10 Years of Business Lessons–Chapter 1: When It’s Time to Change Direction

Over the next 3 weeks, I will be commemorating my 10 years as an influential communication strategist in my second business–in the hopes that doing so will help you make more strategic decisions, avoid ditches and dead ends, move along much faster--and, overall, keep you inspired as you, too, traverse the winding and unpredictable road of self-employment.

It all began on February 27, 2007, when I launched Inspired Leadership Training with a 2-hour, free live event.

Well, no, I should back up.

It really began about 18 months earlier, when I attended The Millionaire Mind Intensive, then run by marketing and live event genius, T. Harv Eker. Over those 3 days, I fell in love with how I felt as an audience member, with how powerfully and effectively they engaged me and I wanted to learn how they did it!

That weekend, I enrolled in Eker’s Train the Trainer program—and once there, lost my heart to how they worked with audiences, through something called “accelerated learning.” A teacher deep down, I soaked up the many, many techniques educational science had developed on enthralling an audience and ensuring deep learning, then I registered for their higher-level certification course on the subject.

After five years of it, I was feeling uninspired working 1-1 as an empowerment coach, and tired of inconsistent sales, too, and so, it was right there at the certification course that I decided to change the trajectory of my career completely. Never mind that a non-fiction book I’d written was being considered by a trade publisher—I wanted nothing more now than to teach these techniques. I was done coaching. I wanted to educate and invoke the spirit of my minister father, a passionate and powerful orator.

As I considered my target market—something I’d failed to do with my coaching business—I considered the fact that the success I’d had as a coach had been due almost entirely to my public speaking. I knew that speaking was the most successful marketing strategy for any entrepreneur, and I decided that I wanted to help my fellow pack-leavers succeed at it.

I also knew that the accelerated learning techniques I was learning would set them apart from every other speaker out there. Not only were they effective, they were inspiring and empowering, something most presentations lack completely!

I quickly conceived the name of my new business: Inspired Leadership Training. Ten years later, it has only shifted slightly to Inspired Leaders’ Academy. I teach my clients now to choose a name that will last for years; mine has always stayed on-target, true to its purpose, and the tag line is as true today as ever: Revolutionizing the Way We Succeed.

So, I completed the certification course but I had a problem: I didn’t know why these accelerated learning techniques worked. Yes, K-12 educators had been implementing them successfully since the early 1970’s, but why? I went in search of answers and soon discovered “brain-based learning” and spent well over a year studying everything I could get my hands on about learning, memory and emotion in the brain.

By late 2006, I had developed my own curriculum for a live public speaking training centered around how the brain learns. The techniques were very similar to accelerated learning’s, but I was pleased to be able to call on hard neuroscience to explain why, for instance, an audience leader should ask constant questions, even rhetorical ones; have audiences verbalize rather than just listen—and why information must be delivered in a very particular sequence.

I named my proprietary formula—i.e. signature program--Secrets of Impact and Influence, and, modeling the way T. Harv Eker sold his trainings, I designed a free ‘teaser’ 2-hour live event to sell the for-sale, signature program.

Back then, this was a rare strategy, believe it or not! I had no idea when I began that within three years, free teleclasses would be all the rage on the internet, and a few years beyond that, free webinars. In February, 2007, this was a novel and successful strategy that I used for the next two years.

In the next installment, I’ll reveal how I marketed the 2-hour event and how the content was designed. Remember, it had to sell my (at the time) 1-day public speaking event. I had learned a lot from T. Harv Eker about selling from stage, and I brought those lessons to bear as I conceptualized my teaser event—the portal to my brand new business.


  1. Follow your intuition. If you fall in love with a new direction, follow it!
  2. Be smart: Choose a target audience and make sure there is a strong market for what you want to sell.
  3. Be creative: Make sure what you’re offering is unique in the marketplace! That it has a unique and proprietary ‘formula.’
  4. Be strategic: Conceive of a strategy for selling your proprietary formula (i.e. signature program)
  5. Choose a business name that suggests a theme or purpose and that you could be happy with for years. My work, though it has morphed over 10 years, is all about inspirational leadership. Another lesson: Don’t let an expert talk you out of your intuitive sense of your business name: I was told entrepreneurs don’t want to be leaders. Within 5years, everyone selling to entrepreneurs was encouraging them to be leaders. You may just be ahead of your time; trust your gut!

Is There an Inspired Thought Leader Inside of You?

Sixteen years ago, as legend has it, I read a book in six days and everything in my life changed. Upon finishing it, I knew that I needed to leave my marriage and to change the course of my career–writing novels–which I had adored.  I woke up from that book knowing I needed to do something that was more real and substantial than creating fictional plots and characters had been for me. The words that I said–in the privacy of my own head—were, ” I want to change the world.”

