Questioning My Credibility!

Questioning My Credibility!

I am on the phone pitching a client to book me as a speaker and they say in a snotty voice “so what makes you so special?” They interrogate my every accomplishment by practically yawning over the phone and saying on three separate occasions  “so what, I am not impressed.”

I find myself getting defensive and thinking “who is this person?” I just listed off my World Championship, my published book, me speaking 50+ times a year, my 100+ testimonials from audience members and major corporations and my ability to relate to the Y Generation (their client)! What else do they want from a speaker?

“I don’t care what you have done, you have only been doing it for less than two years, what makes you think you have the credibility to teach our people?” they say in another snotty tone! 

This is when my vocal variety starts to have more than a hint of an irritated voice and I give them a little more than I should.

Then I hear something that makes my stomach feel like I ate a bowling ball and a load of embarrassment runs through my body. In a normal voice over the phone I hear, “I don’t care about your accomplishments, I wanted to learn about your character, and you just showed me.” 

They were testing me. They were seeing how I would react under pressure and I failed. I failed miserably and hate even writing this article but I had to share it with you. I wanted to share it with you because I want to remind us that our character is more important than our accomplishments. Who we are is better than what we have done. 

I am thankful I went though that phone conversation. They taught me a valuable lesson and reminded me of who I am and what I want to be about. I want my character to shine through, not my accomplishments.

It was challenging for me to write this article but I hope it was a reminder to lead with character and live life making lessons you can learn from. As always…

Dream BIG,

This post was written by
At age 25, Ryan Avery became the youngest World Champion of Public Speaking in history; competing against more than 30,000 people from 116 countries to claim the 2012 Championship title. As an Emmy Award winning journalist and a proud member of the National Speakers Association, Ryan uses his background in multimedia and speaking to help reach the younger generation on the importance of improving their communication skills in order to advance in their professional and personal life.

13 Comments on "Questioning My Credibility!"

  • Wow Ryan, thanks so much for being honest…vulnerable…authentic and allowing me to grow through your pain. I can’t imagine how hard that must’ve been for you and in particular your decision to share it. You went up a few notches of the integrity belt because you cared more about helping myself and other readers than keeping your pride. Kudos to you!

    Dad always said “First the test and THEN the lesson!” and how true that is in this case.

    Thank you for sharing this – I’ll try to remember it should I ever be in a similar situation.

  • Authentic and vulnerable, poised for greatness. Thank you for sharing with the team!

  • Writing this article was important. It took humility and guts. Thanks Ryan. Time tempers us all.

  • Steve Cavin says

    Thank you, Ryan, for a very important reminder and lesson for us all. I agree with the comments of others especially Anastasia.

  • What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger … I guess you can call this a “character building experience”!

  • Lindsay says

    I feel as though that was a valuable lesson for other reasons than the one you identified. When someone uses hostility while doing a character test of another, I feel that is hypocritical. Maybe you (Avery) could have responded in a better manner, but he/she could have also.

    I’m glad you learned a lesson. But maybe the individual should take a look in the mirror when making character judgments.

  • Siraj says

    It’s not easy for one to share personal failures. Thanks for showing courage Ryan!

  • Karen O'Keefe says

    Integrity means your words and actions are truthful and consistent with your values. It also means you come from a place of authenticity. You may have started in your best “sales mode,” which you blew by getting testy, but you were authentic–and that shows integrity. A better way to handle this in the future might be to step out of the grilling and say something like “gee, I can’t help but notice your skepticism: what do you need from me for us to move forward?”

    Trying to trick you or test you shows neither integrity nor authenticity, which puts the other person’s character into question. While your reaction to the situation wasn’t ideal, the snotty interviewer was not in any way practicing integrity. Some people enjoy taking other people down a notch–which is beyond despicable.

    Frankly, while this may have been a painful learning opportunity for you, it sounds like you are better off without that snotty person. The world is a big place and you cannot make every single person like or appreciate you. NEXT!

  • When I read this piece, I thought of humility – and also of the wisdom and courage it took for you to process this experience/lesson and share it on your blog.

    Regardless of the ethics of the interviewer (which would not have been my style, either), you certainly came away with the right lesson (from what you could control) and also made it accessible for us.

  • Cassandra Flagg says


    I had to go back and read the article again to see if I missed anything. No, I did not. It appears to be a very humbling and enlightening test. However, at some point in the conversation, after giving all of my background and capabilities and seeing that I still have not satisfied what this person is searching for, I would have to make the statement and ask the question: I apologize, what exactly are you looking for that I have not offered? Is there something more specific and/or personal that you’re looking for in your speaker/trainer? Just my thoughts.

  • Ed Arnold says

    Everyone has calls like these and the important thing is that you took away from it some constructive lesson. I can remember being unnerved by situations like these when I was your age. One of the benefits of growing older, wiser and more savvy is that you can pick up skills with which to calmly turn the tables…. and when that day happens you can actually have a little fun. But one general rule that I follow is that if people are just plain messing with you for whatever agenda, just walk away. Why would you want to work with anybody who behaves so unprofessionally? Generally such behavior is a sign of insecurity and powerlessness (and usually no authority to spend $) Life’s too short, not worth it.

    That’s not to say that you shouldn’t be prepared to answer fair, hard business questions, such as “why should I choose you?” But what I’m guessing from your post is that your situation went beyond skepticism.

  • Ms. Marla says

    Thanks so much for sharing!!! Great lesson learned!! You don’t know how many people you’ve helped by sharing your story. I will be passing this on and using it as a discussion topic with my friends.

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