CMI Blog

the latest from cmi speaker managment

Posts by Karen Harris

Accountability, Action, and Aftermath: Leadership Lessons from Jacinda Ardern

By Karen Harris | Apr 12, 2019 | Comments Off

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Sadly, the news of mass killings rocks our news waves again and again in today’s world. One is too many, right? The aftermath of the recent tragedy in New Zealand is heartbreaking and solemn. We should do better, we think. We can do better. Where does that start?

Recently, Keynote Speaker and good friend Sam Silverstein shared his powerful thoughts on the extraordinary example of accountability leadership displayed by New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in a moving article. He perfectly sums up how and why her profound response to tragedy in her country makes her a leader of exceptional grace, empathy, and vision.

It is that leadership and vision that led her country to take swift and definitive action in the wake of tragedy. As reported in Vox, “After just one mass shooting, New Zealand’s Parliament on Wednesday voted 119-1 to ban most semiautomatic weapons and assault rifles in the country.” Her statement, “New Zealand stands apart in its widespread availability of weapons of such destructive nature and force. Today that anomaly ends.”

Ardern received praise from all around the globe for her strength and passionate response and quick action to the shooting.

Action in the wake of tragedy. Action in the presence of her grieving citizens. Action in response to senseless tragedy. Action with compassion. That’s the kind of leadership the world needs a whole lot more of.

Thank you, Sam, for your brilliant spotlight on the Prime Minister’s incredible accountability leadership. May we all learn from her steadfast examples.

Sam Silverstein: delivers leadership strategies, mindsets, and tools to organizations around the globe – helping them to leverage change, communicate more purposefully, and lead with accountability.

IASB & cmi: A Perfect Partnership

By Karen Harris | Mar 27, 2019 | Comments Off

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We’re so excited about the IASB (International Association of Speakers Bureaus) 2019 Convention coming up on April 4th in Vancouver. “This premiere event of the year is the largest gathering of speaker bureau, agency and speaker management professionals in the world.  The annual convention provides members with unparalleled opportunities to learn, engage and build relationships.”

We have so much respect for the bureaus we work with, and truly look at them as significant partners who help our extraordinary team of talented keynote speakers to deliver empowering and significant messages all across the globe.

I was recently asked what made us a good fit for IASB members. My answer lies in three words that are at the heart of who we are at cmi speaker management:  Caring, Responsive, and Transparent.

First, caring. We treat people with compassion, great care, and appreciation. To me, that’s a golden rule that is vital in any industry, and definitely in ours. I’m so fortunate to have an extraordinary seven-member team in place that are just as passionate about service as I am.

Second, responsiveness. Our clients tell us that we have some of the fastest response times in the business. Often, we answer back within mere minutes of an inquiry coming in. That works for everyone involved. No one likes to be left waiting for an answer, and in our day of information inundation – quick response is a must so that nothing gets lost in the abyss!

Third, transparency. We are an open book – and for good reason. We know that truth builds trust, and trust is the foundation for effective relationships. That’s why we are always forthcoming in terms of our negotiations, availability, fees – all of it. This quality has earned us high marks from bureaus all over the world. It takes the stress out of working with people when you know their integrity is always above board!  

I look forward to seeing colleagues at the April event. I know it will be filled and fuelled with lots of laughter, learning, and leveraging new and interesting strategies! Until then – here’s to amazing partnerships!

If there is ever anything we can do for you – please don’t hesitate to contact our team. We’re here for you!

Signing Off on a Signature Move in the Wake of Leaving Neverland

By Karen Harris | Mar 15, 2019 | Comments Off

In the wake of the new Michael Jackson documentary Leaving Neverland and the subsequent interview with Oprah Winfrey, keynote speaker Jason Hewlett is retiring his Michael Jackson impressions and even taking the extraordinary steps to remove footage from his wide volume of videos.

That’s a bold move, at considerable time and expense for Jason – but it doesn’t come as a surprise to us, nor his growing audience base. Jason’s entire career, speaking and business foundation, and his life is now and has always been “family friendly first”.   

