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I was at the Art of Small Business yesterday, a conference with a $349 ticket that had famous speakers like Brett Wilson (Dragon’s Den) and Michael E. Gerber (The E-Myth books). I learned quite a few things I want to share with my own peeps and even got an apology from the great Gerber himself. Here’s what I learned:
You Can Reach Anyone, Even A Celebrity
When I tweeted about Michael Gerber heckling people and joked that I was afraid to visit the washroom for fear of being assaulted, I never expected that he would see my comment. Low and behold, the same night I saw his apology. I’ve met numerous high profile, hard to reach people on Twitter because 1. it’s not as populated as LinkedIn or Facebook and 2. when you keep tweeting about a person using their handle and keep doing it, they take notice. If you’re trying to reach someone important, what are you waiting for?
Age Equals Power
When Michael Gerber got up and said he’d do the exact opposite of every previous speaker (which meant all of them) on stage, he wasn’t kidding. He refused to give a how-to list (although he did end up having a list). He refused to be nice, heckling people getting up to leave the audience during his speech. He proudly stated his age-77. Now the man definitely had a style and he had confidence. Every time he’d say something controversial, he’d state “I’ve been around”. So yes, I learned that if I’m still public speaking at 77, I can pull off all that and more on stage.
Millionaires Neglect Their Families
The most interesting part of Brett Wilson’s talk for me was when he recounted the story of how he’d work harder, the more his marriage fell apart. He talked about how his priorities were money and big cars while his own children didn’t know him. He said he needed lots of therapy and reworking his life to find his new normal. A man in the audience stood up and asked ‘is it possible to be a millionaire and have a great family life’ and Brett’s answer was pretty much ‘no’. Interesting…
Paid Speakers Also Sell From The Stage
I know from talking to promoters that these celebrities were getting paid between $10K and $25K for their 1 hour speaking engagement. What was also interesting to me was how they were selling a product or a service while they were also getting paid to speak. Jonathan Fields offered a free mind map download with a link to his website. Most others offered to stick around for questions. Others had book signings. I once heard Marcus Buckingham say that he only made $25K on stage but at the end of the hour long talk, that he’d sold $250K worth of training while doing it. Mark my words: Public Speaking is the best way to build any business.
Free Tickets Are The New Black
After determining that none the 30 or so friends that I ran into at the event had paid for their supposed $349 ticket, I was onto the organizers’ game. The event was simply a paid vehicle for sponsors Visa, KPMG and UPS to gather and market to 250 small business owners. It’s brilliant really. How much better was their reach than TV advertising? How much could they interact with the small biz owners one on one rather than be PVR’d off their screen? Clever, very clever.
So if you’re trying to grow your small biz, learn from the masters like I did and next thing you know, you’ll be holding your own event and apologizing to someone in your audience!
Need more chicken soup for your biz? Follow me on Twitter, friend me on Facebook, watch me on YouTube or connect with me on LinkedIn –and let’s talk

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