FTC 182 | Professional Speaking

182: Libby Gill On The Road Of Transforming Into A Professional Speaker

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Professional speakers provide great impact and influence on anyone who wants significant success in their lives. In this episode, Mitch Russo talks about speaking professionally with Libby Gill, the Founder and CEO of Libby Gill & Company. Libby shares her inspiring journey involving taking existential turns in her life, all leading her to become the influential coach that she is today. She also talks about some action aspects that anyone aspiring to speak on stage can do to get started. Listen to Libby’s discussion as she breaks down how speakers earn and talks about her giveaway called the  Career Success Academy.

Libby Gill On The Road Of Transforming Into A Professional Speaker

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Growing up on two continents, changing schools eight times and waiting on tables to put herself through college, my guest is no stranger to hard work and adversity. She grew up in a family with mental illness, alcoholism and suicide. She certainly had her own challenges to overcome. She started her career as an assistant in Norman Lear’s company, Embassy Communications. She survived three mergers and emerged as head of PR, advertising and promotion for Sony’s Worldwide Television Network. She grew to that position in five years, moving to Turner Broadcasting and did again. Finally, after all this success, she left the corporate world to start her own consulting and public speaking firm and has been featured on world-class stages for many years. Her clients range from Abbott Labs, Disney, Comcast, Honda, Intel, PayPal, Microsoft and many more. She is the author of five books and a frequent guest on dozens of business and daytime TV shows. She is here to show us just how anyone can make small changes to create massive results. Welcome, Libby Gill.

Thank you, Mitch.

It’s my pleasure, Libby. You have had two lifetimes stuffed into what looks like many years.

I do like to keep busy.

It turns out that you’ve been not busy but incredibly successful as well. Congratulations on that. We can’t wait to hear about how you can help others do the same. Before we do, let’s go back to the beginning and have you tell us a little bit about your entire journey and how you got to be where you are now?

You summed some of it up, but I’ll tell you what happened before I got that job at Norman Lear’s company. I was in grad school. I thought I would be a marriage and family therapist and had there been what’s known now as positive psychology, I would’ve stuck it out. At that point, after growing up in a chaotic family, I thought, “I don’t think I need this chaos.” I dropped out cold, not exactly knowing what to do and I got that job in entertainment. That launched me, although that was also that very day that I started my entertainment job at Norman’s company with the parking space and medical insurance and the whole bit, was when my stepmother who I’d grown up with, committed suicide. I had to call on my first day and I didn’t tell anyone. I said there’s a death in the family and I’ll have to start in a week.

From there, I went back and it’s amazing what loneliness and that sadness will drive you to. At that point, I thought, “I’m going to work hard.” I worked hard. I got to a point years later where I thought, “Did I work hard to get where I did want to go or was this where I’m meant to end up?” It was a long way around, but it was crazy and fun on the studio side. I started launching television shows. I started my first show with Married…With Children. The last show I launched was the Dr. Phil Show. I saw a lot of television along the way and finally decided, “It’s time for a change.”

Libby, I want to go back to something you said. You said that all of this adversity motivated you, but you do realize that for many people, all that same type of adversity would do the opposite. I’m wondering why did you choose to be motivated or was that something that was very natural for you?

Share the credit. Take the blame. Click To Tweet

It was both. I believed that the lesson that you sometimes hear about you can’t choose the events of your life. You can only choose how you react to them. I had this moment after my stepmother died and my family was so off the charts crazy. All of my other siblings, I was one of six had been disowned by that point. It was me to plan the funeral and take care of my dad and do all of those things. When I came home, I was in my little Hollywood apartment and I had what I guess you would call a breakdown. I did what a lot of young and foolish people would do. I got myself drunk on whatever bottle was in the house, which happened to be brandy.

