Kevin Hogan

International Speaker

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Why People Fail – Kevin Hogan

why people fail

The answer to this question parallels the same reason why people believe “Fake News.”

I look out at the businesses on the street and most of the time I can tell whether they are making money or losing money. Most other people walking next to me don’t see the signs of profitability vs. bankruptcy coming soon to a theater near you.

Here’s an example.

You and your friend are literally walking in town and of course you see a bunch of businesses, let’s say restaurants. You see McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Arby’s, Papa Johns, Subway, Perkins, Starbucks and on and on and on. Your friend sees all these names and thinks, “Gosh I’d love to own one of those but I just can’t afford it.”

And that means your friend gets lucky today. Because the owners of those stores are NOT getting rich.

But your friend doesn’t get it because obviously these are POPULAR franchise brand name stores. They’ve been in THAT location for a LONG time. Perhaps 5, 10 or more years.

So they must be doing great and they are “always filled with customers.”

But you know better.

Yep, people inside of the store isn’t likely to be a bad sign, but you have no information in sight. You really need to know how much it costs to start that franchise, it’s costs and it’s likely revenues.

Let’s look at Subway. It costs about a quarter million dollars (it can be a lot more) to piece one of those together. Most people “finance” which means BORROW money against your house, your retirement or take savings from the last 20 years to buy all the stuff it takes to “open.”

Now, I know a lot of Subway owners and I support them with my business. If I had to guess I’d say the average income for the owner runs right around $50,000 annually, IF he works as the manager of his store. IF he hires a manager then his Subway is not going to have much for him at the end of the year. He very well might take a loss in this situation.

I’ve done business with a lot of McDonald’s franchisees. And most stores are “franchise stores.” It takes a LOT of money to open a McDonald’s. And an owner operator (the guy who runs his own store) is going to make significantly better than $100,000 per year. That’s not terrible. I will say the guys that own McD’s have a great work ethic (restaurant management and owners work about 50 – 55 hours per week) and tend to stick to it and with it over time. The McDonald’s owner eventually will likely recoup his massive investment and be able to start saving some money.

The point is that MOST franchise owners are perceived to be making big bucks with very “successful” stores (generating enough revenue so the owner can make SOME money at the end of the year. But the truth is they are hard working folks who are making the same amount of money that you are with massive stresses attached to their day that you don’t have. I consider these folks that pound it out every day heroes. They employ a bunch of people who are at NO risk for their income while THEIR OWN income is ALL at risk in dramatic fashion.

Appearances are very deceiving. Someday I’ll share the unbelievable challenges these folks face, and while rarely do they experience “financial success,” they make a huge difference in the lives of a lot of people.

But if they aren’t getting rich, are they failures or successes?  After all it’s these franchises and brands that most people think about when you say, “you’ll start your own business….” It’s the exact OPPOSITE type of business that I’d like to see YOU do but it is one choice.

Legend Point: Success is very difficult to spot and first, it’s MOST DIFFICULT to see by the person who is the responsible party.

success vs. failure actions

Legend Point: Second it’s most difficult to see success vs. failure actions that MIGHT be successful and might not even by experts who have been down the road.

Now THAT is new…

Failure and success, just WHO can tell if what YOU are doing is going to “work.”

Funny thing is that from certain vantage points, success and failure look so much alike.

Many of the factors of success are also factors of failure!  (Come to that in a bit)

People assume that because success and failure sound like opposites, that the ingredients that create the two “results” are exclusive of each other.

In other words, if eating vegetables makes you healthier and eating junk food doesn’t, you might carry that cause/effect analogy to everything else in life.

Good causes good. Bad causes bad….right?

Except that isn’t true. Junk food doesn’t necessarily make you unhealthy any more than one or two mediocre business practices will make you fail in life or at a project. Yes, you are better off with better business and health practices than not but never assume that something as simple as avoiding junk food or anything else for that matter.

You can also do EVERYTHING right today and still end up losing at the end of the day.

So why bother?

Maybe it’s better to be a socialist and hope your favorite political party will find a way to save people from having to watch the Olympics so they  don’t see how important achievement is to the human psyche and soul? Both individual and collective?!

