Dreams are great. The climb and struggle toward achieving your dreams are essential, but today I want to cover the other side of dreams. Beware, passionate dreamer, people are out to make money on your passion for your dream.
It is good to have a dream. It is great to pursue it. We all need help getting there. I’m just saying that you should pause before you pursue. My friend Ford Saeks says bluntly, “There are speaker parasites out there.” He is talking about people who want to sell you snake oil. If someone says they can make you a $100,000 speaker if you will take their course, run!
The best advice I ever heard was what Patricia Fripp told Brian Tracy when he first came to NSA. She told Brian to put his head down and work hard for 5-7 years, and that when he looked up he would see that he was ahead of most. That’s real. Unless you are a N.Y. Times Best-Selling Author (not a best seller on a subset list on Amazon.com), a reality TV star, or an Olympic athlete with a well-publicized story, it will take years to be an overnight success.
Obviously, I teach this, too. I earn money by helping people get checks. I welcome all legit competition. Personally, I just hate to see people get taken advantage of or sold on spending huge amounts of money with unrealistic expectations. In my program, Get Paid to Speak by Next Week®, for example, I say clearly that you probably won’t make a $10,000 by next week or even next month. It will be hard work, and it also depends upon your starting point. If you are already a highly paid consultant and want to speak on the topic of your expertise, you have much more opportunity to get bigger checks faster than most. If you are still figuring out your topic, it will take longer.
Why do I bring this up? Recently a speaker friend sent me a video of a speaker who is starting to sell a program on how to live the life of your dreams, just like he is. Being protective of you and other emerging speakers, I wanted to check it out to see if he is legit. A red flag came up when I heard him say on his video that his company has achieved a high level of rapid growth. He went on to say that he is looking for people who would like to experience that.
Now, this could be true, but you should ask how he defines rapid growth. And he said that about his company, not his speaking fees or number of engagements. Warning. More research! It could mean that this person booked two speeches last year, and this year booked three. It could also mean that a non-speaking income related to another part of their company started growing rapidly. It might have nothing to do with getting booked as a speaker.
We all need help; we all need to learn from someone else. There are many who teach the business of speaking. I do not have all the answers, not even close. I highly recommend Alan Weiss’s book, Money Talks. He can give you insights I don’t have. He is one of the guys I learned from.
My point is this, do some research. No matter what goal or dream you have, find out more about the people you are considering giving money to. Much can be found out with a little time and a keen eye. When I went to the website of the speaker who is selling that course, I did some snooping around. Here are some things to consider when doing research.
Research Testimonials: This person did have some legit looking testimonials, but here is what I noticed. All of the testimonials were from his peers. Speaker buddies. There is nothing wrong with that, but they are not people whom he taught the business of speaking to or helped get started.
If there were testimonials about the program rather than the person, I would jump on FB and see if I could find a few of the people who endorsed him. I would send them a message to start a conversation and find out more about the value of the program, where they were, and how it helped.
Search for Them on Media: See what else you can find and the quality of it. I found this person’s website and looked under the keynote speaking tab. It was fascinating. If it works for this person, I might need to change my approach. They listed 18 topics. I never recommend that. How can you have 18 amazing keynotes? Most great speakers I know have three or fewer. That number made me question even more.
A big turn-off for me was also a poorly photoshopped picture of this speaker in front of a stadium-sized audience. Really? A picture like that is a great idea for a vision board for your personal use, but it makes me question everything else. What else is not real? Does that make sense?
Teacher or Speaker: There are many amazing speakers who are not great trainers. They may be amazing on the platform, but that does not mean they can teach. Putting together a powerful, digestible course is a different skill set. I love creating courses, because for me it is like creating a puzzle without the picture.
Hint: If someone is selling something high-priced, see if they have something low-priced first. Invest in that, and then if you do get value, invest more. Try a donut before you invest in a dozen.
Be a Detective: Be skeptical. Read between the lines. Note that what you find good or bad is a learning lesson for your own social media posts and website design.
When you and I are creating our own marketing material, we need to keep this in mind. Let’s be first-rate, classy, and authentic. Don’t try to photoshop pics to look like you have spoken in front of huge audiences. The simple act of faking something makes people question everything else. Marketing is challenging enough as it is. Why give people a reason to move on to their next option, or worse, leave a lasting, horrible first impression.
This person’s video made me skeptical because of his using the words rapid growth. I know many, many, highly-paid professional speakers in the field today. I’m friends with several who get paid much more than I. All of them are constantly marketing and looking to get better at it. I’ve never heard one of them claim to have a secret to rapid growth even after twenty years in the industry.
Dreams are great. Pursue yours relentlessly. Invest in tools and learning, but take a few minutes to research. Do not stretch yourself so far financially that you put your family or your next mortgage payment in jeopardy.
Remember Patricia’s advice. This business takes time and hard work. You also should not try to figure it all out yourself. Research is so simple to do with a little creativity, skepticism, and common sense. Dive in if you can. Dip your toe in the water, and make it a serious hobby first, if you need to, but stop waiting and do something. I just ask that you do your homework first.
I may not be the one you choose to get motivation or direction from, but I’ll be the first to celebrate with you on a big milestone, be it your new book, your first check, or your first huge check. I know what it takes, and it is not easy.
Please share your thoughts below!