Orrin Woodward, Scott Allen, and the Leadership Gurus Scam

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Amthrax directed me to this article from Orrin Woodward’s paid social media “Expert” Scott Allen.

The article’s title is “Orrin Woodward & Chris Brady Critics Not Applying Critical Thinking.” Since I’ve exposed Orrin Woodward is running a pyramid scheme, which certainly isn’t something I’d look for in a leader. I could see how someone running a pyramid scheme would want to pitch themselves as some kind of leader. You know who else was a leader Jim Jones and David Koresh and it didn’t turn out well for their followers.

Scott Allen also says that “… they’re successful entrepreneurs with two 8-figure businesses, LIFE and TEAM, and they’re both Black Diamond distributors in Monavie.” He conveniently leaves out the part that Forbes, a reputable media publication, explains that both TEAM and MonaVie are pyramid schemes. Because of that I’ll use their words throughout this article. In the article, Woodward admits that he’s main product is selling “hope.” It really makes him no better than the guy in the local Quickie Mart selling you a lottery ticket… except the lottery ticket is a lot cheaper and legal unlike pyramid schemes.

The lesson here: Successful business should be legal ones. We shouldn’t celebrate money made illegally (again these are Forbes’ words of pyramids not mine).

Now let’s go back and review what Scott Allen pointed out with Woodward’s book: “He’s co-author, with Chris Brady, of Launching a Leadership Revolution, which was a bestseller on just about every list around: The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Business Week, USA Today and Money.” That sounds great and very convincing, but simple look at Amazon shows that as of this writing it is “Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #561,679 in Books.” In comparison, Napolean Hill’s Think and Grow Rich is “#664 in Books” and also ranking in “Self-Help”, “Success”, “Management & Leadership”, or “Motivational.” Woodward’s book ranks in none of these as you would expect. You’d think a great book based on a “leadership revolution” would at least rank in the “leadership” category, right?

So how did Woodward get his book on all these best seller’s lists. Well, I couldn’t find that they made the Wall Street Journal or the Money (part of CNN) lists. Searches for both websites came up empty for Orrin Woodward. It’s not a good sign when they’ve never mentioned the guy on their websites. The other claims about the book showing up on the lists appear to be true. However, even that comes with a catch. Woodward pushed the book heavily through his TEAM organization. The book only made the USA Today list for one week which is further proof about the pre-sales launch. There’s a good article about the how to get on the New York Times list here and it fits like glove. Most importantly you’ll notice that none of the big business organization have reviewed the book

The lesson here: Be careful about things that sound good on the surface. Sometimes when you dig underneath it, there is a big mess. In this case, more than a half million books that are better selling than Orrin Woodward’s “best selling” book.

Scott Allen then goes into a bunch of reasons why people might not like Orrin Woodward:

  • “Some people simply don’t like network marketing, period.” Considering that MLM is set up to ensure that 99% of people lose money, and MonaVie is no different, it is easy to imagine why people wouldn’t like it. Some people also don’t like getting kicked in the groin. Typically people have very good reasons for why they don’t like something.
  • “Or the personal development industry.” Who are the people who don’t like personal development? How many critics does David Allen of Getting Things Done fame have? Some people might not like his book, but some people don’t like Lewis Carroll’s books either.
  • “Some people have had bad experiences, for whatever reason.” I had a bad experience on Space Mountain when I was 7. I’m not blaming that on Orrin Woodward. If people are having bad experiences with Orrin Woodward and/or TEAM, it isn’t “for whatever reason”, it is because they lost money in a pyramid scheme.
  • “When you take a stand, when you put yourself out there like he does, you’re going to be a target.” Again, Mother Theresa was able to take a stand against poverty and put herself out there. No one targeted her.

All the reasons that Scott Allen lists are red herrings, a paragraph of unrelated things to distract you from the real reason why Orrin Woodward has critics, he’s cashing in on a pyramid scheme.

Scott Allen then says, “Legitimate criticism is fine. People sharing their personal experiences, even if negative, is fine. Baseless accusations and innuendo aren’t.”

Okay, good so we are in agreement that when Forbes calls TEAM a pyramid scheme and cites bad experiences of people losing $20,000, it is legitimate criticism.

Scott Allen then goes on to explain “For the past few years, Orrin and Chris have been working their way up this list of the ‘Top 30 Global Leadership Gurus.’”

It’s strange that Orrin would care about the list, because it was a list created by Arthur Carmazzi who is not an authority on leadership. He’s just a guy who spent $10 on a website domain and put up a list. If you look at the list, most of the people are not known. There’s no Lee Iacocca or Warren Buffett. Heck there isn’t even a Donald Trump.

