S11E03: How leaders get paid to speak, with Grant Baldwin (CEO, The Speaker Lab)

An episode of The Impact Multiplier CEO Podcast

S11E03: How leaders get paid to speak, with Grant Baldwin (CEO, The Speaker Lab)

As founder and CEO of The Speaker Lab, Grant Baldwin has helped thousands of people build successful and sustainable speaking businesses. Over the last 15 years Grant has become a sought after speaker, podcaster, author, and accomplished entrepreneur.

In this conversation, you’ll learn:

  • How to make the most of your critical speaking opportunities as an executive
  • How Grant has built a fantastic company culture in a purely virtual environment
  • Grant's top tips for getting started as a professional speaker after corporate life - and the critical first step to nail

"Be the steakhouse not the buffet."

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Transcript

Richard Medcalf
Hi Grant and welcome to the show.

Grant Baldwin
Richard, thanks for letting me hang out with you, man, I appreciate it.

Richard Medcalf
Yeah, this is gonna be fun. I've known you for a while with this time we've met in person, but I've followed you as somebody who's had an influence on me, as I've built out my own business and the speaking component of that, what I know about you is you've had your own highly successful speaking career, you've then transition, you build out a business called The Speaker Lab, which helps professional speakers get booked and paid to speak, or prepare their keynote, and monetize it and create a successful business. I know you've really build that business out in a robust way over the last few years. So I think today, what I'd love to do is just dig into that your own story but also, what are the tips that you have as somebody who's a public speaking expert, for people who are in the corporate world, not necessarily professional speakers and then perhaps people who are transitioning out of that world, perhaps do feel there's an opportunity, there's a message that they have, that they want to take to a wider stage?

Grant Baldwin
Let's do it, we got a lot of ground to cover. Let's get do it.

Richard Medcalf
Yeah. Okay. Well, great. Well, why don't we just let's just dive into that first point, right? There's many, many executives, CEOs, obviously, many listen to this show, but also, levels one or two levels below that. They come through the ranks, because they're a finance expert, or an operations expert, there's a sales expert and at some point, they're asked to present at conferences, represent the business on a wider stage, perhaps engage in very public forums and they're putting out a little bit of training but they probably haven't had what you've gone through speaker for many years. So what would you what advice would you give as as people are kind of looking at that part of their of their career, they probably haven't really invested in it dramatically. They've probably been on a four hour training course here and there, what would be some of the the main tips that use you'd want to point people to?

Grant Baldwin
Yeah, you're exactly right, that there are a lot of people who may be watching or listening who wouldn't necessarily consider themselves professional speakers, they don't want to speak at 100 gigs a year, but internally within their company, or representing their company, there may be speaking at a few things here and there and, again, maybe they want to do more and maybe they're just like, I just want to do these couple and that's it and for a lot of people like speaking can be very intimidating, it can be very daunting, and perhaps even stressful and so one of the best things you can do is really spend the time ahead of time to practice and prepare. So an analogy to kind of think about is think back to, you know, high school or college university and you remember, like showing up for a test or an exam and like, you kind of have a choice like going into it, you could either I'm just going to show up and winging it and I hope it all works out and typically that just that's a disaster waiting to happen, or you really spend the time of okay, I'm going to study, I'm going to prepare, I'm going to review practice notes, I'm going to go or study guides, I'm gonna read your questions, I'm gonna just do, I'm going to put in the work. So whatever you show up to take that test, you may still feel some of those butterflies and, and adrenaline and excitement but at the same time, there's, there's a level of confidence going like I put in the work, I'm ready for this and that's really the case with speaking as well, that the people who are just like, I'm just gonna make it up, I'm just going to shoot from the hip, I'm just gonna scribble some nap and some ideas on a napkin and hop up there and wing it. Like, I just I do not recommend that at all. That's a horrible, horrible way to approach speaking. So the best thing you can do is, again, really spend the time to practice to go through it to really think through what you're going to communicate. The main idea is that you want to communicate it the sequence in order that you want to communicate it, and then even spend the time like going through that that presentation. So if I'm working on a new talk or presentation, one things I'll do is I will walk it through like out loud, saying it as if I'm actually presenting it, how I'm going to do it pacing, inflection, tone, all of that stuff, I'm just thinking those things through ahead of time and, you know, you think about whether it's a musician or a comedian or professional athlete, you know, like they, they don't just get up on the stage or the field or the core and just, they just automatically do something like they spend a lot of time behind the scenes practicing and so you may see them and it may look effortless up on stage, but it's because they've spent so much time behind the scenes just getting ready and preparing for that moment. So again, whether you want to speak 100 times a year or you want to speak once a year, then it's important to really take the time to practice and prepare so that you're ready. When it comes time to take the stage.

