Professional speakers, beware. I hate that I have to write another post like this about scammers, but the pirates of the Internet are wreaking havoc in speaking world again.
The latest scam is a familiar take on a long-existing scam or con against professional speakers I’ve explained before. It seems as though too many good people heard about the previous scam, prompting the bad guys to make a few tweaks. Yet while the con artists have changed the names of the fake parties involved, it is essentially the same ruse. I hope you’ll read this post carefully, and share it far and wide so no speakers get caught up in the scam, losing precious time or money.
Last week a client of mine, who I will call Denise, posted inside my private client Facebook group how excited she was that she had been booked to speak for a church in England. Amid the congratulatory responses, I cautiously asked a couple of questions because there is a common con I still see speakers asking about in which a bishop at in a real church located in Jarrow, England invites unsuspecting speakers to present at a fake conference coming up soon.
Just as in the original scam, the scammers chose an actual church in England and even went as far as finding the name of the one-time lead pastor at that church. My client, “Denise,” has given me permission to share everything with you. including all correspondence, so you can protect yourself against the same or a similar scam.
The 6 warning signs you may be caught up in a speaking scam I addressed in an earlier post were present here to a certain extent; plus there are a few new ones I’ll share.
So here’s what happened. Each message is copied word for word, changing only “Denise’s” name and removing line breaks for space.
Message 1: We’re Interested in Hiring You.
The first thing that happened was my client received an email from her web contact form.
“Sent via website Contact Form
Revd Mark Duggan
BOOKING YOU TO SPEAK!!!
God’s blessing Denise, We hope this message meets you in good health.I am Revd Dr Mark Duggan, presiding
Minister of Bramley Baptist Church, Bramley Leeds, United Kingdom. We are pleased to inform you that we would
like to engage you for a speaking event here in Bramley Leeds at the Church conference coming up on the 25th, 26th
& 27th of October 2014. The conference is tagged: ‘Big things: How to start small’.
Please we would like you to convey to us your availability for one of the dates as it can fit in your schedule.
Also, please we would as well appreciate if you get back in-touch with us in ample time so we can start corresponding
Thank you and expecting to hear from you soon.
Revd Dr Mark Duggan
Bramley Baptist Church,
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim
the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.
1 Peter 2:9″
Now Denise is smart. She’s actually an attorney. The first thing she did was to Google the church and the pastor’s name. Both of which are REAL. She was curious as to why the pastor was listed only in one place online she could find as a past leader, but being excited for the opportunity and seeing that the place was a real church, her ideal market, she proceeded.
Yet even from this initial contact there are some curious warning signs such as:
- The email the reverend used was a gmail address not associated with the church. However, when I visited the church’s contact form, I saw the contact address for email was using the church’s domain, email@example.com,uk.
- There was no Mark Duggan listed in the leadership or staff of the church.
- Upon closer inspection of the church’s website, I was able to find their upcoming calendar of events. I went to the October schedule and lo and behold no event was listed for those dates, even though it’s clear this church keeps that calendar very current with ALL meetings listed.
- At most churches, the pastor is busy with more minister duties such as baptisms, weddings, funerals, marriage counseling, addictions counseling, visiting the sick in the hospital, etc. They very rarely will be the first to reach out when planning any kind of event. That is an administrative duty, and even the smallest of churches has at the very least a lovely church lady volunteering at the desk to answer phones and help plan events. In larger churches, there are people whose full-time occupation is to plan events.
- There are some English grammar peculiarities such as the use of “in-touch,” which has no hyphen.
- NO ONE ENGAGES YOU TO SPEAK WITHOUT AT THE VERY LEAST A PHONE CALL FIRST! Even if the meeting planner was referred to you or you know the person, unless you’ve spoken at several of their events in the past, and even then – you usually have at least one phone call to discuss the details.
TIP: Copy and paste the body of any message you receive. This speaker wrote about being contacted in the same way back in 2012 with different names. If you go there, you will notice the same exact wording Denise received in her initial contact. Lazy scammers.
