How Keynoting for Keynote Speakers Almost Killed Me

 

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“You think you’re a ‘Speaker’?  You think you’re a ‘Keynoter’?  I’m sorry to break it to you, but you have no content, no message, and no one considers you a Speaker from what I just heard you do up there.  You are an ‘Entertainer’, you are ‘After Dinner Entertainment’, that’s it!  Don’t try and be anything else, because you have nothing we want to hear but your entertainment, singing, and funny stuff. Now, if you want to become a Speaker someday, if you really want to invest in yourself and become a true Keynoter, well then here’s my card, I am a Speaker Coach, call me when you’re ready to make this happen.” 

This was the comment on the furthest, most hurtful side of the spectrum, in the hallway surrounded by my speaking peers following my Saturday Evening Keynote Presentation at the NSA National Speakers Association Influence Conference in Phoenix, AZ, July 23, 2016.

The speaker coach’s business card sits here on my desk, right next to the CPAE Speaker Hall of Fame statue I received 2 days later.

I can only imagine what this speaker coach thought watching me accept that award on Monday night, since it was a big secret, and as I was scolded for my efforts having just given my “Promise” Keynote for the first time that Saturday evening in front of thousands of Keynote Speakers, I could do and say nothing other than, “Thank You for your feedback” and walk away.

As a Professional Speaker I have found that the most important things I say are often the words that don’t escape my mouth.

Upon ending my Keynote, having never said it into a microphone, and receiving a kind standing ovation, I was relieved it came out as well as it did.  5 hours of rehearsals per day over 3 months with cameras, recorders, hired coaches going on 6 months, re-writes, new web sites, videos, blogging, everything I did to prepare for this 30-minute maiden voyage moment, and here I was being ravaged by Speakers-turned-Vultures in the hallways of a place that should have been a safe haven.

I’ll be truly honest and candid and vulnerable with you: Keynoting for Keynote Speakers almost killed me.

The “almost killed me” part was not just in the preparation: The stress alone aged me 5 years, losing 30 lbs to look and feel better (and fit in my suit), to re-branding, investing every hour, losing sleep, doing away with business relationships that couldn’t catch the vision….I was on a mission to succeed and re-define myself to the world of Speaking, but also to then experience the negativity, critiquing, and disdain of so many who wished they were on that stage instead, and so they let me have it at my most vulnerable moment, which was the second I was done giving the speech.

To give a NEW Speech for the first time in front of Professional Speakers, is, as my friend and fellow Speaker Ross Bernstein, CSP, says, “Not only insane and takes cajones of steel, but it’s the equivalent of preparing a 5-course meal for a bunch of snobby food critics!”  Such a great quote.  Hahahaha!

It wasn’t all terrible feedback however.  Following the standing ovation I came off stage, and backstage were heroes of mine waiting with open arms:

  • Mark Scharenbroich, CSP, CPAE, and his lovely wife, Sue, as they hugged me and said, “PERFECT.” 
  • Lou Heckler, CSP, CPAE, Cavett Award Winner, with tearstained cheeks, embraced me and said, “I am so proud of what you just did up there.  It was unbelievable!”
  • Scott Halford, CSP, CPAE, and Stephen Shapiro, CSP, CPAE, the Co-Conference Chairs, smiling, laughing, singing my praises, telling me I killed it, such a great way to launch the conference.

That was special.  That was the best side of the spectrum of comments that began the night.

It was when I foolishly walked out the side door, unarmed, body armor discarded, into the J.W. Marriott Convention Center hallway, apparently with a KICK ME sign on my back and a TELL ME WHAT YOU THINK unFILTERED sign on my forehead, that the spectrum skewed from happiness and joy to my own personal nightmare:

A group of women, sitting on a couch.  I passed by, “Hi ladies!  Having a good night?” 

“Was that you up there?” they asked.  

“Yes, that was me!” I said, expecting great praise.  

“Oh, well, the lady before you was excellent.  You….you held your own.  It was ok”, they said.  

—— (My thoughts) Oh my, wow, I was ok?  Weird for them to say that.

Passing a man, I smile and say, “How are ya?” 

He casually says, “That was you up there.  Hmmm.  It wasn’t so bad.”  

—— Um?  What the heck?  Seriously?

Stranger walks up with that look in his eye, “Hey you!  YOU!  Great work pardner!  Really well done.  What’s your name again?” 

“Jason Hewlett, good to meet you, what’s your name?” I ask.  

“Jason?  Jason.  Great name!” and he leaves.  

——- Where am I?   Oh good, there’s my Dad.

“Hi Dad, thank you for making the drive down, I didn’t know you’d be able to make it!” I say excitedly to hear his thoughts.  

“Son!  This is Joel Weldon!  Do you remember those ‘Success Comes in Cans, Not in Cannots’ I used to have on my desk when you were little?  This is him!  In the flesh!  The Legend!  Joel, this is my son!” my Dad wails.  

Joel Weldon energetically grabs me by the hand, yanks me in, tan and white teeth everywhere, looks me in the eyes and says, “You’ve joined the ranks of the GREATS tonight.  I congratulate you on a most stellar, beautiful speech and presentation.”  

“Oh, wow Mr. Weldon, what an honor to meet you again, we met many years ago, I’m glad you were here and you saw me.  My Dad and I are huge fans.” I say.  

He hugs me.  My Dad hugs us both.  Kind of this awkward multiple generation, sweaty man hug thing, but it was special.  One of the special moments.  

My Bonus Mom, Janet, smiles and pulls me in for a hug, “You did unreal.  Your spirit was enormous and touching to all of us.”  

“Oh, thank you Janet, you are so sweet to come all this way.  Thank you for making the trip down, it means so much to me,” I said. 

——- Well, that was nice.  Good.  Bucket filling back up.  Family enjoyed it.

Guy walking by, “Jason!  You had me with that message until the part about your Family.  Man, I just couldn’t relate – the wife ran off years ago while I was out on the road making a living for us.  Yeah, you need to take that whole Family piece out, alienates the entire crowd, really need to consider that.  Otherwise, pretty good up there!”  

“Uhhhh….thanks?” I conjure.  

——– Who are these people?  My gosh.

Back and forth it went, like a boxer being beaten and occasionally receiving a breather when the bell would save him from a knock-out.  The sucker punches mostly were landed by utter strangers, speakers I had never met or heard of, and may never hear of again.  The moments where I could catch my breath and keep upright came from CSP’s, Certified Speaking Professionals, who gave me the props I needed, but also encouraging and insightful ideas for making it better.  Yes, that was welcome!  Tell me how I can make it better, don’t just tear me down.

Most fulfilling were the CPAE Speaker Hall of Famers embracing me, whispering in my ear, “We know you are receiving a special award in a few days, you showed why you deserve this tonight, welcome to the club.”  And then an encouraging wink and a smile.

It took from 7 PM until midnight to get to the lobby of the hotel.  I had laughed, been embraced, been talked down to, scolded, loved, groped, received many business cards, gave out all my business cards, had sore feet and misplaced my tie.  I had comments ranging from, “That was one of the Top 5 speeches I’ve ever heard at NSA”, to a guy poking my chest with a scary look in his eye and bad breath whispering, “You got nothin’ kid.  Don’t mention God, your religion, your family in a speech.  You got nothin’.”

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By the time I arrived at the lobby I looked like Jake LaMotta in Raging Bull, when he was losing.

And that is where I saw two friends – Laurie Guest, CSP, and Kim Kotecki of Escape Adulthood.  They asked me if I was ok.  I stumbled over and related what had just happened.  They were shocked, stunned, and sorry to hear it.   These were the people I wanted feedback from, as I view these as my mastermind friends, people I trust, know will tell me the truth.  I asked if the negative was true, if there was any way to salvage the message and speech from what they know of my abilities.  I knew Laurie would give me what I needed to make the speech great, since I view her as a genius and she knows the direction I want this speech to take, she took my cue and told it to me straight:

“You did great.  You did a Jason Hewlett performance.  I had already seen some of the routines so those were just what they were, old news to me, but everyone else loved them, like I loved them the first time.  But the bulk of it was new, I didn’t know you even had all of that material.  I would give you a solid grade, and I have a few suggestions to make it better, since I know pretty much all you can do, if you want to talk about it…”

Now THIS is what I wanted to receive.  Advice from those I trusted.  Not just, “Hey, it was great.”  Rather, “Good job, let’s talk about how it could improve since I know all you have in the arsenal”.  

Laurie and Kim sat there, and filled me right back up.  I wasn’t searching for validation, I was looking for resuscitation.  And then my peers slowly trickled in, forming a circle around me of support, love, friendship, masterminding.  Patrick Maurer, CSP, and Patrick Allmond, Thom Singer, CSP, and Manley Feinberg, CSP, Mike Dilbeck, CSP, telling me I had just blessed his life in such a way that it was one of the most needed presentations of his life.  Wow.

Others came and went, but these were people that could tell I was mortified by the response received over 5 horrific, sobering hours, and were there to give me the ideas I was hoping for to improve it the next time.  Imagine for one moment having people that have seen you at your best, in other settings, telling you how you can use that material in the future to make the new material better.

It was one of my favorite experiences of my life.

By 2 AM we parted and I felt able to walk and breathe again.  Not fully recovered, but comforted like the disappointed kid who just lost at the county fair to the boy with the bigger pig.

I made my way to my room, was stopped again and again by late-night stragglers, ready to tell me what they thought and beat me up a little more.

So instead of going to my room I returned to the convention center and wandered the halls.  Back and forth.  My mind playing tricks on me.  Pondering one thing: Do I accept the CPAE Speaker Hall of Fame award I am receiving in 48 hours?  Or does that ruin the Hall of Fame if I do?

I paced until 5 AM.

Returned to my room to a wife asking if I was ok as she took off my shoes and rubbed my feet (yes folks, she is the greatest person of all-time).  I told her what happened.  I read through the Facebook and Twitter comments, which were so kind and favorable.  Once I read what my brother Josh wrote I broke down and sobbed, it so touched my heart.  My wife cried with me.  She asked why they don’t have handlers, or bodyguards, for Keynoters just coming off stage.  She said those that belittled and hurt me were wrong, that she was floored by how well it went compared to what she had seen me speak about before (truth: my transition to speaking has been brutal for lots of people to watch through the years).   I told her I was thinking of not ruining the Hall of Fame by informing them I wasn’t going to accept it, to which she said I am deserving of it and anyone with a brain would recognize I was ready to receive it.

I put my shoes back on, never going to sleep, and went to my second day of Youth Camp where I was Vice-Chair this year.  Sugar free RedBull kept me alive during the convention.   I proceeded to not sleep more than 6 hours for the entire duration of my 4-night stay, due to scheduling, social interactions, and stress.

On Monday night, July 25, 2016, I reluctantly, un-assuredly, humbly and gratefully accepted the CPAE Speaker Hall of Fame award (BLOG Post on that HERE).  No speech prepared, just speaking and crying from the heart, to be honored by the NSA and association I appreciate, and always will, so much.

So many congratulations from people I love followed, and then hearing from others I am too young, too inexperienced, it’s too early to receive such an honor…

More critics, more self-doubt, more speakers speaking words that don’t uplift.

Oh well.

And now the award sits on my desk, next to that speaker coach’s card.

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~ jason hewlett

 

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Jason Hewlett, CSP (Certified Speaking Professional), CPAE Speaker Hall of Fame, is a Keynote Speaker and Master of Ceremonies for the largest corporate events in the world. His primary message, The Promise, a combination of engagement and entertainment meets inspiration, has been acknowledged as life-changing by Conference Attendees, C-Level Executives and Hollywood Elite.  jasonhewlett.com

 

 

Comments

  1. I an a FAN. Yes God & Family ISD all we have. That is the REASON. The WHY we do what we do.

    Working as a zig Ziglar speaker I get the same as you got that I’m not very good but it doesn’t matter God does what he does we are the instrument, we are just a vessel. And yes, you are touching and changing lives.

