Sunday, October 14, 2007

Letter from the Editor

Life and Times of JWN
Shane & Joe
"Makin' It Happen"

On Tuesday I delivered my first keynote speech. It was an incredible experience. My message taught a few different lessons about "Makin' It Happen" for yourself. Fittingly, as I stood in front of the audience of about 160 students and faculty, I was making it happen for myself.

You might ask, "How so Joseph?"

Well, a few years ago I started to throw around the idea of motivational speaking as a career choice, or at least a supplemental career. Many people rebuttled, "Joe, you need to have something tragic happen or achieve something great to do that." Disappointed, I put the idea on the back burner for a while, but the fire stayed lit. I kept asking myself, "How can I make this happen?"

Over the past few years I have garnered a pretty substantial amount of "real life" experiences that have been valuable to my development as an individual. Reflecting on these adventures helped me start realizing that these nay-sayers were wrong. Even at my age (21), I could add value to audiences - no matter how young or old - by sharing my personal philosophies, core values, and best practices. In short, I started to say, "Why not?"

At the same time, I began to think of myself as a writer. For many years I have written, and found it relatively easy, but I never really thought of myself as a "writer." Thanks to some great advice from a few staple books (by Jeffrey Gitomer, Keith Ferrazzi, and others) and the creation of Notable and Newsworthy, I have begun a more active approach to capturing my thoughts. Now, I have a growing collection of well developed material to share at all times.

For much of my life, I've been good at "mingling," but this simple step of processing my experiences has dramatically helped my ability to connect with people the first time I meet them. Why? I know more about myself and what I can offer, I have stories to relate to their experiences, and I usually have friends that can help them. My small talk abilities started to have a BIG effect on my network of friends. (Check out my article "
Small Talk for a BIG Effect" for more on this topic).

I was thinking and writing more, so I said to myself, "Why not go after this 'goal' and start speaking and sharing more?" So, that's what I did. I started to tell people (with conviction) about my goal to speak and they started to buy into it. All of a sudden, after sharing my vision with enough people, I got approached to speak by my friend Mary Jo Wardell and I was on my way to making it happen for myself.

So, what did I teach these young impressionable minds?

I taught them the power of relationships, tips to make a powerful impression (
from my article here), and how to follow up so they don't lose out. In addition, I led four workshops throughout the conference on my definition of leadership; "Leadership is service."

All students walked away with outlines of the material, VIP stickers, and my contact information so they could practice follow up (some impressive individuals did). Meanwhile, three students got a Willy Wonka Golden Ticket and a copy of Jeffrey Gitomer's Little Black Book of Connections. We had a lot of fun, Norman Style.

NOTABLE: What does "Makin' It Happen" mean to you?

1) Figure out what you want to do.

2) Start to talk about it with conviction. People buy into passion.

3) Keep reaching out until you have your chance.

KEY FACT: Do your homework and knock the cover off the ball with that first chance. If you do that, it creates a self-perpetuating turn of events which will lead to many more opportunities in the future.

Thanks to my friend Kathleen Wall, one of this week's VIPs, I already have another speaking engagement in the pipeline for late November or early December in Rochester.

Make it happen for yourself, ~JWN

P.S. I knocked the cover off the ball. If you don't believe me, I've got a video of it. :)

Also, here are a few testimonials from some of the folks that impressed me with their follow up and made the experience a rewarding one:
"I did in fact learn quite a bit, both from your speech as well as the book you gave far as public speaking goes, and as a person with a short attention span I know this personally, you MUST be able to maintain the attention of your audience, which you did well." - Tyler Keever, Student at OAOC

"Thank you for taking the time to speak at the FBLA Fall District Meeting. My students enjoyed your presentations and spoke highly of you on the trip back to school." - Patti Hoyt, FBLA Advisor, Unatego Central Schools