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Shiny Object Syndrome

Income PlanningDo you or someone you know suffer from shiny object syndrome? Interestingly, to those who are starting a business online, it can be the single biggest cause for downfall (and frustration) and yet for the rest of the internet marketing industry, it is a boon. What’s up with that?

Shiny object syndrome: chasing the next “big thing”, the current fad or the easy button, the chasing of which causes so many distractions that primary business objectives are not (and can not be) met.

The sales pitches are fierce, promising cash at the push of a few buttons and for only $27. Of course, you hope that it’s true, you want it to be true. You hope that this one additional thing will be the piece you’ve been missing, that it will present you with what you need to at last break through and start making money.

Logic says that if someone had the easy button, it wouldn’t be sold for a mere $27 but your hopes, dreams and perhaps a bit of desperation, pushes your doubt aside and you think that for $27, you can afford to give it a try…

The internet marketing industry relies on you to give that new thing a try. You are no doubt fully aware of the multitude of offers in your inbox and you’ve likely only scratched the surface of those available. In that respect, we can be our own worst enemies.

Your mindset is at the root of the issue. Your mindset can be the difference between success and failure. The internet industry is counting on you being the consumer and not the business owner. As soon as you make the mindset shift from “consumer” to “business owner”, you’ll care very much about the $27 dollars and unless and until you have the income to cover it, you’ll think twice about spending it. You’ll care about the ROI and whether or not the investment is one that makes sense. As long as you remain in “consumer” mode, you’ll continue to chase the ever elusive easy button.

How do you go about doing that? One sure way is by running your business as a business. At minimum, you should be tracking your monthly income and expenses. If the income doesn’t support additional expenditures, hold off on them. Better yet, you should have a plan that details your annual production and projected income. Does that make you yawn?

Another great tip that I’ve picked up is to stick with the basics until you have mastered them. In other words, focus on building your site and pick at most 2-3 tactics to try, then work on those until you master them. Only after your have mastered them should you consider adding to your arsenal. This tip applies to overcoming overwhelm as well but I think it has value here in avoiding the shiny object until you are ready for the next new thing.

Focus on the basics first. Prove to yourself that you have selected a great niche, that you can build a list and that you can sell something to that list. Until you do that, don’t even think of expanding.

It might not sound sexy or like fun to you but any way you slice it, unless and until you look at your business as a business, it is nothing more than a hobby… and an expensive hobby at that.

What do you think of shiny object syndrome? Do you have or have you used other tips/techniques to either avoid or get out of shiny object syndrome? Please leave a comment and let us know about your experiences.

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68 Responses to Shiny Object Syndrome

  1. Janette Stoll August 17, 2011 at 2:46 pm #

    I’m with you on this one! No program will do the work for you unless you put in the work. Systems are great but they need your input. I’ve found sticking with the basics is necessary because it’s easy to get overwhelmed if you don’t have the basics down.

    Great post!!


  2. Linnea August 17, 2011 at 2:56 pm #

    Hi Janette,

    Bingo! If you master the basics, you’re good to go and can scale it up but if you try to do it all at once, the result is that you get too scattered and overwhelmed. Finding that focus can be a challenge but a necessary requirement. Thanks for stopping by and for the kind words.

  3. marquita herald August 18, 2011 at 1:03 pm #

    Terrific advice Linnea,
    You are SO right – the noise out there on the web for the newcommer can quckly become deafening. I think your advice about starting with the basics is right on. It takes time and dedication to build an online presence … but it’ll come if you’re dedicated and serious about wanting to learn and succeed.

  4. Trevor Barrett August 19, 2011 at 6:04 am #

    Oh Linnea, I have been in that place a few times. The sales pages are always so enticing and who wouldn’t like to spend, $27, take 20 minutes a day and end up with a fortune?

    But, you know what they say, if something seems to be too good to be true, it probably is. Now let me see if I have something enticing in my Inbox.
    Trevor Barrett recently posted..3 Tips To Help If You Lost Your JobMy Profile

  5. Debbie Lattuga August 20, 2011 at 12:34 pm #

    I am definitely guilty of shiny object syndrome at times. I think it comes from believing that I need to know the ‘secret’ to be successful. Of course there is no secret.

    Also, setting my goals in advanced helps me focus on the task at hand. That way I don’t get sidetracked.

