In the years I’ve been teaching the Signature Speech™, one of the main issues I deal with is helping experts understand that the speech is only the beginning of the conversation with the people in the audience who want to know more.
In fact, one of my clients told me yesterday that from one speech she delivered, she booked $16,000 in consulting business within a week or so of the event. Had she insisted on being paid a speaking fee, she would not have been welcome to that stage where her PERFECT clients were sitting in the audience. Speaking for free, selectively and strategically gets results EVERY time. (Of course you can get the same results speaking for a fee, but sometimes the events that don’t pay can yield the greatest profits!)
So that leads to the question about how to ethically get people to join your email list community so you can keep in touch with them to make great things happen and serve them? Thanks to client and friend Shelley Hitz, book writing coach, who inspired this post by asking:
“Do you give [the audience] a link to sign up [for your list] or get them to sign up on a sign up sheet?”
Here’s how I answered:
I ALWAYS use a sign-up sheet passed around the room. I do it that way for several reasons.
- People physically commit to receiving your information in their own writing. That cements for them that they really do want to know more.
- I save those pages and keep them as proof to show any autoresponder service (or even the person himself) later on that they did sign up, if ever there is a challenge of any kind. It’s a way to make sure I’m safe and protected because most people are awesome, but every once in a while you’ll get the occasional mean person who wants to create trouble for you rather than just hitting the unsubscribe button. And yes, some people will reply to your messages and say they never signed up. So it’s easy to show them their own handwriting if they get testy about things. And then hit unsubscribe for them!
- No other method works as well to get everyone in the room who is interested in what you have to offer on your list. I usually get 100%. The mobile app and text people will tell you their way is better, but I have tested every way known to business speakers, and there is something powerful about a plain old sheet of paper with a growing list of names on it being passed to you. You see, there is a psychological trigger of being excluded that comes along with seeing everyone else’s name on a list and the feeling (more than the thought even) that “everyone else is getting this, I don’t want to miss out” because they can see everyone else signing up on the spot. It’s also a concept known as social proof. You don’t get that with mobile because we all know people can be checking their email, Facebook, or texting their friend about dinner plans. No social proof there.
It’s powerful for such a simple, old school thing.
First, I didn’t love the tone the reporter took about the industry that has inspired millions of people for decades. Throughout the report, her tone of voice said she wasn’t convinced that what we do to teach, motivate, encourage, and inspire others was somehow legitimate. Her incredulous, “Your BEST year EVER?” reply to the owner of a Chicago speaker’s bureau and her challenge to Wayne Dyer, “What do you say to people who think this is all just a bunch of baloney?” were telling, and frankly, a bit unsettling. Not that I would have wanted her to be a cheerleader for our industry, but a little journalistic neutrality would have been better for a story that was not presented as an expose of any sort.
And how Dyer answered the reporter’s challenge, was of course classic motivational wisdom. He quoted Henry Ford’s “Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right,” and then told her that if she or others see a lot of baloney, they must be attracting a lot of baloney into their lives. BOOM.
Beyond that, the piece had some useful information for professional speakers in it.
One lesson is from the speakers bureau owner’s perspective, who gets 15 new speakers inquiring about having his agency represent them per month, and almost NONE of those speakers fit his criteria of “very good, great, or excellent.” He says he’s not there to be people’s friend and almost proudly admits that he’s crushed a lot of dreams. That means there are a WHOLE lot of speakers out there thinking they are good enough to be paid the big bucks, (this bureau has speakers at the $20K+ level) but in reality, are not even close to having the skill they need to succeed.
That is in line with what I see in the trenches of speaking all the time. Far too may speakers are disproportionately worried about their marketing far more than they are concerned about improving their craft, stage presence, story-telling, and entertainment value of being on stage. There are some well-known speaker marketing people who will tell you to put your speaking skills into a box and put them off to the side while you work on your marketing, in essence telling you to ignore your PRODUCT.
