Saturday, March 18, 2006

The Burleyists

John R. Burley’s printed “Advanced Investing Boot Camp” promotional brochure, which he will send to you if you enter your mailing information at his web site, makes a number of unbelievable claims. For example, he calls this $5000 boot camp—for which he undoubtedly grosses a minimum $350K per year—an “act of love.” Riiiiight. He also says:

Once upon a time (actually a few years ago) I ran the number one Real Estate training in America. Each month thousands of people would pay $5-7,500 to take my training. Our success rate (based on the number of students making money) was the greatest in the history of the industry.
All I can say is, “Whew!” There is an awful lot to parse in those three compact sentences!

So, Burley was training “thousands” each month? Does that sound even remotely realistic to you? What exactly does that mean? Let’s call it 2000/mo. at $5K a head. That brings gross receipts to $120 million per year. I suppose that would definitely qualify it for “number one” status (an otherwise completely vacuous statement—by what standard were these trainings “number one”?). Clearly, though, this claim is entirely bullshit. How many people—let alone real estate gurus—made $100 million a year in the US in the early ‘90s? Not many. Why isn’t Burley as famous as Kiyosaki (who I’m sure has never made that kind of money), or Trump, or Howard Stern?

And where are these 24,000+ students now? Do you think it likely that a person who teaches 24,000 people to become wealthy would remain almost unknown? What is their “success rate,” anyway? How does Burley know how many students are “making money”? Does he look at their tax returns? How does Burley also know the success rate of the students of all the other gurus? He doesn’t, because it’s not even likely that any of the other gurus know what it is for their own students. Another bullshit claim.

But really, who are John Burley’s students? What are they like? Are they really successful? For obvious reasons this is a very difficult question to answer definitively. However, a little time spent on the Mastermind forums yields interesting results, especially if followed up with some Googling.

The first thing you’ll note is that many claim to have had their “lives changed” after attending a boot camp, and on those rare occasions where someone posts something skeptical or negative at the Burley forums, many will immediately defend Burley with an enthusiasm on a par with a religious fervor. You might notice that the resemblance to religion doesn’t stop there. A lot of the phraseology and arguments also strike a religious chord, which is why I’ve chosen to call these acolytes “Burleyists.”

I’ll take a close look at some of them individually in upcoming posts.

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