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Scott McKain

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Are YOU 'in It for the Money'?

It always makes me a bit amused when someone is upset because a professional is doing something “for the money”

Today on Facebook, I’m watching as someone obviously possessing the lethal combination of arrogance and ignorance attacks a speaker friend of mine for — in his opinion — being “about the money” as opposed to “about passion.”

His uninformed perspective reminds me of a time several years ago when I hired Ron Arden, an internationally respected speech coach. I wanted to take my platform abilities to a higher level, and made an appointment with a professional who had been highly recommended. Because I had experienced some degree of success in the speaking business, my perception was that his assistance would be “fine tuning” my programs. It never occurred to me that I might need a major makeover.

As I entered his office and began a conversation, he asked me this important question: “Scott, where do you speak from?” I told him I didn’t quite understand the point of his question — what was he looking for?

“What I want to understand,” he told me, “is the origin of your platform performance. Where does it come from?”

I thought the answer was obvious. “I’m proud to say I speak from the heart.”

He literally rolled his eyes. “Oh no! Not another speaker who claims to speak from the heart!”

I was stunned! Isn’t that the true test of sincerity?

My speech coach then told me something I’ve never forgotten, and it literally changed my life. “Imagine that you and your wife are going to see a Broadway play this evening. It will probably be the 300th time the leading actors have performed their roles. Do you want them to perform from the heart?”

“Well…of course!” I exclaimed – “Why would I want anything different?”

Ron asked, “Are there times that your heart really isn’t into speaking? Are there times that you have to perform when you just don’t feel like it?”

“What you as an audience member really desire is that the professional performs from their skill. In other words, you want to see a true master of their craft deliver a highly polished and professional performance.”

Then, the powerhouse summary by this wise and eloquent man: “The sincere artist writes from the heart. The carrying and sensitive professional performs from a high level of skill.”

It should go without saying that the best basketball players in the world are the ones who play for money. Same is true with baseball, football, auto racing, and just about any other sport one could imagine. My estimate is that the best actors are the ones who are professional, as well.

In other words, the best performances are almost always from the people who are “in it for the money.”

However, how do arrive at the point that you can make a living doing something like sports, acting, speaking — or whatever it is that you do?

It has to begin with a passion. It has to begin with loving something and caring about something so much that you would be willing to do it for free if they couldn’t pay you.

However, because you work so hard at your craft, you become so good at what you do people become willing to compensate you for your performance.

And, don’t think for a moment this is restricted to being on a stage, or in an arena! Customers pay every single day at the places where great experiences are created for them. Sometimes that’s a restaurant or retail outlet – perhaps it’s your major corporation, or small business – but the question remains: Are you so darn great at what you do, you can afford to be “in it for the money”?

It always makes me a bit amused when someone is upset because a professional is doing something “for the money.”

It simply means that they do not know how to perform at a level significant enough to inspire people to pay to see or hear them perform.

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Scott McKain is a business leader, bestselling author, and Hall of Fame professional speaker.
Scott's latest book, "The Collapse of Distinction: Stand Out and Move Up While Your Competition Fails" reached the #1 spot on list of Customer Service Bestsellers! He is the author of two #1 additional business bestsellers ( & 800-CEO-READ): "What Customers REALLY Want" (currently available in trade paperback) and "ALL Business is Show Business."
He is the Co-founder and Principal of The Value Added Institute, a think-tank that examines the role of the customer experience in creating significant advances in the level of client loyalty, and has appeared on multiple occasions as a commentator and analyst on FOX News Channel. His platform presentations have run the gamut from the White House lawn with the President in the audience carried live on CNN and NBC's "Today" a remote outpost near the Amazon...all 50 states, seven Canadian provinces...and from Singapore to Sweden...Mexico to Morocco.
An inductee into the Professional Speakers Hall of Fame, he is also a member of "Speakers Roundtable" -- an elite, invitation-only group of twenty of the world's top business speakers.