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.)

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Conversations with Peter Wink, Part 2

The second of several (who knows how many?) Wink Wednesdays…

In my previous post
I went to some length to ’splain why and how I began having conversations with self-help industry insider Peter Wink, “The Marketers’ Marketer,” as he has described himself. I hinted at some of the topics we spoke about, and even that little teaser of a post opened up quite a discussion, which became a bit heated at times. But that's part of what this open conversation is all about. Presumably most of the ruffled feathers have been smoothed out, just in time to be ruffled again, perhaps.

Before I get into the meat of our discussions about the self-help industry in general, I’ll address some questions about Peter’s past stint with Joe Vitale, as well as his current association with flamboyant infomercial pitchman Kevin Trudeau. I know many of you are curious.

Russian to conclusions…and Operation Maybe
Peter told me his side of the Joe Vitale "Escape from Russia" story, which at the very least seems to be an example of differing perceptions. (I’m trying to be charitable here, though I have my own opinions, based on personal experiences, observations, and information from other sources.) But what the heck; you’ve read Joe’s side so I’ll tell you Peter’s. To begin with, Peter insists that he never actually read Joe’s “Escape from Russia” blog post in either its original or revised form, but he said several people emailed him about it and told him what it said. He also said a few folks told him they’d emailed Joe about the matter shortly after the piece was published, and Joe had replied to those folks rather snappishly. Peter told me he was entertained.

He also explained that he was never technically an employee of Joe’s, but a contractor (“for many intelligent reasons,” he told me), and that Joe was well aware that Kevin Trudeau had made him an offer in July of 2009. I get the idea that Kevin was rather aggressive with his recruiting, and Joe wasn’t at all happy about it. At any rate, Peter said he finally accepted Kevin’s offer in early September and gave Joe three weeks’ notice. He said that Joe seemed angry that he was leaving, and that’s likely why Joe lashed out. The important point is that Peter initiated the split, but Joe, for reasons of his own, told it a different way.

Peter, however, said it was a very good move for him. “I helped Joe make plenty of money and will do the same for Kevin – as I’ve been doing for many others in my career,” he said.

As for the trip itself, Peter said that about two weeks before Joe was to depart for Russia, when it looked as if things were not going to come together as planned, Peter advised Joe that he should just cancel if he did not want to go. In fact, at one point he strongly advised him to do so. He said Joe decided to go anyway; he had signed a contract and meant to honor it. At any rate, the trip apparently left a bad taste in the mouth of more than one person, although Peter indicated that Joe made a lot of money from the Russian trip. (When and if one of the other parties involved decides to come forth with
his side of the story, perhaps we’ll have an even more complete picture.) Despite any bad feelings there might have been, however, Peter told me, “Joe was very good to me during the time I was working with him.” And during our second phone conversation on December 20, he mentioned that he and Joe were on friendly terms again, and had been exchanging emails.

I was curious about Joe’s Operation Y.E.S. program, because Peter’s name is still listed on the web site as a participant. Joe has described Operation Y.E.S. as a way to end homelessness and foreclosures in the United Sates. In some interviews he has said his program can end homelessness and foreclosures in one day. As of now, however, the program’s web presence is still largely confined to a one-page teaser/sign-up page, though recently Joe wrote that he flew to Houston and talked with a CNN radio host; he says they are making plans to “make a reality TV show out of my helping homeless people with the Law of Attraction and my other work.”
I recall that at one point not long after Operation Y.E.S. was first announced, Joe was writing about possibly bringing his fight against homelessness to Camden, New Jersey, which is one of the most economically depressed cities in the U.S. As it happens, another Joe Vitale – that would be Senator Joseph F. – has been pretty heavily involved with initiatives to fight homelessness and poverty in the area. Senator Vitale has been serving in the New Jersey Senate since 1998, representing the 19th Legislative District. Besides homelessness and poverty, his pet causes include health care, protection of civil liberties, and ethics in state government. However, I got the feeling that “our” Joe – that would be Joseph G. – was more than a bit ambivalent about taking his show on the road to Camden.

To the best of my recollection (although I can’t seem to find any relevant links any more; maybe my Googling skills are slipping), there were some missed flights and other incidents that apparently led him to the conclusion that the Universe was telling him to back out of that deal. My first guess was that the jaded and recession-weary community leaders in Camden were searching for a program that would actually have measurable and concrete results, and Joe G. feared that the nascent Operation Y.E.S. (or Operation Maybe, or even Operation Probably Not, as one wag calls it), couldn’t deliver the goods. When you boast that your program is going to solve, or at least make a big dent in, a serious and chronic social program, people do tend to demand a certain degree of accountability, darn it all. Or perhaps Joe just didn’t see a way that being involved in the Camden project could possibly be profitable for him and his main partner in Op-Y.E.S., Craig Perrine.

But let me stress that those are my speculations only. Peter’s only comment when I asked him about Camden was, “Jon Bon Jovi got involved in the Camden project and is doing a marvelous job! Joe could have been working with him. Self-sabotage...” Indeed, New Jersey native son Bon Jovi, of whom Peter has been a devoted fan for many years, has his own charitable gig that actually seems to be getting some work done, “one soul at a time.” However, Peter is not sure what’s going on with Operation Y.E.S. these days and is not involved with it at all any more.

