Immediately scales fell from my eyes, and I could see…
Growing up, my father proffered plenty of advice, some of it actually useful. The most valuable suggestion he ever gave me was simple: You are who you hang with.
I suppose it’s a corollary of the aphorism that each person is an average of the five people they spend the most time with. The ‘normal’ of the people and life that surrounds you becomes your normal, and most perversely this happens without your conscious knowledge.
Their reality becomes your reality. Their beliefs become your beliefs. And if you’re not careful, their fears disempower your dreams. Hard as it may be, sometimes we all need to look at those around us … and choose to hang with another group.
As they say at NSA Influence: “If this is your first time here, welcome home.” For me, for the first time in many years, that was exactly how it felt – that I was walking into a new room, a new group of people, and that this was exactly where I needed to be.
For that, I have to thank Jacqueline (Nagle, who is on her way to being one of my five people) and the SpeakableYOU team. They opened the door for me to take that step, in two ways. Literally, by drawing my name as their prizewinner for their 2019 Incentive; and more valuably in a metaphorical way, by challenging me to realise that business decisions I was making were disempowering my professional speaking dreams.
So what did I learn when I went home to NSA Influence, in Denver Colorado?
Top 3 Lessons from NSA Influence 2019
1. Australia is a Global Benchmark, and we don’t appreciate it
I’ve spent a lot of time overseas as part of my career as an international business advisor. Globally, Australia doesn’t earn a lot of respect, and worse we often view ourselves as unimportant compared to innovation from the USA and elsewhere.
Our innovation and professionalism warrants more respect. For private companies, if you can make a business model work in dispersed Australia then imagine the success it would have in the density of Europe or the scale of the United States.
And I am now convinced that this is the same for Professional Speaking and for our Speakers. True, there are things we can learn from our international brethren, especially if we as speaking professionals wish to stand out and win work on the international scale.
Yet the quality of what we produce, the importance and applicability of the message, and our unique voice and perspective is at the highest standard globally. I saw speakers talking to 1,700 people on the main stage of this, the National Speakers Association’s premier event … and they weren’t at a level I would expect from any conference or convention down under.
If, like me, you aspire to more international stages, then believe me: any speaker good enough for Australia and New Zealand is good enough for the world.
2. Not all Feedback is Created Equally
Speaking, like any professional communication, is a two-way engagement that requires you to understand how your message is being heard. So seek feedback, but seek the right feedback from the right people.
By all means, listen to your audience when they tell you how you made them feel – they are qualified to discuss their own emotions.
But do not listen to your audience when they tell you what you need to change, in your speech, your marketing, or your business – they are unqualified (and should be disqualified) from giving this advice.
If you want qualified advice about what you need to change … then you need a qualified advisor.
My journey over the past year has borne this out. Quite often the well-intentioned musings of people I’ve met previously has clashed with the professional advice and coaching I am now receiving. You can guess which advice has been more valuable – in fact, the money I have invested in my professional speaker coaching has delivered an immense ROI, while the unqualified thoughts from my peers and friends in the years prior set me back thousands of dollars and years of opportunity!
To my first lesson, know that there are Australians who are delivering world class speaker coaching and training to the rest of the world. And also know that investing in your training by attending events like NSA Influence will undoubtedly propel your speaker business forward.
3. You can create a serious Speaking business
My primary context for attending NSA Influence wasn’t the lessons from the stage – it was spending time immersed among professional speakers who are genuinely achieving the business outcomes I currently dream of.
This is the critical part about being who you hang with. While I’ve long appreciated in theory that you can have a million-dollar speaking business, before NSA Influence that appreciation was somewhat fanciful. Now I can introduce you to a dozen professionals making mid-to-high six figure incomes from Speaking.
And they’re just the ones I built a relationship with and asked for their commercial insight! I have a dozen additional new relationships spread around the world, and I look forward to spending the next year having more of those conversations with more people already achieving what I desire.
Prior to NSA Influence, I recognise that I held some limiting beliefs about my ability to build a professional speaker business. Now, and with thanks again to Jacqueline and SpeakableYOU, I know:
- Australia is producing some incredible speakers – and that can include me;
- Qualified guidance will be critical to me achieving success; and
- I can genuinely create any commercial and lifestyle outcomes I desire.
See you in Washington, DC for NSA Influence 2020!