What I Learned About Success By Attending A Motivational Seminar

Yep, it’s a cult.

I’ll admit it. I’m one of those “self-help” people. I love consuming motivational tapes and books. Tony Robbins, Zig Ziglar, Gary V — all of ‘em.

So when I got the chance to see Les Brown in the flesh, I didn’t pass it up. The Get Motivated! Seminar made its way to Washington, D.C., and I was about to get my first taste of what a motivational seminar was like.

Just ten minutes in (Maybe less), and I got the uncomfortable feeling that I’d just joined a cult. “Say yes!” each speaker would yell out repeatedly. My uneasiness was compounded by the sinking realization that this was nothing more than a sales pitch.

This tweet sums it up perfectly:

Pass The Plate Around

As the show progressed, so did the religious overtones. The proclamations of “ask Jesus for forgiveness” and “say it with me, hallelujah!” came into the picture when the CEO of the seminar took the stage. In between the incantations, he took time to let everyone know they should visit the website on the projection screen and apply for a business loan. How generous…

The metaphorical offering plate only got worse from there. “Run to the back of the room now to claim your spot for the unbelievable price of just ninety-nine dollars! (originally $1500!) You want to transform your life, ya sap, don’t you?”

Saving Grace

It wasn’t until Robert Herjavec of Shark Tank fame and world-renowned speaker Les Brown took the stage that I started to feel a sense of relief. They both had inspiring, powerful messages that shook me to my core. I hung on every word, recording each gem onto the notes app of my phone.

As each gave their talk, I started to see commonalities in their approach to success, despite their styles being very, very different. I’ve compiled their advice and stand out quotes below, along with a summary of skill sets and principles that both have in common.

Robert Herjavec’s Advice And Quotes On Success

Robert Herjavec giving his strategy for success

Keys To Success:

1. Belief- You must have a strong WHY. You have to have something bigger than yourself, bigger than just “making money.” Know that what you are doing is hard, but doable.

2. Action — You have to show up every day. Successful people show up every day no matter what. Showing up= discipline + habit.

3. Results — Successful people get results. You need to measure everything you do and put time limits on your goals. Without results, you are wasting your time.

Noteworthy Quotes:

  • “The difference between belief and achievement is showing up.”
  • “The world doesn’t care what you do as long as you bring value.”
  • “ If you can’t pay the rent, then you don’t have the right to dream.”
  • “You can start all over again. Nobody cares. Write a new book of your life if you want to.”
  • “Acquire specialized knowledge. Know something that other people are willing to pay for and be the best at it.”

Les Brown’s Advice And Quotes On Success

Les Brown, the world’s greatest motivational speaker.

Keys To Success:

1. Find A Mentor — Find someone who’s skilled in what you want to do and follow their advice.

2. Program Your Mind — Read inspirational material every single morning. Make a commitment, don’t worry about how it will happen.

3. Surround Yourself With Winners — Surround yourself with winners and you’ll start winning, too.

4. Be Hungry- Be relentless, risk everything to win.

5. Provide Value- Provide more service than you are paid for. Give before you ask.

Noteworthy Quotes:

  • “Your earnings are a reflection of your beliefs of what’s possible.”
  • “Fail your way to success.”
  • “Take no prisoners and eat the wounded.”
  • “Live full, die empty.”
  • “Do the hard work. Hard work makes an easy life.”
  • “You are not defined by your past.”
  • “Take a notecard out every morning. On the front, write out your dream. On the back, write out Matthew 7:7. Read it out loud three times a day.”
  • “Program your mind. We’ve been programmed to fail.”
  • “You have greatness in you!”
  • “Train yourself to speak and present yourself.”

Summary Of Skill Sets and Principles That Robert And Les Share.

1) Storytelling

Les Brown and Robert Herjavec are master storytellers. Robert Herjavec started off his talk with a story about his childhood in a communist country and how his family came to America with nothing. Les Brown told the story of being raised by a single mother and being told he would never amount to much. Their stories pulled me in and made me care about what they had to say. Successful people are skilled storytellers and are able to sell their ideas to others because of this.

2) They Show Up

When pursuing his dream to become a DJ, Les Brown approached the CEO of the radio station multiple times despite hearing “no” each time. He showed up despite failure rejection. Successful people show up day after day no matter what. They risk everything to win.

3) Mastery

Successful people practice their craft until they master it. They are constantly learning and improving.

4) Public Speaking

Robert Herjavec and Les Brown are elite speakers. The most successful people are able to present themselves to the world in a way that influences others. Public speaking is a vital skill.

5) The Art of Perspective

When encountering setbacks, successful people are able to reframe the problem in a way that empowers them. They find a way to win. If something doesn’t work, they readjust their strategy. Les Brown says, “Take another look.”

Les Brown shared a heartwrenching story about his son being told by a doctor that he would never be able to eat or swallow on his own. Refusing to give up on his son, Les Brown was able to find specialists who, despite what the doctor said, were able to find a way to heal his son. Les took another look and refused to fail.

6) They Don’t Let The Past Define Them

Successful people reinvent themselves. If they don’t like the story they have created, they create a new one.

7) They Are Driven By Something Bigger Than Themselves

Les Brown wanted to be a success so he could buy his mother a house and take care of her. Robert Herjavec says that if he wasn’t successful, then his families sacrifices — their very lives — would mean nothing. They start with a powerful WHY.

Don’t Let Your Dreams Become Ghosts

Despite enduring the morass of salesmanship and get rich quick schemes, I really enjoyed the seminar. Robert and Les were worth the price of admission.

The most important lesson I took away from the whole thing happened at the end.

Les Brown started talking about death. He asked, “If you died today, what dreams would die with you?”

He went on, “Imagine being on your deathbed and seeing your dreams in the form of ghosts. They cry out to you, ‘why didn’t you make us real? Why didn’t you bring us to life?’”

It was a somber moment. The auditorium was silent.

Les ended the talk by saying, “Live full, die empty.”

It’s worth repeating: Live Full. Die Empty.

Am I motivated? You better believe it.