S.R.O.! Standing Room Only!
The Rest of the story...
STANDING ROOM ONLY
In 1995, Michael was asked to present three sessions "The Art of Taking Care of Yourself ," "Becoming the Best Generation," and "MTV Mentality" for the Greater Edmonton Teachers Convention Association (GETCA) in Alberta, Canada. None of the three were general sessions all were breakout sessions. Michael was distressed when he discovered the room had been set up for over 400 people! He knew perfectly well that the few teachers who would choose his program would sit in the back of this huge room, making it nearly impossible to be effective. Being prepared, Michael taped off the back rows to prevent people from sitting in the back and marked the rows "reserved."
Pleased with himself, and resigned to "make do," Michael left the room to prepare himself for his first talk. He returned fifteen minutes before the talk as he approached the door his heart "stopped" as he saw people already sitting in his "reserved section." When he walked in, he discovered why the room was practically full. The teachers sat in the "reserved section" because there was almost nowhere else to sit!
What a delight What a relief! Michael launched into his presentation "The Art of Taking Care of Yourself ," and the teachers loved it! They clapped and laughed loudly. In fact, people in the halls and in other rooms walked in during the talk, curious to see what all the commotion was about. Soon there were literally no chairs left. People started lining the walls and sitting in the aisles!
After this session, the convention had a lunch break, but people lined up to talk with Michael. The line remained throughout the one and a half-hour lunch break, as Michael took time to speak with each and every one. Eventually, a room monitor asked everyone to leave or sit down because it was time for Michaels second talk. Unfortunately for the people who had waited so patiently in line, there was no place to sit. Word had gotten out to the rest of the convention and the room was even more crowded! So, the people in line simply sat down where they stood.
Almost everyone who was present for "The Art of Taking Care of Yourself " stayed to hear "Becoming The Best Generation!" Every aisle was crowded with people sitting on the floor; they were lined up along every wall and crowded two or three deep along the back wall. It wasnt until after the convention that Michael learned from the Program Coordinator, Susan Guilbault, that there were so many people crowding around the door and spilling out into the hallway trying to hear his program, that the hotel was worried about liability. Unaware of what was going on out in the halls, Michael backed up against the wall to make more room and presented his last two programs. Because so many stayed for all three sessions, some said it felt like one, three-part program. After his final session "MTV Mentality," Michael stayed until everyone that wanted to speak with him had his or her chance. (Michael always does this he says it is what he owes his program participants.) He was still speaking to people three hours after he finished his last session!
Several years later, Michael was invited back to speak for GETCA and they have become one of his favorite groups in the world! However, Michael still says today that nothing compares to that event in 1995. It was the one time he felt like a "star"
He will be the first, however, to tell you it is never about him. It is Michaels message that commands this reaction from educators, social workers, health care professionals, medical professionals and anyone in a "helping profession." As the program coordinator said in reflection, "This was the message we indeed should all be listening to." Click here for the corresponding letter of recommendation.