I remember so clearly the day I told my mother that my new husband, Martin, and I were going to quit our jobs to start our own speakers’ bureau. There was silence on the other end of the phone line. For quite a while. Then, just as I pictured my mother trying to be patient and keep her cool, she replied, “Well Farah, you know you can’t live on love alone.” Then she asked, “and what exactly is a speakers’ bureau, anyway?”
My mother wasn’t the only skeptical one. Everyone thought we were crazy. It’s been 20 years since that conversation, and Martin and I could never have dreamed that what began as a simple idea could have evolved into something so special. Trust me, I always liked to think big, but I could never have imagined this.
Speakers’ Spotlight began in the spare bedroom of our apartment. We shared the phone, Martin was the courier, my fingers bled from stuffing hundreds of envelopes and our logo was black and white (because we couldn’t afford colour printing). We didn’t have much, like a staff, or money, or clients, or even knowledge of the industry (I had actually never even seen a speaker before starting the business!), but we were never happier. We were focused, determined, relentless, extremely passionate, and excited to build Canada’s #1 speakers’ bureau. Last week, that dream officially came true.
Speakers’ Spotlight was selected by readers of Meetings + Incentive Travel magazine as Canada’s Best Speakers’ Bureau. To date, we have arranged well over 20,000 speaking engagements in over 30 countries worldwide. We have created a bureau that goes beyond the keynote and offers learning and development, celebrity services, and more.
Over the years, we have been honoured with various awards, and I am very humbled to be recognized in this way. But, I must tell you, it is something else that makes me most proud. It is the impact that has been made by Speakers’ Spotlight. It is when we have a speaker at an event and I see someone in the audience become affected by a message, or I read emails that were sent to the speakers afterwards describing how one’s personal or professional life had changed. I know something wonderful, and needed, has happened. Or, when we are able to help youth get an education through our Pathways to Education Scholarship Fund, or when I think about all the charities and worthwhile causes we have supported since our first few months of business, I know we truly are helping others. And, maybe best of all, every day I walk through our (pretty big!) office and I think about how grateful I am to work with the best team in the business. Every single one of the Speakers’ Spotlight staff was hand-picked because they have the skills and expertise, but more importantly, because we simply really like them. Our loyal clients, extraordinary speakers, and phenomenal staff have made this possible, and I thank you all.
So, now we’re celebrating 20 years! It’s been quite a rollercoaster, but luckily we’ve had more ups than downs. We have learned from the best speakers over the years and we look forward to continue learning, growing, and thinking big.
Hey, mom, I’m not “living on love alone”, Speakers’ Spotlight seems to be working out, and here’s more good news: we’re still married (and I’m still in love).