The Dirty Truth about the Guru Programs

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It’s a dirty one alright.

Are you ready for it?

They work.

What?!! Yep, I said it. The guru programs work. Despite people’s skepticism, despite the negative reviews online, and despite the cost of the programs, the guru programs actually do work…

…if you work them right.

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Why Guru Programs Don’t Work for Most People

If I say they work, how come they don’t seem to or why do they get knocked so hard?

Because most people who go to them don’t work them right (hence my follow-up statement a minute ago).

How do they not work them right?

It can be any of the following, and maybe even some others I’m not thinking of:

  • They sign up for a guru program because of the false impression (or not false at all, depending on the marketing of the program) that their life can be transformed immediately once they know all of the information that will be presented in the program. Then after the program, they are ticked their lives haven’t changed and they write a bad review.
  • They go through the program and then feel like it didn’t solve all of their problems or give all of the answers, even if it did touch on some, and they just kind of give up thinking they didn’t get everything they needed and end up forgetting a lot of what they learned.
  • Especially relevant to real estate investing guru programs, they pick a niche they think fits them and will be fun and great, but the reality is it’s just not who they are. Wholesaling and flipping sounds amaaaazing to people and evvvvveryone wants to do it. So they think they can do too, they sign up for the guru program that teaches them how to do it, and boom they’re hosed (unless they’re in the minority that really have wholesaling or flipping in their blood).

Why No Guru Program Can Transform You Overnight

Let me explain a little bit about why success in general doesn’t happen overnight, much less a guru program. You know I love explaining in visuals!

flow chartWhat people don’t realize, including the gurus themselves usually, is that a person doesn’t come up with one piece of winning advice out of nowhere.

That winning advice is founded on other ideas. That ‘one really cool piece of guru advice’ did not just one day jump up and smack the guru in the face. Well, actually it probably did, but not before the guru had learned several other key things that led up to it- we’ll call those pieces “misc info”.

In reality, there are way more than four pieces of misc info that leads to each big piece of advice.

Related: The 4 Levels of Learning in Real Estate Investment

How many? who knows.

The point is, amazing ideas don’t just come out of nowhere. And while piecing together several big pieces of advice to make something work, you won’t truly succeed or go that far without also having misc info under your belt.

A guru can’t give you this. He doubtfully even remembers what all of the misc info that led to him figuring out the big picture even was. You have to gain and build your own misc info.

You have to build your own empire and that empire will be different from anyone else’s empire. Even if the end result is similar, your journey to that end result will always be different.

If that is true, how could you expect to only listen to one person and gain all the answers?

You can’t.

We all have our own brains. It’s a bit worthless to not use them and instead hope that someone else out there will give us all the answers. Instead of relying on the end-game advice of the guru, use what he teaches you to formulate you own misc info so you can then put it all together to formulate your own guru advice.

Trust me, you can become your own guru.

How to Make Guru Programs Work for You

My personal advice?

Don’t completely rule out gurus. Surprisingly, most of them actually do know what they are talking about. People can say what they will about Robert Kiyosaki and the Rich Dad programs, but I can promise you if it weren’t for him, I wouldn’t be where I am today. Not even close!

Does that mean I only take advice from him?

No way.

I’ve read books from several authors, I’ve taken online courses, I follow blogs of several different people, and I am open to any new guru advice that I find fitting to my goals and to my life and can help me along (I’ve never understood the mentality of letting your ego stop you from taking advice from people around you. I think it’s much quicker to let people give me options on how to succeed.Why figure it all out by myself? Seems a bit limiting, don’t you think?).

Related: 7 Real Estate Investing Lessons We Can Learn From Tony Robbins

As far as the high-dollar guru programs, I won’t rule them out but it will take a lot more for me to go that route. Those expensive programs are usually tailored to one specific avenue and I learned a long time ago that I do better with taking pieces of advice from several people in order to concoct my own solution.

But you may not be like me and those programs could be what sends you to the top. I actually do recommend them for some fields. Regardless, here are my own pieces of advice about the guru programs for you to leave with:

  • Start slowly.
  • Understand that sales are part of the program. Instead of whining about it, just ignore it (if you don’t want what they are selling) and focus on the rest of the content. Basically, get over it.
  • Research programs related to your interests and the skills you think you need. Use your own judgment as to the worth of it.
  • Stick with the gurus that resonate with you. Not all of them will. Not all advice given in this world will work for you but that doesn’t mean it won’t work for someone else, so rather than bashing them, just focus on finding who you like.
  • If you read reviews of a guru or a particular program, focus on the objective reviews rather than emotional-based reviews.
  • If a program is free, take it.
  • If a program is cheap (yes, $495 is considered cheap in my book), try it out. Trust me, you can learn something that is worth more than $495.
  • If a program costs $5,000 or more, hold off until you know for certain that exact program is exactly what you need and by taking it, you can definitely earn multiples of that amount in income thanks to the program.
  • With any program or guru, use your brain and if the advice seems off, then just don’t take it.
  • Never leave a program (whether online, DVDs, in-person seminar, whatever) without one or two major takeaways. That’s how you make the money worth it. Maybe it’s not even something the guru says specifically, but maybe it’s something the guru triggered you to think of yourself.

 Have you ever taken a “guru course”?

Share your thoughts below!

Note from BiggerPockets Founder, Joshua Dorkin: BiggerPockets was founded because I STRONGLY believe that there are far better alternatives to learning about real estate investing than spending your hard earned money on a traveling education salesman (guru). Any information you can pay hundreds, thousands, or tens of thousands of dollars for from a guru can be found from a local mentor of through various other means (including our site) for free. While I’m staunchly against the promises made by the seminars, bootcamps, and other programs offered by these individuals, I do appreciate that some people find them to have value and as such, I thought it important to allow this opinion piece and others like it to be shared here on the site. If you’re going to spend your money on gurus, do your homework — research, ask your peers, and before you give them your money, know that no guru is going to make you a success — that job is up to you.

