The promise of money and success is the mantra of many in sales. Whether one is selling successful weight loss or ageless beauty or selling a marketing system that won't fail you as long as you follow it point for point, it's all about hope. When I paid over 1k to attend a three day seminar in Vancouver this weekend, my hope was to become a more effective marketer. I was drawn in by the promises of filling my seminars and workshops and the large sums I would collect as a part of my success as a presenter. Cause, let's face it, I'm a behaviour change specialist....not a entrepreneur.
I'm still not quite over what happened this weekend. I feel like I'm slowly coming out of a drunk feeling battered, bruised, and needing a shower real bad. What I experienced this weekend I'm not too sure was worth the information I took from it but I guess time (and application) will tell.
The "leader" of this group professed her tutelage under some of the "great" motivational speakers in the world (I believe she got their water and meals...but who am I to say for sure). She was introduced as the global expert on marketing, as the first and foremost female motivational speaker. Okay...first off...anyone who introduces themselves as an expert (global expert in this case) sets off major warning lights for me. She may be good, she may have expertise in an area, but even those immersed in the study of anything don't call themselves experts unless their ego is still driving the bus.
Up she climbed on her perch as she towered over 40 strangers in a small, cramped room. She was wearing an outfit that was similar to that of an angel...maybe a spiritual teacher. I was ready for a launch of butterflies from the ceiling eventually landing all over her as a metaphor for something great. She kept her emotional distance, yet taught everyone how to blow kisses, hold hands, sway to the music, and hug (God love her). I think I even caught some holding their hands up to the sky and speaking in tongues...but I could be mistaken.
The entire weekend was full of superficial actions that created a false sense of closeness and intimacy but, nonetheless, based upon a lie. It made me feel icky. Some loved it and played right into it while others dismissed it as best they could as they held hands and joined the circle of feelings. Some decided they were going to be true to themselves and didn't join in at all. What happened to those rebellious crap disturbers? They were asked to leave the room. Yup! Funny...the same "guru" of marketing had spoken of the importance of understanding everyone's differences and learning styles. Not only that, after her speech about confidentiality, she proceeded to talk about them in their absence. Although some spoke out against this unprofessional behaviour, most smiled and nodded (as they drank the cool aid passed around the room in a large silver chalice).
The world is full of false profits with the sole purpose of making money. On the surface they care about your success, but in reality, they care that you purchase the next program you cannot live without. They take thousands of dollars from the people who can least afford it...those that want to believe in something so desperately that they participate without thought. I guess this is what you would refer to as "group think". But then again, who am I to judge. Just because I don't want to hold a stranger's hand or blow kisses to someone answering a question doesn't mean I should take that away from someone else.
During this time, I met "coaches" promising life solutions who only had one weekend of education. I met natural healers with the answer to illness with only a few certifications. In one weekend, I met more people selling health and wellness (a.k.a. snake oil) than any other weekend and felt really sick about. Everyone had the answers but no one asked many questions.
When I got home I thought long and hard about my beliefs about knowledge and professionalism and who I am and want to be. I thought maybe I had the problem; perhaps I wasn't open enough or closed off to other ways of knowing or being. In the end, I realized that I don't have a problem, I just hate seeing people who truly need support go to those that truly can't give it. Maybe this is real life and I'm seeing it through the eyes of a child? Maybe I just haven't been exposed to it enough? All I know is that I have more appreciation for my own education and understanding and my own presentation skills than ever before. I will always stand with my group, class, or participants and talk. I will always value their experiences and stories when they offer them and I will never profess I'm an expert in anything.
Because of my renewed sense of confidence, I thank the "guru" of marketing and the experiences of the weekend. I did meet some great people (my people) and had some amazing chats with people. I got to know the women I went with and feel like I made a few new friends. So it wasn't all that bad.
All I have to do, now, is get the visions of kiss blowing, hand holding, and swaying to the music out of my head.