    • Jason Hewlett

      Thank you Phillip, this is true. God is someone I can’t help talking about, and I’m not going to change that. Family the same. Thank you for your encouraging words!

  2. Monica Neubauer

    I was thoroughly taught and entertained by you. I came home and showed my daughter and her boyfriend your video and how they can be creative in their speaking and entertaining. We all appreciated you, your message and your creativity.

    • Jason Hewlett

      Monica, this is so sweet of you, wow. I appreciate you would see creativity and share with your family, that is amazing. God bless!

  3. Jason, although I wasn’t there to hear your speech – and yes it was a speech – I heard great things from people I respect … mostly CPAE’s. NSA is the hardest audience you will ever have. There are hundreds of folks who believe that they could do better even though there is no way in the world that they would ever be considered for the opening keynote of pretty much anything. Listen to the people you respect. You know that they will tell you the truth, and the truth is that you crushed it. Congrats, and welcome to the CPAE Speaker Hall of Fame.

    • Jason Hewlett

      My gosh Randy, this is the kind of comment that brings me to my knees in gratitude and humility. You are one of The Greats. I appreciate this so much. Thank you my brother, it’s an honor to even know you, let alone call you friend.

  4. Jason, after having watched your epic performance, I have realized that you changed the Speaking World by being real, by being true to yourself and to your gifts, and you were true to the Promise of the One.

    It would also appear that those that chided you realized they were to insecure with themselves when you spoke the truth and they tried to cover up their shortcomings to make themselves feel better. Shame on them. In fact, forget them. Their pulling you down only demonstrates why the spirit of Cavet has not flowed to them to be the Keynoter or CPAE recipient. Perhaps once they realize this and the amount of training it takes to perfect their craft like you have, they will realize their folly and see where they need to improve. How can we call ourselves professionals if we are going to be wolves among our peers and try to make ourselves bigger then they are just because of perceived age or paying ones dues longer. They should consider exiting stage left and fading into the sunset.

    Your transformation has been epic, and the model for all speaking professionals to expand their talents and their audiences. We would all do well to take a page from you and rewrite our careers to speak and connect from the heart and get away for the “canned” presentation. Your reservoir of talents, skills, and material are the strongest they have ever been.

    Don’t stop now. Don’t stop being the best. Don’t give in to the naysayers and the cynics. They are unwilling to pay the sacrifice and put their neck out there, so use it to set the bar to even higher levels and leave them to clean up the dust. To those that made spectacles of themselves, search your soul and see if you the guts it took go down this same path.

    • Jason Hewlett

      BK, this is so very kind of you, made me tear up. We must keep going, doing our best, serving others. Thank you for this message.

  5. My experience was exactly like Randy’s – I wasn’t there, but what I heard was 100% “he crushed it.” Eons ago, Jason, I did a keynote of 100% ALL new material for NSA. I was petrified. For the year I prepared and wrote and rewrote that speech right up until I was standing backstage waiting to go on – I was convinced that I would go on stage, throw up, pass out, and live in NSA infamy forevermore. An all new material or a truly transitional speech like you did will show you what you’re made of. You showed that you’re the real deal. Pay no attention to the uninvited criticism of those who stand outside the arena in which you have stood up to the challenge of winning over the toughest audience anywhere. As for you getting CPAE – the fact that you got it made all existing CPAEs more valuable. You bumped it up a notch for all of us. Bravo.

    • Jason Hewlett

      Joe, this knocks me out to hear this from you. You also sent me a very kind Facebook message, which having received kind words from my heroes really made me feel able to move forward. Thank you for the encouragement. Truth is I wanted mine to be a Calloway type experience. I heard about your keynote you’re referring to, the way it was received, and wanted to bring something THAT special. It means so much you would write, and read this long post. I so admire you.

  6. Oh, my goodness, Jason. Listen to Randy Pennington, Mark Scharenbroich and my personal hero (Lou Heckler). Wise words from the best of the best. You were PHENOMENAL! Period. I don’t know who the naysayers were, but perhaps they were imposters who had a bad day on the links that day and stumbled into the wrong room. You were awarded the CPAE for a reason — You’re THAT good! You deserve it, you earned it, you belong. And you did it while holding firm to your personal values and faith. You are the real deal, sir. Congratulations!

  7. Jason. Now, more than ever, I wish I had been there. To hear you and to be one of your cheerleaders because I know I would have loved it! I did not expect to read what you wrote in this post. I’m embarrassed for those people and for our association – and I’m so sorry you had that you had that experience. I can’t wait to view the video so you can add me to the list of people who love on you! Honest, helpful feedback is one thing (and when asked for), but what you describe is no better than those haters online. Perhaps Randy is right. Perhaps NSA is a challenging audience because so many people wish they could be up there and think they should be. Thankfully though there are the Laurie Guests, Kim Koteckis, Mark & Susan Scharenbroichs, and the Lou Hecklers…..and the Jason Hewletts…… that make up for the others. No surprise to me you received your CPAE – you soooooo deserve it!

    • Jason Hewlett

      Oh Donna, it was a bummer to not see you there, you were certainly missed. Thank you for the kind words, but yes, it was the people that filled me up that is what makes NSA so great, and those that tear down are in any industry. I guess I was hoping for more of a red carpet and I got a few slabs of one, mixed with a few hundred yards of tattered recycled dirty wool.

  8. Marilyn

    I’m so sorry people are so hurtful. I loved your keynote and I love you. If you are ever in doubt again, call – I’ve got your back. Always.

  9. Rob Ferre

    Thank you for your honesty and being vulnerable with us. This connects us all as speakers. We want to give the best that we got and keep improving but it takes a tribe to uplift you. Thank you for sharing your journey with us and appreciate every insight that you give. By the way can I get the name of that coach? I don’t need a new one I just need to know which doorstep to I need to place that flaming bag of dog poo.

  10. Dan Griffin

    I really appreciated your speech. I appreciated the time you put into it. The discipline. The preparation. I laughed and was moved. It saddens me to think that anyone who would call themselves a speaker and be a member of NSA would treat a peer the way you described. I’m new to NSA but I’ve already learned calling yourself a speaker doesn’t make you a speaker and being a member of NSA doesn’t make you a speaker. I can’t really put it into words but I know it when I see it. What I saw that night was a speaker. The more you put yourself out there the more arrows you get in the front and the back. Having the friends to help you pull them out is what it’s all about. Congrats on your journey!

    • Jason Hewlett

      So well said Dan, and thank you for this. NSA is a beautiful, wonderful place, I have learned and loved so much of it. My hope is this doesn’t paint too negative of a picture for such an isolated incident, but I feel it needed to be shared, as this business, like any business, ain’t all roses 🙂

  11. When we talked before convention I had no idea CPAE was coming, but I did know your keynote was. I tried to share what thise hallways were like last year and am grateful for Eliz Greene for herding me immediatly so I didn’t go at it alone. Jason Kotecki and Mike Domitrz supported me for the rest of the conference. I was nervous about this year and and the insanity wasn’t totally over, but close. You, my friend, aren’t a speaker. You are a promise keeper and challenge those around you to show their true self.

    • Jason Hewlett

      Oh my Jessica, that is so amazing of you my friend. You are right. You warned me and I just didn’t think it would happen. I love and appreciate and admire you always.

  12. Jason,
    Reading this makes me sad for our association. No speaker deserves what you went through, especially you. Your keynote was stellar, equal parts humorous and inspiring. You deserve all of the recognition you’ve received, including your CPAE.

    • Jason Hewlett

      Thank you very much Evan. My hope is not to spill a negative light on the association, rather enlighten others that it is important the way and timing we say things, when unsolicited advice can be hurtful, etc. NSA has afforded me much joy and success, and this was extra painful to experience with my peers, so I hope my moment can help others to have better ones. Thank you again for your kind sentiments.

    • Jason Hewlett

      Thank you very much Phil, onward and upward, right? but man was it tough to write this all out. Took me 3 days of writing after nearly 2 months of thinking.

  13. Brave and wise words, Jason. Your honesty and integrity shine through. Alas, for the first time in many years, I didn’t make it to NSA, so missed your speech, but many people I trust tell me it was brilliant. It’s given me food for thought. In three weeks time I deliver a keynote to my home association, PSA UKI. Despite having spoken all over the world, including at NSA, I’ve never done a keynote at my home convention. Your account will definitely influence my thinking and approach. Thank you. I hope to see you in Orlando next year.

    • Jason Hewlett

      Well thank you Alan! And I’m excited to hear how PSA UKI goes, you will be amazing as always, I’ve heard many great things about you for a long time. This may have just been an isolated incident, but yes, it makes me rethink quite a bit as well. However, I love NSA and hope it doesn’t sound too disparaging to the overall, as I’ve certainly gained more than felt lessened. I hope to see you in Orlando as well, I’ll be in charge of the Youth, so please stop in and say hi if you need a break from the adults!

  14. Hi Jason
    My heart breaks that our own ‘peers’ can’t let us glow in, baske in, and enjoy the moment! To my way of thinking it’s our drug of choice – to step off that stage and know we served, we delivered, we connected: we taught, inspired, entertained. Bask in that moment and soak it all up.

    I’m so pleased that you have eagles who can provide encouraging feedback. It’s been a lesson on mine this past year: truly consider who you receive feedback from! 😉 In your case from your keynote, it was delivered without your permission. I’m sorry for that.

    I was one of the Aussies in the crowd at Influence2016 and LOVED your keynote. Truly loved it! I sat listening and feeling as though I got a sense of who Jason Hewlett is and his message.

    Thank you for the effort you put in!

    I must say that this was my first time seeing and hearing you and to then see you receive your CPAE was delightful. I know they don’t come easily so you obviously deserved it!

    • Jason Hewlett

      Sally you are so kind. This means very much to me. You are right, take the advice and feedback from the right ones, I like that, I will work on that. You are darling. Thank you!

  15. Jason, I thought you were amazing. I don’t even have feedback for making it better. I loved the way you weaved in the things you’re passionate about like your faith and your family. That’s The Promise. If those come out then it’s not you. And you still made it funny and true to your style. I still laugh at the “I made arrangements for everyone of you to get a copy…” Joke. It was an honor to be there to see you perform and your acceptance speech was tops. You belong in the Hall of Fame and I’m honored to know you. And remember, Rita Davenport is on video saying that was the best opening she’s ever seen and she was talking about YOU!

    • Jason Hewlett

      You’re so darling Michelle. Thank you for being someone I really felt encouraged by following the keynote. Your smile and words brought me back to life as well. Thank you.

  16. Jason, congratulations on your award, extremely well deserved. As for what others said to you, I remember this quote I read once when I started my speaking career, “I used to bother about other people’s opinions until I tried to pay my bills with them” We will always be liked by some, hated by some but as long as “you like you” that’s all that should matter. People will only ever bring you down for a reason, purely because you are above them.

    • Jason Hewlett

      Wow Tahar, that is very deep and I love the quote as well. Thank you for this. Interesting what we experience in this profession. Continued success and thank you for reading and commenting!

  17. Jason…I am so sorry. My heart ached as I kept reading. I wasn’t at the convention this year. However, I heard you speak at NSA-CO last year. You were absolutely amazing, engaging, funny, humble, genuine, and talented. I am angry that you had such negative responses. I have been a member of NSA for 28 years. I have seen and heard a lot of speakers in that time and you are one of the very best. You do have a message and you are a marvelous example of husband, father, speaker and man. Please don’t quit telling you personal stories as they connect with almost all of us. By telling us your truths in life, you lead us to our own. More importantly we learn not to take ourselves so seriously. Your stories and those all of us tell as speakers are what your audience remembers. It is through those stories that they remember your message and only then does your content come back to them and continues to inspire them for years to come. It is so unfortunate that in an association as wonderful as NSA, that we have those who think they know the only right way to be a keynote speaker. Bless them, and send them on. Because there is only one way Jason Hewlett can be the best keynote speaker…and that is by being himself and being willing to share that with others. That is what you did my friend, on what shouldn’t but can be the toughest stage on which you ever stand! You definitely deserve the CPAE. So do me a favor and leave the honorable trophy on your desk and shred the coach’s card!