Richard Medcalf
Yeah, that's it's it's really challenging, though, right? Because I think in the corporate world, what I see is first thing is people don't always have the economy of scale, right? So if you're a speaker, you can practice once and you might do the same talk 100 times.

Grant Baldwin
Yeah.

Richard Medcalf
In the corporate world, it can be a bit more difference. I think a lot of people have a bit of a resistance. Oh my word. This is just for this one or two presentations that I need to do. Yep, I suppose People I think as a result might then lean too heavily on I've gotten some slides, that's enough for me to speak to. So when you're talking about thinking about the structure and things First of all, are you thinking that in the context of people using slides, or, or more in terms of just getting up to make that point? Three, four?

Grant Baldwin
Well, I think I'll give you a couple thoughts here. Well, one, I think there's a real correlation between the amount of time that would be required to prep for something related to how higher the stakes of the presentation, okay? So if you're doing let's say, just a little, you're doing a weekly internal presentation for your, you know, your team or Department of 10, people probably doesn't need to take much time but let's say you're doing, you know, a presentation for 10 people and it's the, you know, it's the board of directors or some potential investors or people who are looking to, you're looking to buy or merge or they're looking to buy you heard, like some like high stakes presentation. Like, even if it says it's a small group of 10 people like you, you probably want to increase the amount of prep that goes into it. I think it's also important to note that, that, speaking, again, is one of those skills that people associate with credibility with authority with expertise, you know, it doesn't necessarily mean that you have to be overly polished and charismatic or anything like that but the more like that you are prepared, the more articulate you are, the more likely people are going to take you seriously. Like there's a real a real correlation there. So it's definitely something to consider. Now, as it relates to like, slides, I'll kind of give you my overarching thoughts on slides. I kind of have a love hate relationship with slides, I think, slides are can be effective but one of things I was would encourage speakers is that slides should be an enhancement, not a replacement for your talk. Let me say that, again, slides should be an enhancement, not a replacement for your talk. So here's kind of a litmus test. Let's say that five minutes before you're supposed to go onstage you're supposed to speak, the projector breaks, your computer doesn't work. Technology just does not cooperate, which is going to happen sometimes, if that happens. Is your talk still ready? Are you as a speaker still ready? Alright, I remember, I was at a conference one time and the speaker was having some trouble with the size, I think we were just like in a workshop or breakout and the speaker was having some trouble and they basically said, like, hey, I can't get my talk, my slides don't work, I was like, well, then you shouldn't be up here in the first place. Right. So the talk should stand on its own and if you add slides, it should just enhance the talk but it shouldn't make the there shouldn't be a replacement for the talk. So personally, I like kind of a pet peeve of mine, and I think for a lot of audience members is when a speaker kind of uses slides as cue cards, or they use it as a script and I'm just going to put up a bunch of words and I'm just going to read from that. Now, if you're going to, again, don't hear what I'm not saying like slides can be really, really effective. Floods can be really powerful. If I'm telling you about, you know, this, let me give an example. There's a friend of mine who's a speaker and she was talking about when her daughter was born and her her daughter was born very, very prematurely was a tiny little baby had all these like monitors and wires and stuff hooked up to this little child and so she's describing this, well, then she shows a picture of that and it's you know, it's a little, little tiny baby just in the palm of her hand and all these different again, wires and cords and cables and monitors hooked up and it's like that, wow, Pat, the picture is really, really powerful. Right? And I mean, she can explain that and describe it, but the picture is going to be able to communicate way more than what she could verbally. So again, all that to say like slides can be really, really, really effective but, you know, the the negative connotation is that so many speakers just use them poorly that they can they can be a detriment. So if you're going to use them, make sure that you're using them as an enhancement, not as a replacement for your talk.

