Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Lord and James Brown: My Day at a Get Motivated seminar

Before I get started, I have to make a disclaimer or three.  First of all, some of the speakers used some PG-13 language and innuendo.  There's a very good chance some of that will end up in this piece.  Anything "blue" appears for the sake of making a point (something that will become clear within the context).  If that offends you, stop reading here. Seriously. Just stop and go back to Facebook or Twitter or whatever the hot site of day is.  Okay, not really. You can actually read through here and be fine. I did post warning(s) for those that needed them below.

Secondly, this is my OPINION based on what I saw, felt, and experienced.  If you don't like my opinion, feel free to disagree, but I will not tolerate any foul language in the comments.  We have this amazing thing called the English language and for nearly every single word one could choose, there are many others which could also be used in that word's place.  This holds especially true of cuss words.  I'm no goodie-goodie by any stretch, but there is no reason to curse when a perfectly good substitute can do more to further to conversation and discussion.

Third, I didn't buy JACK at this seminar.  Wait, that's a lie. I bought two hot dogs and two cokes.  So, actually, I did not buy JACK after all. So there.  I also did not pay for my $1.95 ticket (or whatever it cost).  My company paid for a group of us to attend.  Why say all this? Because I want it to be perfectly clear that I am not being paid by anyone nor am I writing based on any kind of financial obligation.  It's just me and my thoughts and observations.

Finally, I did a little poking around the Internet about the seminar.  I wanted to see what people thought and what to expect.  I read several VERY negative reviews (which will be referenced at the end of this post), but I had a much better view as to just what this program entailed.  You, too, will get a taste of what to expect as we take this journey together.





Before I get to the seminar, I must relay the tale of WHOA (as in, holy cow, are you kidding me) from the night before.  We stayed at the Riverfront Wyndham in North Little Rock.  I had never been before, and certainly had no idea that it was within walking distance to Dickey-Stephens Field (literally in the back parking lot) and the Verizon Arena (a block or so).

When I arrived, two co-workers (Nell and Karen) were checking in.  Nell turns to me and says, jokingly, "They're putting us in the same room."  We laughed.  We shouldn't have.  I got my room keys and headed upstairs.  The three of us decided to go to the ballgame (Travelers play at DSF) after we put our stuff in our respective rooms.  I opened my door to discover various articles already spread out on one of the beds.  I thought they were women's things, but I wasn't sure.  I called out, but no one answered.  I went into the bathroom and saw make-up and such that let me know I was, in fact, in a woman's room.  Great.  I headed back downstairs and told them what happened.  Evidently, too many chefs and not enough cooks decided to hand out rooms.  Not a problem.  We swapped keys and I got a new room.  I headed back upstairs.  As I went to use my key, Nell opened the door to the room from the inside!  Are you kidding me!?  TWO room screw-ups!?  Nell called the front desk.

"I appreciate you sending a man up to my room, but I don't think his wife will be too happy with this arrangement," she joked with the clerk on the other end.  After a bit of conversation, the clerk said he would be right up with the right key for her room.  Crazy.  We finally got it worked out.

The Travelers game turned out to be the last of the regular season and they won 8-2 over the Springfield Cardinals!  It was a lot of fun - good food, great company, nice breeze.


The next morning, the hotel manager greeted each person in our party to let us know that he was holding a staff meeting about the previous night (evidently, there were MANY problems!) and that, "this would NEVER happen again."  We may never know.




We arrived at the arena with time to hang out on the steps before the place opened up to us.  Tickets for the event came in various flavors.  We had "Premier" seating, which sounds better than it was.  basically, we were upper tier.  "Executive" seating is first tier (like where we sat for WinterJam), and then there was floor seating.  With all the big screens everywhere, no one really had a bad seat, I suppose.

First up: Krish Dhanam.  Never heard of him.  Each presenter came out to their own music.  It was a bit like attending a wrestling event.  The emcee was some blonde woman that read her cue cards to introduce each speaker and get the crowd pumped up.  "Dare You To Move" played over the speakers.  If you're not familiar with it, it is a Christian tune by Switchfoot.  Dhanam was born in India and came to America in 1986.  His presentation was about pumping up America, blessing your children.  It was filled with personal stories and a tirade against political correctness. "Political Correctness will be the death of this nation," he exclaimed.  He made some stereotypical comments about Indian people (that is, people FROM India) and basically said, "That's the way it is. Accept it."  It was great to FINALLY hear someone declare the beginning of the end of PC talk and jibberish.  (yeah, yeah, I know Bill Maher, et al, do something similar. Whatever.)

The first break came in the way of an announcement: "Clearly one day is not enough.  You will want to keep learning through DVDs, additional seminars... What we have for you TODAY...is an investment in yourself!"  Ah, yes, the sales pitch I'd had read plenty about in my brief search of the program online.

