So it may seem by the heading, “I’m much more than a circus act!”, that I’m in a bad mood! I’m not. In fact I am in a very buoyant mood practically floating after seventeen days spent touring the United Kingdom. I did eleven talks (I may have gone that number wrong on social media) including seven for a think tank organization called “The Academy of Chief Executives”. They are as the title suggests all Chief Executives or Managing Directors of companies of varying sizes. Each group size also varies but my average audience size was under twenty people, male and female. It costs them a considerable monthly fee to attend and serious hoops to jump to join the group. They come to meetings once a month for around an eight hour day. Mornings are typically when they have a guest speaker and afternoons are private and confidential where a combination of business and personal matters are openly discussed. Their speakers are a who’s who of industry experts and their major focus is usually business.
The heading is actually a direct quote from one of the members in attendance who shall, as per the rules of ACE, remain confidential. He had tears in his eyes when he said “You are much more than a circus act”, and he added…”I never cry; rather unbecoming of British Men!” He was reacting to my almost four hour sessions and he was not alone. I usually measure my success by audience reaction and frankly, standing ovations are pretty common. I didn’t get one standing ovation from ACE. I got much better…silence! You could have heard a pin drop when I finished my sessions. But don’t take my word for it. Following is a report from one of the evaluations provided by one of the Chapter Chairs. It is word for word and printed with permission.
“Alvin is petty unique in that his life story is a journey of overcoming the obstacles and struggles that being born without arms obviously throws up. He has faced these challenges in life with a hugely positive attitude and achieved more than many able bodied people ever achieve. He tells his story with great humour and there are so many messages of how ‘You can achieve anything’ that when you see him play the drum and piano with his feet you get on board! He takes the members on a roller coaster of emotions and definitely leaves them with a lot of internal reflection to do. His score of 9.8 out of 10 on this occasion was the same as the last time he was here and speaks for itself how much values the members received!”
Clearly, this may seems like I am simply doing some “self-promotion” and perhaps I am but I want to get characteristically blunt. There are countless groups who wonder how my program can provide a benefit for their members. I have actually had meeting planners say; “We had a handicapped speaker last year” and quite frankly, that’s a bit offensive! Not in a politically correct way but you might just imagine that I don’t speak to people for my ego. I have a very high standard and I want to leave my groups not only feeling like they invested good time and money, but to know that the value actually goes deeper than just an evaluation. When I “Talk Business”, I believe that growing the human behind the professional title is the key and just like my parents, teachers and people of influence in my life pushed me to exceed my expectations, I want to do the same with those people in my groups, big or small. It’s really quite simple.
Obstacles are in every person’s life and many times, they are self-imposed. Clearly, I would love to have a “magic pill” I could sell for success, but there is no such thing! I am a vivid reminder to even the most educated and experienced business mind that overcoming challenges are rooted in our approach and yes, “Attitude”, and sometimes, it’s really difficult. Like my overcoming having no arms, none of this is a predictable cliche, it’s truly powerful! While on my tour of the U.K., I met Simon Hartley, who is a speaker and sports psychologist and has worked with world class and Olympic level athletes. He actually told me the difference between a gold medal and not making the podium is all about the mind and the power of attitude. He heard me at the horse track in Doncaster and after my talk, he asked me if I’d ever worked with athletes. I told him that not being an athlete makes me doubt my effectiveness and his reply was simple; “People are people and they all need to be pushed to succeed!”
The professional speaking business is just that…a business and therefore, we can hire talented writers and marketing companies to make us look good. I have done the same. But today, I thought I’d let the fruits of my labour do the talking. Not because I’m grumpy but because I am floating. I came across the ocean to have an impact on business leader’s lives so they might do the same for the people in theirs. I love it when a plan comes together!