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This is a question Training courses, seminars and conferences

Inspirational or a waste of precious slacking-off time? I once went on a buzzword bingo-laden training course which ended up with my being held at gunpoint in public. Could have gone better, to be honest. Tell us your tales from either side of the lectern

(, Thu 15 Mar 2012, 15:01)
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This question is now closed.

Right.
I went on a training course about, er ... getting the shine off things ... right?

It was, er ...

It was dull.
(, Thu 22 Mar 2012, 11:45, Reply)

A few months ago our help desk introduced an online call logging system and after I mentioned to our relationship manager, a frosty harridan, who's rotundity is in direct correlation with her bitterness, that the link was impossible to find and it should be put on our intranet site, she 'invited me to attend' a course on how to use the online call logging system rather than take on board my useful feedback.

I spent a while trying to formulate a response to accompany my declining of this invite which didn't sound snarky because she was well aware that I already knew how to use it, being involved in the initial user acceptance testing of it. In the end I just declined it. Half an hour later she invited me again to the same sessiona t the same time. So I decided to take straw poll of the people in my office who could actually locate the call logging system and astoundingly 0 out of 35 people could.

I declined the meeting again and this time formulated the neccessary response asking nicely for the link to be placed on our intranet and it was, that same day. The horrid old bag wouldn't even look at me when we crossed paths and I haven't been asked to attend a training course since. I WIN.
(, Thu 22 Mar 2012, 11:40, Reply)
After dinner speaker
I had the mistfortune to be sent to an NHS IT conference in Blackpool a few years ago.

First of, Blackpool is a proper shithole. Even more so "off-season". It was like a ghost-town, even the Tesco in the centre of town was closed during the day.

But the thing that really sticks in my mind was the after-dinner speaker at the black-tie even on the second night. The guy was introduced as being a seasoned comedy writer, having worked at the BBC for a good few decades, including working on stuff like Dad's Army.

So we all thought were were going to be in for a comedy treat. We were also a captive audience - the bar wouldn't open until he was finished.

We were very wrong on the "comedy treat" front. he rambled on and on for hours about his career and shows he'd worked on. Then it came! Here it was! The comedy anecdote! What we'd all been waiting for!

No. It was yet another ramble about how he met a guy on his first day at the BBC and asked him for some advice. The advice was duely given. And they went their seperate ways. And do you know who that person was? No? Me fucking neither, he named him at the end, clearly expecting us to all fall about laughing, but no-one had a fucking clue who he was.

They got Frankie Boyle to do the after-dinner speech the next year.
(, Thu 22 Mar 2012, 10:57, 6 replies)

I went to a three hour training course on making holes. It was boring.
(, Thu 22 Mar 2012, 10:44, 3 replies)
I went on a training course once
I learnt all about trains.
(, Thu 22 Mar 2012, 9:59, 6 replies)
I used to write for a Knowledge Management website.
You thought you've played bullshit bingo? I made a living out of it.

Our editor used to buy a pint for the quickest return we could get on bollocks phrases. My favourite was "intraresourcement".

Form an orderly queue for killing me, please.
(, Thu 22 Mar 2012, 9:57, 3 replies)
In my last job we were given some 'optional' training hours
The 'optional' is in inverted commas because the MD was (and still is) a massive control freak. So, when the two-day sales meetings were being arranged we had to sign up for these 'optional' extra training hours in the evenings - instead of trying to beat last month's world-debt-equalling bar bill. The one which was best subscribed was the one we ALL had to attend. It came to pass that the first course was a 'Self defence' course in a local (MK) sports centre. I looked at the course principal's name and hatched a plan.....
Everyone (except me) had assembled on the mat in their 'loose clothing - appropriate for exercise' ready for their taster session - apparently there was some discussion between the MD and my immediate boss as to the sanctions they were going to impose for my lateness - when I burst into the room looking wild-eyed and drunk. I rushed onto the mat and proceeded, with some choice expletives from me and the appropriate grunts and howls of pain from my victim, to (apparently) beat seven shades and textures of shit from the instructor.
Not one of my colleagues moved a muscle. No-one even attempted to help the poor man who was, to their eyes, being horrifically assaulted by a drunken Captain Placid.
With the instructor curled in a foetal ball whimpering I turned to the stunned line of my colleagues and screamed 'RIGHT, WHO FUCKING WANTS SOME - COME ON - WHO FUCKING WANTS SOME!!!'
I have never* seen my managers look so terrified.
They took it in good part when the instructor** got up laughing his bollocks off - patted me on the back and told the stunned audience that we'd known each other and trained together for the best part of fifteen years, the punchup was a setup and they'd all done exactly what he'd expected them to do - they froze.
His parting words to them were "Don't feel bad, you did what 99% of the population would do - if you take anything away from this just remember - run and get help, call the police, get as much information memorised as you can but stay safe yourself because you obviously can't help".

