Posts Tagged ‘Dr. Beck Weathers’

In our posting last year, Top Ten Films That Have Influenced The Speaker Circuit, we discussed the symbiotic relationship between the success on Hollywood’s big screen and the speaking demand created for the protagonist of the film. Captain Jim Lovell from Apollo 13, Mike Eruzione for Miracle, and Frank Abagnale from Catch Me if You Can are just a few examples. While their life lessons and stories are timeless and well-known, the release of these films was a critical catalyst to market demand and success on the speaking circuit. When you combine a compelling story with savvy podium skills and a major picture, you create a perfect storm of excitement on the speaking circuit.

September 1st marks the opening of the fall movie season and The Speaker Experts have identified three that will have an impact on the speaking circuit over the next six months and beyond:

A Walk In The Woods

Robert Redford and Nick Nolte hit the Appalachian trail for laughs in the film adaptation of the best-selling book by Bill Bryson. A consistently sought-after speaker in the humorist/author space, this film will greatly increase Bryson’s name value among a broad swath of interested conference planners and attendees. Also, though Bryson lives in the UK, he will be speaking to groups in the United States in March 2016.

left for dead

Josh Brolin portrays Dr. Beck Weathers and Robin Wright plays his wife, Peach, in one of the most anticipated films of the year. Weathers has been a highly sought-after inspirational speaker for years, and this film will surely add to demand. Another prominent figure and proven speaker featured in this movie is world class climber and IMAX filmmaker David Breashears. Portrayed in the film by Micah Huptman, Breashears also serves as a senior lecturer at the MIT Sloan School of Leadership.

Game Brain

Will Smith takes on the NFL through his portrayal of Dr. Bennet Omalu in a true David vs. Goliath story. Dr. Omalu is relatively new to the commercial speaking circuit but his compelling story should create high market demand from organizations with both clinical and inspirational interests within the commercial speaking market (Dr. Omalu is represented by the Greater Talent Network).

A word of caution: much like the stock market, past performance is no guarantee of future success when it comes to a speaker bureau predicting a speaker’s increased market demand based on the release of a motion picture. The Speaker Experts feel that the risk is low and the upside is high with the speakers related to these films. However, you should discuss the benefits and risks with your trusted IASB bureau partner to determine if one of these speakers is a potential fit for your next event.

Final Note: Washington Speakers Bureau announced a blog featuring “insights and resources for event professionals” and can be accessed here. WSB has been a leader in the speaker bureau industry for three decades and The Speaker Experts look forward to their industry observations and suggestions.

Gary McManis & Jay Conklin

In our blog post “Ten Questions to Ask Your Speaker Bureau (Part Two)”, we pose the question “Who is your favorite speaker and why?” as an issue to discuss when vetting a speaker bureau or agent. Since publishing this post last year, The Speaker Experts have been asked this question many times. Frankly, we have a number of favorite speakers that make this particular question a very difficult one to answer. However, if we had to select the speaker with the greatest impact, it would be Dr. Beck Weathers. Why? After seeing him speak for the first time in 1998, not many days go by where we don’t think about his message from 17 years prior. His is a gripping story that sticks with you for years to come – one of heroism, bravery, and ultimately, the human struggle against the forces of nature.

On August 7, 2008, Dr. Beck Weathers retired from the speaking circuit after a ten year run as one of the most in-demand inspirational speakers. However, Dr. Weathers has agreed to accept a select number of speeches in 2015-2016 to coincide with the September 18, 2015 release of the major motion picture EVEREST. Josh Brolin portrays Weathers in the film while House of Cards Star Robin Wright plays the role of his wife Peach. The film also stars Keira Knightley, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Sam Worthington.

weathers nreca

Closing Session at NRECA Annual Meeting
Orlando, FL – February 25, 2015

weathers nada

Inspirational Breakfast at NADA Annual Meeting
San Francisco, CA – January 25, 2015

His first presentation back from retirement was a personal request from Virgin CEO Sir Richard Branson asking Dr. Weathers to share his experiences with a select leadership group on Necker Island. Earlier this year, Dr. Weathers addressed over 5,000 auto dealer employees at the National Automobile Dealers Association Inspirational Breakfast. Last week he was the closing speaker at the National Rural Electric Co-Op Association Annual Meeting where he addressed over 7,000 of their members.

Dr. Weathers still runs a thriving pathology practice in Dallas but has agreed to accept a select number of speaking invitations for the remainder of this year and early 2016. If your organization is considering an inspirational speaker during this time frame who will leave a life-changing and lasting impression on every meeting attendee, contact your favorite lecture agent to discuss Dr. Beck Weathers’s availability.