About Author

Ali Boone

Ali Boone is a lifestyle entrepreneur, business consultant, and real estate investor. Ali left her corporate job as an Aerospace Engineer to follow her passion for being her own boss and creating true lifestyle design. She did this through real estate investing, using primarily creative financing to purchase five properties in her first 18 months of investing. Ali’s real estate portfolio started with pre-construction investments in Nicaragua and then moved towards turnkey rental properties in various markets throughout the U.S. With this success, she went on to create her company Hipster Investments, which focuses on turnkey rental properties and offers hands-on support for new investors and those going through the investing process. She’s written nearly 200 articles for BiggerPockets and has been featured in Fox Business, The Motley Fool, and Personal Real Estate Investor Magazine. She still owns her first turnkey rental properties and is a co-owner and the landlord of property local to her in Venice Beach.


  1. Ali, I feel like the difference is between a guru and a consultant.

    A guru preys on newbies when their advice is really only beneficial to someone who already has the miscellaneous info you were talking about. They should focus more on investors trying to reach the next level, who already made money and can afford to “invest” in their advanced knowledge. But then again that wouldn’t fill up a room of 200 people.

    There is nothing wrong with the high price point if you really add value to someone’s business. However, most of the people who do sign up for these seminars don’t have a business, they’re just dreamers.

    I’ll never pay for a guru course / seminar, but I’d have no problem paying the same amount in a joint venture with a mentor or to a consultant teaching me how to scale from 20 deals to 100.

    • Ali Boone

      Patrick, I think you make amazing points. It is very unfortunate that so many of the people who sign up for the programs are more of the dreamers than not. I know for me, I’ve had a lot of people ask me to put together informational stuff and a pseudo ‘guru’ but I can’t bring myself to do it just because I know so many dreamers would pay for it and never do anything with it. I would feel like I was taking advantage of them, even though it wouldn’t be my fault they didn’t do anything with it. It’s kind of a weird dynamic. If I knew everyone was serious, I’d do it in a heartbeat!

  2. You mean that after I buy a program, I actually have to do some work? Like the home gyms?

    I agree, I have been to several RE seminars, some were expensive. There is a lot of information there. I also think you can get just as good by gong to your local RE investment club. Going to lunch with agents who specialize in various RE segments. Taking continuing RE education classes, even if you are not an agent.

    All of RE is either work, or high risk. Hence the rewards. But, once you are invested and cash flowing, it looks easy.

  3. Karin DiMauro on

    Oh baby, I have a feeling you just kicked the hornet’s nest!

    I would probably amend the summary statement to read that SOME guru programs work (or a FEW guru programs work). Truth be told, most don’t – they simply don’t have enough actionable information in them and never intended to. Snake oil, anyone?

    I’ve seen a ton of gurus come through my REIA and I very quickly developed a rule of thumb: if they give me some details at the first speaking event, I will check out the next “level”. So if they give me more than fluff at the monthly 2-hour meeting, I’ll check out their Saturday day course. If they dive deeper in the day course, I’ll check out their weekend event or their boot camp. If the boot camp is good, I’ll buy some materials. I have never advanced into the many thousands of dollars, and never will. No one’s come remotely close to appearing worth a 30k coaching program (or a 5-10k program, for that matter).

    The score so far: 5 years’ worth of REIA meetings, about 50 speakers, and ONE good 5-day boot camp at $1500. Probably 46 of the 50 speakers were all rhetoric, zero details.

    • Ali Boone

      Ha Karin, I was wondering if the hornet’s nest would get triggered on this one. 🙂 What you say is valid- it brings to point that the definition of a guru needs to be defined too. When I think of guru, I think of the Robert Kiyosaki-level guys, not the people speaking at REIAs necessarily, but now that you bring it up, a lot of people may introduce themselves as gurus in that setting for sure. In those cases, triple eeeek on listening to everyone at those. I’d say a smaller proportion of those guys are legit, while the bigger ones have better percentages. But I love your advice- start with the speech, if you get something from it go to the next notch, then the next, bit by bit. Perfect advice! I’ve done that myself and it worked out great. You stay cheaper on your wallet and stop before you go too far in.

  4. Thanks for affirming that there are guru programs that are worthwhile. We are finding that the guru programs need to be supplemented with participation in local REIA’s and a local coaching/mentoring arrangement. All this while you actually work to build your business.

    • Ali Boone

      Couldn’t agree more Gene. I think everyone’s success will ultimately come from a combination/mixture of all the resources out there. I know mine did! I don’t think there’s any one-stop shop that will fix everyone. And then of course at some point, like you say, you have to be actually doing it on top of learning in order to really learn it.

  5. Michael Dorovich on

    Ali, thank you for this post! I think you hit the nail on the head.

    From actually calling 60 attendees over a year after a bootcamp program I attended, it became apparent that the number of people who were actually doing deals as a result of the training was around 10%. (The instructors themselves later confirmed this.)

    Similarly, it also became apparent that the people I met who became successful investors as the result of training often had attended 5 or 6 different training programs.

    And I agree about Rich Dad coaching, I have heard several negative comments about it, but when I actually sat down with one of their coaches when a friend offered me to join his session, I found the coach to be very helpful.

    When you say there are more than 4 pieces of miscellaneous info, it may be closer to 10,000 tiny steps to learn to do anything. No one can tell you what all of those steps are because they only know a dozen of them off the top of their head.

    Your common sense advice at the end is also huge. Be open minded about possibility, but selective in who you choose to work with and how you spend your money.

    • Ali Boone

      I agree Michael and yes, it could easily be 10,000 pieces of advice. Not only does any one experienced person or guru even remember all of those to tell you, those 10,000 are what worked for them, they are never going to be the same 10,000 that will work for you.

