shiny object syndrome

The Truth About Shiny Object Syndrome

The Truth About Shiny Object Syndrome


shiny object syndromeHowdy folks!

Let me ask you a question:

What does SOS mean?

Everyone knows the answer to this, right? It means, “Save Our Souls”, or perhaps, “Save Our Ship”, in Morse code.

Nope! It doesn’t.

While the use of those mnemonics has become commonplace, the letters SOS have no significance other than that the distress code was easy to transmit.

You may have heard examples of the easy-to-remember message:

SOS in Morse code is often translated thus: … — … (dit-dit-dit dah-dah-dah dit-dit-dit (with spaces between the letters.))

However, the correct code is actually: …—… (dit-dit-dit-dah-dah-dah-dit-dit-dit (one continuous sequence, as it’s not meant to be understood as individual letters, rather SOS is simply a convenient way to remember the sequence.))

This article from talks about the subject in more detail, if you’d like to know more.

One thing I never got around to asking my dad when he was alive is whether he knew the origin of the SOS code, the reason being that when he was in the army he was in the Royal Signals. No, he wasn’t one of the guys who does crazy stunts on motorbikes! Rather, he was a wireless operator and thus used Morse code.

Aside from that little lesson in SOS simply being an interesting (or perhaps not!) bit of info, I will be applying this to Internet marketing, as always.


Internet Marketing S.O.S.


shiny object syndromeI’m sure you’ve come across another S.O.S.  – Shiny Object Syndrome.

Shiny Object Syndrome, in case you don’t know, is a term often used in Internet marketing to describe any new product that compels you to buy it, whether or not you need it or it is, in fact, any good. But perhaps you are taken in by the well-crafted sales letter, the promises of what the product will do for you, or simply the fact that it looks cool.

Yes, like a magpie drawn to a shiny object that it simply must pick up, you find yourself drawn inexorably to new products. This is what is commonly known as Shiny Object Syndrome. Having said that, a study has been done that apparently refutes the idea that magpies are attracted to shiny objects. Oh well, for the moment let’s just put that aside and imagine that they are.

Now, if you haven’t noticed this already, you soon will:

Internet Marketers love to latch onto a particular phrase, acronym, mnemonic or bandwagon and beat the death out of it. Most of us are guilty of this.

For example, I’m sure you’ve come across the derision of ‘goo-roos‘. Yes, to be labelled a “guru” is tantamount to slander in the eyes of some. Yet, should a person really be punished for being knowledgeable or an expert?

Of course, this isn’t the intention.

Rather, there have been so many supposed gurus around over the years who have proclaimed so much, yet delivered so little, that the title of “guru” has become synonymous with someone who ought to be avoided and ignored rather than be rightly attributed to those who deserve the moniker.

Likewise, you may have come across similar derision when it comes to the subject of ‘shiny objects’:

shiny object syndrome“Stay away from shiny objects!”

“You don’t need to buy shiny objects.”

“Are you suffering from shiny object syndrome?”

“Shiny objects aren’t the answer.”

Ironically, many will claim, within their own sales material, that you don’t need to buy shiny objects. Yet, they want you to buy whatever it is that they are offering – yes, in itself, another ‘shiny object’, when all said and done.

Now, I’m not saying that’s a bad thing. Neither am I saying that you shouldn’t buy shiny objects. Heck, I’m not even going to go to one side or the other on this and say whether or not shiny objects, as such, even exist.

The reason I’m going over this subject is because, just like so many things, it can be so easy to be misled.

What I’m going to do here is highlight some principles that should help you to determine whether or not you should buy something in a given situation.

Shiny or nay is irrelevant.


To Buy, Or Not To Buy


shiny object syndromeFirst off, let me highlight a well-worn saying:

“All that glitters is not gold.”

In other words, not everything that is shiny and attractive on the outside is valuable.

Now, this can certainly be said about a lot of products on sale in the make money online niche as well as, I’m sure, in many other niches too. Hence why there are so many warnings about guarding yourself against buying ‘shiny objects’.

