Harlan Kilstein

Death of the layman

I’ve been reading a bunch of different articles about authority and decentralized responsibility lately.

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Mark Joyner recently published a report entitled, Rise of the Author which is about how you’re automatically an expert if you publish a hard copy book and how you ought to do it soon because books are going out of style… but only if you want to be famous (probably not at all his point- that’s just what I got out of it).

Doctor Douglas wrote an article about how doctors are firing patients who do their own research and have concerns about diagnosis or prescribed medications.

Harlan Kilstein said NLP is dead because there haven’t been any industry wide advances or even cohesion recently.

Ryan Healy wrote about how we ought to make sure our hypnotists have enough training … or at least as much as our barbers. I was completely enjoying that article until it took an unexpected turn into a sales pitch.

And of course we’re all probably familiar with Michel Fortin’s report entitled Death of the Sales Letter .

Incidentally, I just finished reading a book called, The Laughing Jesus: Religious Lies and Gnostic Wisdom . I highly recommend it. Of course, don’t read it if you like the idea of clergy and having religious middle men.

And then I began reading Therapeutic Metaphors and Big Mind, Big Heart .

What do all these threads have in common? They all suggest that the layman is dying if he’s not already dead.

Here’s what I mean by that.

The reason we even have the word, "layman" is because there’s the assumption (perhaps presupposition), that people can be divided into two categories: the expert or the layman. The other assumption that’s less helpful is that if you’re not an expert, your effort or contribution is questionable. In the academic community, you don’t even have a valid opinion without a PhD.

What I see in all of this is that the internet is brining down the walls between expert and layman… at least for the layman. I recently met a financial planner who routinely uses NLP to get his clients to take action in their best interest. Where did he learn NLP? From reading books. I guess he didn’t know he needed an expert to bless his efforts.

This isn’t to say that there is no place for the wise and experienced among us to practice our crafts. And there’s no question that all the different establishments held together by experts will continue on for some time yet. It simply means that if one person can do something, another can too. You don’t have to be an expert. NLP modeling can expedite that process but someone way back in the day had to figure out how to light a fire on their own too the first time.

It reminds me of my training as a medic. We finished our EMT basic certification the first 6 weeks of the 4 month training course but our senior drill sergeant became famous for constantly telling us we weren’t medics yet. We were only about 45% medic. And then about 80% medic. And on and on. Finally, after graduation, he said we were 100% medic and competent enough in our skills to go out there and do something.

The good news is that you don’t have to wait to be christened an expert before you get going. The not-as-good news is that the upcoming generation of buyers and sellers don’t recognize the same marks of authority as previous generations. Keep in mind that Generation Y might as well mean, "Why?" as in, "Why should I listen to you at all about anything even if some people think you are a so-called expert?" Credentials won’t go as far as they used to.

As for me, I’m glad. It just means there’s more opportunity for us non-experts.

Let’s toast to the death of the layman.

PS. My NLP copywriting for non-experts video is coming along nicely. Today I was suddenly overwhelmed by the amount of examples all over the web. I’m having to pick and choose which ones to showcase this first time.

Coming up…

Okay guys, the moment we’ve all been waiting for…

I’ve decided to go ahead and create a series of DVDs on NLP copywriting and here’s why: after looking around the internet, I’ve found a pretty large gap in the training available.

  • Harlan Kilstein is hands down the grandfather of NLP copywriting. If you have $1000s to plunk down, go to him. I went through his live NLP certification seminar and was completely blown away. I got almost no sleep (my fault, not his) but still was completely enthralled. He’s targeting high level copywriters and marketers.
  • Kenrick Cleveland is the cream of the crop when it comes to learning NLP for face to face sales. I recently found his blog and really like what I see. Getting and using his course is on my list of things to do. The thing of it is that (as Harlan will attest) there are things you can do in spoken NLP that you can’t do in writing and vise versa.
  • Frank Kern is currently running his Mass Control campaign. You can watch the progress at his blog. He’s been part of some pretty spectacular product launches mostly through his down to earth (and sneaky) uses of persuasion. In a recent audio he release, he actually says what he’s doing isn’t NLP and he wishes someone would create an NLP product that would be fun to learn though. I have to agree that most of the materials I’ve been methodically plowing through would be of more interest to a therapist than a marketer. Additionally, the uses of NLP in some of his material actually originated with Harlan anyway.
  • Other miscellaneous marketers and NLP practitioners are selling their advice as well. Again, we have the delimma of either being extremely expensive ranging in the thousands OR being of low quality. And then there’s the fact that aside from Harlan, no one is really teaching the nuances of using NLP in copywriting.


I’m going to go ahead and finally do what I’ve been reading from James Brausch and create some entry level NLP products for entrepreneurs and marketers. Again, if you want to learn the whole enchilada, you’ll still need to go to Harlan. For spoken NLP, go to Kenrick. For product launches or campaigns, go to Frank. If there’s someone else I should be recommending, let me know.

I’m thinking of including the basics and a lot of case studies – good and bad. There are tons of different patterns. Most people would see dramatic improvements with a foundational understanding and a handful of techniques done well.

I plan to make it as fun as I can as Frank said. He’s in good company too. The founder of Toastmasters is often quoted:

"We learn best in moments of enjoyment."

If there’s anything you’d like to see included as far as techniques or learning styles, feel free to comment or email me at writing@louisrburns.com.

Harlan’s Use of NLP in a PS

Here’s a video that Harlan posted a little while back. It’s actually the same video twice so it’s only about 3 minutes. I think I mentioned it before if I recall correctly.


What he doesn’t tell you in the video (and I hadn’t mentioned) is why nominalization takes the power out of a word. When you change a verb into a noun (i.e. being skeptical to skepticism), you take the motion out of it. No motion, no energy. No energy, no power.

Conversely, if you want to add energy to a work, turn it into action. Richard Bandler uses this method to cure phobias. When you take the energy and make it smaller (visual), quieter (auditory), further away (kinesthetic), it looses power. Taking it and putting it far away by making it past tense does more of that. Bandler also cures it by taking that energy and spinning it the opposite direction.

Of course that’s much harder to do in writing. I’d say impossible but as soon as you say that, someone will figure it out.

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