The seminar comes with a workbook that is SUPPOSED to let the attendees take notes, read bios, etc.  While people can do that, they CANNOT use the author-specific pages because those are old, outdated outlines.  The presenter pages had nothing to do with the content they actually presented.  Seriously, can we not print updated copies, folks?  I took all my notes in the back pages provided for "additional notes."




Next up: TERRY BRADSHAW!

I grew up watching Terry toss the pigskin around, leading the Steelers to FOUR Superbowl wins.  It was awesome to see him live.  His presentation centered on asking yourself (and answering): "What has God blessed me to be?"  Find your talents, what you enjoy doing, and pursue that in your career.  He said the key to success and to moving on is to be happy. Just be happy.  Smile, shake hands, encourage other people.  He told the story of how his kids wanted to meet someone famous in Beverly Hills.  As they walked around, people were coming up to him for his autograph, shake hands, etc.  His kids simply said, "You're our Dad."  In his words, he is "no big deal."  Know who you are.  Know your restrictions.  Don't waste life.  At the end of every day, find something good that happened that day.  To that I say: write it down.  Get a spiral notebook and write down the one thing (or several things) GOOD that happened that day.  If you want, put the date on it.  Every single day, write down those "one good thing" items. You will find yourself filling REAMS of notebooks.  And then, take those and compile them into categories or topics or whatever method you'd like (the people involved, places, etc) and type it up for PUBLISHING. Yes, I am serious.  The things that were good in your life will serve as blessings to others.  You say you're not a writer?  Well, then, contact me. I'll write it for you.  I'll even Ghostwrite it for you if you want.

Terry went on to say that joy is unaffected by anything in your life - good or bad.  "Your JOY is YOUR joy.  Happiness, on the other hand, comes and goes depending on situations.  It's okay to fail.  People will put you down and be mean to you whether you are successful or if you fail.  You have to learn to ignore them.  Take chances, deal with consequences."  Say to yourself, "I want to affect people's lives." Then DO IT.

"If you have doubts, ASK for help!"  I agree. No one knows everything.  You must be willing to ask for help.  I don't know everything, and never claim to, about computers.  But, I am not afraid to say "I don't know, let me find out."  And then, I go and find out! I ask someone for help.

That's two presenters that included God in their success.  Several sites I read (and LOTS of comments to each of those) include tirades against the inclusion of God, Jesus, and other religious references during the program.  I guess because I *am* a Christian, it made sense to me.  Sure, many, many successful folks do not believe in a god of any kind, and I am sure they will be happy to let you know that.  Likewise, why wouldn't a successful, spiritual person include their religious beliefs in their success!?  When I achieve my own goals and success, you can bet your butt I will give praise to the God who helped me help myself achieve. Absolutely! (see side note 1)




Next Speaker: LAURA BUSH

I don't care what your politics are.  George W Bush and his wife and family served this country during the worst attack on our nation since Pearl Harbor (and the first of such an attack on the contiguous United States of America).

Now, I have to say here that Mrs. Bush spent a LOT of time catching everyone up on her family: the senior bush's, their children, etc.  I suppose many in the place found that endearing.  I didn't, but that's just the way I am.  To me, it was a lot like these lawyers who spend way too much time talking about what kind of family the accused has (how many kids, mother-in-law, how many pets, and on and on).  For me, the result is the same: My verdict or my impression is not formed based on who you know or how the family dog is getting along.  I suppose that is where I must learn to grow: in the area of "compassion." I put that in quotes because I don't believe that is the correct word, but rather the one most folks would choose to use there and thus it made the most sense.  Besides, I'm sure compassion has at least something to do with it. I digress, often.

When Mrs. Bush pulled out the bobblehead of herself, it was the first real glimpse of seeing the humor she seems to hold closely guarded.  What a great moment!  The crux of her presentation recounted American history and a humorous look at what the tabloids have said (and are saying) about her family.

She also told of the days leading up to 9/11 and the days that followed.  It was moving, powerful, and I know these presentations are all VERY much "pump up America/America is great/America will pull through" cheerleading sessions, this was poignant and touching.  It gave us all a behind-the-scenes look at life as the leader (and wife of the leader) of the free world.  Oh, I know the people that bash the program will most likely say that I drank the kool-aid and what-not, but let me tell you something: If you were NOT in America, you would most likely NOT have the freedom to tell me that.  Likewise, I would not have the freedom to even write this down.  America has serious issues that could very well spend the end of the empire (Yes, America is an empire whether folks like to admit it or not).  But, America still holds true to the dreams of her founding fathers, and can fulfill dreams of anyone within her borders who come here legally. I digress, often.

"Who do you want to be," Mrs. Bush was asked over and over again (meaning the elder Mrs. Bush or Hillary Clinton).  Mrs. Bush replied, "I'll just be Laura Bush."  Know who you are. BE who you are.  Trust who you are. 