Fortunately there ARE many distinguishable characteristics of both success and failure. Predicting failure, i.e. those who will NOT medal in life or sports is MUCH easier than predicting who WILL win.

And what’s left?

The middle. The middle generally don’t try so they take a job at which they can’t fail at.


People often believe that by using a success recipe they should be successful right away, or soon. And then the vast majority of the time, they aren’t.

They give up and return to their life of quiet desperation.

The Definition of Success

There are multiple definitions of failure and there is ONE definition of success we will use today.

Some people jump to “happiness” as being a definition of success, or, the lack of “happiness” as being failure.

Some people think that they are living a “happy life” because they choose it. It’s a choice, right?

That is nearsighted.

You can be happy today and have your child hit by a car on the way home from school.

How’s that “happy life” sound now?

So, reality check the meta-nonsense stuff. Happiness is indeed interpretative, but it’s also biology and circumstances beyond your control.

Happiness doesn’t intersect with success much beyond randomness.

Happiness and success aren’t intersecting circles.

Does failure overlap Happiness?

Failure doesn’t overlap happiness, either.

But, failure is a huge part of ultimate success…


Failure is a huge part of ultimate failure.

The very same failures can trigger success or ultimate failure.

To succeed is to win, overcome, to achieve.

Specifically, the agreed (dictionary) definition is that:

n. 1. the achievement of something desired or attempted
2. the attainment of wealth, fame, or position
3. a person or thing that is successful [Latin success an outcome]

The Definition of Failure

Working from the definition, it’s pretty easy to see that, if failure is the opposite of success then… to not desire, not plan and not attempt would eliminate failure and success.

Does that make sense?

Once again:

try or fail

If people don’t desire, don’t plan and don’t attempt, they can neither succeed nor fail.

And *THIS* is most people’s desired place to be.

Biggest Elements of Failure

Fear of failing is big. Big enough that this fear all by itself is enough to paralyze a person.

Hook this up with someone who needs to spell every word WRITE (oops right) and you have a disaster. Perfectionism happening outside of neurosurgery, open heart surgery and airline mechanics is a devastating schema and the cause of millions of failures.

People don’t want to be seen as “failing,” so they simply do not “attempt.”

Then they can not be SEEN as failing. They simply are failures.

Here’s the deal.

Axiom of Success and Failure

failure ratio

For the person who attempts 3 projects per month or year, they might succeed at all 3 of them.

Another person has a bigger “to do” list and they attempt 300 projects per year, fail at 150 and succeed at 150.

THAT is the metaphor of the success axiom…and that of failure.

So that’s easy enough…the math for one of the axioms of ULTIMATE success and failure.

But let’s muddle things up before we find clarity….

People who succeed and people who fail have some obvious things in common.

They breathe, eat, sleep, jog, work out, read, play games, strategize, they have talent, they have skills.

Both successful people and failures can also be Christians and atheists, Jews and Wiccans. Success and failure share common roots of black, white, and/or yellow skin. Success and failure comes from every continent (though clearly certain cultural and political climates favor the possibility of individual success in a significant way).

  • Failures know what they want in life.
  • Failures often make plans.
  • Failures often get education…a lot of it.

The First Factor of Failure

The first factor of failure is visualization.

Visualization neither causes failure or success.

The very same, “visualization” can cause success or failure.

It’s not going to predict….anything….

So what ARE the differences between success and failure?

Let’s consider some other definitions.

Success, as I define it, is the ability to weather the storms of life without destroying your ability to care for yourself and those you love…the ability to grow,survive and thrive during the harshest of storms.

Success can be measured in monetary units in many cases.

Success could be having a million dollars of protected, after-tax assets in excess of debt.

Desire, attempt and accomplish it…success.

Most people want to simply be a millionaire.

That can vaporize in two minutes.

You don’t want to be a millionaire. (And by the way, people’s lack of crystal clear definitions is one of the most significant of all causes of failure.)

