I will admit it, after 11 years as a professional speaker my ego had expanded. While I was never one of the top earning speakers in the business, I had a good run and supported my family by being a keynote speaker. I liked the business, made friends with other speakers and meeting planners, and my business grew year over year. I had not realized I was seduced by the industry, but I was. I was not a asshole (I do not think I was), but I was believing my own press.
My ego had begun to self-identify as a speaker. My life was about being the guy on stage. It was in my soul to the level of each cell. I clearly was seeing the world through my career success. I was a speaker. Maybe it was all I was?
Then came 2020 and it all came to a stop. The live and in-person meetings industry was knocked off the rails by the pandemic and all of my booked presentations for then next 18 months were canceled or postponed. My whole income vanished. Oh, and I had a kid who had just got into an Ivy League College. My income was zero and my family’s financial obligations were going up.
While I did do some virtual work as a speaker and/or master of ceremonies, I did not get anywhere close to my 2019 income levels for the rest of 2020. So many people talk about how great they did in the pandemic, but I would be lying to say it was my best year ever. Q2 and Q3 of 2020 were the worst in regards to sales since I began my business in 2009.
Goodbye Ego — Hello New Outlook
This post is not me complaining. I am actually not sad or feeling like I got the short end of the stick. Before the collapse of 2020 my outlook on life had begun to change. Meditation and the study of Taoism was just part of my journey. But the changes in the speaking business meant I was no longer able to self identify as my job. My ego got bruised and was maybe even killed in the process. That self view as the working speaker and one who was often onstage had to face the reality that it was over a year before I would give a keynote.
But my ego being removed from its place of prominence was a good thing. Through a year of self discovery, meditation, and new ways to earn income… I am becoming a different person. My new outlook is one that is more spiritual and based on understanding my intuition. I observe and listen more than I every have before. I no longer as judgmental of others. The inner me is at peace and I am not needing to be on stage to feel good inside.
Reinvention Without The Ego
I am doing more work in areas outside of keynote speaking, but I still love presenting. I am challenged to be great on stage, while at the same time not allowing my ego to return to the front. As I am now working with clients as a speaker again, some repeat clients said things about my being more at ease and playful. The business (and my life) have become more fun recently.
Now I am not an expert on psychology or the realities of “ego”… so I cannot say for sure if it is really gone (I don’t think people can really kill their ego, but I have retired it to a lesser role in my life). But it is now a different journey. My talk about “Uncommon Connections” has grown out of what I have seen and researched in the past year. So many are caught up on quantity of contacts, but that is “Ego Lead” metrics. When you are seeking to be a person who can make a difference in the lives of others in an uncommon way (and still get business), you begin to keep score in very different ways.
Each day I wake and attempt to ensure the reinvention is real (I do not want to go back to how I was before). The efforts I am putting in are also pegged around having conversations with people who can help me morph and grow in this new direction. I am no longer the product. The speech is the product. Because of this I am more open to critiques and ideas.
Who Out There Understands This?
Who has experienced something similar? I am seeking like minded people who can help me along this path. My rule in the COVID lockdown was about talking to smart people everyday. That allowed me to grow and change and get to where I am now. If you relate to this, please reach out to me. Help me and allow me to help you. I do not want some fake guru, I want friends who also are trying to keep the ego buried (or at least in the back seat).
About Thom Singer
Thom Singer is on a journey of the soul. While he has an eclectic career, he in no longer self-identified by his job. What does he do?
He works for Stanton Chase, a leading executive search firm that specializes in helping companies and associations place key hires. He is also a keynote speaker and professional master of ceremonies / EmCee
After a successful career in sales and marketing, Thom Singer became a growth leadership speaker in 2009. A decade later he has brought his high energy presentations and action-oriented content to over 900 audiences. Thom knows that as the speaker or master of ceremonies he has a responsibility to set the tone for a strong conference attendee experience. Known as “The Conference Catalyst” he creates an atmosphere of fun and interaction that lasts beyond his presentation.
Thom earned his Certified Speaking Professional (CSP) in 2014 and is committed to the business of meetings. He is the author of 12 books and is the host of the popular “Cool Things Entrepreneurs Do” podcast. On his show he has interviewed over 400 entrepreneurs, solopreneurs, business leaders and others with a focus on discovering how the most successful people get farther across the gap between potential and results.
At 50 years old Thom decided to reinvent his life and make age 50 to 75 the best years of his life. This meant saying yes to things that scared him, and trying new things. Since that time Thom has jumped off buildings, took up running (and lost 30 lbs) and began performing stand up comedy.
Originally published at https://thomsinger.com on June 17, 2021.