Message 2: We Can Pay Your Fee.
“Thank you very much for your profound interest in this upcoming conference, I have a few
more details to share with you so you can have more insight on the conference and what
the church stands for as a whole.
(Inaugurated in the 19th Century, the annual Bramley Lecture is given in Bramley Baptist
Church on some aspect of the life and work of Bede or of Anglo-Saxon history or culture.
The lecture is published in the year following delivery and copies can be obtained in
Bramley Baptist Church or from the lecture secretary) This is an age-long history of our
It is due to this age-long ritual of giving lectures that we have decided to keep lectures
going though the type of lectures has evolved over the years we are proud to say we are
keeping the hope alive! It is due to this that we are hosting the conference come 25th, 26th
& 27th of October 2014 with about 600 people in attendance and we are pleased to notify
you that you have been chosen by our Event Organizing Committee to speak at this event
on recommendation of a staff of one of our sponsors, the YMF outreach and after checking
your credentials and after reading blogs about you, we received the Lords direction to invite
you to speak in this event and we also believe you are as well more than capable to deliver
in this occasion, We have decided among the Event Organizing Committee to invite you to
Since I was inaugurated as the Presiding Minister of this esteemed church, God has being
helping us to keep hope and monuments alive and we have also being able to change the
face of Christianity, and the church having a whole lot of history attached to it, for one, the
site of the oldest stained glass and home to the then Venerable Bede (the scientist) and one
of the oldest churches in this part, we also have about the oldest organ in England as well
as the Saxon crypt and we also have an history with the river Don. You can check out more
about the church and its history at:
Apart from the conference coming up by October,The church is as well involved in a few
other projects. For one, the church has dedicated the new school building to the Most
reverend Benjamin Heagreaves,(The second-ever Minister of the esteemed church) in view
of his many achievements, the website is under-construction.
Sending out the invitation to you is by virtue of Gods bearing plus human
recommendation, We need you to use your wealth of experience to sensitize the
congregation, We organized this conference and workshop also in the hope of trying to re-
organize the Church and further extend our impacts, So we can have people listen and be
inspired by speakers like yourself on topics ranging from business growth , surviving in a
bad economy, Futuristic speakers , family matters, to healthy living, which is why we chose
you to speak at this event as a keynote speaker. Also this conference will as well mark my
four year anniversary as the Presiding Minister of this blessed Church.
The conference theme has been carefully chosen by the Lords’ inspiration due to the
backdrop of the present situation in the United Kingdom and this year’s conference has
been tagged. ‘Big things: How to Start small’
You can email us the keynote you would like to speak on as we would want you to be
convenient with the keynote topic so we decided it would be better you choose it yourself as
long as its motivational and inspiring! We will as well need your bio to put up on our
website and start to design posters as well as hand bills,
We are inviting you so you can inspire this people, teach them how to triumph over the
deflating effects of set-backs & self-doubt, how to break free from whatever is keeping
them “small”, and become empowered by their challenges, rather than victimized. And
most importantly, how to start great things with small efforts and steadfastness
We would like to know your standard speaking fee for this engagement as we do indeed
have a sponsor, So we can negotiate this I believe, Our fees are based on budget and we
are not based with our speakers fee, We budget for every speaker according to what the
Event Organizing committee deem fit, But we will also be glad to negotiate.
All travel arrangements such as Flight fare, Speaking fee deposit as well as Hotel
accommodation will be taken care of by us as soon as you honor this invitation. The events
committee will send you all binding documents including a Letter of Invitation and Contract
Agreement as well.
Email us in ample time any questions you may have so we can move ahead.
You are blessed.
Revd Dr Mark Duggan”
Now that she was hooked, they wanted to reel her in. The provided her with a website link to an actual church. Then included some unintelligible detail about a website being under construction. If yellow flags were not raised before, they most certainly should be now. A man who speaks as a pastor in English would have a much stronger command of the language, whether in speech or writing. “God has being helping” is not a typo. It’s awkward phrasing, as is most of the message.
