You may have gathered that I am not filled with the Christmas spirit or it’s festivities. In fact, if Santa was somehow really unfortunate enough to have consumed a mince pie laced with strychnine you can guarantee that it would be myself and Ebenezer sitting down comfortably and smug, talking about the shock and horror of Father Christmas’ surprise demise.
Then we would consume the remainder of the packet of mince pies.
Going back just a couple of weeks, November was quite a busy month for me. I had gone to see pops in the states and with November being Cancer awareness month I was quite busy with activities for Prostate Cancer UK. I had manned two Prostate Cancer awareness stands and presented three business Prostate Cancer awareness talks. One of the talks was the day after being told our team was up for redundancy.
I am not a great fan of awareness stands and never likely to be.
I decided to do these two because they seemed a little different to the norm. The reasoning behind me not being a fan of awareness stands is quite simple. If you do an awareness talk the people want to be there and you have the opportunity to engage properly. When you do an awareness stand and they don’t know beforehand you are coming, you are almost ambushing these unsuspecting men while they are going about their day to day business. You are almost relying on an impulse reaction which tends to be fleeting.
The first Awareness stand was in a gym and the second was in the headquarters of a major high street bank. I thought to myself that perhaps these two would be different but they were not really. The table in the gym started slowly and pretty much stayed that way. I think I may have spoken briefly to five people and of those, I would say only two were really interested. The bank headquarters had hundreds of people passing our stand on their way to their canteen. To be fair the host did say that the footfall would be impressive and she was correct. Unfortunately, though I knew from experience, the interest/conversion rate would be a tiny fraction of that.
So it was to be.
I didn’t fare much better with an awareness talk later that day at the same company. There were only three members of the host’s team present (and I think they were encouraged to go by the host) but not the host herself. As always, I just hope to change a few minds but it was a little disappointing. My second awareness talk was certainly a first. I was in a small meeting room with two other people presenting into the live feed of a company iPhone which was linked to the companies’ live internal video system. The initial feedback was very good. They said forty-odd people had logged into the live broadcast and they expected many more would log in later offline.
The final talk turned out to be one of the most moving I have ever given. It had been rescheduled from mid-November because I had managed to double book it with the talk at the bank.
I asked the organiser if he had an idea of the numbers he was expecting. He replied that he didn’t know but there were quite a few interested in the original date that I couldn’t make. We gave the stragglers five minutes and then we started. I went through the presentation with a few tweaks, there were still a couple of slides that I had forgotten that I wanted to remove. When I started there were seven men in the room and five minutes later we were joined by one more. I had only a couple of questions to ask which were easily answered.
At the end of the presentation, one of the guys came over to me and waited until it was just me and the host left. He was a big guy. Not Jabba big but the kind of dad or uncle would want to bring into primary school with you to tell off the boy that was bullying you. Then, with great pleasure, watch the same bully either wet himself or cry as he was having a finger pointed in his face and growled at.
“You are an inspiration. I had a major operation and it was someone like you that made it so much easier”, he said. He was choked up. I was humbled. The host asked if he should leave but the man said no it was fine. He thanked me again and left the room. About a minute later he came back in and closed the door behind him. Sensing the man wanted to talk the host left the room and closed the door. The man’s name is Peter.
“I had a major operation. I was going to the toilet like thirty or forty times a day. I went to the doctors and there and then he said I had to have my bowel removed. It wasn’t cancerous – I had ulcerative colitis. Then out of nowhere, this man got in touch who looked really well. He had also had his bowel removed. He was my inspiration. Thank you for sharing your story”.
It’s not often I am stunned to silence but I was. He extended his hand to shake mine. I shook his hand and then gave him a manly shoulder hug. He easily towered a head and neck taller than me and was broader. I actually felt like a toy. It was at that moment I swore I would never again criticise one of my single female friends for prematurely judging a potential suitor for being much shorter than them. I got it!
“None of my colleagues know about this”, he added quietly.
“Have you thought about telling them? You could talk to others and be their inspiration.” I asked him. He paused for a moment.
“How can I, look at me” he replied.
Look at him indeed. We had probably missed the narrow window of legality where we could have made a business hiring him out as a primary school ‘anti-bullying tool’, with me as his manager.
“Exactly you are still here and you look well. You could now become now someone’s inspiration.” I replied.
He said he would see me downstairs. I said goodbye to the host and Peter walked me to the lift and we spoke some more downstairs.
He asked me how I got started with Prostate Cancer UK and I told him it just started with a phone call. I also asked if I could tell his story in my blog. I said it as making the first step for him. That’s only if he wanted me to. He didn’t need much convincing. I said I would use another name but he said it was fine to use his real name.
I left Peter mulling over becoming a speaker. No correction a fantastic speaker for ulcerative colitis. Becoming someone’s inspiration.
Peter, unfortunately, we have missed the boat on the anti-bully scene business opportunity as a sideline.
However, I will be there in the front row, for your very first presentation.
This is why I love doing this. Making a change, a real change.
Tough Ellis pops up, kicks soft Ellis somewhere roughly where the prostate used to be and rolls him over and out of the way.
Big Peter, forget chump change scaring bullies. I’m thinking big. Either WWE wrestling or the Cortland girls!
The Undertaker, the famous WWE wrestler, has an entrance where his assistance accompanies him into the ring carrying an urn. Once he batters his opponent the same assistant helps zip up the opponent in a body bag.
‘Gentleman Pete’ goes into the ring in a union jack costume and bowler hat. He then gets served a cup of tea in the best china by a suitably dressed English butler. Gentleman Pete drinks the tea with his pinky finger out. Tips his bowler hat and then proceeds to thoroughly beat his opponent up. As the finale, he then stands over the beaten mug and finishes his cup of tea.
Failing that I have a second option. I know of two Irish sisters, Adel and Kelly Courtland. Folk legend has it that someone was moaning about the price of an engine part the main dealer was going to charge them. Adel made a call and within the hour the required car part was on the pub table still warm and greasy. Kelly you cross only when you want to claim early on the insurance.
Bare knuckle fighting. They will know a man that knows a man.
Let’s get your first talk done and then let’s make some money.