One could easily come away from National Speakers Association (NSA) conferences convinced that just about all of the speakers have more engagements than they really want, are making a ton of money, need to constantly order more inventory to keep up with the orders for their products, and feel deeply fulfilled by the positive impact they are having on their client organizations. This misimpression can lead to:
- reduced self-confidence for speakers at all levels,
- very costly mistakes,
- lost opportunities for real learning about what it takes to move up the levels within our profession, and
- reduced credibility for our members and the profession.
The pattern also encourages members to “fake it ‘til they make it.” Of course, it’s not just the behavior within our association that creates this pattern. Larger societal patterns encourage it as well. As experts, we are expected to dress better, live in nice houses, have beautiful offices, drive great cars, go on marvelous vacations, use the latest technology, have “hot” websites, etc.
But what happens when someone (a speaker, a consultant, a trainer, a coach, any professional) gets into the pattern of “faking it”? The range of available resources shrinks because they think they cannot risk being “found out.” The cost of doing business increases as the image is maintained even when the revenue is not there. Chronic recurring problems or blind spots persist. Gross revenue hits plateaus…first at $60,000/yr, then at $125,000, then at $250,000, and then again at $ 625,000. It becomes more and more difficult for others to “reach” the person involved. Personal relationships suffer. Bad habits become entrenched. Changing the patterns seems more and more impossible with each passing year.
I have seen many “experts” fall into this trap, and it is such a waste. To move to the next level, one must replace the habits of the current level with new premises and behavior (whether you are a new, emerging, or established speaker). For example, at the $250,000 plateau, it’s often the professional’s assumptions about support staff, compensation, pricing, time management, and specialization that need to be examined.