  6. Ali,

    Great article. I wouldn’t be where I am today, flipping, developing, and wholesaling, without the help of gurus, especially Fortune Builders. Was it expensive? No doubt. Was it worth it? Every penny. Do I get paid to say that? That would be nice, but not a chance. But you’ve got to apply yourself and not one person will have all the answers. You summed it up perfectly. Nice job.


  7. Every time I come across a guru who wants to sell me their stuff I ask a very simple question: “May I defer my payment to you until I make that much in profits?” No takers so far. Not even for an increased amount. Same response for a money back guarantee question. Seems to me they don’t believe in what they sell.

    • Shariyf Grevious on


      Quick points:
      I literally see Gurus who SELL information they learned on BiggerPockets!

      There is no accreditation for Guru Programs. So there is no real way to verify that they are an honest education program OR business for that matter.

      The fact that they use THE SAME EXACT techniques as programs that were verified as SCAMS shows to me that they don’t care about being associated with those companies. Do you think that Apple would operate the same as a guy who sells used pc’s at a flea market? No. So why duplicate the sales page, sales pitch, phony scarcity tactic, etc etc as people who are unethical?

      • Ali Boone

        Not sure I completely follow Shariyf but you are right about the accreditation part. That is actually unfortunate and would be nice to have. But since we don’t have it, a lot of it is word of mouth from other investors and using your own judgement. Not everything you are told will end up being completely accurate.

        How do you know they got their education on BP? Guru programs have been around a lot longer than BP has. Now if you are talking about REIA type of gurus, I’d believe you.

    • I disagree and I used to think like you do. But then I realized it isn’t that they don’t believe in their program, it’s that they do know that only a small percentage will act on it. And that people do put more value on something they have paid for.

        • Ali Boone

          Not necessarily Joshua, for several reasons. Some people don’t know what they are getting into when they pay for it, some pay for it wanting overnight fixes and those don’t happen, some pay for what they think will be a good niche for them and then it’s not, and lastly….real estate investing is hard. I’d say a good majority aren’t cut out for it, either for lack of smarts or lack of interest. And a lot of people don’t realize that ahead of time before they pay for a course. The only way to make the success rate closer to 100% is to pretty much interview people and only accept those who seem to really be a fit.

      • Ali Boone

        I agree Clare. It is true people tend to put more value on something they pay for but at the same time, so few people who even pay for the guru programs will do anything about it…that makes it hard for legit gurus to get their information out. The reality is the big boys really do need to charge for giving that knowledge, but then it gets bombarded with the guru name and people not getting anything out of it…it’s still impossible to decide where the fault lies.

    • I tried this with my college as well, they didn’t bite.
      Apparently most don’t think it is worth waiting to get their $300K after one makes that as a Starbucks barista with their liberal arts degree.

    • Ali Boone

      That is definitely possible, Mike. But looking just at the business perspective of it, regardless of whether gurus are legit or not, they really can’t offer that kind of deal with every single person that signs up for the program. Even the programs where the info is 100% accurate and correct, there is still a huge drop-out rate that is not necessarily due to the guru himself but rather because of the people who want their lives changed overnight and with no work. Plus, just going off the courses I have personally taken, I know for sure I have gotten my money’s worth but I can’t necessarily show a receipt for it. So of course what you say is possibly true, and possibly dependent on the guru for sure, but there is another side to that coin.

      • Ali, you wrote: “The only way to make the success rate closer to 100% is to pretty much interview people and only accept those who seem to really be a fit.”

        I absolutely agree with this statement! If were a ‘guru’ I would have an entrance exam, interview my prospective students, only accept those that have highest levels of motivation and commitment, and then only charge those who actually succeed taking my course. Oh, and I would charge them a percentage of their profits instead of a fixed payment. That would allow me to legitimately claim 100% success ratio and create passive income though my students 🙂

        • Ali Boone

          Well the only potential problem there Mike is what if even after all the interviews and student applicant screening, no one did a deal and you made no money off of it? Somehow you need to get compensated for your time and the work you put into creating the course (unless you are just doing it for fun), so what then?

    • Chris Clothier

      Mike –

      I was wondering what business you were in? Do you own your own company or work for yourself? I was asking because if you were, any chance you would give away your product or service for free? Any way you would allow a customer to pay later after they feel your product or service is worth it?

      I’m not defending any one program or service or even the industry itself, but your reasoning for not doing business with someone labeled a guru does not make sense. No business person is going to give away their product or service for free. None that I know of anyway.


      • Chris,

        I work for a large publicly traded software company that does give away some if its products.
        Moreover, there is a business model out there where 90% of the content is intentionally given away free to lure in potential motivated buyers for the other 10%. Check out Ramit Sethi ( for example. He has money back guarantee for his program as well. Too bad he is not in real estate.


        • That really isn’t much different than most real estate educators with any legitimacy.
          Most that I have seen usually have some combination of free newsletters, blogs, YouTube channel with lots of “tips”, free ebooks, free webinars (that usually have an upsell at the end), many have podcasts, they do talks at local REIAs or other investor meetings, have free stand alone meetings they have to talk about their niche and promote themselves and sometimes you even see them participating on BP and other online forums answering questions for people.

          Then usually there are some gateway products. Maybe after the REIA meeting they will do a full day seminar that weekend for a nominal fee that will mostly cover the cost of the room and giving a lite lunch. There might be a book or manual for like $5-25 you can buy on their website. Maybe a few short CD (or downloads these days) in the $9.99-$49.99 range.

          Then you get into the home study courses that will be like $297-2,497, and they might have more than. Usually you can get them discounted/free if you sign up for an associated 3-4 day “bootcamp” that will cost $997-2,997.

          If that all goes well that is when the big guns come out and you get pitched the 5 figure coaching/mentoring programs. I have heard of some applying a previous purchase of courses or bootcamps to the price since they are often included in the package if you go all in to start.

          Not really any different than what you say your company does. You give away your baseline stuff to gain legitimacy and get the customer to like what you have to offer.
          Once they are hooked you go in for the kill by selling the last bits that have most of the value for a nice profit.