She also outlined her platform for life: EVERY child should learn to read. Literacy is the foundation of democracy. Books can shape our journey as a nation.  (Uncle Tom's Cabin, To Kill a Mockingbird, etc)

She related the story of George W. Bush's first pitch at Yankee Stadium following the events of 9/11.  The President was talking to Derek Jeter.  Jeter asked, "Are you going to throw it from the mound?" The President replied, "What do you think?"  As Jeter walked down the tunnel, he turned back and said, "Don't bounce it. They'll BOO you."  Mrs. Bush said her heart stopped as her husband took the mound.  He was alone in a crowd of people following the worst tragedy we had seen in a long time.  The President, standing on the mound, threw a strike.

I remember watching that like it was yesterday.  It's hard to believe that was nearly 10 years ago already.  Mrs. Bush was elegant, refined, and poised as she delivered her moving speech dotted with bits of humor.  First class first lady, all the way.



Next up: LOU HOLTZ

As soon as the emcee began introducing Lou Holtz, the place went INSANE!  Whistles, cheers, shouts of "RAZORBACKS" rang throughout Verizon arena.  When he took the stage, in unison the place immediately began: WWWWWOOOOOOOOOOOOOO PIG SOOIE! But before we could finish the chant, he cut us off and began his presentation.  I understand, being a small-scale presenter myself, the need and desire to get things rolling - to get to the point.  But, seriously?  It would have taken just a few moments to let everyone have some fun and finish the cheer.  I think most folks were happy with getting one "WPS" in, and the cheers and whistles continued throughout his time on stage.

He said he didn't understand a lot things.  For example, "Why do kamikaze pilots wear helmets?"  and the classic, "Why do drive-up ATMs have Braille keypads?"

He said the key to success was easy: Make good choices.  That is, make GOOD choices.  Want to successful in work, make good choices.  Marriage? Make good choices.  Health? Make good choices.  he said it also depends on how you handle adversity.  "It's a part of life that you get knocked down." But even when we're down, we must "have fun with what (we're) doing."  We need to "look at the opportunities" that are presented when adversity faces us.  And we "cannot let other people change your attitude."

"What is your purpose? What are you trying to do? What dreams do you have? What is important NOW?"  Write down your goals.  never try to maintain, always strive for more.  people love to tell you why you CANT do something.  Find the reasons why you CAN do it.

The best thing he said (in my opinion, of course): Make sure your children know how much you love their mother/father.  Yes, make sure the father/mother knows, but the key to successful marriage and relationships with your children is to make sure the children know how much you love their other parent.  Absolutely brilliant.  I like to think my kids have a very good idea of how much I love Shan, especially with everything we've gone through.  But, I have committed myself to making sure they know how much I love my wife.

He said he has three rules that apply to everything he does:
DO RIGHT
DO EVERYTHING TO THE BEST OF YOUR ABILITY
SHOW PEOPLE YOU CARE

If your child screws up on a test because he/she didn't study, never attack the performer, attack the performance: "I don't believe that was the best of your ability." Then, encourage them to strive for their best.

Oh, he also said he believes that EVERY graduate from High School should have to spend a year in the military - discipline, respect, goal-setting, achieving.



Next up: Bob

I don't recall Bob's last name.  He is some kind of financial guru who showed us how to use the tools at WealthMagazine.com to learn when to buy and sell stocks, and how people should be taking care of their own future instead of paying a broker who makes money no matter happens to your money.

Frankly, I am not going to bore you with everything he said. Let me rephrase that. He was very entertaining and a lot of fun to watch. I also feel like I learned a lot. But, in the end, he was selling his product (upcoming seminars), and I cannot convey his message/ideas/tips without it coming off as dry.

But, that is the crux of it right there: the reason they can bring in the big-dog names is because they have these other folks that peddle their wares.  Sure, you get a great conference discount, but still - it's all about more seminars, more seminars, more seminars.



We took a break here so that people who DID want to attend the additional programs could sign up.  I was wearing a black polo with the Southwest Arkansas Education Cooperative logo on it (albeit, an old logo).  I passed by the folks holding clipboard and bought a Coke.  Yes, I bought an actual Coke (everything carbonated down here is a "Coke" whether that is what is in the cup or not, it seems).  On my way back to the seat, one of the clipboard guys tried to get me to sign up and I refused politely.

