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Altered States

Dave Barry takes a 12-hour success seminar and learns about ...

Altered States


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What is the secret of success?

Why is it that one child grows up to become just an ordinary, ho-hum, middle-of-the-pack, blah of a person such as -- no offense -- you; while another child grows up to become a Theodore Roosevelt, a Mother Teresa, a Donald Trump, an Attila the Hun

Is it luck? Is it genes? Is it upbringing? Did Mr. and Mrs. Hun teach young Attila some secret lesson that put him on the path to becoming No. 1?

Or is success something that any of us can achieve, even later in life, if we're willing to work hard, use our imaginations, learn from our mistakes, keep a positive mental attitude and -- above all -- pay money for a seminar?

That's what I decided to find out after seeing a full-page ad in The Miami Herald announcing Peter Lowe's SUCCESS 1997, an all-day event that, according to the ad, would reveal ``the latest strategies for business and personal success'' not to mention ``fuel your life to new highs.'' There were testimonials from satisfied seminar-goers, including one who said: ``You get a whole new fervor for doing business and networking with clients.''

This struck a chord in me, because I have never had any level of fervor for doing business or networking with clients. When I was a boy, my parents had to buy all my Little League candy from me, because I was too shy to sell it door-to-door. As an adult, the only networking I ever do is when somebody at The Miami Herald tells me a joke; I immediately get on the phone and relay it to my friend Gene Weingarten at The Washington Post, who then tells me that he already heard it.

So I figured Peter Lowe's SUCCESS 1997 might do me some good. The ad said:

``Winners concentrate on winning. Losers concentrate on getting by. You may be able to get by if you don't come to Peter Lowe's SUCCESS 1997, but don't you want to be there with the winners?''

And thus I found myself arriving at the Miami Arena shortly before 8 on a Tuesday morning in March to begin a day that, when all was said and done, would prove to be truly a transforming experience, if you define ``transforming'' as ``lasting as long as the Korean War, but sometimes louder.''

I turned in my ticket, which I got by calling the toll-free number (where your call is answered by a cheerful and sincere tape recording announcing, ``It's a great day at Peter Lowe International!''). Ticket prices ranged from $59 up to $225; I purchased a seat in the middle price range, which cost $99 plus the Random Charges They Always Add, for a total of $114.64.

The Arena was filling up with what eventually would be around 16,000 other winners. These were friendly, neatly dressed people, mostly in their 20s through 40s. Some were self-employed; some were unemployed; and many were from local companies, which for months had been barraged with promotional materials for the seminar.

The crowd was buying coffee and looking at the success products for sale at various booths. The biggest displays were for Anthony Robbins Success Products. If you don't know who Anthony Robbins is, go to your TV set right now and turn it on; the odds are that you'll see an infomercial featuring a relentlessly confident man with a jaw the approximate shape and size of Nevada talking about taking your life to the Next Level. That's Anthony Robbins. He has made millions of dollars urging people to be successful.

Robbins hit the big time back in the 1980s, during the firewalking craze. Remember firewalking? The idea was that you paid money, and in return, you got to walk on hot coals, and the purpose of this was to . . .

Gosh, I don't remember what the purpose was. Maybe it increased your networking fervor. All I know is, for a while there firewalking was very big -- it was on Phil Donahue -- and Anthony Robbins got into it on the ground floor. Now he's Mr. Success. The Peter Lowe's SUCCESS 1997 ad states that Robbins ``is the foremost authority on the psychology of personal performance and has been called one of the greatest influencers of his generation. He has challenged and inspired millions around the globe and has been adviser to President Clinton, royal families, numerous professional athletes and countless Fortune 500 organizations.''

Robbins sells a wide variety of Success Products, mostly audio- or videocassette sets such as ``Unlimited Power,'' ``Personal Power'' (I and II), ``Powertalk!,'' ``Unleash the Power Within,'' ``The Body You Deserve!'' and ``Get Rich in America.'' At Peter Lowe's SUCCESS 1997, you could buy two Anthony Robbins Success Products for $299, three for $429, four for $549 and five for $649.

