S. 3 Ep. 50 – The Past, Present & Future Of SpeakerFlow

Picture of Cece Payne

Cece Payne

Marketing Coordinator at SpeakerFlow - Follow us on social media to stay in the flow!

Cece Payne

Marketing Coordinator at SpeakerFlow - Follow us on social media to stay in the flow!
Technically Speaking S 3 Ep 50 - The Past Present And Future Of SpeakerFlow with Taylorr Payne and Austin Grammon

In this episode – the final episode of Season 3 – we’re breaking down everything you need to know about us, including how we got here and, most importantly, where we’re going from here.

This one’s jam-packed with news and updates, so we’ll keep it short and sweet, but don’t skip it. This is an episode you won’t want to miss!

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Listen to the Podcast 🎤

Show Notes 📓

✅ Want to learn more about SpeakerFlow, our system, and where we’re headed next? Book a call with us: https://speakerflow.com/demo/

📷 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/

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: Welcome to the final episode of season three of Technically Speaking. We’re so excited that you’re here for us. Today’s a little bit of a different episode than usual.

Taylorr: It sure is.

Austin: You’re about to get the most raw, authentic version of Austin and Taylorr that you’ve had yet. What we realized is that as part of this wrap-up of season three, we want to reflect on the lessons that we’ve learned over the last few years and also give you a sense of where things are going since this is a change. So, that’s what we’re here to do.

Taylorr: And as a side note here, if you have children in the car, if you’re listening to this on speaker or something just know this episode is stronger with language then many of our other episodes, we weren’t lying when we said authentic. So, enjoy and we’ll see you on the other side. It’s so weird getting into a recording. Because I feel like prior to a recording we’re just ourselves just talking about something.

Austin: I don’t have to be something else.

Taylorr: And then you turn the button on and it’s like, my brain just blanks out and makes me feel like I have to put on a face or something.

Austin: It feels like you have to make a point, and I think that’s what’s hard is like you have to, it feels like you have to force a thought rather than just let the thought happen. And you and I are also people, we’ve talked about this before, that are perfectly okay with silence while we’re trying to think about something. But it feels like there can’t be just space for thought or, you know what I mean? I’m never going to just stop and consider what you just said for a while. I feel like I have to just have something ready to say back.

Taylorr: Can you imagine the most boring podcast on the planet?

Austin: It’s just pauses of three minutes long. Just silence while we’re pondering something. No one would listen to our show.

Taylorr: That’s how it should be, though. I’m so sick.

Austin: Right? That’s how conversations happen.

Taylorr: That’s how conversations happen. I’m sick of the persona.

Austin: Yeah. Authenticity matters.

Taylorr: Yeah. And I think we own that pretty well. The Austin and Taylorr people get in-person and in meetings is pretty consistent. But I don’t know, I feel like the podcast has always been one area where I just can’t let go of the persona for some reason. And I’m killing that person.

Austin: Yeah, like whatever it even is, I’m not even sure how to put my finger on what the quality is.

Taylorr: Maybe it’s insecurity to some degree, maybe we feel like you have to behave in a certain way. That’s usually what it is, right? Humans are, I think we’re wired to want to fit into a community in some way or be accepted in a certain way. And I don’t know, there are just kind of unspoken standards it feels like sometimes about being a podcast host and you want to mold to those. Like having the perfect segue and the intro and the voice and all of this nonsense that is just not my personality. Yeah. For me personally, it’s probably because I want to like, I care about it being successful, the show and the things we’re doing and having good conversations with people. But for some reason that feels tied to the persona that comes with hosting a show. And I don’t think it needs to be.

Austin: Yeah. Yeah. That’s fair. Yeah, I think for me it feels more like I’m forcing it than anything else. I still feel more or less myself, but I feel like I don’t give myself the space to have my authentic thoughts. I feel forced to have thoughts and like.

Taylorr: Yeah, that’s draining.

Austin: It’s weird because I’m perfectly comfortable with not knowing all of the answers in so many other areas of life, but it feels like when you’re recording a show you should have more information than sometimes, I feel like I have. And so, I feel like I need to have an opinion about something that I’m not qualified to even have an opinion about.

Taylorr: Yeah.

Austin: Every time we talk to somebody that is talking about storytelling and how to put together a proper presentation, I’m like, oh yeah, that perfectly makes sense because X, Y and Z, I have no fucking clue. I’m not qualified. Even if I’ve observed a pattern, I’m still not qualified to weigh in at all. But I feel like I have to because I’m running this show, you know? That’s weird.

Taylorr: Yeah, for sure. Yeah, I guess it’s the difference of being the expert and being the facilitator. Yeah. It feels like you always have to build on stuff though is the problem in a typical podcast situation. When somebody says something and then you have to put your insight and this layer on top of it. And now let’s be honest, sometimes guests, holy crap, just dry as a bone like.

Austin: True. Yeah.

Taylorr: Yeah. You combine lack of being qualified with having to pull stuff out of somebody. It’s not always easy.

Austin: No. There’s also something to be said about you and I choosing to cover a broad range of topics with this show where like.

Taylorr: Yeah, I don’t even know if that was a choice. It feels like it shouldn’t have happened in the first place.

Austin: That’s fair. Yeah. We definitely got outside of what is our core skillset. Which to some degree is fine because we’re learning something, but we should recognize the fact that.

Taylorr: Purposeful. Intentional.

Austin: Yeah, it should be intentional. It should be because you and I are trying to learn something, not because we’re trying to try to be experts in something we’re not. And I don’t think we necessarily are, that’s probably too strong of a word, but I feel like I feel pressured to be even if, yeah.

Taylorr: Yeah. Well, I feel like to the point of the content of Technically Speaking so far. It’s been great, we’ve learned a lot, had amazing guests. Thank you to all of you who have come on the show, if you’re listening. But it feels like every other podcast in the thought leadership space.

Austin: Yes. It does.

Taylorr: It’s an interview about God only knows what, depending on who we can fill the slot in that week for recording and what order they showed up in. And that’s the stuff we run with. But it doesn’t feel purposeful. It feels kind of like a, I don’t know, it feels almost separate entirely from Speaker Flow. It doesn’t feel like it adds any value to the vision of what Speaker Flow is.

