The Book Is Live!

13 Aug

Speaking on the Side is now available for purchase. (Told you it was launching soon.)

Here are your options:

Have fun!

If You Want To Get Paid To Speak, Don’t Do This

16 Mar


How many of you have landed a speaking engagement and not gotten paid for it? In Speaking On The Side, I talk about this a lot. The past two weeks, I’ve been re-reading the manuscript before shipping it off to my editor, and there are some nuggets about this subject that keep rising to the top:

1 – Don’t call on people who can’t pay you to speak. Sounds obvious, right? Yet, many of us aspiring speakers hope that, somehow, if we really get in tight with the event planner at the local YMCA she’ll find a budget for us. Sure, it could happen. Also, a meteor could strike Earth and destroy civilization as we know it. But it’s not likely.

2 – Don’t assume they want you to speak for free. In the book, I tell the story of how I landed one of my first paid speaking gigs. It was total luck. I was hoping to speak just for the marketing exposure; the meeting planner, fortunately, had other ideas. Next time someone asks you to speak at their event, pretend they have a budget and that you’re worth every penny. See what happens.

3 – Don’t confuse paid speaking with marketing. For every speaking opportunity, you have to ask yourself, “Am I taking this gig to promote my business/employer/day job? Or am I doing it to build my speaking practice?” I know you want to say, “Both!” But you can’t. Because when you do that, you will always “fall back” on taking the gig for free, like a consolation prize. That could be fine; after all, it would certainly be good marketing exposure for your day job. You’re just not going to get paid to speak.

Speaking On The Side, The Definitive Guide To Earning Money & Happiness Without Quitting Your Day Job, is coming in early 2013. Click here to reserve your copy today.

14 Things Non-Successful People Do On Weekends

4 Mar

There was an article on recently that irked me. “14 Things Successful People Do On Weekends” aimed to share some of the personal habits that successful business executives follow on Saturdays and Sundays.

Some of the 14 things were obvious: Make time for family and friends. Socialize. Exercise. Recharge. Really? Thank goodness I read Forbes. Otherwise I wouldn’t have known to recharge on the weekends. 

Worse, a few of the 14 things were rather assumptive: Take a vacation? Avoid chores? I guess successful people can escape to their villas for the weekend and let the maid do the dishes. How is this helpful to us non-successful folk?Image

That’s why I decided to create a more effective list for people like you and me. While on the path to success, feel free to engage in these 14 more appropriate weekend activities:

1. Sleep as late as possible. Come on, you need it. You’re exhausted, I can tell.

2. Zone out and do nothing. This activity is probably not on the list of Spencer Rascoff, the 37-year-old Harvard grad, father of three, and CEO who was interviewed in the Forbes article. He’s totally missing out.

3. Go shopping. Successful people do not go shopping on the weekends. They are too busy “pursuing a passion” like earning their MFA and writing poetry. (Actual example from the article–not sarcasm.) Next weekend, when you have nothing to eat and your kids are circling the refrigerator, explain to them that the written word should be nourishment enough.

4. Work on your book/speaking practice/coaching business. On the other hand, the weekends do offer a good opportunity to develop your side business, whatever it might be. I’ve crafted many presentations and I’ve written a lot of Speaking On The Side on Saturdays and Sundays.

5. Watch TV or Netflix. I’m not a big TV watcher, but I do enjoy watching sports on the weekends and a good movie on Friday or Saturday nights. 

6. Play with your kids. Which is different from schlepping them to back-to-back classes, events, and planned activities. I’m far from the perfect parent but I know how important it is to just play. My kids and I play board games and cards. We like Scrabble, even though one of the Rs is missing. I bought Pay Day (remember that?) and my oldest daughter decided we would play a “speed round,” which was ridiculous but we laughed the whole time. She beat me by $80,000 or something crazy like that.

7. Fix the screen door/leaky faucet/broken tile. Because if not on the weekend, when else are you going to do it?

8. Play on Facebook. The Forbes article says successful people “unplug” on the weekends. I think that’s a very good suggestion, although easier said than done. A better suggestion: Catch up on your social media. You know you’re going to do it anyway; might as well do it on the weekend when it won’t interfere with your job.