    • Jason Hewlett

      Oh Suzanne, this makes me smile and feel so grateful. Thank you for your kind thoughtful words. NSA CO was a big event for me, it really pushed me forward in having the confidence to speak while being entertaining, too. I love your chapter. I love NSA as a whole. Bummer a few can make for a rough experience, but it was for the best and has forged my resolve to be even better the next time. Love you!

  18. Amy Smith

    Jason your speech was such an inspiration to me AND my ten year old daughter, Liza. We attended the convention with my parents Al and Margaret Walker. I teach third grade, and as I enter my classroom every morning I think about your reminder to keep the promise to my students and to remember that I am “there to serve, not to shine.” Thank you!

    • Jason Hewlett

      WOW, thank you so much Amy. Liza is lovely. Al and Margaret are some of my heroes. I love what you say here, so grateful you would share. Thank you for being a Teacher, the highest calling.

  19. Jason
    Thank you so much for sharing this.

    I’ve been presenting talks and keynotes to audiences of professional advisers (like accountants) for years. I get rebooked and complimented. But I am keen to step up a gear when I present a new talk on the main stage at the PSAUKI Mega convention next month.

    It’ll be new to PSA audiences but will include some of my ‘greatest hits’. Still, there’s lots more prep and rehearsal time to fit in!

    • Jason Hewlett

      YES, Exactly Mark. Tough to do ALL new material for sure, I did some of my Greatest Hits as well. Need to be in there! Good blessing with it, you will rock!

  20. Jason,
    You were remarkable! Your keynote was perfection! I was awed, mesmerized and laughed and was engaged throughout.
    What “Speaker Coach” said to you had NOTHING to do with your keynote, it was merely that person’s disgusting sales pitch: a sad commentary on what has happened at NSA. I am appalled that you had to suffer a fool of self-promotion: those self-indulgent, self-promoting “coaches” who offer the unsolicited and unkind and UNTRUE feedback.
    As for the other snide, unkind, jealous comments, I am appalled at those who uttered them. It makes me furious that you had to endure such unconscionable behavior.
    Anyone who has every given a keynote knows we must NEVER, ever say anything to a keynoter right after their presentation that isn’t positive.
    Reading your post made me so happy that When I saw you in the hall, We had the opportunity to chat and that I told you that how wonderful you keynote was.
    You raised the bar!

    • Jason Hewlett

      Susan, I so appreciate your comments here AND especially in the hall, as they saved me. And yes, it was a bizarre and unacceptable sales pitch from a coach, unfortunate and a great story now! Haha. But not indicative of NSA at all. NSA is my safe place, so maybe that’s why I needed to write this out, to let others know there should be a discussion on how to treat one another carefully, kindly, and when we ask for feedback we should be in the right space to receive it. Thank you!

  21. Jason, we’ve never met but when we do I’m going to give you a big hug. I can tell that you’re not going to let the critics in the cheap seats take you down just to lift themselves up.

    Please forgive the following generalizations:

    One of the big differences that I’ve found having spent years around actors (read: performers) and years around speakers (read: talking heads) is that actors wouldn’t do what these speakers did to you. Sure, they’ll talk about you when you’re not there but not in the way I’ve seen speakers do it.

    Trained performers understand that we’re making art and there is no one way to do it. And they understand the work that goes into it. Most speakers haven’t spent years devoted to the craft of performance, sharing their hearts and baring their soles to strangers in a theater. As a result, they are often immune to how personally and emotionally revealing it is. Heck, they barely rehearse.

    Instead, they often wrap themselves up in protective layers of persona (read: armor) and step up to the stage as an expert. To me, it boils down to this: you can be a critic or a performer but I don’t think you can be both. You, my friend, are a performer.

    • Jason Hewlett

      I love this Michael, as yes, you are totally right. I come from that space, of ARTIST and Performer, where you come off stage and even when you are no good you are still embraced and encouraged. It is fascinating to have many versions of that in this situation, and then those that aren’t tactful, and that’s where this experience was so shocking. However – I love NSA and hope that comes through here, too. Those that uplift, give helpful feedback and that immediately helped, YES give me that, AND give me a hug. 🙂 Great comment my friend, excited to meet someday!

  22. Jason, your keynote was out of sight fantastic! You know we’re all different, how we speak, how we present, but you are truly special. I saw you pass by near the registration area early the next morning and I wanted to congratulate you, but my thought was, he is probably overloaded with all of the congratulations. I wish I would have taken that moment. Congratulations on delivering beyond the promise you made in your heart before the keynote and for the outstanding achievement of CPAE! (…and thanks for reminding all of us how to manage feedback.)

    • Jason Hewlett

      Thank you so much Dennis. Following that night I actually did receive mostly positive feedback, so I felt your heart across the room! Thank you so much for your kind words.

  23. Jason-

    I am humbled to be mentioned in this piece that is clearly from your heart. This blog post is so meaningful, not just to speakers, but to everyone.

    People don’t think through the words they say and they end up not just hurting another soul, but look like an ass. I wonder if mister “I am a speaking coach” will ever read this article? If he does will he see himself in the story or will he email you that he is a writing coach and can help with your blogging skills. I would hope he would read this and call you to apologize for being a jerk, but I won’t hold my breath. Few people like that can ever publicly own up to personal failures.

    You are one of the kindest people I know (and I know a lot of people) and you are one of the most talented speakers I have ever seen on NSA’s main stage (and with 8 conventions under my belt I have seen a lot of talks). Yes, you are also an entertainer – but these are not mutually exclusive.

    After San Diego I have said many times you are the most talented entertainer I have ever seen live on any stage, but after Phoenix it is clear your stories and content are on par with the greatest speakers of all time. The speaking industry is not just what “mister speaker coach” thinks it is – and I got a tear in my eye when I read this blog post.

    I strive to be more like you as a speaker, husband, father, brother, friend, and member of the community.

    As they say in Frozen- let it go. You are the new gold standard…. These other people who said stuff to bring you down did that for their own reasons and people all have their own stuff they deal with that they project to others.

    I am forever honored to be your friend!

    • Jason Hewlett

      Woah Thom. Truly, this is humbling my friend. In every way. Thank you so much and I hope you realize the sentiments are shared by me to you as well. I am good at emulating great people I admire, and you are one I strive to be like. This made me laugh, made me cry, too. Love you man.

  24. Dear Jason… You are a gift from God to us. I was there at the foundation where you blew me away. I was there at the. Convention where you upped your game to new heights. You were extraordinary. Your honesty, deep truth, humor and love for us was emanating from you like a pulsating beam touching us.

    Yes, you deserved the CPAE. Yes you deserved it. You represent us well.

    I understand the aftermath of being on the grand stage and the courage to be on the grandstage.

    It takes courage to stand before a group of people who are ready to critique, “fix”, and are saying to themselves, “I can do that”. It takes courage to give everything you have to prepare and be 100% there in spite of knowing that the negative Nellies are ready to pounce. We know that there is also the love fest waiting. We know there are our friends and fans who love us. But those negative vampires…we aren’t prepared for them, you are right, keynotes need mental guards.

    You are a courageous man. You showed that on stage. You showed that when you visited the troops abroad (my friend is still grateful you came. It was a hard deployment and you made it easier for him and others.) You embody courage. Being vulnerable and sharing your love, your hurt your faith is courage.

    Your truth and honestly, being open, is one of the reasons you will continue to bless many more millions.

    Thank you for courageously being you.

    • Jason Hewlett

      Oh Man Pegine! I almost made it through reading your comment without crying but you did it. You brought the tears my dear. I love and admire you so much. Thank you for your kind honest words and never-ending encouragement. I love our association, where we can be safe and loved and learn and serve and grow, just stinks when strangers show up who think they know better 🙂 Love you so much. This is amazing you would say this.

  25. Jason,

    Your keynote was beautifully crafted and delivered with such amazing skill. The work you put into it was evident. Thank you for sharing your brilliance with us on that stage. I am glad the Youth were in the room to see your share your talent. Thanks for the honesty shared here. Lots of lessons for all of us. I am glad you forged ahead and accepted the CPAE as we are all richer since you are a great example of what it needs to represent.

    • Jason Hewlett

      This means so much to me Lisa, I admire you so much, and yes, at this point I would have been devastated to have turned the CPAE away, so I’m glad I didn’t react too emotionally in the moment!

  26. Regina Clark, CSP

    Jason You were wonderful! Thank you for sharing, this is a challenging profession and many of those negative people are jealous of your success. You absolutely deserve the CPAE and the standing ovation!!!

  27. Jason, I don’t know who these naysayers are but I think you were fabulous! I can’t believe that people were so insensitive that they attacked you with negative remarks as soon as you came off stage. It disappoints me because I always believed that NSA is such a supportive family. Each time we go on stage we place ourselves in a very vulnerable situation. There will always be negative people in the audience. No matter what we say and do, they will find something wrong with us…even if it is just one sentence. I truly believe that those people are just not happy with themselves. The hurtful remarks always overpower the positive, we play them over and over again in our heads. It’s human nature. Again, I was so impressed with your performance, ability to connect with us, and your message. Keep moving forward, you deserved all of those accolades. Proudly display your well-deserved CPAE Speaker Hall of Fame award on your desk, and throw away that coach’s card!

    • Jason Hewlett

      Thank you so much Elaine for your kind encouraging words. NSA is a supportive family, sadly some make families kind of uncomfortable at times, but I choose to let it drive me to be better and hope it elicits a conversation that we should be careful how we treat one another.

  28. Great post Jason! And a horrible experience. I’ve had personal experience of this too.

    I’m speaking next week at a speakers association meeting (in the Far East) – for the first time since I received some very barbed ‘feedback’ on my speech for another speakers association a few years ago – funnily enough it was public on social media in the evening after my speech – in comparison to another speaker.

    Very interesting as I’d been asked to speak at that event purely to give value and help the other speakers get more bookings!

    At the moment I have in my speech for next week ‘I’m not interested in your ‘feedback’ on my keynote, style, or what you think I can ‘improve’. I’m only interested in what the most useful ideas in it were for you….’

    These days I only want feedback from people I trust and respect as I know they have my best interests at heart. Not interested in other people’s opinions who don’t!

    I actually say to people these days that try to give me ‘feedback’ in those situations…’just some ‘feedback’ for you too. I didn’t ask for your feedback’ 😉

    I think some people only give ‘feedback’ to make themselves look good (as in ‘I must be better than you as I can point out areas where you can improve’.). Superiority complexes, one-upmanship or jealousy, I have no time for that kind of stuff.

    I could play a ‘passable’ version of Stairway to Heaven on the guitar by the time I was 20. Jimmy Page didn’t write it until he was 27. That doesn’t make me a better guitarist than Jimmy Page……

    • Jason Hewlett

      This is really interesting way to look at it, and handle things, Andy. I may have had a real look of willingness to allow such criticism, but who knows? I know I searched it out of those I trust and that was important for me, while others just pounced, so it was what it was! Great comparison to Jimmy Page, that’s cool.

  29. Jason,

    I was profoundly inspired by two speakers at Influence. Both of whom were authentic, genuine, and gave permission to the audience (those who care) to be themselves when they speak. This message alone was an impactful moment for so many speakers I talked with. You are one of those speakers, and while my faith is not aligned with yours, my personal approach to speaking is new, fresh, and growing, much of that from your inspiring 30 minutes and acceptance speech.

    Another struggle I have always had is audience response. I believe my message is strong, powerful, and often confrontational. With that, I have encountered audience members leaving, responding in negative ways, and communicating to me how I should go about my business. Over many years, I have discovered two things. One is that these people have been impacted, because they reacted. The other is that I never know which personal insecurities I will poke in individual audience members on any given day. I have seen the audiences respond in so many ways at NSA events. I have seen speakers respond in so many ways at NSA events. I have discovered what you discovered, but never that intense, and your story inspires me to reach the endpoint quicker.