You see, if you get paid to show up and speak, your speech and performance is your product. And if your product stinks, no amount of slick marketing can cover up that fact. Good marketing can get you hired, but if your product isn’t top notch, you’ll never get any referrals, testimonials, repeat business, or “back end” business – things like a juicy consulting contract, or physical book and product sales.
In fact, in the story, you’ll see the second piece of important information about how to succeed as a speaker: you’ve GOT to be entertaining. Now this story focuses on being funny and talks about how you should literally time yourself between big laughs and have no more than two minutes between them. However, if you’re an inspirational speaker, or an instructional speaker, or a faith-based speaker, think in terms of an emotional impact mixed in with the laughs. We are there to create an experience for the audience members.
On the other hand, there is another group of speakers who believe if they only hone their craft better, if only they could deliver that one-liner of a joke with better timing, or pause in just the right spots, they will get more gigs, and so spend far less time than they should on their outdated marketing materials, never writing those books, or not creating any products to serve the audience.
The story’s main point is that the speaking business is healthy and growing and there is room for the best speakers to succeed. Your bottom line: allow time in your business to develop BOTH your marketing AND your stage presence and speech and you will be able to make a very healthy living.
Note: For some reason, this video cannot be embedded. You can view the whole story on Vimeo here.
“Picture them in their underwear.” Um, no.
“Picture them doing something demeaning like scrubbing the toilet.” Really?
“Picture them naked.” Gross.
All of the above is nonsense and ridiculous advice I’ve heard at one time or another on how to get past a fear of public speaking.
When I pull it out of context like I did in the title of this post, well, you can see the ludicrousness of telling people to imagine others in their underwear, and so forth.
Those who don’t know any better are well-meaning. They are trying to help. The idea, of course, is that theoretically, anyway, when you picture your audience members in a compromising or less-than-powerful position, you supposedly feel more powerful, and therefore better and less afraid.
You know what makes you feel more powerful? BEING more powerful in your own knowledge of what you can do for others. KNOWING that what you do for people, that your message, can truly change someone’s life for the better, whether in a tiny way or in a HUGE way.
If you are sure that you offer value to people who pay you, if you have happy customers, and if you know speaking is a powerful way to spread your message and attract new soon-to-be happy customers so you can help them with your God-given talents, but have felt held back because of fear, I invite you to a webinar I’m calling, “Get Over It! (Your Fear of Speaking.)”
Tomorrow is Halloween. There is no more perfect day to address something that feels scary, but that you still want to do – and GET OVER IT once and for all.
Now, I can’t promise that by listening to a webinar you can immediately conquer your fears forever on the spot so you are never afraid at all of speaking again (and be skeptical of anyone who says they can – that’s some pretty hypey stuff), but I CAN help you look at your fear in a different way. I CAN motivate you and inspire you to help the people who NEED you. And, just as importantly, I can give you PROVEN techniques that have worked for the thousands of people I have taught them to over the years.
People come to me privately all the time to ask for this kind of help. I want to help you, too, so you no longer have to listen to wacko advice about picturing people in their undies. Sheesh. Here the long link to join the webinar:
Tell all your fraidy cat friends, too! We’ll have some fun and maybe banish that fraidy cat feeling and empower you to speak!
Question: Which came first, the book or the speech as a marketing tool?
Answer: It doesn’t matter! They are both fantastic and you can use both to sell the other!
It doesn’t matter what you do in your business. Being successful boils down to one thing: getting people to pay you for your products or services. Even if your main source of business is referrals, those referrals still need a way to discover what you’re all about. How do you do that? There are only two primary ways: in writing or by speaking. Everything else is an offshoot of those two basics.
Think about it. Even if you don’t have an official speech or you haven’t written a book yet, someone is going to email you or call you. And then you’ll have to answer in writing or by speaking to them on the phone or in person. Or they are going to Google you and run into your website where there is writing and hopefully video of you welcoming them. So let me ask you this:
Are you busy?
The answer is a big, huge, OF COURSE YOU’RE BUSY!!
So one more question: If you’re busy, why not leverage what you’re already doing to make your marketing and your life easier?
