Thursday, April 29, 2010

Can You Motivate Me Now?

Top half of a Get Motivated Seminar ad
Who goes to these megastar events? How do they work, as a business?

The sponsors have been running full-page ads for weeks in both local papers, and I'm sure the speakers' fees are through the roof, yet it says admission costs only $4.95 if purchased in advance. (It's something like $200 at the door... I wonder how many of those tickets they'll sell?).

So, of course, I Googled it. As I started to type in "Get Motivated," Google suggested "Get Motivated Seminar Scam" as the second most popular search term. Hmm.

The following is based on comments left by people who attended one of the seminars. Quite a number said that they enjoyed hearing Colin Powell, Rudy Giuliani or Laura Bush. Some were appreciative of the low ticket price.

But I think it's fair to say that the wide majority of commenters had negative experiences on the whole:

  • Some were turned away or shunted to overflow sites, even though there was space left in the main room for people paying a higher admission price.
  • The big-name speakers appear to be used as a draw to get an audience for a number of get-rich-quick schemes. Quite a number of commenters said "I'm sorry I gave them my credit card number." A product named "Investools" was specifically mentioned. One commenter claimed Investools is "under investigation from almost every Attorney General’s office in the United States." Another said "I got suckered into paying the $99 for the weekend seminar and ended up having to work so I didn't go and then was unable to afford it so I decided not to do it at all. One month later they are charging my account and the fine print on the forms says you had to cancel within 3 days. I'm now looking at an overdrawn bank account. So much for making money! My motivation now is to try and get my money back!" (Both quotes are from this comment thread.)
  • Many mentioned a speaker named Tamara Lowe, who gave a Jesus-heavy, rags-to-riches speech. A commenter named Tether gave a brief bio of Lowe, pointing out that she didn't come from rags at all. Others were offended by her proselytizing at a seminar supposedly meant for business.
  • The Albany (New York) Times Union reported that their reporter was barred from entering the seminar.
A commenter on the Florida Times Union site said: "I was stunned at how many people, including 4 of the 5 friends who went with me, got reeled in by the day trading/software for $99 pitch [Investools]. I would conservatively estimate that over 50% of the 13,000 in attendance shelled out their hard earned money for it."

Given the dates of the various posts I read, both Powell and Guiliani (at least) have appeared at many of these events over the past couple of years. It's hard to believe they don't know what's going on at them.

It's amazing what people (even famous ones) will do for money, and even more so the junk people will believe if they think it will help them get rich quick.

I guess they're two sides of the same counterfeit coin.

Update: In the more recent ads (a new layout featuring even more speakers, running just about daily as the event grows nearer), I noticed the following fine print disclaimer at the bottom: "The GET MOTIVATED Seminar reserves the right to change event speakers and/or venues due to unforeseen circumstances.... SPECIAL BONUS: One of the most popular parts of the GET MOTIVATED Seminar is a special 10-minute optional bonus session on Biblical secrets of success."

1 comment:

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