Richard Medcalf
Yeah. Yeah, it's a great point. I, the thing that really struck me, was your point earlier on around the preparation time being related to the stakes and one of the things I try to help my clients focus on is, where are these upcoming moments of truth, right? And those are the ones you really need to nail. I think that's really your point here, because very often, very often, I'm gonna get called in, for example, by CEO to work somebody in their team or, and often one of the key issues is there's not somehow being credible, in chemo in key discussions, perhaps with investors or with the board and often is because the competency is all there, they probably even can present when they put their mind to it, but they haven't if you're not over indexed on that moment of truth to say, that's where I need to nail it and actually, you know, probably they do, they probably say they haven't got the time but of course, how many pointless meetings and emails have they been dealing with in the last year where they could have actually carved out that time and really crafted the presentation?

Grant Baldwin
Yeah, and let me give another examples. So if you were to ask me right now, like Grant, tell me about whenever you propose to your wife, like, I could tell you that story right there I was there I lived it but if you gave, yeah, if you gave me like, 30 minutes to really like, sit down and think about and just think about all the different details and nuances of it, like, What was the weather like, and where were we and what did I say? What did she say, you know, what did we talk? What what led up to that moment and, you know, what was the relationship like at that time and all right after I was like, What did I say to her? Where, you know, who, who, who did we call afterwards? Who were the first people that we contact? Where did we go next? You know, what was the, did she cry? Did I cry, you know, like, just thinking through all the nuance and detail. If you gave me a minute to really like ponder that and then I came back and presented it, it's probably going to be a better story. So the default oftentimes, I think this is just because we're busy slash lazy, it's just like, I'll just, I'll just tell that story I was there, I can wing it, and probably come up with a decent story but again, if you really take the time to think about it, and all the nuance, a detail of it again, you're gonna be able to craft and communicate and much, much better story.

Richard Medcalf
Yeah, one of things I like to say to clients I work with is you can't move others unless you move yourself.

Grant Baldwin
Sure.

Richard Medcalf
And so sometimes, I think, especially in the business context, people can shy away from getting to that place where it's a little bit edgy, emotionally, and they actually bring that but when you do it, it lights everything up. It brings everything to life. Everybody leans in and engages things, sometimes in the corporate context, people can get the big boring, basically.

Grant Baldwin
Yeah, I mean, one thing I remind speakers of all the time is that as a speaker, you are a human talking to a collection of other humans, therefore, act like a human. Like we've all been in audiences before, or we've seen speakers where it's almost robotic, and it's almost formulaic and they are like that, you can just tell they're so deep in their own head and I have to say, just like this, and then I take five steps over here, and then I move my hand like that and it's just like, it's like overly polished and overly scripted. It's like, that's not a human, that's a robot like so as a human talking to a collection of other humans, like act like a human because at the end of the day, like you're also, the more relatable you are, the easier it is to connect with an audience and to build that rapport and that relationship where they're gonna be a lot more likely to engage with you to listen to you and pay attention to what you what you're what you're bringing to the audience.

Richard Medcalf
Yeah, fascinating. Let's change gears that a bit grant, I know you're a CEO in your own right, right, you build a successful business, you have your team, and you know, you've done something, I think, especially in the online world, which is really quite unique. As far as I've seen it, which you've really built out quite sizable organization around your really a core set of products around having public speakers kind of go to market and tell me a bit about how you made that evolution from, you know, as a solopreneur, if you'd like to really building out a genuine organization, what was that? What was that path like for you?

