It’s a fairly well-known fact among professional speakers that corporate speaking gigs tend to be the most lucrative.
But they also tend to be the most competitive – So how do you branch into corporate speaking if you’re currently building a speaking business in another niche?
Here to share his experience is speaker, coach, and the author of “Leading Imperfectly,” James Robilotta.
Although he started his journey speaking for educational audiences, over the last several years, James has segued into corporate speaking and faced his fair share of unforeseen challenges along the way.
In this episode, he outlines those challenges including how speaker pricing varies in corporate vs education, how his approach to speaking shifted, and how the transition impacted other areas of his life.
That way, if you’re looking to launch into corporate speaking yourself, you can learn from his experiences and hit the ground running.
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Show Notes 📓
✅ Check out James’s book, “Leading Imperfectly: The Value of Being Authentic for Leaders, Professionals, and Human Beings”: https://jamestrobo.com/book
📷 Watch the video version of this episode and subscribe for updates on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLYAr3nGy6lbXrhbezMxoHTSCS40liusyU
🎤 Thank you to our sponsor, Libsyn Studio (formerly Auxbus)! Want the best podcasting solution out there? Learn more here: https://www.libsynstudio.com/
🚀 And as always, don’t forget about all the mind-blowing free resources at https://speakerflow.com/resources/
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Intro: You know those moments when you’re doing what you love in your business, maybe it’s standing onstage or creating content, whatever it is, you’re totally immersed, and time just seems to slip by? This is called The Flow State. At Speaker Flow, we’re obsessed with how to get you there more often. Each week we’re joined by a new expert where we share stories, strategies, and systems to help craft a business you love. Welcome to Technically Speaking.
Taylorr: And we are live. James, man, you coming back for round two, must be a little crazy in you, huh?
James: Just a little bit.
Taylorr: It’s good to have you, man. Excited to have you on again.
James: Yeah, brother. Excited to be here with y’all. I’m the forgotten member of the Speaker Flow team.
Taylorr: Correct. Adopted.
Austin: Oh, I’ve never forgotten, man. I think you fit-in in every capacity other than the fact that I would describe you as dapper and Taylorr and I look, maybe a little bit homeless.
Taylorr: A little homeless. Yeah, sure.
Austin: Yeah. And so, the disparity there is jarring, but what that means is that in boardrooms and stuff, you’re the guy. So, now that I’m thinking about it; Taylorr, maybe we need this to balance us out.
Austin: A little less, you know.
Taylorr: I do think we need to give ourselves a little bit more credit here, though; because we were at an NSA event recently and someone came up to me and just started talking about something that I had no context about at all, and I left wondering like, what just happened? And then an hour goes by and they come back and they’re like, oh my God. And I’m like, what now? And they’re like; I realized that you’re not James. You’re Taylorr. I was talking to James previously and so I was following up on that. So, the biggest compliment of my life.
Taylorr: So, someone mixed us up. But yeah.
Taylorr: Credit where credit’s due, I suppose.
James: I’m here for that compliment as well.
Taylorr: Yeah. Well, thank you.
James: Y’all are a little metal and I’m a little Mumford & Sons.
Taylorr: Oh, sure.
Austin: Oh, wow. That was brilliant. I love it.
Taylorr: I like it. Yeah, for sure. I think I see a band in our future, so, yeah, we’ll table that a bit.
James: Sure, yeah. The band everybody’s been waiting for.
Taylorr: That no one asked for.
James: Mumford & Sons without the kick bass drum.
Austin: My grandma is pumped, you guys, you don’t even know.
Taylorr: Oh, crap. Well, it’s going to be a fun show, though, man. Excited to have you. Oh, crap. Okay, so this is going to be a fun episode, clearly. Brace yourselves, everybody. But, James, the theme of today’s show is to; you’ve had quite an interesting, I don’t know, adventure in your career. Started out on the education side, moved into corporate, starting some new brands up, some really cool ideas, we’re huge fans. But recently you spun up a consolidated brand, I suppose; I’ll let you speak to this, but the story matters. I’m curious about what the inspiration was for that, where you see it heading, fill us in on that.