I had inherited one thing from my stepmother and that was a full-length mink coat, which I needed like a hole in the head in Southern California. It wasn’t something I was fond of. I put on that mink coat for the very first time and got blazing drunk and stayed in the hallway of my apartment for an entire weekend until I truly felt this something. I was in that coat. My arms were in the sleeves and it was like something else was in there with me pulling me up off the floor. I clearly heard one of those voices that some of us have experienced saying, “You’ve got work to do.” It said to me so loud and clear, “You’ve got hope and tools to share.” I had no idea what that meant. I thought it was me going nuts. I did get up off the floor. I got my act together and decided I got a job that was something I wanted to do and I’m going to make the best of it. I figured I’d someday figure out what that message was. In fact, I did. That’s become a huge part of my work.

The visual of use in your step-mom’s fur coat, drunk in the hallway of your apartment. I loved that. Now, whenever I think of you, unfortunately or fortunately, I’m going to think of that because of what a great visual. To me what’s so interesting about this is that you are open enough to hear those words. Even while heavily drinking, particularly for someone who never drinks. That’s a good sign. To me, that means that you are tuned into the universe and the universe speaks to you. I know for myself, when I get to that point, I have to remember that the universe is trying to speak to me. For you, it was quite natural and maybe the universe wasn’t speaking to you. Maybe the universe was screaming at you.

I was going to say, it was yelling at me. That’s exactly what it was doing. I’ve always been familiar with that voice. Even as a kid and my dad was a physician and everybody was very scientific. I remember when I was in my teens sneaking a self-help book in and hiding it under the mattress for fear someone would catch it like it was a Playboy or something, but it was Psycho-Cybernetics, which was a big bestseller back in the back in the ‘60s and ‘70s. My family was not in tune with those sorts of things, but I was. I’ve always listened for that guidance. Sometimes I’m fortunate enough to hear it.

I’m a fan of Max Maltz and I loved that book when I read it many decades ago as well. Like you, I remember hearing those things and not being afraid of them at all, but curious. I didn’t know what to do with that curiosity until much later in my life. I didn’t tune into it naturally. I had to learn how to do that. I think that many of us get hints of it. Hopefully, if you follow the lead, you get to hear those voices a little bit more clearly as you grow up. You absolutely did. Once you went back to work, was it one day off?

I had to go from California back to Florida, so I took a week off.

Once you went back to work, what was that like? You’re coming now into work a week later than you thought. You had an absolutely insane situation happened to you and now what’s it like?

It was such a new experience. It was a real grownup job. I was in this PR department. I’m the assistant to the boss, the vice president and I had a lot to learn. I had knocked around Hollywood working as a temp and working on productions, little bits and things here and there. Suddenly, this was the real thing. I had to focus and buckle down. After about three, maybe four months, there was another woman, oddly enough, named Libby in our department. She left to form her own agency. I thought, “If that Libby can do it, maybe this Libby can do it.” I walked into my boss with, as usual, very little experience and said, “I’d like to apply for that job.”

It was the next level up as a show publicist. He said, “You can throw your hat in the ring, but if it doesn’t work out, there’s not going to be a desk job for you. You’re not going to be an assistant anymore.” I said, “I’ll take my chances.” I got the job. After that, every year I got a promotion and until I replaced him. It was hard work. It was paying attention. I wasn’t particularly outgoing or brave as people assume when they see me speak that I’m a diehard extrovert, which is not the case. I’m more of a situational extrovert. I learned to ramp it up, speak up, ask questions, get things done and stay until 2:00 AM if it was required. I worked hard and as they say or we used to say, paid my dues, but I wanted to learn that aspect of the business.

FTC 182 | Professional Speaking
Professional Speaking: To get started on becoming a professional, you have to first find out what you are good and credible at doing.

 

The long hours are required. I don’t care what you say, paying your dues is part of what it takes to get the next level. Sometimes when I speak to people, I wonder if they’re trying to skip that part because without it, you can’t make it. There’s luck, but ultimately not paying your dues, you’re going to fall down later on down the road. How long was it before you had reached this stage? Was it five years?

