‘Start Small, Win Big’ 2012 Winner Shares Lessons

Who knew this New Hampshire gal’s first trip to New York City would be an all-expense-paid trip by SUCCESS magazine for me to meet Good Morning America’s Tory Johnson?

Having attended Tory’s Spark & Hustle event in Boston, I knew I was in for a treat. Her high energy and “spark” during the conference was matched by her enthusiasm as she hugged me upon our meeting at Sarabeth’s Kitchen on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. She was intentional about our meeting place and passionately told me the story of Sarabeth and Sarabeth’s small-business struggles and subsequent growth to four locations in “The City That Never Sleeps.”

We shared pleasantries, and then got right to work. “Tell me about your business, Tami,” Tory asked. I tried to suppress my feelings of inadequacy as I struggled to explain my programs and mission to the famous “Jobs Lady.” I quickly decided it was time to get real. I asked for Tory’s help with pitching my programs to potential clients and she came through in a big way, in just a couple of minutes.

We continued to speak about my programs in schools, as well as my national conferences. I asked lots of questions: What is the best way for me to deliver my free resource materials to schools? Is it necessary for me to establish my business as a not-for profit? Do I need to hire employees? How can I best promote my 20-city conference tour to attendees, sponsors and vendors? Tory answered each and every question in detail. She even went above and beyond and gave me some valuable insider tips for my conferences. This is advice I will surely be taking, given the success of her seven-figure 2012 Spark & Hustle tour. I’m looking forward to catching up with Tory in December at her Spark & Hustle Small Business Boot Camp event in Boston.

I met up with Darren Hardy in Orlando, Fla. Yes, as part of the ‘Start Small, Win Big’ entrepreneurial challenge, I also won another all-expense-paid trip, compliments of SUCCESS magazine, to spend the weekend in a beautiful resort, hear Darren deliver a speech to over 500 entrepreneurs, and receive a personal coaching session from someone I affectionately call the “Barbara Walters of the business world.” I admit it; I was a tad nervous about speaking with someone who interviews people for a living. Darren, likely anticipating my feelings, sent me a text and asked to meet me before his speaking event. Darren was quick to make sure my husband and I had seats at the VIP table and that someone was available to escort us to the front of the room.

My husband and I were blown away while listening to Darren engage the entire room. It felt as if we were either laughing or nodding in agreement for an entire hour! His no-nonsense approach to everything from business to relationships to money was inspiring and electric.

Without a suitable place to grab a healthy lunch in the hotel, we did what any two like-minded health enthusiasts would do: We dined on fruit and water. We chuckled and Darren joked about “breaking the bank” as he cashed out at the cafeteria-style eatery where he bought our bananas and bottles of Dasani. We quickly dashed into the hotel restaurant, grabbed a quiet seat and settled in for our time together.

“So why do you think you won the competition, Tami?” Oh no, I hadn’t anticipated this question. Didn’t he know that sounding charismatic without sounding cocky was not my forte? So I fumbled through three (maybe four) answers to this agonizing question before he smiled and assured me there was no right or wrong answer. This was simply his way of determining the value I placed on myself and my work. That was lesson No. 1.

As I was explaining my mission and the four programs I teach nationally, he asked me two poignant questions: Which one program are you passionate about and which one program do you enjoy delivering the most? In 10 minutes, we slashed my workload by 75% using the same advice he received from his mentor, the legendary Jim Rohn. He also gave me in-depth guidance on how to create the most valuable resources for my customers and which ones I could give away for free. He even took the time to handwrite three pages of notes in my notebook detailing my resource options to create a revenue stream, which ones to create first, and which ones will offer the most return on investment. The insights and professional leadership advice I received in those two hours are priceless to me. Our meeting exceeded my expectations! I’m keeping my fingers crossed that Darren will host one of his Leadership Summit events in Boston (pretty please, Darren!)

Both Darren and Tory gave me all they had and left nothing on the table. They answered all of my questions and even offered valuable insider advice I wouldn’t even have known to ask. More important to me, they were gracious, kind and generous with their time and talents. Both Darren and Tory made me feel special and continue to make themselves available to me in support of my mission to help people look great and feel great every day!

By: Tami Provost

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