Tag Archives: business

Your Worst Employee is Your Website’s Contact Form- Fire It!

When was the last time you left a voice mail message for a company you were considering doing business with? For example, if you had a leaky faucet and called a plumber, but got their voicemail, would you leave a message? For the vast majority of us, the answer is “No.” We just move on and contact the next vendor on the list. The bigger question is “Why don’t we — or won’t we- leave a message?”

The Three Reasons are:
1. We simply don’t want to wait. We have become accustomed to getting the answers we want when we want them. Whether it is being able to order items online 24-7, or simply asking Alexa or Google Home for the answer to a question. Today we don’t wait for a response. The information is at our fingertips and purchases are available with just one click.

2. There is an almost endless selection of other options available to us. Virtually everyone is good these days because if they weren’t, the marketplace would “out” them in short order. Face it, quality choices abound.

3. We don’t know when, or if, someone will get back to us. The same dynamic exists with your website contact form. The “contact form” is the answering machine of the internet. Nobody wants to fill it out. They want direct contact information to a real person. Get rid of it!

Here is the uncomfortable truth: If the only way for your customers (or prospective customers) to reach a real person at your business is through your website’s contact form, then you need to know that your form is driving away more prospects than your worst employee. It’s costing you a fortune in lost business.

To be clear, I understand why you have a contact form. You want to funnel all your messages to one person or department. You want to capture their contact information. You want to get a sense of what the question or problem is before you return their call. You want to avoid scaring people away with your unpublished price so you have them fill out the form so you can ascertain their needs and have a sales rep call them back to have a real conversation and tailor your solutions to their individual needs. Blah, blah blah.  The reasons go on and on.

The problem is that they are YOUR reasons. News Flash: Your customers don’t care about your reasons and they certainly don’t want to contact you the way you want them to. Your customers want to contact you the way THEY want to. And if you restrict their access or their communication options, you are driving them away — in droves.

The solution: Give them options! Sure, you can have a contact form, but also post a key staff directory with contact options. Give them phone numbers, email addresses and after hours options. I know you are reluctant, but your customers don’t care! Your customers want to connect with a real person. If you won’t let them, then they will contact your competitors. Trust me, it happens millions of times every day. Look! There goes another one!

David Avrin, CSP is a sought-after international speaker on Customer Experience and Marketing. He is the author of the best-selling book: Why Customers Leave (and How to Win Them Back) named by Forbes as:
“One of the 7 Business Books Entrepreneurs Need to Read!” Book David Today:
https://bit.ly/2m1WutK

Guaranteed to Show You How to Successfully Reinvent Yourself in 12 “Easy” Steps

Guaranteed to Show You How to Successfully Reinvent Yourself in 12 “Easy” Steps

By John Baumann

INTRODUCTION

If you have decided that you desperately and passionately commit to transform yourself no matter how much effort, time and sacrifice that it will take, keep reading, this information is for you. If you are willing, you will have to work harder than you ever have before and sacrifice more than you thought possible. It is not “easy.”

I wrote DECIDE SUCCESS: Twelve Action Steps to Achieve the Success You Truly Desire as an easy-to-understand, step-by-step process for building your own personalized success plan complete with written exercises for each action step. While pragmatic and academically sound, it was not intended to, nor does it attempt to, address the emotional (and even spiritual) foundation often necessary to succeed. I will attempt to provide that foundation here. Just as the steps in DECIDE SUCCESS are hard to stick with, the same will be said about these self-improvement “edicts.” This process or program or, better yet, set of ideals are not for the faint of heart. You got to want it bad enough to get through the pain that is transformation.

As the well-known expression goes, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expect that you are going to get a different result.” Many of us have never learned this lesson. We hold on to familiar approaches to life issues when deep down inside we know that we will get the same result, although unhealthy, one that we are actually comfortable with. Doing something different takes either a very brave person or very desperate person. I recommend that you take the bravery route and not wait for you to become desperate, some call it “hit rock bottom.” Being exposed to someone who is brave enough to transform, or is in the process of transforming, his or herself, a mentor, makes a tremendous difference because you realize that it is possible to succeed, “If they can do it, so can I.” Seek out a mentor.

I have broken this book down into two parts using an old adage adapted to fit my needs. First, “out with the bad.” Then, “in with the good.”

Part I: OUT WITH THE BAD

Out with the bad. I am not proposing that the proverbial baby be thrown out with the bathwater. Quite the opposite. A complete and honest review of your life is necessary from all angles to decide what unhealthy things (including people) need to be removed and who and what have the privilege and honor of remaining in your life. It is “your” life after all. You only get one chance at life and for a very limited time at that. One of the first things you need to do is to stop watching or listening to the news. You may be thinking, “Is this guy kidding?” or “Is this guy for real?” Bad or negative stories are the lifeblood of the media. Uplifting or positive stories are an afterthought or allowed on the air after, I believe, much arm-twisting. Turn off mainstream television and watch documentaries instead. Learn something. Get in touch with the energy emitted by people. In particular, whether the comments made have a negative bent or a positive one.

I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease when I was 41 years old. We, in the Parkinson’s community, use the example of a snowflake when describing how the disease affects each individual differently. Just like every snowflake is unique unto itself, every person with Parkinsons has their disease progress at a different rate. Since there is no test to determine how long one will maintain their quality of life, moments become precious. As with any life-changing medical condition, a sense of urgency develops. We may not have the time to wait to transform our lives. Thus, the following fall under the category, “Out with the Bad.”

Chapter One: BURN THE TICKS OFF

This may be a little bit gross, but ticks will embed themselves into a human body by inserting its head below the surface of the skin. If you pull the tick off, the head will remain. The way to remove the tick completely is to apply a flame to its body or use an alcohol swab. In this way, the head comes out and the whole tick can be disposed of.
There are ticks in your life that have embedded themselves into you. You may have grown accustomed to having them attached to you and feeding off you. It may seem ordinary and usual to have them connected to you. You feel like they belong. You may even feel a sense of superiority to have these people dependent upon you. What you need to realize is that they are slowly, but surely, sucking the life out of you.

