34 SPEAKER • MARCH/APRIL 2019
to induce and felt confident taking the gig with
a one-month-old. When the keynote came up,
she enlisted the support of her sister to stroll the
baby through the local conference center while
she gave her talk.
LEAVE WITH THIS ADVICE. Speaker support
can take on many forms: an assistant (or virtual
assistant) to keep up with email and finances; a
fellow speaker to fill in with clients; or a babysitter,
caregiver, or housekeeper to give you an hour or two
a day to connect with work (if you’re ready).
If you know you won’t be working for a while,
calculate how you’ll fare financially during the
downtime. That could mean loading up on work
before your leave, raising your rates, cutting
out business expenditures, or better managing
Striking the balance between certain income
and uncertain timelines was a key fear and element of decision-making among speakers who
shared their stories.
Patrick had “an awkward cancellation” with
one client because the client’s event was too close
to his wife’s due date. He wanted to give the client enough notice to find someone else without
disclosing the pregnancy before he and his wife
were ready. He followed up with the client once
the pregnancy was public and, to make up for it,
did a free event the following year.
If you’ve planned out your finances in advance,
you’ll know if you have the financial freedom to
offer a comped program or other benefit to the
clients you’ve had to decline. Always being aware
of where you stand financially can be helpful in
times of crisis or when a health issue or death of
a loved one requires you to be out of commission.
LEAVE WITH THIS ADVICE. Figure out how
much income you’ll need to cover your leave, then
make a budget and a plan for how you’ll build the
There’s no HR department mandating the terms of
your leave, so make sure it works for you. “One of
the great things about what we do,” Cara says, “is we
don’t all of a sudden have to go back to work. I was
able to ease into maternity leave and ease back into
the business. I could slow things down and just do
what worked for me.”
LEAVE WITH THIS ADVICE. Be flexible. While
several people I spoke with were happy with the time
they took, many of those who had kiddos said they
wish they’d taken more time with their little ones. If
you’re recovering from an emotional loss, illness, or
injury, listen to your body and mind to tell you when
you’re ready to return.
If you’re recovering
from an emotional loss,
illness, or injury, listen
to your body and mind
to tell you when you’re
ready to return.