Being clear and committed to your goals determines how far you will go and what success you are able to achieve. Seven-time Canadian Long Drive Champion Lisa “Longball” Vlooswyk, who—just over ten years ago—went from being a high-handicap recreational golfer to a professional player who hits farther than most men, shows others how to determine what drives them, where they want to go, and how to get there. With valuable lessons drawn from her experiences both on and off the green, Lisa’s wisdom can be applied immediately to improve achievement in both business and personal aspirations. One of the most recent additions to our roster, Lisa was a great sport to let us shine the spotlight on her today:
What inspired you to want to be a speaker?
I was a former school teacher and I believe that teaching is a vocation. When I had to make the incredibly difficult decision to resign my school teaching position to pursue my goal of become the World Long Drive Golf Champion, I was torn because I felt teaching was my calling. After having the opportunity to speak to a multitude of large audiences I was overwhelmed by the palpable energy in the room and incredible feedback. I realized I could still pursue my passion for teaching but in just a different capacity…from the stage versus a classroom.
Any advice for aspiring speakers?
You have to be passionate about your message. You have to believe to the bottom of your heart that sharing your message can make a difference in someone’s life.
What do you like to leave audiences with?
I want to leave audiences with a desire to be passionate. A desire to truly look within themselves and be able to articulate what they are passionate about. I want that passion to be what drives them in everything they do.
How do you prepare before a talk? Any special rituals? A good luck talisman?
I am a creature of habit. I have to rehearse my speech beginning to end the morning of my presentation or last thing before I go to bed if it is an early keynote. I can only image how many guests in hotel rooms next to mine have wondered about the strange lady next door who appears to like to talk to herself with no two-way conversation. I’d love to be a fly on the wall when they are telling someone about me!
Do you have an especially memorable event you can tell us about?
I was speaking at an event sharing my “Drive Determines Distance” keynote about how I went from a high handicapped recreational golfer to being ranked second in the world in Women’s Long Drive. A middle-aged woman came up to me afterwards in a wheel chair. She told me “I don’t golf, and before you started speaking today I wasn’t sure if I was going to relate to you, but hearing your stories today made be believe I can do anything, regardless of being stuck in this chair. Thank you….thank you for giving me hope.” I was in tears. It is why I speak. If I can impact just one person in the audience that way it give me my purpose to speak.
Any funny or embarrassing situations you found yourself in as a speaker?
I LOVE going to the reception the night before a talk, when no one knows who I am or that I am the keynote speaker the next day. It is such fun to mix, mingle, and share stories with the guests and to fly under the radar. It always makes me giggle when they come back to me after I speak and say “I CAN’T believe you were our keynoter! You didn’t say anything!” and then ask for a photo with me and we laugh about.
At one event, I sat with delegates at breakfast and we were discussing golf travel. I was talking about playing courses like St.Andrews in Scotland and Ballybunion in Ireland and Pebble Beach. The women assumed I too was one of the attendees. After I spoke that morning, the ladies told me that when I left the table they discussed how I must be “a lady of leisure.” They said they almost died when I got on the stage as the main presenter. It made me laugh!
Is there a charitable cause that you feel passionate about? Why?
I am passionate about the Special Olympics. I believe sport has so many incredible benefits including fitness, self esteem and work ethic, and it should be available to anyone who wants to try. Sport has been such a gift in my life. Special Olympic athletes are some of the most incredible people you will ever meet, with huge hearts and honest to the core. They believe in helping each other. Their motto is:“Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.” It has become my own mantra.
If you had to choose a new career, what would it be?
I used to be a school teacher and now I am a keynote speaker to audiences throughout North America, a professional golfer, a Nike sponsored athlete, a golf journalist that covers travel features at bucket list courses around the world, and a golf entertainer at PGA Tour events. I’d be lying if I said I wanted to do anything else!
Desert island album?
I am a Dave Mathews fan. I would have to say his live album from Radio City Music Hall would keep me company stranded in the middle of the sea.
Best subject in school?
English. I love the fact that although I am a professional athlete I can use my background and affinity for English to continue that passion as a journalist.
What snacks do you have to have when you travel?
When I am competing and in my training season, raw almonds and beef jerky are good energy boosts for me. When I am in my off season or splurging (a.k.a. “cheating”), I love long red nibs, wine gums, and a cold Diet Coke in a can. I will also never say no to a Reese’s Peanut Butter cup.
Last film you saw?
I have a six year old who loves hockey, so we got our hands on an old school movie, The Tooth Fairy, staring The Rock. It was pretty cute. Especially since my son has recently lost four teeth. My favorite movie is The Shawshank Redemption–“Get busy living…or get busy dying. I love that line!
Who would comprise your dream golf foursome?
I have had the honor and the privilege of meeting both Jack Nicklaus (The Golden Bear) and Arnold Palmer (The King). They were both incredible to me and took time to talk with me. I was just able to scratch the surface with them. I would love to have four hours on the links with them to hear all of their stories and to watch them play. To round out the foursome, I would have to add Condoleezza Rice, former US Secretary of State. She was one of the first two female members invited in at Augusta National, and seems like a fascinating woman. I of course would opt to play her home course, Augusta National, as the venue for this great day!