James: Yeah, for sure. So, I am married to an incredible woman named Tina VanSteenbergen. And she is also a professional speaker. We both do 60 to 70 keynotes a year, and so we have a long distance relationship with the same address. But, yeah, she’s incredible, and so we have been operating as separate entities for a little while and decided to bring it all under one roof. And so, in doing so, we created this brand called Story Matters. And before that we had a team captain, her name is Laura. And Laura’s been awesome, she’s been working with us for about four years, but Laura had multiple email addresses, multiple logins, multiple everything because we each operated under the, I’m jamestrobo.com, Tina is tinaraevan.com.
And so, it was just a lot of energy being put into multiple systems. And then, when we joined with Speaker Flow, now we have four logins instead of however many, just the tremendous amount of money was going out that didn’t make a lot of sense. But both of us were a little nervous to let go of our individual brand, right? With our names attached to it. And we were excited to see what we could potentially add on. So, we still both speak independently, it’s almost like we created our own bureau with only two speakers and the bureau’s called Story Matters, but we’re also going to be running our own live events out of it.
Tina runs a conference called Persist, A Badass Women’s Conference. I do a program called Living Imperfectly Live. So, we’ll be running those conferences out of there. And then also we’ve been doing a ton of stuff in the education space, which I know we’re going to talk more about today. We’ve been doing a ton of stuff, particularly in the college market, I’ve really been able to build our names up over there in a really beautiful way to where people trust us. And so, we’re excited to start dipping our toes more into the facilitation model, we’re to have other people presenting some of the stuff that we do so we can get into more rooms with the messages that we believe people need to hear.
And so, we’re excited to be able to do that under this brand. The other reason we did it is when we initially created it, it was James and Tina LLC and I had a few companies come up to me and tell me, Hey, I had to really tell HR that you were not just some mom and pop rinky-dink organization, with the name James and Tina LLC, even when you’re at conferences seeing James and Tina LLC, it just didn’t feel robust enough for what we offered and who we are and what we bring to the table. So, having a cool name that was value aligned like Story Matters, because your story matters, our story matters. And then also, we love so much stories and I’m a science nerd, so it’s also the matter that makes up the stories. So, that’s how we got to there.
Taylorr: Aw, it’s beautiful.
Austin: That is such a great brand. Yeah. Opportunity abounds for you guys. Well, I think what’s cool about this scenario is that it’s a good use case for how a company or brand becomes elevated over time. I think a lot of people could have the opportunity to do more or less what you guys are doing to some degree or another where you’re creating more of a higher-level perception of a company more than just an individual doing a thing. But they don’t, because it’s a lot of work and probably a little scary, and you have to worry a little bit about the brand reputation, making sure that what was continues to be as the new brand gets started.
So, I understand there are a lot of components there, but this is just a perfect use case of how to do this properly and in a way that’s really still in alignment with the original theme of what you guys were trying to be, you didn’t sell out and go corporate. It’s still you guys, it’s just elevated now and that’s awesome.
James: Yeah. Thanks, man, we’re really excited to see where it goes. We’re definitely building the plane while we’re flying it, but I’m also excited that on the back-end everything is just way cleaner, way more streamlined and so that’s been really helpful as well.
Austin: Well, you’re speaking our language, brother. So, take us back a little bit, I’m sure there are some listeners here that didn’t get to listen to our first episode with you, yet.
Austin: For those of you listening, go do that.
Taylorr: Yeah, for real.
Austin: You hear James’ passion about that, it’s a good episode, go check it out. But catch people up to speed, and I also would like for you to, maybe emphasize, I guess; the focus of who you were serving in the early stages of your business and how that’s, maybe started to metamorphosize as things have progressed. That was a good word.
James: You nailed that. Yeah, that was really good.
Taylorr: That’s a real word.
Austin: Oh, hell, yeah. That’s a real word.
James: That’s a real word.
