The Mini-Madoff of Melbourne?
I'm the only Aussie on The Secret DVD, and probably the most controversial, most fun loving, most challenging and direct, maybe the richest?
~ David Schirmer's self-description on his Twitter page
It's been a while since I blogged about Australian Secret star David Schirmer, The Blunder from Down Under...or perhaps we should give him a new nickname for the new year. How about the Mini-Madoff of Melbourne? Like the infamous Bernie M., David Schirmer allegedly "made off" with large amounts of other people's money, as documented in numerous segments of the Aussie tabloid TV program, A Current Affair. Thus far, of course, David's reported misdeeds have been on a considerably smaller scale than those of Bernie Madoff – as have the transgressions of the "Mini-Madoffs" in the US – and his shenanigans have been largely confined to Australia. Still, the comparison seems apt. Besides, I rather like the alliteration.
From what I can see, however, Melbourne's Mini-M continues to deny any real wrongdoing – it seems the most he'll ever admit to is having made some mistakes in the past ("And who hasn't made mistakes?" is the implied question) – and he just keeps on keeping on. If you don't care, maybe you should, because he is still has his eyes on America. More on that in a moment.
He continues to trade on his association with the most famous New-Wage moviemercial of our times, The Secret, branding himself as "The 'Car Park' Guy," due to his spiel on the DVD about using the Law Of Attraction to attract prime parking spaces. As he said in the movie:
"People are amazed how I line up car parks. And I've done this right from when I first understood the secret. I would visualise a car space exactly where I wanted it and 95% of the time it would be there for me and I'd just pull straight in. Five percent of the time I'd have to wait just a minute or two and the person would pull out and I'd pull in. So I do that all the time."
Of course, he could just as easily brand himself as "The 'Checks In The Mail' Guy In The Secret":
"When I first understood the secret, I was getting bills. Every day I would get a bunch of bills in the mail and I thought, This is, how do I turn this around? The law of attraction states that what you focus on you will get. So I got a bank statement and I whited out the total and I put a new total in there. I put exactly how much I wanted to see in the bank. I thought, what if I just visualise cheques coming in the mail, so I just visualised a bunch of cheques coming in the mail. Within just one month, things started to change. And it's just amazing, today I just get cheques in the mail. I get a fewbills, but I get more cheques than bills."
The above two quotations were taken from a PDF that includes a transcript of the original DVD of The Secret (yes, this is the version with Esther Hicks and her imaginary pal Abe).
I know that some of this stuff is old news, but that's for the benefit of those who have only recently joined the party here and don't have all of the background information. The rest of you can feel free to skip over the stuff you already know.
The webmaster for David's The Secret Revealed web site seems to have worked overtime on search engine optimization, or at least I guess that's what it is (I'm kind of a Web marketing 'tard). Just click on the "Site Map" link on the home page and you'll see what I mean. There are more than 70 links, each one leading to a long list of yet more links, inclusive of all of the New-Wage gurus and concepts covered in The Secret, and then some. Thus, someone who is looking for, say, information on Joe Vitale might very well be led to David Schirmer's site. But I suppose that's pretty much in keeping with the general practices in the New-Wage industry, which is one large mutual masturb...er..big party, where the hustlers use each other's names all the time to promote their own stuff.
Even as he exploits his Secret connection, David continues to try to set himself apart from other Secret stars and the rest of the New-Wage scene – not just by describing himself in superlatives, as in that Twitter quotation above, but also by branding himself as a Bible-believing, saved-by-Jesus Christian, as snarkily reported here previously. (Some people are still trying to figure out the significance of the kitten pictures on that post I linked to. So far no one has guessed correctly.)
For some time now, David's purported Christianity has been finding its expression through his ongoing involvement in a prosperity-oriented church called Rhema Melbourne (formerly Word Family Church), an institution that seems to be rooted in the belief that God wants "His" people to be prosperous, and that "He" also wants them to fork over as much money as possible to the church that nurtures this holy sense of entitlement.
