There Is No Such Thing As A Big Break

storyteller Kelly SwansonTo All Of You Aspiring Motivational Speakers: Stop Sending People Your Stuff

Okay, I need to take a moment today to vent a little. Yes, even motivational speakers can't be positive all the time. It's just that I'm a tiny bit overwhelmed at the amount of stuff people send me. By "people" I mean speakers and by "stuff" I mean, well, stuff. It's not that I mind getting stuff – don't get me wrong. And it's actually kind of flattering that people think I'm somebody. And if I have agreed to write a testimonial for you, or read your book, it's because I want to.  You're not the ones I'm talking to. I'm talking to all the people out there ( not just keynote speakers ) who think their path to success comes with meeting the right people.  I am fully convinced that there are no "people".

Yes, you heard me right. THERE ARE NO PEOPLE.

There are no magic people that you need to get in front of. There is no illusive Oz behind the green curtain who you need to meet.  Yes, there are agents, but your time is wasted trying to get in front of them. Some may disagree with me – it certainly won't be the first time. But unless you KNOW beyond a shadow of a doubt, that you have something that agent/bureau needs that they don't already have – then you are wasting your time.

Perhaps there was a day when it was all about who you know. And I'm sure that knowing people these days helps. If you already know them. But most of us don't. And thanks to the internet, we don't need to. We have the best tool for getting ourselves out there thanks to the internet. THAT is how you get people to notice you. That is where you send your stuff. That is where you find a big break. Except that it won't be a big break.

There Are No Big Breaks In This Business – Only Lots of Tiny Little Breaks That Don't Happen By Accident

Just the other day I got a big job because someone with big money happened to be sitting in another job I did for peanuts. My first instinct was to chalk it off to good luck and the coincidence of being in the right place in the right moment. But that's simply not true. There was nothing accidental or lucky about my doing that job for peanuts. It was no coincidence that I practiced my speech over and over just to make sure it was going to be great. And it wasn't sheer fate that the person walked away remembering me and reaching out later to book me. It wasn't luck – it was the result of work – hard work – and not just in one step, but lots of teeny tiny little steps that often felt like one step forward, three steps back.

It's Not Luck That Gets You Noticed – It's Work. Success Isn't About Being In The Right Place At The Right Time – It's About Getting In Line Over and Over and Over Again.

The winner of American Idol isn't lucky or the recipient of a "big break." We just saw the moment when their career took a major turn. The video that went viral on YouTube didn't get lucky at the one millionth hit – but the 999,999 hits that led up to it.

So stop sending your stuff out to people you think should notice you. Spend that time and energy sending your stuff out to the world. Showing them that you are here. Creating fans yourself. Creating a name for yourself. Putting your talent on the line. Letting the world make you big.

Find Mentors Not Magic Beans.

Get Advice Not a Hand Up.

Do the Work Instead of Looking for People To Do Your Work.

And Have Fun. Believe In Yourself. Show The World That You Are Here, And If You Have Something They Need – They'll Notice.




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. Sing it sister!  You are so right.  Finally, after 20 years of working full time as a motivational keynote speaker, I'm getting some momentum.  The phone is just now starting to ring. Just this morning, I told Frenchie over breakfast "This is what success feels like". It makes all of those showcases, networking events, speeches for 'exposure' all worth it!  The thing that I'm most grateful for? The grace to stay positive when I had nothing on the calendar. When I say nothing, I mean nothing on the calendar as we lived off of our 401K.  So I am in total agreement with you – work hard, work on your craft, keep your customer in mind when customizing a great message, and deliver it like a rock star.  People will notice and your phone will ring.  

  2. Vent anytime, Kelly!  Your words always strike a chord with me and where I am in my speaking career AND life.  I only have one exception to what you've said:  I'm grateful to know YOU!!!

  3. I love when you get all fiesty and speak your truth! As a tortoise who slowly plods forward working hard to get better and better in everyway (yours truly), keep speaking it, Kelly. There are no shortcuts – or we'd have found them by now!! Your message is a beautiful reminder to all of us to keep giving our gifts to the world. Even the winner of Idol this season, like you said, got in line over and over again before she won. Well blogged!

  4. Thanks ladies. As motivational speakers, I think we have all learned that very little in business happens as the result of getting lucky, 

  5. I believe it was the stellar speaker, Joe Calloway who said something to the effect that if you want to work more as a motivational speaker, then the first thing you have to do is deliver a great speech. But like you, my experience is that a lot of people want to skip that part. They want to be a great keynote speaker  just by knowing other speakers and hoping they will refer them. Hmmm. My experience tells me that surely isn't the way it works.  Yes, some of my amazing, brilliant wonderful speaker friends recommend me for jobs, but I hope it's because I have earned that recommendation because I do good work, not because I just hang around them. Or give them my stuff.  Well, said, Ms. Kelly.

  6. As someone who often finds myself at the "back of another line", I watch others scurry around and try to find a short-cut to get "up there" faster.  Honestly, there are days when I am tempeted to spend my time looking for loopholes, and I MAY have even sent up a candle wish (or two) for a fairy godperson to POOF me a few breaks.  But the fact is, when I do get up on that stage, it is me and my message that need to be rock solid and clear.  And the only way I am able to move others as a motivational keynote speaker, is by standing in line and working on my craft and living this life complete with stumbling-blocks, and creating my own breaks by showing up.   You cannot learn to dance in the rain without getting your feet wet a little!   

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