How to minimize rejection.

I was proposed by various speaker bureaus for 7 gigs this week. I lost six of the proposals and have only one gig. That’s a lot of rejection!

Removing each of the provisional bookings from my calendar is frustrating and painful.

Every industry comes with its own forms of rejection, the trick is to figure out how to minimize the rejection in order to increase the success rate.

Last week was brilliant, and very different. Five proposals resulted in four keynote bookings. The reason, two were repeat business, one was a booking through a friend and only 2 were the equivalent of a cold call.

At the end of February, I celebrate two years of full time speaking. It has been a hard but extremely rewarding slog. 2020 Certainly has started with a bang for which I’m phenomenally grateful, it makes the rejection more bearable. Each time I stand in front of a room of people I get the opportunity to inspire them and transform their thinking in a way that can change lives. That is a gift, although it also needs to put food on the table.

Self-promotion in this industry is vital despite the huge hesitation and apprehension I feel each time I post about successful bookings. What we don’t see very often are posts that speak of what happens behind the highlights reel.

Of the seven potential gigs for this week, six times, a company chose another speaker or a different form of entertainment for the slot. It’s easy to take it personally. Especially when you have no idea why the other person was chosen or what lead to the decision and have zero control over the process.

The common procedure is as follows; an events coordinator within an organization approaches an events company to find a speaker or speakers for an event, or they might approach numerous speaker bureaus. Once many speakers have been proposed they then choose the speaker or an array of speakers that they like and think will best accommodate the brief and theme for the event.
The idea is pitched to those in charge, and if approved is pitched to the bean counters.

Each of those people have an opinion, and the only thing sitting in front of them to assist in deciding is the collateral of each speaker. “Never heard of him” must be a common reverberating theme.

It really is such a hit and miss situation, and very often the company decide on a speaker who in no way fits the original brief.

How does one minimize rejection?

The bulk of my bookings come from four sources.

  1. Referrals. People who know me or have seen me speak refer me directly to the decision makers. First prize is for me to have a face to face meeting with that person. There is no better way to get a new booking. You don’t know me until you have met me.
  2. Repeat business. I will only get repeat business if I delivered on the brief and added value beyond the expectations. That’s always the goal.
  3. Industry representation. Being represented by a speaker bureau who believes in me, trusts my delivery as per point 2, and promotes me over and above the norm is the ideal. A bureau who understands that the happiness of the end client is reliant on the collaboration and working relationship they have with their select speakers. Most merely offer the collateral as an ‘option’ to bolster their preferred choice of speaker. “This is the one we recommend, but you asked for three profiles so here are two others.”
  4. Direct requests. Companies contact a speaker bureau or contact me directly. That’s the hardest to get right as it depends on the momentum created by the top three sources, and it takes time and many successful bookings to get known.

The 13 keynote bookings I have done so far in 2020 came from the following sources;

Repeat – 5

Direct – 3 (2 through a bureau)

Referral – 1

Friend – 1

Speaker bureau proposing me – 3

Therefore, as with any industry and every product, minimizing rejection relies on good relationships, superior performance or product, great direct marketing, fabulous agency representation, and a healthy dose of momentum.

Spend time and energy where you are likely to get the best return on investment, for me that’s relationship building, and exceeding expectations of product.

On giving and receiving.

I love spoiling people, but don’t ask me what I would like for xmas…

I have a problem asking for help, but yet I’m so good at giving it…

Receiving is genuinely hard for me, even allowing somebody to make me a cup of coffee and bring it to me in bed is hard. That’s my job, and you’ll get your favourite beverage, in your favourite mug, made just the way you like it.  Every single morning.

I know the root of the problem, it exists in the ego. A deep insecurity, actually a fear, and somehow having to ask for help makes me feel insecure about myself. Giving empowers me and makes me feel fabulous inside.

My occupation allows me to pour myself out and give everything of me, a big reason I love what I do so much. I arrive home exhausted and depleted, but deeply happy.

On April the 15th this year I took an Uber to go for a lumbar puncture, and after discovering that my tumor was in fact a carcinoma, I was immediately admitted to hospital for a brain operation. I took an Uber home too, despite offers of help.

It was an extremely traumatic time for me.

The closest people to me were angry and horrified.  Deeply disappointed that I had robbed them of an opportunity to love me. That’s just one example of what I did at that time, determined that I wasn’t going to put anybody out.

In my defense, as a single person, one learns to be independent, but perhaps there is a limit.

My mother has always called me fiercely independent. Somehow, I have loved that term.

At times during the subsequent recovery, and the seven weeks and 35 sessions of radiation, close friends delivered things to my house by contacting my housekeeper on the days she was at home. It was the only way that they could give me what they wanted to.

I didn’t want to feel pathetic, a victim, needy, or worse…dependant.  I don’t believe that anybody fighting cancer does.

I went to every session and appointment alone, despite the many offers of help.

I was showered with love and support, care, concern and more food than I could possibly eat. I was sent supplements and health products from somebody I hardly know.

Eight months later, and I have learnt some good lessons. Due to a very recent armed robbery wherein I lost a massive number of my belongings, and having made a call in May, between household insurance or paying off medical debts, I chose the debt.

It was a good call at that time when the prognosis was negative. There was an urgency to settle affairs.

But it left me financially unable to replace clothes, shoes, and even some basic belongings necessary to go to work. I lost so much, and am still discovering things that are gone. In the photo above, every single item I had on me besides the waistcoat was stolen.

Without my knowledge a special friend rallied support from another friend and together they started a crowdfunding project. I was perplexed to discover this splashed all over social media, it was incredibly hard to read the kind words and the plea for help. To sit back and allow this to unfold.

And worse still….it was shared over and over again. In the face of colleagues, family, distant friends, and people I have never met.

My colleagues started initiatives of their own, even sharing my bank account details obtained from the HR department..

I have been the recipient of an outpouring of love and giving I could never have imagined possible. It has been quite staggering. I’ve had to deal with my ego, put my pride in my pocket, and handle the fear of facing the people who have reached out in so many remarkable ways.

“how can I now stand in front of these people and deliver, inspire and motivate. Teach, and impart knowledge?”

I asked myself that question over and over.  It seemed deeply uncomfortable to me.

But yet I have discovered that it isn’t at all.  In my vulnerability I realise I have merely become more human.

Many many of the beautiful people whom have reached out have said how fortunate they feel to be able to give something back to me.  How grateful they are to have been enriched by me at some point.

And then I realised how selfish I have been at times to prohibit people from experiencing the delightful feeling that giving brings. That feeling that I adore, the one that motivates me to do what I do.

I am so humbled, and so hugely grateful to each and every person who has given in any way to me over the past eight months. From the messages, the calls, the visits and the gifts…to the amazing help I have received.

Thank you for teaching me to receive, and thank you for all that you’ve given to me!

From Richard the receiver… xxx