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Felicia Slattery

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Tales from Box Mountain Part 3: Broken Promises, Cut Locks, and No Texting While Driving (Not what you think!)

Note: This post is the third in a series about what I learned about life and business from moving my family from the suburbs of Chicago to Knoxville, Tennessee. You can read the first post here and second here.

Not our container... ours was obnoxiously overstuffed!

Not our container… ours was obnoxiously overstuffed!

Whenever you move, one of the biggest issues to contend with is how to get all your stuff from your current home to your new home, expediently, efficiently, and safely – and as cost-effectively as possible, unless you are being moved by your company and they are footing the (potentially massive) bill. That was not us.

During our recent move, we looked into the options, which as far as we could tell included:

  • Hiring a big cross-country moving company (far too expensive).
  • Renting a truck and hiring a driver (not sure we wanted to trust some random driver with all our earthly possessions).
  • Renting a truck and driving it ourselves (no one in our family has a truck license, plus … just no.).
  • Having a service bring a container to our driveway, we load it up/ hire movers to load it up, and have it picked up again, shipped to our new home, dropped off, and unloaded.

We went with that last option because we had done it before, twice, and while those moves were local, it worked out well enough both times we felt confident it would be the best choice for us this time. So I did my research and made a choice on the company to use.

First, I have to say, ultimately we were happy with the service. However, there were A LOT of missteps by the company we choose, ABF Freight, otherwise known for it’s consumer service called UPack.

We chose them on the recommendation of my father-in-law, who had used them in the past and remembered their prices being far and away less expensive than PODS, Pack Rat, or any of the other consumer container storage and shipping companies. He was right… the price was almost half of what everyone else was going to charge. That was explained in their marketing. Because the company is a commercial freight service, they may place a few boxes of their own on the back of our truck, to be delivered to another of their commercial customers en route to our new home.  Makes sense to me.

The first misstep came with their scheduling online. I wanted to set up my moving date for the last few days in June. But their online scheduler automatically chose a random date two weeks into the future, which was still early June, and wouldn’t allow me to change it online; so I had to call.

Lesson #1: If you have an online scheduler or order process, make sure everything can be done online without forcing your customers to make a phone call or jump through other hoops.

After I *thought* we had the date squared away (more coming later), the phone rep told me part of the deal was that the driver would be texting my container’s location to me along the route to my new location so I would have an idea where my stuff was. That wasn’t anywhere on their website, but the site had already proven to be less-than-reliable, and it sounded like a cool value-add. Plus, with my knowledge of technology and what’s possible, it was perfectly feasible that a driver could check into an automated system, that would then send me an auto update like “Driver 7245 has now entered Kentucky with your container.” It makes sense right? Well, the person I was on the phone with was making that up apparently, because in subsequent conversations (to fix the wrong drop off date AGAIN), this customer service agent said there was no such offer of texting while driving, so to speak.

The only thing I can think of now, as I reflect, is perhaps that is an offering for their freight customers but not for their individual consumer customers and the customer service agent I spoke with was confused. I don’t know, but I felt like I missed out on a great service.

Lesson #2: Deliver on your promises.
Lesson #3: Make sure your entire staff can effectively explain your offerings correctly.

Interestingly, I soon learned this company DOES use texting to confirm that your container will be dropped off to be loaded on a certain date. That was good because I received a text with the wrong date, so I had to call AGAIN. In fact, I planned an out of town in Minnesota for a business retreat on that date, which had been scheduled for months, so I would have never set that date up as a drop off or pick up date. The good news for this company is they had the text confirmation set up so I could see the error and immediately call to avoid having a driver show up at my home while I was out of town and pick up an empty container 2 days later because I was still out of town. Their system worked in this case to catch the customer service agent’s mistake.

Lesson 4: Have systems in place to catch any errors before they turn into bigger problems down the line.

After we received our container, on time and set up exactly how we wanted it, we set to the hard work of packing it. In another post, I’ll share about the fabulous service our movers provided, because they deserve their own post with more lessons learned.

Another promise was after we packed up our belongings, we should LOCK the wall they provided to completely secure our things in the container. A regular pad lock wasn’t going to fit, so my Dad went out and bought a $25 heavy duty industrial lock for the job. We secured our belongings as stated in the contract and on the phone and were on our way.

