What Can Career Day Teach You?
by Tim Healy
I was asked by my son’s school to participate in Career Day. Like most parents when it comes to your kids, you’ll do just about anything. So, of course I said yes. My son is in the 5th grade, so my audience for this Career Day presentation would range from Kindergarten to 8th grade.
It finally hit me: how the heck am I going to connect with kids from 5 to 13 years old?
Reaching a Younger Audience
How do I tell them in an exciting way what it means to be a small business owner who helps salespeople become better at selling? Would they understand? Would they even care? If I tell them I host a radio show – sounds cool right? – would they care? And if I tried to name drop some of my celebrity guests, how many 5- to 13-year-old kids know Barbara Corcoran or George Foreman?
Speaking in front of large groups is what I do. Whether I am running a group sales training or interviewing a guest on live radio, it is my passion. I’ve been asked to speak on the spot for various groups, and I can do it with no problem.
Then the thought of trying to educate, entertain, inspire, or connect with my new audience didn’t seem so easy. I decided to keep the message of what I do as a small business owner and sales trainer brief and to the point.
I simply highlighted how I help salespeople become better and more profitable salespeople. And how a great salesperson is really just someone who cares and wants to help other people.
Then I wanted to let them know how important small businesses are. I shared how small businesses employ over 95% of people working in America today, and that they are able to enjoy a slice of pizza or get a haircut because of a small business in their community.
As I crossed my fingers hoping they understood what I actually do, I wanted to connect with them. So I asked the classic question – what do you want to be when you grow up?
As I went around the room during my career day presentation, the children proudly and excitedly told me that they wanted to become firefighters, nurses, doctors, hockey and baseball stars. The list also included veterinarians, architects, and a Nascar driver. Then one boy exclaimed with great passion that he wanted to design cars. He wanted to make them faster and better looking. I was impressed.
I bought a collection of my classic “Coffee is for Closers” mugs and piles of my business cards. To be honest, I didn’t think the kids would be interested in coffee mugs and business cards. A number of kids asked for them!
The final message that I wanted to deliver was to remind each and everyone of them, that they shouldn’t sweat it if they didn’t know what they wanted to become in life. Instead, they should pay close attention to the jobs that make them happy, that excite them, and that put a smile on their face. Once they find something they are genuinely excited about, pursue it. Pursue it with everything they’ve got and NEVER let someone tell you can’t.
As I ended, the parents who presented at Career Day received enthusiastic applause from teachers and students thanking us for being a part of Career Day.
While I truly gave my presentation the same enthusiasm and passion I would for any of my other professional audiences, I still had real doubt that I made a connection.
My Aha! Moment
My son’s school hosted its annual Pasta Bingo Dinner the following weekend. During the dinner, four different parents came up to me telling me how much of an impression I made on their kids. Two of them showed me my business card. One parent even said her child told her that his aunt, who owns a business, should call Mr. Healy because he helps businesses.
I stood there in shock. Did I actually make a connection with such a young audience? I think I did, and I am grateful. As much as I made an impression on a few of them, it reminded me of one of the most important reasons I became a sales trainer and public speaker.
The lesson is this: each and every time you are given the gift to be in front of an audience, regardless of age or size, you have the chance to positively impact the life of at least one person. That is a gift you must cherish. Hopefully the kids learned as much from me as I did from them.