Two speakers began their career at the same time, but only one has grown to become a household name.
Both were equally charismatic, equally talented, and started with a very small, local fan base.
Both started to grow out from the local fan base and began speaking to corporations. They both wrote books. They both got on YouTube. They both earned a handsome living, charging $25,000 per event.
Over time, though, one speaker — whose name will be unmentioned here — began to plateau, while the other — Eric Thomas — kept growing.
The first speaker kept making decent money, but he stagnated. He didn’t earn the leverage to increase his fees past the $30,000 mark.
Eric didn’t slow down. He began to speak to the NFL and NBA. He started asking for $100,000 per speech (and he got it too). He speaks to schools, corporations, sports teams, and of course, his massive online audience.
Today, Eric Thomas has 1.1 million followers on Youtube. The other speaker? A measly 25 thousand.
Where the first speaker stagnated, the second soared.
What made the difference?
A Tailored Message for Each Audience
Although it seems fresh, Eric Thomas’s message is not unique.
In fact, it falls very much in step with Jim Rohn, Bob Proctor, Ed Mylett, Mel Robbins, and other self-development giants. The message itself is powerful, but it alone is not responsible for the constantly upward trend of Thomas’s lucrative career.
How does he make it happen?
Probably there are a thousand reasons. The most important one can be found in the thumbnail below
In the video with that green thumbnail, Eric is unpacking the first essential pillar of his message: having a clear goal. But something is different.
He’s making this point in a way he’s never made it before.
“This is what happens when you start having wild thoughts,” he says to the room full of college students. “Wild thoughts. Wild thoughts. That’s why life has become so hard for some of you. You don’t have wild thoughts anymore. You don’t dream crazy no more.”
As you can see, “wild thoughts” is the phrase that matters here. In 20 seconds, he repeats those words four times.
Because ET knows his audience.
This video was released on October 22, 2017. Guess what else was happening around that time? Rihanna and DJ Khaled were dominating the pop charts with a song titled — you guessed it — Wild Thoughts.
Instead of relying on a 15-year-old reference that wouldn’t mean anything to these teenagers, Eric dialed in to their culture. He helped them remember.
As an outsider, this seems like an easy change to make.
So why do so few speakers actually do this?
Comfort zones kill progress
Many speakers never, ever change their material. It’s too risky.
If something is working, why would you dare change it?
Over time, of course, the material stops working. However, it happens slowly enough that most people don’t notice it. This is exactly why the unnamed first speaker’s career plateaued. He never changed.
Once his speeches reached the desired level of success, he stopped adjusting completely. His career stagnated because he stagnated. He kept taking gigs, reading from the same slide deck, making the same three dull points.
The content never changed. His earnings didn’t either.
This is a common pattern among speakers.
Actually, it’s common in every career.
Most people get a moderate level of success. They start cashing a few checks. They feel full of themselves. They assume what has worked before will work again, forever. They sink into the comfort zone.
Comfort zones are pretty nice. Until they aren’t. Most of the time, your sense of “comfort” is a total illusion. (My comfort zone was).
Eric Thomas is the ultimate reminder: Don’t trust the comfort zone. Continue to adapt, adjust, and grow. Respect the people you’re working for enough to bring your best self to the table every single day.
These sound like easy choices. Guess what? They are. But the common choice is to ignore them. The good news is this — you can choose to be uncommon.
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