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Resilience Required in Your Speaking Business with Kwesi Millington
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Resilience Required in Your Speaking Business with Kwesi Millington

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Quote: “I’ll be honest with you, from the business side of things, when I took your course, that’s all I needed.” Kwesi Millington

As the owner of a speaking business in the last few years, you have had to learn to “roll with the punches,” so to speak. Imagine starting your speaking business at the start of the pandemic. Maybe that is you. If it is, you certainly know that it requires great dedication, hard work and, most importantly, resilience. On this episode of The Wealthy Speaker Show, we’re thrilled to welcome Kwesi Millington to share his journey of creating the successful speaking business of his dreams.

Kwesi is a former RCMP Police Officer, Global Keynote Resilience Speaker, & Certified Coach helping Students, Front Line Workers, and High-Stress Organizations to overcome adversity, cope with and conquer stress, and build confidence. Kwesi’s presentations combine engaging yet purposeful storytelling with audience interaction to create memorable and motivating experiences.

 

Read Full Transcript

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Jane Atkinson: Hey! Welcome everyone to the wealthy speaker. Podcast. I'm your host, Jane Atkinson, and I am thrilled to have another alumni of the wealthy Speaker school back with us today to talk about the resilience required to build a successful business. Welcome to the show. Quasi Millington.

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Kwesi Millington: Thank you so much for having me, and I just have to say I'm a big fan, and I'm a student as well. So thank you, appreciative, for being on here.

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Jane Atkinson: We have loved. We had you in the school for many, many years, and we have actually loved watching your trajectory. Let's talk about the beginning. What's your back story? What happened in the early days for you.

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Kwesi Millington: No, absolutely so my background is, I used to be a police officer with the Rcmp. And my short version of this story is quite simply, I was involved in a well known case, and at the time

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Kwesi Millington: I had to testify about what I did during a certain case, and as police officers, we sometimes have to testify in court, and sometimes there's a gap between when you go to a case and you deal with a call, and then you testify about it. Unfortunately, I forgot some of the things that happened during that testimony, or sorry during that case. So I made some mistakes during my testimony, and unfortunately, those mistakes

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Kwesi Millington: we're called deliberate mistakes, even though they were accidental mistakes, and I always put this in layman's terms, because the actual

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Kwesi Millington: charge is called perjury. I was charged with perjury, which means deliberately lying in court. I will tell you. I've never lied a day in my career, but unfortunately, I was charged, and I was convicted, and I lost my policing career because of it.

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Jane Atkinson: Wow!

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Kwesi Millington: Now you fast forward to 2,018, and I have to figure out, okay, what's the next phase in my life? Now, as a police officer. I was one of those guys that I didn't like the adrenaline junky calls. I didn't like the going to drug calls or homicides. I loved going into schools. I was that school resource officer, the guy who went in and loved dealing with kids. And so coming out of that, I thought, can I do something

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Kwesi Millington: with youth, with young people, and a natural offshoot of as well was? Can I do something with police officers? And mental health? Has been a big thing with both markets, and I thought, maybe I can

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Kwesi Millington: do something with them. I don't know what, and that's what led me to you. I realized through following you and reading your first book, which I still have your wealthy speaker to winnow, that

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Kwesi Millington: I can actually transition and start a new path in life. And so in around 2019, I decided, okay, this is gonna be my next phase of life. I'm going to go out there. We're gonna talk to both young people and first responders about the power of resilience mental health, and see if I can make this. You know my next phase in life.

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Jane Atkinson: Make a go of it, and I have absolutely loved watching you and your family grow and your business grow at the same time. It's feel like we've had the best

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Jane Atkinson: seat in the stadium to watch this career unfold for you, and I've seen some posts what actually prompted us to get you on the show. Here was a post that you did about

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Jane Atkinson: year one in the business was this many speeches, and then year 2 in the business you were. I think you were only into the first quarter when you posted. You had already doubled, and then go on from there. So

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Jane Atkinson: let's talk about the early days, what you know, when you were kind of scraping and clawing your way into the business. What were some of the first things that you did to start to get your name out there.