"You don't want to be stuck at teaching, do you?" I stopped and looked at him.  I'm sure the look on my face must have been priceless because he immediately shifted his gaze and asked someone else.  Then, I turned and walked to my seat.  I found that profoundly rude and offensive.  "Stuck" at teaching?  I don't even teach and it ticked me off.  The tone and implication was that no one actually WANTS to teach.  I realize he was most likely some part-time help hired for this show, but if there had been any inkling whatsoever that I might have even thought about going to a follow-up seminar, he made sure I never would.  Oh, I know, all these presenters talk about how you handle negativity, etc etc.  And here's how I handled it: I kept my money. I also decided to tell the world, but of course since I don't remember Bob's last name, it is something of a muted point (not moot as in dead, but muted - as in not a very loud one).

On the upside, we watched a performance by "QuickChange" - the couple that was on America's Got Talent who can do quick-change outfit swaps while you watch.  It was impressive and a lot of fun.



Next Up: GENERAL COLIN POWELL

This was the "America is freakin' AWESOME" presentation.  Or, at least the intro.  Confetti, streamers from the sky, fireworks, the whole Yankee Doodle Dandy extravaganza.  It either made one proud to be an American or sick to see all the pomp and circumstance.  I was the former. I ate it up.  Then again, I am VERY proud to have been lucky enough to have been born in this country!

He started off with a list of accomplishments and positions he's held.  At first, this seemed like a bit of bragging or puffing up, but it actually came around later to make a point: despite the fact that everyone knows who he is, he has to go through the TSA with ID and a scan just like everyone else.

He said, "For all I've done and all the places I've been, I could not have gone any where without the C130's flying out of the Little Rock Air Force Base!" The crowd erupted.  Every so often an "OORAH!" would come from the stands, and Gen. Powell would answer right back. It was automatic. It was unifying. It was something private and public all in one. It was awesome - literally, not having served, I do not know the kinship military folks have, especially within certain branches, and to see and hear this man answer back the call at any moment's notice was inspiring, touching.

He said, "People are worried... But still confident... And are tired of what's going on in Washington."  The place erupted again, and shouts of "President! Powell for President!" rang out.  He immediately put up a hand, saying, "No. Come on, now. Let's not go there." And then he continued his presentation.  He said that sooner or later, people are going to have to compromise, and that the best thing we could do was to vote for the people getting things done.  He said we need, to succeed, to look through the windshield and not the rearview mirror.

When relating a story of going through a TSA checkpoint, he said, "I wanted to be mad at them, but I'm the one who helped put the system in place!"  He has a wonderful sense of humor, especially when laughing at himself.

He said leaders (employers) must give their followers (employees) a sense of purpose: WHY are we doing this? Leaders must be self-LESS, not self-ISH.  We must build each other up, not tear each other down.  Leaders must take care of their troops: bonuses, gifts, pats on the back.  They must give their people the tools they need to succeed.  They should share the credit, not take it.

Leaders must recognize those who cannot or will not follow and be strong enough to get rid of them.

Leaders must recognize the good followers and talk to them about the bad ones, find out who the bad ones are.

He said, "We need to come home (referring to troops) to deal with the issues at home." And, "Despite our current troubles, we are the nation that other nations look to (to see how we handle it)."



Next Up: Spiritual Break

One of the complaints I read talked about the spiritual overtones in each presenter and that someone felt obligated to sit through something akin to a sermon.  Another person responded, saying they had been at the same show as the other person and that an announcement had been made about the upcoming spiritual session and that anyone was free to stay or go (on break) as they chose.  I have to say that it was made perfectly clear the session would be spiritual in nature.  It was also very clear (and repeated a couple times) that folks could take a break if they chose not to attend.

Krish came back on stage and talked about Jesus and being Christian.  He said, "There is a God.  It ain't Me. And, it ain't you."  As a Christian, I loved it.  Another point he made was this: "Success must be measured in relation to where YOU are now compared to where YOU started."  It is not about who has what or who has what compared to YOU.

I do need to mention here that throughout the day, mini-breaks were given so that people could get up and move a little bit.  This was a motivational seminar, so naturally they had people doing silly stuff - singing, dancing, moving and grooving.  If you've never been to one of these before, let me tell you here and now: motivational speakers like to try and make you do goofy things. Okay, there it is. If you don't like it, don't do it.  You don't have to parrot everything the speakers tell you to do or say.  Do it if you want, don't if you don't.  It's not rocket science here folks.



Next Up: Steve Forbes

If I didn't know any better, I'd swear Steve Forbes was running for President.  He had a plan for welfare for the tax code, and for the Federal Reserve.  He made some key points during his program:

Take a Risk - basically, DO SOMETHING. Preferably, something no one else is doing.
Do Things Others Aren't - Find a need and fill it.
Use Inventions In Ways Others Aren't - He talked about Sam Walton and data/tracking/shipping and also about UnderArmor.

Look for a Twist and expect setbacks.  Setbacks are a part of the process.  Be open to opportunities that present themselves which others may miss.

I'll save the politics for you to witness yourself, should you ever attend one of these.