It was for five years. In five years, I went from being that assistant and a sponge and absorbing everything I could. At that time, there were three different mergers. I was with that little communications company, which was great and had a great founder. It was then bought by Columbia Pictures and that was absorbed. Coca-Cola bought us and it became Sony. In those five years, I had a choice of the dive under the desk and hide out and wait until this transition goes by or raise my hand. I kept raising my hand and thinking, “I’ll figure it out or somebody will know how to do this next thing.” It was not that I knew everything because by the time I got to VP after those five years and three mergers, it was more that I could look at the people around me.

I did hear from the team, some who had twenty years of experience in my five. I was so willing to learn from them and honor them for their knowledge and experience. I was also the one who was willing to be out there in front to take the hits, to ask the questions, to advocate for the team, to deal with the talent. Sometimes that can be a very scary thing. It’s not always the easiest thing to deal with celebrities. That was all my job. It was like I took the hard knocks and I learned very young. My motto was, share the credit, take the blame. I felt as a leader that was what I was supposed to do. It worked for me.

That’s the Dale Carnegie method. I learned that taking the Dale Carnegie sales course in the ‘70s because that’s what he teaches. Whether you realize that then or not, you were taking all of the steps to educate yourself and being a leader and you were. You absolutely led that team. Did Turner Broadcasting come along and pick you up or did you start applying for jobs?

No, they recruited me. At one point, as we often do the corporate world, it’s that, “Let’s do it all in-house. Let’s do it all outsource.” It’s this endless cycle. At one point, the company decided we’re going to downsize and I had to let go of about half of my staff. I was able to hire a few of them back as freelancers, which was great and they were thrilled. At that time, someone high up at Turner had noticed that we were downsizing and called me and said, “Are you looking for work?” I said, “Not really but I’m happy to talk to you.” It was such a good and a step up and something new. They’re based in Atlanta. They wanted someone to set up a West Coast PR office for all of their channels.

I was always a great starter. I love to create things. Maintenance was not so much my thing. I’d like to build a team to do that. I like the vision and the starting, but I had to say to them, “You should know I’m eight months pregnant.” I figured they’d find that out if I flew back there. I got the job and they waited for me for three months. My first child, I took five months off. My second, I took three. I shared that story with a lot of women because they sometimes feel like that’s when you get sidelined when you have small kids or when you’re pregnant or even when you first get married and they think, “She’s going to go have kids.” Sadly, some of that mentality still exists.

I tell people, “A lot of things are possible. You never know until you try it out.” That was a great job for me, but it was short-lived. I didn’t want to move to Atlanta and that was for them, the center of the universe. It was a little too close to where I had grown up and I felt I was like in Southern California and Universal came along. NBC and Universal both offered me the head PR spot at the same time. Although in hindsight it seemed like, “That’s pretty cool, isn’t it? Two big jobs open up and I’m recruited for both.” At the time, I was so angst-ridden like, “I’ve got to make the right decision and how do you do this gracefully?” I relied on a mentor who was a woman in business. She knew what to do and she told me. It worked out and I took the Universal job.

I want to concentrate on now the part that you haven’t told us about yet and that’s where you chose to go out on your own. I know that there are a lot of readers who might be at that spot right now where they work somewhere, maybe their side hustle is something they’re doing in the evening. Sooner or later they’re going to get to that point where they need to figure out, “When is it time to stop working for the man and build my own company?”

That is a tough decision. People do ask me this and it’s a personal decision, but I can tell you what I did. I’d gotten to the point where there truly was nowhere else to go in my discipline. I could have moved to the film side, but that did not appeal. It moves slowly and as high pressure as the television business end is, it’s about 100 times on the film side where you’ve got big dollars and big egos. What I loved and I knew what I loved, was building my team and I always had the biggest and the greenest team of young people because it was very time-intensive what we did. You’d go send one of my youngsters out, they hang out on the set with Married…With Children or Law and Order for days on end. I couldn’t do that. I was dealing with all that. On one phone would be the New York Times, the other is The Wall Street Journal.