Gary McManis & Jay Conklin

One question The Speaker Experts hear on a daily basis from clients is “Will the speaker tailor their presentation for our group?” A direct and seemingly simple question, the answer in most cases is “yes”. However, when you have a candid conversation with professional speakers about presentations that did not go well, the common denominator is often the concept of speech customization.

The Speaker Experts feel there are three degrees of speech customization. Understanding where your speaker falls in this continuum of tailoring is the key to minimizing the risk of disappointment when it comes to the speaker’s customized content for your organization. Let’s examine these Levels:

No Speech Customization: These speakers are master storytellers, and their speech is an emotional roller coaster of a tale that tends to be synonymous to a one man play. Examples of speakers at this level are Gene Kranz, Flight Director of Apollo 13, and Dr. Beck Weathers, whose story is chronicled in the best-selling book “Into Thin Air” (the film adaptation is slated for release next year, starring Jake Gyllenhal and James Brolin as Dr. Beck Weathers). When these speakers tell their stories, it is up to each member of the audience to pull out content relevant to their personal life and career.
A breakdown in communication can occur if a speaker bureau sends a standard event questionnaire to the sponsor asking for detailed information and implying that the speaker will customize their presentation.

Standard Speech Customization:Most professional speakers will fall into this category. Clients receive an event questionnaire and participate in pre-event conference calls with the speaker to discuss the meeting and desired outcome for the presentation. Clients can expect the speaker to have an understanding of the following:

  • Who is in the audience and why they are there
  • The meeting theme and challenges facing the audience
  • Acronyms to use/not use
  • Where the speech fits into the meeting scheme, and the desired outcome for the presentation
  • Politically-sensitive areas to avoid during the presentation
  • Who else is speaking at the event and how said speaker’s content compares

Deep Speech Customization: This process combines the aforementioned components of standard speech customization, but can also include the following tools to help the speaker get a deeper understanding of the organization:

  • Multiple meetings with the organization’s leadership at various levels
  • Meetings with the organization’s clients, and in some cases, competitors
  • “Mystery” visits to franchises or places of business
  • Post event de-brief papers and follow-up
  • Social media pre- and post-event presence

The tailoring of a presentation by a professional speaker is an important element of the speaker bureau-speaker-client tripartite, and all three parties must be on the same page for the process to work effectively. If executed properly, a tailored speech is a work of art that will have a long-term impact on your audience.

The one trap to avoid is pushing the speaker into changing or customizing the presentation past their capabilities or comfort zone. You would not walk into a 5 star restaurant and tell the chef de cuisine, “I’ll have the Malaysian Beef Curry but replace the beef with fish, leave out the red shallots and double the ginger peel”. The dish-and the dining experience-would be ruined, as would being overly-enthusiastic about altering a speaker’s presentation. Show the speaker which a la carte options you would like and leave the recipe for success to the speaker. They have cooked this dish a thousand times and know what works!

Gary McManis & Jay Conklin

“Buy Low, Sell High” is a term you often hear in the investment world.    In looking over my stock portfolio last week, I have come to the realization that it is a very tricky and risky outcome to achieve.

While past performance is never a guarantee of future performance in the speaker world either, there are certain indicators that that will signal a speaker fee increase.  One key indicator is an announcement and release of a major motion picture about a speaker’s life.  Over the years we have seen speakers’ fees go up dramatically when such a film is made.  A few examples are as follows:

Captain Jim Lovell and Former Flight Director Gene Kranz – Apollo 13

Captain Richard Phillips – Captain Phillips

Aron Ralston – 127 Hours

Leigh Anne Tuohy – The Blind Side

Marcus Lutrell – Lone Survivor

JB Bernstein – Million Dollar Arm

Chris Gardner – The Pursuit of Happyness

Jim Morris – The Rookie

The key to buying low in the speaker world is to book these speakers before the film is released.  Here are three speakers who will be going up in fee in 2015:

Jeannette Walls – The Glass Castle (starring Jennifer Lawrence), based on Jeannette Walls’s memoir published in 2005 that lived for a resounding 261 weeks on the New York Times Bestseller List, is being brought to life by Lionsgate after seven years of practically stagnant development at Paramount.

Mark Schultz – Foxcatcher (starring Channing Tatum) is based on Mark Schultz’s autobiography detailing his and his brother’s lives as Olympic Wrestling Champions, all of which came to a grinding halt when one commits a harrowing murder. Distributed by Sony Pictures Classics, its set release is in November 2014.

Dr. Beck Weathers – Into Thin Air, a book written by Jon Krakauer and currently being adapted into a major motion picture, stars Josh Brolin as Dr. Beck Weathers and retells the harrowing story of one team’s ill-fated attempt at scaling Mount Everest. Backed by the production company Working Title, the film has no set release date.

Keep an eye on these three speakers. Today’s “unknowns” are speaker superstars of tomorrow!