Archive for the ‘On Wealth Seminars’ Category

A lot of comments on my blog have been in reference to Byron Katie.

On the flip side, there’s been a resounding silence on the others, including Jack Canfield, James Arthur Ray, T. Harv Eker, and the “abundance” of Law of Attraction gurus out there. What’s up with that? Any ideas?

I followed Jack Canfield for awhile on Facebook, but dropped him after he commented that at a recent seminar he had one fellow come up to him and say that he had applied Canfield’s teachings for several years now and had exponentially increased his earnings.

Canfield actually had the audacity to brag about that.

Think about it. If their teachings were accurate and all you really had to do was change your thinking from negative to positive, then wouldn’t this comment be considered mundane? After all, pretty well everyone who attends these seminars (after dishing out thousands and thousands of dollars) has this level of success, don’t they?

Really?

Don’t they?

I suspect not. Else world hunger, poverty and war would be a thing of the past.

I’ve attended a four-day workshop given by T. Harv Eker. Well, not actually Eker himself but certainly a well qualified underling. I think he was well qualified. If magnetic means well-qualified.

Which is to say I endured the 30 minutes extreme hard sell infomercials scattered throughout the seminar. I, like many others, felt like an abject failure for not signing up, for not thinking with enough guts, for not really being committed to my financial success.

And if you study (ie read on wikipedia) the sales tactics taught by Robert Cialdini, you’ll recognize them at full strength at these events.

  • Reciprocity: Give your potential customer something for free (ie a four day seminar) and they will feel indebted to buy from you
  • Commitment: Get your potential customers to commit to participating at 110% (a mathematical impossibility by the way), then, well into the series, tell them that if they are really committed to playing “full-on” then they will continue to grow on this journey (ie sign up for a 8 thousand dollar course). An interesting application of this tactic.
  • Social Proof: Plant a few seeds in the crowd. Social proof would exist when you say that there are only 29 spots available for this particular deal, and only the first 15 who sign up will get the bonus gifts (whatever they are). How hard would it be to have a few volunteers in the crowd ready to make a rush for the back, inspiring those who are “thinking about it” to stop thinking and start rushing to the back with credit card in hand.
  • Authority: We’re all suckers for it. One of the worst offenders for this that I know of was an instructor for one of Robert Kiyosaki’s course (Rich Dad Poor Dad dude). CBC’s marketplace did an investigation on him, and all of the “investments” that he bragged about were actually abysmal flops or they didn’t really exist. If there’s someone on-stage telling us “this is so,” then we tend to believe them. By virtue of their job and their script, they have god-like authority. And they know it.
  • Liking: This is a measure of popularity. One of the first things that these seminar leaders are trained to do is to get you to vehemently agree with them two to five times in the first ten minutes of their presentations. One way they do it is to say that thousands had the opportunity to come here, and you were one of the few hundred who actually showed up. They make you feel special, so you like them. They’ll incorporate call-and-repeat chant’s (“I’m a money magnet”) to heighten your sense of success so you like them even more. And goddamnit of course you’re special. You special to their success, that’s why.
  • Scarcity: As mentioned in social proof above, you’ll often hear the “seminar special” being touted. But did you know that the seminar special typically happens at every seminar, not just the one in your town cause gosh-darn they love you? Or that you can phone their headquarters and “negotiate” (ie ask for) that same price.

Cialdini’s methods are all good. These gurus take them to extreme proportions to an exalted and exhausted audience. Indeed, you can blow the equivalent of a PhD’s tuition on these gurus, and not be further ahead than you are now.

I think it speaks volumes that Byron Katie inspires conversation while the other gurus inspire silence, both on the for and the against side. I’m not exactly too sure what it says, but it’s saying something important. Question is, are we listening.

The law of attraction “gurus” like to purport that all you have to do is look around you and you will see how abundant nature really is.

That’s a load!

Sure, you can look around and see the tallest trees in the forest, and you can see the dandelion pushing through the minuscule cracks in the sidewalk. But think about it. In order for that one tree to get as tall as it did, hundreds of saplings didn’t make it. Nor with others grow in the shadow of the great oak tree. And that incipid dandelion? How many dandelions got dozed over and cemented under before this one eeked through? Have you ever watched Planet Earth and seen the vicious struggle in the animal kingdom for the quest for basic survival? It ain’t pretty, my friends, and it certainly isn’t abundant.

