John Maxwell: The Scam Artist Phenomenon (2023)

Have you ever had anyone call you a scam artist for selling knowledge products? Maybe it’s discouraging to see your efforts diminished by ignorant trolls.

You know you work hard to acquire knowledge and skills that have built you a network of solution-driven people. Truth is, most of us don’t understand what the scam artist phenomenon is like. You can help others understand your process after reading my story here.

My Story

A few weeks ago, I was walking by a motor sales company office. They teach Sales Leadership specifically for car dealers.

So check this, this brand sells cars, they also do maintenance, insurance and repairs but they do not stop there.

Checking their website, I noticed that they boldly Advertise “We have a team of John Maxwell Executives.” They have a training program that takes motor sales leaders through the John Maxwell Sales Leadership training.

This is a business doing pretty well in Pretoria South Africa. Yet they decided, you know what? This man right here is the face of leadership in the 21st century. We have to leverage on the knowledge industry to attract and retain a network of consultants who might be part of our referral base and overall marketing strategy.

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There’s almost no leadership coach you find anywhere who has not read a JM book or gone through his training courses. Is it not only smart to be a JM coach with a particular focus on your own area of expertise?

Now here is the scam art in this.

I have worked with a few JM executives recently. I noticed something about the events. They are hosted with particular brand goals in mind.

These events are designed to achieve some core objectives:

1. Brand Projection: They project the authority of leaders through their followers and in the process build the brand of the followers. A lot of pictures are taken and broadcast. This is a visual age and people trust what they can see.

2. Network Growth: Leaders bring their followers to the event, who get a time to speak and present in front of an audience, they take pictures of them speaking, they get the brand logo and trademark items of John Maxwell. It’s like the network marketing of Leadership training. More like what we call “fake it till you make it.”

3 Symbiosis: The idea in this is for the leader to pull up new leaders using his own authority and when they do this, they get more authority. Their followers mention them as their mentors, they get the recognition for having created exceptional leaders and their followers also benefit from having such a great mentor.

4. Affiliation: Eventually, everyone snaps with John Maxwell, they put this on their profile as being part of the John Maxwell team and so on. I want to believe there are different steps on this ladder before you get to meet John Maxwell. It’s not going to be free too. You’ll spend on trainings as you go up this ladder and get closer to the inner circle of the John Maxwell team.

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5. Validation by Association: Eventually you meet the man and become a team member.

This sounds like a typical scam right? Nothing being sold and yet people are paying.

JM according to my search is an American author, speaker, and pastor who has a net worth of $10 million.

JM has been in ministry for years as a Pastor, leading, teaching and speaking. He was not selling or working secular jobs.

Yet, there is a motor brand in faraway Pretoria using the JM trademark of knowledge to build a network of the smartest and most reliable people in their cachement area.

How does this work?

1. Understand that knowledge seems like a scam until you use it. How many of us knew what we were doing in school until we had opportunities to use them?

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2. Networks are intangible assets and they do not come for free. Everyone needs a network and you either get it in form of club membership fees, paid conferences and networking events or church offering. Yes your mind might fight this idea but it’s the way of humans.

3. If you want to sell anything, you need a network of people who are just as passionate about selling the same thing or complementary products. Like the bread seller who partners with akara seller.

4. Being the source of answers to people should not make you poor. Ask for your payback in form of brand growth. JM doesn’t teach you and just throw you back in the water. He offers to guide you but in return expects you to acknowledge where you got your training from.

5. Showcase your down lines, mentees, or those you are trying to raise up. This will cause a ripple effect. Everyone appreciates being bragged about. So brag about your people.

This is something everyone should learn. Acknowledge those who teach you, those who do free or voluntary services for you, those who refer your services to others and the same would be done to you.

That, my friend, is how JM has made scam art to become something beautiful. Anyone who has read books like the 48 Laws of Power would realize that building such an empire requires skill, tact, and stealth that only a few of us ever get to master.

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Some use this to build Ponzi schemes, big money rolling churches, crime networks and so on.

What Has John Maxwell Done?

John Maxwell took these same principles and applied them to Sales, Leadership, Communication and other soft skills that have helped millions of people solve business and personal problems. Many attribute their wealth and growth to JM. Some of those he has trained are probably with bigger net worth than his but they still want to associate with what he has built over the years.

What’s the morale? We all want to make money, be successful, live happy lives and do the impossible. We try to measure success by so many tangible things like how much shoes we have sold, how many cars we own, countries we have traveled to etc.

Eventually all these things would and can be taken away from us by death. In reality, products and services are just what they are; items. The most important asset is having people rely on you, believe in you, trust you and follow your lead.

This is because the biggest human need is connection! Nothing else. It’s very easy to lose bearing, to feel disconnected from source and not know where you are headed or how you want to live your life.

It’s intangible assets like what JM offers that keeps people rooted to some kind of meaning and sense. It’s the kind of scam that brings humans to their default setting. Helping us achieve our overall goal of connecting, being heard and hearing others.

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My Conclusion on the Scam Artist Phenomenon

I am not recommending or endorsing JM but evaluating what I have seen too many people term to be a scam. With knowledge comes power. Stop grumbling and leverage on what works or exhaust yourself fighting unnecessary battles.

If you read this far, then thank you. I hope this week brings you closer to clarifying your dreams and living a happier life.

Now, let’s make this practical. Don’t just like or internalize this message, share it and acknowledge what you learned today. We all grow together!


1. James Clerk Maxwell: The Greatest Victorian Mathematical Physicists - Professor Raymond Flood
(Gresham College)
2. The Conspiracy Theorist Who Predicted His Own Death | Tales From the Bottle
3. What Is Reality Made of? | Full Debate | Susan Blackmore, John Ellis, Phillip Ball, Hilary Lawson
(The Institute of Art and Ideas)
4. Episode #44 - Kyle J. Maxwell
(Jon Katz Show)
5. Bob Lazar Says UFO was an Archaeological Finding | Joe Rogan
(JRE Clips)
6. Catch Me If You Can By Frank Abagnale | Full Audiobook
(Youtube Audiobooks)
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