One of my top favorite business speaking jobs is the SSA Ski Workshop. This year I have been invited to speak on branding. The session will be on Thursday the 3rd of February in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. It will be a good time. The self storage association is celebrating the 25th annual ski workshop and it will be an honour to participate. As a business speaker, you occasionally have engagements that are a perfect match of venue, surroundings and people. This is one of those. The people who come to the ski workshop are a great group. I love winter sports, so I will be happy to be in Steamboat. I hope yo will be able to join us.
I was in New Orleans recently. It is a city I enjoy visiting for its warm people, rich culture, great architecture, excellent cuisine, varied musical offerings and its energetic hustlers.
Walking in the French Quarter allows you to see, hear and get involved in all kinds of hustles. As a keynote speaker, I love to see how other people address crowds. The callers who try to get you into their clubs, the shoe shine guys who try to shine your shoes for twenty bucks and the people who tell you long stories to beg for money. Hey that’s kind of what a keynote speaker does. We tell long stories, some more interesting and valuable than others, in order to beg for you to buy a book, schedule a follow-up seminar or order our service package. The thing I admire about the street hustlers is their sense of urgency. They are one shot sellers. If they can’t separate some money from you in the first five minutes, they are out of the picture. How do you create that kind of urgency in your business dealings without being obnoxious?
BP Oil Spill creates Sacrifice Zone
We have created a sacrifice zone in the Gulf of Mexico. We were willing to accept the risk of a huge disaster. However, since most of us are busy doing their own things day in day out, we did not give it much thought. We get up in the morning. We drive to where ever we have to go. We fly to a business speaker conference. We go home. We know that we are totally reliant on dirty, dangerous energy sources. But we get a tall mocha and go on with our day.
Now we see what happens when we create a sacrifice zone. So the question is: should we identify other sacrifice zones and accept that they may one day be destroyed, too. We need to feed our economy, our appetite for luxury and our need to travel. We can’t do that without oil.
We never thought much about wells in the Arabian Desert leaking or burning, or water sources and wildlife habitat in Nigeria being destroyed for ever by our oil businesses. But we have already sacrificed these places. Do we even know we might miss them?
Now we have sacrificed the Gulf of Mexico and maybe more.
Do we make this our policy and our practice? It is our unstated policy now, isn’t it?
On of the things a business speaker likes to talk about is the moment when someone changes his or her mind. We all have opinions. Some are better informed than others. Some are just other people’s opinions that we regurgitate. But if we are lucky, we come across a time in our lives when we look at an opinion and realize that it is “off”. If we stand strong, we change our mind.
I am not so interested in the little changes, like when you might decide you really do like guacamole after having avoided it for years. I am more interested in the big changes, like when you decided that the invasion of Iraq really was a stupid thing, or when you decided that acquiring more parks and open space really are good things to do for the next generations.
It sounds like Governor Crist of Florida has had one of those moments. After taking an airplane tour over the massive oil spill that is uncontrollably taking over the Gulf of Mexico and after thinking about the people who died in the explosion, he said that he had changed his mind about off shore drilling. Crist is now convinced Florida does not need it or want it. After seeing how much damage can come from an accident, he has set aside one of his party’s biggest mantras: “Drill, baby, drill!”
Now Crist might be heard saying, “No drilling near Florida!”
As a business speaker, I would find a way to use this turnaround in a speech about leadership. Sometimes you have to take the right stance, even if it is opposite of the mantra of the day.
I rent a lot of cars traveling around as a business speaker and a corporate leader. I am usually unimpressed with what I drive. Granted I always rent the least expensive cars, so I don’t expect much. I have driven a few hybrids i really liked. I enjoyed the Prius. I thought it drove well, was comfortable and handled nicely. But the other day i rented a Volkswagen Jetta. I had two different Beetles back in the day and I loved them, so it was a sentimental moment. I really liked the Jetta. It was comfortable and it was zippy. I drove it in Dallas, which is one of the towns where you have to drive fast or get blown off the road. I was able to run with the big dogs and fly like the wind. I had no idea the Jetta was a sports car. I’d have to say it was a treat to drive.