Innovating Through Artistry

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Speaking Coaches help entrepreneurs get their message across

In Author: Barbara Kite, ENTREPRENEUR THE ARTS, Entrepreneurial Tool Box, Marketing, Networking, Outside Your Comfort Zone, The Entrepreneurial Artist Competition on October 15, 2009 at 6:06 am




By Hillary Chura
Published: Thursday, January 11, 2007

NEW YORK — Whether to appear more confident, better organized or to stop the “ums,” entrepreneurs are realizing good voice and presentation skills can help them come into their own and even compete against larger competitors with big marketing budgets.

Michael Sipe, president of Private Equities, a small mergers and acquisition advisory firm in San Jose, California, worked with a presentation coach who helped him differentiate his business from competitors.

“If a customer can’t determine who is any better or different or worse, then they are left with a conversation about price. And as a business owner, if you’re only in a price conversation, that’s a losing conversation,” Sipe said. “It is really important to paint a picture of why someone should do business with them in a very compelling way.”

Even though business owners may be experts in their fields, that does not automatically translate into being able to market themselves verbally. Many agree that speaking concisely — and in a compelling way — lends credibility. While poor communication skills are not necessarily deadly, they can make it more challenging to win over potential investors, prospective clients, employees and business partners.

“Small business is leaving money on the table because it is overlooking one of the most powerful marketing skills: speech,” said Diane DiResta, a speech and communications coach in New York. “Speech is the way a small business builds its brand, establishes expertise, gets free publicity and gets in front of its market.”

R.W. Armstrong & Associates, a civil engineering project management company in Indianapolis, first hired a speaker trainer two years ago to help prepare it for a pitch worth millions of dollars. The company went in as the underdog but clinched the deal after working on timing, learning how to use descriptive words, introduce co-workers and present itself with poise and cohesion, said Donna Gadient, director for human resources. She said the company paid about $8,000 to $10,000 for a day of training for 25 people.

Tom Cole, a general partner at Trinity Ventures, a Menlo Park, California, venture capital firm, said good communicators had an easier time captivating investors with their verbal and nonverbal skills than do those with less polish.

“Some entrepreneurs are such poor communicators that they never get past the first meeting with us,” Cole said. “A good entrepreneur can give you a 30- second elevator pitch that describes his or her business. Sadly, many fail to do that in the course of an hour’s meeting.”

Coaches, who may charge $100 an hour for one-on-one guidance to more than $10,000 a day for groups, work with clients on content and delivery, tone, organization, diction, timing, how to enter a presentation confidently and refining a message around essential words. They draw attention to flaws like blitzing through presentations as well as rising inflections that make every statement sound like a question from, like, a Valley Girl. They encourage people to use short sentences, speak in sound bites and pause so listeners can digest what has been said.

A less expensive option is the public speaking organization Toastmasters International, where members critique one another’s presentations.

Being a good presenter is more of an acquired skill than a gift you’re born with, enthusiasts say. Techniques that work with a large audience are also effective one-on-one. Patricia Fripp, a sales presentation skills trainer based in San Francisco, said that connecting on an emotional level with the audience and telling people what they will gain, rather than what you will offer, is important.

Lawrence Dolph, managing partner of RFD Insight, a turnaround specialist and growth consultant in Ann Arbor, Michigan, said that in addition to being concerned with what they know and how they present it, speakers now must be telegenic thanks to videoconferencing.

“It causes you to be assessed as if you were a television actor,” Dolph said. “You need to have good body control so you don’t look like a stiff. And a lot of that requires coaching. Unless you have been brought through some sort of actual course, you are probably not aware of your body or speech patterns.”

David Freeman, director for client development at the San Francisco asset management company Ashfield, sought help to hone his firm’s message to pension funds, financial institutions and wealthy investors. The idea was to stop presenters from rambling and have them deliver only pertinent information.

“We may fly across the country to present for 45 minutes to a pension fund or consulting firm that can be worth $25 million, $50 million or $100 million in the amount of money we are being given to manage,” Freeman said. “You want to increase the probability that you are going to be remembered.”

When Rebeca Mojica, a Chicago jewelry designer, started her jewelry design business in Chicago three years ago, she found herself being taken advantage of by clients who did not respect her time or wanted free private lessons or discounts. For several months in 2004 and 2005, she hired a coach to help her take control of conversations. She said she learned to be matter of fact in dealing with unpleasant situations and even got tips on how to sit when talking on the phone, with feet planted on the ground and torso leaning slightly forward.

