For a living, I’m kind of a talent agent. I book speakers and celebrities to talk at events for big companies. I rarely go to events, because if I actually spent my time traveling to and from all these events, I’d never actually book anything. However, I will occasionally make exceptions. Being from Indiana, when I booked Peyton Manning to speak for an event a few years go, I couldn’t pass up the chance to go to the event in person- ostensibly to meet up with a top client, but really, I wanted to get a picture with Peyton to give to my grandma. (She’s addicted to Indiana sports. I know not to call when any major Indiana team is playing. I remember calling one time and she didn’t want to talk because she was too flustered that Purdue’s Robbie Hummel had just gotten hurt. “I just don’t know what Purdue is going to do without him!” she said.)
Plus, you know, it’s Peyton Manning. So I went.
Event planners have a million things they have to do on event day, so my job that morning was to help out in greeting him when he got to the convention center, showing him where to go, and just generally helping out so that all he had to focus on when the time came was delivering a great speech, and the event planner could just focus on the event. By the way, I should mention that I don’t know Peyton, and I’m sure he wouldn’t remember me. The joke among talent agents is that we don’t know any famous people, we just know famous people’s assistants. And I just say “Peyton” here because that’s what everyone called him, not because we’re close and we go shoot hoops on the weekend or anything.
What Went Wrong
At an event, anything can go wrong, and the first one that happened was outside the event planner’s control. The Indianapolis Convention Center is a massive building, and this company’s event was taking place in Hall A. For some reason, the driver had thought he was supposed to drop Peyton off at the exact opposite end of the building, Hall Z or whatever. The driver then took off without making sure Peyton was in the right place. We got the news, so the event planner and I headed over to the far end of the Indianapolis Convention Center, which is located in Ohio. We’d been told he’d need security by his office, and then convention center, hearing that Peyton Manning was coming, decided to get additional security for good measure (and, probably, to show Peyton they cared). The most direct route was to walk through the main hallway past all the different halls and ball rooms. There were a lot of other events and meetings going on in, so you just imagine the worried looks we got from people as our large group of people, many in security uniforms, were walking at high speed past them.
The Entourage Guy
When we finally got to the exact opposite side of the convention center and said hello to Peyton, we could tell he wasn’t happy. But it wasn’t because he’d been dropped off at the wrong spot, or that no one was there to greet him. It’s actually for a reason that his fans would like. He took the event planner and me aside and said, “I do appreciate you guys going to the trouble and you’re just trying to do something nice, but I really don’t need any security. Can we send them away? I’m just really not the entourage guy.”
The Prima Donna Incident
During the long walk back we managed to get rid of all but one of the security guys (I think he was just too big of a fan to let the opportunity go). We got Peyton backstage where he could meet a few executives, go over the introductions with the emcee (who happened to be Miss America, Katie Stam), and get ready to go on stage. When you’ve got a big room with a couple thousand people and a big stage, everyone who goes out on stage has to have make-up. While Peyton was stuck in the make-up chair, he turned to me and asked, “If it’s not too much trouble, could you see if there’s anything to eat?” I went over the food table, piled up a plastic plate with bagels, fruit, and danish, and brought it back to him. A few minutes later, he turned to me and said, “Um, I’m really sorry, and I don’t want to be a Prima donna, but could you get a napkin for me?” As we all know, some celebrities express their self importance by trashing hotel rooms, demanding green M&Ms or boxes of caviar, but we all know that the height of arrogance is to politely ask for a napkin. Still, I got one for him anyway.
The Bagel Question
By this point, other speakers were presenting on stage, Peyton was done with make-up and breakfast, and he was up talking with some of the executives and the emcee (fyi, Katie Stam was actually very cool, down to earth and not a Prima donna, either). My friend Rob is a huge University of Tennessee (and therefore Peyton Manning) fan, so I jokingly texted him: “Hey, Rob, do you want Peyton Manning’s half-eaten bagel?” He texted right back, “Only if he’ll autograph it.”
The Speech and Lunch
The tough part about working an event is that you rarely get a chance to enjoy it. The (sound) speakers are all focused forward toward the audience, not back toward the backstage area, so it’s frequently very difficult to actually hear the speaker speak. If you want to hear him, you have to head out some side door, go outside all the way around and then into the hall through the back. Then you need to head back before the speech is over so you can be ready to help if needed. I could tell the audience was loving it, and so I mainly followed along on twitter as people kept quoting what he was saying (this is actually a great way for speakers to know which part of their speech hit’s home). After the speech, I walked him back to where there would be a lunch and VIP photo op. This was during the height of the lockout, so when he was ‘off duty’ (as in not speaking or interacting with the client- he was really good about that), he was getting a seemingly endless barrage of messages. When that happened, I’d politely just walk to the other side of the hall to give him some privacy.