Shooting themselves in the foot
That self-sabotage monster alluded to above does tend to rear its ugly head now and again, and Peter says he has seen his share of self-saboteurs in his career. When talking with him about this, I noted that as a book editor/ghostwriter/re-writer (in my “day job”), one of the most important tasks Ron and I have is not only to help writers look their best in print, but also to keep them from making themselves look bad. But one can only go so far in offering suggestions. Ultimately, the client makes the final decision about what goes to print. Similarly, one of Peter’s jobs as assistant/adviser to his clients/partners has always been not only to help them put their best foot forward but also to help them avoid making unwise decisions. As has been the case with Ron and I and our own clients, Peter has had varying degrees of success with his preventive and proactive measures, as some clients seem to be all too willing to shoot themselves in the foot despite his best efforts.

For example, Peter shared during one of our exchanges that he can’t stand it when authors say or imply that people attracted tragedy to themselves, a theory that has long been a part of New-Wage lore, but became even more popular in the wake of The Secret/Law of Attraction craze. Peter thinks that saying people attract horrible things to themselves is “just plain sick.” In his view, writing in this vein almost always does an author more harm than good, stirring up ill feelings in readers and making the author appear callous and uncaring. He also said he has told several authors in the past to never blog about murky or controversial topics unless it has some benefit to someone. And he casts a wary eye at self-help authors and workshop leaders who make too many confessions about their personal lives – either boasting too much about their near-perfect relationships, especially when it can easily be verified that their personal lives are dysfunctional, or sharing T.M.I. about failed ones. Either way, he says, those confessions often have unintended consequences.
On that latter point, he and I are pretty much in agreement, though I won’t go into the awful relationship story that spurred this part of the discussion. I’ll just say that Peter told me that this story made him feel “kind of weird” about the person who told it. I had the same feelings.
“Negative writing does nothing for a (self-help) author in the end,” Peter said. “But egos overrule reason all too often.”
I should note that most of Peter’s remarks about egos and negative writing were general statements, based on his cumulative experiences with many authors over the years, and he did not give me any specific examples, despite my open invitation to name names. (And yes, I know that, notwithstanding Peter’s gracious (the more cynical might say "ingratiating") remarks about my blog, I am a “negative” writer myself, and on occasion have been known to engage in gratuitous gossip, but that’s kind of my shtick, ya know?) When it comes to self-sabotage, truth be told, we all do it at one time or another, whether we’re self-help producers or consumers, or snarky bloggers, for that matter. The topic is probably worthy of a whole book by itself. In fact, I’m thinking that’s something Peter could write about.

I also want to add that I think I understand why some self-help authors would want to address the “murky” topics head-on despite advice to the contrary. At least I can speculate about the reasons (and these are my own speculations again, not Peter’s). Some self-help leaders, for example, are genuinely concerned about ethical issues. Some want in their own way to do damage control for the industry, or, in some cases, to deflect negative attention from themselves.
Whatever their motivations may be for either publicly speaking or not speaking about a controversy (e.g., the James Ray tragedies), I think we also have to take into account that interesting phenomenon I wrote about in my previous post: the damned-if-they-do-and-damned-if-they-don’t syndrome. When members of a controversial industry fail to address the controversies, they can and almost certainly will be perceived as trying to gloss over the negative aspects or striving to protect their own turf. And I’m sure that in many cases, that’s exactly what some are trying to do. On the other hand, if they do attempt to make a statement, the critics (including the snarkers) are likely to jump on their every word. We had a bit of a back-and-forth on the previous post in this series about that very matter.

My strong sense from talking to him was that Peter learned some pretty valuable and sometimes painful lessons about friendship, betrayal, and forgiveness from some of his recent work experiences and from hearing about some of the experiences of others. He didn’t seem to be ready to open up completely about that, however. No big surprise there. He did say, “One thing I’ve learned is that people will judge others on what they (see in themselves).” And that will have to do for now, for that topic. As I noted in my previous blog post, I’m not going to try to force anything. Nor, contrary to various accusations from some of my snargets, am I going to just make stuff up, a la Rita Skeeter (although there are times I would seriously love to have her magic quill and note pad).

The joy of giving
Peter seemed emphatic about letting me know about the “other side” of some self-help gurus he’s worked with – the big hearts behind the big egos, if you will. On the surface, this is not all that surprising to me, especially since, to name but one example, various friends and business partners of Joe Vitale have made it a point over the years to let me know what a goodhearted and generous guy Joe can be when he wants to be. And, setting aside the whole issue of “conspicuous altruism” – acts of generosity that are used either as marketing tools, deflection of criticism, or both – it is true that a big heart and a big ego often go hand in hand. Case in point: the late great consumer advocate and Texas legend Marvin Zindler, whose death – and life – I blogged about in 2007. Of the altruism/egotism issue, I wrote (if you’ll pardon my quoting myself):

There are so many ways in which Marvin Zindler differed from the New-Wage/self-help/pop-spirituality gurus I love to skewer on this blog. True, Marvin had an ego that could easily have put the lot of the New-Wagers to shame. From a very early age, he was an inveterate publicity hound and would do just about anything to get his name and picture in the news. But he wasn't just another fame whore. The man had a heart that was even larger than that ego of his, and he touched countless thousands of lives – not by selling vague promises of enlightenment or unlimited wealth via self-help books and DVDs and weekend workshops, but by actually solving everyday problems for everyday folks.
Of course Marvin Zindler was no self-help guru, but the example is relevant nonetheless because the big-ego/big-heart phenomenon can be observed among moneyed folks in all industries. Peter’s point in bringing up the altruism issue with me was that he wanted to ensure that I – and my readers – were aware of a facet to many self-help stars that, in his view, often gets overlooked in the process of criticism. Forget Operation Maybe for the moment. There are other ways to give of one’s self besides trying to tackle social problems head-on. For example, Peter said that during the time he was working for Joe he was personally aware of hundreds of fan letters and emails to Joe – emotional outpourings from folks who were grateful to Joe for how his work had changed their lives.

