Wow! We’re finally here, folks! 👋
In our first first episode of Technically Speaking, we introduce your hosts, Taylorr, Austin, and Max – co-founders of SpeakerFlow.
Not only that, we talk about the inspiration for Technically Speaking, explore the last 2 decades of the thought leadership space, and provide insight about where it’s heading in the next decade.
So, what are you waiting for? 🤔 Click that play button and get to listenin’!
This is a good one.
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Show Notes 📓
✅ Learn more about the Events Industry’s Napster Moment: https://skift.com/2020/08/26/the-event-industry-is-being-confronted-by-its-napster-moment/
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Read the Transcription 🤓
Taylorr: Okay everybody, welcome to the very first episode of technically speaking. Wow. I am so glad we’re here. This has been a long time in the making you guys.
Max: Yes. Just a little while.
Taylorr: Just a little while. A few road bumps along the way, but we’re here now, that’s what matters, right?
Austin: Absolutely. We’re excited.
Taylorr: Yeah, we are excited, that is for sure. So, guys, if you’re listening to this first episode, you probably fall into one of two categories. The first category is you’re starting with us on this journey right when we launched. And we thank you so much for joining us and we hope that this show can provide you so much value as you grow your business. The other category you might fall in is you’re crazy enough to start from the very beginning with technically speaking and go through all of the episodes in which we also applause those efforts. So, thank you all for being here on this very first episode.
Let’s take a second to talk about what this podcast is about and who it’s for. So, Being Speaker Flow and being the podcast Technically Speaking, we’re really here for thought leaders who want to grow their businesses all while getting industry-leading advice. So, you can generally expect to hear from all sorts of experts on the show from professional speakers, to coaches and consultants, facilitators event management professionals, like event planners, meeting professionals so you can get some insights on what their day to day life is like and how they’re looking for thought leaders, also bureaus and just a whole lot more.
Austin: Yeah. And you guys, our whole goal here is to deliver the industry-leading insights that we all need to be developing our thought leadership business us included. So, we’re excited to learn as much as we’re excited for you to be able to learn along with us as far as what to expect in the show, this show is going to be published every week on Tuesday mornings at 5:00 AM, earlier if you’re a part of Speaker Flow University, by the way. And this will be, generally speaking, an interview-style podcast where we’re going to be bringing in those industry-leading experts. We’ll also have an occasional round table discussion with the three of us. We all feel very passionately about things so sometimes things need to be said, and we are not afraid to say them folks so, we’re excited but really like, we should probably start by introducing ourselves if you don’t know us already. So, Taylorr, why don’t you kick us off?
Taylorr: Yeah, definitely. So, hi everyone, I am Taylorr. I am the co-founder and CEO of Speaker Flow. Historically though my background is in sales. It’s actually where I met Austin quite a number of years ago now and together, we trained a few hundred salespeople, we were kind of in face to face sales, quite a grind that was, but it really kind of allowed us to strengthen our sales chops and I’ll let Austin expand on where he went after that. But I stepped into the marketing world specifically in e-commerce and my whole focus was trying to learn how to apply sales, but to a digital marketing perspective so we could learn how to sell at scale. And so, after a while in the eCommerce space that led to creating a digital marketing agency and somewhere along the way, a company that served thought leaders, professional speakers more specifically came along and asked if they could partner up with us the digital marketing agency to resell our marketing services. And being a marketer, I thought, yeah, that’s not a problem.
Professional speakers thought leaders, coaches, they’re just another form of small business, we could totally generate those leads and we did. The challenge though that we found with thought leaders, professional speakers, coaches, and so on is the business systems often were lacking on the marketing end for us to be able to send the leads that we generated to a sales team, like in a CRM that a coach consultant professional speaker could follow up on. So, one of the biggest hang-ups that we had really early on doing marketing is finding a way to get the leads to convert for the professional speakers. And this path just led us to the conclusion that there was some dire need for some business systems. And that was kind of the first start of the idea of Speaker Flow. But Austin I’ll pass it back onto you since our histories are connected in a way and shed some light on your experience.
Austin: Sure. Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, so we’ve known each other for a long time and the direct sales space is interesting. Typically, you get hired by big clients to go in and either generate leads for their services or close deals on their services or products and our job was to train fleets of salespeople to go out and deliver for the clients. And it was fun for a while, but I think both of us got to a point where we’re pretty done selling and marketing thing is that we weren’t really passionate about, we didn’t love feeling like we were selling stuff that we didn’t necessarily stand behind all the time either. So, for those of you that were curious, that was sort of what led to the end of that exciting adventure. But when Taylorr moved on into the marketing realm, I stepped into a sales leadership role with a software company. And as I sort of entered that role, they were working on developing a product that was specifically for the thought leadership space and it sort of became my project to bring that product to market.
