First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Rosemarie Rossetti: My husband and I are healthy and staying at home much of the time where my business is located.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Rosemarie Speaks.
Rosemarie Rossetti: I started Rossetti Enterprises Inc. in January 1997. I began delivering training, speaking, and consulting services throughout North America. My programs were focused on train-the-trainer and public speaking skill development. I also did speech coaching. www.RosemarieSpeaks.com
In October 1991, I co-founded and was the President of Rosewell Publishing Inc. and co-authored the book, The Healthy Indoor Plant. Due to my spinal cord injury, that business was dissolved in September 2000.
My businesses drastically changed as a result of an accident on June 13, 1998. While riding my bicycle, I was crushed by a 7,000-pound tree and paralyzed from the waist down.
How does Rosemarie Speaks innovate?
Rosemarie Rossetti: I rebuilt my life and my business after my injury. As a result of the lessons I learned while I was recovering, I started writing inspirational articles and the book Take Back Your Life! I also began speaking about my experiences and became a motivational speaker.
Shortly after my accident, I started speaking about the value of disability insurance to insurance professionals. I shared my personal experience having had a disability insurance policy.
Because I use a wheelchair, my home at the time of my injury was not accessible. My husband, Mark Leder, and I set out to design and build a new home and have it serve as a national demonstration home and garden. The Universal Design Living Laboratory in Columbus, Ohio is the top-rated universal design home in North America and is certified green by the U.S. Green Building Council. We had over 200 contributors and hundreds of volunteers to help us build it. The home took 32 months to build, and Mark and I were the general contractors. We moved into our home in May 2012. We have held tours for over 3,300 people, and we have a virtual and video tour on our website. www.udll.com
I speak, write, and consult with building and design professionals about our home. I wrote the book, the Universal Design Toolkit to teach others about universal design features in homes.
I also speak to vacation rental owners about how they can make their rental homes more accessible. In addition, I speak with designers about how to include universal design features in hotels and resorts.
My expertise is also on how meeting professionals can accommodate people with disabilities at in-person and virtual meetings and events. I speak and write articles on this topic.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Rosemarie Rossetti: There are only a few in-person speaking opportunities due to the pandemic. Business and revenue are down. I have delivered virtual presentations as a result of many in-person programs in May 2020 being postponed. I developed new presentations on the topic of accommodating people with disabilities at in-person and virtual meetings and events.
I have had many experiences adapting to change and coping with adversity. When the pandemic came, I started to learn from other speakers what I needed to do to pivot my business to be virtual. I continue to develop new programs and topics for new markets. I stay in contact with my previous clients and prospects and identify new prospects.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Rosemarie Rossetti: I invested in an online and coaching marketing program to focus on new marketing materials and strategies. I continue to contact prospects and am patient as they are uncertain when future conferences will be planned.
I have invested in new equipment to deliver virtual presentations of high quality. I also have studied how to deliver presentations virtually and how to use various virtual platforms.
The pace of doing business is much slower than before the pandemic. There is much uncertainty. Budgets for conferences and speakers have been reduced. This is a recession period that will someday end. I need to stay in contact with prospects and develop new business one day at a time.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety, how do you project yourself and Rosemarie Speaks in the future?
Rosemarie Rossetti: I exercise daily by biking and take one day during the weekend to bike and kayak with my husband, weather permitting. I enjoy cooking and prepare healthy and delicious meals. My husband and I work well together in the business and at home. I sleep 7-8 hours each night and look forward to each morning. I enjoy speaking and helping others.
In the future, I think that I will be delivering more virtual presentations than in-person presentations. I am positioning myself now to do more universal design consulting with design professionals.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Rosemarie Rossetti: Due to my unique experience, I have a distinct advantage when I talk about the various topics that I speak on. There are many thousand motivational speakers, and I am not interested in competing with them. I will stay in the game and business as long as I am healthy and enjoy speaking, writing, and consulting. As the problems and concerns of my audience change, I will need to change my topics.
Your final thoughts?
Rosemarie Rossetti: I have been busy during this pandemic, preparing my skills and developing new marketing materials and programs. As I look back at these last six months, I have learned much about the speaking business from other professionals. My outlook for the future is bright.
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