The Case For Swinging Big - Even If It’s a BIG Risk

event management Aug 11, 2020
On all but one occasion, I have and will continue to have my clients approve a speaker prior to contracting them. While I believe my recommendation(s) are always on point, at the end of the day, it’s their event and budget and I always want to walk into an event knowing that my client is as excited about their speaker lineup as I am.
Now, I know what you’re thinking… tell me about that ONE time… so let me share a story.
For a while, I had wanted to meet Sir Richard Branson and have him keynote one of my events. When I was contracted to produce Apttus Accelerate, a multi-day tech conference, I met with Apttus’ executive team so I could better understand their goals and vision for the event. It was here I learned that their CEO at the time viewed Sir Richard Branson as a mentor, though the latter didn’t know it. BOOM! I thought, “Here is my opportunity to make both of our dreams come true.”
So without telling him, (I didn’t want to get his hopes up and then disappoint if I couldn’t make it happen) I started the application process.
If you’ve never gone through the process of securing a highly sought after speaker, it’s not a “Hi! Here are the event details. Are you available? I’d love you to be our keynote,” situation. You need to complete a full submission. Pages and pages of detailed information outlining the who, where, where, when, why and how of the event to convince the speaker that your event is a good fit for them - both personally and professionally.
The other thing that happens at this time, is you receive a contract that needs to be signed and returned with your submission. This contract basically says that if the speaker accepts your submission, they are instantly confirmed, and you are instantly locked into their fee.
Speakers of this calibre are not inexpensive, we’re talking upwards of $400,000+ USD so I sat and thought about it long and hard before I took further action. I was very aware that signing a $400,000+ USD contract without permission or buy-in could have resulted in my contract being terminated - or worse. After weighing up all of the potential outcomes, I ultimately decided it was a risk I was willing to take so I signed and submitted the application.
Then came the waiting...
The day I found out we secured Sir Richard Branson was one of the most exciting, and terrifying, days of my career thus far. I was over-the-moon ecstatic but then needed to make the call to the Chief Marketing Officer to tell him what I’d done.
Here’s how that went:
Me: I’m either the most amazing Event Producer you’ve ever worked with, or I’m going to be fired on the spot. Let me tell you what I did…
Long story short, he was somehow more excited than I was and couldn’t wait to get off the phone and call the CEO to tell him the BIG news.
Meeting Sir Richard Branson and watching him on stage was everything I hoped it would be and more. It was a “pinch me” moment I will NEVER forget.
My biggest takeaway: sometimes you've got to bet big to win big.

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