In recent years, especially, keynote speaking has exploded. After all, what could be more glamorous than jet-setting around the world, getting paid and recognized for your expertise?
To answer that question, we’re joined by motivational keynote speaker and charity adventurer Josh Stinton.
Josh is known, first and foremost, for his extensive “challenges” for children’s charities including a bicycle trip across the Atlantic and an upcoming running trip “across the sky.” Yes, you read that right!
When he’s not on an adventure, however, Josh is on the road as a speaker, adding to his resume of international presentations from the last several years.
Here, he highlights what you need to know if you’re considering international speaking yourself including how to adjust your speaking style and sales strategies to account for cultural differences.
This episode is full of golden nuggets, and we learned a lot from Josh’s experience. Hope you do, too!
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Show Notes 📓
✅ Learn more about Josh and his challenges for charity: https://joshstinton.com/
📷 Watch the video version of this episode and subscribe for updates on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLYAr3nGy6lbXrhbezMxoHTSCS40liusyU
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Read the Transcription 🤓
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.
Austin: All right, boom. We’re live. Josh Stinton, the man, the myth, the legend. Welcome to the show, thank you so much for joining us today.
Josh: It is an absolute honor to be here. Thank you. As I said, I’ve made so many good decisions that have brought me to having this conversation with the two of you. Thank you for having me.
Taylorr: You’ll give us a big head, man.
Austin: You flatter us.
Taylorr: Awesome to lead with that.
Austin: Oh, yeah, you’re kind of a mythological being in my mind. I’ve spent so much time, I read every page on your website, all of the challenges, it seems like you’re a character in a movie, not a real human being sometimes. But you are a real human being, an authentic one, mind you. So, props to that.
Josh: I am an authentic and some of the things that you read are true. So, that’s really fun. So, yeah.
Austin: That’s good, yeah. All I’m looking for is 10%, if we’re at a 10% truth to to lie ratio, we’re good, but.
Austin: When we were planning this show out, you said something to us in an email that I’ve been thinking about ever since, which is that you’re planning on quote, running across the sky this summer.
Josh: Yeah, yeah.
Austin: And so, the initial lead-in question here, of course; is what the hell does that even mean, for one? And just give our people a background about why this is a thing that’s even being talked about right now, maybe.
Josh: Yeah. I’m sure that set off some alarm bells of like, we need better filters because, obviously, anyone can be emailing us and probably some people shouldn’t be.
Austin: Your words, not ours, man.
Josh: Yeah, no, I appreciate that, it’s been a lot of fun. So, what I do is over the past nine years of my life, I’ve been chasing two missions. The first mission is I am driven to help as many charities help as many children as I can before I die. That has led me to some really fascinating experiences and meeting some incredible people. That’s brought me to my second mission, which has brought me into being a presenter, which is the fact that I’ve been able to learn so many things in the process over the past decade. I’m super passionate about sharing the mindset and the mindset lessons that I’ve learned over the past number of years to as many folks as I can.
In following this, it’s funny what happens when you start pushing your comfort zone, because then you can just push the damn thing right off the end of the table and it seems like that’s kind of what’s happened. So, the last challenge that I did; that was in 2019, and I bicycled across the Atlantic Ocean, so that’s probably another conversation, respect to our 30-minute chat here. So, I’m not going to swan dive into all of these shenanigans, but I was bicycling across the Atlantic Ocean between Gran Canaria and [Inaudible – 3:06].
Taylorr: As you should.
Josh: In the Caribbean, as you do. Yeah, I was bored and unsupervised.
Josh: So, I was out there in the sea, I was thinking, I had a lot of time, right? Because I was out in the middle of the ocean and I had a lot of time, and I was delirious and I was thinking, how funny would it be if you could find a way to power an air ship by running, right? And so, in my mind I thought, okay, so if I got a big helium balloon, a blimp, basically; and put a treadmill underneath it, then maybe you could use that treadmill to power an axle, which would power propellers to make the balloon move through the air.
