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Speaker Bureaus Used to Ignore Me…Now I get Booked 2 Years Out

A client who booked me to speak called us this week to say, "A speaker's bureau recently called me to ask if I was interested in any speakers for [my events] over the summer.  I told the man that we already had one, and he asked if I would mind telling him who we were contracting.  I told him, 'Manny Scott.'  The call went silent for a few moments, and then he said, 'I would like to tell you I could have recommended a better speaker...but I can't. You are very lucky to have gotten him.'"

I must admit that I am grateful for such messages, because there was a time when I couldn't get EVEN ONE speaker bureau to list me on their website. In fact, NEARLY ALL OF THEM IGNORED ME! Even those who did respond to my emails brushed me off, suggesting that they didn't think I had anything of value to say to people.  So I did what I have always had to do as an underestimated, overlooked underdog: I worked and stayed faithful. God then started opening doors for me, moving decision makers' hearts, and creating opportunities for me to speak.

I spoke when I was tired. I spoke when I was broke. I spoke when I was sick. I've been faithful, publicly and privately, and continued to persevere because I believed that I had messages that could change someone's life. 

After about ten years of grinding, some of the very same bureaus who ignored me started to call. By then, however, I didn't need  or even want to work with them anymore. I remembered the way the brushed me off or disrespected me. They taught me that most bureaus don't really want you as a speaker until you don't need them. 

Having said that, I must say that I have been fortunate to cultivate a great relationship with what I consider the number one speaker bureau in country, Premiere Speakers Bureau (Hey, Ryan and team!), because they have been nothing but respectful and considerate and supportive of me. From the beginning, they were not just about using me to make a buck. They actually care about me and my team, and we feel the same about them.  We understand that it is a business relationship, but it is business with heart and integrity. It is a business as mission. They get it, and I am really grateful to them for it. 

Now, people are booking me to speak as far as 2 years out. Don't get me wrong- some bureaus and "family" and "friends" still aren't very happy about my success.  Still, I've stopped focusing on people who doubt or drain me, and instead have focused on what I can control- my work ethic and time. I'm still not where I want to be, but I'm much further than I used to be.

So, whoever you are, if you have a dream or sense you are being called to do something, you are going to get ignored and doubted and underestimated and brushed off and laughed at. Even from family and friends. Try your best to forgive them anyway, and get to work. If you can't forgive them, then use their negativity as motivation. 

Work! Work! Work! Don't waste time watching other people live their dreams out while you sit at home in despair. Do your best and let God do the rest. Don't accept mediocrity for yourself or your team. Focus, hustle, and grind. Demand the respect you deserve. You reap what you sow. I believe that with all my heart. It might not come when you want it, but it will come. It's a basic law of the universe. So work!

Who knows, maybe one day, a person or organization that once ignored you will have to say about YOU, "I wish I could recommend a better person for you...but I cant."

Honoring Those Who Serve Atlanta’s At-Risk Population

Monday, July 18, I was privileged and honored to inspire leaders at the inaugural iNspire Teachers banquet for Centennial Academy Charter School in Downtown, Atlanta. The event was hosted by the Coca-Cola Corporation at their World Headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia, to highlight and honor the sacrifice and service of K-8 teachers and staff who service some of Atlanta's most at-risk students.

This was the first event of its kind and it was outstanding. I’m genuinely grateful for the opportunity and the hospitality that I received. I travel the country speaking to and mentoring youth. I internalize their pain, their frustration, their brokenness and cry for hope. I spend many nights wrestling with this burden that I have to help them. Going into this event my goal was to speak for those kids, the ones whose moms are in and out of crack houses, for kids who are in and out of shelters, for the ones who don’t know how they are going to eat tonight. I was able to help remind the adults and leaders present at the event of why they got into this work in the first place and why the work they do is so important.

I pray that these leaders go into the new year with an unquenchable fire and passion to transform the lives of the students they are privilege to serve. I’d like to give a special thanks to Carol Santos, Tequila Lamar and the Coca-Cola Corporation for inviting me out to share my heart.

Keep Turning the Page,


Grateful in Honea Path

After finishing a paper for my doctorate, and barely getting one hour of sleep (rough night), I drove 2.5 hours to Honea Path, South Carolina, on April 28 to talk to over 1,100 students at Belton-Honea Path High School. I was very tired, but did not take any shortcuts during my pre-presentation preparation ritual. As a result of that, and of course God’s grace, things went very well. Here are some testimonials from students:

We even received an email from a grateful mother. She said,

Mr. Scott,

I just wanted to say thank you for coming to Belton Honea Path High School today. I have 3 children there and your story and speech really helped my children. It showed them that all the trials and struggles we have endured aren't alone. It gave them perspective on the things we have been through: losing their father to addiction, and having only a mother who worked hard to raise them…Now that my children are a little older and independent, I am in college, working to finish nursing school... What you do is so important and I want to say thank you. Your story is one that inspires... It shows that despite your circumstances growing up, you can always change your future. May God bless you and your family.

A very grateful Mother

Mandy F.

In the middle left picture is Mr. McCall, the very hospitable and able principal who cares deeply about the well-being of the kids and people of Honea Path; in middle right is Deputy B., the lead SWAT team negotiator in the area (Deputy B.) who happens to be a devout follower of Christ; in the bottom left is a young lady who came to me in tears, affirming the message I delivered today. She she has lost over 60 pounds (from 215) because someone said that she was too big to enlist in the military. Rather than feeling sorry for herself, she turned the page and began a new chapter in her life. She is now a proud member of our special forces, and I am so thankful for her sacrifice! On the bottom right is Ms. Price, a very kind and hospitable administrator who is responsible for introducing me to Honea Path, and for giving me my first opportunity to serve there.

I’m grateful, as always, for every opportunity to serve. 

After a very intense beginning of the year, the family and I are going to vacate, rest, reconnect, and make some memories. 

Thanks for reading.


To Teach, Speak, Help, and Serveā€”and Mean It


I spent two days, April 13-14, calling nearly 3000 students and staff in Lubbock, Texas, to turn the page and begin a new chapter in their lives. My dear friend, Keith Bryant, is superintendent there, and he is really one of the most outstanding men I know. His leadership, vision, integrity, and love for people is so refreshing! He and his fantastic team are launching a mentorship program for kids.

(Keith Bryant)

(Some outstanding staff who made sure I was properly nourished before and after my presentations)

(Having some fun with the students of Lubbock!)

(Our “Turn the Page” assemblies are life-changing).

(“Speak from your soul because someone’s destiny could be wedded to your words.”)

After spending two very full days in Lubbock, I was on empty. Mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually, I was in need of a break. Sometimes people say, “Manny, it must be exhausting to do what you do.” It really is, but this work is not about me; it’s about the kids. To be sure, I am exhausted, but that’s because I pour out so much of myself when I speak. I leave it all on the field, so to speak. When I stop meaning it, I’ll stop doing it. Right now, I still mean it—every word of it. There is too much at stake for people to not mean it. Too many kids are underperforming, dropping out, making self-sabotaging choices, succumbing to mediocrity, and low-level living. We have to mean it. Every time we stand to teach, speak, to help, or to serve, we have mean it. We have to mean it from our hearts and souls. Fortunately, by God’s grace, I still do.