Saturday, December 29, 2012

5 Simple Mental Blindspots We Are All Guilty Of

Cover of "Forgiveness"
Cover of Forgiveness
Rajeev Pershawaria, in a Forbes post, pointed out 5 simple mental blindspots we are all guilty of. I am going to make a very quick summary of all 5 points:

1) Respect is earned, not taken by force or fraud

Respect cannot be demanded, then taken, but must be earned. Most people mistake fear for respect. If you demand respect (because of your position), you will get fear (and/or seething anger) instead. What are you doing to earn trust from others?

On the other hand, you cannot take respect through fraud either. You can *act* like a big shot, dress sharp, but you'd just be a hustler, not the real thing.

2) Why not a win-win instead of a win-lose?

If you are negotiating with someone, do you really have to be adversarial? Must he lose so you can "win", or vice versa? Why not try to strive for a win-win situation, by learning what each side *really* wants, then work from there?

On the other hand, a fraud can be described as falsely representing a win-lose situation as a win-win situation. Ponzi scheme is basically claiming that everybody makes money, when in fact only some people make money.

3) You control what you feel, not others

If you think too much about how others see you, you will never be happy. You control how you feel, because it is you who are feeling. Stop taking things so personally, and do not worry about other people's thoughts. Worry about YOUR OWN THOUGHTS.

Thus, a lot of this positive thinking "fake it till you make it" self-help books make a little bit of sense in that it can get you start controlling your own feelings, but it's not a cure all. Remember, "faking it" is not real.

Friday, December 28, 2012

What Do You Own From Joining MLM?

Robert T. Kiyosaki
Cover of Robert T. Kiyosaki
People who follow MLM know that Robert "Rich Dad" Kiyosaki were often quoted as "I support network marketing", and there's a lot of "sagely" advice on why. One of the most often used explanations is from Kiyosaki's book "Cashflow Quadrant", where he divided people into four kinds: Employees (you work), Self-Employed (you own your work), Business Owners (you own a system, and people work for you), and Investors (money work for you). 

However, the explanation becomes very vague from there. Most people quickly claim that MLM is a way for you to move from E (employee) to "B" (business owner). And the term "employee" is considered a pejorative. 

Sidenote: There's a lot of weird advice from Kiyosaki, one where he divided people into 4 wants: want to be liked, want to be comfortable, want to be right, and want to win, and network marketers are supposedly "want to win".  That doesn't explain WHY Kiyosaki like network marketing... other than he likes to hang out with... winners? But he defined it, so is he using circular logic? But enough about that later. 

But how much *do* you really own from MLM? 

Thursday, December 27, 2012

How to Scam a Scammer

Facebook logo EspaƱol: Logotipo de Facebook Fr...
Facebook logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Scammers can be scammed, if you really put in the effort.

Facebook and dating sites are rife with "sweetheart scammers" that want to befriend you, then hit you up for money. I mentioned before one of my friends was hit by one such person who pretended to be someone in the UK and needs some money to pay for "inheritance tax" so she can move to the US and be with my friend (yeah, right).

Clearly, some people spot such scams, and instead of simply ignoring them, they scam the scammer, try to waste as much of scammer's time as possible so it cannot be dedicated to scam other victims, as well as try to draw out some real info for law enforcement.

The most famous of which is, which goes after the people doing 419 scams (i.e. Nigerian scams).

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

How Google Weeds Out Scam

Image representing Google as depicted in Crunc...
Image via CrunchBase
Ever wonder why Google don't display bad ads? That you don't see ads to malicious websites, and such?

There are HUMANS in the decision loop.

That's right, Google have TEAMS of people going over the people who buy ads. Both the ads and the sites that the ads link to are reviewed, as well as the company's background info.

The three teams (review ads, review sites, review advertisers) share data, so one company that triggered one alarm system is automatically reviewed by the other two, and all together, it eliminates the scams pretty thoroughly.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

A Few Cliches about Scammers

On Christmas Eve, I read that a Zeek pitchman, who was "hosting" Robert Craddock's calls, had been sued by ANOTHER receiver for his winnings in another Ponzi scheme. 

Gregory Baker, who was hosting the conference calls giving updates by Kettner, Craddock, et al, was previously a "winner" in the Botfly Ponzi in Florida, and was sued by Florida AG for thousands of dollars of his ill-gotten gains. It is unknown if Baker himself had money in Zeek, but I would not be surprised if he did.