You need to properly and honestly determine who are your ticks and “burn” them off. Ask yourself, “Am I better off with this person in my life or without this person in my life?” Do they add to my healthy enjoyment of life or detract from it? Do the things they say tilt toward the positive or the negative. What energy do you feel? A clear signal is, if after spending some time with someone, you feel like you need to take a long, hot shower to wash the muck off, you might want to rethink the amount of time you spend with that individual, if any. Burning the ticks off is not easy. Ticks have a vested interest is remaining embedded in you. There will be resistance. Serious resistance. It takes courage. It takes guts. It takes resilience. Most of all, it takes discipline. You have to stick to your decision even when doubt creeps into your head. Burn, baby, burn.

Chapter Two: STOP TELLING YOUR SOB STORY

Everyone has a sob story. Some have a whole book of them. Some have enough to fill a small library. Just stop. No one really wants to hear the tragedies that have befallen you in your lifetime. Don’t wear them like some kind of badge or medal. Realize that no one has a perfect life. I don’t mean to belittle or minimize the horrific things that we, as humans, have been forced to endure: death of a child, sexual assault, disease, disasters, concentration camps, addiction, etc. However, you need to look at yourself as a survivor and move on. I am not saying forget, but, by telling your “story” over and over just for the sake of eliciting sympathy, you become the story. It becomes who you are. It becomes your identity. You stop growing. You get lost in the “woe is me” syndrome and your life, for all intents and purposes, is over.

Just as with all the others, this will not be easy. Some people have held on to their sob story for decades and don’t want to move on. Nothing worth anything is easy. But isn’t getting “your” life back worth it? As my wife, Bernadette, says, “Send the Boo-Hoos Bye-Bye.”

Chapter Three: GET OVER IT
Glenda, a wise friend coined the expression, “STOP or I can’t help you.” Any time anyone is involved in some way in a “Life-changing Event” a flood of emotions come with it. For me and my Parkinson’s, what I call the “emotional rollercoaster” started with disbelief, moved to shock, then to denial, isolation, embarrassment, sadness, depression, and finally accepting and even embracing my Parkinson’s.

Its at these times that Glenda’s words of “Stop” or otherwise remain present, regroup and I’ll help you move forward is all my wife needed to realize that she had to shift her thoughts toward a place of “I can” and begin a renewal process. She did. There are positive people around you that are in your life for all the right reasons, might not be forever, but they can just show up and carry you when you need to be carried. This is the support of love and compassion that strengthens a person and pulls them out of the hole, helps you fight. It’s the team, the brigade, the peers, the mentors in your life and your faith that you need to move forward. Then, and only then, can you be lifted. Stop or they can’t help you.

Interestingly, I have not felt angry about having Parkinson’s, who am I going to be angry with? God? Not smart. A pretty powerful force to be mad at. In reality, no one was to blame for my Parkinson, at least not that I know of.
But often someone is to blame, and anger becomes a major blocking emotion. Very justified. Also poison to the soul. You allow the perpetrator to dictate sometimes the remainder of your life. I’m not saying that you, me or anyone else would be able to get over someone taking the life of someone you love or any other evil act. And I am not oblivious to the time necessary to heal. But, I think you would agree that the faster we move through these emotions, the better.
So, I term this simply, “Get over it.” There is no standard for the time it should take, but there comes a time that you need to just “get over it.” Sooner rather than later. Any way that is right for you (and legal, of course) works. Spiritual. Exercise. Primal scream. Yoga. Fitness Boxing. See a therapist or a doctor. Or, as bold and simplistic as it sounds, just make the decision “to get over it.”

By now you know what I am going to say next: It will not be easy, in fact, depending upon the severity of the incident, it may very well be the most difficult thing that you ever do. But you have got to do it. Getting stuck on any negative emotion takes a tremendous amount of energy and blocks you from moving forward. In fact, when people truly “get over” an emotion, whether it be denial, anger, sadness, depression or any other, they typically report some sort of feeling that a weight has been lifted off of them (usually their shoulders). Why wait? Why not control your own circumstances?

By way of example, why wait for the justice system to procure (or worse, not procure) a guilty verdict in the situation where you or a loved one was harmed by another to take your life back? You have the power to move forward through the natural emotions that you experience in as quickly a fashion as possible.
Shock. I had every right to be in shock. I was 41 with Parkinson’s. I needed to “get over it” and did. Denial. Anyone would understand why I would be justified in being in denial. I was so young to have an “old person’s disease.” But I needed to “get over it” and did. Sadness. Interestingly, most of my sadness appeared when I disclosed my illness to others. I had to deal with the emotions experienced by family especially my mother and father. I had to actually help them “get over it.”

Depression. I experienced depression both because I could see my future in other people that I meet with Parkinson’s (wheelchair, uncontrolled movements, inability to swallow, etc.), but also the chemical reaction in the brain to loss of dopamine that is the pleasure center of the brain. Although I do take medication to combat my depression, I don’t rely solely upon the medication. I still do what I can to “get over” my depression. Eat healthy, exercise, stay mentally active, pursue my life’s purpose, etc.

This “get over it” philosophy is necessary to move forward from wallowing in a negative emotion and applies to more than just being diagnosed with Parkinson’s or any other incurable disease. It applies to emotions associated with becoming a caregiver for someone with such an illness. The loss of a parent. The loss of a sibling. God forbid, the loss of a child. Injury of you or a loved one. Divorce. Being cheated upon by a spouse. Loss of a job. I could go on and on. The response stays the same, “Get over it.”

Addictions produce very complex issues. Addictions from drugs to eating disorders, etc. are not likely something that one can just will oneself to just “get over.” Intervention, medical personnel, counselors are necessary. But there is still a critical element of the person, somewhere deep inside themselves, making the affirmative decision to “get over” the addiction.

Chapter Four: QUIT BEING MEAN

After discussing such sensitive areas thus far, it may seem trite to provide an edict called, “Quit being mean.” The significance of this statement should not be trivialized. People provide ample opportunity to be criticized, made fun of, teased, bashed, bullied, abused, etc. You need to resist the temptation to somehow build yourself up by tearing someone else down, whether to his or her face or behind his or her back. I’m just saying. It’s exciting to be mean. We get a rush from it. In fact, watch most of the shows on television. Meanness abounds. You must, on some level, be affected by watching people being mean on these shows. The meaner the host, the better the ratings. Stop the insanity and choose different programs to watch.