You can't choose the events of your life. You can only choose how you react to them. Click To Tweet

That was the level that I was dealing at. I love that process of helping them build their careers. I was good at that. I was a good leader. I always had a line of people that wanted to join my department and work with me, which was truly to me, it didn’t get better than that. Once I have done it, I thought, “How do I take that?” Helping people grow and build their own careers and an element of teaching, training and writing because writing has always been huge on my job. I was helping other people write their stories, not my own. One day, I was offered a bigger job internally and my department was the one that would write the press release, the announcement and take your photo and all that stuff.

My staff went through all that, assuming I was going to take this big job. I had my photo taken, a headshot for the trade papers that they would send out and because it was part of my department. The proofs for that photo, my headshot ended up on my own desk. I didn’t know what it was. I pulled this photo out of the sleeve. It was an 8×10 black and white photo of my face right back from the proofer who had written all the fixes, all the ways he would fix my face, like brighten the dull teeth, whiten the eyes, get rid of the crow’s feet. I looked at that thing and burst into tears. I thought, “I didn’t know the stress was showing quite to that degree, but clearly it was.” That was the last thing. I flew to New York where I was being interviewed for the big job and I turned it down.

More was going on beneath the surface that you haven’t told us about and I know you will. What was going through your mind when you turned it down?

It was that existential turn in life where I felt like I’ve done this job. Officially, I have made myself and I always thought I had something to say. I had made myself the spokesperson for others. I was the one talking other people’s language, making them smarter than they were and putting my own message on hold. It didn’t feel right. My marriage was breaking down at that point. All kinds of things in my life were at this halt. I thought I’ve got to step back and reevaluate. That’s where I thought I have to look at the broad spectrum of my life and get specific about what works and what doesn’t. I measured a lot of things on a 1 to 10 scale because I am not a natural number or measurement person. I make myself do that and I gave myself a scorecard. It wasn’t very good. At the same time, coaching was out there as a new field and I thought, “That ticks the boxes for what I think I’m good at and what I care about.”

You said before you were telling everybody else’s story and not yours. Did you have a story to tell at that point? Did you feel as if what you had to say was not just important, but valuable?

I did as far as the work world. I certainly thought I’ve got a lot to talk about in terms of finding your message and communicating with authenticity. I also didn’t want to stay in that whole PR field. I didn’t want to do that in the traditional way anymore. When I did segue, I thought, “I’m going to go out.” First, I went onto the creative side and I produced for a couple of years. I worked in development. While I was doing that, I knew I was a short termer, but it was that divine protection of the universe that I had this cool job working on reality television shows and all of the big things of the corporate side.

I didn’t have a big staff. I didn’t have the budget. I didn’t have all the headaches because I’d gone down a notch. I was working my way down and sideways. It was so liberating and so much fun working with producers and show ideas and all of that that I thought, “I can do this. I’ve got a lot of creative stuff to do.” I dabbled on the television side. I sold a couple of shows. They didn’t go the distance. That was the end of that. About then, I started writing and I first wrote a parenting book because I looked at so many people in the entertainment and the arts where women were the breadwinners and dads were the caretakers. I wrote the first book on that subject of men staying home to take care of children. I was on a ton of talk shows. A lot of people didn’t like that idea. That started me on my own path. Finally, the company came back to me and said, “You have to make a choice here. Do you want to go do this other stuff or do you want to stay here and sign a new deal?” I said, “I’m going to do this other stuff, but thank you.”

You’re so lucky because someone asked you. It forced you to make a choice. For a lot of people, there’s nobody asking them. They have to strap on the parachute and jump out the plane. You are handed the parachute and said, “What do you want to do? Do you want to jump or do you want to stay on the plane?” You jumped.

I’ll tell you, they gave me a soft landing. They said, “Stay on. Keep your office, review these tapes for us.” I was paid a nice monthly salary to hang around, no longer on staff. As a consultant, to give notes on shows and set up my own business. If you can figure out how to keep your day job while you’re transitioning to that other job, I always call it the day job and the dream job, it was my transition period because I was the sole supporter of my kids. I had to figure that out. I was getting divorced. I had to buy a new house and my dad passed away in that six-month period. It was turmoil, but that was a state I was used to. I was ready to hang out my shingle and be a coach.