    I believe that speakers on the Influence stage suffer a more intense scrutiny than with regular audiences, and with your story, I am, once again, inspired and motivated to follow your example.

    Thank you.

    • Jason Hewlett

      Means a lot Trevor, I admire what you’re saying here. NSA is a wonderful place, I hope it didn’t feel as though I was knocking it, but some of those attending can make it appear to be not a safe haven when it should be. But yes, all that makes us who we are ought to arrive in some form when we speak, and that will engage and enlighten many, and some alienate, and that’s the point 🙂

  30. Hello Jason
    Whenever I hear your name announced at NSA my spirit lifts, I sit up a little taller in my chair and I look forward to your amazing and inspirational performances. You make me laugh, you make me cry, you make me feel human and you make me feel good and most of all better for the experience of “spending time with you”. For me I would be very happy to hear you speak at every NSA event – from the first time I heard you at the NSA Foundation you have been worth the price of admission; you have incredible talents and the gift to make people laugh and to deliver a compelling message. I know it is difficult to ignore the nay sayers, but please know that there are more people supporting you at NSA than there are people trying to put you down. My heart lights up even when I see you in the hallways and a little piece of me wishes I was in your inner circle so that I could have stayed up till 5 am to assure you of the difference you make in the world. You are a star my friend. Polish the star and the CPAE Award you richly deserve it. Too young, humbug. A 12 year old just won America’s Got Talent. Love you.

    • Jason Hewlett

      Oh my goodness Dr. Helen, this is an amazing comment. I have never heard this said before. Thank you so very much and love you right back. Can’t wait to hear your message.

  31. Jason,
    We have never met and I was not at the conference for one of the few times in 20 years of being a member of NSA. But a dear friend of mine Rita Craig could not stop singing your praises of how fabulous you were and what you did to raise the bar in the speaking industry. My heart hurts for our association and how egotistical and self-serving many people have become. I believe that the people we serve on a daily basis, that we make laugh, that we touch their hearts, that we bring a tear to their eye, and at the end of the day we bring glory to God by using the gift he has given us. I am sorry that you walked through the lions den, but just sharing the story, for me, reminds me of a Max Lacado, “that I only want the applause of two nail scarred hands. Bless you as you daily live an abundant life!

    • Jason Hewlett

      Wow Anne, so beautifully said! Rita is one of my favorites ever, she is so loving and encouraging. The Lions Den is a good analogy. Thank you for your words.

  32. For what it’s worth, you were incredibly entertaining and inspiring. Living only a few miles from the venue, I rushed home and told me wife about your fantastic presentation, then proceeded to find you on YouTube so I could share a little with her. You are awesome and what you do with, and give to the NSA Youth Program is equally as awesome. Keep the coach’s card nearby to remind yourself never to be like them.

  33. Jason, I loved your keynote. It had substance, character, character and charisma. My mother told me years ago when people say hurtful things, consider the source. You helped me understand why some speakers tend to be aloof. They may be gunshot! My intention going forward is to give to others what I know I’d like – genuine love and support. Stay the same. God did not make a mistake when He created you. Stand in your light.

    • Jason Hewlett

      This is beautiful Stephanie, I love your intention, that’s what it’s about! Great words you’ve said here. Thank you!

  34. Mark Black, CSP

    Jason I am floored to read the abuse you had to endure from people who are supposed to be in the business of encouraging and uplifting people. Sadly though, most speakers (myself included) suffer some level of insecurity, and for some that manifests itself in the form of tearing others down so that they feel better about themselves. That’s on them not you!

    I hope the feedback you received from us at CAPS was more positive. You were/are amazing, and as I told you then, the content of your message was just as strong as your your skills to entertainment.

    Congratulations on the CPAE. Anyone who knows anything about our business knows that this award is not given lightly. It is a tremendous honour reserved for the best of the best.

    My experience has been that CPAEs, HoFs and CSPs are generally the most supportive and encouraging of others. Maybe that is a reflection of the fact that long lasting success in this business requires strong character as well as strong speaking skill and business acumen.

    Maybe it is not a coincidence that most of the negative feedback came from people who haven’t achieved that success.

    • Jason Hewlett

      Mark, I will always appreciate my experience at CAPS. For me it was a very important moment in my career and confidence. Everyone was encouraging, wonderful, and it is ingrained in the culture. I love NSA, always will, but some people spoil things for the rest of us, so it was fascinating to have a very first hand look at crazy-town for a minute. You are right, those that have made it are always the most encouraging because they know how it’s done. Pretty interesting. Thank you again for your kind words, they will not be forgotten!

  35. Jason!! My heart is so sad that you experienced such hurtful feedback from speakers. Thank you for writing about it, and also for showing that some colleagues are truly “walking their talk.” I wasn’t there, but you know how I feel about your message. And, if people don’t hear what message you are sending, they are not truly listening. They are shallow-not you or your message.

    • Jason Hewlett

      Hahaha Harriet! You handed me the kindest note perhaps I’ve ever received as you knew exactly what everyone’s sentiments were doing to me at that one event! I will always love you for that. You are incredible and I SO admire the person, speaker, and MOTHER you are. Love you!

  36. Jason,
    Some people cannot get that there is enough success to go around. They become threatened by others. I know you know that, but being on stage and being public puts that target right over your heart and some people take the shot as soon as they can. As the great philosopher Justin Bieber said, “Haters gonna hate.” Whether or not you are a “Belieber” he is talented and gets hateful comments all the time. I don’t know why people do that to each other. And I’m so deeply sorry to hear that this was your experience after your keynote.
    As I shared with you during the youth program I loved your keynote and I felt not only did you knock it out of the park, but the most important messages of faith, family and integrity came out with such authentic heart. I love you and your family and will continue to be a huge fan!

    • Jason Hewlett

      Thank you Tara, you are so right. Bieber makes it to the top because he’s amazing, yet that’s when all heck breaks loose. So yes, thank you for for your kind words and always being encouraging. I love your family so much.

  37. Jason, I’m simply shocked by any negative feedback you got from your stellar keynote at Influence 16! You had me all-in from the start…laughing & crying & reflecting & smiling! You move people to the point of re-thinking their own lives & values. You were one of the best main stage keynoters I have ever witnessed at conference, and my teen daughters adore & respect you as one of the most awesome NSA youth chairs ever!
    Don’t ever doubt yourself again! You are worthy of that award statue. You are amazing!!! Keep doing YOU! Thank you!

  38. I forgot to add what my mother told me growing up as it definitely applies to you and your experience. “That which you put into the lives of others, will someday come into your own.” AND…”If you are getting kicked from behind, remember you are ahead! Rock on Jason!

  39. This was certainly a post that I would not have expected to read about NSA. Wow. I am so sorry you had to go through that experience. I’ve always loved your kindness, humility, and energy that you bring to each and every performance. I enjoyed “meeting” your wife and kids – particularly after the beautiful blog post you paid a tribute to her in. You have so much going for you and I hope all of these positive notes from your friends and colleagues who adore you will remove the horrors of the negative responses you undeservedly received. My heart is breaking that you had to go through that and I hope it’s those other unkind souls that don’t return to NSA, not you. That is not the Spirit of Cavett and I wouldn’t wish that kind of meanness on anyone. You totally ROCK!

    • Jason Hewlett

      Thank you very much Lisa, this is so nice of you to say. I don’t want this to appear to shed a negative light on NSA as a whole, as I adore the association and so many within it. Yet there are those that appear out of nowhere and eventually, usually, disappear just as quickly. I just ran into them all at once. But it is not a reflection of the norm nor the safe haven that it’s known for. Hoping it sparks some conversation about how to treat others after a presentation in our organization, and yes, the positive notes I’m receiving are not what I was expecting, I just hoped my Mom and a few others might read it!

  40. Jesse Mejia

    Jason,

    Influence Phoenix was my second NSA convention and you were simply amazing! Seeing you onstage was an incredible experience and inspired me further to pursue public speaking as a career. You are a gifted man and you moved us newbies to learn how a Hall of Famer gets it done! Thank you for teaching me the importance of the “The Promise.”

    • Jason Hewlett

      Thank you so much Jesse, I hope you LOVED your experience at NSA, as it is a most wonderful community. Welcome and continued success. See you in Orlando!

  41. Jason, when I saw your name on the program, I couldn’t wait to take in your presentation! I have sohared your YouTube channel with friends and family. My granddaughter was in the Youth Program and I can not tell you hoe excited as was for those kids to experience not only Jason the speaker but also Jason the great Dad and husband.

    Never give up being who you are to be what someone else wants you to be. More than likely you remind them of what is missing in their lives. I personally loved your presentation not only for it’s content but also for your discipline, your preparation and your commitment to the audience. To me I saw all those things and more.

    In my book you knocked it out of the park!

  42. Karen Eddington

    Jason you rock! Oh how this is a powerful powerful post. I just need to say thank you so much for your example. Thank you for living with goodness and integrity! Thank you for sharing your message. Thank you for your example of work– fiercely hard work. Thank you for writing this. Your off and on stage hard work beyond inspires me. Thank your for your message of family. Thank you for your off the chart speaking talents that inspire me. Criticism has been on my mind a lot lately… it’s everywhere… (politics, social media bullying, speakers criticizing speakers) it’s thick. For me I love when I see the cycle stop. Hurt people, hurt people. It’s the challenge of our lives to stop passing on hurt. Thank you for passing on good–I am cheering you on!!

    • Jason Hewlett

      Karen, I’m not sure you realize how much I admire you, but I do so greatly, and your words are uplifting as always. Thank you thank you.

  43. As a newer member of NSA, this was only my second convention. I was mortified to read your piece about an association that I fell in love with, and how some people surrounded you with such vitriol after such a masterful performance, and yes, speech. You inspired me, you made me laugh, you made me reflect. People that said it had no content are dead wrong. Again, it was masterful. I am truly uplifted by all the positivity that is surrounding you in the replies here. That’s the NSA I fell in love with. I choose to ignore the negativity – they have no place in my association! As for the “speaker coach,” as they say, “Those who can’t, teach.” That person probably never keynoted anything in his life.

    • Jason Hewlett

      Thank you Shawna. Your words are kind to say it, and yes, I’m surprised this struck such a nerve within our community, I guess it’s either surprising or somewhat familiar to many. My fear is this sheds negativity on an association I love so much. That was never the intention. I was just sharing how some people can ruin your day, while others can lift you up, and hopefully we all have people like that as we carry on our way. NSA is amazing. I love it. Always will. Plan on continue serving, hope you’ll keep joining us. We need good caring people there, just like everywhere, but especially there. Thank you

  44. Jason,

    Unfortunately, I was unable to attend NSA this year. However, I know that when I saw you at NSA a couple of years ago I came home and told my family that I had just witnessed pure genius on stage. We found some of your YouTube videos so I could share your magic with them. I can’t imagine that your performance at NSA this year, was anything less than magnificent. I have watched you since then and seen you grow as a speaker and a performer.

    It is unfortunate that some people forget that celebrating someone else’s success as much as they would their own doesn’t rob them of theirs. I learned long ago, that if people can’t or won’t connect with you, they are not your market or your audience. Criticism and disdain is irrefutable evidence you are doing something incredible.
    Bravo my friend, for an epic performance and a VERY well deserved CPAE.

    • Jason Hewlett

      Seanlai, this is very profound my friend, thank you for sharing and taking time to comment. Means a lot you would share me with your family, thank you and continued success!

