There are a number of folks who make a very comfortable living on the motivational speaker circuit. Some you may have heard of. Think Tony Robbins. Eckhart Tolle. Zig Ziglar (he’s no longer so motivating). There are several celebrities who also parade their celebrity around the nation commanding fees in excess of $200,000 for a 45-minute speech. Plus air, hotel, transportation, meals, and other expensive expenses.
At least we’ve heard of these folks. There’s nothing like a little celebrity to fire up a crowd.
But then there are a number of folks who have never done much else than make a very comfortable living on the motivational speaker circuit. This Brian Tracy dude came up on my radar the other day. I had no idea who this bro with two first names was, so I Googled him. Of course, his website brags about some rags-to-riches story, seventy-some motivational books, and the fact that you can hire him to motivate you and your minions for about $20,000. There wasn’t much else on this bro that offered any verifiable information. A smattering of silliness published in a few business magazines desperate for easy filler articles, but that was about it. I was left wondering, who the fuck is Brian Tracy, and why would anyone pay him to speak about anything?
Look, I’ve said there are two types of people in this world – those who can be easily hypnotized, and those who cannot. Apparently, the former has no prob paying $20,000 to Brian Tracy to utter a few well-rehearsed and well-worn words of encouragement. Me? I’d be like – no.
Then I thought about it. Why couldn’t I become a motivational speaker? I’ve written fourteen books and been quoted in three or four national magazines. I’ve even had three feature articles written about me in my local newspaper. I’m on the radio every week, people love my YouTube channel, and millions of people have heard my voice on television and in the movies. So why couldn’t I be the next big thing on the motivational circuit?
Reality smacked me down. It’s because I can’t lie like that. I can’t brag that I have all the answers to fostering blind loyalty and endless productivity, because no one does. I can’t tell people how to create great leaders, because no one can. Way too many variables. I can’t teach employers how to increase performance, because they probably can’t afford to (especially after paying me someone’s annual salary for a 45-minute speech). Plus, I haven’t parted the Red Sea. Yet. I have a feeling I’d be the Debbie Downer of motivational speakers. No one wants to hear the truth – no matter how good you are at coloring it.
Motivational speakers are merely entertainers in a nation that unfortunately values celebrity over everything else. Do they motivate? Some people, I suppose. Although in my long career, I’ve learned motivation is very temporary. Is it worth $20,000 or more to temporarily motivate a group of people? I have to imagine it’s a pretty shitty ROI for a CEO photo op. I challenge you to prove me wrong.