FTC 182 | Professional Speaking
Professional Speaking: To be a speaker, you’ve got to be able to do two things well. One is engaging and entertaining the audience and the other is delivering a message that has some significance.

 

At the end of our talk, Libby has something very exciting for you as a free gift. Meanwhile, Libby, you made this transition. You had this wonderful situation where you were able to maintain your office and with a little bit of time, even maintain what sounds like a great salary while you built up your new company. How did you do that? What was the process of starting from new or getting these new contracts going?

I knew enough to know that I had to figure out what the marketplace wanted from me. I started working in brand messaging with experts who didn’t know how to position themselves in the market. I’d done that for a long time. I was helping people look at their selling proposition, their brand, naming their companies. I got into building websites for people because they said, “You know me better than I do.” I started speaking on brands and brand management, but from more of the authenticity standpoint as opposed to the nuts and bolts of social media or website management, any of that. It was, “Who are you and what do you have to share with the world?”

I got my first speaking engagement. By then, I was consulting on the Dr. Phil show and through that world, I had by then written my second book. I had the good fortune that Dr. Phil wrote my foreword for that book, which got me some attention. That book was a bestseller. I was asked to speak at a conference. It was my very first public speaking engagement. I thought, “I’m going to set the bar pretty low. If I don’t faint or throw up on the platform, I’m good.” Fortunately, I didn’t do either of those, but it was 5,000 people with giant screens in this huge ballroom. I worked hard on this speech and how to get there. After that, I thought, “I made it. Maybe this is going to keep rolling in.” I realized what a fool I was because no, you have to work at building that speaker side of your business.

Libby, I have a question. When they offered you that speaking position, did you ask them whether it was a paid position or did you say, “Great, I’ll do it” without even finding out?

I knew that one was a paid speaking engagement. I’ve done a number of workshops. By this point, I had been testing out the workshops. I looked at what I knew, which was the branding and also career transition and that it started with Hollywood. There were only six jobs like mine in the business at the time. I’d left it voluntarily, which doesn’t happen very often. People came to me to say, “How do you get into this business,” or sometimes “How do I get out of this business and do something else?” That started the coaching practice, which started the writing, which started the speaking and it went from there.

Libby, now it’s time to show us how to do it because you did it in a very unique way and not everyone is going to do it the same way as you obviously. What I would like to see here is I would love to find out what actionable things that the average person who aspires to speak from the stage can do right now to get themselves started.

There are three questions for any entrepreneur. For me, to have the life that you want and the career that you want, one is what are your passions? What do you care enough to work this hard on? Next, what are your strengths and skills? Third, what does the marketplace want from you? When all of those line up, life is great. Your work becomes your play and vice versa. It’s first finding out, what are you great at? What can you claim expertise in? You, for example, Mitch, can tell people how to get their first thousand clients.

It doesn’t end there. It’s how to build, how to scale and how to create a great business, all of that. You have to decide, what have I done in the past that gives me the credibility to share that with others? That’s the first step. For example, I have a client who is an employment attorney. She’s jumped into the #MeToo Movement, harassment claims and all these things and she helps people learn how to do workplace investigations. It doesn’t sound very pretty or maybe not even sexy, but it’s something every corporation needs. She turned her expertise, lawyer, JD, knows how to do these kinds of investigations on how to help companies prevent those problems. It’s taking your expertise, translating it to the audience that you want to be in, whether that’s entrepreneurs or maybe it’s a health and wellness or women’s audience or in my case, in the corporate world.

It is nuts and bolts after that. You have to have a website. That’s the most important sales tool you have. You have to have a speaker video. What I tell people who want to get started is to figure out your message. What is it you have to teach, to train, to share? Come up with a topic or two and go out and speak for free. I did that. A lot of people do that. It’s better to speak for free than to take a low fee and lock yourself in. Go out and speak at your Rotary club or any organization that you are a part of and hone your message and hone your delivery from the platform. You’ve got to be able to do two things well. One is engaging and entertains the audience and the other is delivering a message that has some significance.

