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This is a question Training courses, seminars and conferences

Inspirational or a waste of precious slacking-off time? I once went on a buzzword bingo-laden training course which ended up with my being held at gunpoint in public. Could have gone better, to be honest. Tell us your tales from either side of the lectern

(, Thu 15 Mar 2012, 15:01)
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Motivation, motivation
Many years ago, I aspired to be a manager. I wanted to boss people around in a nice way, and earn some extra money into the bargain. Knowing of my ambition, my manager at the time deigned to reach into the firms' pockets and allow me to join him on a pilgrimage to a management seminar in London.

There were four speakers that day, with networking breaks between each. The first two were very dull. Then there was a dull lunch. Then, as is so often the case, they wheeled out a motivational speaker to keep everyone awake after the complimentary canap├ęs and wine.

I don't recall his name, only that he was a large black man. But he was electrifying. Instead of standing at the podium showing us slides, he bestrode the room like a colossus, picking on individual people to answer questions. Instead of weakly mewling his points in a monotone they were boomed out in a stunning display of oratory. It was utterly captivating. To this day I can remember the content of that speech: it was about how IT directors were underpowered and should be holding their companies to ransom to demand a seat on the board.

And after about ten minutes of it, I realised it was complete crap.

Oh, it was brilliantly delivered and entertaining to watch. But everything he came out with was just well-disguised platitudes, empty and meaningless advice that had no basis in reality, no evidence to support it and no chance of actually coming to pass however "motivated" the listeners became. This realisation just made it more amusing to watch and I was heartily looking forward to discussing it with my fellow managers and managers-to-be so we could revel in our shared critical faculties and laugh at his inane suggestions.

So we had our networking break. The room was abuzz with excited conversation. And all of it, everyone I spoke to, was holding the man up like some kind of Messiah. Like he'd just solved all the problems of IT management at a stroke. Indeed such was the entirely uncritical adulation he received, you'd have thought he'd solved third world hunger and poverty at a stroke.

I came home on the train that day profoundly depressed. I was depressed because what I'd believed in, been keen to achieve, had been uncovered as a lie. Management-types weren't especially intelligent, or super organised. They were shallow sheep who digested the tone of what they were told without listening to the content and parroted it back to one another and their employees.

My illusions were shattered. I never again chased a management job and remain to this day naught but a humble programmer. But it taught me to be proud of what I do, and to be critical of those who would seek to lord it over me. And for that, I'm thankful.
(, Wed 21 Mar 2012, 13:51, 8 replies)
So memorable a speech, you can't remember the man's name?
(, Wed 21 Mar 2012, 14:25, closed)
this was, what, eight years ago.
(, Wed 21 Mar 2012, 14:27, closed)
He was a big black man. Do they have names?
(, Wed 21 Mar 2012, 15:17, closed)
Good point
Lenny Henry?
Lennox Lewis?
Barry White?
Could be anybody
(, Wed 21 Mar 2012, 15:31, closed)
Zero content wrapped up in a flamboyant delivery?
I think he just went to a Stephen K. Amos gig.
(, Wed 21 Mar 2012, 15:45, closed)
It was Frank Bruno.

(, Wed 21 Mar 2012, 17:02, closed)

It was that dude off The Green Mile.
(, Wed 21 Mar 2012, 19:55, closed)
First thing I learnt about the world of work,
is that there's no need to dazzle people with diamonds, when you can just blind them with bullshit.
20-odd years, and several jobs later, I've yet to be shown otherwise. For that matter, nor have I ever aspired to be in management.
(, Wed 21 Mar 2012, 21:42, closed)

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