Taylorr: Great. Wow. Yeah, I’m learning here. Great.
James: Are you kidding me? Don’t insult Austin.
Taylorr: Metamorphosize, I don’t know, I make up words all of the time.
James: He’s the butterfly on this podcast. You and I are the caterpillars.
Taylorr: That’s right. Yeah, that’s right.
James: We are the caterpillars.
Austin: I’ve evolved, I don’t know what to say, guys. That’s me.
James: I’m trying to come up with a pupate pun right now, but I just think they’re all going to land a little.
James: They’re all going to stink. Anyway. So, yeah, man, when I first got out of graduate school, I worked in colleges and universities for a while, on the student affairs side. I ran residents’ halls, student organizations, new student orientation, things like that. Someone came up to me at a conference that I was attending and just happened to present at it, just for fun. I brought students to it and there was a call for proposals and I was like, I like attention. And so, I submitted, someone came up to me after it and said, Hey, really loved your session, if you don’t mind me asking, how much do you charge? And a classic story that you’ve heard a lot of the speakers tell. And at that point, I was like; I don’t know what you’re talking about. So, you could buy me a sandwich and tell me I’m pretty and I’ll be good.
Taylorr: Cheap date.
James: And I spoke for free for a while, predominantly in the college market because I didn’t think my story was good enough, I didn’t think I was good enough. I didn’t think somebody needed to listen to another privileged white boy who was homesick in college. Turns out, big market. Big market.
Austin: Big market. Yeah.
James: So, I started speaking in the college circuit because that’s where all of my connections were, right? As a professional, even as a student. And so, I spoke in the college market for a very long time, still do today, actually. I’m in the middle of a transition, but I’m not running from the college market, there’s a lot of value in that. I like working with college students, because college students are asking themselves the question of why. And it’s fun to work with people when they’re asking themselves that question. Why does this matter to me? Why do I think that? Why do I feel this? Why do I act this way?
It’s a cool time to get to meet people, so I really love and respect that work. And so, that’s why I did and still do a bunch of it. But I was a hundred percent in the college market until I joined NSA. The reason why I joined NSA, now back in 2018, 17, whenever it was in Orlando last time, at the Swan and the Dolphin. But I joined NSA because I realized I have no idea how to start speaking to adults. I started speaking in the corporate market or I learned about, at that time, learned about the association market as well. So, that’s why I joined it because I said I need to be around people who are doing this work. It’s been a really beautiful resource, and that reason, it’s why I’m still a part of it today. The college market has been very good to us.
Now, both Tina and I, during the pandemic, our numbers didn’t fall. We did more in 2020 than we did in 2021. Than we did, excuse me, in 2019. And that’s in part, A, because colleges kept going, right? It was all virtual, but it was also in part of just the reputation that we’re very fortunate to have garnered in that space. We had people call us up and just say, we don’t know what our students need, but we know they probably need you, so can you figure out something to talk to them about at this date and this time? Sure. Right? And we literally told them, we said, our budget during Covid is anywhere from $0 to $5,000 for a virtual speech in the college market, so if you think that you all can fall somewhere in that range, we’d love to help you during this weird time. And we more than kept the lights on. It was really beautiful.
And so, I’m grateful for that work and that time and my history and that place, but at the same time, you realize, I talk about authenticity and leadership, I talk about building community, I talk about curiosity, how it creates community and who needs to hear that? Everyone. And so, first off, never market to everyone, but here we are. But still I decided that hey, maybe adults would gravitate to this, maybe the corporate market needs to hear some of this kind of stuff or would be intrigued by it. And so, that’s when I started to make the shift, what is probably now about five years ago, to doing more and more in the corporate and association market. And it’s really fascinating to be wildly appreciated and celebrated in one market and who? In the other market.
Taylorr: Right? It was just.
