A few years ago I gave a free speech. It is only the third time in the past 15 years I’ve agreed to do such a thing…and I was forcefully reminded why I don’t do it.
After driving through an epic blizzard in dangerous conditions for five hours, I arrived – to find the meeting planner or association person who had just about begged me to do this waiting for me, right?
As agreed, they had reserved a hotel room for me to change clothes in. But they hadn’t paid for it.
I had to find the meeting, find the organizer.
To be told my hour had been cut to a half-hour. The projector was not on a table as I had instructed.
The lavalier microphone didn’t work, clearly had not been checked, and the cavalier attitude of their guy handling the sound system: use the handheld mike or do without. So people at back tables had trouble hearing me.
The introduction was, quote:
“Now I’m going to turn the meeting over to Dan Kennedy, who you read about.”
Two people had cellphones ring, one talked on it while I spoke. At the end, no one came up to thank me – the audience just dispersed.
Early in my speaking career, in the late 70’s, I did a lot of freebies, mostly locally in Phoenix, but some in other locales. I can’t recall ever doing one and not getting a little gift. A plaque, a certificate, a pen.
Some group I can no longer recall, in Dayton, Ohio, gave me a piece of the barn the Wright Brothers built airplanes in, mounted and framed.
This is the first time and place I have ever spoken gratis and received nothing.
I could have been rude. I could have told them to get the mike working and get the projector situated correctly, and sat down and waited.
I could have just left.
I could also have canceled due to the extreme weather.
But I have this commitment ethic. I try to keep my commitments. I seem to take commitment a whole lot more seriously than most people, by the way.
Anyway, I was treated like an unwelcome stray dog, but I did what I’d agreed to do. But, two thoughts.
- Keeping commitments is not done because other people keep them, or because you get recognition or appreciation for doing so. You do it because it is the right thing to do.
- Never do anything for free – especially dispense advice or professional services. Never, never, never. It is futile and useless. People can get value only when they assign value to what they are getting. Yes, use “free” in marketing because there it is illusion and tactic. But do not do it in other circumstances.
There are certain fundamental principles of human behavior that cannot be ignored, need to be understood, because every time you violate them, you suffer.
One, for example, is the principle of self-interest. (Read Ayn Rand.) Another is the one I just stated.
There’s also this universal principle, from an early mentor of mine: “It’s ALL Your Fault!.” This led to the principle I teach, which you can find explained in NO B.S. BUSINESS SUCCESS: control = responsibility, responsibility = control.
Thus, that Saturday swiped out of my life for naught was all my fault. I know better. I extracted no price that would have led to my presence being valued. I had no letter of agreement signed. I deserved what I got.
A lot of people bemoan that life is unfair. Actually, we fail to grasp or easily forget just how fair life usually is.