Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Behind the Scenes: A Look into the Seminar Industry: James Malinchak, Robert Paisola reports

Before you read this, I want you to understand that there are always two sides to every story, however, very seldom do we see a peer from our industry break down the "behind the scenes" of the seminar industry in such depth. This was forwarded to us from one of our associates who is on the Public Speaking Circuit, the same one that Robert Paisola deals with on a worldwide basis.  We are not commenting on the data, but presenting it in it purest form. Send comments to comments@seminarwatch.com 


James Malinchak

Henderson Nevada 89012
United States of America
Phone: 702-497-2442
Web Address: www.malinchak.com

Category: Seminars

Submitted: Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Posted: Wednesday, March 23, 2011
I own a fairly successful seminar company, and during the recession in 2008 I was looking for additional revenue streams. Malinchak sent me an email promoting his College Speaking Success Boot Camp saying that he could help people get started in the keynote speaking business.  I took one of my vice-presidents to LA for the seminar in Dec.  Initially, I was really impressed with James' speaking and the amount of content that he was delivering from the stage.  It was actually pretty overwhelming, and some of the content seemed real promising.  Throughout the event, though, he used manipulative techniques to convince people to join his Platinum group. 

Although his content seemed logical, his delivery was kind of slimy, but I looked around the room and saw a few people I respected who were sold on his process, and I also saw a few hundred people who each paid him over $1000 to attend the seminar.  He had tons of video testimonials from people praising him.  So when the he passed out the applications to join the Platinum club, I was skeptical, but I figured that with the following that he had (it was a big group of people, and Brian Tracey was his keynote speaking guest) that I must be missing out on something.

Turns out, that was exactly what he counts on.  He said, "Platinum Members get special behind-the-curtain access to all of the things that I'm doing to make millions of dollars."  The fee was over $10,000 to join and included a day of coaching with him one-on-one, 5 phone coaching session, a whole bunch of books and tapes that he created, free seats in his seminars for a year, and some mastermind sessions with other members.  Sounded great, but the price seemed really high.  I waited a few hours and debated the pros and cons, and finally realized that it was a pretty good risk to take.  (I mean if Brian Tracey and other celebrities liked him and all of the video testimonial people were telling the truth, there must be something to it.)

A month later, I had my coaching session, and I flew to Las Vegas.  He picked me up from the hotel, and when we got to his house, he looked at me and said, "So what do you want to talk about?" I was a little confused, because I thought he was supposed to be the expert.  There was no structure, and we spent most of the time talking about his success and how great he was.  His main advice during the session was for me to start a coaching group (like his Platinum group).  I was thinking... "So I can charge people do do nothing for them?"  At Noon, he took me back to the hotel for lunch, and a couple of other people that he knew were waiting for them.  Turns out they were the other people getting their one-on-one coaching with him that day.  After lunch, he excused himself telling me that my "day" of coaching was over and he took the other people to his house this time.  At the time, I just thought it was odd, but I didn't really think much of it other than I was a little disappointed that my one-day of coaching was really only a half day.  I felt like I had wasted a plane trip and a day of my life.

Regardless, since I took great notes, I began to apply some of the "techniques" that he outlined in the seminar, and I created a coaching program for people who attended my seminars.  The first month, the seminar part of my business dropped from about $60,000 in revenue in December to less than $10,000 in revenue in January.  My list of clients/prospects was about 10,000 people at the time, and I got a HUGE percentage of people who had been receiving our emails and newsletters who suddenly opted-out in January.  For the next three months, I tried a ton of stuff from his seminar, and none of it worked.  Most of it backfired with negative consequences. The more that I went back to what I was doing before I met James, the closer I got back to what I was making before.  The more that I used his stuff, the more complaints I got and the less money I made.

At this point, I knew that his stuff was working for him, but it wasn't working for me.  My employees were getting disgruntled because sales had dropped dramatically during this experiment.  I just figured that I had missed some important things so I went back over the material looking for how I was screwing up this so called, simple step-by-step formula.

About that time, he debuted his new Big Money Speaker Seminar where he "Pulled the Curtain Back and gave away all his secrets."  (Hhhhmmm.... Sounds familiar.) Since my membership included a ticket, I attended this one too.  At least three hours of every day of the seminar was he (or some other speaker) trying to get the audience to part with another $3000, $5000, $10,000, or more. 

-- Now if I'm attending a free seminar or a low cost seminar, I expect a sales pitch, but tickets to this event were $2500 a head and over a quarter of it was a sales pitch! --

There were times that I was angry enough that I just left the room.  However, one of these speakers, Ed, was the guy who supposedly had put James' internet marketing program together.  All the sudden, I thought that I had figured it out.  It wasn't James that was getting these hundreds of people to the seminar, it was Ed.  That's why James' stuff hadn't worked.  Was it possible I had been listening to the wrong expert?