As a speech trainer and communication consultant, I’ve been on stages everywhere since the very beginning to market my own business. I started speaking in front of audiences of hundreds of people since the time I was 7 years old; so it’s natural to me. What wasn’t as natural was writing my first book. But here’s how I did it.
- Step 1: I wrote a bunch of specific blog posts about various topics I knew my potential clients wanted to hear more about because audience members were asking me the kinds of questions I answered in the posts.
- Step 2: Then I turned those blog posts into a fixed-term 12-week private membership site, which allowed me to fill in any blanks of tying that content together, as well as including specific activities members could do to help them implement the content.
- Step 3: I took the 12-week membership site content, and turned that into 12 chapters of a book, plus wrote an introduction and conclusion. I added a quiz on Communicating with Confidence for one of the chapters, had the whole thing edited, learned what to do next from Kristen Eckstein to get it into print and self published that baby.
I wanted to write a book because it’s been one of those life-long bucket list things for me. Plus, most speakers worth their fee have at least one book published. So now I had a book. But then, that’s when something interesting happened.
People started to ask me to SPEAK about my book.
And then at those events where I was the featured speaker, audience members would buy my BOOK.
Then people who saw one or the other or both started HIRING ME.
It was AWESOME! One led to the other and back to the other and so on and so on…
As I went on, I decided I wanted to have some better marketing materials. Because the book and the speech were working SO well for me, I wanted to get them in front of more people. What I needed was a Speaker One-Sheet (or Author One-Sheet, depending on if you wrote your book or your speech first! LOL)
The one-sheet is a printed single-sided, brief marketing piece you can put on your website as a PDF or print and send to meeting planners about your topic. It looks all fancy and professional-like, which is how you want to portray yourself as an author, speaker and consultant, in case you didn’t know.
Next came the problem of the proverbial cobbler’s children having no shoes (that would be me not having a one-sheet!).
I know that a one-sheet is an important marketing tool. But (luckily) I was too busy to go through the gyrations of having one made. Finding a designer that didn’t flake out AND who understood me and what I wanted, trying to figure out the look and feel I wanted to convey, deciding what to put on it, well, it was time-consuming. And I realized, I’m not the only one who doesn’t have time for even the things that I know should get done.
So I created these Speaker One-Sheet Templates (using Powerpoint of all things!), because I know how to use Powerpoint and now I can crank one out in mere minutes. No hassle. Dozens of other speakers and authors have been using them, too and they all love them.
Author Shelley Hitz said:
I’ve been needing an updated one-sheet for the speaking I do and have been procrastinating hiring someone. I personally bought one of Felicia’s templates and within an hour had my one-sheet ready and added to my speaking page! WooHoo!
These speaker one-sheet templates are fast, easy, and give you a professional way to be sure you are using the full power of the speaking – writing marketing cycle.
The response to the new Speaker One-Sheet Templates has been amazing and exciting around here. People from all over the world and speakers with all sorts of topics have been snapping up and designing their Speaker One-Sheets since I launched them just 7 days ago. You can see one of them right here —>
When folks who aren’t yet speakers see them, they wonder if they might be able to use the Speaker One-Sheet Templates for another promotional product they have been wanting to market. The answer is a resounding YES!
You see, although I originally designed these to be specifically for speakers who want to get their speech details and bio in front of meeting planners to help them get more bookings, there is no reason you couldn’t use them as just about any marketing flyer. How about these ideas:
- Artist: Showcase your art and highlight details about a current or upcoming exhibition and/or classes you teach.
- Bookkeeper: Share your best tips for keeping receipts organized and highlight your services.
- Coach: Describe your private or group coaching programs.
- Decorator: Showcase your “after” designs and talk about your services.
- Esthetician: Share photos of your before and after work or photos of your location, along with a list of your services or to market a new service offering to your existing clients.
- Financial Adviser: Spotlight the best investments now or host a lunch and learn for potential clients and use the flyer as an invitation about what they will learn.
- Group Exercise Instructor: Use any of the templates to share your upcoming class schedule, testimonials, and info about you and your studio.