Charging under a couple thousand does not get you into the real leagues of professional speakers. Click To Tweet

You work on that and you get as much video as you can. You build a reel. That’s not about you or your background. I’ve had to explain this to some people. There’s a little bit about why are you credible to share this? It’s about the results that people have once they hear you. As you build those pieces, you go out and you test the waters. You find out, did that topic work? You get feedback from people. You look at the video. You hear what your critics have to say. You plant some people you know so they will give you absolutely truthful feedback. Most people don’t want to hurt your feelings and you don’t always hear from the audience. You begin to gauge what you need to work on and what you need to change. I’ve changed my website. I’m probably on about the tenth version of my website. I’ve changed my topics. As I’ve written more books, I’ve incorporated new and different things. You begin to build both the business side of the speaking and the messaging side.

You said the three questions are, what are your passions, what are your strengths and skills and what does the market want from you? When you gave us an example of that lawyer, is that her passion? It didn’t sound to me like that was something that anybody could be passionate about. I could see that it would be her strengths and skills. I could see that the market would want that. Did she skip that or is that truly her passion?

No, here’s the thing. She went from being an attorney, a partner in a firm, a nice job, good money and all that stuff to teaching seminars that she felt empowered bosses, empowered women. She did it on her own. She was no longer part of an organization. She didn’t have to follow the rules of the firm. She was her own boss and entrepreneur. She had to build that credibility. She started to have some fun with it. She went out and did a TED Talk. She took a song and got the rights to it and reworded the whole thing and had a band do it for her. She gets people up on stage dancing. It has morphed into something that’s her personality and her sparkle that’s still got this message. Now it’s morphed into diversity and inclusion. She happens to be a Caribbean black woman. She’s in a minority class both in terms of being a woman and being black. She’s out there teaching people how to include others, how to truly build a diverse board or organization. She’s having a ball now. You have to sell what you’ve got until you can create that next phase of it.

You said to teach, train and share, have a couple of topics and speak for free. Libby, I’ve already spoken for free. I now charge $75 for a speech. I’m slowly raising my rate. Maybe it will go to $125, I’m not sure yet. I have to see. While on that topic, how much does somebody charge and how much should they?

A lot of people that are starting out, if you’re charging under a couple thousand, you’re not going to get into the real leagues of professional speakers. Hone your talk, find some audiences and charge around $5,000 as a beginner. Incrementally or by big jumps, as you begin to book more and more, you move that up, move up your next jump to $7,500 then to $10,000 then you’re up to $15,000. As you add a lot of companies, people look at the company logos that I have on my website and they see, “There’s most of the Fortune 500 right there. She must know what she’s doing if they’re hiring her.” That’s a great credibility builder. You get your video testimonials from people saying what impact you had on their group.

If you’re fortunate enough to have a New York Times bestseller, which frankly I have not yet, but I’ve had a bestseller, it can take you into another league. You begin to build and you move up. You have to look at what you’ve got. That’s about the point. When you’re starting to take clients away from the bureau and you’re out there booking things on your own, the speakers’ bureau comes knocking on your door and saying, “Can we book you for this and book you for that?” To me, it’s ideal to have clients that come to you directly. Honda comes along directly and says, “Would you speak at this conference?” or a speakers’ bureau comes along and says, “Can we book you for this client?” If you’ve got a good mix of both of those and some people do either one or the other, I happen to do both, you can begin to build that speaking.

You mentioned your books and the fact that you have five books, that’s got to help, but does somebody need to have written books in order to speak from the stage?

