Laughing allowed
November 2008 by Mike Southon

Don't Be Needy Be Succeedy
by L Vaughan Spencer

We all need inspiration and good advice in these hard times, so I have been combing bookstores for leading-edge thought leadership from business experts.

Many of the most popular books originate from the US, so I was pleased to find a new book by a British motivational guru, L. Vaughan Spencer: Don't Be Needy, Be Succeedy, The A to Zee of Motivitality.

Spencer claims to have made his fortune in refrigerated transport and is now visiting professor of succeedership at the University of the Isle of Wight. His list of books is impressive and includes Chicken Nuggets for the Soul, The Seven Hobbies of Highly Effective People and Who Moved My Cheeseburger?

I could not find any of these on Amazon, so called the "succeeder hotline" number on his website. I had a conversation with a member of his staff, who explained that the lack of availability was the result of a conspiracy by a number of people, including a rival motivational speaker.

This seemed slightly suspicious, but I thought little of it until I discovered a month later that the hotline was a premium rate number and the call had cost me several hundred pounds.

I sent an email to complain and received an answer from Spencer himself, saying that legally I had agreed to a "virtual Vaughan session".

The conversation became heated, so he offered to convert my payment into a free place on his business boot camp. He also said that anger is "vital in today's FMBE (Fast Moving Business Environment)", and explained that the boot camp would be a perfect place for me to express my pent-up anger and channel it into business success.

The day started with Moisturiser, which Spencer explains is "vital in today's FMBE", quoting ancient French Canadian wisdom, which translated as: "Man with dry face no win big deal." The next session was Movement and Dance, in which we moved around to 1970s disco music, with Spencer encouraging the female members of the workshop to loosen constricting clothing.

The rest of the agenda included "Urban Tribal Drumming", a case study on how Spencer changed the face of refrigerated transport, and "Deep Tissue Ego Massage" by someone called Cranston and his team of former paramilitaries.

It is easy to be cynical about the neoreligious fervour stirred up by motivational speakers; a friend once referred to their events as "hope for the hopeless". It is true that some people spend money they cannot afford on get-rich programmes, which increase the wealth of the speaker, rather than the audience.

But on balance, I am in favour of anything that lifts the spirit. For every sceptic, there are many more people who get value from the programmes.

My recommendation is not to follow their models slavishly, but to use them to add perspective to your own experience. All motivational speakers have the same basic themes: you need to take personal responsibility for your own situation and take action rather than prevaricate.

It is also important to retain your sense of humour. As Spencer says: "Successful business is not about talk-talk. My book is all do-do."

Don't Be Needy, Be Succeedy, the A to Zee of Motivitality by L. Vaughan Spencer is published by Profile Books

Original article at the Financial Times

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2008