  45. Jason – this post really shows me again what a special gift you are. Many would have written a spiteful response – instead you kept the focus on you and your experience. For anyone reading it should be a reminder of what the high road can look like.
    You (and I hesitate to call it this) performance at NSA was the most heart-felt combination of teaching and entertainment I’ve ever experienced. I was mesmerized. I had no idea the effort you put into it (but should have guessed given how brilliant the delivery was).
    For those ready, you have a big bucket of heart to share and help us open our own a little wider.
    Thanks for what you put into this post and sharing.

    • Jason Hewlett

      Hugh, what a joy it was to get to know the man behind the blogs I love while we masterminded at CSP Summit. You are brilliant sir, and this comment is totally incredible to hear. Thank you my friend. The feeling is mutual!

  46. Jason, small people have small minds. You are in a league all your own, with talents and gifts that NO ONE can match. You are incredible, strong, personable, keen wit, great mastery of the stage, and the adjectives could keep on flowing. What matters most, I now firmly believe, is that we are hired to speak our truth. Not everyone wants to hear it. So be it. Just continue being the amazing speaker you are.

  47. Well hi there my buddy. It has taken me a while to stop crying so that I could write this message to you. So let me just go to the left side of my brain for a moment (trust me, I won’t be there long) and point out a few things from my perspective:

    1. You are a flipping brilliant writer. Not relative, but true.
    2. One of the qualities I look for in professional speakers – or actors, authors, dancers, artists, etc, – is their commitment to excellence. I admire people who are KNOWN for working, reworking and rehearsing every nano-second of their act or performance – people who work with BRILLIANT directors and coaches in order to continually improve – like the stunning Michael Jackson, or the astonishing Lin Manuel Miranda, or the powerful Meryl Streep. YOU, my friend, are the embodiment of of this quality. I point to YOU as our industry’s highest standard for this.
    3. One of the reasons that you are so amazing is that you have a very high level of vulnerability and honesty that serves you VERY well on stage, but… not so much in situations like what you describe. HOWEVER, instead of retreating, declining the award, blaming, accusing or decrying the idiots by name – you sat with this, processed the whole thing and then shared (again with that same AMAZING openness and honesty) your experience. For us ALL to learn from. Oh thank you thank you thank you (I’m clearly back over brain-right now.)

    I spoke on the MainStage at NSA in 2009 and was not NEARLY as brave as you! Yes, some of my material was brand new, but a good part of it was not. Even playing it safe, it was one of the most surreal, other-worldly experiences of my life. What you did on that stage this year was brilliant – truly. Was it perfect? How could it be? You will ALWAYS be looking for ways to make it better. You will find always be looking for another transition or a different point to make or story to tell. From my perspective, you TOTALLY delivered on your Promise.

    My first instinct was to be really, really REALLY pissed off at the people who said those things to you. I wanted to know who they were so I could tell them a thing or two. But you taught me a lesson here, Jason. You showed me, by example, that I don’t have to have a knee-jerk reaction. I can simply be still, totally experience whatever in the heck it is that I’m feeling, and try to make sense of it before I “go live.” I love and appreciate you for that.

    Thank you my friend. You truly make my world a better place.

    • Jason Hewlett

      Oh Linda, I look to you as such a source of power, grace, and sprinkled with brilliant humor. Thank you for this amazing comment. Yes, I chewed on this for quite a while, it took me 3 days of writing to adjust and hope I said it all correctly. Hope is to not offend, but at the same time there is a lot to it. It happened, is what it is, but I felt had to be said so others could realize that heck, everyone goes through tough stuff, and we move forward. As a fellow ARTIST I’m honored you see what you see, and hope you understand my shared admiration. In fact, I was on your web site yesterday referring you to a client, so there! Love you.

  48. WOW Jason. I am stunned.

    And yet, frankly, not surprised.

    Reason being is that I have felt the ‘zig-zag’ once I entered NSA.

    I knew what I did naturally and had learned the ropes through experience – performing, emceeing, presenting and being on the big corporate stages, but I wanted to elevate. I wanted to become more purposeful with my presentations. I wanted to grow so I explored NSA.

    I also, like you, struggled to fight the ‘you’re an entertainer so you can’t really be a keynoter’ syndrome (this exists in NSA and elsewhere, as we both know too well)

    #UGH

    At NSA there are so many projected ‘rules’ coming at you – often from over-trained Toastmasters who’ve won ribbons in their districts or speak within their company but aren’t out there in the real world at that higher level for what’s translating and what’s not

    (please know this is NOT to bash Toastmasters – they’re actually an amazing forum to give folks to learn and grow. Its just to point out that there’s a sub-culture created out of there that takes on the rules they’ve been trained in and treat them like they’re the bible and the ONLY way)

    And there’s folks who are legends within NSA – and their way works for them but may not be appropriate for others – yet its celebrated as “The Way”.

    Nonetheless, I tried on these ‘rules’ and lost myself in the process.

    I got so caught up in my head in trying to come up with my new keynote or even figure out new positioning, etc.

    I got bombarded with ‘shoulds’ and ‘rules’ and what you are ‘supposed’ to do.

    I continue to hear it or see it all the time at NSA as they speak about one thing or another.

    We as a culture at NSA need to DROP thinking there is ONE way to do a keynote or what we do (and think that WE have THE answer).

    I remember being backstage at MDRT while one of our celebrated NSA folks was onstage doing their presentation. Backstage, the committee for MDRT that year and others, were commenting how contrived it was, how disengaging, etc. And this was someone who was doing it ‘by the book’ – following what tends to be the “NSA” rules.

    I remember my first NSA Convention I attended where a certain NY Times #1 Bestselling Author and high in demand keynote speaker gave his presentation. I felt like I could breathe when he came on because he was REAL and he spoke from his heart and really connected (versus others I’d seen that I thought were stiff or not completely real, etc)

    Then when he was done, in the hallways, I heard how ‘awful’ he was. Huh?

    Why? Because he hadn’t presented in the ‘NSA’ way (the perfectly crafted script, or starting your speech with an opening line rather than connecting honestly in that moment, etc, or whatever other volumes of ‘shoulds’).

    The “NSA” way isn’t wrong as there’s plenty of folks who are killing it out there following that path or formula.

    HOWEVER, WE MUST STOP PROJECTING WHAT WE THINK ARE OUR RULES ONTO OTHERS just because they may do it differently.

    When I saw Christine Cashen do her thing, I again felt like I could breathe.

    Here she was being HERSELF. She connected with the audience and it wasn’t some static speech where every word had been pre-crafted. Yes, bits that she’d cultivated through the years but also spontaneous comments throughout because the moment called for it and true connecting with the audience at the beginning, not some pre-planned cut and paste way to do every single time.

    When I first saw YOU at NSA a few years ago, I was utterly blown away.

    I am an entertainer and have seen it all through the years, having had the opportunity of performing with or opening for the best.

    I immediately thought, this guy is a STAR! He’s not human to have this much talent – OMG How? How is this even possible??? 🙂

    And the joy of getting to see who you are as a kind, caring, humble person on top of that only magnified the admiration.

    Then I find out how you were having similar issues I had been facing – that is, breaking the “Entertainer” label so that you can bring ALL of who you are to what you do. To KEYNOTE and bring the entertainment, interaction, fun, heart and humor along with a meaningful message.

    So on that fateful night, I watched with extreme focused attention as I wanted to see how YOU translate that.

    I even had my notebook to take notes on how you may have chosen to weave in a message with your incredible talents and gifts you shared with us that night.

    We felt it ALL.

    And may I add, I am in AWE of the commitment and hard work and dedication you applied to what you did up there, too.

    Leading up to that moment, within the exploration and journey as to what’s the ‘right’ way for you to shine within a keynote structure, you may have perhaps (like me) been a little confused as we get so much feedback – with so many folks telling us how it ‘should’ be done – but…You FOUND your way and you NAILED it!

    As with anything, we can always look for ways to improve. We as entertainers are especially always looking for how we can grow and uplevel what we do (which is why you are so freakin’ brilliant).

    But, regardless of whether you end up upleveling, changing or shifting what you did up there that night or not, you NAILED it.

    And why? because you let your talent SHINE. You spoke from your heart. And, you had a meaningful message.

    Most importantly, I believe that the #1 factor is knowing that the audience is connecting to the ‘energy’ of who we are – even more than the words or the practiced structure of what we present. THAT is the vehicle that delivers our message and makes the real impact.

    YOU, my friend made powerful impact and you created endless laughter, smiles, tears and pause for thought as we examine our own lives through what you showed us.

    NSA is amazing in the community we build together and how we come together to support.
    Along the way, however, are some of these kind of challenging factors mentioned that we have to realize but we do NOT have to get hooked into them.

    People will say what they say or believe what they believe and can be vastly different from where we stand or how we choose to approach what we do. Its part of life and definitely part of NSA but it will not take you (nor I) away from the power of what this organization brings to those of us who show up, step up and courageously give it all we’ve got.

    You did that, Jason, and you continue to be an incredible inspiration to me and to so many others.

    Take that experience and NOW ask yourself:

    How do YOU want to continue to do your keynote?

    How do YOU want to show up?

    What lights you up in what you can bring to an audience that you know will make that difference for them?

    You have the experience, knowledge and talent to the level that at this point, that is all you need to consider (in my humble opinion).

    Take feedback and advice but ONLY take on what feels right for you, period. No ‘shoulds’, no ‘rulebooks’, no ‘this is the way’.

    And if you wish to continue EXACTLY as you did it for us that night, you will continue to delight, inspire and educate audiences brilliantly.

    YOU are the way (and God through you, I might add).

    THANK YOU for how you showed up on that stage (and every time you hit the boards) and how you show up for the youth, too.

    THANK YOU for inspiring me deeply and for being a model for me as I continue to grow and uplevel and, yes, do my best to listen to my own advice here and look to what is ultimately ME in what I will put out there to the world.

    Love to you, Jason.

    Lynn

    • Jason Hewlett

      WOW Lynn! This is crazy amazing. I guess I feel like the only one making such a transition that is so “unacceptable” in so many circles. Thank you for taking the time and care to comment to this degree. I admire you greatly and look forward to a time when we can mastermind about all of it, as you get this perfectly.

  49. Meredith Oliver

    I did not get to see your keynote on opening night. I chose to arrive late to watch my son swim in the TSA Championships and win his heat in butterfly. As I sat there that day in the bleachers I thought to myself this is EXACTLY where Jason would be if he had the same choice. Literally, I thought of you and your dedication to your children even though I was missing supporting you on a big night in your life. I knew you would understand. Now that I hear all this ridiculousness went on I’m sorry I had to make that choice. What a disgrace.

    But here’s thing from my point of view. I don’t care how the keynote went. I like you no matter what. Because your heart, your values, your talent is something I admire and respect. Since you came to NSA Carolinas last January you have no idea how much your class and your example have helped me. I’ve implemented so many things because of your example and my speaking career has never been better.

    Jealousy is an evil master. Please remember that anything said to you that is not constructive and helpful, that has it’s own agenda is jealousy. And jealousy is not your problem, it’s theirs.

    • Jason Hewlett

      Meredith, I love this. Congrats to your son, and congrats to your correct choice to be there! We can’t get those back. You know this and live it. I’m grateful a few things said have influenced you, as I have learned so much from you as well. You are such a sweetheart with a power that is contagious. Thank you for your kind words my friend, and for the chance to speak at NSA Carolinas.

  50. Jason,
    First, thank you so much for sharing your genius, your brilliance, you’re amazing spirit, and your values with us at convention.
    Second, you absolutely deserve to be in the Hall of Fame.
    Third, you remain one of the most generous, giving, and uplifting people in this industry. Please do not let the few people whose insecurities, resentment or jealousy of you, the life you’ve built, and your talent change anything about who you are and how you share your gifts.
    Four, I think you can tell by this thread how many people were horrified by the fact that you were not met with nothing but genuine admiration and appreciation.
    Fifth, I was there. You were and always have been amazing. I love what you do and I love how you do it. Don’t let anyone make you doubt yourself or your abilities.
    With all my admiration, Mary

    • Jason Hewlett

      Mary, I look up to you so much. Hopefully this post brings about conversation of what can be in the hallways, where we are decent on and off stage to both clients and peers. You are amazing. Love you!