In his revealing post regarding the decision, Jason shares the inherent pull of integrity that has him walking away from “the moonwalk” and all things Jackson in his performances and keynotes. He also describes the decision as less from a place of judgement and more from a place of empathy and his own internal compass of what he feels is right for himself and his audiences.

Jason’s powerful keynote topics often revolve around what he calls “The Promise” for leaders, teams, innovators, and organizations. The often hysterical, always entertaining, and even emotional messages have attendees asking themselves deep personal questions about their own personal and professional promises and what that means when leading a purposeful life.

As one of our valued keynote speakers, we fully support Jason’s decision and applaud him for being tapped and tuned in enough to the world conversation, as well as his own integrity level to make this move.

Our world is a very complex one, especially in today’s advances of 24/7 news cycles and often embroiled social media spirals. There are rarely easy answers or simple black and white situations. What there is a lot of however are compassionate, promise-filled people like Jason Hewlett who are constantly reaching to produce the highest value with integrity and honor. We’re proud to be the team that helps him bring his messages to the world.

If you or someone you know needs help there are support centres you can reach out to. RAINN is a great one. Call 800-656-HOPE.

Automation and Artificial Intelligence - Getting Past the Fear

By Karen Harris | Mar 08, 2019 | Comments Off

I tuned into late night TV recently and caught an episode of John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight and found myself laughing – but also listening when the topic turned to automation. He was right on target – albeit hysterically irreverent. In the episode Oliver shares how recent articles and news stories have started to create panic with gloomy headlines such as “Technology is Taking Your Jobs” making their way to the world stage. He then wisely reminds his audience that technology has been shifting the way we work, live, learn, and more for a very, very long time.

With speaker and author Mike Walsh as a client, the topic made my ears perk right up and I found myself nodding right along. Mike’s new book, The Algorithmic Leader: How to Be Smart When Machines are Smarter than You hits the nail on the head in dispelling myths and sharing how savvy consumers and business leaders are leveraging technology instead of fearing it.

The truth is that when we think back even ten years ago, technology and machine intelligence have dramatically changed the way we live, work, communicate and absorb information. It’s certainly changed and improved processes and discoveries in fields such as medicine, engineering, and travel.

As an organization that represents some of the top speakers in the business and connects them with clients from all over the globe, I know the impact algorithms and technology have made on our company and the way we operate.  

What John Oliver gets right – and what Mike Walsh teaches – is that our world is changing, swiftly, exponentially, and across all lines and all industries. Artificial Intelligence and automation are complex topics that invoke both fear and excitement.  Fear for those who refuse to recognize and understand them, and excitement for the opportunities they are.

Thankfully, there are good people like Mike to help break down this extraordinarily complex topic and skillfully (in terms we can all relate to) share what it all means for leaders, employers, team members, and all of us.

Adam Alter, author of the New York Times bestseller Irresistible and Drunk Tank Pink summed up the book perfectly when he wrote, “Mike Walsh’s The Algorithmic Leader is an intelligent and timely look at leadership in the digital age. If the twentieth century was governed by leaders of people, the twenty-first will be governed by leaders who understand the relationship between people and the technologies that define the modern workplace. Walsh exposes not just opportunities, but also potential pitfalls, ultimately leaving today’s leaders smarter and better prepared for the coming rise of algorithms and big data.”

AI, Algorithms, and the Changes That Are Here to Stay

By Karen Harris | Feb 08, 2019 | Comments Off

Image credit: Center for Generational Kinetics

If you’re finding article after article and news story after news story referencing Artificial Intelligence (AI) and algorithms – you’re not alone! Sources tell us that AI is changing the landscape of how people do business, how markets shift, how we travel, purchase, sell, and how organizations map out the future.  That’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Forbes columnist Bernard Marr shared five of his top predictions for 2019 in an insightful article that spells out how it can potentially affect politics, transparency, automation, jobs, and more. “AI points towards a future where machines not only do all of the physical work, as they have done since the industrial revolution but also the ‘thinking’ work – planning, strategizing and making decisions.” For some, that sounds scary, but for others, embracing change (always a good idea) and getting a handle on how AI is being integrated in almost every part of our lives and economy is just smart business.

