I’m in sunny and warm Phoenix, Arizona for the Maximizing Success Conference (March 23rd – 27th) organized by Debbie Allen and Patricia Drain. Given the long flight I decided to come in a day early and rest up for the conference.
Since Phoenix ins’t known for its sophisticated public transit system and I have several meetings lined up in different surrounding cities, I decide to rent a car. Of course it has to have a sun roof. At first, I was hesitant to take the Toyota. However, the clerk assured me that the Avalon is a good car and I wouldn’t be disappointed.
Boy, was he right or what? Turns out the Avalon has the same type of manual-automatic transmission as Mercedes. Something that I’ve always enjoyed. And the engine is a lot more powerful than I thought.
My first meeting is with a radio station in Glendale a picturesque community that seems to be in transition towards enlightenment. Their are plenty of new civic buildings, beautifully designed to highlight the Arizona climate and architecture. Cactii plants are found everywhere and in the middle of town you can eat a fresh orange off of an orange tree, if you’re willing to climb higher than the public can reach that is. Hmmmm…fresh tree ripened oranges.
The conference begins early in the morning with keynote speaker Jack Canfield, author of Chicken Soup For The Soul and part owner of the whole Chicken Soup For The Sould organization.
Armand Morin, a speaker I respect gives us an update on the state of internet opportunities. The reason Armand I respect Armand is because he is genuine and doesn’t judge or exagerate…something that many speakers seem to find necessary.
Another speaker is there telling the audience that real estate is the way to may your fortune and is selling a program for several thousand dollars. “Why invest in risky things like the stock market when you can have secure real estate?”, he asks the audience. Perhaps someone should explain to him what happened in 1989/1990 when real estate in many North American cities dropped in value by as much as 60% within the year. This isn’t the first time real estate has dropped in price. In my lifetime alone it’s the fourth time it’s happened. The history books show us that it’s been happening in North America since the early 1800’s. It’s part of the business cycle. Of course if he mentioned that to the audience, they wouldn’t buy his system would they?
Then a woman comes on stage. I’ve seen her type before, she’s worked on her image (despite her heftiness) and knows how to build perception of success and credibility with the audience. She claims to be able to create millionaires within 3-5 years. Do I believe her? – No! Her story just doesn’t wash with me. If she has the secret to making millions, then why is she trying to sell people programs for tens of thousands of dollars? Perhaps that is her secret, getting rich by selling others into her program. So how about showing us that you can do it for yourself first?
I was very tempted to pull her aside after her presentation, but aside from not being able to get past the fanatic women lined up to receive her blessing, I thought what if this is her only hope. What if this is all she has going for her and I burst her bubble?
I realize that there are a lot of people out there that need a genuine mentor that will guide them to success. Someone who has succeeded in both the corporate world and the entrepreneurial world, not because of lack of choice, but by choice. For now, I’m committed to finishing my book – Perhaps next year.
The highlight of the conference is the dinner with Stedman Graham (Oprah Winfrey’s mate). He is a lot more entertaining that I thought. Afterwards, I get him to autograph his book for me. He even agrees to have a look at my book when I finish the final draft.
Next day, I get food poisoning. Let me tell you, if you’re ever in Phoenix be very careful with the food. I don’t find the kitchen staff there as hygenic as they are in Toronto. I spend the whole day in my room suffering the consequences of a meal prepared by the Marriott Phoenix Airport kitchen staff. The hotel is nicely designed, but I didn’t find the staff all that competent. During one of the evenings I waited over 15 minutes at the bar for a beer. Apparently, the bartender wasn’t expecting the rust of 5 patrons and seemed disoriented.
Fortunately, I’m somewhat functional on the second day and get to meet some interesting entrepreneurs from different parts of the world. You never know who you’re going to meet and what will come of it. Some of the people I meet are fuel for creating characters in my books. Others are inspirations for business ideas. And some people are gateways to business opportunities.
Outside the conference, one thing I notice is that the locals in Arizona are very, very patriotic. Another observation is that the local community is split into two key segments; the American citizens and the Hispanics (split between citizens, landed residents and illegal aliens). In case you’re in Phoenix and aren’t able to distinquish the Hispanics by their physical characteristics, here’s a clue – they’re the one’s waiting at the bus stops. What I mean by this is that there seems to be a great economic inequality between the white, established American population and the HispanicÂ population. For those that aren’t prepared for it, it can throw you back a bit.
All in all, it’s another successful trip and I get to learn a little bit more about Arizona and the U.S.A. As I leave the airpost in the cultural mosaic we call Canada, I deeply breathe the cool air and hop into the limousine to enjoy my peaceful ride home.