Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Motivational Speakers: The Success Marketplace

For good or ill, Nigerians are having a go. First Nigeria got wealthy. Then came the motivational speakers to sell Nigerians on their full potential. (FROM SLATE)[1]

“Several years ago I was a two-time college dropout,” says Steve Harris, one of Lagos’ most high-profile motivational speakers. “When life places a sticker and brands you as an incompetent or a ne’er-do-well, you need to get off your butt—excuse me—and remind them that this is not you.”

Harris is one of roughly a dozen people in Lagos making serious money as motivational speakers, and many more are hoping to do the same. He offered this seminar on “personal mastery” at a heavily discounted rate because he was speaking to a church group, but in the corporate world he commands up to $10,000 for a day’s training.

Ten years ago motivational speaking barely existed here, but practitioners say demand is growing. Nigeria’s economy averaged 7 percent annual growth in the last decade, but roughly 60 percent of the country’s people still live in poverty. In Lagos, a city of hustlers, there is a feeling that dreaming bigger and working harder will help bridge the gap between potential and performance, and motivational speaking is becoming big business.

“Inspiration and motivation are beginning to become big deals … we get so many invitations that we turn [some] down,” Harris tells me. Nigerians, he says, “are in need of hope—they’re looking for something that tells them it can be better.”

Hunger for success is visible everywhere in Lagos, where street hawkers sell copies of Forbes magazine alongside packs of gum. Oil and the massive size of the domestic market have gilded a tiny minority of Nigerians in riches in recent years. The country’s rate of private jet purchasing has begun to rival China’s. Although Nigeria’s announcement of its place as Africa’s GDP leader in April was overshadowed by Boko Haram’s recent attacks and mass kidnapping of teenage girls, Lagos remains a magnet for the ambitious.

Source: Slate