When was the last time you felt like you needed to take action and call someone? This is what Ken Courtright asks in this third Anchor Day installment. He opens up about how two ladies changed his life, helped him let go of his major fear, and succeed in a different venture in life. Learn how taking action and doing something you wanted can reward you with continuous success and can lead you to greater things in your career.
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Anchor Day Pt. 3
This is titled Anchor Day Part 3. I wanted to do a three-part series based on a little piece of a talk I gave at our last Digital Footprint Conference. I’m covering three different times in my life where I said something, I was on a call or I was involved in something that changed the decision and drastically altered the course of our business. We are in our 23rd or 24th year and we hit the Inc. 5000 company for the third time. We have dozens of employees in multiple countries. The event I’m about to share was the most pivotal change that caused more growth, more ideas and more than anything else that’s ever happened.
Many moons ago, at the end of 2012, I was on a call with two ladies and a site partner of ours. These two ladies were trying to negotiate something else for one of our site partners. I got involved with the discussion. I noticed that one of the two ladies was fairly strong and there was something magnetic. She was protective of this site partner’s future and his growth. It was exciting and it was cool. I didn’t know these two ladies at all. I met them on this call and I remember hanging up the phone. I was upstairs in the kitchen and I was using our fax line because I wanted to make sure my cell phone didn’t drop. I ran upstairs, got on the landline and hang up the phone. I remember running down to my office and scratching these two ladies’ names on a piece of paper. I called them back immediately right after hanging up the phone and I said, “Is there any chance I can ask you, girls, a question? What exactly do you do for my site partner?” They said, “We’re in the field of CEO branding. We help CEOs launch a second career. Most importantly though, we elevate the CEO’s name so that it stands in the light that the CEO needs it to stand-in.”
They went on to explain that a lot of executives and a lot of leaders of companies don’t realize how in this world of Google, when they’re doing business, how many people are Googling the name of the CEO, the name of each manager and the name of the company. They educated me on the power of the CEO brand. I said, “That’s amazing. Could you do that for me?” The ladies were like, “Sure.” We started discussing how it works and she goes, “The first thing we need to do is we need to get you to write a book.” I say, “As a matter of fact, I finished my book.” They said, “Let’s go right to the next step. We need to get you on stage.” I said, “That’s going to be a problem. I’m not a public speaker.” I walked them through my first public presentation of which I had an anxiety attack. I broke out in a sweat and I quit the project that was on that day, never to speak again. It was brutal. I said, “That’s probably not going to work. What are the other options?” They’re like, “No, you’re going to speak on stage. If you’ve got a book, you’ve got something to say.”
In one phone call, these two women talked to me about going past my fear of public speaking. I had done three talks. I talked to my alma mater, University of St. Francis. I talked to the marketing team at DePaul and the marketing team at Loyola. I was talking to kids, so I was comfortable. These women said, “You wrote a book because you think you have something to say.” I said, “No, I think I do.” I explained the book and they said, “Fly out to San Diego, put a 90-minute presentation together and let us help you.” I did a little presentation on the four-hour flight there and I did this presentation. They said in their words, “That has to be the best presentation I’ve ever seen from somebody that’s never spoken before.”Many people find their calling before they become an adult. Click To Tweet
It was 90 minutes of value add. I had 54 slides and in the end she says, “What are you going to sell?” I said, “What do you mean what am I going to sell? I thought you wanted me to do a presentation to teach people in the audience how to grow their business for free or nearly free?” She says, “Of course. If you’re going to go on someone’s stage, they’re going to expect you to sell something so they can get a percentage of sales. That’s how they make their living.” I said, “What do you recommend?” She’s like, “Almost everybody at the end of their presentation presents a three-day course in person and you charge a couple a few thousand dollars. You add a lot of value. People fly in and usually, they even do it at the same hotel you spoke on, so people are comfortable with this and that.”
I flew out with almost no notice on a four-hour flight. I put 54 slides together and presented to these two ladies and they’re like, “This is amazing, but you’ve got to sell something.” On that same day, they helped me craft what later became known as the Internet Minefield Bootcamp. We did a three-day course. I had no idea what we were going to teach, but I built the slides. She said to price it at $2,997, so $3,000. Lo and behold, I redid the presentation. I was there for two days. On day two, I built the slide deck in with the three-day course at the end, and they go, “Go home. We’ll call you when we have a stage opening.” I was home and two days later they said, “Can you speak next week at Guerrilla Business School?” I said, “Sure. No problem.”
