Jack Nicholson only makes an appearance when it’s “show time!” So you can imagine my surprise when he sat across the aisle from me at the National Speaker’s Association convention in Indianapolis a couple weeks ago.
Well, it wasn’t really Jack — rather, a stockbroker who also makes a living impersonating the movie star. His real name is John Geenan, and he lives in Minneapolis! Go figure.
Sam Richter and Cathy Paper lured me into the major leagues…I was there to see if I could actually play with the big boys. Imagine 800 professionally spit-shined extroverts on steroids: jugglers, acrobats, business celebrities, impersonators and even a marine fighter pilot.
You couldn’t swing a dead cat without hitting another “coach” like me. That, combined with most of the women sporting high heels, made me feel like one of the smallest people in the room.
My favorite conversation included two other guys who were also curled up in the fetal position at Starbucks. They made me feel included and helped me muster up the energy to attend a seminar on: “How to drive marvelous margin, increase your visibility like a hero and outsource the life you imagine on Twitter” seminar. (Kidding).
I joke because I was overwhelmed by how seriously professional speakers take their craft. They are not looking for more speeches, they are building speaking businesses. While many people admired my mission of “spreading goodness in leadership and business,” I admired how they manage databases, outsource almost everything over eLance.com, and travel 130 nights a year. (I don’t want to travel that much!)
Here are the three most important things I learned:
First, excellence doesn’t happen by accident. I really admire people who pour their souls into their work. Research, preparation and passion are must-haves if you are going to make your living on stage, pouring out your soul and standing for your point of view. I’m fortunate I’m passionate about ‘goodness’ and I’ve always embraced excellence; maybe to a fault.
Second, it really helps to be a writer first and a speaker second. Books and blogs are ‘brochures’ first and profit-centers second. I’m fortunate to have a good book, and really fortunate we have such a passionate blog readership. Thank you!
Third and most important, to be successful as a professional speaker, you have to reject the idea of being someone else (unless you are an impersonator) and learn to be who you are. It helps to be well-rehearsed…but if you have to memorize your message…that’s not good. I’m happy I live the Seven Fs, and I don’t have to memorize my message.
Good leaders make a habit of immersing themselves with experts in their craft. And they spend time, energy and money on their own development — it helps to play with the big boys once in awhile.
Drop me a note and tell me: when do you get to play with the big boys – or – how do you invest in your own development?
Seize the day…summer is fading!