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18 February 2005

Get Serious with Goons

Turning that tricky question back on the spruikers.

Dear Neil

As a 25-year-old who is thinking about buying property in the next year or so, your information is invaluable for cutting through the real estate propaganda and sales pressure that the inexperienced inevitably encounter.

This is a small bit of information about my experience with George Mihos and his “Today Not Tomorrow Institute” (TNTI).

I saw his ad in a local newspaper, and, as it was advertised as “free”, my girlfriend and I thought we might attend.

As the date drew nearer, our scepticism won out over our curiosity, so I called their office in Melbourne to cancel our attendance.

A week later, however, I received a call from a TNTI representative, who asked me if I was “still SERIOUS about learning about multiple streams of income.”

I was told that there were a limited number of seats left for an extra show that had been scheduled due to “high demand”.

The conversation went something like this…

TNTI rep: “Hello, we noticed that you cancelled your attendance at our show. I’m just calling to see if you’re still serious about increasing your level of wealth.”

Me: “No that’s okay, I was just curious, but I don’t think I’ll attend.”

Rep: (In a stern tone): “So you weren’t serious about creating wealth for yourself?”

Me: “Well, maybe.”

Rep: “You are completely happy with you current level of life satisfaction?”

Me: “Look, I was just curious, but I won’t be able to attend.”

Rep: “So you’re not serious then?”

Me: “No.”

Rep: “Well, okay, if you’re not serious about increasing your level of life satisfaction and wealth. ‘Bye.” (hung up)

He was trying to make me feel like I was a loser for not attending their seminar, that I was not “serious” about doing something for myself.

The phone call left me feeling annoyed, although confirmed my suspicions about this dodgy mob.

Anyway, just a minor experience with this group from someone who didn’t even make it to their seminar.

The ‘Are-you-serious?’ approach is straight of the standard snake-oil manual. Spruikers such as Henry Kaye (with whom George Mihos used to associate) and Robert G Allen (who, coincidentally, also sprouts the term ‘multiple streams of income’) have used it.

It involves asking a question that requires people to say ‘yes’ and then using that question to make them feel obligated to the spruiker. Before they know it, they are stitched up into a get-rich course costing several thousand dollars.

Here’s what to say when a spruiker’s goon (who probably uses the hilarious title of “wealth coach”) asks you if you are serious about creating wealth for yourself…

“Yes, I am very serious. Are you serious about creating wealth for yourself?”

If the goon says yes, then ask, “And are you succeeding at creating wealth for yourself?”

If the goon says yes, then say, “If you provide me with documented proof that I can take to my accountant and it proves that you are a success at what you are trying to teach me, then I will consider listening to you.”

The goon will then splutter some lame excuse, to which you reply, “Goodbye goon, call me back when you grow up.”

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