Yesterday was the “Get Motivated!” conference at the Memorial Coliseum in Portland. Being a life and career coach I figured it might offer some good motivation, philosophical insight, and inspiration. It was billed as a line up of “great speakers” and transformational leaders. However, my colleague, and marketing coach Vicki Lind, warned me about the line up. She told me that the speakers included Tom Hopkins, Zig Ziglar, Rudy Guiliani, and Colin Powell. Obviously it was a full-on republican man-fest professing to be the light of the world. But I figured hell, it’s always good to see what the “other side” is up to and as Vicki described it, “it’s a combination of Disney, republicans and spirituality.” I scratched my head and new I was in for some surprises.
Upon entering the coliseum the first thing I noticed was HOW FUCKIN LOUD IT WAS! Picture this: there was a big black platform in the middle of the coliseum floor surrounded by American flags with fireworks and sparklers shooting out of the corners of the platform with nine small plasma monitors, four 25x25 suspended screens dangling above (so those of us in the bleachers could get a clear view of their faces) and four more 10 x 10 screens dangling near the ceiling (in case God didn’t have a good view.) Big brother may not have been watching us, but it was impossible not to watch him. As I approached the view, all I could hear was two wanna-be rappers on the stage in full white athletic wear beat-boxing horribly and trying to get a crowd of very white people to dance. I could barely hear myself blink, but the loud rap music made the republicans feel really, really cool and this type of hype was part of what was supposed to motivate the crowd. I found it interesting that about 3000 men wearing buzz cuts and button down shirts, and 2000 women in Laura Ashley even attempted to dance to a beat, but god love ‘em some of them pulled it off.
Then the MC came on. He wore a black suit and dark black glasses and looking ominous and ugly, but the crowd loved it. I guess there is no better get-up than looking like a secret service agent at a republican conference. He announced that they were about to hold a dance contest and proceeded to play the Beach Boys telling the audience that the best three dancers (out of 5000) would be chosen randomly and brought on stage to win a trip to Disneyland. Now, you may think this is funny, or scary, but wait there’s more! At that moment 300 beach balls painted with the American flag fell from the ceiling as they blasted “Let’s Go Surfing Now!” Yes, folks, this was high comedy. I laughed nervously wondering what would come next.
More sparklers. More fireworks. They finally chose a winner who was a guy in a white button down shirt and black jeans that danced like he was twitching or seizuring, but arguably it was the most entertaining dancing I’ve seen in a long time. Way to go twitch guy!
Then came Zig Ziglar. I have to admit I have a soft spot in my heart for a guy named Zig Ziglar and I tried to accept him with an open heart. After about 30 minutes of looking a bit lost, he spoke about the usual stuff of how you can’t be successful if you don’t have a positive image of yourself. He asked questions like, “How do you see you?” It was a quaint speech, giving details of how he is 10 of 12 children who didn’t grow up with a dad and had a mother with a 5th grade education. He went on to explain that he had a small view of himself until someone told him he could be a national champion. Supposedly this changed his life, and thus the great Zig was born. He emphasized relationship building and went on to say that relationships were by far more important than money or any corporate title. (The audience didn’t cheer at this one.) Then he made it a point to say that money was not the most important thing, “but reasonably close to oxygen.” (big cheers for that one.) Then came the god stuff. And I mean GOD. What followed was a brash religious speech about how we were created in God’s image making us powerful, but the kick was the next sentence: “evolution was a bad joke,” Zig said and asked “why would god do that?” He emphasized that since our heart beats 2 million times a day, “god would not let us come out of slime.” Zig made it a point to tell us that the Bible is the most important book ever written and that the ten commandments should be displayed in every courtroom. To top it off he said that “church and state should not be separate” to which the entire crowd cheered and wailed.
At this point I was rather dismayed to say the least. I started feeling more uncomfortable. Vicki had already left (good move Vicki) and I looked to my left and to my right as if I was some terrorist soon to be sent to Guantanmo Bay, afraid someone would find out that there was a liberal in the midst. I jumped when the man next to me tapped me on the shoulder (a totally adorable old man.) I thought he was going to ask me what I was writing (I was writing the words “help me,” over and over in my notebook.) Instead he said, “This isn’t right. I mean, I’m republican and I’m a religious man, but there is something not right about what he’s saying here." (Thank you old man whoever you are!) At least I was given a sign that I wasn’t going crazy. I hope they didn’t overhear him and shoot him on the way out.
I almost made my escape, but stayed for Tom Hopkins. If you don’t know Tom, he’s a big shot real-estate dude, and a rather fun speaker. He left the politics and religion out of it and stuck to business. Truthfully, I found it relieving. His openers were cute as he directed his speech to the business owners in the crowd, saying things like, “how many of you have had too much month at the end of your money?” and talked about great ways to answer the question, “how’s business?” when you’re under stress and business isn’t going well. He suggested saying, “Unbelievable!” Instead of telling anyone that business wasn’t great. His big message was learning how to change your attitude towards the word “no” when you are feeling rejected or feeling as if you may have failed. Personally I really liked his messages, and especially his story about trying to sell his first expensive house back in 1972 as a rookie agent. The story ended with him recalling eating a horsefly (true story) in front of the buyers out of nervousness. Gotta love a republican that eats horseflies! However, at the end of his speech he tried to sell everyone some of his products about learning how to buy and sell real-estate, and as usual, you had to sign up right away to get the unbelievable deal of $99.00 for a three day seminar. At this point hundreds of people ran to the registration tables to sign up. Truthfully if it weren’t for the crowd, I’d have considered it myself. Hopkins is a great salesman who makes you believe in him and his product. Way to go Tom.
At this point I didn’t think I could stick around any longer. My skin was bubbling and my lungs were filling up with right-wing air, so I went to the restroom and sat there contemplating going home. Just then I heard the theme song of my home town, “New York, New York.” I heard former Mayor of NYC, Rudy Gulianni, walking out to give his speech, and since I am a New Yorker afterall, I went back to my seat to listen. More fireworks, more sparklers and thus began his speech about the secret to leadership. His secret? A positive attitude. (Wow Rudy, that’s deep.) Soon into his speech he quoted Ronald Reagan and Martin Luther King Jr. all in the same breath, using them as examples of good leadership. He kept doing this, as if Ronald Reagan and Martin Luther King Jr were relatives and hung out together. I could barely stand it any longer. Then came his liberal and left wing jokes (to which the crowd soared with laughter and cheers.) He also went on to diss the United Nations and quoted the Pope as saying that "New York City was the Capital of the world." Which obviously showed us that Rudy has his head up his egotistical east coast ass.
At this point I snapped. Sure, I
was there to get motivated, and I had to admit I was damned motivated.
More motivated than ever. Motivated to never give into a system that supports negative, fear sponsoring,
wormtongue-elitist neo nazi’s, that believe in the inclusion of church and state. (Man, it felt good to write that.) It seemed their only
tactic to getting the cheers they wanted was to bash on liberals, worship money,
or claim Jesus Christ as their savior. Needless to say, I left. (pun intended)
Walking back to my car, I put my headphones on and listened to KRS1 pretending I was Neo from the Matrix and imagined that it was all an illusion. Why oh why didn’t I take the blue pill? Unbelievable!