“Your ability to communicate with others will account for fully 85% of your success in your business and in your life.”

Brian Tracy

Imagine being paid well to travel the world and share your message with people that want to hear you speak?

If something in that question resonates, this post might be helpful.

Today, over 50% of my income comes from delivering keynote speeches and workshops to industry conferences and corporate leadership teams. It has taken over 16 years from my earliest free speeches towards a career where I can live from speaking. I have delivered over 2,500 hours of keynotes and workshops to over 50,000 participants.

In terms of quality, my recent 100 hours of speaking are astronomically better than those first 100 hours… but everyone has to begin. How do you begin?

How to get paid to speak…

Step 1:

1. Become an Expert.

Your fees depend more on you being (and perceived) as an expert than on how well you actually speak.

Maybe you can be paid well even if you don’t master anything, but if you are not on the path to mastery… I personally would rather you stayed home. If you are planning on being paid to speak, make a deep and lasting commitment towards true mastery.

There are 3 types of Expert speaker.

The 3 Paths of Expert Mastery:

  1. The Result Expert – Proven ability to get specific results for others eg Toni Nadal, Marshall Goldsmith, Tony Robbins
  2. The Research Expert – Has interviewed performers and has a deep knowledge of tools, strategies and tactics in an area eg Michael Porter, Jim Collins
  3. The Role Model – Has been successful eg Jack Welsh, Barrack Obama, Casey Neistat

A well paid speaker needs to be seen as a thought leader. The classic path is to write and publish a book, but in today’s world there are new paths: build a large youtube, instagram, or blog following. Pick one and start producing thought. I suggest that you use your blog not for sharing expert articles, but sharing your learning journey. When you write expert articles, it is much more valuable to submit them to highly credible sites (depends on your segment, but for me this would be HBR, Forbes, Inc, FT, Big Think).

3 Actions that The Best experts regularly do

  1. Interview other experts looking for patterns and best practice; building your connections and reputation in this important community.
  2. Create arguments based on 4 parts:
    1. What we should Pay attention to
    2. What things Mean
    3. How things work
    4. What might happen
  3. Simplify complex ideas with frameworks

Are you on a path towards being a true expert? Have you chosen whether you are a results expert, a research expert or a role model? Good… now we move to step 2.

Step 2.

Speak Lots and lots…

and lots…

“If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”

Albert Einstein

This blog is full of material about speaking well so I will not repeat. Some good articles on speaking well:

  1. Blog post: 12 tips for Public Speaking,
  2. Video: Improve your Speaking,
  3. YouTube playlist Develop your Speaking Skills and
  4. Free course Speaking as a Leader.

Learn directly from expert speakers. Rather than paying for a course on public speaking, pay to go and see well paid expert speakers deliver their keynotes. I learn more watching how a great speaker plans, prepares, delivers, follows up than by reading books or courses on speaking. In february I asked Luis Soares Costa to run a retreat for Vistage. I watched how he interviewed me, how he clarified what we needed and what we could do… I travelled with him the day before and watched how he prepared the room and himself for the 2 day retreat. I learnt more watching what he did and how he did it than by asking him for tips.

Here are 5 ideas for those who wish to make speaking a profession:

5 Advanced Tips for turning Pro as a Speaker

  1. Model the Greats. Bill Clinton modeled himself as a speaker on President Kennedy, even down to the gestures and word choice. YouTube and TED have great examples. Personally, I spent years modelling my approach to speaking on the style of Jim Rohn and the delivery of Alan Watts. The idea is not to copy, but to clarify what works and how to make it work for you.
  2. Practice Every Day. Make selfie videos. Every single day. (Here’s my 10 week email course Speaking As a Leader). Join Toastmasters, give speeches to the Chamber of Commerce, Rotary, Lions… Teaching at a university (IESE Business School) and delivering workshops at entrepreneur accelerator programs (for free) were how I got my first 500 hours of speaking experience.
  3. Practice what is hard, not what you find easy. If you are naturally charismatic and go with the flow… practice deep structure; if you are analytical and structured, practice improv. In Aikido they believe that your early strength will become a weakness if you are not disciplined. I personally still work hard on structure and ensuring a consistent delivery of my content to all audiences.
  4. Deliver Emotion. Emotions are power. Nobody will ask you back because you were the most analytical and correct speaker, they will ask you back because you made everybody feel strong emotions (and they can see it is predictable… nobody will recommend you if they don’t know 100% that you will deliver the same emotional impact every time). If you struggle to deliver emotional content and create deep connection with an audience, start to work on yourself. If you can deeply connect to emotion and to your own inner struggle, you can then begin to connect to others. It may take psychotherapy, it make take mastermind groups with personal development angles… but you must get deeply connected with your own internal emotional life.
  5. Focus your Speaking Topics. If you speak about anything to any audience, you will destroy your value. It is hard to say no, especially when you haven’t been paid for a few months – but each time you dilute, you die a little. A powerful brand is best defined what what it will not do, than what it will. Apple will never make toothbrushes… and if they do, sell the stock immediately.

Step 3.

Build your Reputation

…with the people that matter.

Be very careful who you take feedback and praise from. Only other speakers and people who pay for speakers count. Do not rely on friends, toastmaster club mates, family. They will tell you what you want to hear, not what you need to hear.

The best speaker referrals are other great expert speakers. When a conference has success with a speaker, they will ask that speaker to come back. They will also ask that speaker for recommendations. When another speaker gives your name as a referral, this is the most powerful marketing. I get more opportunities from other professional speakers than from any other source. Build a good reputation with this group.

Testimonials and Articles on high Credibility sites

A blog is interesting, but it is not a path to expert credibility. Articles on Forbes, HBR, Inc are more valuable than articles posted on your own blog.

Testimonials from conference organisers, other professional speakers and people who have paid you are the most valuable resource for credibility.

Put some of your speaking on YouTube. It is such a powerful tool to share your message, and in a format that people can see your quality.

Long Term: Become “The” Expert

It is not enough to be an expert, you must become known as the expert. Some people become “The” expert – their name is so closely linked to a category that an event is not “The” event if they are not speaking. Jim Collins has built that level of personal brand in the business leadership category. Marshall Goldsmith in the business coaching category, Tony Robbins in the personal development category. They can multiply their fees by 100 because their name alone sells half the tickets.

My good friend Raul Aguirre’s TEDx talk (The Hidden Secret of Success) is about how to create a unique category for yourself. It is hard to be the best business school professor in the world, but I can combine 3 categories: Great business school professor (IESE) who also has a massive following on YouTube and also is the expert on the role and challenges facing CEOs (Vistage). When I put IESE + YouTube + Vistage together, nobody else can compete.

3. Become a Wealthy Expert

There are many experts sitting in bars sharing their wisdom for free with people who don’t want to hear. It is not enough to be an expert, and it is not enough to be known as an expert – you must become a professional. Professionals know the value of their time.

It took me several years to be comfortable with the following actions, but you must if you are to have the resources to be able to really make an impact with your message.

Four Actions of Wealthy Experts

There are 4 things that can differentiate the wealthy expert speaker from the non-wealthy expert speaker:

  1. Package your knowledge: Write, speak, record – put knowledge into a form that people are willing to purchase
  2. Campaign vs Promote your knowledge – each interaction leads to a further interaction. Build a community around your expertise.
  3. Charge expert fees – charge more than you are comfortable with. Run your speaking practice as a business. You have value and are the expert. You are not selling 60 minutes, you are selling your lifetime of experience. Your service improves people’s lives. Price yourself accordingly. Most expert speakers build a structure to their offering around multiple price points:
    1. free – blogging, writing, webinars
    2. €100 – public speech or open event
    3. €1000 – 1 day workshop
    4. €3000 – 3-7 day workshop
    5. €10,000 – 1-1 coaching or mastermind group
    6. €100,000 – something high end to make the rest seem more reasonable…
  4. Focus on:
    1. Distinction – Keep studying the competition and keep innovating, get real feedback from the important people (the person who pays and from other speakers… not from your friends or people who didn’t pay you)
    2. Excellence – Be better every day
    3. Service – Be helpful and responsive

These 4 actions were inspired by a video from Brandon Burchard.  Brandon advises others on how to become well-paid experts.