I don’t think you have to have, if you’ve got a compelling message, it speaks to a specific audience. The image, your brand, your website and your video that you have says, “This person has something to say and we want it. It’s not just a nice to have, but we’ve got to have him or her at our next event,” then you can do it. Very quickly, you need to get that eBook written and to have that as a giveaway and expand that to a real book. There’s no stigma in self-publishing. There used to be when that was considered, it was called vanity press way back. Now, as long as it’s a real book with real content and it’s well written and edited, it doesn’t matter who publishes it.

Now, a self-published book is as credible as about any other. The game is out. People know that the big publishers are only in it for themselves. If you’re going to be published by Prentice Hall, it’s because either you bought 5,000 books out of your checking account or you have this huge stage and audience to sell from because there’s no charity in the book publishing business.

FTC 182 | Professional Speaking
Professional Speaking: The only thing to do when you feel like you’re at that impasse or that slow period is to get into action.

 

In fact, in self-publishing, you could do it cheaper and you can control all of it. There’s a lot to be said for going that route. It’s a lot faster as well.

Here we had talked a little bit about the book and the effect that it has on your reputation, the way that you build your speaker’s story. Let’s shift gears here. What attitude do you have when you’re sitting there in your office and it’s the end of the day and I know this isn’t now, but I know back then it might’ve been days or even weeks where you had no speaking events booked. Talk to me about mindset.

For me, the only thing to do when you feel like you’re at that impasse or that slow period is to get into action. It’s those old sales where you put your intention or attention is what gets you the results. It took me about a decade to think, “There is a little bit of an ebb and flow to this business.” When the speaking side slows down, that’s my opportunity to get newsletters and blogs bank, to reach out and get some articles written and to do those other things because I know that’s going to feed that side of the business. Plus, I’m a curious person like you, Mitch. I always want to see what’s new and what’s next. It’s a great time to read. I’ve been reading up on executive functioning, how do I help people who have deficits and in terms of understanding context, color and nuances on the job? How can I help them? There’s always so much to learn. If you love your business, you use that time instead of freaking out that no one’s ever going to call again or that you don’t know who else to reach out to learn something new.

Libby, I know that when you speak from the stage, you are ready to make an offer to the hosts that brought you in. I don’t mean the agency, but the company that brought you in with a follow-up program. Can you tell us a little bit about that and the importance of it?

I do. I believe that when you give a keynote, if you can get somebody to move into action, it is fabulous. Sometimes in 45 minutes, I’ve done as little as twenty minutes, all you can do is introduce an idea and suggest that they take it home with them. It’s ten modules and ten little videos that give you that snapshot of your life. How’s it working in my family and my marriage? How are things with my finances? How’s my self-care and health? It’s a little check-in that you can do to say, “How is it working in all these areas?”

I have people rank the same way I do my coaching clients, rank yourself on a 1 to 10 scale in this area. You give yourself a 2 or 3, that’s something you may need to pay attention to your finances or there may be a need to pay some attention to your health and your self-care. Fun and recreation, when I first started doing this, it was one of the lowest with executives. I was shocked by how few people in these high charging jobs were having any fun. I created this video series so people can go to it afterward and say, “I’m going to do that. I’m going to rank myself. I’m going to pick a couple of areas where I’m going to set some actions and move that into high gear.”

What we’re saying here is never offer anything for sale unless you have something to follow up with it and that’s what you did. That’s what you do. It’s a great formula. Well done on that. I’m sure it’s working out well. I look forward to seeing all the things that follow. Libby, we’re at the point in our interview where we’re going to transition in a different direction. This is the section where I get to ask you a couple of questions and we use the questions as almost like an X-ray into a little bit about the way you think and sometimes the way you feel. Here’s the first question. Who in all of space and time would you like to have one hour to enjoy a walk in the park, a quick lunch or an intense conversation with?

