Yesterday a friend of mine offered me two free tickets to an all day seminar today entitled "Get Motivated!" The advertised speakers were: Zig Ziglar, Steve Forbes, Suze Orman, Mike Shanahan, Tom Hopkins, Colin Powell and Rudolph Giuliani. I checked my calendar and had no scheduled meetings; nothing that could not wait. It was fate. There were a few changes in the speakers: Zig Ziglar was unfortunately not able to make it. Phil Town, Keith Craft (the main announcer) and Krish Dhanam also gave presentations.
I’m still digesting the material. The speeches started at 8:00AM sharp and continued until 4:30PM with a few breaks and diverting "acts" in between speakers. The Pepsi Center was completely filled. They estimated 16,000 to 18,000 people were in the audience. My husband and I lucked into great seats. We were in the 2nd row, not on the floor, behind the sound and video people. We had a great view of the speakers, the stage, and the various screens of material. The overall experience was somewhat odd and seemed to use some cult-like techniques to capture the audience with. Luckily my husband seems to also be immune to this effect so we were often sitting while the rest of the crowd shouted and danced and leaped on command.
I will do my best to summarize what I got from each of the 30 to 45 minute speeches. I took more notes for some speakers than others depending on how interested I was in the topic and whether there was anything that was new and exciting to me. My summaries are certainly incomplete. The speakers are listed in the order they presented.
Steve Forbes – focused on the economy, taxation, the price of gold and the stock market. Specifically he believes that the number one metric to watch is the price of gold. If it is below $300/oz the economy will be stalled. If it is above $400/oz the economy will be "odd". If it is between $350 and $400 all is fine. He hopes that Bernanke learns quickly before the economy suffers too much more. Much of his speech seemed to me to foreshadow his 2008 political ambitions. He’s still pitching a 17% flat tax with the abolishment of all other taxes.
Suze Orman – Not too much novel here. She spent about the first 1/2 of her time focused on FICO scores and how a good FICO (>760) was essential to one’s personal financial health. She pointed everyone to learn more about their own FICO at myfico.com. She stressed the importance of paying down credit card debt, not using creative mortgage products (interest only, ARMS, etc), and saving in ROTH IRAs. She also stated that we all need both a will and a living revocable trust. She did not have time to expand on these topics but suggested that we watch her show (free) or buy her books.
Tom Hopkins – While Tom is apparently a well known sales guru, I’d never actually heard of him. His secret to success is his ability to handle failure and rejection. He stressed the importance of treating failure as: (1) a learning experience, (2) an opportunity for change, (3) an opportunity for humor, (4) an opportunity to practice and perfect your performance, and (5) a game that you must play to win. This method of dealing with failures prevents quitting and the hostility or depression that can often be triggered by failure. He also stressed the importance of loving people and not money. That if you love people and treat them well this will cause the money to flow to you.
Krish Dhanam – Krish was another speaker that until today I had not heard of. He had some terrific stories of his life and his relationship with his son. His message focused on the process of success and how to achieve that which you desire. He defines success as a relative metric that measures "who you are in relationship to where you started." He believes that growth comes from being uncomfortable and that effectiveness occurs in that rare space outside of where we are comfortable. He thinks that people fail to set big goals for themselves out of: (1) fear, (2) poor self-image, (3) inability, (4) inexperience (never have before). To achieve our goals we need both the skill and the will. His path to success is to (1) ID what you want to be, (2) list all of the benefits of #1, (3) ID the obstacles, (4) ID the skills and knowledge required, (5) ID the influences and organizations that can help. With this list you can then make short, medium and long term goals and plans. He pointed out that on your death bed it is far superior to be able to say "I’m glad I did it" versus "I wish I had." And he provided a reminder about the value of perseverance "Anything worth doing is worth doing poorly until you can do it well." I think this was one of my favorite take home messages today.