My colleagues and I got very drunk that night, the MD & my manager went back to their hotel rooms. Ah well, happy days & all that.

*Until I reminded him of the course on the day he made me redundant - No-one would volunteer to 'escort me from the premises'.
**Thoroughly nice guy, held several black belts in various arts and had been a RAF regiment close combat instructor, I'm really glad he didn't fight back, he would've torn me into very small pieces!!
(, Thu 22 Mar 2012, 8:46, 14 replies)
Mate Of Mine
Went on a training course at some flash hotel. At the end of the first day they were told that, for homework, they had to persuade some strangers that they were something they weren't. Act, or lie of you will.

So next morning comes and the course trainer starts asking people what their lie was. Ken, my mate stood up:

"I spent two hours in the lift persuading people that I was the lift operator. I did quite well in tips"

Small round of applause. Then everyone else stood up and gave their stories until there was a commotion at the back. The course pisshead had just arrived. Bloodshot eyes, stinking of stale booze, wearing a rumpled suit and couple of lovebites peeping over his shirt collar.

"And what was your successful lie last night" sneered the course tutor.

"I persuaded the barmaid that I wasn't married and I was a nice guy......"

Cheers
(, Thu 22 Mar 2012, 4:52, 1 reply)
My Cat
Years ago I was a recluse,

antisocial
not trusting of others
shy
scared

basically an introvert...

I like apeloverage story,

Mine took 17 years:

I was about 13 years old, I just came from my friends place for the weekend, it was a Sunday morning, it was also my sister's 21st that day...
When I arrived at my home (21st January 1994), I was immediatly acousted by my sister and my mother, to see what was in my sister's room...
And there she was, Lucretia... or Lucy... or simply "Kitty Kat"...
A Bi-Colour Kitten who was about 6 weeks old, and she stared straight into my eyes and gave (she had a distinct meow) her greeting, "grrrROW?".

My sister got it as a 21st present from her boyfriend. We never had pets in the family, my father hated animals (but he hypocritically like watch nature and animal shows on TV), but she was part of our family!

when she was growing up, she use go through the bushes in the garden and climb the branches on the trees, I was always watching her, teaching her other places to climb around... used to call her "Adventure Cat!" when she was on these missions.

One day she was able to climb from the outside into the bedroom window, much to the suprise of my sister, she liked the cat, but never really paid attention to her, the cat however noticed that I paid attention, and always gave the response,"GrrrRow!" (I did it!)

My sister left for London when she was not even over a year old... she still says it was her cat, but Kitty Kat decided otherwise!

I taught her to be wary of cars, and she learnt very well... to the point of daring: When the car was at a certain distance, she shot across the road right in front of the car going at 35mph... got to admit, she had balls!

The thing she like most of all was boxes...
If you put and empty box on the ground in front of her, she would jump inside... and she would attack you if you tried to get her out!
btw. I taught her how to attack, it involved a string at first, then a yo-yo, then a golf club (she really enjoyed this activity!)

She was bullied by other cats when she was young, but as she got older, she turned hardcore and started to fight and maul other cats, lots of complaints from the neighbours... haha! screw them!

The most unique thing about my cat, she learnt to talk to me:

BrrrMeow! : Hello
Meow Meow : Food!
Brrrr(soft): Excuse me?
Brrrr(Loud): Piss off! (she usually gave a nasty look too!)
Grrr! : I Like that!
Mmmm(quiet): Are you looking at me?

Two years ago she got arthritus... soon she could not even jump over 1 foot. Still I cared for her, made a makeshift staircase of potplants outside my bedroom window so she could climb up to visit me, climb down when she needed the toilet. Because of her arthritus, She really suffered when she need to do "nature's call"... Still disturbed by her cries of pain...

The last sad part is when I had to put her down, she knew what was going to happen to her... she was absolutely silent... she knew (and most likely thankful) what was going to happen... gave her one last hug... then the injection... gave one last Grrr...
All I remember afterwards is my mom catching me, pissed as hell,in the garden cleaning her litter tray and putting food in her bowl...

As I said, I was a reccluse, anit-social, shy, scared, basically an introvert... but I grew up with my cat...
Best Training Course in my life
(, Wed 21 Mar 2012, 23:36, 14 replies)
Penfold
One Friday afternoon I was installed on the Waterloo-Southampton 'express' (30% added creaking) but had forgotten my reading material for the journey, leaving me with the sole option of looking out the window at the blurry scenery whizzing past and listening to the conversation of the two Suits sat next to me, who had apparently been to a seminar that afternoon.

One of the speakers had prepared an immensely detailed presentation with dozens of densely-filled PowerPoint slides. He had also, sadly, forgotten to bring his notes or his reading glasses on the day, so he delivered his entire presentation with his nose scrunched up against his laptop screen and failed to make eye contact once with his target audience.
(, Wed 21 Mar 2012, 22:42, 2 replies)
Motivation, motivation
Many years ago, I aspired to be a manager. I wanted to boss people around in a nice way, and earn some extra money into the bargain. Knowing of my ambition, my manager at the time deigned to reach into the firms' pockets and allow me to join him on a pilgrimage to a management seminar in London.

