Category: Business

Happy Anniversary Pibworth


I almost missed it this year. The 13th anniversary of the conception and opening of Pibworth Professional Solutions.

I thought it might be fun to share with you a little bit of the history of those 13 years.

How PibworthPS came to be

Some of you know this story, but many do not. I had been married to my wonderful husband Mike for 4 years and we were 3 years into our very first mortgage when ‘it’ happened. Mike came home with all of his belongings in a box. When you have worked in IT for as long as Mike has, we knew it will happen a few times in your career. When you are a “non-revenue generating department”, yours is often the first one hit when a recession comes.

But I looked at him naively and said, “Don’t worry Honey, I have just been nominated for employee of the year at my job – we are safe.” Then, a week later I came home with all of MY belongings in a box. It’s a long story, and I go into it more in the video, but we were faced with a new mortgage, and no jobs.

Oh, and we were in the process of applying to adopt a child. It was my lifelong dream to be a mom. I wanted it more than anything. All of a sudden, we went from a financially secure family, in good shape to bring a new child into our home – to two unemployed people with a mortgage.

Stressed and overwhelmed does not begin to explain the way we felt – at first.

But we knew that God does not leave us there for long, so we moved forward. I was determined to be an even better candidate for motherhood, so I decided my days of commuting were over. I was going to find a local job. In small-town Barrie, Ontario. I was – optimistic, shall we say?

I was able to find a few small projects here and there, and soon my husband walked into my office and said “Do you realize you are working about 20 hours a week? Do you know that you are running a business?” I vehemently denied it. I wasn’t a business owner! That was WAY over my head…

But reality sunk in and Pibworth PS was born.

I built this business 13 years ago as a small side business that I could manage from home so I could become a mom to someone who needed me. The child that sparked Pibworth PS never came to be. We tried to adopt several times but it was not in His plan, but that deep-seated need to nurture and to love never went away. So now, instead of a child’s mouth to feed, I have 12 team members and counting. I have also helped birth and grow hundreds of speaking businesses over the years, and the impact that my clients make on the world is staggering when I sit back and think about it.

There are several more details and stories about the journey in the video above, but if you want the “Coles Notes” version – you just read it.

Thank you for celebrating my 13th work-versary with me.


Remote Speaking Re-Imagined

remote speaking, virtual speaking

There is so much talk right now around “What will happen to the speaking business?”

The truth is, we do not know. Not for sure. We know that what ‘was’ will likely never be again – and we know that what ‘is’ is temporary. What ‘will be’ is yet to be determined. What ‘will be’ will be born out of our collective creative and innovative ideas, mixed with a new hunger for technology to make our ideas work.

Just like there were many different but successful styles of speaking and delivery before – there will be many different and successful innovations. I see many of us scrambling to adapt and pivot, and looking to ‘copy’ each other and I think it is a mistake.

There has never been ONE way to do anything, and remote speaking is no different. We all need to find our own new and innovative ways to engage and teach. A new hybrid speaker talk format and delivery for a new hybrid audience. Click To Tweet

Currently, the most widely accepted vision of remote speaking is the creation of a hybrid model of speaking. We will see live meetings and conferences that are set up to maintain social distancing. That likely means 2 seats between each attendee and double spacing in the rows. So, in essence, conference organizers will only be able to accept one third to one-half of the people they hope will attend, resulting in MUCH smaller live events.

However, we expect to see the addition of a live stream component. Speakers will now be ‘teams’ where one will deliver to the audience as ‘normal’ – remembering they have a secondary unseen audience who will be having a different learning experience – and one (or two) handling the live stream, keeping engagement up, and handling all the tech.

“But how will I feed off an unseen audience” is the cry of so many remote speakers right now, and Kristin Arnold had a great answer – ask that the audience reactions be live-streamed back to you. If they are on Zoom, that screen could be projected to the back of the room. If there are too many or you find it too distracting, your tech person could have monitors to watch and an earbud to whisper “that doesn’t land” with the virtual audience. Or (insert next innovative idea here)

There has never been ONE way to do anything, and remote speaking is no different. And ultimately, the example above is just ONE way that it will change. our imaginations and our new demand for technology is just beginning to form and stretch here. Below are some ideas I am playing with – and I encourage you to add your own ideas. Don’t limit yourself to what you have in your home office right now. don’t limit yourself to the technology you own, or even what you know about. If it seems a bit ‘out there’ that is fine. after all, when the wheel was invented it didn’t make a lot of sense at the time either.

