Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Motivational Lollapalooza

Colin Powell, Laura Bush, and a financial adviser with an attitude.

Posted By on Wed, Mar 30, 2011 at 10:24 AM

I went to the "Get Motivated" lollapalooza at FedExForum Monday. Sat through eight hours of speeches. These guys are good. Full house, 17,000 easy. Touches of Wrestlemania, church, infomercials, Republican national conventions, and a Michael Jackson concert. Cost me $1.95 and was worth every penny.

All the big guns showed up as advertised: Laura Bush, Colin Powell, Lou Holtz, Terry Bradshaw, and Rudy Giuliani plus Leigh Anne Touhy of The Blind Side, John Walsh of America's Most Wanted, a raunchy religious financial adviser named James Smith, former presidential candidate Steve Forbes, and more.

They each spoke for about 30 minutes from a platform in the middle of the floor, with ramped-up introductions and a burst of smoke and fireworks from the corners of the stage. At the end of the day, it felt like eating too much at a buffet.

"Have fun with what you're doing," suggested Holtz, the former football coach at Arkansas and Notre Dame.

Okey doke. Can you match the motivator with their signature line or story?

"The dollar should be as good as gold," says a) Colin Powell b) Steve Forbes c) Lou Holtz d) Rudy Giuliani.

A "turn around" became a life lesson for a) Laura Bush b) Leigh Anne Touhy c) Terry Bradshaw d) Steve Forbes.

This speaker's spouse calls the ranch "the promised land." a) Leigh Anne Touhy b) Laura Bush c) Steve Forbes d) Terry Bradshaw.

WIN equals "what's important now" is a favorite of a) Colin Powell b) Lou Holtz c) Steve Forbes d) Laura Bush.

A patriotic hot dog vendor refused payment and taught a lesson to a) Rudy Giuliani b) Colin Powell c) Steve Forbes d) Laura Bush.

Always be ready for "something frantic, terrible, and awful" says a) Steve Forbes b) Rudy Giuliani c) Terry Bradshaw d) Colin Powell.

"When you hear the word spending or stimulus, ask where the money comes from" says a) Steve Forbes b) Steve Forbes c) Steve Forbes d) Steve Forbes,

"Tom Brady is really handsome. If I ever cross over that line one time, Tom Brady is my guy," says a) Steve Forbes b) Terry Bradshaw c) Colin Powell d) Leigh Anne Touhy.

At the airport check-in, this speaker was "stripped, a dog smelled me, and a guy was wanding me like you wouldn't believe": a) Laura Bush b) Colin Powell c) Terry Bradshaw d) Steve Forbes.

The answer to each question is "b." Unless you count anything-goes James Smith, who apparently wandered over from Comedy Central.

"Close the book," he told people searching through the handout. "If you need that you're too dumb to learn anything." He made fun of people in the audience who looked "pissed off" at him, sports fans who wear team jerseys, and offered this nugget: "When you shave that skanky face of yours in the morning, you need to say, 'Dude, you're gonna rock the world today.'"

And, oh yes, you should invest in tax deeds and liens to make 17 percent a year.

The two financial guys apparently helped underwrite the event, because they pitched products from the stage and in the concourse. Otherwise there was no hard sell. I had a hard time buying Powell, the general and former secretary of state, as a regular guy, hard as he tried. Laura Bush seems like a genuinely nice person. Say what you will about Holtz, Giuliani, Bradshaw, and Forbes, they are terrific speakers.

Touhy is, if anything, even more glamorous than Sandra Bullock who played her in the hit movie. She skillfully worked the theme "get off Poplar Avenue and see what's out there and get out of your comfort zone." But she hit one off-note.

Attempting to explain her bond with her adopted African-American "son" Michael Oher, she said the giant professional football player went into a Taco Bell in Memphis and told the kid behind the counter to "put it on the manager's card, my dad's the owner." His "dad" is Sean Touhy, who owns franchises. The kid said "sure, and I'm the Queen of England," and Big Mike called his "dad" and told him to fire the kid.

This struck me as wrong on every level, especially when speaker after speaker emphasized kindness to the less fortunate. Why didn't Mike just fork over $10 cash like everyone else? If Peyton Manning or Jay Cutler did this, they'd be crucified on SportsCenter. If asking "Dad" to fire a kid making $6.50 an hour shows familial bonding, I'll take vanilla. Pro athletes should have manners. And pro speakers need editors.

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