In 42 years of taking the stage to tell my story and hopefully, inspire my audiences, I’ve never done a “branding exercise!” Why would I need to do that? There’s only one Alvin Law! It’s not like I can franchise me!
And for most of my life, I’ve honestly been really famous… in Saskatchewan. That’s easy, by the way!
Seriously, when I was 16 years old, I was chosen to be the Saskatchewan Ambassador for children with disabilities. They called me the Easter Seals “Timmy” for Crippled Kids! Yikes. Glad we got rid of the word “crippled.” I sincerely did get famous when I appeared on the first ever telethon in Saskatchewan called “Telemiracle.” The proceeds in 1977 went to various charities who worked with children with disabilities and since I was the high profile “Timmy”, I was invited to be on the 22 hour “live” television program broadcast on CTV across the entire province and tell my story. There were several serious celebrities from Hollywood which attracted a huge viewership. By Sunday afternoon as the program went into its last hour, it’s estimated that as many as 600,000 people in a province bigger than California but with a population of just under a million people were tuned in. I was invited to play the drums with a local group called Prairie Fire and the mythical figure called Alvin Law was revealed.
As this was before the internet, seeing someone play a set of drums with their feet, and I could really play, was absolutely a “first.” It had never been seen, ever! I returned to my small hometown, Yorkton, and everything had changed. The entire community was so proud of me. Media outlets across Saskatchewan wanted to do articles or segments on my story. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, or CBC, even did a documentary on me called “Alvin: His Best Foot Forward” and not only was it shown on their provincial TV network but was played on prime time across all of Canada in 1978.
Look, I’m not bragging. I’m trying to explain why I’ve never had a branding exercise. There’s only one “Me”! There’s even a true story of someone who wanted to hire me to speak in Vancouver in 1985, but didn’t know my name. They called information for the provincial phone company, SaskTel, telling the operator they were looking for “the guy without arms who plays drums with his feet.” The operator chuckled and said: “Oh that’s Alvin Law. Here’s his phone number.” I got that gig for a teacher’s group.
I often joke that I do not miss “the good old days” but frankly, I do miss how simple it was to get speaking engagements way back then.
But it’s not 1985 anymore, is it? And it’s the polar opposite of “simple” in 2023.
There’s a credible statistic that in the wake of the economic meltdown of 2008, hundreds of thousands of white-collar managers lost their jobs around the globe and that literally created as many as 65,000 new “speakers.” The majority of them had no professional speaking experience, but they figured. “How hard can it be”? They did possess knowledge of their “lanes” so maybe “consultant” would be a more accurate description of their skill sets. They also used their own network to spread the news they were available and a significant number of them got invited to speak for internal meetings. Lots of times, they did it for free and there is anecdotal evidence that free or low fee speaking significantly skewed speaking fees for legitimate professionals that took years to correct.
In the early 1980’s, the entity called “Speaker’s Bureaus” were mostly non-existent. Today, there are literally hundreds, maybe thousands of agencies whose reason for being is to book speakers for paid engagements and of course, take their rather sizeable commission.
But their world has also changed. Bureaus are still relevant, but the growth of the internet has provided a further benefit to speakers like me. People looking for a professional speaker aren’t forced to go to an agent. They can just do an online search. I ask people who are interested in my show how they heard about me?
Their simple response is… “I Googled you,” or “I saw you on YouTube” and before we actually meet, they go to my website. I do have one. But a very long story has led to it becoming technically problematic but worse, sending a confusing message about what I actually do.
Am I amazing? Sure. I’ve heard that a lot. Am I a good speaker? Well, I’m in the Canadian Professional Speakers Hall of Fame. Can I deliver a world class presentation that will make a lifelong impact on your group? Absolutely. But I’m going to say that, aren’t I? Ironically, I’ve also been called one of the most humble people, ever!
So, I wanted to write a new blog because my last one was a long time ago. Our technical problems meant we couldn’t access blog publishing. That is not the professional standard I strive for. And let’s not even mention Covid and its impact on everyone’s mental health.
One thing I always talk about, no matter which group happens to be in the room is: “Seeing the good in the bad!” It is a mindset which I believe can turn into a habit. It’s funny how we talk about “bad habits” but don’t always discuss “good habits!” It was a profound way to see my life growing up and its sentiment was repeated over and over again by my parents and teachers. Pretty good advice, huh?
When I got really depressed into late 2020, my wife and business partner, Darlene, who is really annoying when she’s right, sat me down one day and asked me if “I” was seeing the good in the bad, reminded me to perhaps, “practice what you preach”. She was right!
Not only did Covid put me to sleep, but it also ironically woke me up. I became “Virtually Certified” to add yet another other credential to my craft and I discovered a true gift of the “good in the bad” that has become my new opening segment of my keynote, which discusses my views on whether “first impressions” really matter or is the “last impression” what actually counts.
With all that “reflecting,” we also knew we needed a new website, but we had never considered branding until a few of my favourite speakers and friends hired somebody really, really good at it, Azadeh Yaraghi of Gogo Telugo Creatives out of Vancouver.
We signed her up, and her team has accomplished something nobody has been able to for twenty years! They have helped me get to the heart of my message and what makes me unique. Throughout my career, I thought my disability made me unique. What I’ve learned is that it’s actually the way I inspire people to live with more gratitude and hope. To think outside the norm and create extraordinary lives.
I’ll be expanding on this as we move forward. I’m so excited about the new website reveal, which will be a while yet and I promise to keep you in the loop. In the meantime, I’m so thrilled to unveil my brand new, trademarked tagline: Step Into Your GreatnessTM
This is my promise statement as well as title of my program moving forward!
If your organization includes human beings, I’m your speaker! Let me help you Step Into Your GreatnessTM. 👣