  51. Dear Jason…..
    I am stunned, and almost sick to my stomach by the ‘hallway shatter’!

    Hmmm,,,,there is a ‘book title’, perhaps!!
    Life has so much of ‘just that….”hallway shatter”!

    I KNOW it can ALL be summed up as intense jealousy!!
    You are young…you are good looking…you are studied…you are perfected…you are extremely creative….you are ‘one of a kind’….you are totally a CPAE Hall of Fame Winner.
    And…the fact that you came to that platform to receive evidence of what you ‘already were’, coming in an attitude of humility makes you a TRUE CPAE….knowing that NONE of us does any of this alone. We are created with talents, and ‘given gifts from God’ and you have combined those, with support of family/colleagues, and presented an outstanding display of who you are, who you have become, and what you have to say..which is brilliant!

    My dad’s favorite phrase was, “Naomi, ‘They say what they saw, let them say'”!

    I too am often critiqued at NSA…put in a square box, joked about from the platform,…quite a ride. And yet, Jason, I am one of the most blessed members to ever walk the ‘halls AND the platforms’ of NSA. Blessed with undeserved opportunities, leadership priviliege, and friendship/colleague interactions that are life changing. I CHOOSE to dwell in the latter, not the former.
    Yes, I am proud to be your colleague in this ‘Hall of Fame’.
    Blessings, dear friend,
    Love, Naomi

    • Jason Hewlett

      I love this and I love you, Naomi. You know exactly what this was about, and I appreciate your amazing thoughts. Yes, God blesses us, and colleagues bless us. I am so grateful to call you friend.

  52. Jason,

    We spoke in the hallway after your talk and then again after the CPAE Banquet. I had no idea all you went through to prepare or what was going on in your mind and spirit throughout conference. I’m humbled by what you did to prepared for this moment. You’ve amazed me each time with your performances. I was impacted by your heart when I slipped into the Youth Program opening (rules meeting) and saw that you were loving on them and giving your time now and will Chair it next year. Then you spoke on the main stage and you were real. The video matched the audio! Everything you do and did and will do comes from your core. You’re real, authentic, transparent and honest. You spoke your truth and risked leaving the comfort of all that’s familiar, and what only you can do with your gifts and talents … honed through hours and hours of practice and stage time to deliver a remarkably crafted and delivered speech which you blended masterfully with a message. I left thinking this is what Jason always does. When we spoke in the hallway, I walked away, thinking gosh he’s being hard on himself (and I’ve resembled that comment). Had no idea on some of the other comments you had received from our colleagues. You rocked your presentation and I respect you even more now, having read and being blessed by all you shared in this post. Thank you for not only being great on stage … but being true to you all the time! God made you someone really special and we get the gift to see life through your lens and perspective … your remarkable talent and … though your eyes, heart, creative mind and soul. Thanks brother!

    • Jason Hewlett

      John, it was very special for me to have the chance to talk with you. Thank you for lending an ear as I vented a little, and for your kind words then and now. This is the kind of comment I will be printing for future tough times, thank you beyond words for it.

  53. The post was twice as courageous as the speech – which I absolutely loved.

    In fact, the second you finished I resolved to write an all-new keynote that adds personal stories, vulnerability and more “me” and stop relying on what I’ve done for years, because I as blown away at how much you had to morph and leave your previous comfort zone to nail that talk.

    I hope to do my new piece in another month or two, once I have it fully polished. I don’t know about you, but I find talking about me and my life and family much harder (and certainly more emotionally fraught) than the longstanding, “regular” material.

    We haven’t spent much – if any – time together Jason, but know that you are 100% an inspiration for many speakers, at all levels. Your honesty, integrity, and skill are what NSA and CPAE are (or should) be about. Thank you for being you.

    • Jason Hewlett

      My goodness Jay, I’m a huge admirer of your work, and of you, so this is incredible to hear. My best to you on adding the new in, and I know people want to hear your personal stories. I’m excited to see what you create and look forward to getting to know you better as well.

  54. Jodi Walker, CSP

    Jason, you are awesome, amazingly talented, kind, authentic and gave a masterful performance! I saw you in San Diego and you were the highlight for me then and the highlight for me this year. First thank you for writing this blog and sharing your experience and your pain. I am so very sad that this happened to you. I teared up reading it and still in disbelief that people would be so unkind and so sorry you experienced this kind of behavior. I’ve been a member of NSA for 20 years and this should have never happened to you or to anyone for that matter. Your courage to share your experience is one that needed to be shared so people can realize how their words impact others. Your authenticity in this post is another testament to who you are. You were put in front of us on the stage for a reason and I for one am very grateful! Many many years ago shortly after the Columbine shootings I was inspired to write a book called Share A Kind Word, one for adults and one for kids and the concept was considered somewhat simplistic. Ironically, I am doing a revised version of the one for adults and your story reminded me once again how little people know about how hurtful their words can be and the importance of kindness. Kindness never goes out of style. So even your post was a gift to me. Again Jason, you are AWESOME, your message is important and you don’t have to be anybody but YOU! Hugs, Jodi

    • Jason Hewlett

      Jodi, this means so very much, thank you thank you. I love the concept of your book, can’t wait to read the new version. Kindness is the answer, as is love, there is always something good to say I believe. God bless.

  55. Jason. My wife and I traveled from Australia to attend the convention and did the same in 2015, where I saw your breakout session. I loved your entertainment then, but how you crafted that into a keynote of substance, message and relevance was utterly masterful.

    I was inspired and totally entertained. Your delivery was fantastic and I can only think that the negative comments were based on a mixture of jealousy and their own self doubts.

    I would pay to see that keynote again. Keep delivering the promise. Even if just for the one lost Aussie who you inspired.

    • Jason Hewlett

      Awesome Stewart! Thank you for joining us from so far away, I love it. Hope to get Down Under someday! Your words mean so much, truly, thank you and continued success!

  56. I had the same thing happen to me. I was invited to attend a local NSA chapter meeting. They asked me to get up and do a little of my “shtick.” I did 15 minutes and they RIPPED me, told me to go do something else, I had no talent and no future in professional speaking. Then I told them that I had done 77 speeches that year at 20k or more per gig, then they all wanted my help to get more gigs. Still stings and also makes me laugh. Go get it, you rock’n

    • Jason Hewlett

      WOAH man! Ahhhh! I’m sorry to hear it, but understand perfectly well. Thank you for sharing John and keep teaching them how it’s done!

  57. Anne Guignon

    Jason, burn that stupid business card. It comes from someone with a jealous, evil heart…..someone who is trying to shift your focus from the joyful message that is deeply embedded in your heart and mind as a man, a husband, a father and a speaker.

    Only a really sad, miserable person would ever stoop so low. And the rest of the downer folks are either completely insensitive or really crass.

    You are doing the work that God put you on the planet to do. The Holy Spirit gave you the focus and the energy to craft an amazing message that resonated on so many levels and you are honoring the gifts that you were given.

    I am professionally sad and embarrassed that people tried to rob you of your moment in the sun……and that it made you doubt yourself for even one second. But I applaud you for taking the time and emotional energy to let your friends and colleagues support you.

    Your talents are amazing, your willingness to share your feelings openly and your commitment to The Promise comes from your authenticity.

    Still cracking up at your perfect portrayal of all the crazy dental office sounds. Hugs……

    • Jason Hewlett

      Anne, this is wonderfully kind. God sends us on our path, and sends people to us that are both challenging and uplifting. I’m grateful to know you, thank you for this sweet comment.

  58. Jason I did a keynote at Youinque where you performed as well. You were so amazing my 12 year old daughter said if she had to pick a second dad it would be you – & she is crazy @ her dad so I was floored! You were so kind & sent her CDs after. You inspired me, her & had the whole room laughing like I’ve never seen. If that’s not a speaking gift I don’t know what is! Traci

    • Jason Hewlett

      Traci – you are one of the most powerful speakers I have seen who has the ability to change an entire conference, you did that at Younique, and you are so special and rare. Give your daughter my best, from her surrogate uncle. Thank you for your kind words, it means a lot to me.

  59. Jason I’m actually glad I didn’t come across this post until this evening. I would have been even more disturbed if I had read about your rattling experience, without the beautiful outpouring of perspective from so many NSAers here in the comments, including several from our loving Chapter here in North Texas.

    It’s clear to me that the “coach” saw an incredible opportunity to work with one of the best in the world, and like a scared boy trying to get a beautiful girl to go out with him, he resorted to the desperate act of “negging”, of going negative to break you down in hopes you can see the value of him being able to “save” you. It’s a stupid ugly practice for lounge lizards in a darkened bar. And it turns my stomach to hear it emerged in our wonderful Association, which enriches so many.

    Reading all the comments helped me move from initial anger at your treatment, to a place of thoughtful understanding, appreciation and new energy for my own situation.

    Thank You so much for sharing your experience and perspective. We all need to push our personal envelopes, and also be ready to embrace our colleagues with Love when they push theirs.

    Finally, I’m personally hoping you can come visit our NSA North Texas home soon. With great confidence I say your experience will be one of Love, Warmth, and Generosity. Since your increased visibility in San Diego, your name is often spoken here with the highest levels of reverence and admiration.

    We love you brother. From your entire NSA North Texas Fan Club.

    • Jason Hewlett

      Love you Chris. This is amazing. I am so grateful for my NSA North Texas friends. Look up to ya’ll so much. Thank you for writing this, you are awesome!

  60. Jason. You are the real deal baby! NSA has a goofy dark side, and it sounds like you saw every inch of it after you came off stage. That sucks. But the good news is…. you! You’re a breath of fresh air.

    You make the CPAE better by being in the Hall of Fame…seriously. Absolutely. You’re one of the good guys and a killer talent. Don’t take the ugly side seriously, because the rest of know the truth: Jason Hewitt is THE BOMB!

    I’m proud we are friends.

    • Jason Hewlett

      Proud to call you friend as well Brad, and I so look up to you. Yes, this was an isolated incident I assume, I love NSA, know you do as well. Thank you my friend for your kind words!

  61. That’s a great piece Jason.

    I’ve often wished there was a spam filter that would cut out the unwanted comments from people after you come offstage.

    When I’m done I just want people to say good things. I know my true speaker mates will give me the brutal stuff later on, but they’ll let me have my happy moment basking in the afterglow first.

    The speaker coach clearly was looking for work, but he was obviously way off the mark judging by the feedback from others.

    Well done on the award. When I received the UK equivalent, the PSAE I burst into tears onstage. I’m sure some coaches in the room would have said that was the wrong thing to do!

    Jem

    • Jason Hewlett

      Jeremy! Yes! Exactly. You just really actually want the good stuff immediately following, well put. Love your comment about bursting into tears, so true, and yet that was exactly what it meant and so it was perfect. Congrats to you on your success and thank you for this great post.

  62. Jason,
    I waited to comment after thinking over your post for a while. My reaction hasn’t changed… I am profoundly disappointed, horrified, and mortified at the response you received from some of our fellow speakers. You CRUSHED IT on the main stage – something I can’t imagine ever doing – and I am pretty sure those critics have never done themselves. I am so sorry those people rained on your parade – and put a damper on your well-deserved speaker high. You are a unique talent and I think some individuals just can’t get beyond their own egos to be happy for you. Open your umbrella and don your raincoat and ROCK ON!

    • Jason Hewlett

      Jennifer, this is SO sweet of you. YES, you WILL ROCK mainstage someday, where the time is right, if you decide to do it. 🙂 Thank you so much for this comment. In fact, I screenshot it so I can read it again and again.