She said coaching taught her how to handle potentially uncomfortable situations, cut down on wasted time and reduce misunderstandings.

“I tended to be a people pleaser. I’m a very nice person, which is great for some aspects of customer service but not good for others,” Mojica said. “When you want results, you need to take conversations seriously.”

Sharon McRill, founder of Betty Brigade, a concierge company in Ann Arbor, hired a coach, Eleni Kelakos, after agreeing to deliver a Chamber of Commerce breakfast speech in 2005. McRill said that while she was comfortable one- on-one, she felt sick addressing a group. After learning breathing and relaxation techniques, her confidence rose.

“I needed to be comfortable speaking to 300 business leaders — leaders who I don’t normally get to speak to — so it was important to come across as competent and smooth,” said McRill, who paid $750 for the insight. “If you can make an impression by speaking in front of a group or by meeting someone at a networking event that helps you be remembered, then it’s going to continue to pay you back later.”

see my Great Speakers and Acting Blog – for more in depth information regarding speaking using acting skills to help in your presentations.

Contestant #2 Donna Kemmetmueller

In ENTREPRENEUR THE ARTS, The Entrepreneurial Artist Competition on August 21, 2009 at 7:23 am

Entry to the Entrepreneurial Artist Competition, Round II

“Are you going to be an artist when you grow up?” I remember distinctly these words, spoken to me by a classmate in the first grade as we hung our crayon self-portraits on the wall of the classroom.

Art has always played an important role in my life…

As a child, my mother instilled in my siblings and me the value of creativity, and led us in play that was dependent upon our imaginations. During my teen years, I began to explore and develop skills in fine art and craft, and opted to study art at the university level. As a form of human expression, art fascinated me, it helped me to better know myself, and it linked me to others. I discovered that its capacity to evoke powerful emotions – from a calm stillness elicited from the beautiful, to a shudder at injustice conveyed — make art a powerful tool. I learned and experienced personally that those who come to ponder a work of art bring with them portions of themselves that contribute to its interpretation and meaning. As I grew, so did my appreciation for the richness of art, this creative expression that has always played an important role in my life…

…As has community.

My hopes of communicating goodness and a message of hope in a broad way were cultivated in the various positions to which I was assigned during a period spent in a religious community of Catholic sisters. Working in the design department of a publishing house owned and operated by the sisters allowed me to apply and build upon the skills of my education. As a graphic designer, I communicated with other artists from across the country to formulate a message that was distributed just as widely through the printed material. Connected to these artists and to the members of the religious community, my creativity was engaged in complementing the editorial text and communicating visually its message. As a team, the sisters, other artists and I, worked to reach out to the broader community with images and words that inspired faith and hope, justice and peace. I realized that my creativity, in this role that ignited my passion to serve the broader community, is a great source of energy that makes me happy and alive. Its force comes from within, and from beyond, the source of Life itself.

In my current job I am connected to local artists that are striving to build and maintain creative and viable businesses. Their eagerness to contribute their treasures to the community, not without personal risk, have attracted my attention, as have their struggles to survive financially. Realizing the mutual benefit art is to artists and to the general public, I have begun seeking a way to be a bridge between these two worlds.

I have an idea…


I’ve started job searching. Currently, I am looking for a company or organization that helps artists be creative with their marketing, while assisting corporations in expanding their markets to a broader portion of the population: art, with its innate capacity to connect people in human experience, is a powerful marketing tool! My graphic design skills, backed by a degree in fine art, are a toolbox with which I will serve my community. I will put my design skills to work for the cause of bridging the artist world and the general public. I present here my business idea, springboard to a potential career.

Here is my plan: with business training provided by a community organization in my area, I will develop a business plan that articulates my mission of bridging local artists and the broader community. I will explore areas of the market within which each artist I work for would like to expand, and seek out companies that wish to expand their markets with the nuances of creativity. I will offer marketing packages to local artists: a survey of what artists need will come first, as well as free services for a few artist friends in exchange for the time given to help me develop my business. I will imagine and assess potential areas for artistic contribution in the corporate world: marketing divisions of companies will be targeted with proposals to integrate local artistry into product lines and services. Appreciating the value and importance of those on both “shores,” I will work as a bridge builder between them, connecting the artist world and the corporate world with my own artistic and creative skills. This is my idea…

…And I could really use some help.

