What Would You Do? I Say, Whatever It Takes – Mike Rayburn

A few years ago I had a morning keynote in Orlando and a keynote the next day in St. Thomas, VI. Flights were confirmed, I’d be in early the night before, no problem.

Or so I thought.

A one hour rain delay in Orlando caused me to miss the St Thomas connection and the backup had been canceled. There were no flights that would get me into St Thomas in time for the keynote the next morning.

I mean no flights.

First, I was immediately in contact with my client’s meeting professional, keeping her apprised of the status as it unfolded. For hours I was talking to airlines in person, on the phone with my agent, on the phone with my office manager, scouring the earth for transportation options. We tried every airline, every routing… New York, Newark, Puerto Rico…  even ships: there was no way. I couldn’t find a good-enough replacement speaker on short notice close enough to get there. I was the closing speaker so they couldn’t just bump my show back. I was the only outside speaker I had tobe there. We even checked chartering a jet. At first they said $15,000 – that’s crazy. Then, once they realized my desperation, instead of helping they gouged the price up to $17,500, more than twice what I was making on the show for my fee at the time, and I was definitely no millionaire. Forget that.

The whole time I’m remembering my own keynote advice…

What if I could? I know it’s impossible, but what if it wasn’t, what would I do?

So what would you do? Would you…

  1. Flyi in late and hope enough people can stick around?
  2. Fly home knowing it’s totally not your fault, you did your best?
  3. Pay the price gouged $17,500, do the performance, and lose not only your fee but costing your fee on top of that?
  4. Pay for a speaker out of your own pocket who’s reallynot as good but can fill the slot?
  5. Offer your client not one but two free makeup performances at the date of their choosing?


OK, what did I do?

  1. After confirming with my wife (we make all big financial decisions together), we bit the bullet and chartered the jet at $17,500.


Making the show is always, always the most important thing.

I made the show just in time, the audience loved it, and my client was extremely happy.

What I bought, though, was proof positive that I will do literally whatever it takes to be there.

You may expect the best from me every time.


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