There was a time in my early career when I was just awestruck with the motivational speaking genre. (So much so I’m actually in that business today) I was young, impressionable, and willing to do just about anything that had the appearance of helping me to move from poor to riches. I’ll shed a little color on what I mean.
In the late 80’s early 90’s when the likes of Tony Robbins, Deepak Chopra, and others were hitting their strides I went to work for a radio station that offered a new programming genre where the day was filled with snippets of the most successful speakers of the time. The network was WNN. (Winners News Network) The idea was instead of 3 to 5 minute hit songs being played – 3 to 5 minute portions of speeches or audio programs from people like Ken Blanchard, Harvey McKay, Leo Buscaglia, etc. were mixed and played.
That station and programing is long gone. (Radio is notorious for here today-gone later today) Personally I thought it was a great concept, and still do. However I saw what many within the industry knew but dared not admit:
It’s easy to sell the dream.
Hard to convince them to work for it.
So don’t fight it, just sell the dream.
Hence lies the most compelling reason I can make on why the motivational speaking genre gets hammered as the virtual home of “Snake Oil Salespeople” more than an MLM (multilevel marketing) indoctrination conference.
Dreams are wonderful, but getting advice akin to sitting in front of a mirror all day reciting affirmations of “Dreams really do come true.” isn’t going to do anything more than turn your dreams into a nightmare when the landlord comes looking for the rent.
You can have dreams but if you want true motivation you need to hear from someone whom can give you pragmatic advice and actions to take. Real actions not some form of vapid advice.
The whirlwind tour of the phenom Get Motivated seminars has found itself in hot water as of late. We had a show here in Lexington last year, and they were to be in Louisville KY last month. Out of nowhere it was cancelled and ticket holders have been unable to find resolution on redemption’s and much more.
Seems there’s a bitter divorce battle going on between the founders which forced a sale of the seminar company earlier in the year. The new company is having all types of issues such as non-payment of speakers and bureaus. (On a side note. How many of these speakers including the former First Lady would not have any issue currently if they followed my advice, and model? Just saying…)
Although these seminars were huge events with 10 or 20 thousand in attendance at times. It was always far more spectacle than anything else in my opinion. Although I have been to a few. I really only went to see Zig Ziglar when he was healthy and touring. Zig was worth the price of admission, and was always on first. After that it was more about celebrity than anything else.
I would listen and watch the other speakers as they appealed to the audience on why success was attainable. However most talks were more along the lines of celebrities just recanting their glory days. Although this can be inspiring, it loses its effectiveness on the person listening once they leave the arena.
A case in point would be speakers such as Colin Powell. Yes an American Icon. Yes an American success story. However the people listening to Mr. Powell speak on leadership aren’t the leaders who can get the nuances from what he’s discussing. It’s very difficult for someone with no C-level management experience under their belt to truly understand what difficulty there is to get other Generals to move assets under their command and put it into harms way. Many of the executives at those levels aren’t in this audience. Most are solo entrepreneurs or other small business owners.
These are people whom are left wondering how one would apply such things to their mom and pop shop. How exactly does one implement or apply these principles of getting world leaders to decide they need to send aid to far off regions of the world? Awe inspiring yes, but exactly how does one go about applying that to their problems of employee turnover in a 5 person operation?
Here’s where you need actionable or transferable skills and advice to truly help. Other than that, it’s just glory day storytelling in my opinion. You can apply this to Laura Bush, Mayor Giuliani, and the others. Yes, all wonderful people, but other than celebrity, exactly how does one go about making useful application of what’s heard at this type event?
At the last seminar here in Lexington I walked out after listening to the Mayor talking about: “the new economy, and how it was going to change business as we know it on this thing called the internet.” (I’m paraphrasing, but not by much)
The references were glaringly out of date, and more importantly useless for today’s entrepreneur looking for solid advice on how to compete in today’s technological world. However, “America’s Mayor” puts butts in the seats. And when that’s what truly matters, than the Mayor is the one to have, and I have absolutely no problem with that. It’s smart business. I’m also a fan of the Mayor and I enjoy his talks. Yet that doesn’t change my stance of not going there for pragmatic, actionable advice. For that I found it’s lacking at best.
When someone questions my fees as if to infer they are high I respond with something that resembles the following: “Compared to whom?” If you want someone whom can help increase your effectiveness, bottom line, construct strategic plans, create killer gaps from the competition, or other things, my pricing expresses a great value and return on investment for you. However, if you just want to fill seats, I hear Snooki from the MTV reality show Jersey Shore is available. But she’s 50% more than I am. Just depends on what you want to accomplish. A multiple ROI? Or just ticket sales?
It’s anyone’s guess whether or not these events will resume anytime soon in the future. However as far as true motivational advice I still suggest an espresso over these types of events.
The lasting effects are about the same.
© 2012 Mark St.Cyr