So You Want To Be A Motivational Speaker?

Being a professional speaker, trainer, coach and consultant on a full-time basis is both rewarding and challenging at the same time. It is rewarding because you get to do what most people only dream of doing, standing on stages worldwide sharing your thoughts, ideas and concepts. As a result, you get the chance to meet people from all walks of life, backgrounds, cultures, etc. In the picture on the left I am speaking to 3000 Verizon employees. You also have a sense of fulfillment in knowing that your life is being used in a way to shape ideologies that impact in my case, school. workforce development and campus and individual outcomes. Many lives have been touched in my world and I am grateful.

As exciting as it is to speak for a living however, there is another side of this equation that people don’t think about fully before jumping in–the business side. When you become a professional speaker, you are a business owner that has to work his or her business everyday. I have been in this field for 17 years and have seen thousands of people churn and burn. Many people come in excited and enthused but immediately realize that though you have been told that you are an amazing speaker, full of talent and skills–struggle to succeed and achieve the dream they aspire to achieve. I am keeping it real my friends, if you do not have business acumen, do not jump into this field blindly. Just like any other business you have to be disciplined, work smart everyday, market your services and be tenacious in your pursuits to help others via the gift of speaking. I am writing this article because on a daily basis, I get calls and e-mails from people saying that they are the next Les Brown, Zig Ziglar, etc. I tell them from the onset, that Les and Zig are successful not only because they are (were in the case of Zig) great speakers only, they both are great businessmen. I have interacted with both of them at our association NSA’s (National Speakers Association) annual conferences so I know this firsthand. This is how I learned the business of speaking.

If you are interested in becoming a professional speaker, trainer, etc and want to sustain your business for years to come. I offer the following suggestions:

1. Realize that you are in a business-Even if you are home-based, act like you are going to work everyday and plan activities designed to advance your business. Marketing, PR, branding and financial management should be a part of your weekly activities. Networking with other speakers, going to conventions, joining speaker and niche market associations and if you can afford it, hiring a business coach are all critical keys to success as a speaker. You have to put the time in and press daily or your dream will fade away in this field. I have seen it happen more times than you could imagine.

2. Be an expert-Back when Zig Ziglar first started it was easier to break in because there were only a handful of speakers in the marketplace. It was kind of like being a kid in candy store because they did not have a lot of competition. Today, there are millions of people who call themselves speakers. Many do not speak at all but have profiles and social media pages saying that they do:-) A person who speaks for a living-speaks for a living. This is what they do and they commit time and energy to the craft. It is not a spare time hobby for them. If you have gained expertise via education or work experience, this qualifies you to speak on the subject. Organizations, companies and academia want to hear from people who know what they are talking about. They want insight from people who can help them advance their causes. The worst thing you can do is say you are an expert, and your speeches prove otherwise. It can be a death sentence in this industry. The word spreads fast.

3. Find an accountability partner or group-Speaking can be a lonely field if you do it all by yourself. People form mastermind groups or accountability groups to help them enhance their business–and most importantly, stay the course. I have found that this was one of my own shortcomings and have worked to improve in this area. It is easy to isolate yourself as a speaker or trainer but establishing accountability with others helps you to succeed as a speaker.

4. Write Articles-Once you identify your niche market make sure to target trade journals and newsletters, online and off, to write articles. I have gotten quite a bit of business over the years by writing for my industry’s trade journals and newsletters. It keeps your name out there and provides a powerful third party endorsement of your work. Write, and write often. Make sure to put in the info line that you are a speaker, trainer, coach, etc. so that people are aware that you are more than just a writer.

In conclusion speaking can be a powerful career. I must say at the end of this article, many people speak part-time and have chosen not to go full-time. This is OK, but the aforementioned information should still be considered. I know of many college professors, business owners, doctors, attorneys, school leaders and teachers who have made this a part-time effort. If you chose this path, still operate in excellence. As a speaker, you have to be on top of your game, focused and knowledgeable. You must also be extremely diligent in your business operations.

For those who are beginning the journey or in pursuit, I hope this info helps. I wrote it for based upon the number of inquiries I get, many people are interested in this field. It is fun, rewarding and fulfilling, but it does take hard work– just like success in any other field.

Please feel free to contact me at the office  302-834-1040 or visit our coaching page if you are interested and would like additional information about becoming a professional speaker. I can help! Only serious inquires please:-)

The Type of Success That Leads To Depression

DepressionThis is not an easy article to write considering the recent death of an American Icon, Robin Williams. I loved just about every role he played from Mork & Mindy to Lovelace in “Happy Feet.” My kids were heartbroken as well when they heard of his passing for he played many kid friendly roles in his career. Robin’s passing caused me to think about the impact of success on people’s lives. Depression, which lead to his unfortunate choice to take his own life is not uncommon in many people who quote, unquote-make it to the top in their careers. We hear of corporate executives, athletes, singers etc., who met the same fate as Robin Williams, but because he was such a megastar, the world now realizes that this is a major problem. I would say that Whitney Houston had the same problem.