Grant Baldwin
Yeah, so if we go back in time for a little bit, I was speaking full time for close to a decade, and I was doing about 6070, paid speaking gigs a year all over primarily the US and, and I loved it, I had an absolute blast but I remember a friend telling me one time, like speaking is a high paying manual labor job. It's kind of like a surgeon, like a surgeon makes really good money, but the nature of it is like they have to show up and do surgery, you know and so as a speaker, I'd get paid really, really well to stand on stage and talk but I had to get on a plane, I had to leave my family, I didn't go somewhere else and so it was just kind of like, alright, I got a cool job but at the end of the day, it's still a job and so business and having like truly owning a business being an entrepreneur or something that was really appealing and so, after speaking for several years, I had a lot of people who are just asking me like, hey, I want to do that and I want to be a speaker, how would I go about doing that? And it's a lot of the same questions that I had. When I got started. I was going like, how do you find speaking gigs and who hire speakers? And how much do you speak about? And like, how does this mysterious black box work? You know, and that's what it is, the speaking industry is for so many people, is you've probably done some speaking gigs here and there maybe some stuffs falling in your laps and word of mouth and referrals, which is great but if you wanted to be a little bit more proactive with it and do five or 10 or 50 gigs a year, like how do you actually do that and so we had figured out some good processes and systems to to help grow my own speaking business and so I was like, I think we can teach that and so we started doing a little bit of coaching a little bit of teaching a little bit of training created our first course around that that was going well I had a lot of people who were asking me like hey, can you do some additional coaching can you do some group coaching and do some one on one coaching and that kind of led to okay, this is starting to become bigger than myself. So then you're you know, you're kind of hiring a few people to help here and there help with some operations stuff or some administrative type stuff or help with some technical stuff on you know, webinars and and email lists and opt ins and sales pages and checkout pages and that sort of thing and so really, as the business continued to evolve, we continue to just up hire additional roles hiring a marketing director, and then a marketing team and a sales director and a sales team and our Student Success director and team of coaches and so yeah, we're at pretty like low 30s. In terms of just headcount right now with the with the team, which we're talking a little bit beforehand, before we start recording, which is certainly way bigger than I ever anticipated it would be but I think like one thing that's worked really, really well for us in the process, and is that we've been really, really intentional about the culture of the company and so we are a completely virtual company, I'm based in Nashville, Tennessee, I work from home, we've got people all over it literally all over the world but the majority of our team members are here in the US, we get together in person once or twice a year for like a team retreat but for the most part, like we we live in Slack, or email or zoom, and that's how we communicate but we're really intentional about creating and fostering the type of culture that people want to be a part of where we're where not only do they feel like their teammates, care about them, that their work that they're doing is valuable, but they also know like, they're making a real difference. So you know, when we're when we are working with speakers like yourself, who are on how I want to be a speaker how to do that, and we're able to coach them and walk them through the process and help them to accomplish their goals as as speakers like, that's incredibly fulfilling, it's incredibly rewarding and there's kind of one thing we talked about internally is it's kind of a ripple effect, you know, so Richard, if we help you with speaking gigs, and then you go out and you speak, you know, over the course of your career to 1000s of people like we've, we've had a very, very, very small part of that, and the impact that you have been able to make by speaking to audiences. So the work that we're doing, I think, is certainly meaningful and rewarding but I think one other thing that has worked really well for us is I've heard this adage from various people, but the idea of just hiring really good people and just getting out of the way, I really have found that to be a very effective for us. So...

Richard Medcalf
I have two questions. Actually, I have two questions.

Grant Baldwin
Yeah.

Richard Medcalf
We jump on. So one is around the culture. Many people are struggling right now with creating culture, you know, in virtual circumstances. I mean, it's been a while since covid hit but even in so many, it's so alien still for many companies to really do that. So just wondering, as a kind of digital native company. How do you, how have you created that team culture, you know, independently of getting together once a year? Yes, that one, what tips do you have around that?