My business is still in idea form. I hope to deepen my connections in the artistic world, and form relationships within the corporate world so to be an effective bridge that truly supports an exchange of mutual benefit. In the process, I intend to develop a business that is affordable for local artists, attractive to corporations, and self-sustaining – so as not to fall prey to the very thing (financial struggle) it intends to work against. The resources (prizes) awarded to the winning contestant are a dream opportunity that would allow me to bound ahead with my entrepreneurial venture.

Art and community are positive and powerful themes in my life, and I believe this business idea is a logical result of my desire to be engaged in both. If you agree that the work of such a business venture is important and needed, I welcome your comments, ideas, and assistance. In developing the business skills necessary to reach my goal, for the benefit of artists and the broader community alike, I am certain that I, too, will enjoy a mutual benefit.

Written by Donna Kemmetmueller

How naked are you prepared to be?

In The Entrepreneurial Artist Competition on July 25, 2009 at 11:19 pm

Nic Askew is many things. Film-maker, storyteller, musician, composer. I discovered his work through a friend who said that I would like his stuff. And yes, … it is absolutely very powerful and touching.

For me, Nic is a great artist and every movie has a specific message. Not a moral message but a message that makes you wonder, reflect, think, feel, … You can find his stuff on Soul Biographies where he captures the experience of being human. He make you laugh and he makes you cry. I have just watched a movie where he interviewed Dominic Miller – guitarist of Sting (a more famous person or is he also just a normal guy) about the story that’s out there waiting to be told by you.

How naked are you prepared to be?

Contestant #7 Ann Rea

In Art, The Entrepreneurial Artist Competition on January 30, 2009 at 3:07 pm

© Ann Rea. All rights reserved and enforced. Absolutely no reproduction of any kind permitted.
my story
For seven years I didn’t paint or draw anything. I worked at a variety of anxiety producing corporate jobs until I meet two stage-four breast cancer survivors. I realized then that life is too short to avoid pursuing my dream.

It is no accident that collectors comment that my paintings make them feel happy and calm. I started painting again as an active mediation to alleviate anxiety, a concern about the future. Painting the subject of light as color in a moment allowed me to “savor the colors of a moment ™”.

At the end of 2003, I quit my job, sold my house and moved to the beach in San Francisco. With the encouragement of renowned painters Wayne Thiebaud (an American Art Icon) I was finally determined to make a living as a painter and to pursue my dream.

I am reviving the tradition of the French Impressionists, with a contemporary point of view. Winemakers take me on a tour of their vineyards where I plant my easel. Then I paint the colors of the vineyards as they change with the seasons, creating authentic and timeless pieces reflecting the unique beauty of each vineyard. I sell the wineries the reproductions and accessories to retail or to offer as special promotional gifts. In return, they host me at their wine tasting events where I sell the originals to a target rich market.

The collectible status of my work is quickly increasing. My talent is commended by Wayne Thiebaud (an American Art icon). I have collectors across the United States, Canada, and Europe. Since 2007, my paintings, and my business, have been featured nationally on “Fine Living”, and in “Fortune” and “The Wine Enthusiast” magazines. And most recently my business was profiled in the book “Carreer Renegade”, by Jonathon Fields, and published by Random House.

my business
How did I avoid the myth of the “staving artist” and swim with the savage sharks of the art market? I went swimming somewhere else. I invented a new market, one where I could thrive. I built a business that offers value that did not exist before. I created a Blue Ocean Strategy* before I knew that there was a name for it. A Blue Ocean strategy creates value in a market space that did not exist before, making the competition irrelevant.

I established Studio Ann Rea as a sole proprietorship in January of 2004 to overcome the limits of the traditional marketing of art and to create opportunities by controlling the sale and the distribution of my art and to leverage my intellectual property. In 2007, I established Ann Rea Incorporated, an S Corp, as a profitable vehicle for my artistic career and as a business with an expanding catalog of products featuring my images. These products offer more passive forms of revenue.