So, I completed the challenge, I finished in Gran Canaria, no, sorry, in St. Lucia, and I Googled it because I didn’t have internet in the middle of the ocean, so I couldn’t check if it’s been done before. So, I hopped onto Wi-Fi in St. Lucia and found out that, no, no one’s done this, so not too surprising. So, I flew home to Norway. I live in Oslo. I’m from Denver, I’m a Denver boy originally, but I flew home to Oslo and I contact, this is brilliant. The first phone call, phone call number one is I called the Norwegian Civil Aviation Authority, I googled them. And they’re up in the arctic, above the Arctic Circle up in Bodø, this little town in Norway.
And I called and I, this woman, this lovely woman, answered the phone, this poor woman. And I said, hi, my name is Josh, I’m an adventurer and I’m going to run through Norwegian airspace, powering an airship with a treadmill, but I just need to talk to someone about how to get a permit to do that.
Taylorr: As if she’s like, oh, yeah, let me get my blimp treadmill permit out and send that over to you. I’ll email it.
Josh: She’s like we have another one. Silence, it was just dead quiet, right? I thought she hung up on me and should have. After what seemed like an inordinate period of time, she says I’m going to transfer you. I’m like, okay. So, she transfers me to this guy named Arild, turns out he’s the head of Norwegian airspace. She didn’t know who else to transfer me to. So, I’m speaking with Arild, who runs Norwegian Airspace, and I tell him the same thing. And, he says, he comes back, he’s like, I have been running this department for 22 years and I have never had a phone call like this. I understand, and it was brilliant.
So, he’s like, are you an engineer? I’m like, no, no, no. I cheated my way through math in high school, so I couldn’t be an engineer. And he is like, right. He goes, you need to speak with an engineer. So, he recommended I contact the, it’s called NTNU, the technical university in Norway. I contacted them, spoke with the head of technical engineering, the Dean of Technical engineering, and he asked if he could bring someone else into that conversation the next week, just using the same Zoom link. I said, yeah, no problem. Obviously everyone you’re going to know is going to be far more intelligent than myself and I could use the help. I used that Zoom link the next week. So, Oscar, the gentleman I was speaking to from the university, he pops up and then up pops up another window and it said, Kevin Ford, NASA. Okay.
Josh: Yeah, yeah. I’m like, all right, I’ve heard of your organization before, actually.
Taylorr: A couple of times. Faintly familiar.
Josh: And it turns out I’m not just speaking with a person at NASA, Kevin used to be the director of the International Space Station. So, yeah. And of course he has a NASA logo on his shirt, doesn’t he? Of course you do.
Taylorr: Of course.
Josh: So, Kevin hops onto this call and I’m like, and guys, straight away he starts asking questions like, Josh, what’s your math around this? Have you started figuring out wind drag and saying words like coefficient? And I was like, oh, no, no, no, no, no, no. Sorry.
Taylorr: That’s not my job. I’m just running.
Josh: Yeah. I’m the dude that’s going to run on the thing, you’re the NASA. And he was like, right. Okay. So, that was two years. So, since then I’ve had regular project meetings with the team at NASA. So, NASA isn’t, it’s not a NASA project, the NASA logo is off of it, but they are overseeing the risk assessment reports and the whole vision around this. And that’s why I’m in London right now, I’m actually having meetings with the engineering team, because the team that built my bicycle that I bicycled across the Atlantic Ocean with, are also now building my airship. And they are very, very excited about this for a number of reasons, but they came back and found out that I’m going to get a lot more power if it’s not a treadmill, if it’s a human hamster wheel.
So, they love that. So, they’re like, get ready for the meeting. So, yeah, I’m going to be at about 150 feet in the air running a marathon next September to, yeah. Also, I’ll be the first person in human history to run across the sky, and the reason I’m doing that is to help a charity called Right to Play, help at least 10,000 young girls in need. So, we’re talking childhood marriages, et cetera. So, situations these girls would prefer not to be in, they’re going to protect them, give them an education so that these young ladies can design a future that they would be proud to have themselves. So, yeah, that’s who you’ve received an email from.
Austin: Everyone, thank you for listening to today’s episode of Technically Speaking, don’t forget to rate it, like it.
Taylorr: Yeah. Oh my goodness. How many episodes have we done at this point, Austin, like 150.
Austin: Like 150.
Taylorr: I’ve never heard a story like that.
