Month: August 2015


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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Screen Shot 2015-08-24 at 08.13.07

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?’


No, courage is not the right word.


A clear no.


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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I have met many professional speakers who say that the best thing to do on a day when you do not have any speaking engagement is to focus all your energy on marketing, promotion and selling so you can get more bookings.

I do not believe in that.

My philosophy is that if you have a day off, you should NOT try to sell yourself, you should focus on trying to become better as a speaker!

The rationale behind this is that IF you are constantly working on becoming better as a speaker, you WILL get more bookings. Nothing gives you more bookings than someone coming up to you after you just delivered a great speech to ask if they can book you.

I recently attended a conference of professional speakers where all the other speakers wanted to discuss how to “sell, market and promote” themselves.

I was the only speaker who wanted us to spend the day talking about how we could become better as speakers!

The others said things like “We are all great speakers already”.

I was shocked!

I am of the strong opinion that you can always become better. I try to spend as much time as possible to constantly study things that make me better as a speaker.


What a day looks like when I don’t have a speaking engagement

No, I don’t focus on selling or promoting.


Aug 21st, Friday 

1. Lunch with Insead Business School Lecturers

I met with two lecturers at Insead Business School — Serguei Netessine and Manuel Sosa. We all share a deep interest in innovation, but from different backgrounds.

Serguei is the author of the book “The Risk Driven Business Model”, and Manuel is interested in the intersection between design and engineering.

We spent a long lunch in their new Executive Education Building discussing book writing, speaking, global travel and the world of executive education.


2) Meeting with the Winner of the Toastmasters World Championship of Public Speaking

I met with Manoj Vasudevan (see our picture above) who, just days ago, won 2nd runner up in the Toastmasters World Championship of Public Speaking!

Manoj has watched virtually every toastmasters speech of previous world championships to learn what makes a speech a winner.

We talked about what makes a great speech a great speech and about the value of sharing your knowledge of speaking with others.

I hope to do a longer interview with Manoj to post on this blog soon, but we ran out of time talking about so many other things that the interview had to be scheduled at a later date.


3) Exciting meeting with Founder

I was also able to book a meeting with Reinier Evers, the founder of, where we got to talk about speaking, global mindset, and also about interesting, future business ideas.


4) Dinner with awesome guys from The Insight Bureau

In the evening, I had dinner with Caspar Berry and Andrew Vine of The Insight Bureau. Caspar is a speaker who talks about risk.

Over dinner, we had a long discussion that took us through such different topics as UK politics, bombings in Thailand, casinos and of course, a lot of discussion about professional speaking.


It was a day full of inspiration, insights and knowledge-sharing, but as I hope you can see, it had very little to do about selling, promoting or marketing. But a lot of talk about speaking and inspiration.

Lesson: A great speaker doesn’t need to sell himself/herself). So if you are not getting enough speeches, do not spend time trying to sell your speech. Spend your time trying to make your speeches better.

Remember: You are a speaker. So focus on becoming the best speaker you can possibly be. You are NOT a salesperson. And if you think that is what you are, then stop being a speaker, change careers, and become a sales person instead. 🙂


The funny thing is that I might very well get some speaking businesses from one, or some, of the meetings I had today. But the point is that it was not the purpose or focus of any of these meetings.


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