The Missed Clue
I don’t know if it’s because my mom is a nurse and I grew up with her pointing these things out, or from years of always trying to find an advantage in sports, but if someone has some sort of injury, I’ll usually pick up on it pretty quickly. I remember thinking that he must have slept the wrong way or something, because he never once turned his head to the right. The neck just seemed stiff. A few days later, the news broke that Peyton had just had neck surgery (maybe even the day after our event?). I think it speaks to his professionalism that even though he had to have been in some discomfort, he didn’t show it, and maybe even put off surgery a bit in order to keep this speaking commitment. As soon as I saw the headline on ESPN, I had that ‘a ha’ moment.
If there was any surprise, it was that he had a bit more of a cool guy vibe than what comes through in commercials. Not ‘cool’ as in ‘aloof’, but as in there’s some Matthew McConaughey in him. Instead of being 100% “aw, shucks, ma’am”, he’s probably 80% “aw, shucks, ma’am”, and probably 20% “aw, cool, dude.” He finished the lunch, and took a photo with everyone who wanted one. Then he was off, and I was back to Nashville. All in all, it was a fun experience.
I’m an age group triathlete, and I’ll admit it- I probably spent too much on my carbon fiber bike. Sure, it does help me be healthier, and on group rides and at races, it helps me hang out with my friends. But it’s nothing compared to this $100 bike. This $100 bike will help girls in Cambodia and India get to school safely, and more easily avoid violence and kidnapping that can happen to those who walk. This $100 bike can help a girl have a better chance at a future, to grow up to be an educated woman, who can in turn make a difference in her family, town, and country. You and I have our bikes that are cool, but don’t make nearly the impact that this $100 bike will. If you want to spend money on the best $100 bike you’ll ever buy in your life, here’s the link. I know I’m getting one!
They did a study where they put a child in a room with a marsh mellow. They told the child they could eat this one marsh mellow now, but if they waited 15 minutes, they could have two marsh mellows. Most of kids couldn’t wait and gobbled up the marsh mellow right away, but some kids were able to wait the 15 minutes and got two. They then tracked these kids through high school and into adulthood, and found some pretty incredible things. The kids who could wait ended up averaging 210 points higher on their SAT skills. Because these kids could practice delayed gratification- putting off something good now for something better later- they became better savers and investors and became much wealthier in life. (from Richard Paul Evans’ “Five Lessons A Millionaire Taught Me About Life and Wealth.”)
With trick-or-treating last night ,I figured we’d try this out this morning. I told the girls that they could have one piece of candy now, or if they could wait 15 minutes, they could have two pieces of candy. They thought it sounded fun, at least at first. Krista whispered to me, “I know B can do this. I’m not so sure about Syd.”
“What’s your favorite piece of candy?” I asked them.
“Snickers!” Brooklyn responded, even though we all knew of B’s well documented love of Snickers.
“Reeses Peanut Butter Cups!” yelled Syd.
Krista overheard and said, “Wait a minute, Syd. Last night you gave me all of yours because you don’t like Reeses.”
“Mom!!!” Syd yelled, knowing she’d been ratted out. That little stinker has figured out early that life isn’t fair, and she’s always trying to figure out ways to make it unfair in her favor.
We knew that Syd liked Snickers, too, if not as much as Brooklyn, so I put each of the girls in their rooms with an open Snickers in front of them. Brooklyn sat in front of hers and just stared at it, daring the temptation to try something.
Syd, on the other hand, was not so quiet.
“Daddy, why did you have to open it?!?!?! Do I have to sit here? Why can’t someone be in here with me!!!!” (‘Don’t worry, Syd, I”ll come back in.’)
Syd decided to try to distract herself from the candy bar in front of her. “Daddy, can I dance? Can you turn on some music?” I put on Disney Pandora and left.
With about 9 minutes left, Syd yelled, “Daddy, how much time is left?”
“About 9 minutes, Syd.”
“Is that a long time?”
“About 3 songs, Syd.”
Shortly afterward, I heard a tune skipped, mid-song, to the next one, also skipped after about 15 seconds. Then a Pandora commercial, and finally a third song.
“Daddy, it’s on the third song. When this song is done, I can eat my candy!”
I admired her ingenuity in trying to work the system, but I stayed firm. ”Syd, I just said three songs, meaning 3 full songs. If you skip ahead, it doesn’t count. 6 minutes left.”
Finally the 15 minutes were up. Syd, having waited, declared that she didn’t like Snickers, and had tricked me, and was going to eat two other pieces of candy. ”OK, Syd, I get your Snickers, then,” I replied.
“NO!!!!” she yelled. So at least I know she likes them a little bit.
Brooklyn, not content to do the bare minimum of the 15 minutes laid out in the study, decided she’d go a full 20 minutes before eating. Take that, temptation!
All in all, I think it was a success.
Is this something you’d try with your kids? How do you think they’d do?
Let me know!
If you want to become a Christian, it’s not an accident. “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him.” (John 6:44)
You don’t have to be perfect to become a Christian. In fact, if you read the Bible, those who were the most messed up- Moses (murderer), David (murder, adulterer, terrible dad), Jacob (thief, coward), Rahab (prostitute), Peter (all talk, no follow up), Paul (murderer)- were the ones God used the most. Jesus said, “It’s not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but the sinners.” (Mark 2:17) The common denominator was choosing to follow him.