Austin: It’s thought leadership and credibility, so that’s something, it’s not nothing.

Taylorr: Yeah, sure. It’s a marketing. Yeah.

Austin: It’s not about the thing that we help people with, though.

Taylorr: It’s not the thing. Yeah. I care. It’s cool that people listening to the show, they’re like, oh, we love the show, thank you so much. And then they become customers because they trust us more. All those things are cool. But it’s not like, I don’t know, man, I’m not motivated by that. It’s very extrinsic, like.

Austin: Yeah, that’s true.

Taylorr: I want it to make sense. I want everything we do to be so purely focused that it’s impossible not to understand what Speaker Flow is and does.

Austin: Laser beam shit, dude.

Taylorr: Laser beam, yeah. And it just feels like we have a little bit of a broken laser beam at the moment.

Austin: Yeah, we’re like a 12-volt battery flashlight right now. Okay, that’s not true. We tell the long ways. Yeah. But focus is good.

Taylorr: Some people are listening to this like, what do you mean flashlight? I have a phone.

Austin: Yeah. Yeah. Does the new generation even know that there’s a thing that exists that you can buy that’s separate than your phone’s flashlight? Yeah, that’s the right question.

Taylorr: Yeah.

Austin: I was talking to Lila last night and she brought up something about an iPad and I was like, did you know that we didn’t even have iPads when I was a kid? And her response to that was, what? What?

Taylorr: Yeah. Yeah.

Austin: No iPads. No concept. She has no box for a world without technology.

Taylorr: Yeah. That’s crazy. I think about what that’s going to be like for her. Yeah. I’m very interested in. Yeah. It’s going to make our lives easier; you know? Digital adoption will be done.

Austin: That’s true. Yeah.

Taylorr: That’s crazy to think about. I was reflecting on that because of the Steam Decks recently. So, for those of you that don’t know, in the background, Austin and I are big gamers. We spend way too many hours playing games together. It’s awesome. Actually, we’ll be playing tonight. So, look forward to that.

Austin: Any Diablo players on here just let us know.

Taylorr: Any Diablo players?

Austin: We’ll start a clan.

Taylorr: Yeah, we’ll start a clan. Actually, it’s not a bad idea.

Austin: Not a bad idea. We’ll put a pin in that.

Taylorr: All right, hit us up. But we just got Steam Decks, which are basically PCs, right? What is it, an eight-inch, nine inch screen in the center of two controller ends, basically? And they play all of the games. All of the games you can play on the PlayStation, the Xbox, your pc, everything. It is absolutely mind blowing. And I remember growing up, one Christmas, the only thing I wanted, it was brand new. And it was very strategic. I think they launched this in October or November.

Austin: Oh, I know exactly what you’re talking about.

Taylorr: But the Game Boy Advance.

Austin: The Game Boy Advance SP, dude. The square one that flips up, am I right?

Taylorr: Actually, that one, no, that was before that one. It was the Advance.

Austin: Oh, you’re talking about the rectangle one?

Taylorr: Yeah. Dude, I’m an OG. The old Nintendos I had the.

Austin: Yeah, dude. Oh, wow, that’s good.

Taylorr: Thick black Game Boy, I got the backlit one. I had all of the collections growing up.

Austin: Wow.

Taylorr: Yeah. Lots of Pokemon, all of the things. But the Game Boy Advance, it was the first, it was the one that was, what’s the shape? I don’t know. It was not a trapezoid, almost a flattened octagon. If you imagine a stop sign and squished the top half down a bit, right? Different design, fully backlit, had a bigger battery, played all of these cool new games. Side note, my parents, they gave me this big box for Christmas, it was my only present. And I was like, this isn’t a Game Boy. Because it was a giant box, but they did nested boxes and duct tape and all of this stuff. I get to the bottom and the Game Boy Advance box is there, but it’s empty.

Austin: Oh, man. Wow, that’s brutal, dude. They took you through the whole journey.

Taylorr: They wait, they wait, they made me go through the entire emotional rollercoaster. 15 minutes goes by, and they hand me the Game Boy. So, anyway, all of that to say, it’s mind blowing, the difference between that little thing and what we have accessible today.

Austin: Technology has improved dramatically.

Taylorr: While I was growing up like that. It’s pretty cool.

Austin: Yeah. If anybody wonders why Taylorr ever has a hot temper, you’ve just learned the reason why.

Taylorr: Oh, man. It’s probably a little too true. Yeah. Oh, that’s hilarious.

Austin: Yeah. Yeah.

Taylorr: Well, all of that to say things change, it’s kind of the theme for today’s conversation I feel like.

Austin: Oh, yeah, for sure. Yeah. Yeah. And we were talking about this yesterday, thinking about the lessons that we’ve learned running Speaker Flow. When I was getting ready for bed and stuff last night, I was thinking about this and what’s weird is that we’ve never actually shifted the problem that we’re solving with Speaker Flow.

Taylorr: No, we haven’t.

Austin: We’ve only ever changed the mode of delivery. And not to toot our horn and say that we have some magic sauce that other people don’t or something. Because this is available to anybody. And maybe this isn’t actually some secret formula that works for everyone, but it certainly worked for us. But the whole point of thought leadership really, is that you’re trying to solve a very specific problem. And it shouldn’t matter what mechanism you use to solve that. In fact, what you should do is do it the best that you can and then pay attention and then laser focus on the thing that works really well. This is why we killed the coaching program that we had, because while technically it was a vehicle to solve the problem, it wasn’t the best vehicle to solve the problem that we could find. 

So, we adapted. And one of the ongoing gripes we’ve had about the quote-unquote speaking industry, and you could extend this to any of the other mediums, the coaching industry, the consulting industry, whatever, is it’s just one very specific mode of delivery to try to solve a bigger problem.

Taylorr: It’s limiting.