Austin: Not even close.
Taylorr: The vision, the work you did, it’s just incredible.
Josh: Thanks, guys, I appreciate that. That means a lot. Thanks.
Taylorr: Yeah, you just let us know when that’s happening and we’re going to fly out there and watch you, so we’ll meet you at the finish line.
Josh: Oh, that would be an honor. And I appreciate the gravity of what you’ve just said, because I’ve been following your work for quite some time, and I’ve seen some amazing women and men on your show and people like Arel at Talkadot, for instance, I’m connected with that team. I love the work they’re doing. And if it wasn’t for you guys, I wouldn’t have known about them. So, the fact that I have a bit of an interesting kind of intro into your show, especially with the fact that you’re having so many incredible conversations is an honor. So, thank you for that.
Taylorr: Of course.
Taylorr: Well, the big question that’s spinning in my mind right now is how does all of this connect to your speaking? How do these worlds play into one another? And obviously we’re here to talk about the logistics of running an international speaking business, you know? And all of the battle scars that you’ve experienced going into that.
Taylorr: Yeah, tell me about that, how all of that kind of came to be and how they now play those two worlds that you live in together.
Josh: I really appreciate that. So, it kicked off, it was about nine years ago. What happened is I had, the first charity, so I’ve done five big challenges including hand cycling the length of Japan and I took a unicycle down a mountain as well once. So, there are all sorts of stuff that has kind of happened over the past eight, nine years. And the first challenge that I did, it was the world’s biggest cross-country ski race, and it was 90 kilometers long, it’s in Sweden. And even though I’m from Colorado originally, I’ve never skied in my life, and that makes my story super pathetic.
But I learned how to ski in Australia, on the road. And I went off to Sweden and I competed in this ski race, I ended up getting sponsored by the Norwegian Olympic team and also, again, that was a really, really random story, but that was the thing, I was going to do that thing. So, I was working at KPMG at the time, right? If you can picture it, I was in suit and tie doing that, and I really enjoyed my work. I was in business design and advisory and management consulting, and then I heard about this charity. It was a grief counseling camp called Feel the Magic in Australia, because I was living in Sydney at the time, as I said.
And so, then I heard about this charity, but then I heard about this ski race and I just kind of joined the dots and thought, well, people do half marathons and all of that to raise money for charity. So, I signed up for the race to help the charity, not at all expecting, this is such a keynote speaker thing to say as well, not expecting it to change my life, but it did. And it shifted, because I was just going to do that thing, right? I was going to go to Sweden, do that race and that was that.
But what happened is, because it became such a big deal, over 600 kids that were living or are living with grief, were helped out by that charity because there was so much media around this thing. Because I’d never skied in my life, going to do the hardest ski race in Sweden coming from Australia. A guy from Colorado who’s never skied, it was just silly, right? And that got a lot of media. And because I got a lot of media, a lot of kids got helped. And then I realized, okay, well I’m on to something here, and so I kept going. Speaking was not really in the trajectory, I didn’t do this to create a story to sell.
And that’s, I think, a big thing that I like to share with folks is, as a presenter, it doesn’t matter if it’s going to be the future of AI and technology, if we’re talking about sales and communication or mindset, it has come from the heart. It has come from a thing that you do in your natural pathway, and you’re starting to learn a lot about that, and therefore, people start paying attention to what you’re doing. And when it comes from the heart, then you have a career. Then you have a lot of insight that people start to look for, and it showed up in this way. So, I finished that unicycle race in Spain and flew back to Australia, and I was asked two days later to speak, I’d just gotten back to Sydney and I was asked if I could jump on the stage at a children’s charity benefit fundraiser to talk about what I do for children’s charities.
And it was at the Shangri La Hotel, it was in Sydney, it was 350 people. And I just flew back from Spain, so I didn’t have any time to prep, I threw together maybe a couple of photos, and I went onstage. In that environment, of course I kind of already had my audience, right? Because I’m doing things to support children’s charities, and it was a children’s fundraiser, so I wasn’t off mark already, but because I was able to talk about not just, and I’ve learned a lot over the years, but not just myself and like this, and then this happened to me, and then this happened to me.
