A few weeks ago, I attended a 2-hour seminar on real estate investing by Robert Kiyosaki’s Rich Dad Education team. It was a free event with a lot of push on selling the 3-day workshop course on real estate investing, which was on March 4-5-6 and March 11-12-13. I figured since this was an area of knowledge I wanted to know more about, I decided to spend the 500$ and go for it. Alongside me that day was my real estate friend and business partner Thomas (not his real name). One of the perks of the training class was that you can bring a guest of your choice for no cost. Thomas and I decided to split the bill and go together, in hopes of learning more about flipping, rental property, tax strategies and asset protection. Basically, we wanted to have some passive income in the near future.
The following day, Thomas and I did some searching online, and came across several dozen negative reviews on the 3-day training seminar. We even came across a highly negative CBC video/article that detailed the entire process. What we found out made us cringe a little: the team at the 3-day seminar were up-selling an even more expensive training course, which costs anywhere from 12 to 45 grand. To repeat again: 12,000$ to 45,000$ to learn more!
So what was this 500$ course for anyway? What were they going to teach us?
After Thomas and I discussed whether we should still attend or not, we came up to the conclusion that the people complaining probably did not understand any of the teachings, and that the media is always biased. We decided to get our own opinion and see for ourselves whether the 3-day seminar would be worth it or not.
Come March 4th, I woke up at 6 AM on a Friday to hit downtown and have a good seat. Once arriving there, they served us coffee to make sure we were all awake and ready to absorb some knowledge. Our primary trainer, Michael “Pip” Stehlik, was a very charismatic man with plenty of energy. The secondary trainer was Rae, but I don’t recall his last name. He seemed very knowledgeable regardless. Then there were the other team members: Sam, Tammy, Katy, Mercedes, Baz and John (not sure about the last one).
Day 1 – Friday
The first day was… slow. We didn’t learn as much as we were hoping. In fact, the trainers and team members wasted valuable time telling us their biographies, when the whole motto of the day was “this day is about you, not us”. Some of the team members were pretty sketchy, where one was highly emotional about his success, where it came off to be a bit… fake. Regardless, topics that we briefly covered were Wholesale and Assignments, Portfolio Income, different types of financing, Hard Money lending and as a special bonus of the evening, credit cards. I’ll cover these in a minute.
Wholesaling is basically assigning a contract to buy a certain property onto someone else, where you make your profit by selling the contract (or the “rights” to BUY the property). When this topic came up, an argument was readily apparent. Real estate agents in the room were quick to point out that this was illegal. According to the agents, you cannot assign a contract to someone else in Quebec when it comes to buying and selling property. I will have to confirm this with a bit of research. Thomas, who is an agent with over 4 years of experience, simply said “it is illegal, no questions asked.” I will take his advice for the time being.
We skimmed over portfolio income, creative financing and hard money lending. Plenty of ideas ran through my mind, but the information presented to us was not sufficient.
Now, the topic of the day was credit cards. This topic was introduced with the following, and I quote: “How would you guys like to raise 10,000$ in 1 hour?”. Everyone’s eyes lit up in the room, and Pip proceeded to remove his tie, since he was so excited to share this information with us. He basically told us to call our credit card companies that night and ask for a credit limit raise. “Ask anything. Ask for double the limit. As long as you ask.” He also said you can easily decrease your interest and wave your yearly fees if you negotiate. You can supposedly do this every 6 months, and it will only affect less than 10 points on your credit score. In the back of my mind, this topic was definitely fishy, but I didn’t question it. I was wondering: why your credit card and not your personal line of credit? Surely you will get a better rate and increase with a line of credit, not to mention that the interest is not compounded unlike a credit card. But hey, what do I know?
Once our course of the day was over, Thomas and I discussed our day over some shisha at Café Hookah lounge. What we both recognized was that the trainers and team members were using NLP, or Neuro-Linguistic Programming. This is basically a way to make people conform to varying situations. In English, they’re very good at manipulating people by talking. They are very, very efficient to change people’s patterns when it comes to mental and emotional bahaviour. I quickly ran Sam’s introduction speech through my mind: he was definitely using NLP. More of this will be apparent later. Thomas and I picked it up right away because, well, we’re both good at it.
Day 2 – Saturday
The second day started off with us playing the Cashflow game by Robert Kiyosaki. It was actually quite fun as it tends to make you realize that, to get rich, you must get into (good) debt. I won’t cover too much concerning the game, but it made up for waking up at 6 AM again. If it didn’t cost 200$, I would have happily bought it, but I’m just going to borrow my neighbour’s board to play instead (he got it for a lot less). If you check on eBay, you can purchase the game for about 100$.