Austin: It’s very limiting. Yeah. I guess it depends on what your goals are, right? If somebody just wants to be a keynote speaker, just wants to stand up on stages and do their thing and that’s the thing that they’re most passionate about, there’s nothing wrong with saying I’m just going to be, I’m just going to do that. But I don’t think that’s typical. I think most of the people that would be listening to this show have an expertise in something, can solve a problem somehow and just want to be able to solve that problem for the clients and grow an awesome business along the way, obviously. But, yeah, getting too laser-focused on one specific mechanism for solving a problem can sometimes get in the way of what would otherwise be a better way or even maybe just a more differentiated way to solve the problem. And that sometimes can be the thing that makes the difference.

Taylorr: Right. Well, at least in the beginning, right? If you’re uncertain of what the best delivery is, that’s when we should really be playing around, as we did in the early days, you know? What’s actually going to work? But staying focused on the problem, I forget who told us this. maybe this was a podcast episode, maybe I heard it from somebody. I didn’t think of this by myself, I don’t think. But it’s actually come a lot up a lot. I think I’ve had two demos this week where this came up, but it’s not so much about what you’re offering. If you’re solely a speaker, cool; solely a coach, cool; solely a consultant, awesome. But don’t label yourself as only that because it becomes commoditized. 

That’s the problem I have with this, is you solve a problem. You’re an expert in something, right? Saying I’m just a speaker or I’m a speaker, I’m a coach, I’m a consultant, doesn’t differentiate you in conversation with people. Whereas if you say, I help these types of people solve this problem so they can see this outcome, the next question is how? And then break down the program, right? But I think it’s just the mindset alone of just saying like, I’m only this and commoditizing yourself is the mistake that gets made. And where I was going with this, I think it’s an analogy. Yeah. But it’s like Coca-Cola for example, put in your favorite soda brand, but Coca-Cola. When I just said Coca-Cola, you could practically taste it, right?

You see the red, the white, maybe Santa Claus, tis the season. You have all of these associations to Coca-Cola, but functionally you taste it. They’re known for that thing, even though they have a billion different ways of delivering it. 12-ounce bottles, two liters, 55 gallon drums, a bajillion different flavors. The way they’re delivering that service is many, but they’re still known for that one thing.

Austin: Same candy bar, different wrapper.

Taylorr: Yeah. Same candy bar, different wrapper. I love that phrase. Where’d that one come from?

Austin: Me too. That was a good one. I don’t remember. Probably Brad Ferris.

Taylorr: Might have been Brad.

Austin: Yeah.

Taylorr: Our business coach.

Austin: Yeah. For those of you that don’t know Brad Ferris at Anchor Advisors in Chicago, he’s a business coach. He’s been our business coach since the beginning.

Taylorr: Very beginning.

Austin: Any single person that’s influenced the trajectory of Speaker Flow, he’s probably the number one person.

Taylorr: The person.

Austin: Outside of you and I obviously, but.

Taylorr: Yeah. Right. The person.

Austin: Yeah. Good guy. The importance of having somebody that you can trust that you can rely on is critical. Actually, it’s the trusted advisor label. Of all of my favorite labels., I like the the trusted advisor label.

Taylorr: Trusted Advisor. Yeah.

Austin: And that’s because an advisor advises on a specific thing and that specific thing is the thing that can differentiate you, and as an advisor you have lots of different available options as to how you do your advising. So, that’s a good one. But he’s been our advisor and, man, he’s worth it.

Taylorr: Oh, yeah.

Austin: So good. I don’t know how I can do. We call him Business Dad. In fact, the other day Taylorr and I were having a conversation, and we were just reflecting on how awesome Brad is and he goes, thank you dad, I mean Brad. I still think about that every day.

Taylorr: Yeah.

Austin: That’s good.

Taylorr: It was good. It’s crazy to think back to your point, right? Since day one we’ve been solving the same problem. It’s just how we’ve been delivering it, right? And we started this whole thing because systems were lacking. No one was using systems, or they were extremely frustrated by them or they were just underutilized. And we found there’s the whole foundation to a business. If we don’t have an assembly line to the whole thing, it’s impossible to scale it. And the vast majority of folks in this space want to scale it or at least bring on a team and all of those things. So, that’s been the problem since day one. Solving that problem though and figuring that out along the way. And it’s a blue ocean for us, you guys like it, it’s been hard to figure out what the hell we do here. Yeah. What’s our first offer.

Austin: Functionally.

Taylorr: Yeah. If we build a timeline here, so we launched the business, it was May 2019.

Austin: Well, technically it was April. We closed our first deal in April of 19. And I remember this vividly because that money sat in Stripe, and we couldn’t touch it because we wanted the business to get it.

Taylorr: Yeah, what was funny too is we started it with what? Negative a few grand or something?

Austin: Yeah.

Taylorr: We just pooled in some money to like, and it was just, it wasn’t even a bank account, it was like, all right, I’ll get the LLC, you get the blah blah blah. It was just this thing. It’s really scrappy. And I remember, I still have that sheet of paper where we came up with the idea, you guys, the idea for Speaker Flow was born off of an existential crisis and, I don’t even know how many countless hours of conversation between Austin and I, but eventually the conversation led to like, what the hell do we want to do with our lives? Everything hasn’t, so far, we haven’t really found what we were passionate about doing or who we were passionate about helping. 

And after this long series of conversations, we realized the thing we were passionate about is this. And then the whole idea for Speaker Flow came up largely because I was kind of deep in trying to understand the flow state for a while and I thought there was this commonality, which is still true. I fricking love our brand and how we position this whole thing. But I remember I still have that piece of paper stashed away somewhere on one of these bookshelves that have all of the original logos and the ideas and thoughts behind it. And, and I think that was March-ish, end of March. And then we decided and just started taking action. We just started reaching out on LinkedIn and then basically saying like, hey, does this sound remotely interesting? And the uptick was really quick and that’s why we had to get the business actually formed in May of 2019.

Austin: Shout out to Aaron O’Malley, our first client.

Taylorr: Our first client, Aaron. Yeah.

Austin: And actually, who got us our second and third client too.

Taylorr: And second and third, yeah, we’re thrilled.

Austin: Yeah. Shout out to David Raymond.

Taylorr: David.

Austin: You too. Yeah.

Taylorr: Jacob Green, I think was in that mix too.

Austin: Yeah.

Taylorr: Yeah. Sup, Jacob.

