Money Doing This?
Ialways thought public speak- ing was something you did only when a group was desper- ate enough to ask. Strangely enough, I kept getting asked. It might have been because my
PhD in psychology made local event
organizers hypothesize that I might
know something about using humor
to manage stress. Or perhaps my local
radio talk show made people think
I was used to talking a lot without
getting adequately compensated.
One day, I received a call from Sarah
Michel, CSP, who had seen me speak at
one of my “will blather on for a lukewarm lunch” events. “I would love to
have you speak for an event at my husband’s business but, unfortunately, we
can only pay you $1,000,” she said.
After verifying that she had the right
Joseph Michelli, I assured her that I
would adjust my compensation standards to accept her token offer.
Sarah gave me my first glimpse into
what has become a lucrative speaking
business. Her words of encouragement
(“You really should think about a career
in speaking”), coupled with her check
clearing the bank, helped catapult my
avocation into a vocation.
While Sarah steered me on the
speaking track, I was not willing to put
all of my financial eggs in the speaking
basket. I continued to juggle speaking,
a daily two-hour radio talk show in
Colorado Springs, Colo., book author-
ship, consulting and an active forensic
Market, Starbucks and The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company LLC, have
allowed me to learn from them. In turn,
I have written books through the kindness of Hyperion, Random House and
McGraw-Hill that chronicle the leadership, employee empowerment and
customer engagement excellence of
each of those companies.
My journey continues with a soon-to-be-released book about the UCLA
Health System, and another in 2011
about the Zappos Experience.
Was I worth the $1,000 fee that Sarah
Michel paid me in the early 90s? I can’t
say, but even though that money has
long been spent, my true gain came from
the encouragement of people like Sarah
and Lynn. Now I live a life where I can
make money without actually working.
Joseph A. Michelli, PhD, is a
speaker, author, and organiza-
tional consultant who has
been described as “catching
what is right in the world and
playfully sparking people and businesses to
grow toward the extraordinary.” Visit www.