James: It’s been really humbling in an important way. It’s been fascinating because you almost feel like you’re starting at ground zero because you don’t have nearly as many connections. It’s not like I was an accountant and now I’m trying to talk to accountants, right? I worked in higher ed and I talked to higher ed, I did what I was supposed to do, but now I don’t have these connections, I didn’t know what Q2 meant until four years ago. Right? Because I never spoke that language. I still slip up and say semester regularly. And so, it’s been really beautiful and hard and humbling to have to make the switch, to choose to make the switch, excuse me, to working in that market.
And it’s been really fascinating to get to learn from my peers, is what’s working for them and what’s not. And I’m learning that there are a whole bunch of people that are still just trying to make it up, as confident as they seem at influence, they don’t really know what’s going on. So, we’re all just trying to figure it out.
Taylorr: Yeah, for sure. It seemed like the motivation to go toward corporate and association was just that chances are there are other people that need to hear the message. Is that all it boiled down to?
James: That’s the main point. I have not and don’t know when I will age out of the college market, I think my speaking style will keep me there for a while. And so, that’s nice if I want to stay and for now I do. I’m enjoying the work that I do over there, but the impetus also is that Tina and I now, as I said, I started making the transition five years ago, but two years ago Tina and I had a baby shout-out to Roam, that’s R O A M. We named our kid a verb. But, yeah, we had a baby two years and four months ago. We have another one coming out, making their debut in the middle of June of this year, and so that’s really exciting and our time has to look different and who we give our time to and it just has to look a little different.
At the same time, we love a life that we’ve created, right? We love the lifestyle we’ve been able to live, and so how can we do less gigs but still maintain the lifestyle? We have to go places that, maybe they slap another zero on the end of some things. And so, that’s been part of the impetus as well. And that’s been fascinating because in some of those rooms, I don’t find the same sense of value as I do in some of those college market rooms. And so, I’m still trying to find my place and my rhythm so that I can walk out of a speech and be like, I nailed it, I did something really beautiful today. It felt really good. And so, speaking has to be a win-win, right?
We’re not just in it for the audience; we’re also in it for ourselves. It’s far too much bullshit in this industry and too much into the work that we have to do on the back-end to not be getting something out of it ourselves. So, that’s why I appreciate that and one of the reasons why we are also trying to do more and more in the corporate market.
Austin: Well, that makes perfect sense. I think there are a lot of people that have that idea, I think; people that have been in the education market that want to go work in corporate and I think that the message being applicable in other audiences is an important; it should be the most important thing. But money is, for sure, the thing that people have talked to me the most about, I love working colleges and universities, but they just don’t have the same type of budget that associations and corporate do. And I think if you look at some of the high-end examples of the two, probably the highest end of the education world is probably lower than the highest end of the corporate world. We can ask Hillary Clinton and her $250,000 an hour keynote fees, right?
So, the spectrum is massive out in the corporate world. But it’s always a spectrum, right? And I think even beyond just the audience, our confidence and our ability to have that sales conversation and ask for the higher fee is way more important than the specific person that you’re talking to because you could be talking to the company with the biggest budget on the planet and if you can’t ask for the higher dollars doesn’t ever come through, right? So, the reality of the situation versus the possibility of the situation, I question sometimes how closely those two things kind of align, I guess; if that makes sense. So, I’m curious from your experience, has that perception that exists in the industry proven true for you?
James: In the price disparity, is that what you mean?
James: Yeah. I don’t know. You all would know this because of the report that you put out every year, what most people are getting on average for their speeches, right? So, there definitely is a difference for sure. It’s not necessarily crazy difference. We are, I shouldn’t say that because, as you said, the ceiling of the college market is, do we talk numbers on here? I don’t know what’s going on here.
Taylorr: Hell, yeah, for sure. We’re not an association.
James: I don’t have to say [Inaudible – 16:48], do I?
Taylorr: Yeah, we’re totally, yeah, we’re breaking that stigma.
James: Yeah, okay.
Austin: There’s a whole rabbit hole about that, actually.
Taylorr: Yeah, don’t get us started.
