I had the joy of being interviewed by Patricia Fripp on my story crafting process.
Yes. I’ll say it. I should be excited. I should be jumping for joy. I should be eager to see what doors open.
But in this moment I am simply scared to death. Move the wine, Cheetos, and chocolate-covered cupcakes. Mamma is wigging out.
I started to keep it to myself and keep my anxiety private. But if I’m going to tell thousands of people every year to come out of their comfort zone, to dream big, to have courage, to be the pink zebra, to tell their story – then I think it’s only fair that I go first. And who knows, maybe in sharing my fear, it will help you with your own. And we can take this scary jump into whatever lies ahead together.
So. In case you haven’t heard. I’m going to be in a television show hosted by Brooke Hogan. Yeah, Hulk Hogan’s daughter. You can check out the show later. Next time we visit, I’ll tell you what it was like to be part of a TV show. For now, it’s pretty confidential. Today isn’t about the show. Today, selfishly, is about me.
“It’s not national television,” I tell myself when I feel like I’m going to pass out. “It’s just Amazon Prime.”
Then I went and looked up how many viewers watch Amazon Prime.
Then I heard that it’s going to be in 19 countries.
Now two more platforms, Tubi and Vudu, will be airing the show. (I’ll pretend like I know what those are.)
“I’m only in two episodes in the first season,” I tell myself to get me off the ledge. And then I remember how many hours and hours of film footage they got. Hours when I forgot the cameras were even on. Footage that I haven’t seen yet. Oh dear heavens, did they film me when I got tired and kicked off my shoes? What did I say when I thought nobody was listening?
You are my readers, my friends, my peers – people I have met all over the world – and I will always be just as real and awkward and messed up here in these blogs, as I was on that stage when we first met. So I decided to just let you know that the time has finally come, and I am scared to death.
The saying is true……sometimes the fear is not that we won’t get our dream answered – but that we WILL. I get that now.
I know that the day after the show airs may turn out to be no different than the day before.
Maybe nobody watches it.
Maybe it turns out that they cut every piece of me out except for thirty seconds.
Or who knows…maybe I didn’t make it into the show at all. (Though I am in the show trailer and episode sneak peeks.)
Maybe compared to everything else going on, I’ll just be a blip. Forgotten by the next episode.
Maybe this is WAY too much anxiety over a bunch of stuff that will never happen.
And it’s really not that big a deal.
Did you know that someone did a study and determined that over 60% of what we worry about never happens?
Am I using precious time feeling anxious and worried and stressing myself to the point of not being healthy?
Are you? Are you facing a mountain of your own, and while it may be a different one, you can totally relate?
As you know, I’m a big believer in facing our fear head on. Naming it. Owning it. Claiming it. Determining the emotion and then replacing it with truth. Most motivational speakers will tell you to visualize success. Not me. Not at first anyway. Before I can visualize winning, I have to stare the ugly cold hard truth in the face. So it stops scaring me so bad.
So what am I afraid of?
Looking fat on TV.
Looking stupid on TV.
Sounding stupid on TV.
Being made fun of by strangers.
Getting a reputation for being an idiot and nobody wants me to speak anymore.
Having a character created by film people that doesn’t accurately reflect me.
Having my son be embarrassed by his mom. (Not worried about my husband. He’s used to it.)
Getting caught saying or doing something I shouldn’t.
Embarrassing my parents.
I think I’ll stop there. That’s enough. No need to dig up even more feelings I didn’t know I had. This is plenty.
Isn’t it interesting that what I am afraid of is all related to how others see me and feel about me? How I look to the world.
Isn’t it ironic that I’m on a show about changing the unrealistic definition of beauty and I’m worried about my size?
And it was my size that made me PERFECT for the show. I embody their point – that women don’t have to fit some certain “image” to succeed in life.
I guess old story lines are harder to erase than I thought.
Are you still fighting yours? Are you still living in direct correlation to your emotions? Still measuring yourself by what somebody else thinks of you?
It’s natural. After all, one of our most basic needs is belonging. We can’t help it. We were created with this need to belong. When we don’t feel like we belong, it affects us at our very core.
Okay. I told you I would stay honest and real. But I also don’t like to stay here long. Doesn’t do me any good. It’s exhausting, and probably ends up making me sick. So I need to regroup. Maybe you do too and this is your chance. So here is where I turn this ship around and turn these emotions that don’t serve me into truths that do.
Remember what I told you when we met – emotions make a great gauge, but an awful guide. Honor the emotion, but get it in the back seat as soon as you can. Its only purpose is to serve as a trigger. Don’t let it drive the car. You won’t like where it takes you. So this is me rewriting my inner script. Out loud.
Emotion: I’m afraid I will look stupid. (This emotion pretty much covers it all – so I think I’ll just work with this one and then call it a day.)
Truth: I might look stupid.