For two years, all dressed up with no where to go, I searched for the venue that would help me to do that and finally came upon coaching. It was not what it is today: no one had heard of it, no one understood it (I think most still don’t) and so it was wide-open terrain. I was passionate about it because I knew its empowering methodology could indeed change the world.

accelerated learning mapFive years later, at a seminar, I was captivated by a method of working with audiences derived from education science called “accelerated learning.” It was another life-changing few days, as I decided to leave coaching and immerse myself in learning everything I could about accelerated learning and brain-based learning. Eighteen months later, passionate and convicted, I launched my second business—Inspired Leaders’ Academy—with a new kind of public speaking training just for entrepreneurs, using these technologies. I knew that when used properly, this “new paradigm of audience leadership” could change the world.

It’s been many years since that launch and many more since my realization that I wanted to change the world, but the drive is as real and fresh in me as it was when I closed the cover of that book.  I still believe coaching can change the world; I know that leading audiences with the technology of brain-based-learning will change the world—and now I work with coaches and other experts to help them change the world with a third element: Thought leadership.

Here’s my conviction: No business will make it now without leaving the pack and standing far apart from everyone else. And the way coaches, consultants and other experts will do that is with a fresh, provocative, even radical, message that shatters the status quo. A thought leader message. It’s essential for survival, and the only option for changing the world.

But a thought leader message isn’t enough. I named my business Inspired Leaders’ Academy years ago because I knew to stand out, and to change the world, you must lead with inspiration.  The fact is, inspiration sells as no data, evidence, or sound intellectual arguments ever will. My father was a minister and I adapted his natural ability to inspire, so when I began leading my public speaking trainings and free events, I saw that truth in action: inspiration is the ultimate call-to-action.ShieldHighResVersion

So, to be successful and change the world, you can’t just have a thought leader message that is intellectually satisfying; you need the fire and passion of inspiration to move an audience to truly “hear” that message and make it their own. On the other hand, you cannot just have an inspirational message—heat and heart—without a solid idea that confounds common understanding, fries brain circuits and destroys conformist thinking. You need them both.

I’ll be leading a virtual event in a couple of weeks: Is There an Inspired Thought Leader Inside of You?” It’s not an easy road; it requires rigorous thinking and a commitment to excellence beyond anything you’ll see around you–but if you are here to change the world, there will be only one answer for you, as there was for me sixteen years ago: Yes, and it’s ready to come out!

So…Is There an Inspired Thought Leader Inside of You?

A Successful Expert But Still Not Feeling Your Big Purpose? Reason #2

I’d like to round-out this discussion with the other reason you may not be feeling a BIG
PURPOSE—though you’re successful. You may not be utilizing your skills and
for a far-reach aspiration: both yours and your markets’.

When I launched my 2nd business,
Inspired Leadership Training, in 2006,
I was teaching an incredible public
speaking program, Secrets of Impact
and Influence
, based on the latest
brain research in learning. What was
I helping people do, initially? For a
long time, it was “get more clients” by
using public speaking as a marketing
tool. Then, for an equally long time, 
I was helping them to “be the best
presenter in their field”—because this program really delivers that. Then, I was helping
them be responsible experts, raising their standards so they were teaching with
unparalleled excellence—a requirement, in my book, for giving paid presentations,
seminars, trainings, etc. 

But the problem was, these skills and talent of mine, which were able to produce these
promises, were not connecting to a part of me that was alive and well outside of my
business: a part that was becoming aware of and studying global human potential.
I was watching the central institutions of our world collapse around us, and the rising
up of populations demanding freedom and human rights. I knew that this activity was
going to reach a climax—and that leaders with great wisdom would start coming out of
the woodwork, as if suddenly “activated” or called to their purpose. And I knew my
market—a subset of coaches, consultants, authors and speakers–were those up-and-
coming leaders.

Despite this, I was still promoting SII around more practical goals: getting more
business and being one of the best presenters/teachers. Yet, the fact was, this
particular public speaking model was tailor-made for the leaders
those who would be called to serve in the global human potential movement. Indeed,
that’s why I had gravitated to learning neuroscience and applying it to public speaking
in the first place!! I had known it could move mountains and mount movements—but
I wasn’t talking about that in my promotion of the course, and not even in the course,
with those seated before me!

