Most people don’t know this, but last year I was seriously considering giving up my career as a full-time keynote speaker (which, by the way, I was born to do!) to find a “real” job. Why? So I could survive as a newly-single mom, pay the bills and provide for my daughter.
Back then I was in a very challenging place emotionally. I was sad because I adored speaking and wasn’t doing enough of it, frustrated because I'd done everything I knew how to do to build my business, and more than a bit disillusioned because I'd spent serious money, time and effort with coaches who gave copious advice that didn’t translate to income. Every one of my formal and informal counselors encouraged me to maximize the use of my prop (a hula hoop), speak mostly to women's groups (because, let's face it, corporate guys totally see the ROI in a hula hoop…NOT) and niche deeply into my passion of teaching “how to live, work and move in joy”. The results were less-than-impressive: small fees, no big clients and precious little spinoffs. I had no idea what I was doing wrong. I thought I just needed to do what the coaches told me to do: work a little more and hoop a little harder.
I was at my wit’s end. In the Fall of 2015, I posted a sad, desperate-sounding business development question on a private Facebook group for professional speakers. Afterward I tearfully dusted off my resume and began surfing Indeed.com for new jobs. Then the phone rang.
"Is this Theresa?" the crisp female voice asked.
"Yes," I sniffled.
"This is Connie Podesta. I saw your question on Facebook. Do you have some time to talk? Because here's the deal. Together you and I are going to fix this little situation you're in and get you back to doing what you love to do while making lots of money doing it. Are you in? If so, start taking notes and get ready to kick some ass!"
Thus began my journey of transformation from the inside out.
I learned within the first fifteen minutes of that life-altering conversation that I was drowning in a sea of misinformation. My brand was killing me. My vision was limiting me. My marketing was misguided, and I had a topic no one would pay good money for. I got a crash course in key aspects of the speaking industry that no one had the courage or clarity to tell me before.
Whew! Was her no-BS feedback hard to hear? Yes. Did it rock me to my core? Absolutely. But I also began to feel a stirring of excitement, empowerment and encouragement that I hadn't felt in years. Because I knew — deep down I knew – that every tough, cut-through-the-crap, in-your-face thing she said was true. (Connie is, after all, a Hall of Fame Speaker and keynote legend with thirty years of experience who continues to rock stages all over the world.) In fact, I remember getting juiced up as I feverishly scribbled down every piece of advice because I knew without a doubt that I was finally on the road to become the amazing speaker I was destined to be. Life was going to be good again.
I tried to put my finger on what was different about those two hours on the phone than the countless hours of other coaching I'd gotten, and it slowly dawned on me. I wasn't just learning about how to rewrite my keynote, hold a microphone, tell a sad story that would make people cry, or redesign my website. Instead, what we were doing was talking about something more important: ME! My doubts. My issues. My worries. My beliefs and attitudes. We talked about all of the things that were getting in the way of me bringing to the stage the best of who I was. I was letting my gunk out in an attempt to put the pieces of my life back together one by one. We were delving into the psychology of speaking.
Because of what I learned about myself, I have reinvented my business from the ground up – new brand, new topics, new audiences, new style, new website, new new new – but more importantly, I have shed an old persona that no longer served me. I am now a polished performer who finally understands how to make it all about the audience while commanding higher fees than I ever thought possible.
When we partner with a coach who can get us out of our insecurities and limitations, we can move into a new mindset of success and possibility. We can be challenged to think about who we are as speakers and what we deserve. Honest self-reflection is a TON of work (and, believe me, not for the faint of heart), but coupled with high-value actions, it can create lucrative opportunities to speak in front of appreciative audiences that truly value our expertise.
If/when you are looking for someone to help you transform your business or your brand, I encourage you to consider the importance of going beyond the mechanics of crafting better stories, gussying up your marketing collateral, or creating a series of compelling campaigns. Those things are great, but they are temporary band-aids if we don’t dig deeper into our limiting beliefs, old tapes, and fears that can hold us back. Trust me – you will need help navigating that vulnerable terrain if you want to exponentially grow your business. However, with a trusted guide to support you while you do the emotional heavy lifting, you will be setting yourself up to quickly and powerfully create the enviable career you desire and deserve.
Go forth and dig into the gunk, my friend. I promise; it’s worth it.
(If you are interested in getting the kind of real-deal coaching I received, check out Connie’s “Dare to be Different” Speaker Retreat. It’s a game-changer.)
Theresa Rose is a business motivational speaker, award-winning author and high-value consultant who helps organizations and their teams create meaningful connections and creative cultures. For more information, visit TheresaRose.com.