Play on people’s need to believe, to create a cult-like following…
People desperately want to believe in something, especially something bigger or better than them. A higher order. People want to commit their lives, their children, their businesses and even their assets to a superior being. And the most obvious example of this is of course religion. Adults would take hard-earned income and turn it over to another man simply because he says he is ‘anointed’.
But where does belief stop and deceit start? The lines are blurred, and the smarter you are as the cult leader, the more blurred the lines will be. But let us not restrict Law 27 to religion only. Smart men and women have studied and understood the concept of religion and used it to great effect in many other facets of life.
For a long time, building a followership (not customers) was not considered a business in itself. Many people in search of power formed associations, unions, and even social clubs with articulated missions and mission statements, all in a bid to garner relevance. But now, these ‘cult leaders’ appear everywhere, from nutritionists to personal trainers to village meeting heads.
And they all have the one thing in common – they are able to convince people of the need to believe in them, to believe in their superiority, real or imagined. They sell their packaged superiority as comfort for the troubled minds. Some say, for the lazy minds.
But how do you create a following?
First, you must find a need, and then present yourself as the best person to fill that need. In reality, this need typically does not require any assistance. Why does anybody need to be told to exercise? Or to eat properly?
Why do you need to be told to pray to God for favour? Do you care what Kim Kardashian had for dinner? Well, many people do, and are willing to pay directly or indirectly for that piece of vital information.
Most minds need association. People naturally long for a leader in as many aspects of their lives as possible. It soothes the mind just knowing someone else has walked the path before. Or has a better sense of direction.
Sometimes, the mind is just happy to be filled with images of beautiful people. Celebrities who represent angelic presence on earth.
From the cult leader’s perspective, it must be obvious by now that a few things should be in place before setting out as the chosen one:
Number one, and most important of all, the cult leader must acquire knowledge. The leader must be better and wider read than most of the followers. This helps to sell ‘superiority’ easier. Yes, Kim-K will out-talk most people on beauty tips and in her other areas of expertise such as perfect pouting.
Number two, our cult leader must quickly remove the smarter members of the congregation to allow the others grow in their dependence. The smart ones will question every action and cause discord in the group. Instead, drive emotion within the group, not logic or rationality (ie have more women than men) and watch your following grow.
Number 3, and as with any good cult, the leader must impose rituals and sacrifices on his following. Does “10 hail Marys” sound familiar? “Give me 20 push-ups” barks the personal trainer, as if the push-ups are impossible without his presence.
It is the rituals and sacrifices imposed by a leader that give the leader his power. When you tell a multitude of adults not to eat breakfast for a week, and they comply, you know you’ve got the power!
Law 27 in business
In spite of our best efforts, Law 27 still sounds religious. And frankly, it is. But not necessarily in a formalized spiritual way. No, Law 27 is evident in modern business, most especially online and on the speaking circuits. So how do you use it to its full benefit:
Think of any business pursuit – farming, sewing, trading, teaching, manufacturing. How do you develop a cult following in these areas?
The same way life coaches, public speakers, marriage counselors, mentors and social media influencers have managed to do so in the last few years. By organizing classes and sessions – physically and online, and making themselves the focal points.
Think of it dispassionately: a life coach says to you, ‘wake up every morning and believe in yourself. Look in the mirror and declare “I am the greatest”…’, and so on and so on. After 5 days of doing this, you get a job. Suddenly, this life coach is a star.
His reputation spreads. He then starts to hold ‘sessions’ and quickly grows his following.
Chances are pretty high you would have gotten the job in 5 days without him. But that’s not the point. Point is, he was there, and you got the job.
Now, how does the farmer grow his cult following?
By holding sessions with younger less skillful farmers, and ‘guiding’ them along in the ways of farming. Same goes for the accountant, the trader, and the wine seller. Make them believe they need you, and they will be ever loyal. Even after their ‘freedom’.
Soon, like Tony Okoroji, who hasn’t managed an album in years, you should actually stop plying the underlying trade altogether, and focus instead on helping young or new talent along.