Grant Baldwin
Yeah, a few practical things that we do. One is that this this sounds really cliche, but I think there's a lot of truth to this is like, and it really starts with me as the as the founder and CEO, but like, genuinely caring for people, like people can tell a difference when when you know, you're just kind of a cog in a wheel, or you're just an employee, or you're just a, you know, a line item on payroll, versus like you actually care about them and so we really care about people, we care a lot about who they are outside of work and who they are as, as husbands as wives, as moms as dads as human beings and so, in fact, one thing I do from like, a practical standpoint, is I do a short one on one with everybody in the company every single quarter and so actually, as soon as we're done with this interview, I've got, I've got three back to back calls with team members that I that don't directly report to me that I may only interact with, you know, a few times a year, but it's just when we hop on these calls, there's I have no preset list of questions. There's no you know, HR thing that we got to get to just make on Hey, talk to me, how's life going for you? What are you working on? How's things going for you? Oh, I remember, you know, last time we talked, you're working on this project that has nothing to do with work and I remember you just took that trip, tell me about how was that trip there was a did three of these calls yesterday. So I knew a couple of months ago, one of the sales reps I was talking to is like, Hey, you just did a trip couple months ago to Maine, how was the trip? Tell me all about it and so we spent a lot of time just talking about a vacation he had we didn't talk about work and talk about you know, like sales strategies when he's on calls or anything like that. So I think like that type of thing goes a long way of again, just really genuinely caring about people we do. We're very intentional about our core values. So as a company we have three core values, very simple people ownership and growth, people ownership and growth and so we those are not three core values that like like for some companies where you you may hear about those in orientation and you may never hear about them again, but it's something like we talk about on a constant basis. We praise based on those we reward based on those we hire we fire based on those and so we want to create a culture where like though these like we genuinely care about people, we care about growth, we care about ownership. We give people a ton of freedom, flexibility, autonomy, and in terms of like how they work as a virtual company, we don't babysit people, we don't micromanage people, we, you know, create the Create a, a good healthy sandbox and company and kind of, hey, here's what what we want to accomplish and then it's up to you to figure out like, what's the best possible way to accomplish that and when you want to do that, and where you want to do that, and what makes sense for you. So yeah, there's a few things like, I think off the top of my head that we, we've done? Well, I think also, just one other thing I'd say is, I think we have a real intentionality about culture. You know, I think for some companies like culture, just kind of a byproduct or an afterthought, or kind of a secondary thing and because culture is one of those things, it's kind of an intangible that it's it can be hard to measure, it can be hard to quantify, and it can be hard to determine if a company has a healthy culture or not, because maybe sometimes things seem good but beneath the surface, there's, you know, you kind of pull back the curtain or pull back a couple layers and it's just it's very unhealthy and so I think just a real intentionality about the people that we hire and the how we talk to each other, how we communicate with each other, and just our interactions. The intentionality has, I think, again, overall, just really moved the needle for us.

Richard Medcalf
Yeah. Tell me about the hiring process, because you were starting to move on to that and there's a real link here and you talked about hiring great people.

Grant Baldwin
Yeah.

Richard Medcalf
Easier said than done. Right? So totally, what have you learned about hiring people? Who've sounds like you've really, really happy with the team, you have said, What have you learned about that in the cost?

Grant Baldwin
Yeah, and I think I mean, I think tying into the culture, I think culture is such a big part of hiring great people because when you have a great company, then it starts to attract great people and I'll give you some examples here. So one thing we talked about a lot internally, and this is a real focus of mine on a day to day basis as the CEO, is we all understand everybody watching, listening, like we all understand, it's hard to hire great people. It's hard to retain it's hard to attract attract great people and so one of my personal responsibilities is I want The Speak Lab to be the best possible place that our team members ever work and the reason is that because it's hard to attract and find those great people, when you have a when you have great people, I always tell people, like I want to make it really hard for you to leave not in a manipulative way but I want the I don't want to I want I don't want someone to ever feel like the grass is greener somewhere else. Right? So I remember I had a team member tell me recently. So this is the first job that I've had where I haven't been thinking about my next job. I was like, perfect. That's, that's what we want. We don't want people think here thinking about how do we get out of here, this sucks. I hate this like, not like, I want to make sure that like you're compensated well that you've got, you're doing work that matters, you have teammates that care about you, a company that cares about you, you have good benefits, you have a lot of freedom, flexibility, autonomy, like I want to make sure that it's checking the boxes for you. In addition, one thing we touched on earlier, is like genuinely caring about people their work life balance. So for example, we had a guy who joined us a couple of years ago, and he came from a tech startup company, it was you're working 6070 hours a week, he was gone all the time, highly stressful, high, high pressure and he had been working with us for a few months and he came to me and he said, Hey, my wife told me I'm never allowed to leave this company and why is that? And he said, because she said like, my stress is lower, I'm a better husband, I'm a more present Father, I'm just like, I'm a different person because I'm working here. So when when to me, that's a huge, huge win when spouses, kids significant others are like my mom, my dad, my husband, why am I my best friend, my whoever is like, they're a better person, because they're working at The Speaker Lab, right?

