As business owners we are easily attracted to those that can give us the competitive edge in business – thought leaders, gurus and educators that seem to have a knack for understanding our frustrations and selling them back to us in a way that leaves us exceedingly grateful for their proceeding solution. 

Many of us can name directly off the top of our heads one or more business personalities that we are following right now, that we can’t get enough of…

Our Facebook news feeds are coated with their value, our book shelves are graced by their presence and the last podcast we were listening to showcases their name in big, bold letters.

But surely just the value they add isn’t enough to keep us behaviourally and psychologically addicted to them…

After all, there are hundreds of thousands or even millions of potential business ‘thought leaders’ out there – if it were just the value they add that made them addictive then scrolling through YouTube looking for everyone’s videos would be all we would ever do as business owners.

There has to be another factor at play – perhaps not an ultimately defining one, but most definitely something about the way they are delivering their content that keeps us hooked over and above the noise of everyone else aiming and claiming to call the shots.

And this factor at play isn’t necessarily in how they present themselves, it isn’t about physical beauty nor necessarily overall ability (although both of these undoubtedly do prove to assist in holding the attention of the human mind).

Nor is it necessarily in the particular platform or medium they choose to share their information from or the timing of which their information is delivered.

It’s about something far more primal – something that drives most actions of the human race and causes us to be addicted to someone or something at the same time.

Our addiction to these thought leaders – the ones whose every word we hang off until their next content is dropped – is based on the core human requirement of certainty.

However, the form of certainty that we become addicted to in these circumstances isn’t necessarily the same form of certainty you may be expecting to continue to read about.

Typically, when we refer to certainty in marketing and sales terms, we tend to discuss it through the context of ‘people buy certainty, the more certainty we can offer the more likely they are to buy’.

This remains 100% correct, however what if you were to understand that these thought leaders drum up a loyal, content-sharing, name-praising audience and following by appearing to take all of that certainty away.

All will be revealed as to how this is done, but let’s first take a look at the concept of certainty and its impact on the brain itself.

Certainty is essentially the ultimate value or gift we are all aiming to achieve as members of the human population.

Certainty is what we are searching for when we tell ourselves that ‘once we get that new job, we’ll be happy’, or that ‘once we find a partner and settle down then we’ll know we’ve made it.’

Certainty is the reason we search for the extra block of chocolate as a form of comfort food, or the reason we go to the doctors for an annual check-up when there is no presenting problem or symptom that immediately requires any medical attention.

We crave certainty – most of our actions are designed with its achievement in mind.

Certainty is the name of the game in life, however it carries with it an interesting paradox – it’s practically unachievable and unattainable in the form that we are typically seeking it.

Once we land that dream job our brain is designed to look to achieve that next promotion within the job. Once we find that dream partner our brain is designed to look for ways to improve that very relationship.

Once we move to our dream location our brain then looks for ways to make it even more of a dream.

The cycle never stops and there’s never an end to the amount of certainty we are aiming to gain.

The only certainty in life, in fact, is that life is full of uncertainty.

Keeps things interesting for us, doesn’t it?

However, where the Dalai Lama would suggest that we take this philosophical learning and apply it to our own lives to be more content and to ‘live in the moment’ (as the only thing we can be certain of is that the current moment exists… but that’s perhaps to be saved for a blog article down the line!) we as marketers, salespeople and business owners are far more interested in such a learning for economic and innovative purposes.

We need to be able to take the fact that ‘the only certainty in life is uncertainty’, and use it for a results-driven purpose.

Which leads us back to how our master business gurus do exactly that, and as you will see upon reading further, how you can too.

It leads us specifically to a term referred to in live Tonal Persuasion Method for Sales events as ‘Social Bias Contradiction’ – it needed a fancy psychological name (tick) and upon explanation you will quickly understand how it was formed.

Because what the most addictive thought leaders, mentors, and gurus in business all do extremely well is adhere to this theory:

Social Bias Contradiction refers to when an individual preaches two views that on the surface level appear to be contradictory to each each other, but upon further inspection are in fact strengthened by the presence of each other – cooperatively and successfully coexisting as a result. 

In the current entrepreneurial market, a highly relevant and topical example of this is an incredible business and social media marketing mentor and speaker: Gary Vaynerchuk.

Gary has gained a following by delivering highly valuable, problem-solving content that continually puts the audience’s needs first above his own.

But how does he implement the power of Social Bias Contradiction? An example perhaps…

Gary often speaks on the topic of what he believes is the most important word: “Hustle”.

“Hustle” is the answer to achieving your dreams in business and if you’re willing to put in the hard work into the areas that need it most, you can run the successful business you claim to desire.

However, this preaching approach to the power of “hustle” is often backed up by another one of Gary’s favourite topics: The importance of being humble.

As hard as Gary works, he also claims to believe that the most important thing throughout the entire journey is to remain humble and grateful for the rewards that successful business ownership brings.

If you remain humble, and if you’re grateful for what you’ve got, then you’ve won.

So how is the mysterious power of ‘Social Bias Contradiction’ at play here?

The terms ‘hustle hard’ and ‘remain humble’ on a surface level appear to be contradictory to each other. At first inspection, us as the audience struggle to imagine someone in a social setting that could exemplify both of these values or attitudes successfully at the same time.

However, upon further analysis (and watching Gary’s videos) we as the viewer very quickly begin to understand that not only is this possible – but if you watch and believe Gary, its critical and essential to both hustle hard and be humble if we want a career in business that is both successful and fulfilling.

The Hustle/Humble contradiction is one of many that Gary implements throughout his marketing and content creation, and is reaping huge rewards a business identity because of it.

