I can assure you, at least 90% of the posts about people’s experiences with Aspire start with ‘I was skeptic at first’ and end with brainwashed ramblings, photos of them sizzling on a beach in Aruba, and a link for you to join too.
The ‘Aspire Business System’ by Michael Force is…well, a business system from an umbrella company called Digital Altitude. It offers a step-by-step training software, which has supposedly helped thousands of entrepreneurs begin their own online businesses and live care-free lives drinking piña coladas at five-star resorts.
Going by personal accounts from people, it seems to have worked for many, but they sound almost too good to be true. So, when someone approached me with this incredible ‘be your own boss’ opportunity, I simply *had* to see it for myself.
Except my goal wasn’t to make a million bucks in two weeks, but to document the process and save you the trouble of wondering whether you should take the plunge.
How I got in
I found out about Aspire through a Dutch woman named Irene on Facebook. For reasons beyond my own understanding, I joined a group called Dream Achievers. It was as if she had a notification system set up so she could pounce on any newcomers, and it wasn’t long before she was in my DMs.
I must say, she seemed nice. But in that superficially friendly-but-only-because-I-need-something-from-you kind of way. She asked me about myself and my circumstances, then built up to the concept of affiliate marketing and how it has enabled her and her husband to ‘travel the world full-time while their online business takes care of their finances — almost on auto-pilot’.
I thought: hmm, that’s interesting and definitely too good to be true. I should find out more about this.
Then, I moved to Canada and forgot all about it.
Fast forward to five months later. I moved to Bermuda with my then-boyfriend. If you’ve never been to Bermuda, just know that a single tomato costs like $3.
I needed income. So, I sifted through countless job postings offering a generous $5 per hour, before vaguely remembering that chat I once had with Irene about working and travelling.
I dug around for the chat and poked her for more info. Irene quickly replied with a petition for a quick Skype call. My Wi-Fi froze her video in the first three seconds and I had spend the rest of the call pretending I could see her just fine.
Long story short, she spoke about the whole marketing shebang and then about this wonderful and magical platform that helped her achieve her current luxurious lifestyle. Of course, I asked about the platform and she sent me a free trial to none other than the Aspire Business System.
Naturally, as you have probably done, the first thing I did was Google ‘Aspire Business System Scam’. I read dozens of reviews and concluded it wasn’t some make money NOW gig. It’s a business model, which you have to eventually pay to use. But if you DO pay, you’ll be ‘guaranteed’ a thriving online business within ‘90 days or less’, so you can frivolously travel and mentally check out while making thousands in commissions.
Curious, I told Irene I’d do it. She rejoiced and flung me into another Facebook group chat (oh joy), where all the Aspire newbies seemed to have an endless collection of cringe-worthy, motivational quotes and images to ‘inspire’ us. #AllAboutTheHustle
She also sent me a link to the Aspire training program that I had to go through. If I completed it, she’d get a cushy commission.
Here’s the skinny on what this training program actually entails:
The Aspire training program
First thing’s first, when you sign up to Aspire you get assigned a coach. My coach was Ron Keenan, a nice old Aussie who tends to spontaneously call via Skype without prior warning.
I booked a call with him on Thursday, but as I lowered my laptop lid at 9pm on a Tuesday I heard the unmistakable brr brr brr of a Skype call. I panicked, ran to a table and we spoke.
He asked about my goals and told me to go through the first two training steps of the program, then call him back. He’d quiz me and then, if I answered everything correctly, he’d unlock the next steps. So the next day, I dug in.
Steps 1 and 2
The first two steps are informative, yet mind-numbing. They’re hour-long videos with Michael Force (the founder) bumbling on and on about his sensational business model. A lot of it seemed to focus on ‘mindset’ and the usual hustler porn you get on LinkedIn posts written by self-proclaimed thought-leaders.
I scribbled some notes and had my first call with Ron. He asked some basic ‘so what did you learn?’ questions and I dutifully repeated the key ideas from Michael’s soulless speech.
Ron was satisfied. The call lasted about 10 minutes and then he sent me a link to some daily call recordings made by Aspire coaches that I should commit to listening to. The next day, I did. Or…tried to.
