Twenty years from now,
so throw off the bow line,
sail away from the safe harbor,
catch the trade winds in your sails.
Explore. Dream. Discover.
Because that what life is about.
I love quotes. When I saw this one on Thursday, I thought I would use it to encourage other people to follow their dreams, whether that dream was a starting a career in voice-over, learning to speak French, adopting a dog, visiting a foreign country or bungee-jumping off a bridge. We all have special gifts, talents and skills. No one sees the world the same way, and we’re all here for a purpose.
I think part of my purpose is to help people.
On Thursday, though, I was just thinking about my voice-over business and, more particularly, my web site. Thursday is the day that Drew and I attended an internet marketing seminar. The seminar was more of a pressured sales pitch than we thought it would be.
Mark Twain’s quote was used in the introduction to get people thinking about the kind of lifestyle they would lead if they were free of financial worry, which, according to StoresOnline.com, the presenting company, they obviously could be if they would start marketing products on the Internet today. I doubt Mark Twain ever meant that he thought people should part with their hard-earned money at 18% interest in order to buy a company’s package of 6 web sites!
We knew before we went that StoresOnline would be hawking its products, but we also knew that we weren’t going to buy anything. We only went so we could pick up tips from the panel of 11 internet marketing experts who were supposed to speak with us but never did as a group. (We later learned their role was meet with us individually to sell us the web site package.) In other words, we were going to help ourselves. I now see that I missed a huge opportunity to help other people, and I regret that I didn’t take it.
Since we weren’t going to buy anything, we didn’t do any research on StoresOnline prior to attending the event. We didn’t know that the company keeps changing its name, has been sued countless times around the world due to its shady business practices and has been the subject of TV investigative reports.
However, we did know while we were sitting there that:
- The first hour was a complete waste of time as StoresOnline got right into their sales pitch. I told Drew we were burning daylight, and we would leave if they didn’t provide some real content soon.
- We were uncomfortably cold; the temperature became noticeably colder — to the point of being frigid — when the supposed current client began speaking. They couldn’t risk anyone falling asleep! I did tell one of the “consultants” that I was aware of their little ploy to drop the temperature, and there was no reason it had to be 60 degrees. He denied it was in their control.
- No breaks were given.
- The “training” was not organized like a true class with objectives, summaries and time for questions. They would not entertain any questions during the presentations!
- The constant push for 6 web sites was extremely odd. It’s enough work to get one site up and running and fully optimized before you tackle a second one. SIX?
- We’re getting far better monthly web hosting prices than the special workshop price that we were quoted.
- If someone orders a product from a web site and has a problem, they will go back to the web site for resolution. They don’t expect to work with a third-party like the actual supplier (drop-shipper) directly.
- Companies who have special today-only offers and finance people ready to show how you can take advantage of those incredible offers are only there to take your money.
- If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!
I saw people filling out their finance forms, and I heard the credit card machine. I don’t know how much of that activity was from audience shills who were paid from the company to make it appear to real participants like people were eagerly signing up for these offers. From looking at the crowd, we observed that many people seemed to be in the 50-65 age range, while others seemed to have physical issues that would make at-home incomes very enticing.
As a voice-over artist, my profession is based on giving a voice to people who either can’t or won’t speak for themselves. Someone provides their words to me in the form of a script, but I always have to bring out the author’s meaning to the intended audience. During my years in corporate America, I would speak up when no one else would. My gift is my voice, and I regret that it was quiet during this seminar.
At one point early in the day, we did have a little interaction with the table behind us, and I could have said something to those people to not sign anything that day and certainly not to enter any financing agreement. I could have talked to women in the restroom or to anyone in the corridors at lunch. I could have pretended to get coffee (I don’t drink it) and whispered to the people at the coffee pot that this offer was a rip-off and not to buy anything. I could have passed a paper down my table like in high school with the note that no one needs to start with 6 web sites.
We were seated at the very front and center of the room. As the speaker took a breath and moved to the front of the room (he was standing right next to me 90% of the time), I could have stood up and announced to everyone there, “6400 dollars for six web sites? Are you CRAZY?” I’ve certainly got the voice to carry in a large room without a microphone. I could have done it, and we could have walked out. I wonder how many people would have followed us.
I could have done any one or all of these things. I did nothing except listen for information that could help me increase traffic to my own web site, have a nice lunch and skip out early to beat the traffic home. It was all about me that day, but it shouldn’t have been. I have discovered that any time I can be of service to others without any expectation of reward is when the reward is greatest. This episode at the seminar is a good reminder of that fact.
One refined and snappily-dressed lady who works in commercial real estate walked over and talked to Drew and me at lunch. She was proud of her new web site, and fortunately, she started telling US that the seminar prices were too high! Maybe she was trying to look out for us just as I should have looked out for others.
While I missed the opportunity to help others in person, I am posting this entry because I hope that my words will help someone in the future. In the event that I have the chance to attend such a presentation again, I can assure you that I will research the company ahead of time. I will utilize the gift of my voice and network with participants so that they can make informed decisions.