Tribute to Cavett Robert

Cavett always wanted his money’s worth out of life! His incredible energy never ceased to amaze me. In 1977, I attended my first National Speakers Association convention and was tremendously excited at the prospect of attending Cavett’s weekend seminar with Merlyn Cundiff. Cavett had flown in just a few hours earlier and had been up all night. But even with no sleep, he was magnificent and vibrant.

The last time I saw him was at the Speakers Roundtable meeting in the summer of 1997 after the NSA convention. We were a group of about thirty-two including spouses. Cavett and Trudy had stayed up late the night before for the dinners and events, yet there they were, looking fresh and rested at the 7:00 a.m. prayer meeting. They were almost twice my age, but I knew I could never have done it.

Cavett’s extraordinary skills made even “old-timers” feel like kids in the business by comparison. His stories were always exhilarating and vivid. When he recounted his conversations with Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, he had the ability to make us feel we knew Dr. Peale as well as he did.

Cavett was unfailingly generous. In 1981, he flew at his own expense to address my Sales and Marketing Executives club in San Francisco. We didn’t have enough money to pay him, but that didn’t stop him from making it a spectacular event. (While he was there, I became the only Past President ever to cut his hair. We both thought he looked great.)

All of us are constantly meeting speakers from all over the country who were also encouraged by Cavett. At every convention coffee break you hear stories like this one. Leslie Miller from Washington listened to a tape of Cavett and was so inspired she picked up the phone to tell him how much he had influenced her. She knew nothing about NSA and had no idea who Cavett was. He invited her to visit if ever she was in the area. She took him up on that, and he took her for lunch at his club. Later, at his home, she saw photos of Billy Graham and Richard Nixon … and then he sheepishly admitted, well, yes, he had started this organization called NSA. Cavett was so comfortable with the situation that it was impossible for her to be embarrassed.

Cavett becomes even more special and inspirational when we realize that this exceptional generosity was not an occasional gesture. This was the Cavett norm.