This is where the trainers wasted more time, as it had nothing to do with real estate investing. Rae began to discuss about the financial markets (stocks, options and futures) by mentioning how scary the markets are when you don’t know what’s going on (or what to do). The trainer had a chart up on the projected screens. Since I’m an active day trader, it was comical to watch the indicators that Rae was using on the screen. They were put there to confuse the audience even more. I was just wondering why he was using shitty technicals. The rest of the people in the room were impressed with Rae’s analytical approach to equity trading, when all he did was put up the S&P index with unnecessary and useless studies. If he were actually following those charts with those technicals (which I doubt) then he’d be losing out on better buy and sell signals. Rae’s out-of-the-blue financial markets presentation was basically a nicely formed sales pitch into cross-selling their technical trading courses.
Next topic we went over was Lease Options, which was an area of interest to me. We followed an example or two on how it works, but besides that, there was not much to it. At about this time, Thomas had to leave the workshop and give his prospective client a house visit. I stayed for the remainder of the course, which I now regret.
The last hour of Saturday was the most intense sales pitch delivery ever. Pip, now very direct, made us write down notes in the Advanced Training Course Catalogue, alongside the table of content entries. I am sure this is the part where most people started to realize what the 3-day seminar was: a 3-day sales pitch to get you comfortable into purchasing the extended courses. Once he started making us write down the prices on a separate sheet of paper that was handed out, I started laughing to myself. Since there was no way the trainers or team members could hand these sheets out with the prices on them, he made us write them down because it would lessen the blow of the surprise. If the sheets already had the prices on them, people wouldn’t have bothered to look at them, especially since the minimum price for 2 courses was 12,000$.
Day 3 – Sunday
Here we are, day 3, and I’m at home writing this review. I decided to sleep in and not go in, since it would be a complete waste of time. Topics that we were supposed to go over today was the Financial Markets (again), a rehash of Lease Options, Taxation and Asset Protection. Fortunately for me, I know a real estate lawyer, several Chartered Accountants, business-men who can teach me about holding corporations and people who are well-connected with the real estate industry.
We were also going to play the Cashflow game again this morning, which would be the only reason why I would go.
Based on the previous two days, I knew very well that day 3 was going to be the same crap, with a priority on the sales pitch.
Why I took this 3-day seminar
Now, this is the part of the review where most people will ask me: “if you know real estate so well, why did you go?”
While I do know that real estate is a great vehicle to get “rich and wealthy”, I know very little about financing options, or how to get started in general. I wasn’t expecting this course to make me a professional in 3 days. I took this 3-day course to bring me up to speed with real estate investing so I could be ready to discuss with my existing partners (my investors, lawyer, accountant and agent). I didn’t want to waste their time with questions on how to finance or what kind of cool things we can do when it comes to property. I was expecting a “balls to the walls” school-type education class, where most of the time you’ll be taking down notes and asking questions on “how & why it works”. Instead, what we went through was a “shut up and write this down” type of workshop.
My day trading course two years ago was 350$, and it was a 1 day seminar. It was the only course I have taken in my life when it comes to my day trading background. Comparing the Rich Dad Education seminar to Charles Langford’s 1 day class, the experience was significant. Langford, the sole trainer, was such an amazing teacher that I made my money back within a month by using his methods. Kiyosaki’s supposed “Real Estate Investing” seminar was nothing more than an expensive, glorified book read out loud. Seriously, I could have just picked up any book from Amazon and read it, then applied the knowledge to the real life. Whether I would be successful or not is another matter, but you can see where I’m getting at.
Why I am complaining
The reason why I am complaining or “being negative” is because nowhere in the course agreement was there a mention of selling advance training courses. If I had known that there would be an up-sell and a waste of time, I would have never went.
The ethical way to market this system would have to be more upfront from the beginning. I very well knew that the free 2-hour seminar was going to be an up-sell for a paid course. When they were pushing the 3-day seminar, they should have mentioned that Advanced Training Courses were available. Of course, this wouldn’t have worked, since no one would have gone to the paid courses. This is why I am not in marketing and profiting millions of dollars every year.
In reality, what they were doing was fishing for leads through social networking (Facebook ads) buttering us up for the 3-day seminar and then priming us in 3 days to pay for the advanced courses. I feel abused to have gone through that whole process, only to be conditioned to shell out more dollars to actually go through the classroom-style training.
The Credit Card Trick(s)
Friday night’s credit card limit increase tips had a purpose after all. When Pip told us to call our credit card companies and ask for a credit increase and decrease in interest, there were ulterior motives to this exercise. It’s quite funny when I recall his words: “tell the credit card company that the reason why you are increasing your limit is to make a large purchase in the future. Specifically, tell them it is for eduction.” of course, over 40 people called their banks and asked for a limit increase. One woman was able to jack up her 25,000 limit to 100,000 overnight.
