Monday, July 7, 2014

Week of 07/07/2014

Why There Is No “Me” In “Scheme”
You’ve probably heard them on the radio…
I know I have, repeatedly.
You know who I’m talking about.
The people that want to help you “get rich”.
Oh they sound like they’re just like us.  They try to relate to our problems.  But it’s all just prelude to what they really want.
Oh they are sincere about helping people “get rich”.  Only the “people” they refer to are usually just themselves.
Back in the 1980’s and 90’s, my father and I were both going through bouts of unemployment.  We both were looking for ways to make money to keep the bills paid and to keep the very nice roof over our heads.  And it’s because of that need to keep the bills paid that we both started hearing those offers from people that would supposedly try to “help” us.
Back then the magic words were Multi-Level-Marketing, but basically it’s a pyramid scheme.  You could sell product, it was supposedly good product, but the “real money” would be made in turning your customers into sales people, and then have them do the same thing.
Of course the “MLM” people would swear up and down that what they have is “not a pyramid scheme”.  But once you look past the sales pitch and the slick promotional material and take a good, hard look at the whole program, you can’t help but see the makings of a pyramid scheme in there.
And having gone through quite a few of those “offers”, you start to see a pattern with some of these people who promise all sorts of wealth and prosperity and their willingness to “share” these “secrets”.  It’s almost as if they’re operating off of a common script… which may not be too far from the truth.
So we start off with some recognition…
“Hi, I’m (insert name here).  You may have seen me in (insert TV series here)…”
You may have heard of them, or at least the TV show they reference.  This is supposed to make them sound authoritative.  You’re supposed to pay attention to what they have to say now.
“Like you, I used to live paycheck-to-paycheck, and I was in debt up to my neck.”
It’s supposed to help them identify with you… or at least to their “target audience”, most of which do live paycheck-to-paycheck and are burdened by all sorts of debt, be it car debt, mortgage debt, credit card debt, or tuition debt.
“But then I found the secret to financial success, and now I’ve got two million in the bank and I own three homes!”
Wow!  What an incredible turnaround, huh?  This is the universal distraction for these pitches.  It’s money, money, money!  So much money that you don’t know what to do with it all.  It’s all about the big homes and gold jewelry and big boats with beautiful women in bikinis and piles on top of piles of cash!  It’s about taking the vacation you’ve always wanted to take.  It’s about being debt free and secure in your retirement. 
But mostly it’s about the big homes and gold jewelry and big boats with beautiful women in bikinis and piles on top of piles of cash, because that’s the imagery that sticks in your mind.
“And now I want to share this secret with you.”
Although it really wouldn’t be a “secret” if it could be easily shared.
And here’s where the “product” is sold.  The promised “secrets” to getting that big home and big jewelry and big boats with beautiful women in bikinis and piles on top of piles of cash.
Sometimes it’s an invitation to an “exclusive seminar” where you will learn “the secrets” first-hand from the person making the pitch.  Sometimes it’s a book or a video or an audio recording.
And can you believe that it’s free?
You can’t?  Awww, but they want you to believe that!  They even tell you that it’s free!
One pitch offered an “exclusive report” free to the first ten callers.  Considering I heard this pitch multiple times during the day, over multiple days, one can only presume that either he didn’t get his ten people or that he’s giving them away to everyone and is just using the “first ten” bit as a way to promote urgency.
The Better Business Bureau took a look at one of these pitches (in case you thought I was making this stuff up) and found that while the initial seminar is free, it was really just a lure to get people in for supplemental seminars which cost significant coin.  The first seminar was free, the second one was almost $1500, and the third was for $40,000 per couple for a weekend course.  And let’s not forget the supplemental videos, books, and audio recordings!  Those also are not free.
I’m guessing that the assumption is that these people would be making money right off the bat with all of the “knowledge” that they gained from that free seminar, so it would pay for all of those pricey additional seminars and videos and books and audio recordings.  Although… forty-thousand dollars?  That’s one hell of an assumption!
I’m not going to say that all of these “get rich quick” pitches are all scams, but let’s get brutally honest here… in all of the years I’ve heard about these pitches and programs and “secrets” that people are eager to “share”, I find it funny that the only people making money from them are the ones making the pitches.
Think about how many people would become instant millionaires if all of these “secrets” truly panned out.  The Gross National Product would skyrocket.  The economy could be soaring to new heights.  There would be no recession.
And if wishes were horses then we’d all have stables of Triple Crown winners.
The truth of the matter is that there are an overabundance of unscrupulous people who are quick to take advantage of our desperation.  People that prey on our naiveté about money.  And not every one of them can get elected to government.  The rest have to put some effort into getting our money, and we really shouldn’t be making it this easy for them.
I recently discovered that there really is an “i” in the word “TEAM”.  If you spell the word out in rounded capital letters, you’d see the “i" right there in the middle of the “A”-hole.  But despite the fact that there is an “m” and an “e”, if you pay attention to the pitches and put some thought into it, then you too can say that there really is no “me” in their “scheme”.

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