          It is the drug dealer model and is quite effective…

        • Chris Clothier

          Thanks for not taking offense at asking who you worked for. I looked at the link you sent. The gentleman may be excellent at what he does, but in terms of this conversation he is a personal development guru. Nothing more. It appears that he charges $25,000 for 4 hours of consulting! That is an ENORMOUS amount of money and his website uses the exact same sales techniques as many other coaches in other industries – including real estate. And I was intrigued enough by his sales presence to register for follow up information.

          I am going to agree with Shaun on this. Everyone creates promotional material to be given away for free. It is content that can be repacked and reworked and given away. That is not the same as the real value. The value has to come from a guru (I hate that word) is that they have a program (for lack of a better word) that can be tailored and designed to make different people with different needs succeed. But again, I don’t know of many people/businesses that give away anything other than a small loss-leader for free and they all absolutely expect to see a tremendous return on their valuable offers.

          It reminds me a little of the Popeye character that used to say he would gladly pay Tuesday for a hamburger today. It just does not make sense as a real long-term business model.

        • Ali Boone

          Mike, a lot of it depends on who is offering the course. A lot of people can offer more free things because it drives people to their site and their company and their products that they end up spending money on. That is how the company can make money to compensate them for their efforts. But not all companies have that additional thing to sell or whatever and the only money they make is from the programs they sell. So your point is valid for a lot of companies and what they could realistically offer but but for a lot of other ones, it couldn’t work in terms of them getting compensation without charging for the info.

        • Ali Boone

          Shaun and Chris both, I agree. Trust me, when I started my business I wanted tried every way possible to never charge for anything that I offered people in terms of help, mentoring, etc. You can ask any of my mentors, I tried and tried and tried (and wore them out). But eventually I had to suck it up and realize that it’s impossible to help everyone for free because you’ll be so busy you can’t breathe, and you get a lot of people who truly do waste your time (and a lot who don’t as well). For sanity and time-balance purposes, it’s impossible to do everything for free. Trust me, I tried.

    • Sonia Spangenberg

      Well if you use that measure then the guru would be spending a lot of time and money on a venue and materials and all the dreamer’s would just show up for free. The Doer’s payments wouldn’t cover expenses because the percentage is so small. who is going to monitor the making of money and appropriate payments? It’s not the Guru’s fault! You didn’t read all of Ali’s post. Now if the Guru only allowed attendees who passed a screening for dreamers vs doers along with their goals assessment, that might work. Which are you?

  8. The most successful ‘RE guru follower’ person I know is a slightly retarted man who used to work for me. I like him, he was a hard worker, but clearly somewhat slow and unable to grasp complex concepts. He would do whatever I carefully explained to him but if the situation deviated from the expected; he was lost. Some years before I had bought one of the early ‘get rich in real estate programs’. I had done some of the method but then felt that I was smarter and went back to doing things much as before I read it.

    He and I were talking in my office one afternoon and he asked how I knew so much (or something like that) and I remarked that I read a lot. He said that he didn’t like to read and I hit on the idea of the guru program (which was on cassette tape) for him. We talked about it and then I lent him the tapes to listen to.

    Over the next few weeks he was excitedly talking about what he was planning and it made me a little sad – thinking that it was unlikely that he would be able to actually do it. About six months later he stopped working for me and I didn’t see him again until running into him in a diner having lunch. He was driving a new Lincoln and had recently bought a nice house in a very nice neighborhood. He thanked me for giving him the RE course and said that by following it he had made enough money to virtually retire in terms of having a job.

    What Still makes me laugh about it all is the idea that whereas I, who thought myself much too smart to have to follow the course dictates exactly, had not succeeded at it – but he, who had no such thoughts, simply did exactly what was described; step, by step, by step. Methodically plodding along and had literally made a fortune.

  9. Sharon Tzib on

    Yes, over the years, I have purchased or attended some of these programs, from a few hundred dollars to several thousand. They definitely have helped to provide a reference point and make sense of certain things that my pea brain just wasn’t grasping independently. But for the most part, the information they provide is not some mystical secret that you couldn’t figure out on your own if you wanted to. It’s just organized in a way that helps you get to where you want to go perhaps faster and with less mistakes, which can be very appealing to a lot of people.

    At the end of the day, however, as you say, you must act on it. And that’s where most people fall down. I will say that some courses don’t make it easy to take the information and put it into action. They could do a whole lot better on packaging their courses so people could be more successful.

    At this point in my REI career, I don’t need any more paid courses or bootcamps. I prefer to work with experienced people who offer information for either free or a nominal charge to compensate them for their effort, have a money back guarantee no questions asked, and who are willing to be “accessible” to me after the fact for some period of time. I feel this level of commitment on their part tells me they stand behind their product.

    You’ll hear a lot of the experienced investors on BP say all the time, “You don’t know what you don’t know,” so learning from people like this seems like a smart investment if it is a field you already know you are passionate about and want to pursue. If it’s just another shiny object for you, however, stick to the free stuff.

    • Ali Boone

      I totally agree Sharon. I don’t do the courses now either but I’ve been in and out of them and you’re right, it’s not that I can’t find the info on my own but sometimes it is nice to just get it all at once directly and then be able to branch off from there. Another valid point too that your comment brings up- the reality is, sources like BP and others haven’t been around that long (relatively) so how else would people have gotten the info other than going the guru route? I foresee the guru world changing because of sites like BP and such now, but it’s really just now starting to impede on their business. I never found a good source of all the info before finding BP, so where else would everyone get it to easily? And even BP tho, while this is truly an amazing site, doesn’t put niche’s how-to into a big direct packet. You still sift through info. Nothing wrong with that, but like you say, some people just want it in packet format.

