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.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.”
- 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.
- 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).
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- I try to practice what I preach on stage and on page… and use the ‘gut punches’ to strengthen my resilience, perspective, and humility.
- 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.
- 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!
- I try to remember that even Steph Curry misses shots, loses games, and has slumps. I know I am not immune.
- 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!