And so, I was able to build a lot of the big picture relationships that the company developed and obviously was on the selling front lines as well, talking with speakers and developing relationships. And I really liked the people that I worked with, which was really awesome. But I’ve found pretty quickly that speakers just like really any other business really need less new shiny products and they need help implementing the systems and processes that can enable those products to do what they need to for them. Everything is about getting return on investment and if you don’t use them properly, it doesn’t work. So, we can expand more, on how that developed into Speaker flow later but that’s a little bit about me. So Max, I’ll pass it to you and we can go from there.
Max: Thanks, man. Yeah, I came to the Speaker Flow Team from a background in technology. I kind of grew up in Telco and in the space of the.com era before, you know, it was really a thing as a technical lead and then migrated my way through different roles in the sales world for large corporate clients or corporate companies, and then landed in the Southwest, working for a small professional service and I.T Management company. And for me, the benefit of being in the same company from start to finish for six and a half years, watching us grow, adding offices and just being, basically a mom and pop to a real player in that space I learned a ton, and then was approached by a friend who was a speaker and said, I get the sales stuff you do from an inside sales perspective and business development. Does that work for a speaker? Could that work for a speaker? And my answer was, I don’t know, but we could try it out.
So, that experiment turned into Clearview business development, which was my gig prior to joining Taylorr and Austin. And at the time that I was really the sales guy for a handful of speakers and MCs so I had the benefit of the front row seat to looking at the world of representing them to meeting planners and executive directors and vice presidents of education and I got to see all of what was working and what did not work. And the big things that stood out to me is for most thought leaders, sales are not their first language and thinking methodically in like a process kind of driven way about sales and systems, this is something that just doesn’t really darken their imagination and it’s something that they have to learn. I was also dabbling and side hustling with consulting, this brings to the part where l got to meet Taylorr and Austin. I got in over my head with a client because I had taken on a project to help them with their sales process and it turned out that what they were looking for was as an end product, they wanted to, to bring people to a learning management system, well, above my pay grade.
I was at an industry event, I met Taylorr, we were talking and I was like, this is the guy, this guy gets it. And we talked and Taylorr and I worked together and then shortly after that was a big success, the client loved it. And Taylor introduced me to Austin, and it’s funny, because we were just talking about this the other day. The three of us got together to hang out and talk and out of those conversations from each of our seats is sort of where the idea for Speaker Flow germinated from everybody’s perspective, coming together and saying, we’re all kind of seeing the same thing from different places and we all have the expertise to bring answers and solutions to the table for thought leaders. So, that’s a good summary and I’ll even take it a step further guys, really last year… it’s so funny because there’s two things when we look at our marketing that people love and that is all things TEDx that we’ve put out there, but our state of the speaking industry for 2020. Everybody gravitated to that, it was the most shared and most downloaded piece of content that we created. And right now, it seems so funny because we’ve been kicking around this idea of what about 2021. How are we going to talk to that? And things are shifting, it’s…
Taylorr: It’s a very different world.
Max: It is a massively different world. And as a company, because we serve the industry, we’re evolving our business model and we’re learning how to talk to people where they are. When COVID first happened, the interesting thing for us is we stepped in with offering free consulting and what it did is it gave us a front-row seat to the very specific challenges that were happening in people’s businesses as they were happening. And we learned to adapt and sort of shift our focus and attention to make sure that we were meeting the needs that people were presenting and we were answering their questions and talking to their pain. Which was still systems, it was still how do I grow my business and how do I stay effective? But now obviously the emphasis in the after COVID world is what about hybrid? And what about virtual and how do I make my business virtual in the sense that most of the people I’m serving, I’m doing it digitally. I’m not live, I’m not in front of an audio live audience anymore. So, that’s what you guys say, that’s been a watershed moment in our growth as an organization in [cross-talk 11:22] the industry.