Gary is a master of this, and the author of this article strongly suggests following his content for both the massive value he adds to his community of followers, and to look for the use of Social Bias Contradiction as a way of becoming addictive.

Another great example of the use of this theory is one of the greatest personal development trainers and figures in recent history: Tony Robbins.

On the surface level, when the name ‘Tony Robbins’ is dropped the identity that comes up is one of an electric, powerful and energetic man that preaches taking massive action on the way to living the life of your dreams, and that following the paths of gurus and trainers that have gone before us is the way to rapid and lasting success.

However, once we as the viewer delve deeper into Tony’s content we learn that the idea of taking massive action and following those gone before us is preached right alongside what appears to be (at first thought) contradictory to doing exactly that.

Tony is seen in many videos and programs explaining that taking massive action is useless without also taking the smaller steps first of understanding our most important values, deciding what we want our standards to be, and taking the time to appreciate the little things – among other ‘less-MASSIVE’ steps we can take to improving the quality of our experiences.

The contradiction comes into play here not necessarily in what is said (deciding upon one’s own standards or choosing to love oneself is a HUGE step for many people) but more how it is said. When Tony is suggesting taking massive action his identity takes on one of what the Tonal Persuasion Method for Sales would refer to as ‘The Action Taker’. He appears to be larger than life as his giant voice and dominant body language suggest that there’s no point doing anything unless you do it to its fullest extent.

However, when discussing the concepts of values, standards, gratitude and self-love he takes a calmer demeanour – the conversation of ‘taking massive value’ on these concepts a distant past in the mind of the person receiving the message.

Tony knows that both of these messages are important for anyone who wants to improve their life, but to preach them at the same time, or within the same sentence, would be detrimental to both of the messages individually – the last thing he would want his audience to be confused by as it would result in them taking action on neither.

On top of this, not only does he preach following models that have gone before us in order to follow their steps to achieve their same results, he then backs this up by recently releasing the well-watched Netflix documentary contradictorily titled: ‘I Am Not Your Guru’.

Social Bias Contradiction at its finest.

And Tony is a master of it – again it is highly suggested by this sales trainer to delve into as much of Tony’s value as you can – he is an incredible example of adding value to a market that continues to ask for it (for a reason). Without Tony’s help, many business owners wouldn’t be anywhere near the position they are in today, and they have Tony’s assistance to directly thank for it.

So how is it, psychologically and strategically, that Social Bias Contradiction is so powerful?

What is actually going on in the mind of the buyer that makes Gary and Tony, among so many other thought leaders putting this model into practice, so addictive?

Remember how much we crave certainty?

Well, here comes the magic.

One of the most efficient and effective ways our mind aims to gain certainty for itself is by putting things into categories it has set up for itself. If something can be put into a category that is well understood, we therefore know the qualities and values it possesses and therefore have certainty around how it can or cannot impact our lives. 

This processes happens on a rapid basis and is happening constantly as the brain receives and interprets stimuli from its external environment.

The brain will in fact keep searching for a category, definition or system in which to place a stimulus in order to avoid the dreaded uncertainty of not knowing where something fits – unable to discern whether the stimuli is threat or foe.

And so when the brain receives what appear to be (on the surface level) mixed messages from someone like Gary Vaynerchuk or Tony Robbins it struggles to know which category to put them into for certainty.

And because the brain can’t achieve the certainty that it wants… it keeps watching until it CAN.

However, that time of course will never arrive, and so we just… keep… watching.

Pretty incredible, isn’t it?

The previous 4 sentences right there are key, and it is strongly suggested you go back and read them again right now – it will take you no more than 12 seconds.

What makes these thought leaders so addictive appears to be highly counter-intuitive as they appear to deliver such high-value content that offers certainty, all the while delivering it in a manner and sequence that takes away the very certainty that we are aiming to achieve.

Extremely powerful when done well, and something that once the pattern is understood, is able to be executed against by any business owner or personal brand in the ‘thought leadership’ game.

So how can you use the power of Social Bias Contradiction in your ventures as a personal brand or thought leading business owner?

Here is your chance to not only implement the power of Social Bias Contradiction in your own business and personal brand building journey, but to also understand that what you thought may have been previously a contradiction within your own behaviour now may be your greatest asset.

What you need to do is notice the views, attitudes or values you hold currently in the field of your expertise that on the surface level appear to be contradictory, but on closer inspection actually emphasise the power and effect of each other. Are you a hippie at heart that has come to the realisation that money is a direct reflection of adding value to others first? Express it.

Are you a company director that knows that profits are of course important, but know within your heart that the way to grow them is through growing your people first? Express it.

Are you a personal trainer that doesn’t necessarily believe a person’s diet is one of the most important things in maintaining their health? Express it.

Are you a consultant that on some level believes traditional mentoring and coaching models are outdated? Express it.

Some of your ideas may seem crazy or ludicrous to others, but once they delve further into your content and added value, they will quickly realise that underneath the surface you actually make a good point – and now they will be a follower for the long-term.

Just remember of course to be able to back your ideas up with conviction and examples, that’s important.

And also remember to play the long game here. Vaynerchuk and Robbins didn’t become superstars overnight because they put this strategy into action once or twice, they have built entire careers on it – and are incredibly good at what they do because of it.

Once you put this into practice, you’ll be able to analyse why it is on a behavioural level that you are so attracted to particular people – beginning of course with business and then over and above into other fields as well.

Darcy J Smyth is the lead trainer of the Tonal Persuasion Method for Sales – a highly powerful sales methodology that utilises the trigger so of human buying behaviour to add massive value to those that utilise it. Download your Beginner’s Guide below now:

*The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author only and are simply that only – views and opinions. What’s your opinion? Is the author spot on, or have they missed the mark completely? Let us know in the comments on social media!*


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