Motivational Speakers Beware! Willow Mist, Brenda Keefer, International Speakers Network and the great speaker Scam

September 29, 2010

I guess there are times when, in the writing of a blog, you hit a nerve.  Yesterday, after much research, I wrote a blog about Willow Mist Professional Services in TN and Brenda Keefer – the company’s owner (at least that’s what I’ve been told).  The response has been overwhelming.  It seems that Miss Brenda has been active and the reports from speakers internationally has been – well – let’s put it this way…there’s screaming and gnashing of teeth over how Motivational Speakers have been scammed.

The article yesterday is here.

Sometimes our past and our experience create the path for a future that is outstanding.  As a business ethics and fraud prevention speaker, I am keenly aware of the choices we make and the consequences that follow.  In the case of Brenda Keefer and Willow Mist Professional Services – there are far too many speakers who are now coming out of the woodwork stating that they, too, have been scammed to ignore the problem.

Every choice has a consequence.  Based on what I see and hear from my experience and the experience of others, it would be worth investigating thoroughly whether the services offered by Brenda Keefer and Willow Mist are valuable or just a way to scam unsuspecting folks out of money.

BEYOND WILLOW MIST –

The brush stroke of fraud and deception seems to be pervasive in Sevierville, TN.  Not only is Willow Mist Professional Services located there, but another “speakers bureau” or “speaker services” company is there too.  Their name:  Internation Speakers Network or ISN Works – a division of The Innovators Group, Inc.

I received an unsolicited email from them with a CALL FOR SPEAKERS.  I was about to trash it or mark it as spam when it caught my eye that they were located in Sevierville, TN.  I thought it strange that two companies that “market” speakers would be located in that small town.  My first thought was that it was Willow Mist or Brenda Keefer repackaged.  However, after calling ISNWorks and talking to their representative, I found that they were quick to point out that they once were the employer of Brenda Keefer, but that she had been let go for “unethical business practices”.  Soon after the Brenda Keefer discussion the conversation returned to what they could offer me as a speaker.

Now…as I wrote the blog about Willow Mist and Brenda, I find that ISN doesn’t have the best reputation either.  Below is a link to the Complaints Board and comments related to ISN:

http://www.complaintsboard.com/complaints/international-speakers-network-c207754.html

The starting comments states:

The International Speakers Network convinces you they can help speakers market their speaking services, and charges a lot of money to develop mailings, sell sheets, and other marketing materials. But they don’t actually perform any of the marketing services speakers pay them for. yes, they will print materials, but they take a lot of money to distribute those materials which are never distributed. They have several names like ISN, Book a Speaker. net, Innovators Group and others. Learn more about them at http://burnedbyisn.blogspot.com/ You’ll see that they have a horrible track record with the Better Business Bureau, too.

While not all of the comments related to ISN were bad – there were certainly enough there to cause one to wonder what’s in the water there in Sevierville that causes two firms, both doing the same thing, to have such poor reputations.  Buyer beware.

If you have had an experience with Willow Mist and/or Brenda Keefer or ISN Works – how about doing us a favor and submitting a comment.

YOUR COMMENTS ARE WELCOME.