Since I was already $114.64 in the hole, I decided to hold off on the Success Products for the time being. But I did pick up, for free, the notebook that accompanied the seminar. The cover was a big picture of Anthony Robbins, and the first page was a letter From the Desk of Anthony Robbins. It began, ``Dear Friend,'' and it said, in part:

``I have deep respect for you, for by your attendance today you've clearly demonstrated that you are an individual committed to Constant and Never-ending Improvement -- CANI! Let's make a joint commitment today to participate together with a new level of intensity and passion, one that goes far beyond anything we've done before. Through our playful, outrageous and passionate levels of energy, let's make this a day that truly makes a difference: one you will not soon forget.''

I should point out that, according to a notice on page 2 of the notebook CANI!(TM) is a trademark of Robbins Research International and may not be used without permission. That also goes for a number of other Robbins trademarks, including, but not limited to: Skills of Power(TM); Fear Into Power: The Firewalk Experience(TM); Certification: The Power of Choice(TM); The Psychology of Success Conditioning(TM); Neuro-Associative Conditioning(TM); Date With Destiny(TM); Financial Destiny(TM); The Power To Influence(TM); Unlimited Power(TM); Breakthrough To Synergy(TM); Mastery University(TM); ActiveLink(TM); EmpowerNet(TM); Anthony Robbins & Associates(TM); Anthony Robbins(TM); and Tony Robbins(TM).

Reading these terms, I began to fear that success might turn out to be a really complicated subject, like chemistry. I briefly considered leaving the Arena and joining all the other losers in the world outside, just concentrating on getting by. But then I thought to myself: Hey, numerous professional athletes have grasped these concepts, not to mention royal families. How hard can they be?

So I went inside, took my seat, and prepared to fuel my life to new highs. Here's how it went.

8 a.m.

The Arena is filling up. The loudspeakers are playing Desiree, by Neil Diamond. I don't know whether listening to this song will turn out to be a key ingredient in becoming successful; if it is, I'm in trouble.

After a few minutes, the sound gets much louder; the song playing now is Turn the Beat Around. Six people -- three men and three women, in business attire -- come running up a ramp and onto the stage. They begin prancing around the stage, dancing and clapping to the music with the kind of energy that comes, at 8:03 a.m., only from sincere enthusiasm or massive doses of methamphetamine. They want us to dance and clap, too. Some people -- mainly the ones in the expensive seats right in front of the stage, start doing the Businessperson Boogie, clapping and getting as funky as they know how to get. (On a funkyness scale ranging from a low of 0, which is Lawrence Welk, up to a high of 10, which is James Brown, the Peter Lowe's SUCCESS 1997 audience averages a 2.5, which is between Kingston Trio and Herman's Hermits.)

Up in the $114.64 seats, some of the people are clapping. Some of us, not yet ready for the Next Level, are sipping our coffee.

After several minutes, the house lights dim, and Anthony Robbins(TM) himself bounds onto the stage. He is very large -- large head; large body; large hands; large teeth; large voice. He's wearing a dark suit, white dress shirt, red power tie and suspenders. I think maybe he's an android. His shirt never comes untucked, and his hair never moves, even when he jumps up and down and waves his arms, which he does often, especially when he makes us go into a Peak State. But I'm getting ahead of my story.

Tony, speaking through a rock-star-type headset microphone, tells us what kind of audience he wants us to be: an energetic audience. He does not want us sitting around like passive losers.

``We're gonna be like kids!'' says Tony, causing me to worry that we're going to have to give each other noogies. But instead, Tony tells us to turn and greet our neighbors. He makes us do this three times, each time showing more energy and enthusiasm, so that the third time we're supposed to hug our neighbors as though we have just won the Super Bowl. At first it seems like a silly exercise, but I have to admit that when it's over, I'm no longer feeling shy; I'm feeling like an idiot.

