Whirled Musings

Across the Universe with Cosmic Connie, aka Connie L. Schmidt...or maybe just through the dung-filled streets and murky swamps of pop culture -- more specifically, the New-Age/New-Wage crowd, pop spirituality & religion, pop psychology, self(ish)-help, business babble, media silliness, & related (or occasionally unrelated) matters of consequence. Hope you're wearing boots. (By the way, the "Cosmic" bit in my moniker is IRONIC.)

Monday, May 14, 2007

Loose cannons in the New-Wage wars

The problem with Internet affiliate programs is that you just can’t monitor every little thing your affiliates write and do. Or maybe you can, and probably you should, but most Netrepreneurs don’t seem to be doing it. That's a mistake because, let’s face it, in the credibility wars, affiliates can be loose cannons. Take the iCAP Release Meter, which I blogged about at some length last February and again in April. The iCAP people claim to have an effective product based on scientific research. Yet they seem to have put the bulk of their marketing in the hands of overly-enthusiastic affiliates who go on and on and on about the iCAP release meter as if it is the magical key to making all of your dreams and fantasies come true – as well as being the missing link that will make The Secret and the Law Of Attraction really, really work for you. That kind of stuff may move product – at least until the public finally gets fed up with The Secret – but ultimately it’s not going to do much for the credibility of the company, the product or the research.*

Another person who might want to take note of the "affiliate problem" is hustledork extraordinaire Christopher Howard, the mastermind behind Billionaire Bootcamp® and other New-Wage programs for manic success-geeks. Chris doesn’t seem to be selling a "scientific" product per se, but, like so many other New-Wage mercenaries these days, he has co-opted a few ideas from scientific disciplines in an effort to teach folks how to be, do and have anything they desire in life. The point is, when you're trying to get people to give you hundreds or even thousands of dollars, credibility is a fairly important thing, whether you’re bastardizing borrowing from science or not. And I would think that one of the keys to credibility in a written ad is to come across as being reasonably literate in the language in which you're writing.**

To tell the truth, I’d never heard of Chris Howard until I received an email today via my favorite New-Wage spam service. At first I honestly thought the ad was from Chris himself, and my first thought was, "Either this is a bad translation, or Chris Howard is severely English-impaired."

For example:

Friend, Do you know someone who is highly advanced spiritually yet who yearns to do earth better, thirsting to make a profound difference, who longs to bring that beautiful awakening more fully through their core into their body, splashing it through their finances and their light-work, to vividly contribute excellence on an even grander level? If so, then this could be the most important letter you ever read! If the secret law of attraction is the BMW of your life, then Breakthrough to Success is the step by step systematic manual showing you how to drive it to give your greatest gifts to the world! Imagine yourself as if you were driving down a freeway in your mind effortlessly sucking in all this streaming information.

And then there was this:

Imagine the light of your soul shining full-out. What would it feel like to gloriously breakthrough and contribute to thousands on a grander scale? What would it be like having new realms of extraordinary, concrete, far-reaching practical workability in your business, your family, or your light-workers calling, your projects, or your health? What would that look, taste, feel like? Every particle of your cellular structure doing cartwheels of discovery with millions of others, re-remembering while in this world, cascading ripples of delightful, workable results in beautiful circles. What is it YOU want?

Naturally, references to science and technology were worked into the copy a few times. The writer described Chris’ teachings as "proprietary quantum methods actualized & proven by successful people of all time… Bring to mind a GPS system where you enter your location and desired destination, expertly accessing a proven map of success to finally reveal the closely guarded secrets, (up until now) of breakthrough success for vibrant aliveness in personal and professional accomplishment."

Ah, yes… the "closely guarded (up until now, that is) secret!

Upon reading a little bit further, I discerned that the email did not actually come from Chris Howard but from an affiliate who identifies himself as Catalyst For Change. Catalyst is promoting Chris’ Breakthrough To Success & Wealth ™ Weekend in two cities on two different weekends. The first one, in San Jose, California, ended yesterday, though I just received the email today. But the next one is in Seattle, Washington August 17-19. Catalyst is offering me a "Gift of 3 Heartwarming Complimentary Tickets to this Weekend, worth $895.67 each." He assures me, "This gift has enormous value beyond anything comprehensible."

