login or register
: $0.00
No products in the cart.
Close

Category Archives: Featured Articles

Ask Ash’Cash – Q: What steps do I need to take if I am interested in starting a career as a professional speaker?

| Leave a comment

Q: What steps do I need to take if I am interested in starting a career as a professional speaker?

A: Congratulation! Asking this question means a few things; 1) You are very knowledgeable about a specific subject 2) You are knowledgeable enough to get paid to speak about this subject and 3) You are ready to share your knowledge with the world. Starting a career as a professional speaker is similar to selling any product or service. Your job is to first convince any potential buyer that they need your product or service then you must deliver on this product or service and lastly use their feedback to improve on your product or service and/or ask for referrals to get more clients… The following is a list of things one must do in order to begin the process of becoming a professional speaker

1. First, You must CLEARLY define what your message and know exactly who you are targeting.

This may seem like an obvious step but most aspiring speakers are so eager to get started and through their life experiences have so many topics that they can speak on that they usually begin by providing everything to everybody. Without a clearly defined message and audience it will be difficult to market your services and equally difficult to prove you are an expert. Whether you are looking to tell your life story, give motivational advice, speak to small groups, large groups, colleges, corporations, on non-profit organizations; whatever your niche market is you must identify it, study it, and know what their needs are.

2. Second, prepare a brief biography with a benefit sheet and testimonials if applicable.

Your personal bio, benefit sheet and testimonials are your resume for your speaking career. Anyone who is going to hire you as a speaker wants to know what is your background, what makes you an expert in this field, what will their participants get from hearing you speak and lastly what do other people think of your presentation. Your bio should tell your story with a strong emphasis on your personal achievements. You don’t want your bio to sound like an advertisement so be sincere about your story and keep in short (one page max). Your benefit sheet is actually going to the opposite; you want this to sound like an advertisement. Your benefit sheet should list exactly what you are going to offer an organization. Starting out you are not going to have any testimonials so this portion of your package will come as you do more speaking… Just don’t forget to ask for them.

3. Create a website to promote your services

A website is a very important part of your speaking career. In today’s world if you do not have a website where people can find you and your services you have lost a great part of the battle. Your website should be your name ie. JohnDoe.com if its available if not make sure it is something that people can remember and is closely tied to your brand ie. JohnDoeSpeaks.com. It should include professionally taken pictures of you, samples of video and audio of you speaking, your bio, benefit sheet, testimonials and anything else that will make you attractive to potential event planners. Keep your website simple! Remember this website is a representation of you but also is a selling tool. If it’s too much information or too complicated event planners won’t waste their time. If you are a published author make sure that you have your book for sale on your site as well as a sample chapter.

4. Join Toastmasters, a speakers bureau,  a directory, and/or hire a booking agent.

Joining a local toastmasters chapter is HIGHLY advisable. Toastmasters international is a non-profit organization that helps aspiring speakers become better. Even if you are a master at speaking, toastmasters allows you to practice your craft and get better at the different styles of speeches. Another benefit is that as you move along in the curriculum you are assigned certain designations that a lot of event planners are familiar with. You also want to join a speakers bureau as well. This is very important because many event planners rely heavily on speaking bureaus when looking for speakers. The largest and most recognized is the NSA (National Speakers Association). There are different criterias that you have to meet in order to be allowed to join but the NSA also has an academy for those who do not yet qualify but would like to take advantage of the many perks including seminars, webinars, and networking with other speakers. Joining a speaking bureau may be very expensive and sometimes difficult for newer speakers to join so a directory may be the way to go. A speakers directory has list of speakers within different genres and gives you access to event planners for a fraction of the cost. Hiring a booking agent may be the most beneficial thing to do. A booking agent already has relationships with event planners so it will be easier for them to sell your services. The only catch is that you HAVE to be sell-able! A booking agent will not take you on if they don’t feel that they can sell you and your services to their clientele. Usually a booking agent will take a percentage of what bookings they get you which is on average 20%

5. Watch other Speakers

One of the best ways to become a great speaker is to watch great speakers. Pay attention to how they speak, move, interact with the audience, sell themselves, their services, while seeming all so natural. No one is that good when they first start but by taking cues and clues from someone who has been doing this for a while you can avoid very costly mistakes.

6. Start Speaking

Begin with friends, families, coworkers, your old school, tenant association, church… Wherever!! Get comfortable speaking and get the kinks out. In the beginning you are going to have to do a lot of free speeches but that’s ok, its the cost of admission. Use these free speeches as a way to gain referrals, testimonials and most importantly footage of you speaking. Also contact your local Chambers of Commerce (including your local chapter of the black chamber, women’s chamber, Asian chamber, Latino chamber or any other applicable), Small Business Association, School Board Office, Boy/Girl/Cub Scouts and offer to do FREE training seminars or motivational speeches. Call them, email them, write letters, sooner or later someone will bite. Some local chamber offices throw 7-10 events per week. Again, doing these free speeches will give you invaluable experience and introduces you to organizations that will want to book you in the future (and pay you) if you are good.

