Seminars are a Waste of Money

Chuck Jaffe of marketwatch.com has done what I’ve wanted to do for a long time. Just like you, I’ve seen the ads on TV, in newspapers and magazines touting an easy trading technique or a different type of investment that will outperform stocks. Mr. Jaffe has attended one of these seminars and in an article on the marketwatch.com site tells us what I’ve suspected all along.

The article points out that the seminar in question was free but that it gave little information.

“The entire first hour was spent hyping what STAR Trader was really selling, a three-day educational course that costs a reasonable $99, but which undoubtedly leads to sales pitches for the really expensive stuff, including more advanced workshops. Undoubtedly, a big chunk of time at the $99 workshops will be spent trying to get you to fork over more cash.”

The real information, the one secret that will put you on the road to riches always seems just a bit out of reach. If you would just pay a bit more and attend one more class then you’ll know all you need to know.

It seems to me that this is no different than those real estate seminars. The people telling you about these amazing techniques don’t use them because they make far more money selling their “secrets” to you. Maybe they used them once, maybe, but I’m sure that they aren’t using them now.

I may not have attended a seminar but I did participate in a conference call on real estate investing. The free teleseminar was touted as a technique so powerful it would eliminate 90% of my pre-forclosure business. Quite a promise! And since the call was free (other than long distance charges) I decided to check it out.

Much like the seminar Mr. Jaffe attended, a large chunk of time was used assuring the callers that the instructor made his money using this technique, that he still used it and continues to make a great living from it. It was 30 minutes or more into the call when I finally heard the name of this technique: pre-forclosure workout. I promptly Googled the term and found out it wasn’t such a secret after all. As a matter of fact it was quite common.

The call continued and the real purpose was soon revealed. Why try to implement this technique cold we were asked. Why not use his experience and expertise to get over the learning curve and start making money now. All we had to do was sign up for his class for the heavily discounted price of $499. Now I ask you, how do you suppose he really makes his money?

Whether they’re selling stock trading tips or real estate investing techniques, these salesmen always speak of the ease with which you can make money. Once you know the techniques, they say, the money will be pouring in. And apparently a lot of people believe them because the audience is always full.

These people exploit our reasonable desire to do better, to get ahead of the crowd. They use human nature against us by telling us there is an easy way, and who doesn’t want an easy way? The truth is, if you want to be as rich as they are then you’ll have to go out and develop your own “secret” and teach your own seminars.

Now here’s my disclaimer about personal responsibility. If you attend one of these seminars, you can only blame yourself when you leave with less money and no real information. I know this is harsh but you derserved whatever you got. People simply aren’t skeptical enough because they want to believe in miracles. Yes the information is out there but the paradox is that if it’s worth anything it will be free (or nearly free like the cost of a book).

Oh and before I go, if you did attend one of these seminars please share your experience (good or bad) for others. Thanks.