Wow! This is My 100th Blog!
It has been close to eight years since I re-started my speaking business, for the third time. I took everything that I knew from my previous two attempts and made course corrections. Now, my business it is going very well. I know people often describe pulling themselves up by the bootstraps or how they somehow miraculously did it on their own, but that is definitely not my situation. It has taken a whole team of people to get me where I am today and I am thankful for them. I had to change some things that I messed up on in the past as I tried to build my own business. I tried to do everything on my own: the marketing, the contracts and I even took a class on how to design a website. What I found out is that I am terrible at all of that, but I am an excellent speaker. Here are a few things that I have learned over the past eight years that I would like to share with you.
2 Thoughts About Middle School and High School Students:
1) Middle School and High School Students are just like us. They want to laugh and be entertained. It doesn’t matter who they are or where they come from they want to be able to walk away from the presentation having laughed a bunch, with a few peak moments where information has potentially encouraged them towards healthy decisions. Much like any of us they want to be convinced and not coerced into making a different decision.
2) Middle School and High School Students still believe they can take on the world and make a change. I think this is why I continue to speak to this age group and have not moved on. I feel like it keeps me young and knowledgeable regarding all the changes in technology. When I first started doing this, years ago, I had to go to a travel agency office to purchase airline tickets. Now I can purchase them while flying. Things have changed so much and so fast it’s always great to have a student come up to me and ask a question like, “Have you tried, such and such app or website?” I want to keep that attitude thinking that the world can still be conquered.
2 Things I Have Learned About Business:
1) It’s impossible to be everything to everybody. While working with my marketing guru Louis Tanguay from Circle Marketing, years ago he told me that my strength and moneymaker was in speaking not me trying to build a website myself. I cannot tell you how many hours I spent attempting to build the website only to have it look awful or not work correctly. I missed so many phone calls, lost contracts or didn’t return calls, why…because I am not good at that. Once I hired my administrative assistant Wendy to handle contract and scheduling it’s amazing how my business started to take off. That is her “mad skill.” She’s amazing at the details! Of course I can’t neglect to mention the unlimited support I constantly receive from my wife and Chief Operations Officer, Kris Lozano. She’s been my champion and encouraging me in my sometimes crazy dreams for 31 years, through thick and thin. There are so many other people, including my family, that have helped me to get to the place where I am. It’s impossible for someone to do this on their own.
2) There’s a common business saying that says you should under-promise and over-deliver. I have seen where people have done the opposite by over-promising and under-delivering. One of the benchmarks of our business is to offer a great price with a lot of service. It is so crazy for me to believe that I have a 92% repeat business. A majority of those 92% are usually booking right after I finish speaking for the following year. I truly believe that this says something on how we run our business. We even have some repeat clients we’ve worked with since 1990.
2 Things I Have Discovered About Traveling:
1) I am on the road about 9½ months out of the year and spend a lot of time in airports and hotels. What I have come to discover, and this may seem crazy, but airports always seem to have hidden locations that you can sit away from the crowds in silence. You just have to really look for them. It’s almost like those Easter eggs that they hide in movies. Chicago, which is one of the busiest airports, has become one of my favorites because you can take a public elevator to a secret silent room. There’s no advertising on this room. In the Pittsburgh airport there is a silent spot where the lighting is dim and it is so relaxing. I think this is a little bit of a life lesson that you really have to look hard to find the treasures.
2) There are so many interesting stories out there if you just listen. I have met people that have worked on crab boats in Alaska, worked undercover in Mexico, ran horse ranches, pig farmers who have had 8,000 pigs at one time, people who sell additives to change the color of plastic and international food suppliers. One of the most interesting people I’ve met had a daughter who passed away that needed a liver transplant. He started his own company where he transports body parts for hospitals. Body transplant parts like hearts, livers and other organs all around the world. He said that this was so fulfilling to him even though he flies constantly for hours at a time. I knew he wasn’t kidding because when he went to order a drink he pulled out a pocket full of coupons offering them to everybody sitting around us.
If you are reading this I’m sure there is a thank you that I need to give you. Thank you for even reading this far into this blog post. Thank you if you hired me, and bringing me out to speak. Thank you if you are one of the hundreds of thousands of youth I speak to every year. We are making some exciting new changes in 2019, but that is for the 101st blog next month…
Happy Holidays and THANK YOU ALL once again!