Are you a Speaker

Are you a paid speaker? What other tips would you give to someone thinking about this path? I plan to update this resource a few times with more materials and tips over the coming months.

This is a 30 minute interview I conducted with Waldemar Schmidt, past-CEO of a 250,000 employee global company. He shared insights about the role of the CEO:

  1. How to get the CEO role
  2. How to be a good CEO
  3. How to end your time as CEO and
  4. What to do next.

Watch the Interview

View on YouTube: The Job of the CEO

About Waldemar Schmidt

Waldemar Schmidt

Waldemar Schmidt, past-CEO of ISS, a 250,000 employee global facilities services business.

Currently on the Boards of 28 companies, London Business School Advisory Board, Professor at Copenhagen Business School, Executive in Residence at IMD.

Author of 4 books including “The Job of the CEO“. Note: all book Royalties are donated to the Waldemar Schmidt Scholarship for (Brazilian) students at the international MBA Programme at Copenhagen Business School.

Highlights from the Interview

  • 1:49 What is the Job of the CEO?
  • 3:18 Know Products, Numbers, Customers
  • 4:30 Management and Leadership
  • 5:35 Taking Good Decisions
  • 12:40 The Calendar of the CEO
  • 15:07 What do you do after being a CEO?
  • 16:45 Why did Waldemar step back from the CEO role?
  • 18:10 Advice to a 55 year old ex-CEO
  • 19:55 Networking as a CEO
  • 21:18 How to Build Relationships with top Head Hunters
  • 23:20 130 dilemmas that CEOs will face in life and business
  • 23:50 The worst enemy of great leadership: Arrogance

Further Resources

The Job of the CEO – Book Contents

  1. the Job of the CEO
  2. Characteristics and Skills of Great Leaders
  3. Examples of Successful CEOS’ Education, Nationality and Career Paths
  4. Self-assessment Tests
  5. Reflect, Evaluate and Decide Whether the Job of the CEO Is Right for You
  6. Planning Your Career if a CEO Career Is Not Right for You
  7. the Essence of Career Planning
  8. Career Planning
  9. Your Personal Brand
  10. How to Work With Executive Search Firms
  11. Your Pre-CEO Jobs
  12. How to Manage Your First CEO Job
  13. How to Manage Your Next CEO Jobs
  14. How to Manage Your Dream CEO Job
  15. How to Successfully Exit From Your Final CEO Job
  16. Decline or Revival?
  17. What Do You Do if You Lose Your CEO Job?
  18. Retirement or a New Career?
  19. How to Manage Your Second Career
  20. How to Manage Your Third Career
  21. How to Manage Your Work-life Balance
  22. How to Deal With 130 Critical Career and Job Issues

Buy the Book

Note: all book Royalties are donated to the Waldemar Schmidt Scholarship for (Brazilian) students at the international MBA Programme at Copenhagen Business School.

You’re doing everything right at work, taking all the right advice, but you’re just not moving up. Why?

Susan Colantuono shares a simple, surprising piece of advice you might not have heard before quite so plainly. This talk, while aimed at an audience of women, has universal takeaways — for men and women, new graduates and mid-career workers.

Susan Colantuono: TED Talk, The Career Advice you Probably didn’t Get

Business, Strategic and Financial Acumen

Susan’s argument is that mentorship and organisation-wide leadership development have a tendency to focus on the personal effectiveness and organisation leadership aspects, but do not work with women to take full charge of their Business, Strategic and Financial acumen.

What are Business, Strategic and Financial Acumen?

  • Business Acumen: Understand your business, where it is going, what role you and you work play in it. Do you do your job well, or do you contribute to the success of the organisation?
  • Strategic Acumen: Look outside the organisation and see opportunities and risks. Do you take time to see the big picture within which your company operates? How are demographics and major political changes going to impact your organisation?  Are you part of industry associations?
  • Financial Acumen: Aware of the finances of the organisation and flagging risks and highlighting opportunities to impact the numbers Can you read a balance sheet? Can you rapidly draw up a simple income statement of your division? Do you know the EBITDA, the contribution margin, the CAGR of the different products in your business?