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Kwesi Millington: Yeah. Well, I guess, rewinding. The first

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Kwesi Millington: few things that I did was I tried to get in front of people to speak and.

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Jane Atkinson: Yeah.

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Kwesi Millington: That's always the hardest thing. But I think one thing that helped me was that I was willing to speak.

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Kwesi Millington: even if I wasn't getting paid. So I wanted to get out there and just see, okay, how can I get in front of my ideal market whether they're paying me or not?

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Kwesi Millington: So it was just

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Kwesi Millington: finding who's in this space. How can I get that out there? And speaking for free was was huge for me, but also part of that was making sure that I

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Kwesi Millington: got some way to record my speech.

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Jane Atkinson: Oh, okay.

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Kwesi Millington: So that I could get footage so I could get footage of me, speaking especially because what I think I started at the worst time in business. I was at the end of 2,019, going into 2,020. We all know what happened in 2,020 when the world shuts down and I had a decision to make. Am I gonna keep doing this, or am I going to take a break until we come back

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Kwesi Millington: to being in person. And I thought.

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Kwesi Millington: and so I talked to people who were doing it. And I realized there's a virtual market. So I I just wanted to speak as much as I could, and also let people know, through actual footage of me. Speaking, that this is what I'm struggling to do.

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Jane Atkinson: Nice. And and you know the saying is, if you wanna speak, speak. I have clients who will say, Okay, I haven't had a speech for 4 months, and yet they are not willing to go out and do a freebie just to get some momentum going, and that sometimes is what's required. If you wanna speak, speak.

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Jane Atkinson: go out there and speak to anyone who will listen, and in your case you were doing it very strategically. Your markets were youth and and first responders. And so there was lots of freebies to be given in those markets, and that even though it wasn't technically the rubber chicken circuit. I don't know if you ever got a free chicken lunch, but.

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Kwesi Millington: I got free lunches, no chicken but lunch, for sure.

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Jane Atkinson: Yeah, you actually got your business started in that way. So let's talk a little bit about

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Jane Atkinson: how important it was to choose those 2 markets, and also to pick the lane of resilience. What you know I know at the beginning you're thinking I can speak on anything.

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Jane Atkinson: How how important was it to narrow your focus into one topic area.

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Kwesi Millington: Well, it was. It was 2 things even you mentioned market and and topic. I realized the market was huge because

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Kwesi Millington: I was applying to all schools, and I realized that the footage that I captured from my first speech was a high school audience, so.

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Jane Atkinson: So.

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Kwesi Millington: Even niching down within youth to say, I spoke to high schools

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Kwesi Millington: help me in the beginning, say, Okay, I have to apply to high schools, and in order to expand, I do speak to elementary. Now. I speak to full K to 12, but I noticed that I didn't really get a lot of traction until I got footage of me speaking to elementary. So I send my footage of elementary to elementary students schools and

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Kwesi Millington: my footage of high school, the high schools. And that's how much you have to niche down like even. Don't just think of the people in your market. Think of age, group demographics.

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Jane Atkinson: Yeah.

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Kwesi Millington: And you have to have a topic that you speak about, because if I just come in and say I'm a speaker, then they don't know what they need, but if I tell them I'm a resilience and mental health speaker, they can either say Yes, I need that or no, I don't. So a friend of mine, he's a diversity speaker. They know that they go to him. If they need a Dei talk, they know they come to me if they want mental health and resilience as well.

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Jane Atkinson: I like that. You tacked on mental health to that, because that's such an important topic, especially with the kids up and coming.

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Jane Atkinson: you know, helping the next generation. I'm hoping the next generation will be better than

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Jane Atkinson: those who are out in the workforce today, because they had more mental health education on the way up.

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Jane Atkinson: and I think it's becoming more and more common to to hear speakers on it, and to be talking about it at the dinner table than it was 10 years ago. Maybe.

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Kwesi Millington: Yeah, absolutely. There. There's there's a stigma around it, and and especially my other market with first responders not talking about it.