    Debbie Lattuga recently posted..Writing to Impact Change – Free EbookMy Profile

  6. Holly August 21, 2011 at 2:15 pm #

    I totally agree with you!! I have gotten caught up in it and kept thinking I need this and I need that.. but I now know that I don’t! Keep it simple and focus on the basics when you have that down pat, then move on add on or whatever needs to be done, next. Doing it all at once just keeps you stuck! Or at least it overwhelms me!
    Holly recently posted..All Time Biggest Disadvantage to Missing a Work OutMy Profile

  7. Linnea August 23, 2011 at 12:36 pm #

    Hi Marty,

    So great to see you again.
    The noise certainly can be overwhelming, especially for the newcomer and yes, I’m afraid there is no “free” lunch.
    Given time, dedication and perseverance and it is very doable.
    Thanks for stopping by.

  8. Linnea August 23, 2011 at 12:40 pm #

    Hi Debbie,

    You certainly hit the nail on the head!
    It is very tempting to believe that there is a “secret” that we need to unearth when in fact, the “secret” is to keep your nose down and persevere.
    Thanks for stopping by.

  9. Linnea August 23, 2011 at 12:43 pm #

    Hi Holly,

    Thanks! I think that we’ve all been tempted down that path at least once or twice during start up.
    I’ve found that it also works for me to be extremely selective about reading email. I’d guess around 99% of mine never gets read.
    That cuts way down on not only the temptations but on wasted time as well.
    Thanks for your comment.

  10. Rick Lelchuk August 23, 2011 at 3:09 pm #


    What a great subject. As a recovering SOS’er (been through rehab, the 12 step program and the detox all costing more like $97 each) I have come to the conclusion that there will always be one more program around the next bend on the Internet.

    When one finally determines their own self-worth, claims their direction and feeds it with belief and faith, only then can they resist the temptation of whipping out the plastic and ignore the lure of Siren’s song “this is THE one.”

    Rick Lelchuk recently posted..Happiness Is The KeyMy Profile

  11. Kevin Martineau August 23, 2011 at 8:02 pm #

    Hi Linnea:

    It is definitely easy to fall victim to the shiny object syndrome. Even though I don’t run my blog for business purposes I still try to treat it like a business. I only invest money into my blog that I have earned.

    Thanks for the tips!
    Kevin Martineau recently posted..God helps us handle what we are givenMy Profile

  12. Kimberly Castleberry August 24, 2011 at 2:35 am #

    What a great reminder to keep our heads out of the silliness of marketing and focus on what we actually need! Marketing is designed to push our buttons and it’s up to us to think think through it and make smart decisions. I have a pair of post kinda similar to this & that talks about where I attempted to answer the same questions for my readers. I love how you mention that it might not be sexy, it rarely is, but it’s that basic foundation stuff that gets the results that the building of our businesses can grow on safe, stable and secure!

  13. Roshanda Gilmore August 24, 2011 at 10:23 am #

    This post is AWESOME!!!

    My goodness, so many people fall into the shiny object syndrome! It happens in mlm, direct sales and all over the internet like you suggested! I have been there too in the beginning days!

    It’s easy to get sucked in if you don’t have a solid plan for your biz in place. I learned over time to really reflect if that new $27 course is going to get me to my goals faster or just be a distraction. BUT without a plan many will sway off in a bunch of different directions with no end in mind.

    Your tips are critical for those looking to get out of buying the next shiny thing!
    Roshanda Gilmore recently posted..I Have A Gazillion Passions – Which One Should I Choose To Launch My Personal Brand?My Profile

  14. Roy A. Ackerman, PhD, EA August 24, 2011 at 3:22 pm #

    It’s not just the programs that people try to sell you. It’s a new market niche that sounds so promising. Or, a new management technique. Or, a new marketing system.
    Don’t jump on every bandwagon as soon as it marches by. Listen. Investigate. WAIT at least 24 hours. Then, re-examine and see if the shiny new object is gold- or copper.
    Roy A. Ackerman, PhD, EA recently posted..Taxes? Now? It’s only August!My Profile

  15. Willena Flewelling August 25, 2011 at 1:23 am #

    Excellent article, Linnea!!