  10. This has been one of my favorite blogs in Bigger Pockets. I have only been studying REI for about 6 mos. now and have mentally gone through a dozen or so thoughts both positive and negative, about the courses/bootcamps and guru’s I’ve spoken with.. Some were better than others for me personally and there were various things that I took away from each that contribute to the bigger picture in my progress. Even the ones I didn’t initally find terribly helpful. Now that I am seeing results from my marketing (took a while of trial and error) and have signed my first contract, and am embarking on a short sale negotiation (boot camp – best buy!), I feel your overview on how to respond to gurus and boot camps to be very balanced and true. There are so many factors to one’s success that evaluation of a course/guru/bootcamp is often too shallow and investigation of effort and personality needs to be looked into. People who “give up” gave up on themselves and the details most of the time. I feel that my processing the events of the past six months was nicely confirmed with your comments. Thanks.

      • Sonia Spangenberg

        Ali, I now have a business partner and we just closed on our third property (four doors). My first year the three contracts ended up falling thru, but in my second year of investing we have purchased one SF rental, one flip and our third the MF. All within 6 months. I think that a lot of the naysayers just didn’t stick with it long enough. It was discouraging for a while but I just kept at it, trying new things and knowing that eventually I’d catch on. I am grateful for the learning thru the failures tho. Again, I really think you post was incredibly balanced and truthful. Thanks

  11. Ali – Great post!

    There is a common perception among a whole lot of folks that courses and programs put on by “gurus” are all bad. While there are some I can think of that are well known for overcharging and taking your money without delivering the goods, there are indeed many good courses and coaching programs out there. I have said it many times; I don’t personally know one super successful person that didn’t have coaches along the way. I know this too; many real estate investors won’t admit that they have hired coaches along the way.

    Can you get everything you need online piece by piece for free? Sure.

    Could you conceivably learn everything you needed to learn to piece by piece for almost any career or degree? Absolutely.

    I would like to ask all the guru “bashers” out there, “How many years would it take you to get all of that information on your own equivalent to a college degree? A whole lot longer than 4 years I’m pretty sure. Investing in your real estate education is no different than investing in your college degree. It is a more concise way to get all of the information you need and to get from point A to point B.

    With that being said, most people that buy courses and attend those programs never do anything with that information. There is work involved in any course or program. Most people would rather watch TV.


    • Ali Boone

      Lol, I love it Sharon. TV is admittedly nice. But you give a great analogy, how long would it take to get a college degree if you do it on your own? And better yet, to add to that one, how much of what you learn in college do you actually use later in life? Very little I bet, and how much did you pay for that degree? It’s more about the big picture and nailing the few big pieces of info from everything you learn and working those to make you successful.

  12. Gurus work for some, but even though I have never been to one, I am thinking many are going to “get rich quick.” I always advise on individuals going to their local REIA–chances are there are people in that REIA doing the same thing and will share that info for free. I know I have received a lot of help along the way from people in my REIA group.

  13. Great Post Ali 🙂

    I have posted several times that I have done this in the mid to late 90’s and yes I have succeed in it (as well as crashed and burned but that was my fault, no one elses). Now I have not seen the bashers about Charlton Sheets but that was my first taste of a Guru, and beleive it or not he actually allowed me to defer my payments until after I made the money (not sure if he did that for anyone else). And guess what, I actually did succeed, the best lessons I ever had, granted like a Telemarketers script I had to modify it to fit me and my personality, but yes it did work for me, mostly on the Subject To Clauses in my Contracts (and a little help from my Mortgage Broker, lol). I closed my first 2 deals using a couple of his methods, and back then I had no computer so did not really looked it up, and I am not sure if there was much info like there is now lol. Now I am basically doing it all over again, but not using Charlton Sheets methods anymore, I am sure its outdated seeing that there is a lot of new rules. So I am learning a lot here. Now there is one person, and I am sure he has posted here in response to his program for HUD Foreclosures, that I was listening to a Podcast about, for 2 hours he literallly explained how to do it in the Podcast and of course I listened to every detail about it. Granted I heard about his Program $550 for it, to rich for me seeing my income right at this time is very limited, now if he sent me the program and told me that I could pay for it after I made the money I would sign up right away, just to get his Excel Program (and of course to learn more how to do it, I am sure he provides DVD’s with a sketch by sketch on how to do it). But after listening to his podcast, of course I checked out the site he suggested, and followed his instructions and actually got all the Info from the HUD-store, and found a lot of great fixer uppers on the site as well as really nice looking homes, I haven’t put in a bid yet because I don’t know if I should do the comps before I put in a bid (he said he put his bids in blindly) to basically figure out what I should bid, he did tell everyone about how much to bid though, I am sure everyone here has seen his Webinar and know who I am talking about. I just want that Excel Program of his, I got everything else basically from the podcast lol, well almost everything lmao….Ok it’s starting to look like I am writing a book here lol. My point though, is its not the information that these guys give but the price tag, lot of us newbies get sticker shock, some of us who don’t benifet from sites like this gets discouraged and just plain quit without living their dreams, and there are others who actually pay and don’t do the work gives a lot of those guys bad names. Because some of the sales pitch, and yes I said Sales Pitch, is that its easy to make a fortune really fast, with little to no work, these guys did not see what I have seen. One Guru actually said that it will take lots of work in order to get where he is at now. Like Ali said, some of these programs may not be for everyone, while others are a perfect match. I do know one thing though, the price tags for me is not a perfect match lol…..

    • Ali Boone

      Richard, great comment and thanks for sharing! I really value stories like yours, you tell the truth, you say you failed at some and succeeded at others, and I like how you breakdown what works for you and what doesn’t in terms of the programs. I admit I have no idea who you are talking about that has the Excel program but I wish you the best of luck of getting your hands on it 🙂

      As far as pricing, it can be very unfortunate. I know when I was learning it was rare I would pay a lot for a program just because of that sticker shock and not knowing for sure it would work. Any info anyone gave me for free, I actually used and it was worth their time, but unfortunately a TON of time could be spent giving a lot of people free advice and it would never go anywhere. It’s just the reality of the model and why gurus charge at all. The really thought-out programs, of which I do know of some, really do take a lot of work on the part of the guru to create and they need to be compensated for that work and for their experience that they put into it. That’s the argument for the expensive good guru programs, and then of course there are likely programs out there that are really out to gouge people which is not cool. But the ones that are truly worth it, I understand the price tag.