Richard Medcalf
Down to this point I grew up because this is such a great point, I want to I'm thinking about how many CEOs and senior leaders can truly say that about the culture, they created their team and so I just want to put it as a challenge for anyone listening, have think about that, like, is that a bar, which you can truly say that you are aiming towards? Or you've you've had? Or are you actually in that transactional scarcity mindset where you've just got off to the quarterly goal, because for me, this is The Impact Multiplier Podcast and I like to say the impact is three things its purpose, which is your impact on the planet on the bigger picture on your customers, whatever it is, you've got your your your profit, right, but that's fuel for the destination and then you've got your people and those are the three areas where you can you can create impact and actually, the profit is serving the other two in many ways.

Grant Baldwin
Yeah, cause if we get the people part right, we get the culture part right like that. The the profit, the bottom line is going to take care of itself, which has been the case like we have had we looked at the other day, we have had 19 straight quarters of revenue and profit growth. 19 straight quarters, right? And so that's, you know, you can do the math like that's the For the pandemic, and everything we're looking at today, we've had, I think it's been 17 months since we lost a team member 17 months like people just don't leave, right. So when you have that type of culture, then it does a few things. One, when someone comes in, they immediately feel like, there's something different here. I want to be a part of this, right? It also caused us when we start looking for a role that people start recruiting and referring friends and like, if you hiring a players, they hang with other a players, they want to attract other A players. So we had had with had a sales rep we'd hired a couple months ago, he gets in and he's like, This is amazing and he's like, hey, can I get a friend of mine who was kind of a sales trainer and sales leader for me? And can I can I make an introduction there, and he's looking for something that he's looking for a change of scenery and so I had some interviews with him and ended up hiring him. He's been awesome, just dynamite, right? Well, like that, again, a player's attract other A players. So I think that there's also like, part of my responsibility as CEO is just keeping on my radar of networking, looking for people and there are people who that are on my radar that I'd really like to work with them, I don't have a spot for them right now. There's nowhere that would be a natural fit but part of my responsibility is to continue to build those relationships and continue to network so that when something may come up, or they're looking for something that we can have some type of conversation there that the worst time to start the hiring process is when you actually need someone, right? I need someone yesterday, it's like, no, no, I'll like I want to be having conversations with people now. Planting seeds, having those conversations so that when the time comes, and it makes a little bit more sense for us to hire that role, then, you know, we can we can continue that conversation.

Richard Medcalf
Yeah, love it, there's so much great stuff there. Thank you deskera. There's a switch gear again, before we wrap up, let's talk about what happens for many people after their corporate phase, I what I find is I work for leaders, and they're either in the middle of their corporate role, and they're, and they're kind of in the executive space there. They've got big goals for their business, and they're working on that faster entrepreneurs or senior leaders and then this can be a point in many of their lives where they want to leave that behind. They've done that they sell their business, they leave whatever it is, and then the thinking of what's next and I love helping people think about what's your bigger and more impactful future that can come along and that contains various can take various forms. For some people, it definitely involves, you know what, I have a message, actually, that is important to me, and I want to get that out there and perhaps I'm building a portfolio career, where perhaps I'm going to do some board advisory work, because there's a few other things, but actually, it'd be good to do some speaking, I've got something here I want to share. What advice would you have for people who want to think about making that shift? Speaking for as a paid business.

