This was in response to an elongated exchange of emails, texts, phone calls, etc about me being a featured speaker at a particular race. For those who don't know, speaking is one of my main sources of income. I speak at schools, economic summits, land title associations, cruise ships, massive banking institutions, etc. I have a fun story and I am good at telling it - relating it to whatever place I am in. Having run 52 Marathons in 52 consecutive weekends, however, speaking at a marathon is a layup. That's my audience.
For some context, this email was in response to my message which was following up on our last exchange wherein I said:
"Would love to speak to you about 2018 as I definitely do not want to get a late start in working together. What would you need from me to make this less work for you?"
Suffice it to say I wasn't expecting that. Now, I have debated naming this particular race specifically because my intention is not to shame them. I also know they are not alone. But if you want to know who it is so you can say no thanks, drop me a line. Happy to do so privately.
In addition, let me nip a few things in the bud.
1. This is not necessarily a First Amendment abridgement. So many well-meaning people were getting up in arms with regards to this. But note, no one was stopping me from saying what I wanted. I said it and knew there may be consequences.
2. We didn't have a contract signed at this point. As such they were not going back on anything concrete or I would have had some recourse.
3. No one has to hire me to speaker for anything. It is always a choice. I completely understand that.
Having laid all of that out, what bothered me most about this was the combination of how long we had been speaking about working together coupled with the fact that the people who supposedly agreed with me appeared to be "warning" the person I spoke with (who also agreed with me) to not get involved with "my brand." Ugh. If you want to disgust me, call me a blogger. A close second is to talk about my brand. (And who exactly was warning him and why? Warning him about what? Having a spine?)
So that's my brand. I am not overtly political - I am overtly anti-Trump/Trump sycophants. I can't stand religion but some of my best friends are Mormon. I think Ted Cruz is a soulless succubus but if you want to vote for him, we can probably find shared ground. But Trump is where I draw the line.
Because of my stance, I have lost what I listed above. That sucks but it is not unheard of. What sticks in my craw is how those who are on my side of the aisle, or who see things the way I see them, haven't stepped forward to support me. I am happy to be the spearhead and take the brunt of the harsh words and setbacks. But what I expected was once I did that, like-minded people would step up to fill in the gap from those who stepped away. Sure, there are likes on Facebook or retweets on twitter. BFD. Where are the social justice warriors when someone who is fighting for all the things they are fighting for, but more publicly and with more to lose, when I need someone to say "Damn right we want to hear you speak!"?
This may sound a bit bitter and that is because it is. This email I received doesn't stop me from speaking elsewhere. But it sure does have a chilling effect on whether I think speaking my mind is wise course of action. If people who supposedly agree with you still won't stick their neck out a touch to work with you, how can you expect to make a living do what you do?
If I had the same stances about Obama or Hillary and lost money, I wouldn't be writing this right now. I would be on Fox News talking about the snowflakes in their safe spaces. Hell, Mike Huckabee would have already written a horrible pun in a tweet by now. (By the way, Mike, your son murdered a dog. No one ever forgets this. Block me all you want.) Instead, fortunately, I at least have an outlet here on a website which attracts a lot of attention. Obviously it does or I wouldn't have received the above email. But it isn't enough.
So who is willing to help me out and pick up the slack? My speeches rarely touch on anything even remotely political. I take my personal experiences coming from a poor family, where I put myself through college and law school, have accomplished some impressive athletic feats no one else ever has done, all while suffering from a liver disorder and use my experiences to inspire others to chase their own dreams.
That, in my opinion, is one hell of a brand.
I have had a large outpouring of verbal support from many who wish to know which companies currently sponsor me so that they can support those companies. I greatly appreciate that. I am currently in a state of re-evaluating all partnerships and when a full slate of sponsors is put together, they will all be on my Sponsors page.
ADDENDUM II (07.24.17)
I'd like to say it is shocking I am still receiving messages from companies with the same "We agree but keep our mouths silent as money matters more" message but I am unsure if it is. This time from a company which interacted with me on social media but then said the following when I approached them about partnering.
I will admit it is getting harder to do the right thing when so many others refuse to support you even though they believe in what you are doing.
ADDENDUM III (07.31.17)
After more than a few people suggested I come up with a way for those who wish to support me who don't own events where I can speak, I was goaded into creating a GoFundMe account. Thank you in advance for any small amount you can find rattling around in your seat cushions!
In addition, I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are looking for your next keynote speaker.