Tis the season?

I heard about this charges-laid-charges-dropped-investigation-re-opened circus targeting whistle-blower Julian Assange on the BBC … crikey! Remember TIME magazine’s little put-down about his mental state? Paranoid? Oh really?

'A pathetic attempt to smear' ... (click to watch video at ABC)

This extraordinarily courageous man wears a bullseye on his back. I wish him well.
He’s up against people and organisations who present fake documents/bogus ‘evidence’ and pretend things that aren’t true for a living.

NZ Herald report.

A little backlash?

The thoughts I’ve recently shared in these pages about the operations of certain very smooth salesmen have sparked a reaction of sorts. Oh dear. As might be expected, there are indications of some outrage and hurt feelings in the spruiker’s camp … and questions being asked, notably:

White knight and two black rooks (image: freewebs.com/abdnhockeyclub2/)

Ouch! What the hell?

What can we do to get Peter to SHUT UP?

How can we smear this ‘white knight’ to reduce his credibility and defend ourselves from his unflattering portrayal of us as shallow money-grubbing manipulative spruikers?
(What? Too much? OK, maybe they’re not describing themselves as ‘shallow money-grubbing manipulative spruikers’, but you get my drift.)

See, here’s the tricky thing:

Smearing me by innuendo and implication doesn’t really cut the mustard. You need some FACTS.

In a recent self-promotional blog, Dean Letfus took another mealy-mouthed swipe at me (well, maybe me, maybe not, but that’s how I read it). He reprises his sleazy implications that I’m (a) just a nasty hypocrite who is (b) spreading (unspecified, of course) lies about him. Sigh.

His latest attacks on me — by innuendo, not directly — also imply that he has ‘information’ that has “come into my hands about our industry and the supposed white knights in it” (moi?) that he could ‘expose‘ to ‘retaliate‘ … viz: Continue reading →

OK, it’s a little funny … Mark Zuckerberg wants privacy

On Reuters

'Privacy' and 'Facebook' ... bwahahaha! (click to read story at Reuters)

Yeah, it’s a cheap laugh, but <snort>…“uncover unnecessary details about his private life” <chuckle>. Oh, poor Mark Zuckerberg. The indignity.

I wonder how it will all work out? Lawsuits can be sooo unpredictable, I’ve learned.

Using your marketing ‘assets’

It’s OK! I’m not going to give the top ten tips for attracting more eyeballs to your website … this is just an example of good marketing, in my opinion. What worked. Well, sort of.

It started at the East Village Takeaways (in Howick, not NYC, as my recent visitors from the East Village, New York and I chortled together). I was waiting for Special #4 when I glanced at a poster of a beautiful woman with a mane of golden hair. Wow. Stunning — a real retro look with a timeless face.

Call me ignorant if you want, but I hadn’t heard of Katherine Jenkins before. And call me shallow, but that face was alluring… What sort performer is she? I wondered. What’s this ‘Believe Tour’? When is it?

There wasn’t a lot of detail on the poster so I made a quick mental note in writing (as Olly Newland says) and a few days later popped her name into Gary Google. Images of this stunningly beautiful woman poured out of the interwebs, including this one from GQ magazine, reproduced at the Daily Mail (er, good golly): Continue reading →

A gushing review from Steve Goodey

Well, the reviews are in: Wellington property spruiker and US tax liens “educator” Steve Goodey tackles the complex and intellectually demanding task of identifying the raison d’être of www.thePaepae.com.

Steve Goodey in happier times — spruiking for Richmastery (RIP)

(If the name is familiar, I discussed some of his past … um … ‘activities’ in this post Property spruiker Steve Goodey: let’s join the dots.)

In a clearly heartfelt blog post entitled ‘Why do we need to bash the competition?’ Dean Letfus’s accomplice business partner cries out to the world in anguish: ‘What’s wrong with us?’

What boggles me is the tactics that a lot of the people in the industry use to promote themselves, or rather to discredit each other. … surely there must be a better way to market ourselves than to figure out who the competition is and start taking pot shots.