7. Ask for referrals

Every time you get good feedback from your talks make sure you are asking for referrals. I know speakers who get booked off of referrals alone. Everybody you come across knows at least one-two people in an organization that will benefit from your talks. And they are more than willing to spread the word about you but you just have to remind them.

8. Network, network, network.

No one is going to know what you do unless you tell them. You are now a brand and the CEO of your own company. You have to begin spreading the word! Start campaigning for yourself and let every woman, man, and child know what you do. Attend as many local and industry events as possible. Connect with important members of your community, take them to lunch, volunteer at some of their organizations. The key is to build quality relationships with people who will at some point need experts for their events. The key is to be a master at networking and relationship building.

9. Print some quality business cards.

The cost of printing business cards are so minimal that there is absolutely positively no excuse to not have them. Business cards are a great way for people to contact you and learn more about your services. Your business card should have your title whether it is Personal Finance Expert, etc; and have a link to your website. Many people have advised against having your photo on your cards but I am personally for it. If you have a well photographed head shot of yourself it isn’t a bad idea to have it on your card so that people will be easy to put a name with the face.

10. Write and publish a book

This is a must for anyone who is serious about taking their speaking career to the next level. Writing a book gives you more creditability and a greater opportunity to make more money if your talk is good. Make sure your book is on the subject you speak on so that it is an easy sell to the event planner and audience. Getting published as an author is very easy. Visit sites like www.CreateSpace,com which is an Amazon.com owned company that allows authors to self-publish. Make sure you hire a graphic designer to professionally create your cover and inside layout.

You are a representation of your brand so EVERYTHING that you do must be beneficial to your brand and also be as professional as they can be. You never know who’s watching and you never know what opportunities can be won by taking that extra step…. Congratulations again! You are a superstar and you are going to do some great things!!

Denzel Washington returns to Broadway

| Leave a comment

NEW YORK, April 25 (UPI) — Hollywood actor Denzel Washington says he started thinking about his next Broadway project soon after wrapping up his run in “Julius Caesar” five years ago.

The double Oscar-winning star of the films “Glory,” “Philadelphia,” “Malcolm X,” “The Hurricane,” “Training Day,” “Inside Man” and “American Gangster” returned to the New York stage this month when he began previews in the Broadway revival of the late August Wilson’s drama “Fences” at the Cort Theatre. The production co-stars Viola Davis, Chris Chalk, Russell Hornsby, Mykelti Williamson and Stephen McKinley Henderson, and is scheduled to run through July 11.

“(Producer) Scott Rudin actually came to me with the screenplay (for a film adaptation of ‘Fences’). I think it was the only screenplay August wrote of his own plays and Scott asked me: ‘Whatever you want to do. Do you want to direct it? Act in it? Produce it?’ So, I read it,” Washington told UPI at Sardi’s restaurant in Manhattan recently. “Then I went and read the play and cried and laughed, and thought this is just a great, great play. And I went back to Scott and I said, ”OK, but I want to do the play.’ And he said, ‘We’ll do it on Broadway,’ and I said, ‘Yeah.’ And here we are.”

So, does that mean a “Fences” movie might follow the show’s limited engagement?

“Maybe. Nothing’s in stone at all. There’s nothing at this point but a script,” Washington said.

Despite his fame and success in Hollywood, the 55-year-old Mount Vernon, N.Y., native said he relishes getting back to the stage in the Big Apple because it allows him to exercise different acting muscles while being part of an ensemble.

“What I love about theater and what I love about it now, given the position I’m in, is that it gives me the chance to just be one of the guys. I’m another member of the cast,” Washington said.

“I have a role to play,” he added. “This is what I love; this is how I started as an actor, in the theater right up the block at Lincoln Center and when I left New York in 1982, I was doing a Pulitzer Prize-winning play. I had just done ‘When the Chickens Came Home to Roost’ and I followed that up with ‘A Soldier’s Play,’ which won the Pulitzer Prize and I left to go to Los Angeles to do what I thought was a 13-week job called ‘St. Elsewhere.’ Four kids, 20-whatever years later, I started working my way back. I never really felt Los Angeles was my home; New York’s my home. Now we have a home here. My children are getting to an age where I could come back. I couldn’t do eight shows a week (when they were younger) because I couldn’t get home to Los Angeles. … The kids were raised there, their friends are there, so I didn’t want to uproot them. So starting five years ago with ‘Julius Caesar’ and I’m here now and I plan to be here more and more, and do more and more plays.”

