There’s a major shift going on in my practice that I wanted to share with you.
After years of periodically giving talks and leading executive education courses, but as a “sideline” to my “real” practice – consulting (which spanned several decades), I’ve decided to focus primarily on Speaking (and Writing – but more about that later).
I’ve received outside messages to do this, such as:
John Spence, a business guru, consultant, speaker and seminar leader, calling me a “brilliant thinker” and putting my book Noble Enterprise on his list of the (all time) “Top 50 Business books:”
George Starcher, co-founder of the European Baha’i Business Forum (EBBF) and a former Senior Partner of a leading consulting firm, McKinsey & Company, calling me – after I spoke at the EBBF annual conference – a “thought leader”.
FROM THE GET-GO, STAYING QUIET
But it was ultimately inner messages that urged me to make the commitment to speaking. This is actually a big change for me. You see, I wasn’t always a speaker.
At a young age, I shunned the limelight. For example,
- Though I was nominated to be President of the Yale Glee Club, I turned down the honor without even a thought – because it was a long custom that the president always sang the solo on a traditional Yale Song, and I was afraid of doing that.
- Early on, I envisioned that I’d go through life quietly doing my work, and never speaking up or out…that is until my mentor at Union Carbide, where I started work after graduate school, suggested there were two ways to get ahead: 1) doing good work (which I was already doing) and/or 2) speaking well. So, at his suggestion, I joined Toastmasters and learned how to give short prepared speeches.
- Even when I had my first book published in 2008, despite by then years of speaking experience, I somehow assumed that the book would “speak for itself” and all I had to do was stand back and watch it take off. It took some time for me to realize that writing the book was only the beginning – that it was important that I also speak about its contents.
Eventually, I was called on to share my views, mostly at local association meetings.
- My public speaking began probably sometime in my mid-30’s: I was asked to speak to an Organization Behavior class at Dartmouth College’s Tuck School of Business. The night before the class, the professor asked what my plan was for the session. My response worried him, so he suggested a different approach. It was probably at that point that I first ignored an outside authority. Instead, I decided to stay with my own inner sense of what would work. He later wrote me, “There is no doubt that your session lit candles and rang bells!”
- Within the next ten years, I began speaking at local associations that I was associated with – such as the Strategic Planning Forum of Stamford, CT.
- Most of my talks focused on the human dimension of business success. So I spoke to many HR and Organization Development Associations within a few hours’ drive.
- This included an occasional presentation inside companies. I remember speaking to a group of first line supervisors at United Technologies’ Pratt & Whitney. I was espousing what was then called the soft side of leadership. (This was to a group of gruff guys whose big trucks in the parking lot seemed to scream out about their physical prowess and toughness.) After finishing my presentation, I waited to see who would say what. One fellow spoke up and said something like, “I don’t think that works. I find that a swift kick in the butt is what motivates people!” I expected others would echo that sentiment (to go along with the toughness of their trucks). But he had hardly finished when one of his colleagues yelled out warmly, “Oh come on, Pete! We all know you’re one of the kindest supervisors there is!”
- At a meeting of corporate planning executives, I gave a talk on the role of Heart in company success. When I had finished, a women spoke up. She was the Director of Corporate Planning at PepsiCo, as I recall. She said impatiently, “What you say makes me feel emasculated!” Instead of arguing with her, I just let her comments sink in. Before I could think how to reply, an older gentleman in the back of the room spoke up, “I think I know what Darwin is talking about.” He proceeded to tell the story of when he was a young financial analyst at Xerox. He was working late one night, and when he got on the elevator to leave the building, the CEO was already on the elevator – with an outside visitor. As he told it, “The CEO said hello to me. Then he turned to the visitor and said, ‘I’d like you to meet David. David is one of the reasons that this company is so successful.’” At that moment, as he told his fellow planning executives, “No amount of financial compensation could have bought the tremendous commitment I immediately felt to that CEO and to the company.”
More recently, I’ve spoken on three continents at all kinds of company, association and business school functions.
Looking back, it all seems natural that I would become a bona fide speaker. At the time, however, speaking seemed like a diversion from my real work – consulting.
