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?