We know it takes 10,000 hours to master a skill and become a leader in any given field. Since 1991, Lee Silber has given over 1,450 speeches to nearly a million people, written 22 books and 1.3 million words, and done dozens of designs during the past 25 years. It's been a long road but in the end it has paid off to have paid his dues. Here are a few of Silber's success stories.
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When Times Get Tough, The Tough Get Busy
"Being in business for myself means I am used to the ups and downs of self-employment—which is a lot like a wild roller coast ride with harrowing twists and turns—but last year reached new peaks (thrills) while this year feels like the bottom of a valley (spills). The temptation is to get frustrated, play the blame game, and panic—but that's not me. Instead, I went back to basics when it came to marketing and promotion and saw immediate results. I'm doing extremely high-level work and winning rave reviews, but because many meeting planners now wait till the last minute to book a speaker, so it seems a little slower than usual and I have extra time on my hands. Sometimes busy work is the way to stay focused on action instead of a reaction to what has happened in the past or fear of the future. Over the 21 years I have been on my own (I previously partnered with my brothers and founded a chain of retail stores) I have seen it all. Sometimes business just falls in your lap, other times you have to pry it from a person's death grip. My mentor once said to me, if it were easy, everyone would work for themselves and the challenges you face are the brick wall that only the strongest will be able to break through. Good advice."
[clik here TO READ LEE'S NEW NOVEL]
A Novel Approach
Don't Think Too Much
"If I thought about it long enough I would have never been able to write my first novel. There are so many rules of writing that apply to fiction it can seem almost impossible to get it right the first time. With 17 books of non-fiction under my belt I felt like I had a good grasp of that genre, but a novel was a whole new ballgame. Like many writers I am an avid reader and I felt I had a good grasp of what worked (and what didn't) when it came to creating a compelling novel. So I just jumped in and started and although I had to go back and fix a few (hundred) things, the first draft wasn't as bad as I feared. The second draft was better and so on. Now that my novel (boldly titled "Runaway Best Seller") is out there and the feedback from readers has been overwhelmingly positive, I am so glad I just did it. Plus, "Runaway Best Seller" IS a Kindle best seller. Ironic. If you just start writing your book and only worry about entertaining yourself, educating yourself, and enjoying yourself you will be fine. Now it's time for me to start on the sequel. This time I can't wait to write."
[clik here TO READ LEE'S NEW NOVEL]
Take A Chance
Chuzpah Gets Your Blood Going
"Call it what you want; nerve, cojones, or chutzpah, it's all the same—it's the courage to go for it. Recently, I have been taking some chances with my speeches and so far, so good. Great, in fact. I've added all kinds of multimedia aspects to my presentations to enhance the entertainment and improve the education. I've come out and played the drums, bass, sang (sort of) and opened with a stand-up routine to grab people's attention. I've recently come out in costume (dressed like Einstein and assorted other outfits.) I'm also bored with doing the same speech twice, so each time out it's something new (and custom.) But it was earlier this month (July 2011) when even I wondered if I went too far. In addition to all the improvements mentioned above, I came running down the aisle and jumped onstage dressed as a superhero (it made sense, actually) to booming music. The fact there were 1,000 people there made it even more brave. But while backstage waiting to go on the event organizer walked by and saw me in my outfit (which I was able to tear away thanks to velcro once onstage) and gave me a look that made me question my decision to go this route. To cut to the chase, it all went really, really well. Afterward the same meeting planner was stoked and saying what a clever idea to dress the part. Whew. It's good to push the envelope and try new things no matter what field you are in. I'm contemplating what wild idea to try next."
[click here TO WATCH A MINI MOVIE ABOUT OVERCOMING THE FEAR OF SPEAKING I MADE FOR MY MENTOR]
Documentaries Don't Have To Be Dry
"What started as a simple behind-the-scenes look into the life of a professional organizer quickly turned into something bigger—and better. The plan was to film organizers at work and show off their tips and tricks during the closing keynote. So the film crew and myself went around watching the best organizers in the business work their magic. It was interesting, but clearly something was missing. So I decided to interview the clients off to the side. Aha! Now we had the missing magic. The things the clients said were so powerful it quickly changed the focus of the film. I embedded the movie clips in my slides and used them to enhance the presentation. There wasn't a dry eye in the house and I received a standing ovation. I plan on doing more mixed media programs in the future because it's always good to show what you mean in addition to talking about it."