  • Several years ago, one CAPS member had a life-sized cardboard cut out of himself walked out on stage and (and camera) delivered an absolutely hilarious talk using just his voice.
  • I have seen speakers using holograms (albeit – that would be super-pricey right now)
  • At our last CAPS conference, Lorne Kelton offered a brilliant hybrid model where he delivered a live talk while interacting with a video of himself.
Click the image to watch a brief snippet of Lorne’s presentation

Some additional remote speaking ideas include:

  • More of a ‘movie’ experience – where talks are pre-recorded but live in a membership portal and the live elements are more consulting, coaching, webinars, Q&A, masterminds etc. (in my mind- this is a brilliant option as it could create ongoing revenue for years after the talk)
  • A resurgence and reinvention of the idea of a group summit. Multiple virtual events and remote speaking taking place over several hours with live audience interaction
  • Facilitation as a new revenue source

One thing to remember is that there have been people delivering hybrid events and innovating in the speaking industry for years. We are not ‘inventing’ the wheel, we are looking at things others have been doing and adapting it for our own businesses.

What will you change? What ideas do you have? Share and comment below.


Critical Decision Making in Uncertain Times

critical decision making

Today’s world is changing fast enough to make our head spin. A tiny virus has brought the world to a virtual standstill and the need to decide our best options for survival when the stakes are high means critical decision making has become even more imperative. How do you know if you are doing the right thing? I have watched as so many of us as solopreneurs either make ‘knee jerk ‘decisions or stand paralyzed and make no decision at all.

We are facing some of the toughest market conditions ever. We need to make wise choices if we and our businesses are going to survive – and we need solid tools to help us through it.

What if the choices we are making right now are going to come back to haunt us in the future? There is no crystal ball that can eliminate the risk of making poor decisions but there are some tools that can help!  

Friend and CAPS (Canadian Association of Professional Speakers) colleague, Ruth Sirman and I were talking about critical decision making last week and I found the discussion SO valuable, I invited her to share her insights with us concerning ‘Critical Decision Making in Uncertain Times’.

This is an expert-led, interactive discussion exploring some of the tools Ruth uses to help organizations address their challenges and that may be able to help you make good decisions for the short, medium and longer-term.

We are facing some of the toughest market conditions ever. We need to make wise choices if we and our businesses are going to survive – and we need solid tools to help us through it. Click To Tweet

We all make decisions all the time – some will be on point, and some will cause us grief. When we’re in crisis mode we need to recognize the risk of being reactive rather than strategic in how we navigate that crisis. There are many businesses that will navigate this pandemic and come out stronger, wiser and better equipped to serve their customers. The capacity to develop business strategies that build a level of robust flexibility and resilience into our business will help to position us for long term success. Businesses that struggle to adapt and change in this ever-changing world will struggle to survive.

Enjoy the video, and share your thoughts in the comments section.

About Ruth:

Ruth Sirman is an Internationally Certified Mediator (International Mediation Institute), who specializes in helping organizations, and businesses create healthy thriving workplaces through effective organizational development strategies. She has run 3 successful businesses since 1982. She has a background in environmental biology, chemistry and wildlife toxicology along with being a retired turkey farmer and Mom to 4 amazing young adults and Grandma to 4 incredible grand-kids! For more information, contact her at info@canmediate.com and check out her consulting website www.canmediate.com


Sales vs Service – a Difference in Experience

As so often happens, a blog post is born out of a real life experience or customer question.

My husband and I are renovating our home and were in the market for a home equity line of credit.  We have our mortgage with a broker and have been super happy with her service.   Now, outside of the initial purchase of a mortgage, on the face of it, there is no reason for her to keep in contact until renewal time.  After all, there is no money to be made before renewal – right?  😉 But our broker is different.  She keeps her eye on rates for us (we have a variable rate and are enjoying the savings that brings) and checks in regularly. She has become a close family friend.

We went to her first, and she presented us with some great options, and one of them was a big risk.  Talk to our bank and see what they might do for us as a long time customer.We did go to the bank, and that is where this post started.

The difference between Sales and Service became glaringly apparent.  

Our broker:

  • greeted us with coffee and warm hugs
  • listened carefully to everything we had to say
  • knew enough about our spending and saving habits to comfortably recommend some potentially unconventional choices that she would not offer those who choose to live beyond their means
  • answered every dumb question we threw at her
  • gave us open and honest advice, that could have cost her the business…

Our bank:

  • started off with questions before really understanding what our needs were
  • threw in some “well, if you don’t switch to fixed rates now you are in real danger” talk
  • only offered one solution – on their terms (move every bank account you own plus your mortgage to us and only then we will help you)
  • offered us a financial incentive to go with them
  • pitched us on new credit cards before we left

sales-vs-serviceBoth service providers did actually have answers to our needs.  In fact, we were tempted by the cash savings the bank offered.  So tempted, that we called our broker to talk it out with us.  She said she had thought the bank might suggest pulling everything from her, but wanted to see what they were able to offer and if their deal was in fact better long term, she wanted us to take it.

