FYRE: 8 Things I Couldn’t Stop Thinking About After Watching The Festival Scam Disaster

Jan 28, 2019

I just finished watching the documentary Fyre last night.

The whole thing had me on the edge of my seat.

It is familiar territory for me because I’m an Internet Marketer – and our industry is rife with shenanigans much like the ones shown in the movie (albeit it’s often more mild than the Fyre fiasco).

I keep turning over the events in my head, how it all just slid out on control, and how much arrogance we probably all have that we would “never” be caught dead in a position like this.

I know better.

I know better because I’ve found myself in positions in my earlier life that I NEVER would have guessed.

Even the strongest of thinkers can be taken down in the right circumstances. Here are a few things I took away from my Saturday night Netflix binge.

1. Positive thinking has a dark side.

How many times did the higher ups criticize the workers for not being positive enough? Where does positivity and visionary thinking turn to delusions of grandeur?

This is an issue I take with the manifestation crowd. It’s almost as if using your brain to identify a problem, mitigate risk, and think of all worst case scenarios (and plan for them), is akin to begging the universe to rain death and destruction on your family and business. It’s not.

It’s called SMART.

The maddening part is that because it’s the leader at the top saying it, most of the team went against their better judgement, their intuition, and all alarm bells…and just followed their leader, right off the cliff.

2. The ability to sell a dream should be carefully contained in a box of character.

The more I learn about marketing and sales, the more afraid I get that this super power, this magical ability to persuade should come with incredible warning labels of its danger.

The age of the Internet has given us tremendous power to reach MILLIONS of people, even without proving ourselves. We have books and courses and all manner of knowledge at our fingertips to learn how to manipulate people to do what we want.

And yet, we’re also in a world where the slow and grueling process of building character is pushed aside for quick fixes and shortcuts.

3. The illusion of the result is a slippery slope.

Where is the line between the “dream” and puffery start to slide into mismanaged expectations, false advertising, and finally an out and out scam?

As I watched the documentary, I could see where the promotional video didn’t feel like a lie to anyone at the time. After all, it was WAY before the planning really got underway. I honestly think they weren’t trying to purposely falsely advertise. They were trying to sell the dream in their head.

And then, the problems started. The need to switch islands. The lack of housing. The lack of money. I’m a pre-selling marketer like many others, but Fyre should be a front and center reminder to us that we must manage the expectations of our customer…continually.

It’s hard to stay authentic throughout the process, but if we don’t….the line between a little exaggeration and false advertising…is REALLY blurry.

The scary part is we watch this and think, “Oh no, I would never…” but these kinds of disasters always start with the best intentions.

4. One bad idea can take down the whole ship.

I felt so bad for the software developers who lost everything because of this one idea gone bad. So many of them didn’t even know what was going down with the festival, but they bore the consequences of it.

Their company was gone and they were jobless.

The lesson here is that disease spreads. If a doctor tells you there is a small bit of cancer on your arm, are you going to sit back and think, “Ah well…it’s just my arm. The rest of me is okay.” No it’s not. It will eventually spread to every area of your body.

You can’t silo bad eggs and broken character. It can be difficult to deal with a problem when it’s small, because it doesn’t seem like a big deal to take a shortcut.

That little problem won’t stay little, and it has the power to take out a lot of people if left unmanaged. And the closer to the top (the more power) the idea or person has, the more responsibility you have to deal with it as soon as it starts to smell weird.

5. People show you who they are if you just look. Believe them.

My dear friend Yara says this to me all the time. I’m a chronic optimist and a quick forgiver. This means I’m prone to getting burned over and over again, because I refuse to believe what my intuition sees because… this time will be different.

I’m learning to become a master at non-verbal cues and observation of both obvious and not so obvious behavior. There were literally a million clues along the way that alerted members of the team to a lack of integrity and character in Billy. But…it was excused away over and over and over again…

…partly because of herd theory, partly because people (like me) are optimists, and partly because of pressure and manipulation at the top.

After the whole thing went down, he STILL continued to try to scam people through his email list with shortcuts.

6. Execution is everything.

Ideas are a dime a dozen. Especially in marketing, fulfillment is often the thing that people forget to plan for. It’s the whole “say yes, figure it out later” idea gone way too far.

The good news if you see competitors with all their great marketing plans and ideas, but they can’t execute, you have a shot at beating them to the punch with excellent execution because…

In the end, it’s ALL that counts.

7. Sexual harassment is alive and well.

I could write an entire post just on this alone.

The scene with the dude willing to go down on another man was horrifying.

I wonder if anyone at that moment thought, “Well gosh, this is sexual harassment and prostitution I’m asking this guy to do…” or was it said in a lighthearted friendly way that made him question if this is just banter between friends or an actual business relationship with boundaries?

Most of us watching this in our comfy living rooms are outside the situation and so it’s natural to gasp in shock that someone would EVER even consider such a thing. But the fact that he was WILLING shows just what level of psychological abuse was happening between team members that it got to that point.

8. The only protection against this kind of ending is to….

Remind yourself that the the most dangerous belief that makes you vulnerable to this sort of abuse or error is the lie we all tell ourselves that this COULD never happen to anyone like us.

Julie Chenell initials

Get in touch! I teach strategic business growth tacticss for everyday people.


  1. John


    You have me wanting watch this movie. I, also, resonated with the fact that I wanted be an ethical marketer but felt that everyone was showing me how to be an unethical marketer and so I never pulled the trigger on any of my ideas.

    That being said, now I know more and am better in understanding what I want to be and am moving in the direction I want.

  2. Benjamin Hoga

    As a result of being awakened by this documentary, I have to believe newly activated reflections on your past experiences are seen with new eyes, recognizing similarities that went unrecognized then, and are now completely understandable.

    Participating in my second OFAC, I’ve just now begun reading Dotcom Secrets — yeah, I know.

    What’s interesting and enlightening to experience are the similar LIFE experiences Russell Brunson and Stephen Larson and I have in common… Very eye opening from the inside out. Russell stayed committed to his childhood heart. Stephen reconnected with his.
    Both engaged with integrity.

  3. Paul

    Love this post. Great article….
    Great Documentary as well….
    A bit scary as this what has come from Social Media…..

  4. Lynn

    Great article! I have been in partnerships that I had to respectfully withdraw from because I foresaw the event/service nit being executed properly. The event turned our very similar to Fyre but on a lower level, nonetheless people were disappointed and lost their money. The logistics if this event required realistic goals and the proper time to execute. The Founder was doomed to fail when he lied to investors so he himself knew he was living in this fantasyland but still allowed the ship to sink like the Titanic.

  5. Caelan Huntress

    I just watched that documentary yesterday. Thanks for your perspective and insights – as internet marketers, it shows us the dark side of our industry pretty clearly.

    Something like this could happen to us, and that’s what I find so fascinating. More reasonable people might jump ship well before things got that bad, but if we were blinded by our own success, year after year, who’s to say if we would or wouldn’t?

    After all, taking the big risk is what makes an entrepreneur. The Fyre Festival was just a risk that didn’t pay off…but it could have, and then that guy would be legend.

  6. Jill

    Just finished the movie…wow. Great blog pinpointing takeaways!!

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