Simply being exposed to the claim of low risk/high success can influence you to buy a poo-filled franchise

July 26, 2012

Communications designed to persuade mislead and damage you using untruths and half-truths is called propaganda.

Social psychologists define something called priming: unconscious memories influence your behavior. Sometimes fo a very long time. Through repetition (a form of brainwashing).

Franchising trade magazines and trade shows influences potential franchisees to see franchising (in relation to independent business) as lower risk and higher success. Banks write their booklets in a very pro-franchise manner. McDonald’s success and its use as a bell weather (“the McDonald’s of the poo-collection industry”) primes candidates to attribute success where none exists.

Neither of these “truths” is true but that’s irrelevant. By the time the candidate franchisee is looking the low risk/high success bias is part of their DNA. They’ve created a stereotype.

As the scientifically-based research indicates, just looking at words associated with either youth or old age influence how you behave.

What kind of chance do you think you have at a trade show or a franchisor’s open house when every tiny detail is controlled for a positive sales effort? No one’s brain is very good at defending against these extremely powerful persuasion trick and traps. The technology of franchising is the science of neutralizing your defenses and then when the financial loss happens, re-assigning blame from these techniques to you (ie. On Cooling the Mark Out).

BBC Replicates Bargh’s Famous Priming Study at The SituationistJohn Bargh


Experience teaches only the teachable.

April 25, 2011

The propagandist’s purpose is to make one set of people forget that certain other sets of people are human.

Franchising is a total institution ruled by fear:

A really efficient totalitarian state would be one in which the all-powerful executive of political bosses and their army of managers control a population of slaves who do not have to be coerced, because they love their servitude.

Solitude and acceptance are the answer.

I’m afraid of losing my obscurity. Genuineness only thrives in the dark. Like celery.

I like being myself. Myself and nasty.

Aldous Huxley 1894 – 1963


Franchisee advisory committees are frequently chaired by Nurse Ratched

December 10, 2010

I have suggested here that franchise systems are an example of a total institution as defined by Erving Goffman.

https://youtu.be/faeEnoYcT7w

Mental hospitals are a traditional example of a total institution.

There are lots of Nurse Ratcheds in franchising and lots of acting out franchisees.

Look to those that create the environment, not those who have to endure it.

Original draft:


Franchisee zombies: born, made or self-made?

November 28, 2010

Blind obedience, standardization, duplication and monotony all fueled by the illusion that action means movement.

Cults are very good at turning intelligent, compassionate and engaged highly-functioning people into uni-dimensional zombies. How this is done is perfectly consistent with other total environments.

Surrendering your free will and human rights is incompatible with a life.

It means embracing a zombie death.

This is a rule only for those creatures that are aware that one day they will physically die.

[NFGraphics.com]


Anyone’s spirit can be shattered if mental pressure is applied skillfully enough

October 7, 2010

Franchising is like being in a war zone.

My experience and training suggests that running a franchise provides the same type of mental conditioning that happens in total institutions (ie. patient in a mental health hospital, recruit in military basic training, life on a naval vessel) without any form of appeal.

Many former franchisees see their time as a franchisee as they would imaging doing time in prison would be like. Most will confidentially talk openly of being mentally tortured. Many require significant mental health intervention to recover some degree of normalcy. Even years after their experience, the mere mention of their experiences triggers the strongest emotional response possible, many of which revolve around shame.

clinical depression :: affective disorders :: violence (self & others) :: divorce :: hospitalizations :: estranged children :: broken extended families :: suicide

Dr. Meerloo’s insights ring very true to me as a former franchisee and provide tremendous hope because they use a quantifiable and scientific approach rather than a one-dimensional, ad hominem attack- and shame-based legal view.