This revelation wasn’t a surprise to me, and I told Peter it probably wouldn’t be to my readers either; after all, Joe himself has mentioned more than once that he gets lots of fan mail, and he is always publishing thanks and kudos on his blog. I have no problem believing that the complimentary blog comments are just the tip of the iceberg, praise-wise. The same goes for other New-Wage leaders. If they’re even moderately successful and well known, they are almost certain to be inundated with praise from sincerely grateful fans and starry-eyed hero worshipers (as well as, inevitably, from sly wannabes who wish mainly to further their own agendas). I will concede that to really give a fair and balanced portrait of any guru, the praise and kudos should be factored in with the complaints and criticism. Life is just not all black-and-white. Even the self-help authors who dispense the most vapid and simplistic advice are, in reality, complex human beings.

But I’m guessing you knew that.

I do understand Peter’s wish to drive home the point that in my snarking, I sometimes overlook the kindness and heartfelt actions of those whom I delight in calling hustledorks (a neologism coined by my guy Ron), even though I think most of my readers are aware of the generosity of many self-help leaders. This awareness comes in no small part because the gurus themselves often go out of their way to publicize their good deeds (e.g., Joe and “Little Kirk”). As one wag put it, "No good deed goes unpublished."

I hasten to say that self-help leaders are hardly alone in touting their own goodness; after all, rock stars, athletes, and Hollyweirds are very much into conspicuous altruism, and the social-consciousness shtick is a great marketing strategy these days for every type of company from auto manufacturers to big oil (uh-huh) to insurance companies. (Sometimes I find myself actually yelling at the TV when a big insurance company runs a commercial touting “Aha! Moments” or that “Do the right thing” mantra.)

Where self-help gurus are concerned, though, Peter said there are other unpublicized everyday acts of kindness. He spoke, for example, of times he walked through the streets of downtown Chicago with Joe, and Joe would just hand out money to homeless people, no questions asked. Again, I have no problem letting anyone know about things like that. Nor do I have a problem with Peter’s attempt to present a more nuanced view of Joe and other industry leaders. In my observation, however, few critics of the New-Wage leaders actually think the gurus are completely heartless and selfish; that’s really not the point of their criticism. The question is: Do these acts of kindness and generosity make up for the extravagant promises and unfounded claims about products, services, and events? Or for the greed and the egotism? Or for the lamentable way some of these folks treat those closest to them? Or, in some cases, for the real harm they do to others?

I’m thinking that most critics would say no.

I asked Peter about these matters, and while he didn’t directly address them in relation to anyone specific, he did have a few things to say about the issue of extravagant promises and unfounded claims from self-help leaders, versus the sometimes unrealistic expectations and demands of consumers. It’s a two-way street. I reminded Peter that consumer expectations are both created and earnestly nurtured by marketers, as well as by our entire “we want the world and we want it now” culture. The self-help industry doesn’t exist in a vacuum; it is as much a product of our culture as our culture is of self-help. As it happens, this is one point on which Peter and I pretty much agree, even if we are coming at it from slightly different directions. But Peter believes we also have to consider internal factors – an individual consumer’s personality, experiences, and predisposition – when evaluating the potential benefit or harm of any self-help expert or product. “You just can’t make a blanket statement either way,” he says.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. I’ll cover those issues in more detail later on. The point Peter wanted to make was that despite the super-sized egos and the deep mercenary streaks that seem to characterize so many self-help stars, these characteristics are often tempered by acts of kindness, generosity, and selflessness that are not always publicized.

Since I mentioned extravagant promises and unfounded claims, I think it’s time to turn our attention briefly to Peter’s current gig.

Earning some true dough
If you’re searching for dirt about Kevin Trudeau on this post, then I am sorry to disappoint you, because Peter Wink is the wrong person to ask. “Kevin is one of the warmest, sweetest, sincerest people you’ll ever know,” says Peter. Yeah, that’s pretty much what Joe Vitale said about Kevin too, and for that matter it seems to be the way Kevin is painting himself, more or less – and I wasn’t impressed. Peter gets that. He knows I’m not exactly a fan of Kevin’s. He knows that when it comes to True-dough I’m a serial snarker. It doesn’t seem to bother him, but it is clear where his loyalties lie.
Peter went to work for Kevin as his director of sales and product development in October of 2009. Though Kevin made Peter an offer he couldn’t refuse, this was not some rash, spur-of-the-moment decision for Peter; he had to consider how his choice would impact his relationship with Joe. He told me he has admired Kevin’s work for years and had actually wanted to work with him for a long time. “He’s one of the most successful authors and marketers in history,” Peter explained during one of our conversations. “Who wouldn’t want to work for someone like that?” Well, I can name several who probably wouldn’t, but that’s neither here nor there. In Peter’s view, Kevin is pretty much at the top of the heap in the direct marketing world, as measured by brand recognition – controversy and all – not to mention sheer earnings.
Peter and Kevin both have roots with Nightingale-Conant. As I noted in my first post, Peter worked for N-C for several years, and the company published several memory-enhancement products of Kevin’s in the early 1990s. Peter told me that at one time Kevin had been a partner of sorts with Nightingale-Conant. When I asked him to clarify, Peter said, “Maybe ‘partner’ isn’t exactly the right word. N-C published some of his products and I think he had some sort of manufacturing agreement with them.”

