So, now that I have given you a rough guide to why Wolfe is not such a bad guy after all, (see previous posts) I would now like to go into the problems of the methodology of American motivational speaking.
Strong elements from the past also render it extremely weak for the following broad reasons:
Plain English – motivational speaking is popular because of the homely tenor of delivery – speakers such as Earl Shoaff were poorly educated guys who took to network marketing to earn some extra buttons in the early part of their life. Jim Rohn himself was basically a sales trainer for Herbalife in the latter part of his career. I cannot imagine the level of worship that he enjoyed being replicated in Europe, for a number of very good cultural reasons. Whilst I have no problem with imaginative and non-patronising explanations for things – I once used doughnuts to explain the main theories in social philosophy, for example, sticking with a formula which worked sixty years ago is extremely limiting. I watched Wolfe in the early part of his career becoming extremely frustrated with the apathy he was confronted with as he tried to grow various early versions of his model. (kudos to Wolfe for leaving this material online for me to gawk at) Since then, he has found other ways around the problem. Suffice to say, the world has changed considerably since the Dale Carnegie/Earl Shoaff golden era of smartly dressed and respectful audiences writing down every word their chosen guru says. Today’s audience is more focused on education and a level of information provision that Shoaff and Rohn simply did not have to worry about. So, the answer here is to develop a more advanced methodology which includes a little tragedy with the optimism and present a more balanced and believable picture than in the past.
The rich are too rich – One of the more interesting features of Rohn, in this case, is that he does not bother to present himself as a particularly nice person, the grin that does not reach his cold dead eyes is particularly marked. His assertion that we should wish to leave the 90/95/97 percent behind simply does not suit modern thinking – economically speaking, people are now well aware that having a tiny percentage of extremely rich people at the expense of everyone else is not a feature of a healthy society. So, rather than a ‘forget the negatives and affirm yourself to wealth’ approach, today’s speakers would be well advised to shoot for an informative way to implore the audience to collectively raise their personal bar of achievement. I had a look at The Secret a few years back, and it was so despicable in its approach that I was unable to continue with it. Reality check – people are starving to death and we all hate banks – social capital is the future, not leaving people behind to die whilst we roll about in our money. Interestingly, economic anthropology shows that we are thinking more consciously about others in the west as our countries are richer – third world experiments show a far more dog-eat-dog mentality. So, unless you plan to market to a developing nation – try to show some sign of ethical values.
Plagiarism – keeping a journal of things to make you richer is a very bad idea unless you plan to reference everything extremely carefully. It is considered to be acceptable in oratory, because obviously it is impossible to reference every line you say in the course of delivering information. It is, however, relatively simple to paraphrase, and equally easy to mention the source of your great ideas. Rohn’s premise of journal keeping, and using anecdotal material to get your point across is just not going to cut it for the future. Instead, it is again quite easy to pepper your material with useful or otherwise stimulating information and heartfelt goodwill to your fellow humans.
The pyramid must die – This is a personal observation – it is time to kill the pyramid – the one percent sit at the top of it. There are other formulations, from the time of the Medici, which I am able to go into, but will save this for a different post or possibly book. If you are employing or being told to employ your affirmations or motivational techniques as part of a sales scheme in which you are on the lower ranks of yet another layered network, just get out of it and find some ideas of your own. You are not onto a winner in the vast majority of cases.
Stop hitching your wagon to other people – I have witnessed life coaches and motivational speakers alike who speak in almost religious terms about their inspiration. I think I have demonstrated from my non-relationship with Wolfe that it is entirely unnecessary to worship your inspiration. It is entirely possible to see people for what they are, admire them for the good bits, and kick them in the ass for the bad. It is called, amusingly, being objective. Objective objectification, in my case, presumably, given my ongoing project. I do this mainly because I want him to get what he wants from his life, but this does not mean that I have any responsibility for his success or failure, that is entirely up to him. My direction is parallel, rather being on the same wagon trail. The point is that there is no answer – you should be shooting for your own path, not dragging your heels on someone else’s. Which brings me on to my final point for this evening –
Original Material – despite the many problems I would love to get my teeth into, (alas I am not a 22 year old beach bunny) Wolfe’s use of whimsy kept me listening to him for several weeks before I realised why it sounded so familiar, and yet so odd. His timing is impeccable, just when you are thinking you have heard enough about premium spirulina, along comes some random wildness that shocks you back into your chair. Whilst this is to be applauded, it is important to self-generate something that is completely your own. You need to wallow happily in your own filth, to a certain extent, to be producing something that you are so comfortable with that you own your topic, whether you are writing, or speaking. Being confident is not about following a model, it is about making use of a model for your own purposes. It is imperative that any keen audience get some sense of acceptance. Bringing a sense of dignity to your audience whilst raising their consciousness may seem like a return to an evangelical approach, but it is perfectly possible to instill pride, and make use of it, in an audience which has been lulled into defeat by an increasingly oppressive meritocratic approach. This does not mean that you start every speech with tales of poverty and anecdotes of failure, as used by Zig Ziglar, but it does mean that you remove the barriers from an increasingly cynical and browbeaten public.