This June, for a mere $1.95, you can get a ticket to KeyArena where you'll see Joe Montana, Laura Bush, Colin Powell, Rudy Giuliani, and six other mythic names of American leadership discuss all the ways that you can achieve just as much as they have in life. What a deal!
Now you might be asking yourself how a nine-hour seminar with some of the most accomplished people in the country can cost less than $2 per person to attend. But asking questions like that takes away precious time that might better be spent signing the credit-card slips that, should you attend this event, will guarantee you spend a lot more than $2 when all is said and done.
Get Motivated! is a seminar series run by motivational speaker Peter Lowe, which besides the aforementioned current speakers has also included folks like George W. Bush, Lou Holtz, and Steve Forbes.
What's advertised on the seminar's website is "an action-packed, fun-filled, explosive, exciting, inspiring, skill-building business event that is world famous for its mega-watt superstar speakers and spectacular stage production."
But as Seattle Weekly's sister paper Riverfront Times reports in a feature article by Sarah Fenske, it's what's not advertised that's more important.
The crowd at the recent St. Louis Get Motivated! seminar.
The celebrities are merely the bait. The trap: three-plus hours of sales pitches designed to sell you on the idea that you can make a zillion on the Internet by selling stuff you don't actually own. Or snapping up foreclosures. Or buying a set of online personal-investment tools.
Essentially, Get Motivated! is an extended live infomercial where salespeople you've never heard of pitch shady products that supposedly will help you get rich beyond your wildest dreams.
Sure, Laura Bush will talk for a while, so will Colin Powell, and there will be plenty of religious proselytizing and right-wing political barking.
But what's at the heart of the Get Motivated! scheme (and by seemingly every account it's most assuredly a scheme) is a well-disguised plan to part as many attendees with as much of their money as possible.
Fenske reports, as just one example:
Not one of the speakers counseled you to think before giving your credit-card number to any outfit that, buried in the fine print, advises that it will begin charging a $39 monthly fee unless you sent a cancellation notice to Tampa, Florida, by midnight Saturday. In writing.
At several points in the seminar, which routinely attracts crowds of 20,000 or more people, attendees will be told about products like "Investools," which is a (terrible) investment-help product sponsored by something called Wealth Magazine.
Wealth Magazine, in fact, sponsors many of the products and services advertised at Get Motivated! seminars. It's pitched as a kind of Forbes-esque publication that's lent its credibility to the event and is willing to heavily discount nearly everything pitched by the seminar's salespeople.
The problem (or, at least, one of the many problems) is that Wealth Magazine is owned by the same people who put on Get Motivated!, and it essentially exists only to perform this function.
The seminar is rife with these kinds of unadvertised tricks.
Attendees will be wowed by big talk from the celebs, only to be coerced by master hawkers who will pull every trick in the book to get folks to sign up for extra seminars and other services, all of which are swimming in fine print--usually the kind that includes automatic charges to be deducted from credit cards.
But the vast majority of those who attend will likely eat it up.
Fenske reports that at the seminar in St. Louis, lines to sign up for more seminars and to get products that no one had come intending to buy stretched dozens of people long.
Few apparently realized that the old saying "You can't get something for nothing" still applies even when the opposite is muttered into a huge PA system from an arena stage.
No one seems at all perplexed by the fact that they came to see Laura Bush for $1.95 -- and ended up spending $177 (plus $39 a month until it occurs to them to cancel their automatic subscription to the Investor Toolbox).
So go ahead and pay the $1.95 (or $9.95 to bring your entire office) to go to Get Motivated! Just don't be surprised when several months later you've spent several hundred dollars on useless products and are still not hanging out at the country club with Colin Powell and Laura Bush.