[click here to SEE A CLIP FROM THE NAPO PRESENTATION DOCUMENTARY]
Custom Training Programs Based on "Undercover Boss"
"I'm starting to worry that I am either an excellent liar or a very good actor. You see, I went undercover as a painter for VQ OrthoCare and as a newspaper reporter for Hank Fisher Properties to observe and report on people doing things right. Each time I had props (tons of tools, and a fake press pass) and was so in character I almost believed I really was hired to paint the break room and write an article for the Sacramento Bee. People spoke freely around me as if I wasn't even there, which was what I wanted. The results were worth the extra effort. I was able to develop customized customer care programs for each company and focus on fixing anything that wasn't working. I also created awards for the people who most impressed me when I was undercover. It was so powerful, people cried when I passed out trophies and recognized them for their extra efforts."
[click here to WATCH A VIDEO CREATED AS A FOLLOW-UP FOR VQ ORTHOCARE]
Chicken Soup For The Soul
Lee Silber Reaches Out And Receives Rare Opportunity
"I did land a short story in the Beach Lovers version of Chicken Soup For The Soul, but that's only half the story. Many people featured in this successful series of books know the two authors personally or professionally. I didn't let the fact that I was sending my story in unsolicited deter me. I also blindly sent a copy of my book 'Bored Games' to Dr. Laura after hearing she encouraged parents to unplug and play old fashioned games with their kids. Not only did Dr. Laura write back, she raved about the book on her popular show (which reaches over a million people each day.) Finally, when I heard there would be over 600 people in the audience at a recent talk I simply suggested it would be a win/win/win if we could give a book to each attendee. (I needed to sell about that exact number of copies to push the book into a second printing in just under a year.) The meeting planner agreed, and now I can make a few additions to 'The Wild Idea Club' for the new and improved version. The lesson here is, if you don't ask, you don't get—and sometimes the getting is good."
[click here to GET YOUR COPY OF "CHICKEN SOUP FOR THE BEACH LOVER'S SOUL"]
The Theodor S. Geisel Award
Self-Promotion for the Creative Person
"I was so excited to win the award for Best Business Book Of The Year I wasn't even paying attention to the emcee when he announced the winner of the Theodor S. Geisel Award (given to the author of the best overall book of the year.) Over the years I have won dozens of awards for speaking and writing—and it never gets old—but I never expect to win. I think it's fair to say we all know when we 'nail it', but for creative people what we do is very subjective—and we are all our own toughest critics—that means it's hard to predict who will win this or that award . . . so I don't even try. However, if wanting to win was the difference, I would have four shelves filled with awards instead of two. What made winning this award so special was the fact my parents were both there. I am sure a psychologist would have a field day with this, but my folks have always been slightly stingy with their praise of my work. When the the director of the awards show called to tell me I was a finalist a week out, he said it might be a good idea if my family came. At the time I didn't know why he said that, but for the first time in the seven years since I was a finalist, I invited my folks. I am crying while I write this because my late father was the one who leaned in to say, 'Son, they're calling your name. You won, I am so proud of you . . now go up there and get your award, but don't say something sappy.' I did anyway."
[click here to buY THE AWARD-WINNING "Self-Promotion for the Creative Person"]
The Extra Effort Made The Difference
Giving 100 Percent, 100 Percent Of The Time Pays Off
"When someone is serously interested in knowing how I was able to write 15 books in fifteen years, speak to over 550,000 people during that same time, and make a name for myself using the media, I tell them the truth. The look of horror on their face when I explain the amount of work that went into my accomplishments is both precious and predictable—because few are willing to pay the price to achieve even modest fame and fortune. I hope to live a long time and do a lot more, but I know I pushed myself (maybe) too hard early on in my career. A good example of this was when I signed with SkillPath Seminars. It was a chance to travel the country, speak every day (all day) for audiences averaging 100 in size, and master the art of selling from the stage. For most trainers, this was enough. I decided to take it to the next level. I figured while I was in a city (for a day) I should make the most of that opportunity. So before and after my seminar I went to as many bookstores as possible to promote my books. I also did one in-store event at a Barnes and Noble store in the evening, and made myself available for interviews on radio and television. To make it more interesting and challenging, I decided to do a different opening and closing in my seminars every day based on what was in the news or what was most relevant to that region. But maybe most important of all, I gave everything I had each and every day to win over attendees—and my scores showed I was successful at this. But after five years at the breakneck pace of five seminars in five days in five different cities for weeks on end, I slowed down a little. Now I am able to get six hours of sleep instead of only four."
[click here to SEE A COMPLETE LIST OF LEE'S SPEECH TOPICS]