Gabby B’s New Book Trailer Made Me Feel Kind Of Gross

Today when I was wading through my mountains of email I came across a very short two-sentence email from Gabrielle Bernstein’s email list. It said:


Hi Jess,

Today is a big day. I’m officially announcing something that will change the way you experience your life forever.

Click here to check it out…

Expect miracles,



New program?

New podcast?

New meditation technique?


I curiously clicked the link and was taken to a trailer video for her new book “The Universe Has Your Back” that’s due out in September. I already knew the book was coming because I saw it in my Amazon recommendations last week.

Here’s the trailer for to see so the rest of what I have to say has some context.



I sat for a minute after watching this and didn’t know what I was feeling. It was a weird sense of frustration. A sense of being a bit let down. That feeling of “No, not this shit again.”

I would definitely say that Gabby’s book trailer was triggering for me. To me, it screams MAGIC PILL, and it makes me want to take ten Silkwood style showers to wash off the ick.


To be fair, before I rant on…

Let me just say that I KNOW this is about the marketing and not Gabby. It’s about the utterly contrived, overly emotional, and sketchy marketing. I have nothing but love for her.

This also isn’t about the video itself. The production, the packaging, it’s fine. It’s about the marketing of the message and how marketing in the spiritual and new age industry tend to go.


This video encompasses everything I hate about the new age spiritual self-help world that I’m part of. However, one thing that it did brilliantly is demonstrated all those “hook ‘em in” tactics that I’ve learned in every online business program I’ve ever taken.

Find the “pain point,” that thing that makes people stay awake at night and break out into a panic attack while in line at the grocery store, and poke it. Dig into it. Pour salt in the wound. Make them really feel it.

Then, when you’ve shown them that you know what they’re going through, and you’ve spoken their language, basically using their words against them by saying the very things they say to themselves in those dark moments, you show them “a path.” A way that you can help lead them from their pain to their bliss. Or, as is the case here, faith and joy.

“I know you’re feeling really fucking shitty and like your life is going to fall apart around you, but I can show you a better way. I have the answer to help you go from being sad and disappointed in life and fearful of the world to being happy, confident, and living your bliss. Join me {insert program, book, retreat, course, etc} and I will show you the way.”



It’s not that easy.


This sense of simplicity and ease, the idea that this thing, like in this case a book, is going to turn all your fear into your greatest asset somehow is the lie of false hope that always makes me cringe. But, let’s face it, it’s the thing that sells. People like when stuff is easy.

When people are down and out and feeling desperate, those are the words that make them buy. Why do you think all those weight loss and exercise programs run their infomercials in the middle of the night and end up selling thousands of units each week? It’s not because the solution is so great, it’s because the solution is made to seem like a simple fix. Eat this, do this 10 minutes daily work out, and BOOM you’re a size six.

I hate that these tactics are used in the spiritual world, and I really hate that they work. I hate that people who are seemingly well-meaning in their intentions and teachings choose to go the route of sleazy car salesman to sell their wares.

I think of it as the new age equivalent to being a sleazy drug dealer in an alley with a windowless van with a bad fantasy scene airbrushed on the side. You see someone walking around looking out of sorts, and you say “Psst…you…come here, I’ve got what you need.”

And it’s not really that bad of an analogy since so many people are like addicts looking for the next level high in the new age community.


Honesty, integrity, and respect for the challenges that people are facing. That’s what we need in our marketing.


Let’s be honest.

Tell them they are going to have work to change years of negative mental conditioning into joy or bliss. If you’ve spent 30 years being afraid of your own voice and speaking your truth, one book or one retreat or one ANYTHING isn’t going to suddenly make you Beyonce or Oprah.


Let’s be in our integrity. 

If we wouldn’t want to be shamed into buying into something, let’s not do it to others for the sake of sales and numbers. If you know your solution can help a particular problem, don’t exaggerate or conveniently leave out key points about what needs to be done to achieve the end goal just because it might scare someone off. And if it does scare them off, that’s better for you in the end. Think about it.


Let’s have respect for people’s challenges.

If someone isn’t ready, they aren’t ready. If someone can’t afford it, they can’t afford it. Don’t throw their fear in their face. Don’t tell them that they are “letting fear win” when they say no. Some people’s issues and reasons for not being ready to jump on board has nothing to do with you and everything to do with deeper past trauma that they need professional psychological help with.

Many people fear the stigma of seeking “professional help,” i.e. seeing a mental health professional or another counselor. Instead, they turn to life coaches or spiritual teachers because they’re more accepted. Unfortunately, the truth is we aren’t equipped to help them when they need that sort of guidance. Out of respect for them and to stay in our integrity, know when to accept “no” for an answer.