The gurus view on Law of Attraction is from the top down. Napolean Hill writes of Andrew Carnegie’s success using thoughts-create-the-universe principles. Hell, Carnegie could have told him he ate nothing but mouldy watermelons and lo! that would have become the secret success formula.

It is our hunger for these secret formula’s that causes us to push the gurus high upon their pinnacles. And the irony is, for all their teachings, they are absolutely and utterly dependent on their followers’ lack of success, else who would be pushing them up skyward?

Consider Oprah, dear dear Oprah sitting from up high gazing down on her admiring masses. With a single show she can lift a motivational speaker from the grind of the circuit into the light of fame and fortune, as she did with James Arther Ray. But does she do that for all her followers? No, that would be ridiculous. Can she do that for all her followers? Of course not. Would she if she could? No, because then who would be left to feed (aka fund) her empire? Right. No one.

Yes, I know that Oprah started from the bottom. As did Carnegie. As did James Arthur Ray. As did Bill Bartmann. As did T. Harv Eker. As did ___________ (insert your favourite guru here). Yawn. The story is getting rather tired.

But what about the likes of the Trailer Park Boys? Or Earl and friends (from the wonderful show, “My Name is Earl”)? These are the dustbins of poverty, and these people portray the unfortunate saplings and rolled over dandelions you never ever see when gazing from the sun in godike wonder of the world you created.

The top needs the bottom to survive. The top needs the bottom as the platform to stand upon. And the top can spin it’s lovely sounding message that rings so sweet in my ear, but it makes it no truer than say the dramatics of the cast on a soap opera.

After all, have you ever noticed that the characters never even once watch TV never mind a soap? It’s because their adoring audience is doing it for them, they are creating the space for their existence. So they don’t need to perpetrate that truth (of watching the soaps) because their adoring audience is doing it for them. Likewise, we are creating the forum for the gurus to spin their golden threads because they do not want for money. That’s our job.

Remember this famous quote?

Morpheus from the Matrix: You take the blue pill and the story ends. You wake in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill and you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes.

What “The Secret” gurus, the so-called self-proclaimed “Law of Attraction” experts have been selling you is actually a blue pill that they’ve dipped in red dye. Sometimes that red dye may be some of that stuff left over from Easter; other times it may be actual human blood. Metaphorically speaking. Yes, life can get that complicated.

You go to their seminars. You-the-container who is hungry for the wealth that has so-far eluded you in life, choke down these gigantic (blue) pills (painted/tainted with a brilliant red). “I won the lottery in life. It happened to the untrained me, it can happen to you.” Somehow you miss the small print: “Results not typical.” And, “My big money maker is actually selling this junk/jism to you.”

You wake up in your bed. And you believe whatever you want to believe. Like, say, that you can become rich through the mere act of thinking. Like, say, that you create the universe and thus you can shape it entirely to your liking. Like, say, that abundance exists entirely for your ego (the part of you that wants to acquire things).

The red pill is actual quite different. First, it’s free. Second, it’s quite small.

The real Law of Attraction works like this: when you become open to a possibility, you start to see the existence of that possibility around you. But (and here’s the key) to see that possibility, that possibility has to first exist in the universe beyond “you.”

I had a roommate, Karen, who once bought a new car. It came in a new selection of colours, a metalic bronze. She’d never seen it around before and wanted to assert her uniqueness to the world. Funny thing happened though. After Karen bought this car she started to notice that this car colour was already out there. There were a few. Quite a few actually. She felt as if she literally couldn’t turn the corner without seeing her car colour reflected in another car.

Same thing happened to me when I got pregnant. Suddenly, there was an abundance of people out there on the streets (women actually) who were as big-bellied as me. So many that I actually wanted to start doing the “motorcycle wave” (like waves to like) to the others in the street.

Same thing happens to drivers of Volkswagen vans. Parents of twins. Job seekers with University degrees. Name your category.

The peddlers of the blue-pill-painted-red would have you believe that that you have created these entities. And likewise, you can create money. Just stick a million dollar bill in your wallet, and “feel the joy” at least twice a day. Do a vision board. It will come to pass. You can create your universe.

Wrong.

In noticing, you can become aware of what is, what has always been.

Accept for a moment this: Each of us is essentially invisible. We can only become visible when something causes us to be noticed. Pretend for a moment you are a traffic cop stationed on your local highway. A million cars pass you by every day. You “see” them in that they are right there before your eyes. But you don’t really notice them. Thus, they become invisible. What you do notice is the occasional speeder or the occasional person not wearing a seat belt or the occasional person talking on their hand-held cell.