Grant Baldwin
Yeah. Would you describe there is exactly where a lot of clients that we work with are at where they you know, they've had a perhaps a successful career, and they kind of start thinking about the second half of their career or life and they're thinking about legacy, and how do I share this, this message and things that I've learned and lessons that I've learned either personally or professionally and again, maybe they've done some speaking before here and there, but they're just not sure. Like, how does that actually translate into a speaking business and how do you if I wanted to do this more ongoing? Are you speaking as lead generation for some consulting perhaps, or coaching? Like, how do you even do that? Right? So yeah, that is definitely a big part of what it is and a lot of the clientele that that we work with at The Speaker Lab. Now having said that, I think that what like one thing that we do is we teach what we call the speaker success roadmap that makes the acronym speak and the first part of the process, as is probably the most important process and I think where I think we were able to really help clients get a lot of clarity on this but the S stands for selecting a problem to solve selecting a problem to solve and this comes down to two key questions. One is who do you want to speak to and number two is what problem do you solve for that audience? And so this is where so many speakers have such a difficult time. This isn't exclusive to just speakers. This is true for just entrepreneurs, CEOs, owners in general because when we talk about you know, who do you want to speak to? For the most part, people are like, I don't know, I just want speak to people. I speak to humans. My message is for everybody, right? Yeah. And when we talk about, well, what problem do you want to sell? What do you want to speak about? Sometimes speakers will say, Well, what do you want me to speak about I can speak about anything I can talk about, you know, business, or family or finance or marketing or sales and just like on and on the list goes and like that just doesn't work? We think that we need to spread the net as far and wide as possible. I can speak about anything to anybody but we also understand like that doesn't work. People are looking for specialist, not a generalist and so an analogy I like to use is you want to be the steakhouse and not the buffet, the steak house and not the buffet meaning Richard if you and I are going out to eat we're looking for a good steak like we have a choice. We could go to a buffet where steak is one of 100 things that they offer and they're all mediocre or or we could go to a steak house where they do one thing but they do that one thing really well, they don't do lasagna. They don't do pasta. They don't do seafood. They don't do cupcakes. They don't do tacos. They do steak and that's it. Right. So a steak house is not going Baba but how do we appeal to vegetarians? We're stakeouts, we may not appeal up to vegetarians and that's okay, right. So the same thing is true for a speaker is you're not trying to appeal to anybody and everybody and it's counterintuitive but the more narrow, the more focused you are, the easier it is to to find and attract the right type of gigs. That makes sense for you.

Richard Medcalf
Yeah, that's what's great in business in general and definitely, as a speaker, like I've can see that experienced that myself. There's that real pain, right of deciding where do you focus your firepower? I've got a book coming out, as many listeners know, making time for strategy because I found that one of the biggest issues that my clients face as they think about how do I uplevel, my own influence is my attention is distracted on all of this operational stuff. Yeah, I'm not working on the big on the big dials, right, moving things forward, I have time for that and so for me, that's one of the key problems that I've found, I've ended up ending up solving for my talk with with my clients, they out that's become the book, the keynote and everything else, I do other things, when people get to know me, they find all the other areas in which I can help but that's often a great problem to solve. That is the entrance point for many people, I think.

Grant Baldwin
Yeah, and one thing that we have found is that for a lot of, of CEOs, speakers are entrepreneurs that we have worked with, who are interested in doing more speaking is it's it's hard to see, it's hard to read the label from inside the jar, it's hard to read the label from inside the jar, because we look at all these different things that we're interested in, or have some experience with or passionate about, or some knowledge on, or interested in, perhaps speaking on and so it's helpful, like I think one of the best things we can do within The Speaker Lab and Richard, you can probably attest this, as I know you've been a client in the past, is working with coaches who can help kind of clear out the fog and like, okay, let's narrow this down and it's all just for you. It's kind of just a hodgepodge but we're able to, like kind of work with you to help, okay, we got all these different puzzle pieces I like how do we turn this into something and take take shape here. The other thing I'd remind speakers of is, like speaking is an iterative process, meaning, you know, initially, like we're making an educated guess, of I think this is what people are looking for, I think this is what the market will will resonate with and I think this aligns with my experience and my connections, my contacts, that sort of thing but like, let's create version 1.0 and get and get started here and then we can pivot and course correct and, you know, most speakers speak on a variety of different things over the course of their career, they may pivot to different audiences, but it's, you're not gonna get anywhere if you don't at least take that initial step and so we always talk about how it's much easier to steer a car in motion than it is to steer a car and park and so we want to say, hey, let's help you kind of like narrow down crystallize who you speak to what problem you solve and then let's get going and if we need to pivot of course, Greg, that's fine but let's at least get the process happening.

