What’s Ethics Got To Do With It?
Some time ago, I received a call from someone at Toyota. He said that they needed a keynote speaker for a major conference, and that someone referred him to me. He liked what he saw, but asked if I could Fedex a press kit and demo video.
When I asked what the hurry was, he said that his boss would make the decision the next day, and two of his colleagues were heavily supporting someone presented by a speakers bureau. My guy thought I was far better, but there was no time for me to talk to the decision maker. Could I do this for him?
I could and I did. The next day he presented my video and his two colleagues presented the speakers bureau recommendation. (Oddly and ironically, that bureau represented me, as well, but didn’t put me up for the job.) The buyer said to pull three people from the intended audience, show them the two videos, and let them vote.
All three voted for me. Everyone at the Toyota end shook hands, said it worked out well, and they told me to send them a contract. Then the fun began.
The bureau called me that same day and told me THEY had just landed me a job at Toyota! They said they had put me forward and they were successful. They wanted to rush me a contract. I called their bluff, told them I knew what had happened, and they weren’t getting this business (nor their commission). They then said—listen to this—”We have a relationship with the client so we’ll write the contract.”
They expected me to go through them and pay them a 30% commission! I asked if they thought that was ethical. They couldn’t grok that. “What does ethics have to do with it, it’s our client,” they said. So for not marketing me at all, and trying to deny me the job, they wanted a commission.
“No,” I pointed out, “it’s MY client. And if you interfere again and try to connive money out of this, I’ll file an ethics complaint with the National Speakers Association, and then you’ll know what ethics has to do with it.”
They backed off. But I bet they’ve obtained a lot of “business” by cheating speakers out of fees that would have come to them anyway. This is why you can’t be dependent on “middlemen,” “agents,” “brokers,” or resources who promise they’ll support you in return for a fee.
(The Toyota deal became a six-figure relationship, including video, audio, and appearances. Imagine sharing all of that with the bureau?!)
Middlemen add no value. You are the talent. The client is yours. Act like it.
© Alan Weiss 2008. All rights reserved.