In other words, you notice what it is you are looking for.

So, you can set your sights (continuing with the traffic cop metaphor) on cars with babies in the back seats, or cars pulling trailers, or cars with bicycle racks. And then suddenly you will notice them, those that have previously invisible while you were attuned only  law-breakers. And you will notice them not because you have created them but because they actually exist out there on the road. They were there before you noticed them, and they will continue to be there after your shift is over.

But, dammit, you can’t start suddenly seeing trains on that same stretch of highway. I don’t care how much you “feel it,” how many such trains you’ve slapped on a vision board, or how many trains pictures you carry with you in your wallet. If they ain’t there, hun, you’re not going to see it or receive it. Believe THAT, baby.


The origins of this blog entry are a springboard from another excellent blog article from RoosterMoon. Thank you, Michel Fortin, for the example of the vehicle purchase and your excellent blog article!

“At 10 p.m. (Eastern) next Tuesday, June 29, ABC 20/20 will air an hour-long special devoted entirely to James Arthur Ray, magical thinking, and the oft-overlooked dangers of the New Age.” See Steve’s Shamblog for more information, and tune in (on all levels, folks!).

I’m really interested in this piece. I’m of the mind that JAR is taking the fall for the entire industry. He is not the only one to do the firewalks, board breaking, walking into the arrow, etc. What happened at the JAR event could have happened to each of them. And you can bet that they are all stepping away from the edge of the cliff that they’ve ALL been sending their followers to. I sure hope they are sending him condolence cards, and thank you cards as well. Although I doubt it. It’s an industry where the duplication of information and techniques is rampant, yet never acknowledged, referenced, or cross-referenced.  It seems important that the student believe the guru is self-made.

Funny that, following the directions, the teachings of an uneducated teacher. By which I mean a self-taught, directionless teacher. Who is actually a plagiarist, not a messiah.

I just finished reading a fictional novel by Kathy Reichs, called Death du Jour. It’s a really well written mystery novel based on a character is a forensic Anthropologist Temperance Brennan, who divides her time between Montreal, Quebec, and Charlotte, North Carolina. (K. Reichs is also a forensic anthropologist, PhD, who divides her time between Montreal and Charlotte.)

As riveting as the novel was, what struck me the most were the definitions.

I’ll let the fictional Red Skyler explain:

Cults are not just a group of crazies who follow weird leaders.  … [T]hey are organized with a set of common features.

… A cult forms around a charismatic individual who promises something. This individual professes some special knowledge. Sometimes the claim is access to ancient secrets … sometimes it’s an entirely new discovery to which he or she alone is privy.

… In a cult, it’s this charismatic leader who eventually becomes the object of devotion.

… And often there is a double set of ethics. Members are urged to be honest and loving to each other but to deceive and shun outsiders

… Cult leaders use a variety of psychological processes to manipulate their members. Some leaders are fairly benign, but others are not and really exploit the idealism of their followers.

… The way I see it, there are two broad types of cults, both of which use though reform. The commercially packaged “awareness training programs … user very intense persuasion techniques. These groups keep members by getting them to buy more and more courses.

Then there are the cults that recruit follower for life. … They are manipulative, deceptive and highly exploitative”[1]

A little later on in the book, Tempe runs into Sam again, and they continue the conversation, focusing on the former.

“Unlike the cults we discussed [for-life recruiters], these programs don’t intent to keep people forever. They exploit participants as long as they are willing to buy more courses. And bring in others. … The coercive influence that these so-called self-improvement programs exert is amazing. It’s the same old thing, behavioural control through thought reform.

… It’s known as large group awareness training.

… They’re packaged to sound like seminars, or college courses, but the sessions are scripted to get participants emotionally and psychologically aroused.

… Most programs last four or five days. The first day is devoted to establishing the leader’s authority. Lots of humiliation and verbal abuse. The next day pounds in the new philosophy. The trainer convinces participants their lives are crap and that the only way out is to accept the new way of thinking.

… Day three is typically filled with exercises. Trance inducement. Memory regression. Guided imagery. The trainer gets everyone to dredge up disappointments, rejections, bad memories. … Then the following day there’s a lot of warm fuzzy group sharing…. The last day is fun and happy, with lots of hugs and dancing and music and games. And the hard sell.