My first reaction is "Once a thief, always a thief". Or the very similar, "Leopard cannot change its spots; tiger cannot change its stripes."

There had been LONG documented cases where people who were in a Ponzi jump from scheme to scheme, fast enough so they made a profit, and split before it goes kaput. In fact, the "winners" in Zeek reads like a who's who in Ponzi promoters, including Jerry Napier, Trudy Gilmond, O.H. Brown, and more, all of whom had previously been involved in Ad Surf Daily, Andy Bowdoin's Ponzi, also out of Florida. Other winners such as Kettner were involved in similar shady deals such as TVI Express.

It's almost as if joining Ponzi scheme is an addiction... if you "time" it just right you can make a bundle and pretend to be victims.

Then you dump the proceeds into ANOTHER Ponzi so you claim you don't have any money to give back. Which is a lie, of course. It's fraud, intentional dissipation of assets to hide it from authorities.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Are you really listening? 10 Myths about listening

The Myth: You consider yourself a decent listener 
The Truth: You're nowhere close to a good listener, as you have preconceptions that ignores information that does not fit your narrative. 

Here are ten related myths about listening:
Myth 1: Everyone knows how to listen.
Fact: Every one knows how to "hear". Listening is a very different skill. 
Myth 2: Sending messages is more important than receiving.
Fact: Listening and speaking are like ying and yang, they are complementary processes. You can't have one without the other. 
Myth 3: Listening is easy and passive.
Fact: Listening is an active process in which your brain actively interprets the data and evaluate how well it fits into your narrative. Thus, it requires mental power. 
Myth 4: Hearing and listening are the same.
Fact: Listening and hearing are completely different skills. Hearing is completely passive, while listening requires critical thinking. 
Myth 5: An effective speaker commands the audience's attention.
Fact: an effective speaker has the skill to "tease" the audience into paying attention, but the audience needs to participate as well. 
Myth 6: Hearing and decoding constitute listening.
Fact: Active perception, analysis, and evaluation are still needed even if you "heard" the information. 
Myth 7: Communication is the sender's responsibility.
Fact: Communication is like tango: it takes two, both speaker and listener. 
Myth 8: Listening is done with the ears.
Fact: True listening involves body language in addition to merely the verbal stuff. 
Myth 9: Listening skills are practiced, not learned.
Fact: Listening involves critical thinking, thus practice does not make perfect. You need to engage your brain for this instead of reflex. 
Myth 10: Listening ability comes from maturity.
Listening ability is from engaging your brain. Maturity merely lends you more perspective. 
(Reference: Adapted from "The Top 10 Myths of Listening," Copyright 2003 by Thomas Leonard,

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Reality Inversion: When the Absurd is Normal, and vice versa

What is reality inversion? It is when the absurd seem normal, and normal seem absurd.

Very often, when someone falls for a scam, what appears absurd to us ("How *could* you fall for something that idiotic?") would seem perfectly normal to them, mainly because their reality had been... inverted. To the people who had their reality inverted, it is the absurd world of the scammer that seem normal, and the "real" world that seem weird.

Examples are easy to find. Let's take a recent example... the Zeek Rewards Ponzi. 

The reality: there is no easy money. Any one promising easy money is very likely a scam 

The absurd: Getting easy money is EASY! Pay us up to 10000 at a time1 You get to take back out up to 1.5% every day subject to our esoteric rules. Just do something everyday so simple a child can do it in minutes! 

It's obviously too good to be true, yet MILLIONS of people had their reality subverted into believing that easy money *does* exist, that you can pay a company money and earn a return and was told it's NOT an investment, and when they had problems paying all sorts of excuses were believed. Even after the scam was shut down by the SEC, those who got more money out than they put in persist in believing they had earned the money "legitimately". 

That is reality inversion. 

And scammers are very good at reality inversion: convincing the victims that giving them money is actually EARNING money; that you should pay for something that's free; that investment is NOT an investment; and a scam is NOT a scam (even though it fits the definition of the law). 

Reality inversion does not have to do with something that's so obviously illegal, but can be done with something PERFECTLY LEGAL... such as convincing you to pay for something that should have been free.