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Kwesi Millington: Yes. Now it's much more accepted to to just say, Hey, listen. I'm okay, not being okay.

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Jane Atkinson: So you start out in your career as an Rcmp. In Canada. That is our, I would say, most prestigious police position. And

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Jane Atkinson: how much was you? How much of a hit did your own mental health take losing that? And and really it came down to you didn't tell this part of the story, but it came down to a judge who

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Jane Atkinson: your lawyer said, Oh, we're in for it, he I saw how he looked at you, and I know this judge's background. And we in trouble is basically what he told you before. You know, when he saw the judge. So you.

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Kwesi Millington: Yes, just to clar, just to clarify. He's just he, he said. He came up to me the first week of my trial, and said. I think he's gonna find you guilty. He said that to me, and I didn't want to believe that, because I believe in you know justice. And you know, innocent, proven guilty. But I also had a lawyer. Tell me straight up to my face, this is what we think is gonna happen. So.

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Jane Atkinson: Yeah.

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Kwesi Millington: I decide eventually he was proven to be right, unfortunately, but that's the way he goes in life.

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Jane Atkinson: So you lose your

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Jane Atkinson: career. Something. Did you want to be a police officer since you were a little boy?

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Kwesi Millington: No, I didn't have that typical. You know. I was a boy, and I saw police officer, and I wanted to be an officer. I I it was more so in my twenties. I realized that that was a career I wanted to get into. But I did have aspirations, and in policing Rcmp. I would say, is the FBI of Canada. Whenever I speak to American audiences.

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Jane Atkinson: Okay.

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Kwesi Millington: And I wanted to advance to a certain rank. I wanted to be one of the highest ranking black members of the Rcmp. That was kind of one of the dreams I had, and it's one of the few cradle to grave jobs, right? That there's not too many jobs where you can say I'm probably going to have a career for 20 plus years, but that was one of them. So that was a a hit for me. And so that's why I'm like I'm so grateful that I was able to find the speaking business because I I was lost for quite a while triggering. What am I going to do with my life?

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Jane Atkinson: Yeah. And and when you lose any job I mean, I got fired from Orange Julius, and it took a hit to my mental health, and that was like I was thinking.

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Kwesi Millington: No more free orange juice. Come on now.

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Jane Atkinson: I was 16 years old. This was not a big deal, but it still had impact. And I know that you know you have to become resilient from that, to be able to bounce back and go get the next job. And so here you are going out to actually sell yourself as a speaker, and then you have to figure out what topic. And I really liked watching you

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Jane Atkinson: almost bloom like a beautiful flower in front of us. You know. I'm pretty sure you were a little bit wounded when you arrived at the doorstep of the wealthy Speaker School, and then we we started to water you.

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Kwesi Millington: Yes, you did, you did. It's there's there's no.

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Jane Atkinson: Bye.

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Kwesi Millington: That said frustration is a skill that has to be built, and I had to build my frustration as far as moving to a new career, and I had to build. I had to kind of erase some of the things I thought on my head. I thought, well, I can just speak about anything to anyone. And

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Kwesi Millington: yeah, I had to definitely get, you know, the right brainwashing from your school to understand how to do that, how to do this business. So.

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Jane Atkinson: Let's call it fertilization.

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Kwesi Millington: Fertilization. You have to walk, you have to water me.

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Jane Atkinson: Full flower. And then there you are. So okay, here we are. What? You said 2019.

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Jane Atkinson: So here we are about 5 years into it, 4 or 5 years into it.

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Kwesi Millington: Yet Harry.

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Jane Atkinson: Tell me where you sit today. How happy are you with your schedule? How much are you speaking? As you look backwards, I wanna kind of break it down and get some of them, maybe mistakes that you made, and some of the things that really worked. So let's talk about where you sit today in your business.

