It pays to be nice. As a professional speaker, for over 30 years, I have found this to be true. Don’t believe the hype, even when people tell you that you’re fabulous at what you do.
Years ago, I experienced a wake-up call. I was booked to keynote at a women’s conference at a university known for its great football team who plays on a blue field. In the pre-conference phone calls, the client asked some questions that struck me as very strange. Her first question was, “Do you require a limo from the airport?” After finding out the airport was only 20 minutes from the venue, I told her I didn’t need a hired car – that someone could pick me up, or I would hop into a taxi. She was astonished: “You mean I could pick you up in my Toyota?” I said, “Sure.” She said, “With a baby seat in the back?” I said, “Sure.” She then asked, “What kind of bottled water do you prefer?” I didn’t know the brands of bottled water, never mind the differences between them. I said, “I don’t care. I usually buy my own water, but it’s great that you will provide it.”
There was a pause. I asked, “Where are these questions coming from?” She said, “Well the last speaker we hired from Los Angeles was very particular. She insisted on a limo, and yelled at the conference volunteer staff when they brought her the wrong designer water!” I told her I was shocked. I assured her, “I am not a diva and I certainly don’t act like a celebrity, and I’m always very nice to the staff.” She sounded relieved. Kudos to the power of kindness!
That was the beginning of my reputation as the “No Prima Donnas here” speaker. I arrive early, stay after my speech, and never bring my wheelie suitcase with me into the speaking room, so I can run away quickly right afterwards. And – here’s the most important part: if there are speakers before me that day, I attend. There is nothing worse than the third speaker of the day unwittingly contradicting or repeating what a previous speaker said! So be there on your job, before, during, and after. Then people know you are committed, and you will have their loyalty.
Be smart. From the moment you leave your home, on your way to the office, or to a plane for a meeting, to everyone with whom you interact, all the way through the airport, to checking in at the hotel (you never know who may be in the line – once, someone recognized my voice from an audiotape she had previously purchased) to dealing with hotel staff, your job is to be the nicest person anyone has ever met. Part of being the kindest person anyone has ever met is being on time. Be respectful of people’s time! Your reputation is all you have, and no one wants a Prima Donna. Humility is disarming. And it pays off more than you can imagine.
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