Last week Dan and I had the good fortune to be a host family for Nicole Jeray, one of the golf pros competing in the Challenge at Musket Ridge. a stop on the LPGA Futures circuit. This inaugural event seemed like such a good opportunity to be of service to the community since my husband and I live, literally minutes from the golf course.
As I wrote in an earlier post, I know nothing about golf, so the week was filled with lessons, not only about golf, but about life as well. Little did I know that a professional golfer and a professional speaker would share so many similarities in what it takes to be successful in our respective careers.
1. Discipline. On many occasions after I complete a keynote or workshop at a conference, an attendee will ask me how I got started in the business. Their question is usually followed by “I was thinking to myself during your presentation, ‘I could do THAT!” On one hand, I’m flattered that I make my work look easy and fun, but on the other hand, I’m taken aback that it’s not obvious I’ve spent a lifetime honing my craft. Even now, after over twenty years in the business, I practice, rehearse, continue taking classes, read, and work hard to stay current and accomplished in my field.
The same is true of Nicole. Nicole’s been playing professionally for over twenty years as well. During her week with us, in addition to teaching the Harford Clinic, playing in the ProAm one day, and competing in the tournament, she continued to practice many hours, long after the “requirements” of her job were over. It takes discipline to keep practicing after so many years in her business. When I walk onto a stage and when Nicole steps up to the tee, it’s show-time but alot of effort has gone into getting us both there.
2. Public Relations. A large portion of my work happens once I step off the stage. PR is such an important aspect of being a professional speaker. If people don’t know about me and talk (positively) about me, my work could cease to exist. Marketing, marketing, marketing! And likeability is key in my line of work. No one has ever said “I want to go hear that speaker. I hear everyone hates her!” 🙂
I watched Nicole interact with the public during the tournament and was so impressed with her ability to acknowledge and show respect to the crowd and interact with her audience during her course time. Smiling, gregarious, and appreciative of her fans, it is no surprise that when I mentioned being her host family to friends and colleagues who’d met her, they all adored her.
3. Passion for the game. I can’t imagine being anything other than a professional speaker. I love the fact that every day is different, every audience has a unique personality, and that I have an opportunity to help others improve their performance in work and life. That passion for “the game” carries me through when the days are long, the travel becomes stressful, and the energy wanes.
As Dan, Nicole and I talked during our evening meals, I sensed in her that same passion for her job. She genuinely loves the game! I saw it so many times on the course. I appreciated the fact that she’s an encourager, as evidenced by the fact that I often heard her comment “great shot!” after a fellow golfer made an impressive drive. I’m certain it’s that love of the game that keeps her going when the days are long, the travel becomes stressful, and her energy wanes.
After our week together, I now understand what it means to shank the ball. I now know that birdies are good, and bogeys are not. I know that quiet means quiet and that even whispering is not considered quiet. (That, I learned through experience!) But mostly, what I now understand is that the LPGA Futures tour is filled with women with class, character, and perserverence.
I know because I now call one of them “family.”