About a decade ago, I went to an event filled with brilliant speakers and marketing geniuses to hear what kind of ideas they had to share. It was a collection of some of the greatest money minds in the world, and the experience still sticks with me every day. Since that time in my life, the small group of 3 that made the journey to this even have doubled our net worth, and risen to higher positions in our professional lives. Personally, I was earning a net income of about $25,000 a year with a student loan debt of over $50,000 I was in default on. I now earn 4 times that and have the beginnings of a retirement fund and personal income safety net. I’ve come a long way in these past 10 years, but… my student loan debt is still crushing me. I managed to pay for a few semesters toward my Master Degree before I was approved for more student loans in order to finish what I’d started. Tending bar and working in the food services industry was the best opportunity for income I could manifest at the time, but it was never enough to keep my bills paid and save anything for retirement or student loans.
My roommate and I were at different places in our lives, but we both had the same struggle in the moment: How do we get to the next level? How do we change our lives for the better, financially?
Enter: The Learning Annex
It was a star-studded affair. Paula White, George Foreman, Jack Canfield, Tony Robbins and MANY more… Including the headlining act: Donald J. Trump, himself.
It was 2 days of seminars and sales pitches, coupled with some rather motivational speeches in a discreet way to sell “programs”, books, methods and other interesting ideas to generate income that would be delivered in a multitude of ways. Lump Sum, residual incomes, work-from-home opportunities… you name it, there was a method being pitched for it.
The (Tony) Anthony Robbins speech was very memorable and rather special as normally a Tony Robbins seminar would cost $1000’s of dollars and require travel to an exotic location to try crazy things like “Fire walking on the beach of an island” or something to that affect. While it was rather fantastic to take part in, Tony was not the “closing act”.
Donald John Trump FINALLY Takes The Stage!
Enter THE Donald J. Trump, himself. As The Apprentice was reaching peak popularity, there were dozens of people in the crowd with “Trump For PRESIDENT” signs, hooping and howling for the appearance of the legendary Mr. Trump. When The Don took the stage, he wasted NO TIME in starting to attack Rosie O’Donnell, calling her some AWFUL things, dropping F-bombs left and right. I was personally shocked and almost blushing at the unprovoked attacks and language of this highly anticipated moment all weekend. Just… WOW!
Parents standing in the back who were there with their children and holding up homemade “Trump For President” and “We <3 Trump!” signs shared my sentiment. They stood there with their mouths agape, slowly lowering their signs. As the flurry of curse words and denigrating contexts they were used in escalated even further, the parent dropped their signs and used both free hands to cover the ears of their children to attempt to shield them the commentary of Donald Trump. It was kind of amazing, but mostly shocking. This is not what anyone expected.
I don’t recall anything of substance being spoken outside of the scathing gossip and extraordinarily personal assessment of “Rosie” other than what Trump had to say about George W. Bush, the current US President at the time of the event. Trumps opinion of George W. Bush and his policies were only matched in derogatory and denigrating remarks about Rosie O’Donnell’s appearance and personality.
Trump Comments on Foreign Policy
“Bush has set this country so far behind…” and “We shouldn’t still be in Iraq and Afghanistan…” were among the keynote takeaways from the borderline ridiculous stage show that was flawlessly executed on the main stage at the final act of the weekend event.
I’m honestly not sure what to make of the whole experience, in hindsight. There were lots of distractions, pretty lights and flashy women on the stage. Lots of ego puffing and loud music. Lots of money being spent and money being made. It was kind of crazy after I had some time to process the whole thing. A vague nod to an obvious foreign policy, a tirade of insults to a weight-gaining comedian with declining popularity and the current President of The United States… and… dancing and singing. There was a tiny splash of motivational speaking, covering the most obvious of talking points that most locker room type motivational speeches cover, but it was primarily glitz and glamor with curse words.
A few weeks after the event, both my roommate and I had our credit cards charged roughly $40 without our authorization for a program that neither one of us knew anything about. As we attempted to cancel the program, we were both convinced by the highly skilled telemarketers who took our attempted cancellation calls to try the program out for 3 months at a reduced price. We dug deeper into the details of the program only to discover that it was basically centered around the idea of taking all of our available credit that we could possibly apply for, then talking all our friends into doing the same, and risking all this “credit cash” on a real estate venture that included buying a cheap home and flipping it for profit without a few months of the initial purchase. Yes. Really. That was the program. Again, kind of amazing.
Both my roommate and I cancelled our memberships immediately upon thinking this proposition through. How would be able to afford the payments on the credit line until we made our money back? How would we improve the property that we purchased if we had no money left to spent on it? How would any of this work in practice, not just in theory? The risk was too high, and frankly, there wasn’t anyone else that we knew that would put all their credit up to that kind of risk for a few guys that were working schleps with no history of success in this area of business, law or finances. We were not refunded any of the money that we initially invested in the event ticket, nor the “program” that gave us direction to do fiscally irresponsible things.
Even More Questionable Business Activities
Fast forward 3 years later, there is a Trump Tower project being built less than 3 miles from my place of employment. At the last moment, Trump backs out of the deal, leaving dozens of contractors and hundreds of workers unpaid for all they did to build the Trump Towers. During the election campaign, Hillary Clinton actually gave a speech at the site of the failed Trump Towers project. She was such a disaster by then that only about 300-400 people showed up. It was pitiful compared to the size of the crowd that Trump had just 2 nights before about 3 miles away at a venue normally for the largest acts in music.
Donald J. Trump is the President of The United States of America. Period.
It’s a considerable amount of “WOW” to process. But the facts are that there were 2 people running for office in the 2016 election that were flawed in a multitude of ways. The country voted, and the majority of a minimal voter turnout determined they wanted Hillary Clinton to be President, but the Electoral College Laws in the United States passed the narrow victory to Trumps favor. Again. Amazing. This is the current state of affairs in the political conditions of the United States of America.
All I can do is sit back and watch the drama unfold as we have not had a candidate that tells the truth and supports the individual people of this country in a meaningful way, without a corporate agenda, without the richest people in the world in mind for EVERY decision, for anyone with class or integrity in my entire lifetime. Trump is no exception, nor would Hillary Clinton make the cut. The whole thing is pretty sad when you really think about it in a “big picture” kind of a way. How has Trump and his Administration changed your life for the better? or for the worse?
“What difference does it make?” – Hillary Clinton