I believe in honesty with myself – unless I’m talking myself into another glass of wine and then I will justify all day long. I don’t buy into this “we’re all beautiful they just can’t see it” concept. Sometimes we aren’t beautiful – and coming to the place where we don’t care is the win – NOT getting everybody else to change their definition of beauty. I want beauty to be as irrelevant to your dream as what color the shutters are on your house.
Wow. Where did that rant come from? That was pretty deep. Not quite on topic, but I think I’ll keep it in there. Makes me sound poetic.
But I do believe in being honest and facing the truth that I might very well look stupid. It’s a reality. I could come across as an idiot. There will be people who don’t like it. There will be trolls and haters who have nothing better to do than craft and hurl insults in the dark on their computers. It’s part of it. It will happen. I need to accept it.
What about you? Have you accepted it? Not everyone will like what you do. Not everyone will think you’re beautiful. You might not be the star you think you are. You might not be as good as you need to be. You might not belong to the group you want to belong to.
Ouch. That hurt. But in a way, something about it doesn’t hurt when I say it out loud and own it.
As I’m sitting here facing my fear, while it hurts, it’s also healing. Very healing. Why? Because I’ve accepted that I might fall. I’ve seen the dark thing that could happen. I stepped into the story of failure and envisioned the blows I will receive. And I see myself standing on the other side, glad I did it.
Yep. That’s what it all comes down to. At least for me anyway.
If knowing that my dream has the potential to fail, will I jump anyway?
That’s it. The million dollar question.
And the beauty is that I already answered this question years ago – when I first called myself a speaker. When I wrote my first book. And my second. And my third. When I spoke at your event. When I created my online course. When I started Story Crafting Summer camp. Every single dream and goal has had this same potential for failure. And I jumped anyway.
Because my dream is bigger than my fear.
Because I only get one chance at life, and the clock is ticking.
Because I would rather play big and lose, than play small and always wonder what could have been.
Because even when I tried something that didn’t work, it led to something that did – proving that dreams don’t die, they just take a different shape.
Because the rush – while I’m flying – while I’m leaping – is so damn thrilling. Yes, that part BEFORE I land. Before I know if I made it. The part in mid-air.
Because there’s this one tiny chance that maybe I do have what it takes. And I’m willing to bet it all.
Because if there’s a Spirit that dwells inside of me – doing all the work – creating something bigger that even I can imagine – why wouldn’t I jump?
Because even if my kid might be embarrassed, at least he saw me jump. And maybe that’s the bigger win.
Because if one life is changed because of me. One person grabs onto hope. One soul in the dark sees a glimpse of light. It was all worth it. Every fear.
What about you? What is the truth lying behind your fear that needs its chance to fly?
Okay. I’m done rambling. I’m standing here beyond my fear now. Excited. Eager. Confident – that no matter what happens, I’ve got this.
I’m thinking you’re standing here too on that ledge. Desperate to jump and you just needed someone to hear you whisper. I hear you. Let’s do this together.
Grab my hand.
Close your eyes.
Hold your breath.
At the end of the day, I don’t believe that our success or failure is determined by where we land. But in whether we had the courage to jump.
Please share these words with someone who really needs to hear them today.
I chose a nice picture to include in this post, so you can print it out, hang it on the wall, and throw darts at it. Why? Because some of you are going to HATE what I have to say. Why? Because you’ve spent years feeling like you aren’t good enough, living under a limiting belief mentality, and feeling like you are worth more than you have been charging – and I’m about to tell you that maybe you’re not, and you’ll look at this as a set back. How dare this motivational speaker tell me I’m not worth it?
Some of you are going to say that I am pushing my own self-doubts on to others and letting down my gender by encouraging them to play small.
Some of you are going to say that in order to get big results, you have to play big.
And some of you people giving this advice are not getting booked yourself. I know this for a fact.
I have now officially lost count of the number of “10k” speakers who can’t get enough business. I have also lost count of the number of speakers at 5k or under, who are absolutely killing it and laughing all the way to the bank. I know because I’ve been there.
Does this mean we should all lower our fees?
Of course not.
Does this mean that there isn’t any business at 10k and over?
Of course not.
Does it mean that you are entitled to put your fee wherever you want?
Does it mean you’ll get it?
For years I have been booked as a “funny motivational speaker” to encourage, motivate, entertain, and delight an audience. I perfected my product (a speech, about an hour long) and priced it in a way that fit the markets I was attracting and selling to. My calendar was full. My peers were urging me to raise my fees. I was already easily a six-figure speaker at this point. In fact, some of those years to this day were my highest grossing years so far. I was making more than many of the ones giving me advice to raise my fees. But I held strong and kept my fees lower. Yes, I had to work three times as hard, but there were a lot more opportunities knocking at my door. Since my business was driven by word of mouth, I was also doing a LOT of marketing and seed planting that is still paying off to this day. (When you only take ten gigs in a year, your word-of-mouth pool is a lot smaller than when you do 70.)