A friend of mine refers to churches like this as The Church of the Deluded, and it seems appropriate here. Either Rhema Melbourne doesn't know about Schirmer's bad press, or they don't care, or they recognize a good hustler...er...fundraiser... when they see one, and they figure he can help fill the collection plates. Of course, there's always the possibility that the church is simply practicing Christian forgiveness, as Our Lord would wish. On the other hand, maybe the Aussie authorities would be interested in the dealings of the Rhema Melbourne Church. That's not up to me to decide.
In any case, David Schirmer currently seems to be one of his church's rock stars, and they have him teaching a series of prosperity classes to the faithful. The promo page on Rhema's web site says, "Your [sic] would normally have to pay thousands to hear David share his business insights and secrets … you get to enjoy monthly seminars with him for free." In one of the upcoming classes, he will talk about the importance of tithing. "Learn why every business person should tithe and how to multiply your profits through offerings," says the blurb for his Purpose of Prosperity class, scheduled for February 22.
While I'm sure his church is just tickled pink about that, I have a feeling that some of this is not setting too well with the folks to whom he still allegedly owes all of that money. I remember hearing David promise A Current Affair's Ben Fordham that he would have all of the money paid back to his earlier investors by Christmas – of 2007. From what I have heard, he has yet to keep that promise. As an anonymous correspondent put it recently, "Where the hell is everyone's money that he owes them, in the bloody church coffers now? Won’t that make people happy. David Schirmer owes so many people so much money it is not funny and he talks about this sort of stuff. You’ve got to give it to him, the guy has gall."
David and his lovely wife Lorna are also still involved with a motivational project for youngsters, Youth Destiny Camp, which I first mentioned here last year. Among other things, he recently taught a group of young kids how to create a company and turn $500 into $500,000 in 90 days. "God help the poor little suckers when he has not even done that himself!" someone commented to me recently. Word has it that most of the kids who went to the Schirmers' Youth Camp last year did not return this year (perhaps they were so successful they didn't need to), and there was only a fraction of last year's turnout, some of whom were family. In any case, David has put a joyful spin on it as usual:
It is absolutely amazing to watch the young adults (12-19) change over the 5 days. Many come very shy and reserved and not really knowing what to expect; they leave full of confidence with a Vision Board in their hand and a new destiny. The 5-day YDC is often the best time in their lives.
In addition to all of the above, David continues to promote himself as a stock market expert and wealth advisor, and is also still involved in business and success mentoring, selling products such as his Wealth Building 101 Course, another item I have mentioned here before. This is the course where he teaches business owners how to protect their assets against "predator-plaintiffs and their attorneys." (His main wealth tip: Don't own anything in your name.) I'll give him this: He does have experience with plaintiffs and their attorneys, having been sued numerous times himself.
No doubt David has faced a few disappointments, in addition to that split-up with Bob Proctor last year (speaking of lawsuits). For one thing, he doesn't seem to be on the A-list for the scads of New-Wage moviemercials that have come out since The Secret (e.g., The Opus, The Compass, The Rumpus, The Leap, The Creep, Awakeners, that dumb movie where people keep tapping on themselves, or any of a number of Beyond-The-Secret type offerings). Sadder still, he isn't included in the latest incarnation of the great hustledork affiliate scheme, The Masters Gathering. I get the feeling that he's still pretty much persona non grata among the stars and superstars of the New-Wage industry.
Disappointments aside, he still seems to be having a barrel of fun online. Even if the New-Wage superstars will have little to do with him, there are hundreds upon hundreds of naive superstar-wannabes and groupies, some of whom have money to blow. And even if they don't have money, they are possessed of a certain naivete and willingness to glom onto anyone who can talk a good game, particularly if that person was in...gasp!...The Secret. Perhaps they think that since this charming guy with the Aussie accent and the twinkle in his eye has made himself more accessible than some of the other Secret stars, he might be able to get them into The Club. They don't seem to be aware that Schirmer himself can't really get into The Club, at least not into the V.I.P. room.