… You take the course, then you’re told that you’ve performed so well you’ve been singled out to go to a higher level, or meet the guru, or whatever.[2]”

When asked who falls for these things, “Red” replies that it’s those dealing with depression and “broken affiliations,” those in transition who are lonely and confused.

Have you noticed that we are in the midst of an economic meltdown? That an incredibly massive number of people are in transition, broken, who are feeling they have lost everything? Is it any wonder that we are chomping at the bit to the incredible promises made by these slick snake-oil salesmen?

[Ironically, in my email today was a note from Robert G. Allen telling the tale of Matt Morris, who only 12 years ago (he must’ve been nine at the time) was broke and desperate and living out of the back of his “red beat-down honda civic” — it’s those personalized details that clinch it! Anyway, in the email, my “good friend” Robert was saying that he discovered 7 closely-guarded online money making secrets (yeah, right, sent by mass mail to thousands NAY tens-of-thousands of us) and he’ll give it to us free in return for a name and email address. I registered (with a junk email I use for these very fine special occasions) only to get the message that he’s already over capacity but will contact me for the next series of freebies. HEY, wait a minute here! My good friend Robert just sent me this email… What’s up dude?]

The common pain is an economic one. Which is why it’s so goddamn easy for the likes of Jack Canfield, T. Harv Eker, James Arthur Ray, Robert Allan, Anthony Robbins, Bob Proctor, and Robert Kiyosaki (to name just a few) flourish in these times[3]. Have you ever noticed that their messages are exactly the same? Have you noticed that no-one references the others, and seem to imply that they have by whatever god-given decree stumbled upon this notion? That when one (James Arthur Ray) gets cooked up for a legal dinner the others don’t rally around their fallen star to help him back on his feet? That their berth is extremely wide from each other, even though they sing each others songs … ALL THE TIME[4]?

It’s getting really bad. At least in my world. Many of the people I know have dabbled in these courses. One I know has done exceedingly well. The others have all dribbled, then dropped.

Even worse, copy-cat courses are springing up all over. It’s what I fell victim to. It’s how come I, at 45 years of age, have to start all over again.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I don’t know what the answer is. I’ve never believed that the government is there to protect us. It’s there to collect taxes and run the world’s biggest corporations (aka countries). I don’t think that regulation is the answer. Education is where I’m putting my efforts.

Listen up folks, and do the math. The guru-led self-help industry is generating billions (yes, that’s BILLIONS) of dollars of revenues every year. Since they offer up the path to wealth, the stats say that in turn there should be at least millions (yes, I mean MILLIONS) of new millionaires created each and every month. Instead, we hear of the smattering of success stories. An oasis the size of a child’s bucket in a desert as big as North America.

Whether it’s a famous charismatic guru listed earlier in this blog or some copy-cat or some poor old schmuck who is genuinely trying to impart is misguided knowledge, know the signs.

And hold on tight to your wallet.

Oh, and thanks for asking … Kathy Reichs’ book was incredible! A writer who is both knowledgeable and articulate. She knows how to write a great mystery novel. Highly recommended. Nothing was given away in this little rant, don’t worry!


[1] Kathleen J. Reichs. Death du Jour. New York:  Scribner, 1999. p. 253-254.

[2] ibid, p. 310-312.

[3] Anthony Robbins released his first book, Unlimited Power in 1987;  On Black Monday of October 1987 a stock collapse of unprecedented size lopped 22.6 percent off the Dow Jones Industrial Average. The world mourned, and a guru kindly stepped up to the plate.

[4] Just a brief disclaimer here. I think that there is valuable information offered by each of the gurus mentioned here. Robbins has is “four classes of experience” (a handy word doc download available here) which I find extremely useful to personal growth; Ray has an excellent handle on marketing techniques (which all belong to Robert Cialdini by the way). But I don’t think that any guru has a singular claim on the whole truth (as throughout the times, it is up to the reader to sift through the claims to get at their individual truth), and I don’t think that it’s worth two to twenty (to infinity and beyond) thousand dollars to access the information. Nor should you need to walk on fire or walk into an arrow tip or suffer in a desert or a sweat lodge to get there.

Not too sure yet how the following all fits into the (f)Law of Attraction, but here it goes anyway …

How Money Works

Here’s the really short version of how money works. Let’s work with a really small, inconsequential number. Say, the creation of $100.00. The first $100.00 to be circulated.