Next Up: James Smith

WARNING: This is where "blue" conversation is going to come up.  If you've read this far, you can skip this section if you'd like.  Or, read along. I promise it won't be too bad, but you have been warned.

James Smith is probably one of the most unorthodox presenters I've come across in along time, and he loves that about himself. He loves the fact that he is "weird."  He also talks about Jesus, God and the Bible in nearly everything he talks about.  Those are both PLUSES in my book. I like weird people. People who make you feel just a bit uncomfortable.  And then, there's the minus.  He cusses a bit.  No "F-Bombs" but still some other language that made me glad my kids weren't there.  That'll be here soon enough.

One of the first statements he made: "(Some) People in political parties are more in love with their party than with the country!"  That is no lie!

He mockingly said something to the effect that other folks will tell you to work hard in order to succeed.  His response, "Any peckerwood can work hard. DUH!"  He also said, "I've been rich and I've been poor... Poor blows, man!"

His entire presentation centered on a 3-day seminar he was holding in the near future (dates were provided, of course).  He was probably 2/3rds of the way into his time limit before he even said what it was he did.  Real Estate. Yeap, the old "get property for nothing and flip it" routine.  Yawn.

Despite that, he did ask/say some things that stuck out:

"Are you doing what God wants you to do?"  Seems simple enough, right?  But, think about that.  Are You!?  If not, why not?  If you have a burning desire to do something and you believe it is the Lord calling you to do it, then DO IT.  Oh, I know, there is a lot of fear in change and fear of failure and what if, what if, what if.  But, IF it is what God wants you to do, do you really think God is going to let you fail at it?  Why would He have you do something only to have you fail?  I don't think that's how He works. It was a deeper question than I first realized.

"If you don't believe in God, you will some day." - By far, one of the best phrases uttered the whole day.

He told a story about a waitress offering herself to him (it was part of a joke, but...) and that just added to the wall that he was building between himself and other folks, or at least me.  As I've said, I'm no goody-goody or prude or whatever word the kids use these days, but when speaking to others, I try my best to present myself in such a manner that people don't QUESTION my Christianity. Or at least, I hope they don't.  It just rubbed me wrong that this guy would spout Bible talk and then say things like "peckerwood" and have hooking waitresses.

Oh, and for the record, his spiel was more than real estate - it was also tax liens, self-directed retirement, starting your own business, and more.  There was a break. I did not sign up for the upcoming seminars.



We had lunch somewhere in here. I can't remember who did what when we broke for lunch. There was a "beach party" but I didn't go. I couldn't. I was stuck in the food line for the ENTIRE hour we had for lunch.  Note to self: Bring my own lunch, or buy my lunch early (or late).

Marvin Winans Jr sang "God Bless America," and then asked us all to join in.  People starting to stand up, so we (Phoebe and I) eventually did, mainly because we couldn't see, I think (at least that's why I did).  I don't stand up for "God Bless America" any more than I would stand up for "Born in the USA."  Now, the National Anthem, of course.  Anyway, we stood. We sang. We pumped up our American pride a bit more.  It's a good thing, too. Because the next guy up...



Next Up: Rudy Giuliani

Giuliani talked to us about using computers.  We all needed one. And, we needed to get on the Internet. Sorry to be a bit crass here, but, um, really!?  He said we can take classes online and earn degrees.  We should also get smart phones, iphones, blackberrys, and the like. We are in the information age.  I guess because I live and breathe this stuff all day, every day, I was shocked that *THIS* is what he was telling people.  I was beginning to fade.

And then he said something I've been shouting for years: Children must be connected.  Not just "must be connected," but they "**MUST** be connected."  He said that we are not ready to handle and process all the information we receive - we are bombarded by it.  The media makes everything into a crisis - everything is the "worst" whatever there ever was: WORST bombing, WORST tornado, WORST hurricane, etc.  We must process information for ourselves.  We must have some down time. Unplug.

Value the individual and the individual opinion.  Too many people just go along with whatever the masses do.  We must think for ourselves. Everyone agreed. (LOL, just kidding there. See what I did?)

Ask yourself: "What do I get excited about?" Then read about it, ask questions about it.

READ BOOKS
LISTEN/ASK QUESTIONS
WRITE/TAKE NOTES
5+ MINUTES TO THINK

He encouraged everyone to just STOP.  Take at least 5 minutes every day and just think - about nothing, about work, about our kids, about your spouse. Whatever, but turn everything off and just think. Let your mind digest everything it has taken in.  Pray. Meditate.

He said he reads two books at a time: one for growth in something he enjoys and one for fun.

Copy those you admire.

Write your goals down: short term, long term, personal goal, business goals

Create PROs/CONs lists

WRITE, WRITE, WRITE

The most effective effective social safety net we have are friends.  People need you more at funerals than they need you at weddings.  Attend every funeral (family/friends) you can. Be there when people need you and they will be there when you need them.



