The financial services industry, like the rest of the business world, has gotten back to the daily routines of conducting commerce. Since September 11, however, there's been a sea change in people's priorities as to how they're conducting their lives overall — and nowhere is this more apparent than in the kind of speakers being featured at insurance meetings.
“What's occurred over the past months has had an impact on people in terms of the balance between life and work,” says Diane Goodman, president of the Goodman Speakers Bureau, Windsor, Conn. “Yes, business is back to business, but companies are realizing that their people have a clearer awareness of family and friends, and so they're looking for speakers who can address this life-balance issue. We're also allowed to laugh again now, so speakers who can talk about these issues in a light, entertaining way are in high demand.”
Andrea Gold, president of Gold Stars Speakers Bureau, Tucson, Ariz., agrees that there's a major trend toward speakers who can deliver know-how, inspiration, and entertainment — but who can also get into issues that deal with the audience's personal lives.
“Because there is this back-to-business attitude in the insurance industry, companies want speakers who can inspire their people and move them to higher levels of achievement — they want motivation with a message, not just fluff,” she says. “At the same time, companies want their people to know that they care about them, that they're aware of their life needs, so they're looking for speakers who can convey the message, ‘Let's move on, let's enjoy, let's live life.’”
Insurance and financial services companies are also looking for speakers who focus on leadership qualities or are themselves leaders or heroes, says Ruth Levine, founder of San Diego-based Speak Inc. She notes one more trend in requests for speakers: “I'm seeing a lot of requests for meeting hosts. These are professional speakers, often comedians, who serve as masters of ceremonies.”
With these trends in mind, ICP asked several speakers bureaus for input on speakers whose services have been most requested by insurance and financial services companies over the fast few months. From their recommendations, we chose 10 as stand-out examples of the types of speakers the industry wants to hear. Fees or fee ranges are listed, as is information on the bureaus through which their services can be retained.
- George and Barbara Bush
When the former president and first lady speak, you feel an undercurrent of comfort and stability,” Goodman says. “And of course, their son is leading the country through these turbulent times, and that provides topicality.” (Fee, $80,000 each — Look Who's Talking Speakers Bureau, www.lookwho.com.
- Steve Rizzo
New York City native Rizzo, a professional speaker with a stand-up-comedy background, has come into vogue for “The Spirit Lives On,” a stirring yet humorous presentation he created immediately following the September 11 attacks. “His is one of the most specific addresses around in terms of talking about September 11,” Gold says. “He wrote it when he was stranded in the Midwest right after the attacks and unable to get home.” (Fee, $10,000 plus expenses — Gold Stars Speakers Bureau, www.goldstars.com)
- John Cassis
Cassis brings real life examples to his audiences by sharing his experiences as a former professional baseball player and, later, a pre-game motivational speaker for the National Football League's Chicago Bears. His topics include facing adversity and meeting the daily challenges of life head-on. “John talks about leadership skills, he has a message about life and what's important, and he makes people feel good,” Goodman says. (Fee range, $10,000 or under — Goodman Speakers Bureau, www.goodmanspeakersbureau.com)
- Captain Gerald Coffee
There's a renewed interest in Navy pilot Coffee, who served in Vietnam. Coffee's plane was shot down, he was captured, and for the next seven years was a POW in Hanoi. “He focuses on how his experience built his faith in country, in family and in God,” says Donna Davis, president of Look Who's Talking Speakers Bureau in Chandler, Ariz. (Fee, $15,000 or $12,000 for nonprofit organizations — Look Who's Talking Speakers Bureau, www.lookwho.com)
- Benjamin Zander
The conductor of the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra, Zander “uses music and his profession as metaphors to explain what true leadership really is,” says Goodman, adding that her bureau has gotten increased requests for Zander's services because of the unique way he addresses the leadership issue. (Fee range, $25,000-plus — Goodman Speakers Bureau, www.goodmanspeakersbureau.com)
- Mort Crim
The creator and voice of the award-winning syndicated radio program, “Second Thoughts,” Crim draws on his knowledge of the human condition gained from 30 years' broadcasting experience. He is in high demand as a motivational speaker, especially for his presentation on “How to Hold It Together When the World is Falling Apart.” (Fee, $10,000, plus hotel accommodations — Speak Inc., www.speakinc.com)
- Ken Dychtwald
Described as “a trends forecaster and visionary who's an expert on the marketing implications of the aging of America,” Dychtwald is sought after because he “is entertaining as well as informative, and his predictions on identifying good investment opportunities are uncanny,” says Davis. (Fee, $40,000 plus travel — Look Who's Talking Speakers Bureau, www.lookwho.com)
- Jim Morris
The recently released hit movie The Rookie is based on Morris, a high-school baseball coach who, at age 35 and inspired by a challenge from his high-school team, tried out for and made the roster of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. After pitching for the Rays in 2000, Morris signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers and retired from baseball in 2001. Levine says that as a speaker, Morris inspires and motivates audiences on the importance of pursuing their dreams. (Fee, $15,000 plus first-class expenses — Speak Inc., www.speakinc.com)
- Mike Mullane
A retired U.S. Air Force colonel who flew 150 combat missions in Vietnam, Mullane went on to become a NASA space-shuttle astronaut. Before retiring from active duty in 1990, he logged 356 hours in space, the record for space-shuttle pilots. Levine says Mullane uses the Challenger shuttle disaster as a metaphor for overcoming obstacles. (Fee, $9,000 plus first-class expenses — Speak Inc., www.speakinc.com)
- Rudolph Giuliani
Any list of in-demand speakers would be incomplete without the former mayor of New York, who led his city and the nation through the days that followed the September 11 attacks — thus gaining the unofficial title as “America's Mayor” and the official title as Time magazine's 2001 Person of the Year. (Fee, $100,000 — Washington Speakers Bureau, www.washingtonspeakers.com)
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