But because I was able to talk about the kids and say some names and talk about how people got helped, and due to my fortune of meeting them, what I’ve learned along the way, it was so much fun, and it was a short talk, it was 12 minutes. And then someone in the audience was a part of a speaking agency, and they came up and said, who represents you? And I went, what do you mean? And the conversation just went on from there, so I got my first agency in Australia, really enjoyed it, and then it’s just snowballed. So, to answer your question there, Taylorr.
Taylorr: It was natural.
Josh: Yeah, it was just natural, right? And the thing is, I’m not trying, and I adore your industry report that comes out every year, and the work, because it’s such a good insight into what we speakers are experiencing on stages around the world. And, for me, it’s not about like, I read that report and I’m like, oh, I’m on track with X, Y, and Z. I don’t read that report and go, oh, I need to start to tweak my presentation to fit that mold or these key things that people are talking about. So, I think when we’re really true to the experiences that we gain along the way and come from a position of, I as a speaker, I have this thing, I own this information, but it’s not mine. I’m borrowing it.
And my job is to make sure that these folks, these women and men in the audience, they get it. That’s my job here, is to give it to them. Coming from that perspective has just exploded my speaking career. And now, I’m a professional presenter and 10 years ago, I would never imagine being on a podcast talking to gentlemen like yourselves, saying a sentence like that. That was a lot of information.
Taylorr: Heck, yeah. That was beautifully said.
Josh: In Australia, there’s an expression, they say, it’s like taking a drink of water from a fire hose. And that’s exactly what I just did to you with that answer. I hope some of that mattered.
Taylorr: Oh, it was beautiful, man.
Austin: Dude, I’ve never had to try to organize the things I want to talk to you about more in my life. It’s such a crazy situation, dude. I feel like I’m in the twilight zone talking to you. Okay, so for one thing, I just want to point out the fact that you have every single reason under the sun to make this whole thing about you, even inadvertently because you’re doing all of these epic things, right? But the fact that your mindset is about the audience, I feel like is just one more validating point to the point that Taylorr and I try to make so frequently, which is that, ultimately, our own stories don’t matter to the degree that maybe some people think that they need to, to be successful in this area.
It’s really about the people that you’re standing in front of, and I can just tell how humble of a guy you are. So, I commend you for that and I hope those listening see that even in the most extreme example of you having the ability to, or the cause to, you don’t, and it’s making you successful. There’s a lesson there.
Josh: Yeah, I appreciate that, man. And you know what? It’s making a conscious decision because there are so many people that will be watching this interview that do have big stories, we’re presenters, or we’re affiliated with speakers and there are so many folks that have big stories and it’s just checking in. It’s just checking in on giving yourself the awareness of are you delivering some information or are you going to be a Netflix episode on legs for the next hour of people’s lives? I’ve had speaker briefs for big companies around the world where they’re like, no, we just want the entertainment. We just want that, just get up and talk stories about. I’m like, yeah, I’m happy to do that.
But even when the brief doesn’t call for a give, my challenge to presenters is find the give. Because it’s fantastic if you have a story that’s going to inspire or make people laugh. But if you can do that and have a thing where people walk away and go, Hey, I wasn’t able to catch that talk, what did Josh say? And they’re like, actually, Josh gave us this model to help us overcome obstacles in our daily lives, and it’s like this. And he has all of these ridiculous stories. I think that is such a win, as opposed to, yeah, he’s bicycled across the Atlantic Ocean and did all of this other stuff. That’s nice, you’re entertaining, but you’re not helping. I think it’s just checking in with yourself as to what great looks like when you get your feet off of their stage.
Austin: Yeah. Man, cheers to that.
Taylorr: Yeah, especially when you go from the context of still finding that give when their brief is still looking for the entertainment, it’s like the underpromise, overdeliver thing. They don’t even know what they’re about to be getting at that point, and then you just blow their minds and that kind of creates that spinoff effect that, I think you’ve seen time and time again. So, having traveled so much, especially doing international stages, talk to us about some of the battle scars about speaking internationally, especially here in the States, right? It’s real common for folks to just like, we can make a ton of money just speaking in the countries we reside in, go to all of the companies, all the events and so on.
