What I Learn From Speaking

Last week, I had the privilege of speaking to a group of about 100 people participating in MAFA Chicago’s mentorship program, which is designed to connect entry & mid level professionals¬†(mentees) with senior level professionals (mentors) in their field of interest¬†(within the marketing, advertising, media and communications industry).

Technically, I suppose, I “speak” a lot – whether it is presenting to clients as CEO of Sprouse Marketing Group, or doing conference calls, or presenting my company in the daily course of business. But when I speak to outside groups, I always love walking away feeling like I learned as much as others did in hearing me speak. Case in point, last week. I have had several people I have considered “mentors” in my life, and I was able to share my experiences from being a professional athlete to founding an e-commerce business to selling dolls to being a senior marketing executive at Playboy to being a CMO to being an author to becoming an entrepreneur. But for me – learning about great organizations trying to take that important mentorship concept to the next level in Chicago was terrific to see and experience. Also, when I was done speaking, we went into the “Q&A” period and there were actually questions! Good ones, too! That always leaves an impression on me.

I really enjoyed it. I enjoyed sharing my years of knowledge with these people. I enjoyed talking about my book. I enjoyed speaking my mind in a somewhat unscripted fashion.

And let’s face it: that’s when the really good stuff comes out. Most people get nothing from boring presentations. You can either hold a room by yourself, or you can’t. I no longer speak to outside groups with any type of presentations or Power Point decks or anything of that nature. I find it takes away from what I have to say and my experiences, and I really have nothing to prove at this point by showing I can put an awesome deck together (and most often, those awesome decks are created by other people any way!) It lets me talk off the cuff more. And believe me, I run a service-oriented organization that is very client-focused each and every day and very not “off the cuff” where clients have no idea about my life’s experience or credentials, and so when I speak to outside groups I let it fly!

Thanks to MAFA and DraftFCB for hosting me. I enjoyed it. I hope to see you all again.

Up next: I get to speak to the top business students at my Alma Mater, the University of Notre Dame, in March. I can’t tell you how excited I am about that one, to share my knowledge and experience on my old campus that means so much to me.