At the time I first spoke to Peter, Kevin had just stepped up his efforts to promote a fourteen-CD set, Your Wish Is Your Command, which supposedly contains some of the information Kevin learned as a member of a “secret society” known as The Brotherhood. He had enlisted Joe Vitale in his efforts to promote the set. Needless to say, I had quite a bit of fun with that on my blog.
Peter, I must say, has been a very good sport about it all. While he understandably did not want to discuss it at length with me, he did volunteer his opinion that there is validity to Kevin’s claim that secret societies have long been the jealous guardians of knowledge forbidden to the masses. Peter says his own experience as a Freemason has taught him this. (Peter was recently inducted into the Shriners. He says he wants to help kids in need, and “the Shrine gives me a platform to do good in this world.”)
However, he told me that he hasn’t actually asked Kevin about his own background in “The Brotherhood.” Another case of “plausible deniability?” Perhaps. But that’s Peter’s story and he’s sticking to it.

And that’s really the extent of our conversations about KT. As I noted in my first post, Peter considers Kevin to be a friend as well as his employer, and he’s loyal to the end.
More salient to the larger purpose of our conversations, Peter says that there are two crucial points that he thinks most self-help critics overlook: (1) The sins, such as they are, of the self-help industry are mild compared to those of the pharmaceutical industry, the food manufacturing business, and the medical/psychiatric profession, to name but a few (not to mention the U.S. government); and (2) He firmly believes that far more people have been helped than harmed (or even just disappointed) by self-help products and services.

We’ll get into that – Peter's points as well as some of my counterpoints (and Peter's thoughts on the latter) – in the next "Wink Wednesday" post(s).
Meanwhile, keep those comments coming. I appreciate everyone’s participation, even comments from those who love to loathe this blog!

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for your idea's

Keep in touch
-Simranjeet Singh

Friday, April 30, 2010 2:19:00 AM  
Anonymous mojo said...

Hmmm, no comments, yet? Perhaps Oscar Wilde was right: "There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is NOT being talked about." (And lest people think I'm starting off entirely too highbrow, I will admit that--like I get most of my classical music knowledge from Bugs Bunny cartoons--I get many of my British Lit references from Monty Python. Who also quotes G. B. Shaw as telling the Prince of Wales "Your Majesty is like a stream of bat's piss" so they might not be the most accurate source material.)

I'm thinking perhaps the mood-killer might be the right upfront assertion that Peter has never read JV's post that allegedly somewhat trashes him. This assertion does not work for me on several levels, so my BS meter (for lack of a better term; apologies to Peter--no serious disrespect is intended) pegged a little at the very start of the post, which is not always the best first impression.

First off of course is petty human nature, of which I suspect we're all guilty of to some degree or other. Even someone as lofty and saintlike as myself would be running to read that sucker the instant I heard of its existence, if only for the entertainment value. Peter's denial sounds suspiciously like folks who show up on a blog they don't like, lambaste everyone involved, and then announce, "Don't bother responding, lo(o)sers, because I'm NOT COMING BACK!" You just know they're checking that blog every fifteen minutes hoping for a response.

It also doesn't work on the level of being a professional communicator. One of the first things they teach you in high school and/or college (at least they used to--okay, so it's been a few years) is what they used to call "information literacy", which is roughly defined as the ability to find and evaluate sources of information when you need to construct an argument. (This is "argument" in the academic discussion sense, not in the "your mother was a hamster and your father smelled of elderberries" internet sense.) The Holy Grail of information literacy (oh, my, I'm just on FIRE with the Python in-jokes this morning!) is Primary Source Material, which means you dig your way down to the horse's mouth and get it directly from the animal before you start drawing conclusions.

Hearsay is not--I repeat, *not*--what one would call Primary Source Material. Sure, it's entertaining and fun, but it's not allowed in a court of law for a reason. It certainly doesn't make sense that a business professional would rely on hearsay if it is rumored that someone is trashing him. For starters, there is the professional concern--is he or she trashing my business skills? Will I be required to take legal action? Are THEY threatening legal action? What's going on? But hearsay is also filtered--whether consciously or unconsciously--through the impressions and agendas of the people passing the rumors, who might be stirring things up needlessly for whatever reasons they have.

Of course I make this mild protest conscious of the irony that I am hearing all of this filtered through Connie--and, pffft, let's face it, we all know what SHE's like--who may or may not be accurately portraying your level of insistence. Not that I think she would purposefully misrepresent your words, only that she is communicating an IMPRESSION, and impressions are not always accurate.

(Hmm, surprise, surprise--I've exceeded the word count. I shall continue my utter brilliance on the next comment.)

Friday, April 30, 2010 8:48:00 AM  
Anonymous mojo said...

Mojo's Rant, Continued....

Which is why the "cynical" and "critical" among us ask sometimes confrontative questions--some more politely than others--as an attempt to winnow through the chaff and arrive at a conclusion that is hopefully nearer the truth than not.

Which brings me (FINALLY! Won't she EVER shut up?) to one of my main concerns with many in the self-help community--the insistence that one should NEVER read "negative" viewpoints (oftentimes "negative" seems to be synonymous with "opposing" or "different", at least as I interpret the various mandates). Which I can't help but suspect might be somewhat behind your insistence that you didn't read JV's post. No doubt you will correct me if I'm wrong, or at least I hope you would.

