How to (NOT) Waste Money on Personal Development

The story of how I met the disciple of the most hated man in the world is illustrative of how to (NOT) spend money on personal development.

I had just arrived in an exotic, new (to me!) city.

I knew nobody there. I started by requesting to join the local RSD wingman Facebook group. As I’ve explained elsewhere my lifehack to forming intimate relationships fast is devoting my time socializing to high-affinity groups with deeply shared values; RSD trained pickup artists are actually one of the best such groups. In the Facebook group, a cool looking local guy had posted that he was offering free introductory pickup artist boot camps, which is like infield dating coaching. I’ve never taken a boot camp but I’ve always been interested, if I had several thousand dollars just burning a hole in my pocket I would do a boot camp.
He had posted a couple of indicators that he knew what he was doing, and it was a novel application of the freemium model so I thought why not? What do I have to lose?
I contacted him and made what I thought was a generous offer of buying him dinner and then we could go out at night and do the free coaching.
I thought if he turned out to be an effective coach I might purchase one of his coaching packages, if he sucked then at least I would have explored the city some and have had a stimulating conversation over a succulent meal.

I met him and he had gravitas, swagger, and style. I picked his brain about the nuances of seducing the sexy local girls. He spoke three languages fluently. We talked about meditation, fitness, Entrepreneurship, Biohacking, supplementation, and Colombia. Overall a pretty impressive guy.

Interestingly, he had worked directly with, at the time, the official most hated man in the world. Weirdly the most hated man in the world is not some tyrannical dictator or murderous narco boss but was a douchebaggey pickup artist guru that had pissed off a bunch of feminists and the politically correct mainstream media. My new friend had coached with him and had the photos to prove it. He emphasized how much of an influence this guy was on him.

I was a bit disappointed when he announced a change of plans that we were not going to be doing the free boot camp that night. He was instead going to pick up a girl who he knew that night and sleep with her. He offered to drop me off where I was staying. We took his car which was a pretty nice car in that country. We did indeed pick up a cute girl from a decrepit old soviet style apartment building who giggled at my poor attempts at their language.

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The next day we met up to discuss smart drugs which he was really interested in (who isn’t!) and hung out in his nice apartment
Then he pitched me; he had a weekend boot camp program that was $600. We would…
Do coaching at nightlife spots.
Talk to girls during the daytime.
And… He even guaranteed I would get laid on the boot camp (Guaranteed!)

I didn’t go for it for a few reasons…
$600 was a lot of money in that country. It seemed pretty steep for a weekend of coaching. Yes, world-class dating coaches, like the most hated man in the world charge thousands of dollars for a weekend of such coaching but they also have tons of credibility and evidence for their expertise. He had almost none.
He didn’t get into a lot of specifics about what the coaching would entail other than that I would definitely get laid. His pitch was long on benefits but very short on features.
But more importantly he was dishonest; he didn’t do the free boot camp we discussed.
How was I to know that he wasn’t going to just take my money and pay a local working girl to sleep with me?

I’ll add that this guy followed A LOT of popular personal development and entrepreneurship content and it showed…

  • He threw around a lot of the platitudes and parlance that are so common here in the online personal development/Biohacking sphere.
  • He had a pretty good hook; offering the free boot camp, then showing me the nice car, the pretty girl and the nice apartment.
  • I can see how through a different cultural filter, he might think it was acceptable to bait-switch me like that but I didn’t want to pay $600 to sleep with a hooker even if it was packaged with some great coaching!
  • Not to mention, in that country I could sleep with about 10 hookers for $600. It just wasn’t a good deal!

As you can see from the story above I’m skeptical about spending money on the type of offerings that are so common in the personal development world…

  • Coaching packages
  • Weekend retreats
  • Seminars
  • Mastermind groups
  • Social dynamics boot camps
  • “Infoproducts” — Those downloadable PDFs and video courses on how to make money online, pick up chicks or whatever.