There were four speakers that day, with networking breaks between each. The first two were very dull. Then there was a dull lunch. Then, as is so often the case, they wheeled out a motivational speaker to keep everyone awake after the complimentary canapés and wine.

I don't recall his name, only that he was a large black man. But he was electrifying. Instead of standing at the podium showing us slides, he bestrode the room like a colossus, picking on individual people to answer questions. Instead of weakly mewling his points in a monotone they were boomed out in a stunning display of oratory. It was utterly captivating. To this day I can remember the content of that speech: it was about how IT directors were underpowered and should be holding their companies to ransom to demand a seat on the board.

And after about ten minutes of it, I realised it was complete crap.

Oh, it was brilliantly delivered and entertaining to watch. But everything he came out with was just well-disguised platitudes, empty and meaningless advice that had no basis in reality, no evidence to support it and no chance of actually coming to pass however "motivated" the listeners became. This realisation just made it more amusing to watch and I was heartily looking forward to discussing it with my fellow managers and managers-to-be so we could revel in our shared critical faculties and laugh at his inane suggestions.

So we had our networking break. The room was abuzz with excited conversation. And all of it, everyone I spoke to, was holding the man up like some kind of Messiah. Like he'd just solved all the problems of IT management at a stroke. Indeed such was the entirely uncritical adulation he received, you'd have thought he'd solved third world hunger and poverty at a stroke.

I came home on the train that day profoundly depressed. I was depressed because what I'd believed in, been keen to achieve, had been uncovered as a lie. Management-types weren't especially intelligent, or super organised. They were shallow sheep who digested the tone of what they were told without listening to the content and parroted it back to one another and their employees.

My illusions were shattered. I never again chased a management job and remain to this day naught but a humble programmer. But it taught me to be proud of what I do, and to be critical of those who would seek to lord it over me. And for that, I'm thankful.
(, Wed 21 Mar 2012, 13:51, 8 replies)
I lasted a fortnight
I was employed as an ‘out of hours phone operative’ with c*untrywide property lawyers. The job mainly consisted of getting shouted at by people who were buying or selling a house after the twat who’d bollocksed things up had gone home. All new recruits, irrespective of their job, were sent on a 2 day, in-house course to learn about the company history and ethos (Ugh).

One of the attendees was Janet, the new head of HR, who for the entire duration of the course, constantly hijacked every discussion to prattle on about the importance of customer service, punctuated with stories about how great the customer service in India (where she previously worked) is, compared to the UK.

One of the ‘getting to know you’ exercises was answer a list of short questions to share with the group, I remember the icy stare and stony silence combo Janet gave me when I burst out laughing to her ‘Name something you hate’ response being... “bad customer service”.

I said “spiders”
(, Wed 21 Mar 2012, 12:26, 8 replies)
My Mrs had to train the Top Gear Presenters on how to use some vehicle tracking software.
At their office somewhere in the middle of some inner London BBC building. It was for some feature where Jeremy was going to race his new Jaguar against a train or plane or something from London to somewhere in Europe.

The 2 hour session comprised of 2 minutes showing May and Hammond how to log into the website, 30 minutes of them shouting abuse and insults over a speakerphone to Clarkson as he was clocked doing 120 in some place he really shouldn't and the rest sitting around watching the 2 of them take the piss out of eachother as they browsed various websites looking for which cars and motorbikes they were going to buy next.

When she came back she said with that sort of work ethic it's amazing they ever got an episode to air.

And she didn't bring me back an autograph.
(, Wed 21 Mar 2012, 9:25, 7 replies)
Chuffin' well just be like me!
I was sent on one of those 'inspirational' seminars a few years ago by a boss who was all into the NLP/ power of persuasion side of sales, networking and all that shite.

The day long affair was run by your atypical salt-of-the-earth, 'I squeezed out 10 kids, divorced my asshole husband, started my own business and am well on my way to becoming a millionaire by the time I was your age' Yorkshire lady who used all sorts of fluffy motivational catchphrases such as 'positive mindset', 'trust your instincts', 'conceive, beleive and achieve'.

Not to say I didn't like her or her presenting style, but after half a day of her explaining to us how she got where she was today via nothing more than good old-fashioned can-do gumption; we then had to use the blank notebooks she supplied to write down our career and life goals.

And that apparently was it.

The only thing I recall with any clarity was her penchant for swearing, then apologising loudly for swearing, retracting the apology by saying 'I don't apologise for who I am!', then repeating the offending sentence but replacing the swear word with the word 'chuff'.

tl/dr

Boss spent about 700-800 quid sending me on a motivational sales seminar that would have been better spent on a supply of self help books.
(, Wed 21 Mar 2012, 9:22, Reply)

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