There was a motivational speaker at the Autolink event held in Birmingham last week.
My toes curled at this description; was it going to be some incredibly loud and brash American in some dayglo shell suit encouraging all to touch our toes or burst into spontaneous tears or something?
Thankfully, not. It was in fact a man called Alan Wilkinson Chambers MBE.
Normally I am sceptical about people who insist on having initials after their name unless it changes their title, like Sir or Dr, things like that.
This all comes from sharing a house once with a particularly nightmarish person who insisted on having BA after his name on letters and envelopes.
So he had a degree. So what?
Anyway, if anyone deserves an MBE it is Alan Wilkinson Chambers, probably something more, in fact, after learning about his daring exploits.
He told us how he spent five years organising the first British team that would walk to the North Pole unsupported - without helicopters and prearranged supply dumps.
They managed to reduce the weight of their sledges by having special models built in a shed in Gloucestershire - as opposed to previous expeditions' NASA sledges which were much heavier. Tents were secured from a company near Walsall; they were modified normal tents which would be much quicker to put up in emergency than specialist polar tents.
After many mishaps - team members did fall through the ice and they were cut adrift on an ice island - they eventually managed it, although only 20 minutes before their pick-up aircraft arrived.
Anyway, the talk was motivational and showed what can be achieved with clear thinking, determination and preparation.
The team had to respond rapidly to constantlychanging conditions, they relied on each other totally and managed to succeed.
When the microphone and slides 'died' on him, he carried on with the presentation. After you've walked 500 miles to the North Pole a cranky Powerpoint is nothing. There were loads of interesting insights about man manage-ment - leading from behind, giving everyone a role, being open to ideas, remembering team members' birthdays, for example.
But there were also a few lessons for UK manufacturing.
Because even when plants are profitable and efficient, some are at risk from overseas owners who have no particular loyalty to the UK.
Take Peugeot. Ryton is p rofitable, but not as profitable as the new plant at Trnava in Slovakia. So many British companies have upped their game to survive but even the top firms cannot stand still and say they've made it, because in the increasingly globalised world everyone else is having a go too. Firms are going to have to strive increasingly harder if the UK is to have a manufacturing future.
Still, it was nice to go to an event which looked at how others overcame their challenges, and to hear how we are pretty good at making sledges and tents.