Are you making progress in your career?

Gary Burnison, the CEO of leading global headhunters Korn Ferry recently shared a tool for understanding the current health of your career, the Career Momentum Index (CMI).

Gary says that, in our careers, we also need to honestly know “Where am I right now?”. For a healthy body, we can check out our heart rate, our body mass index (BMI), cholesterol, blood pressure, etc. For careers, Korn Ferry have the Career Momentum Index (CMI).

Do you have Career Momentum?

  • Are you engaged in your current job? Do you wake up every morning, ready to go, or do you hit the snooze button–literally and figuratively?
  • Does your boss recognize your contribution? When was the last time your boss acknowledged what you did? How well did you do on your last performance review–have you even had one in the last 12 months?
  • Are you considered indispensable? Are you the go-to person for your boss and the team who does whatever it takes it get things done?
  • When was the last time you were promoted? Two years ago? Five years? Longer?
  • When was the last time you learned something new in your job? Are you stretched and growing, or is it the “same old, same old” every day?

If you are interested in learning more about Career Momentum, Gary continues his series on Career Momentum with The 90 Day Career Diet, Step 2.

A Fulfilling Life and Career

I recently heard Doctor Marian Rojas, psychiatrist and author of “how to have good things happen to you” (in spanish) share the 3 questions you need to answer to build a fulfilling life for yourself:

If you are IESE alumni the IESE Careers Service department are a great source of objective career coaching. There are some changes that we can manage by ourselves, there are many changes that we can really only achieve with the support of others – mentors, coaches and supporters. Here’s a list of the major changes that people turn to coaching to help navigate.

Starting is easy.  There are no prizes for starting the marathon.  You get the medal for finishing.

Most people I know are good at starting.  Few people I know are good at finishing.

Who do you know who is good at finishing?

What do they do differently?

The closer you get to the end, the stronger the emotional resistance grows.

“An artist never finishes a work, he abandons it.”

Pablo Picasso

I thrive on interaction.  This blog gives me a short term feedback as I write. I can hit publish after 15 to 20 minutes and immediately get responses. 

I’ve consistently failed to write a book because I am addicted to the short term feedback of blog comments, of emails, of youtube videos…  I’ve never been able to commit to the 3 year process of writing without “likes” and comments.

The question for me: is it still important to me to write a book?

Are you a Business Leader?

I’ve been part of Entrepreneurs’ Organisation for the last 10 years and for almost any significant decision I have taken in the last decade, there are 9 people in my forum group who have helped me take a better decision.  I would share with them:

  1. the background to the decision
  2. the why of the decision
  3. what I’m seeking to achieve in my life

There is no major decision I’ve taken in the last 10 years that has not had at least those other 9 wise brains also looking at it.  They are also giving me different perspectives, helping me think through:

  1. Who I am
  2. What what my strengths are
  3. What my company strengths are and
  4. How I can better play into the opportunities that I have

My question to you: “how many brains do you get involved in the big decisions you have to make?”

If it is just one brain (your own) then you are really going to struggle over your life as a business leader.   Join Vistage, join EO, join Young Presidents’ Organization…  Get into a peer group where others can give you multiple different perspectives, different ideas, different experiences that have worked for them in the past.

Get as many brains as you can to help you take important decisions, to help you think through the problems you face, to see how to seize (or say no to) the opportunities coming into your life.

Get access to brains to share your problems. Ask lots of questions and get as much coming back from other’s life experiences as you can.

There is a saying: “if you’re the smartest person in the room, find another room.” 

Are you the smartest in the room?  If you find that you are often the smartest person in the room, you’ve got to expand your network.  Get out of that room and get yourself onto a bigger playing field.

