The first day started around 8 AM with registration. Only when I got in the hotel lobby I realized that I didn’t actually know where the workshop is going to take place. I just assumed there has to be some conferences center around and after justÂ a few minutes of walking in the crowded casino (yes, even at 7:30 AM)), I found it. At the entrance, I was welcomed by Erin Pavlina and another 3 people who were helping her.
The first impression was very pleasant. I had a very clear feeling of “deja-vu”, or at least Erin seemed extremely familiar to me, although she looks very different from the pictures I already saw. I registered, shook hands and got my badge and handout. I had a look at the hall, a medium sized hall with a deck in the back where the video setup was built.
There were 3 cameras and a mixer (not visible in the picture above, but quite a complicated setup, if you ask me). Later on during the workshop I learned the whole event will be mastered on a DVD, which will be, of course, on sale. Early birds discounts, available. 🙂
After registration I hit the Starbucks near the elevators for some quick breakfast. In less than half an hour I was back again and took my place in the second half of the room, the rightmost chair. The session was opened on time by Darren LaCroix , World Champion in PublicÂ Speaking, which turned to be one of Steve’s friends. The opening was pretty short, very energetic but at the same time pretty common sense (no lights, smoke or screams). In a matter of minutes, we were already having a running workshop instead of an impatient crowd.
But before even starting to talk, Steve tried a little exercise on us: ice-breaking, of course, with a 1 on 1 discussion with your neighbor. I met my chair neighbor, a nice girl from Hong-Kong, and exchanged some quick impressions. It didn’t took more than 2 minutes. After that, Steve asked a few of us to stand up and publicly tell the reasons for being there. Again, this didn’t take longer than 2 minutes. And after that, we were finally on track. I have to admit the ice-breaker was on of the smoothest I witnessed, we actually slide towards the presentation without any friction.
Truth, Love And Power
The first day workshop was dedicated to some abstract concepts, namely Truth, Love and Power, the building blocks of Steve’s reality description system. We spent the morning listening to Steve’s explanations about those core principles. I won’t go into any details here, feel free to visit Steve’s blog for more info, or to buy his book Personal Development For Smart People. At certain time intervals we had some written exercises. Nothing complex, just some notes, no more than several sentences. The writing exercises were well balanced in the whole mix, in terms of time spent and focus.
Before lunch break we had another interesting exercise, in which Steve wanted us to test our predictions about one’s evolution. He asked for a volunteer to get up on stage and share a little bit about his life. Based on what the volunteer said we were asked to make some predictions about how the subject’s life will be in one year. The volunteer Steve picked was Angela, a girl from Seattle which I met at the yesterday meetup at Caesar’s Palace. It was very interesting to see how people predicted the evolution based on a limited set of info. I took the bullet and gave my 2 cents too, predicting that in less than 1 year Angela will quit her job and start a new career in direct sales or counseling. Steve asked me if I was ready to bet all my life earnings on it. Feeling pretty confident, I said yes. And added that I am ready to pay her to become a counselor, if that will help. Laughs. Well, time will tell. 🙂
Another nice exercise was exactly before the lunch break, and it was actually a prediction about what we are going to have for lunch. Steve asked us to write exactly what we would like to eat and do our best to eat that. I wrote something about a raw food wrap and a salad, psyched to follow my path to one of the Vegas famous raw food restaurants and have that lunch. On my way out I asked Erin if she knows the address of a raw food restaurant and she told me that “driving 20 minutes back and forth is not an option for such a short break” and maybe I should wait until evening. I had no other chance but to listen to her, so my lunch was only 50% identical with what I wrote. The salad part, that is. Instead of a raw food wrap I had a vegetarian sandwich.
Master And Servant
After the break, things started to pick up. We talked about the combination of the core principles (Truth, Love and Power) which created Oneness, Authority and so on. We had several more writing exercises and another on stage appearance with Steve, this time featuring a guy who wanted to share something about his relationship.
