Motivational speaker are not trained, they are born.
When I was 15 years old I got on stage for the first time. I remember that tiny local school hall that had more than 1000 people in it. I was scared, mortified, sweaty. I was completely unprepared. I had scribbled my talk on 8 pages that had been folded, creased, dented, smeared and completely abused. I hadn’t even had the chance to rehearse my speech. My peers – all 1000 of the kids with whom I attended school – were in that hall waiting to hear me speak. There we 4 speakers on the roster. The 3 before me were seniors – they had been doing public speaking for 5 years. They had their queue cards perfectly numbered at the top of the corner, their blazers ironed just for this event, their shoes polished, their pants tied on the stomach with a black belt. They were clinical & prepared.
When they each got off the stage the entire school would roar with applause. When I took to the stage I had old dusty shoes, my shirt was un-tuck, my blazer was creased and the colours faded – BUT I DIDN’T CARE! I was on the stage. My eyes glittered with nerves and excitement. I had my first taste of the drug and I was hooked! Motivational speaker are not trained they are born. My peers booed me halfway through my talk and it shattered me but I was resilient. The most important part of starting any journey is understanding along with the satisfaction and thrills will come a lot of heartache, failures and disapointments. The only way a journey is defined by a failure is if you stop pursuing it because of that failure. Just keep moving: Twice a week after that day I was at school (afterschool) practicing my public speaking. I would compete in all the competitions, I would write speeches about anything, I would even write speeches about topics that were not on the competition topics. I simply wanted to perfect my art. At 17 I worn my first national championships & again at 18. A record I still hold today. Like an athlete who can feel his muscles twitch before the gun sounds for his sprint or a businessman who can feel his stomach flutter before closing a major deal my nerves have been the centre of my performances. My sweaty palms, dancing stomach and light headednes let me know that I am still the best in the business. I give my all when I am on that stage because that is were I belong. This is what I was born to do.
To be successful at whatever you do in life, you must be completely immersed in it. Your body & mind must be completely focused on that goal… and only that goal. To find your own greatness you must first find what it is that makes your palms sweat and your heart skip a beat. Find that & then become the best at it. Hungry When I first delivered a paying talk I was paid 35 rands by the event organizer. I charged them this because I wanted money to buy airtime so I could call more clients and secure more bookings. I was hungry! I would any accept booking. I didn’t have a car but I would take late night gigs and ask the client for a lift home. My pride was overcome by my hunger. Whatever the theme of the event I would develop a talk to suit it. The more bookings I secured the more talks I developed, the more talks I developed the more I refined my material, the more refined my material the better I became on stage. Hunger has been the cornerstone for my success. If you are not hungry for something (so hungry that will do whatever it takes to get it), you are wasting your time. Before the wolf: When you are on a journey you will find the critics who will want to hold you down. Mine would present themselves as the old wise men who wanted to mentor me and as I engaged them it was clear they wanted simply to curb my enthusiasm, frustrate my hunger and fill me up with lies and promises. They would do this because in me they saw something extraordinary… they saw an unrelenting pursuit for dominance. I didn’t just want to be the best, I wanted to be the new standard of the best. When asked what my ultimate dream was I would say that I wanted to become to motivational speaking what Muhammad Ali was to boxing. Mentorship is fantastic but never let the oldies dictate what you can and cannot achieve based on their life story. You are your own person with your own abilities and dreams, and so too your own destiny. You must pursue to deliver the best you can deliver all the time. Mediocrity is comfort only to the lazy. Action, action, and action: Don’t speak about your ambitions; display them through your actions. How? You must always be present i.e. Never make a promise you will not keep & never make a commitment you cannot meet. To be present is the ultimate discipline. I’ve traveled 4 of the 7 continents engaging with some of the most prolific people of our time and without fail the common threads of their successes have been their hunger, their pursuit for dominance and their ability to be present. I call this principle a moment in time: in this moment at this time I am here. This has been critical in growing our business: I never think about another client while in the company of another, I never think about work while at home. To put it simply, I never think about the past while I’m in the present focusing on my future! Do this and people will talk about the quality of your work and the quantum of your thoughts. This is how a reputation & a presence developed. It’s a simple equation; if you want to be more you must say less and do more. Get it!