I just called my awesome friend, Karen McCullough, to pick her brain about the business of speaking.
Karen is a brilliant speaker who has been in the speaking business for a long time. I’m doing some profiling right now for the MarketectU Mastermind project I’ve been telling you guys about lately, and I wanted to get a fresh perspective from Karen. As it turns out, she’s just returning from the national convention for the National Speaker’s Association and she was a full cup!
Karen and I always have the most stimulating conversations. I have a tremendous amount of respect for her because she’s a true artist when it comes to the business of speaking: in every way, she hones her craft, reinvents herself and her message over and over again and is always getting better! Creating longevity as a speaker (especially when speaking is your primary form of income) is no easy feat: the marketplace is changing so rapidly and you have to constantly be reinventing yourself. She and I groked some awesome gems that I’m incorporating into this new program, but I couldn’t make you wait a couple more months to hear about them!
We really got going when we started talking about what it takes to be a successful business person in the “information” space: speaking, coaching, training, writing … whatever it is you do to package your knowledge and expertise. With so many “marketing experts” telling you how easy it is to become an expert and grow your own platform, we know the truth: building a platform is a lot of work. It takes time, and energy, and an incredible amount of resilience to “make it.” So here is our impassioned food-for-thought!
- The most important component to building a successful platform is strong, relevant messaging (and offerings!) that matters. No matter your expertise, there is a problem that you are obsessed with solving. Solve it WELL. And don’t stop solving it … in a dynamic, expanding, connected world, the way our problems “look and feel” are shifting all the time. The way you communicate these problems, the way you understand these problems, the way you resolve these problems is affected by this dynamic environment. You must constantly be reinventing your messaging.
- Creating an experience for your customers matters. Branding really is king. It’s important that you learn to pair your message with strong branding.
- If YOU are the cornerstone of the brand, it matters how you look. Looking good, staying lean, taking care of your appearance is really important in this space. This is not a value judgement — I’m not telling you that it should be this way. I’m just acknowledging that it IS. Self care matters. It not only matters because people are going to derive meaning about your competence from how you look, but it matters because …
- To build a successful business, you’ve got to become an endurance athlete. Everything about building a career in this space hinges on your ability to create and sustain momentum. You have to get knocked down and get back up more times that you will ever want to count! You need resilience emotionally and physically. It’s very important that as you get older, you pay a lot of attention to your own health and vitality (both physically and emotionally!).
- People that have the list (and relationships!) have the power. If you are building a business that does not include a concerted effort to growing your list, you are entrusting your career into the hands of others. In our ever-shifting world, where we are seeing the epicenters of power dissolving and reorganizing at a breakneck pace, it is absolutely crucial that you take building your own list seriously. IT MATTERS.
There are a lot of talking heads out there who’d want us to believe that growing a kick-ass business is easy if you know the right marketing strategies, or if you just “follow this formula.” Things are always easier on paper than in the trenches. Those who’ve been in the game for a while know that it’s a lot of hard work. If you want easy, get a job. Business is for gladiators, baby, and if you are serious about competing, you’ve got to learn to play the game by the rules if you want any chance of succeeding.
My beloved Scott Jeffrey told me early on in my career that as an adventurer, I must always be contemplating: Who must I become to complete this quest?
What is YOUR secret to staying in business when the going got tough? Share in the comments!