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Kwesi Millington: Well, I guess the word that I would have is grateful. I'm at a yeah, just at a point where I'm I'm speaking a lot, and I'm speaking to the audiences I want to speak to

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Kwesi Millington: and doing, you know, both schools and some first responder work, mostly schools right now. But I'm getting more into the first responder area as well. And you know, for me being able to say I have an impact

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Kwesi Millington: in someone's life still in a new way now is huge, like from students that send me cards to write me letters to Dms. I mentor students online as well, and it's just

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Kwesi Millington: been a way that

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Kwesi Millington: I can still inspire people to make good choices in their life, and I think a lot of the police officers get into the career to help other people, and I found something that I can do that also help other people, but also make a good income to be able to support my family doing it as well. So I'm happy about that.

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Jane Atkinson: Good good. So you're out speaking a fair amount. And in the early days, you know, I think you said something like 18 speeches in in year one. Tell me a little bit about what

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Jane Atkinson: some something that you did. Maybe it was a marketing thing, or maybe your speech got better. That kind of moved the needle for you.

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Kwesi Millington: Yeah, no. Well, definitely, the speech is always what it comes back to.

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Kwesi Millington: Because in your business, if you can get referred that's gonna save you so much time. It's gonna help to grow your business, because just doing cold outreach cold outreach as your only form of getting speaking engagements. It's gonna be very tiring and it is tiring in the beginning. That's what you have to do. But you definitely want to

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Kwesi Millington: fertilize that referral process as well, too. So I always ask for referrals, and I'm more likely to get them now than I was in my first year, because, as the speeches improved, it's a lot better now than than it was when I got started and.

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Jane Atkinson: How did you invest? How did you invest in your presentation? Was there? I know that here in the school we have a pretty strong speech section. We have a lot of Kelly Swanson in there and lot on. You know how to how to set up your speech was there, how, how much work and time and energy did you put into the actual presentation.

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Kwesi Millington: So I'll correct one word. There did I put in. How much work do I put in.

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Jane Atkinson: Because it's okay.

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Kwesi Millington: Always. It's always a process. It's continuous. I'm making upgrades to a speech I'm doing tomorrow for our high school. Even to this day.

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Jane Atkinson: Okay.

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Kwesi Millington: It's it's continuous to do it my background is a little bit different in that. I have also gotten a certification as a speech coach. So.

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Jane Atkinson: So, okay.

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Kwesi Millington: I help people write their speeches as well. So

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Kwesi Millington: I was able to do most of that on my own. But I do study Kelly Swanson, who's in? Who's a master in your school? I do study a lot of other speakers

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Kwesi Millington: in Michael Porch's program or public speaking program. I went to New York. I've hired coaches myself.

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Kwesi Millington: I I can't tell you how many countless thousands of dollars I've spent on speech coaching

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Kwesi Millington: as well as investing with you and and the business side of it as well. So it's an ongoing process.

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Jane Atkinson: So never, ever. And and I would think that the first time you stand up in front of students is a schooling in itself, because you might think, Oh, yeah, I'm gonna come in here and blah blah blah. And

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Jane Atkinson: students are are they not the hardest audience ever.

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Kwesi Millington: 100, and people will say that, and sometimes people say things that you have to get out there and prove it for it to be true, but a student. If they don't like what you have to say, they will not pretend they will not fake it. They will sit there and just stare at you. So you have to be engaging with them. And I'll be honest going to an adult audience after youth audience is actually easy. So yeah, they definitely test your material for you as well.

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Jane Atkinson: Yeah. So okay, so the first, okay, so moving, the needle, probably working on the presentation working on the product has been one of the biggest things. What would you say has been the biggest, maybe financial mistake or marketing mistake or thing that flops that you have done where you might warn other people away from.

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Kwesi Millington: That's a good one. I would say

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Kwesi Millington: that

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Kwesi Millington: I didn't need to invest in so many courses.

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Kwesi Millington: because once you have the course that teaches you

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Kwesi Millington: what you need to know.

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Kwesi Millington: This shiny penny syndrome that we think if I get into that course and I get into that course, I'm gonna pick up extra things, but I'll be honest with you from the business side of things when I took your course. That's all I needed. I invested in another course for you speaking.

