My personal challenge to you

It has always been my passion and life’s work to teach and speak about business. It’s been about 35 years since that day I stood before a small group of business owners and fumbled my way through a three-hour presentation. I could barely sleep the night before as fear and insecurity did their best to chip away at my confidence and determination. In the moments just before the class, that little voice in my head was screaming, “You’ve got nothing to teach these people – you’re not a public speaker.” But I did it. I found a way to get all the butterflies in my gut to at least fly in formation, went to the front of the room, and began what was to become my chosen career as a public speaker and trainer.

I pushed myself to find speaking opportunities that would challenge me to mature as a professional speaker. It didn’t matter if it was a small workshop, a full- or multi-day seminar, or a keynote presentation to a packed conference ballroom, I relentlessly put myself into situations that would challenge me and force me to grow. I was going through the process of “finding my voice” – that unique way to connect with my audience. I found it – and to this day I still work to perfect it.

Woo hoo! I became a public speaker. The next challenge was to figure out how make a living at it. I will never forget getting that first paid gig. I got paid $250 and all that did was confirm that there was value to what I offered. Then I went to $500, then $900. Laboriously, I kept raising my fees until I hit $2,400. That was when a mentor of mine kind of smacked me in the head and said, “Why are you charging $2,400 for a $4,500 presentation?” My first reaction was that little voice saying, “You? $4,500? No way.” I pushed through that insecurity and found myself challenged to raise the level of my game to not only justify a fee of $4,500, but to go further. Today, my keynote speaker fee is $7,500 – $10,000, depending on location, audience size and degree of customization. I could not have imaged this when I began this voyage.

Before you run out and sign up for Toastmasters, this truly isn’t about the money. The money is merely a measurement of where I’m at in the world of public speaking. Just for the record, before I die, I intend to deliver a $25,000 keynote address to an audience of a few thousand. Then again, it would be pretty sweet to do ten or twelve of those a year. You see, after 35 years of doing the work I do, it’s still all about the challenge. It’s still all about feeding my passion and pushing myself to do better.

So here’s my challenge for you: If you deliver a service, I challenge you to double your fees. (I hope my accountant and attorney aren’t reading this.) If you make or sell a product, I challenge you to build in so much value that you can double your sales or selling price. Whatever work you do, I challenge you to set your sights on achieving a grand prize that ignites and feeds the work you are passionate about. Hey, maybe it’s a different career entirely. Only you can define what that special something is that will be your personal defining moment.

Warning: That little voice of insecurity and self-doubt is probably already doing its thing to keep you in your comfort zone box. You can allow that voice to keep you what you are. Or, you can, just like my mentor did to me many years ago, begin believing that you are capable of doing extraordinary things – and begin charging what you’re worth.

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Please share your thoughts with me about today’s Monday Morning Wake-Up. Click above to comment.

Neil Ducoff, Founder & CEO of Strategies and author of No-Compromise Leadership

Pass this e-mail on to your business colleagues, managers and friends. They’ll appreciate it.


1 Response to “My personal challenge to you”

  1. March 7, 2011 at 10:17 am

    Charging what I think I’m worth. Taking my prices up. It’s scary, but I’ll do it. Thank you!

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