My mom is momma-bear hugging me, my dad slaps me on the back as if he just hit the jackpot and Chelsea and I are in shock. Did President John Lau just call my name?
A year ago today my life changed forever when I won the World Championship of Public Speaking for Toastmasters International. I will be frank with you, you could take the title and do nothing with it or you could take the title and start a career with it. I chose the latter of the two.
When you win, you don’t start making six figures or get calls from major corporate clients asking you to come speak at their convention like some people might think. On the other-hand, Toastmasters Districts invite you out to come speak at their conferences and share your story, give a keynote and teach a workshop (If I have enjoyed one thing about winning the World Championship, it is all the amazing Districts and District leaders who have invited me to come speak and utilized me to help grow Toastmasters for the younger generation).
3 important lessons learned in the past 365 Days:
You Don’t Need to Be a World Champion to Start Your Speaking Business: Do I use my “World Championship” title to get me in the door at some companies, yes. Do I use my “Youngest World Champion” title to get me in the door at some colleges? Absolutely! But what I found was you do not need to be the World Champion to make a living being a speaker.
You need to offer a solution to a certain group of people who have a certain need and market the heck out of yourself.
If I wanted to start my speaking business before the Championships I could have used my title as Director of Marketing for Special Olympics Oregon. Because I am debt free and have more money in savings and investments than the average American does when they retire, I could have used my experience with staying out of debt and the importance of savings to help college students. Before the World Championships Chelsea and I combined made less than $75,000 a year but we still were able to give 10% of our money away, travel to exotic locations like Dubai and Egypt, save for our future and live downtown and I could have helped people with their finances. If you have a formula, if you have experience, if you have credentials you can be a speaker. You just need to learn how to package it, market it and offer it to a group of people who could benefit from it. You don’t need to be a World Champion to be a better speaker, you need to train like one.
You Can’t Do Great Things Alone: From my parents to Chelsea, from the amazing mentorship of Randy Harvey to District 7, from Toastmasters Districts and NSA members around the world, my family and friends who have supported me on my dreams… THANK YOU! They have infused and invested their time, money, energy and passion into helping support my big dreams and without other people’s support you can’t make big things happen. Surround yourself with people who support you and believe in you. Then, make them proud! It is a great feeling to accomplish things and to honor those who helped make it happen.
Just start and Be Ok With Making A LOT of Mistakes: I have learned a lot in the past 365 days. I have made $10,000 mistakes (notice the plural tense), I have accidentally burned bridges (notice the plural tense again) and I have created keynotes, blog articles and products that will never be sold. I don’t aim to fail but I aim to fail fast and learn from it so I can move on, move forward and help others. Regardless of if you win a contest or an award, if you want to be great get ready to constantly being good at making mistakes. If you want to be great… START! Who cares if you don’t know how to do it, what matters is you know you want to do it. You learn as you go. Commit and make it happen.
A year can change you.
I have worked hard to create quality products, I am still in awe that I have spoken more than 50 times around the world and just got a book deal with McGraw-Hill (co-authored with Jeremey Donovan). I have now joined National Speakers Association and looking forward to getting more involved in the organization and helping progress the movement that being a speaker is no longer about delivering a 45 minute keynote, but about being one who uses their voice to inspire, educate or entertain.
This year has been filled with lessons, decisions and more ups and downs than a politician taking a polygraph test. But what an amazing year it has been!
Your voice is the strongest tool on the planet and if we want to succeed at work, at home or with ourselves, we need to learn how to use it properly. I am going to continue supporting those who want to make their voice stronger so their message can be heard. Thank you for helping me live my dreams and I look forward to seeing what another year brings. I am strongly encouraging you to go for yours, work hard, make things happen and become a better speaker because we need to hear your message. As always…
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