Austin: It’s interesting to watch the space too, because what we’ve always taught, like the tried and true methods that it takes to grow a business. Have really solid bulletproof systems, document everything, prepare to scale, like all of these strategies that you employ in a growing business remain true to this day. You still need to be systems-oriented; you still need to focus on your sales process and be really clear about your value proposition and have a strong marketing plan, all of the things that any business needs still remain true, but there’s this, this disruption that’s happening alongside it. That means that we’re having to build and grow and adapt while also trying to maintain what any business needs to maintain to stay alive. So, it’s been crazy to see that process unfolding of seeing like where it’s almost like there’s this bridge is happening with the state of the world in 2020, where like we’re bridging the future with the past a little bit with some of the changes that we were probably going to see eventually like virtual events as an example, coming much faster and immediate because we don’t have any other choice, but to make it happen. So yeah, it’s been an interesting thing to watch unfold.
Taylorr: Yeah, it’s fascinating because even if you look at the speaking industry, like let’s call it like early two thousand, you know, pre-2008 and the housing crisis, those were the days. You could book 50 to 80 gigs a year only keynote you fly in, you show up, you speak, you fly out, you’re done. And after the housing crisis happened and businesses had less money and they were more restrictive with their budgets, all of a sudden, professional speakers and thought leaders had to shift their value a little bit to provide more value. And we really saw the emergence of breakout sessions and workshops and facilitations and training and things… practical takeaways, basically that teams could get from thought leaders to adapt. And another 10 years later here we are again, and the same thing has happened, but kind of in the virtual sense.
And if you kind of look at the, I don’t know, the last two decades, it’s almost like we’ve gone from the business model of solely speaking to generate revenue to really establishing [inaudible 13:37] the most successful thought leaders to very much establishing a thought leadership business that is centralized yes around speaking, because that’s how you deliver your expertise, but you deliver it through speaking or webinars or coaching or facilitation or podcast or courses or so on and so on. And we’re getting kind of this deeper diversification of a business model that we really haven’t seen before, almost indicative of the music industry in the early two thousand.
Austin: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. We saw a really interesting article about that. Comparing the current event space to Napster in the early two thousand where the music industry had grown all of these billions of dollars hand over fist year after year after year and in the early two thousand was the peak and the disc sales. And once the streaming platform started popping up Napster being probably the earliest one that was well-recognized, we saw a dramatic downturn in the amount of money that was being pushed into the music industry, and that caused all of these companies to adapt. And they’re finally up coming up on the upstream again because they found ways to monetize beyond just record sales as it used to be. But it was disruption, it took a long time to bounce back and we’re seeing that right now. And that’s the importance of seeing the data and paying attention and predicting what may happen, even if it’s on short term notice so that you can adapt and stay viable through those super complicated and difficult scenarios that sometimes are completely out of your control.
So, yeah, and I think there’s ways to do that. Now more than ever, it’s easy to distribute thought leadership. You can do it via social media, you can do it in virtual events, there’s still live events that they will come back, you can create coursework, you can do podcasts, there’s all these different ways of distributing your thought leadership. And I think that if you are an expert and you have a message to share, it’s really important to recognize this is an opportunity for you to just increase your ability to reach people as opposed to feel like you’re being victimized by 2020, which would be fair by the way. But there’s no need to succumb to that. You can push past that, I think as any business should.
Taylorr: And what’s interesting is… Max, sorry, I just had to kind of build on this topic a little bit more…
Max: No, go ahead.
Taylorr: But what’s interesting too is like the money didn’t go away in the music industry in the early two thousand just because streaming popped up, it just changed the way money flowed and their businesses change. I was actually talking to a client about this earlier today, but when streaming started popping up, the revenue for music went down. But all of a sudden, we got these new channels that we could promote the music on. YouTube, got Facebook, got Instagram and all of these social networks and so what happened in an essence is the music… the way the revenue was earned for music shifted. It shifted to ad dollars because you’re getting video plays on YouTube, it shifted to licensing to actually use that music and movies and in commercials and so on and it really, shifted for social media network so as you grew your following, you would also get ad dollars as well. So, it’s not like even in the early two thousand when that revenue kind of dropped off, the revenue for music sales dropped off, but the revenue for collected as a whole for music did not.
And now we’re seeing the same thing happen but at a thought leadership level. And I think we hear this all the time; everybody thinks they’re an expert and it’s because the technology has been completely democratized. I can pick up my phone right now and shoot a five-minute video talking about God only knows what that it gets seen by a million people who very much believe what I have to say. Now, whether or not what I have said is true that is up for debate and whether or not I’m actually an expert is also up for debate. But when we’re competing in a democratized fashion for all of this technology, all of this thought leadership and all of this content, it’s up to us to get creative and innovative in our business to repurpose where our money is coming in from so we can continue to grow our businesses.