Not long after our container was picked up, however, I received a phone call from the local dispatch office. At this point, we were on the road somewhere between Illinois and Tennessee. The dispatcher on the phone asked me to come in to remove my lock so they could get their ramp, which was inside the truck when they delivered it to us, and we put it back inside. There was no mention that specific ramp, which we would need in Tennessee to get our stuff OUT of the truck, had to stay in Illinois. Apparently the Tennessee dispatch office would have their own ramp. Unfortunately, I had the only keys and we were on the Interstate somewhere. So they cut off a brand new $25 lock and now our personal items weren’t secure.

Lesson 5: If you want something to be a certain way (in this case, the ramp to be accessible to the local dispatch office), spell it out in your instructions and make sure it’s well-communicated.

As I said, overall we were happy with the end result: our container was safely delivered, when we wanted it, where we wanted it, and at an affordable and fair price. After we arrived in Knoxville, everything went very well and the Knoxville dispatchers were great with accommodating the times I needed for our container to be dropped off and then later the same day removed.

Could I recommend this company? I would, with the caveat that people I refer read this blog post so they know what to expect. What it comes down to is this:

FINAL LESSON: If you teach your customers what to expect from you and then deliver that exact promise through the customer experience, you will have raving fans every time.

 

Tales From Box Mountain Pt. 2: It’s Not About The Box

We never did find the box, but we DID find what we needed to get the job done!

We never did find the box, but we DID find what we needed to get the job done!

After my husband and I made the decision to move from the suburbs of Chicago to Knoxville, Tennessee, we thought renting for a year would be a better choice because we looked at more than 20 homes to buy yet never came up with quite what we wanted. Plus, we don’t know the area AT ALL, and we didn’t want to rush into buying just any old house in any old place.

In another post, I’ll talk more about the decision to downsize from our 3000 square foot home to an 1121 square foot apartment, but for this story here’s what you need to know: in that process, we realized our daughters, ages 10 and 13, would have to share a bedroom in our new 2-bedroom apartment.

I suggested the girls might enjoy bunk beds, and they were both elated to have that experience. So I set to work on finding some gently used bunk beds for sale at sites like Craigslist, Bookoo, and OfferUp. I soon negotiated a good deal on a set for sale near our former home that I really liked because the lower bunk is a full-sized bed, which allowed a few more options.

When we picked up the black metal frame of the bed, it was in parts. That’s when my Dad took over. You should know my Dad is the handiest of handy men, the most intense assembler you’ll ever meet, and a complete perfectionist when it comes to doing any project he undertakes, no matter how long it takes to get it done right. If you’ve ever seen the HGTV cable network star contractor, Mike Holmes, who makes EVERY thing perfect about a project, you have an idea of how my Dad tackles a project. Plus, he’s retired now and has FULL TIME to devote to any pursuit he wants. And in this instance it was all about the bunk beds.

Once he was involved, Dad went online and printed not one, but two full sets of directions to assemble the set. Then he took the whole bed completely apart so it would fit on the moving truck. He labelled all the little screws, nuts, bolts, and pieces that were part of the assembly of the bed, organized them by what part of the bed they came from into little plastic bags, and then put those into a bigger plastic bag. Finally he packed the whole lot into a well-marked cardboard box and sealed it up.

When we arrived at our new home, for the first couple of weeks one girl slept on the twin-sized sofabed and the other slept on her mattress on the floor because my Dad wanted to be the one to put the beds together the RIGHT way and had planned to come down the second week we were in Tennessee. He’s great at assembling anything and loves it, plus we had plenty of other tasks to do before my parents arrived (have you seen the photo of Box Mountain in my dining area?!), so we came across the well-marked box, and put it into a very safe place.

When the day came for Dad to put the bunk beds together, we started looking for the well-marked box with all the nuts and bolts and pieces neatly organized inside. The well-marked box was about the size of a shirt box at Christmas, but double the thickness, so it wasn’t a massive moving box, but plenty substantial that it could easily be noticed.

But nobody could find the well-marked box ANYWHERE.

We looked all over the apartment, which was easy enough because there are only two bedrooms with walk-in closets, the main living space, and the kitchen/dining area. No well-marked box.

I recalled having the box in my hands and placing it into the girls’ bedroom in the stack of other boxes in there, but as we organized their room and closest, emptying moving box after moving box, the one well-marked box we needed to find to make their beds was not among them.

My husband saw the well-marked box a handful of times, too. He ran back and forth to the storage area (I couldn’t part with my dining room table, our Christmas decorations, and some much-loved bigger furniture pieces!), and he could never find the well-marked box.