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Kwesi Millington: and that was really all I needed. But I invested into so many other courses

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Kwesi Millington: that maybe added, like nugget of information. But it wasn't worth the thousands of dollars I spent. So once you have what you need, go out there and do the work.

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Jane Atkinson: Stop looking. I often tell people put on the blinders once you find who your Guru, or per or resource is going to be.

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Jane Atkinson: and the reason is

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Jane Atkinson: When you take courses every time you sign up for something, I think

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Jane Atkinson: the mentality is oh, this is gonna solve my problem. And the problem is that you don't have enough business. Taking the course isn't going to solve that problem. Taking action in your business is what is actually going to solve the problem, stop learning and start doing.

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Jane Atkinson: And so that's we. I see that so many times. And when I see people who have, I'll ask the question on the assessment. How have you invested in your speaking business in the last, however, many months? And if there's a long, long list of things. I know that I'm with somebody who is a avid course taker, chronic course taker. And what we need to do is just stop

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Jane Atkinson: taking courses and start taking action. So I hope people who are the chronic course seekers will listen to that, and sure one or 2 courses is required to, so that when you're taking action, you know you're coming from a place of knowledge.

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Jane Atkinson: and somebody who's tried it and done it and and proven it.

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Jane Atkinson: But that's all you need. That's all you need.

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Jane Atkinson: Pick your guru and then follow through. Okay, so that's that's actually incredibly helpful.

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Kwesi Millington: Can I? Can I add one thing to that, and know exactly what know exactly what you want from

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Kwesi Millington: the courts that you're taking.

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Kwesi Millington: I don't just say, Okay, I'm going to sign up for this course. Say, okay, there's something I'm missing. And I need to learn this one thing

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Kwesi Millington: or this these few things? Am I gonna get this from this course? I know my own. Let me go here to learn this thing. No, and have some specific focus.

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Jane Atkinson: That's good. If you're taking, you know something on presentation skills. Maybe your stories needs some crafting. Maybe your humor needs some crafting really decide. What is it that you want from that? And yes, there'll be some tips as well on top of that. But I think, having that focus going into it is really, really helpful. Okay, so if you were to start all over today.

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Jane Atkinson: let's say today was day one of your business. What advice would you give young Quac, knowing what you know now? 5 years in.

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Kwesi Millington: I would say, if I was trending over

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Kwesi Millington: on a technical side. Get a Crm right away so just some way to organize your contacts right away. Don't just send out emails or calls without a tracking system.

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Jane Atkinson: On a spreadsheet. Yes. Okay.

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Kwesi Millington: Yeah, yeah, so.

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Jane Atkinson: Okay, so get a Crm quicker in the game. What? What one are you using now, Casey.

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Kwesi Millington: I use one called Nimble and.

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Jane Atkinson: Nimble. Okay.

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Kwesi Millington: I find it very easy to use. I can see, okay, how many people are opening an email when they're opening it. I can follow up that way. And I find it very, very helpful to use.

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Jane Atkinson: Oh, wonderful! And I'll reinforce that with a Crm. Is only as good as its user. So getting in there and using it every single day is the only way a Crm is going to work for you and it doesn't.

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Kwesi Millington: Close my page.

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Jane Atkinson: But that.

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Kwesi Millington: I don't close my page. My nimble page is always open.

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Jane Atkinson: Stays open all the time, and you're in there like assessing it and seeing. Okay, who do? I need to follow up with today? That is number one, and so I get in there and use it. Learn it and use it. I'm pretty sure that I only use 10 or 15 of my Crm.

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Kwesi Millington: It like.

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Jane Atkinson: I'm in it every day. I'm in it every day. So that's that's okay. Alright. Well, I want to say, Thank you. Is there anything else that you want to add to that? Get a Crm right away?

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Kwesi Millington: And put more time into reaching out

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Kwesi Millington: than anything else. I think I spent too much time on social media, and you know, what does my presence look like on this social media and this platform, when really all I needed to do, was double or triple or quadruple my reach notes, and that's so simple. But we get lost in the weeds sometimes.

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Jane Atkinson: Oh, you know what.

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Kwesi Millington: Reach out, to speak.

