When giving keynotes, my mission is quite simple. I just want to help my audience build their resilience, reputation and revenue. However, during a recent speaking engagement at Last Vegas, a series of mishaps and meaningful interactions taught me the same lesson.
And I know, “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas,” but sometimes the experiences are too good to keep to yourself. Especially if my story helps you avoid common pitfalls and build your business.
Here’s what I learned.
You have to advocate for yourself
The Berkshire Hathaway Conference took place in Las Vegas. Honestly I’m not the biggest fan of Vegas since I got married, I don’t drink and I don’t gamble. So it’s not quite the “adult playground” I’m looking for.
However, I had a pleasant surprise upon arrival at the airport. I ran into a good friend from college, Anne Magur, who I haven’t seen in almost 10 years. We caught up for a few minutes before parting ways, I then boarded a Lyft on my way to my hotel.
Then I was hit with a not so pleasant surprise. When I tried to check in I was told my hotel room was no longer available. Why? My hotel was booked from March 26 to March 29. I arrived on March 27, so they gave my room away.
Should I have noticed and corrected this in advance?
And I should note that the organizers later kindly expressed their empathy for my situation and let me know that I could call them immediately if something similar ever happened again.
Back to my story. The front desk clerk then proceeded to tell me that the hotel was fully booked, but that the Horseshoe hotel may have rooms available.
It’s past midnight now and I’m tired after flying from New York City. I’m definitely not walking around Las Vegas hoping to find a hotel room when one was already booked for me. I asked to talk to her manager about it. She said I couldn’t but she would do it for me. Two minutes later she came back with the same answer “There are no rooms available, try the Horseshoe”.
I’m going to fast forward a little bit. She went back and forth between me and her manager for ten minutes before the manager suddenly found me an open room at the hotel. Was I annoyed? Yes, but the situation was resolved and venting wouldn’t help. Instead, I just asked her manager a simple question.
“Why did this have to be so hard?”
And I am sure you will have to ask yourself that same question in the very near future. Perhaps it has to do with a customer taking forever to pay, or being disrespected in a meeting.
You will want to give up. Do not.
Instead, advocate fiercely for yourself and demand the respect you rightfully deserve.
My friend and award-winning social video expert, Kim Ritberg, spoke at the same conference. She stepped in earlier that day and recorded a short video of the event. I watched it while unpacking in the hotel room.
The video was great, but this caught my eye; all boys wore blazers, most wore suits. I planned on wearing sneakers, BYLT pants that look like slacks, and a hoodie. But when I saw all those guys in suits, I started to doubt myself.
I was tempted to run out and see if I could buy something that would allow me to fit more. I even thought to myself “a lot of people get married unexpectedly in Vegas, there must be somewhere to buy a suit in the middle of the night.”
And if you go along, the answer is “yes”. That same man who didn’t look for a hotel room at midnight suddenly felt compelled to go shopping at 1am.
But then it hit me. These people all paid to see me on stage. I’m a keynote speaker, I deserve to be here, and I can’t provide the experience they’re looking for if I don’t feel comfortable.
Back to you.
There will be times when you feel like you have to change who you are to fit in. Maybe it’s the way you dress, do your hair, or how you talk.
You will want to conform. Do not.
The best version of yourself is all you need to be, but you can’t if you pretend to be someone else.
After my presentation, a man in a very nice suit walked up to me.
I was immediately disarmed by what he said; “Nice shoes, I need to start wearing sneakers too. These events are great, but my shoes are so uncomfortable that sometimes I skip sessions because I don’t want to walk that far.”
He went on to tell me how much he appreciated the session I was leading and that he was looking forward to sharing key points with his team.
Normally I would have said something along the lines of “That’s so great to hear, I’m glad you found value in my session….” But then I thought to myself; this is the perfect opportunity to pitch your LinkedIn training program. Just bring it up and see what happens.
I threw it on my LinkedIn training program and he had only one question: “Can you lead it remotely?”
That is it. No questions about costs, references, none of that. I already proved my worth on the podium and he was ready for more.
Sometimes you’re afraid to pitch a prospect or collaboration opportunity. Don’t let that stop you. If you ask, the answer is yes or no. But if you don’t ask, the answer will definitely be no.
Listen to the full episode below.