I’m thinking 50 people to 100 people will be there. There were 300 people in the audience and I did my presentation. I had 24 people came forward right there on the spot, gave us $3,000 for our event and 22 people showed up. This is the key. We had no idea what hotel we were going to do this three-day camp. We just said, “It will be six weeks from now in the LAX area,” because the current presentation I was giving was at LAX hotel, one of those hotels. I had the paperwork for the event six weeks from the time of my talk. I’m holding an event with 2.5 weeks to go. We still hadn’t found a hotel because I later learned that if you’re booking a hotel, especially a bigger hotel in the LAX area, you need to do it for 4 to 6 months out because they’re all booked for weddings and conferences. There were physically no hotels. I’m thinking, “This is not good.”
I got on a plane with a couple of weeks to go and I flew out there. I knocked on the doors of every single hotel manager. Finally, one of the ladies said, “You’re not going to have any luck. Your event is in 2.5 weeks. The only shot you have is to go to the end of the block. There’s a hotel that used to be Hilton or something, but it’s being renovated. They’ve changed the name to the Concourse.” It’s in disarray and they’re physically renovating. “Why don’t you at least see if they have any rooms they haven’t started renovating?” I go over there and I go into the big ballroom. The ceiling’s falling down and the walls are coming off. The carpets ripped up and I walked into the manager. I said, “Do you see that ballroom? I’ll bring my team in a couple of days early. We’ll trim the carpet. I’ll help you push the walls back. I’m renting that room.” They’re like, “No, sir. We’re closed.”
Lo and behold, we rented that room. What does this mean? What is the point? All gets worse. It gets worse before it gets better. The Wednesday and Thursday before we begin teaching Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, we had yet even put the slide deck together of what we were going to teach. My staff didn’t even know what they were teaching. They didn’t understand what we were doing. They thought this was like a question and answer. We all met Wednesday night in my room, Thursday morning in my room and Thursday, we all banged out simply the Friday talks. We could not possibly have done the Saturday and Sunday talks as well. Our first event was a hodgepodge. It was quite frankly and it was awesome.
Many of those 22 people became site partners of ours and many of them were at our latest Digital Footprint. Every time they walk in, they go, “Ken, do you remember the first one?” The first one, 22 people, there was no recorder, no cameras, no nothing and no microphones. I remember specifically Dr. Reyes at the event, he goes, “Wow in just a short few years.” The nugget here is that one call changed the course of our business. Two things happened on that call. Number one, I took action. I wanted something and I wanted to get some information at least. The second thing that happened was I ended up finding my gift. Danny Sullivan talks about finding your area of genius. Everybody has one. Every leader has one and everybody is a leader. I found out that my gift is taking complex concepts and communicating them in a simple way. What’s the lesson? We live our adult life in two parts, seeking out our calling and living out our calling.
Many people find their calling before they become an adult, but I think most adults that haven’t yet truly found their area of genius live their lives in two parts, the seeking and then the living out. The actual events were a phone call. I reached out to these ladies and they said, “You’ve got to write a book and then you’ve got to speak.” Our business course changed when I wrote a book that led me to speaking engagements. The speaking engagements allowed us and let us put on events. The events exposed my personal gift, which is taking complex concepts and communicating them in a simple way. That led to me podcasting and the transcriptions of all of these shows become my next book. It’s a revolving circle. The new books are going to lead me to speak on new topics and new topics are going to lead me to put on different events. The different events are going to allow me to podcast different nuggets, which are going to lead me to write more books. It’s going to go on and on.
There’s nothing more rewarding than doing what you’re called to do. Brian Smith, the Founder of UGG boots who spoke at our Digital Footprint, talks about getting goosebumps. He’s had goosebumps in three different cases in his adult life and all three cases, when he got goosebumps, the course of his business changed dramatically. He personally believes that’s God’s way of saying, “You stumbled on something that totally aligns with what I have in line for you and it comes out in goosebumps.” I totally believe that. I have felt God talking to me in my life many times and I have listened. I’m proud of that.
This is episode 127, Anchor Day Part 3. I was on a call with two lovely ladies and I was intrigued. I was getting goosebumps. I reached out, I called them and I said, “Girls, I need that. How does that work?” I had no idea where reaching out and making that phone call would lead me. When was the last time you knew you needed to make a phone call but you were scared? It’s time to reach out and make the call because you do not know where that call is going to lead you. We’ll see you on the trail. Take care.