In any case, he has jumped into social media big time. He's been on Facebook and Myspace for quite some time now, but these days he is also having a fine old time on Twitter as well. To begin with, it's yet another forum for him to share insights about the stock market. Consider this bit of timeless wisdom:
Do you know why the stock market is called an "Exchange"? Because it is where the ignorant exchange their money for experience!!
He said a mouthful, perhaps without realizing it. One gets the feeling that he is banking on a never-ending flow of "the ignorant" to his workshops and web sites. On a later Tweet, he wrote a variation of the same thought:
When person with money meets person with experience; Person with money will get the experience and person with experience will get the money.Yep, I'd say that about sums it up. Let this be a warning to any inexperienced but moneyed souls who come in contact with David Schirmer. The "experience" you receive in exchange for giving him your money may not be quite what you had in mind.
He has also been Tweeting in vaguely flirtatious ways with various ladies about topics such as sex and romance and passion for one's vision; some are Tweeting coquettishly right back, as if they don't know, or simply don't care, about the negative press he's received (see that bit above, about The Club). And he's merrily exchanging Tweets with other spruikers (I had to throw a fine Aussie slang term in here somewhere), such as online entrepreneur Benjamin Bressington, whose Twitter handle is mongrelstyle. Recently David wrote:
Grown 67 followers since Tuesday evening ... is that OK?
is that all.... do those people understand you [sic] skills.
Benjamin went on to Tweet sweetly to David about how he, Benjamin, should have followed David's previous stock market prediction reports instead of doubting, but he has now learned his lesson and is looking forward to reading David's 2009 predictions. And in case you're curious, here's another link to the dynamic Benjamin, looking for all the world like actor Jason Alexander, except younger and with more hair.
Well, something must be working in Benjamin's life, because it looks as if he is shopping for a Rolls-Royce. He recently wrote:
I sat in a New Rolls Royce Coupe today, it is amazing almost made me cry it is an amazing car the roof has stars that light up AWESOME.
Later David Tweeted:
@mongelstyle [sic] CONGRATULATIONS ... hear you put your order in for your new Rolls Royce. Can't wait for a ride ... in the back seat!
Those of you who were thinking, "How about in the trunk?" should just stop that kind of thinking right now. I will not tolerate violence on this blog. My first thought was that if Benjamin's Rolls deal falls through, maybe Mr. Fire will let David ride in his Rolls for five thousand US dollars – or $7,500.00, if David wants to be the sole "Phantom rider."
David may not have a Rolls of his own yet, but he still seems to be doing all right, car-wise; he's driving a BMW M5 (base price of current models is around $185,00 USD). Although he has a way to go before he has as many cars as Mr. Fire, he does seem to be trying to play in that league, or trying to get into The Club, as it were. Kissing-up on Twitter is one of his strategies, evidenced by a couple of comments he wrote in response to Tweets regarding Joe's recent $12,500 Awakened Millionaire Weekend, which took place in Austin on January 23-25 (yes, it fell during Cosmic Connie Day). In response to one of Joe's Tweets about the event, David wrote:
@mrfire Well done Joe! What this about a bad economy in the US? Keep changing the world.
Later David "re-Tweeted" one of Joe's Tweets:
RT: @mrfire: Offered $100,000 Platinum Package at end of Awakened Millionaire Training, people rushed to sign up. An inspired, awakened idea.
Alas, Joe has yet to publicly acknowledge David's Twittery overtures. Maybe it is simply because he never saw them. Still, he doesn't hesitate to cite Schirmer's now-failed Succeed Magazine in his promo material. This blurb is currently on the home page of his main website, mrfire.com:
According to Succeed Magazine, Dr. Joe Vitale is one of the five top marketing specialists in the world today and is known to his readers, customers, and seminar attendees as the world's first hypnotic writer.