Once your power is proven, it is important that you don’t cheapen it by competing in the same space as your followers.
And so Don Jazzy sings occasionally, almost like a treat for his teeming fans (read followers), or as a boost for an upcoming artiste. Not as a commercial venture.
But caveat number one is absolutely vital – you cannot have a strong followership made up of smart people.
That is hard work. Actively seek out the less intelligent or the mentally lazy to grow your network. Or better still, track the gullible or the needy. Those whose lives have a vacuum. Because smart people can be gullible, and of course even the smartest women can be needy.
So, it is better to have many gullible people than a few smart and cynical ones. The logical thinkers and the critical analysts. These you certainly don’t want. It’s a game of numbers, not intellect.
But does it work?
Yes. And not only does it work and work well, it has worked well for thousands of years. Now, it works as a business (though some would say it has worked as the business of church for years).
Banke Meshida of the make up fame is now even more popular than before, and is regarded as an authority. And it’s not because she still goes around making people’s faces up.
No. She now teaches and mentors new talent. At truly exorbitant rates. But, people want to swear by her and would beg borrow or steal to pay to learn at her feet. The very same goes for Tara, who has a large and thriving institute in Lekki where young people come to learn and drink from her fountain of knowledge. A discipleship school of sort.
And what about Tara’s husband, Mr. Fela Durotoye, who has made a living from mentoring and public speaking?
In no other field has Law 27 being more applicable or more successfully employed as in the field of public speaking (apart from religion of course).
Think about it – people pay you to come and speak to them. You’re not a multiple Olympic gold medalist, you haven’t climbed Kilimanjaro.
You’re not even Jay-Jay Okocha, who certainly won’t get as large a crowd at his speaking event.
So why does it work?
Because your reputation has grown by virtue of your cult following. People who would swear by your unmatched ability, whatever that ability is, will convince others on your behalf. Captains of industry would hang on to your every word.
Those words and your acclaim will seduce men and women who should know better. And one way or the other, they will hand you their money.
A few smart ones will pay and then regret it. But the vast majority will pay and offer to pay more for follow-up sessions. These are the best followers. The needy. Men and women willing to pay for attention. Every cult has them, and they form the nucleus of the cult.
These are the people who will defend the personification of their belief – you the leader – with their blood.
Alas, as beautiful a concept as Law 27 is, it isn’t for everyone
Like sprinting or even horseback riding, you must be naturally inclined in certain ways to stand a chance at success. So ask yourself a few questions before setting out on your Law 27 journey:
- are you a natural leader? Do people naturally gravitate towards you in times of trouble or difficulty? Have you indeed ever held a leadership position?
- do you have the gift of the garb? In other words, are you a natural orator? Do you command respect just by speaking? Are you able to communicate your thoughts verbally with ease?
- can you tame your conscience? can you look people in the eye, know you’re not being absolutely truthful, and still take their money from them?
- are you smart? A simple enough question, but Law 27 is not for the unintelligent or even the average thinker. No, you must be clever. A quick learner, and an avid reader. A listener and a strategist.
- Finally, are you disciplined? To be a successful b**s**ter, you must sustain the b**s*it. It can’t be on today and gone tomorrow. Consistency is the watchword, even in the face of temptation or provocation. Anything else and the cult will break up. Even your most loyal followers will desert you, knowing you were not only a charlatan but a weak charlatan at that.
And so we come to the end of our analysis of Law 27
As with most of the other laws in this series, Law 27 sounds deceitful. Like bad advice. A negative look at what is probably a wholesome phenomenon.
Yet, it is quite the contrary – Law 27 is a realistic breakdown of an open secret. A secret many have used to enrich themselves legitimately for years. All that has happened is that the secret is being explained to many more people.
Interestingly, there is no risk of this Law wearing thin – there are as many gullible people in the world as there are smart rational thinkers. In other words, the market is huge and open to new players. Just make sure you go through the checklist first.