I'd like to add my 'two cents' on the Liberty League International bandwagon. I guess to start I should provide a bit of background. I have been a successful software industry mid-level executive throughout my career (20+ years), as well as a struggling author. To date I have one book published and am now working on two more. LLI is and has been of interest to me over the last couple years for two reasons: First, I am working on a book about the internet, ecommerce and it's potential(s) and pitfalls. Second, I took interest in, and investigated LLI in 2005 when yet another company I worked for went through a merger and layoff cycle, of which I was a 'victim'. I decided a couple years ago to dive into looking for some possible home-based business, and that is how I came to learn about LLI (and many others).
Over these years I have kept in touch through Ripoff Report with the Liberty League posts and rebuttals, and I have found LLI to be one very slick operation. There is a lot to say there, but I think for the benefit of those considering LLI or any of it's spin-offs the best advice is to simply use common sense. That is, if there is *anything* that doesn't 'smell or feel right' about any opportunity, that is your brain warning you! Listen to it!
As I read Jack's post about his troubles with LLI's Emerald Passport program I was very impressed with his writing and 'to the point' manner. As always I read the rebuttals and over these years I have noticed that virutally all of them fall into the same 'format'. I cannot say that LLI trains its members to post rebuttals that way, but common sense tells me the pattern is too common to be a coincidence, and indeed, there are other organizations I have investigated that do this - they coach thier successful members to answer complaint posts and in some cases even describe how they should word those rebuttals.
But what was instantly troubling was reading the rebuttal from Jim Rivas, the man that Jack 'tore into' fairly heavily. I would have considered Jim's response valid if it had not been for something that raised alarms in the first couple sentences of his long rebuttal. Jim states that he is a graduate of "a very prestigious NY University". Folks, this is a "use common sense" key point that should instantly set off alarms in you! It seems a minor thing, but in fact, its your first warning of trouble.
If Jim went to "a very pretigious NY University", well, just tell us which one? Then, someone like me could do a bit of background checking. Did he really go there? What did he study?
Sound silly? Sound small? Well, think about it this way... Throughout my own career I have been involved with a number of software companies - some I have worked for, some I have contracted for - but the first thing I do as part of any arrangement is to do some tercery investigation of who is running the company, or the organization in question.
Has anyone ever applied for a job or contract and not had themselves investigated a little bit? Can I post "Harvard" on my resume even though I did not go there? Or should I state that I went to a "very prestigious Boston area college" when in fact, I went to Curry College in Milton MA - a good school, sure, but not a household name like "Harvard". Do you see the subtly there?
THAT subtly is what you need to pay attention with LLI or any such home-based, largely internet-based organization. It is those tiny little 'bumps' in the early going that will tell you right off whether you are heading down the right path, the wrong path, or indeed a scam path.
Jim Rivas fell flat on his face with his rebuttal the second I read that sentence. And even though he went on and on, he had already lost my 'willingness to listen' to anything further he had to say. I don't know the man, never met him, but judging Jack's comment versus Jim's comments, it is clear that whatever 'facts' might be in dispute, Jack tried to present a concise expose, and Jim was playing 'dodgeball' before completing one paragraph.
When I dealt with LLI a couple years ago I did not 'go for the pitch' early on because I have learned through my business work that there are simple factors any opportunity MUST pass as a first 'sniff test'. In the case of LLI, they may be providing value for some members, but in my case it was obvious that LLI suffers from one key flaw - what they sell can be had for much less, and sometimes even free. Period, finito.
Having looked into LLI and finding them so interesting, I suggest anyone interested in the company be sure to follow this link provided by another poster here. This document, may be a bit boring to those who have never seen a legal document, but it's worth studying as part of your decision making process as to whether LLI is right for you.
Back in 2005 I remember asking the young lady who was my intial LLI contact why she was so thrilled about conventions in exotic places - she just kept harping on those and what a good time I would have while molding a 'successful' future. Folks, I have been to many conventions and seminars in my day and I can assure you, location does not dictate what you will get out of what is presented. I have learned more in Holiday Inn meeting rooms in some gritty cities than I have in any convention held in some far away exotic place.
This was a key sign to me to avoid LLI. But it was not the only one.
In my short initial look into LLI for myself, I kept asking the young lady about markets, competition, and product. She had "stock" answers for all these types of questions. I even said to her; "you know, you sound very scripted." to which she got rather upset. When after much prodding from me about what exactly LLI would have me marketing, it was instantly clear that there was no particular value in LLI's offerings over what one could get elsewhere.
Indeed, what ended my time looking into LLI intially was one question that blew the young lady right into frustrated 'be done with me' anger... I said to her; "Can you tell me specifically what key element of LLI product warrants the high cost of this offering, compared to others getting the exact same thing for free, or at least far more cheaply?" She had no real answer, just a huff and a puff, and telling me 'well, clearly this is not right for you.'
