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Staying on the Funny Side…of Motivational Speakers

11 Mar Posted by in Business | 3 comments

I was getting my business cards printed and I had a little extra room left on my business card beside “comedian” so I added “motivational speaker.” Wahoo! I’m a motivational speaker now! Not the kind of motivational speaker like my Aunt Ethel who motivates you to take a stick to the eye just to get out of a conversation with her. I’m a professional motivational speaker. I’m not exactly sure what I motivate people to do, but, hey, it doesn’t matter – most of them don’t have a clue either!

Seriously, it’s really easy – you can be one too! I’m trying to talk my cousin Charlie into being one ’cause he can’t hear out of his left ear and has been caught on fire twice, and everybody knows the worse off you are, the more successful a motivational speaker you’ll be. He says if he can lose another toe at his landscaping job it would look better on is resumé. My cousin, Pearl, was just crowned Queen of Dinkins Bottom (it’s a place, not a body part) and winning a pageant will shoot you straight to the top of the motivational speaker chain.

Have you noticed that nobody ever wants to be a motivational speaker as a kid? You don’t dress up as one for Halloween – there’s no degree in motivating others where you go to class and cheer each other up. It’s the career you take on when you fail at everything else, which just makes me perfect for the job. It’s all those failures that make for good touching stories. Or, if you’re like me, you just have some room left on that business card.

So, of course, I had to start hanging around motivational speakers – to learn how to talk shop – speak their lingo – use words like “realize your potential”- “remove emotional barriers” – learn things like how to break a board with your hand and tell stories about lighthouses and starfish. But let me tell you, hanging around them isn’t easy. They’re so dog gone positive all the time. Try to complain and they start cheering at you and giving you an acronym that will improve your life and can be repeated in the shower. I can only hang out with them for so long before I’ve had enough and need a little balance, so I hang out with the support groups the rest of the time. There’s something about hearing Jane Doe tell me she’s addicted to sex with short bald men from Topeka and has a basement full of liquid eyeliner – and I just feel better.

Motivational speakers are like therapists – they just do it on stage in front of hundreds of other people. I could never be a therapist – sitting there, listening to some poor woman sobbing about her husband leaving her for the girl who makes shakes at the Dairy Queen, her dog getting run over by the street cleaner, and how her mother never loved her during puberty, and I can’t be supportive. I’m like, “Oh, man, it sucks to be you. Here’s some pills. Take ‘em all!”

That’s the hard thing. You’ve got to go into groups filled with people whose lives have been a whole lot harder than yours and tell them everything’s great! Seriously, I got a call from this lady said she was with the Society for Homeless and Wounded Veterans Who’d Lost Families and were Battling Diseases. Said she wanted me to come in and make ‘em feel good. And I’ve got to come in and give them a heart-wrenching story about the time we had to fire our gardener and didn’t have a clear view of the pool for a week.

And if you’re having a bad day – forget it – the show must go on. Trust me, they do not like it when you have an emotional break down on stage and tell them your boyfriend just left you to become a cross-dressing circus clown for the county fair and who’s gonna pay for the new above-ground pool with the underwater Strobe lights? And the competition is fierce! I lost my last job to a deaf lady with no limbs who paints pictures of dogs with her tongue. I can’t compete with that.

Yeah, it’s too hard. I don’t think I want to be a motivational speaker anymore. It’s too depressing. I’m taking it off my card. I think I’ll be a life coach instead. I heard anybody can do it.

(Gotta run – a motivational speaker friend of mine just called to have me bail him out of jail for hitting a flight attendant, and he has nowhere to go since he got evicted, and he can’t drive without a license, and could we please not go on any streets that pass a school, and could I take him to his therapist appointment on Thursday?)

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  1. Cheri Britton03-11-10

    Kelly,
    OMG. Have you nailed it or what!?! Finally some one who understands the plight and perils of the non-crippled, mildly-well adjusted, reasonably-financially secure, some-what loved motivational speaker. It is so hard for us to catch a break. :-)

    Cheri Britton

  2. Lara03-12-10

    Hysterical. I’m motivated, sister-friend.

  3. Meridith Elliott Powell03-12-10

    Kelly.. you are so funny…. life is soooo hard.. no view of the pool how did you make it.. reminds me of my own story (every motivational speaker has a story) when the maid didn’t show up because her daughter was in the hospital, and I missed my tee time! It was right after that I knew I had what it takes to truly motivate others!!

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