And for you, the down and out seeker looking for a spiritual solution to your problem that you can’t seem to get away from, I say this…

When you’re spoon-fed sentimental and emotional tripe to try and make you pay for something that you know, in your heart of hearts, isn’t the answer you’re looking for, but instead you know you’re just having your emotions preyed on, trust your gut. The only guru you need is the one inside you, and it knows far more than you give it credit for.





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  • Michelle Wolff
    June 29, 2016 at 2:04 pm

    This. This is the powerful, passionate, authentic voice that I adore. This is your best post yet hands down. So much truth here.

  • Lisa
    June 29, 2016 at 2:36 pm

    Thank you, Jess for touching on a polarizing subject. I am glad you mentioned that there are problems that life/spiritual coaches just aren’t equipped to handle. Coming from my own experiences with depression, anxiety and Borderline Personality Disorder, this is an important fact. When you are desperate and in pain, you’ll do almost anything to feel better. I worry that so much of the marketing preys upon/wrongly influences people about things that deserve more serious (and clinical) attention. There’s no one size fits all to the problems expressed, and honestly the trite images of laughing and frolicking on the beach made me queasy. And what then, if you follow the “plan” in the book and you feel no different? Continued pain, disappointment, depression. Find your own path and forge ahead.

  • Celeste Vernale
    June 29, 2016 at 3:44 pm

    I love this sooooo much.

  • Heidi Mireles
    June 29, 2016 at 4:19 pm

    Love this Jess! Putting your feelings into real actionable steps for those of us who are in your boat. Thank you.

  • Cyndi
    June 29, 2016 at 8:22 pm

    I think this marketing ploy is good. Yes, it tells us what we want to hear and maybe not so much what we need to hear. But, if you wrote a book and your intentions were to truly honestly help people, would you advertise as “I don’t know if my book would help you or not and I don’t really care if you want to try it or not, but, hey, here it is”? How many sales do you think you would get and in turn how many lives do you think you would really help. It is exactly like Jess said (and so many of us know), 1 thing does not work the same for everyone. But, without those people even attempting to listen to you, you’ll never know. I can honestly say that I have bought probably 30 self-help books and from those I have gained at least 1 thing from each of them. Not one was better than the other. Not one was a cure-all. Even though some claimed to be. But, if they hadn’t, I wouldn’t have bought it and therefore wouldve missed out on at least something. I know that when a person is desperate for life to change they’ll try anything. And, sad as it is, I know marketing agencies prey on that and it may not be the best thing, but for now, it works. I am a firm believer that only we can help ourselves. And by purchasing something that gives us a little glimmer of hope is us taking that 1st step towards self-help. Even though, we are our greatest healers, without the knowledge of that very fact, it doesn’t matter. We have to gain that knowledge somewhere. We all have. When we stop believing that someone else can offer some sort of help to us, ………..where does that leave us, as a species? Even Jess would be out of a job. PLEASE don’t get me wrong here. I am NOT hating on Jess. I love Jess!! I have been following her for almost a year now and envy everything about her. She truly is my idol. But just because you love someone, doesn’t mean you have to agree with everything they say. Just like she loves Gabby, but has a differing opinion on marketing.

    • Jess Carlson
      June 29, 2016 at 9:05 pm

      Hi Cyndi,

      I agree with you 100% that it’s a method that works. It’s used in just about every industry, not just coaching or in the spiritual/new age community. But just because something works does that means it’s right? In a lot of ways this tactic, is a method of shaming people into feeling so badly about their lives and their inability to fix themselves that they HAVE to work with you, sign up for your program, go to your retreat, or buy your book because you have the answer! You’re the saving grace they’ve been looking for.

      Making sure someone understands clearly what their issue is, and making sure they know you understand them and where they are coming from is crucial to selling any solution, but you don’t have to make someone feel horrible to do it. There are tons of ways to market a book or a course or a program that doesn’t prey on people’s pain and use their emotions as a way to make them feel a sense of pressure to do something.

      I have never used this tactic with success. I would rather focus on acknowledging someone’s issue but spend more time focused on how together we can create change. Not that I’m saving you, not that I’m handing you the magic pill, but acknowledging that we have work to do together. I don’t want to make someone feel shitty so I can build them up with my solution. If that’s the only reason they would work with me/buy from me then I don’t want their money.

      That might be why I AM out of a job.

      One thing I’ll say about your story of your many books you’ve purchased and read is that I’d be willing to bet that you went into each of those experiences knowing you’re not getting the cure all even if it were marketed as such. The problem is not all people, especially when in that kind of pain, have that levity.

