Maybe it's just me, but these motivational chats just don't work. It's all rah, rah, reach for the skies, set your goals, GO! I come out thinking that sounds like work, can I be bothered? NO.

I don't think I'm alone in this. There's always a shudder through the workplace when the boss, in a fit of ambition, announces that we all have to work twice as hard this week to make next Wednesday free to all gather in a country inn and listen to someone who's never worked in your industry tell you stuff that's so abstract you have no idea what they're talking about.

That's why we sneeringly call it "tree-hugging". Because we all know it's ridiculous to hug a tree. The tree doesn't want hugs. What the tree wants is a good talking to. Especially after last week's storm. It needs words like "stop lying down on the job, stand up and reach for the skies, tree".

There's nothing worse than being forced to close your eyes and fall back into the catching arms of a co-worker when you know that tomorrow that co-worker will recommence stabbing you in the back to get your job. We've spent hours filling out questionnaires and then colouring in diagrams to discover that you're perfectly suited for the job you've got. And then they don't let you keep the felt pens.


Once we were told all about a fish market in Seattle that threw fish all over the shop for the entertainment of the customers. It was to motivate us to have fun at work. I work in radio. We know how to have fun. What we need to know is how to work! It was with not a little schadenfreude that I learned the fish market went insolvent a few years later. Shouldn't have thrown all those fish around.

When I was unemployed my mother gave me the book What Color Is Your Parachute?. I gave up on it when it told me that life is a seemingly unending series of noes until finally one yes. Brilliant. I know that.

So it was last week that I sat down at a breakfast to launch Men's Health Week. We were treated to a healthy breakfast (thankfully even sausages) and a series of motivational speakers.

It all started again. Set goals. Blah, blah, blah. You're never going to be as young as you are right now. And then a light bulb moment.

Dr Ed Timings was on stage. "Hands up, who here have had a panic attack?" Panic. Don't know how to answer that. No hands up.

But then he asked "How much water do you need a day?" Silence. "Eight glasses?" said a brave soul. "Two glasses when you wake up. A glass 15 minutes before a meal. None during meals and one at night before you go to sleep," said Dr Ed.

I was shocked. An actual piece of advice I could use! And they kept coming. Plan one fun moment a day. Take a walk between work and home so you don't bring home your work stress. Don't like gyms? Stretch for five minutes. Lift stuff for five minutes then pound up and down your driveway for 20 minutes until you're puffing. He was on fire.

Five grams of fibre for breakfast. Make lunch the big meal of the day. Take carbs early so they don't settle round your middle while you sleep.

It was motivational speaking at its best because it was simple and profound. It felt like I was learning secrets. So a word to the motivators. Stuff the philosophy. Cut to the chase and tell me the shortcuts. I'm sick of "no" just take me to YES!

• Andrew Dickens is the host of Sunday Cafe, Sunday morning from 9am on Newstalk ZB