Austin: Yeah.

Taylorr: But the thing is, we knew the problem was there, but we had no clue, how do we help people solve this problem?

Austin: We had some ideas; they were just bad.

Taylorr: We had some ideas. Yeah. What was the first offer.

Austin: We created the six-week program. It was a 6 or a 12-week program.

Taylorr: 6 or 12. Yeah. Yeah.

Austin: And the entire thing was basically just an Excel sheet that was like, here are all of the major categories of tech that you can have in your business and here’s the one that we recommend and why. And here’s the page to go sign up for it. You’re welcome. Look, here’s the thing though. One of the things that I believe is true about business in general by way of lived experience through running Speaker Flow with this intentionality, is that being people first always wins.

Taylorr: Always. Remember that.

Austin: If you’re relationship-oriented it always wins. Even if we had a terrible process for trying to solve this problem with version one and version two and version three, and version four and however many it’s taken to get us to this point. But you just actually care about the person. You just take the time to have conversations and just empathize and really understand where they’re at. And that’s something that’s not a skillset that you really have to even develop. Anybody can do that at any time. Just genuinely care. And it makes all of the difference in the world. It can make an even otherwise not valuable offer, substantially more valuable.

Taylorr: Oh, yeah, for sure. Because they just care about the people, you know? Let’s help them.

Austin: Yeah, that’s what matters.

Taylorr: Well, and I think too, it’s not like we were like, or even you guys listening, it’s not like we were like, okay, I want to get onstage. You can compare yourself to millions of people on earth who do that. And how do they do it? Where do they speak? Don’t even get me down the rabbit hole of like, I don’t know where to find leads because oh, Jesus, you don’t know how good you have it. I’m going to get myself out, you don’t. You had an offer; you have a problem to solve. You had a way of doing it. For us, it was nothing to compare to. It’s not like we were setting up a roofing business or a website development company. 

We were like; people have a problem having business systems for some reason. And it didn’t seem like anyone else, especially niche-oriented solved the problems except on the enterprise-level and all of the enterprise-level implementation stuff is like, we’re going to set up Salesforce for you. And that is it. But the problem was that there’s no operating system, nothing talks with one another. You have to be an automation genius. How do you even get a grip on all of this stuff? And we knew what the problem was, but figuring out how to structure the company in a way that would give us the best mode of delivery was, just a journey of trial-and-error and.

Austin: Yeah. And the best way to serve it.

Taylorr: There’d be so many labels, it helped us figure out what we’re really good at and what we’re not. And kept us open-minded to different things. We started with the consulting thing and what’s funny is, functionally these days we spent about 12 weeks with people, 90 days to get all their systems set up. But I think in the early days, right? It was like, these are the systems we recommend, go get them and let us know if you have questions. That eventually holds up a little bit.

Austin: That was the issue. Expecting people to be able to just learn how to use the tech itself.

Taylorr: That was a mistake.

Austin: Yeah. One of the best decisions we ever made was just deciding that we would develop the processes and systems internally to be able to do the implementation in-house. As soon as we made that decision, things got substantially easier for us. Well, okay, maybe not easier. Things got clearer; how we can actually turn this into a scalable thing got a lot clearer.

Taylorr: And that didn’t take us very long to sort out, but we got interrupted, I think, with the pandemic. If I recall it was late 2019 or so, we were like, okay, we’re going to set these different tools up that we know well, but we kind of had to use everything depending on the person’s budget and what they needed. We had to use a lot of different business systems and we were like, okay, we’re going to do the implementation for you and guide you through it. But it was still really rocky because we were always reinventing the wheel depending on the tools people chose. Eventually we started to figure out how the stuff should be structured. And so, again, reinventing the wheel, and then we’d still need to be geniuses on every piece of business tech on earth. And it’s like, how in the hell do you train a team to master every system, period.

Austin: You don’t.

Taylorr: And we have to do it from ground zero every time. Not scalable whatsoever. And then the pandemic came.

Austin: I’ll never forget, it was at the NSA Thrive event in.

Taylorr: It was the week after shit shut down.

Austin: Yes. Yeah, it was while we were there, the news story started coming out of this Covid thing.

Taylorr: Oh, yeah, right.

Austin: I’ll never forget Brittany Hodak, Brittany, if you’re listening to this, what’s up? Brittany came over to us and was like, hey, are you guys seeing this? I’m going to have to cancel some events or, I forget exactly how the conversation went, but I was like, wow, this is crazy. And me being very skeptical at the time, I was like, okay, well everybody’s freaking out and this thing’s going to pass. Boy, was I wrong about that prediction? Holy crap. How about just shift and change the course of humanity as a whole. Who could have ever guessed that was how that was going to play out? Holy crap. Yeah, bad time to start a business.

Taylorr: Yeah. And that was six months in, and we weren’t even paying our, maybe we were getting some portion, some money at the time. I’m pretty sure, we were still side hustling to some degree during this.

Austin: Oh, I remember being poor.

Taylorr: Yeah. Poor, dirt poor, nothing going on.

Austin: Yeah. Every dollar we made got instantly invested back into the business.

Taylorr: Yeah, it was tough. And then Covid hit, and I remember, man, it was probably a week or two though after we got back from that conference, my phone just started ringing with all of our clients in the consulting end of our business being like.

Austin: Firing us. Yeah.

Taylorr: And of course, you can’t say no.

Austin: It was horrible. It was a bloodbath out there, man.

Taylorr: They lost their business entirely. And it was sad.

Austin: We had a client that lost $300,000 of $400,000 she had on the books in a week straight.

Taylorr: It was so hard.

Austin: It was terrible.

Taylorr: And I know many of you listening, you’re.

Austin: Oh, remember.

Taylorr: Yeah, you remember, that type of thing. And yeah. But it was still difficult, right? Because now if anything was going to kill us, it was going to be this, you know?

Austin: Yeah.

Taylorr: And so, how do we adapt our offer in a way that doesn’t cost thousands of dollars but can still help right now when there’s downtime and some reinvention possible. And group coaching came into that.

Austin: That’s the answer. That’s it. You stopped doing it one-on-one, you start doing it in group.