From these “field studies” I paint in the vineyards I create custom merchandise featuring the paintings of the winery’s vineyards, including: fine art prints, stationary, and accessories. The winery may offer this merchandise as promotional gifts or retail it and double their investment. In return, they host me at their wine tasting events where I sell the originals to a target rich market, wine enthusiasts are collecting personalities.

The unique benefit to the winery is that they gain a permanent presence in the hearts and homes of their customers and they have an opportunity to double their investment.

In 2009, I will be expanding my company’s sales to other markets, including: more fine home décor and gift retailers, private collectors, private commissions, and interior designers.

my lessons
The “current state of the economy” is not the primary reason for a sales decline in 2008. The decline was caused by two major clients failing to meet their legal obligations to assist in the sales of the original paintings of their vineyards at their events. My company failed to respond with consistent marketing efforts to replace the lost sales.

When I refocused my marketing efforts in December 2008, I sold a record of 15 original oils to private collectors.

Four big and hard lessons that I have learned and actions I have and will take:

1. I must maintain consistent and measurable marketing efforts. I have learned that “marketing must be as regular as breathing”.**
· I have begun working with a Harvard graduate marketing consultant at the Oakland SBDC to complete and implement a measureable and consistent marketing effort.

2. I now realize that in order to thrive I must diversify my income streams so that my eggs are in not all in one basket.
· I am targeting wineries and interior designers and private collectors at affluent events.

3. I must have clearly defined contractual agreements with a means of accountability and teeth to enforce the terms.
· All of my contracts are under review by a business and copyright attorney.

4. I can only be so successful operating alone, I’m going to need a sales force to grow and experienced business advisors or mentors to help guide me.
· I am interviewing an experienced wine country merchandise rep next week.
· I have discovered the world of virtual assistants.

company vision
The vision for Ann Rea, Inc. is to firmly establish itself as the brand of tasteful wine country art and accessories while cultivating satisfying and profitable business relationships and alliances. This system will be repeated with other iconic landscapes, such as: wetlands, parks, seasides, and private gardens.

The goal is to leverage my intellectual property by building a brand that hosts a tasteful catalog of fine art merchandise and books. These products provide a source of more passive income, publishing.

The goal is to maintain simplicity and as little overhead as is possible by expanding on-line sales using affiliate marketing, social networking, and PR.

*Blue Ocean Strategy by Kim and Mauborgne

**Gorilla Marketing, by Leveinson.

How The Grinch Stole Christmas

In Accounting, Art, Cooking & Food, Creative Support, Current Events, Customer Service, Emotional Intelligence, Employees, ENTREPRENEUR THE ARTS, Entrepreneurial Artist Contest Contestants, Entrepreneurial Evolution, Entrepreneurial Tool Box, Fashion, Health & Wellness, Interesting Articles, Leadership, Legal, Marketing, Money, Music, Networking, Risk, The Clarinet Shop, The Entrepreneurial Artist Competition, The Idea, Theater/Film, Writing on December 23, 2008 at 3:04 am

f91ddde14399af3663324567dfa4My wish for you, ON CHRISTMAS DAY,
will be for you TOO, to keep the GRINCH at bay!

But if by chance, you simply cannot,
Band mighty together, as a great big Who-Ville lot!

WWHHYY????? Smarty-Arty, I hear you say?

BECAUSE, with all your JOY stirring together,
the grinch who came to visit, just might feel a WEE bit better.

Merry Christmas, my dears, what’s your ETA,
to ENTREPRENEUR The Arts, in a new innovative way.
PLEASE COME WITH ME, lets ride far, far and away!

signed your friend, an artistic missionIST, a student of Dr. Suess-a-visionIST, gliding, and sent with love.

Contestant #2 Dewey Chaffee

In ENTREPRENEUR THE ARTS, The Entrepreneurial Artist Competition, The Idea, WEBSITES & BLOGS on November 8, 2008 at 9:47 pm


Written by Dewey Chaffee

My name is Dewey Chaffee. I turn forty years old on December the seventh. In almost every way, I’m what people would call a “Late Bloomer.”

I am also a comedian.

I spent the first half of my life wandering from place to place, feeling lost, wondering why I was alive. The second half of my life is being spent rejoicing in the lucky discovery that I have comic timing. Extremely grateful for this gift, I work tirelessly every single day in an effort to find new ways to make people laugh.