Can you feel the difference here?  

The experience with the bank was a sales relationship.  It was transactional on their part.  We will give you more money and a low interest rate.  Isn’t that what everyone wants?

The experience with a broker was a service relationship.  It was based on her having out greater good in her heart when she spoke to us.  It was based on her being of service, whether she ‘got the gig’ or not.

When you are talking to your potential clients, remember that the relationships you form with them, the way you make them feel will long outlast that discount you offered.  I firmly believe that the tranactional business owners and speakers may always have their place, but the real growth, the long standing businesses will always be based in relationship.

Do I even have to tell you what our choice was?



My new 'Baby'

I am so blessed.  And it is my clients who bless me.

You see, my clients most often become my friends.  We chat about more than just their projects and their business, we talk about life, love and the pursuit of happiness, and we brainstorm.  Most often we brainstorm about their business, but every now and then they come to me with an idea for my own business, and that is how the It’s YOUR Stage Workshop Series was born…

You see, we had been working on a fantastic new website launch and, as sometimes happens, the scope of the project just kept growing and changing.  The client would say “Someone suggests this, and someone else suggested that, and I went to this new training session with someone else” – and honestly we were both a bit frustrated.  But leave it to a true professional to say “Hey – this is what I am really loving about this process, here is what I would tweak if I could” That simple, honest sentence helped bring to light a fundamental issue that faces most speakers when it comes to marketing.

You don’t know what you don’t know.

it's your stage workshopIt’s not rocket science.  Of course you don’t know everything about building websites for speakers.  If you did, you would not have hired Pibworth to do it for you.  But – what if you did know?  What if you had all the tools and all the possibilities laid out and explained to you, and you made informed decisions about what was best for your business now and into the future before you entered into the development process?   What if you knew exactly what you were buying – and why it was perfect for you?

I owe a debt of thanks to that client, her simple comment, and her willingness to spend time brainstorming with me to come up with a full program that specifically addresses the needs of fellow speakers.  What is really innovative about this new idea is the time spent planning and strategizing EXACTLY what you need ahead of time, and the fact that your new website will be completed in such a short window.  

I am so excited to launch the new website workshop in early 2017.  I have plans for a One Sheet workshop, and possibly a social media strategy workshop in 2018.  

With the exception of my 3 years as a momondays host, I have always been more of a ‘behind the scenes’ kind of person. I do my best work helping others shine. But thanks to the encouragement of this client and so many of my fellow CAPS members, I am ready to take the leap and step into the spotlight with my business. Look out 2017 – here I come!!


Your Legacy, Motivational Goal or Dangerous Trap?

legacyI have been thinking about the concept of ‘leaving a legacy’ lately. As Pibworth gets busier and keeps growing, I find myself thinking long term succession planning.  How do I manage growth?  Who will take over when I am gone?  All those things enter my mind. I also feel the worldly pressure of “leaving my mark on this world” and how Pibworth will be remembered. Will I ever be the next Apple or be a recognized leader in marketing or have my name whispered in awe in a room full of speakers?  Will I ever be a million dollar business?  Will I ever reach whatever ‘success’ loos like?  How will I know when I’ve ‘made it’?

For sure I do not want to fade away and to have never made a difference. I don’t have children, so isn’t my business my measurement of success and impact? Is that really important to me? Is my legacy ‘about me’ and my ego, or is it about how well I have served? Personally I say no to it being about me. My business, its financial success or its longevity in itself can’t be used as a measurement tool for success, just as the bathroom scale can never be a true measurement for beauty, worth or heart.

In my mind, my legacy will be the lives I have touched in a positive way. The smiles I have shared, the hope, the peace, the joy. And in this world I may never know of my impact, but I know with all my heart that I will stand before my Lord and give an account of my life. That is the legacy I strive for. Not one that hinges on money, or success or pride or in ‘being known’.

Just my two cents.


Top Tips for creating a speaker website that converts

Is YOUR website doing all it can to grow your speaking business? Are you sure??

Which Are You?

Take the next steps to building your speaking business by choosing which of the speaker types below fits you!


Top Tips for creating a speaker website that converts

Is YOUR website doing all it can to grow your speaking business? Are you sure??