Conferences, workshops, seminars . . . I've done them all . . . attended, assisted and even hosted some of my own. I considered myself a seminar professional, or, rather, a professional seminargoer. One more, I thought to myself, wouldn't make an appreciable difference in my life. Or, would it?
It was at the end of Powerteam International's Ultimate Success Camp, held in Los Angeles, a city I love to visit. Making it even more enticing was the $10.00 flight from Las Vegas where I happened to be that weekend. What a bonanza. I was in the right place at the right time.
Conference host Bill Walsh, dubbed America's Business Expert, had already given his final presentation and was on his way, most likely, to his signature Rainmaker event. It was now time to wrap up; the one-hour close.
Enter James Dentley. James Dentley, the big guy, the laid back gentle giant, the perfect complement to Bill's Type A business persona. I had seen James at a few other Powerteam events; even
chatted with him. He seemed "nice" enough; upbeat, positive. So when he took to the podium I was expecting a "nice" little wrap up, a sort of "nice" thank-you-for-coming accompanied by a "nice," warm, fuzzy embrace and possibly an invitation to a future event. After all, James seemed to be
a "nice" man.
Well, I was in for a huge surprise. Man, oh man, oh man. No, it wasn't that Mr. Dentley turned
out to be not so "nice" after all. Quite the contrary. He introduced himself and invited everyone to draw closer to the front of the room. Many of the conference attendees had already left, probably to
return to work or to catch flights home or, for any number of reasons. Those who remained had no idea what we were in store for.
Mr. Dentley gave us a little personal background (you know . . . the kind of information that goes in the "About Us" section of a website.) He shared why he loves what he does, then proceeded to some storytelling. Quote after quote, parable after parable, life example after life example, some personal and others that hit close to home, he took us on an emotionally charged journey. Although it was partly his trip (pun partially intended), it could have been any of ours. He schooled us. He challenged us. He opened wounds, then sutured us back together again. Let me tell you, I kept my head down and my eyes fixed so that no one could see how moist they were. Next, I heard sniffles. At first, there were a few here and there, then suddenly, as if a spigot had given
way, everyone, men, women, young people, ALL professionals were giving way to their emotions.
You see, Mr. James Dentley, that DARN James Dentley, somehow with just the right combination of experience and pathos forced us to go within, DEEEEP within ourselves and confront our
issues. Why do we do what we do? What inspires us? What is blocking us? Why are we moving or not moving forward? He took us to a place that is not for the faint of heart. I tell you, right then and there I had to admit that in spite of outward appearances, I was a broken soul. Broken, I tell you, BROKEN!
That was not the first encounter with myself. I am fairly introspective and I
do these self-evaluations from time to time. What made this time different and even more poignant was that it was so unexpected. Who expects to go to a business meeting and walk away with her soul shaken and stirred? This was not on the Vegas casino floor. It was a conference center atop a business hotel.
After the session, everyone was stripped. We were left bare. Power suit: stripped. Briefcase:
stripped. Game face: stripped. Yet, we suddenly became open: open to feel, open to reconnect, open to find ourselves again.
I dare say that all who left there that evening left changed. First, by the solid business insights presented during the conference and next, undoubtedly by the powerfully moving close
delivered by James Dentley, the one who made me reexamine every thought, fear, reason and excuse I had regarding my business.
It may have taken a while but today, I am more committed than ever to excelling at being excellent, passionate about expressing passion and more purposeful about leading with purpose.
To an unwitting teacher I will be ever grateful. James Dentley.Yes, that DARN James Dentley.
Jennifer Lavern is a keen observer of the issues that affect how women view themselves and how they interact with their world.