Still Learning After All These Years: Why, After 47 Years in Business, I Continue to Attend Live Seminars, Workshops, Bootcamps and Training Events… And Why You Should, Too!

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Every year, as part of my continuing personal and professional self-improvement process, I make a point of attending a handful of carefully selected seminars, workshops, bootcamps and live events, and I invest in a number of books and audio and video programs. I realize that if I’m going to continue to improve and to provide exceptional value to my clients, the marketplace I operate in, and to my wife and family, that it’s not enough to think that I know it all and rest on my laurels.

“How Come You’re Here…Again?!?”

Cavett Robert

At many of the events that I attend people approach me and say things like, “I see you at many of these events. You’ve been around for a long time and already know this stuff. In fact, you could probably even teach it and in many cases, maybe even do a better or more thorough job than the speakers we’ve been listening to. Your business is already doing well. At your age and with your experience, surely you have better things to do with your time, so why do you keep coming back?”

Well, I learned a long time ago from my friend and one of the original founders of the National Speakers Association, Cavett Robert, that “School is never out for the pro.” If you want to stay on top of your game, you not only have to continually be kept up to date with the latest changes and developments, but you’ve got to be reminded of things that you may have forgotten or perhaps have put on the back burner and are no longer using.

So after some 47 years in business I find myself attending events for four main reasons:

  1. I want to learn the newest and latest things that are working in the marketplace. The economy, the way things operate and the way (and reasons) people buy are in constant change, and if you don’t keep up with them you’ll get left in the dust.
  2. I want to be reminded of things that I may have forgotten – things that I used to do but for one reason or another have been put on the shelf or replaced with the newest or latest thing.
  3. I want to reconnect with friends and colleagues that I haven’t seen for awhile. People’s lives and businesses change over time and you never know who you may run into that you can establish a working relationship with, perhaps do a joint venture with or maybe even create some type of synergistic program with.
  4. I want to meet new people… people that I don’t know, but who might be interested in doing some type of cross-promotion with me or one of my colleagues or consultants that can benefit both of us and our clients.

Those are the reasons WHY I attend.

Now to the WHAT… the “what I’m looking for” while I’m there:

  1. The CONTENT: What is the speaker or presenting saying? What kind of advice, instruction, or message are they giving? How can I use that information in my own life and business, either “as is” or perhaps with some modification or tweaking to make it fit? I’ve never been to a seminar or event that was a waste of time. In EVERY situation, I’ve come away with at least one idea that I could use. It may have been a “what to do” idea, and in some cases it was a “what not to do” idea. The point is to look at every situation as a learning experience.
  2. The CONTEXT: What is the presenter doing when they’re presenting? Are they using visuals, PowerPoints, handouts, give-aways, drawings, audience participation, or an on-stage experts panel? What kinds of offers are they making? Are they collecting testimonials, and if so, how do they do it? How do they support the other speakers and presenters? Are they selling from the front of the room? Do they create a “table-rush” at the back of the room? What kinds of things do they do to create a desire in their audience that makes them not only want what they’re offering, but compels the attendees to hurry to the back table and give their credit card information? (In my seminars and events, I don’t sell from the stage, I don’t create “table-rushes”, and I don’t use “shills” who sit at the front of the room and start moving to the back table to create the appearance of exclusivity and urgency when I’m nearing the end of my presentation, but I do enjoy watching how other presenters do this.)
  3. The BEHIND THE SCENES: What’s happening before the event starts? How is the room set up, and why is it set up that way? How is the lighting, where are the sound system speakers located, the video equipment situated, and the back table positioned? What’s going on during the actual presentation? Is there a point-person who handles things while the speaker is making his or her presentation? What about the breaks, lunch time, or after the presentation? How are people encouraged to get re-seated after breaks or lunch so the event can get rolling again?
Note Taking

There is so much to learn from attending live events, and I’ve just touched on a handful of things. Of course, every presenter does things just a little differently, but you can learn from all of them. If you’re not going to seminars for at least one of the four reasons I’ve mentioned, or to observe and learn from the three points I listed above, then you’re missing out on a LOT that could help you in your business, can provide more value for your clients and customers, and can most likely help you get more time away from your business to enjoy the things you really would like to do more of in your personal life.

As always, I’m interested in your comments, thoughts and suggestions. And I’m interested in some of the events you have been to that you would recommend that others attend. And please let us know what value you found in them and why you recommend attending them.

2 Comments for this entry

  • Dave Brady says:


    I’ve seen Tom Hopkins do his presentation on selling at least four times in 25 years. He gives the exact same presentation every time and it’s always great. Repetition and preparation leads to success. Thanks for the reminder. Keep up the good work.

  • Martin Howey says:

    Hey Dave…

    So glad to hear you followed Tom. When I first began my speaking career MANY years ago, I attended every one of Tom’s presentations that I could. I always sat in the same place… fourth row from the front on the right hand side, on the aisle seat. I devoured everything he did. I watched as he delivered his entire presentation without notes, and studied his technique.

    In time, I figured out how he did it, and I teach that same principle to the attendees of our trainings. It’s very stealth, and very few people catch it. But it works and people go away wondering how he can remember all that content off the top of his head.

    What you said about Tom being prepared and giving the exact same presentation every time is SO right. When I was involved with the National Speakers Association (again, YEARS AGO), a well-known presenter named, Ira Hayes, taught that it was easier to get a new audience than to create a new seminar. It was the days before computers, printers, and PowerPoint. Ira covered the stage with posters and signs to illustrate his points.

    Tom used to teach that “Repetition is the mother of learning.” And he is one of the best at doing what he does… over and over and over. For him it may be the 10,000th time he does that presentation, but to his audience it may be their first… and he needs to make it good, relevant, and meaningful. And once you work out all the bugs and get things in their proper order, the presentation becomes secondary, and you can focus on reading your audience’s body language, reactions and unstated questions… and you can make minor tweaks and adjustments to tailor your presentation to fit the exact and specific needs of each audience.

    I sure do appreciate your chiming in on this, Dave. Your points were 100% right on!


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