Chapter Five: FORGIVE

I’ll end the “out with the bad” section with the most significant edict. Forgiveness. What a powerful word. Who do you need to forgive? Everyone. That includes YOU. Though we should always strive to be, no one is perfect. Sometimes we come down hardest on ourselves. I am not saying forget, but give yourself a break. Learn from mistakes. Learn from failure. As I state on the first page of my website, JohnBaumann.com, “It’s through the pain and fear that builds a warrior.”

You absolutely can, and must, forgive even if it is something that you will never forget. We need to learn from our experiences, but that does not mean that we cannot forgive. It is totally within your power and control to forgive anyone. The other person does not have to ask for your forgiveness or say that they are sorry for you to forgive them.
Your forgiveness does not entitle them to avoid the consequences of their actions, that is their issue. But you don’t have to carry around the anger or other baggage associated with the situation. You have the option of simply forgiving them in your heart. Think back to the people who have wronged you over your lifetime and, one-by-one, forgive them.

I know I sound like a broken record, but, as simple as it sounds, truly forgiving someone, let alone everyone, is also a very difficult thing to do. It takes strength. It takes all kinds of strength, including spiritual strength. “To err is human, to forgive divine.” You may question whether you can forgive. What if you were molested? Lost the ability to walk due to the intentional act of another? Had a loved one brutally murdered by someone? Yes. Yes. Yes. And there are many more circumstances, too many to be able to include in this publication. As monumental as the task, you cannot improve until you have relinquished the anger and pain of your unique past.

Part II: IN WITH THE GOOD

Now that we have removed the bad, we have created a void. We need to fill that void. It is just human nature. What do we fill it with: Good. In with the good. After all, this is self-improvement. It is time to discuss the improvement part.

Chapter Six: PICK A CONCRETE DAY

Many, if not most, people naturally procrastinate, especially when it comes to doing things that are hard or difficult. So, you need to, as my friend Terri says, “Just pick a day to start and stick with it.” If you don’t decide upon a day to begin, you never will get going.

I recommend that you jump right into your transformation, but some people need to start slowly and build up steam. Whatever works for you is fine so long as you are moving forward and not backtracking. It can be a random date or a date that has some significance. Just don’t make it too far into the future or leave it flexible. Focus hard on the date and set it in concrete. Tell people that are important to you the date. Gain ownership in the date.

Chapter Seven: SEEK OUT POSITIVE

There are positive people out there. You just have to keep your eyes open. Look for them. Join a gym. Take up a hobby. Something you really enjoy. Get involved with a charity. Go to a place of worship. Meet new people. Make the time to do what you truly love to do. Surround yourself with the most positive, upbeat, fun-loving people that you can find wherever you go.

Seeking out positive goes well beyond people. Create a positive environment in your world. Open the shades and let in the light. Build a fire in the fireplace on a cold, winter’s night. Feel the warmth. Schedule time to just do nothing.

Go for a walk in the park.

Have real conversations with people. Discuss things that matter. You don’t have to discuss politics or religion to have a real conversation. If in a group, a good rule of thumb is to speak no more than one quarter of the time and listen intently to what others are saying the remainder of the time. Are they confrontational? Are they conciliatory? Are they really listening to what others are saying? Are their comments of a sexist or racist nature? Then, pick out the ones that you want to consider a friendship relationship. Slowly at first, but remain in touch and engaged with them.

Chapter Eight: BE AWARE OF WHAT YOU HAVE

Although I recognize that there are many, many people with no material possessions, there are also many people who have shelter and food to eat on a daily basis. We get so caught up in adding to our “stuff” that we forget what we have. You need to constantly remind yourself to maintain perspective.
When you wake up in the morning, practice making your first thoughts be a relationship that you cherish, could be your relationship with a parent, a sibling, a close friend, a higher power, etc. Or maybe the comfortable bed that you just woke in, the roof over your head that is protecting you from the elements, the ingredients necessary to make your breakfast, etc.

Chapter Nine: BE HEALTHY

Being healthy covers a range of topics. First, eat “clean” (healthy food). Make sure that you put fuel into your body that will aid in living a quality life, make you healthier. You need to eat organic foods to minimize the ingestion of pesticides and other damaging products used in non-organic and processed foods. It would be best to grow your own vegetables and fruits in order to make sure that the soil is not depleted and has the necessary nutrients. If that is not possible, farmer’s markets are popping up all over. Develop a relationship with some of the producers.
In one form or another, sugar is contained in almost everything food purchased in a store. You need to read labels and wean yourself off sugar and sugar substitutes. If you choose to eat meat, focus on locating sources that don’t add steroids or other growth stimulators, treat the animal humanely during its life and the manner of its death, and handle the animal parts in a proper, sterilized and refrigerated environment. Again, start with a farmer’s market.
Drink water. Lots of water. Cut out soda and diet soda, any drink that is sweet. Go cold turkey if you have to. No discussion. No negotiation. It is that bad for you.

I found that when I started eating healthy, I could eat a lot more food, I never had that bloated full feeling, I have more energy, I can exercise more effectively and, so long as I am prepared, I almost never feel hunger pains. What I mean by prepared is to have food always ready to eat no matter where you are, just in case. For me, an Ezekiel wrap of hummus and length-wise cut cucumbers. This removes any excuse to ever be tempted to go to a fast food restaurant.

