Singapore motivational speakers, public speaking and writing books all seem to go hand-in-hand.

In Singapore, it is now fashionable for public speakers to write a book to add to their credentials, which go something like this: “John Tan, MA, BSc, Certified Masterclass Instructor, Published Author” In the old days, the credentials stopped at university qualifications but now, “Published Author” seems an imperative. It lends an aura of subject matter expertise.

The books are usually given away free to people who attend the talks/seminars conducted by these speakers. Most times, the books add value for participants. And they are a very welcomed bonus. I’ve received and read many such books and found them revealing.

However, like all great initiatives and innovations, there is a dark side to this trend.

I once received a private message from one of these “authors”, who is a self-styled “motivational speaker”.

Her message was, and I paraphrase, she is a “published author” and would like to give a “free talk” to my group of authors on “writing and book publishing” – writing and book publishing. Now, I’ve been in the game long enough to know that this is a ploy – free talk – to reach a target group. At the end of the “free talk” there will be a sales pitch to sign up for her paid “motivational talk”. I’ve no problems with this approach.

However, she stretched the truth, almost bordering on lies.

  1. True, she is a “published author” – she probably wrote one chapter in a 21 chapter book, a book that I’m familiar with in ways she probably did not suspect. Each chapter was written by a different author.
  1. The book publisher was one of the contributing authors who handled the A to Z of publishing and launching the book. I therefore wonder how much she knows about the “publishing” aspect of the business.
  1. And I said she “probably” wrote that chapter because, I’d ghost-written one of the chapters in the very same book for a client. That’s how I came to sit in the audience as each author came on during the book launch to make their spill. She had collected my card at the event and that’s how she contacted me.

Most business people have their works ghost written – no issues there. I enjoy ghost writing as it adds to my knowledge of new fascinating industries. I love especially public speakers who are genuine and reach out to help others. In ghostwriting and editing works, I’ve met many such generous souls. They are a gift to people struggling to do better in career, business and life.

However, after writing one chapter, to set oneself up as some expert in writing and book publishing – expert enough to give a talk to a group of aspiring writers – is questionable.

All it does is bring into ill repute the claimed mastery of her core business. How much does she really know about “motivation”? She might be an expert but I’m left to wonder.


Here is a video that would better expand on my reply to Ian Grice’s comment below. 15 July 2016



  1. In my humble opinion Eric, it is upto each one of us to decide how we conduct ourselves and what we want to be seen as. equally, it is for the rest to decide and decipher who that person really is and react appropriately. If she is an actor and a superlative one, maybe she deserves the success she may be getting.

    1. Very true, Ankur, my friend.
      Please forgive my late reply as I had been rather busy with some deadlines. If she is a good actor – she deserves all she can gather.

  2. Thank you for this analysis / warning which could be used for several other self-proclaimed experts. On a happier note, I look at the top of your blog set-up and admire the plethora of books which you have published. You are an inspirational busy person.

    1. Hello, Jane,
      Yes, I’m churning out books. Is it some ego? Probably. But perhaps I delude myself that it is all for posterity or for my children and grandchildren. Whatever. It keeps me happy and out of trouble 🙂
      Thank you for your visit and comment,

  3. There is a flood of sorts “on line” of these “soft skills cum motivational speakers” and sadly, most of them are females.

    And they don’t spare me also. They may not honour or see my experience but at least CAN see my age. First they offer “mutual” business and then try to pull me into their “on line classes”. How to tell them that I am a husband of 31 years and my classes ( like all other husbands ) are already on without a break.

    If you consider and observe them closely they are desperate to get business and ARE…. full of negativity. And surprisingly, are… out… to teach the whole world how to expand “business / profession” and be positive.

    I sometimes wonder whether they themselves attend their own classes / sessions !!

    1. LOL! Good one, Surindernath,
      I can totally merge with your thoughts and views.
      Yes, quite often, when I walk past a bank, I too had been accosted by young well dressed women who wish to help me invest in some financial instrument or another. I usually ask, in an ever so avuncular tone, if they are themselves already millionaires. That usually brings out a sheepish smile and stops them in their tracks.
      Perhaps I should be more understanding of their plight and the pressures their bosses ply on these young people.
      The people who want to take my money and in return help with this marvellous transformation or that secret investment – I too wonder why they are not devoting all their time in enriching themselves.
      But then again, that’s what they are hoping to achieve – at my expense. LOL!

  4. Well observed and I think we ‘feel’ with our minds and think with our hearts. Your wise experience also came into play here and the whole thing felt ‘off’. There is a lot of it about. Lots of hugs for you my special buddy. Xx

    1. Thank you, Jane dear,
      For your visit and comment.
      I never recommend a person, a product, a book or a service unless I’ve had personal and positive experience with same. Oh, well.
      All good wishes,

  5. I hardly know what to say. Hopefully, others will know what you know but I doubt it. The sad part about this is that those who really have published decent to excellent books sometimes do not get noticed much at all.

    1. Very true, Juliana,
      There is so much noise and the melodious songs get drowned out.
      I don’t and will never name names. However, if anyone approaches me for referrals, I will not hold back what I know.
      When I first started my business in 1994, a man and woman (husband and wife team) cheated me out of my very first order. It cost about US$15,000 – almost all the money I had. Lesson well learnt. I never spoke about them or disparaged them.
      In 2004, on business in Brisbane, a senior aviation executive asked me about this couple. Apparently, the couple, who by then had a successful business in Singapore, had made representations to this large airline regarding some business. I shared with the senior executive my experiences with this couple. They never did get that business and till today failed to make any inroads into Australia.
      We reap what we sow, I reckon.

    1. Hello, Willow dear,
      I like that word ‘charlatan’. And you’re so right. In one way they are like weeds but in many ways, they are worse.

  6. That goes for Educationalists in today’s world too Eric. Unless professors are published constantly they not only are slowly pushed out of graduate schools but graduate schools that allow unpublished teachers to teach have their accreditation impacted. Because of that pressure need for haste in publishing to maintain a position of influence sometimes results in sub-standard work.

    1. I agree, Ian,
      The waters are muddied by unqualified people holding out as experts.
      There is another more insidious trend, something that started in the 1960s where academic experts and researchers put out peer-reviewed paper after peer-reviewed paper to debunk the relationship between smoking and lung cancer. All of the experts were obviously in the payroll of the tobacco companies.
      If one reviews the shenanigans that led to the 2008 Wall Street financial meltdown, this trend of experts prostituting their expertise for 40 pieces of silver seems to be endemic in some academic circles – even in brand name institutions of higher learning.
      This is a crying shame as it demolishes and brings into ill repute the vast majority – very vast majority – of honest, decent professors and researchers in our midst.
      Humanity is evolved to the stage where no one group – no one group – can be totally relied on for honesty and integrity.
      It’s left to the individuals. And that is our challenge – to seek out true people, individuals.
      See the video clip above. Compared to what some of these experts have done and are probably doing – the woman who wanted to give a free talk is a crass novice in the field of misrepresentation.

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