Today I want to talk about saying “yes” to saying “no”.

In the last 12 months I did 160 (!) free (!) one-on-one meetings with speakers who wanted help to find their Inner Theme, wanted help with developing their speaking business or with becoming better as a speaker.

In the next 12 months I plan to do almost less than one per week.

My financial year starts 1 September and I have decided that beginning 1 September I will drastically reduce the number of one-on-one meetings I have with people who want to meet with me and discuss how to take their speaking career to the next level.

In this post I want to explain why.

It is not about suddenly not wanting to help.

Anyone who knows me knows that I am passionate about helping others become better speakers:

1) I wrote a book about how to become a global keynote speaker (called “Spread Your Message, See the World: How to become a global keynote speaker”) to share my insights (and you can get the book on Amazon for just 3:17 $ ( or email me at and I will send you the book for free.

2) I blog on where I have about 250 blog posts on all kinds of aspects on how to grow a successful speaking business. All the posts are free.

3) And I am very involved in the professional speaking community, right now serving as Immediate Past President of APSS (

4) I just today launched a free membership community connected to the blog where I will answer question from the community. Join that group and you can ask as many questions as you like and as a bonus you also get to see all the questions and answers from everyone else!

Join here:


But, last year, apart from spending a lot of time being President of APSS I also spent a lot of time meeting one-on-one with all kinds of people.

In fact I did 160 one-on-one meetings, for free, on top of all the Presidential work of running a speaker association. That is the equivalent of one month of full-time work.

But I realised that the more I gave away for free the more people wanted to meet up and get even more information for free. And in the last 12 months I went all in and said yes to every single request to meet up. I said yes, yes and yes.

But starting today I am saying no. Not for ever, but for one year.

I will now only do one free one-on-one per week (except the weeks I am on vacation). First come, first serve. If you are interested email me at

(So even if I drastically reduce the free sessions to 40 this next coming 12 months it still means that on average I will have done 100 (!) free one-on-ones over a two year period which puts me – most likely – in the top 1% or 0.1% of speakers dedicating time to help other speakers. 😉

So why am I suddenly saying “no”.

Because I need the time to write.

I have decided to write not one – but two – new books over the next 24 months, and writing books – or more specifically doing research for books – takes a lot of time.

By temporarily reducing my pro-bono mentoring time I am freeing up loads of time that I will use to make these books great.

By saying “no” to others I am saying “yes” to myself.
My freeing up time I am creating creativity-time.

What do you need to say “no” to in order to say “yes” to the things you want to say yes to?

ps. To clarify:

This is not about me stopping to help speakers.
Helping speakers become better give me so much joy.
But for the next 12 months I will do it through other channels than one-on-one “meet-up-for-coffee meetings”.

(But as mentioned below I have instead created a Facebook group where I will continue to answer your speaking questions: Join the free Facebook group here. (


PPS. Picture of me last week on a beach in Mauritius writing one of my new books. Focus, focus, focus. 😉





Earlier this month I had the opportunity to speak in Pyongyang in DPRK (or North Korea as many people know it). I was part of a group who spoke at a conference on Urban Innovation for about 200 delegates from different part of North Korean society.

Speaking in North Korea is a challenge because as a speaker you do not know how much the audience will know about the examples, stories and case studies that you normally present in your speech, so speaking there became an excellent reminder of the need to use the contact points you have before the speech to get as much knowledge as possible about the audience.

Knowing your audience is always important, but when speaking to North Koreans it became so clear how important researching the audience is before every speech.

Research on the Internet can give you some information about the audience, but I find that personal conversations with people who know the audience is the most valuable.

So on my trip to Pyongyang I made sure to:

  • Interview previous people who had spoken at this conference to hear their experiences and get their advice.
  • Talk to the client of the organisation which organised the event. (Speaking with the client if of course a no-brainer,)
  • Make sure I sat next to the translator at the speaker dinner the night before so I could get more information about the country, the audience and the conference (she had translated for this conference before)
  • Ask questions from the government representative who was always with us about what he thought I should know.
  • Talk to the other speakers who spoke at this conference about how they had prepared and what they had learnt about the group
  • Make sure that I got the views from the client of the local organisation who co-organised the conference
  • Also interviewed another translator who I got a chance to meet with.
  • Network with delegates during the opening of the conference to get some last minute insights about what they wanted to learn and find out more about where they came from.

