“I’ve bought a ticket for the World Internet Summit and it’s a BOGOF. Why don’t you come with me and be my second set of ears?”
I agree that ‘lend me your ear’ is probably not the most effective chat-up line, but it was still Gray’s way of suggesting that we go away for a weekend together.
Oh, stoppit! Ever the gentleman, Mr. Wendes forked out for a separate room for my ‘ears’!
He told me to think of it as: “A catholic dirty weekend. Where a man and woman secretly run away to a hotel, stay in separate rooms and don’t do sex.”
So, that’s how I came to pitch up at a hotel overlooking Runway 5 at London’s Heathrow one Friday evening in November. Gray immediately took me to the bar to ‘catch me up’ on all that had gone on in the previous two days of the seminar. There had been a lot of speakers and he had already emptied his wallet buying two packages. One for mentoring and the other a sort of internet classroom complete with instruction on how to design websites that came with hosting thrown in.
For the next two days, I lived the seminar. We got up to take breakfast at 7, before the hordes of hoi polloi got there, and then into the conference room for a 9am start and the first of about eight speakers.
As a complete newbie, there was a lot of valuable information but, also, a huge amount that went straight over my head. And, indeed, looking through my copious notes, a lot of it still does.
What I remember most is the SELLING! Sure, there was a lot of content in the first half of every speaker’s presentation but then they had a product to shift and the NLP and persuasive techniques ramped up the hysterical pressure in the room so that people were just gagging to give their money away in case they lost out on the opportunity to change their life forever.
On the morning of the last day, Gray gave me his wallet for safe keeping. Not that there was any money left, mind, but just to be on the safe side.
I found myself entering a war of attrition. My mental faculties were using every means at their disposal to fight off the incoming urges that made me want to spend money I didn’t have on packages of information and software that I didn’t really understand.
In some ways, the fact that Gray had already spent so much was a wonderful brake on my own enthusiasm. Every time I felt as if I wanted to buy something, he would nod and say ‘Our package does that.’
So, reassured and relieved, I would allow the energy that was forcing me out of my seat to vent through my ears and drift away to infect the person in the row behind.
On Sunday night, after a silent dinner of fish, chips and mushy peas, two white-faced, shell-shocked fledglingÂ internet marketers made their way round the M25 and back to Essex to try to assimilate all the data buzzing around in their skulls.
It was the beginning.