Wednesday, September 07, 2005

The Apprentice's sorcerer

Wednesday morning my father and I cut short our recuperation from the Delaware trip in order to attend the Celebrity Conference ("The Most Credible Conference in America!" boasts the brochure) at the Las Vegas Convention Center. The subject? How to Create Wealth. It's an all-day event that features some engaging public speakers who have been placed on this planet to make each and every one of you distrubingly rich. And I learned well: I've decided that if the lawyer thing doesn't work out, I'll join the lucrative lecture circuit too. Heck, Hans Gruber gave it a go on this blog last week, and he's dead.

The main attraction of the day was the promised appearance of Donald Trump, in town recently to start construction on his new residential tower. Until he actually showed up, I couldn't help but be a little skeptical as to whether the conference organizers would pull some bait and switch, forcing us instead to listen to, say, Carrot Top's giant tool chest for success. But he arrived eventually, and was worth the price of admission. (Yes, it was free.)

One of my least favorite public speaker cliches is their personal rags-to-riches story. Every politician does it; they talk about their humble beginnings, or worse yet, their parents' humble beginnings. (This just makes me want to vote for their parents.) Donald Trump is different. He tells you he was a good student who went to the best private schools. Strange to say this, but it's a little refreshing to hear a success story from a person of privilege.

And while he only spoke for about 45 minutes, he laid out his 10-point plan for success, which, much like the Big Ten or a Spinal Tap amplifier, actually goes to 11. There's no great revelation here, but I thought my readers might like to know what mantras he happened to think were important that day:

1. "You have to love what you do."
2. "Never quit or give up."
3. "Stay focused."
4. "Be a little paranoid."
5. "Don't lose your momentum."
6. "Go against the tide."
7. "Get the best people, but don't necessarily trust them."
8. "Be lucky."
9. "Get even. Sometimes it helps to have a terrible reputation."
10. "Think like a winner."
11. "Always have a prenuptial agreement."

I must admit that the guy was more personable and less full of himself than I expected. This image of the friendly billionaire managed to backfire when he allowed for audience questions, and got the kind of people who wanted him to swoop in and make their business dreams come true. It was a little pathetic, so we left.


Desmond said...

Over here in Southern California everyone and their brother got tickets to the Celebrity Conference featuring "special appearances by Donald Trump's closest associates." I'm interested, but highly suspicious. What are the conference hosts trying to sell?

Neel Mehta said...

Thanks for commenting. It's a series of hard sells for various programs that can increase income if you're willing to complete buy into their systems, literally. Want to learn about the lucrative probate market? Or purchase trust deeds for a higher turnaround on your investment? They know the secrets, and will share them with you if you order all their handbooks and software. Ordinarily it's $6,000 a person, but if you order today they'll give you a special seminar price of $3,000. But wait! Now you can invite a spouse, family member, or friend! So it's like $1,500 a person!

Stuff like that. "Donald Trump's closest associates"? Well, they seem to know each other vaguely. One of the winners from The Apprentice spoke and let us know what he was up to, and attested to the genius of his fellow speakers. Admittedly, each speaker can be very enthusiastic and convincing.

I attended because it was free, and I had the time. (I can't imagine why people would pay to hear this, though.) These kinds of seminars are quite common in Las Vegas, so I get a little jaded.