And so, when you’re doing international stuff, it’s like a title that people seek. You finally get a talk out in the UK or out in South Africa or wherever it might be, and it’s like, international keynote speaker. But what we found is that, yeah, few actually, it’s a regular part of the business, where you’re kind of bouncing around the world. And I can imagine that, that adds a layer of complexity, how you run the business and organize things. So, yeah, just speak to that a little bit about those scars.
Josh: Will do. Yeah. This is scar exposing time. It’s interesting because there’s always; first off, I would say never take anything for granted and be really clear, have a process that’s your, like, the business of you process clear. Because every, except, I’m very proud to say I’ve spoken, I think, in every continent in the world now minus Antarctica and many, many countries; many countries around the world, and it’s been incredible. But certain countries, out of respect, they might not ask for certain things; certain cultures, especially Asian-based cultures will be very respectful, really build you up in the briefing.
I’ve walked away from like, there was a Thai company, a sales company that had me over in Bangkok a couple of years ago. And I walked away from that briefing call feeling like the tallest man in the world. They were like; you were so, so great. And I was like, but you really have to do your work in digging into that brief. So, I’d say step one in the business of you, be very clear. Ask. This question has saved my bacon a number of times when I just ask what does great look like from my presentation? So, say I’m on your stage and I give my talk and it’s an hour or it’s 90 minutes or however long I’ve been booked for.
So, I kind of walk through logistically what that feels like. And then the next day you and I sit down for lunch and you say, Josh, that talk was amazing because. Why? What is that because? What did I give to your team? And you can never take that for granted. Especially there are so many cultures that are going to be very kind and very kind of respectful of your time. They’re not going to ask for things, they’re not going to give you things as to where, say in the US, I’ve experienced a little bit more forthrightness in the brief, certainly in the UK and in Norway as well. So, be very clear about what good looks like, because then you’re going to get to the meat of what’s actually there.
The other side is, and this is incredible, do not assume the energy of the audience in any direction. And by that I mean have your talk, have your purpose. Again, if you’re there, your purpose there is to share some information. Be really clear in that and really confident that you’re doing, because you might not always get feedback or you’ll get over feedback or you get, I’ve had audiences where people are clapping almost through the whole thing. And I’ve also, like that talk in Bangkok for instance, that was one that taught me probably the most because I felt like I was nailing it.
It was 550 people in the audience, there’s this huge 70 foot digital signage screen behind me for the slide. So, I had to run up and down the stage to point at things, it was so big, it was awesome. But we were in Thailand and no one was even barely blinking. There was zero response from the crowd, and I thought, am I bombing this? Oh my god, there are certain points or people will kind of always laugh or there’s always some response, and they just sat there. And I learned after that, that was a sign of respect because when you’re presenting, because that’s a fearful thing for most folks. So, they’re going to show you respect while you’re up there presenting, they’re not going to laugh because they don’t want to throw you off even if it’s super funny, whatever you’re sharing.
And then after there was, out of 550 people, there was about maybe 200 people that got into a massive queue around the auditorium to come up and get a selfie onstage, because that was the way that they showed respect afterward. So, the thing is, I think in giving international talks, regardless of the briefing process, you are responsible for yourself. Back yourself. So, behave as a business, really seek and as I’m sure most of the women and men that watch this will do, but really give a lot of respect to the client process, don’t assume that you know how it’s going to go. Walk through, really drill into the brief.
I like to send an email after the brief as well and just say, just to make sure that I understood correctly the key points that your organization is facing are X, Y, and Z. Or the theme in your marketing team that’s been shared lately is own it, so I’m going to tie. And just to put it in writing that you’ve heard them, then that kind of helps set the trajectory straight for how that talk’s going to go. And then don’t be surprised if they do laugh, don’t laugh; I’ve had Australian audiences that were like, I had a hard time talking over how loud they were for a period of time, which was brilliant.
So, it’s just regardless of, know that your feet could be on any stage in any country and you’re going to deliver with a quality of excellence and care regardless, and I don’t know if that’s the right word, but regardless of the client’s expectations or input for you. That was another fire hose moment. Yeah, that was a lot of talking.
Austin: That’s what we’re asking for man.