James: No, I don’t. Yeah, no that’s fine. I think it would be a beautiful echo chamber of the three of us appreciating and agreeing with each other. So, when I started in the college market, right? I started around 2,500 bucks, because that was what I was told a normal entry point was. Well, I first started it free then I spoke for 500 for a few times and then I realized that hey, most people are starting around 2,500 if they truly are getting some gigs. And now Tina and I are getting around six or seven right? In the college market. And that’s toward the top. You can definitely get more but more looks like more days, right? Or there are just way less universities that have those kinds of budgets.
And also at that point in time, it’s also thinking about the kind of colleges and universities that I want to work with, right? If I want to go do some more work at HBCUs or if I want to do some more work at community colleges or Hispanic serving institutions and whatnot. HBCUs being historically black colleges and universities for those playing at home. But the budgets look different at all of these different kinds of institutions, right? I’ve spoken at Yale and they didn’t have my budget, right? But I’ve also spoken at Fort Hayes State and Bum Nuts Kansas and they had the whole budget, right?
And so, there’s no disparity, just because Harvard has the largest endowment doesn’t mean they’re going to pay you the largest amount of money. As a matter of fact, you’ll probably have to pay to speak there just because now you get to put our name on your website, right? So, that’s what I would say is that we’re kind of toward the top as far as we know with a lot of our peers in offering something like that. So, what it can also look like is building out packages where it’s like, hey, we’re going to come in and do new student training, then in October we’re going to come back and do student leader training. Then in the fall or in January, we’re going to do a refresher. And then we’ll do transition leadership training or end of year stuff in April.
You can sell a huge package at a nice rate. I’m going to just get you business throughout the year and those numbers can look sexy, but you’re going back a bunch of times. And also one of the bigger differences is that, in general, most college speakers who know the business know that they need to charge an all-inclusive rate. Colleges are far too bureaucratic and there’s too much red tape, so you include your travel in there; you don’t say I’m this plus this. At most, the college speakers are saying, I’ll buy my flights; I’ll buy my rental car, all that kind of stuff, but if you all could put me up in a local hotel, because sometimes schools have deals with local hotels, right?
That’s the most I’m hearing college speakers talk about. Versus on the corporate side there’s a lot more travel that’s covered, so the number that you’re getting is actually the number that you’re getting. And so, now in the corporate market, getting between 10 and 15 for the work that I do over there, yeah, those numbers look different. But they’re also a lot more work to get and they’re a lot more work once you get them.
Taylorr: I was curious about that.
Austin: Austin: Interesting. Can you unpack that a little bit more?
James: Yeah, for sure. And I’m not complaining about the work, the work makes a lot of sense, right? You’re bringing me in to affect your bottom line, so let’s make sure I’m delivering the right message. So, this isn’t me complaining, it’s just me noticing. But I just did a gig yesterday for an engineering firm and I had no less than four calls with their people ahead of time and a tech check, right? And each of those calls and sometimes it’s, hey, we’re going to give you the email. I had one company be like; I’m going to give you 10 email addresses. Can you reach out to these people and set up meetings with each of them?
James: Right? Or as many as you can. And I chose to create a series of questions and I said, hey, these are the questions I’ll be asking you if you want to set up a meeting. Beautiful. I’d love to talk to you. If you just want to respond to my email. Beautiful. Good to talk to you. Either way. I got the information that I needed, right? But it’s a lot more work, and the corporate space here, you don’t just get to roll in there with your slides, you have to add their logo, and their this and their that, and your speech may be at 10:00 AM but you have to show up at 6:00 AM because that’s when the sound check is because the sound guys are trying to cover their butts and make sure everything’s right. Right?
It’s just a different amount of time. Not bad, not good, just different. Versus a college market; I’ll have a sales call and then two weeks out from the gig I’ll have a 15 minute call with them to be like, Hey, here’s what we talked about in the sales call. Does this still feel good for you? Amazing. Can you let me know where to park when I get there so I’m not just running around screaming your name? And they’re like, oh yeah, here you go, I’ll send you a campus map. Right? And it’s good, right? It’s a far different process. There are pros and cons in both of that.