My mother-in-law and father-in-law, who live near us here in Tennessee had been helping us unload and unpack. My mother-in-law remembered seeing the well-marked box, but wasn’t sure where it was, either.

After several DAYS of searching off and on for that well-marked box, my Dad and my husband finally decided that we needed a Plan B. We called the manufacturer and explained our situation, hoping they would sell us just the parts, but that wasn’t going to work. So we ended on Plan C: Buy a new set of identical bunk beds to the set we already had and start fresh.

Now, being a thrifty sort who isn’t quite a conservationist, but hates throwing things away that can be used, that really upset me. We had all the BIG pieces for the bed, it was just those screws, nuts and bolts.  I knew we would someday come across that well-marked box, so I thought at the very least I could re-sell the whole original set so it could go to a home that would use it.

While my Dad and husband were at the store, buying the new bunk beds, I said a prayer to St. Anthony (the saint of lost things), and suddenly I had a revelation.

It wasn’t the well-marked box we needed AT ALL. It was the stuff INSIDE that mattered.

Suddenly, with a new determination — and NOT looking for a BOX, but instead looking for the actual thing we needed — I FOUND IT within 2 minutes.

Where was it? In the girls’ room, right next to the parts of the bed. What we needed had been removed from the well-marked box, which had apparently long been discarded, so instead it was a plastic bag filled with other plastic bags in which all the pieces were!

All along we had been looking for a BOX, when what we wanted was what was inside the box, and ignored everything else. We probably each looked right past the set of plastic bags a half dozen times each.

What a relief to finally find what we needed!

The Life and Business Lesson Learned:

Sometimes we THINK we want the box because the magic, we’ve been told, is right inside that particular box. All we have to do is open it. But instead of seeking the magic itself, we seek the box.

Put into concrete terms related to business, we want what goes with a successful business: the credibility, the clients, the cash, the freedom… but instead of working for those things, we spend a ton of time worrying far too much about the box we THINK those things are inside such as a perfect website, a finished information product, a book fully written and published, and so on. You CAN achieve what you want, without worrying about the box.

In life, too many people wait to go after their dream job or search for the person they want to enjoy the rest of their lives with because they are stuck looking for the perfect box of making their body perfect, or their resume perfect, or their wardrobe perfect. You can reach those personal goals, without worrying about the box.

My friends, keep your eye on the prize. It’s not about the box at all, no matter how well-marked and how certain you are you will find it one day. Seek what is inside. Go for what you REALLY want.

See Part 1 in the series here.

Tales from Box Mountain: Part 1 – Life and Business Lessons Learned by Moving Across Country

box mountain

Box Mountain: AKA All the stuff we needed to unpack and find a home for inside our new 1121 sq. foot home.

It’s been a while since I’ve written a blog post. As you can likely guess from the title, because you’re smart like that, I’ve been preoccupied with relocating my family from the suburbs of Chicago to the 3rd biggest city in the state of Tennessee, Knoxville. Yes, I’ve been working, but doing the bare minimum to get by.

You know how “they” say moving is one of the top 5 or 10 or whatever most stressful life experiences up there with getting married, having babies, changing jobs, and driving in traffic (that last one has to be true, doesn’t it?)? Well… I am here to say, yep, that’s about right. Whew.

During our move, over and over again I kept seeing so many business and life lessons I decided to share them in at least a series of blog posts, if not, someday soon, a short book. So I’m starting here and we’ll see where this takes me.

As a preview for what’s coming:

  • We about pulled our hair out over looking for a certain box, when I realized it wasn’t about the box at all. That’s when I found what I was looking for.
  • My wedding and engagement rings were in a super safe place… so safe I thought I’d lost them forever.
  • Two reactions to getting lost during travel; he wanted to be upset, so I let him be.
  • Broken promises, cut locks, and no texting while driving. (Not at all what you think!)
  • Going from 3000 square feet (plus garage and shed) to 1121 square feet with a family of 4, plus a dog.

These and other stories will follow this week. Some may appear as written posts and others as video posts. We’ll see what comes up!

What lessons from moving have you learned that can be related to life and/or business? I’d love to learn from your experiences – post in the comments below!

Move on to Part 2 here: Tales from Box Mountain: It’s Not About The Box.

The Elevator Speech Would Have Killed This Opportunity

It’s not every day you get to share a ride with an executive at one of the world’s biggest companies who becomes interested enough in what you do to ask you to get in touch. But THAT’s exactly what happened to me when I landed in San Francisco a few weeks ago.