Recently Orrin Woodward and his partner Chris Brady were disqualified because “more than 98% of their votes came for only three IP addresses, meaning that only three people voted for them over and over again. This accounted for almost 2000 of their votes.”

Scott Allen claims that he “smells a rat” for three reasons:

1. It isn’t consistent what he knows about them. Ummm, have you seen the pyramid scheme thing and gaming the best seller book lists? It is very consistent.

2. “They have no need to game the system.” Allen’s rationale is that the best selling book shows influence (again, ranked #561,679 in Books).

He points to Orrin’s rank for the term “leadershipdevelopment” on WeFollow.com which measures Twitter influence. That’s a pretty random term. Scott addresses the use of the little known WeFollow over much better known Klout in the comments by saying that Klout can be easily gamed. Klout has changed their algorithm in response to such claims since that article was written. One interesting thing that Scott doesn’t mention is that orrin_woodward’s Klout account is disabled when you click it. It is worth noting that Klout measure additional social media sites beyond Twitter.

He also points to the fact that LIFE events have 10,000+ people at them. Again this points to leadership within the pyramid scheme and no influence outside it. The reason why LIFE has 10,000 people at these events is because Woodward has used these lists to position himself as an expert. It’s a circle. Allen does mention that their membership is highly motivated and organized, which further goes to show how they can game the best selling lists.

3. “If they wanted to game the system, you wouldn’t know it.” He says that Woodward and Brady wouldn’t know how to game the system to rig it. Wait, they don’t know how to vote for themselves over and over again on a website? This is pretty simple. Allen mentions that he knows how to rig it, but he wouldn’t do it. Logical Flaw: What if Woodward or Brady got someone else to do it?

Finally Scott Allen asks “And seriously, who makes a voting site and doesn’t prevent duplication by IP address?” The answer is that Arthur Carmazzi created a crappy website that wasn’t reputable to begin with.

The most logical explanation is that Woodward and Brady voted for themselves several thousand times (perhaps using a work computer to account for the third IP address). They don’t need to have any know-how to click a radio button on a website and click “submit.” Clearly the voting site wasn’t sophisticated enough to prevent rigging even the most basic rigging techniques. When Woodward and Brady realized that they ranked well on a website with a cool name, LeadershipGurus.net, they spread it through their organizations as proof that they are considered “leadership gurus.”

Two lessons here:
1. Hello people it’s not a reputable list. Woodward and Brady shouldn’t have been listing this as an achievement in the first place. The #2 person on the list, Stephen Covey certainly doesn’t list it and it isn’t listed in Covey’s Wikipedia page as an award.

2. Occam’s Razor, “the simpliest explanation is the best” works well here.

Scott Allen then gives two challenges to the new site owner, Evgeniy Chetvertakov. The first is to present the evidence. He suggests that the IP address may not be from Orrin’s organization. He also suggests that they may come from critics to make Orrin Woodward look bad.

Two problems with Scott Allen’s logic here:

1. There’s no complete record of IP addresses that Orrin’s organization uses – disclosing the IP address wouldn’t prove or disprove whether they came from a supporter or critic.

2. Because more than 98% of the votes were not legit, Woodward and Brady wouldn’t have made the list at all without it being rigged. Why would a critic go through the effort to put Woodward and Brady on a Leadership Guru list? Orrin Woodward’s critics show that Woodward’s “leadership” only exists inside his pyramid scheme. They do things like show that his book is ranked extremely low in sales according to reputable sites like Amazon.

The second challenge is a set of questions, “why make these accusations without even contacting Orrin or Chris? What happened to ‘innocent until proven guilty?’ Or even just common courtesy? Why put yourself in the position of making defamatory statements without a proper investigation? And how can you run a leadership site without practicing one of the basic principles of leadership: get both sides of the story.”

Why the drama, Scott? Why should Evgeniy Chetvertakov contact Orrin and Chris before removing rigged votes? It is his website and he makes the rules. The rules of not counting rigged votes makes sense. From the quote that Scott included, Evgeniy Chetvertakov wasn’t placing any guilt or making any defamatory statements.

What’s the point of getting the other side of the story. Woodward and Brady are going to say that they didn’t do it and don’t know anything about it, because that’s the only thing they can say other than tarnish their reputation and admit it. As far as Evgeniy Chetvertakov’s list goes, it doesn’t matter what Woodward and Brady say, since they didn’t have the votes to make the list. The other side of the story is irrelevant.

Scott Allen closes out with this, “Let’s stick to the facts. And the fact of the matter is, Orrin’s and Chris’s credentials are indisputable.”