    I used to be distracted by every shiny object that came within my view, but not any more. Like you, I found it useless and expensive, because so much of what I went after, I never used or followed through on. Once you have found a fit for you, it’s best to stick with it and make it work.

    I also really appreciate your advice on sticking with 2-3 building tactics until you have mastered them, before adding anything new. And how do you know when you have mastered them? When you are seeing the results YOU want to see from your efforts in those areas.

    Willena Flewelling
    Willena Flewelling recently posted..Mentoring For Free – Is It Really Free?My Profile

  16. Alicia Wilson August 25, 2011 at 9:21 am #

    Linnea, I got a confirmation about sticking to basics until you master it. So many times I got overwhelmed trying everything system out there at the same time and I ended doing nothing. Now, I am focused on one or two and started seeing successful results.

  17. Macus T Cox August 25, 2011 at 6:26 pm #

    I really liked this post, in social mathematics we always talk about what is the base and the intent of someone actions. So the whole idea of chasing a dream will cause people to jump on these make it rich programs. This is why I like when you said, “until you look at your business as a business, it is nothing more then a hobby”. This is really true when they do not stick with anything long enough to make anything happen. They are just off to the next thing, and this is what makes them a consumer.

    It is a shame because they do not realize that this is a waste of their time. I can say this because I had to realize for myself that I was wasting my time thinking that I could do what this other people have done to get where they were at. The reason why is because I really did not want to do what they did. So going into it with that mindset, I had all ready failed. Once I found that one thing that I wanted to do, then I became my own business owner. So now everything that I do is focus on one goal and that is building my business. That passion for me is so strong that any thoughts of trying anything else never even cross my mind. Really great post.
    Macus T Cox recently posted..Making false realitiesMy Profile

  18. Jeffrey Sooey August 25, 2011 at 8:07 pm #

    Oh the temptations! I think it happens a lot to me because of the other things that takes away my concentration. It seems to be a human trait to want bigger and better things, although what we see isn’t always what we get! Learning to say “no” is an important lesson we have to learn along our road to online success.

    Thank for sharing Linnea

    Jeffrey Sooey recently posted..Successful Coaching Is Far Beyond Nabbing New ClientsMy Profile

  19. Stevie@how to get back into dating August 26, 2011 at 3:32 pm #

    After over 12 years as an internet “entrepreneur” it is with great shame that I still abjectly fall prey to these shiny offers. Since I am exposing my soul for all to see let me even admit that there are times when I buy an online course, download it into a “to do later” folder and never have time to get back to it.

    Keep the Smiles,

    Stevie@how to get back into dating recently posted..Can Your Ex-Girlfriends Really Teach You Anything?My Profile

  20. Loren August 29, 2011 at 11:05 pm #

    Hi Linnea,

    Great tips for the newbies out there… stick to the basics until they are mastered; stay focused on building your website; choose 2 or 3 tactics to master as you build your arsenal; be the business owner and responsibly invest in your business; and, learn to measure and track your progress. You’ve provided some great guidelines to follow!

    Staying away from bright shiny objects is a must. There are so many tools available today that are valuable and absolutely FREE, making it unnecessary to buy any shiny object
    until we deem it a necessity.

    Finding the right teachers and mentors and honing in on what we need exactly before making any purchases is wise in terms of business growth and essential to avoid being scammed in the internet marketing industry.
    Loren recently posted..Time Management and Project Management Tools for SuccessMy Profile

  21. Linnea August 30, 2011 at 12:16 pm #

    Hi Rick,

    As they say “been there, done that and worn out the t-shirt”. It certainly sounds as though you’ve been around the block with this one. Congrats on making it through rehab and coming out the other side. Your back account will thank you!

  22. Linnea August 30, 2011 at 12:17 pm #

    Hi Kevin,

    You certainly do have the right attitude to take about it.
    Keep that up and you’ll be greatly rewarded.

  23. Linnea August 30, 2011 at 12:19 pm #

    Hi Kim,

    How great to see you. Thanks for adding the links to your posts. I’ll be sure to check them out.
    Thanks for stopping by and adding to the conversation.

  24. Linnea August 30, 2011 at 12:21 pm #

    Hi Roshanda,

    Thanks for your very kind words. It’s true that SOS can not only detrimentally impact your wallet but your overall goals by providing far too many distractions and different paths to follow. Ultimately, that too, impacts your wallet.