Peer Group Organisations

 

 

The Top 6 Reasons why Leaders Seek Coaching

  1. Creating a 90-day plan
  2. Navigating Organization politics identifying tactics to deal with “politics”
  3. Managing work and life priorities achieving a workable “balance”
  4. Developing a strategy to grow your leadership presence
  5. Accelerating momentum in your current role
  6. Clarify goals and pinpoint how to achieve them

This is a short excerpt of the full interview that I came across over at the NY Times corner office page.  I loved the spirit of Jay Walker's answers...

Jay Walker on Why Leaders Don’t Always Make Good Managers

Let’s say I came to work for you. What should I know about what you’re like as a boss?

You don’t work for me. You work for you.

I would correct you right out of the box. My style is not to perpetuate a false illusion that you work for me. You work for you. You get up every day and you come in here because you want to be here. We’re not having a discussion about who’s in charge. If you have a better idea, great. Let’s hear it.

I wouldn’t try to encapsulate a set of rules and regulations to say here’s how I do things. But I will tell you that I’m highly collaborative and interested in the best thinking. If you can express yourself well, that’s good. If you can’t, that’s a big problem.

My style would be to say: What are you trying to accomplish? How are you going to do that? How can I help you? You might say: “Jay, what I need to succeed is for you to never talk to me. Just send me emails. And I’ll deliver in spades what you want.” Then I’ll say, “O.K., let’s see if that works.”

Like any entrepreneur, I’m highly adaptable. You work with what you’ve got, not with what you want. And what you’ve got is often an incomplete set of facts, an insufficient amount of capital, an insufficient amount of knowledge about the key things you need and insufficient people to do that job. Other than that, welcome to the job.

How do you hire?

If you haven’t failed, that’s a big problem.

I’m looking for the things you would expect — people who are thoughtful, passionate, adaptable and who have failed, preferably two or three times. If you haven’t failed, that’s a big problem.

What is your single best interview question?

there is no room in the rowboat for somebody who can’t pull the oar

Tell me how you’re going to make a great deal of impact on our organization, and how you’re going to make us both a lot of money. In a small firm, there is no room in the rowboat for somebody who can’t pull the oar, because everybody else has to pull that oar.

What career and life advice do you give to new college grads?

It’s all about adding value above your job description, not just doing the job. You’ve got to exceed that by a substantial margin if you really want to get ahead.

The No. 1 thing that young folks often misunderstand is that they use money as a scoring system for the desirability of the job, which is understandable when you graduate with $200,000 in college loans.

But the fact is that you’re going to do much better financially if you find a job where you love what you’re doing, even if you have to create the job yourself.

The second thing I tell them is you need to start learning. They haven’t learned anything. Most new graduates think they’re ready for their career, and they’re not. They need to start with a clean sheet of paper. You need to start reading more, not less.

You’ve got all this stuff to learn, and by the way, you’ve got to learn it in a dozen fields, not just the one you’re working in, because it’s all about cross-pollination. It’s all about taking good ideas in other areas and bringing it into your area.

It’s all about adding value above your job description, not just doing the job. You’ve got to exceed that by a substantial margin if you really want to get ahead.

Other Good NYT Corner Office Interviews

Each week, Adam Bryant talks with top executives about leadership. Follow him on

http://www.twitter.com/nytcorneroffice

 

Here’s a simple idea:

Plan a life you would like to have.

If you love your life now, stick to what is working. If you don’t love your life right now, change something.

Use your Imagination first

Are you aiming at the right thing (or at any thing)?

Start by describing in detail the life you would like to have. How is your health? How is your social life? How are your relationships with family, friends, mentors, colleagues? How are you contributing to the universe? How much are you earning? How are you finding meaning for your life?

I’m not everything I could be and I know it. There is a better way that I could be and act in this world.  I can imagine a better way.  It is best to be inspired by living in your imagination for a while before you decide to give the next 20 to 30 years of your life to pursuing the goals.

Nobody reaches the top of Everest by surprise

Nobody who climbs Everest reaches the summit by accident. It has been a plan in their life for years. They have worked on their fitness, their skills, their finances for years to reach this moment on the summit of the mountain.

It takes disciplined effort to succeed in life. It is hard to find the motivation to maintain disciplined effort (especially when I have netflix, facebook, twitter, newspapers etc to compete for my attention).

