Motivational Speaker Says Do What Brung ‘Ya: Squelching The Overwhelming Desire To Copy Our Competitors

I do this all the time. I see what another speaker is doing and think “I need to do that.” Suddenly I’m convinced that my stuff is crap, and I need to reinvent. While I am a big fan of reinventing and growing and changing, I’m also a big fan of knowing what we do well and not changing what is working. If I followed through on every desire to copy other speakers, I would be a motivational speaker who juggles, uses puppets, flips onto stage, has a tiger in my act, sings and plays guitar in a cowboy hat and a goatee.

I have to fight the overwhelming desire to copy my competitor. I have to remember that if we copy each other we will all look the same. And it’s not the same our customer wants – it’s different. I have to remember that there is value in what I do – that I’ve already been given the gifts and talents that set me apart. I have to fight the belief that says I’m not good enough and replace it with the one that says I am. And I have to remember the words of one of my favorites in the business, Jeanne Robertson, who once told me (when I called her panicking about a job I didn’t think I was ready for) – “Just do what brung ‘ya.” Great advice.

And to those out there who think you aren’t good enough – you are. To those who think you need to copy your competitor – you don’t. And to those who are freaked out because you think this group may not like what you do – breathe, relax, trust – and just do what brung ‘ya.


Motivational Speaker Kelly Swanson - called one of North Carolina's funniest women by Our State Magazine. Kelly lifts the spirits of audiences from coast-to-coast using humor, storytelling, and lives of the characters from Prides Hollow - Kelly's make believe small town. This unique approach to motivational speaking allows Kelly to break through communications barriers and connect directly to the audience's imagination.
Her powerful stories and wacky wit will make you laugh, remind you that you matter, show you how to see beyond your obstacles, and teach you how to stand up and stick out in a crowded market.
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Motivational speaker Kelly Swanson's website

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  1. Oh yes, Ms. Kelly. Motivational speakers are forever looking “out there” to see who’s doing what and then comparing themselves and invariably falling short.. I’ve been very guilty of that. When I did my impression of Fripp at the NSA conference in ’09, I wasn’t just kidding. I wanted to BE Fripp! Now, I put my head in a different place when I watch great speakers. I think:

    What does what THEY are doing make ME think of? Like if someone is doing a mime routine, maybe it makes me think of a slient film and then I ask myself – where does THAT idea take me next? Then I think of the Artist and how much emotion was conveyed in that film with no words, which makes me think of Charlie Chaplin…… So in other words I could use that original experience of watching the person using mime merely as a launching pad.

    All things that YOU, Ms. Kelly, are BRILLIANT at!

  2. Okay, you both are brilliant motivational speakers who have created original, fun, informative programs to watch. And I know because I’ve been to both! Having said that I wouldn’t be speaking my truth if I didn’t own up to the fact that I too can have those moments where I feel my stuff needs tweaking or changing after watching someone who has blown me away. Then I pull out my mantra (I have a gazillion of these to keep me sane and on path) and say, “Dare NOT to compare. Stay true to you.” Usually works. Great reminder Kelly to simply be who you are as that’s where you’ll discover the greatness.

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