Wednesday 6 June 2007

Words versus half-naked action

I’d hoped to spin a column out of my attendance at last month’s Entrepreneurs Forum in Gateshead. This excellent business conference has grown like Topsy and attracted a record 238 delegates, in the ratio of about eight genuine entrepreneurs to 230 would-be advisers, keen to part them from their money. Not me, though: I’m long past all that.

Unfortunately it all involved a bit too much audience participation for my taste. At the outset, we were enjoined to stand up and get to know our neighbours, something I’m inclined to resist as I consider hand-shaking a most unhygienic habit (I’d rather do kissing; with tongues). I also remembered that in a prior year some motivational woman speaker encouraged delegates to jump on their chairs, then asked how we ever expected to get anywhere if we were such a bunch of suggestible idiots.

All in all, it felt like a bit of a cross between a happy-clappy communion service and roll-call at a special needs primary school, but I stuck with it and was richly rewarded with some outrageously non-PC comments about global warming and disabled rights activism from the opening speaker. A lady who has made a fortune out of supplying hotels with branded toiletries then furnished the valuable information that 74% of us take the lot with us when we check out; and that hotels set their room rates on the assumption that we will. So if, like me, you are still in the other 26%, you really are a fool to yourself.

The after-lunch session proved to be a troupe of half-naked Maoris instructing delegates in how to perform a haka, which will no doubt come in very handy at all those advisers’ next pay reviews. I was more than a little peeved, as I’d misheard the rumour and skipped the official buffet to spend an hour in the Crown Posada composing what I felt sure would be a prize-winning haiku. So I went back to the boozer in a huff, thereby missing the inspirational Gerald Ratner and the opportunity to plagiarise his no doubt excellent jokes.

I think that’s me finished with business conferences for ever, unless someone invites me to give my own talk on the meaning and purpose of financial public relations. This has the virtue of extreme brevity, if nothing else.

If anyone could use a three-line Japanese poem about entrepreneurship (in translation), feel free to give me a call.

Keith Hann is a better poet than a PR, though this is not saying much:

Originally published in The Journal, Newcastle upon Tyne.

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