Another recent article in Medium Magazine shared, “A recent McKinsey study estimates that the most advanced AI techniques may create between $3.5 trillion and $5.8 trillion in new value annually in 19 industries — from agriculture and automotive to banking and basic materials to travel and telecommunications.  AI is defined as the ability of a machine to perform cognitive functions we associate with human minds. And as human learning grows, so does AI. Scientists continually push the boundaries of what is possible with new techniques. As a result, it’s critical for leaders to understand not only the vision but also the reality of AI.”

With so much buzz – it’s no surprise that futurist and thought leader Mike Walsh made AI the focus of his new book, The Algorithmic Leader: How to Be Smart When Machines are Smarter than You.  In it, Mike brings together years of research and interviews with some of the world’s top business leaders, AI pioneers, and data scientists to share a set of 10 principles about what it takes to succeed in the algorithmic age. The Algorithmic Leader offers a hopeful and practical guide for leaders of all types, and organizations of all sizes, to survive and thrive in this era of unprecedented change.

What is an algorithmic leader? Someone who has successfully adapted their decision making, management style, and creative output to the complexities of the machine age. The world is changing, to be sure, and with it, our ability to communicate, adapt, and understand how technology will lead us into the future. To be successful, as a leader, a business professional, or even consumer – we must learn new ideas, new skill sets, and new ways of thinking.

They say the only constant in life is change. The keeping up with it part is up to us!

The Magic and Mastery of Bohemian Rhapsody

By Karen Harris | Jan 25, 2019 | Comments Off

With the release this week of the 91st Academy Award Oscar nominations, it was no surprise to see the Freddie Mercury bio-pic Bohemian Rhapsody score in five coveted categories.  With music as complex and iconic as Mercury himself, the movie provides pivotal insights into the creative genius that went into what would end up being labeled as “one of the greatest songs of all time”. 

According to Irwin Fisch, an Emmy nominated composer and Professor at NYU Steinhardt, “One of the reasons why Bohemian Rhapsody sounds so different is in its structure. The song is neither an a cappella, ballad, opera or rock. It's actually all of them in one song. It advanced a tradition of suites in pop music, meaning not a continuous song, not a verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge structure, which was the norm. A put together group of different songs, in essence. So, if people refer to Bohemian Rhapsody as a song, that's a bit of a misnomer. It's actually three or four songs.”

Complex, long (almost six minutes), and legendary. Exactly the kind of challenge Keynote Speaker, Musician, and eight-time Carnegie Hall Headliner Mike Rayburn wanted to tackle as a showcase piece for his audiences to underscore his messages of learning to perform at virtuoso levels and peak performance.  

Watch below:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xywtoQ56RC8

Learning to play such a difficult piece on the guitar with seemingly impossible key changes and note progression takes arduous hours of practice, musical mastery, and perhaps even a little of Mercury’s magic and inspiration.  The end result however, whether standing on stage in full rock and roll regalia with a full band and orchestra - or like Mike Rayburn, expertly coaxing classic rock history from a well-tuned and well-loved instrument, delivering a mesmerizing performance for audiences and a chance to pay homage to legendary music and musician - is a thrill in itself.

We’ll have to wait and see on February 24th whether Bohemian Rhapsody brings home Oscar gold. Until then, we’ll always have YouTube.

A Peek Into 2019

By Karen Harris | Jan 02, 2019 | Comments Off

2018 was truly an extraordinary whirlwind for our team, and the incredible speakers we represent. Milestones, Magic, and Lots of Flyer Miles for sure! That said, we’ve got our eyes on the year ahead and we just can’t wait to get started.

