Who’s Who…the analog antithesis of LinkedIn

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.

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