me. She had, for example, promised to get me speaking engagements. Never happened. She promised to pay me back even if only $100 a month. I never saw a penny. I called her again, and she had a new message for me. Instead of “I said I’ll make this right with you, and I will make this right with you,” now her message to me was, “Get over it. It’s over.” That was a tough thing to admit to myself. I still hoped to recoup at least some of the tens of thousands I had given to her. But Sabrina talked a good game about internet marketing, and consistently failed to deliver. To assume that this pattern would change would be the epitome of stupidity.
So you know what I did instead? (Here’s the lesson:) I got over it. I let go of the tens of thousands I had given her, the trust I had invested in her, and the hope I had held for my business too. I refocused, doing for myself what I had hoped her company would do for me. Now, these few years later, I have made back what I lost, achieved great improvements in my three objectives, and just had the best year in my business. And while it saddens me still that Sabrina lied and cheated me and continues to promote herself as a social media expert perhaps to the detriment of unsuspecting others, I take comfort in the fact that I always treated her with respect, took responsibility for my mistake in choosing and paying her, and found it in myself to get my business back on track. The turning point was when I took her final advice, the only advice she gave me that was reliable: Get over it. It’s over.
Some people have asked me why I didn’t sue her, or file a better business report. The answer has two parts.
First, she kept stringing me along until my emotions calmed down, thus preventing me from doing anything precipitous. And second, I just don’t want my life to be about lawsuits. I’d rather learn from my experience than pay attorneys to punish her. I’d rather get a benefit from a bad decision than throw good money after bad. This little blog series about falling for a sales pitch from a charismatic huckster is the only real consequence Sabrina G will experience from me directly. Although I think that cheating goes, always shows, and that her bad choices will haunt her. Or not. Either way, it’s over, and I’m over it.
Now I’m writing about the experience, because I hope it will protect a few people from falling under the spell of her enthusiasm, and others like her, and having to learn what I learned the hard way. You’ve seen these businesses that promise you miraculous results using this magical thing called the internet.
Well, it’s hype. Just like anything else, success using social media strategies requires hard work, commitment and consistency through time. And when something sounds too good to be true, it almost always is. So yes, you can recover from bad business decisions. Learn what you can so you don’t repeat a mistake, but then let it go and move on. Because the past only predicts the future when we keep doing what we’ve done. Change it up, learn from your experience and do something different, and you can get a different result than you got previously.
And the next time your own Sabrina G presents herself to you, or is presented to you, as the expert that can solve your problems and get your desired outcomes, I hope you’ll do what I didn’t do (even though I knew better): Check your emotions at the door, and do more due diligence. That’s what I could have done, and should have done, and had advised readers of my book, Insider’s Guide To The Art Of Persuasion, to do. I just didn’t do it. I let my emotions get the best of me. I wanted to believe.
How about you? Ever made a bad decision, trusted someone like Sabrina only to be crushed by the cold reality of broken trust and her failure to follow through and deliver? Ever let go of a mistake and gotten rewarded for moving forward?
When I think about what Sabrina did, I go play my Gibson to soothe my soul. But I’d love to hear your comments.