Strange Days Indeed #JTFoxx

I recently discovered that I love speaking in front of groups, and especially love Q & A discussions where I get to share some of my knowledge, and also learn a lot from the audience.  I would like to tell lots of people about my cure for the inner critic, and also would love to do more speaking about websites and online tools for small businesses, and would love to work on my presentation presence.  I saw an ad on Facebook for a Speaker Training session that was being offered by a well known public speaker and signed up.  The promo said that they would be selecting six people from the attendees to train as speakers.  They say that success is part hard work and the rest of it is luck.  So much of our life is the result of chance.  I am still wondering about the odd collection of events that I experienced today, and if any of it will add up to anything, or just be a strange day to remember.

Due to traffic I arrived at the Airport Hotel conference room late, so did not hear the big introduction.  However, I could tell right away that this was an event with some intention of getting me to buy something.  Also, this was clearly not a local person, as there was no coffee offered, and I just can’t imagine having an event and not having coffee.  Inconceivable!

The first speaker was an interesting guy who has a beautiful wife and lovely family.  You can tell that he loves talking in front of people, and loves sharing his knowledge.  A likable person.  My impression when signing up was that we would learn various tips for speaking in public.  What I realized very quickly is that this was not about training you to speak to a little group, but was about training you to orchestrate and profit from speaking in front of thousands to make millions.  Strangely, there were only about 100 people in the room.

We watched a short dramatic video of the main speaker, a fellow by the name of #JT Foxx, posing with lots of really famous people, and then landing and stepping out of a big helicopter with the name “Trump” painted on it in huge letters.  A grumble went through the crowd.  Trying to impress a crowd from Northern California by stepping out of a Donald Trump helicopter is like trying to impress the congregation of a Southern Baptist church by waving from the back seat of David Duke’s limo.  Then with a yell over the roar of the music, JT Fox’s name was announced and he came out.  We stood up and clapped, and as we were advised, tried to seem like thousands of people instead of tens of people.  JT Foxx came out in front of the room and said,”look at this, this crowd is nothing.  This is why I am not going to do free events any more.  Last night I was speaking to 12,000 people.”  For a moment I think that he forgot we could hear him.  I also learned quickly that insulting your audience is part of a careful strategy.

The next hour or so he took turns insulting us and giving us ideas on how to make millions speaking.  He said that he once sold 18,000 books before even starting it.  A very expertly choreographed dialog with one intent, and he even said it, and that is to get us to buy his coaching series at a steep discount for $500.  Based on his numbers, and the size of the audience, I calculate that he expected to sell 10 that day.  A total of $2000.  A pittance.  This same event in Los Angeles had brought in 12,000 people.   Northern California did not welcome him and he took it personally, especially given that Silicon Valley had completely ignored him.  He clearly is an expert, and had many stories to share, and many nuggets of valuable information. He told us very frankly that women are not profitable speakers for two reasons: 1. They have limiting beliefs, and 2. They are not good sellers. Then it was time to break.

During the break I went to the bathroom, and heard someone making funny noises.  I asked if it they were o.k., and discovered that one of the attendees who was nearly a paraplegic from a muscle disease had not made it to the bathroom and had soaked herself.  She was in a crisis.  I helped her undress, and washed her pants in the sink.  Another woman who was in the bathroom washed her with paper towels.

I tried to ask the woman in charge of the #jtFoxx event to help, but she said she couldn’t.  This shocked me, as it was one of their attendees that was needing help.  She said that we would have to get the hotel to help.  A strange response indeed. I went back to the bathroom, and the other woman who was helping had gotten out the now dry woman’s pouch to get lotion and accidentally got pricked by a used hypodermic needle.  The horror of that first realization of what had happened was pretty intense.  Being pricked by a used needle can be very very bad.  Or nothing at all.  The handicapped woman was a diabetic, evidently.  We finally got help from the hotel who took the woman’s pants upstairs to dry.  I wrapped the woman’s legs in her coat because she didn’t want to miss any of the speech.  She was hoping to be one of those six chosen, and she wanted to do something for her community.  So I pushed her, half dressed and all, back into the room.  The other helper woman was on the phone with the hospital, and she had to race off to the emergency room because of the needle prick.  Another group of people came up to me and said how upset they were at the speaker, because as Christians they felt like he said terrible things and was dangerous.  I looked over at the table of colorful JT Foxx ties for sale and wondered for a moment at how there was nothing for women.  And then I left the conference early to tend to my young children.

The contrast between the world of #JTFoxx who in one room talked about the importance of being dressed for success, while his staff refused to help a handicapped attendee who had to have her soiled clothing washed by strangers while she waited in the bathroom was striking.  I reflected on what he had said, that women have limiting beliefs, and contrasted it to this brave woman who in spite of her current situation, still rejoined the meeting because of her belief in herself, that she had something valuable to say to others, and wanted to learn how to do it well. I thought of the first words of disgust that he had said to us, among us this woman, who obviously had gone to great effort to get the strength to come and hear him speak. I thought of the table of brightly colored ties, and realized that I am not his target audience, just his target consumer. He clearly stated that real value he sees is in men who are unencumbered because either they are single, or they have wives back home to take care of all of the details of life, and who can sign up for the real offering, a $25,000 coaching series, to learn how to travel the world, like he does, and leave his wife and family behind while he goes out on tour.

There is a coaching funnel that is gripping people’s imagination for making money.  I see it everywhere.  Offer something for free, sell a product for a supposedly steeply discounted price, upsell to a coaching package, and dare the crowd to be bold and sign up for a $25-$100k coaching package that will “change their lives”.  This model is all about feeding the hungry funnel, with the intention of just a few high dollar sales coming out at the bottom.  It is the coaching pyramid sales model.  It is all about feeding the funnel by dangling elusive solutions just behind the next $5000.

So much was said about how you need to get to know your audience.  Coffee and helping us in this very real crisis would have been a great way to start. And perhaps just one of those ties could have been a scarf.

Wendy Louise Nog, MSTM, Founder, Future Bright Interactive

Wendy Louise Nog, MSTM, Founder, Future Bright Interactive