Rejected by University Maine Farmington Freshman Orientation Keynote

Jeff Yalden is Real

Here is the email I just received from the University of Maine – Farmington Campus.  I’m disappointed in that a student is the one that brought my name to them.  I always get excited when a student shares my name.  I followed up on their inquiry and had a great conversation.  I was very excited about the possibilities.  I love freshman orientation programs.

Here is the email:
“I spoke with the adviser for the committee that does freshmen orientation week about you coming to the University in early September and unfortunately after reviewing your website they felt (despite my strong recommendation) they should look elsewhere. They do have your contact information if they change their mind or have any additional questions. I will pass along the message you are more than happy to answer any questions they have or give insights about your performance.”
I have a couple of thoughts about this . . .
My first thought is that we can’t design a website that meets the needs of every theme, event, program, assembly, keynote address, etc.  That is impossible.  I could be talking about Binge Drinking and they want Responsibility and Self – Respect.  Can’t win there.
My other thought is that they want someone more conservative.  I have no problem with that.  I am 6’1″ tall.  I weight 320 lbs and bench press 455lbs.  I am bald, I have tattoos, and I have earrings.  I am not the Muppets.  This could be an example of judging a person or their website by the 10% you know of that person.  That is their loss . . . not mine.  Unfortunately, I think it is the loss of the students.  Hey, if you want the Muppets . . . Hire the Muppets.  That is not me and I don’t compromise my value for anyone.
I grew up in Long Island.  I’ve been challenged with learning, understanding, comprehending, and reading.  I wasn’t smart enough to go to college.  I’ve rejected, rejected, dealt with abuse, alcoholics, family issues, divorce, and on and on and on.  I served my country as a United States Marine.  I am a Gulf War Veteran.  I am an athlete.  I won two-time Marine of the Year.  I won Mr. New Hampshire Male America.  I am not a speaker that grew up through leadership.  I had to go the hard route to learn what leadership, character, and integrity is.  I’ve learned through the school or hard knocks.
My message is about the wisdom and experiences of people that have walked before me.  That is the greatest education I have ever received that college could never teach me.
Listen, I get emails and phone calls every day from schools, organizations, and communities.  The common denominator in all the programs I book is that they all want someone real.  They want someone that their students will connect with.  I do that.  I pride myself on being real, relevant, and really funny.  I give the audience everything I have to provide that defining moment experience where many years later they will never forget that message they heard from Jeff Yalden.
My responsibility is to speak to the students in the way I wish someone had spoken to me when I was growing up.  Many speakers are concerned about being liked and making sure that the adults thought their message was relevant and appropriate for their students.  I’ve been a teacher.  I know teens.  I’ve done this for 20 years.  I am age appropriate, but I am real.  I will not compromise my time, my character, or my reputation to speak to an audience in a way that you want me to speak, but that goes against my character as a person and a professional speaker.
This is part of the business as a professional speaker.  Some speaking engagements you get and some you don’t.  As a motivational speaker, you have to just say, “Next!”
I hope that our paths do cross and I get to speak to their students.  If it is meant to be, it’ll be.  I thank the people that pushed for me.
Thank you University of Maine – Farmington Campus for thinking of me.  I wish it were different, but I hope you hire an awesome speaker that really connects with your incoming freshman.
Best to you all at U. of Maine – Farmington!
** By the way, after this post Penn State University hired me! **

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Author:Jeff Yalden, Youth Motivational Speaker

Youth Motivational Speaker & Teen Life Coach. Since 1992, Jeff Yalden has been mesmerizing audiences with his engaging style and passion. Jeff is a story-teller that every where he speaks, he guarantees he is real and in the moment, perfect for every audience. He is one of a kind. He's interactive and nobody pours as much energy and passion into their programs that Jeff does. Guaranteed, Jeff will be a defining moment and a highlight of your students lives.

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