I have watched (and participated in) the ‘opportunity seeking’ described below by Seth Godin.

It is too easy in our fast paced life to think there is a shortcut.

(Reprinted for sethgodin.com)

Get rich quick

As long as there have been people who want to get rich, there have been get rich quick schemes. The guys who sell mailing lists have a name for people who buy these schemes: “opportunity seekers.”

Raising ostriches, or timing the market or investing in tulips–there’s a long history here. The schemes tend to have a few things in common. They tend to have the same tone of voice (part breathless, part bad design, part ‘we’re just like you’) and most of all, they are too good to be true.

Being too good to be true is the key part, because if it’s too good to be true, maybe, just maybe, it is true. Maybe all those stuck in the mud types aren’t doing it because they’re skeptics, maybe I get a chance to invest in this video program/perpetual motion machine/envelope stuffing scheme precisely because it has scared away the conservative folks who never get anywhere.

Online, of course, like most things online, this has blossomed. You’ll see the long long web pages filled with ALL CAPS and bright colors and testimonials and “wait there’s more!” They look alike for a reason–it’s a signal to the opportunity seeker that this is one of those.

Do they convert watchers into buyers? Sure they do. Do a few people make money? Of course.

There’s a tribe here, and it’s always looking for a new leader. Someone who will sell them an exclusive $1249 course, or ongoing advice and consulting or some other insight that has escaped the market leaders. The more skeptics they generate, the better they do, because the skepticism itself is part of the story that needs to be told.

What’s being sold here? It’s not riches, because if the riches were automatic, the seller would just hire people, right? Why make 1,000 people into millionaires if you can just hire 1,000 people and be a billionaire? No, it’s the belief in riches, the thrill of finding just the right deal, the challenge of getting a relative to loan you money one more time. It’s the frisson of excitement from sending in the money, the rush of impatience that follows as you wait for the package, and then the scary moment when you open the package and come face to face with your dreams.

Of course, your dreams are rarely what you hoped (how could they be?) but soon, you’ll be back for more. It seems that being an opportunity seeker is about seeking, not finding.