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August 23, 2010
Entertained? Yes. Motivated? Meh.
Last Tuesday I attended the Get Motivated! Seminar at the Spokane Arena. A friend had an extra ticket, and for the bargain price of $0.00, I decided I’d probably get my money’s worth if I went. The list of scheduled speakers was impressive: Colin Powell, Zig Ziglar, and Rudy Giuliani were some of the more recognizable names on the agenda.
The morning started off with a rousing welcome from Kari Michaelsen, who apparently starred in the 80’s sit-com ‘Gimme A Break’. I don’t ever remember watching the show, so I had no idea who she was. However, she was very good with a microphone, and kept the pace of the event moving along.

First up was Robert Schuller. A lifelong minister, Schuller had only 15 minutes on stage, and for the life of me I can’t remember anything he said. He spoke well (I guess 55+ years behind a pulpit probably helped), but if I was motivated by anything he said, it was short-lived as apathy snuck in the backdoor and flicked off my memory switch.

After Schuller came a fellow named Rick Belluzzo. Billed as the “Legendary President of Microsoft” in the promotional materials, I had never heard of him, and I live in Washington state! Outside of Bill Gates and possibly Paul Allen, is anyone else from Microsoft “legendary”? Turns out Rick was with Microsoft for just a little more than a year, and I don’t think he ever mentioned it in his speech. Instead, he talked about his successes at Hewlett-Packard, which were interesting but not necessarily motivational.

Next up was Colin Powell. Powell alone made my trip downtown and away from my office for a day well worth it. Candid, humble, and humorous, he was in a league of his own. Although I only wrote two things down the entire day, Powell’s comment was the first and most important bit of advice I felt compelled to memorialize:

“It doesn’t matter where you start: It only matters where you finish, and how you got there.”

Powell is truly the kind of guy I would tap to be President of this country. I remember all those years of seeing him on the news, first as a general in the Army and later as the Secretary of State, and thinking how stoic and unmoving he was. A good soldier? Certainly. A candidate for the highest office in the land? Not hardly. My opinion on the matter changed after hearing him speak. Powell is someone who understands true leadership: As Secretary of State, he told of making sure he knew the names of everyone who worked for him, even the janitors that came in to clean his offices every night. He said he wanted them to understand how important their role was, how dignitaries visiting from foreign countries would appreciate the fruits of their labor as the SOS’s offices would sparkle each morning. How many high-level CEOs and politicians could become more effective by learning that simple lesson of leadership?

Krish Dhanam followed Powell. Born in India, Dhanam immigrated to American at an early age. His love of America was so evident, he even commented he would, if ever asked, take up arms against the country he was born in to defend the United States. Here was a legal immigrant who loved his country more than 90% of its natural-born citizens. I would listen to this guy again in a heartbeat.

Lunchtime was book-ended by a sell-fest. Anyone who’s been to enough seminars knows that ya gotta pay the ‘help’ somehow. First, a guy named Bob Kitell spoke about Investools. This is where I left my seat and made some phone calls in the concourse. Your typical low-dollar buy-in to a later seminar date, followed by high-pressure upsells once they get you in the hotel ballroom. Approximately 3,000-4,000 of my fellow attendees either didn’t realize this is how it works, or simply have the money to throw away for a stock-timing analytical tool. Seriously? Timing the stock market? Let me know how that works out. It’s like trying to time the roulette wheel in Vegas. Save your money, folks!

After lunch, a guy named James Smith spoke. Now, I gotta admit I really liked James. He tells it like he sees it, and he doesn’t really give a damn whether he offends you or not. He never really pushed all that hard to get people to take his follow-up seminars, but lots of people lined up to sign up anyhow. Ironically enough, I felt (and still feel) I know far more about the subject matter (REOs, foreclosures, tax liens, etc.) he sells for tens of thousands of dollars than he does himself. After all, you can either spend all your time convincing people to shell out every penny they have to learn how to do the business, or you can do the business. I prefer the latter. And here’s a NEWSFLASH: You can’t do both.

The truly legendary Zig Ziglar made an appearance after lunch, and received a warm and rousing ovation. Unfortunately, Zig had an accident in his home a few years back which severely compromised his short-term memory. As such, his daughter joins him on stage and “interviews” him for a few minutes before they leave the stage and show a video comprised of several clips of past speeches. Zig’s condition was apparent when he said the same punchline twice in the span of a couple minutes, not realizing the second time he’d already said it earlier. Nonetheless, Mr. Ziglar is a living testimony to the power of a positive attitude and the value of integrity. Zig provided the other line I felt worthy of writing down: “When people find out your word is no good, they’ll determine you aren’t either.”

The last speaker I stayed for was former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani. I really like Rudy, and I was slightly underwhelmed by his presentation. True, I probably unfairly set my expectations too high, and to his credit, Rudy seems like someone who can relate to the everyman. Rudy spent a lot of time extolling his accomplishments as a crime-fighter and a leader during 9/11; to think he doesn’t have some intent to run for public office in the future would be naive. He did tell a very endearing story about George W. Bush in the days after 9/11 that would likely change the way a lot of Americans feel about our former President.

As it was getting close to the end of the day, I bolted early to beat the traffic out of there. Again, I was glad I attended, but I can’t say I was all that motivated when I left. Maybe I’ve become too cynical from all the past conventions and seminars I’ve attended, where every motivational speaker follows the same script, all to get you on their side before they ask you to take out your checkbook. I don’t know – I guess I just sympathize with all the ‘sheeple’ who hate their jobs and their lifestyles so much that they will pay any price for the opportunity to get rich quick. Hey, sheeps – if it were that easy, everyone would be doing it. It takes work…lots of it. And if you’re looking for motivation to kickstart your potential, look at your spouse, your kids, your grandkids, all the people you love. THAT’S where you’ll find true motivation.
Make it a great week.


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