Darren Hardy, a character in the new episode of the Mad Men?

Is Darren Hardy actually the character Ken (husband of Barbie) in the new episode of the TV show Mad Men?

If you’ve been following me, online or offline I’m pretty sure you’ve heard me talk about things like: “The First 7 Seconds” or “Be Authentic” or “Walk Your Talk.”

Anyway, last weekend I was with my partners at Make Your Mark Global a.k.a. The BRAT Pack attending the largest business and lifestyle conference in Scandinavia called ELEVATE.  

I was one of their speakers last year, and I was super excited to bring my BRAT Pack team with me this year to Denmark.

Part of my big excitement was to listen to real world class speakers, such as the CEO and Chief Editor of “Success Magazine”, Darren Hardy, or the magical, spiritual teacher Marianne Williamson, just to mention a couple of of the amazing speakers at this event, openly sharing their knowledge, authenticity, their X-factor and to learn from them (or that’s what I thought).

As an international speaker myself, I learn so much by watching how other speakers are doing things… well… this time, I learned probably my biggest lesson, and that’s just what I want to share with you in this blog post.

One could really feel the excitement in the room of 800 professionals attending ELEVATE this year, wast majority coming from the Nordic countries when Thomas Rex the CEO of Speakers Club Denmark introduced one of the MEGA star in speakers line-up;  ….

“Ladies and gentlemen, give Mr. Darren Hardy a huge round of applause…. “

I could feel how I automatically rose up in the chair, all my senses in place. I was wide open to learn from this amazing man who had inspired me in many of his Youtube video’s, and now I was going to absorb his knowledge directly, then and there.

Darren started his talk in a masterful way – taking his audience on a journey from his childhood of riding the Space Mountain Roller Coaster at Disney World to where he is today.  I could instantly hear this was a brilliantly set speech.

Darren’s presentation slides were FANTASTIC – really well branded – all aligned, all continuously and apparently supporting his story.  I was shining like the sun in the audience absorbing everything.  

Darren’s powerful message was:


Showing the audience how they really didn’t need to sell a thing, if they began to HELP more, talk about the results that would be aligned with their clients needs.  Nicely set up with beautiful images and slides to prove it.

Great insights! – Great stuff – Great presentation!

Then… like an invisible lightning the energy in the room changed completely.  The man on stage was no longer in the story mood, authentically telling his audience how to do things to succeed.  Against everything I was learning from him just 2-3 minutes before… he goes into this fearful selling mood, telling the audience that the only way to get where he is, is to buy his program.


The energy in the room becomes weird… In my chair, I’m thinking: “Does someone like Darren Hardy not get paid enough for speaking on stage? Does Darren Hardy himself really need to hard sell his products like a car salesmen? Does he need to use 20 minutes to SELL SELL SELL?  What happened to his theory of NOT SELLING – START HELPING?”

I’m confused…even a little sad… thinking to myself: “Gosh, is this REALLY the only way to earn a good living as a speaker?” Even for the GRANDIOSE speaker Mr. Darren Hardy?”  

At this point, I’m sitting there puzzled… annoyed…irritated.

Despite this change of momentum, i.e. Darren hard-selling on stage, I’m excited to listen to his next talk during this magical weekend. Again, open, ready to absorb, and learn.

Day 2 – Darren Hardy – Topic: The leadership of the 21st century….

“Wonderful,” I think that’s a great topic, particularly considering the transformation that has been taking place all over the world for the past decades with the rising demand to bring in more heart, compassion, and understanding with what is often called feminine valued leadership.  

This topic speaks dearly to my heart, being the past vice president of the Icelandic Association of Women Business Leaders (FKA), serving on many global advisory boards for associations for women in business worldwide. Feminine leadership is NOT about women being better or taking over – it’s about opening up to these values in people (both men and women) so that the world we live in becomes a better place.

Anyway, I’m excited to hear the master himself, whose network consists of the TOP of the TOP leaders in this world, how does he see the results of this movement?  In my mind, I’m so sure Mr. Darren Hardy IS ON the TOP of the world with everything.  Yes, this guy knows what he is saying – he has not only done his homework, he knows the people who are leading this world toward the new paradigm of leadership – that’s the story I’m telling myself.

Was I right?

Oh no… that was not the case. I could not have been more wrong… and I’m going to tell you why.


Leadership is no longer what your father told you!

I miss a heartbeat…I start to sweat… all of a sudden that icon of a man that was standing right in front of me on stage has transformed into some weird version of the character KEN (remember Ken and Barbie?) in the hit TV series MAD MEN.

I’m thinking: “Oh no… this can’t be happening.”  This is THE man who has been branding himself in front of me and this audience on stage by associating himself with all the top top leaders in the world.  

That same man had just reminded me and his audience that the most important thing was to do your diligence and research your prospects before you head into your sales, really wasn’t doing that either.

You see, as I mentioned before, the majority of the attendees at ELEVATE were from the Nordic countries.  Countries that have for the past decades been ranking as the leading countries for gender equality … i n  t h e  W O R L D.   

For the life of me, and with full respect to my father, I see that it was my parents who showed me what leadership is, it was the culture I grew up in that showed me what leadership is.  

“Leadership has nothing to do with my father!  Where on earth did that come from ” I’m thinking, trying hard to stay calm and listen to what he is talking about… still believing there has got to be something in this speech that  speaks to the 21st century, not advocating the MAD MEN show.

At this point, my feminist heart is bleeding.  Didn’t Mr. Hardy do any research before he headed to Denmark?  Did he totally forget that the culture he was brought up in, and apparently lives in, isn’t the same as his audience?  Or was that maybe not his point?  Was he trying to become famous by advocating for women? Well… in all honesty if that was his intention, it surely didn’t come across that way to me.   

Oh, Mr. Hardy…I’m feeling so bad for him at this point.  Knowing it would not have taken a whole lot of research of the market to make this speech really relevant to the audience. Personally, I would have loved to give him some real insights about this topic that would have made him a true authentic authority to the audience.  

Now, I’m finding it hard to sit in my chair.  I find my heartbeat pounding… I find my frustration is increasing… I’m constantly asking myself: “Is this man really talking about feminine leadership being THE thing in the 21st century” as that’s something NEW… FRESH?”

I could have understood his speech if he was giving it in the many places on this planet where MAD MEN the TV show is sadly the day-to-day the real world… but I can’t understand how he can see himself as an authority shouting out to the audience news that are yesterday’s news to them.

“Hello, KEN a.k.a Darren Hardy … the 21st Century started almost 16 years ago… tell us something we don’t know.  Tell us how the world will be different with more diversity on boards, tell us what it will give us.  Mr. Hardy I would be happy to give you an insight that would make you continue to look like a true authority on stage”  at this point I’m holding myself to the chair… everything boiling.  

“Ken” still on stage, surrounded by the hideous props from MAD MEN – In my mind I’m trying hard to see the funny part in this… imagining that pretty soon he must be reaching out to pour himself some Whiskey on the rocks, light a cigarette and scratch his b….

I’m thinking… He must mean well; it just has to be that he doesn’t know better.

Then the final bomb strikes…



I grasp for air.  “Oh… so that’s the answer?  Guys should hire women – to what? Make their companies look better or did Barbie forget to tell Ken that he was talking to a group of professionals living in a culture that has the highest number of women in the workforce (over 85% in Iceland) not to mention on company boards in the world?”  

Alright… can’t take it anymore, I leave my seat, looking around the place thinking; “There are possibly two things going on… either I’m on candid camera or this speech was written by the screenwriters of MAD MEN and will be used in their next episode demonstrating the way things were back in the 1970’s.”