Eight different touchpoints that all gave me valuable insights into the group I would be talking to.

The more you know about your audience the better you will be as a speaker. It is true for speaking in North Korea, and it is true for speaking anywhere else on Earth.


Today I want to talk about why we sometimes – on purpose – need to do things we do not like to do

About a year ago I stepped into the role of President of a non-profit member association for professional speakers (Asia Professional Speakers Singapore.

I did it because being part of a speaker association like APSS has given me a lot of value as a professional speaker, and I felt it was time to give back.

But anyone who knows me knows that:

– I do not like to lead people while being in an official role.

– I do not like to do any admin or finance tasks, especially not with other people’s money.

– I do not like bylaws, constitutions, minutes, and other formalia associated with, for example, not-for-profit organisations

– I do not like to be in the spotlight (Which might sound weird for a person making a living as a speaker, but when I give a speech I see it as me being there to deliver a message, but as President you get a lot of attention on you as a person.)

– And I really like to be in charge of my own time and not have to be dependant of external factors or other people (that is one reason why I love the idea of being a professional speaker because it gives me such freedom over my own time.)

And yet I decided to become President of the speaker association.


Because I wanted to step into my uncomfortable zone and do something that went against my intuition.

(And also because I felt that since APSS had given me so much of value I could not use the excuse that did not want to be President when I was asked to serve.)

I am happy that we had an amazing year with a record profit, record numbers of members signing up to join the association and record number of people attending the events of the association.

I am a big fan of speakers spending time on things that really give them energy and doing more of the things that they enjoy doing and that works. A lot of my success as a global keynote speaker comes from me following the “law of least resistance” where I focus on the things that give me the best work for the least amount of boring work.

But I also want to encourage you to – once in a while – pick a project that really pushes you to do things you think you really do not like to do. Because these things might be the things that really make you grow.

I did not want to be the President of the speaker association, actually I dreaded it, but now that I have done it I am happy that I pushed myself to do it. Not because I ended up enjoying it (it was less dreadful than I thought but I can not say I enjoyed it), but because pushed myself into my own uncomfortable zone.

We talk a lot about “getting our of your comfort zone”, but getting into your uncomfortable zone is different. It is about searching out something that you really do not like to do in order to push yourself though it.

Which door do you dread to open? What would happen if you pushed yourself to open it?

I meet so many people who want to be speakers who “dread writing that book” because “they can not write”, who “dread speaking in English” (if that is not their first language), or who “dread picking up the phone to call potential clients” because they are “petrified by rejection” etc.

Write down that thing that really makes you uncomfortable and consider pushing through that.

In my case accepting to serve as President of a non-profit association with all the responsibilities and (unpaid) commitments that comes with that turned out to be like sailing towards what looked like a very dark cloud only to find out that the cloud was not as demanding as I had imagined, and that the wind the clouds generated actually pushed me into new interesting places.

So what makes you uncomfortable?

ps. 1. If you are not yet a member of a professional speaker association, do consider joining one. If you live in Asia please check out, it is a lovely community of speakers helping each other become better.

ps. 2.
A few weeks ago I wrote a post about the importance of “batching” your blog posts, a post that was different from my other posts because it was a post about what I needed to do – not about what I do. And it was an authentic post. Because I did not start to “batch” posts after writing that post ;-D (From now on I will continue to write posts in this blog about things I do (!) – not things I “wish I did”. I still think batching posts is a good idea, but I think I should only share in this blog about what I actually do to become better as a speaker – not what I wished I would be doing. So apologies for not posting last Monday as I was away in North Korea without access to the Internet.

(Picture from when I took over the helm as President from the previous President, Jerome Joseph.)