When 2019 began, the idea of a technology consultancy for professional speakers remained just that: an idea. Two aspiring speakers and entrepreneurs had just begun to piece together SpeakerFlow and strategize how to maximize their talents to provide the most value. But how do you get started, when your idea is an entirely new kind of business? The answer is in the people.
Let’s Meet the Team
First up to bat was Austin Grammon. Utah native and co-owner of TrafficCrafters digital marketing agency, Austin brought unparalleled knowledge of operations and organization. Having worked with speakers in his previous work with karmaSpeaker, he already knew the speaking industry, including where in most speakers’ businesses they needed organizational help.
Next up was Taylorr Payne, Minnesota resident and marketing master. The other co-owner of TrafficCrafters, Taylorr brought extensive experience in website development as well as exceptional knowledge for making your presence known digitally. As an aspiring speaker, he also brought a unique approach to digital advertising tailored to speakers.
Finally, the third and last piece of the puzzle was the support team, myself and Chani Grammon. As content creators and jacks-of-all trades, we provided the backend support that allowed Austin and Taylorr to focus on building SpeakerFlow rather than getting stuck on small projects. Between the four of us, SpeakerFlow grew at a rapid pace, and by the end of the first year, Chani and I had transitioned to Content & Design Manager and Social Media Manager, respectively, where we remain today.
Where Are They Now?
Now, long since Austin and Taylorr first shared the idea for SpeakerFlow, the business has exploded into a team that’s partnered with the National Speakers Association, eSpeakers, and the Canadian Association for Professional Speakers. By “Helping thought-leaders build better businesses through technology, strategy, and community,” SpeakerFlow is quickly taking the speaking world by storm. After all, it’s hard to beat a business based on honesty, complete transparency, and good ol’ dedication to their clients.
Today, I met with Taylorr and Austin to learn more about their decision to branch into the speaking industry and what drives their success. That way, even though you may not have known us since the beginning, you can get to know us now. 🙂
Their Story in Their Words
“How did you get your idea for SpeakerFlow?”
Taylorr: I think the idea came from seeing the speaking industry and their need for technology and automation. Many of them are solo-entrepreneurs, and they don’t have large teams running their business for them. They need to create content and be onstage more, but running a business is still a full-time ordeal. We noticed that technology and automation could be used for every part of their business. Whether it be operations, sales, or marketing, we realized that their technology is being underutilized. For many of them, they’re putting their software on a shelf and never even touching it. For others, they’re paying for their software without ever fully optimizing it. In my and Austin’s experience with TrafficCrafters, we knew there were ways we could solve this problem.
“So, clearly you guys have experienced an immense amount of growth since you originally started SpeakerFlow. To what do you attribute your success?”
Austin: I think the most important thing over time has been tenacity. We just don’t give up, you know? There are so many challenges that we run into all the time, every day. But yeah, we just persevere. That’s been the whole team’s ethos since we first started. I’ll also mention the iterative process that we believe in, where we make small improvements and pay attention to the data and try to make decisions based on what’s actually working in the real world, rather than what we think might work.
T: Yeah, I would have to agree with that. I think it really has a lot to do with just our core as a company and the core values that we set out when we originally started SpeakerFlow. Even those we had to iterate upon to really land our core value system, and without those, I don’t think, as a company, we would have a direction. Between being able to slay dragons and get shit done and stay clever, and be in flow, and stay humble and kind, we’ve innately made that a part of every action that we take in the company.
“To expand upon that, aside from advocating for constant iteration, what would you say that your mission is for SpeakerFlow?”
A: If we’re defining a mission as the motivating factor that pushes us forward, that’s bigger than the company itself, or any singular goal or objective, the mission of SpeakerFlow is to make extraordinary things possible, both for our team internally and for the people that we work with externally.
“Let’s dig a little deeper into that. Internally, how would you describe SpeakerFlow’s company culture? How do you guys operate with each other and your growing team?”
A: The underlying factor that holds everything that we do together at SpeakerFlow is the technology that we use. We take our own medicine and use all of the tools and resources that are available to business owners, all of the resources that we recommend when we’re consulting or coaching or training or developing products. But I think the culture itself is defined by our set of core values. We not only set core values that we want to measure up to, but we also looked for the things that made us successful as an organization up until that point. Essentially, the core values hold us together, and they cover the entire spectrum.
A: For instance, core value #1 is “Live by the three C’s: Be clever, be curious, be creative.” In other words, we want to be playful and curious about the world, so we have that on one side of the spectrum. Then, on the other side of the spectrum, we have “Get sh*t done,” which is just about executing and making things happen.
T: I also think we have this innate ability, as a team, to solve problems and iterate, as we mentioned earlier. In order to iterate, you have to constantly be looking for improvement, which makes us super tuned to solving problems, both internally and for our clients.