These recordings were essentially more hustler porn on repeat. Each speaker would encourage everyone to ‘get the right mindset’ and stay motivated and keep working and yada yada yada. I know a lot of people thrive on this motivational stuff, but the constant firehose of inspirational blabber was starting to feel borderline manipulative. Like if I didn’t go along with it and give them my money I’d be a fraud and a failure for life. (And that’s probably the point.)
Steps 3 and 4
To my dismay, these next steps delved even further into the importance of having a ‘positive mindset’. While a positive mindset is certainly good to have, Aspire’s tactics for getting you there are…questionable.
Here’s one of the slides in the presentation:
The main problem here was that they weren’t actually trying to make you ‘think positive’ — but actually ‘think rich’. After all, what’s the point of living if you’re not drowning in money and consumerism?
Also, if you’re poor, it’s not about your circumstances, it’s simply your fault for being lazy and negative. Yup.
The whole presentation was so disconnected from reality it wasn’t even worth the pixels. Nonetheless, I dragged myself through it all and got on Skype for my usual call with Ron. I gave him a PG-rated summary of the lessons and he unlocked Steps 5 and 6. The last ones.
Steps 5 and 6
Here’s where the real sales pitch kicked in. The grand finale.
Michael Force popped up in a final video and enthusiastically rambled about how great his program is and what you have to do become a part of it. It’s easy. All you have to do is pay $2,000 to buy their products (license them, as they say) and then sell them to bring more people into the program. Then they do the same, and you get a commission. Rinse and repeat.
If this particular business model isn’t ringing any bells. Here’s a hint: IT’S A MULTI-LEVEL MARKETING SCAM. Y’know, the ones where the ones at the top fill you with fabulous promises then take your money? And if you fail, it’s your own fault because you just weren’t motivated enough.
Now for the final call with Ron, who probably has his own pitch to seal the deal. Sure enough, he spent almost an hour reading from an incredibly generic script about all the amazing benefits of the program. Infinite travel! More houses than you can live in! Kale smoothies galore! All for just $2,000.
But wait! It doesn’t stop there. Oh no no. That was just the basic package. If you really want to get rich quick, there are packages for $28,000, $36,000, and even a measly $60,000.
Oh, aren’t we lucky. After all, who doesn’t have that kind of money rolled up in their left sock?
Essentially: ‘You can have your dream life! All you need to do is give us your money, morals and soul. If you don’t, you haven’t earned the right to be happy.’
When Ron finished his script, he peered directly into the camera and said, ‘I think you’re a smart girl, and I’ll be very disappointed if you don’t do this.’
Ah, emotional manipulation. The final tactic.
I gave Ron a polite thank you, told him I’d ‘think about it’ and ended the call.
So, what did I really think? I believe the technical term for the Aspire program is: complete bullshit.
I’ll admit that the thought of joining Aspire did flit across my mind. I mean, it worked for Irene, right? But you have to remember that multi-level marketing only works for the ones at the top–and the shakey foundation eventually topples.
Oh, but I could be one of those shmancy people at the top, drinking mojitos on a sunny Bermudian beach. All I’d have to do is spend all my savings upfront with no safety net and then dedicate all my time desperately scamming other people to do the same. Simple, right?
I thought about it some more. Then deleted my Aspire account. Sorry, Irene. Looks like you’re not getting that sweet sweet commission.
At this point you’re either feeling disappointed or mildly vindicated that Aspire is what you suspected it to be all along. A MLM that fills the pockets of the big players and preys on middle-class people desperate to catch a break in life.
If you go into the forums and Facebook groups dedicated to Aspire, you’ll notice a cult-like following who all spend their time revving each other up and posting photos of themselves peacocking in exotic places. It’s like Instagram influencers meet tech startup bros. It’s absolute nightmare fuel.
Bottom line is: if you happen to have $2,000 laying around and won’t miss it if it gets lost, then sure, go for it. Enjoy your terrible decision. Just know that you’ll become the equivalent of a door-to-door pest trying to sell weight-loss milkshakes to anyone gullible enough to buy them. Your friends will groan when you come around with your little sales pitch and you’ll have no choice but to surround yourself with equally insufferable Aspire ‘friends’ who would sell you for a new yoga mat.
Is that really who you want to be?
The fact is, Aspire is nothing but a poignant reminder of the old saying: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.