Tom Martinez- A Story of Hate, A Message of Hope

Gail Davis, 06 July 2010

Tom MartinezWow! I was almost numb after hearing Tom Martinez, a former hate group member, speak at a recent, client event in Dallas. Tom visited our office earlier in the day but that was like dipping only your toe in the pool. The event was full immersion.

The venue helped create the atmosphere for soaking up his story. My client selected the Holocaust Museum in Dallas. It was a somber location that reminded us all of the devastation when you combine hate and a lack of education.

Tom is a genuine and likeable guy. He does an amazing job of explaining how and why he was seduced by a hate group. He paints the picture of being a young husband with a new baby and trying to make ends meet while working at a bakery earning minimum wage. You can see how this welcoming brotherhood that offered support and monetary gain had a strong appeal.

Tom begins his presentation with a movie trailer from the Showtime original picture the Brotherhood of Murder, which stars Peter Gallagher and William Baldwin and is based on Tom’s autobiography. He has recently developed PowerPoint presentations that include several photos of various leaders and events associated with The Order. He also has some music clips at the end that demonstrate the use of music lyrics in furthering a message of hate.

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Kids and Speakers

Gail Davis, 25 May 2010

nando parradoWe have all been there. Sitting in an audience hearing a compelling message and wishing our children had the opportunity to experience the message.

I have two sons in their 20s. They have grown up hearing speakers. I have taken Nando Parrado to their middle school, varsity football team locker rooms … they’ve had incredible opportunities.

I have seen a trend that more and more companies and associations are inviting entire families to hear speakers or adding an additional session with the speaker for children of employees or members.

So the question arises, when is an event is appropriate for children? How do you decide if the topic and content is family friendly?

Step #1: Ask the speaker. The speaker knows their topic and the considerations. Get their input. If they give you a minimum age, respect and enforce it.

I have several speakers who welcome kids but have identified minimum age limits. It is frustrating when an attendee thinks that the age limit cannot possible apply to their child. Why ask if you aren’t going to honor it?

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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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