Thursday, September 29, 2005

What's my motivation, again?

I'm in a better mood now, and since I left the last recap in a cliffhanger, I'll provide the recap of the Get Motivated Seminar now.

So, we got there around 9:15am, got our notebooks, and entered the auditorium. We were VIPs, so we were seated down on the floor, very near the stage. Which was great, except for the fact that the stage had floodlights. Which were shinning directly into our faces. Anyway, when we got there Zig Ziglar (hee. I wonder if that's his true name. I doubt it.) was already in the middle of his speech, and we had apparently missed Steve Forbes. (Yeah, I was heartbroken. [rolleyes])

As soon as I sat down, the very first thing I heard him say was, "If man can make something as wonderful as penicillin out of moldy bread, imagine what God can make out of you."

Uh-oh.

He acknowledged the fact that in an arena the size that we were in, and with as many people as there were in there, that not everyone was going to have the same faith. That there would be people in there with little faith, with no faith, with different faith. But with a wink, wink, nudge, nudge type of attitude, he went on about the Christian belief system. For agnostics and atheists he said, "Some people don't like to talk about the spiritual side, but I believe you should, because my research shows that you're going to be dead a lot longer than you're alive."

He didn't spend the entire time up there proselytizing, though. He also mentioned... um. Other stuff. Although I don't remember a lot of it now. A good portion of it (a good portion of the entire seminar, truthfully) was stuff "you already know". Mind body connection stuff was brought up. Positive thinking. ("Positive thinking can't help you do everything, but it does a lot more than negative thinking will ever do." [/paraphrasing]) and just all around other 'motivational' type of things. Then, right before he got off stage, he mentioned that his CDs and books were available to buy, and he gave a few away by drawing names out of a raffle (our tickets had a tear away sheet with our information on them when we went into the arena). I didn't win. I also didn't buy any.

After he was done, an Indian born man named Krish Dhanam spoke, but only for 30 minutes. He was kind of a Zig Ziglar Lite. He didn't mention God or Jesus, interestingly enough, but he did have a whole lotta love for the United States of America. He said that "if you were blessed enough to wake up in this great land this morning, you've already won." (Um. How many people in the audience had to fly into the country that morning?) He also said that, "If you do nothing for the next 500 years, the country that comes in second will still want to be you."
It's awkward enough hearing this type of jingoism from native born citizens of this country. Hearing it from someone who came here deliberately... I don't know. Maybe it was just me. It's probably just me.

After he got off the stage, there was a performance by someone that was in Santana, I think? They didn't make it very clear who he was. He sang "Bright Sunny Day" while people got up and stretched and had coffee and smoked.

Next up was some guy who blathered on about stocks for WAY too long. His shpiel was basically a set up for people to take his course and to get on his stock trading website because he'd made a buttload of money, and so could you!

By this point, I was starting to get a headache, not only from the lights, but also from hunger. It was nearing lunch time -around 11:30 - when the next speaker was called out. It was Michael Powell, son of Colin Powell, and former chairman of the FCC. As one coworker put it before the seminar - "I just want to have the opportunity to punch Michael Powell in the face." I told him that he'd have to form a line. I don't think many of us were really excited to see him. We were thinking about bailing during his speech and going to lunch early, but we figured, eh, it'll probably only be 30 minutes.

Powell was, easily, the worst speaker of the day. His speech was ladled with cliches and it jumped from point to point to point. Things I remember from his talk:
He started off the speech with reference to the infamous 'wardrobe malfunction'. (Of course.) Stating that 'all he wanted to do was watch the Super Bowl'. But that it was 'soon eclipsed by what would be either the highlight or the lowlight of television history, depending on your view'. And that for him, the weeks that followed that 'sucked.'
He moved on to his past -
In his family, while growing up, there were three Rs. Right. wRong. and Responsibility.
Also while growing up, he prayed to get hit. Because getting hit was better than the "I'm disappointed in you." look.
The only real way to get in trouble while being raised by Col. Powell, apparently, was to not have an answer to the question, "What did you do wrong and what are you going to do to fix it?"
In other areas of his speech -
He made some vague plea that we should 'unplug'. Saying that the amount of information coming into our lives could bury us. (Interesting coming from the head of the burearacy that is in charge of all forms of technological communication. But I got the feeling that he didn't really mean it. It was just one of those things to say.)
He also told us about his time while in the Army when he was in an accident in a jeep that resulted in him having his spine broken. Yeesh. I had no idea about that, and it was graphic to hear about.
In between all this, he mentioned that leaders need to have 10 guidelines to stick to, that you will not compromise for anyone. Not your boss, not your spouse, not your children. Nobody. He left it up to the individuals to choose their 10, and he never explained why there were 10 to begin with, but whatever.

When he finished, it was noon. Many of us were very very hungry, but the next speaker they brought out was Joe Montana, and since a good portion of my coworkers wanted to see him, I stayed to listen to him. His speech was short - only about 20 minutes - but it flowed a lot better than Michael Powell's did. He focused on teamwork in his speech, and I don't remember much of it now, but I liked it at the time. [shrug]

After he was done, the emcee came on and told us that we had a sixty five minute lunch break, but not too eat too much because when we came back, there was going to be a dance off and the prize was going to be a trip to DisneyWorld in Orlando Florida. Woo!