Conversely, just because something isn’t packaged in the most attractive way doesn’t mean that it isn’t valuable.

But no matter how shiny and attractive the thing is (or not), is not the point.

The point is, do you really need it?

Would you really use it?

Will this help you in your business?

If the answer to those questions is “No”, then don’t buy the thing.

But let’s get something straight here.

So many of the (okay, I’ll switch into good old derision mode here) ‘gurus’ will claim that you don’t need to keep buying courses, e-books or systems.

In part, I will agree with them. Endlessly learning and taking no action will not get you anywhere, especially if you’re being blinded by the shiny aspect and you’re hoping for a ‘magic bullet’ (there’s another one of those oft-used Marketers’ phrases!).

shiny object syndromeBut here’s the thing:

You should never stop learning. Furthermore, there is absolutely nothing at all wrong in buying more and more information.

After all, Napoleon Hill promoted and encouraged this very thing in his book, “Think and Grow Rich“, a book that so many Internet Marketers draw inspiration and direction from.

In that same book, the account of Henry Ford is related in which he defended himself in court and highlighted how he had a series of buttons on his desk that he could press at any time and summon a man to answer any question he required the answer to with regards to the business he was working in.

Yes, Mr Ford knew the wisdom in being able to acquire information.

The same applies to you and me.

If you need to learn something, learn it. If that means that you need to buy an e-book or course to do so, then buy it.

If you see a piece of software that you know will enhance what you are doing now in your business or that you know you will use for certain, then buy it.

The point is this: just because a particular guru or perhaps even your mentor advises against buying ‘shiny objects’, it doesn’t mean that you should be in fear of buying something you need or would find useful. Heck, even if it’s something that would simply enhance your knowledge in a certain field, don’t avoid buying it simply because you don’t want to keep buying ‘shiny objects’.

But there lies the caveat – it has to be something that would benefit you. If you’re in the habit of buying things just because it looks cool and you want it rather than because you need it and/or would use it, then it would be better to refrain from buying the thing.

Likewise, if you’re in the habit of buying the latest ‘game changing’ method, loophole or system simply because you think that each time it could be ‘the one’ rather than buying it to enhance your knowledge and thus, your business, then again, you’d be better not buying it.

shiny object syndromeBut don’t hold back if something can be beneficial. So long as it doesn’t adversely affect what you’re doing in your business and it can help you in the long run then, by all means, buy it. If it shines, it’s good and it will benefit you, then don’t be afraid of getting it.

Of course, a good coach or mentor wouldn’t advise you to avoid buying things just for the sake of it. Like me, they would advise against buying ‘shiny objects’ simply on the basis of their attractiveness. Of course they wouldn’t discourage you from buying anything that would help you in your business or your education.

But it can be so easy to go from one extreme to the other, going almost all out so as to avoid buying anything at all and almost looking over your shoulder in fear on the occasions that you do buy something, worried in case your coach finds out and gives you a telling off!

That’s not how things should be.

Just as the automatic assumption that SOS means “Save Our Souls” is incorrect, the automatic assumption that all ‘shiny objects’ must be avoided is also incorrect.

I’m not suggesting that anyone does actively recommend avoiding all ‘shiny objects’, although I imagine that there are probably those who do. But it can be so easy for us to interpret things that way ourselves and to be overly strict and, in turn, end up harming and restricting ourselves by not buying worthwhile things just as much as if we were buying worthless things.

So yes, it could well be that, instead of wanting to avoid S.O.S. you may actually need it. Okay, perhaps not the “syndrome” part, because that would imply a problem, but certainly a ‘shiny object’ could be worth having. But, to emphasise the point again, only if it’s something that you will use and will benefit you in some way.


Over to You


What ‘shiny objects’ have you bought that you wouldn’t be without?

Let me know in the comments below.

Next week I’ll be talking about saving time. We all want to save time and make life easier, right? But is this always for the good? Be sure to check back next week for the answer.