Max: We’ve seen…
Austin: I got played out with our clients too, there are lots of really cool…one way that we’ve heard a couple of our different clients talk about the ability to create communities and build captive audiences that you can then sell all of your other stuff too, but like the ability to create a membership site, it used to be that like you had a Facebook group maybe, or you’re going to custom develop a platform, but like for most people who wanted to develop a community that was out of scope for a lot of them, but these days there’s 20 different tools out there that can help you develop a community where you can bring people into you now as opposed to having to go find them. So yeah, I mean, there’s lots of creative ways to do exactly what you were just talking about there Taylorr. And I think I interrupted you Max, so go ahead.
Max: I was going to riff off of what you guys were saying and just say that you can decide how you deal with the disruption. Obviously, it’s been a disruption and there’s been some loss. There’s been economic loss, what we kept hearing is my calendar is gone, everything from now until then is gone and whatever the dollar value represented by all those gigs is gone and that’s a horrendous thing to have happen but at the same time, it’s become catalytic to what you guys were saying. The game has changed. It’s the difference of trying to sell a whole album and then a whole CD and then when Apple got into the game of streaming, they’re like, well, why don’t we just let them buy the track they want? Now that’s an innovation and then people got habituated to buying music that way and right now with the fact that live audiences are shut down, people are getting habituated to getting their content differently.
And the experts that are thinking about this as a catalyst are going to evolve and they’re going to change and I won’t use the word that shall not be named sounds like rivet. Anyway, the idea is you can change the way you look at this, change your approach, and capitalize on a huge opportunity. And I think that’s where you guys were going is there’s a massive upside to this and there’s a massive opportunity. Yes, it’s changed, but there’s still a lot of money to be made. And we see our clients coming back to us all the time saying, I just closed this gig for X. And there are lots of ways to get your full fee and lots of ways to create value despite the fact that 2020 has looked very differently than any of us expected.
Taylorr: Yeah. I just like an early two thousand, the money just shifted, so maybe budgets for quote-on-quote, keynote speakers, or only consultants might not be as available. The business events and so on they’re still looking for practical takeaways that their people can implement because they’re struggling too so if you’re an expert that can provide value in this moment, there has never been a greater opportunity because everyone is struggling with the exact same thing. And so, if you’re an expert that can somehow help the money has just shifted. So, rather than selling yourself as a keynote speaker, you might have to add in some elements of coaching or consulting or keeping in touch with the audience members that you spoke to the first time around, we’ve seen webinars pop up, heck for the first time, we’ve even seen retainers get put in place for thought leaders to do webinars series over a period of time. And that’s causing larger contract values and more predictable revenue and that’s an awesome place to be in.
Max: For sure, for sure.
Taylorr: And I think this is really as the fuel for Technically Speaking you guys. It’s being able to stay on the cutting edge of information that we’re learning from industry experts, where we bring in professional speakers who are running their business successfully through these times, or we’re talking to bureaus or event planners, or really anyone that has to do with the thought leadership space. And we just want to make sure that we’re keeping you on the cutting edge of growing your business. Because like Austin said earlier, these methods are tried and true. Big business has been using them for hundreds of years. It’s about being systematized, being organized and having a way to scale, which really comes in through the documentation. And while some of that, isn’t very attractive, if you are a thought leader and you seriously want to grow your business, there are no other options out there for you except to systematize, organize and prepare to scale your business. And we hear all the time, I want to stay in my zone of genius and I don’t blame you, we do too.
And the only way we can do that though is by having a team around us and the only way you can have a team around you is if you prepare your business to scale. So, our goal is to bring in these industry-leading experts, keep you on the cutting edge, but also give you the tools and the wisdom and the advice that you need to really take your business to the next level. So, thank you so much for all of you guys listening to episode one of technically speaking, we are so excited that you’re here. Don’t forget to subscribe to our show and if you want more awesome resources in the meantime, before our next one, go to speaker flow.com/resources, and we’ll see you next time.
Taylorr: Thank you so much for chiming in. I just wanted to take a second to thank our sponsor Auxbus. Auxbus is the all in one suite of tools you need to run your podcast and it’s actually what we run here at Speaker Flow for Technically Speaking. It makes planning, podcasts simple, it makes recording podcasts simple, it even makes publishing podcasts to the masses simple and quite honestly, technically speaking, wouldn’t be up as soon as it is without Auxbus. Thank you so much Auxbus, and if you are interested in checking Auxbus out, whether you’re starting a podcast or you have one currently get our special offer auxbus.com/speaker flow, or click the link below in our show notes.