“The message from a motivational speaker is like Chinese food – after an hour, you’ve lost your inspiration. But my futurist insight will excite your imagination for a lifetime!” – Futurist Jim Carroll
I actually use this storyline on stage – in this particular case, I’m speaking in New York City at the annual partner conference for one of the world’s largest law firms.
They didn’t want an inspirational ‘go-conquer-the-world’ message – they needed detailed insight on trends impacting their global clients, and what that might mean in terms of future legal & risk issues.
They didn’t need motivation – they needed insight!
One of the most challenging things for me is when people ask me what I do for a living.
“I’m a speaker” I explain.
“Oh, a motivational speaker?”
I then try to delicately explain what it is a futurist does…..
I’m not disparaging the need for a motivational message – being inspired each & every day is a critical part of how people move forward in a complex world. Heck, here I am with my morning coffee putting together this ‘daily inspirational quote.’
But having said that, over a 25-year time span I’ve been to a lot of conferences & have seen a LOT of motivational speakers. Some are great – but some carry the same, tired, canned message. It’s warmed over, repurposed, the same old.
The best motivational speakers are those who build into their inspirational message useful, critical leadership and strategic insight.
This brings me to my good friend Scott Kress – a fellow Canadian who has summited Everest, conquered the ‘7 Summits,’ and the only guy I have ever had to call to tell him that his ski chalet was burning down! (True story.)
Scott somehow manages to combine his message of daring mountaineering with an inspirational storyline and spin into it actually useful messages on team building, leadership strategies, forward-oriented planning and so much more.
His book, “Learning In Thin Air,” would stand on its own as a leadership tome even without the fascinating (and scary) stories on his expeditions.
Like my wife and I, Scott and his wife Susan Bentzen-Bilkvist have been working in a home office forever. Scott does his work on the mountain and on the stage – and like my own wife Christa, his remarkable wife keeps things organized, manages the complexity, and somehow keeps his busy mind and active planning for his next adventure at some sort of realistic level.