Gail Davis, 11 May 2010

Gail DavisRemember when you were a kid and you learned that it was easier not to lie and that if you always tell the truth you don’t have to remember what you have said?

I am glad my parents taught me that, and I am glad I have used that principle of integrity in running my own business. Operating an ethical business is so much less stressful. Our industry model is to receive a 50% deposit upon signing of a contract. Then, the final payment is due just before the speaking engagement.

We have set up our accounting at GDA so that these deposits go into an “escrow” type account and we NEVER touch the deposits. We treat them as refundable client deposits because in the event that a speaker has to cancel and we are unable to find a suitable replacement, then that money is due back to our clients. We have never gotten in to any trouble by spending deposits due to the fact that we simply do not allow those monies to commingle.

We also hold firm to getting the final payment in before the speech. Although it is sometimes not easily understood by a new client, I simply explain to them that I am not going to ask a speaker to get on a plane to give a speech unless I know we have the money in hand. I run a speaker’s bureau not a collection agency. That way, we are able to maintain great relationships with our speakers since we show our respect to them by paying each speaker on a timely basis.

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Live From New York

Gail Davis, 28 April 2010

New YorkWhen I was at EDS and ran our corporate incentive events team, I had a motto-if someone else has a great idea, borrow it!!

I just attended a four-day event for one of our top clients, Texas Roadhouse, in NYC that had a number of ideas worth calling your own.

If you are an event planner, read below for some great tips…

Details matter. My first impression on any event is nametags.  When folks have taken the time to do nametags correctly, that is usually a good indication that they pay attention to details. I am still a fan of the nametags that have the first name in LARGE BOLD letters. That way, when you are introduced to someone their first name is easily identified.

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Gail Davis, 12 March 2010

Ron WhiteGrowth…what comes to your mind when you hear the word growth? I am convinced it is generally a good thing, but without caution, it can be a bad thing.

Let me explain. My company is doing well. Really well. We have grown strategically and not overextended. We did not get too big too fast. I am carefully adding staff and trying to balance the impact. I do not want to lose my contact with clients.

As my company grows, I am looking for ways to give new team members responsibility and find ways for them to contribute while I stay connected. As a founder and leader, that is a very interesting challenge.

I am big into personal growth. I always have at least five self help type books going. I am sure my natural interest in the human condition is what drew me to this business in the first place. There are many different genres of speakers .I particularly love those who give the audience information and material that challenges them to develop.

I also love working with speakers who want to grow and improve their trade. I appreciate a speaker that will attend an event to hear another speaker and actually believe they can learn from it. I admire a speaker who can listen to the feedback I provide and really desires to improve versus putting up walls.

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Customer Service: Going Above and Beyond

Gail Davis, 25 January 2010

Customer ServiceThank you Ross Perot.

You founded EDS on the strongest principles of customer service.

I was lucky enough to be hired by EDS right out of college. I worked there for 20 years under some serious leadership and culture. I interfaced with Ross, Mort Meyerson, Jeff Heller, Les Alberthal and, yes, Dick Brown. That is another blog.

At EDS, I learned about being in the service business. It is different. You are only as good as your last gig. You have to come up with solutions. You need to have the customer’s best interest at heart.

When I left EDS and started my company almost 11 years ago, I knew no way other than to be focused on the customer.

I surround myself with a team and speakers who get that.

A few weeks ago I had a classic example. I had booked Steve Palermo for a YPO event in Oklahoma City. Steve is an awesome guy. He was the most successful umpire in the Majors when he was shot in Dallas trying to be a good Samaritan.

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In Remembrance of Randy Snow

Gail Davis, 07 December 2009

Randy SnowRandy Snow was a great person, a special friend and professional speaker. He passed away suddenly on Thursday, Nov 19 while volunteering at a wheelchair tennis camp in El Salvador, doing something he loved.

Since 2003, we booked Randy 46 times for our clients. He always got great reviews. He was a dream to work with from our perspective as well as our clients’. He loved meeting people and sharing his message.

I am writing this blog to record my special memories of Randy Snow. Randy reached out to us back in 2003 and said he was getting into the speaking business and he knew we were a locally based bureau so he wanted to stop by and bring us lunch. At the time, we were an all female staff with typical female concerns regarding food…..all health conscious and watching our weight. We agreed for Randy to bring us lunch. I will never forget him wheeling up the sidewalk with a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken, mashed potatoes, biscuits, gravy and two liters of Mountain Dew! I laughed so hard and teased him about not knowing women at all!

Randy was so accessible and reasonable that he became our “go to” speaker for folks with limited budgets. We crafted some great deals. We really hit the jackpot back in 2005 when Randy spoke to Nestle Waters and created a talk on safety. The word spread and we booked him eight times for various plants across the country.

I knew Randy as a speaker and a friend. Since his death I have learned so much more. A harsh reminder of how we often do not really know those in our own midst. This past year, I have been taking my car to a dealership in Arlington and always turn on Randy Snow Road. I always thought it was funny and kept intending to mention it to Randy. I learned after his death that the street was named after him. He had transferred to UTA from UT and joined the fledgling Mavericks wheelchair basketball team. The street was named after Randy in 1984 when he attracted world-wide attention at the 1984 Summer Olympics when he finished second in the 1,500 meter wheelchair race immediately after Carl Lewis won a gold medal in a race. The publicity gave wheelchair athletes an unprecedented platform to show the world what they could do. A few weeks later, the city of Arlington renamed Midway Road as Randy Snow Road for his silver medal performance.

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A Sense of Connection

Gail Davis, 24 November 2009

A Sense of ConnectionHumankind is funny. We like to feel connected. Connected to a cause. Connected to a family. That connection creates a sense of purpose. I have been thinking about that a lot lately. I have been thinking about that as it relates to the speaking industry.

Why do companies have meetings? To acknowledge employees, to set strategic direction, to wow clients, to motive and inspire performance. Meetings are an investment and they take time. But if the meeting creates a connection then often it has met the goal. We have so many opportunities to connect on the phone, via conference calls, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn but still face to face meetings are the most effective way of creating real connections. Why? I believe it is twofold. One aspect is the formal agenda and the other is the unplanned, unorchestrated bonds that are connected by virtue of having folks at the same place.

When I ran the Sales Incentive Trip at EDS, I constantly looked for ways to put the top executive team in funny situations. Why? It created a culture. It created exciting and memorable moments. Those who qualified and attended the events remembered the President doing the Macarena or numerous other skits that allowed the sales force to see leadership in a lighter role.

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