The Rape of the Mind: The Psychology of Thought Control, Menticide and Brainwashing (free online), Joost A. M. Meerloo, M.D., 1956

In Book: It is Dr. Meerloo’s position that through pressure on the weak points in men’s makeup, totalitarian methods can turn anyone into a “traitor.” And in The Rape of the Mind he goes far beyond the direct military implications of mental torture to describing how our own culture unobtrusively shows symptoms of pressurizing people’s minds. He presents a systematic analysis of the methods of brainwashing and mental torture and coercion, and shows how totalitarian strategy, with its use of mass psychology, leads to systematized “rape of the mind.” He describes the new age of cold war with its mental terror, verbocracy, and semantic fog, the use of fear as a tool of mass submission and the problem of treason and loyalty, so loaded with dangerous confusion…

The first two and on-half years of World War II, Dr. Meerloo spend under the pressure of Nazi-occupied Holland, witnessing at firsthand the Nazi methods of mental torture on more than one occasion. During this time he was able to use his psychiatric and psychoanalytical knowledge to treat some of the victims. Then, after personal experience with enforced interrogation, he escaped from a Nazi prison and certain death to England, where he was able, as Chief of the Psychological Department of the Netherlands Forces, to observe and study coercive methods officially.

In this capacity he had to investigate not only traitors and collaborators, but also those members of the Resistance who had gone through the utmost of mental pressure. Later, as High Commissioner for Welfare, he came in closer contact with those who had gone through physical and mental torture. After the war, he came to the United States, where his war experiences would not permit him to concentrate solely on his psychiatric practice, but compelled him to go beyond purely medical aspects of the problem.

As more and more cases of thought control, brainwashing, and mental coercion were disclosed…his interest grew. It was Dr. Meerloo who coined the term menticide, the killing of the spirit, for this peculiar crime.


Can an empire be saved by shaming investors like Ariel Buk?

August 15, 2010

There are costs involved in maintaining investor confidence and commercial relationships. Some people need to learn to “take one for the team”.Ariel Buk and Sonia Karabin may need to understand that they should cool down, be quiet and go away about losing a $85,000 deposit on a non-existent Ontario, Canada franchise. They and, by extension, the many hundreds of other “failed franchisees” need to be taught their role in this confidence game by the industry stakeholders: take one for the team or risk being shamed.

1. James Daw presents the story in yesterday’s Toronto Star article,  Ice cream dream becomes nightmare about Mr Buk’s experience with Piazza Gelateria and Café. This is shrewd. For example, Mr. Daw opines:

They [husband and wife] should have looked more closely at the business opportunity, and their decision to use mainly borrowed funds after Buk had lost his job.

They should have considered the minimum $300,000 cost of a lawyer to sue for a refund if things went wrong, and the chances of recovering anything from a relatively young numbered company.

2. Robert Cialdini lists authority as one of Six Weapons of Influence. My experience is that attorneys are given a  lot of authority by new Canadians. Many of us see past their pretensions, BS and fear. [Examples of authority.]

Ben Hanuka of Davis Moldaver LLP is quoted as saying:

“Very few mom-and-pop franchisees ever go to that length (of hiring experts to research a franchise opportunity),” says Hanuka. “It sounds too complicated to them.”

All it well with the world the reader is assured. Go back to sleep because these people get what they deserved. The blame lies with:

  1. the anonymous, individual “other” (mildly retarded immigrant scapegoat) deserved what he got (“your success follows from your blind obedience to authority” dogma)  and not that
  2. stakeholders align their self-interest in maintaining a facade of legitimacy: not a fake, or a Potemkin village scheme which has preyed upon identifiable groups, in plain sight,  since at least 1971.

Social Psychology-based Hypothesis: Elite stakeholders deflect systemic wrongdoing by using the largely-internal mechanisms of On Cooling the Mark Out by Erving Goffman (shame-humiliation effect) while using the public’s widespread fallacy of the Belief in a Just World, BJW (Melvin Lerner, retired University of Waterloo, Canada) in the country’s largest daily newspaper.

Every dying empire resorts to displays of public humiliation.

