Can Ermal Mamaqi teach you how to be successful for 9k a year? A dive into the business of selling hope.

Dea Mandija
7 min readDec 6, 2020


Are the courses, webinars and training worth it? Is he equipped to give out career advice and promise success? Why does he hate novels so much? This one is going to be a long ride (that’s what she said), so buckle up.

Ermal Mamaqi, the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Ermal Mamaqi is a 38-year-old Albanian actor, singer, comedian, DJ, TV host, businessman and recently proclaimed life coach. Some titles are being loosely used, mind you.

He began his comedy career by appearances in Portokalli, from 2004 to 2007, and has emerged since then into various professional paths.

This mentoring and life coach program he is offering made the rounds recently and sparked some heated discussions. Portals were shocked when they learned it might cost 24k a year, something “outrageously pricey” for a developing country like Albania. Of course, as is the case with most of these websites, a lot of accusations weren’t based on facts.

Thankfully, now you’re in the hands of someone who has spent an entire day researching Ermali, watching his interviews and exploring his new endeavour with life coaching. Yes, that alone deserves 50 claps for this story, so go ahead and show some love already.

Before deciding whether this man is equipped to teach you how to be successful, you might want to consider the following:

His origin story.

Ermali didn’t come from much. In an interview in “Zone e Lire” in 2016, he described his upbringing as quite modest, living with his parents, brother and grandmother in a small house, where he had to sleep on a couch for 18 years.

To support his family in clearing out debt, he spent his summer in 1991 selling cigarettes, napkins and coffee. Those are definitely humble beginnings for someone who set the record for the fastest sold movie tickets. “2 Honey Fingers”, a rom-com movie he wrote, produced, acted in, and independently financed for 250.000 euros. He is certainly one of the most well-known people in the Albanian entertainment industry. What that says about our standards as a country, is something entirely different.

However, there’s no denying, dude did a 180 on his life.

His latest controversies.

When a person claims to be business-savvy, they need to have a good track record in handling critical situations. Now, we don’t condone cancel culture in this blog, everyone can grow and improve. But this guy doesn’t take public accountability very seriously.

First, there’s his “feud” with the popular videomakers Nas Daily (Nuseir Yassin) and Alyne Tamir. They were guests in his show “Xing with Ermali” two years ago, in which, the man of the hour made some sexist and tasteless jokes. Alyne reacted in an emotional outburst, stating there’s a problem with the Balkans and how they treat women.

The whole thing was a mess, and the language barrier with Ermali’s lack of proper English pronunciation didn’t help. However, unexpected things happen, especially in business, and it’s always important to end things on a good note.

Let’s just say that the followup video Alyne did vs the one Ermali did to explain the situation speak for themselves. Wherever you stand in regards to who was right, there’s no denying that Ermali’s video has a blatant lack of accountability and respect. He also justified sexist jokes because “other show hosts worldwide do it too”. Which?!?!?!?!?

Nas made a followup video addressing the problem and speaking up against “guy talk”. It currently has over 2 Million views, and as far as personal branding goes, it certainly isn't a good look for Ermali.

The Medium Shutdown.

To prevent the illegal streaming of his movies, Ermali worked with the Albanian Audiovisual Media Authority to block a list of sites. So far so good.

However, in that list, in all its glory, was also Medium, blocked in Albania from 19 to 21 April 2020.

One might say, Ermali didn’t per se have anything to do with it, he just wanted his movies to not be streamed illegally. Sure, yet, for someone who won’t shy away on social media in expressing various views, he certainly chose an interesting moment to stay silent. Whilst Albanian thought leaders were expressing their concerns on this matter, he never addressed the situation. Instead, he taught us why we shouldn’t read novels.

Which brings me to his other nemesis, novels?!

The whole thing started when Ermali posted a video on Instagram on the struggles of the pandemic and why it’s important to read business books. In his perspective, novels are currently old news, designed for the elderly, especially in such critical times. Let’s examine the problems here:

  • Age discrimination.
  • He’s literally built a career on “creativity”. Again, loosely using the term. How can he deny the very essence of storytelling?

Novels and literature of any kind are extremely important, especially from a business perspective. Stories are the ones that sell. You can have the best products and services, yet if you lack a compelling narrative on why they’re needed, you’re done. Claiming that you understand marketing, yet stating those opinions is quite counterintuitive.

His experience with coaching.

Whenever we talk about a line of work, it’s always important to distinguish a professional from an amateur. In the face of unprofessionalism, everything can be tacky. A good photographer will use creativity, blend skills both technical and soft to capture moments. The hipster photographer will use nudity for everything as an excuse to artistic liberation, add quirky filters, and lecture you on the brilliance of Gaspar Noe. So there’s a difference.

First, there are people who call themselves life coaches, and then there are certified, authentic life coaches. Both can be beneficial to various degrees. However, before you commit to anything, it’s important to know who you are dealing with. Depending on the laws and regulations, some certifications require 300–500 hours of coaching under your belt before even getting a title.

The problem with Ermali’s promotional material for his mentoring is the lack of clear and transparent information. He needs better web copy, which again, goes to show the importance of investing in good content.

Ermali claims throughout interviews and social media captions that he’s been getting training and certifications for this line of work for 20 years, but there’s nothing to prove that online until now. Buyers need clear messaging in order to trust you. Even , his own Albanian training platform, lacks that.

Notable coaching experience from Ermali is his participation as a guest in the 3-day “Rruga drejt suksesit” event, created by Vasil Naci, the CEO and president of Agna Group. All the profits from this training go to charity, and it’s been running for 5 years now. Ermali was listed in the site alongside other important personalities.

The link tree in his Instagram bio with over 1 million followers, includes 2 links. One registration for his upcoming free webinar. Another which loosely describes what you will get if he becomes your mentor.

*freaks out over the missing commas and grammatical errors*

As per the free sessions, there’s currently only one available online from his August webinar. You can access it by registering at Again, gave up my data for this, so you can go ahead with those claps.

In the 30 minutes out of a 2-hour talk I endured, Ermali spoke about his upbringing, the importance of having like-minded people around you and taking responsibilities. All valid points, but their delivery and being spoken to like a toddler isn’t really within my taste range. To each their own.

All in all, inbound marketing thus far and his training promotion needs improvement, with clearer messaging.

The self-help and coaching industry worldwide.

As author Austin Kleon has said, “All advice is autobiographical.” Anyone who gives out advice is speaking from their personal experience. Self-help, coaching, hustle culture or whatever you want to call it, can sometimes overlook variables other than talent and hard work when it comes to success. Things such as privilege, where you are born, luck and more. You can’t promise future proof success in a world made up of randomness and biases.

The self-help industry is worth 13.6 billion dollars and there’s business to selling hope.

Personally, I don’t think the entirety of the industry is bad. Of course, working hard and being responsible for oneself is needed for a better life. Mentoring, motivation and coaching can be greatly beneficial when offered professionally and in the right doses.

But the Tony Robbins and Brian Tracys of the world can’t promise you success, wealth and happiness, and it’s not ethical to do so either. Additionally, they rely on you not being content, in order for you to continue consuming their books, webinars and retreats. You need to question what gurus are promising and act as an informed consumer.

A recent controversy by Tony Robbins himself was his branded supplements sold at a higher price, whilst promising “clarity” and “focus” when taking them. D’Angelo Wallace made an excellent video commentary on it.

So before investing 9k a year in this program, or any kind, question it. For the training to be genuinely helpful, both consumers and producers need to objectively assess its value. Toxic positivity remains toxic, even if it’s described as a ticket to happiness.

I now leave you in the company of George Carlin and his ever so present ideas on self-help and motivation: