Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Are you Motivated?

So coming on the heels of my resolving to get my short story in the mail by the end of this week I spent the day at the Get Motivated! Business Seminar yesterday. If you live in the Portland area you have probably seen the ads around town for this, if you live in other areas they have visited you have no doubt seen them as well. For the rest of you basically what you see at the start is a giant billboard with 6 or 7 famous faces and they are all going to be in ONE PLACE at ONE TIME for the low low price of ....

Well, I am a sucker for such things. I have heard a lot of motivational speakers in my day. When I worked for KFC they would have a handful at every convention. As Key Note speaker, as second night entertainment, leading small group classrooms, at the national level, at the regional level, heck sometimes at the local level. And for the most part I have enjoyed all of them. I would take in my notebook and sit right up front and take notes and then go over everything I thought was important afterward. I have books by the speakers I have heard over the years, DVDs, outlines, and sub presentations. So when Get Motivated! advertised here locally I decided this was something I had to go check out. The last time they were in town I had missed them, I want to say it was during a KFC meeting so I was out of town, but I had regretted not going then so I decided this time I would go.

Having a healthy dose of cynicism and being around people with their own cynicism the first thing I decided to do was figure out how they could charge so little. What were they going to sell me? I checked out their website, nope, no books or dvds would be offered at the event. They do these events as advertising for their stable of speakers. They want you to come then to book the speakers for longer gigs at your corporations. Hmmmm...okay...still seemed a little off to me but as I had seen some of these speakers at KFC events I was willing to buy into it. My other concern was that for my personal taste it might be a bit too conservative. However the other thing the website assured me is that these are strictly motivational speakers, no politics or religion. Cool. Let me at it then!

So yesterday morning at the bright and early time of 6:28 I boarded a Max train and headed into Portland with about 100 of my closest friends. The event was predicted to be full, causing Blazer level traffic jams during rush hour. I guess a lot of us were looking for a little motivation! Which then, of course, got me thinking, weren't we already the motivated ones? We were the ones with tickets to the event heading in to listen, early for those of us already on the road. The guy at home still on his couch eating his bowl of Frosted Flakes would be the one who really needed the seminar. Hmmm...maybe they should do house calls? You could nominate people for them to visit?

Anyway...off to the start of the day. I took a picture of each speaker as they took the stage. My ticket was one of the almost free tickets so I was up in the nosebleed seats, but with the abundance of large screen TVs it wasn't a bad view. And the sound was great so I could hear everyone. I was interested as I posted the pictures to see what the response from people not at the venue would be. Out of the 9 speakers I posted Bill Cosby got the most buzz, he got four people who liked his picture or made a comment. Rudolph Giuliani got four as well, but one of those I didn't count because it was from someone at the event. :-)

That was sort of interesting to me. Cosby was obviously the biggest name on the ticket but for me he was the biggest disappointment. I have seen him (recorded this was the first time live) doing events such as these and usually he is funny and inspirational and all of the things you would expect a professional comedian working a motivational talk to be. But yesterday he was just sort of flat and cranky. He told a story that he obviously thought was highly moving and very inspirational and motivating and he didn't get the big rush of applause from the audience he was expecting. So he chastised us, asked us if we were listening and told it again! This time a few more people applauded a little louder. I am sure to get him to move on, or because they felt that there was something wrong with them for not being as moved as they obviously should have been...but for me, it was still just an interesting story nothing more.

My favorite speakers for the day were Steve Forbes, Terry Bradshaw, Laura Bush and General Colin Powell. Steve Forbes is a financial genius. I feel richer just listening to him talk. We don't agree on a lot of things (he is very anti-gay rights for instance) but as this was a motivational seminar he kept those views to himself so I could enjoy listening to him speak on economic reforms that I do agree with him on. I would never vote for the man for any public office but I do think he is on the right path as far as the tax code is concerned.

Terry Bradshaw was...well he was what you would expect him to be. Loud, goofy, distracted, but over all just a nice guy. And that was really his message. Just smile. Just be nice. What does it cost you anyway? Of course, I enjoyed this message. It's my way. I am relentlessly positive. Even when I am angry I end up finding the silver lining eventually. So I enjoyed him for nothing else than 25 minutes of sitting in the Amen Choir.

Laura Bush has always impressed me. I do not agree with her husband's policies. I didn't vote for him. I would never vote for him. But she has always struck me as just full of quiet grace and charm. Barbara Bush is known to be a big personality. Can you imagine your mother-in-law being known to the entire free world? And when your husband takes over the old family job having to fill her shoes? She spoke on that subject. I have to imagine she was reading an excerpt from her book. She stood at a lectern and read from notes. Not overly dynamic, but she held the attention of everyone in the room. Keeping true to her librarian roots the woman knows how to read a story. One line she said I wrote down. When she was talking about what it was like to read such negative things about her husband she said, "Of course it bothered me, but I didn't let it get to me" I really liked that. Of course it bothered her, this was her husband people were talking about. But she didn't let it get to her. She didn't change her personality (calm, centered, quiet) because of it, she stayed her course. She was quite impressive to hear and I would go listen to her again.

General Powell was my favorite. He is an impressive man. He spoke on where he started. And then talked about how that doesn't matter. It's where you end up and how you got there. He also said he doesn't miss most things once they are over. He prefers to spend his time looking through the windshield not the rear-view mirrors and not the side mirrors either. Look where you are headed and go! The only thing he misses is his own plane. :-) He told how when he goes through security now he gets extra searches because everyone wants to make sure that the other passengers see that no one gets special treatment. Then he said he can't even complain about that too much because he was the one that implemented those extra stringent searches. He got the biggest laughs, the biggest applause and as I looked around at the people near me I saw the he also got the biggest lean in. You all know the lean in...when someone is speaking that you are very interested in hearing you...lean in.

But now we come to the catch and the parts I didn't enjoy. Remember how I checked out the website when I saw the list of speakers? My concerns? Well...yes. There were valid. There is a lot of Christianity sprinkled in their speeches. And I am pretty used to this. There is a lot sprinkled through every day life. God bless the troops, God bless the USA. For the most part it doesn't really bother me. But I notice. A friend that was at the same event didn't notice it as much as I did and thought there really wasn't much. But I told him when you believe what someone is saying it doesn't stick out to you as odd for them to be saying it. For me it all stuck out.

When they brought out Krish Dhanam for his second speech, they gave the audience a chance to get up and walk out for about 10 minutes if they didn't want to hear any more about spirituality. Okay, fine, but you are broadcasting in the hallways and bathrooms as well so this isn't really walking out. And he had spoken earlier and was pretty entertaining (best line, When should you tell your wife you love her? Before someone else does.)so most people stayed. And he put forth an alter call. Yep, in the middle of the day in a non-religious event, (their website said so!)he did the call. He spoke of how he had reached all of this success and financial gain and had a great family and until he became a Christian it didn't matter. He was still missing the biggest piece. Umm...okay, you were successful, had a happy family, a good life and STILL weren't happy? Buddy that's on you. There were a couple other speakers who were as much tent revivalists as anything else. One of them being my other issue with the event...

There were two times (I believe I left when a third was starting) where we all listened to someone telling their motivational speech, their inspirational story only to realize half way through that what we were really listening to was a sales pitch. Really good sales pitches as well. They didn't lead with these, they put them in the middle of other speakers. So we were all primed to listen with an unjaded ear. And an open wallet. And let me tell you it was super tempting to sign up for both of the extra classes they were selling. It wasn't a ton of money for either of them. It was only a few days to attend. The speakers were both personable and it seemed very reasonable to do these things. And a lot of people did. And that's when my cynical side hit full throttle. Now I could see where they were really making their money.

The Rose Garden holds about 20,000 for a basket ball game. There were seats on the floor for this event as well so even with the few empty seats scattered through the venue I am going to say there were close to that 20,000 there. From watching the crowds I would say that easily a quarter of the attendees bought the first program. And half that many the second. I have no idea about the third as I was leaving but even with just those two it would have been around $620,000. Then whatever extras they sell you at those classes. Between that money and the extra they charged to upgrade your seats it was a pretty good day for them. Now I see where the money is.

The only reason this bothers me is that they stated they weren't selling anything. Same reason the religion bothers me. They stated they weren't religious. The speakers were conservative. So I expected that. And everyone except Rudy kept their politics out of their speeches. But they did an alter call and they tried to sell me things. So I have to give the over all honesty of Get Motivated! a failing grade.

Over all I enjoyed the day. I got to hear some people speak live that I had wanted to hear, I got to pick up some nice motivational quotes. I got to visit with a friend about who we liked and who we didn't and why. I got to be tempted by the lure of riches just at my finger tips and dream for a moment what it would be like to have that sort of money. But would I do it again? Probably not. It was a little too conservative, a little too religious and a little to buy buy buy for my taste. But I am glad I went, I am glad I experienced it and I am I glad I won't regret missing it again. Can't ask for much more than that can you?

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The things you miss...

See that picture? Do you know what it was supposed to be? While I was cleaning the master bathroom last Friday I heard the crash of the trash truck going by. When I turned to look I saw that George was very concerned with the truck outside. He was sitting in the window as straight as could be ears forward watching every move the truck made. With the dark room and the light outside all you could make out was his silhouette. It was a perfect picture opportunity. But my camera was downstairs...so I snuck quietly from the room to go grab the camera and come back up for the shot...and this is where it all fell apart.

Right off the foot of the stairs is our office. Glancing in I could see an error message of some sort on my laptop, so I went in to take care of that "real quick" then once I was at the laptop I checked Facebook and caught up on my notifications there then I had an email to answer then I remembered I had come downstairs for something what was it again? So I wandered back out into the hallway...what was it? The vacuum? No, it was upstairs...clean drinking glasses for the bathroom? No...I had already done that...hmm....then I remembered! My camera!

I grabbed my little camera from my purse and turned to head upstairs where I was greeted by George, who was coming downstairs to see what I was doing. Argh! Missed it! And it was totally my fault. And this happens all the time.

I am easily distracted. I don't ever try to hide that fact. It is part of who I am. And sometimes it's a really great thing. I have seen things and done things because I noticed something in my wanderings that I would have otherwise missed. I am also pretty easy going and so the delays and distractions of life don't generally bother me. Sometimes they do, everyone has those days, but usually I can take things pretty much in stride and try to find some reason or something interesting that happened because of the delay.

But the contradiction is that I am also a fairly competitive person and I am a person who likes to accomplish things. Those more driven sides to my personality get drowned out by the more laid back aspects. And then I get frustrated. I look back at my day and see that I haven't done anything with it...and I am not happy about that. Starting the day I will have these grand plans but then this happens...or that...or the other thing...and before I know it hours have passed and I have nothing to show for it.

I have been writing more, I actually have a children's story ready to submit to an agent to try and get it published. I have done about half of the leg work to make this happen and then I just stopped. I am trying to figure out why that is. What is it that is keeping me from finishing this task? Then Saturday driving with Brent talking about what ever it was we were talking about he hit the nail on the head...."You are writing now. Until you get bored with that and move on to the next thing that catches your eye." And he is right. That's my way. I will do something for awhile. Do it fairly hard core. Then I am done. Bored now. Ready to move on...and I think that not sending in the story is the scared part of me trying not to repeat the process. If I do send it in, if I do get it published, then am I a writer now? Does that mean I will stop liking it soon?

It's happened with every job I've ever held. I love them all...at the start...then I am bored and ready to move on. Am I trying to hold myself back from doing the same with writing or am I just lazy? Because that could be it too. I could just be lazy. Sending in writing to get published is hard. Rejection sucks. Why do it? But then again, why not do it? Why not see if I could actually make a go of this?

I also have a group of short stories that are for adults. It's not porn, get your mind out of the gutter, they are just adults in the stories. Brent sent me an article on an author who does strictly e-book publishing, does it all on her own, and if very successful with it. These stories would lend themselves to that very easily. So maybe...but how do I then keep it from getting boring?

And I guess the answer lies in that picture up there. What is striking to me is what it is missing. What I let slip away because I didn't focus on the task and get it done. I missed it. I don't want to look back in 20 years and think...I missed it.

So by the end of next week I will have my first story out in to the world looking for a publisher. If it doesn't happen, it doesn't happen, but it won't be because I missed it. Not this time.

Wish me luck!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

My Jenny Blog

I had drinks last night with a very good friend of mine. There were a lot of laughs to be had and stories to be shared. But one of my favorite moments of the evening was when Jenny turned to me and said, "I want my own blog!" Not that she wanted to write a blog, but she wanted a Jenny blog from me. What spurred this was we talked about the game Hooker/Slut, regular readers will remember the rules from Vegas, Baby. Jenny then announces that the only time she has made my blog is her words of wisdom "Hookers don't wear hats." and that she wants a blog of her own.

Okay, first I have to set the record straight. Jenny actually made the blog twice before that, first in Part Two of the What Do I Want to Be? series and then again in Part Three. I just didn't call her by name. But when I reference my fabulous media director, that was Jenny. So I just wanted to say, she has made the blog. Secondly, I had already been thinking about a Jenny blog. After my Girlfriends blog last week I started thinking about getting to see Jenny this week and there are a lot of stories there to share. And for the last of the record straightening, she told me this morning she was totally kidding...it was the Spanish Coffees talking! But it's too late now...she is today's blog.

Jenny and I have had some really fun times together. She never fails to make me laugh. She was my rock when things were the worst for me at work. She has probably seen me cry more than almost anyone else, and definitely more than anyone else I have worked with. She is my Neil Diamond buddy, my you really want to drink that? Spanish Coffee girl and one of the only people I would willingly give up time with C over Spring Break to go see. When she came to work at the agency SN told me she was a real Rock-Star and told her the same about me. He would also use it in meetings...a lot...so we started calling each other Rock-Star and it stuck. I could tell any number of amusing Jenny stories but I thought I would start with the very beginning of our relationship. You all know how I love a good background story!

Jenny and I had a unique introduction. We were the proverbial two ships passing in the night. I had just returned to Portland from doing time in Colorado Springs. Yes, I phrased it that way on purpose. I was not a fan, as you can tell. So anyway...my boss SN and I were walking down to get a cup of coffee one day and talking about weekend plans. He was going to go to a going away party for friends of his. He goes on to say that if he could convince them to stay he would be working overtime trying to hire the female half of the couple as our media director because she was just a rock-star. I asked where they were going and he said, "Funny enough, Colorado Springs." I told him to pull her aside sometime at the party and tell her, "DON'T GO!" He laughed, and I told him I was serious. If they loved Portland they would hate Colorado Springs.

Fast forward a couple of years, they also weren't huge fans of Focus on the Family Land and are back in Portland. SN got his wish and hired Jenny. Our former media director had left a few months before and we had been working with a contractor. Fine for a patch, but only the basics were being done, none of the detail items, the strategic planning, the relationship building, not to mention the filing...anyone who has ever worked in the media side of advertising will tell you that if you don't keep up on filing you will be buried under a pile of schedules and make good orders faster than you can say Reach and Frequency! So Jenny was walking into a pretty big mess. Add to that the fact that as was usual at the agency, nobody else knew her position. I knew what I wanted for my client but had no idea how to make it happen. SN would say he could do media if he had to, but he had no clue either. So she was on her own with a load of work and no help. Not the best starting point under the best of circumstances.

So part of the job working with KFC involved travel. Quite a bit of travel for me, some travel for the media director. Jenny had been with us for just a little while when the latest advertising summit came around. She, SN and I headed out to Louisville to ooh and aah over the brand direction for the next year and to start our planning based on what we were going to see. Being a working mother is hard. Being a working mother who has to travel is even harder. You are going to miss things. Concerts, parent teacher conferences, bad days at school, and on and on. Jenny had two kids, one being a new baby. So this was not going to be an easy trip for her. You always feel like you are doing the wrong thing if you are a working mom. If you don't go to the meeting you are letting your job down, if you do you are letting your kids down. It's a tough place to be. Under the best of circumstances.

The trip to Louisville was a disaster. Jenny's kids got sick while we were gone and her husband would call to update her and she would get so upset she could hardly function. It was awful. And I got really mad at her husband. I thought he had to be laying the guilt trip on her pretty heavy for her to get so upset at the end of each call. What you really need when you are away from home at a time like that is a super supportive spouse. And what I was seeing (I thought) was just the opposite. I was so mad at him for making her feel so lousy. Trips are hard. Trips with sick kids are hard. Trips with sick kids and a spouse making you feel lousy are impossible.

When we got back to Portland Jenny and I went to lunch. We were going to recap what we had learned in Louisville and just take some time to get to know each other even better. As we sat at a table at the deli near work and talked I realized...I was talking. Jenny wasn't. Jenny was just staring at me like she knew there were words coming out of my mouth but they might as well have been in another language. Then she started talking. She felt like a failure. The job was too much, being a new mom again was too much. She wasn't good at anything. Any one of the things she was dealing with would have been hard under the best of circumstances.

That was the last time I would see Jenny for quite a few weeks. What we found out the next week was that Jenny wasn't operating under the best of circumstances. She was living in a world where everything was the worst of circumstances. All the time. She was suffering from depression. The reason her husband had called so often when we were in Louisville is he was starting to recognize the signs of a relapse. She had a bout of postpartum depression after the birth of their first son and he had been on the look out for signs of it happening again after their second was born. His calls weren't making her upset, the depression was starting to take hold. What I was seeing as being overwhelmed with the new job and the baby and the move was really her brain chemistry changing. The darkness settling in.

This next part is where Jenny changed to My Jenny. While she was out of the office recovering we were back in the same position we had been,effectively no media director. SN called our other AE and me into the conference room to discuss the situation. Basically he wanted to fire Jenny and wanted us to agree with him. He didn't have the stones to make a decision like that on his own, so if he could get Em and I to say it was okay then he could always fall back on the reasoning that he didn't want to do it, but we forced his hand. The problem was I wasn't on board. At all. He and Em took the "logical" approach. We didn't know when she would be back at work, we didn't know if there would be a relapse, we didn't know if she could be trusted again on and on. I sat there very quietly. Anyone who knows me knows when I go quiet that's the time to worry. The madder I am, the angrier I am, the quieter I become. Finally, SN, turns to me and says, "You must agree with this." I told him, "no." He said, "What do you mean, no?" I said, "You told me I had to agree I am telling you no. I don't agree."

At this point Em rolled her eyes, "How can you not agree? It's damaging to the agency to not have someone here." As you all know from my earlier blogs about leaving the agency, I wasn't on the best of terms with everyone there. I am not sure if my issues with Em started right before this, or after it, but I can tell you it changed my opinion of her. I won't say she was shallow, but I will say there wasn't a lot of depth of experience to draw from. I also won't say that SN was the most selfish and self centered person in the world, but that's because I haven't met everyone yet. But after listening to both of them go on and on about how Jenny being "bummed" was affecting them and then the tone and the eye roll I let loose on both of them...

See, LN was always promoting itself internally as more than just a job. We were a family. So I said and I will paraphrase here, she is part of our family now. She might be the newest member but we don't treat family like this. What if she were in the hospital right now with cancer? Would we be having this discussion or would we just be worried about her recovering and coming back as soon as she could? Because she's not just having a bad day, she has depression. It's a medical condition. There is every chance that she will get on medication and find a therapist and be just fine in a few weeks. Do you want to write her off that quickly because she is sick? Because that's what this is, it's a disease. If you want to fire someone because they are sick then you do it, but I will have no part of it. None. So again, I say no.

And I got up and walked out of the conference room. As you can imagine it was a little tense around the office for a few days. I was the enemy. I was the one that wanted us all to suffer because Jenny couldn't just "Snap out of it" as had been suggested. But then things started to shift. Jenny started to recover. She came back to the office. She was on medication that was working. She had a therapist to check in with to make sure everything was still working. That's the problem sometimes with anti-depressant medication, the brain figures out you are tricking it and starts to rebel so meds have to be shifted and watched to make sure the chemical stew that is our emotions is kept in balance.

And wouldn't you know it? Once she was back at work and doing an amazing job everyone was super supportive. They all knew she would be fine. So happy to have her back, such a rock-star. And the truth is she is a rock-star. But a true one. She does her job, raises her kids, loves her husband and is a great friend through it all. But she also knows what it's like to feel like all of that doesn't matter. Like nothing will ever be good enough. Or real enough. Or strong enough. And she gets up everyday and takes her meds and chases those demons away. She is a rock-star. And My Jenny.