593. Expert Interview: The Power of Turning Points
Bernie Swain had a teacher in high school who encouraged him to be the first in his family to attend college. By the time he was 36 he had been offered his dream job as athletic director of a major university. Around the same time, a friend sent him a copy of Fortune magazine with an article about what was then the largest lecture agency in the world.
Bernie’s wife, Paula, convinced him to quit his job and start a lecture agency together. With no experience, no plan, and no money they launched the agency in a friend’s stationery closet. Nine years later, their lecture agency, The Washington Speakers Bureau, became the largest in the world. His recent book, “What Made Me Who I Am,” chronicles the turning points of 34 of the speakers and friends he has represented.
The Power of Turning Points
“Through the successful and accomplished people I met and represented, I came to understand what turning points are all about. They are the opportunities life gives us to fulfill our full potential, forks in the road where we can choose to go in one direction or another. Often, these forks in the road are illuminated for us by the people we let into our lives, who can see what we can’t see. They are moments in time that are different from others, if we are paying attention. Our success and accomplishment depend on our ability to recognize these turning points, make good and wise decisions, then commit ourselves fully.”
Why Is This Important?
“Many people said to me over the years, ‘Those people you represent had opportunities and chances the rest of us don’t have.’ Quite frankly, I found it to be just the opposite. I proved it in my book, ‘What Made Me Who I Am,’ through 34 stories, which were just a small portion of the stories I could have written.”
What Are the Key Lessons Learned Here?
“At turning points, the problem is most of us are resistant to change. A friend, spouse or teacher may suggest another path for us, but we resist, thinking, ‘I know better than anybody else.’ Success and accomplishment come from opening ourselves to new ideas and other voices that may save you from having to look back and say, ‘I missed that opportunity.’ Unless you commit yourself fully at these turning points, unless you’re willing not to give up, no matter what adversity you face, the turning points don’t really work in your favor.”
Connecting With Bernie Swain
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