Message 3: We’re Sending You a Contract
Denise responded with another thank you and asked for an appointment to speak via Skype. She also has an online questionnaire for meeting planners to help provide some details, which she pointed the reverend to. She also asked how he heard about her. He ignored the request to speak and never told her how he found her, instead replying:
“Thanks for the correspond.I received your meeting planner information packet and your
speaking fee i will have the events committee contact you and send you the contract
agreement so you can review them and sign.
The honorarium is something we can handle and we are really to make the commitment.
Thank you and anticipating to have you here in United Kingdom.
Revd Dr Mark Duggan”
(email signature was the same as above, simply removed for space)
Now at this point, as a professional speaker, any of us might be getting excited. They know our fee and can pay it. No negotiation, just ready to pay. But again, there’s that pesky English grammar thing. Hmmmm….
Message 4: We Can Pay You AFTER You Get Us Travel Documents
The con is starting to reveal itself in this message. They bring in another name and email address – this one an outlook address, also not using the church’s URL. I’m highlighting the wording of the next phase of the scam:
Thank you Denise Smith for indicating your interest to be our Guest Speaker at this year’s conference, May God forever be with you.
I am Roselyn Mark, President of the event organizing committee of the Bramley Baptist Church conference . We believe you have been notified by our Presiding Minister Revd Dr Mark Duggan, as we are in charge of the smooth running of this event and by God’s grace we are bound to succeed.
We are very excited to have you in this conference. The event organizing committee had a meeting earlier today to deliberate on getting you available here in the United Kingdom. We believe we serve the lord of Possibilities.Note you are meant to arrive a day before your performance as to get familiar with the audio/visual gadgets that we have in place, and to get used to the environment as a whole and also get to relax from the jet lag.
We have attached a formal Letter of Invitation and a contract agreement,please reconfirm to us your Mailing Address for our perusal and further action.
Please return a copy of the contract agreement duly signed by you for proper documentation. Print it out, sign and scan back to us(Keep a copy as well). We have agreed to buy your flight ticket and to pay your Hotel accommodation expenses. Also your Speaking fee which amounted to $7,500 USD will not be paid in full as yet, $3,750 USD deposit is to be paid as soon as you procure all relevant travel documents so as to avoid any disappointment and the balance will paid in cash upon your arrival here. You are informed to get across your Work Permit in the UK to us so your deposit can be approved according to our mandated regulation as well as your UK visa for travels. If you do not have the permit please let us know so we can make arrangements for the documents to be processed quickly as the event is at hand. But if you do have the work permit just scan and send to us.
Please check the attached documents, It contains your letter of invitation as well as your letter of agreement. We expect your response in regards the documents asap. Thank you and may God bless us all.
Ah ha! Did you see that? At this point, along with the contract which looked close to a real letter of agreement, but was very unprofessional, my lawyer client Denise realized she was being taken. Just to be certain, she went to the church’s website, and contacted them. As we already knew, there is no such event. She played along, and when she tipped her hand that she was an attorney and had some serious questions, suddenly she heard nothing again.
Had Denise continued along the path of showing interest and not realized she was being taken, the next message would have asked her for money so they could expedite her work visa. But here’s the thing: according to the British government website those coming from the United States DO NOT NEED A VISA AS A SPEAKER in the UK! Copied directly from https://www.gov.uk/check-uk-visa/y/usa/work/six_months_or_less
You don’t need a visa if you’re coming to the UK for activities allowed under the following visas:
- a business visitor
- a sports visitor
- an entertainer
- a prospective entrepreneur
- a visitor doing a ‘permitted paid engagement’ (you must have been invited to the UK because of your expertise) – you can only stay for up to 1 month
- However, you should bring supporting documents to show at the border.