It’s actually very simple to become a Christian. You simply say (and mean), “Dear Jesus, please forgive me of my sins. I believe you died for me. Please come into my heart.”
“If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord”,and believe in you heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.” (Romans 10:9-10)
About.com has really good information on becoming a Christian as well.
Next, connect with a friend or a local church to learn more about Jesus. You can even download podcasts at places like Crosspoint, Elevation, and Northpoint. And, to make my mom happy, here is her favorite, Joseph Prince.
In my job as a talent agent, I get to cheat- I can ask advice from people who get paid oodles of dollars for a 60 minute speech, and they actually give me the answers.
Before Krista and I had kids, I asked a financial guru, Terry Savage, the best way to say for my child’s college. I assumed it would be expensive and complicated, but with vast amounts of time and money and mental acumen needed to start.
“It’s really simple, and will take you about 10 minutes and $25,” she replied. I followed her advice and then forgot about it. A couple of years later, we had our first daughter. I remembered the college fund, and when I went to check on it, we had $1,000 saved up already! College is incredibly expensive, and having a $1,000 head start is huge! Here’s how you can do it:
STEP 1: Go to UPromise.com and set up an account. Once you sign up, you’ll start noticing the UPromise logo everywhere. Any time you buy from grocery stores, several restaurants, or even online at places like Target, Groupon, Best Buy and others, you get 1% to 8% into your child’s college savings account.
You can get a UPromise credit card if you want, but you don’t need to. Just register your other credit or check cards. You can also have your parents, aunts, uncles, etc, register their cards, and money will go into your account as well. If you have other family with college savings accounts, those relatives can divide their amounts between several kids if they want.
STEP 2: Set up your 529. Each state has one. If there’s no tax benefit to joining your own state’s 529 program, CollegeSavingsIowa.com is a great one to join. You can start with as little as $25, and invest as little as $25 each time. The money goes into a Vanguard account (a financial institution with incredibly low fees), and grows from there.
That’s it. You’ll be earning money for your children’s college education practically every day without thinking about.
So what’s keeping you from starting today?
NOTE: I am not a financial advisor, this is just my personal advice.
PS: Terry has a lot of great stuff on her website, newsletter, social media, etc
Right before most people get their paychecks (at noon on the last day of the month and 14th, since most people get paid on the 1st and 15th of the month), I’ll be posting on twitter @premierebrian on how you can give a little and save a little from each paycheck.
For giving, I’ll share some of the organizations I think are doing a great job of helping others in this world, especially widows and orphans.
For saving, I’ll be sharing quotes, blogs and insights from experts like Michelle Singletary, Ron Blue, Dave Ramsey, Sami Cone and many more.
You can help your friends and family by retweeting these, too. If you’re giving and saving, they’re more likely to do the same.
If we are start giving and saving, just think of the difference we can make!
This is from an actual conversation that could only take place at a speakers bureau.
Me- “So, do you have everything you need to move forward with this speaker for your event? Is there anything else I can provide for you?”
Event planner- “Well, we have a new sheriff in town, and we need to check with him first.”
Me- “Yeah, I know new executives like to look things over for their first event.”
Event planner- “What?”
Me- “You know, when new executives first come in, they want to make sure they have a hand in approving speakers.”
Event planner- “No, we actually have a new sheriff in town. Apparently he’s implemented some innovative processes down there at the Sheriff’s Department, and we might want to have him speak instead.”
Me- “Oh. OK.”
Why did pirates wear eye patches? The answer is actually pretty simple and kinda smart. Let’s say you’re swinging across from your ship to a British merchant ship, shouting “Avast, ye bilge rats!”, and you see someone with one of those funny powdered wigs disappear below deck, laden with valuables. Can you follow him? Since flashlights were hard to come by in the 1600s, you’d have to go below decks, wait several minutes for your eyes to adjust to the darkness, then continue the pursuit- if you hadn’t already been skewered by someone down there whose eyes were already adjusted. The solution was simple. Have one eye covered with a patch, and when you go into darkness, flip it up. It’s already adjusted, and you can go on pillaging and looting without missing a beat.
As a new dad, you’ll need to do the same thing. Not so much the part about boarding ships on the Spanish Main, but more about being able to go in and out of light and dark spaces with ease. Let’s say you’re in the baby’s room where it’s nice and dark, but then you have to go get something from the kitchen or bathroom. Even opening the refrigerator can throw off your night vision. The good news is that you don’t even need an eye patch (unless your wife thinks that’s cool). Just remember that whenever you leave a dark room and have intentions of going back in, close one eye till you return. It takes a little bit of getting used to, but it’s a whole lot better than having to wade helplessly through a dark room, hoping not to step on Boudreaux’s Butt Paste or used diapers, or turning on the light, ensuring the little one doesn’t have a chance at getting back to sleep. When you go back into the dark room, just open the ‘dark’ eye, and you’re ready to go.
You are still allowed to talk to you baby like a pirate, referring to formula as “Grog”, and referring to your wife as “me beauty”.