When we look at success, I like to break it down into two categories. This is not a perfect science but an opinion, please see it as such.

1. Self-Driven Success-This type of success happens in person’s life as a result of success being all about them. They are driven and motivated to succeed, even at the expense of others. Care for people is not very high on this person’s list of priorities. Their favorite motto is “How can this person help me to get to where I want to be?” This type of person is very rarely satisfied. Once they achieve a certain level of success, they abhor where they are and begin to look for the next challenge. It is all about them, their family is often not of importance and they live 24 hours a day focusing on their own lives and their own achievements. Let me clarify by saying, I am not saying that they are all bad people. Many people in this category create thousands of jobs, give to charities and organizations and produce music, movies and many others things that impact the lives of others. What I have found however is that they ascended to the top, by focusing on what they wanted and was willing to forsake many other life priorities in their quest to get it. Lastly, SDS people often find themselves alone because they do not trust anyone. Many have deep regrets later in life because as they age, they often do so without any caring people in their lives. They start to realize they made a huge mistake!

2-Purpose-Driven Success-This type of person pursues success as well, but has a different perspective. This person has a specific purpose connected to the success that they are pursuing. They do not take this journey alone, but bring along people they care about. They are pursing a specific outcome as well but it is not all about them. It is about what they can accomplish and how this goal can make life better for themselves and others. People in this category typically see their work as callings. They feel like their success pursuit is a mission and the mission drives them. Though they care about self too, they are often selfless when it comes to interacting with others. Purpose Driven Success people change the world in which we live just like Self-Driven people with one difference, they do no alienate nor burn bridges with people they love and care for in this pursuit. They are not looking to get rich or some other lofty goal. This may happen as a result of their efforts, but they do not put this on their goal sheet as target-it is a by-product. They pursue being the best they can be and eventually good things happen. Mission drives them and people being involved with this mission fuels them. They are called to do their work and feel within their hearts that humanity as a whole is going to benefit as a result.
It is quite evident where I am going with this but I sincerely believe, and I do not have medical research to back this, that Self-Driven Success people typically become depressed more than Purpose Driven Success people. This may not always be the case but I am sure that it is in the majority of the diagnoses-as it relates to people who succeed at high levels. These people become deeply depressed because when they look in the mirror of life, they only see themselves and all the problems they face. Many times because the only people close to them are the people they pay to be, in times of sadness in their lives, they are depressed all by themselves. They have nobody to go to that really cares and over time this emptiness begins to add up. Because I am not a medical researcher I will not go much deeper than this for I believe people who need to get counseling should at all cost get it. I do believe that if I am the center of my own universe, if my world starts to crumble, the whole world starts to crumble. For to me, my life is the whole world. It is the only lens my eyes can see out of because of my mindset. I see a lot of this in my work because I am constantly encouraging and motivating the best out of people. With this in mind, I also spend copious time helping people center their vision around a deeper purpose. I refuse to discuss success for the sake of success with my coaching clients. We need to create a bigger picture and purpose, for if not, they may succeed-but what will they lose in their pursuit?
If you are pursuing success in life, please consider Purpose Driven! Yes, we all want to do more and be more in our lives, but I certainly do not want to see a person gain the whole world and lose their soul! I will close by saying that every day I get to interact with 4 miracles in my life. They are my children. We were told that it was medically impossible to have kids! I have purposed that they, along with my wife, give me energy to run the race, but run it with purpose in mind. I am trying to help the world in my work as a speaker, trainer and coach, but my real mission is to be the best father and husband I can be. I have a great purpose in my career, but an even greater purpose with my family.

Take care and have a passionate day!

The Invisible Student-A National Epidemic

Early one morning, a student named invisible awakened to an empty home. Dad left the family years ago and mom is so consumed with her boyfriend that she’s frequently in and out of the home. For the sake of equality, lets say that this kid could also be in a two-parent home with mom and dad, but both work 18-hour shifts, so the invisible student has to get up and moving on their own in the morning. Invisible does not get the traditional “kiss on the cheek” or the “breakfast is ready” morning proclamation from mom, because no one has ever been there to see them off. Once dressed in the same clothes they have worn for years, the invisible student eats breakfast, packs a meager lunch and heads to the bus stop.

While on the corner, several kids tease the invisible student for they are not part of the in crowd. No friends to talk to so the invisible student curls up in the corner on the bus, feeling alone once again. In school, the teacher says nothing to the invisible child for they don’t see them. They give amazing shout outs to the students who are doing well in school and are highly visible, but not one peep about the invisible student because to them, this student does not exist. The invisible child is picked on and teased by their peers all day long because they are not popular and do not wear the latest clothes. The invisible child gets to the point that they begin to wonder if their life really matters and contemplates suicide. They have come to the conclusion that “nobody cares about me, so why care about myself!”