After a while, I began to craft a new area of expertise. Strategic Storytelling. It just happened naturally. It has always been my gift, people were asking me how to do it, and the market was presenting itself without me really trying. Suddenly what I could teach people in business was even more powerful, and had a bigger return on investment. The experience was the same (funny, motivating, etc.) but the take-home value (IN THEIR EYES) was even higher. One day a client is calling me to end their association conference on a “light note” and the next day a client is calling me asking me to teach all their scientists in research and development how to craft product stories to sell internally and externally. When I began to study the lasting value, suddenly my fee (for these scientists) seemed too low compared to the value they perceived in my product. Without hesitating, I set a higher price on this product.
I know. It’s weird, right? I have one fee for this need, another fee for this need, and yet in both cases I may just spend an hour on site.
To make it even more confusing – the moment I became a cast member of a TV show, my value went up. SAME SPEECH. Higher value. I almost HAD to raise my fee for it to make sense to the buyer. Did I deserve more money just because I had now been on a TV show? Yes, BUT ONLY IF THE BUYER KNOWS IT. Let’s pretend that I was on a TV show but nobody would ever know. Well, being on a show doesn’t matter to my value if the client doesn’t KNOW I was on the show. See? Value in THE BUYER’s eyes.
This is important, so pay attention here. I doubled (almost tripled) my fee – because the perceived value of my worth in the client’s eyes changed.
And THAT is what matters when it comes to setting our fees. At the end of the day, what we think we are worth doesn’t matter as much as what THEY think it’s worth.
The reason some 10k speakers aren’t working (other than poor marketing) is because the buyers just don’t think the speech is worth the price.
This isn’t about how much you think your worth. This isn’t about loving who you see in the mirror. Let’s leave that post for another day.
This is about understanding what you’re selling, who is buying it, and their perception of your value to their bottom line.
Our speech is our product.
If you are getting booked consistently at your fee, great, ignore everything I said. It doesn’t apply. But if you aren’t getting enough business and you’ve been trying for quite a while, then at some point you have to take an honest look at whether your product is too expensive. Maybe they just think what you are delivering is not worth the price. When you stand in front of that new outfit at the store and hold that price tag in your hand, you are wondering the same thing – is this worth the price they are asking?
The good news is that you don’t have to give up. Of course not! Just figure out how to:
There are plenty of markets out there that won’t ever be able to afford a speaker above 5k. Period. Lots of clients out there. It doesn’t make you less of a speaker to charge less. Sometimes positioning yourself lower on purpose is actually kind of brilliant. Shoot, some people speak for FREE because they want to sell online training or consulting.
I hate to even bring this up, because this is what got so many speakers in trouble in the first place. We all tend to think we’re the greatest speaker who ever existed. But it needs to be said. Sometimes we set our fee too low.
Let’s say I’m looking for a new hairdresser. This is a BIG DEAL for me. High value on my hair. I’m just saying. You recommend one who is right down the street. If I call them up for pricing and they say all their haircuts are ten dollars, I’m not going. Period. If it’s only ten dollars how good could it be? Yet my husband would think that’s a great price, and he’d be there in a minute. Different buyer, different perception.
If a big corporate client calls me for a price for an event in front of ten thousand people, and I say my fee is 1500, I’m pretty sure I’m not going to get the gig.
This is a tricky area, and you can’t make an important decision like fees be determined by one client, or even two. You have to also be careful of getting advice from your peers. The way they made it work isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution either. You need good solid sound information about your industry and your market. You can’t be persuaded by groups of people who don’t know your business at all, yet are shouting at you to raise your fees and dream bigger. Really? Is the “raise your fee you’re worth it” advice applicable to all?
I don’t think so – and you know it. Not every speaker on the planet can work at the highest fee range possible. Let’s be realistic. Think of the worst speaker you have ever heard. That speaker is also hearing the mantra of dream bigger, charge more. Yeah. We know where that will get them.
While being a speaker is the hardest job I’ve ever had, it’s also the greatest. I love my work. I love it so much that I don’t really care what my fee is, as long as I get to speak. I love speaking just as much for $500 as I do for $5,000. Of course the bigger check is cooler. Yes, more money is more fun, and I will always work to make more money. But if I make it all about the money, well, I lose. Being booked to speak is a gift. An honor. My words in one hour could change a life forever. If I make it about who gets more, I lose. If I compare myself to what you charge, I lose. If I walk around in a cloud of shame because my fee is low, I lose.
Sometimes, being okay with charging less will actually make you even more.
A dear friend and mentor in the business once told me, “Don’t be so proud that you overprice yourself. There’s no shame in being the Walmart of this business. Last time I checked, they’re doing pretty well.”
This speaker is powered by eSpeakers.