In other words, a million dollars of assets that you have already paid taxes on and that is protected from the everyday lawsuits and whims of government is waaay different than being a millionaire.

A million dollars could provide a comfortable living based on 2020 standards for 20 years if $50,000 per year paid all the bills.

And you could easily succeed at achieving that outcome, but, I would suggest that you don’t aspire to that as an ultimate financial outcome.


Here’s just one reason…

Most people have no idea that medical insurance is not a “forever deal.” When you read your policy, you’ll see that medical insurance caps out around a million or two million dollars in total payouts.

In other words it’s there, it’s great, but once you have had the company pay out a million bucks, it’s finished, complete, kaput, over, done….

You’re probably thinking, “that’s nothing to worry about…”


Just How Far Does $1,000,000 Go?

I watched that figure get lit up when I was 13 years old… in my family.

Medical insurance is a good thing but it is not the ultimate protector.

A million bucks isn’t what it used to be. Three years in a hospital without treatment will wipe out that million and the rest is up to you.

Again, I have lived this in my family. It’s not a stretch for me to see it happen again in my family. Goodness knows I’ve seen it happen in plenty of other families.

So, a million dollars saved and stashed could get you by for 20 years on an “average” American lifestyle for two people.

Let’s say you have medical that doesn’t exceed a million dollars over the next 20 years and you have a million stashed, you’ve paid your taxes, you have protected the stash…and you are OK living a very modest life in the United States, perhaps owning a small $150,000 home or renting.

If you’re male and sixty years old or female and 70 years old, a million dollar net worth will likely do the trick.

It’s a far cry from “the American Dream” or living in a beautiful home and so forth, but it would meet a security criteria at those ages.

Most people think that having a “million dollars” would be a “WOW I’m successful,” kind of thing.

It’s really not.

It’s a survivable safety net for 20 years of living a VERY modest life for two. And that by the way might be all you need so long as you are productive in the present.

The first cause of failure is that people have never calculated these facts and figured out that at age 40, having $4,000,000 stashed and safe from legal and government is probably about the right amount of money to take care of yourself and someone you love for 40 years at $100,000 per year which again, is not living the American Dream, but is more than secure in most cases…

Someone could argue that this amount would satisfy a reasonable definition of “financial success” more accurately defined as security. (And, of course, it does require that you not outlive your assets….because there is nothing left after that!)

Because people aren’t aware of the numbers, they have no way of knowing that if they live paycheck to paycheck, disaster is not around the corner…the earth is quaking….now.


It doesn’t mean they will fail…or succeed.


…either result is very possible AND controllable.

Paycheck to paycheck, living in terror of losing the house, the kids, and so on.

…and from that point failure and success become choices.

The Recipe for Success…and Failure

If you go to and click on books, then search for Kevin Hogan, you’ll find a slew of books I’ve written.

One book, The Gift: A Discovery of Love, Happiness and Fulfillment is my favorite book that I’ve written.

Today on amazon, the cheapest copy sells for $67. The next highest priced copy is $187.


What is up with THAT?!

The book is out of print and in demand.


Because the book is the *real secret.*

Written in 1992, here is the very last line of the very last page….

See, Believe, Begin, Continue, Finish

That is the formula for success.

Here is one absolute formula for failure:

See it, Get a good feeling about it, be grateful you have it….when you don’t.

(Hey, that’s “The Secret?!” Kevin are you saying “The Secret”, CAUSES failure…it’s the recipe for failure??!!)

Yes…and anyone who has experienced success with integrity can tell you that.

Well done.

Deciding by “Feelings”

The difference?

In failure, it’s about “feeling” something.

People who rely on their feelings for results, fail.


And being grateful has *nothing* to do with success.

Don’t misunderstand, gratitude is an enormously important experience in life, but don’t try and manipulate gratitude, because it can’t be manipulated.

It is a feeling and/or reasoning from events and experiences that have happened, past tense.

Thus, a perfect formula for failure.

What about Success?

See – Simple enough. Nice to know where you are going, but failures can think they know just as easily. Nevertheless, SEE, IS part of the success recipe.

