Digging Colin Powell up close and personal at the Times Union Center

Colin Powell

Colin Powell

I’ve reached another blogging milestone – 3,000 hits since I started this site on May lst.* When I saw that nice round number under the Site Visits on my sidebar, I experienced an adrenaline rush – talk about motivation! 

Not so coincidentally, today’s post is about motivation – particularly the GET MOTIVATED! seminar I attended yesterday in Albany. Yes, the very same seminar that dominated the news by causing the most massive traffic jam seen around these parts in many a year. I signed up over a month ago, suckered in by the barrage of ads hyping an A List of speakers including Colin Powell and Rudy Giuliani. I’ve loathed Giuliani ever since he was responsible for tearing down my daughter’s squat on the Lower East Side in the last years of the old Millennium. But despite my leftist political proclivities, I’ve always kind of dug Colin, so I looked forward to hearing him live at the Times Union Center. 

My daughter and I sat through hours of motivational speakers before Colin came on at 2:40 p.m. At 72 years of age, he’s still a really cool guy – he ran up the steps to the stage like someone half his age. What did he have to say? Like the compulsive student I’ve always been, I took diligent notes. Here’s some of what he said about “Take-Charge Leadership”:

 Know your purpose and be passionate and intense about inspiring it in others.

Take care of your followers and give them the tools they need. (For example, when he became Secretary of State, he was appalled at all the old computers, so he ordered  thousands of new ones immediately).

Reward your troops with promotions and money but more importantly, with praise and acknowledgment (he used to send hundreds of hand-written notes of praise). Be empathetic.

Discipline your followers when needed – don’t always try to be the nice guy. Fire them as needed.


He was a warm, witty and entertaining speaker. What he misses most about being Secretary of State is having his own 757 jet, the one Hillary has now. As a private citizen, he’s been wanded and searched, even sniffed by a huge dog, at Reagan International Airport. They knew who he was, addressed him as General, but felt they had to do their duty. “I didn’t mind,” he said. “I knew why they did it, because I helped put those procedures in place after 9-11.”

Giuliani, on the other hand, was weirdly robotic, and his attempts at warmth and wit lacked authenticity, at least to me. When he said “Communication is mostly about loving and caring about people,” I thought of the wife he’d left in the lurch for a younger woman, and I had trouble buying it. But it had been a long day by then – he was the final headliner, and many folks were wandering out in hopes of avoiding another two-hour traffic fiasco.

 Still, it was fun seeing him and Colin up close and personal. I’d sprung for the $29 VIP seats for myself and my daughter, and we were in the sixth row. Much closer – and cheaper – than any seats I’ve had at the TU Center in the past. I’ve seen lots of shows there** – the Rolling Stones, Billy Joel and Elton John, the Eagles, Simon & Garfunkel, James Taylor, Keith Urban, Toby Keith, Brooks & Dunn and on and on – and this show had some of the same pizzazz. There were even fireworks and confetti floating down from the ceiling.

 Want to hear more about the Get Motivated! seminar? Let me know – I may post more about it on Friday. Then again, something else may catch my fancy in the meantime.

 *Technically, I started this blog site in January of this year, but I only posted twice, briefly, and got six visits, so that hardly counts.

** The place was called the Pepsi Arena then. I prefer the new name,  and Coke.

***My friend Marilyn Rothstein (writing as M.E. Kemp) is posting all this week on Linda Suzane’s site, On Wings of Murder. Marilyn writes wonderfully bawdy historical novels about the Dutch settlers in New York State. This is her first venture into blogging, so I encourage you to visit the site and leave comments. I’ll be welcoming her as a guest blogger here in the near future.

10 thoughts on “Digging Colin Powell up close and personal at the Times Union Center

    • Hi Alexis – sorry I didn’t see her! (smile – I’ve never met her). In fact I didn’t see anyone I knew – with the exception of one couple from my UU church who were projected on the gigantic screens during an audience reaction shot. I haven’t told them yet.

  1. Just can’t get excited about politicians and politically connected guys as motivators. I do love some motivational speakers though. Folks like Suze Orman, for instance, are fun and entertaining.

    • Suze Orman’s one of this organization’s frequent speakers as well. They’re pretty heavy on financial advice. Irrelevant to me, since I don’t have $$$ to play around with.

    • I agree, Elizabeth – except when he caved and defended Bush’s policies when he should have known better.

    • I’d recommend it – but be careful not to let them sign you up for stuff you don’t want! All in all, a good day of entertainment.

  2. OK, I did not go to this, but I’ve met Rudy, who has a very dark view of humanity, and a few generals, who all had strong, outgoing personalities, but officers who had to report to them were all scared of them.

    Basically, the whole approach is to see life as endless conflict, which is probably why Get Motivated! has had so many sports figures in the past as keynotes and had a former prosecutor and a former general this time. These guys take advantage of our innate human capacity for cooperation, but to what end? It’s all about triumphing over the other guys. Sports, military, and the law are all highly confrontational, adversarial arenas, where it’s all about winners and losers. But it does not have to be that way.

    I prefer visions of social interaction that seek out harmony, integration, beauty and cooperation for the common good rather than just the individual or the team.

    Imagine what a justice system would look like that was not adversarial!

  3. Good points, Robb. But the overall tone of these speakers wasn’t adversarial or competitive – it was more about seeing the positive and creating win-win situations. Nothing startlingly original, but a good day of entertainment, which was what I signed up for.

    I still don’t know much about this organization. You can read more about them at http://www.getmotivated.com. They’ve been giving motivational seminars for 25 years, and the workbook/program I got yesterday lists an impressive array of past speakers, including Presidents Carter, Bush (the first), Clinton, Ford and Reagan. But I can’t understand how they can afford to present all these speakers and charge only $4.95 per person. Those guys charge big bucks for speaking engagements!

    From the advance publicity, I expected something possibly right-wing and/or heavily Christian, but it was neither. Tamara Lowe, who founded Get Motivated! with her husband Peter Lowe, included quite a lot of God talk in her segment. Example: “Don’t worry what other people think about you. Only two opinions matter – yours and God’s.” But that stuff received a rather tepid reception (Yay, Albany!) She was the exception, though.

    I was also braced for a hard sell – something about future training, the potential for enlightenment, etc. – but there was none of that either. True, they did promote some books and future seminars, but they were low-key about it and in no way obnoxious. So I still don’t understand how they make their money or book their speakers. If I find out, I’ll post it here.

    Full disclosure: I got hooked into signing up for a future seminar on internet marketing, but it’s only $29.95, including lunch – and I can bring a guest.

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