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Mitch Hedberg, Howard Stern, and Your Speaking Business

If you know me, you know I love comedy! One of my favorite stand-up comedians is the late, great Mitch Hedberg. Unfortunately (for me) I discovered his brilliance a little too late and never had the opportunity to see him perform live. One of his bits came to mind just the other day:

“I was in a heavy metal band… People either loved us or hated us… or they thought we were just okay.”

Great, Shawn. So what does this have to do with me and Succeed Speaking?

The quick lesson is this: As a speaker, you want people to either love you or hate you… but you don’t anyone to think you’re “just okay.”

It’s human nature to want everyone to love you — or at least to want to be loved. No one wants to be hated.

As a speaker — just like every performer — you live on applause. You want a standing ovation after every event, right?

That’s great, but beware of the danger of trying to please everyone. You can’t. Trying to please everyone is the sure path to having a bunch of people think you’re “just okay.” And having people think you’re “just okay” is no way to succeed speaking.

Whether people love you or hate you, it means they’re paying attention to you. Think about Howard Stern. You know his name, right? What immediately pops into your head? For most people, it’s either, “I love that guy!” or “I can’t stand that guy!” Not too many people will hear the name Howard Stern and just say, “Ehhh…”

I’m not saying you have to be as radical as Howard Stern to build a successful speaking business. If that fits you, then sure, go for it. But for most speakers, I’m just urging you to fight the temptation to be a chameleon and try to be everything to everyone. Let your real identity show. Be yourself. Don’t be afraid of upsetting someone.

Remember: If you don’t upset anyone along the way, then you’re probably “just okay,” and “just okay” is bad.

Happy Speaking!

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