Gurus Need to Walk Their Talk- And We Need To Be Challenging Them To Do So Even More

Any self proclaimed guru, if they were being truly honest, would admit that at some point in their career, in the spirit of lifelong development and continued evolution, (as well as walking your talk) they would reach out to someone else, another expert, a colleague in their respected field for assistance in an area of their life or business in which they, themselves, are not. Take selling, for example. As a professional presenter who makes their living delivering keynotes, seminars, and training events; one core competency they need to master is How To Sell and position themselves effectively.

How to market, sell and package themselves, how to get organized, how to utilize technology to stay ahead and streamline their business operations are just some of the areas that any wise and insightful business leader would reach out in search of that guru who could assist them in developing, mastering or delegating these critical components of their business.

For me, 2005 was the year of fine tuning the positioning, technology, structure and future of my business. 2006 is the year of execution and abundance. The year of getting ahead of the future. With my oldest daughter in kindergarten, the twins turning 2 in January and the house completed, it was the first time in 2 years that I managed to position myself ahead of the game; something I’ve always done in the past. With 3 new projects launched online, new programs, new technology, new books, happy clients that are a blast to work with, it made sense to continue this path of refinement, enlightenment and evolution by looking under the hood when it comes to perfecting my public speaking skills so that every person in every audience that I’m speaking in front of has a powerful, enjoyable experience that becomes the foundation for measurable, long lasting results.

After some Googling online, I came across one self-proclaimed expert on public speaking. A “presentation coach or public speaking coach” is what he suggested he was. According to his website, he only works with the top speakers in their profession. His website spoke of a system he developed to make any presentation pop, engaging and entertaining.

It peaked my curiosity. After all, if someone knows more about something than I do, it only makes sense to tap into the wisdom of others.

I see he’s written a few books, so I had my assistant schedule a one to one call with this presentation guru. Now, you would think, anyone who touts themselves as an expert in a specific area or topic, they would be a model of what they preach. That is, walk their talk. I must say, I would expect this person to have a strong presence, even on the phone and be a master of communication. That’s what I’d be paying him to teach me, right? To take me somewhere I have not been myself.

Well, not exactly.

I called him one afternoon for our scheduled appointment. “Hello, Jon?” I asked.

“Yes, how can I help you?” A soft, monotone, lethargic voice responded.

“My name is Keith Rosen. You may have heard of me?” I said jokingly.


I continued. “I’m an executive sales coach, corporate trainer and professional speaker. Since I’m always on the lookout for ways to do things better, I came across your website and was curious to know how you may be able to help me.”

“Sure,” he responded…… Empowering…..

“Let me tell you how this works. Are you going to be in the LA area next month during the week of March 14? I’m conducting my next live workshop that you still have time to register for.”

I paused, taken aback. Was I having a flashback to my first Dead show in the early 80’s and blacked out the last 30 minutes of our conversation? Did I fall through a crack in the space-time continuum and landed at the point in time we refer to as the future where we were wrapping up our conversation? Possibly. Or could it truly be that this artist of the spoken word began the conversation without any regard to the sanctity of the consultative sales process; the very basic foundation upon which any great sale opportunity is built upon.

This master presenter didn’t ask me any questions about who I was. He didn’t ask about what I did or why I was even calling him. (Kind of makes you look at those people who consider themselves “strong closers” in a different light.) Considering that a very large portion of my practice consists of executive coaching and sales training over the phone, you would think it would behoove him to find out at least some basic information about my business. His approach to attracting me to hiring him and the way he demonstrated his illuminating presence and years of refining his skills as a presenter in a way that would connect with your audience, hold their interest and feel empowered at the end of every speaking event was by telling me when he is speaking next and asking me to register. Brilliant.

“No,” I replied almost a bit bewildered and taken back from This Diva of Delivery’s approach. Maybe I’m underestimating his powers of enrollment. Maybe this is a carefully planned and executed approach to blind side any potential client and baffle them into the sale. Maybe.

“Well then,” Diva Dan continued, “We can work together on the phone. I can offer guidance on your approach. You can also send me the manuscripts of your presentations as well as a live demonstration of a presentation you delivered, even an audio presentation would be fine. I would then review them and offer my suggestions. I charge $575.00 per hour. However, you can buy a package of 10 calls for $5500.00.

“Okay,” I said. “Well, would you want to know a little about me and what I’m doing to see if you can even help me and there’s a fit between us in terms of what I’m looking for?” I figured, I would try and salvage his fragile sale.

Silence. Again. Hmmm, an elusive fellow. More Jedi mind tricks?

I threw him another bone. I voluntarily shared with him what I do and what I’ve been doing, writing, creating.

When I concluded, more silence.

“Well, thanks for your time.” I decided to end this unique experience. “Let me consider what you can do for me and I’ll get back to you if I’m ready.”

“You can also attend the next program which we’re now taking reservations for that will take place in August. What part of the country do you live?” Was this his confusion close?

Oy. 20 minutes into the conversation and this is when he is interested in finding out about me and where I live?

If this is the impression he leaves with people and how he performs on the phone, what would he be like in person? I don’t know what I’m more concerned about; him or the companies he claims hire him for corporate work.

I have to say, I was also a little perturbed by this experience. I felt a bit deceived and lied to. So, for those people who are looking to hire a speaker or coach; whether it’s a life coach, sales coach, executive coach or trainer for your sales and management team, remember this. You’ll be able to recognize the really great trainers and coaches by the ones who focus on delivering value to you immediately and are tuned into your objectives, your personal and unique needs and the measurable results you can and want to expect. (“And by the way, here’s a list of all my clients that you can call at any time.”)

The first experience you have with them and the way you feel after talking with them is typically the way they will present, train and coach your staff because they masterfully model what they teach. The other stuff, (the things I’m guilty of as well but recognize them for what they are); the sharp websites, good looking pictures and strong value proposition is still, at the end of the day, fluff.

If this guy with the golden tongue is the guru, then we desperately need to re-evaluate the standards and perceptions which we have of these self proclaimed gurus. Are we buying into them a bit too much? Do we believe their marketing message over the core value they can actually deliver on in a measurably positive way?

Hmmm, note to self: Find out what companies he’s trained and sell your stocks in them-immediately.