  25. Linnea August 30, 2011 at 12:30 pm #

    Hi Roy,

    Thanks for the excellent comment! You are so right that it isn’t just products but everything and anything that has to do with your business that takes you in so many different directions. I like your tip about waiting 24 hours…of course they often use the “Act Now” strategy to overcome that but it does work if you wait. If I’ve been lured far enough along to be tempted, I do that one myself and 9 times out of 10 no longer want to act.
    Thanks again.

  26. Linnea August 30, 2011 at 12:33 pm #

    Hi Willena,

    Thanks for the kind words!
    I’m so glad that you have overcome that hurdle.
    It can certainly ruin any hope of succeeding so I’m glad to hear that you’ve crossed that bridge.
    Thanks for stressing the results that YOU want to see. That too, is important as long as your goals are realistic.

  27. Linnea August 30, 2011 at 12:34 pm #

    Great going, Alicia!

    That’s the right way to approach it.
    Stay focused and you’ll reach your goals. Congratulations!

  28. Linnea August 30, 2011 at 12:51 pm #

    Hi Macus,

    Thanks for adding this. Having passion for what you are doing is most definitely a preventive measure as well. That plus vision and a strong sense of belief in what you are doing will take you a long way from the temptations. I’m so glad you added this thought. Thanks for stopping by and contributing!

  29. Linnea August 30, 2011 at 1:09 pm #

    Hi Jeffrey,

    That and the belief that the latest “thing” will be the answer to our problems, whatever they may be. If it helps, I have found that my best first line of defense really is the email inbox. I open very few emails thus avoid possible distractions AND temptations. Next, I’m really very adept at ignoring interrupt marketing. It’s the extremely rare ad that captures my attention so that does help quite a lot.

    For the rare opportunity that gets past these two lines of defense, I wait at least 24 hours and yes, learning to say “no” then becomes a requirement. That can be achieved by evaluating whether or not this “thing” is aligned with your business model, goals, income etc.

  30. Linnea August 30, 2011 at 1:15 pm #

    Hey Stevie,

    Thanks for your candor! Your are soooo not alone on that one. I know a number of people who refer to the courses they have but haven’t touched. Providers of courses will tell you that they get less than 20% (sometimes far less) participation from their students. There are undoubtedly some that follow along but just don’t act but I seriously doubt that number is 80%. The rest are those who put the course on the shelf for later. Sadly, all too often (and especially with regard to the internet), the course is outdated when they do get around to it!

  31. Linnea August 30, 2011 at 1:18 pm #

    Hi Loren,

    So good to see you again. Thanks for the kind words and yes, I agree that finding the right teachers and mentors certainly does help. That can be a tad bit risky as they too, would of course, love for you to buy one of each of everything that they have to offer. To that end, cross referencing their input can be invaluable. Thanks for adding your comment.

  32. Eldon Beard August 30, 2011 at 5:28 pm #

    Oh, how true this is: “You hope that this one additional thing will be the piece you’ve been missing, that it will present you with what you need to at last break through and start making money.”

    I know from past personal experience how tempting all the latest and greatest courses and tools can be. When the cost is so reasonable. It’s no wonder people can’t stay focused online – the temptation to always look for that one last piece of the puzzle that will drive a personal breakthrough is something many have tremendous difficulty overcoming.
    Eldon Beard recently posted..Reaching the Top of Your MLM CompanyMy Profile

  33. Paul Reimers August 30, 2011 at 8:43 pm #

    Ah yes, how the internet loves a shiny object!

    I totally agree with your point on ROI. People who really understand money look at the ROI over cost. My wife is a Feng Shui consultant and deals with that issue a lot in peoples homes. Lots of little cheap stuff serves no purpose and that same amount of money could have bought something substantial with a high ROI.

    P.S. I loved your mentioning the $27 thing! The magic numbers appear to be:
    27, 97, 197, 297 etc. (Mark Joyner had an interesting study on $197 in his book The Irresistible Offer).