- Herbalist: Create a new flyer seasonally to highlight what herbs your clients should be using to protect themselves against various ailments (winter colds, flu, allergies, etc.)
- Insurance Agent: Mail a flyer to your customers quarterly explaining new products, new regulations, and sharing success stories of clients who benefited from working with you and having your insurance.
- Jazz Musician: Print copies promoting your upcoming shows, your website, and your current CDs or mp3s and provide them to all audience members.
- Kinesiologist: Send a flyer to all current and past patients with a featured “move of the month” or spotlight various ailments that you can help improve.
- Landscape Architect: Canvas the neighborhoods where you are currently doing work promoting your services and offering a free consult while you’re still in the area.
- Marriage Counselor: Create a series of flyers that share various conflict resolution techniques and mail to past and current clients, or as a marketing tool to send to the homes in your area.
- Nutritionist: Send out monthly recipes with photos, promote various programs or services to current and past clients.
- Orthodontist: Create quick list for patients to post on the fridge of which foods are allowed and which aren’t with their new braces and answering some of the most frequently asked questions.
- Proofreader: Share your personal info, outline your proofreading services, and share a testimonial. Put on your website and send in the mail to potential clients.
- Quilter: Provide information at quilt shows on your work, accolades, and showcase photos of past quilts.
- Realtor: Quickly add a featured home for sale or announce the sale of a home in the area. Send to all homes in a neighborhood.
- Social Media Manager: Most of the templates have built-in social media icons; use yours to highlight your services or upcoming classes teaching people to use various aspects of Facebook or LinkedIn or Google+.
- Travel Agent: Feature a cruise or vacation package of the month; provide new cruisers with a checklist of essentials to bring.
- Upholsterer: Feature before and after photos of your work, mail to past customers with a special offer; give a checklist of how to care for newly upholstered furniture to all new customers.
- Virtual Assistant: Create a top 10 list of the ways a VA can save a business owner time and money, explain how to choose and VA, and share information about your services.
- Writer: Feature your latest book along with a description of it, where readers can read a free chapter, and info about you.
- X-Ray Center: Welcome new patients with a comforting note about x-rays and answer a few commonly asked questions.
- Youth Minister: Invite new members by including a flyer in your weekly bulletin that explains what youth group is about, sharing photos from past events, and inviting first-timers and their parents to an informational meeting.
- Zoologist: Create series of informational pieces for field trips of children visiting the zoo.
And there you have it. A listing of how businesses from A-Z can use the Speaker One-Sheet Templates for FAR more than promoting speaking. Yes, some of these were a stretch (if you know of any careers that start with X or Z, let me know!), but many of these I know from experience of working with the to develop their Signature Speeches™ and businesses. What other businesses can use these? I’d love to hear about yours in the comments!
As the #1 best-selling author of 21 Ways to Make Money Speaking, this is one of the most frequently asked questions I get. And of course, there are at least 21 answers.
But before you can make any money as a speaker you have to do something first. Multiple choice question — What’s your pick for what to do FIRST:
- A: Good marketing? (Yes, but that’s not it.)
- B: Get training in good delivery skills? (Yes, but that’s not it either.)
- C: Develop a fabulous speech? (Getting warmer, but you don’t start there…)
You have to start with doing SOMETHING in your life or professional career that people want to know more about.
Look at the most highly paid speakers in the world today. Here is a partial list with their speaker fees:
- Rush Limbaugh: In 2013, the National Conference of American Proctologists paid Limbaugh $3.8 million for one speech.
- Donald Trump: Reportedly Trump received $1.5 million for The Learning Annex where he delivered 17 one-hour speeches in a 2-year period at real estate conferences and was paid that full amount FOR EACH SPEECH.
- Bill Clinton: Averages $195,000 per speech; with a high of $700,000 received twice for a local newspaper publishing company in Lagos, Nigeria.
- Tony Blair: Highest earning was $616,000 for 2 30-minute speeches in 2009 in the Philippines.