Why were people crucified in Jesus’ time?
Crucifixion was a Roman custom used on the worst malefactors and rebellious slaves. Judea was a tributary to Rome at that time. It is recorded by the Jewish historian Josephus that after the last rebellion of the Jews and the capture and razing of Jerusalem, the countryside was practically denuded of trees the Romans crucified so many. WikiAnswer

Detail: Crucifixion was often performed to terrorize onlookers into submission. Victims were left on display after death as warnings. Crucifixion was usually intended to provide a death that was particularly slow, painful (hence the term excruciating, literally “out of crucifying”), gruesome (hence dissuading against the crimes punishable by it), humiliating, and public, using whatever means were most expedient for that goal. Crucifixion methods varied considerably with location and time period…

While a crucifixion was an execution, it was also a humiliation, by making the condemned as vulnerable as possible. Although artists have depicted the figure on a cross with a loin cloth or a covering of the genitals, writings by Seneca the Younger suggest that victims were crucified completely nude. When the criminal had to urinate or defecate, they had to do so in the open, in view of passers-by, resulting in discomfort and the attraction of insects. Despite its frequent use by the Romans, the horrors of crucifixion did not escape mention by some of their eminent orators. Cicero for example, in a speech that appears to have been an early bid for its abolition,  described crucifixion as “a most cruel and disgusting punishment”, and suggested that “the very mention of the cross should be far removed not only from a Roman citizen’s body, but from his mind, his eyes, his ears.” Wikipedia

Humiliation is the most unpredictable, violent and destructive human emotion. It can result in many types of loss (see Bob “Bhupinder” Baber, WikiFranchise.org)


Failed franchisees are stigmatized and shunned

July 13, 2010

It surprises me less as time goes on but it is remarkable how far all franchisees which I once considered friends, go out of their way to avoid public contact with me. They literally recoil in fear or catching some invisible but unwanted disease.

Their social/economic need not be defiled is very profound.

Stigma and Social Identity chapter

The Greeks, who were apparently strong on visual aids, originated the term stigma to refer to bodily signs designed to expose something unusual and bad about the moral status of the signifier. The signs were cut or burnt into the body and advertised that the bearer was a slave, a criminal, or a traitor – a blemished person, ritually polluted, to be avoided, especially in public places. Later, in Christian times, two layers of metaphor were added to the term: the first referred to bodily signs of holy grace that took the form of eruptive blossoms on the skin; the second, a medical allusion to this religious allusion, referred to bodily signs of physical disorder. Today the term is widely used in something like the original literal sense, but is applied more to the disgrace itself than to the bodily evidence of it…

Stigma: Notes on the Management of Spoiled Identity, Erving Goffman 1922 – 1982

I think most “failed” franchisees like me internalize this loathing which accounts for the dramatic under reporting of all franchise opportunism. The shaming that goes on by Blue MauMau contributors such as Richard Solomon, triggers this self-censuring mechanism quite well also.


Going Postal: Self, family then workplace violence (not if but when)

September 7, 2009

PhysicalAbuse

I had covered what Erving Goffman defined as a Total Institution earlier:

…a place of residence and work where a large number of like-situated individuals, cut off from the wider society for an appreciable period of time, together lead an enclosed, formally administered round of life.

Franchised business models can become so intrusive, demanding and dysfunctional as to create an environment that breeds workplace bullying.

Intimidation leads to violence, just as predictably as you see in other “hermetically sealed” institutions such as prisons or non-voluntary psychiatric wards.

I worked at a provincial psychiatric hospital (St. Thomas, ON)  for 9 months as a medical audit coordinator just after my Ivey MBA in 1985. I reviewed hundreds of inpatient and outpatient medical case histories: about 1/3 including the most serious crimes you can imagine that can fall under a Lieutenant-Governor’s Warrant. I interviewed many partners and children and their abuse always, always, always was much earlier, pervasive and shame-filled than the subsequent police and justice system intervention.

I came to appreciate the fragility of mental health and the origins of family violence.

Franchisors set the business model: they are almost 100% responsible for the way humans try to survive an, at times, inhuman situation.

That franchisees can be managed into a situation where they are baited and then  go postal would not be a surprise to any mental health care professional I have ever known. Any minimally competent human relations professional would know that a primary truism in human psychology is: behavior is caused, it very seldom arises from no where.

Workplace violence starts with aggressive thoughts — then — verbal threats and in extreme cases, will manifest itself in property damage and physical assaults. Way before any visible signs (chairs through windows, managers fearing for their safety), the bullying target has become to a danger to “self and others” in their secret places: in their family.

To control a man’s livelihood is to control his life.

When senior management flagrantly bullies a group’s informal leader, this aggression is processed as an assault on everyone that supports that individual. That behavior is beyond the executive’s legitimate authority and is therefore he or she is personally responsible for their actions under the law.