Remember, food is your body’s fuel. At first, you will struggle giving up many so-called “comfort foods.” I know that I sure did. But as your system cleanses itself, the cravings diminish and then disappear. For the first few months of your transformation, think of food as fuel for your body to operate efficiently and not a source of pleasure or reward. Sure, some of the clean food you eat will taste good, but, temporarily, don’t focus on taste, focus on nutrition.
Second, exercise on a daily basis just beyond your comfort zone. I was attending a conference on Parkinsons when one of the speakers made this statement. It shook my world. I immediately went home and started to exercise on a daily basis, no excuses allowed. I put a definite time on my schedule. I progressively moved from walking on the treadmill to spin bike, etc. Sixteen months later, I do, on alternating days, an hour of strength training in a kettlebell class called G-FIT at Core Combat Sports and 90 minutes of hot yoga at Bikram Yoga Louisville.
I, over the past sixteen months, unintentionally went from 215 pounds to my optimal weight for my height of 180 pounds. I can honestly say that I am healthier and fitter now, over ten years into my Parkinsons, than I have ever been even before I started exhibiting the symptoms of Parkinsons.

Chapter Ten: TOUCH

Make human connection. Many may scoff at this notion. I have an “old school” doctor who during my appointment is in constant contact with me whether it be my forearm, hand, wrist or shoulder. It is unusual and, I’ll admit, I was somewhat uncomfortable with it at first, but, when I got used to it, I realized how soothing it is. I have come to realize how important hugs are in appropriate circumstances. I hug my son and daughter every time I see them. My wife has to remind me sometimes to stop writing so we can hug. For us, it is a minimum of 20 seconds.

Chapter Eleven: BE KIND, COMPASSIONATE AND LOVING

Wow, what a mouthful. But doesn’t everything boil down to these five words. What is the golden rule? What are the teachings of most, if not all, religions? The message of many self-help or self-improvement gurus can be summarized to be more kind, compassionate, and especially loving.

Chapter Twelve: FIND YOUR PURPOSE

I discuss extensively in my book DECIDE SUCCESS having faith that your life has purpose. Once you have accepted the fact that your life does have purpose, the next adventure is to uncover what that purpose is. You don’t create it. Often, you don’t decide what your purpose is. You just uncover it.

For me, I thought my life’s purpose had something to do with working as an attorney. I was wrong. As it turns out, what I uncovered was that my life’s purpose has to do with inspiring people. Go figure. I found out that I have a gift. My genuineness, kindness, compassion, empathy, joy for life, optimism, love comes out whenever I am asked to inspire a group or even an individual. I can bring back hope where hope had been lost. I can help people see beyond what is apparent. I can work with people to create a more positive “End-vision.” I had to develop Parkinson’s disease to uncover my life’s purpose. I now not only accept my Parkinson’s, but actually embrace it. God does work in mysterious ways.

What is your life’s purpose? I know one thing, if you don’t burn the ticks off, slam the door on unfulfilling dating relationships, stop telling your sob story, get over it, stop being mean, forgive, pick a day to start, seek out positive, be aware of what you got, be healthy, touch, be kind, be compassionate and be loving; you will not be prepared or ready to uncover your life’s purpose. It takes work, hard work, to move forward, but, I can tell you, it is worth every bit of it. I hope that I have set a positive example for the people with whom I come in contact. After all, that is what being a mentor is all about.

 

Most would give in and give up when diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease (or any other chronic illness) at the age of 41.  John made the decision to “Decide Success.”

He had a wonderful life and believed he was fulfilling his “purpose.” He graduated from Cornell Law School, and had practiced law for 15 successful years. Then his world was turned upside down. He had no idea how quickly the symptoms of this horrific, debilitating disease would progress. It totally changed his perspective on life.

What no one would see as a positive development, John decided to make one. He worked for seven more years as a full-time attorney. He contributed to several books and wrote one of his own aptly named, “Decide Success-You Ain’t Dead Yet.”John joined the faculty of the University of Louisville, and was honored as “Most Inspiring Professor.”

But his most important decision was to reinvent himself as an Inspiring Success Speaker and Workshop Facilitator. Now over 15 years later after that first diagnosis, John speaks on topics he knows he is an expert in, and maintains an honest, genuine, real, humorous approach.  He has truly “uncovered his purpose!” 

Nonprofit Caregivers Need Help, Too

NONPROFIT CAREGIVERS NEED HELP, TOO

Every day dedicated nonprofit professionals are working to help those who have suffered misfortune, aiding victims in need of care, and finding solutions to someone else’s problems.

Nonprofit professionals deal with situations that can range from the simple to the complex and, often to the tragic.

The daily pressure and stress can be mentally, physically, and emotionally challenging. Even the most compassionate and consummate professional can feel the cumulative impact of such a demanding career.

Unfortunately, the intensity of this already stressful workplace environment is growing. While budgets are being cut and calls for help are escalating, staffs are being pushed to do more with less.

So who props up those who prop up others? The answer could be You.

As a high school basketball player, I was barely good enough to make the team, and my prospects for actually getting into a game were close to nonexistent.

In spite of my bench warming role, my three younger sisters showed up at games to loudly cheer for their brother. Their pleas to “put Hardy in” didn’t persuade the coach but did totally embarrass me.

Through the years, my sisters have continued their encouragement. They recognize a need and offer support. My once youthful embarrassment has grown into appreciation and the realization of how fortunate I am to have such great cheerleaders in my life!

You too can have a positive influence on those you work with by being a cheerleader who provides co-workers with a much needed boost.

Help create a supportive environment that will assist in re-charging those whose batteries are running low. Offer words of encouragement to those dealing with a particularly difficult situation. Recognize when someone may be struggling, and help find a way to temporarily lighten his or her load. An act of kindness will go a long way toward deflecting frustration, fatigue, and even burnout.

Acknowledge those who are making a difference. The feeling of being appreciated is a powerful motivator.

Champion the effort to get everyone working together as a team. Celebrate the individual and collective successes your organization is having so each person can share in the glow of accomplishment.

People who work to meet the needs of others are indeed special. But even those who help others need help and deserve recognition and encouragement themselves.

A sister can be a great cheerleader. And you can too!

Speaker Hardy Smith is your Go-to Resource who works with NonProfits and Associations that want an Ongoing Culture of Performance. Organizations across America have benefited from Hardy’s 30-plus years of experience working in the high-performance world of NASCAR racing. His extensive involvement with nonprofit, volunteer-based, and community groups nationwide gives him a keen understanding of nonprofit and association needs. Hardy’s offerings include keynote addresses, seminars, workshops, leadership retreats and strategic planning sessions, such as, “Why Don’t Board Members Do What They’re Supposed to Do?; leadership training; strategic planning; and innovative and results-oriented consultation.  To hire Hardy for your upcoming event ct 888-766-3155.

