I had an opportunity to spend a few days at the National Speakers Association meeting just recently and it was quite the event.  From what I heard, there were approximately 1200+ speakers, trainers and coaches in attendance for the four-day event.  I had no idea upon arriving what to expect but it was quite an experience interacting with some of the true legends of the industry.  I saw Brian Tracy, Les Brown, Harvey Mackay, and a host of others that I had either heard or read about it.

Although I could not help but wonder about the other folks in attendance who also had dreams of making it big too.  It is a fine line between dreams and delusions.  I got the sense from talking to a few folks that they were going to make it one way or another.  Nonetheless, I have never seen a group of folks more committed and more engaged in soaking up the experience while networking with anyone who might advance their career.

I sat there and listened to speech after speech and I was actually quite bored until a pleasant surprise walks onto the stage.  His name is Scott Stratten.  His expertise is social media.  He has built up some serious “street cred” with his work online, and his book titled, UnMarketing.  Scott walks out like a gangster (Scarface like).  Unlike all of the other presenters who are dressed up for church, Scott has on jeans, a t-shirt and sandals.  He also has no slides, no gimmicks, no cute phrases, no fake laugh and was comfortable just being in the moment.  He announces to the room that he has no issues with anyone using their mobile devices and actually encourages people to do so.  I thought this approach was certainly different.  Keep me in mind, I loved it.

I could not help but notice the look on the faces of some of the other speakers (audience) when he begins his presentation.  It was a look of disgust, bewilderment and almost shock that a professional speaker would “roll like that.”  Scott begins his talk and it feels more like a conversation rather than a sermon.  He is actually taking questions from the audience and has no issues being interrupted by anyone if they have something to say.  Scott goes on to give a great talk and provides some valuable insight on how he created his brand via Twitter.  I walked away genuinely impressed and I am not impressed easily.  I may never see Scott speak again live but I will certainly not forget that day. He made an impact in my world and for that, I am thankful.

Take-away: Whatever your brand may be, it must be authentic or why bother.  Imitation is the quickest way to lose your credibility.  Take a stand and live on the edge, which is where the magic happens anyway.

Scott- keep being you brother, the world needs a few more original voices.


Devin Hughes is a former college basketball player, sales and marketing aficionado, professional speaker, part-time academic and frequent eclectic thinker.  He draws on a variety of ideas, disciplines and trends to inspire “Big Thoughts” and facilitate conversations.  He is an avid storyteller who has the unique ability to connect with audiences by inspiring them to be the change they wish to see in the world.  A graduate of Colgate University, he lives Carlsbad, CA with his wife and four daughters.  You may contact him via e-mail at devin@devinchughes.com.  Follow him on Twitter.  Connect with him on Facebook and Linkedin. His website is http://www.devinchughes.com/