    At least if I had the urge to go out and play the lottery (possibly the lowest ROI activity ever invented) I will know some numbers to play!
    Paul Reimers recently posted..How to Ride a Purple Cow and Stand Out from the CompetitionMy Profile

  34. Joyce Edwards September 1, 2011 at 10:43 am #

    This is a big problem for beginners like myself but I am working on doing things right. In the not to distant past I would want to get in on things that now I realize were over my head. Now I limit myself to good quality purchases that will help me move to the next step, not just because the program is at a discount now. In fact, I found that the discount for a lot of things stayed the same well past the date that they said it was going to go up.
    Joyce Edwards recently posted..News Flash! It’s OK to be Obese!My Profile

  35. Linnea September 1, 2011 at 10:49 pm #

    Hi Eldon,

    So true it is. It sounds as though you’ve made it through to the other side however, and for that, I congratulate you.
    That’s a battle well worth winning.

  36. Linnea September 1, 2011 at 10:57 pm #

    Hi Paul,

    Good to see you. Feng Shui, eh? I had someone do that once. It was fun and I did make the changes that were suggested but I can’t say that I noticed much difference. It was still fun to do.
    Isn’t it funny how the magic number works? Lucky number 7. I’m glad you’re not tempted to do the lottery (yes, quite possibly the lowest ROI of all) but your are right about one thing…You’ll never lack for numbers to play, that’s for sure.

  37. Linnea September 1, 2011 at 11:02 pm #

    Hi Joyce,

    That’s absolutely the right spirit! Slow and steady wins the race…of course, I don’t mean implement slowly because you want to do that quickly but definitely get the fundamentals down first before moving on. You’ve got the right idea so more power to you and keep up the great work!

  38. Stevie@how to get back into dating September 3, 2011 at 8:50 am #

    Yep yep… And the worse thing is, a lot of these “must buy right now” courses are just re-hashed iteration of previous programs. And all too often, a water down version of these courses.
    Stevie@how to get back into dating recently posted..How to get back into dating after a breakupMy Profile

  39. Dr. Erica Goodstone September 3, 2011 at 10:37 am #


    I have certainly been attracted by shiny objects. But even though it has not all immediately led to success in my business, these offers have mostly provided me with additional knowledge. I have learned about videos and video marketing, even though I have not yet put that principle into practice. I do have the information about which sites to use – and when I am ready, I use them. Some of these shiny objects offered me a complete overview of social media marketing or creating podcasts, all valuable over time. But at this point I am beginning to focus, to view my work as a business. I am letting the shiny objects slip away as I delete the offers and unsubscribe from many lists. I have still not managed to get my inbox down to anywhere near zero, but that is my goal.

    Dr. Erica Goodstone recently posted..How Old is Old Enough? Reflections on Compulsive Aging by Guest Blogger Jeanne DenneyMy Profile

  40. Hello Linnea

    Many times I been a consumer and fallen for the sales pitch. Having the mindset of a business person is definitely the key to avoiding the shiny object syndrome. The following saying about greener pastures has helped me: If the pasture on the other side of the fence looks greener remember it is probably because they fertilized theirs more. Using your suggestion about focus I spend more time fertilizing my business.


    Perry A Davis Jr
    Music City
    Perry A Davis Jr @Network Marketing Nut and Bolts that make building your business Fun, Simple, Magical and Profitable.s recently posted..What is the most vital ingredient for success in network marketing?My Profile

  41. Linnea September 5, 2011 at 4:33 pm #

    Oh Stevie,

    I do hear you there. So sad and yes, you absolutely “have” to get it now, the price is going up and the page is coming down and only the first 10 people will get the rest of the goodies….and on and on. As a marketer, I totally understand why these tactics work and why you need to use them but as a consumer, I rather resent them. If the content is good, then it should be good next week, too. I really is a shame but it is what it is. Thanks for stopping by.

  42. Linnea September 5, 2011 at 4:36 pm #

    Hi Erica!

    It’s great to see you again. It still sounds to me as though you’ve made valuable purchases. You’ve invested in education that you will use for your business and have them at the ready when you are. I do think it’s a good thing to get the email whittled down if only to minimize the temptation and unnecessary distractions but to zero? My friend, I’m not sure there really is such a thing beyond a nanosecond!

  43. Linnea September 5, 2011 at 4:41 pm #

    Hi Perry,

    What a great comment! I do think that we’ve all been tempted from time to time. After all, if we weren’t paying attention, we wouldn’t be investing anything in education which I think would be wrong. Things just move too fast to do nothing about education. I think the real issue lies in thinking you’ll find the easy button or missing piece and then start buying more than you can consume and implement.