At the time, Pip had somehow directed the action of raising our credit limit in hopes of using it for down payments, or for buying property. To be fair, Pip never said we could use the credit card for a down payment on a property, as this would lead to some difficulties. One of the team members, Sam, hopped out to say specifically: “you can’t just swipe your credit card to buy a house, it doesn’t work that way.” This is true. What he omitted to say, however, was that you can use the convenience cheques most credit card companies send to make purchases.
Did I call my credit card company? Nope. What I did was send an email to my financial advisor and asked her to raise my personal line of credit instead for investing purposes. No way in hell would I use a credit card, out of all types of available credit, to purchase property. It boggles my mind as to why people would make a large purchase on their credit card when a line of credit offers a lower interest rate, no compounding of interest and in general, larger credit. As long as you pay the minimum every month, you can use the line of credit indefinitely. Thomas then explained to me that most people can’t quality for a standard line of credit, as it’s easier to get a credit card. I slammed my palm onto my face.
Saturday night, when Pip was delivering his ultimate sales pitch, it all struct down on me then and there: they made us raise our credit, specifically by a few thousand, to purchase the advanced courses. If I watched the CBC marketplace video before, I would have known this.
Nice one, Pippy.
Sales Tactics and Neuro-Linguistic Programming
Since the beginning of the 3-day seminar, Pip was very proficient at remembering names. This was done to make the sales pitch more friendly and comfortable. He was very charismatic and presented as a “religious family man”. In fact, he was very honest and transparent throughout the weekend, I’ll hand him that. However, certain tactics were used to influence the whole event.
First, at the beginning of the seminar, Pip mentioned that the entire presentation we were going to be taught this weekend was regulated by the S.E.C. (Securities and Exchanges Commission). This means that all the numbers, laws and documents were screen by the SEC to make sure that there was nothing “foul” being taught. This is great news, but useless to the audience, since the S.E.C. has nothing to do with Canadians.
Second, Pip coincidentally received a phone call during Saturday’s program by one of his students in Niagara falls, who just landed their fourth Lease Option this year. Is that perfect timing or what? The audience began to clap, for no apparent reason, on this successful story. Thomas and I, perplexed at the coincidence of this news, just shrugged it off during lunch. I then brought up the follow question to my friend: “Thomas, are we just too smart or overly negative at this whole course?”
Which brings up the third sales tactic: handling objections. On the first day, Pip started discussing about negativity, people who bring others down and general “hate” towards successful people. He mentioned that there was a CBC marketplace article that tainted Kiyosaki’s name and the reputation of the courses. In fact, Pip brought this up several times during the seminar. At the time, I had no idea this existed, but I was now curious to find out what it was.
The reason why Pip brought this article up was to make the topic comfortable and apparent. In other words, if the team were to hide the fact that such a review was released by the CBC, then the audience members who do know about it would use it as an excuse to leave the seminar. Now that Pip brought it up, it was out on the table, and no secrets were being kept. This was part of Pip’s “transparent” persona, that he was always going to tell you the truth no matter what.
This leads on to the whole aspect of “negativity”. Pip mentioned that a course he had taught in Edmonton was a disaster once the CBC article was out. The people in the room were so negative, that he contemplated leaving his mentor job after that. Regardless of the fact whether Stehlik was affected from this outcome, it brings up the topic of NLP. What the trainer did he was attribute the word “negativity” to the class of 40 students out West. Now, the people who were against this seminar would be labeled negative, and we certainly don’t want that in this class. The people who would question the content of the weekend would be simply considered negative and close-minded people, when in fact, they are the smart ones who are questioning and trying to understand the system.
I kept my mouth shut the entire weekend because there was no point. If I were to question anything with the content, the audience would nail me to a cross and call me a witch. The mindset of the rest of the students were all about accepting the current curriculum and not question anything else. In their minds, Stehlik was a saviour, and he was going to lead them onto the path of success.
Even more Sales Tactics and Enforcement of Belief
Oh, this is a good one. In fact, I pat myself on the back for figuring this one out. Stehlik is a genius.
During the first day, there were two slides that did not belong in the presentation. Remembering correctly, there were two pictures of a Dodge Charger, painted black with bull-bars in front, which was actually a police car for the city of Nebraska City. How do I know this? Well, a quick Google search of “pip stehlik” will return an article from the JournalStar on how the Stehlik family donated a police car to their home city. I only did this search while I was writing this review to see if there were others like me. Thinking ahead, what if I did this search on the same night of knowing the name of my trainer?