Wilson died of cancer at age 60 in 2005. Cast members and Kenny Leon, the director of “Fences,” said they feel the spirit of the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of “Joe Turner’s Come and Gone,” “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” “Two Trains Running” and “King Hedley II” in the theater as they work.

“He is (present),” Washington acknowledged. “He lives on forever as long as there are actors or people to speak his words, he lives on forever.”

For the actor, the opportunity to perform in a Wilson work is one to treasure.

“Very rarely do you get to interpret the work of a master, a grand master,” Washington said. “And he is one. He is Eugene O’Neill, he is Tennessee Williams, Arthur Miller. This is a masterpiece. I’ve been around. I’ve read a lot of plays and screenplays. He’s as good as anybody I’ve ever read or seen. So to get that opportunity and knowing he’s gone and, I, fortunately, got the chance to meet him (before he died). You can feel it. His plays are spiritual. They’re specific about this African-American family, but the themes are universal — the husband-wife relationship, the bitterness over not being successful in life, the dreams deferred, father-and-son relationships. All those themes — black, white, blue, green, or yellow — we all relate to them.”

Notre Dame Has First Black Valedictorian: A 21-year-old woman will make history May 16 at the University of Notre Dame

| Leave a comment

By AIXA VELEZ
Updated 11:17 AM CDT, Tue, Apr 13, 2010

A Gary, Indiana native will make history next month as the first black valedictorian from the University of Notre Dame.

Katie Washington, 21, is a biology major and minor in Catholic social teaching with a 4.0 GPA.

“I am humbled,” said Washington to the Northwest Indiana Times. “I am in a mode of gratitude and thanksgiving right now.”

University officials said they couldn’t recall ever having a black valedictorian, and don’t keep record of their race.

The valedictorian has been accepted to five schools, including Harvard, but she plans to pursue a joint M.D./Ph.D. at Johns Hopkins University, according to nwitimes.com.

“Katie works so hard,” Washington’s mother Jean Tomlin said. “I told her when she went to Notre Dame, ‘You are representing your family, your church and the city of Gary. Make us proud.'”

She has definitely made her family proud and is following in their footsteps. Her father is a doctor, her mother and sister are nurses, one brother is completing his residency and another brother who works for British Petroleum.

“I have had so much support, people who really wanted to see that I reached my full potential,” Washington told nwitimes.com. “They all had my best interest at heart.”

Washington will address the class of 2010 at commencement on May 16.

First Published: Apr 9, 2010 10:19 AM CDT

A Gary, Indiana native will make history next month as the first black valedictorian from the University of Notre Dame.

Katie Washington, 21, is a biology major and minor in Catholic social teaching with a 4.0 GPA.

“I am humbled,” said Washington to the Northwest Indiana Times. “I am in a mode of gratitude and thanksgiving right now.”

University officials said they couldn’t recall ever having a black valedictorian, and don’t keep record of their race.

The valedictorian has been accepted to five schools, including Harvard, but she plans to pursue a joint M.D./Ph.D. at Johns Hopkins University, according to nwitimes.com.

“Katie works so hard,” Washington’s mother Jean Tomlin said. “I told her when she went to Notre Dame, ‘You are representing your family, your church and the city of Gary. Make us proud.'”

She has definitely made her family proud and is following in their footsteps. Her father is a doctor, her mother and sister are nurses, one brother is completing his residency and another brother who works for British Petroleum.

“I have had so much support, people who really wanted to see that I reached my full potential,” Washington told nwitimes.com. “They all had my best interest at heart.”

Washington will address the class of 2010 at commencement on May 16.

Source: http://www.nbcchicago.com/news/local-beat/Notre-Dame-Has-First-Black-Valedictorian–90355079.html#ixzz0lM1UXpUk

Lakers sign Kobe to 3-year, $90 million extension

| Leave a comment

LOS ANGELES – Kobe Bryant signed a three-year contract extension Friday worth nearly $90 million that will keep him with the Los Angeles Lakers through the 2013-14 season.

The deal will begin after next season. Bryant is making $23 million this season and is due to earn $24.8 million next season.

“It’s very rare to have a player play his entire career in one city, so I’m very excited,” he said after the Lakers beat Utah 106-92.

Bryant could earn $27.4 million in 2011-12, $30.2 million the following season and more than $32 million in his final year, when he would be 35.

Asked if it would be his last contract, Bryant replied, “I doubt it, but it’s possible.”

The deal means the Lakers achieved two main objectives going into the season — signing Bryant and 7-foot center Pau Gasol to extensions.

