January 20, 2018

Dave Kelly’s Top 10 Absolute Promises

“When you book me on your campus as a student leadership or community service speaker, here’s what you get…”

Dave Kelly - The Experience


1. No diva behavior!

I promise to be the easiest speaker/artist you will ever work with. My technical needs are simple: a power point projector, screen, and a microphone. I will bring my own laptop or use yours, it does not matter to me. Dependent upon the size of the group and/or the venue, I may not even need the microphone. A little water and I am set!

2. No “bad” words/inappropriate actions!

I think most people have a pretty good idea of the bad words that would get “bleeped” on TV, but if they wouldn’t say it in a 60’s sitcom, you won’t hear it come from me. I am the father of two daughters, one in college and one in elementary school, so you can count on me to act like a responsible adult. That doesn’t mean I won’t have fun with your students, or not answer their questions and deal with their issues honestly.

3. We’ll have fun, but the content will be awesome!

I like to have a good time while enjoying and working with college students. However, while I use practical interactions in my presentations, they are more than fun and games. Your students will learn skills and concepts that they can use immediately and receive a handout that interacts with the material and provides them with a resource they can use the rest of their lives.

4. You and your students will get more than just a “standard” program!

I will arrive early and stay late, for as long as your students, advisors, faculty—anyone—wants to talk, as long as I make it to my flight if I am flying out that day. I invite students to come up and talk to me during breaks for my half-day, full-day, and weekend programs and share their questions, issues, problems, and stories. I am fully engaged with your students when I am on campus. If my travel plans allow, I will be happy to go to dinner before or after the program with your students and talk with them in an informal setting. Pizza is one of my favorite foods, so don’t feel like you need to take me to a swanky steak joint, unless you just want to treat your students!

5. My program on your campus will not be an infomercial for my other products!

First off, I really don’t have that much stuff to sell anyway. Secondly, my primary purpose is to do an amazing program for your students, one that I hope will change their lives. I do have a few things that I offer because some students like to have a little “piece” of me (and probably other presenters they see) and I love signing my autograph! In fact, if you want to work out a package deal for any of my products, then I won’t even bring anything else. A further promise: if the time allotted for the program is running to an end, I will NOT eliminate content to make a sales pitch. I just won’t sell anything, then.

6. I actually want to be there with your students!

I am not someone who started his career by going to a seminar to learn how to make “a gazillion dollars speaking in the college market.” I actually want to be there with your students and I walk the talk! I was a student leader myself, spent 18 years as a volunteer advisor for a collegiate community service organization, and have created my programs specifically for college and university students. Your students are my primary concern and interest. When I talk about community service, it is because I have served. I have personally performed more than 50,000 hours of community service and have led college and university students to perform more than 2 million hours themselves! My career started because student activities directors at some of our member campuses heard about the great workshops I was doing at our events and I was invited to speak for their SGA’s and other groups.

7. I do not do politics or advocate for any ‘issues” in the public sphere!

My political, religious, or other views have nothing to do with my leadership training programs. I recognize that the political mood at any given time in the country and perhaps on your campus can be moving from one side to the other. But my programs focus on the practical applications of leadership principles, so if your students wish to apply them to political issues or organizations, they certainly can! I will even offer them advice, even if their advocacy is contrary to mine. I am not on your campus to advance any agenda other than I want your students to be the best they can be. Well, I am partial to serving others, so I may advocate servant leadership and service learning, but I let the students decide how they wish to participate.

8. I will put on the best show for the people who show up!

I saw too many times when I was planning conferences and conventions speakers who would lament the size of the audience. Are you kidding me? It is not the fault of those who show up, that others did not! I will give your students my best whether it is only a handful or more than 400! And I have had both circumstances when you factor in Executive Board retreats and all-campus leadership conferences.

9. I am not a coat and tie guy, but I will wear one if you want me to!

I know you have probably seen me in lots of pictures wearing a suit and tie as “Mr. Serious Speaker Guy,” but really I am more comfortable in khakis or (gasp!) jeans. I want to dress appropriately for your students and project an image that commands respect, but I find that they relate better to me as I am. I spent a lot of years in the mortgage business when I had to wear the suit everyday, but I live in Atlanta and who wants to be trapped in a tie during one of our summers? If you have a conference or retreat t-shirt, I will be happy to wear that. In fact, I have my own t-shirts that I like to wear when I do Building Leaders Through Service®. Let me know if you want one; it has the BLTS logo on it that you see here. However, I can and will present in business attire if that best fits your organization, school, or event. Dress-up can be fun!

10. Your students will be challenged to be the best they can be!

I live my life focused on my goals and dreams. I rarely stand still in life or on stage. I will give your students something they cannot get in class and something that many of them need in their lives. I come from very humble beginnings and upbringing, but the number one priority in my life was to get a college education. Once I was on a college campus, I also decided I was going to make the most of time and get every ounce of learning, education, fun, excitement, and growth that I could. I feel that I did and I promise to create an environment for your students that they will not only never forget, but have no choice but to remember!

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About the Author: Dave "Gonzo" Kelly (64 Posts)

Dave Kelly is the leading authority on student leadership and community service on college campuses today. As a professional trainer, motivator, and servant leader, Dave is an expert on all aspects of running and leading campus organizations and developing the character of a servant leader. Dave has 20+ years training leaders and advisors from student government associations, campus activities boards and campus clubs of every kind on organizational leadership and community service projects. He has trained students and advisors at more than 150 different colleges and universities and is the national coordinator for the APCA Serves! Initiative by the Association for the Promotion of Campus Activities.

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