Taylorr: Doing it in a group.

Austin: Cheaper for the client, scaled leverage delivery. And that was, actually, it was more or less a success. It was good.

Taylorr: It was good.

Austin: We built some of the most solid relationships. We’ve built the entire business because of that program.

Taylorr: For sure. Because of that program.

Austin: That really, it contextualized how the training element of our business needs to fit in. And it taught us that we can do it in a more scalable way via coursework, which meant that we could be more impactful. Which is good.

Taylorr: I think an important lesson here though is I didn’t know what I was signing up for group coaching. Right? That label has implications to it. I’m not qualified to be a coach, right? And what we found is it’s training more than anything, right? That’s the thing, Its systems training, right?

Austin: It’s training, that’s what people need.

Taylorr: But we didn’t have the right labels. And so, what happened is we’d bring on a client and their expectations of what was possible were completely out of line with what we could actually deliver. And there were also some just unreasonable expectations people had like, oh, with your magical advice and me doing nothing, I’m going to make millions of dollars or whatever. That’s just not how it works. But at the end of the day, it was our fault because we had the wrong label for the thing that we wanted to be doing. And granted, we were still actually figuring out what is the delivery mechanism that’s best for Speaker Flow? And I think the mix of that, and the label was wrong, that combined thing. But then of course we realized with this stuff, we don’t need to charge for this stuff. 

We can produce courses that teach you all of it. We can do monthly meetings with all of our users and things to give them access to it or other ideas we can create process-oriented courses. I think from day one, our goal has always been to give it away. All of you listening have been to our resources page on the website. We don’t hold anything back. Go take it and run with it and if you can do something with it, awesome. But if you want somebody to implement it, that’s where we come into the mix. And I felt like when we made that decision, I felt free.

Austin: So true, dude.

Taylorr: I felt this sense of relief, like wow, we can really just implement the system, build systems for people. And at this point, of course we had Zoho in the mix and the operating system getting built and we could only do that and try and become the best at it and give everything else away for free. And then, yeah, that felt so much more intrinsically motivating.

Austin: Yeah, no doubt.

Taylorr: Without holding it back.

Austin: There’s something to be said about, well, this is the Alex Hormozi thing. Give away the solution, sell the implementation. It’s value first, that’s the thing. It’s like, look, you can just have all of the things, we have to do, I have to pay staff people to do work. So, we can’t do work for people for free. But if you want to learn the solution and go and do it yourself, freaking more power to you, go for it. And that’s an empowering thing. The entire thing is based off of empowerment. You’re either empowering people to go do it by themselves or if that’s a bad use of their time or money or whatever, then they can outsource it to us, and we’ll do it for them. But the whole thing is just based off of value creation, nothing is ever held back. 

And this is one of the things that’s fascinating about other coaching organizations in this space. And not everybody is like this. One of the people that I love that I think is the model in the opposite of what I’m about to say is David Newman, who is not afraid to just like, here’s the things that work. So, shout out to you David, thank you for running an awesome coaching company, but there are so many people that just dangle the carrot. These are the problems we can solve, but you have to pay me before you can get them. And there’s no guarantee there. And this is why, I’ll never forget actually, when we first started Speaker Flow, we started getting involved in the communities and the National Speakers Association and people told us, they were like, you’re going to be fighting an uphill battle because there have been snake oil salesmen in this industry for as long as this existed, and people are highly skeptical of it.

And looking back now, I can see why that’s the case because think of how many coaching practices we’ve seen pop up in the last four years where there’s somebody saying they have some magical answer that’s going to get somebody booked 50 times a year and then it never pans out and the whole thing falls apart and the reputation’s destroyed and people are right back where they started and more frustrated. Yeah. That’s rough, man. And that thought’s been in the back of our head since day one is like, okay, how can we be completely in alignment with what we’re telling people we can accomplish? And this is why, for those of you that have been listening, that have been on this journey with us since day one, this is why we pivot. I hate that word, but that’s why we pivot the way that we do. Because when we find that we’re out of alignment with that core belief system that we have, we had to change something.

Taylorr: We had to change it.

Austin: What’s hilarious about the situation with group coaching though, is we realized the model was not that effective for the thing that our clients actually needed. And we felt kind of gross feeling like we were keeping things behind closed doors, but then like not, we didn’t learn the lesson about focus at that point because what we did was, we went, you went full implementation and I went full one-on-one coaching and for the next year, that’s how it was, we did more or less what we’re doing now. And I did accelerator and that was.

Taylorr: Well, here’s what’s interesting though. At this moment in time too, we also had some other rings in the fire, right? We had the Intel engine branded under Sam Richter, which is an amazing tool. Sam, what’s up? We had, I think we were maybe in conversations with e-speakers to build Gig OS, which was a branded version of Speaker Flow, but it was really just an integration between the two. We started seeing the world open up a bit more and people to have more budget. And so, we realized maybe we can go back to the one-on-one stuff, but we didn’t know what that was going to look like. S

o, the accelerator program came out, which was more like, in a weird way it’s almost like Flow Zone is today, but regardless, a lot more handholding, one-on-one or Flow Zone plus, a lot more one-on-one stuff. And it still had the coaching element. And then we were still trying to figure out how the implementation stuff was going. And what was interesting is since then, I remember, and this should have told us everything. We ran one webinar when we first started working on Speaker Flow system. Shout out to Julie Holmes for helping us connect the dots with Zoho One in the early days. But we ran a webinar and we had, and it was cheap, it was so cheap. We just gave away the CRM and said, all right, see you later. No functional support, nothing. 

It was like 4.97, we made 30 sales from one webinar of a system, right? Let’s say, something that was built for them. And then the implementation kept building and building and building, yet we were still looking for these other ways. It was right in front of us, in hindsight, the whole time.

Austin: People were just begging for it.

Taylorr: While we were trying to find all of these, begging for it, all of these other ways. And I don’t really know. It’s just not relevant until it’s relevant, I guess. But we’re curious people, we want to rule everything out and figure it out. So, we had all of these irons in the fire at this moment in time, and this was probably what, 21-ish, now we’re talking, where we had the accelerator, the implementation was going, the Intel engine, Gig OS.