The video below tells the story and I recorded it as part of my 30-day storytelling on video challenge.

Moral of the story: Quit using a dag-gum Elevator Speech! (I wrote a whole book about exactly how!)

Becoming a More Awesome YOU!

awesomizationToday’s guest blog post comes from my friend, Nicole Dean, who at a recent keynote “double dog dared” everyone in the room to be more awesome and launched what she calls her “Awesomization Nation.” I call it 30 days of awesome you! You can call it whatever you want, but I urge you to consider joining us. We officially start tomorrow but many of us have been warming up and being awesome since last week!

I Double Dog Dare You to Be Awesome!
By: Nicole Dean

Question: What is Awesomization Nation?

Answer: The Awesomization Nation is a group of awesome entrepreneurs who want to be their awesomest selves. We’ve got hundreds of members already, and each person in the group is posting at least 3 small awesome things they’re doing each day. We encourage members to do a minimum of one thing in their business, one in their lives, and one thing to impact their world or THE world.

Question: Why NOW?

Answer: I was scheduled to give a Keynote at NAMS in March 2015 and  the topic was “I Freaking Double-Dog Dare You to Be Awesome” and so the idea for the Awesomization Nation just happened. I wanted to create a movement and the amazing thing is that it’s already taking on a life of its own and we haven’t even officially STARTED yet.

The Awesomization Nation was supposed to start on April 1st, but the members are so eager that they’re already doing awesome every day and posting about it. I’m amazed watching the group and participating in it, too. Joint Ventures are forming, connections are being made, and inspiration is flying everywhere. I honestly am blessed beyond measure that I get to be in this group of positive people.

People are hungry for an invitation to be better versions of themselves, me included. I’m just shocked at how it’s taking off – and thrilled and excited, too!

Question: Will being part of Awesomization Nation help me grow my business or is this just another distraction?

Answer: Being part of the Awesomization Nation will awaken you to potential in your business and your life that you may have stopped seeing. Yes, you’ll receive all kinds of valuable information and inspiration for moving your business forward. But the other important thing is that I want you to have grace to take small steps forward – as long as you ARE moving forward.

For instance, one item you do for the day may be to take 5 minutes to map out the outline of the book that you want to write. Instead of letting 6 more months go by being overwhelmed by the task, break it down and let Awesome You do one part to move that project ahead. Or perhaps an awesome task you might do one day is to schedule a coaching time to talk with Felicia about your Signature Speech™. Instead of putting it off and letting yourself be overwhelmed, take the 5 minutes to book the call, invest in yourself, and walk away ready to rock the stage. That’s definitely what “Awesome You” would do. So do it!

And, to answer your question, YES, it will help you to move your business ahead. Any time you invest in taking action, you’re moving in the right direction. And, these people are definitely taking action. I can’t wait to see where this leads and the RESULTS that our members will get by the end.

Join us at The Awesomization Nation and become more awesome today!

How to Follow Up Without Looking Like a Spammer

carnival cruise ship

Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Recently my husband and I enjoyed a week of sun and fun on the 9th Annual Marketer’s Cruise, where we were part of a group of 450+ business owners and marketing professionals on a ship in the Caribbean for networking, meeting new friends, and spending time with old friends.

Because this is a group of marketers, some who are seasoned, but very many newer folks, there are strict rules about what is allowed and what is not in terms of connecting with people during and after the cruise to “sell your stuff.” The definition of “cruise spam” is clear. The rules are:

  • Don’t blast everyone with your message, whether via email, social media, or even by dropping your business card by every room associated with the event (yes, someone actually DID that! At least we knew who to steer clear of!).
  • Don’t add anyone to your mailing lists who didn’t specifically asked to be added, and especially don’t go through the directory and/or addendum to add people who included their email addresses as part of their profile.
  • No overt selling, unless it comes up in conversation that someone tells you directly they are interested in your products or services and they specifically request to know more. Believe me, people will tell you if they are interested in what you have to offer and then the door is open.

The rules are made very clear both in welcome messages sent to each cruiser separately and to the group by means of our private Facebook community, as well as spoken out loud several times on the ship itself by the group coordinator and travel agent, Captain Lou. The rules boil down to STOP selling and see how you can help add value to someone else’s life.