Next Tony has us go into a Peak State. This is a state wherein you have peak energy and peak joy and peak everything and you become unstoppable. Tony explains the physiological process involved in getting into a Peak State; I didn't follow the details, but it definitely involves neurons.

I probably should not reveal to you how to get into a Peak State, because it might be a trademarked success concept, and you did not pay the $114.64. But I'm feeling generous, so you should get a pen and paper, and get ready to write down the following procedure for getting yourself into a Peak State, and please don't tell anybody I told you this secret method:

1. Jump up and down and scream.

That's what Tony has us do. The Arena sound system, cranked up to Peak Volume, starts playing Burnin' Love, and Tony runs around the stage throwing his arms into the air. The audience members bounce up and down and wave their arms and scream. It's like a rock concert, except that instead of, say, the Rolling Stones on the stage, there's Tony in his suspenders. Jumping Jack Android.

After about 30 seconds of this, Tony stops us by shooting his arm forward in a punching motion. He then tells us we are to remain in a Peak State as we listen to our first motivational speaker -- let's give her a hugely energetic welcome -- Elizabeth Dole!

The Lion-Petting Caper

Out she comes, one of America's Ten Most Admired Women, with her hair in Peak State. Her topics, according to the newspaper ad for Peter Lowe's SUCCESS 1997, will include Steps To Improve Your Outlook, How To Gain The Perspective That Will Change Your Directive, A Precise System Of Improvement and The ``Shovel Factory'' Rule.

Mrs. Dole says that she's happy to be here in Miami, and informs us that, when she was on the presidential campaign trail last year with her husband, Bob, ``a lot of humorous things happened.'' She doesn't tell us what these things were, but she does tell us an entertaining story about the time back in the 1960s when she was a new lawyer, just out of Harvard, and she had to defend a man who was accused of illegally petting a lion at the zoo, and even though the odds were against her and she was a woman, she won the case! Also, she informs us, the men who signed the Declaration of Independence made a lot of sacrifices. But now government has gotten too big. Americans have many good ideas, but we go too far sometimes. But we should be hopeful for the future.

In her speech, Mrs. Dole, as far as I can tell, does not ever get around to revealing The ``Shovel Factory'' Rule or any other specific success techniques, unless your particular field involves defending alleged lion-petters. But she gets a big hand at the end. Then Tony Robbins(TM) bounds back onto the stage and, reminding us that he has worked with tons of Fortune 500 CEOs, orders us to stand up and maintain our energy and focus. He then tells us that we have to turn to our neighbors and give each other massages. He insists on this.

As a person who could not even sell Little League candy, I know there is no way I'm going to massage a stranger, so I just stand there, not making eye contact with my neighbors, scribbling furiously in my notebook, pretending to be writing down an important success technique from the Dole lecture. The man behind me kind of halfheartedly tickles my back; I turn to look at him, and we both giggle in embarrassment, and he stops immediately.

After the massage, I'm hoping we can sit down for the next lecture, but Tony orders us to go into a Peak State again. This time we're jumping and screaming to rap music. When it's over, Tony says, ``If you feel better than you did before, make a fist and say YES!''

``YES!'' shouts the crowd. I look at my watch. It's 9 a.m. Only nine more hours to go!

Now Tony tells us to watch the big Arena screens, which show a videotape introducing the next speaker, who is . . . Anthony Robbins(TM)! The video tells us that Anthony Robbins(TM) has been all over the world and has met many successful top world leaders including President Clinton, Nelson Mandela, Mikhail Gorbachev, Princess Diana, Quincy Jones, Andre Agassi and the Los Angeles Kings. (The video does not say whether Tony made Gorbachev go into a Peak State, but I like to think he did.)

Then the announcer says, ``Ladies and gentlemen, Anthony Robbins(TM)!" And Tony comes bounding back on stage to give us his success secrets.