Austin: We cruised all the way into October of 21.

Taylorr: Different courses we partnered up with people on to try and sell like, ooh, we confused the shit out of the market for a while because some people had one experience with Speaker Flow and other people were getting this entirely different experience. And some people knew us as the lead gen tool, even though it was powered from Sam Richter and some of, like, there was just no consistency.

Austin: And it was such a pain to manage on the back end.

Taylorr: It was so hard.

Austin: Yeah, it was rough, dude. This was the stage in business where we were prioritizing Speaker Flow growing and our clients’ needs over literally everything else.

Taylorr: Everything else.

Austin: Including my health.

Taylorr: Yeah, our health. It was bad.

Austin: It was right around this time I was sick and not sleeping and I had gained 80 pounds. That was a rough time. That was a rough time. We were trying so hard. Yeah, it was. But I think one of the big lessons that I learned from that entire experience is the importance of listening to your intuition. The entire time I knew something was weird, but I just felt like I needed to continue pushing the rope. And you were talking about a book that your mother-in-law gave you recently, I think, about the importance of knowing when to quit.

Taylorr: Knowing when to quit.

Austin: And damn, that’s a tough lesson, but that is an important lesson. And one of the other things that’s hard about this too, right? Is that it’s not that this confusion was causing Speaker Flow to struggle, it was in hindsight, but we’ve grown four years in a row. We’ve never not grown a year over year and not grown by a pretty substantial margin. So, what we were doing was working and especially when it came time after we had realized that we needed to focus and especially that we were going to just drill everything down into one specific offer. We had, I guess I don’t care throwing numbers around, 350, $450,000 a year worth of other things, specifically coaching that we were ready to act, that was going to get away. It was like, look, we’re going to risk potentially halving our revenue in the next year.

Taylorr: That’s right.

Austin: To be able to be more focused. And that was a gamble. That was a gamble that paid off. But that was terrifying.

Taylorr: But you get to a point where you’re so sick of being spread thin and not in your zone of genius doing the things you want to be doing for people. Yeah, at some point it doesn’t matter what it takes to just call it. And we did, I remember too, we got hate.

Austin: Well, people we’re so pissed.

Taylorr: People would be so pissed. They would reach out, they’d be like, your business is going to fall apart, this is a terrible mistake. Screw all of you, by the way. And this is not your fucking business. I’ll fight for it all day long. And I’ll do whatever the hell I want, do you understand? So, all that in mind and then people, yeah. And then I called all of our partners, and all of our partners were great, they were very gracious. Sam, e-speakers, thank you so much. We love you, still recommend them all of the time and we still have our integration. But I remember having to have those hard conversations. 

I’d say, Sam, we’re not going to white label the thing anymore; it’s causing too much confusion. E-speakers, guys, love you guys. We need to label this as our own integrations. Creating a separate brand is going to help either of us. And then we had to kill all of our accelerator coaching members. All of the group coaching stuff switched off overnight. We didn’t even have a backup plan.

Austin: No.

Taylorr: They were not scheduling more meetings with people. We were like, all we’re going to do is make the Speaker Flow system the best possible system to use that we can and make the implementation process, done-for-you systems, as flossy as humanly possible. And we killed literally everything else.

Austin: Yeah.

Taylorr: And it worked.

Austin: That was a leap. It worked. Yeah, for sure. And it looked like.

Taylorr: It was the best, never been better. It worked.

Austin: Oh, it was the best decision we could have ever possibly made.

Taylorr: It could’ve been the wrong decision, trying to figure out the process and the conveyor, but it allowed us to build an assembly line. If you think about an assembly line, right? Its inputs equal the same product outcome every single time. For a single car, for example, one assembly line for one car. It allowed us to finally build an assembly line. This is the thing we need to build. How are we going to make that happen? And then now we could really start to, and it’s funny, you know? What’s the cobbler’s son’s shoes story?

Austin: No doubt.

Taylorr: We could finally systemize Speaker Flow.

Austin: Yeah. And that did not happen overnight either. Even for us being systems people, it took us; it really took us until the end of last year, basically, to really define that process. That’s when we decided to create our implementation planner. Anybody that’s gone through our process over the last year has had a Google Doc that we used to map out the whole process and get really into the weeds so we can understand how things work. To make sure we’re hiring people.

Taylorr: Of all of the project automation on the backend, the hiring. Yeah. The ongoing training.

Austin: It contextualized all of the other decisions that we had to make. I think that’s actually maybe one of the main benefits that focus brings, is that it’s a filter. It’s a filter that lets you make decisions more easily and it makes that process a lot easier. And that’s honestly one of the worst parts of being a business owner is that you have to make the decisions that can sometimes have really positive or really negative consequences. And anytime there are lots of variables to have to consider when making those decisions, it’s impossible to feel as confident landing on something. But when you’re laser-focused, there are just less variables. It’s easier to land on something and then measure whether or not it’s working.

Taylorr: You know how in life somebody says something to you and you’re like, that makes sense, but you haven’t lived it. You don’t know that experience. For example, one of those things that happened recently, we were talking with our business coach and today, luckily because of our focus, Austin and I have never been closer to truly living in our zones of genius in Speaker Flow. Meaning we’re building team underneath us and we’re removing ourselves as bottlenecks. You all know we’re the biggest bottlenecks in our company.

Austin: We’re sorry, we love you.

Taylorr: And we’re doing our best. Brad, our business coach, he is like, once that happens and you’re no longer the bottlenecks in these areas, your business will grow naturally simply because you’re not the bottleneck. And he said that, and that makes sense. I have yet to experience though, and I’m a little even skeptical, like, are you sure? I might have to do more sales, which is going to keep me up as a bottleneck. I don’t know. So, anyway, I’m waiting to live that out. One of those experiences that happened kind of during this process is kind of the phrase that like, and a lot of focus experts, they talk about this, but once you choose something to focus on, you realize how deep you can really go. 