So. 6500 people all left for lunch at one time. Our group got to one of the few open diners in the Mandalay Bay (it was really weird to pass restaurant after restaurant that were closed) and we waited in a reallly long line. I'm glad that one of the salespeople was charging lunch on the company card because for six of us the total came to $74. Just for cheeseburgers, drinks and fries for six people. Okay then.

By the time we got back to the auditorium, the dance off was done and the next speaker was in the middle of his talk. This guy's name was Tom Hopkins and he was all about sales (which is what most of our group comprised of - salespeople). He seemed like a nice enough guy, but the fact that his whole speech was about manipulating people was deeply troublesome. Some of his points were: We ask questions to gain control, to receive agreement, to arouse and control emotions.
And nod when you ask questions that you want a yes answer to because it helps to build "yes momentum".
Creepy!

Next up was the president (??) of Get Motivated Seminars, Peter Lowe.
He had some pretty cool things to say. Again, mostly stuff you 'already know', but still good to rehear. Focus on already having accomplished your goals, don't focus on obstacles. That type of stuff.
When he gave away a hundred dollar bill to the "most enthusiastic person out there" - a man actually ran up on the stage. Later, he had a volunteer come onto the stage and break a (trick?) board made out of wood with their hand.

His speech was about having balance in the body, mind, and spirit (or soul). The mind thing was basically about how the words we tell ourselves become our reality. And the body part was about breathing, using laughter to relax, that type of stuff.  I was with him on the body and mind aspect, and while I agree with the idea of having balance in the spiritual area of one's life, it bothered me that it was again a Christian viewpoint they were using.
He stated that a study had been done about high schoolers (or maybe younger, I don't remember) that had supposedly found that there was a connection between a persons outlook on god and their self esteem. Those who believed that god was going to punish them and was vengeful, etc, had a low self esteem while those who viewed god as a happy benevolent santa claus type figure generally had higher opinions of themselves. (Sort of interesting. Too bad he didn't site where this study was done, who had conducted it, how long ago, etc.)
He even said something along the lines of "you can never rise consistently above your view of your creator."
Anyway. He then went on about some story about getting a speeding ticket and going to face the judge, who just happened to be your father, and how the judge would have to make you pay the speeding ticket fine (or go to jail) just like everyone else, but that  he could then take off his judge robes and as your father he could forgive you.

He concluded with some parable about a farmer not planting his seeds because of fear of them not growing, but I was more or less tuning him out at that point.

Next up was the biggest fucking asshole of the day.  His name was James Smith. He was billed as "America's Leading Real Estate Expert" and the drinking game with him would have been to take a drink everytime he used the phrase "Watch this". The man was arrogant, cocky, and (watch this!) a Christian.
Things from his speech that I remember -
He talked about taking section 8 checks from people, investing it for them for X number of months, thus letting them own their own homes. (Huh?)
He mentioned that "The Bible says 'the poor will always be with you'." (And... that's a good thing? Well, I guess, as long as pricks like him can make money off it, then woo hoo! Because as long as the poor are with us, that means there must be someone who is rich, too.)
Jesus was a carpenter - a vocation directly related to Real Estate.

Bah.

He wound up selling a class as well, but you know, I think I'll pass.

Finally it was time for the "Secret Mystery Guest".

It turned out to be Jerry Lewis.

He was, to his credit, pretty funny, although certainly not very politically correct. (I didn't take any offense at his jokes, but the one about naming Chinese babies, for example...) He wasn't exactly a 'motivational' speaker, but it was nice to have someone up there that wasn't shilling something, ya know?

Next up was the final speaker of the day, Rudy Giuliani. Before that happened, though, they had a blonde lady come on stage and sing "God Bless America" (I guess to make us feel more patriotic??) Oddly, I didn't get goosebumps at all. I got like, antigoosebumps. Weird.

Anyway, after she was done, Giuliani came on stage, while red, white and blue confetti strips of paper fell from the sky, fire shot out of the corners of the stage, and "New York, New York" played over the loud speakers.

His speech focused on the sinking of the Titanic. I'm kidding. He focused on 9/11, of course. His points of being a good leader were that you need to
1) Know what you believe.
2) Be an optimist.
3) Have courage.
4) Prepare
5) Understand teamwork
and
6) Communicate

Good points, all, I suppose.

It was interesting that Rudy was the only speaker that had security guards. Not even Michael Powell did.
He finished up, we all left, and that was that.

Overall, the seminar was a waste of time for me. Yeah, it got me out of the office for a day, but there was so much I could have been doing otherwise. Besides, I don't want tips on how to fix the life I have now. I don't want to know how to make more money. I want a simpler life away from the rat race. I don't want to be motivated, I want to be relaxed. I want to be happy. I want to be stress free. I want out. All in due time, I suppose.

There. Now, who's motivated?

2 comments:

Kirk said...

Wow, that was fascinating and creepy at the same time! I always wondered what motivational seminars were like; and it seems they're about like I imagined they would be. Sorry you had to go, dude. I appreciate your taking the bullet for your readers, but I'm sorry your day was wasted.

In conclusion, Joe Montana...*and* Jerry Lewis???

CosmicAvatar said...

Sounds like...quite an experience. Coo.