James and Ed had a New Club (seriously? ...another behind-the-scenes group?) called the Done-For-You Internet Seminar Marketing program or some-such thing.  I figured that since I had tried his stuff and obviously I was screwing it up, if I could pay them (Ed) to do it for me, then that would make it work.  The proof that the program would work was a testimonial from their first (and only) client for this new program who filled up his first seminar with 100+ people (if he's charging $1000 per person, that's $100K), and James' supposedly spoke at the meeting and sold dozens and dozens of his home study course to the group netting the client an additional $100K in one hour.

The package included all of the templates for the internet marketing campaign, and they claimed that by the end of the two days that the whole program would be done for you.  They, they would come and speak at the event as guests and give me 50% of anything they sold to the group.  So I paid him another $10,000, and I waited until August when the two internet marketing gurus (James and Ed) were having the Done-For-You meeting at James' house again.

In the meantime, the Mastermind Group met in Palm Springs (yup, another grand or so in expenses), and my group had about 40 or 50 of us.  Now, I've been involved in a LOT of mastermind groups, but this was the oddest I've ever been to.  Each person got to go in front of the group for 10 or 15 minutes and tell the group one problem that they were having.  Then the group would try to solve the problem for them.  It was two days long, and I got maybe 20 minutes of attention to my business.  The rest of the two days, I gave away my experience to the rest of the group for free.

By this time, I was getting really mad, and I was basically thinking that if this Done-For-You thing doesn't work, I've just wasted $25,000 and a year of my life.  

When I got to the meeting, I realized that they had greatly exaggerated the results that they got on that first "test" seminar they promoted at the previous event.  Evidently, the entrance fee to this big seminar wasn't the $1000 that I had assumed (they never really talked about the fee, but subtly made us believe that the test seminar was similar to James regular seminars where he charges $1000 to $2000 per head.)  The fee was actually less than $50 per person (barely enough to cover costs), and the attendees were folks from the local Chamber of Commerce.  Just like in James' seminars the client/seminar creator put a few hours of people selling stuff into the agenda, and James confessed to me that NONE of them sold anything to anybody... except James, of course.  He sold dozens and dozens of his home study course and saved the day.  Now, I've spoken to a lot of Chamber of Commerces, and trying to get an attendee to part with $1500 for a bunch of audio tapes is next to impossible.  All the sudden, I began to realize that pretty much everything that he says is a big lie. 

Then James confessed that when this success-story guy organized his second seminar, he couldn't get enough people to attend... What?  I just paid you $10,000 based on a flat out lie.  You jerk!

I was still waiting for the Done-For-You part of the Done-For-You seminar.  When it ended, I was no closer to increasing any revenue.  However, I followed the step-by-step process that they were supposed to have done for me.  After a month or so of disgruntled people replying back to my emails, I just went back to doing what I was doing before I met James. 

The five coaching calls finally got scheduled in September, (seven months after I paid the first fee) and each time I called him, it was the same thing... "So what do you want to talk about this week?"  I'd tell him the struggles that I was having with his stuff, and he'd supposedly fine-tune it.  Nothing ever really worked like he said it would, but despite the challenges, I worked really hard, and managed to get about 20 people registered in my seminar. (None of them came from James' stuff, though.)  During one of the coaching calls, while I was asking him why more people weren't registering for my Done-For-You-Seminar like he said they would, he suggested that I apply for his "Marketer of the Year" award.  I assumed that he was doing this as a way to help me get more people into my seminar (since that was the only partial success at all that I had had using anything he told me to do.)  In reality, he was just changing the subject back to him.

So I applied for the award, and I was given a 12 minute spot on his stage.  I assumed that he'd want me to talk about the seminar that he and I created since that is all we had worked on for the past three months.  I also assumed that since I was a very accomplished speaker, that he'd want me to give some value to the audience and make it worth their while.  When the award contest started, the first two speakers got up and spent their entire twelve minutes blowing smoke up James' ass about how god-like he is and how the Platinum group is the greatest investment that they ever made. The contest wasn't a showcase of his members like I had thought it was.  Instead, it was a commercial to try to get more people to part with the $10,000.  I wanted to back out, and I felt real uncomfortable, because I couldn't go up and praise him.  I knew that my best move was to just give the audience the presentation that I prepared.  The audience was loving it.  About five minute in, though, James interrupts me from the back of the room confused about why I'm not talking about how much he's done for me.  I could see that he was pissed because I wasn't praising his god-like presence like his other stooges.  I was embarrassed and angry, but finished the presentation in a professional manner.