That’s where things get fuzzy. How exactly can you add value? What if, as you’re going through the directory of all the people who attended, you read a bio of someone you didn’t meet on the ship (easy to miss many folks when there are more than 450) who, based on their info looks like they could be a great fit for what you offer? How can you take the conversation off the ship and outside of the Facebook community to see if there is some interest?

Well, as the author of “Kill the Elevator Speech: Stop Selling and Start being helpful is the first step in being memorableConnecting,” I have a few ideas about this particular topic.

What led to this particular blog post was a spammy Facebook private message both my husband and I received yesterday. I described it and asked in the Facebook community:

So, is it considered “cruise spam” for my husband and I to have received the same exact “buy my stuff” private Facebook message from someone neither of us is friends with here and someone neither of us had any conversation with? Or is that just to be assumed as “follow up” (albeit it bad form & poorly done) by someone in a group of marketers? Overall I’ve been impressed with the personal follow up and connection, but now I just feel like I need a shower.

After confirming comments from Anita and Sarah that the message would indeed be considered spammy, one kind and forgiving soul, Scott, suggested maybe the person sending me the spammy message was new, but as it turns out, this person is far from new and even appeared on stage at the event, so theoretically should know better. Why I decided to write this post today is other commenters asked what is the best way to connect, summarized nicely by this question from Susan:

“So any suggestions on how to connect beyond the cruise without being spammy? For fear of being spammy, I haven’t really connected with a lot of people on the cruise that much after the cruise. I would love the connection because I want to know what they do, what are their upcoming events, projects and how we can help each other.”

And then our fearless leader even chimed in, Captain Lou himself, saying others may also be able to benefit from my thoughts. And here we are!

True Connection 101

How you connect with others after a business event of any kind, depends completely on the kind of interaction you had while at the event itself. What follows are my suggestions for how to do that in a way that builds a relationship, whether you buy from each other or not.

Situation 1: Met the person, had a conversation where they expressed interest in what you do as a potential product or service for themselves or someone they know:

This one is the easiest by far. If a person says, “I’d like to talk more with you about this after the event,” that’s your open door. Send an email, private message, or make a phone call to talk with that person more. In the message or at the beginning of the conversation remind the person how you met and a little about your conversation. At longer events and/or where there are hundreds of participants, while we all like to think we are memorable, it’s nice to help the other person connect your name and your face with a reminder of your conversation.

However do NOT simply add that person to your email list without asking first. Better yet, give that person your card and tell her how she can add herself to your list if she would like by offering something for free, for example.

Situation 2: Met the person, hung out for a little while, but business didn’t come up or no direct interest was expressed in what you do.

Let’s say you sat next to a person at one of the shows, or sang karaoke together, or did a cruise excursion to the same place and enjoyed your conversation enough that you decided to check out your new friend because work really didn’t come up. Look for the person in the directory of attendees, visit his social media page, or even Google him or otherwise find his website. Connect on social media for sure. Then if it feels like there might be a good fit, send a private message or email that looks like this:

“Hi John! I really enjoyed hanging out with you at the shore excursion to the Mayan ruins on Belize. I’m sorry we didn’t run into each other much the rest of the cruise. First, I wanted to send you this photo I took of us [or of you and your wife or whatever…].

Second, I had a few minutes to visit your website today and it looks like you’re up to some cool things. I loved your blog post about [be specific about something on his site that you really did like so he knows you’re not just spamming; actually comment on the blog post first. Or watch a video and comment. You get it.]. That got me to thinking we never did get around to talking about business. I don’t know if you had a chance to look at my website, but it’s YourWebsite.com and I thought, if you’re up for it, I’d love to talk to you about what you’re working on. Maybe there’s someone I can connect you with, or a project you’re working on that I might be able to offer help with in some way, and vice versa. What do you think? Of course I understand if you’re busy, and either way, it was great to spend some time with you and look forward to talking more soon!

– Your signature

PS Based on your website [post recently on Facebook, etc.], I think you might enjoy or find value in my free report [webinar, checklist, mp3, whatever…] Title That Would Make Sense to This Person. You can get it here: LinkToYourFreeGift.com

I would not send a link to my calendar at this time. Yes, it would save time if the person wants to say yes, but it presumes too much. If the person emails back yes and does not send you his calendar link to schedule, then send yours. If the person replies back with a no thank you, or a not right now, then stay connected on social media.

Situation 3: You did NOT meet the person or you met only in passing.