And until you make the decision to get focused, you’ll never be able to see how deep you can really go. Which means it’s like you’re jumping into the deep end, and you have no idea how deep that stuff can go. You’re not even sure if it can go deep. And so, there’s fear. And I think that’s why for a lot of people who are also doing many things in their business, it’s hard to make the decision to say, I’m only going to solve this problem. For a speaker, I have all of these different topics. If I choose one, then what if there’s not enough market? All of these fears come up. And I remember when we finally got to our breaking point and we were like, okay, you know what? Yeah, we’re going to now only focus on implementation, kill everything else.

Austin: And we accept the consequences of that decision.

Taylorr: It was almost overnight. I probably put it in about a month after we settled into only doing that thing and the world of opportunity of how we could improve it opened up. It was A crazy experience.

Austin: It’s one that we’re still figuring out where the bottom is. I don’t know if there is a bottom.

Taylorr: Well, there’s not. There’s no, there’s not.

Austin: We just keep going.

Taylorr: That’s the lesson.

Austin: Yeah.

Taylorr: There’s no end to how deep you can go on one specific thing and how polished you can make it and how incredible of an experience you can make it. And I think that opened up for me personally, probably wasn’t until the end of last year, it’s been about a year, when we made the decision to kill it all.

Austin: Yeah. And what’s crazy is how much faster you can make progress once you’ve made that switch. Because the thing about going deep in a space is that not only do you become the best at it or at least a contender for the best at it and it gets easier to differentiate in the rest of it, but your reputation. This is one of the things that we talk about when people bring up ideal client profile. Like, who should I go target for leads? It’s like be as specific as you humanly can be. Every parameter you can possibly think of be that specific. Because if it works and it doesn’t always work, but if it works then your ability to develop a reputation as an expert in that space grows dramatically. Because people talk. 

You’re now taking advantage of human nature, the connection factor of human nature. And that’s another thing that I think is counterintuitive to what you expect is that you feel like the more specific you are, the limited the opportunity is. But in reality, if you’re spread too thin, you never even have the opportunity to be able to grow. It requires specificity to be able to develop that reputation, I can’t think of a better word for it besides reputation. But once you do, here’s the thing, do some Googling about the world’s foremost expert on systems for thought leadership businesses. You’re going to find one company, that’s it. And it’s because we’re so unbelievably specific. 

And any business owner can be that specific. It requires a lot of work at trial and error. Once again, it’s taken us four years really to get to the point of this level of clarity. But we went from, yeah, we’ve grown a lot in the last year both in terms of revenue and team size and our capacity for being able to deliver work and every single thing has improved since that decision was made. It was sweeping improvements.

Taylorr: And we’ve talked about this a lot this week. We haven’t mentioned it in the podcast yet, but when we are so spread thin, you have to say no to a lot of things that you don’t want to say no to. For us, it’s little things like somebody’s having an urgent issue with their system for some reason, we’d never had the bandwidth to, for a team member to pick up the phone and say, hey, how can we solve the problem? There are all of these moments where we want to say yes to things, we know we can improve the client experience, but you’re so spread thin trying to deliver all of these different things and work on all of the stuff and run the business at the same time. And we can finally start saying yes to things. 

And we’ve also had a lot of these conversations but in the last year it’s really felt like, okay, I’m going to back up. As a human being, there are only certain things that you enjoy doing, right? There are skills assessments and persona assessments that’ll tell you everything you need to know about yourself. But all of those personality traits mean you are really good at a specific set of things. When you’re running a business, you have to do all of the things for a while and that is incredibly draining. And as, I don’t know, hardworking as Austin and I are, we are not the best at certain things.

Austin: Most things.

Taylorr: Yeah, most things Also, when you’re spread thin, you don’t have time to like, you have to drop balls, I guess is my point. And you have to make decisions about what you’re willing to do even though it’s not best for the overall experience simply because you’re limited right now. So, as you get more focused and as we’ve grown, I’ve realized what I personally prefer doing can live separately from what Speaker Flow can do. You know what I mean? Even though, I’ll be honest with you guys, some of you have already picked up on this; I’m not the best at support and making our clock. Right? To be honest, I don’t like it. It’s not the thing I’m good at. But I care so deeply that you all get the best experience possible from Speaker Flow. Not from me. 

And so, I think as you continue to, the thing I’m starting to realize, this is, again, only over the last year but as we’ve gotten more focused, like what I personally prefer doing and what Speaker Flow can do are two different things. And that’s opened up the door, the realm of possibility of how I’m objectively removed from the equation of making those decisions and it’s going to be better.

Austin: It speaks to that your business ultimately is a container for you to be able to do the thing that you love doing.

Taylorr: Right.

Austin: And what that requires is for you to set up systems, meaning people, technology and process that handle the parts of the business that are not the thing that you like doing. And every, this is not groundbreaking news, this is just what? Delegation and running a business is this is the least original thought anybody’s ever had, but it’s so true and it’s so hard to really picture until you start building the business. But for all of the people that have questioned whether or not it’s possible to delegate the things that you don’t love doing. I want you to think about something for a minute here, okay? 

Taylor and I, in order for Speaker Flow to exist and offer the service that we do, we have to be thorough experts of this industry, the thought leadership industry, this type of business model. We have to be extremely familiar with Zoho, the operating system that we implement, and we have to be pretty dang familiar with the rest of the technology components that feed into it, the different website platforms and all of the other tools that we migrate from. And that is a gigantic amount of information, that’s an entire career’s worth of information from two of us that have allowed that to be possible. 

And so, since day one the conversation you and I have had is like, how is it even remotely possible that we build a business that isn’t dependent on Austin and Taylorr’s brains being involved in order for this thing to work. And it wasn’t until very recently that we realized that that is the case. And for us personally, what we realized is that we just have to chunk that down into enough specific components to hire specific people to do specific things and then have a process that ties it together well enough to make that possible. But we took something that has no other business model that I can think of that we could look at as an example for how to do this.

That is an unbelievably specific niche skillset and we’ve been able to delegate it to people that have absolutely no experience in either one of those things. In fact, I think our entire team right now is entirely built of people that have not done this work before.

Taylorr: Yeah, that’s right.

Austin: Trained from ground zero to be able to do it.

Taylorr: Ground zero. Yeah.