For instance I’ve had many conversations with Shaun Stenning who knows and [sic] awful lot about the Australian Seminar, Wealth creation and internet marketing industries, and he is bemused and appalled with how this country acts.

In Australia it seems there is a gentleman’s agreement that you don’t “Bag” the opposition for your own gain.

The only real exception to this rule is if you really genuinely feel that someone is fraudulent and in danger of injuring the industry in which case the serious fraud office is probably the first place to go rather than giving someone a public bashing.

Apparently (according to Steve) unlike the civilised rapprochement operating among spruikers in Australia…

“…right here in New Zealand we have a large number of websites, blogs and educators who seem to think that the best way to promote themselves is to drag down any and everyone else.”

A “large number of websites”, Steve? Any in particular? Got any examples?
Why, it’s as if he read my mind! …

This line of discussion wouldn’t hold much water without an example but in giving one I risk looking like the same type of person that I’m rallying against so I apologize if it comes off that way.

Having said that a prime example would be the blog www.thepaepae.com,   [Comment: Aye Carumba!] this is a blog site written by Real Estate publisher Peter Ayrani. [sic] Continue reading →

Poster boy Jim Parsons WINS!

How cool. Asperger’s poster boy Jim Parsons has won an emmy for his role as Sheldon Cooper in The Big Bang Theory: Outstanding Lead Actor In A Comedy Series.

'The Big Bang Theory' cast also supports the Alzheimer's Association.

I applaud this talented comic who has been a real ambassador for geeks and people with Asperger’s everywhere. Along with the cast and creators of the hit show, he’s helped shift the public image of those afflicted with such ‘syndromes’ (sigh). It’s more common now to see them as bearing certain gifts and talents and making a positive contribution to society albeit with their so-called ‘fixations’ and sometimes embarrassing or inconvenient honesty. Yay.

Good on him. Good on them.

Remember this neat Stand Up to Cancer video? ‘It’s up to every single one of us…’

{See comments}

Paranoid (?) but a whistleblower

Is it paranoia when you know there are most likely people spying on you? Sigmund Freud (image: Wikipedia)

Over the weekend I read a fascinating profile of WikiLeaks.org founder Julian Assange in a recent TIME magazine. (It’s available online at TIME here.)

Here’s a bit that struck me (emphasis mine):

Assange has retained a hacker’s mentality. He works from secret bunkers on major leaks and is convinced he is under surveillance from government intelligence agencies that tail him when he travels. There’s a touch of paranoia in his style, but say this for Assange: he takes his work seriously. In discussion with TIME, he offers lengthy and reasoned arguments about U.S. jurisprudence and the importance of the First Amendment.

It’s a paradox. While Assange might like to pummel the U.S. for its performance in Afghanistan, he also understands that his work is founded on principles of which the U.S. and its Western allies remain important protectors. “We must make the default assumption that each individual has the right to communicate knowledge to other individuals,” Assange says of his decision to publish the Afghanistan papers. “And the U.S. First Amendment is clear that publishers have the right to tell the people what is going on.”

The combination of ‘a hacker’s mentality’, ‘a touch of paranoia’ and a firm belief in free speech and the right of individuals and publishers to expose political and other machinatiions reminded me of a clichéd image of the Japanese: Intensely curious about others, but intensely private. Continue reading →

When ‘gurus’ attack — HOW you do it is important

Two Faced - image: badattitudes.com (click)

From a review of The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life

It’s full of tips and advice but the one I like best comes from Buffett via Dale Carnegie, author of How To Win Friends and Influence People:

Criticism is futile, said Carnegie. Rule number one, don’t criticise, condemn or complain.” … “Everybody,” adds Carnegie, “wants attention and admiration. Nobody wants to be criticised. The sweetest sound in the English language is the sound of a person’s own name.”

I was pondering this recently, after I had a brief interchange on discussion forum PropertyTalk along these lines with a poster called Max Percy … and reflected on my own journalist’s ‘nose’ and my penchant for publicly pulling the legs off various spruikers’ hyperbole dressed up as ‘marketing’.

Should we, as the Carnegie quote is often used to suggest, AVOID identifying things that are wrong? Should we launch into song: ‘Accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative …’ ?