Without a doubt, my person and I’d need somebody with us and you’ll understand why, is Helen Keller. She is one of the people I admire the most because she overcame the kinds of adversities that years ago, even in her time in the ‘20s and ‘30s would have been enough to write her off. She was, in fact, the first deaf-blind person ever to graduate from college. She applied to Harvard and they wouldn’t take her because they didn’t take women, so she went to Radcliffe. She ended up traveling the world. She was politically active. She advocated not for people with disabilities, which she helped change laws on that, but she had this impact on human rights and women’s rights. She was a suffragette. When people think, she’s blind and deaf from eighteen months old and yet, look at what she accomplished. My thought is, “If that’s what she was working with or against, what might we all be able to do with the gifts that we’ve been given?”

It would be a fantastic moment to be able to ask her that. I have a feeling and I don’t know this, but I would bet that she’s been asked that before. There may be articles or interviews of her, through her person who helped her translate. I’m wondering if that research would be available. I would love to find that out myself.

Putting your intention or attention is what gets you the results. Click To Tweet

If you google Helen Keller, her companion for many years who was depicted in the movie, The Miracle Worker, was Anne Sullivan and she’s the one who famously taught her how to spell water in her hand, which was a true story. She went on to write a lot about her. Helen Keller wrote many books.

How did she write? Do you know? I’m curious, a person who’s so disabled, how would they write a book?

I don’t know that. I should know that and I don’t, but I believe she worked with Anne who stayed on as a companion long after she was a teacher and recorded a lot of her work for others.

Readers, we’re about to ask Libby the last question, the grand finale question, but I want you to stick around because Libby has something very special, something she’s alluded to during this conversation for you at no costs. Libby, this is the grand finale, the change the world question. What is it that you are doing or would like to do that truly has the potential to literally change the world?

The number one disease in the world, which most affects the workplace, happens to be depression. Most people don’t know that but that’s a fact. Having grown up in a family where we were clearly touched by suicide, my brother has lived with schizophrenia since he was eighteen years old. I was a college professor for many years. I would like to de-stigmatize mental illness to help people with issues of mental health, whether they’re severe or much less on that scale could be honest and open about them without fear of that added pressure of the fear of being found out or revealed. To have to deal with that on top of managing the illness itself seems such an undue burden.

In fact, I’ve always said I wanted my legacy to be some advocacy in mental illness. Lo and behold, you’d put these things out and I had a friend from my universal days pop up and say, “Could you serve on the board of this organization called Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services?” They founded the first suicide hotline in the country and have now been a worldwide model for others to establish hotlines. They also give mental health services all through Southern California to low income and indigent people. It’s an amazing work. I’m honored to be part of it.

It’s also a great lesson in asking and receiving. You asked. Whether you asked verbally or whether you simply set it into the universe that this would be something you’d like to help with. Here it shows up right there on your doorstep. That’s a great story. I’m so glad you told me.

That was out there to the universe and it got answered.

I’ve been promising throughout this entire interview that you have something cool to give away. It’s awesome. Why don’t you tell us a little bit about your free giveaway?

The giveaway is the Career Success Academy. In the very first module, there are six modules. This is how I made all of my transitions. This is how I made my career, my life transitions. What I was talking about, where are you now? Can you measure what’s working and what’s not? The idea is not to fix everything overnight but to work on the things that feel urgent and important to you. Once you’ve got that to go on to create a real blueprint for success in both work and life and I’m giving away ten videos. There are little mini videos along with this downloadable assessment where you can literally put your score in the box and say, “Here’s how I’m doing on finance, here’s how I’m doing with family, here’s how I’m doing on my health and here’s how I’m doing in my marriage or with my significant other.” You can put a number on that and identify your next action in each of those areas. It’s not like you’re going to go from 1 to 10, but if you can go from 2 to 3 or 6 to 7, you put yourself on that path where you are progressing towards your ideal end result.

Thank you so much on behalf of readers for that. Libby, this has been great. You’ve taught a lot of readers exactly the path you’ve taken. I would say that you’ve given us some actionable steps here. I want to thank you again for doing so. Readers, take advantage of this. This is not rocket science. It’s a step-by-step process. Go out there and change your life and use Libby as an example. She’s certainly done it and you can too. Thank you so much and I cannot wait until we get a chance to talk again soon.

Thanks, Mitch.

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