9. Volunteer. This was my favorite “thing” on the Forbes list and it’s on my list too. When I can, I volunteer at a soup kitchen on Saturday mornings. Your troubles seem much less significant when you’re serving those less fortunate than you.

10. Pay your bills. You can also do this at lunch during the week but then you might not have your checkbook, stamps, envelopes, etc. 

11. Clean your messy house/apartment. I know several people that I would consider successful who clean their place first thing Saturday morning. When you come home on a Wednesday night, hungry and tired, you’re not first starting to mop, are you?    

12. Take a walk with your spouse/significant other. Yes, exercise is good, but it’s very goal-oriented. People used to take walks around their neighborhood or their city, just to do it. A weekend walk is one of the best ways to honor the break between our weekly regimes.  

13. Read. Paperback, Kindle, iPad, newspaper. It’s all good. Add some hot cocoa and a strategically placed pet (or offspring) on the couch next to you and that’s just about the perfect weekend in my book. 

14. Dream. “Dreams, if they’re any good, are always a little bit crazy.” – Ray Charles

What will you do with your next weekend?

Speaking On The Side, The Definitive Guide To Earning Money & Happiness Without Quitting Your Day Job, is coming in early 2013. Click here to reserve your copy today.

Don’t Wait For The Next Meteor

16 Feb

How long have you been thinking about other ways to earn your living? Hopefully not 104 years. That’s the last time a major space rock hit the Earth’s atmosphere, exploding like 1,000 Hiroshima atomic bombs and destroying millions of trees in the Siberian forest.

The meteor that crashed into Earth’s atmosphere above Russia yesterday didn’t cause quite the same damage, although the power of the blast was awesome:

I read a news story that said the Earth experiences a meteor hit with the strength of yesterday’s collision about once every five years. But, most of those are over the ocean, or the Arctic, so we rarely hear about them. This one woke us up.

There have been many wake-up calls in recent months. For me, Hurricane Sandy was by far the loudest. People at the Sharkey-Images: Shark River Hills &emdash; 130114A 4end of my street had water up to their roof lines. I saw a boat on someone’s deck. There was also a big sailboat perched in the middle of a grove of trees.

Other wake-up calls: the school shootings in Newtown, CT. The nuclear bomb test by North Korea last week. Scientific evidence that the polar ice sheets are melting. Even the Pope resigning–that hasn’t happened since the Middle Ages.

One of these things has to get under your skin, remind you of the frailty of our planet, our leaders, our psyches.

So what? Your time here is ticking. It doesn’t feel like that usually, because you’ve got your apps, your friends, your spouse/significant other, your annoying boss, your fantasy football league, etc. to keep you preoccupied.

But if you’ve been thinking about a new venture on the side, whether it’s speaking or publishing a book or starting a club or adding an expertise, DO IT NOW.

You’ve only got about five years until the next meteor.

Speaking On The Side, The Definitive Guide To Earning Money & Happiness Without Quitting Your Day Job, is coming in early 2013. Click here to reserve your copy today.

5 Ways Public Speaking Is Like Bacon

27 Jan

Ever since Hotmail debuted the concept of viral marketing in 1996 with its tell-a-friend promotion, marketers have pined for viral success. Twelve years later, we’re still chasing that brass ring: posting YouTube videos, designing memes, scrounging for likes. But maybe we needn’t try so hard.

Just look at bacon. The humble breakfast meat is not only delicious, it’s high in protein. And sometime around December 2010, according to Google Trends, people started searching for it. A lot.

Sorry, Joe.

By the time news broke in the fall of 2012 about a possible global bacon shortage, the sizzling sustenance was on its way to viral fame. Think of your Facebook news feed. Seen any bacon-themed posts lately? Of course you have. Heck, “bacon” has more than 5 million likes on Facebook.  (For contrast, our vice president, Joe Biden, has less than 600,000 likes. Sorry, Joe.)