Folks, when you hear someone from an organization like this make that statement; "this is not right for you" it is more-often-than-not the result of them realizing you are not going to be easy to sell - and they need to maximize their time and move on to a more plyable person. Obviously, my years in business doing deals, working with vendors, and learning what questions to ask were too much for the LLI people.
I did not join LLI, or for that matter some of the other 'money making systems' I looked into. They didnt pass the 'common sense sniff test'. I do not even want to stand in judgement about LLI, let alone any of the others. I have made my comments about Jim's rebuttal and I will let those stand as they will.
However, I can offer some valuable tips if you are one considering LLI or any such endevour. All of these can be summed up using the "use common sense" axiom - which I stress very heavily - but going beyond that:
* All of us can at one time or another be highly succeptable to marginal business people. Sure, these people often get labeled "scammers", but in fact many of them are simply marketing professionals who do not think of themselves that way, but intead know marketing is a 'numbers game'. They HAVE to hit as many possibilities as possible, and if you are one who is highly succeptable, some of the responsibility lays on you - not them. Yes, there may be those who seek out people in financial trouble but with some credit available, but others DO think of themselves as "helping" and when you dont 'do the program' or in short, produce as they like, they move on to the next one and that can leave you feeling 'scammed'. BEFORE you go that route, think up-front, "can I REALLY afford this if it goes bad?" If not, stay away.
* Marketing is a percentage game. NEVER forge this! I have worked for companies who consider 2% success on marketing to be acceptable. Indeed, in decades past, if you could sell 2 out of every 100 people you were considered a talented marketing professional! If you dont understand business, let alone marketing, think about it this way - If there are 100 mailboxes you see every day on our street, driving to work, where ever - think about the fact that on any day, various marketing appears in those mailboxes. We call this 'junk mail', right? Okay, how many of those people who get that mail, then rush out and buy, or even looking into what is being sold? Have you ever seen your neighbors get thier mail and then rush out to their car and head off to whatever store is sending the material? No. So go into any home-based business, especially something you see on the internet, with the realization that if you are selling something, or even looking for things like homes in forclosures (or those kinds of offerings), realizing that its all a percentage game, and you need to ask yourself "Am I the type to manage this in the 2% success percentile? Or the 98% it-didnt-work percentile.
* Ask KEY questions! Before you dive into anything, even investigating anything, make sure you have a few key questions to ask and agree that you either get a 'solid acceptable response', or you move on to the next one. (this can be fun, because you are turning the marketer's game back on him or herself!) For example, "What is your exact success percentage?" Or phrase it even more plainly, "Of every 100 people who sign up, how many make money?" If you dont get a clear and understandable answer to those - MOVE ON. Anything nebulous, anything not understandable is already crossing the 'scam' line. Most people ask lots of questions about refunds "if this doesnt work". That is, they are stuck in the moment and thinking about what could go wrong. But think about it this way, if you never get involved with something that wont work, you never need a refund. So dont bother with the refunds questions, instead ask for materials. (thats my last piece of advice just ahead) - I cant give away all my upcoming writing here - but you get the idea; formulate questions you WANT the answers to - and if you don't get those answers, go away.
* Ask for materials. Real companies from the smallest to the largest have some sort of paperwork or "materials" they distribute to tout what they are offering. Whether its the guy who once pumped out my septic tank and handed me a one-page document with his name, number, services, etc. - or - the company that sold me my house - (and all in-between!) they ALL had materials to give me to study, or even just read quickly. If a company is asking you to pay for seeing anything physical, dodge them. Ask for a brochure or something you can study and look over, AND use to make a well thought-out decision. This is ESPECIALLY important for anyone in some financial mess thinking there is an easy way out, no matter how hard a worker and decent a person you are.
Be careful with all these internet-based (and other) businesses that seem 'too good to be true'. Thus far, I have not found one that is. Many are very good, very decent offerings, but more are not and that makes it very tough to find the good ones. Be advised as well that ALL of them are going to require intense work and many hours. You may find a 'good thing' but in the end, it will be what you put into it that ultimately measures success or not.
For example, years ago, I sold a household item from a good company offering me a home-based business. This was a decorative item and I learned very quickly that marketing something like that involved a lot more time and money than I had expected when I first got excited about it. But this was a fine company with a great product and good people - it was more the time and marketing that was costing me, as well as my inexperience marketing such items, that made this 'not the thing for me'.
Finally, if you are like many of us, someone in financial difficulty looking to get just a little bit 'ahead' so you might better your life, create an 'equation for success' for yourself. That is, be aware that ANY business, whether it's a side-business, or your primary 'gig', is going to require time, money and devotion. So, "Do I have the time to devote?" plus "Do I really have the money to invest?" times "Is THIS the 'best avenue' for me personally?" equals whether or not you should waste even one minute looking into something.
As many have discovered, sometimes putting your time and money into the simplest things such as making home-made pies or cookies and selling them locally, actually has more return than something you read on the Internet posting great wealth and success - I mean really, do you think they are going to show the bulk of the people for whom it does not work?
Hollis, New Hampshire