Opportunity does not knock once. It knocks all the time we do not always recognize the sound. Earlier in my speaking career, I was what most people at the time would call a motivational speaker. Recently I was reminded of these stories I used to tell.
Early in the career of TV host, Joan Lunden received great advice from Barbara Walters.
“Take every crumb they throw you and handle them magnificently.” You never know which magnificent crumb is going to be your big break.
Burt Reynolds had made ten films when director John Boorman cast him in the film DELIVERANCE.
Burt asked Boorman, “Which of my films impressed you so you gave me this terrific part?”
“None of them,” said Boorman. “I saw you guest-host the TONIGHT SHOW. You were fearless in controlling the five guests. The guy in DELIVERANCE has to control three people in a stressful situation.” This leads us to the next point:
At that time, Johnny Carson was the king of late-night television.
Burt developed a character for the show — a super-cocky, wisecracking, devil-may-care womanizer — and Johnny absolutely loved him. Burt’s TV persona was not the kind of guy you would want to live with, but it made great television.
Their routines would go something like this. Johnny would ask, “What are you going to do after the show?” and Burt would say, “Oh, walk up and down Broadway and try to get recognized.” Then he’d wink at the camera as if to say, “I’m having a good time, and being rich and famous ain’t bad either.”
All guests had strict instructions not to talk to Johnny during commercials, so Burt was chatting with Ed McMahon when Johnny suddenly leaned over and asked, “How would you like to guest-host while I’m on vacation?” No actor had ever been invited to guest-host before, only comedians.
When Burt first hosted the TONIGHT SHOW…
…he had the staff book his ex-wife Judy Carne. Everyone was astonished, even Judy. They hadn’t spoken in six years and still had unresolved marital issues and a lot of animosities.
However, Burt Reynolds knew what my pal, copy-writing genius David Garfinkel, is always telling me: “People love conflict. They love to see people fighting who, deep down, share affection, and attraction.”
So Judy Carne came on the show, sat down, and said, “Hmm, you look good. ” Burt said, “I hate to tell you, but so do you.” She asked, “What have you been doing?”
“Oh, hanging around street corners trying to sell Burt-and-Judy towels,” he quipped. “They are tough to get rid of.” She admitted that she and her current husband were having problems. Burt said, “Well, I’ve grown up since we were married.” The audience clearly was hoping they’d kiss and make up and get back together.
How often have you ever felt that a particular job was beneath you or too trivial to merit your best effort? You never know which of the many things you do is going to lead to your big break. That means you have to do everything well.
Looking at my own experience…
At age 32, I owned my own men’s hairstyling and was traveling nationwide for a hair product company. My clients who were well-established business professionals asked me to speak at their civic clubs and team meetings. This helped me realize that public speaking was one of the best ways to promote my business.
Chris Hegarty, a well-known professional speaker, and author said, “Patricia you MUST attend the National Speakers Association convention. Being a believer that when somebody you admire and wish to emulate gives you advice, it is best to take it!
At that first NSA convention, I asked three speakers if I could join their table for lunch. One of my lunch mates Paul said, “I am in charge of a program called Speak to Me. This is designed for six brand new speakers to deliver a ten-minute presentation, would you like to be on the program?”
After delivering my ten minutes, Mike Frank, who is an established event promoter and speaker’s bureau owner said, “You are the best woman speaker I’ve heard, do you have a brochure?” Naturally, I did not! One month later he called and booked me to speak to 2,000 on the same program with well-known and in-demand speakers. Walking up to three strangers and asking, “May I join you? ” had lead to decades of a successful speaking, training, and coaching career.
Opportunity does not knock once. It knocks all the time we do not always recognize the sound.
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