The point is, even if you’re a phenomenal speaker, you’re probably not going to create a viral idea. But you can tap into existing viral ideas. How? Like I did with this post. Find topics that are trending on Google, or Twitter, or YouTube, or Huffington Post, or Reddit, or Yahoo. Then create content that connects them with your area of expertise. Some topics to consider:

  • Bacon. Obviously.
  • Sports gaffes. From fake girlfriends to incendiary tweets, the exploits of athletes are nearly always going viral.
  • Celebrity stumbles. See above. Isn’t there some piece of solace you could offer Lindsay Lohan?
  • Animals, especially in the wild. Acrobatic cats got most of the bandwidth, until a cobra escaped from the Bronx Zoo a couple years ago and that’s all we could talk about.
  • Honey Boo Boo. Powerful, yes, but if you go the reality-show route don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Speaking On The Side, The Definitive Guide To Earning Money & Happiness Without Quitting Your Day Job, is coming in early 2013. Click here to reserve your copy today.

The Fiscal Cliff Antidote For Public Speakers

3 Jan

It’s not quite official, but all signs point to Washington reaching a compromise to the “fiscal cliff” of expiring tax benefits. In general terms, this is a good thing; the stock market was certainly celebrating with a banner session on New Year’s eve.

Now for the the bad news: You’re going to pay more in taxes in 2013. According to CBS Moneywatch, if you earn $113,700 or more annually, you’ll pay an additional $2,274 in Social Security tax this year. If you earn the US household average income of $50,000, you’ll pay an additional $1,000. And let’s not forget about the host of extra tax increases for high wage earners and those with capital gains.

Fiscal Cliff

Happy new year!

Now imagine if, instead of doing your usual schedule of “free” public speaking engagements this year, you got paid for one of them.

Let’s pretend that, after reading Speaking On The Side, you won a gig to speak at the annual meeting of the National Association of Widgetologists for $2,500 plus expenses. (Based on an informal survey I made up, most part-time speakers earn between $500-$5,000 per gig.) After you subtract taxes, which will probably end up in the $400 range depending on your tax bracket and deductions, you’ll be left with about $2,100.

That means your total fiscal cliff damages would only cost you $174, assuming you’re in the $113,700 or greater bracket.

And if you got paid for two speaking gigs … well, let’s not get crazy now. 🙂

Speaking On The Side, The Definitive Guide To Earning Money & Happiness Without Quitting Your Day Job, is coming in early 2013. Click here to reserve your copy today.

7 Principles For Living After The World Ends

22 Dec

Sometimes, it’s hard finding “true north” among the anxious, stressful, ridiculous, heartbreaking, awful moments of everyday life.

Work gets you stressed. Your boss says something annoying. A relative lets you down. You don’t feel good. Then you turn on the news, or scroll through Facebook, and see photos of Sandy Hook Elementary School. The remains of homes and businesses at the Jersey Shore. War-torn Syria.

When I look back at those tough moments from the past year, though, so many good things come into my view. I’m in the final stages of writing my first book. My children are safe; so is my home. I’ve spent a  lot of time with friends and loved ones, including some that I rarely get to see. I’ve traveled, read, learned, volunteered,  invested in my health and well-being.

These have all outweighed the stresses, headaches, anxiety, and even the tears I’ve experienced in 2012. But I know that’s not always the case. If your home is in Ortley Beach, NJ, or perhaps Newtown, CT, 2012 may be a wound that you spend the rest of your life trying to heal.Mayan Calendar

So, how do we continue a struggle that so often seems to turn on a random event? An unfortunate bit of timing? A bad day?

I think that the Mayans may have actually known what they were talking about. Their prophecy was accurate. Yesterday, our world did end. Just as it ends every night, when consciousness fades and our thoughts dissipate into dreams. Today, we wake up with the pain of the past, but also the energy to create something new in our lives.

How do you do it, then? What principles do you follow when you wake up each day in a new world? I think it’s an exercise each of us should go through every year. And what better time than on the Winter Solstice, the day of least light, when the Mayans knew “true north” would be hardest to see.

These are the principles I came up with:

1 – Don’t Be Mean

2 – If You Are Mean, Apologize

3 – Always Give Back

4 – Be Thankful For What You Have, Especially Your Loved Ones

5 – Be As Honest As You Can, Without Being Hurtful

6 – Respect The World

7 – Believe In Your Dreams 

I hope you give some thought into creating your own principles, for this coming year and all the rest. Peace and happiness for the new year.

Speaking On The Side, The Definitive Guide To Earning Money & Happiness Without Quitting Your Day Job, is coming in 2012 (or, as the gods would have it, in early 2013). Click here to reserve your copy today.