Next Up: Stephen Pierce

The next guy went from flat-broke to internet marketing guru. He mostly pitched his wares, but here are few things I took away:

The biggest threat to the future is the past that cannot be fixed.

You cannot make money and excuses at the same time.

Anything you do should be about YOU getting better - not about what so-and-so has or does, but about you.

Change: not comfortable, but possible.  Things that make you comfortable will hardly ever make you great.



Next Up: Bill Cosby

This is reason most folks were there.  This is the reason most folks stayed even though it was getting closer and closer to rush hour.  This is the reason people got up to come that morning: Dr. William Cosby.

He came out in slacks and a T-Shirt.  I believe the picture on the shirt was a photo of his son as a baby, or very young child anyway.

He said, in a tone suggesting that he could not believe this was the reason he was brought here, "I am supposed to motivate you people... All the employers, the bosses, where are you?" A round of applause made its way through the venue.  "I will give you the secret to motivating your employees, and then you are free to go.  The rest of you have to stay."  He paused in the dramatic way that only Bill Cosby does and has perfected over the years.  He said, "Now, if you want to motivate your employees, show them a film of other people who are out of work."  Laughter filled the arena.

He asked, "What is your personal best?  I mean in earnings.  Are you a thousandaire? It's okay to be a thousandaire.  But, the Lord helps those who help themselves.  So, what's wrong with you people!?"

He then quoted "the great lyricist, James Brown: GET UP-UH!"  We cannot sit around and wait for someone to help us.  "The Lord helps those that help themselves."  It was his mantra of the afternoon.  He walked the stage continuously, never standing still for very long.  He also played to the crowd and swapped banter among several audience members.

He said, "Many of you are here and you say, 'I want to be like Walmart.' And I say, you can't be like Wal-Mart. You have to start small.  Did you ever see Wal-Mart when they first started?  They were like those two guys in that cranberry commercial." Instantly, the light bulbs in so many executives, so many business owners, so many employers came on: DUH!  He said, "You have to start small and build yourself up."  He talked of Bill Gates and of Apple.

He said, "Talk to your leaders.  Find out what they're doing. If they're not moving, LEAVE! Study!"

Live life like it *IS* the most beautiful thing ever - because it is!

He spent a lot of time talking about the creation of life and just how each of us came to be.  Naturally, it was laugh out loud funny, and CLEAN.

He offered three bits of advice:

RETURN PHONE CALLS
MAKE YOURSELF RESPONSIBLE (Take responsibility for your actions)
DO THINGS BECAUSE YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO DO THEM!

Set goals. Write them down. GO! GET UP-UH! Pay your dues. Stop worrying about what someone else does/has.


Last Up: Brian Tracy

I felt bad for Mr. Tracy.  He had to go on stage after Bill Cosby. At the end of the day.  The place was emptying quickly.  Phoebe, Judy and I stayed from our group because we wanted to hear everyone (that is, felt bad for the guy) but also because we knew there was no sense trying to go anywhere with the crowds trying to leave as well, plus it was now rush hour. No thanks.

Three C's:

Clarity - Know who you are, know want you want
Competence - Many people have failed several times before becoming expert
Continuous Learning - Read, Listen, Take Notes, Put into action

Decide what you want
Write it down
Set a deadline
Make a list of what you need
Organize the list
EVERY DAY do something that moves you toward that major goal

List 10 goals and today's date
Pick that one goal that will have the greatest impact on your life in 24 hours. Circle it. Follow the steps above.

What ONE skill would help the MOST to achieve your goal?

You must have self-discipline:  Make it a habit through daily, repeated practice.



Well, if you've made it this far, I have one more thing to talk about: Door Prizes.

There were several door prizes given: A flat screen TV, a trip to Disney World, $10,000.  Yeap, someone won ten grand.  I'm glad to know my admission fee went to someone that needed it.  Seriously.  You want to tell me God doesn't work in amazing ways?  Try this one:

The guy who won the $10,000 was last at the arena ten years ago.  He is a youth minister and he was preaching to 5,000 youths for a rally.  He had not stepped foot into the arena until the day of this event.  He and his wife have just had a baby!  God uses that man to touch the youth of the world, and then He blessed him with ten thousand dollars.  That is awesome!



When one signs up to attend a motivation seminar, one should certainly expect to be offered all kinds of "deals" on upcoming seminars, videos, newsletters, etc.  That is how these folks make their money.  The easiest way to combat that is to either leave your credit cards at home or do what I did: button your back pocket.  Some of the people that have given reviews of the seminar are quick to blast them for such "shenanigans."  Really?  You thought you could just go and listen to these celebrities and not be made to listen to a few commercials!?  What world do you live in?

