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Best $2 I've spent in a while



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July 06, 2011 - I skipped my morning coffee last Wednesday and instead used the $2 to buy a ticket for the Get Motivated event just down the road, at The Palace.

I had never attended something like this but, given the price, it was way too good of a deal to pass up.

The heavy-hitting speaker lineup included retired U.S. General Colin Powell, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Bill Cosby and coach Lou Holtz. Also on the agenda were Rick Belluzzo of Microsoft fame; Howard Putnam, former CEO of Southwest Airlines; and televangelist Robert Schuller.

Surely they could replace my caffeine for the day with a shot of inspirational energy.

A lot of people felt the same way, for the stadium was packed almost to the rafters. I guess these guys are more inspiring than the basketball team that currently plays there.

The show started at 8 a.m. sharp with the national anthem and fireworks. The perky blond emcee, buoyed by rock music, then worked the crowd into a frenzy. Was I at a business seminar, political convention or evangelical event? Probably a little of all three.

Let's just say I got my money's worth and more that day. There were plenty of personal insights and entertaining stories on success, relationships, leadership and perseverance.

A few of their comments, however, really struck a chord with me during these interesting times.

The understated Schuller opened the event by proclaiming the need to eliminate profanity in our lives. I thought I was in deep trouble until he explained the most profane word in the dictionary is "impossible". The preacher also talked about finding purpose in our lives and nothing should be out of reach.

Given the significant changes underway in our country, state and community over the past few years, I think this is good advice for all of us trying to work our way through life.

Microsoft's Belluzzo likewise urged the crowd to face today's turbulence head-on and reinvent themselves, if necessary, to move forward. He said that no matter how unsettling these times of change and disruption feel, new opportunities present themselves every day. Take advantage of them and, above all else, do not become a victim of complacency, he implored.

After all, he concluded, on our death beds do we want to have regrets about something we wish we would have done, or reminisce about how glad we are to actually have done it?

Belluzzo said that today's most successful leaders are hard-headed and soft-hearted. They must be results-driven but, at the same time, people focused. That is a credo Lake Orion's leaders should live by every day. We all know you are making tough decisions, but please never forget how they impact the people who live here.

Gen. Powell concurred, saying the greatest attribute of any leader – running a military operation, company or I bet a community – is to have empathy. Put yourself in the shoes of the people you lead he said, and they will show you great respect.

Powell – like all of the speakers – urged the audience to focus even more attention on their personal relationships with their families, especially our spouses and children.

In retirement, Powell spends a lot of his time focusing on America's educational system through a number of non-profit programs. He called it a "moral catastrophe" that one-third of all high school students nationally do not graduate. Powell added that 70 percent of today's army recruits do not qualify for the service, due to educational deficiencies, health concerns or criminal records.

Parents must do a better job of raising their children for the U.S. to remain the envy of the world, he ordered the audience.

Giuliani, dubbed America's Mayor, talked about how technology is shrinking our world. People that can effectively digest the explosion of information can make informed decisions about their careers, lives and the communities they live in.

But back-to-basics reading and a thirst for knowledge, plus the ability to really learn from others, are what still build today's best thinkers, Giuliani said. I guess the takeaway here is all of us can have an impact on our community and its future, as long as we stay informed and open-minded.

The former mayor of New York also said that we all need to spend a few minutes relaxing each day to clear our heads from the stress of the times.

I took his advice on the traffic-induced 40-minute ride home from The Palace, listening to sports talk radio and people losing sleep over the Tigers.

When I got home, I told my wife that is the best $2 I have spent in a while.

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