It was an exhilarating experience to have attended the prestigious National Speakers Association convention, Influence 2016, in Phoenix, Arizona, United States. As an academic member of NSA, this was a wow experience by all standards. Since I am in the speaking business, attending this event was not by chance, as you can imagine. It was part of my effort to get good as a speaker and learn all the secrets from great speakers on the platform. It was a goal and I hit the bull’s eye! When I saw those thrill-inducing speakers on the platform, I felt but a dwarf 🙂 Amazing speakers as Kathy Buckley, Scott Stratten, Jason Hewlett, Darren Hardy, Patricia Fripp, Willie Jolley, Connie Podesta, Tim Gard, were on the platform inspiring, entertaining and adding value–just the essence of public speaking! Kathy Buckley’s videos inspired me in the early 2000, with her unique style and blend of tears and laughter, only to see her live. I was blessed!
What was a dwarf speaker doing with the giants? That is not the question. The minute you think of yourself as great in what you do and believe this is it, you have arrived to a destination swamped with failures. It’s only when you look up that you become great in what you do! As John Maxwell said, “If you are the head of the class, you’re in the wrong class.” Learning from all those giants performing on the platform was worth every penny spent. There is also great value in the diversified topics covered in the breakout sessions.
You may think, that’s great! That’s not it all! When you bump into the world champion of public speaking and dear friend, Mark L. Brown, and have a one-on-one conversation with him, that is a icing on the cake…and free of charge 🙂 It was a delightful surprise to sit with Mark over breakfast and chat with him. He is such a down-to-earth person. I never forget his, what might be an overstatement, “Abdulla Abandi, my great friend, and the funniest man (speaker he means :)) in the Middle East!” This testimonial from this giant, I will continue to cherish for life. That was not the only surprise! I was sitting in one of the breakout sessions when I saw this smiling gentleman rush to my table and say to the person he was chatting with, “Excuse me, I must say hello to this person!” Then I hear my name, “Abdulla, oh my goodness, it’s so nice to see you!” I look up, stand up and extend my hand to shake his hand. For a while I didn’t recognize him! Then my memory raced back three years. It was Eddie Turner. He and I attended the Effective Facilitator Training in Houston, Texas. Oh my my! The reason I mention him is that he is one of the most jolly persons in the world! I love his great spirit. There is one problem with him, though. I could not walk with him 10 yards without him stopping shaking hands and hugging another person. I was so envious of him, especially as he hugged the ladies. Just kidding :). He must have taken a selfie with every person that attended Influence 2016. And sometimes, I worked as his personal photographer 🙂 Seeing this gentleman was heart-warming, especially for he has a very warm heart!
Notice that I wrote about a couple of gentlemen more than what I wrote about Influence 2016. I believe the personal friendship experience is more valuable than what you get from a high-value event! Will I attend next year’s Influence? Very likely. If not for anything, it’s for meeting all the great friends I met and made during the four-day extravagance!