- Nicole Kidman: Was paid $435,ooo for a 25-minute speech to a group of Forbes Global CEO comference in Sydney, Australia.
- Alan Greenspan: Earned $250,000 speaking at a Lehman Brothers meeting after he retired as Chairman of the Federal Reserve.
- Peyton Manning, Richard Branson, Sarah Palin, Lance Armstrong, Al Gore, and more all make $100,000 for a speech.
So what do all those folks have in common? Clearly it’s not their politics. And it’s not what they do for a living. What they have in common is that they have become well-known for what they do in the world. They are athletes, politicians, entertainers, and business professionals who have accomplished something in their careers and people want to know more about that.
Of course, those people are also celebrities in their own right, which is another thing they have in common. If you’re not a celebrity does that mean you can’t be a well-paid speaker? Absolutely not! In fact, many working speakers make a living with their speaking (or use it as a major source of income). To be successful in speaking, you must have done something, studied something, accomplished something in your life that others want to know more about. It’s that simple. And it’s that challenging at the same time.
If you’ve long thought that you are born to be a speaker; that you have a message that’s inside you that you know will serve the world, start by taking a good look as your life and your accomplishments from the standpoint of a meeting planner. Why would someone put you in front of their audience? What do you have to share or offer that could impact people for the better? It’s your unique stories, knowledge, and experiences which will make you stand out, get booked, and be successful in the world of talented speakers.
Start by sharing those stories, knowledge and experiences in any way you can so meeting planners can get a feel for who you are and what you’re about. Here are a few ways to begin:
- Start a blog and on it tell your stories along with a lesson that anyone could learn from reading your story.
- Record a series of how-to videos or FAQ videos that showcase your knowledge using screen capture technology like Camtasia or simply PowerPoint (learn all about that in this free webinar).
- Turn the camera on and look right into the lens and tell one of your stories. Similarly to what you’d do in a blog post, this will share what happened, what you learned, and what others can take away from your story. Think of it as practice before getting on stage. Post the video on your speaker website, on your YouTube channel and on social media so people see it and share it themselves.
If you feel like you haven’t yet accomplished anything or have something of value to share with an audience, don’t be so sure. If God put the feeling on your heart that you have a message to share, then you do. It might take some serious reflection and journaling time, a little digging to get there, a bit of refinement of the story and the message, but you likely have SOMETHING inside you that needs help getting out. If you’re not sure what your unique genius is yet, it’s time to find out (and I have a free webinar which talks all about your genius factor that you can watch starting right this minute!).
What’s your story? What’s your message? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!
Call it a dress rehearsal for my upcoming nationwide launch of my next book, Kill the Elevator Speech: Stop Selling, Start Connecting later this year. Except that will be carefully planned and orchestrated. You see dress rehearsals are on my mind because last weekend was also my script-writing, stage production, and directorial debut for my daughters’ elementary school production of the show I cobbled together called, “An Evening at Vaudeville.” So mixed in with the wild speaking and media appearances, were daily after school rehearsals, with late nights of getting the program finished, pulling together costumes, and getting the volunteers organized. It was definitely a busy week.
However, my appearances in the media last week were more of a confluence of getting out there spreading my message through speaking and decent marketing, mixed in with a little bit of luck, I’ll freely admit. However, there are a few factors that led to me being featured in 5 different forms of media over the course of just one week, that I think could help your business as well.
- Local TV – I spoke at the Batavia, Illinois Chamber of Commerce Women in Business event for a paid presentation about Credibility and Cash Flow in Social Media. The day before the event, I received an email from one of the event organizers asking if it would be okay with me to have the a local film crew to videotape my presentation for replay on their local cable access TV. So some time this week my speech will appear on cable TV. I agreed on the condition that I receive a copy of the recording to use in my marketing.
- The lesson: Whenever anyone wants to record you, ALWAYS ask for the recording. As a speaker, you need that footage to put on your website, make a demo reel from, or at the very least share on social media as continued social proof you’re out there speaking and doing it well.
