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People who are not speakers are able to quickly see the amazing advantages of being a speaker: Get paid a lot of money to travel the world to spread a message that you are passionate about, which spreads to thousands and thousands of people by working a few hours per day.

But very often, there is a “BUT…” to the sentence that begins “Being a professional speaker seems amazing…”. And that sentence very often ends with “… but don’t you miss having colleagues?”

And it is true — being a professional speaker is different from many other jobs because you do spend a lot of time on your own.

I would say 90% of speakers work by themselves, or in a very small team with one assistant, who might not even live in the same town as the speaker by working virtually.

Actually, the  job of being a speaker is very social. Just the nature of the job means that you very often spend your days at conferences (and conference parties) mingling with a huge amount of people.

BUT, you might say, those are NOT your colleagues. You are just visiting their conference/party.

True again.

And I am not going to lie and say that by being a speaker, you have the same social interaction with colleagues as you have in “a normal” office job. You also do not get involved in the politics that comes with a normal office job. 😉

So yes, a speaker doesn’t have colleagues in the traditional sense. But we have colleagues.

Lets see how the dictionary looks at the word:

“colleague |ˈkɒliːg|
noun
a person with whom one works in a profession or business.”

The speaking professionals have been very good at building a community of “profession colleagues”, as in “colleagues in a profession” as compared to “in a company”. It might very well have come about out of the necessity of not having “normal” colleagues.

But regardless of the reason for why it is like that, I just have to say that I love it.

I regularly meet up with a whole host of professional speakers in informal meetings where we chat about work, life, and the universe just like you would with colleagues in the office.

Just in the last 2 weeks, I have had such meetings with 8 different professional speakers.

Last night, I had a meeting with Andrew Bryant, the thought leader on Self Leadership (he literally wrote the book on the subject).

We spent 3+ hours on the balcony of Andrew’s penthouse overlooking the Singapore skyline, and over a couple of beers, we discussed everything from Brazil, Outlook, speaking in India, and book writing. It’s a mix of private and business topics, serious and fun, as one does on an “after work” with colleagues.

The funny thing is that speakers meet up at all!

When you think about it, in a way it is a very cut-throat business:

A client is looking for one speaker for an event, selects a shortlist and then picks just one off that list. All the others on the list gets nothing since it is quite common for a client to just pick one speaker per day for a conference.

You would think that speakers then would be very wary about sharing their secrets and their knowledge, but it is the opposite.

After having a great time with one fellow “colleague”, I wanted to write this post in appreciation of all the speakers who have helped me by agreeing to meet with me. If you are a speaker and want to hook up with me for a beer, coffee, or lunch, drop me a line by clicking on the mail symbol below.

I would love to meet up.

That’s what colleagues are for.

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A couple of days ago, Friday to be exact, I wrote a blog post about the things I did during my off day as a speaker. Today’s post is an add-on to that post.

One of the people I wrote about meeting during my day off was Caspar Berry, a fellow speaker who is from the UK.

He said something that I found so very insightful that I decided to write a separate post about it.

Here is what he had to say about speakers spending time on developing their “social media selling”:

“The point of the whole ‘social media selling’ is that it is exponential – that is… you tell someone something and they tell a hundred people who tell a hundred people, etc.

But speakers who are obsessed with this are missing a very important thing: speaking is ITSELF exponential. That is, when you speak, you reach 100 or 1000 people – ALL of whom are probably potential buyers now or in the future as they’re promoted – and ALL of them know 100 or 1000 people who know 1000 people, etc.”

Brilliant. Just brilliant.

And just in line with my own thoughts about how a great speaker should spend more time studying how to be a great speaker, and spend less on selling.

Now, you might ask, “Is it not ironic that you are using social media to tell this story?”

But I am not writing these blog posts primarily to get more speaking gigs. If I wanted to use a blog to sell my speeches, I should be blogging about the themes of my speeches, not about speaking itself.

And who knows, I might also start blogging about the themes that I speak on. But then, it will be more because of how rewarding it is to write a little bit everyday about something that you are interested in.

I started this blog to force myself to write down my thoughts about speaking on a regular basis. I do that because I want to continue to think about how to develop myself as a speaker.

Today, I spent 30 minutes writing this blog about not spending time selling. I also spent about one hour replying and sending out emails. I spent 2.5 hours on a very nice lunch with a client going through their expectations for my speech next month. And one hour in the pool while listening to a podcast on the values of meditation. (Yes, I call that work.)

So 3.5 hours out of 5 that I worked today was around developing myself and my speeches. 1,5 hour was “work” not primarily dedicated to making me or my speeches better, including the 30 minutes it took to write this. I think that is a good balance to aim for, both in terms of hours worked in one day, and what the day was spent on.

Lesson: Do a great speech and the audience will do the viral marketing for you.

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Contact Fredrik by clicking on the email symbol below.

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Todays post was inspired by an email I received over the weekend that got me thinking about why I am a speaker, about the only reason anyone should be a speaker – and actually, about why anyone should do anything.

The email read:

“If, by one word, one was to define what it is that drives all the positive aspects of life and success and for a person to be able to say that he has the greatest job in the world, I think a word that could come close is ‘honesty’.

I am fortunate to hear your talk (today). What I think came through (from listening to your speech) and which left me to ponder from your talk was Honesty. Honesty to your self and your surroundings.”

I happen to believe that being authentic, true and real as a speaker is, by far, the most important trait of a great speaker, so his email made me very happy.

I wanted to know more about why he had written this so, when I emailed him to say thank you, I asked him to elaborate on why he had used that word.

He replied:

“The word came to mind during and maybe, more so after your talk.

How did I come to that word?

Taking your talk and the choices you said to have taken that have brought you to where you are now, and reflecting upon my current situation as in ‘what could I learn from your experiences?’

Courage?

No, courage is not the right word.

Driven?

A clear no.

Determined?

Yes, this could be right, but determination needs a clear goal.

So, how do you set the right goal for yourself – by being HONEST with and to yourself, and with and to your surrounding.” 

I had a laugh around how he had noticed how “driven” was a ‘clear no’ when it comes how I have built my life career. I am clearly not a person who have been actively pursuing a career in speaking with determination. 😉

And yet, here I am as one of the world’s most globally booked speakers.

How did that happen?

Well, I think Heikki, the person who wrote me those emails, nailed it:

To become truly successful at something, you have to do it for the only reason that matters: because it is who you are.

 

I do not speak for the applause

Even though I am aware that it is a privilege to get people giving you such immediate and impactful praise every time you work.

I do not speak because of the money

Even though the money is great.

I do not even speak because I love to speak.

I do love to speak.

 

I speak because that is WHO I AM. I feel that speaking is what I have to do.

And I hope that it shows when I speak.

A fellow speaker once told me that his client had called me “the most authentic speaker in Asia.” For me, that is one of the best compliments I have received.

I am writing this blog primarily for myself, but my secondary audience are people who are thinking of becoming speakers. If you are one of those people, please ask yourself this question: Why do you want to become a speaker?

People who become speakers for the wrong reasons are so depressing to see and so boring to listen to.

People who become speakers because that is what they have to do, because that is how they stay true to themselves, are a joy to watch.

Don’t believe me?

Compare politicians who are politicians because they picked that as a career or because they want power, and compare that with the politicians who went into politics because they are being true to themselves.

Lesson: There is only one way to give a speech, and only one way to be a great speaker — speak your mind and follow your heart.

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