Day in the Life of a Motivational Speaker

scA while ago, a client told me that he thought it would be cool if I had a reality TV show that tracked my life as a motivational speaker.

I laughed for a couple of reasons. First, I don’t consider myself a motivational speaker. That doesn’t mean I strive to demotivate people. But I’m not “Zig” Ziglar or Norman Vincent Peale. All I do is share some best practices from positive psychology research and portions of what I’m learning on my own journey as a leader and a fellow human. If I motivate people at all, it’s in letting them know that they are not alone.

Second, I laughed when I thought about what most people picture when they think of the life of a motivational speaker!

And that second thought provided fodder for this blog.

Caught on the Scott-Cam!

If you had access to a recording of a typical 24-hour period in my life, here’s what you might see:

5:30 am. Scott’s 7-year old daughter sitting on top of his foot like it’s a carnival ride while Scott scrambles to throw things into his backpack while dribbling coffee down the front of his shirt. He doesn’t notice. 

5:51 am. Scott on his knees removing the gift of cat vomit from his travel bag that he placed by the door the night before. Scott entering his car a ball of sweat as he mutters under his breath.

6:42 am. After driving through steady rain, Scott arriving at the Economy Parking Lot at RDU airport just as the shuttle bus departs. The car windows fog up; Scott repeatedly rubbing a small viewing hole to look for the next bus. He misses the next two buses because he’s busy posting a Facebook status on how jazzed he is to be speaking to a group later that afternoon in Dallas, TX.

6:59 am. Scott standing in the rain with all of his bags while cursing softly.

7:05 am. Scott falling as he enters the bus, acquiring a brownish stain on the seat of his pants.

7:22 am. Scott being groped by security while all of his possessions go on display for the viewing public.

7:25 am. Scott shooting his pelvis into the hand drier in the bathroom drying his pants until a fellow traveler stops and watches him.

7:40 am. While updating his Facebook status about how he is looking forward to hitting the gym once he arrives at his destination, he sits at an empty gate eating a bagel with cream cheese. A schmeer of cream cheese sits on his cheek.

7:55 am. Scott stopping fast and uttering an oath when he sees his 27D seat assignment places him between a sumo wrestler and an Andre the Giant look-alike.

8:20 am Scott hiding out in the lavatory until a flight attendant knocks on the door asking him to return to his seat. When he reemerges, the cream cheese is still there.

11:17 am. Scott filling out a Lost Baggage report while scowling and shaking his fist in the air.

12:02 pm. Scott driving out of the rental car lot in a clown car as he attempts to remember how to lower a hand-crack window.

12:51 pm. A Wal-mart associate laughing in response to Scott asking to be pointed to a fitting room so he can try on his new wardrobe.

12:57 pm. Scott leaving Wal-mart carrying bags containing toothpaste, a toothbrush, a 3-pack of boxers, a pair of socks, pants sporting the Dickies label, a petroleum-based dress shirt, a neck tie , and vinyl dress shoes. Scott articulating filthy words in staccato fashion.

12:59 pm. Scott apologizing to a woman after he tried to enter what turned out to be the wrong clown car.

1:43 pm. Scott dressing in the handicap stall at the Pilot gas station off I-35 just north of Dallas, TX.

1:44 pm. Scott using a pencil to fish out the keys of his clown car from the toilet of the handicap stall at the Pilot gas station off I-35 just north of Dallas, TX.

1:47 pm. Scott bending over the hand drier outside of the handicap stall at the Pilot gas station off I-35 just north of Dallas, TX. in an attempt to remove fresh stains from his Dickies until a fellow traveler stops and watches him.

2:15 pm. Scott arriving at the venue with sweat stains on his back and under the arms of his new petroleum-based dress shirt.

2:22 pm. Scott talking with conference attendees while self-consciously keeping his left hand over the spot on his Dickies that the hand drier made more prominent.

2:33 pm. Scott taking the stage, planting seeds of goodness and light to a mostly attentive audience.

3:22 pm. Scott signing books, shaking hands, and talking to conference attendees.

4:10 pm. Scott waiting until all attendees leave before returning to his clown car.

7:38 pm. Scott eating lunch and dinner (back to back) by himself in a dark corner of an empty El Salvadorian restaurant just South of Dallas, TX while posting to Facebook how blessed his life is because he gets to meet so many interesting people and travel to so many exotic locations.

8:53 pm. Scott gesturing wildly and screaming as he circles the 635 Loop three times in search of his hotel.

8:54 pm. Upon finding out that his hotel is overbooked and he doesn’t have a room for the night, Scott does a Seinfeld routine with the hotel desk clerk involving “You know how to TAKE the reservation, but you don’t know how to HOLD the reservation.”

9:12 pm. Scott telling the hotel deck clerk at the next hotel that he prefers a non-smoking king bed, “hold the bed bugs.”

9:23 pm. Scott telling his wife on the phone, “No, I’m not saying that you took my cell phone charger out of my backpack. But I’m here. My backpack is here. My cell phone is here. But my charger? It’s not here!”

11:50 pm. Scott flipping channels before setting on Swamp People.

3:42 am. Scott sleeping while his cell phone battery dies.

7:43 am. Scott calling his wife asking if she would be able to book him a new flight since he missed his flight because his alarm didn’t go off because the battery died in the night because someone–“And I’m not saying it was you”–took his cell phone charger out his backpack.

8:28 am. Scott leaving for the airport.

8:29 am. Scott’s luggage arriving at the hotel that didn’t hold his reservation…

In Truth…

I made most of that up. For example, I don’t even eat bagels.

But here are some lessons for all of us, regardless of what you do for a paycheck, career, or calling:

1. Resist the urge to romanticize that everyone has a better job than you. My job is not as glamorous as you might think it is. Heck, some times when I travel, my baggage ends up in a more exotic location than I do! And that IS true. As crazy as it might sound, many people envy you for your job. 

2. Know what gets you out of bed in the morning. We all have a purpose. Mine may be different from yours. Different doesn’t mean better or worse. It doesn’t matter if you manage projects, test software, or make donuts. If you didn’t get out of bed, you’d leave a gaping hole.

3. Act as if you were starring in your own reality TV show. Few people will ever have cameras recording their every move. But isn’t every act you do each day, at work and in the rest of life, leaving some sort of permanent legacy? Your work reflects you and your character. Be sure it shows you at your best, not your weakest.





0 Comments Add yours

  1. Carol Kineberry, RN says:

    OMG this is so funny! I loved reading it. You have such a gift. This story could be real and you have a way of making us not take ourselves so seriously. In the sessions with our leadership team at Hospice of Alamance-Caswell, I always leave not only with knowledge, but a better person because of you. Never under estimate the gift you have. Anyone that encounters you will walk away better than when they approached you. Love & prayers to your amazing wife.

    1. scottcarbonara says:

      Thanks so much, Carol. Your group made my day. And your comment made my night!

  2. Kathi Soniat, PMP says:

    We will strive to treat you better (and feed you lunch) when you come speak for the PMI Palmetto chapter next March. As we are merely one state away – hopefully logistics will be easier.

    Made for a good read…

    1. scottcarbonara says:

      HA, Kathi! No worries. Tongue-n-cheek! I’m low maintenance, and in truth I absolutely love what I have the opportunity to do! Can’t wait to return to the Palmetto State and meet you and your folks!

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