  63. Jason,
    As you know, I have hired you twice and one of those clients is hiring you again this year because they simply could not find another speaker who could deliver the audience experience you do. When a meeting planner asks me for a speaker recommendation for someone who can engage, inspire, entertain and connect an audience, you are at the top of the list. You’re a unique talent that has raised the equity of NSA and especially the CPAE. There will always be desperate fear-based people in our industry who are struggling to make it and tearing down someone who is, somehow makes them feel more validated. Feel sorry for them. Pity them and move on. Thank God it’s a small minority. I love you and I’m so happy you answer my texts and say yes to my clients because you’re elevating the NSA brand!

    • Jason Hewlett

      Sarah, I love you right back! Thank you for believing in me and always being an advocate for my work. this means so much what you’ve written, I admire you so much.

  64. Jason,
    After reading your post, I dug a little deeper. When you put the term ‘speaker coach’ and a few choice curse words & expletives in parentheses, a Google search reveals the name on the business card you have! When you did a little deeper, you find out even more:

    On August 28, 1963, Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his “I Have A Dream” speech. As he stepped off the podium at the Lincoln Memorial, that very same speaker coach approached King.

    “Marty, you think you’re a speaker? I’m sorry to break it to you, but you’re a small town preacher, at best. Don’t try to be anything else, because you have nothing we want to hear. However, if you ever want to become a real speaker and maybe, you know, make a difference, here’s my card. I’m a Speaker Coach. Call me when you’re ready to make that happen.”

    It doesn’t stop there! On June 12, 2005, Steve Jobs delivered his iconic Commencement Address at Stanford University. As he stepped off the podium, that very same speaker coach approached Jobs.

    “Stevie, do you think that had any impact whatsoever on those graduates? I think you should just stick to working on your little tech gadgets. However, if you ever really want to make a difference with your words, here’s my card. I’m a Speaker Coach. That’s what I do.”

    But wait….there’s more! A little over two years later, on September 18, 2007, Professor Randy Pausch delivered “The Last Lecture” at Carnegie Mellon University. You guessed it. As he stepped off of the stage to cheers and tears, the very first person he encountered was that very same speaker coach.

    “Randy, I don’t understand why a teacher like you would think he could give a real speech. Professors aren’t speakers, they’re teachers. Now if you want to give a real speech, here’s my card. I’m a Speaker Coach. And based on the fact that you’re sick, you’ll be happy to know I do offer a Fast Track Program.”

    And I know all these stories are completely true, because I read them on Wikipedia. OK, so maybe I wrote them on Wikipedia. But if they’re on the internet, they’ve got to be true, right?

    Jason, you and I have talked about “The Promise.” And “The Promise” I make is to always try to address pain with humor. So I hope this put a smile on your face. I could not be prouder to have been inducted into the CPAE Speaker Hall of Fame with you. Nobody is more deserving of this honor than you. You make all of us—both those of us in the Hall and those of us not there yet—continue to strive for excellence every day.

    • Jason Hewlett

      OHHHHHH David Glickman, you are a GENIUS and hilarious and I love you man. I am laughing way too out loud as my children sleep. Thank you for this. You always Keep The Promise and deliver the laughs, and then wrap it with heart and love. You’re extraordinary and the same goes to you, I am so proud to be in this with you my brother. If only I had something funny to say, I just can’t top what you wrote! So, The End.

  65. Connie Rose

    Jason

    I am so sorry to hear how fellow NSA family treated you. I am new to NSA however not to speaking and this was my first conference I loved your keynote every single word that you spoke or sang was right on target. Bringing in the love and respect you have for your wife was beautiful to hear and a message that I personally feel is needed to be heard The respect of women. Now I might be biased because my full time career as I transition to my own speaking and training company is with an anti sec trafficking organization. I travel nationally as there spokes person speaking, educating, training and advocating on behalf of survivors from a survivor perspective. If more men stood up as you do boldly did and profess the love and respect for hue wife and women that you did. I feel our world would be better place. I wish I had tracked you down to personally thank you So I will do so now. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. May God continue to bless you.

    • Jason Hewlett

      Connie, This is so powerful. Thank you for writing and saying such wonderful things. I applaud you for your efforts and wish you the best in all you do. What an important work you have. I love talking about my wife, even when told not to so much….it makes me say more 🙂 God Speed in your Journey and thank you!

  66. Jason, I’m sitting at my desk in Australia with tears in my eyes – of frustration for what was done to you and of pride in how you handled yourself.

    I’m an Australian CSP, Past National President of the Australian Association and Nevin Awardee (our version of the Cavett). I wasn’t able to attend NSA Convention this year, as my husband is very ill and now I’m even sadder that we couldn’t make it, because we missed your maiden NSA speech and missed seeing you being inducted into the CPAE Hall of Fame.

    We have seen you present live, as the most Masterful MC EVER, at an event we attended a couple of years ago in Salt Lake City. You made us cry and laugh and sing and whoop and holler with your brilliance.

    Speaking in front of your peers is the hardest gig you will ever do. I am mortified and ashamed of my colleagues who were so unthinking and unfeeling in their treatment of you on the night. How dare they??? Professionals know that there is a time and a place for constructive feedback – that’s (a) not immediately after a presentation and (b) when you are ASKED for it!!!

    So, from the other side of the world, I send you kudos, love and a big hug. Forget the detractors, most of whom could only dream of doing what you do. Know that there are many of us who are lifetime fans.

    Helen Mac
    CSP, PNP, Nevin (Professional Speakers Australia)

    • Jason Hewlett

      Oh Helen! What a wonderful comment and note, thank you so much. I hope your husband feels better and thank you for the kind words about the SLC event as MC, I’d love to know what that was. I love doing events like that. Thank you for this, it means so much to me. Be well and safe.

  67. George Campbell

    Jason,
    I’m sorry I’m missed your presentation in Phoenix. I do know this, your joining the Hall of Fame brings more credit to us all. I didn’t see you at NSA, but I did witness a real-world performance of yours that I will never forget. You performed, during dinner, from a cold opening and then had your program chopped up into five minute blocks. Just as soon as you got momentum, bam, you were off stage. And you succeeded every time. I was one of the few people in the room that knew you had done the impossible. Oh, and just for fun, because the band’s plane was delayed, you stretched to save the event.
    I still regret not seeking you out that night to let you know how brilliant you were under the toughest circumstances.
    From one entertainer-turned-speaker to another, your real peers know and appreciate your gifts, your talent and your work.
    George Campbell
    (Joe Malarkey)

    • Jason Hewlett

      OH MY GOSH! George Campbell, you don’t have any idea what a fan I am. I have learned so much from you. I had no idea you were at that event. I had laryngitis that trip, lost my voice that afternoon, it was one of the most terrible events of my life. That was one tough one, but it’s always fun to win over an audience not wanting to be won. 🙂 Thank you for this, this made my day! My week! My month!

  68. Jason, I was there along with the Aussie contingent and it’s safe to say your keynote set the new bar for message, entertainment and talent. You were simply extraordinary, I along with our group left in total awe of not just your performance but you as a human being. You stopped and spend time with anyone who wanted to connect with you, not just that night but over the entire weekend. I have no idea how you got through those 5 days and now those months leading up to to conference!

    Great to see all these comments and explanations from those who can share their experience and insights too like Michael Port’s on actors vs speakers.

    Keep going Jason, looks like you have a new skill to add to your belt…. what we call in Australia “dealing with the Tall Poppies.”

    Love from us all Down Under!

    • Jason Hewlett

      Jane, our conversation was one of the really, truly important ones for me. I was in search of finding out if ANYONE had a positive experience hearing me, and you ladies so uplifted me. Thank you for reading this, and I so hope to someday get to the land down under, would be such an honor.

  69. Jason – thank you for your vulnerability and authenticity. YOU remind me of why I absolutely must continue to pursue this profession, and your courage lifts and inspires me.

    There is a line from Pirates of the Caribbean that I love. A British officer says to Captain Jack, “You are without doubt the worst pirate I’ve ever heard of.” To this, Jack Sparrow replies, “But you have heard of me.”

    The courage to step up and speak out takes us out of the comfort of anonymity into the scathing light of other’s opinions. Wayne Dyer talked about reaching a point where we are “independent of the good opinion of others.” It hurts my heart, Jason, to know that you were treated so poorly. It simultaneously warms my heart to know that you are loved so well by so many. It makes my heart proud to know that you are willing to subject yourself to the opinions and insecurities of others in the interest of a greater message that I think will uplift and even save lives. Glad to be your friend.

    • Jason Hewlett

      Gosh Dr. Paul, this is an incredible comment. I LOVE IT. And yes, many times I’ve contemplated – if I say this, I will be criticized, but I must do it anyway – and then it’s that Jack Sparrow line. Haha. You’re the best my friend, I’m grateful this could inspire someone I so look up to.

  70. Jason, It is heart breaking to read what small people put you through. I was there and loved your presentation… especially the joke about your wives snow skiing. 🙂

    Lou Heckler has been my coach. If he told you that it was great, then it was… as did so many other great speakers in this comment section.

    So strange that in our association, NO SPEAKER would ever want to hear a negative comment or read a negative evaluation, yet those same people would do to you what they would never want done to themselves.

    • Jason Hewlett

      Yes Gerard, pretty interesting isn’t it? Thank you for your comments. And yes, at the end of the day, the people that mattered the most to me were the ones who’s opinions I most regard, such as Lou, who would tell me if there was a real issue, so I agree with you. Thank you!

  71. Sylvia Theisen

    Jason:
    Thank you for sharing your experience. I have seen you speak twice – once at NSA CO and then again at Influence in Phoenix. You have such an amazing and unique talent that no one on the planet can replicate. I have been in awe of you and your performance both times I’ve seen you and thought – wow, what would it be like to be at that level of mastering our craft?? I’m sorry for the negative bullshit you received from bottom feeders … just know that you are ridiculously talented, admired and loved. Carry on being your big, bold, beautiful self and do not let anyone’s ignorance squelch your talent, confidence or success – you deserve all the success you’ve achieved and more.

    • Jason Hewlett

      Oh my goodness Sylvia, this is too kind of you to say. Wow. Thank you so much. I loved my experience at NSA CO, what an amazing, supportive group! You rock, thank you for this awesome comment!

  72. woof… had to soak for a while after reading this blog (as I do after reading all of your blogs). what an epic ride. …first of all, let me join the throngs of those that absolutely love the uniqueness that is Jason. It\’s THAT gift that we all gravitate towards and has us wanting more because you\’re the only well we can get it from!
    And as far as our big NSA family… it is a messy one. All big families are. It\’s amazing to me how some people who get paid for what they say don\’t take the time to think about what comes out of their mouths when the time truly calls for it. I would hope that if they were confronted with the impact of their choices they would be absolutely mortified with the impact they made. They just weren\’t thinking as much as they should have. For them, I\’d encourage you to \”forgive them for they don\’t know what they are doing!\” But knowing you my friend you already have. For the other curmudgeon few… every family has a few. We\’ll tolerate them at the holidays but don\’t need to show up at their birthday parties.
    The good part is that we DO love our family and with your beautiful gift of sharing your experience we can use it to better the way we love each other. Let\’s make it a point to drive this home in Orlando!
    Yep, the family is messy because people are messy and that\’s why your message the way you deliver it is so needed by this messy family and the world.
    You ARE the definition of what it means to be a CPAE Hall of Famer. Love you man.

    • Jason Hewlett

      Haha! Michael, the messy family analogy, I love it my friend. You’re such a stud and hero to me. I LOVE my NSA family, I hope that’s known and well documented, this was just a goofy isolated incident that i had to share. Grateful it seems to have begun some dialogue, and can’t WAIT to see what you and Christine have planned for Orlando! Love you brother.

  73. Lauren Pibworth

    Can you see me? I am sitting here with my mouth hanging open, repeatedly mouthing the words, “What the…?”

    I was not at your talk at NSA in Phoenix, but I had the distinct pleasure (yes, pleasure) of being moved to tears, and laughing so hard I wished I did not have a 50 year old woman’s bladder while I listened to your closing keynote at the CAPS convention in Halifax last year. You absolutely ROCKED it. I had considered skipping the closing ceremonies and grabbing a nap before the President’s Ball – and I was so happy I made the choice to stay and listen to you instead of catch up on sleep.