Apparently Catalyst recently attended a Chris Howard event and was so pumped as a result that he decided to become an affiliate. And why wouldn’t he be pumped, given that a Chris Howard workshop is a clear example of the Law Of Attraction in action?

Being in the presence of someone who 'gets it' holds a distinct energy signature, a high-frequency resonance that another's resonance can rise to match. Just by being in their presence a portal of possibility opens up, it becomes available to everyone else. Do you remember high school chemistry, where everything, whether solid, gas, or liquid, is vibrating energy? The law of attraction says energies that are similar magnetize others that are like them.

Look forward to an accelerated depth of work happening multi-dimensionally on many levels as you consciously grasp the riviting [sic] practicalness [sic] of this science and simultaneously access the subtle energetic levels unseen but not unknown. Each moment dancing with laughter masquerading as learning and penetrating deeper and deeper, cell by cell and atom by atom to a greater heart opening bringing more light into the world for universal benefit.

Chris Howard himself appears to be "effortlessly sucking" (as Catalyst might put it) everything he can from The Secret, by virtue of associating with some of its "stars." If the pics on his web site are any indication, he is buddy-buddy with Secret talking-heads Bob Proctor and Michael Beckwith. He also pals around with Mark Victor Hansen, the co-perp of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series – the guy who was so rude to Steve Salerno a while back. Furthermore, The Secret logo currently appears on Chris’ web site, big as you please. Since the image is a live link to The Secret web site, I am assuming that Chris has permission from TS Productions, LLC to use the logo. If not, Rhonda’s intellectual property lawyers will almost certainly be after him.

In all fairness, I should add that a disclaimer appears in smaller type at the bottom of Catalyst’s page, stating that information on his site is not monitored by the Christopher Howard companies. I’m just saying maybe they should do a little monitoring.

In the same disclaimer, Catalyst absolves his own company of any liability for "any direct or indirect consequential aspects from the use of the information provided." Whenever I see these disclaimers I always wonder if that means the promoter also refuses to take credit for any of the good things that might occur as a result of using the information provided.

Curiously enough, Catalyst also offers an iron-clad guarantee:

Your satisfaction is assured through our no risk, no hassles, no questions-asked, return your material, iron-clad guarantee.

I wonder how you return a complimentary ticket if you go to the workshop and you think it sucks? Is Catalyst able to pull some strings with the time-space continuum and give you your wasted weekend back?***

But hey, the tickets are free. And they're given away on a first-come, first-served basis; when they’re gone, they’re gone. So maybe you and I should take advantage of these complimentary tickets. Chris Howard just might change our lives. After all, in the words of our friend Catalyst:

Now if I could tell you that you could create a powerful long-lasting breakthrough between your light-worker heart, your huge calling and business, your dreams and your life, relationships or finances and achieve what you really want from the depths of your core being, if I could talk in a way that you could really hear that there is highly advanced cutting-edge workability, that there truly is something here that supports your innate remembering in a resounding melody you won't hear anywhere else, and if it sounds good to support your inner magnificence then we could begin discussing how to harmoniously move forward to reserve your place at this popular upcoming Breakthrough to Success seminar, would that sound good to you?

Tell you what: you go to the workshop, I’ll stay home, and you can just write and tell me about it.

And y’know, now that I think about it, maybe the Internet hustledorks should forget about monitoring their affiliates’ material. If they reined in people like Catalyst, they'd be depriving me of a major source of entertainment. So, guys… carry on!

PS – I will get to "Losing my religion, Part 2" – a follow-up to Part 1 – eventually. I promise. Although I have to say that Part 1 apparently inspired wrath in one reader, who sent me an utterly unprintable comment.
PPS – If you can stand reading one more funny article about The Secret, here’s a delightful one
by Emily Yoffe on Slate.

