OK, how am I going to report on this? How am I going to explain this one?

There I was, trying to place a smiling face — a smiling face! — on the index finger of the guy sitting next to me.

Jeez, I feel like a fool. How am I going to explain this to my boss? My publisher sends me to report on the proceedings at the Mechanical Contractors Association of America (MCAA) convention and here I am trying to ink a smiling face on the index finger of the guy sitting next to me! Don’t look into his eyes, for god’s sake.

At least he is laughing. Hell, everyone in this room is laughing. It’s loud. This is weird. Really weird.

Is this what goes on at these conventions? Heck, my first seminar was nothing like this one. That first presenter talked about selecting the right kind of information system. But this…

Now the guy next to me is inking a smiling face on my index finger! He’s just doing as the instructor asked. It’s kind of hard to think amongst the laughter in this room. I’m not sure if I like this.

I should have known this was going to be a different seminar as soon as I stepped into the room. Van Morrison music was playing. But the title of the talk seemed so interesting: “Turn Relationships into Partnerships.”

If that’s not bad enough, the lady now wants us to act as if our smiling-faced index finger is a human being.

She wants us to walk around introducing our finger to five other smiling-faced index finger “people.”

She is crazy! Looney!

And we’re supposed to say, with gusto, “Hi! What’s the best thing that has happened to you today?”

Argh! How do I report on this?


Maybe in your lifetime you will experience an Amanda Gore seminar. It is definitely an “experience.”

Gore is one of Australia’s most popular professional speakers. For the record, she holds a degree in physiotherapy, and she is a master practitioner of neurolinguistics. (Go ahead. Look up that one.) Most important, she has a unique ability to entertain, involve, and educate simultaneously. Frustration with the reactive nature of traditional physiotherapy led Gore to the more proactive stance of trying to prevent illness and injury.

She definitely was the talk of the 2002 MCAA convention — a convention that featured such powerful speakers as General H. Norman Schwarzkopf, business guru Tom Peters, and political writer George Will. Had Gore been asked to be a featured speaker — as opposed to “just” one of the many seminar presenters — well, it would have been an interesting four days in Boca Raton, FL.

As it was, attendees could easily find out if others had participated in one of Gore’s two seminars. All one had to do was put up an index finger and say, “Hi!” If you got a laugh along with a nodding head, that person had experienced Gore. If you got a perplexed look…well, I just walked away quickly.

Very quickly. Without looking back.

The whole idea behind the smiling-faced finger exercise was to get people talking and…well …loose. Gore believes such exercise is good in getting people together to work as a team.


“You got to let go!” she emphasized. “In Australia, no one takes himself seriously.”

Such an outlook on life is healthy, too, she stressed.

“When you hang on to ‘stuff,’ it’s not good for you,” she said. “Research has shown if you keep things in, the chances are you will have health issues to deal with. It’s just not healthy.”

She encouraged attendees to stand tall, with each foot four inches apart from the other.

“It’s a tiny change, but it will have a profound impact,” she said, both from a health, as well as image, standpoint.

Her main points were to laugh more often, love, and continue the learning process. Just as important, she said, is staying away from “energy-suckers,” people who “literally suck the energy out of you.” (To get an idea of what she preaches, go to her website at www.amandagore.com.)

Admittedly, it’s difficult taking a speaker seriously, especially when that person is wearing a feathered, sleeveless top, which proclaims “Ruffle my feathers.” (It was Gore’s way of telling terrorists, “You’re not going to win.”) It’s also strange when the speaker asks you to massage the shoulders of the person seated next to you.

And what can you say about a speaker who concludes by having all participants stand up, join hands, and sing (plus swing) to the Monty Python song, “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life”?

Crazy? You bet.

I’m just glad, unbeknownst to me, my publisher attended the morning session. I didn’t have to explain a thing.

Skaer is editor-in-chief. He can be reached at 248-244-6446; 248-362-0317 (fax); markskaer@achrnews.com (e-mail).

Publication date: 03/18/2002