A large trade association conference usually means an opening session with a motivational speaker from outside the industry. Using lots of humor, the speaker is there to get the attendees in the right frame of mind for positive and productive days ahead.

Then again, some speakers try something completely different — and still end up firing up the audience.

The keynoter at the recent annual meeting of the Inter-national Institute of Ammonia Refrigeration was Larry Winget, who bills himself as “the world’s only irrational speaker.”

Among his bon mots:

  • “Motivational speakers are lying to you when they say positive attitude produces good things in your life. No, positive attitude helps you deal with what comes at you.”
  • “Will everything go perfect? No. That’s just how life is. Don’t say it can’t get worse.”
  • “Take responsibility. That’s the hardest thing anybody does in their lives. It’s like the guy on the Jerry Springer show who can’t understand why his wife and girlfriend are both leaving him.”
  • Winget also took on the “feel good” philosophy. “Feeling good never did you a bit of good. We don’t make changes until we get uncomfortable.

    “Motivation is about getting uncomfortable.”

    “Lighten up and have more fun,” he said. “When it quits being fun, you ought to quit. Have a good time. Learn to enjoy what you do and have fun every day. Don’t die of terminal professionalism.”

    While well received, Winget’s comments on fun roused the most post-presentation comments.

    Folks who have been in the hvacr industry for a long time often say this industry was more “fun” a long time ago. The competition wasn’t as fierce, profits were better, the government wasn’t overregulating everything, and technology didn’t seem to be changing every week. Now it just isn’t fun, they say.

    I’m not sure how long ago “a long time ago” was. I came into the industry in 1985, just about the time the CFC issue was surfacing. It hasn’t been fun sifting through federal regulations and figuring out chemical formulae. But it has been challenging and interesting.

    Maybe the daily down and dirty of hvacr work isn’t fun, but I do know the people who do that work, and they work hard. After hours, they play hard.

    So here are a couple of questions to ponder. Should work in the hvacr industry be fun? And if so, how do you go about making it fun?

    When you find out, let me know. I’ll pass it along.

    Powell is refrigeration editor. He can be reached at 847-622-7260; 847-622-7266 (fax); or PowellBNP@aol.com (e-mail).

    Publication date: 07/02/2001