More than 12,000 people converged on Downtown Jackson last week for a pep talk.
The Get Motivated! traveling seminar filled the Jackson Convention Complex. Among the speakers were Yazoo City native Zig Ziglar, former Microsoft president and CEO Rick Belluzzo, former New York mayor and Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani and Mississippi sports legend Archie Manning.
Joe Sanford, operations manager for industrial parts distributor Motion Industries’ Jackson office, said his favorite speaker was Manning.
“My boss thought all the outside guys, all the leaders, needed to come to get motivated. You’ve got to have a positive attitude,” Sanford said.
Manning’s speech centered around leadership, and exhibiting it in good and bad times. Sanford planned to apply Manning’s message to the most critical part of his job.
“Leading my inside guys, getting them to take care of the customer and listen to their needs, that’s what it’s about,” he said. “Customer service is huge. That’s basically all we have to offer. What we have to sell everybody else has to sell. What we have to sell is ourselves, our people and our enthusiasm. We have to go in there and put the foot to it.”
Milton Stafford’s boss at Interstate Realty Management Company in Pearl thought it would be a good idea for some of her people to attend and glean a few ideas that could improve the residential community management company.
“She thought it would be good for some of us in management to learn how to motivate and manage our people. It turned out to be really good. I really enjoyed it,” said Stafford, who said Ziglar’s address was the most effective. Stafford said he already knew that in an economy that is forcing businesses to cut back, increasing your value as an employee is paramount. “But, the biggest deal is to make everyday count. If I’m not motivated I need to go to plan B. That’s something I always saw, but never thought of it that way.”
Several restaurants served concessions and catered the event, which made for a good two days of business.
Linda Brunt, marketing director for Chick-Fil-A, was reviewing sales numbers in the lobby outside the main ballroom toward the conclusion of the event Tuesday.
“We’ve never had a day like that,” she said. “It was a lot to soak in and realize how many people were here. We had to wait in line at the escalator.”
The two-day seminar represented the largest crowd to convene at the Convention Complex at one time since 25,000 people showed up for the facility’s grand opening in January, said general manager Linda McCarthy.
“We had 5,200 chairs down for Monday and we added a couple hundred for Tuesday,” she said. “It was right around 10,000 people for two days. That’s a lot of people, but that’s why the building was built.”
Until now, the high-attendance draws at the Convention Complex were weekend events, which made dealing with traffic congestion easier with the downtown area’s workers at home and not in the workplace.
To prevent gridlock, Trustmark Park in Pearl and Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium opened their parking lots. Shuttle buses brought attendees to and from the Convention Complex. McCarthy said traffic was a non-issue.
“That’s why we had two months of planning to make sure it could run as smoothly as possible,” she said.
With two months of operation, the Convention Complex has hosted everything from car shows to mixed martial arts fights. The Saturday before Get Motivated!, 3,000 people watched a MMA fight. McCarthy said there’s a new lesson to be learned with each event, because they all require different staging, props and floor plans.
“That was the first time we did a major 24-hour overnight turnover in the building from a major clean-up from the fight to a totally new event set-up,” she said. “We had to change out staging and chairs. We had to bring in a huge crew.
“That’s part of our mission, too, is we’re creating jobs. We have hundreds of people in here from a part-time labor standpoint.”
Contact MBJ staff writer Clay Chandler at firstname.lastname@example.org .