Sunday, March 15, 2015

Ask and you shall receive...but it isn't free

This past week, I saw where a guy posted up some progress pics in regards to his fat loss diet.  The coach he had been using had obviously done a great job working with this guy, as his results were exceptional.

He later posted that he had received several messages from people, as to what his diet looked like, and if they could have a copy of it.

So, he paid a coach for his diet, his coach gave him personal attention and detail in regards to said diet, and other people wanted know...for free.

This irritates the living shit out of me.  

How would you like it, if you were a carpenter, and someone messaged you and asked you to come fix up some new cabinets for their know...for free? 

Sounds pretty outrageous doesn't it?

What if you were a mechanic that owned a small garage, and someone shot you an e-mail asking if you would come and take time out of your day to look at their transmission and see what is wrong with know....for free?  

Some people will do that.  But most places have a charge for that because time is money.  And the time they take out to look at your shit, can mean money lost because it's time they divert away from paying customers.  

This has become very common in the fitness industry.  People think that it's perfectly ok to run around asking for advice, diets, training programs, books, etc for free, from people who make a living providing those services.

I still can't figure out how to get my head around the fact that people often justify this by saying shit like "when did someone corner the market on a training program?"

They didn't.  You're paying for a service.  And if it's from an expert or professional, you should EXPECT to pay for it.  

A while back Charles Poliquin was doing some of John Meadow's mountain dog training under John's tutelage.  When he wrote about the great results he got from it, people publicly asked to see what the training program was.  

If just now, in your mind, you don't see a problem with that, then you really need to find a fire hydrant, jump up as high as you can, and slam your face into it.  

I'm being dramatic because it's a very irritating subject for me.  I have heard and lived this story many, many times.  

John does this for a living.  So basically people are asking to see a personal program he created for a paying client....for free.  

Again, if you see nothing wrong with this, find a fire hydrant and get to work.

When I started working with  IFBB Pro Fred Smalls, Fred started making incredible gains in mass and strength.  Of course it didn't take long before people asked outright, what his training program was.  You know, exactly what it was.  

Freddie pays me for training.  So do the dozens and dozens of other clients I have.  Is it fair to them for me to just give you their training program, when they had to pay money they earned for it?  

Is it fair for professionals to answer question after question to you, for free, when other people have to pay for that exact service? 

Again, if you don't see a problem with people doing that, go find that fire hydrant.  

I still answer a question here and there because I do want to be helpful.  But I have found there are a few kinds of people in the world in regards to when you open that door, and what they will do with that small opening.

One question becomes two questions.  And two becomes four.  Four becomes nineteen.  

If you're smart, you checked out long before then.  I've literally had guys message or email me a question, I answer it, then get 5 questions back in return.  You know, in numerical order.  



Of course, I'm not answering that, and he or she shouldn't expect me to.  I don't know why they would.  Maybe because I answered the first one?  I don't know.  Maybe because they are a "just let me stick the tip in" kind of guy and thinks that will work on me.  Again, I'm not sure.

Then there's the weekly guy.  If you answer one or two for him or her, they seem content.  For about a week.  And then they hit you up with one or two again.  Then a week later, one or two again.  Then again, and again, and again, and again.  

Think about a client who paid that only asks one or two questions a week.  Again, is answering all of these each week for free, FAIR to the paying client?  I don't think it is.  But maybe I'm an asshole.

Ok, that's fine.  I'm an asshole.  But for other reasons.  I'm right in regards to my stance here.  

Even worse, is when you are kind enough to take time out of your day to answer someone, and then you see them asking this same question a week later to someone else.  Of course, we know these people as askholes.  

They ask you a question, then either do what they want to do anyway, or just ask someone else.  When my buddy Jason Pegg was with elitefts he had a guy that kept asking him the same question over and over again, never content with the answer Pegg gave.  Finally, Pegg simply answered "just tell me what you want me to say and I will write that down."  

I've had people want to do a Skype or online chat session (mind out of the gutter here) for free.  This has happened on numerous occasions.  

