Making the decision to leave the basketball training space in 2017 to become a professional keynote speaker is the best decision I’ve ever made.

My goodness, I love being a speaker. It challenges me, it fascinates me, and it fulfills me.

I love being on stage. I love the bright lights. I love being in front of people.

It’s intoxicating.

But being a professional keynote speaker is NOT easy… no matter how much I love it.

It requires unwavering resilience, self-belief, optimism, and thick skin!

For every mic drop on stage, there is a gut punch when no one is watching!

Here are a few recent examples of the highs and lows, ups and downs, and polarizing swings of being a professional keynote speaker:

This past January and February were the two highest revenue months of my entire career. That was followed by two VERY slow months.

One morning last week I got an unexpected LinkedIn DM from a Fortune 50 Brand inquiring about my availability and fees!  Less than 30 minutes later I got an email saying I didn’t get a  gig I really, really wanted (and really thought I’d get)!

A few months ago I had back-to-back speaking engagements (two gigs in two cities in two days). I got a standing ovation on the first one… and literally heard crickets in the second one!

Ahhhh… as difficult as these pendulum swings were… they are all part of the experience :)

Since most of my posts focus on the highs, this post will focus on how I try to handle the lows.

I say ‘I try’ because I’m not coming from a place of mastery.

I ain’t gettin’ straight A’s on this report card!

While I’m proud of the progress I’ve made, I still struggle in the following 14 areas:

  1. I try to accept there will be busy times and there will be slow times. This business ebbs and flows. I try not to let myself get too high when things are going well or too low when they aren’t.
  2. I try to untether my self-worth, self-belief, and self-confidence from external metrics and results. Was I a better speaker in February when I had 7 speaking gigs than I was in April when I had 2? Nope.
  3. I try to tell myself the following when things are slow (and I’m feeling antsy): “It’s always darkest before the dawn. It’s always calmest before the storm. As quickly as things got slow they can speed back up… this is only temporary.”
  4. The hardest part of this business (for me) is not knowing WHY I didn’t get selected for a gig or WHY a previously interested inquiry went cold. I try not to ‘fill in the blanks’ with false narratives or made up stories. I try to accept the unknown.
  5. I try not to attach labels (EX: slow times aren’t automatically ‘bad’… they can be a time for growth, reflection, and new opportunities… and busy times aren’t automatically ‘good’… they can be exhausting, less time with my kiddos).
  6. I try not let slow times or a string of rejections trigger the scarcity mindset I have so deeply embedded. I try to be grateful for an opportunity to grow/improve and rewire myself to think abundantly!
  7. I try to effectively manage disappointment without getting discouraged. I give myself permission to be disappointed for 24 hours… then move to The Next Play.
  8. I try not to play the comparison game with other speakers. When I was busy I had colleagues that were slow. Now I’m slow and I have colleagues that are busy.
  9. I try to keep my focus on what I have control over. The majority of gigs I lose out on are for reasons beyond my control (they don’t have my fee, they don’t want a sports theme, they want more diversity). I try to be at peace with those.
  10. I try to practice what I preach on stage and on page… and use the ‘gut punches’ to  strengthen my resilience, perspective, and humility.
  11. I try to stay consistently focused on the process… on building quality relationships… on putting out solid social content… and on crushing every event I have the privilege of doing.
  12. Speaking is all about momentum. When I’m on a roll (on and off stage), I try to ride the wave! When momentum halts, I try to find ways to jumpstart it!
  13. I try to remember that even Steph Curry misses shots, loses games, and has slumps. I know I am not immune.
  14. When things are slow I try to double down on time with my kiddos, on my self-care, and on my personal/professional development! I also try to find other ways to be of service and add value (besides speaking) to previous clients!

I don’t expect to ever master these 14 areas… but I will strive for continuous improvement!