I once spent several hundred dollars on one of those seminars where you listen to someone who is wildly successful in every aspect of life share the secrets of their success. At the time, I was floundering a bit and it was either that or get drunk. Getting drunk would have been way cheaper, unless of course, said drunkenness had led to an arrest of some kind, which is entirely possible I suppose.
Anyway, I’d heard about this thing through a friend of mine who swore it had been a powerful experience that had changed her life forever. So I ponied up my credit card information and enrolled in the Basic seminar. You have to complete the Basic course before you can sign up for any of the really expensive advanced courses.
Those are where you get to do stuff like jump blindfolded from tall edifices into the safety net of a supportive community of uber-successful people who will give you their personal phone numbers at the end of the seminar. You can also weep freely during personal discovery exercises that make you realize the many ways that you’ve been holding yourself back in life, like not getting these numbers sooner. I like to call these kinds of seminars “extreme networking”.
What I remember most about the seminar was an exercise that divided us into teams and gave us rules to succeed in earning more points than the other teams. The upshot was that the rules didn’t prohibit teams from sharing information for mutual benefit. It took a ridiculous amount of time for the teams to figure that out. It showed how everyone’s a winner when they work together. We also did some guided mediations into the deepest dungeons of our minds and took turns describing what we found there with our eyes closed. Some people cried.
The facilitator was pretty smooth and presented himself as the epitome of success, dropping vague references to private planes and private schools for his children. He definitely dressed the part. I think he could tell that I’d be a tough nut to crack, because during a particularly daring display of “reading” his audience correctly, he looked at me and said “some of you feel so unworthy that you even count the number of squares of toilet paper you allow yourself to use”.
He pretty much lost credibility with me with that, since although my grandmother, who lived through the depression, tried to limit our number of squares to three, I always used as many as I wanted. After that, I really started noticing all the upselling, right in the middle of what were supposed to be powerful emotional experiences. They were so obvious that I began timing them, and sure enough, he’d been instructed to insert an upsell statement every 15 minutes.
The best part of it for me ended up being the ceremony on the last night where we were blind-folded, and when we took them off, the friend who told us about the seminar was standing in front of us with a bouquet of flowers. Surprise! Here’s a link to information about this seminar. I guess a lot of people have found them life-changing. I didn’t, but it was still better than getting drunk.