Choosing A Mentor/Teacher/Coach/Guru?

I don’t envy the people who have to make the choice of picking an investment mentor today. Everyday, in every publication, we find ad after ad screaming ‘success’ and ‘profits’ and ‘make money’, with testimonials of massive profits and extraordinary percentage margins. And here you are, with not a lot of money to afford attending them all, having to make that life changing decision on which teacher is the best and which instrument is most suited to you.

Like any investment, it’s never an easy call.

But like any investment, it is possible to do fundamental analysis on each teacher before ‘donating’ your hard earned money to the one you deem ‘the best’. The clues are actually very obvious and the signs are extremely simple to read – like good technical analysis. But it is necessary to do your due diligence before deciding to click “Buy”.

Here are some simple steps you can take to get your analysis going …

1. The Advertisement. Most ads have the usual “I made $$$ ….”. An easy way to measure the real success of such ads is how frequently those winners get rotated in the ads. Personally, I always keep seeing the same winners with the same winning trades, albeit in a different layout from time to time. I can testify to the fact that most gurus are very proud people and will jump at the opportunity to lay out a new winner every time they have one. So a simple measure will be to see whether the guru posts a different winner every week or the same winner every week showing a consistent performance and not a one time 10,000% profit. Think ‘consistency’ – it’s every guru’s dream to produce a consistent trader … unless the guru’s just out to make your money.

2. The Testimonials. Do the testimonials sound like they’re praising their preacher? If they do, then ask yourself how that can help you as a trader. I’d rather have testimonials that don’t praise me but sing praises of what my tutorial has done for them – like a performance type review; “Your methods have greatly improved the way I see the market and have helped a great deal in my consistency and control in my losses.” – it sounds boring and unimpressive but they are worth more than a thousand thanks. I simply love those testimonials that thank me for having changed a life that was hopeless. I am sure every guru would love to have performance type testimonials rather than “you are a great teacher!”.

3. The Preview (aka, “Free Workshop”). The “Free Workshop” in itself is a hype. And there’s your key … hype. Most ‘gurus’ these days can sell an ice cube to an eskimo. They’ll motivate and hype you up and you’ll surely get caught up in their “dream selling” visions of becoming rich quick. The most commonly used hype is how terrible life can be and how bad the economy is. Another favorite is the impressive “portfolio” under management … I’ve noticed that when you ask how much of that portfolio is actually the guru’s own money, you get a common reaction – watch the eyes (they suddenly get a “I wish I wasn’t here” look) and listen to the first reactionary word (usually, “erm …”, or “well …”) – having been a student of Alan and Barbara Pease, I don’t need to tell you what that kind of response reveals.

4. The ‘Shoot-Down’. If you find the guru shooting down his/her competition, you know this guru is crap. A really good guru never needs to slime or belittle their competition if their material is really good. Pity though, that some good gurus have resorted to the ‘shoot-down’ in order to stay competitive. I have been guilty of shooting down my competition in the past but knowing I have the best tutorial in town now, I have to admit that I am ashamed that I did it in the past and I really don’t need to resort to that now. In fact, I have the most expensive tutorial amongst the locals (and even amongst some foreigners) and I still fill a class easily through referrals and the occasional ad. I guess reputation precedes marketing hype!

5.  The Rehearsed Speech. Really good gurus know their stuff. And because they do, they are able to give impromptu presentations and be totally candid. Sales people have to follow a routine and if you pop a question in the middle of that routine, the salesman loses his train of thought. Question; “Do you want an investment guru who is rigid and rehearsed or one that is candid and adaptable?” Answer; Is the market rigid and rehearsed?

6. The Material. This is the simplest and deadest giveaway – is the guru going to turn you into his clone? In other words, are you about to learn how to trade like that guru? Use his rules? Apply his strategy? And not know how to adapt it for yourself? The answer is in the presentation and if you still can’t get it, here’s another question: “Is it possible for a guru to teach you anything other than “be a clone” in only 2, 3 or 4 days?” To answer that, think about how long the pros have been trading (because you’ll be trading against them) and then ask yourself, “what kind of education did they get to make them so successful?” I assure you, it wasn’t a 3 day workshop.

7.  The Hard Sell. Many gurus resort to attractive prices and worse, free giveaways! Are you buying an education or something from Sell-A-Vision? They’ll hand out free laptops and travel vouchers to the first few sign-ups and dole out massive discounts to show you how sincere they are about their pricing … ironic then, if you consider that they could have been sincere about their pricing BEFORE the discount. Some even price their courses at unbelievably low low prices only to up-sell a heck of a lot of “advanced” classes in the future … this is worse than MLM. Then there are those classic money spinners – Software! They’ll sell you their course real cheap but you’ll find that you can’t start trading till you buy their software and it comes in several levels of performance – the more you buy, the better your results. And if that’s not all, you’ll have to pay a yearly or monthly subscription to keep the damn thing operational! One more question: Does anyone know a software trader who CONSISTENTLY makes more money than Conrad?

Disclaimer: I’ll admit to giving away free stuff … but I give away books and educational material relevant to the tutorial. I even up-sell my Candlestick Cards but it’s discretionary and not a must to purchase.

8. The Pressure. The last hint that your reseach will entail is to discover how desperate the guru is to sign you up … Watch for the last minute ‘pressure’ tactics such as “the seats are going fast …” type routines and the “sign up now! Or you’ll regret not doing so …” type herd persuasion – and you will see people flocking to sign up without thinking twice … here’s a secret – it’s their own people, hired to mock up a frenzy to leverage on herd instinct. And you’ll fall for it seeing the seats “going” like hot cakes. “Humans have a tendency to want what they cannot or may not have.

So, 8 simple steps to guide you and help you decide which type of education you need – the “get rich quick” course, the “make money” workshop, the “you can be a millionaire” seminar or the real education in a real school.  One last tip – ask the guru why he is teaching if he’s such a good and successful trader. (Yes, I’ve been asked that question many times before and I have answered, much to the inquirers’ satisfaction. Get to know me if you really want to know why I teach.)

They say that those who can’t do, teach. But consider this … those who can do, may not be able to teach. And there are most who don’t do but can sell and then pretend to teach.

But I have found that those that can do and can teach, make the best teachers.  Simply because there’s always a bigger plan than just teaching! ;)

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