Believe – Certainty is crucial to success and lack of it is a direct cause of failure. Almost as quickly as you do not believe in you, your plan, working the plan, you fail.

Begin, Continue, Finish – The crux and core of success. Eliminate any of these steps, as “The Secret” does, and success is not possible.

Not probably, not maybe…you won’t. “Continue” is really the central piece. Most people reach this fork in the road and give up. Too hard, too uncertain of the possible reward…too…much to do.

Failure happens because people don’t… See, Believe, Begin, Continue or Finish.

It’s as simple as that.

But wait….

Could there be more?

Next week we find out….

Science of Influence

The Science of Influence Master Volume VI – Invisible Influence

Knowing What They Think and Who They Think You Are

Do you need to have listened to any of the previous CD’s to use this program?

No. It has been intentionally designed to be newcomer friendly.

For those of you who have only been “here” for a year or less, this program,
The Science of Influence Master Volumes 61-72 is my effort to “top” what
most everyone reports as their favorite of the Library, 49-60.

When I listened to it, I felt comfortable that this program
accomplishes that. 61-72 is superior.

This program is brand new, unreplicated material.

The field of influence and it’s subfield of persuasion continue to grow
with fresh research from the best minds on the planet.

More books about persuasion were published in the last three years
than in recorded history to date.

Almost all of these books were rehash of Cialdini, Carnegie, and
myself. There wasn’t really anything new.

But the persuasion and researchers….well that is a different story.
I had a “field day” this year stacking just shy of seven FEET of research.
I’ve synthesized this with results from dozens of real world applications.

Here’s some of what I’ve distilled from current research that you
can put into immediate use:

We learned a lot about the relationship of how people “feel about
products, services and people” and the mental shortcuts they use to

The first cluster of material I developed was about how people
connect with YOU when they buy from you.

So, Who Is Your Customer, Anyway?

What do they think?
How do they feel?
Does it matter?
So what? Can that be used for ANYTHING?
Turns out it can….

Identity in Persuasion

It’s in a cluster I call IDENTITY.
Identity research could fill 12 CD’s all by itself, but that would
have left too much excluded that I wanted you to have NOW.

So, I put together the core concepts of IDENTIFICATION and IDENTITY
and how YOU can utilize this cluster of information in influencing

One example would be something like,
“If you know someone is a Republican who voted for Bush in the last
election, how does that help me predict what they will think, buy,
and feel about it all today when I ask them to buy from me?”

Obviously we all identify with other people.
Around the house here and in the home office, you’ll hear people
refer to me as being just like HOUSE (House M.D./Hugh Laurie). I find
that hard to imagine as he is older than I am and uses a cane….

In public, people tell me that I remind them of Kelsey Grammer,
Robin Williams, Drew Carey and David Letterman all rolled into one.
Must be a very overweight guy….

So the point is that they identify me….with them.

That means they will SEE ME through those filters. Those filters
will completely change their perceptions of me, my work and whether
they will hire me or not. For years people have used the word filters….

How would you like to know what that REALLY MEANS?

How would you like to understand what you get from a filter?!

Identification and Identity are profound areas of influence research
that are now coming to the surface. It’s nothing short of fascinating
and of course no one knows about it yet.

I DID see a couple of Internet Marketers use material that they got
at Boot Camp where I touched on Identity. I think they did rather
well in their launch…..

Aside from that you will be the first to use this virgin research.

Because the concept of “persona” is so poorly understood and
underutilized outside of show business and branding, I do show you
how to develop your own persona. Little is more important in being
THE person want to do business with…I’ll come to that in a

I decided not to open with something so profound, however.

10 Simple Steps to Persuade Anyone

Mark Joyner, who is probably the all time #1 Internet
Marketer on the planet, asked me to write a small piece of his book,
Simpleology. (Very good book btw)

He wanted 10 steps I use when I persuade. Not when other people
persuade, but when I do, and he wanted me to make them simple and
easy to understand no matter how complex they are.

That was a challenge but in doing some self-modeling I was able to
develop quite a cool construct that I’ve never written about and now
for the first time you get it all.