From the UK Visa page, if you click on the links above, you’ll see if you choose to apply for a visa as a citizen of the US, you can, but it clearly states that if you are simply a visitor doing a paid speaking engagement you do NOT need a visa if staying for less than one month. If you would like to apply for a visa even though you do not need one, the fee is £83 (about $140 USD). Anyone who tells you otherwise is trying to steal your money. Those from other countries of origin, please check the rules for your country of origin.
Please do NOT let that happen to you.
Take a moment now and share this with the speakers you care about. Or even the ones you only like a little bit. We all can do our part to keep our industry as safe as possible from predators.
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!
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.
As I sit here writing this post I have about 927.5 things on my -to-do list that exists, as of this moment, only inside my head. [cue dramatic dum-dum-DUUUUUM music.] Now stop, before you ask how an item can be a .5 on a to-do list. It is inside my head. So there.
There are piles of laundry that have be to tossed into the washer, then other piles that need to be folded and put away; dinner somehow will sneak up on me if I don’t start thinking about planning what that will look like; my assistant asked me this morning about two different projects we’re working on; I have marketing messages to write and send; people to follow up with; a book of my own to review the edits on; a new book to organize, sort out and add to; volunteer activities to coordinate (although that part is done for the moment, I think!); class content to create; sponsors to find for a couple of events this year… and that’s just today. And I’m wondering if my 6th grader has basketball game tonight, gotta check her schedule. Oh and the taxes to do. Ick.
Note to self: Maybe this is why I should be using Bob the Teacher’s Mind Map stuff... to get all this out of my head…
Yet all those “things” that are clamoring for the attention of my ADD brain [squirrel!] that all somehow have to get done, all that “noise” inside my head reminded me of something as I was showering, when I do my best thinking, that the old adage, “the devil is in the details,” can mean more than what it commonly means.
Most people use the phrase, “the devil is in the details,” to mean that an idea or project or event is fun and exciting and interesting, but in order to pull it off there are a million little things that have to happen in order for the complete idea, project, or event to fully come together. That part isn’t always so fun, thus the usage of “devil.”
Beyond that most common meaning, however, it occurs to me that it’s those same details that can keep you from your most important work. The work you are on this earth to do.
When our brains and our lives are filled with the mundane, the “hurry up and get this done and move on to the next thing,” the minutiae of life, it’s so easy to forget that each us has a gift from God to share with the world; and in fact, we likely have many gifts. Yet, sadly, none of those gifts, our true genius, can be shared with the world if our brains and our laundry baskets are overflowing.
Now, that’s not to say you should chuck your to-do list, wherever it may be (on paper, on your smartphone app, or in your head) and remove yourself from all responsibilities. In fact, I suggest the contrary. Find a system that works for you to get all that “stuff” done and carve out time in your busy life to spend some precious time thinking about, working on, learning about, and doing things that will matter in 20 years. Because if you don’t carve out the time, soon 20 years will have come and gone and you’ll wonder what you did with the time.
Don’t believe me? What day is it right now as you read this? Ask yourself what you did in the past 7 days since the last time you were on the same day of the week. It’s likely you accomplished a bunch of small things. For example, if the laundry doesn’t get done, we have no clean clothes to wear; if the groceries aren’t purchased, dinner doesn’t get on the table; if we don’t interact on Facebook, the world could come to an end. But what BIG things were you able to get done that will impact the legacy you leave the world?
The devil can be in the details, because it’s those very details which are stopping your flow and not allowing your genius to shine through and stopping you in your tracks from sharing your gifts with the world.
For some, it means they don’t even know or remember why they are here. If you are alive and have breath in your body (something I don’t take for granted after surviving lung cancer), you have a purpose, gifts to share and serve the world with, what can be referred to as your unique genius. You simply have yet to discover it because of those darn “details.”