My skills and talents were not taking my market far enough, And they were
not taking me far enough into things that mattered most to me. Finally, just a few
months ago, I leapt off the cliff and made it clear that everything I do is specifically
designed for those who want to change the world—who want to be true, inspired leaders.
Not every coach, consultant, speaker or author wants my skills to take them there
they’re more attracted to my older, more pragmatic promises–but so many do! Many
are being “called” to bigger stages every single day and the higher calling of my
skills and talents
(that extend beyond public speaking, by the way) is reaching
out to them

So, if you’re not feeling your Big Purpose, look at how far you are taking your followers
with your skills and talents. Where could you take them that’s bigger, higher, grander,
more meaningful—more inspirational?

If you’re one of the called—if you know you are an inspired leader—Big
Purpose known or unknown—it is your time to lead. Be sure to experience
my call Thursday, Feb. 23: A Time to Lead: Do You Dare?

Fear of Public Speaking–Part 2

I’m continuing yesterday’s post on this subject because
it continues to be a one that brings otherwise powerful
leaders and experts to their knees.

Yesterday, I put forth the contention that the first step
in getting over the fear of speaking is to stop saying you
are afraid of public speaking–because that’s not accurate.
What you are afraid of is being humiliated–and I outlined
five contributors to this mind-gripping terror. Today,
I am going into some depth with each one. I would love
to hear which one you find has contributed most to your
fears–and what solution you are committed to engaging
so that you get out there with your message!

The 5 Contributors to Fearing Being Humiliated
Public Speaking

1. We’ve been humiliated publicly. This first issue
is a deep one. We have a primordial reaction to being
shunned publicly—perhaps because throughout history
it has so often meant being ostracized from our clan and
facing life alone. And when it happens to us as a child,
before we’ve learned to engage our reasoning mind to
disengage from our emotionality, the stain of  humiliation
can seem permanent. But only if we allow it to be. As
Eleanor Roosevelt so aptly put it, No one can make you
feel inferior without your consent.
And no event defines
who you are unless you let it. You can choose to allow
an experience to define your fragility; you can choose
to allow the past to define your future—but that’s a choice
you’re making. Know that you don’t have to keep yourself
safe anymore. You can handle anything. (See an up-coming
post about my own humiliation years ago.)

2. We’re self-focused, rather than audience-focused.
Rather than giving to the audience, we’re focused on
getting approval from them—which leads to a strong
need to be perfect. Here’s the rub: if we must be perfect,
we’re going to fail because—sit down, if you need to—
we’re not ever going to be perfect. If we feel we must
be perfect but we never will be perfect, we’re in quite
a spot, aren’t we? And ultimately,we know that, which
is what a great deal of the fear is about. So how do you
stop needing to be perfect before an audience? Adjust
your purpose from“needing to get” to “needing to give.”

In the New Paradigm, you are (among many things)
involved with your audience in such a way that you are
not the star, they are. I teach that you are a teacher,
not a speaker, and that shift creates a significant change
in how you view yourself. When you’re there to give
(as teachers are), your self-importance vanishes, and
it is self-importance that fuels fear. You aren’t important,
they are.

Another note on this: it’s also worth accepting that
you’re never going to please everyone. Someone in the
room won’t like you. The question is, Can that be okay
with you

If it can’t be…why?

Try this tack, too: ask yourself, what’s the worst that
can happen if I forget something—or everything? If the
audience gets up and leaves after the first 10 minutes?
Go through the process of questioning yourself with this.
Answer it the first time. If I forget what I want to say,
the worst thing is I won’t be asked back to speak.
what’s the worst thing that could happen from that? I’ll
have to find a new group to speak to.
And the worst
thing from that? You’ll find, that “the worst”…isn’t.

Finally—if you aren’t perfect? Be self-effacing right
in the moment. People love when speakers acknowledge
their own “mistakes.” Not doing so, however, allows the
awkwardness to “sit in the room,” which isn’t good energy
-management. So, make a joke about yourself and move
on. Your audience will feel what you feel, so the more
confidently and nonchalantly you handle an embarrassing
moment, the more confident they will feel about what you
did, as well.

3. We simply aren’t prepared. Needing to practice
is Public Speaking 101, right? Not for many, many
speakers (especially those who like being in front of
groups; they think their comfort level makes them good,
and often they don’t bother to practice at all.) But even
those who fear speaking don’t realize the incredible power
of knowing their material cold. The greatest fear comes
from not knowing it; that your brain will go blank. So,
practice! Practice in the shower, in the car, doing dishes—
wherever you can. You will walk on the (proverbial) stage
as if you own it when you know your stuff.