I don't think such an "ideal" is possible, or even advisable. For starters, I'd think from a purely logistical angle you'd want to know what "the enemy" (again, for lack of a better term, although I really can't stand how some folks polarize things into black and white the first chance they get) is up to. Hearsay is not a good way to do that. Many a lost war has hinged on bad intel--sometimes purposefully bad. The "critical" in critical thinking is not meant in the movie critic "everything sucks!" sense, but in the sense of critical care in a hospital setting--it is helpful to a person's survival to view some things from an objective standpoint--what some call "due diligence"--instead of just wholesale buying into the hype.

There is also the tendency of people using this mandate as a means of controlling and perhaps censoring the information others receive, which of course can occasionally be used for less-than-admirable purposes. Plus, perhaps I am just contrary by nature--if someone tells me I shouldn't do something, it sorta makes me want to do it more, just to see what the fuss is all about. (You are no doubt familiar with all the fun stuff behind reverse psychology, and no doubt there are all kinds of sales techniques to draw contrary sorts like me into the fold as well.)

Of course I say this as someone who always goes straight to the negative reviews on Amazon when I am researching a purchase. Mostly because I find that Tolstoy was right--the happy reviews all tend to sound the same, while the negative ones (minus the obvious cranks) are oftentimes very specific in their complaints, and hence more informative than "It's great!" I also tend to enjoy the professional editorial process of ripping a piece of writing to shreds, something that reduces many beginning writers literally to tears. I am frankly mystified that people do NOT enjoy this process, since the ultimate result of tearing something down and building it back up really gives one a deeper understanding of--and yes, appreciation for--what's going on.

Sorry for the excessive blabbing. (I can imagine poor Pat O'Bryan rolling his eyes and muttering to himself from here--he can attest I can go on and on ad infinitum.) I appreciate the opportunity to discuss these things, since I think we can all benefit from the exchange. This to me is more exciting and attractive than all the occasional wholesale trashing coming from both sides.... although some trashers ARE very amusing at what they do and how they do it... again, on both sides... And sometimes trashing is cleverly (or not so cleverly) hidden in *loftiness*, so watch out for me as well as everyone else, and call me on it if I get too obnoxious! :-)

Friday, April 30, 2010 8:51:00 AM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Thank you for your comment, Simranjeet, aka Nathan Scheer http://simranjeet.com/my-story/

(I see by perusing your site that Simranjeet Singh means, "The Lion of God Who Attains Victory Through His Practice of Meditation.")

Anyway, the link in your comment didn't work so I went and dug for the permalink:


I have provided this link so anyone who wants to do so can read your comments and perhaps either comment here or on your own blog.

I also see by reading your 'Mission' page...

...that even though you find Joe Vitale somewhat annoying (as you mentioned in your "Cosmic Connie" post), he is one of your role models, along with...

"Robert T Kiyosaki... Tony Robbins, Robert A. Monroe, Kevin Trudea, Wilheim Reich, Einstein, Carl Jung, Robert Greene, Madame Blavatsky, Bob Proctor, Deepak Chopra, Jack Canfield, Martin Luther King Jr, Mother Teresa, Micheal Beckwith, Dennis Kucinich, Robert Anthony, Ron Paul, James Redfield, Mohandas Gandhi, Micheal Tsarion, Alex Jones, Robert Anton Wilson, Zachaira Sitchen, John West, David Icke"

Interesting mix.

So how's the GIN membership/affiliation working out for you, dollar-wise? I know I'm not addressing your other points about Kevin Trudeau's ethics, etc., and the Your Wish Is Your Command CD set, and the Global Information Network -- but I have written about both Kevin and, for that matter, Joe V, at length already. Notwithstanding recent conversations and apparent alliances, I have not changed my basic opinions about either one of them. I will say that your comment in your blog post about how Kevin uses cognitive dissonance to make sales interests me. Since I've been accused of c.d. myself, I'm wondering if I could use this in some way to bring in some more bucks. (What can I say... feelin' kinda mercenary today. :-))

Anyway, thanks again for your comment, SS/Nathan. I was beginning to wonder when folks would start commenting on this post, and no doubt Peter was wondering the same thing.

Friday, April 30, 2010 11:24:00 AM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Mojo, what a treat: two comments in one. :-) I occasionally run into that "character limitation" problem myself when writing one of my brilliant discourses, and it frustrates me no end to have to split it into two or, occasionally, three. But hey, it increases the comment count.

By the way, I get many of my literary and cultural references from Monty Python too. I hope those guys know how deeply they have influenced our culture.

Regarding the dearth of comments on this post, I don't know if the "mood-killer" for everyone was Peter's assertion that he had not read the JV post…or if it was just a case of people being "all commented out" from the first post in the series (after all, we covered a lot of topics)…or if it was merely a matter of Joe Vitale being "yesterday's news" (as Peter himself said on one of his comments to Part 1) and therefore not all that interesting anymore. Maybe it was a combination of these factors.

Or perhaps something more substantial has been going on. Is it possible that some readers have been alienated because it appears that I’m giving Peter too much of a pass here and apparently not challenging any of his comments, including that assertion about not reading Joe’s blog post? In other words, are people turned off because they think that I am being too “nice?”

That could be a factor too. I don’t know.

But the series is not over yet.