Though Succeed seems to be on hiatus indefinitely, there is apparently another magazine in the works at Schirmerville:
We are looking for successful people with an inspirational story for the global launch of our magazine. huge exposure. Please Retweet.
I don't know yet whether this is a whole new publication (perhaps in the Chicken-Soup-type inspirational genre) or just another incarnation of Succeed, created to appease the poor saps who paid the hefty price for subscriptions. Either way, I'm sure the world is waiting breathlessly for yet another slick New-Wage rag.
Judging from another recent Tweet, David is also considering either buying or renting a private jet, or at least trying to make people think he is rich enough to consider it:
Though I can't find the comment to which that Tweet was apparently a response, and the @getsmartwithjohn Twitter page doesn't seem to exist, there is an @getsmartwithjon Twitter page, as well as a "Get Smart With John" web site at http://www.getsmartwithjohn.com/. The man behind those sites is Aussie John Armitage-Smart. A bit of Googling revealed that among other things, John is a distributor for Neways International, a company that has its own "interesting" history. I'm guessing this is the same John Smart that the aforementioned Benjamin Bressington mentioned in a January 22 Tweet:
Just sitting in david schirmer's office with john smart in melbourne, and it is actually a nice day in melbourne
Here's a picture of John Smart (and I do believe that is Benjamin B in the background).Twitter seems to be a whole new world for David Schirmer, an over-the-rainbow realm where all of his old troubles have melted like lemon drops. His self-description on his Twitter profile – which I quoted above, but it's so good I'll give it to you again – shows that his gift for spin is still alive and well:
I'm the only Aussie on The Secret DVD, and probably the most controversial, most fun loving, most challenging and direct, maybe the richest?
Uh-huh. The "most controversial" part is true, at least, if by that he means "most sued." "Fun loving?" Well, let's not get into that; let's just say the rumors have been flying for some time now. "Challenging and direct?" Okay, I'll give him that; I bet he has challenged every legal action that's ever been taken against him, and he also seems to be challenging the Aussie authorities to "catch me if you can." And "the richest?" Not to belabor the point, but if he really is the richest, you think he'd have some money left over, after spending it on necessities such as expensive cars and private jets, to pay back at least some of those people...
Now, I'm just speculating here, but to me David Schirmer's boasts seem less like an accurate reflection of his life, and more like a lonely teenage boy bragging to his friends about the hot date he had last Saturday night, when in reality his "date" consisted of his right hand and a pilfered copy of Dad's Playboy magazine (or an unsupervised surfing session on the Internet). The difference is that the teenage boy isn't bilking people out of their life savings.
As for being the only Aussie on The Secret, even that is arguable, of course, if you include creator and producer Rhonda Byrne, whose personal story is told in the movie and the book. It turns out that several other Aussies were originally interviewed as well, but didn't make the final cut. (I often wonder if Rhonda has since had any regrets about the Aussie who was chosen.) One of the originally interviewed Aussies is Sydney's Lynda Dyer, who, as it happens, did make the aforementioned Masters Gathering.
Aussie or not, David Schirmer obviously wants to share his gifts with the world. Canada may be the first baby step; the Schirmers already have two sons in Canada. With two of the spawn in the Great White North, could the parents be far behind? O Canada, don't say you've not been warned! (Hmmm...I feel a song coming on...)
The US needs to be on the alert as well. David recently Tweeted to online entrepreneur Ali Brown, owner of "a multimillion dollar company devoted to empowering women around the world with the tools to live the freedom-based lives of their dreams":
@alibrownla Hi Ali, Where will you be Feb 23-Mar 10? I'll be in the States and would love to catch up.
I imagine he would love to "catch up" to Ali, for several reasons, but I am pretty sure she's too smart for that. Nonetheless, David seems to be headed our way, as indicated by a recent Tweet:
I'm guessing that the "Ben" he mentioned is not Ben Fordham of A Current Affair. More than likely it's Ben "I sat in a Rolls!" Bressington. In fact I could just about guarantee that's the Ben he's talking about, as indicated by this entry on Ben's blog, "Catalst [sic] For Transformation," and on his Twitter page:
David Schirmer has told me the train is leaving on his new business, I am excited...I am on the train.
