October 2, 2011

I love inspirational books. I love books on motivation. I want to be inspired because I want to inspire people. I want to be motivated so that I can motivate others as well.

This is why I love people who are joyful and active. I don’t like people who are complainers, whiners, moaners and sobers. I  don’t know why but some people brighten the room by leaving it.

But do you know that there is a company that makes money by catering to the needs of such people?

Listen to this article:

For every motivational platitude that creates a bad attitude and every corporate catch phrase that instills employee rage, there may be a new customer for a company called Despair. Dallas-based Despair Inc. has built a business in a line of products it bills as demotivational.

Despair sells calendars, posters, coffee mugs and a variety of office paraphernalia emblazoned with images that are meant to inspire but are undercut with messages that are deflating.

It wants to appeal to cynics who think that a snappy phrase plastered on the walls of an office will not make up for years of mismanagement and the prospects for increased job losses.

E.L. Kersten, the founder of Despair said, “A lot of people find motivational products demeaning. We are the brand for the cynics, pessimists and the chronically unsuccessful.”

Kersten said campaigns to boost employee morale, instill the concept of “great service,” or build teamwork often articulate a vision that is untrue, despite what a company’s top executives and marketing geniuses may believe.

For the “teamwork” entry on the demotivational 2004 calendar, there is a picture of a rolling snowball with the phrase: “A few harmless flakes working together can unleash an avalanche of destruction.”

“Ambition” depicts a bear waiting for a salmon that has completed an arduous upstream swim to spawn, accompanied by the phrase: “The journey of a thousand miles sometimes ends very, very badly.”

The company promises to give customers a brand new sense of buyer’s remorse and help them to unleash the power of mediocrity. It offers advice to managers that the best way to resolve morale problems is to fire all the unhappy people.

And the message has started to catch on.

Kersten started the business in 1998 with a couple of friends in 1998 and Despair has blossomed into a company with $4 million in annual sales. Still, the figure is just a drop in the bucket compared with the billions Americans and U.S. businesses spend each year on motivational books, seminars and speakers as they try to tap into the unlimited reaches of their personal power. A speaker with a major firm that produces motivational seminars said slogans that promote the ideas of cynics can be destructive.

He said, “It takes a lot of work to motivate people, but only one sourpuss to turn an office into a bunch of sourpusses.”

Kersten has a Ph.D. in Organizational Communication, which examines how
power flows in a big organization. He once taught at a college in New York and then was lured to Dallas to work for an Internet service provider.
From his experience, he said that people in sales seem to appreciate the power of motivational tools, but there are usually some cynics among the ranks of engineers, accountants and others working in their office cubicles.
Perhaps, Kersten would enjoy sitting down and discussing the value of demotivational products with the folks trying to inspire through catch phrases.

After all, he thinks a meeting shows “that none of us is as dumb as all of us.”

Oh I don’t know… I would rather be a highly motivated person than to be a cynic. Cynicism is a tool of the lazy thinker. And there is no such thing as a joyless person whose heart is focused on God.

So be joyful. It is always better than being a sourpuss.

This Post Has 8 Comments

  1. sachin kundu

    “It takes a lot of work to motivate people, but only one sourpuss to turn an office into a bunch of sourpusses.”

    That is so true!

    I always say, you need everything right to be lucky and one thing wrong to be unlucky

  2. Jamie Olander

    Kersten sounds like the author of the Dilbert comics, trying to make money off bad situations in business. Instead of making people laugh, after awhile the picture just makes you feel depressed. Yes you get one laugh out of the joke of deflating image, but after the picture hangs on your wall for a month you probably get tiered of it. I am kind of shocked that this company has stayed around for over a decade.

  3. Jojo Echeverre

    Being Happy leads you to be Wealthy. Being pessimist makes you poor. Why chose being poor. Then be happy all the time!

  4. Juan Iligan

    The reason why billions Americans and U.S. businesses spend each year on motivational books, seminars and speakers because most people are cynics. Most of us are cynics simply because the reality of our society is harsh, corrupt and abusive.

    Most businessmen and politicians are motivated with greed and love of power thus most of the people suffer, especially the poor.

    That is why JESUS came to earth to save, give hope and a good future to those that believe on HIM.

    JESUS can give us joy and peace that the world cannot give nor understand.

  5. Daniel David Balisnomo

    Personally, If I see mr. Kong in a coffee shop sitting idly, I’d grab that opportunity and risk my face just to shake the hand of 1 of the men whose books, after applying their principles in my life, dragged me out of mediocrity and poverty. But E.L. Kersten? I wouldn’t even bother even if he reaches out a hand. That’s for sure. Just an opinion.

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