Where can I find the motivation to maintain this disciplined effort?

Write your goals down.

That is it.

If you are not excited by these written goals, then they are not your goals. You have written them down in the hope that someone else might be impressed by your goals. There are not your goals and you are a moron to try to live your life in the hope that someone else pays attention and is impressed by what you say you would like to achieve. You will fail.

If you are happy to show your goals to everyone on the internet, they are not your goals. They are written to impress.

If you are embarrassed about your goals, but deeply excited by the tiniest idea that you could actually achieve them – now we are moving towards goals that come from inside of you.

How to begin Writing down your Goals

Who is it that I want to be in 3 years? If you can define this and you really want to be this person, then you are going to find quite a bit of the motivation to maintain disciplined effort.

If you keep your objectives all vague and foggy you can guarantee not to fail in a specific way. A lot of people do not write down specific future goals in a clear way because they are scared of having to actually do the work or face the possibility of clearly failing.

If a game is not fun, do you keep playing?  Are your goals and the process by which you pursue these goals fun?  If yes, keep playing.  If no, change the goals or change the process…  but write down the aims and the rules by which you decide to play.

Start with the Small Things

Start with little things that you can fix.

If your desk isn’t tidy and it is slightly irritating, tidy your desk.  If your computer is dirty and the screen is covered in guck, clean it.  If the room that you are in is a mess, throw out the rubbish.  These little things constitute 50% of your life.  The objects and rooms you interact with every day are important.  Get the rubbish out of the way.

Tell your head: “I’m going to make this place better for 5 minutes”.  Go.

Continue with this line of ideas with Meaningful Contribution or Start with the End in Mind or What do you want? 

PS Thanks for sticking with my rant today…  it was a reflection for myself after spending a day spinning my wheels and avoiding difficult tasks 😉

LinkedIn is testing out a new free service for members that will match them with other professionals who can give them career advice. LinkedIn will help to make matches between mentees and mentors via its online platform.

Mentorship is a significant part of the careers of every successful person that I know. I personally have sought out and found mentors since my early 20s working in Accenture.  I used to think this was normal, but I discovered over the last decade that many talented friends have never found a formal mentor relationship.

I have run the Entrepreneurs’ Organisation Mentorship Program in Barcelona for the last 3 years and have learnt a lot as we have got 15 mentor-mentee pairs connected and working together to achieve specific goals.  Personally I have have benefitted from some wonderful mentors throughout my life – in particular Michael (my first long-term manager at Accenture), Brian (the reason I teach at IESE Business School), Harry (helped me take a big decision last year).  I personally mentor 5 people each year and it is hugely valuable for me to reflect on my own life as I listen to the challenges and opportunities of these inspiring individuals.

How will Mentorship work on LinkedIn?

Hari Srinivasan, director of product management at LinkedIn, says, “As people spend less and less time at a company, it’s hard to find people you need to talk to.”  LinkedIn user analysis shows that 89% of senior leaders (on LinkedIn) would be interested in giving advice.

This is how it works: There will be a section on your profile called “dashboard”. This will display the “career advice hub” where you can sign up to be a mentor or a mentee.

The first screen is a basic overview of the function and its value for both those giving and getting advice. From there, you are instructed to provide specifics on who you’d like to talk to with parameters such as region, industry, school, etc.

LinkedIn’s matching algorithm will immediately send recommendations for matches. If you select someone who is a match they will get a message immediately notifying them of your interest to connect. Once both parties agree, they can start talking.  Read more about LinkedIn’s plans for mentorship on Fast Company.

Two of the reasons mentorships fail are…

  1. the mentee isn’t able to articulate what they need or
  2. asks too much of a mentor.

Check out my blog post: “How to be a Good Mentor

LinkedIn is working on ways to make the conversation flow more smoothly so both sides get what they need.  LinkedIn say that it’s not meant to be a replacement for long-term mentorship. It’s meant to tackle those “quick question” requests such as whether you are taking the right approach in different scenarios.

Do you have a mentor?  Are you searching for a mentor?  Are you interested in becoming a mentor?