John T. Reed is a real-estate professional who publishes a Web site in which he evaluates the credibility of real-estate “gurus.”
His site includes a “B.S. Checklist” that includes 55 ways to spot someone who operates unethically; Reed is writing about the real-estate business, but a lot of what he says applies to other industries.
Reed says: “Readers often ask me what I think of a particular guru’s seminar or home-study course. In many cases, I don’t know the work of the guru in question. But I can make general observations about the B.S. artists which you can use to spot them.”
One of the items on the checklist is use of dishonest and exaggerated language; below are the terms from Reed’s list that I see in sales copy that’s directed at solopreneurs. Reed writes:
These words are dishonest because they depict a degree of ease or exclusivity or certainty or absence of risk or amount of profit which does not exist. They are fraud at worst and puffing at best. Puffing is a legal term. Black’s Law Dictionary defines it as, “Exaggeration by a salesperson concerning quality of goods.” If the guru you are considering uses any of these words or phrases in his or her presentation, brochures or Web site, he or she is probably a B.S. artist.
• perfect offer
• removes doubts
• secret (if it ever was a secret, it stopped being one when he sold the first copy)
• removes risk
• easy money
• take the fear out
• removes guesswork
• gold mine
• This is not a get-rich-quick scheme
The following words seem neutral, but for some reason they are used especially heavily by B.S. artists. Be suspicious of anyone who uses these words a lot or uses one very prominently, like in the name of their company or product.
• nothing down
• cookie cutter
• money machine
• boot camp