I wouldn’t have done
my clients any favors
by showing up sleep-
deprived, eyes like
sunken licorice dots
with the charisma of
Ben Stein on quaaludes.
Necessity is the mother of invention.
And so it goes for speakers who find
themselves suffering from health issues,
or caring for someone else, often a parent, or even more difficult—a spouse or
child. The emotional strain zaps us of
the energy to be creative and to give
our clients what they need. But often,
the very crisis we are in is the genesis to
reinvent ourselves or to create new
products. Even under the direst circumstances, most of our personalities
require us to do something!
We are not an idle bunch.
Plus, oh yeah, the money thing.
That’s a motivator!
From Katrina to earthquakes to bridges
collapsing, we never truly know what our
futures holds, even if we do have stellar
business plans. Books, paintings, products of all shapes and sizes are often
developed because something didn’t
work out, a plan went wrong, a loved
one got sick. Or we, ourselves, got sick.
And sometimes, new ventures turn out
to be very cool.
David McNally, CPAE, is a successful
speaker and author. If you didn’t know
his history, you would never guess the
pain he suffered when his wife, Jo, died.
“In the short term you need to realize
that the things that resonated and were
meaningful and fulfilling, probably won’t
be there. There will be a vacuum of motivation and you must accept that reality.
You begin to live your life one moment at
a time and understand that what you
went through is now part of your story.
Caring for the sick and dying dramatically affects a person, and his business.”
David did not have the energy or
motivation to market his business while
his wife was sick; luckily he had an
enormous amount of brand equity and
was able to live off goodwill. For a
while. But then the phone stopped ringing, which forced him to ask, “What is
my current reality?”
An interesting film project came out of
David’s pain and self reflection: If I Were
Brave, about the National Amputee Golf
Association tournament held at the
famous Hazeltine National Golf Club in
Minnesota. Working on the film made
him realize the fundamental things that
happen when you go through a tragedy
or crisis. David found a way to share
what had happened and put a twist on it.
He dedicated the film to his wife.
“If you’ve done the right things in your
business all along, when a tragedy strikes,
you weather the storm,” says David, who
stresses the importance of self-manage-ment and the need to understand your
timeframe. “It’s yours and nobody else’s.
And while being pragmatic, it is a time to
be very kind to yourself. It’s a very
important thing to do.”
Mandi Stanley was married for 11 years
before becoming pregnant. She had a
well-established speaking career and
didn’t want it to tank when she stayed
home for her son’s first year. She
wanted to take time off, by choice.
“I had to focus on three things: What I
booked, what I delivered and what I collected,” Mandi explains. “Through this
process I kept bookings at the same rate
and planned for collections to be down a
bit. Delivery was down [except for the
baby, now that’s delivery!] but the bookings remained on target.”
In 2007, Mandi was expecting again.
She planned for it by showcasing, getting
referrals and keeping in touch with
bureaus. When people called for a date
she couldn’t do, she became a valuable
resource and referred other speakers.
Her “Hair-On-Fire!” presentations are
completely booked in 2008.
To Mandi, planning for time off means
one thing: Don’t drop the marketing.