Taylorr: Wow. Fascinating. Yeah, thanks for unpacking that. And speaking of sales conversations, have you noticed a messaging change about how you position yourself between colleges and corporate or associations? Or is it the same story that they’re buying into or does that language change?
James: Yeah, for sure. In colleges, you’re trying to come in and teach concepts, right? You want people to change the way that they’re, you want them to reflect about themselves and change the way they think as they’re trying to grow who they are and develop who they are. And you want to do the same thing in the corporate market, but the way that you’re pitching it is a little bit different. You’re telling me that you don’t have, in the corporate market I talk about organizational culture, right? I talk about it in two ways. I come from the leadership side; I wrote a book called Leading Imperfectly. And it’s all about how we as humans can’t learn things from people who are perfect, we can only learn things from people who are imperfect.
So, this idea of talking to leaders about when you let more of yourself be seen and you allow yourself to be more of a human, you are more relatable. And when we see ourselves in someone else, we believe that we can. So, we inspire hope, we inspire innovation, we inspire people to ask questions and not be scared of answers and things like that. We lead with love and not fear, and so that’s how that changes the way that your company’s going to talk to each other. Or we talk on the other side where I do this talk called, do you even know me? How Curiosity creates community or we switch it up depending on what they need, how curiosity builds loyalty and retention, things like that.
And we start to talk about retention. We start to talk about what loyalty looks like. And you’re using some of those terms that colleges don’t, they like loyalty, right? Please be an alumni and donate lots of money to us. But that’s not what we’re doing here at this Greek week speech. And so, we’re changing the game a little bit about, here’s how this is going to spark for people to care more about each other; we show up to workspaces where people care about us. What brings us back time and time again is community, right? It’s community and cause; those are the two things that bring us back for the longest amount of time.
Paychecks are important, but that eventually will wear out. If we have community, we want to keep showing up for our community. If there’s a great cause, we want to keep showing up for the cause regardless of the work, and as long as there’s some recognition being had. So, those kinds of things are what we’re talking about, so it’s a little bit different on the messaging. Because we are saying things like loyalty, retention, leadership development, things like that.
Taylorr: Which makes sense. You’re kind of equating it to the problems that they’re hoping to solve and finding the middle ground between them. So, yeah, I’m glad that you unpacked that.
James: Correct, yeah. But it’s also hard for me, I admire sales speakers or marketing speakers or folks like that because there’s a way shorter line between me coming in and what change will happen. If you’re a speaker like that. Versus speakers that are talking about leadership, that are talking about change, that are talking about even diversity, equity, inclusion, right? It’s a longer gap between me talking and actually trying to pivot what’s happening. Because we’re trying to get underneath it all, it isn’t in a direct; you’re not doing this right, so say this instead, like in a sales conversation, not to discount what my beautiful salespeople are doing, right? It’s just a different kind of sell in that we’re trying to get people to rethink the way that they think, and so that’s a tough ship to turn and therefore, it’s a tougher sale to make.
Austin: Yeah. Non-tangible immediately to some degree. People have to process and make changes happen before it turns into something. So, I can imagine that’s a more challenging thing.
James: That’s why I tell people about authentic leadership; is that authentic leadership is wildly important, but you’re not going to see it for a while, the effects of it, right? But you want efficiency, you crave a team that trusts each other and things like that, because when you have that trust, things get done quicker. There are less questions, things just happen in a way better way, but it takes a while to build that trust. So, I can give you a quick fix, but it’s going to be a Band-Aid on a bigger wound. And so, that’s why we have to get into it sometimes and that’s where I come from.
Austin: Yeah. So, I can totally see why those conversations must be a little bit more difficult because you’re having to find a way to almost measure what feels immeasurable to some degree to give people confidence. Taking a step back a little bit, you mentioned that, at least I think you mentioned, it’s a little harder to get corporate gigs than college gigs. So, two-part question. One, in what ways; I’d love for you to elaborate on that a little bit. But two, I’m also curious if you think that’s an industry segment problem or if that’s a ‘you’ problem, because in the college world, you went into it with relationships, whereas here you didn’t. So, if somebody had relationships in corporate but didn’t in education and wanted to go the other way, do you think that they would find that it’s easier to get college gigs and corporate gigs in that scenario as well?