Anyway, Mojo, I’ll leave it up to Peter to address the veracity of his claim about not reading JV’s blog post if he wishes, but I agree with you that most people -- myself included -- would not be able to resist sneaking a look at a blog post in which we were mentioned in *any* context. If I did misrepresent Peter’s claim about not reading the post it wasn’t intentional… so, Peter, you are welcome to clarify if you wish.

Mojo, you made some good points about self-help leaders and their apparent disdain for “negativity.” Even if this was not a factor in Peter's claim about the JV blog post, I agree with you that critics and criticism definitely serve a valuable purpose, whether we’re talking about product reviews on Amazon (and yes, I go to the negative reviews first too) or social criticism. Actually, IMO it's sometimes worthwhile to read and consider the words of even the cranks and trolls.

You wrote:

“I find that Tolstoy was right--the happy reviews all tend to sound the same, while the negative ones (minus the obvious cranks) are oftentimes very specific in their complaints, and hence more informative than ‘It's great!’ I also tend to enjoy the professional editorial process of ripping a piece of writing to shreds, something that reduces many beginning writers literally to tears. I am frankly mystified that people do NOT enjoy this process, since the ultimate result of tearing something down and building it back up really gives one a deeper understanding of--and yes, appreciation for--what's going on.”

And sometimes the negative reviews can actually help sales. F’rinstance (as I’ve also previously mentioned in discussions on this blog), more than one person has written to me telling me that my mostly negative review of Joe Vitale’s book, “Zero Limits” a few years ago made them much more interested in reading the book than all of the gushing five-star reviews. Though that wasn’t my intention, it didn’t bother me either.

Anyhow, Mojo, thanks again for helping to get the conversation ball rolling again.

Friday, April 30, 2010 1:23:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I also tend to enjoy the professional editorial process of ripping a piece of writing to shreds,..."

One may say that they "enjoy" this but is this only when it is directed towards others?

If it was directed at endeavors or concerns that they themselves were deeply invested in and had taken the time to nurture and create and were proud of and hoped people liked, like their own writing or their family members (children) or anything in their day to day living....I think it is predictable that these people who say they enjoy the "ripping" and advocate a good "ripping" would come out shooting and using ad hominems (eg. calling people "trolls") and crying "foul", "harassment" and the whole spectrum of victim rhetoric towards the person "ripping" them or their work "to shreds".

I assert that enthusiasm for things being "ripped" is primarly reserved for anyone but you.

Just like other's "disdain for “negativity.”" And what? You wake up every morning hoping to be showered in it and pray for as much as you can get your paws on?

Choose an identity

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Anonymous <----

Friday, April 30, 2010 2:34:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Anon, I thought you were going to bow out of the conversations here. I see you couldn't stay away. (I've seen your comments on that older post of mine as well.)

Although I realize you probably meant to direct your angry remarks at me, I was actually quoting Mojo regarding the "editorial process of ripping others' works to shreds."

And while I will let Mojo speak for herself if she wishes, my sense is that she was exaggerating about delighting in ripping others' works to shreds.

Or did you in fact find her obnoxious and were just calling her on it, as she requested at the end of her comment? :-)

Friday, April 30, 2010 3:00:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

OMT, Anon:

You wrote:

"Just like other's [sic] "disdain for “negativity.”" And what? You wake up every morning hoping to be showered in it and pray for as much as you can get your paws on?"

Paws?!? Claws is more like it. :-)

It seems you have deliberately chosen to misread the meaning of "disdain for negativity." Few people relish negativity for its own sake. Even I don't. However, as Mojo pointed out, many in the self-help industry go out of their way to avoid focusing on anything that they think is "negative," including criticism. At least they put on a big public show about avoidance of negativity, but in private they may be seething with it.

Neither Mojo nor I are saying for sure that the avoidance-of-negativity pretense was a factor in Peter's claim about the Joe V Russia blog post. And my elaborating on the point was a general comment about many in the self-help industry, not about Peter.

But before you ask, I am not going to provide any examples, even though I know of numerous real-life examples based on personal experiences as well as information that was told to me in confidence.

Friday, April 30, 2010 3:19:00 PM  
Anonymous mojo said...


I honestly enjoy both directing and receiving, assuming both parties are willing participants. I ONLY enjoy working with people who view the process in a similarly healthy light: as a collaborative means of polishing a gem and making the final work even better. People who think their babies are being destroyed are no fun to work with at all.

A good editor is worth more than their weight in gold. Yes, the process is often brutal--or at the least uncomfortable. Good editorial criticism is a source of some wonderful insights, both personally and professionally. Maybe even a form of enlightenment, at times. But it is not always pleasant.

Of course the operative phrase here is "GOOD criticism". Which you can only discover by letting folks have at it, and see if their criticisms are valid. As Connie noted about cranks and trolls, alternate viewpoints of all sorts at least offer one the opportunity to examine oneself, which is always good. I admit my intentions are not always as noble as I would like them to be. The whole "keep what you can use and ignore the rest" philosophy certainly applies, as it does with most things.

While I don't advocate the wholesale slaughter of innocents--which is worlds beyond the "ripping to shreds" that I enjoy, which is a fun pirate way of saying "professional editing between two consenting adults"--I maintain that, while it might be unpleasant, negativity can be a good thing. Having another parent inform you that your beloved little golden child is a horrible bully at school who is mercilessly beating up the other kids and stealing their lunch money is not fun. You might be initially angry with the other parent, or defensive. But it's an important thing to be told. Peter made some good points about people (from all walks, not just the self-help industry) self-sabotaging in the face of overwhelming evidence, through ego or denial or heaven knows why.