In cahoots, the bank and the government create $100.oo. So there is, in all the world, $100 in circulation.

The bank then lends this money to you, me, the consumer in need.

In return for this loan, the bank charges interest. Here, things get interesting. Because in all of the world, there is only $100 and you’ve borrowed it. So now, you will ultimately need to pay the bank back %128.34 (5% compounded over 5 years). However, the last $28.34 doesn’t even exist.

And in actuality, banks lend out 10 times the amount they have on hand (called fractional reserves). Which means that this $100 gets loaned out 10 times, and generates $283.40 in  interest payments (non of this money actually exists).

In other words, $100 is created and is loaned out ten times, and generates $283.40 in interest AFTER the initial principle is paid back.

But where in the hell does the debt come from? If the money simply doesn’t exist, i.e. if the government and banks haven’t signed it into existence, then how can we the citizenry pay back this debt?

This is a system designed to perpetually keep its citizenry (its slaves) in debt.

If there were really the ability for us to become instant millionaires at the think of a thought, don’t you think that the powers that be would have suppressed the movement yet?

Why do you suppose the multi-billion dollar self-help industry continues to be unregulated? Why do the Ray Arthur James’s continue unimpeded until the inconvenience of a death or three comes in the way?

Because every time we spend money hand over fist, because every time we are convinced to max our credit cards for just this one last course that will make you a millionaire, we are contributing to the outlandish profits the banks make each year.

In a way, the Jack Canfield’s of the world are on to something. Money is a fiction. But it’s not as wonderland-like as they present it. And they go uninterrupted because we are spending multi-billions of dollars every year on pursing that elusive truth that will one day allow the universe to cater to our ego-ic needs.

And the fat cat is laughing, all the way to the bank (which, by the way, owns the government).

If you are genuinely interested in how money works, take the time to watch this YouTube video. The video below is the first of 12. It’s dry, and explosively informative.

Or read “The Web of Debt” or “The Central Bank Concept: The Never-ending Debt.”

Willy Loman is the protagonist of Arthur Miller’s famous play, Death of a Salesman. Remember him? Anyone?

In brief, Willy lives the life of the successful businessman. He walks the walk, talks the talk, and believes in his imminent future success without fail. This is what he knows: He knows that all salesmen who become great are charismatic and popular. Essentially, Willy believes himself to have the potential of becoming a great man.

His fatal flaw is that he is in fact an ordinary man. A very ordinary man, trapped by the  unshakable conviction that greatness stems directly from personal charisma or popularity. His conviction is unshakable, and his entire being is emotionally convinced that if he plays the role, he will undoubtedly get to play the part. NLP’ers may say he is set for life. Alas, in the recesses of his mind, he knows that he is a fraud, that he is playing a game to which he was never invited. And instead of facing the ultimate truth of his inability to “think” himself to success, he draws the ultimate final curtain kills himself. A perfect snap-shot in time of the law of attraction gone awry.

There is a mass of “ordinary” men out there touting that they thought their way to success (and by that they don’t mean personal happiness, physical soundness, spiritual restfulness, or ecological harmony; no sirree bubba… they mean cash. And wads of it).

Vaguely reminiscent of the hordes of charismatic motivational speakers who all tout the similar story:

I wasn’t always like this. Before this extraordinary life, I was an ordinary person (typically without higher education). I then learned the secret, I learned how to attract wealth into my life. It comes from within; we all have it. I learned from the masters, and if I can do it, so can you. You too can unearth the fountain of wealth that lies just inches beyond your fingertips right now.

Eventually, they all quote the much-touted self-help book written by Russell H. Conwell, Acres of Diamonds. It’s the story of an African farmer who owned a plot of land. At that particular time, diamonds were being discovered in abundance in Africa. So the farmer sold his plot and headed out to find his fortunes. Sadly, he did not find them and he eventually died, poor and miserable. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the fellow who purchased his plot discovered that it housed a diamond mine beyond compare. Moral of the story: you need not look to far beyond your own existence to unearth the abundance that is available to you.

I know we are all compelled to hearing the success stories. But who is listening to the failures? To those who owned the plot beside the acre of diamonds that came up empty? The Willy Loman’s of the world who have learned the formula of sticking to your story without wavering, and if you just do this you will succeed.

Yes, there are gems in failures. But not all of them can be cashed in.