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Jane Atkinson: That is really, really, really good advice. If you want more business, look at your numbers, double them, triple them. And so how many people. Would you touch every week? And by a touch it could be a Linkedin connection. It could be a phone call, it could be an email, whatever it might be. What's your goal each week right now?

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Kwesi Millington: So I actually don't have a specific number of people I want to reach. But I do have

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Kwesi Millington: basically in my Crm, and I wanna make sure that I'm sending out

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Kwesi Millington: minimum 3 to 400

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Kwesi Millington: reaches a week.

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Jane Atkinson: Really.

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Kwesi Millington: That's just me, because of where I am in my business right now.

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Jane Atkinson: Okay.

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Kwesi Millington: And I also have people that help me do these things also. Keep in mind that I'm a youth speaker, and I feel that in youth speaking, we have bigger numbers for.

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Jane Atkinson: Yes.

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Kwesi Millington: Out!

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Jane Atkinson: That's very true.

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Kwesi Millington: Corporate in the corporate market. So

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Kwesi Millington: it's it's totally different.

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Jane Atkinson: Yeah, the youth market. I I always talk about how much you sometimes can get. Run ragged a little bit in the. So my goal for you, Casey, would be to see you start to balance that with the first responders, and maybe get a 50 50 balance going so that you're not run as ragged

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Jane Atkinson: cause youth speakers can really, really. I mean, you could be doing 3 a day in, you know, 3 different cities, 3 days in a row. It's really really hard on a youth speaker.

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Kwesi Millington: I I I hear, hear you as well. And one thing the final thing I wanna add, there is. I actually have an assistant, and that's something I wouldn't say that. Do that too early. I wouldn't say go back and do that first day. But I do have an assistant that helps me send out things. And I also speak in different provinces and countries. So it's not all just Ontario. Yeah. So that helps as well.

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Jane Atkinson: Casey, I have absolutely love talking to you. If people want to connect with you somehow, I'm pretty sure they'll want to. Instagram, Facebook Linkedin. Where would you like them to hook up with you?

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Kwesi Millington: Yeah, no. You can catch me anywhere. Crazy speaks is my handle on most social media. Kwesi speaks, and then my full name on Linkedin is.

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Jane Atkinson: Okay.

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Kwesi Millington: I am a lot as well.

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Jane Atkinson: Last name, Millington, MILL. INGT. ON. Thank you so much for your time today. I know that there was some nugget in there that inspired someone to either go get their Crm. Or to work hard around their speech, or to get their numbers up, whatever it might be. Thank you so much for taking the time today to be on the wealthy speaker podcast.

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Kwesi Millington: Thank you for having me. I'm honored.

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Jane Atkinson: And with that we're gonna say, hey, let us know if these podcasts are helpful to you. Reach out to me, Jane, at speaker, launcher.com. I would love to hear from you, and with that

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Jane Atkinson: we will see you soon. Healthy speakers, bye, for now everyone.

Highlights you won’t want to miss:

  • An honest mistake changed everything. [1:00]
  • Making the transition to speaking. [4:00]
  • Narrowing your niche. [7:00]
  • Realizing a new dream. [10:00]
  • Grateful for making an impact. [13:00]
  • Investing in your presentation. [15:00]
  • A mistake to avoid. [17:30]
  • Reach out to speak! [23:00]

Kwesi has over a decade of experience as a first responder and coach, helping others overcome obstacles and improve mental health. Kwesi’s story is known nationally and is the subject of the best-selling book Blamed and Broken. After overcoming a decade-long struggle which included public scrutiny, a wrongful conviction and unjustified incarceration, he has turned the ability to rise above adversity into messages that transform his audiences for the better.

If you would like some great tips that might help you avoid some missteps and create a profitable speaking business, you simply can’t afford to miss this episode! 

I hope you’ll listen and learn.

Links:

Kwesi’s website
Kwesi’s books
Nimble
Kwesi’s LinkedIn profile
Jane’s LinkedIn profile
Jane’s books
The Wealthy Speaker School
Jane’s Private Coaching Options

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