    I agree with many of these comments that say the negative feedback came from that person’s own place of insecurities, however, in my opinion, it is still no excuse. It is just sad. In many ways it is so very sad…

    I say congratulations on your well-deserved Hall of Fame award, and I’d keep that speaker coach’s card right there beside the award. 😉

    • Jason Hewlett

      So kind of you Lauren. CAPS was incredible for me, and a real eye-opener as to what greatness there is worldwide in the speaking industry, such an honor to be there and thank you for staying awake! 😉 You are awesome, and yes, card is there still !

  74. Jason…Holy Moly you certainly woke up some people up on this one! My bride and business partner, Susan and I stand by our words regarding your keynote: “Perfect!” You moved into a new realm with “The Promise”. You played every string and hit every emotion. I am floored by the reaction you received by some of our “peers” (loosely stated). Perhaps your only mistake was a poor choice on an introducer. Next time use better judgement….You are an amazing selection for CPAE Hall of Fame Speaker – Husband – Dad and friend to so many. Nice Bike…

    • Jason Hewlett

      Mark, you are so funny, always, and so kind. My friend, your introduction remains my favorite part of the evening. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve referred to Utonians and “he’s a Gemini”. I can’t thank you enough that you and Susan would give me such encouragement, such direction and help in the months leading and helping in so many ways. Love you both!

  75. You are Mr. Integrity. To read your article made me want to cry that an association I hold in such high regard would have members so petty in their comments.

    Your keynote was powerful and it needs to be heard by others. Before the Saturday evening program began i saw your wonderful wife and a couple of your kids sitting on the couch in front of the stage. They are your audience, and they have can be proud of the husband and father you are and in the end those are the titles you want to wear well….and you do wear them very well!

    There will always be naysayers but as my mom used to remind me those are the ones who are most jealous of you. Keep on putting your faith and your family first and be confident in knowing your message is making a much bigger impact on others than you will ever know.

    You are Mr. Integrity in my mind because of the authenticity you bring on and off the stage, in public and private. Rest assured your best is yet to come!

    • Jason Hewlett

      Mark, you are so cool, I look up to you so much. Thank you for this very thoughtful and kind comment. You were so supportive, and always have been, when we’ve had the chance to interact. Congrats on your latest book! Excited to read High Profit Prospecting!

  76. Jason, thank you for being vulnerable. Since I’m speechless after reading this, I can obviously type a response. My heart hurts reading this for both you and your wife. I am embarrassed to read that any one person that evening … would be so … consciously disrespectful. It was a bitter party held by narcissists dressed as professional speakers. The only antidote for that kind of venom is for you to keep your promise to your keynotes as you did that evening. IMHO 🙂

    • Jason Hewlett

      Anastasia, thank you for your comment. I actually believe my brothers were madder than we were because they couldn’t be there to protect me, but in reality, it turned into a great lesson for me, and I appreciate the kindness experienced by so many in light of it all.

    • Jason Hewlett

      Haha! I love the engagement with everyone, it’s amazing to think so many cool awesome people would take the time to comment. Thanks again!

  77. Karen Rose

    Hi Jason,
    I was not at the convention this year, however, I’ve heard many times that your speech was one of the best of NSA this convention. It is always courageous to step on the stage to share your important message. It’s especially courageous to speak to your peers. Normally NSA is a safe & supportive organization. Cavett created NSA with the theme Build a Bigger Pie, which is what has helped NSA be one of the most supportive organizations I’ve ever been part of.
    It’s unfortunate that our society has become so critical & sometimes hateful. Our current political climate has only made it worst, leaving some insensitive people to think that it’s ok to say unkind things to your face or in writing online. Guess they need to be reminded what as many of us have been taught as a kid, “if you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say it at all.” It makes me so sad to see our society, our country, often being so insensitive & unkind. It’s completely inappropriate, & unprofessional.
    I’ve had people verbally attack me a few times in different parts of my life & like you felt completely caught off guard & disheartened. I’ve learned that the more we put ourselves out there, the bigger the stage, we might get the good bad & even some ugly things coming at us. I think it’s wrong that that could happen. How we handle it is what makes us & helps us rise above the unkind remarks. The book The UnTethered Soul by Michael A. Singer has been very helpful in learning to rise above unkind & supportive people & their nasty comments. We both know the unkind people are ones who aren’t happy themselves & their comments are a reflection of them not you. Even knowing that can challenge everything we know about ourselves.
    I’m happy that you are staying close to the people that really know you & can give you positive supportive guidance.
    I haven’t met you yet, Jason, though I look forward to meeting you soon. Please hold your head up high and keep sharing your positive messages. I’m so happy that you accepted your CPAE award, that you rightfully earned. Clearly, the best in the business see you in their club & that’s what really matters.
    As far at the person that gave you his business card with harsh comments offering to coach you, I hope you pass that card on to the NSA Ethics Committee, so they can teach him the real meaning of being respectful & ethical & the appropriate way to talk to fellow NSA members.
    Thank you for sharing your story Jason, so you could see that you are valued in NSA & beyond. We need to have a movement of kindness to get our society back to being more peaceful & gentle. The way that we do that was best said by First Lady, Michelle Obama, ” When they go low, we go high.” You’re awesome Jason!

    • Jason Hewlett

      Karen, this is beautifully said. Thank you for taking the time and being so thoughtful. I LOVE The Untethered Soul, had I not read it, and others like it, such as Awareness by Anthony DeMello, this experience would have been much tougher to take. Hope to meet you soon! And yes, I LOVE NSA and always will, because way more people are awesome than those that aren’t so kind.

  78. I would love to apologize on behalf of all speaker coaches, but of course I can’t speak for anyone but myself. And I am sorry that you went through this Jason – both the stress of preparing and the post speech mayhem. Please know that your words will be ringing in my ears the next time I feel myself getting too big for my britches. I will share this post in the hopes that all of us at NSA will take these lessons to heart.

    • Jason Hewlett

      Jane, very kind of you, thank you. But honestly, hopefully we can all improve and be kinder to those when we especially don’t realize what they’re going through. Great words you’ve said here!

  79. Jason – Your keynote was one of the highlights of Influence for me. It seems really apparent to me that the people who were hurtful and derogatory don’t understand the “Spirit of Cavett.” They’ve probably never heard (or cared…) about the stories from Glenna, Patricia or Naomi about how he would say their “speech was the best speech he ever heard!” And meant it! The Spirit of NSA is to lift others up. Thank you for lifting so many of us up with your humor and wisdom. You’re making the world a better place.

  80. Jason, You already know what a BIG fan I am of yours. I wholeheartedly belive in you and your talent. I sort of hate to bring this up, but we both know I’m the one that hired you for the most difficult event/show ever (other than NSA, that is). It’s worth mentioning again, that your performance and skill handling that audience was brilliant!
    I’m chiming in here because I’m so proud of you for writing this blog. My heart is broken for what you went through, but your choice to post an honest accounting of your experience at NSA is a shining example of your character and integrity. You didn’t go away and harbor all that hurt. Instead you shared it in a healthy way that allowed us all to benefit and learn from your experience. Thank you for being such a bright light and a perfect example of what professionalism and humility looks like. You are a rare talent. I’ll hire Jason Hewlett, CPAE SPEAKER and amazing performer every chance I get!

    • Jason Hewlett

      KRIS! That was a most epic challenge for both of us 🙂 Thank you for remembering and I hope we get to work together again sooner than later, you need to see my Keynote, it’s coming along. You’re awesome.

    • Jason Hewlett

      DAVE CRENSHAW! The Man, The Myth… of Multitasking. 🙂 The Legend. You are such a stud. Thank you for the kind words and I’m honored we get to enjoy navigating this path of life together as friends and “FRIENDTORS”.

  81. The evening before you delivered your speech, we spoke briefly in the lobby. You said simply, “I hope I can say something that makes a difference for someone.”

    You so far surpassed that modestly stated goal. Your words were a call to action. A challenge and encouragement for each of us within your voice.

    I came early to save seats so I could sit close enough to see your face, your expressions and comedy are so fun.

    What I saw was a giant of a man willing to go deep into his heart, examine this values and his life, the impact we each may have on the world, and then you risked the vulnerability of sharing that on such a grand stage. Mixing humor with well chosen magnificently delivered words made it brilliantly enjoyable and understandable.

    Thanks for your impact on me, and so many others.

    • Jason Hewlett

      Oh. My. Goodness. Karen this is so beautiful, so kind of you. Wow, you just wrote all of the copy for my next brochure! I love and appreciate you. Thank you and know the feeling is mutual: You have an impact on me and it made all the difference to see and have and know of your support as I went on that stage. Thank you for this.

  82. Hi Jason, I was with Joel Weldon when he talked with you, I’m Gustavo from Brazil, you told me you spoke Portuguese 🙂

    It was an AMAZING presentation! Joel was VERY impressed and excited about you! It was our favorite presentation of the convention.

    As Gary Vee says: “If you want to be an anomaly, you have to act like one” 😉

    Amazing job!

    • Jason Hewlett

      Gustavo – Meu Amigo! Muito Obrigado escrever para mim. Faz tempo escrevou sua lingua, vou parar agora. 🙂 Joel is one of my all-time heroes. Thank you so much for this. Muitas Bencaos para voces!

  83. Jason- kudos for being so transparent and vulnerable. I was in attendance for your presentation and it was AWESOME! I cannot believe the arrogance of people, strangers dumping unrequested negativity on you for working so hard to give a FREE presentation. You did an amazing job and I personally appreciate the effort you put in to both your presentation that night and this particular blog post. Thank you!!

    • Jason Hewlett

      Wow Mike, that is so cool of you. Thank you for the kind words. I’m overwhelmed by the response to this blog post. Really was a great experience just funny how some people had so much to say about my speech! 🙂

  84. I am really sorry for leaving you my “speaker coach” card. I only have a few for extreme emergencies.

    Actually, I was sitting with Joel and Judy Weldon that night. Joel asked me if I knew you and if I had heard you before. I replied, “Yes and you just wait! I know you are going to love him!” He didn’t have to wait long. You know what I thought of your speech and your message as I told you that night. I concur with so many of the thoughts expressed here by people that I totally admire. You worked as hard as any main stage speaker I have ever seen in many years of attending NSA conventions and it showed.

    As much as I loved your message and speech that night, the thing that continues to impress me is who YOU are. Many people are down on what they are not up on as a speaking colleague told me many years ago. That was the backlash (though I was so shocked to read that you received that kind of “feedback”). The true professional is one who can take what they learned and turn into a life lesson. I think you have a great lesson to share.

    I am going to call you…I have some more “feedback” for you…

  85. People throw rocks at shiny things.

    You, Jason Hewlett, CPAE, are the real deal. Speaker, entertainer, humanitarian, and, most threatening of all, an authentic good soul. You are a shiny thing. I love you and what you bring to speakers and audiences everywhere. Your message was received gratefully by most of us. Love takes time to reach all.

    We must all forgive those that attack you so cruelly as their hearts and souls need our collective blessings. As for the spirit of Cavett and the ethical principle of respect and collegiality, we must do a better job of fostering this in even our most threatened and frightened speakers and speaker coaches. Great speaker coaches and mentors know that talent must be cherished and nurtured.

    Let the nurturing become viral.

    Let’s all send true love to those that need it most and encourage speakers to be at their best at the platform, in the audience, and in the feedback box.

    Congratulations and thank you for being so very you!
    Love you to the moon and back,
    Margarita Gurri, PhD, CSP and Pineapple Buddy

    • Jason Hewlett

      Margarita! I JUST saw this comment from you after all this time and can’t tell you how thankful I am for your kind words. You are a blessing. Thank you for your encouragement. Agreed we must make everyone feel good about who they are and what they bring. Thank you!

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