Unfortunately, I cannot reveal these secrets to you, because many of them are trademark concepts, and quite frankly I don't want everybody who reads this article to suddenly become successful and go to the Next Level; we winners need people to remain on This Level so there will be somebody to clean the upholstery on our Lear jets. But I will offer you some nuggets of information from the Anthony Robbins(TM) presentation:

At one time, Tony was a pathetic loser who was 38 pounds overweight and living in a 400-square-foot apartment and washing his dishes in the bathtub. But then one day he was listening to the Neil Diamond song I Am, I Said, the one wherein Neil sings about how no one heard him at all, not even the chair, and Tony was so inspired by that song that he got up and lost the weight and went on to become so fabulously outstandingly successful that you have to squint when you look at him.

"Pointing the Bone"

It is not enough to be excellent. Excellence is for pathetic losers. You have to be OUTSTANDING!

The most important thing in the world is: Psychology.

Anthony Robbins(TM), in addition to working with countless Fortune 500 CEOs and world leaders, has trained 15,000 psychiatrists and psychologists regarding: Psychology.

If you put your hands together, and the left thumb is on top, that means one thing; but if the right thumb is on top, that means another thing; and this is all related to: Psychology.

In some primitive cultures, they have a ritual called ``pointing the bone,'' wherein a witch doctor points a bone at people, and the people, even if they are perfectly healthy, just die, right there on the spot, and the reason is: Psychology.

Andre Agassi became an outstanding tennis player after Tony gave him some pointers on: Psychology.

Tony has also talked with both Arnold Schwarzenegger AND Sylvester Stallone, and they both agree with Tony about: Psychology.

Bill Gates, Michael Jordan, Nelson Mandela and Ted Turner are all successful, and the reason is: Tapeworms. No, seriously, the reason is of course: Psychology.

People should be responsible.

Even though Lorena Bobbitt was legally found not guilty, she was definitely responsible for ``chopping off Mr. Happy.'' As Tony puts it: ``How can she be found not guilty? If Mr. Happy is not attached, she is guilty!''

Sylvester Stallone wrote the script for Rocky in 18 hours.

Tony's presentation lasts nearly two hours. During this time Tony often makes a statement and then says, ``Everybody who agrees with me raise your hand and say `I!' '' When the crowd responds ``I!'' Tony says ``Outstanding!'' Sometimes Tony mentions a company, such as American Express or McDonalds, and audience members who work for those companies cheer. Tony also thumps himself on the chest a lot, each time making a startlingly loud amplified sound. He is definitely an android.

At one point Tony makes us put our bodies into a Must State. I'm not sure whether a Must State is the same as a Peak State, but I DO know that a Must State is very different from, and should never be confused with, a Should State, which is for pathetic losers. The music they play when we go into our Must State is the theme from Chariots of Fire. As it blares from the speakers and Tony yells instructions at us, we make Must Gestures and make Must Statements and give each other Must Looks. While this is happening I take a lot of Must Notes.

At the end of his presentation, Tony alerts us to the fact that he has a number of tape products outside, and they are for sale. He then tells us that we need to go into another Peak State, because if we're not in a Peak State he won't spin the Prize Wheel. So we go into a Peak State, and Tony spins the Prize Wheel, and a lucky audience member wins a video recorder, and now it's time for Tony to introduce our next speaker, so let's show some OUTSTANDING energy for Rabbi Harold Kushner!

Rabbi Kushner is the author of the bestselling book When Bad Things Happen to Good People. He gives a thoughtful talk about living a fulfilling, if not necessarily outstanding, life. At one point he even suggests that winning is not necessarily the ultimate goal of life. I like him because he does not make us go into any kind of State.

When Tony gets back, he corrects this oversight immediately, and soon the crowd is jumping and screaming to Macho Man. After a couple of minutes Tony stops us, saying, ``Have a seat in a Peak State, please.'' He then introduces Brian Tracy, who according to the Peter Lowe's SUCCESS 1997 ad is a ``no-holds-barred sales trainer,'' as well as ``the country's leading expert on the development of the human potential and corporate performance with proven insights on selling excellence and maximum achievement.''

In his introduction, Tony notes that Brian has some success tapes for sale, and says ``Brian fills his tape products with a lot of take-home value.''