For others their unique genius is evident, but it’s those daily details that stop them from taking the time to truly develop those gifts. It’s like receiving a beautiful rosebush for your garden, but neglecting to water and fertilize it, allowing whatever weather comes to take care of it because you’re too busy. It may survive because it was planted where it belonged, but it will be neglected, and not grow to it’s full potential, and possibly never bloom. You must make the time to develop your genius.
Finally, for a few, they have found a way to carve out time to develop and appreciate their genius and gifts, but allow those daily devil’s details to stop them from sharing with the world. When you don’t, you waste your precious gifts keeping them to yourself, as if you a hoarder of blessings not willing to allow others in to experience your light. We are here to serve others with our gifts and you’ve got to deliver those gifts to the people who need them most.
It’s time to get your life on track for the greater things you are meant to do.
If you’re ready for that, join The Genius Factor today. Don’t let the devil throw the details in your way so you never get to bring your essence, light, gifts and true genius to the world.
I’m tired of it!
You know that crazy roller coaster of entrepreneurial income? The one where you feel like a millionaire rock star one month and a pauper the next? The one when you work like a wild person and make a ton of cash (hopefully) but then when you don’t (or can’t) work you have to start scraping for coins in the couch cushions, at the bottom of your purse, and in the seats of the car? Roller coasters I LOVE, but THAT one, well it’s long time to get off.
The thing is it doesn’t matter how long or short of a time you’ve been in business. It doesn’t matter at what point of income you feel like a prince(ss) or a pauper. We all know the feeling. And if we’re being honest, it happens far too often.
So OK, for a minute, let’s say you’re a smarty pants and you’re thinking, “I make more than enough money speaking/coaching/consulting/serving clients. I have no idea what you’re talking about Felicia.” Good for you. And here’s the thing — ask yourself:
What happens in your business on the days you don’t work?
Or if you’re in a day job, and you take off? Maybe the kids are sick, or you’re feeling under the weather yourself (you knew you shouldn’t have gone to that hole-in-the-wall restaurant!), or maybe you get diagnosed with something serious and have to take off for more than just a couple days. What happens with your business then?
You likely don’t make money, that’s what.
If you’ve ever struggled through that, you’ll certainly agree that feeling like you *have* to work with clients, be on stage, or show up “or else” is not a fun way to live.
I learned that hard lesson last year when I had to take almost 6 months off work throughout the year because of serious health challenges. And I found out the hard way I still had some work to do.
Well, I’ve found the answer.
Actually, I’ve found 21 powerful yet simple ways to create passive income streams so on those days when you can’t (or don’t want to!) show up to work, you can still bring in cash! AND the great thing is because of my relationship I’ve built with David Perdew, the founder of NAMS where he’s had me keynote speak twice and teach on his faculty time and again, he’s given me a “super secret I’m the only one doing this right now” coupon code so you can get access to it all – valued at almost $200 – for FREE! Just use coupon code: FSPassive.
I’ve worked hard this year to develop more passive income streams, but after diving deep into the content David Perdew and my friend Nicole Dean, another faculty member at NAMS, have created and that you can get for FREE but only through tomorrow, is that I still have a long way to go and much more passive income to gain!
Today, right now: I’m throwing it down. Let’s build our passive income streams together!
Yes I know it’s the holidays. Yes I know it’s a busy time. And that’s exactly WHY you should seriously consider joining me in this challenge. When you’re busy and want to be doing fun things away from your business or want to put your head down and write your next book or create your next speech, you still want (and need) money coming in. That’s what passive income will do for you.
So together – let’s get it going. I’ll be posting my progress here on my blog and I’ve even made a dedicated Facebook group to support anyone who wants to join in the challenge with me.
Be sure to pick up the Found Money passive income workshop to get some ideas and get started. The original price of $197 is a great investment into your business but as I said, I managed to clinch a great deal for you as my valued customer.
For a limited time, you can have it at zero cost but hurry.
Go to this link then download and devour everything!
This offer goes away for good on December 8th.