As for the religious content, all I can say is this: As with anything you attend, take what you want from it.  I do agree that the website or brochures should mention that an element of spirituality is a part of the program.  To me, that's just being fair.  If the topics had been about Buddhism or of Muslims or Scientology, would I feel different about the content?  Nope.  I would have liked to have known, though. At least I could prepare myself for that part of it.  Again, just to be fair.

I still would have gone. I would go again if the list of presenters was different.  Why? Because I poked around YouTube and found several videos taken from other Get Motivated seminars (even though recording them by video is illegal) and those presenters seem to have the same "show" with a few modifications for location or current events.  Colin Powell made reference to his latest battle, Terry Bradshaw made reference to Michael Vick's insane new salary deal.  Can you imagine what Bradshaw as a former quarterback thinks of the money today's QBs get!?  Then again, he probably doesn't, given his personality.  Even Bill Cosby talked about Vick's salary, though his was from the perspective of "Let me see YOU go out there and do that."  Frankly, for one percent of what he was just offered, I'd do it.  Run me over with a few linebackers for six million bucks? Why not.

I enjoyed the day and pulled quite a few helpful tips out of it.  Plus, I got to see folks that I would not have otherwise probably ever seen. In person. You can't complain too loudly about that!

For the whole $1.95 per person or $9.95 per group, I say it is well worth sitting the interruptions to see some of these folks in person.  The cast of presenters changes depending on schedules, but if you find someone you'd like to see coming to one near you, go for the heck of it.  It's cheaper than a movie and a lot more fun (er, well, I suppose that depends).




Side Note 1: No matter what your religious beliefs, how can you *not* share those with the world!?  I believe that the birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus is the only way to achieve a positive, loving, eternal spiritual life.  I'd love for any non-believer to realize that this world cannot offer them anything they can take with them when they die.  Only through Jesus can one live forever in a place called Heaven.  And, of COURSE I am going to share that and tell everyone I can.  Why would I want to keep something like that to myself?  How selfish would that be?  Likewise, I would expect that every Muslim would be out there trying to convince everyone he/she knows.  If you believe people are going to an eternal damnation without the salvation provided through the religion to which you subscribe,  yet yo do not SHARE that and tell/warn people of that, then how can you say you truly believe it?  The world sucks.  It is full of junk and empty promises.  I believe Jesus, the Father, and the Holy Spirit can save us from the mess of this world and provide a meaningful place to reside in the afterlife.  I also believe blessings come to those who believe and who share His great and wonderful news.



A couple sites I checked out regarding the seminar:
http://xenophilius.wordpress.com/2009/03/25/phelps-speaking-live-arco-arena/
http://in-this-economy.com/2009/12/05/review-get-motivated-seminar-san-antonio-12209/
http://www.my365degrees.com/the-law-of-low-expectations-a-review-of-the-get-motivated-seminar

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Even in dreams, @taylorswift13 is a great person

I had a dream my 9yr old got to meet Taylor Swift before a concert. We were in the parking lot sitting in the car.  Emily had got out to take pictures of the arena or something.  Taylor was walking the lot, shaking hands, talking, giving autographs, hugging fans, etc.  She was wearing some kind of plain t-shirt dress thing - nothing fancy or anything, just 'hang-out' clothes. I watched as she came up behind Emily and stood without saying a word, to surprise her. When Em turned around, she was awestruck and couldn't speak.  When Taylor reached out to hug her, Emily started crying and pulled away to get back to the car.

"Emily, that is Taylor Swift, honey! You're one of her biggest fans," I said, trying to calm her down.  Taylor knelt down beside the car and talked to Emily as if they had been friends for years.  She asked what Emily's favorite song was, what other kinds of music did she like, where did we live, and on for what seemed like 30 minutes in the dream.  Once Em was calmed down, Taylor went on to meet and greet other fans.

As often happens in dreams, time suddenly fades forward.  Now, it is just moments before they start letting fans into the arena.  Taylor comes into the parking lot, heads straight for our car, and calls out to Emily.

"Hey, girl, do you see this dress?" She was wearing a big, red flowing dress.  She twirled around once and it flitted and furled around her ankles.  She was genuinely excited, a big smile on her face that was both a happy grin and a look of disbelief - the same we often get when we wake up on Christmas morning to find we actually got the "ONE THING" we really, really wanted. 

"It's the one from the video! Can you believe it!?" Taylor said, twirling around again. Evidently, she had not been expecting to wear it or something.  Emily jumped out of the car, eyes as wide as half dollars and wearing a smile that stretched the width of her face. 

"I love it!" She yelled as she ran to Taylor and they hugged.  Suddenly, Taylor pulled a guitar out (from who knows where, it was a dream after all), signed it and handed it to Emily.  They hugged again and Taylor ran off to get ready for the show.  As Emily turned back to show me the guitar, I woke up.