Brian comes out and informs us right off the bat that we, the people who have chosen to attend Peter Lowe's SUCCESS 1997, are the elite. Some other points he makes are:

-- Optimism is good.

-- Communism was bad. ``I've been to the Berlin Wall,'' Brian says, ``and I've been on both sides of the Iron Curtain, and I could tell you stories that would take a long time.''

-- Computers are important, and we should learn to use them.

-- The future will be ``distinctly different'' from the past.

-- We are ALL in sales.

-- We are ALL the presidents of our own companies.

-- Don't whine and complain!

Brian quotes from Abraham Lincoln, Aristotle, Harry Truman, Confucius and Wayne Gretzky. He also speaks highly of Neil Diamond's song America, although he attributes it to Neil Sedaka.

``God, that was a wonderful song,'' he says.

At the end, Brian tells us about the various tape products he has for sale, including ``a special audiocassette that will harmonize both hemispheres of your brain.'' We can purchase all 10 of Brian's tape products for a special Peter Lowe's SUCCESS 1997 seminar price of just $475.

At this point it's past noon and I would really, really like to purchase some kind of lunch product, but when Tony Robbins(TM) comes bounding back onto the stage he makes us massage each other AND go into a Peak State. Then he brings on our next speaker, Lou Holtz, who has just resigned as head football coach of Notre Dame. Lou is an aw-shucks kind of guy who gives a very professional, entertaining and well-rehearsed speech full of self-deprecating humor and homespun wisdom. Among the success points he makes are:

-- You have to overcome difficulty.

-- Try hard!

-- The most important thing in the world is: Belief.

-- If you want to be an All-American, you should not get involved with ``booze and drugs and sex and heroin.''

Lou closes with a magic trick in which he appears to tear up a USA Today, but actually does not. He leaves the stage to hearty applause, after which Tony Robbins(TM) re-appears and tells us that:

1. Lou has a tape product available;

2. Mike Wallace, who was scheduled to speak at Peter Lowe's SUCCESS 1997, had to cancel because of laryngitis, but he has been replaced by another wonderful speaker whom we will hear after lunch; and . . .

3. If we come back from lunch promptly one hour from now, at 2:30 p.m., Tony will spin the Prize Wheel TWICE!

Tilt Nose, Insert Celery

And so the crowd streams out onto the Arena concourse. I eat a hot dog product and a Diet Coke product, then leave the Arena to take a walk. Outside, I encounter a man sitting on the ground, begging for money.

``You got anything?'' he says. ``Dime? Nickel?''

I should probably tell this man that he needs to get his butt off the ground and get himself into a Peak -- or at least a Must -- State. But it seems simpler just to give him a quarter.

At 2:30 we return from lunch; the crowd seems to be feeling a bit mellower after the break. Of course mellowness is for total losers, so Anthony Robbins(TM) immediately has us up on our feet. This time, he tells us each to select a partner to be our Physiology Buddy. He then instructs all the Physiology Buddies to look each other in the eyes, raise their right hands, and repeat a lengthy oath (``I am your Physiology Buddy, and I am ABSOLUTELY COMMITTED to maintaining you in a HIGH ENERGY STATE . . . '').

Then, with the Arena speakers blasting Born to Be Wild, Tony has the Physiology Buddies dance with each other, first with one buddy leading, then the other. This, for me, is the highlight so far. I mean, here at Peter Lowe's SUCCESS 1997, we may be the elite; but, as dancers, we have the fluid rhythmic grace of a cow trying to get on an escalator. Across the aisle from me, two Physiology Buddies -- these are businessmen in their 40s -- are jerking and twitching around as though they are being attacked by invisible hornets. They look sheepish, but determined. I wonder: If you told people that they'd become successful if they walked around with celery stalks in their noses, would they do it? Probably not, if YOU told them. But I bet they would if Anthony Robbins(TM) told them to. They would PAY Tony to tell them to put celery stalks in their noses. Except Tony would call it something like ``CelerOnics,'' and it would be a trademarked concept.