  14. To be candid, I’m less than thrilled with the gotta-give-it-away-free camp found in the BP and other communities. If you think it ought to be free, consider reading Robert J. Ringer’s ‘Winning Through Intimidation’ thoughts on free-lunch vs. value-for-value before commenting.
    Personally, I’ve spend many, many tens of thousands on training, seminars and my business education. Most all of it very worthwhile. It has and continues to pay far greater dividends and profits than any other single investment. I’ve also quietly helped many others get their real estate education and provided financial assistance where merited.
    That being said, I’ve also watched many, if not most, poop out and give up. Why? Because they want it easy, can’t get through tough times, they lose interest, get greedy, make bad decisions, stop learning, etc. they are not my inspiration. The ones who are can be found doing the footwork, putting the hours in, not depending on computers, smart phones or technology to get all their answers and bring unwilling to be satisfied with marginal deals or occasional successes alone.
    It is true, there are some really worthless dream merchants out there, willing to take people’s money without delivering much of anything that I see of value besides hope. My friend Tony Alvarez, like myself still a very active investor besides being well past the point of needing the dough, says that he got his original inspiration from a late TV guru. Only Tony didn’t learn until much later (after he had made it work) that the guy was a fraud.
    Here’s another thing to consider: Some people don’t take training seriously until and unless they have something substantial on the line to lose. And another: I’ve been at events that the high price point keep the uncommitted out therefore creating a fellowship of serious participants.
    Here’s my take: if you’re new to real estate, you probably don’t need to spend much money and can get much of your education by reading what’s online and budgeting $59/month buying books from Amazon and the like. It’s not until you get into niches that specific education can be of benefit. And if you’re not sure about your trainer, check to see if they make their living doing deals or merely info products marketing stories about deals they don’t really (or never did) do anymore.
    I’ve taught for other trainers, assisted others, taught my own courses and concluded that you’ve got to do your own research before spending the money and decide if the training has helped people that you know and have watched benefit or if the pitch is just a dream merchant’s well-crafted offer.

    • Ali Boone

      Rick, phenomenal phrasing! You are very right and thank you for sharing that. I agree, there is no reason to spend big bucks on anything until you have dug through the free stuff. I agree with you and Sharon Vornholt on your points about why sometimes it is better to pay money for education. Not always, and certainly not until you have dug through the free stuff, but the programs (speaking of the good ones only of course, not the scams) do tighten up the information and can send you along faster. It comes down to weighing time versus money vs content, etc.

  15. Nice article Ali. I’ve noticed ‘gurus’ are a bit of a third rail here on BP and condemned by most people. But as with anything else under the sun, there is no black and white on this topic. Over the years I’ve attended workshops ranging from free to a few hundred $ and have also, dare I admit it, paid for coaching. Some of these coaches would be considered gurus, others are just long time investors with tremendous amounts of experience who run a business and have coaching as one of their income streams. I’ve also gotten what is ostensibly free coaching from more experienced investors I’ve partnered with on deals.

    While some gurus are total scam artists others provide a ton of value for your investment and will shave months or years off the amount of time needed for you to start making serious money in real estate. While it is true that anybody can learn to succeed in any facet of real estate by reading books, attending free workshops, attending their local REIA meetings, taking advantage of BP and other online resources, taking experienced investors out to lunch, etc. none of this is “free” unless you place no value on your time. The coaching I have paid for has been reimbursed several times over in the form of deals I would never have otherwise done, or would not have done nearly as quickly. I know numerous people who have paid serious money for training with gurus/coaches, Homevestors, Wealth Builders, and others. Those who actually instituted what they were being taught and did the hard work required of them have done very well. The ones who thought it would be easy because they paid somebody……….not so much.

    While some of these gurus/coaches are not worth a cent, to write them all off as charlatans because they won’t provide you with free training until the point you make “x” amount of money is a bit disingenuous. That’s like expecting to be able to walk into a gym and say, “I want to use your facilities, be given a personal trainer, and meet weekly with a nutritionist, but I’m not paying you anything until after I lose 30 pounds.” No gym on earth will agree to that and it is not because they are all scam artists. The reason they won’t agree is most people who join that gym are going to stop working out after a few weeks, go back to their beer and pizza diet, and never lose 30 pounds. Most people who pay a guru or coach won’t follow through, won’t do what they are being told to do, and will not succeed in real estate.

    Anybody considering paying serious money for training needs to vet the heck out of these people and be totally committed to busting hump in order to succeed.


    • Jeff – I couldn’t agree with you more.

      Like you said; nothing is free unless you place no value on your time. I constantly look for ways to maximize my time. There is nothing wrong with finding a way to dramatically shorten your learning curve even if that is paying a coach. I am baffled by this whole attitude.


      • Ali Boone

        Agreed Sharon. I will never understand ruling out any(whole) avenue of information. Scammer gurus, yes rule them out, but good gurus, why rule them out unless you are either a) bitter one didn’t work for you or b) your pride is too high to admit having a teacher or paying for a program or mentor is worth it.

    • Ali Boone

      Jeff, absolutely amazing. Especially the gym analogy. That one hits close because I’m (dare I admit) working with a personal trainer twice a week right now and I’ll tell you what, if the money I’m paying for her doesn’t entice me to make sure I’m eating right, working out outside of her, and not lose it all once I’m done with her… But sooo many people hire the trainer, buy the clothes, get the membership and they either keep eating fast food and/or let it all disappear after the training is over. I’d say the good majority of people actually! Was the gym or the trainer a scammer? Absolutely not.

