When delivering keynotes my mission is rather simple. I just want to help my audience build their resilience, reputation and revenue. However, during a recent speaking engagement in Last Vegas, a series of mishaps and meaningful interactions taught me the same lesson.
And I know, “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas”, but sometimes the experiences are too good to keep to yourself. Especially if my story will help you avoid common pitfalls and build your business.
So, here’s what I learned.
You must advocate for yourself
The Berkshire Hathaway conference took place in Las Vegas. Honestly, I’m not the biggest fan of Vegas since I’m married, I don’t drink and I don’t gamble. So it’s not quite the “adult playground” I’m looking for.
However, I had a pleasant surprise upon arriving at the airport. I ran into a good friend from college, Anne Magur, who I haven’t seen in almost 10 years. We caught up for a few minutes before parting ways, I then hopped in a Lyft en route to my hotel.
That’s when I was hit with a not so pleasant surprise. While attempting to check in I was told my hotel room was no longer available. Why? My hotel was booked from March 26-March 29th. I arrived on March 27th, so they gave my room away.
Should I have noticed and corrected this in advance?
And I should note, later on the organizers graciously expressed their empathy for my situation and let me know I could call them immediately if something similar ever happened again.
Back to my story. The front desk agent then proceeded to tell me the hotel was completely booked, but the Horseshoe hotel might have rooms available.
By now it’s after midnight and I’m tired after flying in from New York City. There’s no way I’m going to walk around Las Vegas hoping to find a hotel room when one was already booked for me. I asked to speak to her manager about it. She said I couldn’t, but she would for me. Two minutes later she came back with the same response “There are no rooms available, try the Horseshoe”.
I’m going to fast forward a bit. She went back and forth between me and her manager for ten minutes before the manager suddenly found an open room for me at the hotel. Was I annoyed? Yes, but the situation was resolved and venting wouldn’t help. Instead I just asked her manager a simple question.
“Why did this have to be so hard?”
And, I’m sure you’re going to have to ask yourself that same question in the very near future. Maybe it’s in regard to a client taking forever to pay, or being disrespected during a meeting.
You’re going to want to give up. Don’t.
Instead, fiercely advocate for yourself and demand the respect you rightfully deserve.
My friend and award-winning social video expert, Kim Rittberg, was speaking at the same conference. She got in earlier that day and recorded a quick video from the event. I watched it as I was unpacking in the hotel room.
The video was great but here’s what stood out to me; all the guys were wearing blazers, most were wearing suits. I was planning on wearing sneakers, BYLT pants that kinda look like slacks and a hoodie. But once I saw all those guys in suits I started second guessing myself.
I was tempted to rush out and see if I could buy something that would help me fit in more. I even thought to myself “a lot of people unexpectedly get married in Vegas, there must be somewhere I can buy a suit in the middle of the night.”
And if you’re following along the answer is “yes”. That same guy who wouldn’t look for a hotel room at midnight suddenly felt compelled to go shopping at 1am.
But then it hit me. These people all paid to see me on stage. I’m a keynote speaker, I deserve to be here, and I can’t deliver the experience they’re looking for if I’m not comfortable.
Back to you.
There will be times when you feel like you have to change who you are to fit in. Maybe it’s the way you dress, do your hair or how you talk.
You’re going to want to conform. Don’t.
The best version of yourself is all you need to be, but you can’t do that if you’re pretending to be someone else.
After my presentation this guy in a really nice suit walked over to me.
I was immediately disarmed by what he said; “Nice shoes, I need to start wearing sneakers too. These events are great but my shoes are so uncomfortable I sometimes skip sessions because I don’t want to walk that far.”
He then told me how much he appreciated the session I led and was looking forward to sharing the key takeaways with his team.
Normally I would have just said something along the lines of “That’s so great to hear, I’m glad you found value in my session . . .” But then I thought to myself; now is the perfect opportunity to pitch your LinkedIn training program. Just bring it up and see what happens.
I pitched him on my LinkedIn training program and he only had one question “Can you lead it remotely?”
That’s it. No questions about cost, references, none of that. I already proved my worth on stage and he was ready for more.
At times you’ll be afraid to pitch a prospect or partnership opportunity. Don’t let that hold you back. If you ask, the answer will be yes or no. But if you don’t ask, the answer will definitely be no.
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Listen to the full episode below.