If you miss this one, you are likely to find yourself in exactly the same position as you are now. Let’s change that and make money while we don’t work!
Add your comment below to let me know you’re in and join me on the Passive Income Challenge for Speakers, Authors, Consultants & Entrepreneurs Facebook group to keep accountable and bring in more passive income!
Funny story, really…
A few months ago, out of the blue I received an email from someone I’d never met, Nathan at Wallaby Web Design, inviting me to participate in a contest. All I’d have to do to win the $16,000+ prize package was make a 5-minute or less video explaining why I should win and submit it by the end of the week.
Being a competitive person, I was up for the challenge. I had visions of using screen capture video to show my messy website, many pages of disorganized info, and tons of content collecting virtual dust. Except that week, I was headed to speak at a multi-day event, and one of my presentations was scheduled at the last minute, so I was busy preparing. Still, I didn’t want to miss a chance to win something as cool as the package they were offering, so one evening in my hotel room while at that event, before running out to meet a few of the other speakers for dinner, I turned my laptop camera on, spoke directly to the camera, and shot what became my winning submission.
Because it had to be less than 5 minutes long, and my actual recording was 5 minutes, 41 seconds, later that night (waaaay later), I was forced to edit the video to get it under time. At that point I was tired and you may know my infamous lack of technical skills anyway – holy rough cut, Batman. I ended up cutting words right in the middle – what a disaster!
Yet as I write this I’m on a plane headed to an exclusive lodge in ski country outside of Salt Lake City, Utah. There I’ll spend the next three days working on my business, shooting videos for my website, and getting hands-on help from expert online marketing professionals. I get to do this four times with the lodge stay and all meals included.
I’m also in the middle of making major changes to my website and blog with a new logo, totally new design, new pages, new everything.
Over the course of the next 10 months I’m going to have 36 landing pages made just for me, complete with video, written copy, opt-in forms, follow-up emails, and even gorgeous custom graphics.
This is the prize package I won, valued at more than $16,000. I’m getting ALL of it – plus personal private coaching – FOR FREE.
How did a TERRIBLY rough cut video end up winning a $16,000 contest? At first I thought maybe mine was the only entry. But it turns out my video was just one of many entrants. The reason I won was because I was able to communicate my message – what I wanted to say to win – from the heart and speak to my “audience,” the folks putting on the contest.
I did it with nothing more than a simple “talking head” or “direct to camera” video.
Video is a powerful tool for your business, no matter if you’re trying to win something or sell something, and we’re just in the infancy of seeing video do its thing online.
If you’re not yet using video, and want to know how, the absolute easiest way to start is by simply turning on your camera and talking. If you don’t know what to say or how to say it, that’s where I come in.
I’ve created a Speaking on Video Boot Camp where we’ll spend just 3 days together getting you in video-making shape. And by the end of the three days you’ll even have your first three videos DONE. Can I get a woo-hoo?!
You can learn more and register at the Speaking on Video Boot Camp registration page, but there’s one more thing you need to know.
In honor of winning the prize package I did, and because I’m headed to Salt Lake City, Utah this weekend to reap some of the rewards of the prize package, I want to offer you a special deal. When you visit the page, enter coupon code “Utah” (without the quotation marks) and you’ll save $50 on the upcoming program, which is already 50% off what I originally sold it for. It’s just my way of sharing the video-making love.
Go see more right now because that coupon code is only good for as long as I’m in Utah – til Monday. Then come on back to watch this poorly edited, yet winning video submission! (You will laugh.)
Once again I was added to another mailing list because “at some point our paths have crossed.” I promptly unsubscribed.
Yes, I can use a different email address on my business cards, have a VA check that list, come up with multiple formats of cards with and without email, etc. But why should I have to do all that?! Here’s the key lesson: Just because you have my business card does not mean that I’m even in the market for what you sell.
