Rebel Uprising Podcast

5 Lessons from 5 Years of Being a Communication Rebel

I was on Linkedin, updating my profile and wondering why the heck I was still using LinkedIn…

And that’s when I noticed it. Do you see it?


What the what?

It seems like just yesterday that I started this little blog because of the encouragement of a friend who basically called me on my crap and said:

“You’ve got a Ph.D. in Communication. You’re super talented at speaking. Why aren’t you doing something with it? Start a blog. Start anything.”

And that’s how this WHOLE crazy journey started.

Here are 5 lessons learned the from 5 years of being a communication rebel.

Lesson #1: Don’t be afraid to tell it like it is

When I first started this blog, IT WAS TERRIBLE. I’d link to my first blog post but it’s embarrassing.

I’m an academic. I published research articles when I was a professor. Research articles that have a very formal, stylized, and dispassionate tone.

Research articles that cure insomnia.

Six months into my flailing blogging career, I attended an event. I witnessed a speaker who inspired an epic rant called, How Not to Be a Motivational Speaker.

I was terrified to press publish. I did it anyway.

It quickly became the most shared and commented on post on my website.

And then the email came….which leads me to lesson number two.

Lesson #2: Tina Fey’s right “Say yes and figure it out afterward.”

Soon after publishing that post, an email popped up in my inbox that had “How NOT to be a Motivational Speaker” in the subject line.

My heart sunk. It was my first piece of hate mail. I KNEW that would happen.

I stared at that email sitting in my inbox for what seemed like an hour.

I opened it and read: “Michelle, I loved this post. It’s edgy and spot on. I’m looking for a new public speaking coach. Do you take clients?”

No, I didn’t take clients! I had no business. No clue what to charge. No idea how I would approach working with clients. No contracts. No nothing.

I said YES. Because Tina Fey is 100% correct when she said: “Say yes and figure it out afterward.”

We hopped on the phone and he hired me.

He hired me to help him write a keynote speech that he was delivering for First Lady Barbara Bush’s Point of Light Foundation.

No pressure there. I’m grateful that Dan took a risk on me. He was my first client and a big sign from the universe that I was on the right path.

Speaking of working with clients, that leads me to…

Lesson #3: Having a Signature Methodology ROCKS!

I’m a rebel who likes to shake up the status quo with structure and certainty. Weird I know!

Early on in my consulting practice, I realized that I liked my clients to know exactly what they were going to do every step of the way when working with me.

I liked the certainty of looking at my calendar and knowing what I’d be working on that day with clients.

“Oh, it’s session #3 for Jeff, we are working on pitching and marketing. Session #5 for Gloria, we are working on the introduction & conclusion for her signature talk.”

That’s why I created my signature program, Speak for Impact.

I found out later that what I had created is called a “productized service” and it’s a smart move if you’re running a service based business.

I call it sanity for me and my clients.

I’m always going on about how your speaking business needs a signature talk. Your business needs a signature service!

Lesson #4: Don’t Be Afraid to Change It Up

Relationally Speaking. That was the name of my blog and business when I first started.

It wasn’t a great name. In my heart, I knew it wasn’t the right name for what I wanted to do.

But it was a name, and I wanted to start blogging. Taking action is better than farting around waiting for the right name to appear.

It took two years for the right name to appear.

When I changed the name of my business from Relationally Speaking to Communication Rebel, only my husband and a few friends noticed.

That was it!

Everything in your business is changeable!

You’re going to evolve in your message and your business.

Don’t worry about “what will other people think if I change this?”

They won’t think anything because they are not paying that much attention to it.

Change it up! Experiment! You’ve got nothing to lose.

Lesson #5: Ask. Ask. Ask.

I’m fiercely independent. That means one thing: I suck at asking.

When I launched my book Speak for Impact in July, I knew that it was something I couldn’t do on my own. I had to ask.

I asked you to be on my launch team. I asked friends and colleagues for reviews and to promote it. I asked influencers to share it with their audiences.

I asked and the answer was an overwhelming yes.

You can’t run a speaking business or any type of business without asking!

Ask for the gig.

Ask for the sale.

Ask for the support.

If you need it, ASK.

What’s Next for Communication Rebel?

Tara Gentile says that “The next big thing is small.”

I agree. The #1 value at Communication Rebel is intimacy.

My work with 1:1 clients is going deeper in 2017. I’ll still be co-creating signature talks with people, and I’ll be helping my clients devise an evil genius plan to get that talk in front of more audiences and build out the speaking side of their business.  

My group program The Rebel Speaker Accelerator is coming back in March. After revamping the program (and changing the name…you probably didn’t notice 🙂 ), it’s a stronger than ever way to write and pitch your signature talk. You can get on the list here to be notified when we’re enrolling again.

And finally….

I’ve gotten emails about it. I’ve gotten tweets. I’ve gotten Facebook messages. I finally got the point!

The Rebel Speaker Podcast is coming back on January, 17th!

The cool part is it will also be delivered as a video and written blog post. I can’t wait to launch it!

Let me finish by saying that I am so very grateful for YOU. Thank you for your support. Thank you for reading this blog post. Without you, Communication Rebel would not be a thing!


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