Today I had the opportunity to “Get Motivated!” If you are a Memphian it’s been hard to miss the billboards and radio ads for it. From the beginning I thought it was gimmicky, but secretly wanted to go because it had a really impressive line-up: Rudy Giuliani, John Walsh, Leigh Anne Tuohy, Terry Bradshaw, Laura Bush, Brian Tracy, Lou Holtz, Steve Forbes, and Colin Powell. When I had the opportunity to go through work I took it.
This morning I woke up at 4 a.m. (thanks jet-lag) and had no trouble getting to the FedEx Forum early. My “Premier Level” seating ended up being at the top section of the Forum and I was separated from some of my coworkers who got better seating on the floor level. Fortunately a couple of other coworkers were late due to the crazy traffic and sat with me.
Steve Forbes opened up the morning and wasn’t as motivational as I had hoped. He was very candid about the fact he was lucky to be born into a wealthy publishing family and I appreciated the honesty. His anecdotes about his grandfather’s start in the business were interesting, but then he took a turn into ranting about the value of the dollar and how it needs to be as good as gold. I don’t know if he was implying we need to revert to the gold standard, but if he was I think it’s a bit ridiculous. If the economy collapses, gold is not going to be worth shit. Why don’t people understand that? When he touched on the healthcare system I agreed with some of his comments and would be interested to hear more about his views on it because it’s something I’m passionate about too. However, none of these rants were really about motivation or business skills so I’m not sure why he was talking about them. But hell, if I was a millionaire I would say whatever I wanted whenever I wanted too. I give him a C.
Terry Bradshaw was the next speaker and was hilarious besides a couple of gay jokes that were funny but a bit heterocentric in my opinion. Nevertheless, I laughed at them. My main takeaway from the presentation was to remain optimistic and keep a smile despite adversity. Grade: B
Following Terry Bradshaw was Rudy Giuliani. He did have some interesting anecdotes about 9/11, and I took away some interesting notions about being informed before making decisions and learning to love reading. I’m a big advocate of reading and I liked how much he emphasized it. He did talk a lot about computers as if they were a brand new invention that we had never heard of. It was a bit odd, but maybe it was targeted at the older members of the audience who are afraid to fully embrace computer usage. Grade: B-
Following “America’s Mayor” was a random spiel by an Indian guy who was skilled in rhetoric. He offered a lot of cliches and sounded like an evangelical pastor. I’m not sure what his point was but he was very adamant that “Political Correctness” was going to be the downfall of America, yet, he offered no definition of this. Additionally, I felt there was a lot of pandering to the base fears of people about a progressive government stamping on the rights of social conservatives. It was a bit ridiculous but the crowds overall seemed to eat it up. Grade: C (but I bet others would mark him higher).
Next was a financial speaker named Bob. All I know is he was trying to hawk a weekend seminar and while it was not exactly a hard sell, it was kind of an obnoxious sell. He seemed like a nice enough guy and talked a lot about using web tools to better invest. Covered calls were a big topic and I plan on investigating them. However, I’m wary of calls and options and things that are too good to be true. Nevertheless, he got what looked like thousands of people to sign up for a weekend long class and get a free trial to the website. Grade: C
There was a break after Bob and if I recall correctly a musical number. It was random and definitely Christian themed which I thought was awkward. I knew there were allegedly subtle Christian themes at these events but this was rather overt.
John Walsh spoke next and his story was one I only knew a little bit about. His topic was “Achievement” and out of horrific experiences he and his wife made a huge, positive impact on the way the justice system and law enforcement handle missing children cases. Grade: B.
Post John Walsh was a “bonus” presentation that was about spirituality. It was by the Indian pastor-esque man who I didn’t care for. My coworkers and I left. “Proof-texting” really sets me off and I don’t want to hear what I imagined would be prosperity gospel.
When we returned from lunch break Laura Bush was up. I must confess I’m a Laura Bush fan. I think she’s just a very lovely person. Sadly, her speech was nothing overly memorable. It started off like a long version of the Bush family Christmas Card as we were given an update on where everyone in the family was now. We then heard about 9/11 (a recurring theme in a lot of presentations) and it was interesting to think of how scary it must have to be in the White House at the time. Obviously I don’t agree with all the actions that followed 9/11, but it’s not impossible to understand how fear and a desire for control led the President to make the decisions he made. Grade: B- (I’m probably soft because of my crush on her).
Lou Holtz was up next and I have to say that I didn’t know who he was. Thankfully my sports obsessed coworker was there to explain. He ROCKED the house. He was by far my favorite speaker and had a mixture of humor and good advice that was the most motivational of the whole lot. I actually want to read some of his books now. His advice was not anything new, but his presentation was good and he really connected with you. Grade: A.
James Smith was up next. He’s a real estate guru and honestly started off pretty funny. He had some valid points, but I was distracted by all of his talk of Satan creating obstacles and God and he made several comments about how he knew he was going to heaven (in a really smartass way). He was abrasive and in the end was hawking a weekend real estate seminar. I ended up tuning out. Grade: D.
General Colin Powell was after Mr. Smith and the audience was glad to have him. I enjoyed his presentation and thought he made some good points about connecting with people and showing appreciation for everyone in your organization. His story about missing the use of a private 757 from his Secretary of State days was also quite amusing. Grade: B.
We left after Colin Powell but there were still 3 speakers to go! However, it was already almost 5 and I was exhausted. Overall, I would NOT recommend one of these seminars to anyone. While the big names are interesting, they do not make up for the cheese factor and feeling you are in the audience of an infomercial for wealth building systems. Nobody likes a bait and switch.
Note: There is a slight chance I’ve mixed up the order of some of the speakers, but I tried my best to recall the order correctly.