Here’s a link to an excellent blog that captures the essence of what I think is wrong with many of these “woo woo” get-rich gurus who like to bring in metaphysics and spirituality to argue their case. In it, LaVaughn makes the case that the universe does not exist to serve your ego. That thought, in and of itself, should be enough to stir some into a type of awakening.

I know just a little about Buddha. And I know enough to make the claim that enlightenment comes from ego-less-NESS. It’s about letting go of possessions, of ownership, of power. Of letting go of the concept of self.

Anyway, read thisblog. It’s a mental gem.

CBC’s Marketplace (Canadian Television) just did a secret video recording of one of Robert Kiyosaki’s Get-Rich-in-ReaEstate seminars. The short version is this: Go to a two-hour free info seminar and get sold a three-day seminar for only $1,000 BUT if you sign up in the next two hours it’s only $500. At the three-day seminar event, from the get-go you are told that there’s is NO WAY that you can ever learn all real estate trade secrets, and that if you are really and truly committed to your wealth (and you’re a loser if your not) you can expect to spend anywhere from $12,000 to $45,000 in the Kiyosaki educational system. Then, still in day one, you are challenged (and remember only winners take quick and decisive action) to call your credit card company and increase your spending limit to $100,000. After all, it doesn’t cost anything to ask.

Here’s a link to the video.

Turns out that Kiyosaki contracted out to a Florida-based company previously known as the Whitney Information Network. Apparently, they’re a dubious post-secondary Wealth Eduction institute, with a string of complaints in their past. In his interview with Marketplace, Kiyosaki says he’s not happy with the licensing agreement. It is also pointed out that were he indeed a savvy businessman, getting out of a contract would not be the world’s most challenging task.

It’s consumer beware folks. I’m sure that Kiyosaki’s information has helped some people make money. I remember one such get-rich-if-you-believe-dude touting on Facebook that he had one fellow come up to him after a presentation in front of several hundred with the “good news” that he followed the strategies and did indeed increase his income ten-fold over the past 10 years. Based on the energy and the absolute positive faith these gurus spout in their fail-proof methods, I would expect hoards of people to run up to shake this man’s hand. But no, he was proud of just the one positive report.

Many people I know have attended these types of seminars. Those who tend to make money from their learnings are in fact re-teaching what they have learned in these seminars. If you’re in this circuit, you will quickly learn that there are common teachings amongst all these gurus. There is no one key holder. They all make it up and spin it. And those who pick up the pulpit and preach it have learned this. And are getting their money back the only way they know how. By furthering the spin.

Since the James Arthur Ray fiasco, expect these gurus to be more under the media lens. It makes for good coverage.

There’s an article on today’s CNN website called “Good, bad and ugly self-help: How can you tell?” by By Jason Hanna, (CNN Living, December 7, 2009 1:18 p.m. EST). It talks about the unregulated multi-billion dollar self-help industry and suggests that there are a few tell-tale signs of things to look for in identifying the bad and the ugly. “Self-help is a multibillion-dollar-a-year unregulated industry in the United States, according to John C. Norcross, professor of psychology at the University of Scranton.” Norcross goes on to say that

… a lack of scientific evidence isn’t the only thing to look out for. Other characteristics that should make consumers wary, he says:

  • Authors or speakers who don’t have formal training in the featured topic. “They should look for someone with rigorous training at an accredited university and who has spent years investigating and conducting these treatments,” Norcross said.
  • Programs that don’t screen consumers for problems. For example, Norcross says, certain programs might be harmful for a person with bipolar disorder.
  • People who reject conventional knowledge and instead imply a revolutionary secret. “It’s marketing, essentially,” Norcross said.
  • People who propose solutions for all problems instead of particular problems.

While I don’t necessarily agree with the list in its entirety (I strongly disagree that spending years at an accredited university automatically assumes proper authority), I do think he makes some valid points. When considering a program, yes, talk to someone who has taken the course at least six months ago. But do more than ask for a reference. Ask them how that course has impacted their lives.

And, yes, anyone touting “a revolutionary secret” that will resolve all your problems and make you rich and let you “find your bliss” is bullshitting you.

You should really familiarize yourself with Robert Cialdini’s persuasion principles. Once you become aware of that sales formula, you’ll start seeing the pitches for what they are: marketing.

(Oh, and by the way, “marketing” is not a bad word. It is what it is, a tool. Being aware of this tool’s use is what will help guide you to making decisions in your best interest.)