This completes our year-end series on the Goofuses and Gallants of the wellness industry. See:
- Announcing the 2016 Deplorables Awards
- Wellness Industry Stars of 2016
- So Many Candidates for the Deplorables Award Countdown, So Few Numbers between 1 and 10
- Wellness Stars of 2016, Part 2.
Are you smarter than an award-winning wellness vendor? Take this quiz and find out.
Q: How is the first unlike the second?
The first, Wellsteps CEO Steve Aldana, claims that it’s bananas that provide magical powers. And unlike Popeye and spinach, he doesn’t think we need to consume massive quantities. “Even one more bite of a banana” is all it takes to reduce overall costs by fully a third, despite their admission that costs for individual employees increase by about the same amount over the same period.
Yes, you read that right, and, yes, is it mathematically impossible for a number to go up and down at the same time. I noted in Wellsteps Stumbles Onward that Wellsteps had accidentally told the truth on the second display showing increasing costs, thus totally contradicting the first. The second display subsequently disappeared.
Perhaps Wellsteps deliberately made up the first slide to fool people (in this case, the Boise School District). The more charitable explanation, which shows Wellsteps in a better light, is that they didn’t deliberately lie when they said costs increased and decreased at the same time. Instead, they were simply confused by their own stupidity.
Lying is a Business Strategy
Wellsteps’ Linkedin group is called Wellness is a Business Strategy. I was banned from posting on it, accompanied by the following invocation of the First Amendment:
“It has come to our attention that an outspoken critic has entered false data into these calculators in order to make a point. We certainly support free speech; however, we wonder how valid the point can be when it is based on false data?” [Where “false data” is defined as “any data”]
Sounds like they support free speech…except when they don’t. Speaking of supporting free speech, they claimed in bright red letters — for no apparent reason other than they were probably suffering withdrawal symptoms from having gone a whole week without lying — that they had convinced Linkedin to ban us from posting. And yet many of you clicked through from linkedin. So here we are, posting.
Stupid is a Business Strategy
Wellsteps’ ROI model doesn’t generate an ROI. It doesn’t even generate a savings projection. What does it “generate”? One number: $1359. Yes, it always gives the same answer ($1359 savings per employee) if you zero out “annual cost increases” in their model to control for inflation. So anyone can see this model simply makes no sense, notwithstanding Wellsteps’ insistence that it is “based on every ROI study ever published.”
How stupid is Wellsteps’ model? Even Ron Goetzel refused to defend it. And when Ron Goetzel won’t defend stupid data fabricated by his friends, you know it’s bad.
Harming Employees is a Business Strategy
To win the Deplorables Award, outlying and outstupiding other vendors is a dicey strategy due to all the competition trying to do the same thing. So Wellsteps decided to boldly go where no vendor has gone before: they acknowledged, even bragged about, harming employees. Sure, plenty of vendors harm employees–by enticing them into crash-dieting contests, flouting clinical guidelines or giving them worthless nutritional supplements and billing their insurers. But no one had ever documented the before-after harms of wellness as conscientiously as Wellsteps did, which I helpfully displayed in detail.
Insults are a Business Strategy
What the judges here at TSW especially liked about Wellsteps’ candidacy for the Deplorables Award was their track record of not just harms and deceit, but also insults. Very clever ones too.
For instance, Wellsteps’ rebutted my observation that all their data is fabricated by saying I’m full of “hot air.” Touche!
One would think that that this guy (Mr. Aldana’s crony) could have come up with a better counterargument, given that he claims to have spent “11 years in college.” If you’re keeping score at home, that’s four more years than Bluto Blutarski.
Here are a few more targets of their ripostes:
- Everyone who is overweight: “It’s fun to get fat. It’s fun to be lazy.” They skewered 2/3 of the population in 10 words. Bada-bing!
- Sharon Begley, arguably the best health/science journalist of our generation. Mr. Aldana called her a “lier.” Her crime? Quoting him verbatim.
- WELCOA‘s exemplary leader, Ryan Piccarello. For not wanting to harm employees, Ryan is apparently part of a “gang of bullies.”
Such brilliant repartee, in an earlier generation, would have landed them a seat at the Algonquin Roundtable.
Bananas are a Business Strategy
So, congratulations to Wellsteps for winning their first Deplorables Award. Darwin will take it from here, and maybe get them a new gig more appropriate to their capabilities.