With hundreds of people, it’s not likely you will meet everyone. But if you’re looking for leads from the event and don’t want to offend anyone, or worse, get banned from the group, here’s one way to connect.

First, visit the person’s website, blog, or social media accounts and comment on posts, share, retweet, pin, etc. Second, connect on social media. Third, send a PERSONAL message that goes something like this:

“Hi Name!

We didn’t have a chance to meet each other / or have a conversation on the recent marketers cruise, and now that I’m looking through the directory of attendees, I’m wishing we had. Although between my hubby and I loving all the fun shore excursions and the shows on the ship, I didn’t get to Pizza and Profits until later in the evenings. I’m really sorry I missed you, because as I was reading your entry in the directory you mentioned that you’re looking for help with [be specific, using the same language they used] and that’s just what I do for my clients.

If you want to know a little more about me, you can see me on page 268 of the addendum. I even created a special gift just for cruisers called, “The Marketers Cruise Guide to Speaking and Profits.” You can pick that up for free at http://FeliciaSlattery.com/cruisegift.

I took a few minutes to visit your webiste [blog, LinkedIn profile, YouTube channel] and really like how you [be specific and give an honest compliment]. Also, I noticed a couple of things you could quickly and easily change that might make a big difference for you. I made you a super short video showing you what I mean that you can see privately here [use Jing or another screen capture video to add value by sharing immediately or don’t make a video, but offer a suggestion.] I’m actually doing a free webinar on that next week / or / if you’d like to talk a little more about it, I’d love to connect now.

You may not hear back right away, or at all. If this person seems like a good fit, you can copy the same message into a social media private message or email (whichever you didn’t use the first time) and suggest that with all the filters in place, you wanted to be sure the person received your message. If you don’t hear back again, and the person honestly looks like a good fit for what you do, move them to your offline direct marketing campaign path and send a print newsletter, your book, a post card, a direct response letter, or something else. Make it personal. Make it about them. Offer a specific solution to a specific problem they may have.

Situation 4: You want to know more about someone’s services (without feeling spammed).

No one likes to feel sold to, but everyone like to buy things, especially things we want and need. If you meet someone you think has a product or service that could help you, you can simply join their email list to see what they send, connect and follow them by paying attention on social media, or if you’re ready for the “big guns” of sales that some marketers use, tell them directly and ask for an appointment to talk more about your needs. Before the conversation, be clear on what EXACTLY you need, how you want it delivered, and what your budget is. Then it’s your job to see if the product or service is a good fit for your needs and the business owner should be listening to you to determine if you are a good fit for them.

Under no circumstances:

  • DO NOT: Have an assistant copy and paste the same generic message over and over again, whether it’s in email or on social media. Even if it sounds sort of personal or is written by someone who knows how to write copy, it’s still spam.
  • DO NOT: Send unsolicited “here’s my free stuff” messages without any reason related to the person you’re “reaching out” to.
  • DO NOT: Treat anyone as a number or just “another lead.” Every number in your funnel represents a person; a human being with needs and wants, hopes and dreams. They deserve to be respected, even if they don’t want to buy from you.

Finally, I’ll end with a story. My husband, Brent, and I met a wonderful couple, Dutch and Vanessa, on the cruise. We spent several evenings chatting, hanging out, and just having fun. If you’ve been married for any length of time, you know it’s rare to find couples friends, where the husbands have things in common, the wives have things in common, and even the opposite husband and wife have things in common. That was us with Dutch and Vanessa.

Naturally, the topic of business came up a few times with Dutch and Vanessa, but it was simply where the conversation went, rather than any one person trying to sell another. During one part of our conversation, after Dutch told me more about what he does for his clients, I suggested maybe we could talk about him helping me. And what he said next will stick with me for a long time. In that moment, he could have moved in to set up an appointment or tried to sell me on the spot. Perhaps instead, he could have been preparing me for a let down that maybe my business isn’t at the volume that his company requires or that we might not be a good fit, but he said,

“I don’t know if we will end up working together or if we won’t. But no matter what happens with work, I’d like to stay great friends.”

Doing business is about creating authentic connections and real relationships so we can help each other succeed.

Anything else just makes you look like a jerk out for only yourself.

Multi-Billion Dollar World of Motivational Speaking – What You Can Learn

whether you think you can or think you can't you're right Henry fordLast Sunday, CBS Sunday Morning aired a story about my world: the world of the professional speaker. I found the piece interesting and enlightening from several perspectives.

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.

 

Kill The Elevator Speech – Book Launch Results!