First up, we’re excited to announce the upcoming release of Mike Walsh’s new book, The Algorithmic Leader. Mike is an incredible keynote speaker, thought leader and futurist who has masterfully brought together years of research and insights from global leaders, AI pioneers and data scientists to share a set of 10 powerful principles for succeeding in an algorithmic age. He’s a brilliant mind, and we know that the strategies and ideas he shares can help business professionals and organizations the world over. I’ve been lucky enough to read an advance copy – it’s going to be a huge best seller!

Next, we are happy to announce two new keynote topics from the dynamic and engaging Tim Sanders. "Innovating Faster - Why Collaboration Changes Everything" and "Making the Leap to Essential" - both are so fitting and timely for audiences in our busy, sometimes chaotic world. The first is based on what he calls ‘disruptive collaboration,’ which is a problem-solving style that leverages sometimes unusual alliances along the fault-lines of a company or its market. In this keynote he shares how “the biggest leaps and turnarounds in business history came from collisions of thought, not safe work in our silos of excellence”. In the second keynote, Tim shares the disruptive innovations in today’s world that can chip away at client bases. The solution? To provide extraordinary levels of added value – becoming essential to work with. We are already booking these new topics, and we are certain they are going to help create lasting impact for our speaking clients.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_1rIfDx-ft0&t=98s

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CgMAX1rg0Kg&t=5s

Lastly, we wanted to share with you the “What If Challenge” that Keynote Speaker and Author Mike Rayburn has designed as a follow up tool for clients. This system of sixteen 3ish minute videos each feature a powerful “What If” question that helps teams align and transform their mindsets for optimized performance, increased innovations, and an eye out of opportunities. What a creative and value-added component to help audiences thrive long after they’ve left the event venue!

We will have much more to share and spotlight about all of our incredible keynote speakers in the year ahead. Providing exceptional service while pairing the perfect speakers to events is a passion that we just keep fuelling. There will be much excitement in 2019 as there has been in the last 12 months. We’re here to serve! Please let us know if there is anything we can do for you!

Happy Thanksgiving, America!

By Karen Harris | Nov 22, 2018 | Comments Off

Gratefulness is the single most valuable lesson I've learned. We all have really tough times (some worse than others) and really good times. Being able to be grateful for both the good and the bad situations was really hard to learn but has helped me to get through our hardest times (the loss of my parents; our son's brain surgery; my accident this summer; having to let people go due to the recession; having to fire people because they weren't the right ones). Lots of people have had way tougher stuff to deal with than I and it's really hard to be grateful when you're in the middle of all the ugliness...but it's totally the best way I've found to get through tough times.

This Thanksgiving weekend gives everyone a chance to show their gratitude - if life is good for you, perhaps you know someone who is really hurting. I pray that you will extend a helping hand so they have something to be grateful for too.

Below is a list of some of the things that my team is grateful for - have a lovely Thanksgiving full of love, compassion and gratitude.

"I am grateful for sunny days, long walks with my sweetheart and cuddles in front of the fire with my kiddos." - Rebecca

"I'm grateful for my friends and family, a job that I enjoy going to every day and only first world problems to worry about." - Melissa

"Health, happiness, family and the great people I get to work with." - Jess

"I'm grateful for a warm house, great family and a job I enjoy!" - Dori

"I am thankful for my life, health and love of my family and friends." - Adrienne

It’s HOT October - Juggling Calendars, Clients and Our Speakers

By Karen Harris | Oct 18, 2018 | Comments Off

When you’re in the business of putting the right speakers with the right clients in the right places with ALL the right components, there are certain times of the year where the calendar looks so packed that you begin to wonder if a few hours’ sleep a night or even a bathroom break are more suggestions than necessities. There’s a lot to keep together, and our crackerjack event coordinators really lean into the juggling act during this busiest month of all.

