It is 3:15 in the afternoon. The room is still filled with over 20-25 odd people who believe that sitting through this seminar would change them forever. In a scenario where you are supposed to address an audience whom you have tricked into believing that you have the answers, you know it will be fun as usual. Captivating an audience is a performers’ mandate. If she cannot hold participants, the performance, however worthy it might be, holds no reason to get another opportunity. Till the day money buys food and shelter, productivity alone will ensure the survival of arts. So after refreshing the tone of the seminar to prepare them for the final 2 hour session, I was supposed to leave with them with a sense of achievement. Our program posters promised, ‘explore the truth within’. The event was supposed to teach people how to create happiness in their daily lives. We would tell them how they can empower themselves to make happiness live forever. Their problems will vanish. Their issues will be sorted out and they wouldn’t even know how we did it. The only fact that will remain would be, their own sense of conquest.
The seminar drew a good audience of around 80 people. The participants mostly consisted of middle-aged men and women, most of them, from wealthy families. Our participation token of 8000 INR ensured that we had only those people who frequent posh restaurants and in all probability drove their own car. We were to start at sharp 10 am. The seminar would be split in 3 2-hour sessions, with 2 tea breaks and a lunch break. The token money was pegged at an amount which would let us find a seminar hall in a reasonably good hotel. One of the prime factors of driving people to ‘explore themselves’ is to keep such explorations in a fine location. An air-conditioned hall with a domed pathway leading out of it, helps create its own sense of achievement. Another crucial aspect in deciding the venue is the washroom. The washroom should have a clean mirror and under no circumstances, should it be left unattended. A small clean eating area with well-mannered waiters is a must. A proper restaurant is a plus. If you can afford a theme based restaurant, then you probably will have to work on engaging the audience, even less. So when we zeroed in on choosing the place for our seminar, we managed to get a place with a small kitchen which served tea and light snacks.
At sharp 8 am on the day of the seminar, I received a phone call. It was my manager from work. One of my customers had withdrawn a major deal. The tone of the conversation was furious to say the least. The combination of a fresh morning and an irritated, ill-mannered, key customer, clearly didn’t make anyone’s day better. I was on an official leave. I had prepared for this seminar for about 8 months now. I knew I wouldn’t let anyone spoil the day for me. With these thoughts, I listened to the manager for another 20 minutes. His last words were, meet me in my office at 10… click.. toooonnnnn. The phone disconnected.
I tried calling again but received no response. I left a message that I will be able to meet him only the next day. This day had bigger engagements. I knew somewhere deep down my heart, that this could cost me my job. But this seminar could well be a success and provide me an alternate occupation. With high hopes and numbed mind, I left my place to take a final look at the arrangements.
It is 3:25pm. Another 5 minutes to the final lap of the performance. The conversations around the tea counter are positive. I had paid extra bucks to ensure that the tea and cookies were not compromised on quality. The poignant thoughtful faces on the audience reassured me that they did a fine work there.
When I am in the performance, I know my role inside out. I was always a good motivational speaker in school. Any debates on controversial issues saw me enchanting my peers by my pitch, antics and voice modulations. 7 years in my sales job, I had worked hard to refine my skills. I would have stayed with that profession, but for the fact that sales needed more that just convincing once. The problem of a good orator like me is that I cannot perform if the audience size is less than 5, they haven’t paid in advance, or they already know more about my play, than I do. So you see clearly, that Sales wasn’t for me. This seminar was different. I could control the external factors and create the internal factors to leave my audience enchanted by presenting packaged happiness.
At 7 pm that evening, I called my manager. He agreed to meet me the next day. The fury of the morning’s conversation was subsided. He spoke matter-of-factually. I apologized in all sincerity and offered to visit him, first thing in the morning. In the morning I made it a point to stop by at the fruit vendor to buy a pack of kiwis. Fruits are good for everyone in the family. They help you create better relations. The costlier, the better; these 7 years had taught me this. Even if he asks for my resignation, this is one of the lessons that will stay with me forever. My future profession after all, is all about, how to keep oneself happy, and forever!