Do Creative People Think Highly of Themselves?

Do Creative People Think Highly of Themselves?

By Julie Austin

A recent study on creativity showed that people who are highly creative tend to score low on tests of humility and honesty. After spending most of my life in the entertainment industry and being surrounded by creative people, I’ve run into plenty who thought highly of themselves and would score low on honesty. But I’ve also been around plenty of creative people who are also very honest and humble.

I would have to say that the ones that are still humble are less likely to make it to the A list though. Being creative and making a great living from your creativity seem to be two separate things. Unfortunately some of the most creative people never make great money at their craft and remain very humble and honest.

The study, which used the HEXACO model of personality structure, said that the people who scored low on humility and honesty were more likely to bend the rules for their own monetary gain and had a sense of entitlement. So, does this mean you have to be arrogant and dishonest in order to make a lot of money with your creativity. I hope not. And certainly the most creative people, whether they are writers, actors, artists, etc. don’t always make a lot of money.

There is another piece here besides just creativity. In today’s world you also need to be a good pitch person. And that requires a different set of skills. Most creatives are not very good at the business side. It helps to have both.

Creativity means putting yourself on display for others to judge. That means your ego will take a beating and you have to be pretty confident to keep doing it for the long haul. You have to have a thick skin to keep taking that beating over and over again. Maybe this helps to explain why creative people think highly of themselves. You have to believe in your own creativity before others will.

Julie Austin is a sought-after Keynote Speaker, award-winning author, and Inventor of Swiggies – The Wrist Water Bottle by Hydrosport.

Coming from a background in the TV & film industry as a commercial actor and TV host, she also has worked in the development of over 1,000 scripts. Julie knows the creative and how to sell it from a business perspective.

Julie knows a thing or two about innovation. She’s an inventor/innovator who turned $5.00 and a lump of clay into an international NASDAQ winning product—the Swiggles wrist water bottle, now sold in 24 countries. Call 888-766-3155 to book her for your next event!

Don’t Leave Your BIG Goals to Chance! Reliably Achieve BIG Goals Faster

Don’t Leave Your BIG Goals to Chance! Reliably Achieve BIG Goals Faster

By Carl Loop

Do you hear people state a BIG goal that makes you inwardly (or outwardly) just shake your head in disbelief? As in, you have about as much chance of accomplishing that as a New Years resolution (which has about 8% chance of being accomplished on average).
And yet, people do accomplish goals, they even accomplish BIG goals that they (and often everyone else) once thought were impossible!
• 7 and 8 Figure Business Growth at Record Speed
• Owning 200 Investment Property Homes
• 1st Female NFL Coach and Hall of Fame
• Feeding 10’s of Thousands of People
• Winning the Nobel Prize
• Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro with No Arms and No Legs (Kyle Maynard)

Leaving your BIG Goals to Chance risks having them downsized or discarded! Reliably Achieve BIG Goals Faster from these 5 Steps!
5 Steps to Reliably Achieve BIG Goals Faster!

The Power of Vision.

“Without Vision the Past Predicts the Future.”
The future is predictable without a Vision. A Vision uses your Belief System to creates new access to something greater. A Vision is your “come from” place and communicates your BOLD Stand. It’s the secret weapon that pulls you through tough times and boosts you to a higher place.
Having only a resource and task focus develops survival/safety concerns which bring survival results and create interactions of force, competition, self-interest and disconnection. Vision focus develops aliveness, power, collaboration, community and connection, all of which reliably drive you higher.

Don’t Go it Alone.

Individually, we are self-limiting, less accountable and less reliable. One of my BIG successful clients says: “we have that little voice in our head that doesn’t want us to be anything.”  When we are aware of others knowing and supporting what we are up to, or being aware that others expect our greatness, it pulls us higher and more reliably forward. The best version of ourselves comes when we contribute to others and others contribute to us.

Performance on Purpose.

“If you’re just performing to lifeless goals, you’ll be lifeless about achieving them.”
The greatest version of you, the version that has and can achieve the impossible, comes from connecting to a purpose (rooted in your Vision) that moves you. Performance on Purpose comes from seeing your life as a movie where you are the hero having victory over undesirable forces, and where you are helping to free others from those undesirable forces.
A goal driven by purpose has a much higher reliability to be achieved.
Also, we must continuously renew ourselves with our purpose so we can maintain performance at our extraordinary personal best.

Planning.

“Businesses that Plan Together Pull Together.”
Create a unified Roadmap of Prioritized Goals, Plan, Action. Clarity catapults results.
It’s only a lofty dream until you know the steps for achieving it.
Often, in the patterns and chaos of daily doing, we miss the BIG pieces unless we have the Vision, Goals, Plan, Action roadmap.

Set “Control Points” So You Maintain Progress.

Communicate frequently at specific, committed times. Committed communication greatly increases Reliably Achieving BIG Goals Faster.
Develop and Commit to an Escalation process when things go off track. Have a “By When” date on when you will complete something.
Define and Accept an accountability process and have discipline to hold yourself -and accept having others- hold you to it.

Don’t leave your BIG Goals to chance.  Schedule a 15 minutes conversation today!

Carl Loop says the most amazing thing about what he does is to help people “See the Unseen” to LEAP opportunities.  His various award-winning corporate, entrepreneurial, creative, technical and leadership background and experiences enable him to bring a new perspective so you see the unseen to “Achieve The LEAP.”

Carl is passionate about helping people “Achieve The LEAP.”  To date, he has helped businesses profit by 10’s of Millions of dollars…and counting!  When Carl was very young, he could jump really far, and became a bit of a celebrity in schoolyard competitions. People started calling Carl “Leaping Loop” and it has stuck ever since! Call 888-766-3155 to book Carl for your next event!

Event Planning And The Scourge Of Round Banquet Tables

Event Planning And The Scourge Of Round Banquet Tables

By David Deeble

Let’s be serious for a moment: audiences should be seated facing the speaker.