Austin: And so, whatever abstract thing in your business that you feel like you’re stuck doing forever because nobody else can do it but you, it’s a lie that you tell yourself and you absolutely can do it. But you have to be focused enough about what it is that you want to deliver, and you have to be clear enough about what it is that you actually like doing for that to ever even be possible to begin with. And that’s a call to action. Figure out what those two things are, figure out what it is that you do better than anybody else and what it is that you like doing better than anybody else. And figure out the mechanism that you can use to get that outcome for people better than anybody else. And the rest becomes logistics. 

And it requires attention and observation and measurement and dedication and focus and grinding and doing the stuff that you don’t want to do to the best of your ability for as long as it takes to do that. And it requires pushing even when it looks like there’s no end in sight and it requires the creative thinking and it requires the discipline thinking and none of this stuff is easy, but it is 100% possible. I know it from a lived experience. I’m an idiot. For those of you that don’t know, Austin didn’t even graduate high school. I’m somebody that ran away from home at 16. On paper, I should be in a cardboard box, truly. But you can do it.

Taylorr: You can do it.

Austin: It is 100% possible. And those self-limiting beliefs, I think, get in the way of a lot of people being able to spend more time doing the things that they love. And actually, at the broader level, the world suffers because of that. Is that you as a thought leader, as an ability who can solve problems and make people’s lives better, hinder your ability to do that at the maximum level that you can. Because you’re stuck doing things that you don’t want to do. And once again, to iterate, the way that you get out of that is systems.

Taylorr: Yeah, no doubt.

Austin: Thank you for coming to my TED Talk.

Taylorr: Yeah, it’s been a pleasure.

Austin: So, I think one of the things that we wanted to talk about in this episode is where we’re going from here. We’re almost an hour into this show. Let’s wrap it up with that. Look, the reality of this episode, it’s the finale of Technically Speaking, we’re taking a break from the podcast for a little while. It may be a permanent and indefinite break from the podcast. We might shift our focus and do something else next. I have no idea, but it feels like if this is going to be at a minimum, a temporary goodbye from this show we owe it to the people to let them know what the plans are.

Taylorr: Yeah, no doubt. And I think if we go back to the beginning of this episode, I mentioned that Technically Speaking, it’s been fun, it’s been cool to have guests and learn from people, but it’s out of alignment with what Speaker Flow is today. If we make the decision that’s what we want. Awesome. That’s cool. And we’ll keep doing it. But the future as far as this show goes, it’s going to end where it’s at with this episode. If we decide to spin up another podcast, it’s going to be in the lens of what we do at Speaker Flow, but there are also opportunities for us to reach you in different formats, particularly things like more video content and putting our efforts there. 

We just want to make sure that the content that we’re delivering to our folks is in complete alignment with how we implement at Speaker Flow; give away the solutions, sell the implementation. We want to make sure that all of our content that we give away for free is actually helping you solve the solutions we set out to. And so, we’re going to take a pause and we expect a decent turnaround on spinning stuff up, but it’s going to happen sometime in 24. And it’s going to be a format that creates a lot more value I think than what we’ve done so far.

Austin: Yeah. I don’t even know if I would say a lot more value because what we’ve done so far has been valuable, but it’s going to be more in alignment with what Speaker Flow is about and I think because of that it’s more valuable. Yeah, totally. We have some cool stuff cooking, you guys. We’re not taking a break here because we just need to figure out what content looks like. Some of this too is that we just have some really huge priorities for the next year. We have version two of our CRM coming out, the biggest update that we’ve ever had. Rolling to point seven. We got through seven iterations without calling it the next gen of CRM, this is the next gen of CRM. That’s a pretty lofty statement coming from US. 

Coursework. Yes, coursework is coming. One of the things that I’ve been really excited about for a long time now that we just have not had the space to be able to do, and you know what? Some of our effort that has gone into podcast recording up until this point may be partially redirected into this, but creating courses that are not just about the technology component to systems, but about the process and people components of systems process. It just so happens that Taylorr and I are really good at recruiting people and teaching people how to build teams and delegate is something that we definitely can do and is in perfect alignment with the overall ethos of Speaker Flow and the process side of this. 

You guys, all of the lessons that we learned and advice that we gave while we were doing coaching and it was a lot, we’re not anything magical here, but we got the reps in enough times that we really know what works and what doesn’t at this point. And we’ve already just given that information away for free on our resource’s library and inside of Speaker Flow University. But being able to create dedicated courses that show people, here’s how you generate leads, here’s how you fulfill in a standardized way, here’s how you tackle finances so that it’s not intimidating.

I have no idea, but there are so many lessons that we’ve learned by way of running Speaker Flow and by working with our clients that I would love to be able to just give away the same way that we just give away the rest of our content. And these are some big things that are coming next year.

Taylorr: Well, and the thing I really want to communicate is we’re putting the pedal to the metal as it relates to growing the team. Austin’s and I’s core mission here is to remove ourselves from the weeds, we have to. We’ve been close to it for a very long time, and we’ve loved the relationships that we’ve built and the one-on-one work we got to do. But in order for us to hit any of the goals that Austin just mentioned and for us to continue making Speaker Flow as valuable as possible, we have to be out of the day-to-day of the growth of the business and the operations of the business. We have to be the idea makers and continue to layer and level up Speaker Flow. And it’s not like we have to wait entirely until we’re in those seats before all that stuff happens. 

But my point is we’ve never been more able to make that happen. And as soon as it does, it’s going to allow us to make Speaker Flow the best company to work with in this space, period. I’m so committed to making that outcome a reality. And so, what that means to our point of focus earlier is; for now, we’re going to take a break on this and make stuff happen and come back with a lot more. Yeah, value going forward, I think.

Austin: Cheers to that. For those of you that have been with us for three seasons and 150 episodes, thank you.

Taylorr: Thank you.

Austin: For our clients that are listening. Thank you. It’s because of you that we’ve been able to get to this point and because we’re able to level up and be able to create even more value, this is an overall extremely positive thing. And at the same time, I acknowledge the fact that this is a change and something different. And so, if nothing else, I hope our listeners know, we love you and we’re grateful for you. So, thank you for helping Speaker Flow become what it is today, and we’re excited for the next chapter.

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