(I should add that Peter made several points I of course agree with, such as no one person is ever purely evil or good, and that massive ego and massive heart are not mutually exclusive, and there always lurks a gray area where outrageous claims end and outrageous expectations begin. My criticizing one teeny tiny aspect of Connie's piece looks meaner than intended, for I was reading good things and just saying to myself "yes, of course, I agree there, so I see no point in bringing it up". What happens in my brain doesn't always translate well to the page. Someday I will be perfect, but until then folks will just have to put up with me.)

Avoidance of unpleasantness is understandable, but it's not always the best route. I don't think anyone HOPES to be "showered" in negativity all day--ironically, in real life I tend to be an annoyingly upbeat and chirpy sort of optimistic gal. As much as I hate to say it, a great many of my own personal life lessons and ultimately positive life experiences have been the direct result of some pretty terrible-at-the-time events.

Along the same-but-opposite lines, it's a fairly common sci-fi plot device that a character is magically given everything they want, only to ultimately discover that what they thought was good and positive and all that they could ever hope for turns out to be not all the marvelous experience they thought it would be. Many worthwhile things require pain, sacrifice, and hard work, and there's no getting around it.

Either way, good or bad, the ultimate determination of whether an event is truly positive or negative seems to be the sort of thing one can only determine in retrospect. One never knows when or how one might be blessed with an unexpected stab of beauty, or insight, or kindness. To dismiss one whole side of the spectrum just because it appears to be unpleasant on the surface is a truncation of experience I am unwilling to accept.

Friday, April 30, 2010 6:21:00 PM  
Blogger Peter Wink said...

Hi Everyone,

Just to clarify...I never did read Joe's blog about me. In fact, he wrote several blogs that included me that I did not read. Occassionally, I used to hear about them from others but I was not interested.

By the time the "Russia" blog was posted, I had my mind elsewhere. I'm really not sure why anyone would waste time worrying if I read it or not anyway.

But for inquiring minds...I'm not trying to hide anything...I did not read it. No more need to comment.

I've been written about so many times, it has no effect on me. Good, bad or ugly.

People can say and think anyway they choose and I will not pass judgement.

Joe is a good guy - let's put this boring topic to bed.


Friday, April 30, 2010 6:33:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Another series of excellent points, Mojo, for which I thank you. I have a feeling, however, that our Anon was specifically targeting my brand of criticism of self-help industry. Your example of the process of professional editing (which, as it happens, Ron and I do in our "day job") probably didn't even enter her mind. She has expressed more than once that what I'm doing on this blog is not legitimate criticism at all, but low-level gossip.

Nevertheless perhaps she will find at least some of your points relevant.

Friday, April 30, 2010 6:37:00 PM  
Blogger Peter Wink said...

Hi Connie,

At the time Joe was complaining about Russia, my wife was going through her second breast cancer surgery.

So...you do the math on what I worried about. :-)

You rock CC!


Friday, April 30, 2010 7:51:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Well, Peter, that kind of puts things in perspective regarding the whole Russia debacle. (And everyone else: I didn't know about this till I read Peter's comment just now.)

I hope Stephanie is doing fine now.

And I promise to get to the meat of our conversations about self-help issues in the next installment, and perhaps the conversation will take some interesting new directions.

Friday, April 30, 2010 8:06:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As thin skinned as Wink was when someone said it didn't make sense for him to say he did not

look at the James Ray deal, theres no way I believe that he has never even read Vitales trashing

him and I don't think anyone with a brain would believe him either. Hes right about one thing. This

is boring. Time to move on to someone who will tell the truth instead of hiding.

Saturday, May 01, 2010 9:34:00 AM  
Blogger Peter Wink said...

Hi Connie,

You're right...Anonymous obviously likes to argue and not take people (whom they do not know) at their word.

Anonymous is just here to argue. My suggestion is to ignore the posts, as --- what's the point of trying to have a two-way conversation, if one party has the internal need to be right --- even if it means bashing honest people.

The posts are written emotionally, which is a definite trigger that they are not objective.

No worries though. Hopefully, Anonymous will see that not everyone here is so bad.

Now watch for another emotionally charged rebuttal. This is as predictable as the sun rising in the East and setting in the West.

You rock CC!!

PS...Thin-skinned? Ask the "Seduction King" (whom knows me) if I'm thin-skinned. CC rox!

Sunday, May 02, 2010 7:42:00 AM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Hi, Peter, we all get thin-skinned at times (myself included) because some of these issues *are* emotional, as much as we would all like to imagine ourselves to be logical, rational creatures.

It could be argued that much of the self-help industry is about emotions, after all. There are thousands of products and services and workshops to help people deal with emotions. And certainly marketers (of all types, not just self-help marketers, of course) work very hard to appeal to people's emotions.

And when we deal with controversial issues or with relationships -- including business relationships -- yeah, emotions play a big role.

Not one of us -- whether we are a self-help fan or critic -- is immune to emotionality. I've been known to snap at detractors on occasion here myself. :-) You perceived that Ron and others were attacking you when they questioned various things you wrote, and you seemed to take it kind of personally. Again, it happens to most of us at one time or another but hopefully we move past it.

