I know that great quote.. “The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.” (Socrates) but I was really blown away in a recent conversation with a friend of mine Olivia James (Speaker, Facilitator, Podcast Host & complete legend). I was blown away because once I thought about it, watched this video, and then looked hard at my own life and the lives around me. I realised that for years I had missed something really big.
Olivia is like me, she is fascinated by what makes us tick, how we think act and why. We got into a deep conversation recently about it while discussing how people act based on the environment and other people as much as their own personal feelings. And somehow we go on to the topic of the snake oil salesmen (and women) that we know using this idea to turn a profit.
She directed me toward a fantastic video from Mike Winnet who wanted to “pull back the curtain” on speakers that scam people (Olivia and I are both professional speakers by the way) and hopefully expose a more people to the truth that was staring them in the face. That these are scams, selling false hope and dreams to those that need real results more than most.
What shocked me most was how much my process, my speaking, was similar to that of and A-typical Contrepreneur. Excluding the obvious pressure sales, everything isn’t real part, to the audience the expereince would actually be REALLY similar. The only thing for me was that at the end they weren’t running to the back of the room with their credit cards but out the door to hopefully implement some real plans that they had just been inspired to make a positive change…… I stop here because.. do you see.. I am already sounding like them AGAIN! And that is the dilemma I now face. I have an amazing (I have been told) backstory, people say it’s inspiring, and its 100% true I USE that, like I use the fact I am a decent speaker. I have loads of confidence, I have decent charisma, presence etc. I USE my skills to to the best I can to have an effect. To make my audience feel, to be inspired, to see something new and in my case take action.
I am not alone, I have meet hundreds of great speakers, great people committed to changing lives. I know many people make speaking a career, that they need to pay a mortgage, they aspire to be comfortable or even wealthy. That is not what this is about I congratulate and would support ANYONE that thrives in life but does so by lifting people up not my treading on them on their way to the top.
But recently I see that I have inadvertently overlooked the snakes in my own life. People I had even shared a stage with. Dismissed the ones in my past as just “slick salesmen”. But I realised it is far worse that that if you think about it. They in fact prey on people at the lowest or most vulnerable point in their lives. I am reminded of the wicked giants in the famous book “The BFG”, much loved here in the UK as it is around the world. Who gobble up little children who think they are safe in their beds.
SO that’s it… I am afraid this article isn’t meant to offer a solution, in fact the opposite, I hope it injects into your mind the thought, a question. I am sure we have all heard the term “whats in it for me” (WIIFM). Its something I learned very early on in my career, and has been the catalyst for a lot of thinking and even the inspiration for some of my talks for many years now. But the next time your watching a “hyper” speaker, one that is promoting fast success maybe ask yourself WIIFT or “Whats in it for THEM”.
Please comment, especially if you have been scammed at one of these events (name them #shame if your feeling brave).
But I would love to hear from any speakers that may realise they too sound like these scammers, but are genuine honest people trying to give the right advice, make an impact on the lives of others. And any words of wisdom, any thought on how I, you, we can both stop these rats, and differentiate ourselves from their wicked ways while not abandoning, as Mike Winnet pointed out, sound reputable strategies and tactics we all use (for good).