4. We’re mimicking “old school” speakers and
. The New Paradigm techniques I teach
tend to mitigate fear because they are so much about
creating energy in the room and being empowered and
self-expressed. But let me share some Old Paradigm
techniques that tend to perpetuate fear: 1) Opening
with your name and a “thank you for coming”—the
first puts an emphasis on you, which will only augment
the fear you already have, and the second puts you in
the weak position of appreciating the audience for taking
the time to list to you—and that insecure stance can
perpetuate fear; 2) “Pouring” information at your
audience from a distance, while they listen quietly—again,
this emphasizes you and your material, which will
increase trepidation and the need to get it right; 3)
Believing you must present yourself as serious and
—“having to be” anything is going to rattle
your nerves, but feeling you need to appear“important”
is going to send you over the edge; and finally, 4)
Standing behind a podium
— physical blockades
symbolize emotional  blockades; the more physical and
emotional distance between you and your audience, the
more nervous you are going to be. Get out from behind
the block and close to your audience.

5. We’re unsure about the value of our message.
Other than being unprepared, little can make us as
nervous as being unsure if others want to hear our message.
I’m not going to give you a pep-talk here; I’m going to
be blunt: make sure it is something they want to
. Know your audience. Then, make sure that you
really are giving value. A lot of speakers don’t! They
speak above or below their audiences; they provide
cliché material; they don’t help the audience to see
how it’s valuable in their lives. If you’re nervous about
the value of your message—it may be worth a look. On
the other hand, when you know that you’re giving
extreme value to your audiences, you’ll be chomping
on the bit to give it to them and your nerves will be
jumping for other reasons! That goes back to the giving
vs . getting issue: If you’ve got value to give but you’re
still more focused on getting their approval, fear will
nail you. But giving great value because you can’t wait
to give it? You’ll be irrepressible!

I truly hope these ideas have given you food for thought
because you have a message to get out there!! You cannot
give fear the power any longer. Take over, take control.
Recognize, again, that it is humiliation you fear, not
public speaking.

So, what’s the worst thing that can happen to you if you’re
humiliated? Really dig deep with yourself there and you’ll
find that the “worst” is simply not worth being a slave to
fear any longer, hiding away what you’ve got to say, and
living a life far smaller than you were meant to live.

Nothing is worth that.

Fear of Public Speaking–Part 1

According to public polls, the fear of public speaking
trumps fear of death, thereby preventing hundreds of
thousands of messages from being brought into the world
every day. As far as I’m concerned, that death is worse
than any other kind. At no time in history have messages
been more important to deliver than right now. Nothing
should keep them from being heard—least of all fear.

So what is this fear, exactly, and why is it so paralyzing?
Well, the truth is, we’re not afraid of speaking in public.
We are terrified of being humiliated.

It’s a subtle distinction, but a very important one because
one thwarts transformation and the other aids it. What can
you do if you’re “afraid of public speaking” except not speak
in public
? But when you speak the truth of it, that you’re
afraid of being humiliated, you can do so much with it!
Like, find out if that fear is true…and worth the silencing of
your message.

I tell my students all the time: your words inform your
, so watch the words that you use. So stop saying,
I’m afraid of speaking in public,” and begin saying, “I’m
afraid of being
humiliated.” When you recognize the difference,
you’ll see that one does not equal the other. The number of
times you will truly experience humiliation, out of all of the
times you will actually speak, is infinitesimal—if it happens
at all.

This week, I’m going to write several posts on this subject,
but for now, let’s look at what contributes to the paralyzing
idea that you will be humiliated in public, and see if, by
weeks’ end, you can turn that fear around.

What Contributes to Our Fear of Being Humiliated In Public:

  1. It’s happened to us. Once upon time, bursting with
    excitement and genius, we bared our psyches only to
    have an adult cut us down, or an event happen, that
    brought our peers to laughter.
  2. We’re mimicking “old school” presenters whose
    techniques perpetuate awkwardness before a crowd,
    which in turn leads us to embarrass ourselves.
  3. We’re self-focused, making us self-important. Rather
    than focusing on giving to the audience, we’re focused
    on getting approval from them. We feel a strong need
    to be perfect and if we aren’t, we experience shame.
  4. We simply aren’t prepared. We don’t know our material
    well enough and we haven’t practiced delivering it.  Once
    in front of a room, we forget, lose our way, and feel deep
    embarrassment because of it.
  5. We’re unsure about the value of our message and so
    we under-deliver (or over-deliver), and that insecurity
    leads us, like a self-fulfilling prophecy, to do something
    we so wish we hadn’t, staining us with humiliation.