      I know your success personally and I’d say every penny you spent on anything that you did has paid off! I think you describe the perfect combination (and budget) that can make someone successful. All of your points, including about the value of your time, are right on. The most successful investors I know have all had coaches along the way, paid some money for professional training, and also utilized sites like BP and free mentors and such….basically every resource available to them, they use it all. No egos or pride involved, just learn what you need to. Filter and be smart about who you choose to work with of course, but yep, everything you say is great.

  16. Great article, Ali! I think one of the things gurus are worst at is expectation management. Obviously that’s because expectation management conflicts with sales and marketing. If a guru said, “take my course and you will learn one thing that will make your business more efficient” no one would buy the course. They are setting the student up for an expectation of greatness, not an expectation of simple learning.

    I didn’t take my first guru course until I had several years of REI experience and many deals under my belt. I didn’t take the course because I expected to go from zero to hero immediately upon graduation (as their marketing and poor expectation management would lead you to believe), I took it because I expected that I could learn at least one thing that would take my existing business to a slightly higher level and at least make back my tuition. And you know what? I did. I’ve done a few others, too, costing from a few hundred to a few grand, each time with the same expectation and each time with the same outcome.

    To Josh’s point, however…that was all before I’d ever heard of BiggerPockets (maybe even before BP existed) and I do agree that much of the same info can be found here for free. But sometimes, hearing something in a classroom, among other people trying to learn the same stuff, resonates differently and gets the creative juices flowing. And sometimes not…just choose carefully, and don’t expect to go from knowing nothing to being a multimillionaire just because you fork over the dough to attend a boot camp! Gurus won’t manage expectations for you, so do that for yourself and proceed accordingly.

    • Ali Boone

      Great comment Brian! I agree with all and it really is a valid point that with the now creation of sites like BP (thanks, Josh!), guru programs are likely going to have to revamp how their models. Maybe not their teaching models, but certainly their cost models and for ethical reasons, a lot really should change their marketing. There is definitely a conflict with the marketing creating unrealistic expectations with people and I don’t think that is ethical. But too, a lot of the marketing isn’t necessarily ‘wrong’ either. What they say is true, but they leave out caveats like ‘IF it’s in your DNA to do this, at least” or “chances of success are slim!” or anything like that. They do unethically leave those parts out. I know I can’t bring myself to get into ‘educational programs’ until I figure out how to make it more specialized to only the people who will really benefit from it. And maybe back in the day the high price tags were exactly that attempt- they certainly rule out the uncommitted but some may have used them to keep the pool smaller and closer. Like was mentioned before about the awesome dynamic that can come from these classes when everyone is legitimately invested (mentally, and pun not intended) in the course. It is powerful and it is fun and educational when that happens. I couldn’t agree with you more about the marketing. I’d like to see a change in that in the future. Somehow.

  17. Great topic for discussion, Ali!

    Unfortunately, many lump gurus in the same category thinking they are all the same. I guess it’s kind of the perception the public has about real estate investors that they are all evil which is one of the reasons I just don’t like the word “investor.”

    To be honest, I don’t think it’s a black or white issue. Though, many may see it that way — not all gurus are bad just like not all real estate investors are bad.

    There are folks out there with good coaching programs that actually want their students to succeed and help them to achieve their goals. On the flip side, there are those who are more concerned with taking people’s hard earned money and not caring about what they get out of the program. So, there are two sides of the coin.

    Personally, I have spent thousands of dollars on books, seminars, programs, etc. over the course of my career. Looking back, it is the conglomeration of these experiences coupled with my own personal experience in the field which has got me to where I am today.

    Everyone has different experiences and different paths in life. What makes someone successful is their ability to overcome the obstacles and hurdles when they get in the way. And, sometimes it may or may not involve the help of a good coach.

    Just my thoughts. Nice write-up! 🙂

  18. Great article and I am total agreement with your stance.
    It is also interesting to see the comments with (as you would expect) the visceral hatred for these programs being said by many.

    My feeling is most of these things are at least reasonably functional. Yes some are total garbage and aren’t worth looking at for free but I do feel that is the exception. However most people aren’t willing to put in the time and effort to make the programs work. That goes for the wild eyed dreamer that just gives up on REI all together after finding out you have to do SOMETHING as well as people that are doing good in the biz that aren’t willing to learn a new niche in such a step by step manner without doing their own thing (Like Stephen illustrated in his comment above).

    Do I have more $997-$1,497 binders on my shelf than I care to think about… YEP! Did I get a lot out of some of those courses? Sure did! Do I have others that I have gotten nothing really out of? That’s for sure! How many if I step back and look at it objectively can I say that my not following through is the biggest reason I didn’t get much of anything out of those? All but 1 I’d say that about. One was total garbage however that one still was useful since it was the last one I have bought (at those price points at least) and I got more serious about using the information I already had at hand.

    • Ali Boone

      Thanks for commenting Shaun! I love your last paragraph. Every single DVD and binder of info I have from any programs I’ve done are not even my view here in my office, while I can see every book I’ve ever read, but I still know that I got a ton of info from those. Even if none of it directly helped my investing, it certainly indirectly contributed to it. And really, even if you spend say $20,000 on some crazy program and you get one line out of that whole program that is the reason you succeed, I very much assume that ‘success’ in that case means you made way more than $20,000. And that is a worst-case scenario I think. Like you say, even the bad ones you can get something out of. I personally haven’t found a guru program or packet that I thought was complete garbage. I’m sure they are out there and I just haven’t seen them, but there is nothing I haven’t been able to get my money’s worth out of yet.

  19. Ali,

    It was a Carlton Sheets program. I think it was called: No Money Down. It was about accumulating rentals as I recall although there may have been additional aspects to it.


  20. Ali,

    GREAT ARTICLE!!! You absolutely nailed it. I am also part of the Rich Dad Education family and it is the best investment I have ever made in myself and my future. Rich Dad’s message really resonated with me since they promote a pay-it-forward mentality and doing things in a morally, ethically and legal way. I really enjoyed how the trainers all had a different approach on how they run their business and were not advised to teach things in a certain way. You are exposed to many different approaches and you ultimately formulate your own.

