June 21, 2011


Steve Gupta (click for source article)Business speakers tend to fall into three groups
  1. celebrities/keynotes: often entertaining and informative
  2. technical experts: often dull but a path to Continuing Education credits to maintain your licenses and designations
  3. disguised sellers: annoying if you were expecting groups 1 or 2 instead of a sales pitch
This morning, the Mississauga Board of Trade hosted Steve Gupta, the President and CEO of the Easton's Group of Hotels (website). He fell into the first category. We got the usual crowd-pleasing tale of rags to riches to philanthropy.

There's a quote to the effect that you can't do a bad deal with a good person or a good deal with a bad person. Steve seemed to fall into the "good" category but how could we separate fact from legend?


Can you trust the speakers you see? That's tough to answer. They routinely come across as nice people — a criterion for getting invited. Is that how they really are? Audiences can't easily tell from what they say. Tough questions — if asked — are easily side-stepped. There's rarely an objective assessment published by a reputable source. These factors seed distrust which the speakers can't remove themselves.

Your prospects face similar challenges evaluating you. There's a way to dispel the skepticism and engender trust.

The Lesson

When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.
— The Legend of Liberty Valance (
Steve's session provided a valuable marketing lesson: let others spread your legend. Not even Warren Buffett or Steve Jobs can spread their own. Like you, they need credible supporters to tell others.

I spoke to two fellow attendees who did work for Steve. They confirmed that he was genuine and true to his word. This mild form of consensus confirmed my impressions.

The Way

How do you help your supporters help you? First, you need to be legend-worthy. Following the four habits of the highly referable helps. Also, you need to provide visible proof (see the three marketing essentials for today). That lets others check online to confirm what they heard.

Steve came across as fair — not after the last dollar (or $100,000). He's probably a tough negotiator but this aspect of his legend encourages suppliers to continue doing business with him. This is also a way to attract new deals.

When your legend is established, what you say is more likely to be believed without verification. For instance, Steve said he evaluates about 1,000 deals a year and accepts five. The other 995 provide practice. This looks like the 10,000 hour in practice. And adds to the legend.


PS Tip for organizers: post links to articles about your speakers in your invitation emails and on your website. That saves us time :)

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