About Me

Glenn is a Certified iPro Masters Partner



12 thoughts on “The Truth About Shiny Object Syndrome”

  1. Hey Glenn,

    Great post and you’re SO right.

    The problem most people have is that they are searching for the magic course or program that’s going to solve all their problems and it just doesn’t exist. So they keep buying and buying and buying looking for it. They usually don’t use what they’re bought because as soon as they started going through it they realized it wasn’t the one.

    We should always keep learning and yes, I have my own course that I would love for everyone to purchase as well. But I’ll also tell them all that if it’s what you need right now to help you move forward then buy it. If it’s not then don’t. I don’t want the money that bad, I want you to have a good experience because if you apply what I teach it does work.

    That’s the problem most people have, they don’t do the work so they keep searching and they keep complaining.

    I can’t even tell you how much I’ve spent over the years myself but I finally got smart and I now buy what I need to learn right now that will move me to the next phase. I’ll also invest in a coach because for me I prefer working with someone and able to ask plenty of questions.

    I also had to laugh because the SOS also means something else to me but loved that you shared the history of that. Really cool hearing that too.

    Thanks Glenn, spot on of course and you have a great weekend.

    Adrienne recently posted…How To Blog Your Way Out Of A JobMy Profile

    1. Hi Adrienne,

      That’s it pretty much in a nutshell. There’s nothing wrong with buying stuff that’s going to be of use, but it will only be of use if we actually use it, right?

      Many people seem to get into this perpetual cycle of buying but without actually DOING. This just leads to frustration, disappointment and an empty pocket.

      Only buying what you need to learn right now is a sign of maturity in this business. We should always be learning and if that means buying something to do that, then so be it. But ONLY if we are gong to actually go through it and apply it!

      These days, it isn’t just about buying courses and e-books, though. There are so many plugins and pieces of software coming out constantly that can look so cool! I can certainly be a sucker for this stuff if I allow myself. But I have learned to always take a step back and ask myself if I really need it and would I really use it. Oftentimes, the answer is, “No.” Sometimes it can be the case that a certain plugin or piece of software does something that I’ve been wanting a solution to, but other times I ask myself, “If I didn’t know that this existed, would I miss it?” Again, if the answer is “No”, then I don’t buy. Having said that, sometimes something will come along that does something I just hadn’t considered. I bought something not so long ago that actually doesn’t do anything that I can’t already do quite easily with other software, however this makes things so, so much easier and reduces the time spent enormously, so it made sense to pick it up. And yes, I’ve made good use of it.

      Thanks for stopping by, Adrienne, and for leaving, as always, a great comment. 🙂

      Glenn Shepherd recently posted…Time Management May Be Hazardous to Your BusinessMy Profile

  2. Hi Glenn, I really enjoyed your post, and I am one of the ones who was actually interested in the derivation of SOS, so thanks for that!

    As a recovering OCD Magpie, I see the shiny objects I have collected over the years which now sit in a folder called ‘MISC’ somewhere – as positive battle scars of fights fought and won. What I mean is that each one reminds me remind me of a different lesson I have learned.

    For example – I have an affiliate program I bought ‘all-in’ to about 18 months ago for £300. I won’t name it here, but I spent ages setting the whole thing up, and managed to build a downline of about 120 people. The idea was to teach my immediate downlines exactly what I had learned, and then check up every forth level to see if it was still the same. This taught me that the energy you put in to your first downline gets systematically diluted at each stage, and the end product after 4 levels is nothing like what you taught. Not efficient marketing but a cheap lesson at $300…

    Some of the stuff I bought will be useful later on, but most will remain in my MISC Magpie Museum.

    Thanks for being there to help so many people, Glenn
    Richard Seaton recently posted…The Entrepreneur MindsetMy Profile

    1. Hello Mr Magpie – erm – I mean, Mr Seaton…

      That’s interesting about the affiliate program, I don’t think I knew about that. You’ll have to tell me privately which one it was. 😉

      The ‘downline’ model certainly seems appealing and a lot of it can make sense for sure, but these things usually all follow the same format and are rarely sustainable. Having that as a small part of a bigger machine can be workable scenario, but usually it IS the machine and that’s where it fails.

