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Is life-coaching the new pyramid scheme?
Zapping my friend when he joined pyramid scheme wasn't productive. Guess what he's doing now


Gidi, a childhood friend, called me a few days ago and said he needed to speak to me urgently about an important money issue but he didn’t want to give me details on the phone. He said he was in a hurry and when could he come. I looked at my diary and realized honestly that I’m more or less available at least until the end of 2007.



We met in a coffee shop in Gush Etzion (surprise, surprise, but there are four coffee shops). Gidi asked how I was and before I could answer he erupted into a 15 minute tirade, complete with a series of life’s mantras and how life here is so discouraging, and how we sell our time for money even though there’s got to be more than that to it.

Like it says in the best selling book “Rich Dad, Poor Dad" and how it’s possible to live differently and make a lot of money without working 9 to 5 every day.


Gidi spoke nonstop without a glance sideways. After a quarter hour, when he stopped to breathe, I used the intermission to say: Gidi, you are trying to get me to join a pyramid scheme aren’t you?



Gidi looked me in the eye. He was a bit deflated but got his groove back and replied with what all the members of the cult say: “It’s not a pyramid scheme. We sell a product and ask you to sell it to two people.”


Listen, I said to Gidi, you guys get around, you and your ilk, your naiveté is touching and you try to persuade everyone that it is worth their while to market natural aesthetic products or a water purifying machine or hair gel made out of Chinese water seals.


But we have to purchase the product in order to understand what it is we will be selling. Then you explain how we’ll all become millionaires like those who have already done it around the world, ending both their personal suffering and that of the world including terminal illness.



You know as well as I do, Gidi, that all those ads appearing on the fringes of the newspaper or posted on trees in the center of town promise easy work and rich rewards. It’s too easy. It doesn’t work that way. You’re a good guy and I wouldn’t hassle you if I didn’t see in your eyes that you aren’t really one of them. It’s still possible to rescue you from this life of illusion.



Gidi rolled his eyes. I could see he was fighting an internal battle. I was facing a brainwashing that he had undergone so many times. “You want economic freedom for the rest of your life?” he asked me in a whisper.


Forget it Gidi, let’s get out of here.


“The world is full of gifts. You just have to take,” he continued to spew his mantras.


Gidi, it’s me, Chanoch, listen to me: We can return to a normal life together.


“Pay USD 1,000 and in two months cover them,” he replied.


“Gidi,” I yelled, “you hear me?”


“I have an excellent business opportunity for you”, he responded as the spit came shooting from his mouth.


I slapped him. I had no choice.


“Join my group and together we will create a work plan based on how many hours a week you can devote to the business,” he promised as his eyes began to cross.


Gidi, I yelled at him, are you looking into my eyes?


“You have to appear as if someone has given you a million dollars and in return you have to carry out a number of activities at his request,” he continued.


At this point I a zap with the electric shocker I’ve been carrying since Benny Sela escaped. Gidi screamed in pain:


“Let’s move forward as a way of leaving the cycle of chasing money behind. Give this a couple of months to work and then we’ll realize your dreams.” With great sadness, I gave him another zap and he fainted.



I held Gidi in my arms and splashed water on his face. Gidi, I said authoritatively, we both know the ritual. Someone comes and tells you about some product and promises that your life will change if you sell it to two other people.


After seven months you learn that the guy has switched jobs. When you ask what happened with the revolution, he blames himself for not investing enough or tells you about a new enterprise or a new product you just have to have, and of course, to convince two more people to buy it as well.



Gidi looked at me sadly, eyes full of tears. “But you yourself have always written that getting up in the morning and coming home in the evening is a lot less than what this life can give us,” he said sadly.


True, I said but chasing all your salespeople and trying to convince them to sell some product only so that someone who started the pyramid becomes a millionaire, well that’s not really life, is it?


“But there has to be a better way to live this life, other than getting buried in air condition offices with magnetic id cards,” he said. “There has to be a way out for those of us who are not the children of Arkadi Gaydamak.”



You know what, I suggested to Gidi, the best thing for you to do is go see a business consultant or what is called a coach. Everyone today is helped by coaching. Maybe that will help, who knows.


“What is coaching exactly?” asked Gidi and I answered that I wasn’t really sure but I noticed that every person who takes himself seriously won’t answer your question before he sms’s his coach.



Gidi listened to me and went to a coaching class he found on the Internet. He said that his career is stuck, that he has tried selling all kinds of things through all kinds of schemes no one ever referred to as pyramids so he needs advise. The coach asked for NIS 400 (USD 95.00) and proceeded to tell him that he should look for, because of his age and rhetoric talents, work that will provide a steady salary but won’t require additional schooling, experience or other previous knowledge or training.



I sat with Gidi in the same coffee shop in Gush Etzion when he told me he reached the conclusion that some of what his coach said was accurate. He needs to stop with the pyramid schemes and instead find work that brings an income but doesn’t require previous experience or expertise.


I am happy for you, I said, but what are you doing now, exactly?


“Isn’t it obvious?” he answered. “Like everyone: I’ve become a coach.”


Good god

Is it true, young Mr. Daum, that Arcadi Gaydamak has proposed to evacuate all the single women in Tel Aviv to Nitzanim until Benny Sela, the escaped serial rapist is captured?


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