The past 10 years of my personal development has been quite fruitful.

  • I make pretty good money doing what I love.
  • I have financial freedom.
  • I have abundance with relationships.
  • I make friends pretty easily. I stay in touch with old friends. I enjoy time spent with family. I’m loved in every way.
  • I’ve lived abroad as a digital nomad for 4 years now. Tasting and savoring myriad cultures. My world is borderless.

I bet I’m within the top 10% or 5% of the happiest people in my demographic because I live very consistently with the three values I hold most dear: freedom, adventure, and novelty. I’ve grown up to be what I always wanted to be: an adventuring philosopher.
So it’s pretty fair to say that the time and resources I’ve spent on personal development have yielded a successful result.

$5000 Wasted

There’s a lady I’ve known for a long while who recently wasted $5,000 on a coaching package.

John C. Maxwell offers this super-premium, intensive seminar weekend, certification and follow up package where they coach your leadership skills for five grand. I suspect it’s one of those things where they life coach you to be a life coach.

I saw this lady last time I was home in Denver, Colorado, we’ll chat online from time to time about health and fitness so I was pretty shocked to see her casually eating potato chips and a large Pepsi.
I don’t want to be too judgmental but anyone who casually consumes that sort of food is just really not taking their personal development seriously.
That kind of food puts your biology on a blood sugar roller coaster to hell. There’s just no way you’re going to be consistently productive, creative or happy if you regularly snack on that sort of poison.
She’s also one of these just nice ladies who are always stopping to help other people. She has a hard time prioritizing here own projects.
Unsurprisingly, my most recent communications confirmed that a few years later she had indeed done nothing with her John C. Maxwell training.

So that’s how to NOT spend money personal development.

How to spend money on personal development

As a principal when it comes to personal development spend money on things that yield a return on investment in multiple ways, as opposed to making a bet on something that is just going to benefit a single domain.

Smart drugs

I think that Nootropics are the best gateway drug to personal development.

If you have a “Blue Pill” friend or loved one who’s life is just a downward spiral of mediocrity what I would NOT recommend is giving them a Tony Robins book or telling them to download the Headspace app.

I would give them smart drugs. Smart drugs will give them for a few hours a winner’s mind; they will be focused, disciplined, productive and happy and once the exotic molecules leave their system they’ll want more of that. They’ll come back for more smart drugs and then they’ll start to wonder what else they can do to unlock their mind:

  • They’ll start exercising more consistently
  • They’ll take up meditation, brain training or another mindfulness practice
  • They’ll start to read more books and watch less television or shallow Youtube shows
  • They may even go to therapy
  • Smart drugs have disparate effects on our neurobiology that work in ways obvious and not so obvious to empower our lives…
  • They make us more focused and less susceptible to distractions.
  • They improve our discipline so we will do more of what we already know we should be doing.
  • They improve our stress response so that stressors internal and external have a whole lot less of a capacity to hamstring our happiness and productivity.
  • They make extracting semantic information from our long term memoryless like searching for a book in a library and more like doing a Google Search.

I could make a very long list of benefits of Nootropics (or a giant infographic!) but anyone who has tried them will quickly discover that they do positively affect a multiplicity of measures of performance.
I think well researched smart drugs are one of the best ways to NOT waste money on personal development.


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We are what we eat. On a profound level, the quantity, and quality of the food we consume limit our capacity to reach for our goals.

I can be combining all the greatest lifehacks I know of…

…But if I eat two slices of pizza and drink a sugary, fizzy soda I’m still going to have a pretty mediocre day.

In one of Elliott Hulse’s videos (I forget which one, there are SO many!) he talks about how as a younger man he spent a lot of his money on his diet, eating high-quality organic food. An investment that has really paid off in his life of gargantuan proportions.