I once had a sales guy I know pretty well tell me that’s what the point of networking and meeting people is… to get their cards, add them to his list, and then they get to learn more about him. My point? No it’s not. It’s about building relationships and honest connecting.
Here’s a better way: You want me to subscribe to your email marketing list? Send me a personal invitation from you telling me where we met and suggesting why, based on our conversation, I might be interested in what you share via email. Include a link to where I can sign up and let me decide for myself. Otherwise, when you’ve added me to your list simply because we crossed paths, you’ve alienated me before I even get a chance to know you and there’s almost nothing you can do at that point to make me want to connect with you. As author Scott Stratten of UnMarketing commented on my Facebook rant about this very topic today: “People need to have opt-in newsletters, not opt-out.”
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.
Note: My Mom is pretty sure I’m a lot like Taylor Swift. If you do something that upsets me, you’ll not end up in a song, but in a speech, book, and/or blog post as an example of what NOT to do. Here’s an example from my day today. I wrote this and sent it in the mail because the COO’s fax contact information is not readily available.
An Open Letter to Robert Friedberg, Chief Operating Officer of
Delnor Hospital, Geneva, Illinois
Chief Operating Officer
300 Randall Road
Geneva, Illinois 60134
October 2, 2013
RE: Patient Complaint
Dear Mr. Friedberg:
Imagine for a moment that your wife, [name omitted but can be found online], had to make her way to Delnor for a procedure. Yesterday, you would likely have reminded her that the main entrance to the hospital is closed, parking can be a nightmare, and to enter the hospital, it’s probably best to park on the north side because that’s where the entrance is now located. She might have been concerned about whatever health issue was bringing her to the hospital, but it wouldn’t be compounded by the stress and chaos of confusion around where to go and how to get into the building.
I wish I had that same “insider information” this morning. But instead I had to learn all that the hard way when I arrived at the hospital today and tried to find an entrance – any entrance – to the hospital to arrive on time for my appointment to get a CT scan as a follow up to the muco-epidermoid lung cancer I mysteriously contracted last year and had cured by the amazing Dr. Mollie McAfee.
Going to the hospital for most people is stressful enough, or in some cases happy and exciting with the birth of a baby, only to be met by the torn up parking lot, then have that stress exacerbated by severe lack of signage and less-than-friendly staff giving vague directions, and a less-than-empathetic receptionist … I’d be hard-pressed to recommend anyone go to Delnor hospital for any procedure.
I was not the only one lost and confused while trying to get to a destination inside your facility this morning. I was followed closely by several elderly people trying to find their way to appointments and simply an entrance into the hospital. Cutting through the cafeteria or going all the way back to the car to drive around to the other side of the building, all with no signage are not acceptable options. There we were marching through the labyrinth of your parking lot trying to make our way to a front entrance that turned out to be closed, being told by a surly construction worker in broken English that the only way in was to walk back through the parking lot another 250 yards and go in “that door over there with the green roof.” They all have green roofs. Seriously.
All of this confusion could easily have been remedied. I was on the phone yesterday with someone from your staff who called to confirm my appointment. At that time she could simply have mentioned as part of her script that the hospital is undergoing major renovations, to park around the north side of the building, and enter at the temporary entrance on the north (or wherever) side, and to arrive with enough time to allow for the limited parking as a result of the construction. Of course that didn’t happen.
Further, the signage in the parking lot and inside the building for construction-related detours is either abysmal or non-existent. Posted just inside the entrance off Keslinger Road is a small sign with so many directions on it, is impossible to read with traffic following behind, construction vehicles in the way, and the disorientation of the chaos. Why are there not signs posted outside every single entrance with an arrow that say, “Hospital Main Entrance During Construction – This Way?” Why is there not a single LARGE sign with the only two necessary directional lines on them “EMERGENCY” and “MAIN ENTRANCE DURING CONSTRUCTION?” Why are there not ANY easily visible signs at that entrance directing visitors where they should park to enter the building?