Josh: Yeah, yeah.
Taylorr: Heck yeah. One of the questions that I had coming into this that you just addressed was what should people expect out of doing this type of work? Which you just laid out perfectly clear. And what’s interesting to me is it sounds like kind of a through line of what you just described there is the expectations that we set for ourselves and for the clients, there’s a meta layer there for me. Really, you have to expect that you’re going to do the best possible job you can do every single time you get on the stage. And you have to be clear about, as clear as possible at least, about your client’s expectations in advance, such that, that confidence can exist when you get on that stage.
Austin: Is that a fair summary?
Josh: Beautiful summary. Absolutely right. And, again, because we are individual businesses, these are our stories, and these are our personalities and our name on the line. So, in maintaining our professionalism and making it as easy for the client to understand what you’re talking about, because sometimes you’re dealing with the event organizer, but they weren’t the one that booked you, sometimes they’re kind of like, I’ve had people where I meet on the day at soundcheck, they’re like, so what’s your story? I’m like, oh, okay. So, making it as easy.
Austin: Buckle up.
Josh: Yeah, exactly. You’re going to wann sit down for this and get this guy a beer. But make it as easy for people to kind of connect with and understand how to work with you, because, again, we are businesses, that is only going to help you when it comes time for rebooking. And I’ve seen a lot of examples over the past nine years where that marketing director that I got on with quite well is now the marketing director for that company and now they have an annual retreat.
Josh: That’s the other thing as well, it’s not; I gave a talk for Circle K here in Copenhagen just recently, and that came from a talk from a marketing director that was the head of a European airline and they changed jobs and then got into this, and now the person that I was working with at Circle K has now switched and they’re at another. So, it’s not just work bridge, you work with, that same client can; and, again, making it as simple and easy and fun, if you can, to work with you is the goal. So, it’s not just getting to the stage, again, it’s getting off the stage and then having that launch the following day and going, yeah, Josh, it was brilliant working with you because, and being really clear on what that is. And then just working backward from that.
Austin: Yeah, it’s about the whole customer journey, man. Yeah. So, you’ve spoken quite a bit a about the fulfillment side of running your business. I’m curious about the, maybe, logistical components here, I’m thinking the negotiation of fees, travel, what about some of the back office things that are maybe different or specific to international that you found, maybe, different than domestic gigs, let’s say?
Josh: Yeah, absolutely. And, again, there are no assumptions to be made in that process, because if you get off in thinking, I’m so used to doing talks in Colorado and everyone in Colorado pays for my accommodation when I travel or whatever. And then you have a talk with someone in California and they’re like, no, wait, what? And it’s good that you’re here, but you don’t have your own hotel sorted. There are a lot of things that; just have your business processes quite clear and your expectations, and don’t be afraid to, if you have preferences or if there are things that you do and don’t be apologetic about. You don’t want to fly on X, because people get that, everyone understands that, so I think back backing yourself on that.
Let’s see, what else? From a back-office perspective, be clear about the payment terms, different countries, oh my goodness, wildly, wildly different processes where I’ve given talks in some countries where they’re 90 day payment terms from the day that you send an invoice and that’s including your expenses recuperation. So, just be really clear. Again, I think you’re going to do yourself a lot of work, I’m going to quote Roald Amundsen, the Norwegian explorer; and he says there’s no such thing as failure, it’s just lack of planning. And I think that’s absolutely right. If you just have that list, just go through the scenario.
So, if you get an international talk, and I’ll invite anyone listening to this, let’s say they’ll find my name because of the internet, so you can find me; if anyone has any questions or wants to do more international speaking, I’m very happy to have chats with folks. But I think just getting that list, putting that list down of think through the flow, think through your flow as a speaker when you give a presentation. It could be at your local high school, it could be at a Fortune 300, whatever.
But think through that flow and draw that out; what happened, how did it go from conversation one to conversation three to the invoices sent and create a journey flow that you’re going to use as a checklist for yourself when you’re working internationally, because that’s going to help you feel a lot more comfortable and confident. Because speaking with Latin organizations versus speaking with Greek organizations versus you name it, it’s wildly different, so you’re only going to have your own structure to fall back on.