Personal Finance


I’ve written before on my opinion of experts.  I definitely think there are times when we need to seek out someone who knows more than us about a subject, but that certain professions cultivate this to a degree that’s detrimental to their clients.  Beyond this, there are people who go even further and try to set themselves up as the guru on the mountain.

Gurus are particularly attracted to real estate, but you come across them in a number of areas.  As well as writing up reviews of particular gurus, John T. Reed also provides general bullshit warning signs (most of which are applicable to gurus in any area).

I come across the occasional blog or website where the author is clearly trying to lay the groundwork to set themselves up as a guru.  Sometime they provide tidbits of worthwhile information, but there seem to be a few glaring warning signs that I think should warn people off.

One of Reed’s points that has shown up in the early information in scams I’ve looked into is #44: Saying they only do it for the love of teaching and sharing their secrets.  It’s amazing to me that people will describe how passionate they are about teaching others then charge a ridiculous premium for what they’re selling.  Books, called courses, will sell for hundreds of dollars.  Courses, called boot camps, will sell for thousands.  Expensive monthly memberships provide a wonderful “passive income” FOR THE GURU.

If someone’s actions are so contradictory to their claims, it’s time to move carefully towards the door.  Why would you trust the information being provided by someone is proving themselves to be dishonest with you from the start?

I was reminded recently of #1: Emphasis on luxurious lifestyle when I was on a woman’s site where she was selling her guru services.  Her site talked about how wonderful it was to be rolling in dough, and showed pictures from around the world of her and her kids and their luxurious vacations.  When I looked her up on Rip-Off Reports there was a litany of complaints about her (claiming she was charming and helpful until she got your check or credit card number).  Digging further she has a criminal record of repeatedly defrauding friends and family.

Anyone can say they’re a millionaire.  Anyone can post pictures of themselves next to fancy cars or in front of a mansion.  I’ve never signed up with any guru (I see enough warning signs that scare me off well before I give them any money), but I imagine it gets harder to as you get deeper in with them.  You have to realize you’ve made a mistake giving them cash, which makes it harder to see the ever more obvious warning signs.

13 replies on “Gurus”

Very interesting – I would say another red flag is someone who always talks about how much money they make. There are a lot of blogs who cover how to “make money online” and interspersed between actual tips there are a lot of casual “oh and I made $20,000 per month on that blog/site/idea”.

There is one blog I’ve been checking out recently where there doesn’t appear to be any “guru” courses (yet!) but all the signs are there – he is always talking about his incredible earnings and giving vague hints as to how he does it. Presumably there will be a boot camp/costly e-book forthcoming.

I would also reference your post Absolutes which is another warning sign – people who see the world as black and white are delusional… 🙂

Investment “analysts” are great for this – they are 100% sure (or appear to be) of all their predictions even though it’s all B.S.

I hate that kind of self promotion?unless you have something useful for me. Otherwise, I rarely trust people who have to keep repeating how great they are at something…show me, don’t tell me.

I wish I was a guru.. I like receiving spam alerts telling me how this and that stock trading system not only outperformed S&P 500, but turned $378 into $1 million. All I needed was an account at a particular broker and then for a nice sizeable amount that broker would be trading for me by following the guru’s signals..

I guess I got to investing on the wrong side, by focusing on buy and hold and get rich slowly type mentality 🙂

DGI: Sadly, I think many of the victims of gurus go on to give it a try themselves. Kind of like the old “Make money stuffing envelopes” scam, once they realize they’ve been tricked, some scumballs turn around and do the same thing to others.

WC: That’s usually my perspective too. If someone keeps saying how great the info is that they sell, but don’t offer anything worthwhile upfront, I assume the paid material will be pretty pathetic too.

Mike: Yes, I agree and you’re right that’s another warning sign (similar, but different, to #1). I guess there’s degrees to it however, I talk about how much money I’ve made on real estate and dividend stocks in some posts (maybe I’m a scammer and I don’t even realize it about myself? 😉

Two names come to mind for me. Maybe not “scammers” in the most derogatory sense of the word, but I believe the qualify as gurus.

Robert Kiyosaki and Suze Orman. What separates them from the rest of the scammers is that they are so much better at it. If you can convince Oprah, then the world is at your doorstep. Every time I see either of these people on TV I can’t help but feel that they’re only trying to sell product, and not actually trying to help people.

To Robert and Suze if you are reading this blog: Sorry, nothing personal. 😉

Wow what an awesome article, and I will definitely look more into the links you provided.
I will also add this point to my top 10 link post for next week, awesome stuff.

Heh, I’ve been to a few easy money things. They are so amusing. After an hour I’ll be like, ok, there’s no specific examples, the concept has only been grazed over and we’ve done nothing but danced around like underpants gnomes merrily overlooking that going from step one to profit is a complete mystery. The first meetings are good free entertainment, I wouldn’t pay for subsequent meetings though.

Tom: Very interesting! How did you find out about his personal situation? Did you ever hire him again? I suspect a great many gurus don’t have the experience they claim they do (e.g. most real estate gurus have bought FAR less real estate than they claim).

tom: I don’t think that sometimes, I think that ALL the time :-). All the info you could ever want is available free on the internet, in reasonably priced books, and by digging in and doing the research yourself. When you research things properly, you also have a better understanding of how true it all is as well (there’s nothing stopping gurus from selling misinformation).

Well you are right but I have started to realize this in the last few months after accumulating so much debt that it was scary and not getting anywhere.

And you are right, the internet is a wonderful source for free info, especially blogs.

I recall going to the Trump Insititute, a free seminar in my city and they were selling a real estate program for 2k and an online business (e-commerce) program for 400.
I bought that, and there was another meeting for those who bought it and all they did was give us steps and a bunch of hype of others that became successful.
At the end, they said, whoever wants one on one training and get started, pay 5k.
I mean that 400 I could have saved and done my own research but hey I was a lot more naive back than.

John T. Reed’s website is certainly the place to look at when considering a national gurus. I’m a member of the DFW real estate investing community and there are also “gurus” within that community. While they don’t have the presence and advertising of some of the national gurus, some of them like to rip people off like they are on the national scene. Fortunately, the real estate investing community is a pretty small group and it’s easy to figure out the pretenders.

Thanks for the post!

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