Actually they are quite disputable and have been disputed at lengths. You don’t see Fortune, Business Week, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, or any other reputable media organization praising Woodward’s leadership. Forbes was the only site that I saw mention Woodward and it clearly wasn’t in a positive way. All these big media publications mention Stephen Covey. Because Covey has all these reputable awards and legit media mentions, he doesn’t need to base his credentials on a meaningless website poll with unknown ownership like Leadershipgurus.net.

The fact that people are wasting their time debating the meaningless website poll is proof positive that Woodward and Brady are not leadership gurus. Stephen Covey wouldn’t waste a minute of his time on it. I’m only using my time to show that, once again, Orrin Woodward’s leadership status is a complete fabrication born from his pyramid scheme.

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Posted by Team Scam on January 24, 2013 in Media, Team Scam

Team is a Pyramid Scheme (According to Forbes)

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Many of the people researching for information about MLMs look for reputable sources to guide them. I’ve heard numerous times that I’m not a reputable source because I don’t put my name out there. It is pretty easy to refer those people to this article about MLM distributors asking for credentials. They get quiet real quickly when they see their debating point has no merit.

That said, the point about reputable sources isn’t an all-together poor one. In fact, many MonaVie distributors pointed to Oprah and Dr. Oz before they sued MonaVie. MonaVie was quick to settle that case, which incidentally proves that MonaVie is responsible for the actions of its users.

Today’s reputable source comes courtesy of Forbes Magazine. In August of 2008, it did quite an enlightening article about Orrin Woodward and Team. There are a few eye-opening quotes, but here is the biggest bomb the authors drop:

Team is one step ahead of all these juice selling schemes. It is a pyramid atop a pyramid. It is selling motivational aids to help MonaVie vendors move the juice. But wait. If you can’t earn back the $258 you’ve spent on the motivational lectures by selling $39 juice bottles, you could earn it back in another way — getting people to buy $258 motivational lectures. If you’re good, you flog the lectures to other people, who sell them to yet others. Everybody gets rich. Everybody, that is, except the last round of buyers. That’s the theory, anyway. The reality is that a mere 1% of Team members make any money from involvement with the firm.

(The bolding is my emphasis.) That quote quite openly call Orrin Woodward’s Team a pyramid scheme. For those who aren’t aware pyramid schemes are illegal in the United States. I also wanted to call your attention to the last line – where only 1% of people make any money by being involved. Ouch, those are terrible odds. The odds are worse than many raffles… but the prize is that you make some money not a lot of money… and you have to work for that money… and good luck sleeping at night knowing that you broke the law by participating in an illegal pyramid scheme.

The question about breaking the law always come in discussions. Distributors will ask, “If it’s against the law, why hasn’t it been shut down.” There are a lot of answers for that. One is that the FTC isn’t funded well enough to take on the 1,000+ pyramid schemes out there. Another answer is that Bernie Madoff’s pyramid scheme went on for 17 years and no one would listen to those that exposed him either. Anyway, that’s a larger article for another day, let’s get back to the Forbes article…

The Forbes article goes on into the detail of what Team is actually selling. They even got Orrin Woodward to admit that he’s not actually selling tools. Well, not the tools that actually teach you how to be successful. In Orrin Woodward’s own words:

“What I try to give most of all is hope and encouragement.”

The Forbes authors brilliantly explain the cost of this hope, saying, “Hope is an expensive commodity.” The financial details are incredible. The authors give an example of how someone rung up $20,000 in debt buying Team tools, Amway products, and MonaVie juice.

Another great quote from the Forbes authors is:

“Woodward quickly realized how important sales tools are to multilevel marketers. Tools encourage recruits to reject doubters and, if money fails to materialize, to blame themselves and keep trying.”

This is exactly what I found when I wrote about Orrin Woodward and Scams in the past. That’s a worthwhile article to read… Orrin Woodward makes Charlie Sheen seem sane.

Of course this is all part of the Team scam. It is well-known that in MLM’s failure is not a matter of effort, it’s a mathematical certainty. This is what makes Team such a dangerous scam. Team is like the guy in the white van with no windows your mother warned you about. His candy may look good, but its a trap. It’s best to not go talking to strangers.

Other good analysis of this article comes from Amthrax’s Team Scam website. He takes a look at the financial aspects of Team as reported in the Forbes article.

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Posted by Team Scam on March 22, 2011 in Media

Team Scam Open Discussion

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Got something to say about Team Scam?  Feel free to post it in the comment section below…

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Posted by Team Scam on January 29, 2011 in Team Scam