That said, I have the strong sense that the Anon who called you thin-skinned is not the same Anon whom Mojo was answering. I finally quit publishing that other Anon's comments because she kept making the same points over and over and over and over -- the points being that I am doing nothing more than engaging in low-level gossip here, that I am engaging in character assassination and that I am "smearing" strangers, and that my blog has no value, blah-blah-blah. She clearly has the red-ass, as the saying goes, for critical bloggers such as myself. She has apparently been banned from other blogs, and while I haven't officially banned her, I have put a moratorium on her comments, which are still coming in.

She claims that I only publish comments that are not critical of me; obviously she has not read this entire blog, LOL.

This is a dilemma for me as it is for many bloggers (and Steve Salerno at SHAMblog has gone through the same sort of situation). If at some point I choose to stop publishing comments from someone who keeps making the same points over and over -- with the clear agenda being to "attack" me, if you will (though I use the word "attack" with reservation; it may be too strong) -- the "banned" person can frame that as an act of cowardice and refusal to answer to criticism of my work. In fact she is doing this very thing now. If I keep publishing the comments, and answer them to the best of my ability -- as I have patiently done for so long with this person -- I risk boring my other readers, many of whom must surely get weary of this sort of thing.

Some bloggers -- such as one of my favorite snargets, Mr. Fire -- simply do not allow Anonymous comments at all. I have never issued a wholesale ban of Anon comments because most of them have not been problematic. Oh, sure, there's the occasional death threat, or the occasional love-and-light-filled writer who calls me crude names (e.g., that word that rhymes with "runt"), but I simply hit the 'Reject' button.

I did try to make my Anon detractor part of the conversation but there is a certain point at which we do not see eye to eye. She thinks I am not providing value here and that I'm a cheap gossip. She keeps saying she's leaving this blog for good. And she keeps coming back.

As you said, Peter, some things are as predictable as the sun setting and rising.

As for the Anon response I did publish (just prior to yours), I think the one lesson I can take from this is that I need to move on to the other issues that we discussed in our various conversations. People are getting bored by the gossipy stuff, apparently. (Although I haven't shared the really *interesting* gossipy stuff, LOL.)

I think some people have been a bit disappointed in this installment of the series because I seemed to promise great revelations and didn't deliver.

But there's more to come and I hope folks will stick around.

Sunday, May 02, 2010 10:01:00 AM  
Blogger RevRon's Rants said...

Hello Peter -
I've stayed out of this fray, primarily out of respect for Connie and her attempt to keep this series as neutral as possible. However, I believe you are missing (if not avoiding) a very significant point which has been brought up by Duff, Mojo, Anonymous (the "other" one) and myself, as well as by Connie (albeit more gently). And the points being brought up are not "emotionally charged." On the contrary; I think they are reasonable challenges to something that simply didn't ring true to a number of people, myself included.

When I commented in the first post that it didn't seem logical to me that you wouldn't at least look into a situation (Ray's sweat lodge) that is having a profound effect upon the very industry you promote, your response was emotional - actually, defensive. Perhaps if you wanted to avoid people being "confrontational," you would have avoided making a statement about James Ray with which a lot of people happen to disagree.

When others challenged your claim of ignorance, you were dismissive, stating that you had no interest in what anyone had to say about you. However, your reactions to the initial dearth of comments on this post would indicate otherwise. Why would you care so much about what people you don't even know have to say, yet claim that you had no interest when a long-time associate and supposed friend had publicly criticized you, even to the point of apparently distorting the reportage of events? Can you not see how such dramatically different reactions might seem at best paradoxical, and at worst, dishonest?

As to whether you are thin-skinned, your categorization of even polite challenges as being "attacks" or "harassment" would seem to indicate as much.

Granted, I don't know you personally. All I have upon which to base my opinion is the tenor and content of your own statements. It should come as no surprise to you that you will be challenged when those comments appear to defy logic, and the tenor of your responses appears inconsistent with your assertion of disinterest in a given topic (or your claim that you are not "thin-skinned").

Finally, your prediction of "emotionally charged rebuttal" might well be seen as an attempt to discourage further challenges, especially in light of your responses to date, and certainly inconsistent with your earlier claim that you welcome responses, including the "good, the bad, and the ugly."

Sunday, May 02, 2010 10:23:00 AM  
Blogger Peter Wink said...


Have you seen a movie called "What The Bleep?"



Sunday, May 02, 2010 4:14:00 PM  
Anonymous CCGAL-Janelle said...

I'm late to this conversation, simply because what I wanted to say last week felt rather unkind and I've learned over the years to sleep on harsh words before deciding to carve them in stone on the internet.

That said, I have a couple of comments that I hope won't come back to haunt me.

1) I thought it was amusing to see someone using anonymous as an identifier to write these words: "Time to move on to someone who will tell the truth instead of hiding." Maybe it's my own twisted funny bone, but that struck me as being what my folks would have called "the pot calling the kettle black". (A reference, I hasten to clarify lest someone misread that phrase as being racist in nature, to the soot that accumulates on cooking implements used over fire.)

2) I visited Peter Wink's Facebook page and found this post by him to be quite thought provoking:

===start of cut and paste===
Peter Wink Question ---- "What's more important to you ---- Job satisfaction or money? (I'd love to say satisfaction --- but MONEY always wins out w/me!)
April 27 at 7:55pm ·
=== end of cut and paste ===

I pondered that for some time, looking at my own life and comparing it to what I know of some other folks. No, I'm not going to share what I concluded, but I invite you to give it some thought yourself.

Sunday, May 09, 2010 2:41:00 PM  

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