Yes, let me take time out of my day with my kids, from my business, from running errands, cooking, and doing normal day to day shit, so I can sit down with you for over an hour to answer all of your questions.  You know....for free.  

A service is a service.  You'd never expect to walk into a single business that provides a service and ask them to offer that service for free.  Why?  Because it's devoid of all rational thought and logic?  

Yes.  It's that!

The fact is, you should have enough respect for other people's time to ASK what they charge before you go ASKING them to provide them a service.  Isn't that what you do when you pick up the phone to call a place that provides a service?

"Yessir, I need my washer and dryer looked at.  Do you guys provide that service?"

"Yes we do."

"Ok what about pricing?"

Seems like a normal conservation doesn't it?

"Yessir, I need my washer and dryer looked at.  Do you guys provide that service?"

"Yes we do.  It's $100 to come out and look at it then it's X amount for parts and labor."

"Ohhhhhh, I didn't know you charged money for this.  My bad.  Thank you, sorry for wasting your time."

Doesn't seem like a normal conversation does it?  

Even prostitutes require you to pay them!  They will give you pricing for all of their services!  As soon as you pull up they will rattle off what each service costs, or how much you need to pay for X amount of time.  

We're talking about hooking here, folks.  HOOKING.  You don't expect to drive up to a hooker, and ask what she offers up for free.  I bet you can't even get a stick of that trident she's chewing on for free.  I bet you can't!  

Yet this particular conversation goes on all the time on the net (not the prostitute one).  I've heard countless of stories from guys that do very well as coaches and have plenty of my own.  The fact is, we shouldn't even have these stories.  I mean, maybe one or two here or there but I bet if I went down to Goodyear and asked how many times a week someone comes in and asks for free tires, they would said "uhhhh, never?"

I'm not saying you should expect to pay for asking a single and easily answered question.  I'm saying if you have a list of questions, ask what the person would charge for an online chat session.  Believe it nor not, sometimes you will catch them in a good mood and will say "just hit me up man, I can answer real quick."  

Why?  Because they appreciate the fact that you showed enough respect for their time and what they do, that they helped you out for free for being courteous.  

If you're a numerical order dude, or a weekly question asker, or an askhole, please understand that services cost money.  If you don't want to pay, that's perfectly cool.  Just don't ask for someone's time without expecting to give up a few bucks.  


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  1. Nope. Information is meant to be shared. Health and fitness are human rights as long as someone is prepared to do the work, I have no sympathy for meat heads trying to hold information hostage so they don't have to go out and get a real job.

    You like your carpenter analogy, do those carpenters pay a royalty to the inventor of a chair every time they sell one for $1500? You can't put a patent on dieting any more than you can the food pyramid.

    This mentality is part of the problem why average people are so unhealthy and dissatisfied with the fitness industry, as if there is some make believe kind of pay wall between athleticism and diabetes.

    I wonder what this ground breaking diet advice was, let me guess: lots of protein and vegetables?

    1. Then go find a personal trainer who does it for free. Let me know how that works out.

  2. Well said Paul. ..its funny how in every other facet of our daily lives where we interact and transact for goods and services. ..this would not be tolerated in the slightest and you would be looked at as crazy expecting "it" for free...yet in the fitness world it goes on and on...

  3. Hi slowfuse,

    I work in IT (Oracle). Everything involved in my skill set is freely available on the web.

    Should I offer my services for free?

    Thanks for all you do Paul! Love your books!

    1. Thank you man! I shoulda picked ORacle instead of AIX. DBA's make so much more. LOL

  4. Also want to add: I'm not a personal training client of Paul's but I buy his books because i don't want to spend 20 years figuring this stuff out on my own. I'm paying for his mistakes, time, knowledge.

    People pay me for Oracle services because they don't have 10-15 years to learn everything I've learned.

    Same as me hiring a plumber or electrician. I don't want to spend the time to learn it then make mistakes honing those skills.

  5. Excellent read Paul. I deal with this stuff all the time when Im at work or when Im training. I do not mind helping people at all, especially if I see them trying and working hard. The majority I give them my 3 strike rule. 3rd question you ask me I either whip out my card or I attach my CC swiper to my tablet and say Lets talk about sessions.