---
I don't normally put my dreams on here, mainly because they tend to very, very wild or weird (which actually might be a reason *to* put them on here).  But, I thought this one was worth sharing.  It's not often that my dreams focus on my little girl.  And in this case, it even starred one of her heroes, who turned out be just as amazing in dreams as she is in real life (from what I've seen, haven't met her yet in person).

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Topps Image Use Inquiry Follow-up

As previously posted*, I emailed Topps to voice concerns with their lawsuit against Leaf for using Topps card images.  As a blogger and eBay seller/buyer, I wondered how this lawsuit affect the average Joe.

So far, this is the response I received:

Thank you for your inquiry.
This issue has been forwarded to the correct contact person/persons. This should be resolved shortly, please continue to check back if you find the issue has not been resolved.

As always, please do not hesitate to contact our Customer Service team (By Phone: 800-489-9149, or by Email:support@etopps.com) if you ever have any other questions, comments or suggestions. A customer service representative will be available to answer your questions between the hours of 9:00am-4:30pm (EST), Monday through Friday.

Sincerely,

Consumer Relations
The Topps Company, Inc.
 I received this three days ago. Let's see how it takes to get a more thorough response from someone at Topps.

*Previous post: http://www.poppedinmyhead.com/2011/08/i-refuse-to-sit-around-and-wait-for.html

Saturday, August 13, 2011

I refuse to sit around and wait for someone else...

I don't often post baseball-related items over here on "Popped" because I generally use "Tribecards" for that.  Sometimes, though, I feel it's appropriate.  This is one of those times.

Lately, I've witnessed a severe case of inaction in my little world.  In one instance, schools in Arkansas are now required to post all kinds of publicly available information to their websites.  While this has been going on for years, the amount of information has grown and this year, the state legislature added "contracts with signatures" to the list.  There has been an outcry against it, considering it would take no effort whatsoever for someone to come along and lift those signatures to be used for fraud and forgery.  But, that backlash came too late.  Where were we BEFORE this happened?  I'll tell you: going along in our daily lives, trying to keep things running.  In other words, not paying attention.

Fast forward to a recent announcement that the Topps company is suing Leaf over copyright infringement for the use of images of Topps baseball cards and signatures.

The suit specifically deals with the Sell Sheet for a "Best in Baseball 2011" program Leaf is undertaking:

Now, Topps says that Leaf is using copyrighted images of its product without permission.  A friend of mine posted a tongue-in-cheek comment that Topps would next be suing eBay, CheckOutMyCards.com, and others for using images in their listings.

That made me stop in my tracks. What if this isn't so funny anymore?  WOULD Topps sue eBay and other online sites?  WOULD Topps start suing (or issuing "cease and desist" orders) to card bloggers, collectors, writers, etc?  This was no longer funny.

Since it is Saturday and Topps evidently doesn't work on the weekends, according to their "contact us" page, I opted to send them and email (to support@topps.com):
Hello,


A friend of mine shared the current lawsuit Topps filed against Leaf for using images to promote a repackaged product line for 2011, which displays copyrighted images of Topps baseball cards. In jest, another friend asked if Topps was seeking injunctions against eBay and other online sales sites for the same violations.


I took the jesting in a serious direction and decided the best course of action was to contact Topps directly. In light of the Leaf lawsuit, *does* Topps have plans to sue eBay, CheckOutMyCards, or perhaps bloggers and/or people using Topps card images in their own online listings and/or posts?


I am a card blogger and use images of cards from my collection quite often when posting. I have also used images from other folks' posts when the image of a particular card was not readily available. While this is by no means some kind of "admission of guilt" here, I am concerned about myself, folks trying to sell their cards, and fellow bloggers regarding the use of images taken (with a camera, for example), scanned, etc of Topps products.


I would appreciate an open, honest, sincere reply as I need to know where Topps stands in relation (specifically) to non-corporate, collector-based usage of Topps product images. I also need to know if a "cease and desist" request/order is going to be drafted so that I may alert fellow collectors with whom I have contact.


If an email reply is not appropriate, feel free to call (me).


Thank you for your time and attention, and I hope to hear from you soon.


--David Henderson, http://www.tribecards.net/
 I realize that by sending this message, I may have actually STARTED a conversation at Topps that they themselves have not had yet, and that repercussions of it may lead to the very thing I am trying to defeat.  But, I want to know where Topps stands so that if we need to, those of us affected by this can begin to take our own action to protect our rights as property owners, collectors, and writers & bloggers.

I refuse to sit around and wait for someone else to take up the issue AFTER it's too late.  It's happening in too many other aspects of my life.  Starting here, starting with me, that is going to change.  I refuse to choose the path of inactivity any longer.   As Paul McCartney once sang, "I've had enough."

 I'll keep you posted.