But the highlight of the afternoon session was the authority exercise, something Steve called “Master and Servant”. We had to form groups of 3 and pretend that one of us is the master and the other ones are the servants. Each master had to give orders and the servant had to obey. Or not. 😉 And then we take turns. It was incredibly fun and also amazingly chaotic. People did their best to create the strangest commands and servants seemed very happy to obey. There were people climbing on the chairs, dancing, shouting out loud or giving and receiving massages. In a matter of seconds the hall changed from an ordered assembly of people into a brownian, highly entropic, impossible to follow crowd of random master and servant role players. One guy had the very lucky command to come and rub my (recently shaved) head. I said “lucky” because anyone who rub my recently shaved head is going to win the lottery. Seriously. ;-).
My group was with the Hong Kong girl and a guy from Slovakia (which I of course candidly mistaken several times as Slovenia when I tried to make some dumb conversation like: “I heard a lot of nice things about your main city, Ljubljana”). When the girl was the master she wanted us, boys, to do some arm wrestling for her. And we did. Milan, the guy from Slovakia, was politely enough to let me win (although his arm was twice as thick as mine). When I was master I teach the girl how to count from 1 to 5 in Romanian. And also gave Milan the task of telling me at least 3 areas in which I can improve. The first one was my accent. The second was my dressing. And the third one was related to my chair position: seems like Milan was sitting right after me and couldn’t see a thing because of my chair position. So he kindly told me that I will greatly improve myself if I’ll move my chair so he can actually see something.
It was really fun doing this exercise and we all felt energetic and jazzed. But after we finished it, Steve told us we’re going to do it again. This time, with a complete change of perspective. If, as masters, we were empowering the first time, try to do something disempowering. If, as servants, we were obeying, try to be bully and disrespectful. So, this time I decided to put my servants to circle around the hall. When they got back I was very disappointed, because “this is not a way to circle around the hall”. So, I asked them to do it again, this time counter-clockwise. Of course, I felt like crap doing this, even if it was just for the sake of playing. As a servant, I was really bully and talkative, not executing the orders and trying to start a fight. Again, felt like crap :-). One of the tasks we received at some point (this 2nd time the borders between masters and servants started to blend a little and we couldn’t remember who was who) was to make a picture with Steve and Erin. Which you may see right here. I’m the guy with the recently shaved head, if you didn’t got that yet.
After this exercise the first workshop was almost done. At the end, Erin was invited on the scene to make some announcements about Steve’s book (Steve signed his book which was also on sale in the hall) and about the raw vegan restaurants we can find in the city (my lunch break question must had something to do with it, I suppose). I would have been great to go with them in a raw vegan restaurant but I was really, really sleepy, so I decided to go up in my room and, yes, sleep. Turned out to be a pretty good decision.
Almost forgot, Erin had another appearance on the stage, during the first part of the workshop, telling us quite a nice story about how to use your power to achieve your goals. At some point Erin was (or maybe still is) a Trekkie, which means a Star Trek fan. She wanted so bad to go on the set and see how and where Star Trek was made. I will leave you the joy to discover the story once you buy the DVD, for now suffice to say that it was a very nice story.
Steve had some red lines in his speech, many of them related to what he writes in his blog. The whole workshop vibe was about change: quit your job, quit your relationship, confront your current life situation. But the real life experience of those concepts in this live workshop is completely different from what you experience on the blog.
The master vibe on the blog is most of the time a courageous disruptive action which must have the power to change your life for good. Steve’s writing style is very powerful and that makes his blog one of the best motivators on the web. He changed the life of many people only by his writing and he changed it in a very powerful way.
But the same concepts explained in real life by Steve are very different. The decision to change your life is always backed up with thought and consciousness. Steve’s speech is not aggressive nor even combative. It’s balanced and punched with humor and moderate gesture. The voice tone is even lower than in some of his podcasts and the whole stage performance is geared towards balance not towards disruption. I think this is one of the most important changes I noticed so far in this workshop.
That was it. In less than 2 hours starts the second day. 🙂