The financial seminar-on-tour featuring speeches by famous people swung into Rochester last summer. Blue Cross Arena was filled to the brim. Companies organized day-trips to the seminar. I spotted many employees of the City of Rochester. Some attendees were down on their luck and looking for inspiration.
The event had the feel of a combined church service, infomercial and self-help audio tape.
People were lured by fame and $1.95 tickets to an event whose sole purpose was to get them to subscribe to dubious financial products. Did the companies sponsoring trips downtown disclose to employees they would have to give up their email addresses at the door and be subjected to sales pitches between listening to Bill Cosby and Colin Powell?
Did anyone wonder how Get Motivated managed to pay such illustrious speakers while charging less than it cost to park? No one cared, as long as they got to hear famous people.
A year later, Get Motivated went belly up after its June event in Buffalo was sparsely attended. Bloomberg reports the organization has left a trail of bills, unfilled promises and financial damage to devotees:
The seminars were actually vehicles for investment firms to sell courses in stock options and other trading tactics from the same stage where luminaries held forth, according to a Bloomberg News report.
Commercial presenters promoted annual returns of as much as 25 percent. A Michigan pastor said he lost $11,500 trading options after paying $12,000 for classes advertised at a Get Motivated seminar.
At Get Motivated’s last stop in Buffalo on June 12, the 18,690-seat First Niagara Center was less than half full. Cosby, in a blue University at Buffalo sweatshirt and sweatpants, mixed one-liners with an appeal for seminargoers to listen to the speakers selling financial instruction.
“All these millionaires are coming up and telling you how to make it,” he said. “Come on, understand what they’re saying. Get up.”
Bill Cosby wasn’t hawking Jello. He was selling get-rich-quick schemes to people who could least afford it.
Get Motivated proved the draw of fame and fortune – and really good marketing – remains as powerful as ever.
Links of the Day:
– The state appellate court in Rochester is hearing arguments in a case against the gun industry stemming from the shooting of a 16-year-old.
– Check out a great graphic on the words used most by each political party at the conventions.
– Like Rochester, Syracuse is also offering free lunch to all students this school year, regardless of income.
– Are background checks for school volunteers really necessary?