Or is it better to call it as you see it, to speak up openly, and, where needed, sound a warning?

Max said:

… I think that many of the so called property gurus or self proclaimed property experts are fakes or even con men.

That is not to say everyone is that teaches pupils about property and run seminars.

I will attack the industry if and when necessary and expose rorts and snake oil spin/products and seminars, but dislike the practice of publically slagging individuals.
… However while I detested the model I did not publically or privately slag the owners of Blue Chip. To do so in my view would be most unprofessional.

Thanks for your thoughtful comments in this thread Max.

With respect (and this is purely a matter of personal choice) I think it is ESSENTIAL sometimes to name names and be specific about one’s concerns about particular operators — publicly.

Some of the dodgy characters you so rightly identified as con-men are very smooth and easily capable of name-droppping and conning their way towards people’s money. I was prompted to name names when it became apparent that one spruiker in particular was referring to me by name and implying a positive association with me and Empower Education to disarm people.

It was a little but like what Kieran Trass’s latest newsletter/infomercial … describes. Kieran makes that point very well in my opinion. Read it if you haven’t.

Of course, such an approach opens the ‘critic’ up to all manner of retribution, retaliation and smear campaigns, including the anonymous glove puppet attacks I’ve copped here from time to time, not to mention nasty threatening phone calls etc. I’ll say no more.

It takes guts. But sometimes, in my personal view, to allow oneself to be muted or to say nothing in the face of wrongdoing takes a toll … and one later can wish that one had spoken up cogently and plainly earlier instead of giving in to squeamishness.

So, what do you think? Faced with deceit, should one be restrained by a sense of decorum … or should one try to dismantle the poppycock and bullshit that con-artists use to lull their victims into a daze, cobra-like, while vacuuming their wallets or equity?

I was encouraged by a comment recently in a BBC interview with John Podesta, former Clinton chief of staff and Obama administration transition head and lobbyist/government relations honcho. Podesta says he sets out to be an independent even critical voice, and adds this proviso:

“If you’re going to be critical of your friends I think you ought do it on the record — not behind their backs.”

Yes. That, for me, makes a big difference. How you criticise is important.

Gurus on attack?

I despise the sleazy innuendo, gossip and smear campaigns that some try to deploy against those whom they regard as rivals.

As if to prove my point, just a few days after my comment to Max about critics copping “all manner of retribution, retaliation and smear campaigns”, property spruiker Dean Letfus attempted to undermine the professional credibility of one his critics. Continue reading →

A fragment …

image: blogs.westword.com (click for an interesting article about fax scams)

This document fragment found itself to my office fax machine. At the top of the first page was a handwritten note …

This is much too pointed… could even be inflammatory! TONE IT DOWN, please … don’t  waste ‘straight-talk’ on this rubbery character. – M.K.

[fragment begins]

== D R A F T _ O N L Y = =

Dear Sir,

Thank you for your recent application for Association membership. The assessment panel was impressed with the length of your application and supporting documentation — although the character references you enclosed raised some concerns which I detail below.

The purpose of this letter is fourfold:
(a) to update you on the assessment process for Association membership;
(b) to outline issues raised by the material you submitted (and other information);
(c) to present questions arising; and
(d) to seek clarification/responses from you.

The panel requests further evidence regarding some of the claims you have made in your application.

1) Marketing claims to be an “Ethical Investment Strategist”
Members of the panel were concerned to know, in detail, what criteria you used to justify your new business ‘positioning statements’– specifically your claim to be an “Ethical Investment Strategist”. Continue reading →

Well said, that man.

Sometimes you see what someone else has written and think: “Wow. I couldn’t say that any better.”

This, from a rally in support of religious freedom in New York City does it for me…

Eloquence in just six words: 'Groundless Hatred Is The Real Enemy.' (Image: Huffington Post)

Thank you.
One day it could be my freedom under threat from bigots with loud voices.

How is this clearer in any way?

Spotted on a bike ride with my son yesterday …

Gee, what was wrong with ‘Howick Police Station‘?