James: Yeah, I don’t think so. I think the relationships matter, right? And that’s what we do. We preach relationships, we talk about it; Tina and I are both giant extroverts who get people to love us and then we convince them to pay us, right? But there’s love and community in there, right? It’s not trick them into paying us or swindle them into paying us; it’s we show value, we give value and then we get, you know what I mean? So, we pour into people. For me personally, this is the only way I’ve ever done it, so I don’t know what would be harder or easier, but what I do know is that I frequently get in my own way. I write a story that I’m bothering people, right? If I don’t know you and I reach out to you, I’m bothering you. And now not only am I bothering you, but I’m asking you to pay me, right?
And so, I get in my own way a lot of times with that, it’s why I don’t utilize my email list as nearly as much as I could and should, I’ll shit on myself for a little bit here. But some of those follow-up pieces where something that, I’ll be working with Speaker Flow this summer, in case you were wondering, but is that I currently don’t have any automated follow-up systems. Because I send you one email that might as well have the words, I’m sorry, in it seven times; it doesn’t, but it kind of feels like it could. And then I never write to you again, right? Because, well, you didn’t respond to me, so you hate me and the world is over, but I’ll get another gig, right?
And that’s not true. That’s a story that I’m writing. That’s a story that my self-esteem is writing and whatnot. And so, I know that, and this is one of the most important things for me in hiring somebody, is that other people can sell me better than I can initially, right? They can get in there and start the conversations, and then it’s almost like I have to get brought into the conversation and I’m going to take it home, right? I get in my way with those initial reach-out stuff. And in the corporate market, I think for me, again, as I was talking about earlier, what I talk about is broad, so who needs it? Everyone. Okay, well, where do I start? Right?
And since I don’t have a vertical that I worked in, I’m literally just picking a vertical. I’m like, all right, well, I spoke to American Express for five years in a row, so I guess I’ll pick banking, right? And so, now we’re trying to explore the banking thing and it’s like, all right, I want to do more stuff in the associations. Okay, well, where do associations gather? At association executive meetings. And so, I’m like, all right, great. I’ll go there. Right? And now I’m starting to keynote these statewide association exec meetings and things like HR and SHRM, which had mixed reviews, right? A lot of times I’ll go and speak at a SHRM conference and then I’ll get to speak at smaller local SHRM conferences. I’m like, we’re going the wrong way, but I’m happy to help so we’ll figure it out. Right?
So, I think a lot of it is, since I don’t have the language, since I don’t have the years of experience and since I haven’t met these people, I write a story that they don’t want me or they don’t need me, or it’s going to take a lot of convincing and convincing at some point feels like manipulation, right? I got some friends that are growing extremely successful speakers and they’re just out here selling speeches that they haven’t even written yet. Right? They’re saying this is a need that’s out here right now, I can help you. Let’s talk about it. I can help you. And then they go and write the speech, right? And then it’s like, well, what are you delivering?
I sometimes care. I’m not going to insult this. I care a lot about the craft. I spend a lot of time on making sure that I am excellent on the platform. To the point where you can look at The Relatable Speaker, when I read that book, I was like, yes, queen, right? I was like; this is what I’m talking about, because I spend a lot of time developing the product that people are going to buy. And I’ve made it very, very good to the point where I now just want that to sell itself, but I have to be in the room for it to sell itself, and so I have to get over some of my stuff. I have to get out of my own way, I have to rewrite the story in my head, I’m not bothering people, I’m connecting with folks, right?
And connections can lead to more beautiful things, and so let’s just connect and have conversations. And if I can start to round that corner, then I can have more cool conversations that may lead to sales or may lead to more connections, but what I’m doing right now is not effective as a long-term strategy.