This time of year my friends and colleagues are usually incredibly festive, but 2020 has been quite a year. Rather than the usual joys and holiday cheer, a lot of people in my life are saying something to the effect of, “I’m not really in the holiday spirit this year” or, “It’s taken a lot for me to put up this tree…” or some version of that. I get it. In 2018, leading up to my wedding my brother had a severe brain aneurysm that rendered him brain dead. With his funeral scheduled two days before our wedding date there…

I was afraid I would be fired this week or that this would be the week when I’d start to be alienated at my agency.

For years, I’ve had a not-so-secret agenda of bringing in more black, brown, and queer voices into the professional speaking industry. My agency has long been viewed as the best speakers bureau in the world. So, amplifying voices of people from diverse communities under the agency’s banner could go a long way to lift those experiences, stories, and ideas to a wider audience. …

The Possibilities Seem Endless (and the Motley Fool’s Analysis of Peloton is Wrong)

My husband and I were just having a conversation about investing in Peloton. So, when I saw “The Reason I'm Not Investing in Peloton Interactive, I noticed it has nothing to do with the fitness equipment maker's product and whether it will remain popular" posted in the Motley Fool, I had to read it.

The piece opens, “Earlier this month, it was Datadog, the fast-growing data analytics software, that got off to a hot start, but has since begun dropping.” I immediately thought, "Oh great! …

How to be perceived as a professional and why it matters.

When working through a bureau or agency, professionalism is an important key for a speaker to be successful in this industry. It seems like this goes without saying, but you’d be surprised at the gamut of professionalism one sees in this field. I’ve seen a level of professionalism as poor as a speakers backing out of a contracted and mutually agreed upon agenda while onsite at the event; other speakers professionalism lacks in something as simple but important as failing to have high-quality headshot; there are those speakers who just don’t return calls or respond to emails in anything resembling…

How to craft and deliver a speech.

As a professional speaker, preparing your speech and delivering your speech is more than standing in front of a room and speaking or reading from note cards. Often times, folks are paying you a lot of money to speak to their audience. From one audience to the next the expectations can be different, the time allotted can be different, the specific message they want you to land on can be different. …

Know Your Audience

Stop rolling your eyes. I can see it now, “Oh brother, this again.”

Don’t brush this one over.

It’s easy to categorize your audience into their known titles: sales team, college students, the board of directors, major donors, C-level executives; or include their demographic makeup such as Women, LGBT, Black, Midwest, college educated and so on. Then, once you do, you address them based on fickle and arbitrary idea you think that mean. It can, and most likely will, cost you dearly to reduce your audience to only those characteristics. …

What’s your shtick? What’s unique about you? What’s your thing?

Every professional speaker has a thing — a shtick. Their thing happens to be true and able to be summed up in a sentence or two. Captain Scott Kelly was in space for a year. Liz Murray went from Homeless to Harvard. Noor Tagouri is the first American journalist to wear a hijab while reporting the news (Yes, that’s a big deal in America).

This question isn’t as simple as do you have a nice elevator pitch or one-liner to describe yourself. The question is, 1) is your one-liner accurate; and 2) does anyone care? Agents at speakers bureaus have…

“No. Don’t blame me.” — Ken Segall (lol)

If you are among the ninety-five percent of startups that fail, chances are you should blame Ken Segall.

You see, many years ago, folks from Ken’s agency* found themselves sitting across a from Steve Jobs, who challenged them to capture Apple’s brand in a simplified message. They did, “Think different.”
(*Ken doesn’t own the agency)

People from all around the world gravitated toward Apple and embodied the meaning behind their slogan. The “think different” movement took off! It embraced Apple for how they captured a significant market in a tech world dominated by Windows and PCs. The “think different” cult…

Keep in Mind

1. Your innovation has to be disruptive relative to something else. What is that something else?

Some examples
-Netflix was disruptive relative to Blockbuster
-iPod/iTunes was disruptive relative to Sony Walkman/CDs
-Amazon is disruptive relative to Barnes & Noble
-HPs inkjet printers are disruptive relative to laser printers
-Uber is disruptive relative to taxi cab bases/companies (not taxi themselves as Clayton Christensen notes)

2. Disruption doesn’t occur as a result of technology/innovation. Disruption occurs as a result of the business model built on a technology/innovation.
Consider Napster vs. iTunes. They both functioned on essentially the same technology — file sharing. One…

Let’s give disruption the respect it deserves.

There are so many books with advice on how to startup, run lean, iterate, raise capital, and do more faster. Most of these books are great. Some are exceptional. All of these books contribute to a startup team’s wealth of knowledge and will help the team succeed faster (or fail faster). But, most of the information in almost all of these books — the principles, the processes, and approaches — are anecdotes.

At Techstars they drill into us the notion that, “the plural of anecdote is not ‘data.’” They’re right. There’s nothing wrong…

Life. Work.

"I just want to have a kickass time and live in service to God's will." -Rainn Wilson

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