1) Why did you decide to pursue professional speaking?
Actually, I never did pursue it. As an effort to simply improve myself, I took the Dale Carnegie “Human Relations and Public Speaking” course but never with the intention of becoming a speaker. Over the years, I was asked to speak at different industry events.
When I started in the industry, I worked for multiple companies that hazd gone bankrupt. I had to learn by observing other people, reading books and listening to tapes on business. There was never anyone I could simply talk to about business, so I had to figure it out myself. At a certain point, I felt I could help other businesses with the knowledge I had gained.
2) What was your first “gig”? How did it come about?
My first major presentation came totally out of the blue. I was at a conference, and the keynote speaker never showed up. The people putting on the event were in full panic. They asked me if I would speak. I asked them want they wanted me to talk about, and they asked that I simply talk about how I got into the fitness industry. So, I gave about a one-hour talk. It just so happened there was an editor from a major industry publication (at the event). When I finished, he told me he had taped it and asked if he could do a story on me and actually did a cover story. From there on out, I started receiving more invitations.
3) How do you juggle running a business and speaking engagements?
We have a fairly ambitious vision and mission, and it fits into it perfectly. Also, as I prepare for a presentation, it makes me search deep into why and how we do things that we do. I look at it as something that hopefully helps the entire company become better. I have had the opportunity to speak all over the world, but the most rewarding aspect of it is that I have let the organizations know I would speak but that they would have to invite other people on my staff to speak, too. I have had the opportunity to have many staff travel to Italy, England, Canada and Australia on more than one occasion. I don’t look at it as something separate from my business but part of it.
4) What is your advice to others who are considering following in your footsteps?
First, create the best company you possibly can. From there, write articles on things you know well. Enroll in Toastmasters or Dale Carnegie. Get out and speak when asked. Do it for free until you’re really good, but even then, still do some for free. Don’t worry about the money, work on creating something great — something that people can really learn from based on your experience. When people ask for your help, give it to them. When someone asks for advice by phone or email, help however you can
5) What are your must-dos or must-haves when you speak?
Prepare. I was asked to speak for six hours in Australia. I was given six months notice. I began work immediately and spent many weekends working on it until I had something I felt was worthwhile. Don’t hesitate or wait until the last minute. Think in terms of delivering something of great value because you value the time people are taking to listen to you. Practice as often as possible, and constantly work on improving your materials and yourself.