Is this newspeak really better?
“Run, Jimmy! Run to the Community Policing Centre!” Er, nope.
(…and what, I wonder, do they call a Fire Station these days?)

Any other examples?
Update:  A thought occurs — maybe it means there’s not always someone (on duty) there?  Hmm. But Police Stations are unmanned/unstaffed elsewhere, surely, and still called Police Stations …

Facebook leaks like a sieve (Part 2)

Yes, I know I've said it BEFORE ... (click) Just get it!

Sorry if this reads vaguely like an echo chamber, but it’s a point that bears repeating.

Everyone has something to hide — or to keep private, which is not quite the same thing.

This article Tracking the cyber footprint by the NZ Herald’s David Fisher sets out to reveal something of perils of posting information on Facebook, and, coincidentally, the way ‘friends’ can expose enough information about you that ‘enemies’ can use. Food for thought.

NB: If, for ‘marketing’ reasons, or to ‘raise your profile’, as some do, you deliberately set your personal Facebook wall and pages as open to the public, well, that’s a different story, naturally. You’ve published it. Tough luck.

Parts of David Fisher’s article made me vaguely uncomfortable:

The Herald on Sunday wanted to speak directly with Sperling. We found her through Facebook – and anyone using the website should be aware of how we did it.

Picture editor Chris Marriner obtained access to her Facebook page through one of Sperling’s online “friends”. [Comment: Some ‘friend’!] Facebook’s privacy function allow users to leapfrog through people’s social networks. This gave us access to her online musings, updates on life and photographs of her family.

Based on comments made online, Marriner was able to narrow the geographical location of her home to two suburbs in East Auckland. A closer look at the photographs showed she lived on a cul-de-sac. Marriner pulled up Google maps and noted each cul-de-sac in those two suburbs.

By then, a reporter and photographer were in the car heading for East Auckland. Marriner walked those streets – virtually – before they arrived, using Google Street View to compare the Facebook photographs with the houses on the streets. By cross-referencing information from Facebook and Google applications, he put our people on Sperling’s front doorstep.

Mission accomplished. A professional challenge met. But big picture: Why? She wasn’t a fraudster or a kidnapper or a criminal. Why the manhunt? What was the story? Continue reading →

More good Jon Stewart on NYC controversy

Bless this guy and his team for showing the frailty of the hypocrisy and falsely alarmist nature of the ‘claims’ by the religious right … and pulling out Charlton Heston’s principled speech…

… showing their attempted selective application of the ‘founding principles’ of the US Constitution so well.
Watch the video below the foldContinue reading →

‘The problem with Google is that Eric Schmidt is creepy’

Not just for geeks: Here’s a really thoughtful post about Google, culture, and information privacy.

From John Gruber.

Well worth your time to read. And I like the way he’s unafraid to mention the FACT that people’s personality, ethics and character can lead their decision-making. Good on him. – P

The future of publishing?

Olly Newland with interest.co.nz's Bernard Hickey see ollynewland.co.nz

Olly Newland and Bernard Hickey on the set at interest.co.nz (click to watch the interview at ollynewland.co.nz)

I had the pleasure a week or so ago of accompanying one of my authors Olly Newland on a visit to the interest.co.nz offices. The Auckland-based e-publishing business seems like a success story by any measure.

Its nearly ubiquitous host, journalist Bernard Hickey provokes ALL sorts of comment — good and bad — on a regular basis by his sometimes outlandish (and almost always perceived as partisan) statements on various matters financial and investment-related.

Bernard garners bagloads of ‘F R E E’ publicity and branding for interest.co.nz (as well as the revolted discontent of those who see themselves as his rivals) by apparently being ever available to the news media and his almost tireless efforts to seemingly be everywhere and make comment on everything in his niche. It’s paying off, as much as e-publishing can, I think. (I hope it is.) Certainly in terms of ‘positioning’ and ‘mindshare’ in their niche, these guys are tops.

In my observation, a lot of people enjoy a good argument — particularly men who spend much of their time justifying past decisions or denying fault of any type. (ahem) So the interest.co.nz comment stream is one long bunfight of conflicting opinions … particularly after one of Olly’s columns is published there … great! Continue reading →