As for who John is, I'm guessing it's the aforementioned John Armitage-Smart. One wag suggested that "John Arguably-Smart" would be a more appropriate name, seeing as how the guy is poised to launch a new business with David Schirmer.
You almost have to feel sorry for Ben and John, but then again, they're just as capable as anyone else of Googling, or of researching just by asking around. After all, it seems that David Schirmer has a long history of convincing people that he has more than he actually has. Many have wound up disillusioned or worse, and some have gone public. (Does the name "Warren Henningsen" ring a bell? Warren was once David's greatest champion, even "protecting" him from a TV reporter when David took refuge in a public restroom. But finally even Warren had enough.)
Perhaps David is simply practicing that "act as if" routine that so many Law Of Attraction fans embrace, talking his situation up as if he's already received whatever it is he wants, even though he can't even afford the deposit. Over the years he has apparently been successful in convincing numerous other folks to buy into his schemes, and that's what keeps him going till the scheme du jour falls through, and then it's on to the next one. Of course, as I've noted numerous times on this blog, he's far from the only hustler who does this sort of thing. But that doesn't excuse any of his wrongdoings.
For now, it seems there's no getting around it: the Mini-Madoff of Melbourne is heading our way, seeking new opportunities in the land of bilk and money. Are Americans too smart for him? Don't count on it. This, after all, is the place where Bernie Madoff and untold numbers of lesser grifters could squeeze billions out of the nation's very richest (I mean, Steven Spielberg! C'mon!). This is the land where even notorious serial scammers like Kevin Trudeau can still make an obscenely good living by packaging hope and magical thinking for the desperate masses, while playing the hero/martyr role whenever they have a run-in with the law.
Really, David Schirmer will fit right in (he even has a head start on the martyrdom bit).
And who knows, he may even make the Masters Gathering project yet. If he's really lucky and keeps kissing up, maybe Mr. Fire will even start returning his Tweets. And if he can just put enough time and physical distance between himself and his troubles Down Under, he may yet be able to get into the V.I.P. room of The Club.
Lord help us all.
For more about David Schirmer, click on the "David Schirmer" tag below this post (this post will probably be on top, but simply scroll down)...or just Google! (Here's another blog, just to get you started. And no, I don't know who this person is.)
PS added February 7: I just received an anonymous disapproving comment today, but even though the person sent the comment as a response to a post I wrote back in November about the presidential election, I think s/he really intended to respond to this post. Rather than republishing the comment up here, I am simply going to link to it. Here's the link. So, Anon, you don't need to tell your friends that Cosmic Connie doesn't have the courage to publish your comment. I published it to the post to which you sent it.
Addendum: February 13
How to ruin a perfectly good friendship in a few easy Tweets:
1. Be a personal trainer for a successful New-Wage hustledork.
2. Exploit the heck out of that association by mentioning it on all of your social networking sites, including Twitter, and by making poor-quality videos with candid shots of the hustledork in your home.
3. Initiate a Twitter exchange with a notorious spruiker who is trying to get into The Club to which your hustledork friend belongs (and to which you are trying to gain membership yourself):
4. Wonder why the hustledork has mysteriously canceled his training sessions with you and won't return your phone calls.
Trainer: @davidschirmer Hi David! Loved your bit in The Secret. I am good friends with Jack. Loving your tweets!!!
Spruiker: @MarvinTowler Thanks for your tweet. How close are you to Jack? I would love to catch up with him sometime, we met in Toronto 2 years ago
Trainer: @davidschirmer Really close. I can get you in touch with him if you'd like?
Spruiker: @MarvinTowler Hi Marvin, that would be great, especially if we could make contact for my upcoming US trip.
Marvin, Marvin... friends don't let friends get involved with... oh, well, let's just sit back and see how this plays out. But don't say I didn't warn you, Marvin.