Yet over time, I began to get more and more requests to speak.
Eventually I was invited to speak at places way beyond just the local organizations that I started with.
The latest count is:
- 14 U.S. states from Maine, Massachusetts, New York (and surrounding Northeastern states) to Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Texas, New Mexico, Nevada and California
- Two Canadian provinces (Ontario and Nova Scotia)
- Two European countries (Spain and the Netherlands), including several years speaking at the annual conference of the European Baha’i Business Forum, attended by business leaders throughout Western Europe and many also from Eastern Europe.
- And recently in South America (in Brazil) at the annual international business conference put on by Fundação Dom Cabral, one of the top ten business schools globally, according to the Financial Times. Speakers and participants came from throughout South America plus North America, Central America, Europe, Africa and Asia.
WHOM I’VE SPOKEN TO AND ABOUT WHAT
Audiences in the U.S., Canada, Europe and South America have included:
- Professional and industry associations
- CEOs and senior executives
- Company conferences
- Socially responsive businesses
I plan to combine two passions: speaking and writing. In another email, I’ll describe what writing projects I’m working on.
I choose to speak because it is an effective way to convey some important messages. Unlike the written word, the spoken word conveys conviction and enthusiasm. Plus, as I’ve indicated earlier in this email, and to my surprise, audiences have been not only pleased and excited about what I have to say, many have also reported that they have been inspired.
Thus, I call this practice “High Impact Speaking”. It goes beyond so-called “motivational speaking”, which gets people hyped up, but then it only lasts for a short while. I feel as though I’m implanting a kind of “chip” in people’s brains – or hearts. Actually, it’s more like awakening what’s already there, but just has lain dormant.
That’s my path now. I anticipate speaking to the same kinds of audiences as in the past – on these four themes.
Speaking Themes include:
- Improving Leadership
- Creating Sustainable Competitive Advantage
- Getting the most out of Human Capital
- Socially Responsive Business
Here’s a one-page Speaker Sheet which describes these further and provides more background on me and the Noble Enterprise book.
BUILDING MY SPEAKING PRESENCE
Here is how I’m proceeding on Speaking:
- With this email, I am informing close contacts of my speaking services.
– Keep me in mind should you be planning a conference
– Also, I’d greatly appreciate your forwarding this to colleagues whom you think could benefit from a Gillett presentation
- We’re in the process of revamping the Noble Advisors’ website to convey this new focus on speaking.
– Stay tuned
- We’ll also be listing my services in selected Speakers Bureaus.
– If you know of good speakers bureaus, I’d appreciated your suggestions.
And, starting with this email we’re offering a special promotion, designed primarily for recipients of this email, i.e., people and organizations who know me (though it’s open to others as well if you want to pass this along to people you know who may be looking for a speaker) .
- Standard Speaking Fees & Arrangements
Standard Speaking Fee: $7,000, typically a 20 to 60 minute keynote
On my part:
- A talk customized to your specific situation and specifications
- Being available to meet with individuals or small groups after the talk (during the same day of talk)
On the client’s part:
- Travel costs paid (air flights paid by client up front by their check or credit card)
- Air travel if more than three hours driving time
- 1st class air fare for flights exceeding 3 hours
- Lodging – if driving more than three hours or flying – night prior to talk (after talk, if it is an evening talk)
- Fee payment: 1/3 paid at signing. Balance due at time of talk.
- Special Offers – for a limited time
- 60% off the standard fee for first person/company who signs up for a talk following this email (and pays as a deposit half of the net fee of $2,800)
- For subsequent people/companies: 40% off the standard fee for the first person/company to sign up for any month (staring with January 2014 and ending with June 2014)
- A 20% discount if you are the second person/company to sign up for a particular month (starting with January 2014 and ending with June 2014.
Note: To receive the discount, you must pay half the net fee right away.
So, get organized. Sign me up as your keynote speaker – Pick a date (and topic) now. If you need help picking the right topic, we’ll be glad to help. But to get one of those discounts above, you must be first (or second) for any particular month.
We’ll even honor this special offer for the remaining months of 2013.
At your Speaking Service,