The Day Of The Diva Is Over

I've suspected it for a while, but now I'm sure. The day of the diva in my business is over. Sure, they once had a place in the lineup of successful business people, and there are still a few of them out there going strong. But I believe that as a whole, having a diva attitude (I don't need to define it – you know exactly what I mean) is not what wins out over the competition. I believe that people do business with people they like – and they don't like divas – they like people who talk with them, listen, understand, and serve with a genuine attitude of service over self. They don't want us to play hard to get. They want us to answer the phone. I can not tell you how many people say that part of the reason they hired me was because I was so easy to work with, and because I not only returned their call, but actually answered my phone – despite the fact that I have been advised on more than one occasion to let others answer my phone, so as not to appear needy. Well, maybe needy didn't serve me well during my dating years (pause to reflect and grimace) but it serves me well now. And a testimonial letter I received in the mail today proves it. I'm putting a link to the letter which we now have on our website. No need to read it all unless you are just bored. But scan down to the line where they talk about me answering my phone. If I wasn't sure before, I'm sure now – the one who serves best wins. Divas need not apply. (PS If you're reading this and thinking I'm calling you a diva – I'm not.  But we can all stand to step out of ourselves and see how our actions might be coming across in a diva-like manner.)  (PPS  And it's not just about answering the phone. There's a bigger business application than that.)

Swiss Re Testimonial


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.
To book motivational speaker Kelly Swanson:
Motivational speaker Kelly Swanson's website

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  1. As I just answered my phone while addressing a label on a package that needs to get to the post office, I smiled while reading this. I'm forever grateful I grew up with scrappy, tough parents who taught me early to swirl a toilet, cut grass or do whatever was necessary to get the job done. It has only served me throughout my life and when I land in that middle airplane seat back in coach after struggling to find space for my carry-on, I'm proud, happy and excited to be there. It means I get to go do what I love. To all the motivational speakers in the world that aren't high-maintenance – high five!! (Like all my friends who write this blog!)

  2. Sing it, sister!!!  And I'll just bet you that there are divas out there in ALL industries, not just in the motivational speaking world. This is tremendous advice for everyone!  

  3. And there is not one single diva bone in either of your bodies. That's why I love you.

  4. Thanks Kelly for posting this.  I too, strive to be as 'non-diva' as possible.  Let me add my two cents.  I was at an event where the speaker before me had the meeting planner add a stage – a real stage, not a postage stamp size stage – right before he spoke.  Apparently there are a lot of interpretations of what a 'stage' looks like.  I watched him work, and I silently said to myself that he was being a bit pushy and maybe a bit 'diva' like. (Is there a male version of the word?) I remember thinking I could never be like that.  Then, after the event was over, we talked and I asked him why he was so insistant.  He told me because of his presentation, he needed the bigger stage and his performance was not going to be as effective had they not changed the stage.  I've never forgotten that.  Yes, I want to be easy to work with and not be diva-like ever.  But, I also want to make sure that what I ask for is for the ultimate benefit of the customer – the audience.  This begs the question, when do you go with the flow and when do you put your foot down or insist on something being changed last minute? I'm open for discussion from my non-diva friends!!

  5. I totally get that, Marilyn. Sometimes we know better than our client about how to make it the best experience possible. And perhaps the client was fine with what this guy did – and it was only you who walked away thinking he was a diva? Not really sure.

    I guess the best thing to do is to communicate to your client that you want to do whatever you can to make this event ROCK – and here are some ways that you know will enhance the experience.   I had a case where I mentioned in the contract that it helps to have the audience able to see me – so sometimes putting me on some sort of raised platform would help ensure that everybody can see me.  I get there and they had a huge stage set out in front of the platform with the head table. When I commented on how cool it was, the President of the Association rolled her eyes and said, "Well, you told us we had to have it." And she got this look that told me she was ticked off. Considering the fact that I did that job for less than half of what I usually get paid (long story) – I decided not to worry about, figuring the least they could do was put up a stage so people could see.

    But after that I have worked twice as hard to make sure I'm easy to work with.  One client said that their speaker the year before me was HIGH MAINTENANCE, asked for all sorts of lighting requests, water at a certain temperature, and a couple of other things. The client obviously had a bad taste in her mouth.  But I still get that there are things we know could be done to make the program better.   Tough call.  But if our motive is to serve and we work to make sure our words reflect that – then we'll probably be okay.  We can't always control how someone perceives our actions. But we can certainly control whether we ask for a certain thread count on our sheets, and what kind of wine we want in our green room.

    Unfortunately, it's always the ones who aren't divas who are worried about being seen as divas. The others won't ever read this post.


  1. […] when my friend and colleague, Kelly Swanson, wrote this provocative blog post proclaiming that the Day of the Diva is Over, I thought she was talking directly to me. […]

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