Imagine a photographer going from round banquet table to round banquet table taking pictures of people without asking anyone to turn around and face the camera. To do so would be absurd. But it’s no more absurd than introducing a speaker or entertainer when much of the audience – by virtue of the fact that they’re sitting at round banquet tables – still have their backs squarely facing the podium or stage.

Before introducing an entertainer or speaker to the stage, take a page from the photographer playbook and request that those whose backs are to the stage to at least offer the presenter their profile.

This and a few other simple changes very often make the difference between an audience which is engaged and one that is not.

Return to daviDDeeble.com or learn how a head injury forced me to reinvent myself from a conventional to a comedic juggler.

David Deeble’s career in comedy began at the age of 8 when he joined the Long Beach Mystics, a now-legendary magic club in Long Beach, California. There, he was schooled relentless
ly in the importance of being a polished entertainer – not just a magic act. After opening for such comedians as Ray Romano and Kevin James, David made his debut as the variety star in “Bare Essence” at Harrah’s, Lake Tahoe. From there, he began making numerous appearances on American television including “America’s Got Talent,” “Last Comic Standing,” and “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” on which he performed his trademark grocery-sack juggling routine. To Hire David as your next Entertainer, click here or call 888-766-3155 to book him!

How To Ruin Your Event

How To Ruin Your Event

By David Deeble

There’s lots of ways to ruin an event. Let’s talk about ruining the entertainment portion, especially if you have gone with comedy.

With any type of live entertainment there is a relationship between the audience and the performer. Nowhere is this more pronounced than with comedy entertainment which, when performed at the highest level, is much more like a dialogue than a monologue. The audience might be able to chat amongst themselves and still enjoy a rock band, but not so with, say stand-up: to be successful the craft requires an audience that is totally engaged.

A professional, experienced and talented comedian knows when an audience isn’t with her and will prattle, prod and engage an audience until she knows they are focused and only then will he get to the heart of her act and the business of making them laugh.

But how, you may ask, can I make a comedy entertainer’s job as difficult as possible?

Let’s say you’re a professional event planner or someone who is otherwise responsible for planning an event for your company. You’ve done your homework and found a comedian who is accomplished, a pleasure to work with and perfectly suits your needs. Now the question is, what can you do to thwart this his remarkable talents and years of experience and make everyone in attendance uncomfortable at the same time?

Here are a few simple things you can do to ensure that the delicate, essential bond between an audience and a comedian is tenuous at best or, better yet, never established in the first place.

• Schedule The Entertainer Immediately After A Break

The room is pumped. The most-popular, hardest-working guy or gal in the company has just received his well-deserved award from the CEO and the energy in the room is at its peak. Whatever you do, don’t harness the audience’s energy by immediately introducing to the stage the entertainer you’ve budgeted a sizable sum to procure. Instead, have the CEO, emcee or whoever has the floor to announce a break “of about 15 minutes”. That should be enough time for the room to deflate, the energy vanish and allow the stragglers to head back into the room and settle into their seats while chatting with their fellow fellow employees about golf plans for the following weekend.

• Seat The Audience At Round Banquet Tables

For the love of God, you’re not going to ensure that all the seats in the audience are facing the stage, are you? No, no, no. When an entertainer walks on stage you want roughly half the audience facing the back of the room. That way more people will be able to tell when the line for the open bar is down to only a few people. You might also consider leaving the doors in the back of the room open, allowing those seated with their backs to the stage to “people watch” the smokers, stragglers and maybe even catch a glimpse of that woman from the coat check with the ineffable aura about her. Ideally, you want these people who face the back of the room to be completely unaware of what is going on on the stage. Think muzak.

• Serve Food During The Show

When a world-class comedy entertainer and a mediocre salad go head to head, the salad wins every time. Anything requiring utensils is best – after all, people are capable of enjoying a comedian with finger food like popcorn just as they are capable of enjoying a movie. Of course, it never hurts to have hard-working servers bustling from table to table pouring water, grinding pepper and sending that steak back to the kitchen until it’s done right.

• Arrange For A Large, Empty Space Between The Stage And The Front Row

Nothing is more conducive to an attentive, engaged audience like seating them as close to the stage as possible. There’s an intimacy to this seating arrangement that mimics the openness and rapport of an private conversation. This is why you want a large empty space surrounding the stage. Many venues place a small stage against the wall of a large banquet hall and surround it with a large, empty dance floor: this is the ideal way to ensure your money and reputation go to waste. Nothing sends the the audience the signal “You have nothing to do with this performance” quite like seating everyone no less than a metric mile of the edge of the stage. This way audience members can chat with each other throughout the show while feeling – wrongly – that it has no impact on the overall performance.

The above are just a few basic, feng-shui examples of how to ruin the entertainment portion of your event. The truth is, there are almost as many ways to ruin it as there are second-rate entertainers to ruin it for you.

Do you know other ways to ensure that entertaining at your event is as uphill a battle as possible?

David Deeble’s career in comedy began at the age of 8 when he joined the Long Beach Mystics, a now-legendary magic club in Long Beach, California. There, he was schooled relentless
ly in the importance of being a polished entertainer – not just a magic act. After opening for such comedians as Ray Romano and Kevin James, David made his debut as the variety star in “Bare Essence” at Harrah’s, Lake Tahoe. From there, he began making numerous appearances on American television including “America’s Got Talent,” “Last Comic Standing,” and “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” on which he performed his trademark grocery-sack juggling routine. To Hire David as your next Entertainer, click here or call 888-766-3155 to book him!

The Strategic Fit – Building Relationships with Speakers’ Bureaus

The Strategic Fit – Building Relationships with Speakers’ Bureaus

By Christy Lamagna, CMP, CMM, CTSM

This is the final piece in a three-part series recapping a conversation I had with Sue Falcone, Founder and CEO of Remarkable! A Speakers Bureau on how planners can strategically build relationships with speaker’s bureaus. The Strategic Fit - Building Relationships with Speakers' Bureaus

This is the final piece in a three-part series recapping a conversation I had with Sue Falcone, Founder and CEO of Remarkable! A Speakers Bureau on how planners can strategically build relationships with speaker’s bureaus. Part one introduces the value of the speakers’ bureau, and part two talks about event speaker trends.

