Admit it — at some time in your life, you’ve said to yourself, “I wish I was rich.”

That desire is not a crime — but it may be leading people to waste their money, and their time, at a popular weekend workshop we’ve been investigating.

The workshop is called “Learn to Be Rich” — maybe you’ve seen the ads on the Internet, transit, or heard them on the radio? They feature Robert Kiyosaki, author of Rich Dad, Poor Dad — one of the bestselling financial help books ever written. And the workshops are popular — rolling into towns across Canada every weekend, filling ballrooms with people eager to learn how to turn around their financial fortunes.


People are told they will learn valuable skills in real estate development, or how to play the stock market. But at Marketplace, we were hearing complaints about the three-day workshops (that cost $500), so we decided to enrol in one on real estate.

The problems started within the first half-hour, where our instructor told us we weren’t, in fact, going to get the tools needed that weekend to get rich. Turns out, this weekend workshop was just a primer — we really needed to sign up for more advanced courses. And the cost for those? A mere $12,000 to $45,000!

But there was to be no discussion of the price — our trainer told us if we didn’t like it, he would tell us to leave.

In fact, throughout the weekend, we felt bullied and pressured to sign up for the advanced courses (where the real money was to be made). There was some instruction, but when we met with real estate lawyer Bob Aaron, he called what we were taught “bad advice,” and said many techniques were just plain “dumb.”

To make matters worse, our instructor misled us with a whopper of a tale, and later blew up at participants because not enough people took the opportunity to shell out up to $45,000 for more courses. You’ll see it all in our story tonight, but it left us questioning what financial guru Kiyosaki thought about it all.

When we caught up with him, even Kiyosaki admitted there were problems with some of the tactics used in the workshops that bear his Rich Dad brand.

Bottom line? That age old nugget holds stands — if a weekend workshop on how to be rich sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Erica Johnson is a journalist and co-host of CBC News: Marketplace, Canada's award-winning consumer affairs show. CBC News: Marketplace airs each Friday night at 8:30 p.m. on CBC Television.

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