Claghorn laughs, and says that working with Suze is fun. "We bounce ideas off each other, we have friendly running disagreements. Suze is exactly like you see her on TV: bubbly, direct, full of energy. She treats everybody with a huge open heart, and she does genuinely care. She might talk to someone for two minutes, but for those two minutes she feels those people, and she offers genuine help. She may not always be right, but she's for real."

What surprises both Claghorn and Orman most about the financial in-crowd's cool reception of her is that most of them would probably turn away the folks who call her show. "People are not coming to Suze to find out what stocks they should buy or who's the best high-tech manager or bond guy," Claghorn says. "They're coming to get assurance that what they need will be there in the future, and to find out how they can protect themselves and get some control." Or as Orman bluntly puts it, "I'm not stealing anybody's clients."

Even critics like Lacassin agree that much of the venom against Orman is based on envy. "She's one hell of an amazing saleswoman," he says. Or as Dauenhauer puts it, "Who doesn't want to have their own radio show and make lots of money?"

Orman lets most of the criticism slide right off her back. The only charge she can't abide is that she's nothing but a media creation, a result of some kind of Machiavellian master plan. "You can excuse my success to whatever you want, but you have no idea of the work that went into it, like when I first went on QVC and answered 80 callers a day for free for two straight years, or when my Web site first went live and I was up until 4 a.m. every morning, answering 25,000 e-mails. I made $5,000 on my first book, and maybe four people showed up for the book signing."

These days, she has two full-time employees, and works 16-hour days seven days a week. After her American tour, sheíll head off to Indonesia and South Africa. ìI never worked a quarter this hard when I ran my own practice. You should be careful what you wish for.
Orman is not the only one to make the connection between net worth and self-worth.

Unlike the Puritans, however, she assures you that God wants you to be richóor at least to feel rich. Hers is the New Age spin: You can feel better about yourself no matter how much money you have. In fact, the anecdotes in her books are not primarily about people who manage to strike it rich. Rather, she celebrates middle-class people whoóthrough the death of a spouse, divorce or plain old foolishnessófall on hard times and then, through their own efforts, manage to scrape their way back into the middle class. Reading her books can be depressing for the cycles of loss they tend to depict. However, they are a frank indictment of a financial planning industry that has utterly failed to educate the average citizen. Like other self-promotional, self-help gurus, sheís been accused of treachery and dishonesty. But the charges havenít managed to stick. ìYou know the TV screen magnifies a lie as well as the truth,î she says. ìIf it were all a bunch of bullshit, donít you think it would have come crashing down by now?î At the end of the day, what matters to Orman is how she feels when she looks in the mirror. ìIf my life were to end two seconds from now, I would have no regrets.

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