Christy: What do you do about speakers who speak from scripts and are reluctant or unwilling to adapt the message to an audience?

Sue: It’s essential to make sure every client gets a unique and custom experience. Audiences will not accept “canned” presentations, although once that was the norm.  Every speaker search I do starts with a thorough questionnaire for the speaker and the planner so that I know exactly what is expected from and needed from both sides.  It doesn’t matter how many times I have worked with a client; every piece of business must be earned.  Fresh, relevant material is a must and that means adapting to the audience.

Christy: What do you say to those who think they can’t afford to hire a speaker or to those who would prefer to simply book directly?

Sue: I focus on creating an experience from the initial contact, so fees are not the first thing we discuss. I want to know what the client is looking for and what the goal is for bringing in the speaker. From there, it’s my job to find solutions and secure a speaker they like and need.

As for being able to afford my services, there are a few key points to keep in mind. Always ask if the bureau’s fees are paid for by the client or the speaker as it varies by organization. At Remarkable Speakers! the speaker pays for the booking, so there is no cost to the client for utilizing my services. It is also important to know that the speaker fees we quote are not marked up to cover the fees the speaker pays us.

The additional thing to keep in mind is the expertise offered by the bureau. After listening to what the client wants, I make initial recommendations, factoring in not just the speaker’s content but their style. It has to be a good fit at every level. No one has time to waste, so working with a pro means only seeing speakers who meet your needs, style and budget. Watching clips on You Tube and searching the net for speakers can take hours and may not lead you anywhere.

Christy:  Planners are so often in ‘go’ mode that they forget to stop and consult the experts. It’s a good reminder that help is available and that the service providers will likely do a better job than we could. Thanks for that quick reality check!

Sue: I think we can all fall into that trap sometimes! To continue: as for budget: I never apologize or shy away from the cost to book a speaker. Some of the best advice ever given to me that I live by was: “when quoting fees you should be able to do it without blinking an eye. Do it with confidence, facts, and commitments.”

That doesn’t mean there isn’t room for negotiation.  Both sides need to walk away feeling good about the partnership. I can work with both parties to create mutually agreeable terms.  I love the “thrill of the hunt” and closing deals. After booking thousands of speakers I have tons of creative ways clients and speakers can find middle ground.

Christy: My friend is a speaker. Why do I need one of yours?

Sue:  Now, more than ever, everyone thinks they are a speaker, or knows someone who is! I always thank my clients for the opportunity to “earn their business.” Often, when looking for a speaker, initially, people do not know what they want. Even if they have a friend or colleague in mind, it’s a good possibility they still are looking for suggestions. I find that many times after a few questions, the client is not quite as sold on their friend as it might have first appeared.

Knowing the speaker has advantages but does not guarantee it’s the right fit. I ask questions about what they are looking for in their speaker, and does their friend have all need to have a successful event. I share key things to look at; great video clips, an active and engaged social media presence where you can see reviews and testimonials, and what their marketing materials look like to see how fresh, current, and relevant their speaker is. I make sure they think through the ‘why’ around choosing their friend as the speaker.  It’s important to remember that the impact of choosing the best speaker reflects on them.  I want my clients and potential clients to be seen as “rock stars” for choosing the perfect speaker and having a successful event. Sometimes their friend may be their speaker of choice.

To me it’s about helping people make good decisions so even if we don’t book a speaker, I am still thankful for creating a relationship that can be developed for future business. The other opportunity is for me to add a new speaker to my roster as we are always looking for Remarkable Speakers!

A huge thanks to Sue for her time, expertise, buoyant personality and wisdom. I speak to many people each day and few have Sue’s remarkable spirit, candor and enthusiasm. I hope you all enjoyed reading this as much as I had speaking to her. To continue the conversation, leave a note in the comments section below, find me on Twitter: @SMEChristy or email me: Christy.lamagna@strategic.events.

CEO, Sue Falcone, recognized the need for a speakers bureau that would represent professional speakers, and provide the perfect speaker for clients who sought the best for their events with a personal “hands on” custom touch.

From a former corporate executive, to becoming a professional speaker and author being hired, and creating a distinctive and unique speakers bureau representing speakers for hire, she gained the experience and expertise needed to give a full service experience.

 

What’s Trending in the Speaking World?

What’s Trending in the Speaking World?

By Christy Lamagna, CMP, CMM, CTSM

Event strategists always start with the end in mind. They know the core principle in strategic planning is that all actions and decisions must support the event goal. When it comes to choosing speakers, it can be easy to get distracted by celebrity status or choose topics that may be personally interesting but not right for your target audience. Engaging the professional skills of a speaker’s bureau allows you to add an expert to your team at no cost to you, saves time and will potentially introduce you to people and topics you may not have otherwise found.

When it comes to choosing speakers, it can be easy to get distracted by celebrity status or choose topics that may be personally interesting but not right for your target audience. Read on to discover, what’s trending in the speaking world?This is the second in a three-part series recapping a conversation I had with Sue Falcone, Founder and CEO of Remarkable! A Speakers Bureau (you can see Sue’s smiling face in the photo shown above). Our goal was to explore how planners can strategically build relationships with speaker’s bureaus. If you missed the first installment and want to see the first article, please click here.

Christy: What changes are you noticing when planners call to book a speaker?

Sue: At one time, my relationship was exclusively with planners operating in a silo, meaning there were no other people for them to run ideas by or to get suggestions from. Now planners are part of a much larger team. Having more people making the decision translates to needing to provide more options as each person has an opinion or vision on the topic and/or presenter needed. I once shared three potential speakers for consideration before someone was selected. Now I find myself presenting up to eight candidates before a decision is made. As a bureau that is focused on helping clients meet their goal, it’s crucial to adapt to their changing needs and timeline to provide the best service possible.

Christy: What is one thing everyone should know when booking a speaker to get the best fit?

