Tag: Life of a professional speaker

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I am know as the “global conference speaker” who delivers keynotes around the world (spoke in 24 countries last year). But standing on stages and traveling the world is what you see, but what about those days when I am not traveling, and not speaking?

I thought it could be of useful to see what those “non-speaking” speaking days can look like.

Today was a typical such day. (This was written Monday 14 May)

8:30 – 9:30 – Had late and long breakfast with my 2.5 year old daughter who wanted to learn how to “make tea”.

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9:30 – 10:45 – Did an Inner Theme session (www.innertheme.com) with a speaker from Dubai who had flown in and wanted help to find clarity on the topic he should be speaking on. (we finished the session in the taxi to my client meeting to give him maximum time with me.)

11:00 – 12:00 Client meeting for a speech I am delivering on Saturday for a global bank’s IT department.

12:00 – 14:45 Lunch, 30 minutes walk in a park and a 90 minute massage. (When I am not speaking I try to give myself plenty of time off from “work” to give me time to think, reflect and contemplate.

That is also where I drafted out the outline for this blog post.

14:45 – 17:30  Attended my son’s swim championships. I am father first, speaker second and have been on “50% (unpaid) paternity leave” for the last 4 years. I rather make less money and spend more time with my children when they are young than have all that extra income but wish I had known my kids better. Seeing my son’s face when he swam for the first time in a championship is priceless.

17:30 – 18:00  – Did the last changes to the slides for a presentation I am doing in Shanghai on the 17th.

18:00 – 19:30 Eat dinner with family and put kids to sleep. I especially find that last 30 minutes before the kids fall asleep to be the most valuable parenting hour. Having them fall asleep knowing I am there.

19:30 – 21:00 Drinks and chat with the owner of a speaker bureau who is also a good friend. The business of speaking is a business of relationships and when working with a bureau for a number of years you develop a friendship that is beyond business. The business of speaking is, at least for me, actually never about the business. It’s about people, about spreading a message, about making the world change for the better.

21:00 – 10:30 A late night discussion with two speakers visiting from India, about how we can help develop the professional speaking business in Asia. Helping grow the speaking business in general is something I am very passionate about and something I put many hours of un-paid work into. I have been speaking for almost 1/4 of a century and I am now in the phase of my life where you give back.

Thus also the reason I am writing this blog.

10:30 – 11:30 Watching a movie with my wife.

Checking and replying to emails I did while in taxis going to and from different meetings during the day.

Now, there might not be a lot that looks like “sales” or “work” during this day, and that is the point. When I am not speaking I try to give myself time and space to meet inspiring people, to have time for my family and to help develop the speaking industry. Later this week I am flying to China for a big keynote for a global conference. But today was about what I do when I do not speak.

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Last Monday I got an email from a contact introducing me to another person, whom I have had no previous contact, saying: “This company is looking for a speaker on innovation for their convention in Bali on Saturday, could you do it?”

I reply the same day saying that I could be in Bali that day.

On Tuesday I get a reply asking for my fee.

On Thursday they confirm the booking. I tell me wife I will be gone 2 days starting tomorrow.

On Friday I fly to Bali and arrive at 5 pm. I go down to the beach where the client is having a networking event and we sit down in the bar and he begins to brief me on the company, the industry and the theme of the convention. As the sun sets over Bali I learn about the speech I am going to give.

I go back to my hotel room and do my slides.

On Saturday morning I go on stage and give my speech.

 

That means that less than 120 hours before I stood on stage I did not even know I was going to be on stage in Bali on Saturday.

Is this a normal set-up for a keynote speaker?

No.

But it is clearly so that the time between when a speaker gets booked and when the speech happens has become shorter and shorter.

(I did two other speeches last week: One in KL for a retail client and one in HK for a wealth management bank. The one in KL was booked less than 3 months ago. The one in HK less than 2 months ago…)

It is important for speakers to understand that as the world changes faster and faster and topics for conventions are decided last minute, speakers need to prepare for a world where they might not know where they will be speaking – or for who – until just a few weeks before.

If you want a life as a professional global speaker you need to be ready to fly out on short notice. Have you build your life around being able to do that? Personally I love this aspect of not fully knowing where life will take me. For me this week it meant that I ended up on a beach in Bali just two days after getting the confirmation.

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How are you supporting the ones that come after you?

When I became a professional speaker at the tender age of 27 I really did not have any mentors. The idea of going to other speaker’s to ask for advice didn’t really occur to me.

I tried once and approached one of Sweden’s most successful speakers at the time to ask some questions, but he brushed me off, not interested in helping “a kid” like me.

That brush-off I will always remember.

Maybe that is why I feel a need to help up and coming speakers, and why I feel it’s right to share so much about how I look at building a speaking career.

Helping other speakers is something I have done from the start, and after I got involved in speaker associations I have intensified that work.

One of the people I helped recently was a women who on her spare time was practising kick-boxing. She had taken to kick-boxing late in her life but managed to go from novice to black-belt in six years.

She explained to me that you get the different belts (white all the way to black) because you become better and better in doing harder and harder sequences, ie you get better and better at learning how to kick-box.

But you do not become a “Master” until you start teaching OTHERS to get black belts.

The masters are the ones that teach.
The masters are the ones who share their knowledge.

To be a master it’s just not enough to be good at what you do – you also need to help guide the next generation.

And as I have the ambition to be a master at professional speaking I have dedicated to help others.

I am a mentor in APSS and have also outside of that mentor program mentored 100+ speakers around the world.

I am on the EXCO (executive committee of APSS (www.AsiaSpeakers.org)

And in a few weeks (11-12 May 2018) the Asia Professional Speakers Convention (www.AsiaProfessionalSpeakersConvention.com) will take place in Singapore. 30+ speakers will share their best advice to 200 speakers from all over the world, and I am the convention chair.

As convention chair for this years convention I have introduced a “Next Generation of Speakers-ticket” where we offer the two day convention at just 50 SGD per person (90% rebate from the adult price). The ticket is open for youth and students 17-25 years old. The idea is to offer a VERY subsidised convention fee to help a group of young people learn what it means to be a professional speaker. (If you know someone who would be interested in going email admin@asiaspeakers.org to sign up.)

Helping the next generation, to me, also means to inspire really young kids, even if that is just taking a day off to be in my daughter’s school during “book week” to come and explain to the kids what it means to be an author (which I did last week and where the picture is from.)

All the examples above are things I that I do to inspire more young people to become speakers/authors/thought leaders.

The funny things is that the more I do these projects, the more rewarding I find them. In one way, I feel them to be some of the most valuable and meaningful work that I do.

I do not care if you just started your speaking career or if you – like me – have been speaking for decades, there will always be a person with less experience than you. Someone who is looking to learn from you. Today my message in this post is: reach out to one of those people and help them.

Share your knowledge.
Teach someone less experienced.
Be a master.

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