Over a 25 year time span, I have built a remarkably successful career as a speaker, speaking to organizations worldwide about future trends, what comes next, and how best to get there. Take a look at my client list; many of the world’s biggest and most prestigious organizations have had me in for my insight. I must have some views and insights that are worthwhile.
Often, I am booked directly by those who find me online, but I am also regularly booked by some of the largest, most prestigious speakers bureaus in the world. Folks like the Washington Speakers Bureau and Canada’s National Speakers Bureau, among countless others – probably the top 30 agencies in the world actively work with me. I’ve spent a great deal of time over 20 years to build and nurture a relationship with these folks. It’s a pretty exclusive club — I am booked by the same people who book Barack and Michelle Obama, George W. Bush, various astronauts and business executives, sports figures, entertainers and more. It’s not a stretch to say that I operate at the elite level of the global speaking industry, with audiences of several thousand, in locations like Dubai, Oman, Tokyo, London and Washington.
In my spare time, my wife and business partner Christa volunteer our time to a local charity near our ski chalet north of Toronto. To that end, I would like you to watch this video clip about this group, known as Events for Life.
Events for Life provides daytime activities for young disabled adults; we have young people with autism and other disabilities, as well as those with Down Syndrome. Our goal is to give them a pathway and activities that help them to live an enriching life. We are overjoyed with the results.
Which brings me to my good friend Thomas. He’s in the video above. Thomas has Down syndrome and is very non-verbal. But Thomas is a remarkable human being, and I am touched and honored to be a part of his circle of life.
One of my proudest moments this year came when Thomas decided it was OK to ski with me – and spent 2 1/2 hours with me on the slopes. Being non-verbal, Thomas really cannot express his feelings other than through a fist-bump or a smile. And that day, as we went up the lift and then down the hill, he was full of smiles! I was rewarded with a fist bump every time we met again at the chair lift, ready to go up again. His mom was quite thrilled to see him spend so much time with me. I came off the ski hill with a greater feeling of accomplishment than when I walk off stage in Las Vegas, having spoken to an audience of 5,000.
Thomas is 25. Thomas is a human being, and a remarkable one at that. He is a member of the human race, but a truly wonderful one. Despite his disability, he skis in a fascinating manner, with obvious joy and abandon. He has a mean golf swing, and as I understand it, just this year has figured out how to skip a ball across a pond. Thomas has a wicked bowling game. He can express his joy, and as a friend, is deserving of those moments of joy. That is why my wife and I – and so many others — give our time willingly, with our heart and soul, to this important but small charity.
That’s why I was appalled at the appearance of Cory Lewindowski on Fox News the other night, apparently mocking a situation where a child with Down Syndrome was separated from her parents, in this crazy war on immigrants.
“Womp womp,” he said with derision.
I don’t know what cold and callous blood runs through the veins of someone who is heinous as Mr. Lewandowski, who would make fun of a fellow member of a human race in such a way. I do know that we now live in a world in which the President of the US has been known to do the same thing.
That’s why I was thrilled to learn that Mr. Lewandowski was dropped today by Leading Authorities, a speakers bureau that was representing him. Leading Authorities has booked me many times through the years; they are valuable partner. They are my friends and my compatriots in this fascinating industry.
I take joy in their decision. I applaud them for their action. I take some solace that in this world, in which hate seems to be in the ascendant, they saw fit to say that ‘enough is enough.’
Today, many of these organizations are struggling with the issues that come with representing some of those who have hatred in their soul. Maybe today the industry took an important first step in reconciling itself to a path that it needs to take into the future.
I do know that I’ve had private conversations with many of the agents at various of my speakers bureau partners around the world about the current state of the politics of hate. They have been struggling with the fact that their business model has them representing some of the people who are quickly becoming the most vile individuals on the planet. I know that many of these hard working agents in the industry are in a state of despair, as they find that they are in representation of individuals – politicians, media figures and others – who spew the politics of hate. Who spread a message of fear, ignorance, racial hatred, disdain and more. I know they are struggling with the idea that Sarah Huckabee Sanders will one day leave the White House, and might think that the speaking circuit is a wonderful career path – but that the idea of representing someone who lies and demeans the truth on a daily basis just cannot be.
That is why I take joy in the decision by Leading Authorities to drop Mr. Lewandowski. There is no room for him or his message in this industry. There should be no message for individuals like him on this planet, but that, it would seem, is a bigger and more complex issue. But bravo to Leading Authorities. I am hopeful that this is a step where vile, hateful speech is no longer a part of the industry of which I am part, and an industry which I love.
I will also say this – as a global speaker with a successful business, I’ve been cautioned by some of my friends to take care with my words; to be mindful of of what I say; to hold my outrage back. It might cost me business, I am told. I might lose some gigs.
Each morning, as I read the daily news of hate and derision, I am finding it almost impossible to be silent. But I am realizing more and more that I need not be.
I would rather stick up for my friend Thomas, and all the Thomas’s of the world, instead of seeing this vile politics of hate continue in this industry.