I remember back in high school, every year I’d get mail about "Who’s Who Among American High School Students." I guess it must have been more of an honor than I realized as, according to their website, "only 5% of all students are included." WOW! Then again, when you think of all the kids in high schools across the country…17 million according to the US Census – top 5% is 850,000…oh, ok. Well, one in a million then!
So anyway, I recently got a piece of direct mail from "Manchester Who’s Who," apparently the grown-up version of the WWAAHSS. Christie Hefner is member of the year! More benefits coming to members soon, with vague reference to Harvard Business School! So I sent in the form to find out what’s up.
Unlike the high school version, this is pay to play. "Christine" called to ask a set of screening questions – "my greatest achievement," "am I interested in networking or validation," and "to what factors do you attribute your success?" Luckily, my responses were satisfactory and I was accepted! So to confirm my inclusion in the directory and to receive a nicely bound copy of the directory in addition to a CD-ROM, I just had to choose Platinum ($600+) or Gold ($400+) membership.
I asked to see the options in writing, so Christine deferred by sweetening the pot. Gold club now included two roundtrip air tickets to 35 locations, including Hawaii. I said I’d need to think about it. She made another offer – "Associate" membership for $100+, usually reserved for non-profits, plus a jeweler’s gift certificate. I wouldn’t want to jeopardize my chance to be included by not becoming a member!
I let her know that the call would be ending in the next three minutes if she didn’t come clean about whether payment was a prerequisite for inclusion. She hung up on me. Apparently this is SOP from reading Shawn Olson’s similar experience.
What’s funny is that if you google "Manchester Who’s Who," you’ll get a set of contradictory links, referencing individual achievements as inclusion while others call the company a "scam." I wouldn’t go so far as to characterizing them as such – but I’m also never going to receive my certificate of inclusion, suitable for framing, etc.