  • Cassandra OFee
    June 29, 2016 at 9:09 pm

    THIS is why I follow you, Jess. The honest, real truth. It is why you’re the only course I have seriously considered. Someday soon, when my skin removal surgery is over, I will be ready. I love that you get that we all have different times when things are possible. I really find it impressive, the work to keep us in Facebook groups, Periscope, etc – even if we’re not in Wisdom Academy, there are ways to participate. That goes a long way too. Plus, you just rock, but the ethics matter. Much love!

  • CC
    June 29, 2016 at 9:15 pm

    Powerful and true! Especially the part about respecting people’s challenges! 🙂

  • Anne Marie
    July 1, 2016 at 12:14 pm

    “I know you’re feeling really fucking shitty and like your life is going to fall apart around you, but I can show you a better way. I have the answer to help you go from being sad and disappointed in life and fearful of the world to being happy, confident, and living your bliss. Join me {insert program, book, retreat, course, etc} and I will show you the way.”

    You nailed it Jess. It took some nuts to call out Gabby’s sales team but I’m glad you did.

    Marketers really don’t have to use these crappy, twist down on the pain point sales techniques. Yes, its effective and boosts the seller’s bottom line. It also grows general mistrust and cynicism – which is especially dangerous in helping professions.

    There are better ways. I mean, look at what Liz Gilbert did with her book to create buzz – her podcast and instagram base probably did more for her bottom line than a lame book trailer could have ever done.

    Super interesting article. Thanks for all you do Jess!

  • J-Ma
    July 1, 2016 at 3:56 pm

    Yeah, I just don’t ‘buy’ into her. I don’t feel it. Although, I know she’s brought value in many ways. It just seems like a show. All I hear is blah blah blah

  • Dawn M
    July 6, 2016 at 7:51 am

    Jess, you hit everything I was thinking while watching this, and this is why I love you sooo much as a coach – you aren’t afraid to call B.S. and tell people “The path is NOT easy, You have to WORK at it”.
    I kept thinking – What about mental illness as a source of pain? What about the cycle of under-education/under-employment/poverty, which keep feeding itself with so many people and families? What about the simple negative dialog that people have heard all their lives from others and repeatedly within themselves?
    You don’t break or transform any of that with a single book, course, or retreat. It takes work, it takes years, it takes support from many areas.
    And yes, it is frustrating and disappointing to hear this kind of “I can fix you with this –(insert product here)–, just buy it!” advertising.

    Thank you for the well written, well thought out post.

  • Ivy Soulstice
    July 8, 2016 at 10:15 pm

    A HUGE problem I have with many of these spiritual gurus, life coaches, etc. is that they give false hope to people who have mental illness such as clinical depression or anxiety disorders. They are operating without any sort of accredited license in psychotherapy or clinical social work, and too many times I have seen the lines blurred between “coaching” and counseling in terms of dealing with these issues. .
    I am a witch. I am also working on my Masters in Clinical Counseling. There is not a doubt in my mind that the spiritual, mental and physical aspects of ourselves are entwined in amazing ways most of us don’t even realize yet. I believe we do have more creative strength than we realize to unite those aspects and make ourselves whole again. And sure, I have no problem paying for classes or books that help me develop and step into my own personal power. However, spiritual advice does not replace proper therapy or medication.
    Anyway, I appreciate your raw honesty about this subject. There is definitely a way to be a spiritual coach and offer services without making false promises to desperate people.

    • Jess Carlson
      July 9, 2016 at 2:00 pm

      The blurred line between coaching and therapy burns me like nothing else. I’m in a coaching course right now that makes a big deal of making sure people understand that as a life coach you have limits to what you can do and that there will be clients you need to either turn away or refer to other people. I agree 1000% with the need for more honesty and transparency when it comes to all of that. I always say “you’re not a doctor unless you are.” More coaches, healers, and “gurus” need to accept that.

  • Ginger Gauldin
    July 25, 2016 at 10:50 pm

    As I watched it it made me feel like my soul had just been slimed. Yuck!
    She full on participated in the making…just sayin’. (Why?!)
    I don’t believe anyone held Gabby down and made her make that video, say the words just that way and be willing to do it over and over until she got it just right. Where was the integrity for lifting people up? That’s the point, right? But no…make them feel desperate, needy and hopeless first.
    Using people’s emotions and pain…to sell a book. That’s just poor form.
    It triggered me like when I see a child or a pet abused. OMFG…
    And for some reason, the music reminded me of “The Secret” trailers… WTH?
    A magic path isn’t going to materialize. Too bad she/they didn’t choose a higher one for this.