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Last week I got to do something I had only dreamed of doing; I delivered a keynote for Build Your Own Brand, an event that showcased three of my greatest heroes, two as the featured speakers and one as the Master of Ceremonies. It was in my own city so I got to deliver to a “home crowd” – in fact, the audience included friends, fans and clients as well as local business owners and high level executives whom I had never met.

With complete latitude to present anything I wanted, I scripted a signature speech that opened with The Flaming Lips and the story of a funeral, went right through some of my own challenges and epiphanies and wrapped up with a clip from one of my favorite films. (Sounds strange I know but it all makes sense in context.) I pulled out the stops and went straight for the heart of it.

The opportunity was a dream come true but there is nothing like a dream coming true to make you recognize how closely related dreams are to nightmares. I was pumped up but I was also having the speech writer’s version of night sweats. Was rocking out to The Flaming Lips at 8:00 in the morning too in-your-face? Was the story too personal, would they be able to relate? Was the slide show too over-the-top? And most of all – would I be able to do justice to the great speakers who would follow me on the stage and to the MC who was going to be “vamping” me in front of about 100 of his friends and fans?

That’s when my heroes stepped up to make me great. As the founder of Yellow-Tie International who were sponsoring the event and as the best “vamp” I know, Gill Wagner was MCing the event. He went to great lengths to tell the world how thrilled he was that I would be presenting. One of our featured speakers, Bob Burg, author of Endless Referrals and co-author with John David Mann of The Go-Giver, came into town a couple of days early to do some media interviews and spend some time working with me. While I never asked for reassurance Bob made it clear in dozens of little ways that he had no doubt that I was going to be “dynamite”. Finally, Scott Ginsberg, our other featured speaker and author of several books including Stick Yourself Out There, went so far as to slip me a note the night before the event that said “You OWN tomorrow – I believe in you.”

Magical words aren’t they? “I BELIEVE IN YOU!”

I realized that night, reviewing my slides and cues, pacing the floor, checking my face for last minute blemishes (oh come on, you have those nightmares too) and then trying to slow my heart rate down enough to sleep (way too early for MY natural night owl’s circadian rhythms) that was exactly what all three of these wonderful friends and fantastic pros were trying to tell me – they BELIEVED in me. Not in my talent or my material, but in ME!

Once that realization blasted through my half sleeping mind dozens of faces lined up behind my “big three.” The “boys of Spoke” clients, friends and lifesavers all, Dan Klein, Brian Schwartz and David Meyer, weren’t just sponsoring the event and producing the marketing materials because it was good business – they believed in me. The same was true of my client and good friend, Bill Ellis, who not only sponsored the event but brought several guests. And it was true of my friend Ruth Binger, whose law firm was a sponsor and who personally brought several guests. I finally got it – the people who had been saying “you’re going to ROCK” weren’t just giving me a pep talk – they believed it. They believed in ME. I breathed that in, drifted off to happy dreams and woke up ready to do just that – ROCK it!

Today a Facebook post from a friend I share with Gill Wagner and Bob Burg and whom the rest of you really ought to have the pleasure of getting to know – horticulturist, musician, foot-massager and humor-lover, Heather Williamson, really brought the lesson home.

Her Facebook status today said “What if you made others greater, every day?”

She does, I’ve seen her do it. And Gill Wagner does, and Bob Burg does, and Scott Ginsberg does and all those other supporters who told me in so many ways “I believe in you” do. It’s what they all have in common – they make others greater because they believe in the greatness of others.

They embody The Go-Giver Law #4 the law of authenticity. They really believe and they share that belief so sincerely and so freely that the people around them can’t help but be greater. What I had to learn was Law #5 – the law of receptivity. I had to learn to breathe in the gift they offered and LET it make me great.

What does this mean to you? It means you CAN make others greater, every day. You have that power. And it means you can BE greater by accepting the gift of other’s belief in you. You have that power too.

Not sure how to connect those dots? Send me an email at and tell me your greatest challenge with making others greater or letting others bring out your greatness. That’s right, send me an email and I’ll send you my thoughts. It’s that simple – it’s the least I can do.

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