- Local Newspapers and Magazine – In conjunction with that same speaking gig in Batavia, the Chamber group had their PR pro send press releases to all the local papers and magazines. All I had to do was approve the copy and she sent it out. I did next to nothing to get my name in the media (not to mention the Chamber’s own websites and social media).
The lesson: Speaking for Chambers of Commerce groups, whether paid or free, you always get the benefit of the Chamber marketing on your behalf. That often means placement in local media, which gets your name out there and allows you to become the “go-to” person in your niche.
- Blog Talk Radio – One of my clients, Brian Basilico, has his own BTR program, BLT Radio, short for Business Life Transitions. He invited me to be a guest to discuss my upcoming book, Kill the Elevator Speech, Stop Selling, Start Connecting.
The lesson: Write a book. That’s first. When you have a book, people want to talk to you about it. Next, Blog Talk Radio is a platform that allows the hosts to store the content, so you can go back any time and use it over and over again. If you’re not sure what to say, have a look at Signature Speech(TM) for Authors for a free gift that will get you started.
- Podcast on iTunes – About a month or so ago, internationally-known author, trainer, and podcaster, Alicia Dunams held a contest to see who should be her next podcast guest. Alicia and I had met years ago on social media and then in person at a live event where I was one of the speakers. I was one of the finalists and because my message about speaking would resonate well with her authors, she decided to interview me about leadership and being “all in” – the name of her podcast.
The lesson: Know the people who are influencers in your community and in your niche. Use the internet to reach out a build relationships and meet them in person at live events so they will remember you.
- BBC – International TV – I recently began using a new app called “Jelly” for social questions and answers, which was released earlier this year by one of the founders and creators of Twitter, Biz Stone. I tend to jump on the newest social platforms as quickly as possible to secure my username and to check it out because many of my clients often look to me to talk about the newest communication tools. Then I was emailed by a producer for a TV programme (you have to spell it that way, because, you know, it’s British!), called “Click.” They have 330 millions viewers and were conducting a story on Jelly and would I be available to answer a few questions? Um, let me think…. YES!!!! So we scheduled it and I spent more than an hour getting the camera right, hurrying up and waiting, and doing the 10-minute interview that had to be boiled down to my 20 seconds of fame. You can see it below. They found me by being on the app. They invited me through my website, I’m convinced, because I had video of me on air to show I can do okay in a televised interview situation. UPDATE – The BBC has added the video to it’s own website right here.
The lesson: Be in the forefront in your area of expertise. Know what the newest innovations are and the newest and hottest trends. Plus do what you can to get any kind of local TV publicity. I learned from Shannon Cherry. The national and international media are far more likely to ask you to be a guest when they know you’ll be a decent guest.
That was my big week in media and speaking. I was so wiped out it took me three days to complete this post!!!
So here it is, my big moment in the international press. The story begins at 12:07 and I come in, literally for 20 seconds, at 14:26. Don’t blink!
At last night’s 86th presentation of the Academy Awards, on the red carpet it was all about the clothes, the jewels, high fashion and “who are you wearing.” During the Oscars TV broadcast it was all about Ellen Degeneres, ordering pizza, taking selfies, and breaking Twitter. Oh yeah… there were some statuettes given out, too.
Today is now all about who wore it best and an analysis of the acceptance speeches. This year there were no big memorable moments like in 1999 when Roberto Benigni after just winning for best actor, was announced the winner of best foreign language film and triumphantly and excitedly climbed up and onto the arms of the seats and seat backs to bound up onto the stage, applauding his audience all the way (video here for that). Yet even so, there were some touching moments and wonderful speeches.
Yesterday, I promised to share the good, the bad, and the ugly of the speeches. Yet after watching, there were no real bad or ugly moments, just excellent and average ones. Plus, if you’ve been a reader for any period of time, you know I tend to be one for focusing on the positives.
So without further ado, here are my awards for The Best of Oscar Speeches from 2014:
Best Tribute to Mom:
Jared Leto, Best Actor in a Supporting Role for “Dallas Buyer’s Club.” Not only did Leto bring his Mom with him to the event, he thanked her in a sweet way by telling her story. He then had the audience’s attention for when he briefly mentioned the political and humanitarian cause, dedicating his Oscar to AIDS patients around the world.