      At least you found something that’s truly valuable, workable and sustainable. More importantly, you’re proving to yourself and others that the model is sound and that it flat out works.

      I love the idea of the MISC Magpie Museum. You could leverage that! 😉

      Glenn Shepherd recently posted…Two Top List-Building TipsMy Profile

  3. Hi Glenn,

    I confess, in the beginning of my internet marketing journey, about a year a go I was buying everything I could get my hands on. I didn’t know any better until I found Dean. Something about him made sense. I finally found someone I knew, liked and trusted. I’m ashamed to say that I bought the same program twice, not just one time but two times LOL. It’s true, I really did that.

    Now I only buy things from people I know, like and trust and only if I can use it. I have come a long way since the beginning. I’m glad I no longer have SOS and that is because I joined iPro and heard Dean’s story. It was my story too and I related.because I did the same things too.

    I am so grateful to have all of iPro supporting me, especially you. You are so helpful at all times. I know where to go if I have a problem or in need of advise. Thank you for being here for me.

    You have a wonderful night and week ahead,

    Linda Schrier recently posted…Using Different Methods To Get TrafficMy Profile

    1. Hi Linda,

      You’re definitely not on your own. I used to buy all kinds of stuff before discovering Alex Jeffreys and Dean. It was those two who turned things around for me and, for the first time, helped me to have clarity.

      You’re also not on your own in buying the same thing twice. Although I haven’t done it (at least I don’t think I have!) I know of many people who have. Usually that’s because they haven’t gone through the thing in the first place and applied it. But none of that need apply to you now, Linda. You have a great mentor and coach in Dean and a great, helpful community to help you too.

      It’s good that you only buy stuff from people whom you know, like and trust and only if you can use it. That’s the whole moral of the post – don’t buy something for the sake of it, but at the same time don’t be afraid or feel guilty if you want to buy something that can help you.

      Thanks for your kind words, I’m glad to know that I can be of help to you. 🙂

      Have a great weekend!

      Glenn Shepherd recently posted…Read the Manual!My Profile

  4. Hey Glenn, Super post buddy I think we can all be guilty of the Shiny Object Syndrome it’s sure is something that get us all in the internet marketing field! If you have not started yet then wait for it…as it won’t take you long Hee! 😉 only over the last few months I have to admit than I have brought a few extra products…now this is where they get you big time!

    You see a product for $27 and think well that’s not to bad…it’s a good price will come in handy at some point, then you get up sale after up sale…and you think I don’t want to miss out on the next level product or bonuses! So I ended up buying them up all..and think to myself do I need all of these…?

    There are cases when I have purchased products that would be very useful, it makes it even more so when you won’t be able to purchase the products again after that date ( or the price might go up a lot more)

    I did the same on a webinar the other day, and this software was not even out yet….talk about get in there quick Hee! What I’m going to do it go through all of them and use them, in fact I’m using one right now…once I have more feedback I’ll you know of my results.
    So I would say if you need some software and your going to use it now or very soon, then go ahead purchase it…if it’s I might use next year then don’t do it…! There will be plenty more coming out, but I’m got my hands full already so no more buying from me..!

    All the best mate…keep it going!

    Rich 😉
    Richard Burn recently posted…Ipro Internet Marketing Coaching ProgramMy Profile

    1. Hi Richard,

      I’ve definitely experienced that, where you buy the front end but then cna’t help but feel that you don’t want to miss out by not getting the upsells. I’ve gotten pretty strict with myself these days, though, and if I only want the front end then that’s what I get. It usually boils down to that core principle of: “Do I really need it?”. If the answer is “No” then I leave it alone.

      I’m intrigued a to what that software is you’re using. Yes please let me know your results.

