I know first-hand how a professional speaking platform can change everything. Whether it’s an author that wants to sell more books, an entrepreneur that needs to build their brand, or someone driven by a personal cause as I was, there is nothing more powerful than live speaking as the catalyst. Not only does it generate impassioned word of mouth, if done correctly, it can open up opportunities that would have been otherwise unavailable.
For the first two decades of my career, I was a public relations strategist specializing in books, entertainment and other high-visibility arenas. I learned how celebrity is and isn’t achieved, why some people become household names, while others, no matter how hard they try, are relegated to obscurity. After working on hundreds of front-page campaigns ranging from major motion pictures and blockbuster autobiographies to history making international events and crisis management narratives, I discovered what strikes a chord and why.
When I wrote my memoir, Please Stop Laughing At Me…, that chronicles my years as a student outcast, I never imagined that it would make the New York Times bestseller list, lead to a successful book series, help to jumpstart America’s anti-bullying movement, and establish me as an authority in the field whom kids would turn to for help. All of that happened because I started speaking live in schools, only a few at first, and then, by using the same innovative approach on myself that I had with my clients, my numbers steadily climbed. I’ve now spoken to over a half-million students, teachers and parents in gyms and auditoriums nationwide, and still going strong. My anti-bullying program, entitled INJJA (It’s NOT Just Joking Around!), has earned the respect of school districts coast to coast and is credited with having saved lives.
I often receive emails asking for advice on bullying-related situations, but I also get another type of request that I never expected and am deeply humbled by—people who want to know how to do what I’ve done—become professional speakers on an issue they care deeply about, too.
Some, like me, wish to turn their pain into purpose and have written a book about it; others are business owners, experts in a particular field, or activists. Each has a different reason why they want to start speaking professionally, but they all share something in common—they have no idea where to begin. I always take the time to respond to each and every email. Over the course of answering their questions, I realized that perhaps there was much more to my crusade against bullying than the sum of its parts, that maybe within the extraordinary sequence of events that had guided me there, was a concurrent, equally important mission to give others inspired by their own call to action the tools to get it done.
So, I started taking on consulting clients, some of whom would surprise themselves with all they would accomplish after our time together:
A woman who had suffered a traumatic brain injury, after a decades long recovery, wanted to improve the laws protecting the rights of the brain-injured. She had never done any public speaking, had written a self-published novel on an unrelated topic, and was stiff and uncomfortable when talking to a group. I helped her: find an ingenious way to use the book to fortify her credibility as a fresh, new voice fighting for justice, which also increased book sales; establish a platform; create a speaker’s package; research, pitch and secure major speaking engagements; and coached her on how to be a passionate, persuasive and moving presenter. Not only was this client able to build a presence as a sought-after keynote, she applied her new skills to successfully champion the passing of landmark legislation.
A governor’s office brought me in to work with hundreds of volunteers who were part of an unprecedented effort to offer seminars for disenfranchised parents on early childhood development. Most of these volunteers were recruited for their counseling backgrounds and had no speaking experience. They also had to market the seminars themselves and handle all the logistics. I developed and hosted a two-day intensive speaker’s bootcamp teaching them everything from how to grab an audience’s attention and keep it, speak to many as if you’re speaking to one, trouble shoot challenges, and master the nuances of room set up, to how to craft a life-changing takeaway, and generate word of mouth to expand upon each success. The bootcamp became the genesis for a series of online courses and webinars that my company is currently developing.
A political operative wrote and co-published a book about her harrowing adventures helping one of the first women in Africa to be elected president of her country. The author was a brilliant strategist but painfully self-conscious speaking in front of an audience or giving media interviews. Determined to overcome her anxiety, she hired me to prepare her for the gauntlet. We not only got her proficient in the art and science of the perfect sound byte, but helped her access the strong, fearless woman inside her who took on warlords and won, and channel that same courage and savvy into becoming an exciting speaker. The book won awards, her business grew, and today, when she takes a stage or steps into a studio for a television interview, her confidence is eclipsed only by her grace under pressure.
I’ve always enjoyed the role of mentor. Prior to my work inside America’s schools teaching educators, parents and students about anti-bullying, I served as an adjunct faculty member at New York University, my alma mater, and The University of Chicago. I lectured at both universities and created courses and curricula for their publishing programs and continuing education divisions. My early works as an author include The Complete Guide to Book Publicity, the first tutorial ever published on the subject, and The Evolving Woman: Intimate Confessions of Surviving Mr. Wrong, that won The Celebration of Hope literary award, presented by former Vice President and then senator Joe Biden.
During my tenure in PR, I worked with Simon & Schuster, Random House, Warner Bros., HBO, Universal Studios, Fox Films, the Disney Corporation, Jersey Films and others. Some of the celebrities I’ve represented include Carl Reiner; Seinfeld executive producers George Shapiro and Howard West; former running-back and activist Jim Brown; boxing great Mohammad Ali; baseball legends Duke Snider, Joe DiMaggio, and Ted Williams; Emmy-Award winning producer Bob Zmuda, founder of Comic Relief and executive producer of Man on the Moon, the Golden Globe winning bio-pic about performance artist Andy Kaufman starring Jim Carrey and Danny DeVito directed by Milos Forman which I also represented; and the late Hollywood legend Mickey Rooney.
In addition to Please Stop Laughing at Me…, some of my other books on bullying are Please Stop Laughing at Us…; Bullied Kids Speak Out: We Survived, How You Can Too; and A Primer on Bullying Intervention. I also co-authored The New York Times bestseller BOTH OF US, actor Ryan O’Neal’s memoir about his life with long-time love Farrah Fawcett.
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The Jodee Blanco Group offers in-person consulting, training, coaching, speaker platform development, and writing and creation of pitch materials. We also offer consulting via phone and Skype. For more information, please visit my website.
If you would like to shedule a session with me, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll set up a time for us to talk so I can get to know you and your goals.
I have designed an informative and exciting online course. If you want to take your book sales to the next level and potentially turn speaking into a lucrative second career, I'm confident this course will help you.
I have such great respect for new authors and your commitment to your books. It's you who have inspired me to create this course. I hope to see you in the course today. Thank you for putting your faith in me. We're going to do amazing things together!
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