Sue: As is the case with all things strategic, the goal is the key. First, I need to know what the speaker is expected to accomplish. Then I find out what the necessary audience takeaways and outcomes are. Not everyone can put their goals into words, so I created a detailed questionnaire to help the process. Sometimes people know how they want the audience to feel after hearing the message but can’t articulate what the message itself should be. We specialize in finding and delivering what you ask for and sometimes even what you don’t know how to ask for!

Christy: I’ve noticed lead times to plan are getting significantly smaller. Are you seeing that too?

Sue: Absolutely! We are getting requests with very short time frames for the search to be done yet the same level of quality is expected.

Christy: In an ideal world, how far in advance should planners start looking for a speaker?

Sue: After the event goal is established and a budget is confirmed, the speaker search should begin. The speaker is often the main draw, so the process shouldn’t be rushed. To do the job correctly, it takes a lot of time to search the options before we can propose the perfect match. We need to find speakers who match not just the topic’s parameters but are also a good fit for the audience/corporate culture, have the right personality, attitude, and of course, price. We need it to be the right fit on all counts or it doesn’t work.

Christy: Are you finding speakers are becoming more flexible in tailoring their topics to the audience?

Sue: I’ve booked over 3000 events and work to make each experience custom to the client’s needs. That includes making sure speakers are willing to adjust their content based on who will be listening to them. Today’s audiences consume tremendous amounts of content daily and are incredibly savvy. They will not accept “canned” presentation. One size does not fit all.

Christy: It seems that this is part fact-based and part intuition in terms of pairing speakers to audiences. Is that right and if so, how do you make that work?

Sue: When first contacted to provide a speaker, I gather detailed information from the client, so I have the background I need. Like I said, it’s not just the topic, the personality and style have to be a good fit. I do my homework in advance and get a sense of who the hiring organization is. I get a sense of their culture, their expectations, what has and hasn’t worked for them in the past and what their goal is. That way when I pick up the phone, I know who I’m looking for and what we need to achieve.

Additionally, my speakers must complete a comprehensive questionnaire before signing with me. This gives me a wealth of information at my fingertips, which saves time, avoids confusion or miscommunication and allows me to be the best at what I do.

Thursday, Sue and Christy finish their conversation, during which they discuss, among other things, how to build a partnership with a bureau.

CEO, Sue Falcone, recognized the need for a speakers bureau that would represent professional speakers, and provide the perfect speaker for clients who sought the best for their events with a personal “hands on” custom touch.

From a former corporate executive, to becoming a professional speaker and author being hired, and creating a distinctive and unique speakers bureau representing speakers for hire, she gained the experience and expertise needed to give a full service experience.

Looking for a Quality Speaker? Put Your Money Where THEIR Mouth Is!

Looking for a Quality Speaker? Put Your Money Where THEIR Mouth Is!

By Christy Lamagna, CMP, CMM, CTSM

All event strategists know that content is king, so when we bring in outside speakers we need to do our homework and recommend wisely. As is the case with all things event strategists do, their actions yield the highest quality results that align with the event’s goal. In this instance, an accredited speakers bureauAll event strategists know that content is king, so when we bring in outside speakers we need to do our homework and recommend wisely. As is, the case with all things event strategists do, their actions yield the highest quality results that align with the event’s goal. In this instance, that means reaching out to an accredited speakers bureau and leveraging their expertise.

For those who are not as calibrated in their process, an internet search for ‘motivational’ or ‘professional’ speakers may start the process. Perhaps a visit to YouTube for clips of speakers is the preferred route, with an obligatory click on cute puppy videos along the way. For some a query to colleagues gets the ball rolling.

While both methodologies may result in booking the same speaker, not all paths are equal. For those who opt to do the legwork and cut out the middleman, the road is longer, uphill and full of bumps. Speakers’ bureaus are like Convention and Visitors’ Bureaus; at your disposal, designed to make your job easier, staffed by professionals and not fully utilized or understood.

It is critical to remember how we are offended when other people think they can do our jobs. Let’s not be guilty of that same mistake by imagining that if we can search the internet we can find a speaker just as well as a professional can.

To better understand why a professional speakers’ bureau really is the way to go, I interviewed Sue Falcone, founder and CEO of, “Remarkable! A Speakers Bureau.” Here’s the first of three excerpts from our in-depth and enlightening conversation.

Christy: Why should I use a speakers’ bureau rather than find a speaker via Google or references?

Sue: I believe that communicating what speakers’ bureaus really are, and the value they bring is key to being able to be the “go to” resource for securing the best speaker for an event. Here are three questions we ask perspective clients:

  1. Do you want to save time, money and resources?
  2. Do you want peace of mind with less stress knowing your speaker is going to be remarkable and you will be a rock star for choosing to work with a speakers’ bureau?
  3. Did you know that speakers’ bureau fees are paid by the speaker – not you – so therefore all the time and services a speakers’ bureau provides is free to you?

Christy: Is it more expensive to use a speakers’ bureau?

Sue: Cost is the biggest concern about the perception of using a speakers’ bureau. Many bureaus structure the pricing so their commission comes out of the speaker’s fee. Speakers are willing to pay the bureau out of their speaker’s fee to cover the representation, negotiations and follow up work.

To note: some bureaus do charge a fee, so ask up front whose responsibility it is to cover booking fees.

Christy: What is the difference between one speakers’ bureau and another? Are you all selling the same thing?

Sue: Many speakers’ bureaus have become “speaker listing bureaus” rather than ones who actively work to secure events for all speakers they represent.

Christy: What should an event planner – or a speaker – look for as differentiation in a bureau?

Sue: I have a screening process and require the speakers I represent to sign an agreement as to how I will represent them, and what we agree to do. Knowing they are marketable and are booked through my bureau they not only represent themselves, but also my company.

Did you enjoy Looking for a Quality Speaker? Put Your Money Where THEIR Mouth Is!? Check back in on Thursday, May 10th for part 2.

CEO, Sue Falcone, recognized the need for a speakers bureau that would represent professional speakers, and provide the perfect speaker for clients who sought the best for their events with a personal “hands on” custom touch.

From a former corporate executive, to becoming a professional speaker and author being hired, and creating a distinctive and unique speakers bureau representing speakers for hire, she gained the experience and expertise needed to give a full service experience.