This one long CD is of significant value to those who want to
influence, especially in business. I’d like to say it’s worth the
price of admission but would you think one CD could be worth $600?

Maybe not…it is…but maybe not. So I’ll just say it’s pretty
excellent and leave it at that….

Influencing the Long Tail

Finding the meeting point in the world between you and the universe
of people who would LOVE to do business with you, is the subject of
the next couple of CD’s.

KEYPOINT: YOU are THE answer for a group of people out there.
I show you how to project the image and persona you need to project to
draw that group to you.

This portion of Science of Influence 61-72 is just too cool. It was a
lot of fun to synthesize the work that’s been done in this area and
make it pretty simple to understand and just as easy to make real for

Persuasion’s Best Kept Secret

In Science of Influence Four, I briefly touched on MVD.
MVD is short for Most Valued Dimension.

No one (no one) had ever reported this phenomenon to the public
except …me.

So for most people, it was so unusual that it went right over their
heads. But about 20 people wrote this year and asked a ton of
questions about how to calculate the MVD for themselves.

This is an incredibly potent persuasion tool that is waiting for
people to learn. This is NOT easy and it is NOT simple.

I have made it approachable.

If you really want to know WHY people pick YOU and YOUR PRODUCT,
this is the answer.
Once you know WHY people pick YOU, it is a lot
easier to project those FEATURES (NOT BENEFITS) to the public.

Once again, if I could say that this CD was worth the price of
admission…..but I won’t. I’ll wait for YOU to tell ME.

How do Mind Readers Know What You’re Thinking?
The other thing people constantly ask is how I read their minds so


The Mind Reading CD is *definitely* worth the price of admission, no
maybe’s about it. It’s frigging excellent.

Yes. I show you what to do, what to say, and how.

Enough said….you’ll see. (And do listen to this CD numerous times.)

The Ultimate Power Factor in Persuasion

CD 67 discusses in detail the two most important factors in
persuasion, bar none.
In detail that I’ve never given this subject, you will gain an
awakening awareness to these two core concepts of behavior and the
keys to control of behavior.

Subliminal Persuasion & Perception

The 3rd most commonly requested information was “subliminal X.”
Man, do people want to know about subliminal stuff and you should,
too, because it is the future of marketing and influence.
Sooooo….you get it one crystal clear hour where I pound out recent
research and what it means to how you will persuade, or not.

Fewer people ask for “recent research” unless we count “what’s new
in persuasion,” and then that is what the next program is about.

Current Research Gives You a 3:1 Edge

Current research in persuasion is voluminous and over the next two
CD’s I cover a LOT of stuff quite quickly almost always with examples
and specifics for YOU.
New research is always intoxicating because it is stuff no one knows
about yet…because it is new.

And I love new stuff…

Eminently useful immediately.

You will like. You will put into use immediately. The final two CD’s are pretty cool.

A Complete Guide to Analyzing Your Customer

For the first time ever, I show you how to analyze your customer.
The questions you want to ask YOURSELF about YOUR CUSTOMER (or the
girl or whoever) and then I show you how to utilize that analysis to
cause people to “change their minds” (and yes, their behavior).
Once again, cutting-edge research merges with real world
applications and makes you the master. (Well, maybe not after
listening just once…but, drill this stuff into your brain a few
times, and you will do very well, indeed.)

Science of Influence Volumes 61-72 will take you through the next
quantum leap.

It’s not only cool, it’s approachable, it’s exciting, it’s intense.
You will be the first to have almost all of this information. You
will be the first to use this information and I’m excited to be the
person who gives it to you.

12 hours on 12 Audio CD’s

150-Page Manual on CD

Get Science of Influence VI Today!

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Author of The Psychology of Persuasion, Irresistible Attraction, and The Science of Influence, Dr. Kevin Hogan is trusted by organizations, both large and small, to help them help their people reach their personal peak performance and maximize influence in selling and marketing. Kevin is an internationally admired keynote speaker and corporate thought leader. In Coffee with Kevin Hogan, he shares his research, observations, and how you can apply them in your life – both in business and at home.

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