* Note that I am not claiming the iCAP Release Meter is in fact effective or that it is based on real science; I'm really not qualified to say one way or the other. I'm just telling you what some of the iCAP folks have told me.
** Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to masquerade as some big marketing expert. But I am a former copywriter, as well as a consumer, a pretty fair b.s. detector, and, most of all, a lover of the English language.
*** Actually, Chris Howard offers a refund of the course fee if you decide, before the training is over, that you are not 100% satisfied. Since these workshops are carefully orchestrated so that the vast majority of participants get hopelessly caught up in the enthusiasm while the workshop is actually in progress, it's a pretty sure bet that there aren't too many refunds. If Chris really wanted to give a guarantee that meant something, the refund offer would be good for up to a year after the training ended. After all, isn't an effective workshop supposed to make a real difference in the participant's life, and not just make him or her high and happy for a couple of days? (Ha, ha, just kidding. I know these things are really little more than expensive entertainment.)

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Anonymous Wilderbeast said...

Having just recently experience a Chris Howard show in LA and then reading your blog I must admit that I am confused!!?? I thought that what I witnessed was a three day Las Vegas style extravaganza! And those $875.00 tickets came as a gift!!!

This show had it all NLP, Hypnosis, sensory overload…..it created need and then created a way to fill that need without ever leaving the theater. It was every secretons dream.

It was entertaining and had a lot of live side shows going on all the time. Most people called them fluffers but I think they where actually professional personal trainers. They showed me and everyone there just how to act with unbridled enthusiasm (actual words used in the show) so we didn’t have to think at all.
Chris was nice enough to go on and on and on and on (did I mention on and on) about who he knew, and how rich he was.

But never mind that all my fun is now spoiled. You had the audacity to put in print what everyone else didn’t want to admit. (Especially if they spent money there). So now I am angry with you and I will remain angry…… maybe…….. Ok, not, but I want to be angry….maybe…darn it, where is a fluffer when you need to make real decisions. I guess I will just dance around until someone tells me what to think. Thanks Connie!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007 3:37:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

I am seething with envy, Wilderbeast. It sounds like you had a real breakthrough experience. Maybe Chris will come to the Bayou City and *I* can get a free ticket. I can't wait.

Thanks for sharing your experience! :-)

Tuesday, May 15, 2007 5:58:00 PM  
Anonymous Walter said...

"Overly-enthusiastic affiliates," Connie? Lol . . . Oh I think you're being much too kind. Circumspect, even. Feeling ok?

Seriously, as usual you bring up some damned good points. Entertaining and educational.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007 2:21:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Thanks, Walter. I am just trying to err on the side of kindness... :-)

Wednesday, May 16, 2007 3:36:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

On second thought, if you follow the link on "overly-enthusiastic affiliates," maybe I wasn't erring too much on the side of kindness after all...

Wednesday, May 16, 2007 10:17:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with you…
You should never attend one of Chris Howard’s seminars.

You are far too negative and closed minded, plus very egotistical to attend
anything that just may show you up as being self-centered and opinionated.

Carry on with your one eyed comments in your own little world in blogger land. Where you reign supreme and get your jollys off with pathetic comments from like minded closed minded people like you.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008 5:36:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

oh how pathetic, you're the only one to gets to say what you want to say...
any blog moderated is a waste of time reading or commenting on

Wednesday, August 27, 2008 5:37:00 AM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Anon, you obviously feel very strongly about Mr. Howard, as evidenced by the fact that you felt compelled to write not once, but twice.

FYI, I will publish any comment that is not overtly profane or in some way actionable (i.e., libelous).

And no, moderating blogs is not a waste of time. If this blog weren't moderated, then the aforementioned profane or actionable comments would be automatically published, along with spam messages about online gambling and penis enlargers. We do try to stay on topic here. :-)

Anyway, it's obvious that my post strongly affected you. Believe me, I do understand that disillusionment is never easy, and I only hope you didn't shell out too much money on your hero.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008 7:44:00 AM  

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