      Great to see you, Richard, thanks for stopping by, mate. 🙂

      Glenn Shepherd recently posted…EMA Podcast 004: “5 Top Tips for a Successful Blog”My Profile

  5. Hi Glenn

    You Know, I can’t think of 1 specific shiny object that has been my bible and that I can’t live without.

    There is information that I have bought from lots of products that could be useful. The reason I say “could be” and not have been is because I have not followed through on them and put them into action.

    I think that’s the problem. I agree with you that you should buy products right now,but only if they’re going to help you RIGHT NOW. There is no point buying a membership site course it you’re not in a position to build a membership site yet.

    The other problem is of course buying something and not using it, because it seems too much work or the process is too slow. Then you’re attracted to this new “shiny” faster and easier method that is packaged in the form of a new product. That’s when it is bad to buy a product and get stuck in this pattern of buying and buying and not implementing.

    I still have to stop myself from buying for the sake of buying.

    Cool post Glenn
    Vinay Pandit recently posted…Tweaking And A Little DrivingMy Profile

    1. Hi Vinay,

      Spot-on! One thing I would slightly disagree with, though, is about there being no point in buying something because you’re not in a position to do the thing yet. Well, I say “disagree”, but it’s more of a clarification. We could buy something – a course, piece of software, plugin, etc – that looks good and we think that we could find a use for it. But it doesn’t actually fit into our strategy right now and we’d only be buying it just because it could be useful for the future. In that case, it would be better not to buy. There’s little point in buying something as a ‘just in case’. For example, there’s a video product that is currently being promoted that looks excellent. It’s all about having your own video agency. Could I use it? Sure. Does it fit in with my strategy? No. As much as it looks great and is presented well, I don’t need it.

      But I have bought things that I knew I wasn’t necessarily going to use right away, yet I knew for sure that I definitely would use them. For example, one piece of software I bought when I did because I knew that I would need it for something that I was going to be doing further down the track. I knew that the equivalent products were around ten times as expensive and required a yearly subscription, whereas the product I bought was a very low, one-time only price. If you want to buy that product now you have to pay more and, I think, it’s subscription based. And yes, I am now at the point whereby I make good use of it, so I am most definitely glad that I bought that particular product when I did.

      The key is only buying something that you need and would use. With regards to information products, again it must be something you need or something that will enhance your knowledge in order for you to be able to take your business further.

      Buying for buying’s sake, purely because something looks shiny and cool, is where many go wrong. I’ve certainly been guilty of that many times! Thankfully, I’m now a part of something whereby I have, at least for now, pretty much everything I need.

      Glenn Shepherd recently posted…Read the Manual!My Profile

  6. Hi Glenn.

    Excellent post. I agree with what you brought up here about “shiny objects.” Though most of the stuff people are trying to sell to everyone is basically crap, there is a still lot of value out there. We all just need to think about whether the product is truly needed or not before we decide to buy.

    I recently made a purchase which will come in handy when I start doing podcasts and creating videos. Not only that, I have the resell rights to it as well, For the price I paid, it will help me in more ways than on for a long time. That’s an example of a good “shiny object.”

    Anyway, it’s good to see someone actually explain about these “shiny objects” without there being the “syndrome” involved.

    Talk to you soon…..Chris
    Chris DeeWaard recently posted…A Simple Flute Lesson For Internet MarketersMy Profile

    1. Hi Chris,

      That’s exactly it – the “shiny object” part without the “syndrome”. And it’s this that I’m really wanting to highlight.

      As with so many of the buzz words and bandwagons in IM, it can get to a point where people come across something, hear the words of some guru in their heads and automatically the defenses come up, assuming that the thing is bad.

      Of course, it pays to be alert and to always do your due diligence, but just because something is shiny and new doesn’t mean that it ought to be avoided. That sounds like common sense, of course, but when you listen to many Marketers and the comments of people learning from them, you can see how people get into a kind of reversed mindset, which in itself can be just as damaging.

      Glenn Shepherd recently posted…Change Your Thinking, Change Your LifeMy Profile

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