Throughout the next hour of the seminar, he glared at me from the stage with his jaw clenched.  He was pissed that I didn't do what he wanted me to do.  I knew that I should try to smooth things over, so I went to all of the "behind the scenes get-togethers" in the evenings and before the seminar each morning trying to talk to James while he wasn't teaching.  Anytime I'd get close to him, he'd dart away like he was ducking me.   

After a while, I couldn't stomach any more of the crap or the clenched jaw, so I skipped out on the rest of the seminar.  I was sitting at a Starbucks getting caught up on work and trying to figure out how to get my money back.  I kept getting calls from James' minions who were ticked off because they needed me back for the "award ceremony."  I was totally confused, because everything that he had done to me for the past 48 hours was vicious and angry.  I figured that he didn't want me around.  The minion told me that they had delayed the ceremony waiting for me to arrive and everyone was waiting for me.  I knew that I didn't have a shot of winning, but I figured that at least he couldn't duck-out on me if we were on stage together.  Imagine my surprise when James' best friend won the award.  No one in the audience could see, but after he accepted the award, James was coaching him to make a video for the internet.  I could hear James whisper, "Aren't you ready for that thing?" and the "winner" went, "Oh yeah."

The whole thing was planned from start to finish as a way for the two of them to promote each other.  They picked me and some of their more popular (somewhat famous) attendees to compete again so that they could show his picture on stage as the "winner" over and above these other great speakers.

I realized that they were just using me.  I was disappointed and all of the sudden I started to see everything in a different light.  Remember the movie Sixth Sense (the "I see dead people" movie)... How, at the end when you find out that Bruce Willis is a ghost, you can go back and watch the movie again and things that you thought were true were actually misrepresentations of reality.  I started going back through everything I thought I knew about James and his stuff.

James has tons of testimonial videos from people talking about how great he is and his seminars are.  However, when you look around the room at his seminars, you hardly ever see those people.  I think that it's because they give the testimonials during the phase when they believe everything, then once they realize it's crap, they stop coming.  He has tons of pictures with himself and celebrities.  Since going to his seminars, I've collected about a dozen or so pictures with me and celebrities as well (but I don't know any of them personally.)  At every mastermind meeting and meeting at his house, he always offered to give video testimonials to any of us promoting our stuff if we would give him one that he could use.  He encouraged everyone to do the same for each other.  I saw people who just met each other giving video testimonials to people that they just met a couple of hours before.  (I spent too many years building my reputation to vouch for someone that I don't know.)

Some of the gems that James told me throughout the year when we were out of earshot of others (remember, I was on the inside)

  • "When you're coaching people, you want to tell them WHAT to do but never tell them HOW to do it, and they will keep coming back. Uhhh... Uhhhh... Of course, that doesn't apply to you Platinums, because you get all of my 'behind the scenes stuff..."

  • "Most of the people who attend my seminars will never do anything. They are wanna-be-s... If they don't do what I tell them, then it's their fault, not mine."

  • "If you bombard people with information overload, then no one will ever complain that you didn't give them content... But they will now need you to sort through everything for them... that's when you hit them with the big fees."

That night, I saw James in the lobby. I started heading toward him, and before I got within 15 feet of him he screamed out, "Stay the F%^& away from me you %$#@!" at the top of his lungs. 

He is an evil person.  He is a crooked businessman.  He is manipulative and will push buttons to convince you that he has all of the answers.  He will make promise after promise, but that REAL solution is always in the next seminar or next meeting or next coaching call.  He is mean, and he is convinced that everyone is out to cheat him, so he's going to cheat you first. 

I sent him a letter asking for my money back after he cussed me out.  He sent me a response saying how he was still willing to come speak at my seminar as he agreed, and that I had missed my last three coaching calls with him, so it was my fault that I didn't get the results that he promised. 

Seriously?  He ducked me for two days to keep from talking to me, and when I cornered him to try to speak to him he cussed me out.  Then claimed that it's my fault I didn't call him at our scheduled time.  It would be funny if I didn't know that he's doing it over and over to other people every week.

Trust me.. I was in his inner-circle.  He's not your friend.  He doesn't have any friends.  He never helped his pizza guy make a million dollars, and he never gave his girlfriend colon-blow as a gift.  He doesn't have some exclusive contract to market Michael Jordon's camp.  When you see people in his testimonials, look them up (they will be easy to find on the web) and ask them how much they have actually made from James' stuff.  If they tell you how great his programs are, they will likely tell you that they are "working" on things and they are expecting big results (but they won't have any yet.)  There is no curtain.  What you see is what you get.  There is no secret that only the inner-circle knows.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wow...that was a seriously chilling account with so many slimy details. The author/victim sounds pretty legit IMO.