A corporate culture of entitlement, unjustified superiority and arrogance often manifests itself in a preoccupation with form over substance (ie. it’s easier to spin a crisis rather than fix it). When managers push and push and push for no valid business reasons, the most vulnerable (families: partners and children) suffer the most.

Workplace violence is more likely the more management views the target group as a “problem” or as even subhuman (ie. lacking in intelligence, weak mind/strong back).

Individuals who control franchise systems should conduct themselves in a lawful, just and appropriate manner if they happen to be viewed by others.


What is the Science of arresting intelligence long enough to get money from it?

August 19, 2009

SexyCopAdvertising.

Professor Leacock‘s full quote:

Advertising can best be described as the science of arresting the human intelligence long enough to get money from it.

Franchising is just like that.

The primary stage of arrested intelligence (entrepreneurial wishful thinking) is call pre-sale due diligence.

Due diligence, DD was created as a concept to serve the sellers, NOT the buyers of franchisors.  Perfect, “110%” awesome research can NOT provide reasonable protection against post-sale franchisor opportunism.

DD cannot stop a totally sweetheart franchisor from turning into the worst predator, unilaterally and selectively after the contract is signed.

DD never could and it never will.

DD was created to give a plausible excuse why 1,000s of hard-working, honest investors have lost their life savings. It is maintains the ” confidence” in the game, cools out the mark and confuses and distracts people. When the siht hits the fan…the victim is blamed and most importantly, their shame (stigma, spoiled identity, self-loathing) silences their potential dissent.

Dr. Donald L. Nathanson (The Name of the Game is Shame) provides a nice treatment of a very powerful affect: shame. His Compass of Shame, I find very interesting. He defines 4 patterns of reaction:

  1. withdrawal,
  2. avoidance,
  3. attack others or
  4. attack self.

Note how certain ones of these strategies are encouraged to be used over at Blue MauMau and Franchise-Chat.com. People are ridiculed our shouted-down, banned, shouted, censored or made to be felt stupid. Even to the point of lecturing rape victim advocacy groups on their ignorance of asinine legal processes.

Just like they know the distracting qualities of such a lovely image, above.

Confusion, distraction, sleight of hand…not very difficult to disable critical thinking, is it?


Franchising as a Total institution

November 27, 2008

goffmanasylumsThere are different types of social arrangements or establishments.

Social establishments – institutions in the everyday sense of that term – are places such as rooms, suites of rooms, buildings, or plants in which activity of a particular kind regularly goes on. In sociology, we do not have a very apt way of classifying them. Some establishments, like Grand Central Station, are open to anyone who is decently behaved; others, like the Union League Club of New York or the laboratories at Los Alamos, are felt to be somewhat snippy about who it let in.

Goffman is interested in a specific type in this book:

…we find some that are encompassing to a degree discontinuously greater than the ones next in line. Thier encompassing or total character is symbolized by the barrier to social intercouse with the outside and to departure that is often built right into the physcial plant, such as locked doors, high walls, barbed wire, cliffs, water, forests, or moors. These establishments I am calling total institutions, and it is their general characterisitics I want to explore.

Total Institution definition:

…a place of residence and work where a large number of like-situated individuals, cut off from the wider society for an appreciable period of time, together lead an enclosed, formally administered round of life. Prisons serve as a clear example, providing we appreciate that what is prison-like about prisons is found in institutions whose members have broken no laws.

There are 5 classifications of a total institution. They are designed to take care of people who:

  1. are harmless but unable to care for themselves (nursing homes, retirement home),
  2. can harm self and others (mental wards. psychiatric hospitals),
  3. are a threat to others (jails, concentration camps),
  4. are doing a specialized job (military, boarding school, work camps), and
  5. are retreating or training (monasteries, convents, cloisters).

Please note that some establishments are entered into voluntarily (monastery) while some are not. Goffman defines, roughly, a total institution environment as one in which you sleep, play and work in the same place.

Asylums: Essays on the Social Situation of Mental Patients and Other Inmates, Erving Goffman, 1961.

  • It is my experience, franchise trademark systems have many similar characeristics of total institutions.

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