Beware of “Offers”

Vistage is an operation that pays peanuts to presenters for “exposure.” Here is a “personalized” message I received today:

Dear Alan,

I recently came across your material and thought there was tremendous synergy with our Vistage community.

We are recognizing the top 30 Master Chairs (independent contractors working as executive coaches under the Vistage umbrella) and are looking for a dynamic workshop presenter who can provide both content rich material in an interactive workshop format.

I am preparing a short list of possible candidates and would like to consider you. Please let me know as soon as possible if you would like to be considered further.

Date: 10/16/09
Time: 3hrs in morning
Format: Interactive Workshop
Location: La Costa Resort, Carlsbad CA…..just north of San Diego
Audience: 30 top performing executive coaches
Budget including expenses: $5K

Warm regards,
Michael Schultz
Director of Learning and Development

Vistage International, Inc.

I’m a $25,000 keynoter, with a strong brand and in no need of artificial exposure. They are offering $5,000, INCLUDING EXPENSES, which means it would be about break even!! These are the kind of mindless, unfair, “offers” that are going out to take advantage of speakers and consultants. They don’t care whom they contact, and pretend to make this “personalized.” This guy knows nothing about me.

Hold your head up, demand that you be paid for your value, and don’t become an indentured servant to anyone for “exposure.” This stuff is just reprehensible.

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6 Responses to Beware of “Offers”

  1. Rob Cook says:

    Actually Vistage is a tremendous organization which has enriched business owners and ceos for over 50 years.
    Them reaching out to you should be an honor. Additionally, it is easy to say you are a $25,000 key note speaker…anyone can say that. How many engagements have you actually had at that price?
    Your arrogance comes through loud and clear…

  2. Rob Nixon says:

    I have just paid Alan $35K for a speech in Jan 2010. I paid him in full 2 weeks ago.

    I am from Australia (so A$46k for me) and I don’t know about his other clients but this is the 3rd time I have paid him that exact amount in the last 12 months. Tremendous value.

    I presume he has other clients!

  3. Alan Weiss says:

    Rob Cook: I’m going to leave your post up, despite it being obnoxious. Reaching out to me for a pittance of my value is no honor, no partnership, and ignorance of whom they are dealing with. So your reaction is to call me a liar? I guess Rob Nixon took care of that before I did, but maybe he’s a liar, too?

    You want to be treated poorly, be my guest. It’s no honor to have someone try to take advantage of you. And you ought to knock off the ad hominem attacks and act like a professional.

  4. The rare pleasure of being in the room with Alan as writes his heated response to Rob Cook … we’ve been chatting about Vistage for a few minutes, and here’s my take:

    - Vistage is about lead generation, not about speaking fees. I’ve generated a ton of business from Vistage presentations, and the trick is the follow-up. The speaking fees suck, to put it bluntly, so I can only do it due to the follow-up business. So far, so good.

    - Their offer was completely wrong for Alan because he is way past the stage where he needs this kinds of thing. (I hope I will be in a few years.) Additionally, the gig they were offering him was for Vistage chairs, not members, so there would be no direct business from this event, only the chance for the chairs to subsequently have him come to speak to their groups.

    As a $10K – $12.5K keynoter, still looking for more business, I’ll keep using Vistage for lead generation. I happen to have a very good relationship with Vistage, and get value from it. So, it depends who you are, where you are in your career, and what kinds of clients you want. Obviously not for Alan.

  5. Jason Burke says:

    I am always fascinated by one’s use of the word “arrogance” when someone else happens to charge (and receive) higher fees. One of the nice things about a capitalist society is that value is where you find it. Is it arrogant of a CEO to expect that the entire world will eventually use his products or services? Yes. But is it arrogant of him to identify a market, develop a product, and price it accordingly? Not at all. For some, that price may be a bit high, for others, it will be a great value.

    So it is with consulting. If your market is such that you can make a good living earning a couple thousand per engagement, what’s the big deal? (And good for you, by the way.) You just happen to have a different audience than someone who makes $25K or more. But don’t expect that person to arbitrarily lower his fees just to make you feel better. Apples and oranges, my friends.

  6. Alan Weiss says:

    Thanks for the perspective, Jason. I’m often accused of one or more of the “three As”: arrogance, abrasiveness, age. My feeling is that these epithets are the refuge of people who can’t argue a point intellectually or debate objectively.

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