    I like your idea of fertilizing your business more when the grass is looking greener. That’s one that I’ll have to borrow and use for myself. Thanks!

  44. Emma September 7, 2011 at 6:04 am #

    Hi Linnea,

    Oh my, shiny object syndrome is rampant in this industry.

    You touched on such an important point… to think of ourselves as business owners instead of customers. This I feel is key… the whole mindset that comes with a business person.

    All the best,

    Emma :-)

  45. Kevin DeRoo September 7, 2011 at 8:52 am #

    Hey Linnea,

    Great article, love the title, love the message!

    I think that all of us have at one point or another fallen ill with the dreaded “Shiny Object Syndrome.” I have bought my share of ebooks and courses over the years to be sure. You are 100 percent correct when you say that we must change our “mindset” if we want to succeed. We need to move from being a “consumer” to becoming a business owner.

    Once you are able to change that mindset to business owner and focus on “one thing” at a time until you perfect it before you move onto another resource you will find that your business will finally start to grow.

    Thanks for this gentle reminder to keep focus,

    Kevin DeRoo recently posted..A tribute To Our MentorsMy Profile

  46. John Gaydon September 8, 2011 at 6:19 pm #

    Hey Linnea,

    What a great article. I admit I have been thinking about getting rid of a few more subscriptions to services where I have lots of credit but never use.

    I have taken to teaching the basics step by step. Most people want instant results, and these days they are becoming harder and harder to achieve with all the competition.

    To make money on line, I suggest you find someone you trust, follow what they suggest, and be patient. One of my blogs took nearly 2 years to gain traction and now it holds authority in the niche. It supplies me with customers and leads daily for no cost…!

    My tip. Stay away from the gurus. They specialize in squeezing every cent on your credit card to pay for shiny objects!
    John Gaydon recently posted..Consistency – The Magic Ingredient For Long Term SuccessMy Profile

  47. David Merrill September 8, 2011 at 7:08 pm #

    Good warning, Linnea.

    Shiny objects usually catch our eye, but unless they offer a solution to specific problems we are encountering in our business, simply turn a blind eye.

    I like to filter out all my incoming email, for instance, to be sure I’m only seeing things pertinent to what I’m working on. Everything else can go to a folder for “future” reference… or future trashing. Either way, I don’t give them a chance to distract me while I’m focused following a certain path.
    David Merrill recently posted..How To Be A Profit “Producer”, Not A Run-of-the-Mill “Multi-Tasker”My Profile

  48. Rob Wilson September 11, 2011 at 2:42 pm #

    I’ve totally had shiny object syndrome and I sometimes still get distracted by it. I really like your idea of switching your mindset from consumer to business owner. Looking back, the times when I’ve resisted it, I have been thinking like an owner. IT’s great to know this now for when the next shiny object comes along. I’ve actually made lists in the pasts of shiny objects to get them off my mind – it’s in the system for the future and I can go to it later if I decide I still need it. I’m actually amazed because a lot of the time when I’ve gone back to check out the object it can be gone! So I’ve started to do that more regularly – see something shiny, put if on a list. If it is truly something that has value, it’ll stay around. – Rob
    Rob Wilson recently posted..Scolding as a customer service toolMy Profile

  49. Kyle Quinlan September 14, 2011 at 9:12 am #

    That’s a very key point that I began to understand recently: Work on one thing at a time until you get really good at it before you move on.
    One of my main issues is lack of focus at times. I’ve found that If I know what I’m working towards and have ONE thing to focus on, I’m a lot more productive. Once I’ve mastered that thing, it’s time to move on to the next.
    Thanks for the reminder on this important concept. =)

    Kyle Quinlan recently posted..You Are Perfect As You Are, So Appreciate What You Have!My Profile

  50. Nelson Schroeder September 14, 2011 at 12:19 pm #

    Shiny objects are a killer. I suffered from this disease for years. Fortunately I earned enough to not have is effect me. I just wasted money and I could always make more. However now I’m retired and the Shiny objects hinder my lifestyle. Good news is I married a well balanced woman ten years ago and she has saved me from countless hours of grief from those new and improved Shiny Objects. Great post. Thanks

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