I run an international communication consulting practice based out of my home in a nearby suburb. As a best-selling author and award-winning speaker, my clients from around the world pay me to find these communication challenges and suggest easy, quick, and low-cost alternatives to fix them. It seems your organization values good communication, based on the accolades for your nurses posted throughout the hospital. As a patient and a professional, I hope you get this right. Each day that passes is a challenge for your visitors and patients alike. I wonder how many dozens have experienced what I have but instead of alerting you, simply told everyone they know that Delnor is awful?
Felicia J. Slattery, M.A., M.Ad.Ed.
To my blog visitors: Have you ever written a complaint letter to the leader of an organization? What results did you get, if anything? We shall see if I hear anything. I’ll keep you posted.
If I were to tell you about the tale of international intrigue and scams of epic proportions – into the hundreds of thousands of dollars that I personally know about – your head would be spinning. Mine is.
This week I was fortunate to NOT get caught into such a scam, but I was on the phone with the scammer himself all the way from Thailand, where he says he retired at the ripe old age of 28 after selling software he created for a multi-million dollar “8-figure” sum. The reality is he’s been defrauding people for years and had to move to Thailand likely to evade the law and certainly to escape his true identity; I met his alter ego /pseudonym / alias this week.
How I came to be on the phone with this scammer, who thought he might actually have an opportunity to rip me off by talking me into giving him $6,000 was through a trusted colleague who himself was scammed by the same guy, along with many other smart, upstanding business people.
What the scammer didn’t know is he never had a chance with me and my money. Here’s why.
I not only never heard of him, but I couldn’t find anything on the Internet about him, either; not in any country where he supposedly lived and worked. My skepticism is best explained by this quotation from the late, great motivational speaker, Jim Rohn:
“Women have an incredible ability to pick up on emotional signals. For example, there are some wolves that are so clever they have learned to dress up like sheep. Man says, “Looks like a sheep. Talks like a sheep.” Woman says, “Ain’t no sheep!”” — Jim Rohn
One look using a free tool we all have access to – Google – and I knew that scammer dude ain’t no sheep. His alias didn’t exist anywhere in the world or online until June of this year. Suddenly as of June 2013 he had a bunch of social media accounts – none with even ONE photo of him (and really that’s just lazy scamming because anyone could grab a stock photo dude and pretend it’s them); every web page site and press release said the same exact 2 paragraphs. And there was nothing online about him that he did not write or put out himself.
This particular scammer was trying to use me as an entry into scamming other speakers around the world. I wasn’t about to let THAT happen. However, he had fooled other speakers and professionals I know personally. Smart people. People who want to trust others. People who are successful because of the relationships they’ve built and the action they’ve taken. People you would never imagine falling for such a scam. But when you’re the mark of a con man, you almost never see it coming until it’s too late.
Public speaking scams abound, sadly. So here are a few tips to protect yourself:
- When someone wants to make any kind of “deal” with you beyond a “normal” fee for goods or services be on guard from the start. Caveat emptor, my friend.
- Ask questions. Lots of questions. Any business person not willing to answer your questions about how they work, their background and experience, isn’t worth working with anyway, and is a warning sign that you could be dealing with a scammer.
- Ask for references and then CONTACT the references.Usually a quick email is all you need or outreach on social media with a simple message.
- Learn how to search and what to look for online. Don’t assume testimonials on a website are real or from real people. If someone is claiming an international presence and references a specific country, go to Google and first search “Google Australia” then when you get to that country-specific Google search site, search for the person’s name. Type in the person’s name and the word “scam” or “rip off” and see what comes up.
- Get a contract. Even though most scammers will write in loopholes, you can start to protect yourself if you decide to go forward and the person ends up being a con artist.
And finally trust your gut. If any part of you feels like something isn’t quite right, then don’t do it. Sure you could be passing on something that might have been amazing, but it’s much more likely you’ll save yourself the headaches and heartaches of a really bad decision to work with a really bad person.