090: Motivational Speaking and Leadership, with Bernie Swain

Bernie Swain is an author, TEDx motivational speaker and business leader. His organization, Washington Speakers Bureau, has worked with top national and international leaders including three U.S. Presidents, four British Prime Ministers, numerous journalists, military generals and other influential and high-profile clients. His work has been covered by The Washington Post, Fortune magazine, Entrepreneur magazine and other respected media.

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What You Will Learn:

  • Bernie shares how his original college dream was to become an athletic director until he read an article about the Harry Walker Agency, inspiring him to found the Washington Speakers Bureau with encouragement from his wife.
  • Bernie explains why the cornerstone of his work is helping people recognize the opportunities, forks in the road, and turning points in their lives and make careful, deliberate decisions based on those opportunities.
  • Learn how Washington Speakers Bureau struggled early on, and how Bernie managed to save the business through tenacity, good luck, the strength of trust, and a handshake. Bernie shares how not requiring a contract became the hallmark of Washington Speakers Bureau.
  • Bernie explains how Washington Speakers Bureau helps its clients find motivational speaking engagements all around the world. Bernie also discusses how their big break came when President Ronald Reagan chose Washington Speakers Bureau to represent him.
  • Bernie tells of his motivation to write his book, based on the lessons in leadership he was able to distill from his time working with some of the most important names of the modern era.

The Strength of Trust

The first year for Washington Speakers Bureau was its hardest. Bernie, his wife and his friend were operating the business from an office converted from a closet, they were struggling to keep the business alive, and they were having no luck landing clients. But that changed when Bernie chose to seal his first deal with a handshake rather than a contract.

By extending trust, Bernie began making a name for the Washington Speakers Bureau. More and more motivational speaking talent began working with Bernie, as the lack of a contract showed that Bernie was sincere about earning their business. That snowballed Washington Speakers Bureau into the largest company of its kind. The lesson here is that trust, relationship-building and tenacity are the true secret recipe for entrepreneurial success.

Lessons from Motivational Speakers

It is fair to say that Bernie has done some great work for the talent he represents, but that road runs both ways. In working with some of the world’s top thought leaders, diplomats, motivational speakers, journalists and others, Bernie has been able to forge some powerful friendships and get a firsthand glimpse into the character and strengths of these leaders.

Bernie’s book, What Made Me Who I Am, distills the knowledge, traits and daily habits he learned from working with those thought leaders. It outlines the impressive journeys of 34 of those leaders and the lessons Bernie was able to learn from their greatness. Tenacity, passion, empathy, drive, perseverance, charisma, and the ability to recognize opportunity are what allowed those leaders to take their place in history. Those same traits can lead all of us to maximize our own potential.

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