By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
During the afternoon session, Sylver holds out his arms, saying, "I believe all I have to do is hold my hands out and people will give me money." To my left, a woman whose husband had testified in front of the group about how Sylver's next-level seminar, the Millionaire Mentorship Program, had helped them find hope after the death of their 8-year-old son, reaches into her purse. She is one of the first to put a bill in Sylver's hands. Soon, much more than half the room, including teenagers and kids, are running toward the front with cash. An Asian woman pours the entire contents of her billfold into Sylver's arms. Several $100 bills fall out. Smiling, with cries of "This is fun!" these people are clamoring to give money to Sylver, owner of a beach house, a $12 million mansion and a private jet. I've never seen such blind dedication. I half expect to see Jesus Christ himself sitting in the back, taking notes.
Sylver tells us he'll give the money to a California charity and hands the Asian woman a fresh $1,000 in cash from his pocket. We get a couple of hours of playtime before Sylver plies us for cash once more.
With his deep, smooth voice, Sylver spends 35 minutes hypnotizing everyone at once, making us giggle and raise our arms before snapping us to consciousness. Then, he shows us how to inhale all the oxygen from our mouths and quickly fill them with flaming cotton balls on the end of a stick. Five or six at a time, nearly everyone at the seminar gets onstage and eats flames while the rest cheer. But soon, the fun part is over. Sylver starts his hard sell—merely suggesting people give him money was plenty effective, but things work just as well when he tells them to, under the guise of hinting that they may win an oh-so-fabulous prize.
The first person in the room to get four people to sign up for his next Turning Point Seminar will win a free mentor lunch tomorrow with Sylver—a service normally worth $30,000. Even if you aren't the first in line with the appropriate credit card numbers in hand, he says, you can get a discounted admission to the next-level Millionaire Mentorship Program—regularly an $8,000 value—if you're still able to get four people to commit. Before he's even finished his spiel, people jog to the back of the room, cell phones in hand, to call friends and family.
These folks really want that free lunch the next day—Father's Day—with Sylver. But I skipped the next day of the seminar and ate lunch with my dad. We had Boston Market, and it was priceless.
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