DEAR HARRIETTE: My cousin seems to put a lot of energy into pyramid schemes. I’ve reached the point where I avoid him because he’s always pushing someone else’s product. Don’t get me wrong -- I’m all for entrepreneurs, but these schemes aren’t even his ideas. They are just get-rich-quick schemes sold to him. Every year, it’s a different story, everything from gold to hemp. He’s a pretty creative guy, and I would like to know how can I push him to come up with his own ideas and invest in himself? -- No More Pyramid Schemes, Detroit
DEAR NO MORE PYRAMID SCHEMES: Do your best to have compassion for your cousin. Yes, he seems to be caught up in what have turned out to be bad ideas, but pyramid schemes do not work for long. Now that you know his M.O., don’t fall prey to him again. Next time he approaches you with something suspicious, immediately express your concerns. Make it known that you do not approve of this idea. Tell him you think any business idea should be vetted by more than your cousin and his boys. Point out that your apprehension should be appealing to him, too, as it may save everybody money.
Suggest to your cousin that if he considers ideas that are not hinged on other people’s dreams without benefit of due diligence to determine their value, he may have a better chance at success.