In the weekend I was a guest speaker at a super awesome conference that targeted Pacific youth in South Auckland. Organized by Accelerating Aotearoa, their aim is to help connect young people with potential careers and training opportunities and other really useful stuff like that. I was honored to be invited and put a lot of time and thought into what I would say, keeping in mind that teenagers are the toughest audiences. Right after pre-schoolers. Because if you’re boring, adults are good at pretending to be interested whereas teenagers – will roll their eyes, start texting, do their nails and basically tell you to get lost.
I had learned my lesson from the Wellington Wardrobe Fiasco though – and dressed for comfort. I had a moment of panic when my GHD fried itself, leaving my hair in a shocking state of untamedness. But I whipped it into Pocohantas braids and was ready to go.
I went. I listened. I learned heaps. I was inspired. And then it was my turn to speak. And I don’t think I sucked. Nobody snored. Or threw stuff at me. Or puked in the aisles. I was hopeful that my scintillating words of wisdom would be useful for the young minds of our nation.
And then the next speaker walked to the podium. He looked like this:
And all the teenage girls in the room sighed. And sat up straighter. And there was whispering and muffled giggles. And then absolute INTENSELY RAPT AVID CONCENTRATION as he started to speak.
Why? Because they were all seeing this…
Joseph Naufahu acting in Spartacus.
Joseph Naufahu acting in Go-Girls.
And he talked about working hard to pursue your dreams. (Even in the face of challenges like busting up your knee and ending your sparkling rugby career.) And he challenged everyone to ‘unleash your inner Gladiator’ because he owns a gym with a gladiator theme. And all the teenager boys were going, ‘damn, I wanna be like him…‘ (and of course the teenager girls were sighing some more.)
And even I was inspired by the ‘unleash your gladiator’ message. I wanted to run out and do some push-ups right away. And I wished that I had brought my teenagers with me to listen to his message ( and the other speakers as well.)
BUT, do you think ANYBODY is going to remember a single scintillating word I said after seeing and listening to all of that?!
No. I must glumly concede that a boring writer cannot hope to be scintillating next to a rugbyplayer-turned actor-turned Gladiator.
What do we learn from this?
1. For all future speaking engagements, I must respectfully request, that NO gladiator actors are allowed to speak before me, after me, or anywhere near me. Not if I want to have a hope in hell that anyone will remember anything I say.
2. I must take some attention-grabbing props with me. Like a flame thrower. So I can turn it on for a fiery pyro show and invite the audience to ‘Unleash your creative fire! Just like in Telesa…’
3. I really need to do some push-ups. And stop eating Doritos and donuts at midnight. (Hmm…but then we already knew that one, didn’t we?)