"Who's Your Guru?"

[ Seminar leader and real estate coach Philip Elmes comments on real estate seminar promoters and “false prophets”.]

Hold on to your wallet, it’s time for the Fall Guru Tour
“On news stands everywhere… The Chicago Tribune, Sun-Times, and just about every other area media outlet in town, are already carrying full page advertisements trumpeting the imminent arrival of Donald Trump and his entourage of real estate experts “guaranteed” to reveal the SECRETS of successful real estate investors. Gosh! The auditorium will be chock full of Gurus.

Now, About this Guru Business…
I must say, when I read these advertisements for Trump’s mega-events, and Robert Allen‘s and Carleton Sheets‘ “free seminars” I get a little weary. Not because of the free seminar “pitch” – indeed, I make the same offers in NDP’s run-up to our Boot Camps.

For newcomers to our Urban Rehabber Program such “free events or seminars” provide useful information and an introduction to NDP’s educational programs.

And I do believe fully in the value of the Seminar and workshops we’ve developed since early 2000. We have so many Success Stories, often from folks still involved in our program, that I know we’re doing good things.

SECRETS(!) On Tape?
Personally, I don’t believe it’s possible to learn what’s needed to succeed in real estate investing by following a self-study probram based solely on packaged books, or CDs, or tapes – or even boot camps for that matter – sold at premium prices, without ongoing support on a face-to-face basis. I write a lot, and I read a lot, but I don’t believe anyone can “learn the business” sitting at home with earphones on, or reading a book – even if I
wrote it!

By all means, read the books! It just isn’t enough. We all need mentors and networks to really ‘make it’.

But that’s not what these “mega events” are all about: A featured Celebrity “headliner”, with a host of lesser lights who paid for a table at the back of the room, or a “breakout session,” in order to sell their products. And then – They all pack up and leave town! At best, they may invite you to “write if you get work.” But, not to worry, they’ll be in touch shortly. With an even better offer…

A little “food for thought”
The Chicago Tribune‘s Lew Sichelman commented on this “Guru business” in an August column (2007), in the Trib’s real estate section…

In his article Sichelman notes the recent sentencing of sometimes Guru Wade Cook. Cook is headed off to 88 months in a Federal penitentiary, primarily for tax fraud (Making too much $$ on the seminar circuit to give some of it up in taxes.)

“People such as Cook prey on consumers looking for the secret to make millions in the stock market or in real estate,” according to Sichelman. “But there is no route from rags to riches in either field other than hard work.”

In his article Sichelman notes the recent sentencing of sometimes Guru Wade Cook. Cook is headed off to 88 months in a Federal penitentiary, primarily for tax fraud (Making too much $$ on the seminar circuit to give some of it up in taxes.)

“People such as Cook prey on consumers looking for the secret to make millions in the stock market or in real estate,” according to Sichelman. “But there is no route from rags to riches in either field other than hard work.”

Sichelman gets at least a part of his inspiration (and documentable information) for this column from John T. Reed who, for years, has made it his mission to unmask charlatans in the “Guru business”. I’ve been recommending Reed’s web site for years, both for the pages I’ll direct you to and for his published “how to” books which I consider first rate.

Take a look at Reed’s “B.S. Artist Detection Check List” and his famous “Rating real estate. investment gurus“. There’s no improvement I can imagine making on Reed’s work.

That said, I won’t be your Guru, but maybe the NDP Urban Rehabber Program will provide the learning and support you need to succeed in this rewarding business.