Kill the Elevator Speech Hits Numbers 1 and 2 in Hot New Releases on Amazon!

Kill the Elevator Speech Hits Numbers 1 and 2 in Hot New Releases on Amazon!

WE DID IT!!!

Yesterday I launched my new book, Kill the Elevator Speech: Stop Selling, Start Connecting. The image you see here started as a screen capture sent to me by Facebook friend and reader, Frederique Murphy, founder of Mountain Moving Mindset, international speaking and consultant based in Ireland.

Last night I finally crashed shortly after the midnight totals came in here. I was wiped out after all the work I did this week in preparing for the book launch. So I am VERY grateful to Frederique, who was thoughtful enough to grab a few screen captures of my rankings in the early morning hours.

As you can see, we hit #1 AND #2 on Amazon’s Hot New Releases list. For some reason Amazon counts the Kindle book and the physical book as two separate titles (I have no idea why), which is why I was able to be at both the top two positions.

Here are a few other stats from the launch:

The highest best-seller ranking we hit was #2 in it’s category. This image is from my iPhone snapped overnight.

2 in kindle marketing

 

As of this moment, Kill the Elevator Speech is still in the top 10 of all three of it’s categories (numbers 3, 6, and 8).best_selling_3_6_and_8This is only the beginning.

You see, my (very lofty) goal for this book is for it to hit the New York Times Best-Seller List. This internet launch was only phase one. Phase two begins in earnest after Thanksgiving when I start the national media promotion. So if you happen to have any contacts with folks at any of the big business networks, I’ve been interviewed on TV and can certainly handle myself in an interview. Plus, I’m passionate about this message that we should all just stop it with the elevator speech (or elevator pitch) once and for all.

The good news is people are loving the book! It currently has a total of nine reviews, ALL are 5-stars!

9 5-star reviews

In the meantime, there are people to thank. Many thousands of them, actually, but I’ll name just a few here.

First, to those who made me graphics throughout the day to help support the book launch, Joe McCready and Craig Carpenter. Joe handles my Facebook page for me and is always coming up with awesome graphics. Craig, well, he just happened to send me a private message in the middle of the day yesterday, about something totally unrelated, and then a few minutes later surprised me with the awesome quotes.

being helpful is the first step in being memorable
now there is something far better than the elevator speech

Also, a big thanks to Anita Johnson, Paul Taubman, and Ruth Martin, my tireless help desk manager, webmaster, and virtual assistant. If you’ve ever scheduled an appointment with me (or want to have me on your podcast, radio show, or TV segment!), Ruth is the one who makes all that happen (along with making sure I see and eventually respond to emails!). And If you’ve ever had any difficulty with my websites, Anita has been on the case, getting you taken care of, while Paul makes sure things are clean, backed-up, and secure every month.

Speaking of websites – less than 24 hours before the book launch, my main website went down. Ka-put. Within two hours of a phone call to Regina Smola, everything was back up, running good as new. If you ever have any issues with your WordPress website, Regina is someone you WANT to know and have on your team. I am grateful to know her.

And finally, the person who worked until 3 AM the night before (really the morning of!) my book launch, designing everything, making everything work and run beautifully, is Debra Lloyd. She made some of most fun graphics I ever had in my business, as well as doing SO MUCH more. Being British, she had to add the queen’s crown to the keep calm graphic, and she’s also responsible for the graphic at the top of this page and many (MANY) others. I am in deep gratitude for her hard work on this project. You can see more of her work on Facebook, and I will be using all of her graphics as we go along. I don’t think I can ever thank her enough, but it might well include sharing a bottle of wine the next time we’re in the same room!

keep calm and kill the elevator speech500x500-in-case-of-es

And most of all, YOU! For the dozens (possibly hundreds) of people who shared my book on your social media profiles, for the people who gave me quick and early feedback about the launch page, which helped me to make it better, to the private email support, to every person who picked up a copy (and in some cases several copies as gifts!), THANK YOU from the bottom of my very grateful heart.

Now I’m getting offline for the rest of the weekend. I need a break :-).

I Wrote This Post in My Underwear (And Other Nonsense)

picture them in their underwearThe terrible advice is everywhere.

“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.

Hogwash.

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:

http://feliciaslattery.com/get-over-it-your-fear-of-speaking/

Tell all your fraidy cat friends, too! We’ll have some fun and maybe banish that fraidy cat feeling and empower you to speak!

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