I was never afforded the opportunity to receive a college education. For years, I was convinced that this meant that I was stupid. However, my mother was fifteen years old when I was born, so, every chance I get, I remind people that I went to high school twice.

The fact that I held no degree embarrassed me for a long time, until I was cast in a professional production alongside other “classically trained” actors who owed thousands of dollars to their acting schools. I realized that I was in the exact same place in my career as they were, and I didn’t owe anyone a nickel. I was the smart one after all.

In my family, I was the first person to graduate from high school.

In my family, I was the first person to live in a house without wheels.

In my family, I was the first person to recognize the ugliness of prejudice and vow not to be that person.

In my family, I was the first person to witness patterns of complacency and defeat and strived not to repeat them.

For a long time, I was afraid that, like my young mother, I was doomed to work a mind-numbing, dead-end factory job that I hated.

When I was much too young, I married a girl named Marie and we had a son. His name is Christopher, he is sixteen now, and he turned out just great. One of the best things about Christopher is that he doesn’t mind having a gay dad. His mother struggled with it, however. I can’t blame her. We were always fighting over who got to hang the curtains.

I was fortunate. After I lost my Ideal Family, I was given the Funny in return. Being funny healed my broken soul. Being funny gave me renewed purpose.

One day, I created a character and I named him Wayburn Sassy. Wayburn is eighty-nine years old and has declared himself an “Entertainment Legend.” He embodies the bigotry and the prejudices that I witnessed from the people who raised me. I knew from the very first moment that Wayburn appeared on stage that, with him, I had stumbled upon something special. Audiences need Wayburn. He demonstrates to us how laughable blind ignorance truly is.

The most valuable character in my life, however, is one that I did not have to create. The Universe handed him to me on a silver platter. His name is Douglas and he tolerates me better than anyone on this planet. In spite of my many faults, Douglas does everything he can to uplift and support every crazy idea that I come up with. He understands my desire to introduce Wayburn Sassy to the rest of the world.

Together, with the singular purpose of promoting Wayburn Sassy, Douglas and I formed our own comedy company called Dewey Chaffee Comedy Enterprises, LLC. In just two years, we have successfully mounted two local award-winning shows starring Mr. Sassy. We have managed to position Wayburn as a recognizable local celebrity.

Our biggest success so far: this month, we are ecstatic that Wayburn will conduct his very first celebrity interview, speaking with openly gay Hollywood star Leslie Jordan, best known as the flamboyant Beverly Leslie on Will and Grace.

Earlier this year, however, things were tough for our fledgling company. In an effort to ride the wave of Wayburn’s local success, Douglas and I opened The Blue Revue Starring Wayburn Sassy on Orlando’s tourist strip. Unfortunately, the overhead was too much for us to bear and we were forced to close the show after only three months. I had grossly underestimated the enormous advertising costs of such a production. I took the closing as a personal failure. I was devastated.

Undeterred, however, we knew that we needed to find a cheaper way to continue creating opportunities for Wayburn Sassy. Because we owned a camcorder, we decided to try the internet. Currently, we are shooting an online “web-reality” series centered around Wayburn Sassy. Entitled “Pushing Sassy,” our camera follows Wayburn to every appearance that he does. So far, we’ve completed two episodes, (each under ten minutes in length to accommodate the short attention span of today’s internet audience). We plan to launch the show in January of 2009 on both YouTube and on our own website. (

Wayburn’s career-path is modeled after the brilliant Barry Humphries and his world-reknowned alter-ego, Dame Edna. We dream of equal success. As a team, we continue to search for unique and interesting ways to get Wayburn’s face out there. One day, we envision Wayburn Sassy on a national stage.

As someone from a background of little opportunity provided him, I have had to find my own voice. My family could not foster it. Public education did not support it. Higher education was out of the question. However, I refused to see these challenges as hopeless roadblocks. Instead, I viewed them merely as hurdles that I needed to leap. I was prepared to leap then, and I am prepared to leap now.

I view Wayburn Sassy’s success as my potential salvation. I view Wayburn Sassy as my son’s college tuition. I view Wayburn Sassy as a ticket out of my day-job as a theme-park actor.

This is a lot of pressure to place upon the shoulders of an eighty-nine year-old man. But, Wayburn Sassy is an Entertainment Legend. I’m pretty sure he can handle it.

Dewey Chaffee