Here are a few thoughts to help you keep a cool head when the pressure is on:

  1. Practice self-care. I know, I know – “But there’s too much to do!” I believe in the philosophy that you can’t pour from an empty cup. Like great athletes during peak seasons, hydrate, make time for sleep, fuel up with healthy food, take your vitamins, and talk things out! What I love about our team is that they ARE a team. If someone is careening towards overwhelm, they have always got each other’s back, both in terms of workload and support. Ultimately, it’s that connection to people combined with the right tools of the trade that keeps burnout at bay.
  2. Keep AMAZING notes. The truth is you can’t remember everything, especially when you are playing beat-the-clock. So, whether you are arranging transportation, managing client expectations, pulling resources together or working with a speaker – or more likely, all of the above – don’t rely on your memory to serve you consistently. When possible, use a conference call line with the ability to record, take copious notes and organize your notes in a way that makes it the most easily understood and accessible for YOU.
  3. Systems rock. At cmi, we don’t leave a lot to chance. With some of the best speakers in the world relying on us to help them successfully bring their message to the masses (and show up at the right place at the right time) – we know what works and what doesn’t. That’s important because it’s really easy for things to fall through the cracks if you don’t have a streamlined, well-tested system in place for getting every event from start to finish.
  4. Technology tools are vital. Our business involves communication all over the globe; we couldn’t do that effectively if it weren’t for the tech tools that keep us ahead of the curve in terms ofschedules, reminders, dates, client information, transportation, and logistical hurdles. Find the tools that work best for your team and make them part of the system you can rely on.
  5. Ducks in a row. What keeps team members from hitting a wall during the busiest of times is all the action they take during the slower months. Savvy coordinators use off-months to prepare well and have their ducks in a row so that when the calendar gets crazy, they don’t feel the stress nearly as much. This includes REALLY getting to their systems, their co-workers and their clients. The more you know, the easier it is to make decisions on the fly and put the pieces of the event puzzle together faster.

It’s all hands-on deck around here during this busy time of year, and I just want to note that I am incredibly proud of the team we have. They make this juggling act of events look easy and keep their wits (and wittiness) about them while they are at it. Great job team!

If there is something we can do to help YOU juggle the events for your organization, let us know. It’s something we are very passionate about!

 

Learn more about Karen and the cmi team here!

Resonating Voices in an Often-Chaotic World

By Karen Harris | Sep 19, 2018 | Comments Off

How Keynoters are Making a Difference

Our world is noisy, chaotic, frustrating, even fearful for many. I believe that is why organizations of every conceivable size are stepping up to bring people together to hear empowering messages from today’s keynote speakers. The kind of messages that move people to take action in their lives, to find balance, to believe in the power of relationships, to feel hope – and to adopt change as the necessary ingredient of success that it is. These speakers are working for way more than an ovation – they are “turning on the lightbulbs” for audiences who often feel like there’s too much darkness.

It’s exciting when they connect. When an audience member internalizes a message that anything’s possible in a time where many are feeling as if their heads are bumping against glass ceilings.  When you’re in the room with a world-class speaker – whether they are speaking to 50 or 1,000 - you can feel the change occur. When what’s raging in the news media or outside the conference venue seems fractional compared to the growth and mindset shifts you witness taking place in the room. People are laughing – and they’re learning. People are on the edge of their seat and eager for more. That’s the difference words from the right people at the right time can make.

From keynote speakers who can move leaders to become more accountable and provide a culture where creativity and collaboration can flourish, to speakers who share how we are more alike as human beings than we are different and speak on the power of diversity, global citizenship, and every kind of speaker in between – these voices are resonating with today’s audiences. People need return on investment – and they need real-world solutions. They need productivity propellers – and they also need to laugh out loud. They need to see the big picture, at the same time recognizing how very much little things matter.

Working with speakers who have the immense talent to move people from where they are to where they want and need to be is a passion of every member of our team. We recognize the tremendous work they do to elevate audience experiences – and deliver take-aways that can literally change the lives and careers of others. In a world with a whole lot of noise, it’s exceptional to sit in an audience so silent and captivated by a speaker there’s almost an electricity in the room – this is why we do what we do. We know helping our speakers share their vision, missions, and messages changes the world for the better. We’re pretty darn proud of that. To all the speakers and clients we work with daily to deliver success strategies, leadership, sales, service, humor, and so much more – a nod of thanks for allowing us to be part of the process.

Learn more about Karen and the cmi team!