Last week I was reunited with Ray Reshke,
the man responsible for starting my speaking career.
At the time, I was only a few months into my recovery from a gambling addiction that damn near killed me. I attended various Gamblers Anonymous meetings in Edmonton, and repeatedly, I was the only young male in attendance. Knowing that there were other young men just like me that suffered in silence, I was motivated to make some noise.
I turned to google and quickly found the Problem Gamblers Resource Network, a small non-profit organization that focused on educating society about this prevalent issue. The following day I entered their front door and asked to speak with the executive director.
Suddenly, I was shaking hands with Ray. After briefly sharing my story I explained that I wanted to put a face and voice to problem gambling. Two weeks later I found myself standing at the front of a classroom full of energetic teenagers. I was scared shitless, but my passion to share my message trumped any fear.
Shortly after that presentation Ray presented me with my first cheque. I remember staring at the amount of seventy-five dollars, and feeling blown away over the fact that someone would actually pay me to speak about something I was passionate about. That year I delivered close to 70 presentations in a variety of settings.
After moving to Saskatchewan, I made the decision to create my own speaking business. Like any entrepreneur, the first year was an absolute grind. At one point, I remember mailing (not e-mailing) 65 personalized letters to various organizations seeing if they were interested in my speaking services. Do you know how many replied?
Eventually, I was hired to speak in Northern Saskatchewan. From a half-broken stage in an old bingo hall I delivered a message to a whopping two people. The real kicker was that they both spoke Cree, not English.
I continued to grind for the next few years travelling the back roads of our great province, getting myself onto any stage I could. To pay the bills I worked as an addictions counselor and instructed at various colleges.
One evening while driving home from an event, I was listening to Dr. Wayne Dyer. There was one line that stood out like black on white.
Whatever your passion is,
I promise you can make a living doing it.
That single moment changed the course of my life. I returned home, spoke with my wife, Tanya, and together we decided that it was time to walk away from my position as an addiction counselor. Considering that we had four kids and Tanya was at home, we felt it was best for me to keep my part-time position teaching at the college. However, the rest of my time could be focused on building my speaking career.
I began to surround myself with other professional speakers, attended countless educational sessions, and continuously worked on my craft. Perseverance paid off and over time the stages got larger and larger.
Ten years after that first cheque I am still doing what I love full-time. One of my keynotes Goodbye Stress. Hello Life! highlights that pivotal moment in my life. Drawing from the words of Dr. Wayne Dyer, I remind my audience that it truly is possible to make a living doing what you love.