Now Tony has the crowd singing at the top of its lungs: ``BOOORN TO BE WIIIIILLLD''

You can almost smell the networking fervor.

Once Tony has us back in a Peak State, he spins the Prize Wheel again, and somebody wins a CD Boom Box. Tony then brings out the speaker replacing Mike Wallace, an impressionist named Jim Morris. He does Ted Koppel, Tom Brokaw, Dan Rather, Julia Child, his high-school principal, Andy Rooney, Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan and George Bush. He gets his biggest laugh as George Bush, when he says: ``We're breaking new wind.'' Fart jokes! Here at Peter Lowe's SUCCESS 1997! Things are looking up!

Our next speaker is Peter Lowe himself. He is described in the ad for Peter Lowe's SUCCESS 1997 as ``an entrepreneurial phenomenon as the founding president and CEO of a $20 million organization that is responsible for the largest seminars in the world -- SUCCESS 1997!'' Tony Robbins(TM) introduces him by telling us that Lowe has a ``mission to really help as many people as he can in his lifetime.''

Before Lowe comes out, we watch a video about him, done as though it were a documentary, hosted by a woman who says, ``the reporter in me wants to find out who this person really is.'' This is followed by a hard-hitting exposť -- featuring statements from Jack Kemp, Paul Harvey and Naomi Judd -- in which we learn that Peter Lowe, despite being only in his 30s, is an outstandingly wonderful human being.

Tony then leads us in applause as Peter Lowe comes out. Lowe is probably a perfectly nice person, and I hope I am not jeopardizing my journalistic objectivity when I say that he strikes me, personally, as a smarmy little weasel. But far be it for me to pass judgment on an entrepreneurial phenomenon, so I will summarize here the man points of his presentation, as I understand them:

-- Stress is bad.

-- Peter Lowe has had stress, putting on seminars such as Peter Lowe's SUCCESS 1997.

-- At one point, he was losing $50,000 a week!

-- But he did not quit!

-- Winners never quit!

-- Abraham Lincoln did not quit!

-- Paul Harvey is another good example.

-- You should not leave your seed in the barn. (``Don't leave today with your seed in the barn,'' are Peter Lowe's exact words.)

Lowe also tells us that he has a tape product available; he does not say whether Abraham Lincoln does. We then take a 15-minute break and return to give a major standing ovation as Tony Robbins(TM) introduces our next speaker -- Heat Coach Pat Riley!

Rat on a Stick

The crowd goes nuts as Pat strides out in a suit that looks as if it costs more than an F-16. He gives a confident talk containing these points:

-- He hopes the Heat wins the NBA championship some day.

-- Michael Jordan is an excellent basketball player.

-- ``A mission is an image of a desired state that you want to get to.''

-- The most important thing is: Attitude.

Pat also reveals that he was not always successful. When he was 9, he didn't want to play sports; all he wanted to do was tunnel under the kitchen and (I swear, this is what he says) grab his mother's ankles. He wanted to quit basketball, but his dad wouldn't let him, and The Rest Is History.

This reminds me of an inspirational anecdote that happened to me when I was in high school. I was on the track team, but I really stunk and I hated it, so I decided to quit. So I told my dad, and he said: ``Why?'' And I said: ``I hate it.'' And my dad -- I will never forget this -- said ``OK.''

I didn't own any seed back then, but if I had, I probably would have left it in the barn.

Pat leaves the stage to a thunderous ovation. Our next speaker is Dr. Ted Broer, the author of Eat, Drink and Be Healthy. He tells us the Top Ten Foods Never To Eat, starting out with the worst possible food group of all, which according to Dr. Ted will pretty much kill you instantly if you so much as look directly at it without sunglasses: The bacon, sausage, pepperoni and hot dog group. This is exactly the group that I had for lunch.

In stressing how bad hot dogs are, Dr. Ted waves around a plastic rat and claims that real rats sometimes fall into the machinery in meat-processing plants and wind up in the hot dogs.

