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The Internet makes it hard for business, financial and legal professionals to find reliable, useful information that can help advance their careers because the worldwide network makes it too easy for anyone to call themselves a thought leader, according to the founder of a website trying to change that.
"The internet has made it easy for anyone – reputable or not, skilled or not, honest or not – to pretend to be something they’re, well, not," Financial Poise founder Jonathan Friedland told Illinois Business Daily. "It used to be that professionals like accountants, attorneys, business brokers, financial advisors and investment bankers had to be excellent and well-regarded to write an article that would be published or to speak at an event that draws lots of attendees. Today, however, anyone can host a webinar, write a blog, or do a podcast."
That ease in gaining an online platform makes it difficult for the average information consumer to separate the real stuff from the fake, said Friedland, who also is a senior partner in Sugar Felsenthal Grais & Helsinger's Chicago law office.
"To make matters worse, because the technology is so cheap, there developed a cottage industry of publishers who regularly spam professionals offering to publish them in exchange for a fee," he said.
Financial Poise founder Jonathan Friedland Photo courtesy of Jonathan Friedland
That insidious pay-to-play world of spam professionals offers no redeeming qualities, Friedland said.
"Not in my opinion," he said. "Professionals who deserve to be thought leaders do not have to buy their way into that role."
Financial Poise's one mission is "to provide reliable, plain-English business, financial and legal education to individual investors and private business owners," the company's website says. Its content is created by "seasoned, respected experts" invited to join the faculty, upon recommendation by other faculty members, none of whom are ever charged to write or speak.
Friedland said the idea for Financial Poise came to him after he received yet another email inviting him to write about his expertise for a price.
"One day, after getting some of that spam email I mentioned earlier, I got the idea of building something that could be a platform for professionals like me to reach potential clients, but which would be the antithesis of pay-to-play; a meritocracy," he recalled. "So, I called about 10 like-minded professional friends and invited them to speak on a couple of webinars I would produce."
Financial Poise's contributing writers and webinar speakers now number about 1,000.
"We've done about 400 webinars since we started doing them in 2013, almost all with a four-person panel," Friedland said. "We're doing our first live event in New York in May."
Financial Poise also encourages online visitors to sign up for its free newsletter with links to its latest articles, according to the newsletter portion of its website.
"It goes out to about 20,000 people today but is growing all the time," Friedland said. "It publishes summaries of articles from the website, it promotes the webinars and often offers a free giveaway. It’s a good read because it's short and we actually have comedians involved in writing it, because we want people to actually read it, and articles about business, law and investing tend to be boring unless you work hard at making them not so."