What You Can Learn: Stories touch the heart and capture your audience’s attention and admiration. Start your presentations with a story and you’ll have your audience hanging on your every word.
Tonight is the 86th Academy Awards presentation. Over the years I’ve vacillated from being a huge fan – one year even attending an officially Academy-sanctioned Oscar party in downtown Chicago dressed in my very own red carpet-style gown (blue sequins from top to bottom as I recall) – to some years skipping watching the show altogether. I’ve had clients who had items featured in Oscar baskets and in this very moment I have an email in my inbox from Oscar.com with a live countdown clock.
Mostly, though, since I’ve been training speakers and teaching public speaking for a living, each year during and after the Oscars show, I’ve been pinged on social media and email when one of the winners makes a speech that totally misses the mark. This year, I came across a FABULOUS, funny video as a PSA for the winners that not only is hilarious to watch, but sums up some of the best advice I could ever give anyone who knows they are nominated for an award, especially those who will be nationally televised. Have a look:
Funny, right? That impressions-master Piotr Michael is on his way to some big things.
After watching that, I decided, this year during the Oscars, instead of just tweeting, I’d keep an more official running tally of the good, the bad, and the ugly when it comes to the winning Oscar speeches. Check back here tomorrow for the full report. Let me know in the comments below your picks for the winners and we’ll see how it all turns out!
In the meantime, I’d like to point out that ALL the nominees have one other thing in common than working in the motion picture industry and being nominated for doing so: they are all at the top of their game, living in their own genius. When you find your own genius, you get noticed, and yes, you can even win awards. Go see the free webinar re-broadcast of how you can get started finding your own genius right away.
As I write this I have tears of humility in my eyes and my heart is overflowing with gratitude.
Today is a joyous occasion for me.
One year ago today I received a miracle. And it was because of you.
I was cured 100% of lung cancer.
It happened through my amazing medical team and the miraculous part came about from the power of prayer. Sharing this story is my way to say thank you and perhaps, if you are battling something in your life: illness, addiction, heartache, you will feel inspired and hold onto hope for a miracle to cure your life, too.
After many months of x-rays, tests, and two bronchoscopies (a procedure that did a look-see down my windpipe to the outer region of my lung), stemming from a serious case of pneumonia that never fully resolved, and a negative biopsy of a tumor found at the entrance to the middle lobe of my right lung, I was diagnosed with adeno-squamous small cell lung cancer on September 20, 2012.
Suddenly I was in a medical whirlwind that those who have ever received a cancer diagnosis know all too well. Seemingly endless tests from CT scans, MRIs, bone scans, blood tests galore and more gave way to appointments with specialist after specialist all sharing their take on my challenge and some gingerly sharing horrible things like “5-year survival rates,” which for a never-smoker, non-asbestos-exposed, no-other-typical risk factor case in a young 42 year old female, were pretty good at about 80-85%. I did meet with this one jerky oncologist who, before examining me, and barely opening my file told me the others were either lying or idiots and I had only about a 60-65% chance of living to see my 47th birthday. He did so in front of my worried father, who carted me to every single one of those visits. You’ll be happy to know, I never saw that oncologist again in my life, and had I not been pre-occupied with cancer, would likely have written a strongly-worded letter to someone in charge. I wanted honesty and truth, but above all I wanted and deserved as a human being COMPASSION and EMPATHY.
I knew family and friends were praying for me. And I decided to set up a private Facebook group for those close to me so I could update my status from one appointment to the next. I chose social media because most of my family and friends were there regularly anyway and it was easy for me to “check in” at hospitals and so forth, add photos, and more.
After all those visits I quickly weighed my options, chose a surgeon, and scheduled my surgery for the day after what could have been the final speaking gig of my entire career. Then I had an odd sense of feeling relieved and at peace. I knew, somehow, that everything was going to be okay.