``So if you buy a corn dog,'' he says cheerfully, ``you might as well call it `rat on a stick.' ''

Yum! Thanks, Dr. Ted!

The second lethal food group, according to Dr. Ted, is shellfish. He is especially opposed to lobsters.

``A lobster is an arthropod,'' he says. ``A cockroach is an arthropod. All a lobster is, is a giant cockroach on the bottom of the ocean.''

This is exactly what I have been telling people for years. For the first time today, I feel like jumping up and cheering, but I don't, because we have not been ordered into a Peak State.

Dr. Ted says the third lethal food is margarine, followed by artificial sweeteners such as you find in Diet Coke, which is what I had for lunch along with my rat on a bun. The rest of the Killer Food List includes alcohol, coffee and unfiltered water, all of which are important components of my diet. Basically Dr. Ted is telling me that, now that I have finally learned all these secrets for success, I am going to be a highly motivated corpse.

I am feeling so depressed about this news that I barely listen as Dr. Ted tells us about his various tape products. It's around 6 p.m., and I'm tired and my body aches and I feel as though I've been sitting in the Arena since Ponce de Leon was in Florida, looking for the Tape Product of Youth. So it is with a sense of dread that I watch Anthony Robbins(TM) bound back to the stage and NO PLEASE DON'T OH NO HE'S GOING TO MAKE US GO INTO A PEAK STATE AGAIN NOOOOOOOOOOOOO . . .

But there is no stopping the Success Android. He makes us not only go into a Peak State, but also do The Wave. He wants us to have maximum energy for our next speaker, who is -- and I am not making this up -- George Bush.

It's a truly surreal moment when the former president of the United States walks out and stands where, only a few minutes earlier, Dr. Ted Broer was telling us not to eat margarine. President Bush looks relaxed and healthy, despite the fact that he is known to snack on fried pork rinds, which I am sure Dr. Ted would place in the same food group as Drano.

President Bush opens by talking about how honored he was to be president, and about how he and Barbara are very proud to have treated the office of the presidency with respect, unlike the slimeballs in the White House now. (He does not state that last part explicitly, but the implication is clear.) He then gives a relaxed, anecdotal speech containing these success tips:

-- The nation needs to remain strong.

-- We should all try to be Points of Light.

-- If you're having a problem coming to terms with a guy like the late French President Mitterrand, it doesn't hurt to pour some wine into him.

-- Who are we to be telling Singapore not to cane people?

-- If you have to invade Panama, go ahead and invade Panama, and the hell with what 60 Minutes thinks about it.

Secretary of State

President Bush leaves the stage to a standing ovation. It's now 6:30, and we've been receiving success tips since approximately the time of the Big Bang, but Anthony Robbins(TM) is urging us to stay for a bonus speaker; this is Dan Kennedy, described in his promotional literature as a ``millionaire-maker'' who ``delivers more `meat' per minute than any other business speaker!''

For those who want to leave before the bonus speaker, Anthony Robbins(TM) starts wrapping up the day. As the Arena speakers play inspirational violin music, Tony reviews some of the points made by the speakers we've heard, then has us stand up and go into one final State, which is a Peak State AND a Must State AND a Commitment State. Tony wants us to make a decision RIGHT NOW, and to commit ourselves to ACTION. And to show our commitment, we are going to all clap our hands rhythmically to inspirational music for 2 1/2 minutes.

And so the music starts playing, and we start clapping, and Tony strides around the stage, thumping his chest and talking about resolve and commitment and passion and love. And although I am by nature a pretty skeptical person, I have to admit that I am feeling something -- something inside my soul, something that is telling me to make a decision NOW, to commit myself to a course of action NOW. And so I decide to skip the bonus speaker, and I put my body into an Exit State.
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About this page:
Altered States
First posted: Sep. 19, 1999
Last Updated: May 14, 2003
Editor: Anton Hein
Copyright: Dave Barry
Link to: http://www.apologeticsindex.org/s51aa.html
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