    Not only have I learned a ton about real estate investing from the trainings I have met truly amazing people and business partners from all over the country. I spent numerous hours with these people getting to know them and have built strong personal and business relationships. I really do not think I would have partnered on deals in AL, MD, and SC if it wasn’t for the time I spent getting to know these people.

    I also believe BiggerPockets would not be as great as it is if it wasn’t for the people who have learned the business from these trainings program and have shared it with others. If anyone thinks this site would be as good as it is if it only included people who learned real estate investing solely through trial and error or some local mentor/coach they are naïve. The more I read the blog posts and listen to the podcasts the more I realize the quality of what I have learned in the Rich Dad program.

    The new Rich Dad students would ask me if the program was a good investment and I would tell them it is a great investment if you are going to take action and apply what you learn in the classes but if you do not take action then it is the absolute worst investment. In the end it comes down to the individual. How bad do you want to succeed. I would not have been able to leave my job as fast as I did if it wasn’t for the trainings and become a full-time real estate investor and I will be forever grateful for it.

    I see many similarities between the type of people on this site and the people in the Rich Dad program so it was very disappointing when I would hear Josh Dorkin constantly bash these programs because they really complement each other. I don’t think grouping all the “guru” programs together is fair because they are not the same. Like everything else some are better than others.

    If you took trainings or learned everything you know on BiggerPockets or have learned from numerous sources and are actively doing the business than more power to you. The more educated and ethical investors the better our industry will be. Good luck and Happy Investing to All!!!!!!


    • Ali Boone

      Hey Christian! Thanks for commenting. Great testimony and especially interesting to hear from someone who has gone through the wider spectrum of the Rich Dad classes because usually I only hear from people who may have taken one and didn’t do much with it or those who took the basic ones but didn’t go further. I always trusted those programs gave legit information and knew that if I spent the money on them, I would well pay back that investment with the deals I would do. I just never quite pinned my niche with them (turns out my niche isn’t really one I could have benefited from the advanced courses much) and that is the only reason I didn’t do it. So great to hear you found success after them and I agree that at the end of the day, we should all just be excited for any successful investor, regardless of how they got there and most certainly not to group all guru courses together.

  21. Ali,

    You are spot on. I know that some people absolutely hate gurus. I have been telling people the same thing that you just did (but not as eloquently). Most of the people take the classed, do nothing and then say that the guru is to blame. Mine gave me a solid beginning, a great network that I otherwise would not have had and gave me a few of those “nuggets”, like “to get massive results, you need massive action”. My first flip, which I would not have done without my “guru” made enough money to pay for the course…the next 4 (over a one year period), got me out of debt. The 6th one was for me. What my teacher set up worked for me, but only because, like Ali said, I didn’t rely solely upon what he taught, I got more education as well.

    It is all about accountability to yourself. Like you said, the continuing education is essential. You CAN learn everything on your own, but not everyone will. Everyone has a different need when it comes to learning. You need to tailor your education to your needs and your personality type.


    • Ali Boone

      Agreed Mark, I think you just hit on something that hasn’t been specifically mentioned yet. Similar comments, but it is really key to understand how you best learn. I best learn when someone just spells it out step-by-step (in one nice packet) for me and then I can take that and expand, add, delete, etc. But I need to see the big picture before I can do much of anything else and I think the guru courses are great for that learning style. I can’t take small details and put them together to create something. But a lot of people can, and want to, and I think BP is especially good for that learning style, more than the guru programs. So yes, learning style is huge and everyone should know theirs in order to know how they can best learn the info!

  22. Chris Clothier

    Hey Ali –

    Great article and I really like the detail and some of your explanations. More than that, I like the comments and the way you have been responding. Here are the two things I do not understand about much of the argument against paying for your education or even thinking that this article may not belong here:
    1. Everyone learns differently!
    2. Getting everything you need to know for free is a fallacy.

    I am such a huge fan of and the mission of the site that I’m sure my business partners think I own part of the company! What you can learn from some of the posters in the forums is amazing and worth much more than the few dollars a month for a PRO account. That being said, I stick by the point that you cannot get every answer you need for free. You cannot get the follow-up, accountability and (in some cases) the high level back and forth Q&A on some topics.

    People learn differently and after having been around and in many educational programs and seminars for many years, I can state that my experience has been that the successful people are going to be successful with or without that education, seminar or program. (I do not plan on stopping spending my time or money anytime soon on programs, seminars and training as long as it moves me forward). They are simply using the education, seminar or program as a tool to shorten their learning curve and get to their goal faster. That is the point of anything you are doing to improve your business including spending time on and money on a pro account. If it is not moving you towards a goal then why spend your time or money on it?

    • Ali Boone

      Hey Chris! Thanks for the comment and I think you are totally right about everything. Could everyone get everything they need for free? Absolutely. Does everyone want to, have the time to, or learn best by doing that? No way. I know the biggest thing I love about the ‘programs’ is that they paint the whole picture for you in one, give you the big picture, and you can work from there. That’s how I learn best (seeing the big picture) and just the time alone that I save from having to figure all of that out on my own is worth the money in my opinion. But, with everything, to each their own and they won’t work as well for some people.

      Super cool to hear that one of BP’s most legendary members has paid for some education as well! 😉 I think if we all really fessed up, more of us than not would admit to working with guru programs. Being selective of course and no one course made any of us what we are, but combining that knowledge with everything else we learn… it can be a great ticket to success.

  23. Andrew Zimmerman on

    It is a relief to hear that some people benefited from the RD program.
    I would say though, that the marketing was misleading, their false advertising for the 3 day programs, and their ridiculous pricing ($1,400 for a few videos) lends them less credibility.

    Regarding other mentors, I am not sure.
    I hope Phil Pustejovsky ends up being worth it.

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