Next is when the miracle of YOU happened.
The night before surgery, nervous yet calm, I sent out a plea to my community of subscribers, my blog readers, and my social media friends and followers, numbering close to 30,000. Here’s what I wrote:
“If you’re the praying type, please send up a prayer for me and the surgeon (Dr. McAfee) that all goes smoothly, is easy, and painless. If you’re more of the visualizing type, please visualize the IV going in the first time easily and my body healthy and complete. And if you’re of the sending good energy type, I’ll take all the good vibes you can muster!”
That short request led to an avalanche of prayers and positive energy from friends and people around the world, in 22 countries, most of whom I had never met in my life. I was added to church prayer lists, lifted up in Facebook prayer warrior groups, and thought about in the private hearts of people around the world. I’m in tears now as I remember it and so grateful for every single one; I can never know how many people even paused for a moment, but I know it all led to my own miracle.
The next morning as I was prepped for surgery before dawn, I silently wept, afraid most of the terror of the IV going in. You see, I’m what they call a “hard stick” and have had occasions where more than a dozen nurses, doctors, and EMTs took over two hours just to run one IV with more than two dozen attempts – each a painful stick of a needle and then some digging inside trying to find access to a vein. Much to my shock and horror, I not only had to have one IV run that day, but because of the multiple medications and various procedures, I needed TWO – one in each arm. I had held it together pretty well over the past couple of weeks, not because I felt the need to hold it together, but because I really was simply working through the process of what needed to be done, but that news was enough to bring the tears forth. My husband was in the room and one of my best friends texted me comfort.
As I was wheeled into the surgical waiting area, away from my husband now, alone with strangers who would soon be cutting into my body, I tried to relax (as if) and focus on the various instructions, repeating my name and birthdate to at least seven people. The next thing I remember is waking up in the recovery area and my surgeon telling me what she had found.
Similar to most cancer surgeries, when the doctor removed my tumor and lymph nodes, each was examined while I was in the operating room to make sure nothing else needed to be removed and to once again verify the specific diagnosis. That’s when they found something curious – and miraculous.
What was only days before diagnosed from an actual tissue sample as “small cell adeno-squamous lung cancer,” suddenly became something different.
At this point in the story, you should know there are three categories of lung cancer: small cell with its variations, large cell with its variations, and something so rare it’s barely ever mentioned called muco-epidermoid. In fact, in a 20-year study at Harvard University Cancer Centers, exactly 12 cases of this muco-epidermoid lung cancer were diagnosed and treated. Of those 12, not one person died, the cancer never spread, and it never returned. So my diagnosis from a much more lethal small-cell type of lung cancer almost certainly requiring radiation and chemotherapy, to something that became a relatively easy “cut and paste” job requiring only occasional follow-up, was the miracle I received that day.
It’s all thanks to you, my community, my family, my friends and the power of prayer.
I could go on and on, but I’ll save that for my next book. For now, as always, I like to provide a few take-away lessons for you, dear reader. So here’s what you can do when you find yourself in a life-challenging situation:
- Build Your Connections Before You Need Them: I’m not getting on my “public speaking rocks” soapbox, but I will tell you most of my connections, and eventually the prayers and support, all came because those people saw me speak either in person or virtually through the Internet. However you do it, build your network and nurture your relationships because someday you may need an army of people to reach out to.
- Kick the Negative Ninnies to the Curb: Stay away from people, even doctors or other specialists and experts who don’t support you or treat you how you want and deserve to be treated. Period.
- Surround Yourself with Loved Ones and Let Them Circle the Wagons: There is virtually nothing family and friends can do for you medically, if that is your challenge, so they often feel helpless. Allowing them to do for you in any way they physically can while you take care of yourself, rest, and recover is a gift so they feel useful and as if they are contributing to your wellness (because they are!) while at the same time giving you the time and space to heal that you desperately need.
With that, I’d like to end with a song that is uplifting that I love listening to. Mandissa thinks you’re an over-comer and I do too! And from the bottom of my LUNG I thank you gratefully for the miracle.