Tomorrow, I’ll say more about each of these, so stay tuned! In the
meantime, start admitting to yourself that what you’re really afraid
of is being embarrassed–not speaking in public. This will now
put control back in your hands…as you prepare to share the message
you are here to give!

Some Critical Details When Selling From Stage

Here are some important details about the logistics of making your
offer, and some perspective on “limitations.”


The 3 “Passion-Making” Questions for All Speakers!

Are you an introvert, quiet type, and think you can’t bring my level of passion to your “presentations”? Watch this and tell me that to my face. 🙂


Why Speakers Need to Understand This Brain Cell


As the socially-dominant person in your live events (or teleclass, or meeting, or home), you have immense power…because you activate this neuron in the members of your audience, good or bad. Here’s a question for you:  what do you think has *more* power: YOU or that neuron in the person in the front row?

When you’re done watching me, watch this!

VIDEO TRAINING 3 Live-Event Mistakes From an Internet Guru


I won’t mention his name, but I went into the city last week to see a guy who traverses the country, giving seminars. Here are 3 mistakes he made that I want to make sure you don’t make yourself. When you’re done watching, make a comment or ask a question about the tips. This is a 5-minute video–but think of it as a “mini-training,” and look to see how you could change your own live events.

Leaders of Change: The Future of Entrepreneurship

In my last post, I cracked the moral whip, taking a zero-tolerance
stance on “how-to experts” who earn a living sharing their expertise,
without ever learning the expertise of teaching. I made it clear
that I find doing so irresponsible and glaringly out of alignment with
their professed intention of wanting to help others. No one is being
helped by an expert who doesn’t know how to successfully transfer
knowledge. And I ruffled a few (not many, but a few) feathers,
clearly hitting a nerve.

So, let’s leave morality behind and get practical. Teaching power-
fully is the difference between a message sticking, and a message
evaporating into thin air. Teaching effectively is the difference between
your viewers, readers or listeners taking the action you want them
to, and slipping away into oblivion. Teaching well is the difference
between their buying on the spot, and procrastinating. Contributing,
and making excuses. Participating full-on, and sitting on the bench.
Telling others about you, and remaining silent. If you got triggered
by my wrist-slapping the other day, you can certainly agree with the
common sense fact that teaching well is good for your reputation,
your business and your intention to stimulate action.

But I believe there is a critical purpose to teaching effectively that is
greater than the moral value and the benefits to your business—and
it has to do with the historic times we find ourselves in, and what
they mean for the future of entrepreneurs.

Have you noticed the once-incomprehensible changes that are happening
on the planet right now? Upheavals of almost every kind abound, and
with them come growing fear and uncertainty. And whether you realize
it or not, your role as a business owner is changing, too. Where once,
you were in service to your individual markets—now, you’re in service to
the planet. Your role as entrepreneur is being upgraded to “leader of
I met an 85-year-old woman the other night who was terribly
excited about the GET ON YOUR FEET2011 movement I’ve launched,
and she added a new word to my lexicon: world-citizen. In these times,
we are being called to world-citizenship as businesses.

Which means we will be called forward to lead–on platforms we’ve
never stood on before.

And we must be worthy of that leadership. We must communicate
so potently and effectively, that our words of insight get through, and
move people to change with these changing times. It is essential that
we not waste a breath speaking, unless it impacts. As a leader of change,
everything we convey must count. And that is the most important
reason to teach with powerful effectiveness. Not just because it’s morally
responsible (which it is), or because it will make you more money (which
it will)—but because you are here to achieve something and become a
part of something bigger than you, and its success is imperative.

The “new world” we are so quickly inhabiting will require powerful new
leaders with new-paradigm qualifications
. Teaching with excellence
will be just one.

On Thursday, February 24 at 4pm EST, I am doing something I have
never done. (You’ve heard that one before, right?) I’m serious, though. For
years, I’ve taught a revolutionary public speaking training based on brain
research in memory and learning
. Secrets of Impact and Influence
has been an enduring and highly acclaimed signature program—that I only
give live. Outside that training, I have never so much as whispered to any-
one the secrets I teach there—and all of my attendees have been sworn to
the same code of honor.  But on Feb. 24, I am opening up the Secrets of
Impact & Influence
manual and teaching page 13: The 10 “Don’t-Bother
-Teaching-Without-These” Factors of Deep and Rapid Learning

And because I’ll be using all 10 factors, The Inspired Speakers teleclass is
going to be unlike ANY free call (or paid call!) you have EVER experienced.

If you’re an expert, you cannot miss this. If you’re an entrepreneur, this
is your future
: leaders of change must know this information. So go now,
read all about it and sign up!

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