Richard Medcalf
Yeah, get going first. Hey, Grant, It's been great conversation a couple of quickfire questions before we wrap up. The first one is what's your favorite quote? What's something which you perhaps bore your team with? By repeating to them on a regular basis or which has influenced you deeply?

Grant Baldwin
Yeah, a quote I use all the time that really ties into some of the stuff we were talking about earlier, as relates to culture is that who you are, is more important than what you do. Who you are is more important than what you do meaning Richard, if you and I are great. podcasters entrepreneurs, speakers fill in the blank, but we dropped the ball as husbands as dads as human, if we're a shell of a human being, we're doing it wrong and so I'm married to my high school sweetheart, we got three beautiful daughters. So it's me and a house full of women. It's the absolute best and as much as I love, entrepreneurship, and speaking in business, and podcasting, all those things, my most important roles are being great at home for my girls.

Richard Medcalf
Yeah, got it. Got it. Today agree with that book, a book that influenced you. What's the thing which has really shaped your, your professional journey?

Grant Baldwin
Yeah, there's a really good book I like called Rework by Jason Fried, and it's probably, I don't know, 15 1015 years old or so but it's a great book about a company called Basecamp, which is a SaaS company. They kind of have a project management and planning tool, but basically, they they're a virtual company that tends to run things and kind of unconventional ways and so there's a lot of things ideas from that book that really resonated with me. So yeah, that's definitely a great one to check out rework.

Richard Medcalf
Yeah, thank you and then quit. One of my favorite questions is, how do you where do you go from here, Grant, you built this business? It's going well, it's growing continual, continual growth. What would you need to do differently yourself to multiply your impact in the future?

Grant Baldwin
Yeah, that's a really good question. We were talking a little bit about this earlier. Um, In that this big lab is certainly much bigger than than I had anticipated and so part of my responsibility is to continue to think about what's on the horizon and what's in the future. There's a lot of opportunities where we can continue to serve and support speakers and, and in new ways and better ways. There's no shortage of people who are interested in speaking but in order for us to continue to grow, like I have to continue to level up as a leader and I have to continue to, to get better at leading people leading teams, recruiting, attracting great talent, continue to protect our culture, to continue to say no to good opportunities, there's no shortage of things that that any CEO could be doing. So continue to just say no to good opportunities and good things to say no, like, this is what we do. We're we're a steakhouse and we're really good at that and tacos, I love tacos, but we don't serve tacos. You know, we're a steakhouse and so continuing to say focus, there is a big part of my responsibility in the future.

Richard Medcalf
Yeah, yeah. I love it. Steak House analogies is such a great one because it does really say yeah, for every yes, there's knows that go with it and we really know on that. If you want to get in touch with you or with with a business, how do they do that?

Grant Baldwin
Yeah, everything we do is over at The Speaker Lab, thespeakerlab.com. If you're listening to this podcast, you probably listen to other podcasts and so we have a podcast by the same name, The Speaker Lab podcast, we've got over 400 episodes there on all different things related to speaking, writing, publishing books, that sort of thing, getting your message out there. So definitely check that out. We also got a book called The successful speaker five steps for booking gigs, getting paid building your platform, so highly recommend that we touched on that speak framework that SPI K speaker success roadmap. So it takes that and just goes way in depth on that. So it's a great playbook on terms of how to actually find them book gigs and so yeah, let's, uh, let's have a free resources that you can you can check out there.

Richard Medcalf
Yeah, well, hey, Grant, it's been a great conversation. As I said, I've been to some of your, quite a bit of your, your programs or your courses, and we were really impressed at the way you've put things together to really, to really give clients a great experience. Yeah and the focus that does lead to results. So I think the insights today, yeah, around, you know, around focus around essentially focuses is a bit of a theme, right, focusing your vision, your focus around values and culture and hiring in the business and then focus as a speaker in terms of what do you stand for? What are the problems you solve? What's the business that you're building? I think that's that's been a really valuable reminder today. So thank you for that and stay in touch.

Grant Baldwin
Thanks, Richard. Appreciate it.

Richard Medcalf
Take care. Bye bye.

**Note: This transcript is automatically generated.
Please excuse any errors.

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