Imagine that. On the first day of the course, Pip Stehlik accidentally shows you two slides of a police car. “Oops” he says, “those don’t belong there”. But he knows people out there are smart enough to do a search on the net, and lo and behold, the fifth result is an article on his family’s good will. Reading the article, it mentions that Stehlik did in fact operate his family’s IGA store. It also mentions that they did donate the Charger to the local police force. This ties in with the fact that one of Pip’s mottos is to “give back to the community”. Basically, his persona has been enforced, and he is definitely not lying.
I actually commend Pip and his family’s donations to the city, even though I’m not from Nebraska. It shows that he is a good-hearted person, but also a very clever salesman.
Handling of Objections, and Why You Should Shut the F*ck Up
I have to admit, I love the trainers’ methods on selling. I have learned quite a bit on how these guys operate, and I plan to apply some of their strategies to my business.
Practically every type of objection or negativity was dealt with beforehand. Married couples were a hot one, as a significant other might resist dumping up to 45,000$ of their life savings into a bogus real estate investing course. Egos were brushed out of the way, as said by Pip: “leave them behind, give this a chance, it could change your life.” The money issue was dealt with what we learned on the first day: “use other people’s money, that means the newly raised credit card limit.” My favourite tactic was the whole “don’t listen to the people around you who are questioning all this. They are trying to be negative.”
Basically, people like me, only I am not questioning anything. I am pointing out the obvious.
It’s quite the opposite to be honest: I am never negative. In fact, I have left a group of friends who were overly negative. They basically wanted me to fail to their level. I am now friends with people who are highly successful, and not just with money. My surrounding’s views are extremely positive. Together, we are a group of friends with the same mindset: we always strive for the best, and look out for each other.
But a sucker is born every minute. The audience members who are told to obey a certain way will never question or open up to opinion until it’s too late.
Kiyosaki, who firmly believes that people should learn more about “financial intelligence”, is ironically copying the school system. In school, you are taught a certain way, and everything they say is right. You cannot question the topic at hand, because you don’t know any better. The same system applies here: Pip and his team wanted to squelch the rebels in the group who knew better. Questions were only to be asked at the end of class, with a team member only. Socializing and networking was prohibited. You basically had to keep your mouth shut, write down whatever was on the wall (or repeated several times by Pip or Rae) and never question the system.
To make things slightly interesting, Thomas and I are University drop-outs.
Why a Paid Mentor is not Really a True Mentor
You know what a mentor is? I can tell you, as I’ve had one for about 9 years. He was the person who got me into search engine optimization and day trading. He is the most successful person I know, and he doesn’t have an expensive car outside to show his wealth. I now consider him a friend and a mentor.
Stehlik’s attempt to explain what a mentor is can be summarized as follows, and I quote: “A mentor collapses time frames.” This is actually a nice way to summarize what a mentor is, as they are known to do that. Mentors basically show you how to do things right from the beginning, minimizing rookie mistakes.
A true mentor, however, would help you achieve your goals, help you get off your feet, push you to succeed, have a beer with you, help you move your couch and generally just help you out in life… for free. They want to see you do well in life, and money does not mean a thing for them.
I have never paid a single dollar to my mentor. In fact, he’s given me a valuable asset (that generates income), paid for my work when it comes to fixing his computers (and I always reject his payments) and basically helped me become successful in my life… all this for free. A paid mentor is basically an individual who is getting money for his time. Whether he wants to help you or not is irrelevant. You are paying for his time, simple as that. That is not a true mentor.
In the end, I lost 250$ (plus taxes) out of my pocket, but most importantly, I wasted my time. When “time is everything” (a slogan of the weekend) it really hurts, especially when I could have been making money at the office Friday and Saturday. That is not “left quadrant thinking”, it is real life. I know that real estate is where I want to be in the end, but wasting my time with shitty programs was not on my to-do list.
Another thing I lost was my trust in Robert Kiyosaki. I’ll continue reading his books, but he won’t get a single dollar out of me. I’ll borrow his books from friends and from the library if I have to. Kiyosaki is a businessman at the end of the day, and I look up to his success. However, buying into his services, solutions and products will not be on my list anymore. In my mind, the Kiyosaki name has been tainted for good.
I don’t want my money back, because there is no point. I read the terms of my agreement, so I will accept my stupidities. Kiyosaki can call me up now and offer me my money back, but I won’t accept it. I know that once this review is out there, coupled with some search engine optimization, I will help the public understand what they are giving their time and money into. For that, I will mentor people into not throwing their money away into disappointing workshops.
Anyway, that’s my review. I’ll leave it up to the reader to decide and make up their own minds.