If you listen to podcasts or read books by elite performers (athletic or otherwise), a commonality is that they seem to spend a lot of money on really high-quality food. So don’t feel guilty about spending a little more on…

  • Ordering the grass-fed steak
  • Lunch at a fancy vegan restaurant
  • Toxin-free coffee
  • Shopping at an organic grocery store
  • A healthy food delivery service like Blue Apron

I’m not a diet guru so I’m not going to tell you what exactly you want to drop your coin on. I’d encourage you to read some of the newer books on the Ketogenic or Paleo diets.

Hormonal Blood Tests

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Modern life conspires in a myriad of insidious ways to unbalance and deplete our hormones.

To paraphrase something quiet insightful Dave Asprey said about managing relationships:

If you’re seeing a therapist for marital problems, you’re really wasting money if you haven’t first had a hormonal blood test done.

The same logic applies to most of our endeavors. A detrimental hormonal imbalance can really rob you of motivation, discipline, happiness, and energy. You can try all sorts of lifehacks and Biohacks to restore gusto and mojo but if they don’t address the hormonal issue you’re going to be held back.
A simple hormonal blood test that’s likely not going to cost not more than a hundred bucks will let you know if you have a hormonal issue that needs to be addressed.


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Exercise has numerous positives ranging from balancing our hormones and relieving stress to neuroplasticity.
Unless your day job is being an acrobat or stripper, you’re held back in every other domain of your personal development if you’re not breaking a good sweat a couple of times a week.
Spending money on a gym membership, personal training, classes or fitness gear is not a 100% effective motivational mechanism as the fine purveyors of these things would like to have you believe but it definitely does improve the likelihood that you’ll exercise more consistently.


I’ve been a voracious consumer of new media content formats for a long time — I spent a good chunk of my very first paycheck ever on CD ROM audiobooks and was printing out pickup artist PDF ebooks to read before I even hit puberty — but the truth is that reading the old fashioned way (or on Kindle) really is the most effective way to absorb knowledge.

I went through a phase of about 5 years where I stopped reading books and just listened to podcasts, Youtube lectures, documentary films or downloaded torrents of info-product courses and I stagnated in my career and personal life.

When I canceled my Netflix membership and started buying books again and reading every day on Kindle my horizons did broaden, not overnight but it did give me momentum. Books have an unequaled capacity to grow your wisdom and income.
Unlike blog articles, podcasts and Youtube videos books cost money so you have that sunk cost motivational mechanism with what you glean from them.


Success rarely, if ever occurs in isolation. As I explain in the Secret Society Infiltration Model:

The fundamentally lifehack to networking more effectively is to focus your networking efforts on those who are within groups that you have a high affinity with.

This means finding groups that have very strong shared values, interests or philosophies. So likely NOT those awkward mixer events of random strangers exchanging business cards in bars.

Effective networking a lot of times entails spending just a little bit of coin to ingratiate yourself with such a group, so…

  • A donation to a political cause you believe in.
  • Supporting a charitable organization.
  • Tithing at church or supporting a religious community.
  • Or paying membership dues to Toastmasters, a hobbyist group or a fraternal order.

…Can often allow you to make friends with people quite a bit above your pay grade!

I would spend my personal development buck on these sorts of things first — habituate, quantify and optimize in these areas — before I moved on to spending money on…

  • Coaching & mentorship packages
  • Online courses
  • Motivational summits, retreats, seminars, and conferences
  • Mastermind groups

My personal development philosophy is biased towards habituation as opposed to transformation. There’s this pervasive marketing message we hear constantly that something we spend money on…

  • A high energy event
  • An exhaustive online course
  • An intensive training boot camp
  • A wuwu spiritual retreat

…will transform our mindset overnight or finally get some issue resolved for us. But it seems to me that regardless of how inspired people get sporadically there is a regression to the mean of the baseline quality of life that their habits and decisions afford them.

Leave a comment…

…and let me know what personal development things you’ve spent money on that that ROI’d for you?

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Adventuring philosopher, Pompous pontificator, Writer, K-Selected Biohacker, Tantric husband, Raconteur & Smart Drug Dealer 🇺🇸