I was sitting with some friends the other day and the topic of careers came up. One friend is being coveting for his skills and another is very successful in his business. As the discussion shifted to me it was directed to what I want to be doing. As I explained my background, success, and desire to be a speaker I could see the confusion on their faces.
“People actually do this for a living?”
“Can you make any money doing this?”
“Who would you work for?”
“What do you talk about?”
“Where would you speak?”
Luckily for me I had answers for most of these questions. Over the past six weeks I have pulled out all my “speaking business” materials. The stacks of books, pdfs, e-courses, contacts, notes, and youtube clips that I have collected over the past few years. The speaking profession is a noble one. In your back yard there are probably more than a few professional speakers in your community. In a college town many professors and researchers travel the world sharing their expertise. Many business people speak at local community organizations for small fees to help promote their business. Numerous churches have guest speakers come in every Sunday to give their pastors a week off. There are thousands of working speakers in the US. Though it is a business that few people rarely think of as viable.
As I look at my resume I see several jobs. Most of them in sales or something similar. Many times I’ve been some type of manager or supervisor. And many of those times it ends up not working out. A lot of times I moved up the ladder or took some type of promotion, but some times I was just tired of doing what I was doing. The beauty of life is that wherever you go you are always with you. I’m the common denominator in both the good and the bad career transitions.
I have several super successful friends from my childhood. One of the common denominators is that most of them have always known what they wanted to do, whether it was being a doctor, lawyer, film maker, or educator. I remember being five or six years old coming home from church and preaching away. I participated in my first speech contest in the third grade (it was a complete disaster). I always enjoyed getting up in front of classes and doing presentations and book reports. But just like my friends, I didn’t realize that there was actually a job associated with giving speeches. So as a middle-aged salesman trying to support his young son, I am trying to make an intentional change in my professional direction.
If you haven’t recently tried to learn a business from scratch go to the library and read a few books. Talent is far from enough to make it in any business. There are probably thousands of bands touring Georgia right now that are talented enough to have a record deal but the music business is about more but talent. So as I try to polish my talent and learn the business side of speaking I move forward with optimism I look forward to writing and posting more speaking highlights. But for now it is off to work on a speech for a campus ministry group.
Wish me luck!