by Connie Dieken

Choose to be Influential. Choose to be Bernie. (Not that Bernie)

Imagine that you've quit your job. A high visibility job that you've worked toward your entire career. It's a comfortable living, but you don't love it. You're up to your eyeballs in bureaucracy, meaning there's a lot more talk than action. So when a friend of yours shares an opportunity to start a business in a growth industry, you take a leap of faith and you're all in.

The surroundings for your start-up certainly aren't fancy or fun. No ping-pong table. No stack bar.  In fact, your "office" is the cramped supply closet of someone else's office. Good luck with a ping-pong ball in there. I suppose you could bounce it off the ceiling.

You struggle, financially. A few years in, you haven't set your industry on fire or even made a dent in your competitor's fender. In fact, you don't have any customers.

You have a choice: Change the industry. Or give up.

Bernie Swain chose to change the industry, though he's the first to admit that it was by mistake. Bernie is the co-founder of the Washington Speakers Bureau (WSB), now the gold standard in the speaking industry. According to the Wall Street Journal, WSB generates $150 million in annual revenues. His agency is among the world's biggest, booking the biggest names in business, politics, sports and media to share their life lessons at events around the globe. 

It's not lost on me that a man who values action over talk has spent a career managing speakers. He knows that a remarkable speech from a remarkable mind can transform people's thinking and lives.

This is more than a story about Bernie Swain. It's about you.