Phil Town – I had not heard of Phil before today but I am unlikely to forget his name or face. He was by far the most aesthetically pleasing of today’s speakers. He was also one of the most charismatic. I am very interested in getting his new book Rule #1 and barely resisted his $999 sales pitch for access to some of his stock monitoring tools. I estimate that at a minimum 1000 people today succumbed to his pitch. For those of us that delayed, if we decide to take the Investools training opportunity the retail cost is apparently $6000. Ouch. But I really hate those, you have today and only today to take this opportunity, pitches. Anyway, Phil gave a very compelling presentation about his stock market investment strategy which apparently makes it possible to comply with Warren Buffet’s two rules of investing: "Rule No.1: Never lose money. Rule No.2: Never forget rule No.1." In a nutshell there are basic indicators for when to buy or sell a stock to ensure that you don’t lose money even when the market overall is performing badly. He had some great examples of how his method works and has obviously used this method to amass wealth of his own. Once you know a company is fundamentally strong but undervalued (providing a margin of safety) you watch for purchasing or selling off of stock by both owners and/or industrial investors. These are the leading indicators, stock price generally follows these investments or divestments. All in all it was interesting and shiny. Certainly it was the most compelling of the sales pitches we heard today but could still be a scam.
Keith Craft – I’m not sure that Keith anticipated speaking today or whether he was a fill-in for Zig Ziglar’s absence. Like several of the other speakers he seemed to be a Zig Ziglar disciple. Either way, he was a very energetic host. His talk had two parts. The first dealt with building leadership capacity. He had three major methods for increasing one’s leadership capacity: (1) look for strategic alignments (3 types: people who believe in you, people who challenge you, people who share your values), (2) live a core values based life (focus on what matters most to you so that you can live a life that most matters), (3) elevate your thinking to elevate your life (deal with negative emotions & their sources, take a new path, think in new ways). The second part of his talk dealt with faith and spirituality. Those uncomfortable with this topic were given the opportunity to leave. I’m uncomfortable with the topic but stayed out of curiosity. This half packaged much of the same information within a faith based paradigm and tied this to living a life consistent with one’s values. He used examples taken from his life and relationships with his family. It clearly is working for him & many in the audience were inspired by his message.
Rudolph Giuliani – I haven’t written much about the acts but there were impressive lead-ins to many of the speakers. For Giuliani there was patriotic music, streamers in red white and blue, confetti bursting into the air and falling on the audience. This combination had me on the verge of tears before the man even opened his mouth. He told some personal stories about dealing with 9/11 and his bout with cancer. The focus of his talk was leadership. He stressed 6 critical traits a leader must have: (1) vision, (2) optimism, (3) courage, (4) preparedness, (5) team building, and an (6) ability to communicate. Examples of great leaders were used to highlight each of these principles. He ended with an anecdote from his book about the importance of being where you are most needed "weddings optional; funerals mandatory."
Mike Shanahan – Living in Denver, I obviously have heard of Mike Shanahan. Mike stressed many "P’s" to success: (1) the importance of being passionate about your work, (2) the importance of being positive, you have to believe you can succeed, (3) the critical nature of preparation and having a plan, and (4) the importance of perseverance and never giving up. All things are possible with this combination.
Colin Powell – Colin Powell was the final speaker. Wow. I have admired this man for years and it was such an incredible gift to sit just a few hundred feet from where he was speaking. They showed on the video screen each of the speakers accessing and exiting the stage. Colin Powell was the only one to shake the hand of and look at every single person he passed. My husband and I left with the feeling of this was the man you’d want in your family as parent or friend. He exudes a combination of integrity, humor, confidence, humility and optimism. Woven into his stories were some gems. He always looks forward to the future. There is no benefit to looking out the back window. He spoke briefly on leadership. In his opinion, the purpose of the leader is to provide the vision, the purpose, the mission to inspire the workers/followers, to prepare and take care of the workers, to provide the necessary resources so that the objectives can be achieved, to reward and recognize the workers and finally as needed to discipline the workers. Trust is key. And finally he spoke of the future both his and America’s. There were shouts from the audience suggesting the presidency. He chuckled and told us a story of the thing he missed most since retiring as secretary of state: his own private 757 complete with red carpet.