T: Then, from a birds-eye view, our core values are representative of that. If you want to solve problems, you need to be able to get sh*t done and slay dragons and be curious and clever and creative and stay humble and be in flow. So, if I had to sum up what our company culture is about, I would have to say that it’s about being professional problem solvers, really, and always looking for improvement.
“As you’re working to help speakers spread their message, what services or skills do you guys offer right now?”
A: Everything we do is based around this idea that if speakers want a sustainable business, they need a clear roadmap to get there. At SpeakerFlow, we’re dedicated to the speaking industry, so we’re exposed constantly to the best – and sometimes the worst – of the industry. Plus, because we work with so many different people at so many different speaking capacities, we’re able to pull even more data that allows us to point speakers in the right direction. Whether that direction includes one of our technology products, our coaching, our one-on-one consulting, or our coursework, everything is designed to empower speakers not just to be a person that goes to an event and entertains an audience. They’re also empowered to be skilled business owners that create predictability for themselves and enjoy it along the way, the same way we do at SpeakerFlow.
T: And, to add to that, to make all of that achievable, there are three components we offer, namely technology, strategy and community. For the technology aspect, we try to create technology that helps speakers streamline their business. That way, 95% of the background work runs automatically, and for the remaining 5% of their time, they can speak, consult, or train with peace of mind.
T: From there, we offer the strategy component because the technology is only as effective as the strategy to back it. And, in order to get that strategy and technology implemented without feeling alone, we incorporate the community component. This allows our clients to work with speakers who have similar goals, who want to take their business seriously, then build the systems, infrastructure, and team that allows them to be a true thought leader.
“For the clients you’ve served so far, in your ‘beta’ group, how many hours do you think you’ve saved them?”
A: Oh, my god, that is a hard question.
T: It’s nearly impossible to quantify. The technology we provide speakers, when running properly, can replace 1-2 virtual assistants who are full time. Once fully operational, that means about 80 hours per week per client.
“So, looking forward, where do you see SpeakerFlow in one year? Where do you see SpeakerFlow in five years?”
A: The best way we can serve people is to grow our products and content, free and paid. So, over the next year, we’re going to further productize the basic stuff. This means creating courses for a lot of the content that’s in SpeakerFlow University, and further bolstering our efforts around the CRM and the Intel Engine.
T: From a higher level perspective, I want I see SpeakerFlow being synonymous not just with growth in the speaking industry but with the thought leadership industry, as a whole. We’re already sharing out knowledge with speakers, but we’re going to apply it to coaches, consultants, authors and podcasters, too. If we can become synonymous with a better businesses in these spaces, we’ll have done our job.
T: In short, I would expect within three years to have a full team. Then, between three and five years, we’ll be diversifying our content, products, and services to other verticals within the thought leadership space.
“What would you say makes SpeakerFlow unique compared to other speaking industry businesses, and why did you choose the speaking niche?”
T: We realized early on that the speaking industry is very underserved, technologically, and speakers are tight-knit because all of their businesses are different. Because of this, they’re okay with having conversations, growing with each other, and not being competitors. Really, the fact that there are cookie-cutter business models in place for speakers was kind of absurd to us.
A: And, there’s just really nobody out there doing what we’re doing. If I had to define three main things that make us unique, I would say first, we bring humanity to the hustle. This means that we want to enjoy the work that we do as much as we want to work hard. Second, we practice what we preach, i.e., we don’t teach anything that we don’t prove internally. And, third, we really get the S.Y.S.T.E.M.S., meaning we understand both the technology and the processes necessary for scaling a business.
T: There’s a cute acronym for S.Y.S.T.E.M.S. we learned a while back: Save Yourself Some Time, Energy, Money, and Stress. And that applies to technology, documentation, hiring, and managing. All in all, we’re thought leaders for thought leaders, and we do exactly what we recommend our clients do. We speak, we podcast, we create content, we sell, we market. And for all of these processes, we have intricate systems, allowing us to be a productive – yet lean – team.
“Do you have any ongoing partnerships? Do you plan for partnerships further down the road?”
T: Yeah, we’re constantly looking for people serving the same audience we do, and there’s a lot out there. There’s Video Narrative with Chris West, Primeau Productions with Chuck Gallagher, NSA, CAPS, Global Speakers Federation.
A: We just love making friends, you know? Honestly, that’s a good portion of, I think, why we’ve been successful. We are recognized by other leaders in the space as useful to the same people that they work with. Plus, when people need things that we can’t provide, we can at least point them in the right direction. It’s very synergistic.
T: We’ll also be looking at other associations or bureaus, and technology or processes valuable to the speaking community. Ultimately, we want to build relationships with people so that we can provide that value to our clients.
If you’re looking for a team that is as dedicated to you and your business as they are enjoyable to be around (and I can vouch for that, personally), your best match is only a click away. 🙂