One day the invisible student walks into the school and a new teacher says to them “You have a pretty smile.” The student ignores the statement for since they are invisible, this teacher can’t be talking about them! The next day, the same teacher tells the student, “I notice that your grades have improved slightly and I am glad to see that you are moving in the right direction.” The invisible student stares at the teacher but begins to doubt the their sincerity. The teacher later in the week tells the student, “I have been noticing you for a while and I want to let you know that I think you are talented and gifted. I would like to sit down with you and discuss programs in the school I think your talents would be beneficial to. You are very special to me and I want you to know that your life counts. Together, we are going to show the world how great you really are!” Suddenly, the invisible child now wakes up in the morning with sense of enthusiasm. They pack their lunch, iron their clothes and sprint to the bus stop. The negative words of their classmates begin to diminish for they realize that this invisible student has become visible, and is now displaying confidence. Many peers admire the new-found strength of the newly “visible” student and begin to befriend them. The school begins to rally around the visible child and connects them to organizations that can help their home situation improve. The invisible student, now visible, becomes one of the highest rated students academically, and eventually graduates with honors. The amazing realization of the story is that the invisible student became visible, because one teacher, by taking the time to notice this child, freed them from their mental bondage.

I am sure by now you can see that this story is fiction. But in some ways it is truthful for many schools have countless invisible students. In my staff programs nationally, I share with teachers and school stakeholders, I believe invisible students are one of the biggest hidden problems in schools worldwide–kids walking into and leaving schools, totally unnoticed.   As mentioned in my writings in the past, many kids, after my motivational assemblies walk up to me and share their stories. Most recently in a program in Kansas where a young lady in high school told me she was planning on dropping out and moving to another city. I shared this information with the organization that contracted me to speak to the students and they followed-up with intervention. I often ask the kids why they felt comfortable sharing this with me and not someone in their school? Many tell me that they feel like nobody around them cares!

If we are ever going to close the gap, race to the top, or establish common core standards, we better first realize that the kids we are working with are human beings who without self-esteem and self-worth, will never reach their full academic or life potential. The one motivational push I have in my work/mission is to see schools nationwide, develop fortitude in the majority of the school stakeholders to pick up the mantra held by the aforementioned caring teacher. Then and only then will we level the playing field in our education systems.  History is the best data to prove this!

What are your thoughts on this topic. Have you witnessed this before?


Delaware Makes Spanking A Crime!

Darrell "Coach D" AndrewsDelaware becomes the first state in the nation to ban spanking.  It is now a crime in DE to spank you kids.  What are your thoughts on this?

Does the Government have the right to take this age old disciplinary action out of the hands of parents?  Please post your thoughts.

Click on link to view article.

Delaware Bans Spanking!



The Success Trap

Recently there have been several articles highlighting highly successful athletes blowing hundreds of millions of dollars in a relatively short period of time.  First of all, I could not imagine what is like to have this much money but if I had, I could not fathom blowing it.  I am a pretty frugal person so chances are, I would live way, and I do mean way beneath my means.  This is my mindset, hence my perception.  One thing I can comfortably say about my perception and that is this, I will never go broke if I were to have hundreds of millions of dollars come my way.

For these famous athletes, this is not the case.  Many of them, like myself, grew up in poverty and one thing I often remember from my childhood is this, We all were going to do something big with our lives.  Many athletes, entertainers and other who come from lives of lack, have the perception that I am going to show the world who I am by my wealth and success.  Not only do athletes and entertainers have this mindset, many preachers and others do as well.  Their personal perception is this, I am somebody by the way I am accepted by people because of what I have.  What they do not realize is that perceptions of this nature very rarely have good endings. When your perception is steeped in doing something in order to win people over via success, you will always be trapped by this mindset.

I call this the “Success Trap” and this mindset is more damaging than any I know.  It has caused the aforementioned athletes to blow more money in a day than most will make in a year.  It causes both husbands and wives to work 18 hour per day jobs and leave their kids open to anything and everything. It causes a corporate executive to destroy the future of thousands of employees just lo live a life of glamor and acceptance.  This trap is doing more damage in the USA today than every before. Politicians are trapped by it, business people are trapped by it and so are many every day workers.

My plea to you is this, wake up!!!  Learn to be happy where you are and appreciate the people around you and the success you have already achieved.  I tell my children all of the time “the first floor of your home is bigger than any apartment we ever lived in as kids.” I am grateful that we have a home we can enjoy.  If gratification is based by acceptance of society by the wealth you are pursuing, you will wake up one day and see that your kids are now grown, your spouse is gone and all the people around you are only interested in you for one reason.  Just like the athletes, take away financial success, and everybody leaves. My question to you is this: are you trapped? Are all the people hanging around you submitting because of what you have (or perceived wealth?) Do you now have no one in your life that cares about you, for the real you?  If you answered “yes” to any of the aforementioned questions?  It is time for you to wake up.

In closing I took notice recently to many of the wealthiest people in the world and in many of them I noticed one thing, their success was a by-product of a love for creation of an amazing product or service.  If you were to see many of them in person, you would not even know they were wealthy.  They don’t wear it or drive it. If your success in life is living to show off your life to others via the “Success Trap” then you are imprisoned with a life sentence. Remember this, it is not too late.  Free yourself from this mindset before you destroy your own life and the lives of others.