“We were able to accomplish those goals, helping to keep the core of this team intact for the foreseeable future and in turn help to ensure the franchise’s continued success over the years to come,” general managerMitch Kupchak said.

Gasol signed his own three-year extension in December that extends through the 2013-14 season. He is making $16.5 million this season and $17.8 million next year. His new deal likely will pay him around $20 million per season.

“It’s a great thing,” Gasol said about Bryant’s deal. “I really had no doubt he was going to get it done. It makes all of us happy.”

Kupchak said Gasol’s signing was a factor in Bryant staying on.

“It’s a great compliment that I had an influence on Kobe wanting to re-sign,” the Spaniard said.

The 31-year Bryant could have terminated the last two years of his contract and become an unrestricted free agent last July. He also had the option to become a free agent this summer.

He said he had no thoughts about going elsewhere even while speculation had suggested otherwise.

“I knew I was going to be here,” he said.

Kupchak said neither side wanted the negotiations to extend into the playoffs, which begin April 17 when the Lakers open defense of their NBA championship.

“My position all along is that Kobe started as a Laker and he should end his career as a Laker,” he said. “We’re fairly assured now that he will end his career as a Laker. Of course in four years, he’ll be 35-years-old and maybe we’ll go do this again or there’ll be an option for him to do something else.”

Bryant is averaging 27.2 points, 5.3 rebounds and 5.1 assists this season. He’s helped the Lakers win four NBA titles, including last season when he was the Finals MVP.

The 12-time All-Star was voted league MVP in 2008, when he helped the U.S. win a gold medal in the Beijing Olympics. This season, he moved past Jerry West to become the Lakers’ career scoring leader.

“Good news,” coach Phil Jackson said. “I expected that Kobe would sign. It’s a good choice for him and the organization.”

Jackson said Bryant’s deal has no impact on his own possible extension. Jackson plans to evaluate his future after the season ends, when he’ll have his annual checkup. He turns 65 in September.

“I personally sat down with Phil and indicated I’d love to have him back,” Kupchak said. “It really falls into his lap and his timeline.”

Bryant said he enjoys playing for Jackson and told him Friday that he “would love to see him come back.”

Obama says economy starting to 'turn the corner'

| Leave a comment

At a North Carolina plant, the president points to job numbers as proof that his economic policies are taking hold and says the U.S. had a ‘moral imperative’ to reform healthcare
By Peter NicholasApril 3, 2010
Reporting from Charlotte, N.C. – President Obama on Friday pointed to improving job numbers as proof that his economic policies are taking hold, while contending that the new healthcare law is a moral response to the large number of uninsured Americans.

In his second trip in as many days, the president spoke at a company that received more than $49 million in stimulus funds; it was a forum designed to showcase his role in an employment picture that is looking more hopeful.

The government reported Friday that the United States gained 162,000 jobs in March. Although unemployment remains at 9.7%, the president spoke of a “harrowing” economic ordeal as a thing of the past.

He told employees at Celgard Co., a maker of supplies for lithium batteries, that “what we can see here, at this plant, is that the worst of the storm is over — that brighter days are still ahead.”

“Today is an encouraging day,” he added. “We learned that the economy actually produced a substantial number of jobs instead of losing a substantial number of jobs. We are beginning to turn the corner.”

Since signing his healthcare bill into law on March 23, Obama has been dropping into politically important swing states as much to explain and defend old policies as to sell new ones. On Thursday, Obama flew to Portland, Maine, to tout his healthcare package.

White House aides concede they have a fair amount of work to do. Polls show Americans remain deeply skeptical that the $787-billion stimulus package created any new jobs. In a Gallup poll last week, 50% said they believed the new healthcare law was a “bad thing,” compared with 47% who believed it to be a “good thing.”

By making the trips — and more are coming — Obama hopes to sway public opinion and improve the climate for anxious Democrats up for reelection this fall.

It’s no small task. He received a polite reception at the company, as workers listened stoically to a speech that lacked the emotional lift of recent campaign-style appearances.

Joyce Reavis of Charlotte asked him about provisions that would raise taxes. Obama gave a long answer in which he suggested that the U.S., as the only advanced country that allowed millions of its citizens to go without health insurance, had a “moral imperative” to remedy the matter.

After the speech, a reporter asked Reavis if Obama’s answer was convincing.

“No, it wasn’t,” she said. “I believe there are other ways to go that we can pursue. I don’t like the way [healthcare] was pushed in under the table and we weren’t aware of it.”

A mix of protesters and supporters greeted Obama as he traveled back to the airport.

Some waved signs that said, “Thank You,” while protesters displayed signs reading “Stop Spending,” and “No to Socialism.” One sign said simply, “Nov. 2″ — a reference to the midterm elections.

peter.nicholas@ latimes.com