  6. But I've learned more @ liftrunbang, then anywhere else, for free?

  7. I'm a carpenter and the analogy is perfect.
    You pay for expertise, time, and effort.
    Slow fuse you are not entitled to anyone else's knowledge, time, or effort. Douche.

    1. The analogy is awful, and you should be insulted as a carpenter. As a carpenter you possess three things. 1) Knowledge. 2) A skill set. 3) Ability to apply #1 & #2 to produce an actual physical result for someone.

      What Paul and other internet diet and training guru's possess is one, and only one, thing. Knowledge. They can only apply #2 & #3 to themselves. They can apply no physical skills and produce no physical results for other people, that's up to the individual.

      Of course as a carpenter you wouldn't do free work for someone, but if someone asked you HOW to do something would you offer knowledge? If someone asked you to fix a door would you say, "I'm not telling, pay me and I'll tell you how". Of course you're probably not a carpenter on the internet giving away a bunch of how-to's and then complaining when people ask for more how-to's.

      Certainly sharing knowledge freely is your own prerogative, but let's not act like it's the same as physically applying skills and knowledge to produce an actual physical result for someone. Paul and others like him produce nothing for clients - they do no actual work (except typing). They give them advice on how to get results, but it’s the clients who actually do work to get results. Paul cannot lift weights and make somebody else ripped. Whereas a carpenter like yourself, does the work and produces results for people.

      This is not to diminish the work of internet diet and training guru's, but let's not make the mistake of comparing them to the likes of carpenters and mechanics who actually do work (other than typing).

    2. The other guy was an Oracle DBA. I'm a former unix engineer. So the same analogy applies. People pay for knowledge. Period. If you don't understand that concept I don't know what to tell you. Do you think people spend a lifetime learning this to be told they should be giving it away for free?

    3. You must have missed my quote "...sharing knowledge freely is your own prerogative". Let me state it clearer for you: I understand people pay for knowledge and it's up to an individual to charge money for it or not, and that's fine.

      My dispute is your analogy that a carpenter or mechanic doing free work is the same thing as you answering some questions. One is actually doing work, producing something tangible, having an end product. The other (you) is telling someone how to achieve an end product but not doing the actual work to get there. They are not the same, that's it.

      I am a regular reader (and purchaser) of your work. As it appears to me, sometimes you give away free knowledge and sometimes you charge for it. And there is an imaginary line somewhere in there that people should know, else be an "askhole". Although we should mention that your free knowledge is advertisement for your paid knowledge, and the only reason you get paid on the internet is people consuming what you have written for free and wanting more insight. So I would say this whole dillema you're bitching about is your own fault the business model you created for your online business.

    4. Not really. I've given out tons of free info, but I've heard people bitch when, after 7 questions I tell them they need to hire me. Perhaps answering the 6 questions was my fault, or 5 or whatever. I don't mind answering questions at all to be honest, but some people can get rather abusive with how many they want asked, then get upset when you don't keep answering.

    5. I'll draw another IT analogy. Tom Kyte is the top Oracle guru in the world.

      He answers thousands of questions for free on his website - like Paul

      He has several books detailing decades of wisdom that are must reads in my industry - like Paul

      He also offers consultancy services for in depth batman like oracle solutions - like Paul

      I appreciate the free and for-pay works of both professionals. I don't think Paul's business and charity models are unique to the fitness and performance industry. I think it's a nice professional services business model.

  8. I always thought that people asking for what the program was, were asking what the basics were. You know, like 'big lift first, with low volume, 2-3 accesories after, done with high volume' or 'high volume, medium weight on everything equally, several movement variants', like in the Flex article you mentioned about Fred's back training.

    But then I remembered the people I work with. Dumb, entitled cheapskates.

    I'm willing to bet, that if you actually gave out your programs for free, the guys out there would e-mail you stupid questions about 'variations' of your program, where they do half the shit differently and don't do the other half, while still calling it your program. And create wikis with your name on them, where they endlessly discuss minutiae of barbell rows, while not lifting and being fat.